It must be the worst things as a writer to make a character that you hate and would prefer not to write, and then in some act of perversity, they beco...moreIt must be the worst things as a writer to make a character that you hate and would prefer not to write, and then in some act of perversity, they become your most famous and popular character. So it was for Agatha Christie and Poirot. And so it is for Dashiell Hammett and Nick and Nora Charles. The cover is a tiny bit of a lie; they read more as screenplays than novellas. They include stage directions and makeup hints. It is an easy read and some of the extra information is intriguing. The studio bringing in other writers, how they named the series and so on. The actual thin man was the murder victim in the first movie. Large chunks are familiar to people who have seen the films. I have all the movies. I am one of those perverse parents who makes their kids watch ‘classic’ movies although I have a wide definition of classic. We were discussing the Thin Man series and how, these days, all the drinking and smoking would be edited out to save our modern sensibilities, and it would be a *mistake*. Nick and Nora are who they are because of the smoking and endless drinking. They get half their clues from meetings in shady bars and nightclubs that they wouldn’t be in, if they weren’t drinking. So I think I agree with Hammett, the sanitised version of them after the first two movies; when baby made three and Nora had to be ‘good’ is kind of sad. So it was fun to read this version where they are their better, rascally selves. (less)
I found this ebook on Gutenberg whilst doing research. It didn’t click that this was the Sunnybrook farm author. It is not a children's book as some p...moreI found this ebook on Gutenberg whilst doing research. It didn’t click that this was the Sunnybrook farm author. It is not a children's book as some people have listed it, unless they are big opera fans. It took me a little while to get it and then I had to go back and check what year it was written. 1914? Seriously?
This is a critique of an unknown Wagner opera version of Bluebeard. She lists all the parts and has descriptions of arias. It is of course, a spoof. There is no such opera. It was not found fifty years later, by a housemaid in a hatbox under the bed in the summer holiday home of the Wagners. Maybe Kate’s housemaid never dusted under the bed? Nor is there an Anti-feminist aria that will cause feminists to picket any opera house where this work is performed.
She has many opera jokes and quite a few digs at Wagner.
This is the celebrated “KilkennischeKatzenMotiv” (Motive of Mortal Combat). It is a syncopated movement, and when given at the piano, is to be played furiously, first with one hand and then with the other, till the performer is quite weary.
Snorks. My German is not good, but I think that translates as something about screeching cats? She describes Bluebeard as ‘a pioneer of trial marriage’.
The “AusgespieltMotiv” is written in four flats, but as a matter of fact only one person is flat, viz. : Blue-beard, who has just been slain by Mustapha. The other three flats must refer to the sheep accidentally hit by the younger brothers, who aim for Bluebeard, but miss him, being indifferent marksmen.
I suppose these books are technically fanfiction but I know that the Conan Doyle estate guard his legacy jealously; few are allowed to legally play in...moreI suppose these books are technically fanfiction but I know that the Conan Doyle estate guard his legacy jealously; few are allowed to legally play in that world. Here, Enola is the late baby of the family. So late that she is fourteen when her elder brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft are adults and in the middle of their set careers. Sherlock already has a reputation as a detective. They have met their young sister precisely once before their mother vanishes on Enola’s birthday. Faced with a new life of boarding school, bustles, boundaries and boredom, Enola runs away. She is a good heroine, who makes some mistakes, trusts the wrong people and takes some bad advice. It is good to see her make those mistakes and I feel Enola Holmes can only improve from here. I mean, she’s already outsmarted her brothers. (less)
It’s hard sometimes to go back to favourite fairy tales as an adult. Beauty and the beast is a tricky one to look at with adult eyes because imprisonm...moreIt’s hard sometimes to go back to favourite fairy tales as an adult. Beauty and the beast is a tricky one to look at with adult eyes because imprisonment, lack of consent and duress are at the heart of the tale. A girl makes a sacrifice and she goes as a hostage to stay in the castle of the Beast in place of her father. Logically her father is old, and really, he has lived his life. Any parent would not let their child do this. But this is a magic world. I watched a trailer for a French movie version of Beauty and the Beast and it reminded me more of that, than the standard Disney tale most of us know. Or perhaps it was just fresh in my mind? It is an easy read and this Beast is an absolute sweetie. He never even roars at her and he always tells her the truth even if she doesn’t recognise it at the time. Plus I love the concept of the library that holds books that are not written yet. It is a nice story and for that it misses the mark just a touch; perhaps because the beast is never beastly? Does that make sense? It is just his outward appearance that is so scary. In some ways beautiful people that are beastly inside are far more terrifying. (less)
Shutdown by Laurel K Hamilton was free on her website.
