Pretty much binging on this series at the moment, I have to admit. As I write up this review, I’m already two books ahead. I find the books so readablPretty much binging on this series at the moment, I have to admit. As I write up this review, I’m already two books ahead. I find the books so readable, and since each one has clocked in under 200 pages so far, they’re not a huge time investment. Phryne is a lovely character: independent, smart, fearless, honest and true to her own principles — and non-judgemental of others.
I don’t really have much to say about the plots: these books remind me of Sayers’ mysteries, where what I care about is more the characters and how they deal with the situation. Phryne is a little too good to be true, but I want to see what she does anyway. She has a spark and a love of life that animates the novels for me. I hear Essie Davis does a great job with the character in the series, so I’m quite excited to get round to it on Netflix. Just… you know… me being me, excitement still might mean it takes me another year to get to. (Sorry, Charlie Cox-as-Daredevil.)
I originally received this to review, but because it’s very much designed to have double spreads and to be read across two pages, it just wasn’t readaI originally received this to review, but because it’s very much designed to have double spreads and to be read across two pages, it just wasn’t readable that way. Fortunately, I’d preordered the TPB anyway. The problem is, I really don’t know what to think of it. I love the diversity of the characters, but I found myself only really knowing two or three of them for sure, each time they appeared. Part of that was the art and part of that is, hey, this is a women’s prison with a lot of inmates, and this is only five issues of the comic. There’s not really enough space to be properly introduced to everybody.
Despite the fact that I love the idea, and I love the trend of people getting the NC tattoos and how much it has spoken to many women, I don’t know if I actually like the product. But maybe it isn’t about liking — I do value the book. I like that it’s in your face and violent and, well, non-compliant. I like that it features a really overweight woman as a heroine who isn’t prepared to change to be somebody else’s ideal. I like that it offends and concerns ‘men’s rights activists’.
So maybe not my thing, but that doesn’t make it a bad comic.
I’m wondering if I ever really say anything different about Mary Stewart’s books. They’re fairly formulaic, really: fairly independent young woman meeI’m wondering if I ever really say anything different about Mary Stewart’s books. They’re fairly formulaic, really: fairly independent young woman meets young man who may or may not be her cousin, there is some dramatic problem to be resolved, and they resolve it while falling in love, often improbably fast or due to some supernatural intervention (as in Touch Not the Cat and Thornyhold). They’re better than they sound, though: the atmosphere Stewart produces is amazing, and quite a lot of her female characters are actually quite strong and certainly have agency. The main character here, for example, spends most of the story getting pushed to one side by the male characters who don’t want her to get involved — but she’s the one who really sorts everything out.
This isn’t my favourite of Stewart’s books by far, but I think I enjoyed it more this time than I did the first time. Partly because yay, familiar comfort read, no doubt. Nothing wrong with that.
Murder Past Due is a reasonably fun but unremarkable cosy mystery. The main draws would be the cat, Diesel, who is a main character, and the fact thatMurder Past Due is a reasonably fun but unremarkable cosy mystery. The main draws would be the cat, Diesel, who is a main character, and the fact that it’s set partially in a library. But the cat isn’t the detective and isn’t the main character, and the library is just where the main character works, so it’s not that niche. I didn’t find any of the characters or their relationships particularly compelling, though the small-town USA atmosphere was kind of interesting — I kept being surprised when there were computers and email, because it seemed more old-fashioned than that in terms of the way people related. More Agatha Christie than Val McDermid et al.
I was not, however, surprised by the resolution of the mystery.
Overall, this was fun brain candy, but I’m in no hurry to read more of the series, and I wouldn’t particularly recommend it unless you’re a connoisseur of cosy mysteries.
Aka Cocaine Blues. I did actually try to read this once before, and really didn’t get into it — I don’t think I read more than a couple of chapters. LAka Cocaine Blues. I did actually try to read this once before, and really didn’t get into it — I don’t think I read more than a couple of chapters. Looking at that review now, I think I must’ve been really cranky that day, because all I complained about was adjectives. Which, yes, are present… but not nearly as bad as I seemed to think back then. Perhaps a case of finding the right book at the right time, because reading this during the readathon, I loved it!
Even the first time, I was impressed by Phryne’s character: the fact that she’s a flapper, that she’s independent, clever, capable. This time through, I also noticed her kindness a lot: her treatment of Dot, her concern about other people. She’s also a shrewd judge of character. In fact, there’s very little we see by way of flaws in Phryne, which could get annoying… but for now, I just loved the amount of agency she has, the strength she has, the fact that she’s unequivocally a sexual person and nobody can take advantage of her because she owns that fact.
The mysteries were kind of secondary to that for me; they come together well, though, and give us a varied cast. Nobody is involved in everything, but each person has ties to the next. I quite liked that.
If it’s any measure of my enthusiasm, I immediately ordered the second book (in time for it to be delivered — and pounced on — the next morning by Amazon Prime, on a Sunday!) and reserved more from the library.
