I'm kind of crushing on Sam Vimes (although Carrot is more my type, when he's being all righteous and serving justice) so I will probably be finishingI'm kind of crushing on Sam Vimes (although Carrot is more my type, when he's being all righteous and serving justice) so I will probably be finishing off the Watch books before moving onto anything else in the series.
Great, if typical Pratchett, take on relevant issues without being preachy or even remotely boring for one page. I wish 71 hour Ahmed could have had another book to himself and that you could carve "I can see your house from up here" when building Wonders in Age of the Empires....more
I LOVED Dorfl's discussion with the priests in the end and I was happy to find that we both have the same views on atheism. The cover of my edition ofI LOVED Dorfl's discussion with the priests in the end and I was happy to find that we both have the same views on atheism. The cover of my edition of the book gave away a major plot point though. ...more
I watched the BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories earlier this year and the image of Arthur Weasley as the titular priest was sufficient enoughI watched the BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories earlier this year and the image of Arthur Weasley as the titular priest was sufficient enough to make me want to give the stories another shot, despite the tiresome narrow-mindedness of the first book. And when I read that ridiculous story featuring the passionate, poetic Italian I thought that was the worst stereotype in the book. Dear God, I was mistaken.
"The God of the Gongs" is astonishingly racist to the point that you could be forgiven for mistaking it for satire. Yes, I know, old timey people were supposed to be bigoted, but how could anyone, even in 1914, could read about Flambeau talking about how he understands why black people get lynched because the - what should one call this character? "Stereotype" is too subtle a word for the absurdity of this creation - is walking around in a swagger, and not think there was something profoundly wrong about a statement like that. By the time the good priest admits that "‘I fear we English think all foreigners are much the same so long as they are dark and dirty…’", I was done with him and with Chesterton.
If it were just racism though, I might have let it pass as an unfortunate mental disease of the time. However, the fact is that the Father Brown stories are simply dull and badly-written. Obviously there are few characters to sympathize with but even the plots are dull. I did like the opening of The Man in the Passage but the story itself was a little lacklustre.
I had initially decided to grit my teeth and finish the other two collections of stories but I fear it will take a lot more than Mrs. McCarthy and Sid to get me back to reading this exhausting tripe....more
I thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazingI thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazing character but after a few chapters she begins to be far too insistently precocious. My biggest grouse though, was with the plot and the climax could have been tied up at least ten pages earlier if the author hadn't wanted to be dramatic. I did however like the little historical anecdotes, about postage of course, but also the clameur de haro. And bonus points for quoting Ernest Dowson. It's still a good book and I'd want to check out the rest of the series....more
This was given to me by a friend (I adore hand-me-down books! It feels like you're reading them with a friend beside you and I like wondering how theThis was given to me by a friend (I adore hand-me-down books! It feels like you're reading them with a friend beside you and I like wondering how the previous owner would have reacted to this or that part of the story).
It was the cover that attracted me at first though, not the book. The cover is delightfully reminiscent of Lego and a read in itself - I had a great time, discovering all the little stories in it - the cheeky, the cute and the plain weird. But along with the superfun cover, I ended up enjoying the book itself way more than I expected to.
I'm not a big fan of pulp/noir/hardboiled detective fiction and their variants, mainly because they slip into narm territory so often. I prefer cozy country house murders and psychological mysteries. But I liked City of Tiny Lights because it takes familiar tropes (femme fatale walks into the office of hard drinking detective with A Past, for one) and then adds in all these layers to the story. It also helps that Tommy Akhtar is a pretty likeable protagonist. While I found his narration a little grating at first, as you delve into his story and that of the city around him, it becomes less a jumble of argot (thank God for all the 70s British sitcoms my parents watched when I was a kid; I hadn't heard the word "shtum" since Mind Your Language) and more of a unique voice guiding you around a unique city.
I liked that Patrick Neate managed to write about an ethnic character without resorting to the awful stereotypes that books with Indian characters are peppered with (even when so many of them are written by Indians themselves!). Neate treats his characters as people - you get the idea that Tommy and the others are who they are also because of themselves, not just because of where they come from. In fact, most of the characters in the book, regardless of ethnicity and importance, are better fleshed out than I would expect. I also liked the book's treatment of Islamic fundamentalism (Farzad wouldn't like that - maybe I should say Islamic opportunism instead?). It avoids the boogeyman/monster-under-the-bed approach of a lot of fiction - and non fiction - and instead chooses to portray a complex issue in a more nuanced manner than usual. It was this blend of pulp and realism that made this an engaging book to read. I also like the London of this book. I think places in a book, whether houses or entire cities, are as important as the human characters and I love stories that make them come alive.
On the other hand, the ending was quite disappointing. I don't mind the occasional loose end that leaves the reader intrigued but this felt unfinished, as if there was a chapter or epilogue missing. Tommy's decision to involve Avi, while crucial to the climax, was uncharacteristically bad, despite the lampshading and its aftermath wasn't explored in as much detail as I thought it required. The pace of the book starting from the climax onwards was quite hurried and out of sync with the rest.