“Dr. Ellen Radborne was about my height, 5' 3" with thick shoulder length brunette hair that I m
...moreShutdown by Laurel K Hamilton was free on her website.
“Dr. Ellen Radborne was about my height, 5' 3" with thick shoulder length brunette hair that I might have thought was black, but my hair was black, so I knew hers was really just dark brown. Her eyes were brown, like mine, though again mine were a little darker. She had a pale summer tan, to my nearly white skin, but then my skin never tanned, it just burned, and then went back to being pale. She was curvy, maybe not as curvy through the chest as me, but no man who liked breasts would complain that she lacked. She was in shape, though not as fit as I, but then I doubt she needed to hit the weights and cardio as hard for her job as I did for mine.”
This is the first paragraph of this story. Can you see the problem? I can. I know Anita is the main character in this series but I am starting to get seriously concerned about Hamilton’s complete inability to have another female character in the books. And to have multiple poly relationships and groupings with only one woman in the mix? It just isn’t going to work. If Anita is meant to raise zombies, investigate murders and sex ALL the guys, she will need more hours in the day. I used to love this series and I own all the books, but this is honestly starting to make me nuts. And this woman is supposed to be Richard’s new fiancée? Spoiler alert - it doesn’t go well. Of course it doesn’t; she’s NOT Anita. Richard is still looking for the white picket fence. (That phrase makes it into every scene that has Richard in it. Please stop. Readers remember stuff.) There must be a wolf girl who can tick all his boxes? There is no way Anita is human anymore, so surely he can let that go? Anita gets mad and Micah pats her to calm her down. The characters are becoming cardboard cut-outs. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Richard got a real woman as a wife; one who had a character, and who could be an intelligent match for him and maybe even a valuable ally and friend to Anita? She has no female friends. Ellen here, is supposed to be a doctor and is clearly not very smart. The least she could have done was Google poly relationships before meeting them. But she fast becomes the outspoken voice of poly/vampire hate - too fast for a woman who was going to marry a werewolf. So Richard gets his heart broken again… and no doubt, Anita will kiss it better and Micah will back off and let her. Sigh. (less)
Mis-titled for a start. Lover, singular… and there are at least four love stories in here and more than a dozen pov’s - some from people we haven’t se...moreMis-titled for a start. Lover, singular… and there are at least four love stories in here and more than a dozen pov’s - some from people we haven’t seen before and will never see again because they died. At last? Yeah, right… Should have been called Lovers at Random. Sigh. I think this one may be the ‘I’m done’ with this series. I really liked the first few books and this one? Just… no. It’s not the m/m romance - heck I write that stuff and read plenty of it. It’s the way Ward hasn’t given the m/m romance anything like the same detail as the het romances. I did fear this because of the way she skirted around them for so many books. I always have to shelve my feminism to read these books; dominant males, stalking females, possessing them, a lot of use of the word ‘mine’, and once the women are mated they disappear. Whatever brain and job they had evaporates now because they have to stay inside the compound and be looked after. They don’t even get to do the housework because Fritz does all of that (and all the gardening) and he’d pitch a fit if they tried to lift a bag… sigh. But I can shelve all that and enjoy the book if I can tag it as a fantasy, or if the writing grabs me. And it doesn’t grab me any more. Every human woman that is not a potential vampire mate is written as a slut. And I don’t like that term, but here, it fits. Honestly, there was a not a single normal woman in the book. Maybe the grandma… yeah. That’s about it. And Ward’s language? Trying to write gangsta? Ugh. It was almost offensive. Ward can’t come up with a gay partner term like Shellan or Hellren for the same sex couple? Oh, I know - how about Pahrtner? *sarcasm* *spoilers* Qhuinn is just a mess and I mean that in the character written way. He has this great revelation that he’s gay after Blay has shouted it at him. WTF? He’s been doing anyone of either sex that would offer for years, and in front of his friends, and he’s suddenly having a sexuality crisis??! Way out of character. Blay just seems… I don’t know - besides being notably absent in his own love story, he just seems wrong? Why on earth would he not tell Qhuinn he and Saxon had broken up? This is a guy who has been raised by open and accepting parents, and he tells lies like that? And that is a big one - you have to