Trying to read right now

While family was visiting over the holidays, we browsed at B&N.  I hadn’t been in the store in a while, mostly because the one closest to me is associated with a university (and thus has a poor fiction selection but a lot of uni paraphernalia) and I wasn’t interested enough in any new releases to walk the extra mile to the large store in the harbor.  But we stopped in while meandering around and working off lunch.

I bought a remaindered copy of Heat Rises, the third Castle book.  I read the first one way back when and I liked the TV series…although it is yet another show that I’ve lost track of after 2 seasons.  My attention span is ever-dwindling.  There’s nothing wrong with the book, it’s exactly what the show/series is advertised as:  mystery-lite with humor and R/UST.  But there’s nothing that compels me to pick it up and keep going, which is why it has taken up residence on my coffee table, languishing until intermission during hockey games.

I am going to finish it though.  *nods determinedly*

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Audiobook: Broken Homes

A while back I canceled my monthly subscription to Audible.  I really liked the service and think it was valuable, but I’d reached the point where I had a bunch of very long books to listen to and accumulating credits that I had no idea how to spend.  I still haven’t listened to all the backlog (hello, Juliet Stevenson, whose dulcet voice could sell me anything, even Emma, the Austen book I like least, and Middlemarch — 35 hours!) but I really wanted to hear the audio version of Broken Homes.

Why?  Because I think the narrator of the audio series, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, actually makes the audio versions better than the written versions.  (Okay, maybe it’s that being distracted by terrible copy editing is less likely from the audio versions, too.)

Anyway, I downloaded a copy of Broken Homes last week and am letting myself listen to it one chapter at a time.  I kind of wonder if my reaction at the end of reading the book the first time would have been the same if I’d listened first instead.  We shall see.

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Apparently I’m all about the food

The Biochemist and The Chemist came to visit over the holidays, which was lovely.  I always appreciate the opportunity to cling and be ridiculous.  While we were plotting out what we wanted to do on different days, we wound up arranging things entirely by which restaurants we wanted to try to revisit (important info: Petit Louis is *always* on the itinerary).  Which, uh, we don’t really do that, do we?

Except I was planning a weekend roadtrip for March and realized that I was doing exactly the same thing.  This event is at this hour in this location, which restaurants are nearby that my colleague from that town recommended.

So apparently *I* do that.  And I’m all about the food when traveling.


Unrelated, I had begun to tentatively plan a trip to Istanbul for this year.  A friend went last year and came back with wonderful tales and then handed me his guidebook.  Well, twist my arm.  It was on my bucket list, after all.  I’d read a bunch of security/travel blogs and checked out the State Dept warnings site but was feeling generally okay about visiting.  Today’s news of a suicide bomber in one of Istanbul’s tourist areas is making me hesitate.  It feels wimpy to say that but…I’m not sure what to do right now.  Maybe sleep on it and do more research.

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2014 in review

2014 was a pretty terrible year in reading traditional published or self-published fiction for me.  I finished only 32 books or novellas, and that includes the eight separate parts of Meljean Brook’s Kraken King serial.  Former auto-buys were generally written off and some promising series reached distractingly bad levels of copy editing (direct address commas! punctuation in general! continuity!).

Best book of the year:  As You Wish, Cary Elwes’ memoir of the filming of The Princess Bride.

Honorable mention:  Breakway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Rebirth.  This was interesting from the perspective of a new hockey fan but also in terms of the underlying politics and financial maneuvering involved in sports franchising.  My sister  (long time hockey fan) and I read it at more or less the same time, and pondered some things.  First, Sidney Crosby was The Next One regardless of Pittsburgh, but would he be who he is today if Lemieux had bowed out (which he was poised to do if the team relocated) in terms of professional development and personal since he apparently lived with the family for several years?  Would different management and ownership have been as sympathetic to nearly two full seasons lost to concussion or brain trauma?  Second, Shero’s concern about the Hossa-Dupuis acquisition; hindsight makes Dupuis a bargain while Hossa was a single season rental. And so on.

Still in progress:  Ken Dryden’s The Game (I stopped because his editorial about Price and Subban during the playoffs made me cringe) and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars (the material is unrelentingly ugly and painful).

I’m hoping 2015 will be a better reading year.


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Now I remember…

…what I read or tried to read in October.

Raising the Rent by JL Merrow – a reworking or expansion of a previously published short story.  Not impressed; there was very little reworking done and if you’ve already read the original, it’s not worth the price.

The Boy with the Painful Tattoo by Josh Lanyon.  There was nothing wrong with this book in terms of Lanyon’s writing.  But I think Lanyon has become an author I used to love rather than being one that continues to work for me, so he’s off the auto-buy list now.  [Reading Fair Play in November cemented this for me. Done.]

Burn for Me, the start of a romance-y series by Ilona Andrews, came out in October too, but it’s still sitting on my Kindle.  I’m just not really motivated to read it.  But I will be reading her novella in the Night Shifts anthology that’s recently out.

Someday I will finish Ken Dryden’s The Game and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars.  I’m telling myself that I can’t read Hockey Confidential until I’ve finished at least one of them.

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Post-Turkey Day SBD

It’s been a while.  Maybe the longest I’ve gone between posting since I first started blogging way back in 2005.  (I had to go look that up. Now I feel positively decrepit in internet years.)  There was some crappy stuff going on in the romance field that piled onto my general ennui with respect to fiction; it seemed easier to just not post at all.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve got my reading or blogging mojo back, but I actually felt the urge to write about books today so…

October reading?  There may have been some but I can’t recall.  November was mostly ~meh~ too until the holiday weekend when I finished two books.

