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Books in January

2016 is starting off snowy and very cold here in Montreal; temperatures are so low that the only thing to do is to stay inside and read!

Bryant and May and the Burning Man, by Christopher Fowler.Collapse )

The Edge of Nowhere, by Elizabeth George.Collapse )

The Edge of the Water, by Elizabeth George.Collapse )

The Edge of the Shadows, by Elizabeth George.Collapse )

Hide Me Among the Graves, by Tim Powers.Collapse )

The Hanging Valley, by Peter Robinson.Collapse )

The Brewer of Preston, by Andrea Camilleri.Collapse )

Wycliffe and the Pea Green Boat, by W. J. Burley.Collapse )

January ends with extremely mild temps and easy minds; we're off to San Francisco tomorrow to visit my family, back in a flash as they say!

David Bowie

Best comment/tribute I've seen on this sad day:

"David Bowie didn't die. Ziggy Stardust just went home."

RIP, Starman.

Most to me is "Rock'n'Roll Suicide," from the Ziggy period - "you're NOT alone!" kinda sorta actually kept me alive at certain times in my life.

And for that, thank you, Mr. Bowie.

Books in 2015

I read a total of 76 books in 2015 (71 if you don't count the re-read of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series); in the past I've been closer to or just over the 100 mark, but I've noticed that my reading speed has slowed somewhat over this past year. I wonder if reading more slowly is a sign of aging? Hmmmm.... Anyway, in no particular order except the chronological order in which I read them, here's my favourite reads of 2015:

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley. The continuing story of Flavia de Luce, one of the most delightful characters in recent memory; it's necessary to have read the previous six books in the series before tackling this one.

Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch. Another series choice, in this case the modern urban fantasy world of London Police Constable and fledgling wizard Peter Grant. Two words for this one: carnivorous unicorns! Yum....

Galapagos Regained: A Novel, by James Morrow. In which a sometime actress races against time and competition to secure creatures cited in Darwin's Origin of Species to prove, or disprove, the existence of God. Oh, and to win a bunch of money too. Morrow is consistently one of the best, and wittiest, satirists working today, and this is one of his best.

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World, by Hugh Brewster. Non-fiction covering the topic that the title suggests, using primary sources. Fascinating insights into a long-lost world.

Fantasy for Good: A Charitable Anthology, edited by Jordan Ellinger and Richard Salter. Good fantasy work from James Enge, Katherine Kerr, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Ezell, Samit Basu and Kelley Armstrong, among others; the proceeds of which go to research on colon cancer.

The Julius Katz Collection, by Dave Zeltseman. Six stories and a novella featuring Nero Wolfe homage character Julius Katz and his sidekick AI Archie; fun stuff.

The Seven Wonders, by Steven Saylor. Young Roman citizen Gordianus travels the world with his Greek tutor, learning how to solve crime, among other things.

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro. I know some readers found this novel disappointing from such a hugely talented author, but I adored it. Even if the story doesn't mean anything to you, read it for the sheer beauty of the writing itself.

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, by Catherynne M. Valente. The fourth in her fantasy series, but featuring almost none of the main characters from the earlier books; a good introduction to her highly imaginative world.

Falling in Love, by Donna Leon. The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti novel, no need to say more.

The Fourth Secret, by Andrea Camilleri. Novella featuring Sicilian Chief Inspector Salvo Montalbano, translated by Gianluca Rizzo and Dominic Siracusa, rather that Stephen Sartarelli; it was very interesting to "hear" these characters in the voices of different translators, and much as I love Sartarelli, it was quite refreshing too!

Sorrow Lake, by Michael J. McCann. The first in a projected detective series set in rural Ontario with a couple of engagingly flawed main characters. I didn't like other work from this author, but look forward to reading more in this particular series.

Killer, by Dave Zeltseman. One of only three authors to have two spots on this list, this couldn't be more different from the other book cited here; instead, we have the story of a Mafia hitman who has killed some 28 people and, newly released from prison, has many seeking revenge. A fast-paced thriller that's actually well-written too!

The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths. More murder and archaeology in Norfolk, UK, this time involving WWII secrets.

The Christie Curse, by Victoria Abbott. The first of a series of cozy mysteries featuring Jordan Bingham and her boss, avid mystery book collector Vera Van Alst, written by a mother-daughter team. Engaging characters and breezy writing style, which is all you need in a cozy, after all!

A Fatal Inversion, by Barbara Vine. Five young people interacting in Suffolk in 1976, and the discovery of a couple of corpses many years later. Good psychological suspense from Ruth Rendell writing under her long-time pseudonym.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. As always, the single best and most valuable collection of science fiction at short length published in a given year, in this case 2014.

The Madonna and the Starship, by James Morrow. Gonzo 1950s science fiction TV show, crazily fanatical religious TV show, and the alien who may or may not destroy the world because of one or the other, or both. A short, hilarious novella.

Far Beyond the Pale, by Daren Dean. Realistic coming of age novel set in the mid 1970s in Missouri; sharp writing, very evocative.

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny. The latest in her Chief Inspector Gamache series (although he's retired now), with lots of intrigue involving Canada's spy agency CSIS.

Mortal Mischief, by Frank Tallis. First of a series set in 1902 Vienna, featuring young Jewish psychiatrist Max Liebermann and his friend, Police Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt, with whom he shares a love of music and mystery solving. Excellent portrayal of a time and place not really all that long ago.

Hawk, by Marie Powell. YA fantasy set in 13th Century Wales, with bits of Celtic mythology giving the story a strong sense of identity, and well-researched, too. I'm looking forward to more from this author!