say - with no reason for it. And Qhuinn almost choked Saxon to death thinking he had cheated on Blay, so for Blay to prefer to be thought that he was cheating, rather than be honest? It doesn’t compute. They just seemed to have sex with no real emotional build-up or connection, as if the desire to fuck leapt on them or something. And as if the whole house wouldn’t know about the breakup? This is a house with a pile of people with super physical senses. And a pile of servants. News travels fast in the vampire frat house. And no lube anal sex with a guy with cock piercings? Just… no. You’d be seeing Doc Jane to fix that. It’s great that Qhuinn is now a Brother but I won’t be holding my breath for a woman to ever be given the same privilege, no matter how good a fighter she is. Payne or Xhex can forget that. Assail is a Rehvenge repeat without the interesting angsty parts. I liked Rehv but this guy is just too similar. The whole band of misfits or whatever they are called and Xcor is another attempt to write a parallel series. There is way more than enough storylines within the brotherhood itself, without having to bring in new characters, if Ward applied some thought to new storylines. But honestly, they are just the same thing, over and over. Maybe Ward thinks that is what the readers want, but I don’t want it and I’m a reader. The recipe from book one is just repeated. The stalker guy, gets woman’s scent and follows her around until she is his… oh, my god. How many times have we read that? Eleven times, right? This IS book eleven. How about the angst between Butch and V? How about how you actually have a real relationship with a woman who is a ghost? How about… oh, man - I can think of a dozen things building on the basic characters. Ooh ooh… how about a gang of all female fighters fighting to even the scales? We can call them the Red Dagger Sisterhood. Beth, the queen was never an idiot. She was supposed to be a journalist before she met Wrath and here she sits, touching the pregnant woman she has ignored for ages in an attempt to start her own needing, flicking through magazines and blithely saying that Wrath will give her a kid because she wants one. With no thought of the half-human vampire queen issue. She surely has got a clue about vampire politics? They hate people with two colored eyes ffs (that’s Qhuinn’s story at any rate). Does she really not think about whether a quarter human baby, will be accepted as heir to the throne? And why didn’t anyone ask Bella about pregnancy and vampire babies? Did Ward forget about her? It’s possible with this many characters. Lord knows John Matthew just disappeared in this volume. The product name dropping has reached a tipping point. It’s like watching commercial television. I HATE it. I’d quote you some but why should you have to go through it again? Ugh: I’m done. One star. (less)
It starts in an obvious Lord of the Flies scenario. A camp of children; all male and all self-reliant. They have organised themselves into various dif...moreIt starts in an obvious Lord of the Flies scenario. A camp of children; all male and all self-reliant. They have organised themselves into various different groups, all with their own slang terms and duties. The whole thing runs remarkably well for a bunch of teen boys without adult supervision. They even farm and slaughter their own animals. They even have doctors of a sort. The newest addition to the group is Thomas, the main character. He has lost his memory, but it is a very weird kind of memory loss. He can remember his own name and various other glimpses of memories and an annoying sense of familiarity with things. He knows what a bike is for instance, he knows how to ride one but not who taught him to ride it or when or where. Odd. The whole camp runs in an artificial world. It is always warm, the weather is exactly the same every day, supplies arrive to a schedule, each night at exactly the same time the doors leading to the maze outside close and outside becomes the place for the grievers to roam. It is a world of surveillance with literal electronic bugs running around. It makes no sense. And what is odder still, is that no-one questions this; except the new guy Thomas. The whole camp assumes that when they have solved the puzzle, they can all go home. Why would they assume that? Who told them this? Why are the machines called grievers and the cure for their sting is called grief? Why is there even a cure for the sting? And why give them the cure in their supplies if the point is for them to die? Why do they think the maze holds the key? The maze runners (thus the title) record the location of the maze walls, draw maps of them and store them. Why? Thomas knows day one that he wants to be a maze runner. The issue is that none of them seem to realize that this is a lab rat experiment and that they are the well-fed rats in the maze. And that I find odd as well. It is so obvious that this is an artificial setup. Plus, the