First, I read As You Wish, Cary Elwes’s memoir of the filming of The Princess Bride.  I love that movie and will watch it whenever I see it on cable.  I used to have a VHS copy but it is long gone.  Over the holiday weekend, we (The Biochemist, The Chemist, and I) settled down in the den/TV room to watch it but found that we couldn’t – VHS copy only but no player, and it wasn’t streaming for free.  Anyway, As You Wish isn’t particularly brilliant in terms of narrative, but it gave a peak into the filming process and also Goldman’s feelings about the book and the option/screenplay’s troubled history before Rob Reiner talked Goldman into giving him the rights.

Second, Ben Aaronovitch’s Foxglove Summer — book five of the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series.  I have immediate gratification issues, so I ordered a copy from Amazon UK.  I really like Peter’s voice and Aaronovitch’s style, but dear godlings was the copy editing bad in this book.  Dropped or missed punctuation all over the place, relationships changing back and forth (grandfather then father then grandfather again), etc.  I probably need to do a little poking around the author’s website to see if there is a defined arc or series length; it might help me reconcile where this book fits.  It felt pretty disjointed relative to earlier installments.

On the plus side, readers learn a bit about The Nightingale and Ettersberg, and to see magic outside of London.  (I actually like the London-based stuff better, in terms of the history, but I’m assuming this is another perspective on the whole “magic really wasn’t dying” thing that has been mentioned in earlier books.)

A couple of my favorite passages:

‘So ghosts and magic are real?’ he said.

I’d had that question enough times to have an answer ready. ‘There are things that fall outside the parameters of normal policing,’ I said. I find you get two types of police, those that don’t want to know and those that do. Unfortunately, dealing with things you don’t want to know about is practically a definition of policing.

‘So “yes”,’ said Dominic.

‘There’s weird shit,’ I said. ‘And we deal with the weird shit, but normally it turns out that there’s a perfectly rational explanation.’  Which is often that a wizard did it.  (page 35)


‘Why does everyone call him the Nightingale?’ I asked.

‘Because he was so singular, so extraordinary – or so the seniors said.  Of course most of us didn’t believe a word of it, but we used it as a nickname – irony, or so we thought.’

He was looking in my direction, but his gaze was somewhere back in time to his young self.  My dad does the same thing when he talks about seeing Freddie Hubbard with Tubby Hayes at the Bull’s Head in 1965 or being at Ronnie Scott’s and hearing Sonny Rollins solo live for the first time.

There were so many questions I wanted answered, but I began to fear that he was drifting off — or worse.

‘You should have seen him at Ettersberg,’ he said softly. ‘It was like standing before the walls of Troy.  Aias d’amphi Menoitiadei sakos euru kalupsas hestekei hos tis te leon peri hoisi tekessin, but Ajax covered the son of Menoitios with his broad shield and stood fast, like a lion over its children.’  (page136; diacritical marks missing due to my inability to add them.)

There’s a third quote that I like best but it is a serious spoiler for book four so I’ve left it out.

Unrelated:  Chicago was lovely for the holiday, if a little chilly on Thursday.  The Chemist made a turdork (duck stuffed with turkey breast and chorizo) that was delicious.  He also made a salted caramel chocolate cake (crushed animal cracker base with inches of ganache, basically) for dessert.  (And breakfast the next day – cake for breakfast is a valid life choice, okay.)  It was lick-the-plate good, and I’ve asked for the recipe.   Lunch at Revolution Brewery one day, AHL hockey on Saturday followed by amazing pumpkin gnocchi at Letizia Fiore, and lots of couch potato-ing for the NCAA, NHL, and NFL.  The only bad part was the trip home — delayed 2 hours for lack of flight crew and then with a dog on the flight that barked for a solid hour.

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This and that

My reading for the month was up, relative to the rest of my reading this year.  In addition to the books I read at the beach, I finished K.A. Mitchell’s short Just A Little Bad, which I liked as a supplement to other books in that series (it wouldn’t stand on its own).  I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Phryne Fisher mysteries, so I downloaded the first (Cocaine Blues) when it was on sale for $0.99; I found the narrator’s tone/voice to be not to my taste (it read as a combination of ennui and contempt for the world to me).  Also tried Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn, because it too has gotten raves.  Eh, maybe I’ll circle back to it someday but I haven’t felt engaged enough to get past the first chapter.

I did manage to re-read Whispers Underground, my favorite of the Rivers of London series so far, and will be re-reading Broken Homes next in anticipation of Foxglove Summer, which is due out in November.  But first I’m trying Sayers’ Strong Poison.


I think the romance blogosphere knows about the defamation complaint filed by Elloras Cave against Dear Author.  I went to the clerk of court’s website and downloaded a copy of the complaint (which is free, if you’re interested).  I am…not particularly impressed by the memorandum of law in support of the TRO request, but I don’t know enough about defamation/slander/libel/etc. to have an informed opinion about its substance.  I do agree with the general consensus that the suit looks like an attempt to gag criticism generally by targeting a higher profile community member.


An IKEA Kallax shelving unit awaits assembly in my spare room.  And yet I’m pretty sure I’ll still have books in boxes.  This despite the continuing Book Purge.


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