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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

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
Ross King
Progress: 64 %
Lady Cop Makes Trouble
Amy Stewart
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Andrea Wulf
Progress: 2 %
The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle
Jonathan Sumption
Progress: 166/586 pages
King Solomon's Mines
H. Rider Haggard
Progress: 4 %
Queen's Gambit: A Novel
Elizabeth Fremantle
Progress: 22 %
1913: The Eve of War
Paul Ham
Progress: 20 %
The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The Dark Lady (The William Shakespeare Detective Agency Book 2)
Colin Falconer
Progress: 15 %
Cosmic Quest Cd (Bbc Audio)
Heather Couper
Firedrake's Eye
Patricia Finney
Progress: 15/249 pages

Well, I've Voted

I am just back from voting.  The line was incredible - my mother, who has voted every election since 1960, says it was the longest voting line she's ever been in.  (A food truck could have made a fortune.  Where were you, Henry's Hog Crawler, with the barbecue?)  We were in line over an hour (I figure we were in line about an hour and ten or fifteen minutes) - the lady in front of us said she came out with her husband to (try to) vote when the polls opened at 7 AM, and they were at least that long then.

 

I can't even imagine what the line will look like in the evening rush, about 6 o'clock this evening!

 

And we were lucky - I've already heard tales of people waiting more than 2 hours to vote in Charlotte, NC.

 

I shall be interested to see what the local, state, and national turnout levels are this time.

On Basilisk Station

On Basilisk Station - David Weber

On Basilisk Station is the first Honor Harrington novel (which is a very long-running series at this point, I believe), and is an example of that species of science fiction generally known as "space opera."

 

It's also clearly modeled on the Horatio Hornblower stories (the author's note thanks C.S. Forester, so I doubt I'm imaging things).  Only instead of the tale of the rise of a plucky cabin boy during the Napoleonic wars, our heroine is a female starship captain from "the Star Kingdom of Manticore," not yet at war with another realm, "The People's Republic of Haven," who are clearly up to no good.  Honor's gotten her ship's armament butchered by a theorist at the Royal Navy, and despite being a tactical genius, her failure to make the new system work in war games has resulted in her getting a punishment stationing in the Basilisk system.  There she finds natives like praying mantises, drug addiction, a massive amount of smuggling, and possible espionage by Haven.

 

There is a slight tendency to infodump (possibly due to being a "first in series").  Honor reminds me of some romance heroines in that she doesn't think she's pretty, but everyone else seems to.  (Not that there is any romance in this novel.)

 

On the whole I prefer Horatio Hornblower, but it was an easy read, it kept me reasonably entertained, and it was free.  (As is the second volume, The Honor of the Queen, which I'm reading currently.   Both were free for kindle in the US, found while I was roaming the free section at Amazon.)

The India Fan

The India Fan - Victoria Holt

The India Fan, one of Victoria Holt's novels, is certainly the "gothic" she's famous for - it is the tale of Drusilla Dantry, the rector's daughter, and how her life, from the age of two, has been entwined with that of the local gentry family, the Fannings.  The son of the family, Fabian, "kidnaps" her when he is seven and she is two, while his younger sister, Lucilla, is her childhood playmate. 

 

Fabian, when he is home, lords it over them all, and as a result, Drusilla comes into contact with certain features of "The House," such as it's east wing, haunted by a nun, it's west wing, the home of a mad Fanning relative, and a fine peacock fan, unfortunately cursed, owned by the latter.

 

Their lives intertwine for at least twenty years, from the 1840s onward - Lucilla is a great beauty, while Drusilla, we are told, is plain but sensible, but they are sent to school together, and as a result face scandal, blackmail, and other menaces together.

 

Things come to a head in the homeland of that cursed peacock fan - India.  In the late 1850s.  Rebellion is thick in the air, and they are all caught up by what we today would call the Great Indian Mutiny.

 

This was an enjoyable enough read.  Though I find it curious that Drusilla, whom we are repeatedly told is plain (perhaps as many times as we are told Fabian "kidnapped" her), seems to attract plenty of male attention, some of it more savory than others of it.

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 12 Read AND FINALLY A BINGO

I have just read The India Fan, by Victoria Holt, which I am using for the Gothic square.  And that is a bingo, straight across the middle row!

 

 

So my spaces/books read are (Bingo marked with an asterisk):

 

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.

*Genre: Mystery: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, by Alan Bradley - a Flavia de Luce historical mystery set in the early 1950s, featuring better detection through chemistry.

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

*Gothic: The India Fan, by Victoria Holt - featuring the rector's daughter, the son of the local gentry, blackmail, murder, the Indian Mutiny, and a cursed peacock fan.

*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.

 

I actually got a bingo!

Reading progress update: I've read 15% of Paper and Fire

Paper and Fire: The Great Library - Rachel Caine

So far, Paper and Fire is not as good as the first volume in the series (as often happens to a sequel under such conditions, where the world being built is not as fresh to the reader), but it's still holding my attention.

 

 Reading it was a nice way to spend the afternoon after getting my flu shot, and doing battle with Javascript.  Because after that I continued to feel very frustrated, because I still can't get access to my doctor's office records, because it won't let me log on, because "you don't have Javascript enabled."  (But I do have it installed and up to date!  Both my browser AND Javascript say so, even!  ::grinds teeth::)

 

However, we had takeout from the Pita House (lamb kebabs for the win), and I read some of this, and I no longer wish to impale poor, innocent inanimate objects. 

Halloween Book Bingo Update - 11 Read

I have just finished the historical mystery Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, which I'm using for Genre: Mystery.  I have something on hold at the library for Gothic and a bingo - if only it would come in.

 

 

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.

Genre: Mystery: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, by Alan Bradley - a Flavia de Luce historical mystery set in the early 1950s, featuring better detection through chemistry.

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.

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.