Archive for January, 2011

Coming Back (Sharon McCone, #27)

Coming Back (Sharon McCone, #27) by Marcia Muller

In books read on January 30, 2011

This is the 27th Sharon McCone book apparently! I started reading them in about 1995 when they were published by the Women's Press (who published stacks of underrated female authors and are now defunct as far as I can tell) and the earliest books were getting on for twenty years old then. I've read the last seven or eight in hardback and each time I brace myself to be disappointed, because there's no way Muller can keep up the quality for that long is there?

Once again I'm pleased to report that Muller & McCone are still going strong. Of course there is variation in quality between the books and this isn't one of the top class ones but it's not at all bad. McCone is recovering from the debilitating problems she had in the last book. The plot here did feel rather like things that had happened in the series before - I'd quite like there to be a book with a smaller scale mystery again, something that doesn't involve the US government gone bad - but it didn't feel like a rehash or like Muller had run out of steam.

I've said before that one of the things I like about long series is checking in with all the old friends you've made and seeing what they are up to now. This book is good for that because it's written as an ensemble piece with sections alternating between long term characters like Sharon's husband Hy, office manager Ted, colleagues Adah & Craig etc. But, unlike some series I could mention, all the little catching up details of the in-book universe don't overwhelm the main story. And I'm pleased that, again unlike some other authors, Muller hasn't felt the need to start writing huge blockbuster length books when she's great at writing tight well plotted mysteries.

If you're new to this series then this probably isn't the place you ought to start, but I don't think a newcomer would feel too much adrift in a sea of past remembrances here, which is good.

I'm looking forward to the 28th book already.

This was a hardback.

Cradle Song

Cradle Song by Robert Edric

In books read on January 29, 2011

This was great! I'm really pleased it's the first part of a trilogy and I get to read the second two installments in the series. I just hope they are as high quality as this.

It's a PI novel, set in the internet age, in Hull, an industrial city in the north of England with nothing much to recommend it. Leo Rivers gets involved in the case of Nicola Bishop, a fourteen year old, who went missing five years ago at the behest of her father. The man who confessed to her murder was convicted of another murder but nothing was ever proved about Nicola's death.

The book is both well written and well plotted. I don't want to give away too much about how the story falls into place other than to say that everything is set up just right. This is well worth a read.

This was a kindle eBook.

Makers

Makers by Cory Doctorow

In books read on January 29, 2011

I wish I liked science fiction! I like science and fiction but the combination of the two rarely works out for me. I do keep trying though. I tried this book because I have, in the past, been an avid reader of Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing blog, and I like his Guardian columns on digital rights, and I basically agree with most of what he says.

This book has tons of interesting future technology ideas in it. The main story is about creating objects with 3d printers and the story contains lots of other assays into the future of economics, biotechnology, mass media, fitness, all kinds of stuff. However it just didn't work for me. I just got fed up with it all. There was nothing much wrong with the plot, and I thought the central characters were well written - especially in the later parts of the book after more time had passed and the relationships between them changed. Just overall the book wasn't my cup of tea.

LibraryThing tells me "LibraryThing thinks you probably won't like Makers (prediction confidence: high)" and it was about right I'm afraid.

This was a kindle eBook.

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps by Michel Faber

In books read on January 29, 2011

I didn't realise how short this book was when I bought it. (It was only £1 in a Kindle sale though so I don't feel too shortchanged!) The print copy is only just over 100 pages I think, and I flew through this in a fraction of a lazy afternoon.

I bought it because I know the setting, the steps up to the abbey at Whitby, well and it sounded intriguing. It's short but perfectly formed and I wouldn't have minded spending a lot longer with the characters, but this worked nicely. I'll look out for more by the author.

This was a kindle eBook.

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Spin Wheel BlockSkirt IISkirt I

Flickr Pics 26th January 2011

on January 26, 2011 by kirsty

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The Accidental

The Accidental by Ali Smith

In books read on January 25, 2011

This book has turned up in every list of recommended books I've come across in the last few years, eventually I had to get around to reading it. Was it as good as everyone said it was? Possibly, but it didn't really do it for me. I mostly read it a handful of pages at a time and didn't really get into the flow of it. The couple of times I picked it up and read 50 pages or so at a time I really enjoyed it - it's obviously very well written but you need to get under it's skin to like it - but most of the time I could easily put it down after five pages and the fancy writing techniques and drawn out narrative don't work on that scale.

I will remember it for the following verse, taken from a section where one of the characters talks in verse, (I thought they were sonnets but I don't think they are)


and everything but he felt nothing at all.
He felt- awful. Her name-badge said 'Miranda'.
Brave new world. He felt bad, utterly small.
He magicked all his cash into her hand, a
small fortune. She straightened her overall.
It was nylon. He dropped her, as if planned, a
little away from where she worked. She waved.
Brave new world. Dr Michael Smart, depraved,


Having spent six years rhyming Miranda (my daughter's name) and coming up only with 'veranda' and 'Uganda' I'm pleased to have found a new approach!

But basically, I can see it's a great book, but it didn't work very well for me.

This was a paperback.

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Oven GlovesMiranda's Chevron Hat IIMiranda's Chevron Hat INew CarOld Car

Flickr Pics 25th January 2011

on January 25, 2011 by kirsty

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13½

13½ by Nevada Barr

In books read on January 20, 2011

I used to love Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series but stopped reading after Hunting Season in 2003 after a run of several books that had become rather boring to me. I look her up occassionally to see if anyone thinks one of the new ones is a really good one but most people seem to think the same as me so I haven't picked any of the more recent books up. When I saw that she'd written a standalone thriller though I thought it was worth giving her another try.

I enjoyed this but it's nothing especially brilliant. It's fairly easy to see where the plot is going and I was never particularly worried for the main characters. I'd latched onto the 'twist' early on but as is often the case that just made the book more fun to read as you spot the misdirection.

This was a paperback.

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Miranda's Gruffalo Cake IIIMiranda's Gruffalo Cake IIMiranda's Gruffalo Cake I

Flickr Pics 17th January 2011

on January 17, 2011 by kirsty

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The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2)

The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2) by Susan Hill

In books read on January 15, 2011

I liked the first in this series, but completely loved this second book.

You'll be disappointed if you like your crime novels to get everything resolved and tied up neatly by the end; this is in many ways more of a family saga that happens to feature a policeman and his work. I like it that way, it goes off at all kinds of tangents with minor characters which I found a really entertaining read. I could barely put it down, not because it's a page-turning thriller but because it's well written, interesting and I always wanted to know what happened next to the characters, even the nasty seeming ones.

I'm not really sure to be honest why they bill them as 'Simon Serrailler' books as he's only really one of the cast, a central character here more than in the first book but not the only one.

This was a paperback.