The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith. First in J. K. Rowling writing as Galbraith's hard-bitten detective series featuring Cormoran Strike and sidekick Robin Ellacott; definitely gritty, lots of interesting characters.

A Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George. This 19th entry in the long-running Detective Inspector Lynley series brings him back to a more centered and calm place, as opposed to the past few books.

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Aaron J. French. I'm pretty sure that this is the only sf/f anthology that I've ever read where I just adored every single one of the stories; diverse and brilliant all the way through!

The Zig Zag Girl, by Elly Griffiths. This non-series effort is set in 1950 in England, with magicians and cops and murder and secrets from the war all collide; hopefully it will become a new series of its own.

Here's hoping for more happy reading for everybody in 2016!

Books In December

December seems to be full of series reads; that is, most of the books I read this month were entries in long- or short-running series. It’s getting so that I have no time to discover new authors because there are so many books to catch up with amongst old favourites!

Fatal Lies, by Frank Tallis.Collapse )

Wycliffe and Death in Stanley Street, by W. J. Burley.Collapse )

Darkness Rising, by Frank Tallis.Collapse )

A Necessary End, by Peter Robinson.Collapse )

Most years, in the run-up to and days after Christmas, I tend to return to old fantasy favourites for a cozy re-read: usually it’s Susan Cooper’s pentalogy The Dark Is Rising or at least some of the books in that series. Sometimes it’s diving into a re-read of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (but not The Hobbit, which I never liked). This year, however, I’ve been watching a Great Courses lecture series on the Arthurian legend (taught by the very engaging Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University) and that turned my thoughts back to a series, another pentalogy, that I haven’t read for probably 35 or more years: Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. If you don’t know it, the series includes The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King; they together tell the story of Taran, Assistant Pig Keeper, and his adventures in the magical land of Prydain, which is not quite Wales but which has much that is Welsh about it. Lovely books that I’d almost forgotten about; I think they shall enter my tradition of fantasies to read at Christmas!

Dark Corners, by Ruth Rendell.Collapse )

The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson.Collapse )

Well, the month began with sequel-itis and ends with something that makes me want to go travelling; perhaps 2016 will be the year to break out of the first and do more of the second! Happy New Year to all!

RIP Lemmy

Motorhead's main man Lemmy died today, apparently two days after learning he had cancer *and* on his 70th birthday. There's a life for you, no?

Everyone will cite "Ace of Spades," but I want to remember him for "Eat the Rich," one of my favourite punk/metal/noise songs ever!

Books in November

We begin November with crisp, but not cold, days, ideal for reading with a cat or three on one's lap....

A Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George.Collapse )

Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith.Collapse )

Rotten Reviews Redux: A Literary Companion, edited by Bill Henderson.Collapse )

Vienna Blood, by Frank Tallis.Collapse )

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Aaron J. French.Collapse )

Inspector of the Dead, by David Morrell.Collapse )

Gemma, by Noel Streatfeild.Collapse )

The Zig Zag Girl, by Elly Griffiths.Collapse )

As we head into the holiday season, Montreal is unusually dry - no snow to speak of, yet! But have no fear, the white stuff is coming, and the days will be perfect for snuggling under a blanket and reading more and more….

Just A Beautiful Scene

Not sure it'll translate via cut-n-paste, but to try it anyway (sorry you'll have to wait through the 15-sec advertisement first):

http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/11/15/paris-terror-attack-vigil-crowd-sings-hallelujah.cnn/video/playlists/paris-attacks-reaction/

The song being, of course, by Montreal's own Leonard Cohen, and Montreal being, well, the premier French city in North America, and the singers all being so young.... it just both warms, and breaks, my heart....

Je suis Parisienne

Contrasting Democracies

Today was a great day in Canada, as Justin Trudeau was sworn in as the new Prime Minister (I think the 23rd, but I'm not positive on that). Here's a photo of him with his newly sworn-in Cabinet (the equivalent of the Secretaries of This/That/The Other in the US federal government):

http://www.cbc.ca/news/justin-trudeau-s-new-cabinet-family-photo-1.3303941


Contrast this inclusive, sunny and diverse group with the continuing US Republican candidates - hell, I can't make a link to a photo montage of the lot of 'em, but you know what they look like. And sound like. And represent.


So, which looks more positive to you?

Books in October

Starting off the month with new myth-based fare, as the weather starts to turn colder and we even see a bit of snow!

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard I: The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan.Collapse )

At the Reunion Buffet: An Isabel Dalhousie Story, by Alexander McCall Smith.Collapse )

Dead Ends: B.C. Crime Stories, by Paul Willcocks.Collapse )

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith.Collapse )

The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith.Collapse )

Started the month with fantasy, ending it with mystery - and I've got the brand-new, very fat Elizabeth George novel up next, whee!

Win? Win??? WIN?????

Only 15 minutes after the polls in Quebec and Ontario have closed, both CBC and CTV are predicting that the Liberals have won the Federal election here in Canada! Seems awfully soon to me to make such a call - after all, you've got another 4 more Provinces (out of 11) and one Territory (out of two) still to go - but Quebec and Ontario together make up the vast majority of the population of the country, so perhaps it's right.

If it is, then YAY YAY YAY! Go away Evil Harper, welcome young Justin as the new PM of Canada! Whoo Hoo!!!!

(Post subject to change if the prognosticators are totally wrong, in which case I'll be very very sad.)

Later: Looks like the Liberals have not only won, but have a majority! Yay!!!!!!