over heavy foreshadowing (or is it pre-shadowing if it was stuff they knew but forgot?) is really annoying and ruins the ending. Not that there actually is an ending… not really. *spoilers* (view spoiler)[The maps prove to be the key - literally, when in a process I cannot understand, tracings of the maps spell out words. Problem is there are nine sections to the maze with the camp at the centre and all the words they get are four and five letter ones… huh? How can you solve a puzzle and leave blanks? (Unless I have got the whole maze plan wrong but I don’t think so - they describe it as a tic-tac-to board - 9 squares - right? I try to leave blanks in crosswords and it never works out… he he) And as a conceivable solution to the puzzle it just *isn’t*. Map the maze, make maps, trace maps over the top of each other, magic words appear… that will lead you to the exit - ahhh… no. (hide spoiler)]
Then things go awry when another new person arrives, off schedule and *gasp* it’s a girl. Everything goes downhill from here. Cue eye roll. Introduce a female and it all breaks… uh, huh. Readers are left struggling for information, exactly like Thomas. He asks a lot of questions and gets constantly told to shut-up or that he will be told later. And usually isn’t. By the end when they escape the maze to find themselves part of an even larger one (in a sense), Thomas asks a question and is told they can’t tell him now … …and I literally screamed at the book. The problem with not telling your main character stuff is that your reader doesn’t know it either. Thomas is … flat. He seems like a nice guy but I had no sense that he was super smart, nor that the whole group are supposed to be super smart. The best of the best scenario. Any of Thomas’s big solutions came via the deus ex machina of memory. But then again, other characters are flat, too. People died, sacrificed themselves and I had no emotional reaction to it. Note: I cry at Hallmark card commercials and here… nope… nothing. I know they are making it into a movie and I think it will do well with some heavy editing. Maybe the movie can fill the visuals that I just didn’t see as a reader. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It is almost impossible to describe this graphic novel. You meet the family mid childbirth. The father cries holding his newborn and that’s it; you al...moreIt is almost impossible to describe this graphic novel. You meet the family mid childbirth. The father cries holding his newborn and that’s it; you already like him - ram’s horns or no. The mother is a winged amazon who fights to protect that baby. Later you find out they are skilled, trained and battle hardened soldiers from opposite sides of a war and pretty much everyone wants them dead for having the temerity to fall in love. Bounty hunters are after them, princes of the realm with TV’s for heads and talking cats - well he doesn’t say much; just ‘lying’ if you are. It’s funny, imaginative story telling - the world building is amazing. The coloring perfect! It is a seriously good graphic novel and has the awards to show for it. I’ll be putting the other volumes on my wishlist! And YAY for the breastfeeding mom on the front cover.(less)
‘World building is so important,’ everyone tells writers. Well if that is the case, why do I keep reading so many books with frankly ridiculous worlds...more‘World building is so important,’ everyone tells writers. Well if that is the case, why do I keep reading so many books with frankly ridiculous worlds? And they all seem to be dystopian young adult books as well. Sigh. I kept reading this one until the end and I’m not even sure why. The premise that the world is divided into groups by one (count them… one) emotion. Well that is just nuts. Where’s the group for the nuts btw? The decision to choose a group to join sets you for life in that group and you will never be able to go home again, plus you will probably be disowned by your family for not choosing their group. Why? People change; you might be dauntless when you are 16 but I would seriously hope you learnt something by 40. Especially about jumping off rooftops and moving trains. I knew the heroine would choose Dauntless the second she described them throwing themselves off a moving train. Ooh… that’s so cool (not). They are tattooed, pierced and they get to eat hamburgers, laugh and get drunk. Why there is even a need for a group of fighters isn’t explained. Or why they go to visit people guarding a fence - from what? We are never told. Who grows the food and makes the fabrics? And runs the trains in this world? And what is happening in the rest of the country? This is just one city. Tris, the heroine, is plain, but somehow beautiful; she grows so much muscle in a week she can’t fit in her old clothes. She doesn’t feel pain from tattoos and she can learn to fight in weeks. Any injuries magically heal too, as well as the tattoos. It makes no sense. And OF COURSE the super