I don’t think I have much to add with this book that I didn’t already say when it came to the first book. The juxtaposition of the vintage photographyI don’t think I have much to add with this book that I didn’t already say when it came to the first book. The juxtaposition of the vintage photography and the story works pretty well, even if the story rather demystifies the photographs by giving them explanations. The pacing is rather less glacial here, because the waiting’s over — a plot is in motion and the children have to keep moving, no matter what.
A little annoyingly, the books lead straight on, one from the other. You ideally need the next one on hand right away. My library doesn’t have the next book yet, so I can’t do that. There’s very little closure to make it feel like a natural ending — just, bam, another crisis, another problem, and… what now?
Well, I do want to find out, but if I have to wait, I’ll probably start forgetting details and get confused when I try to read the next one.
I was recommended this initially because there’s some LGBT content and an asexual character. Well, just to deal with that upfront: there’s a characterI was recommended this initially because there’s some LGBT content and an asexual character. Well, just to deal with that upfront: there’s a character who is, at least, not straight, and there’s a character who isn’t interested in sex. However, she’s not interested in sex because she’s not human, so that’s kind of… not asexuality. If you interpret her as ace, though, she’s also arguably aromantic.
Still, it’s an interesting story/world. It’s got a reasonably unique take on zombies, and an interesting historical background — there’s history and economics driving the plot, which makes it feel that much more fully realised. The main characters are all pretty young, and they mostly seem to react to things in a normal way for their age. Pacing and writing are reasonably good, too.
I think the only reason this is standing out, though, is because of the LGBT/ace characters; it has potential, but it didn’t sparkle for me. It was easy to read, but not unputdownable. I know there’s a second book, and I’m not in any hurry to get hold of it. It lacks a compelling spark of life, I think.
From the description and the photographs included, I expected this book to be creepier than it was. The story itself, though, didn’t really creep me oFrom the description and the photographs included, I expected this book to be creepier than it was. The story itself, though, didn’t really creep me out — the photos are weird, but having in-story explanations for them kind of takes away that mystery and power. It’s still pretty atmospheric, but not creepy in the way I expected. I was a little surprised to see the fairly lukewarm reviews, though, because I got caught up in the story that’s actually here, and didn’t really mourn the one I didn’t get. (Probably partially because I am a gigantic wuss.)
I had some issues with the characters — why are those people who are repeating the same day over and over, who are hundreds of years old, still acting like children? If they’re learning, why aren’t they changing? They don’t lose their memories, so how are they so static? Even though the headmistress does so much to try and keep them within her loop, and satisfied with it, she can’t stop them interacting, learning from each other and from new people. The situation simply couldn’t stay so fixed, even with the threats the little community faces.
Still, I enjoyed reading this; the narrative swept me along enough that I actually finished it in one sitting, and I’m pondering getting the next book right away. Something about it manages to be compelling, so that I didn’t even really ask these questions while I was reading. Perhaps one best not overthought!
I’m not so sure about this craze for calling adult colouring books a tool for mindfulness. Whatever works for you, I guess, but I use it much more asI’m not so sure about this craze for calling adult colouring books a tool for mindfulness. Whatever works for you, I guess, but I use it much more as a way to relax and just… have some fun. The delight is a childish one and I’m totally okay with that, for the same reason I’m totally okay with people reading or doing whatever appeals to them, regardless of age or gender or whatever. Modern life is pretty darn stressful for our monkey brains, and we need to remember to play.
This one delights that kid in me because it’s full of fish that you can colour in improbable combinations of colour. And quite a few turtles, which are just adorable. The paper quality is good; I use felt-tips to colour in, and it doesn’t leak through at all, which is fortunate because there are designs on both sides of all the pages. I have had slight problems with pages curling up, though, when there’s a lot of colour and therefore obviously a lot of ink. I do suggest if you’re going to use felt-tips, markers or paint, you test on one of the blank pages to make sure there’ll be no leakage with your particular implement of choice.
The designs pretty much all have some small fiddly bits, but not so much so that I found it frustrating.
Also, Anastasia Catris apparently lives in Wales, so hurrah for that.
I think the Creative Colouring for Grown-Ups range are probably my favourite adult colouring books. They have a ton of designs in them, the paper qualI think the Creative Colouring for Grown-Ups range are probably my favourite adult colouring books. They have a ton of designs in them, the paper quality is good (though each page is double-sided, so you have to be careful with anything that might bleed through), and there’s a good combination of finicky detail and bits you can just fill up with colour. (The latter is important for me, being an impatient thing.) There’s plenty of variation in the designs, and they all look good with nice bold felt-tip work. Which is good, because meticulous shading and blending is beyond me.
The patterns themselves… well, some of them don’t strike me as particularly Japanese, but there are some motifs like cranes that wing their way through the book.