I did like the book on the whole and I wish Mr. Neate would hurry up and write another Tommy Akhtar mystery. This was an interesting complement to Cuckoo's Calling. I think modern detective fiction set in London is a genre I will enjoy exploring....more
Apart from the Latin phrases preceding each part of the book, there was little here that I could connect with Rowling (well okay, I imagine Strike toApart from the Latin phrases preceding each part of the book, there was little here that I could connect with Rowling (well okay, I imagine Strike to look something like Hagrid). I have always thought that once the Harry Potter series was over, detective fiction would have been the natural next step for her, and I was surprised that she went ahead instead with a book like The Casual Vacancy.
The Cuckoo's Calling is not wildly original but is a pleasantly written book. If you're one of those annoying readers, like me, who loves guessing who did it, you might be a little disappointed at how obvious it is. But like all good mysteries, it is the investigation that matters more than the reveal. The modern, multicultural London of the book is as interesting a setting as Chicago or LA. I liked Cormoran Strike, despite his name. And his dynamic with Robin is far more engaging than the whole Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton thing he seems to have going on with Charlotte. In fact, I wish that entire subplot had been removed - it took away from the storyline and it did not have the chance to be developed enough to add another layer to Strike.
The writing is readable but lacks the spark and magic of Harry Potter, that almost addictive power of her words - by which I mean that I did not read this book at a stretch without sacrificing food, water and sleep :P. It's still pretty well written enough to keep the story moving smoothly forward.
I loved all the lines from Virgil and it reminded me of my plan to start reading classical texts again (I pretty much gave them up after good St Augustine last year). While this isn't exactly from the story itself, but "Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit" is such a lovely thing to remember. And fitting, for a book where memories, harsh and pleasant play an important role. Memories were why I read this book in the first place myself. I got this from one of the pavement booksellers at King's Circle on a trip to eat South Indian food with friends. I hadn't bought any from them in years and I remember that my first Harry Potter was bought from a similar bookseller, a badly printed copy that was probably pirated from an original. It's good to go back to old friends. ...more
I'm rather tired of Agatha Christie now but I liked this one, mainly for turning around two things I found most tiresome about her books - the whole tI'm rather tired of Agatha Christie now but I liked this one, mainly for turning around two things I found most tiresome about her books - the whole terribly-virile-man and feisty-brunette combo and the embarrassing values dissonance. The reveal is a little clumsy but I've honestly read worse. ...more
I really must stop reading random Agatha Christie mysteries as a diversion while trying to read heavier books. They're always fun and don't really insI really must stop reading random Agatha Christie mysteries as a diversion while trying to read heavier books. They're always fun and don't really insult the reader's intelligence but they do tend to get a little repetitive. And I know this values dissonance is just a reflection of how different things were in Christie's time, but the xenophobia is really grating. Especially when you're supposed to sympathise with a woman who is willing to disown members of her family simply because their father is Greek! Really?! It can be argued that Dr Tanios is slightly redeemed towards the end but it's tiresome to read the kind of statements that are spouted in the beginning. ...more
Saw the reveal coming halfway through the book - Christie drops some pretty giant hints. It's a pretty typical Christie mystery; big, wealthy, crazy fSaw the reveal coming halfway through the book - Christie drops some pretty giant hints. It's a pretty typical Christie mystery; big, wealthy, crazy family, earnestly English suitor, a touch of xenophobia and a very readable story. The ending however, and the justification for it was downright bizarre. ...more
What is it with Christie and jingoistic gorilla heroes? The whole kiss-kiss-slap-slap dynamic with their suitably fiery heroines? It starts getting tiWhat is it with Christie and jingoistic gorilla heroes? The whole kiss-kiss-slap-slap dynamic with their suitably fiery heroines? It starts getting tiresome after oh, the 200th time. Luke and Bridget's relationship was more rapey than romantic and I was tired of both of them by the fifth page.
Anyway, decent mystery. I was hoping for an interesting supernatural element since Luke was supposed to be researching witchcraft after all. The reveal is slightly predictable though and embarrassingly soap-operatic but to be honest, I don't really have any serious expectations from a book like this to begin with so I'm satisfied with a semi-interesting denouement, which this one had. ...more
Fun and light. Frankie and Bobby could both get a little annoying but I kind of liked them. I thought the plot got a little unnecessarily drawn out thFun and light. Frankie and Bobby could both get a little annoying but I kind of liked them. I thought the plot got a little unnecessarily drawn out though. ...more
I love reading Agatha Christie for the same reasons I like eating junk food - it's fast, easy and enjoyable when I want a change from more sensible stI love reading Agatha Christie for the same reasons I like eating junk food - it's fast, easy and enjoyable when I want a change from more sensible stuff. And like junk food, there's often a not-so-pleasant aftertaste to it. In this case, it's the values dissonance I experience while reading some of her books. The old timey racism and imperialist attitudes are difficult to digest, especially when they come from characters you're supposed to root for. I just can't sympathize with her pukka sahibs, nor with statements that imply that being English means hating on every foreigner you meet.
However, the plot in this book was entertaining as usual, and I did like the second twist towards the end. ...more