hunky best-at-everything trainer Four, falls in love with her immediately. You cannot learn to fight just from being beaten up by someone else. All you learn is hopefully how to protect your vital organs. It takes years or even decades to learn how to fight, throw knives and whatever else they magically acquired in an afternoon. This just wasn’t training. A good fighter and leader is one who can think; being reckless as a leader is how your soldiers get killed. It is hardly a valuable skill. (view spoiler)[Trainees who stab their rivals in the eye go unpunished. Tris shoots her friend in the HEAD but lets her enemy live. Wtf? (hide spoiler)] And God suddenly shows in the final third which is odd because religion wasn’t relevant before. And I don’t see how it could be in a world divided along these lines. There was just something major missing about WHY Tris made the choices she did. She was just too I don’t know… wooden (?) for me to care about anything that happened to her. She had no understandable emotions. She grieved for the loss of a team-mate more than she did for losses closer to her. It is also one of those books that I finished and couldn’t find the end. My copy did have an extra 70 pages of stuff and that set me up to think there was more. So I read the last chapter and thought… wait… WHAT??? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This would be a fabulous resource if I wrote more Southern Vampire Mystery fanfiction. The novella fills in the gaps for Quinn’s story arc with Sookie...moreThis would be a fabulous resource if I wrote more Southern Vampire Mystery fanfiction. The novella fills in the gaps for Quinn’s story arc with Sookie and provides a fitting end for Sandra Newlin’s story as well. It also expands a little more on Sam and Sookie’s arc. Sam takes her as his wedding date to meet his family rather than his actual girlfriend, Jannalynn who is not exactly small town appropriate. The fact that Sam is ashamed of her does not bode well for their relationship. From memory the wedding was mentioned in some of the main books, so it was good to fill the gaps and see what happened when a wedding becomes the centrepiece for the two-natured versus the temple of the sun devotees and people against others with differences. I am dying to try some of the recipes, including Caroline Bellefluer's famous chocolate cake!! Yippee.** I did have a chuckle at the correspondence between Bill and Eric at the end of the book summaries. A volume for the dedicated fan.
** made the chocolate cake and it is absolutely to die for - or maybe to die from? Death by chocolate??!(less)
Definitely an Australian voice. He uses phrases and cultural references that a non-Australian will just never understand and I like it. The book is ve...moreDefinitely an Australian voice. He uses phrases and cultural references that a non-Australian will just never understand and I like it. The book is very complex; a cast of dozens of crooked (or are they?) cops, a company trail that needs a forensic accountant to unravel, beautifully drawn minor characters like his local artist and the old football loyalists who reside permanently at the local pub and bemoan the loss of the local Australian rules football team to another state. This is the first Jack Irish book I have read, but having seen the TV series, I had a better idea of what was going on; just as well, it probably wasn’t a good idea to start reading at book 2. But I will read some more! (less)
This is described as a murder mystery and I am not sure that it actually is. It certainly doesn’t follow mystery rules, the death itself doesn’t occur...moreThis is described as a murder mystery and I am not sure that it actually is. It certainly doesn’t follow mystery rules, the death itself doesn’t occur until more than three quarters of the way through. What it is, is an obviously affectionate glimpse into a girl’s boarding college; one that specialises in physical training. The principal is an old school friend of the main character and she asks her to give a guest lecture on psychology. Miss Pym is quite the expert after writing her own common sense approach on the subject and it became a bestseller; enough to support her financially. She indulges in another of Tey’s favourite things - analysis of facial features. I don’t agree with physiognomy as a reliable indicator of character, but here Miss Pym paints an extraordinary psychological picture of all the students and teachers. She stays on to observe and fitting with neither group (students nor teachers) she becomes the confidant of both. A rare male makes a foray into this world of women and they too, are dissected by Miss Pym. This book would definitely pass the Bechdel test and when you finish it you may know more about physical education than you ever needed to know but it’s an easy read. She even has one sentence defending Richard III’s treatment by Shakespeare - the basis of her Daughter of Time book. (less)