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SusannaG

SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

Just another GR refugee.  Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.

Currently reading

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
Paul Watson
Progress: 6 %
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Ed Yong
Progress: 40 %
Wizard's First Rule
Terry Goodkind
Progress: 49 %
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
Tracy Borman
Progress: 14 %
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Helen Czerski
Progress: 20 %
The Hanover Square Affair
Ashley Gardner
Progress: 10 %
Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
Beth Archer Brombert, Massimo Montanari
Progress: 10 %
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth
Holger Hoock
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
Progress: 9 %
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
John Guy
Progress: 20/512 pages

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - Alan Bradley

My ARC courtesy of Random House/Net Galley - much thanks!  My opinions are my own.

 

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd is the eighth Flavia de Luce historical mystery.  In this one, it is near Christmas 1951, and she has returned home to England from her "banishment" in boarding school at Miss Bodycote's in Canada, where instead of her whole family greeting her at Southampton, as she expected, she finds only the old butler/general factotum, Dogger.  Her father is in the hospital with pneumonia; her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and even her annoying younger cousin, Undine, are visiting him.

 

Flavia, aged 12 and still obsessed with chemistry and detection, cheers up quite a bit when, in attempting to deliver a note for the vicar's wife, she finds a corpse instead.  And sees a twitching curtain across the road at the local witch's house.

 

This is a charming series, and I found this a stronger installment than the last - it was good to be back at Buckshaw and Bishop's Lacey.  The mystery was nicely done, too.

 

I'm using this one for the "Genre: Mystery" square.  (It would not qualify for Black Cat, as the cat, and there is one, is not black, alas.)

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 10 Read

I've finished A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny, which I'm using for Scary Women (Authors).

 

 

So my spaces/books read are:

 

Read by Candlelight/Flashlight: Survivor in Death, by J.D. Robb - another in Robb's long-running mystery romance series set in c.2060 New York City.  I think this is #20.  It's only about halfway through the series now, I believe.

Witches: Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett - second book in the "Witches" subseries of Discworld.  Hamlet and MacBeth had a baby, and it's a comedy.

Scary Women (Authors): A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny - 12th in the Armand Gamache mystery novels, which are set in Canada (mostly in the area of Three Pines, Quebec).

Reads with BookLikes Friends: Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - which would also qualify for "genre: mystery" or "fall into a good book."

Grave or Graveyard: Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - the charming tale of a boy raised by the residents of a cemetery.

Free Space: First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher - lots and lots of vord (giant spiders).

Creepy Crawlies: Princeps' Fury, by Jim Butcher - still more vord.

Fall into a Good Book: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, by James Runcie - Connected short stories, at least a third of which are set in the autumn.

Full Moon: The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen - charming tale of second chances in small-town North Carolina.  Would also fit "magical realism."

Vampires vs. Werewolves: The Immortal Who Loved Me, by Lyndsay Sands - cheesy (very cheesy!) paranormal romance about telepathic vampire life mates from Atlantis.

A Great Reckoning

A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny

A Great Reckoning is, I believe the twelfth of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mystery novels, set in the province of Quebec.  (Crimes often occur in the environs of the strange village of Three Pines, but also in other places, such as the city of Quebec, or Montreal, for example.)

 

In this installment, Armand Gamache has taken a new job as Commandant of the Surete Academy of Quebec, which has become a nest of vipers and corruption.  He's fired quite a lot of the former staff, but has retained the former second-in-command, Serge Leduc, for "special treatment" - as Gamache is sure he's the source of most of the problems - if only he could prove it.  He's brought in, as his own second-in-command, his old number-two, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Gamache has also hired an old frienemy, Michel Brebeuf, on the theory of "fighting one fire with another."  He's aware this is a highly dangerous strategy, but he keeps his fingers crossed, and his eyes open.

 

At the same time, a strange map has shown up in Three Pines, found in the walls of the bistro when they were renovating it.  Gamache has several cadets research it, to hone their investigative skills.  (One of them has the misfortune to be put up by Ruth Zardo, the drunken poet, and her pet duck, Rosa.)

 

And then a professor is murdered, and everyone at the Academy, but particularly the cadets and Gamache, come under suspicion.

 

I found A Great Reckoning one of the stronger titles in the series.  It also addresses why I think of a song line from the musical of Peter Pan ("It's not on any chart, you can find it in your heart") when I think of Three Pines.  Which, if not for it's murder rate, would be a delightful place to visit.

 

Unfortunately, that is not a moon on the cover (it's a "best-selling author" tag).  At any rate, I've done that square.  I'm using this one for "Scary Women (Authors)."

In honor of our newest Nobel in Literature winner.

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 9 Read

I have just finished Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, which I am using for the Fall into a Good Book square.  To mangle a phrase from the First World War, "no bingoes as yet."

 

 

 

So my spaces/books read are:

 

Read by Candlelight/Flashlight: Survivor in Death, by J.D. Robb - another in Robb's long-running mystery romance series set in c.2060 New York City.  I think this is #20.  It's only about halfway through the series now, I believe.

Witches: Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett - second book in the "Witches" subseries of Discworld.  Hamlet and MacBeth had a baby, and it's a comedy.

Reads with BookLikes Friends: Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - which would also qualify for "genre: mystery" or "fall into a good book."

Grave or Graveyard: Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - the charming tale of a boy raised by the residents of a cemetery.

Free Space: First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher - lots and lots of vord (giant spiders).

Creepy Crawlies: Princeps' Fury, by Jim Butcher - still more vord.

Fall into a Good Book: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, by James Runcie - Connected short stories, at least a third of which are set in the autumn.

Full Moon: The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen - charming tale of second chances in small-town North Carolina.  Would also fit "magical realism."

Vampires vs. Werewolves: The Immortal Who Loved Me, by Lyndsay Sands - cheesy (very cheesy!) paranormal romance about telepathic vampire life mates from Atlantis.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death - James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is the first volume in a historical mystery series, and became the inspiration for the TV series "Grantchester." 

 

Our setting: 1953-4 Britain.  The Rev. Sidney Chambers is vicar at Grantchester, and is also a fellow at a Cambridge college (Grantchester is very near the great university town).  His passions are beer and single-malt whiskey (though he is generally offered sherry), jazz, and crime. 

 

The crime usually seems to find him, rather than the other way round, which is very refreshing.  He's also very much a vicar, with concerns about the spiritual health of himself, his parishioners, and society in general.  It is an interesting mixture.

 

It almost reads more like a series of connected short stories than anything else.  I'm using it for the Fall into a Good Book square, as about a third of it is set in the autumn.

 

It was a very nice read; I dithered between 3 1/2 and 4 stars.  I'd happily read another in the series.

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 8 Read

The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

I just finished Sarah Addison Allen's The Girl Who Chased the Moon, and am using it for the Full Moon square.

 

 

So my spaces/books read are:

 

Read by Candlelight/Flashlight: Survivor in Death, by J.D. Robb - another in Robb's long-running mystery romance series set in c.2060 New York City.  I think this is #20.  It's only about halfway through the series now, I believe.

Witches: Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett - second book in the "Witches" subseries of Discworld.  Hamlet and MacBeth had a baby, and it's a comedy.

Reads with BookLikes Friends: Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - which would also qualify for "genre: mystery" or "fall into a good book."

Grave or Graveyard: Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - the charming tale of a boy raised by the residents of a cemetery.

Free Space: First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher - lots and lots of vord (giant spiders).

Creepy Crawlies: Princeps' Fury, by Jim Butcher - still more vord.

Full Moon: The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen - charming tale of second chances in small-town North Carolina.  Would also fit "magical realism."

Vampires vs. Werewolves: The Immortal Who Loved Me, by Lyndsay Sands - cheesy (very cheesy!) paranormal romance about telepathic vampire life mates from Atlantis.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

I read The Girl Who Chased the Moon to fulfill the the Full Moon square on the bingo card, and I'm glad I did.  It's a lovely, lyrical and sweet story of second chances in Mullaby, North Carolina.  (Mullaby is fictional; author Sarah Addison Allen is a North Carolina native, born in Asheville, however, and it shows.)

 

There are two principal narrators: Emily, who is a teenager and new to town, having just moved in with the grandfather she's never even met before; and Julia, who grew up there and moved away, but has come back to run her late father's barbecue joint, to which she has added a bakery (his passion was Lexington-style "red sauce" barbecue, but her own is cake and other baked goods).

 

Emily learns, and Julia remembers, that Mullaby is a town where strange things happen, and unusual people live.  Emily's wallpaper changes to suit her mood, for example.  And there are strange fleeting lights in the woods at night.

 

It was a charming read, and would also fit the Magical Realism square.

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 7 Read

Last night I finished The Hound of the Baskervilles, for a buddy read going on here, and I'm using that for Reads with BookLikes Friends.

 

 

So my spaces/books read are:

 

Read by Candlelight/Flashlight: Survivor in Death, by J.D. Robb - another in Robb's long-running mystery romance series set in c.2060 New York City.  I think this is #20.  It's only about halfway through the series now, I believe.

Witches: Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett - second book in the "Witches" subseries of Discworld.  Hamlet meets MacBeth, and it's a comedy.

Reads with BookLikes Friends: Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - which would also qualify for "genre: mystery" or "fall into a good book."

Grave or Graveyard: Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - the charming tale of a boy raised by the residents of a cemetery.

Free Space: First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher - lots and lots of vord (giant spiders).

Creepy Crawlies: Princeps' Fury, by Jim Butcher - still more vord.

Vampires vs. Werewolves: The Immortal Who Loved Me, by Lyndsay Sands - cheesy (very cheesy!) paranormal romance about telepathic vampire life mates from Atlantis.

Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Well, I read the second half of it all in one go last night. 

 

Conan Doyle did a great job of setting up all the little details, didn't he?

 

This is not actually my favorite volume of Sherlock Holmes (that's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), but it's a great read, particularly for an October evening.

 

And it was great to buddy read it with friends.

Codex Alera

Furies of Calderon - Jim Butcher Academ's Fury - Jim Butcher Cursor's Fury - Jim Butcher Captain's Fury - Jim Butcher Princeps' Fury - Jim Butcher First Lord's Fury - Jim Butcher

Codex Alera is Jim Butcher's straight-out traditional fantasy series, as compared to his urban fantasy "Harry Dresden" series, set in a slightly different Chicago, or his "Cinder Spires" series (only the first book of which is out, that being The Aeronaut's Windlass), which has a more steampunk vibe.

 

This series is principally the story of Tavi, who is a shepherd boy of 15 in the first book, and unusually for an Aleran child of that age, one who has no "fury," or guardian spirit.  This bothers him, but his Uncle Bernard tells him that he'll just have to use his wits more than other people, and think his way out of his problems. 

 

We also follow throughout the series Tavi's Uncle Bernard and Aunt Isana (brother and sister), who are raising him in the isolated Calderon valley, home of violent storms, as well as the cursor (government agent) Amara, and her mentor, Fidelias.  And in the background, the ruler of the land of Alera, Gaius Sextus, an aging and childless king.

 

The novels are filled with strange creatures, both friend and foe - the nomadic Marat, the Icemen of the north, the Canim (residents of the continent Canea, and a tall, canine race), and the Vord, who are malevolent, highly adaptive, spider-like people.  It's also filled with political intrigue, and the machinations of great lords, who see possible advantages for themselves, in having an aging king with no heir.

 

It was a tremendous lot of fun to read.

Reading progress update: I've read 11% of Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Hound of the Baskervilles -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Well, it's been many years since I've read this - at least a decade - so it's almost a case of "read it again for the first time."  (I know that I've read it, as I've read all of the Holmes canon at least once.)

 

Last night I left off with the sight of the paw prints of a massive hound on the moor, and Sherlock Holmes suddenly excited.  It's good to be back at 221B Baker Street, with the game afoot.

U.S. Kindle Sale: Miscellaneous

A Lady in the Smoke: A Victorian Mystery - Karen Odden Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune - Paul Clark Newell Jr., Bill Dedman The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler The Knight in History - Frances Gies All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics - James Herriot

Currently $0.99: A Lady in the Smoke, by Karen Odden.  The Knight in History, by Frances Gies.

 

Currently $2.99: Empty Mansions, by Bill Dedman and Paul Newell.  The James Herriot omnibus.

 

Currently $3.00: The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler.

Sunday Soup: Fish Chowder

They had some very nice tilapia on special down at the fish counter at Publix, so we decided to make fish chowder.  This is an old favorite recipe, and is delicious and satisfying.  A mug will fill you up very nicely.

 

3 or 4 potatoes, peeled

couple of stalks of celery, chopped

1/4 cup of vermouth

3-4 small onions, chopped

4-6 pieces of cooked bacon

3 or 4 cooked fillets of a white, firm fish, like cod

at least 1 pint milk

salt and pepper

 

Fry the bacon until crisp.  Poach the fish (cook for about 5 minutes in simmering water, with salt and pepper).  After it cools enough to slice, cut it into inch-sized pieces.  Saute the onions on low heat in the bacon fat until they are limp but not brown.  Cook the diced potatoes and celery in the milk, to which you add the vermouth.  Add the chopped onions, the fish, and the crumbled bacon.  Don't boil after the fish has been added.  Serve with a nice hot bread and butter - it makes a lot and somehow expands to feed however much company you have.

 

If there are any leftovers the next day, be sure to add more milk; it tends to thicken a lot in the refrigerator.

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 6 Read

Saturday I finished First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher, which is filled with more creepy crawlies (I'm using this for the Free Space), and yesterday I finished Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett, which is all about Witches.

 

 

So my spaces/books read are:

 

Read by Candlelight/Flashlight: Survivor in Death, by J.D. Robb - another in Robb's long-running mystery romance series set in c.2060 New York City.  I think this is #20.  It's only about halfway through the series now, I believe.

Witches: Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett - second book in the "Witches" subseries of Discworld.  Hamlet meets MacBeth, and it's a comedy.

Grave or Graveyard: Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - the charming tale of a boy raised by the residents of a cemetery.

Free Space: First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher - lots and lots of vord (giant spiders).

Creepy Crawlies: Princeps' Fury, by Jim Butcher - still more vord.

Vampires vs. Werewolves: The Immortal Who Loved Me, by Lyndsay Sands - cheesy (very cheesy!) paranormal romance about telepathic vampire life mates from Atlantis.

Sunday Soup: Three Sisters Stew

Last night we had a "Three Sisters Stew," which is more of a cross between a soup and a stew, and features pork tenderloin, tomatoes, spices like cumin, and the "three sisters": beans, squash, and corn.  I like to garnish with a dollop of sour cream.  It was delicious.

 

My mother found the recipe we use while reading the New York TimesLink here.

 

(Picture from NY Times; forgot to take a picture last night.)