Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag

Website for the series: http://www.flaviadeluce.com/

Quick review:

My new favorite mystery series about an 11 year old poison expert who solves murder mysteries.  She’s intelligent, rational, and probably a little nuts.  I love her.  Can’t wait to get my hands on more.

I love how the first novel (Sweetness) established the familial relationships, especially in the involvement of her father’s philately in the whole crime.

The second novel cements her personality as a headstrong, slightly egotistic, very curious genius.

The best part of these books is the chemistry lessons.  Instead of being straightforward, the author leads us to the conclusion of Flavia’s chemical experiments and processes, saving the results for the end.  It’s quite lovely.

Unicorn and Dragon vol I and II by Lynn Abbey

A rather decent fantasy.  Unfortunately, it’s an incomplete series that will never be finished, according to the author’s website.

A pity, since the current ending could be tied up completely in a single chapter.

Strong female characters abound in this piece.  Interesting in that rational is placed above emotional – traditional pagan magic is portrayed as less welcome than the ordered mideastern sorcery.

I would have liked a further, final  novel about Wildecent and Ambrose.  The storyline concerning Alison and Stephen was sufficiently wrapped up at the end of Vol II.

The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

Ok. Busy couple of months. I’ll get back to the other reviews in a second.

Just going to talk about how horribly disappointed I am in the third Laundry novel. We get it. You’re an atheist. In fact, I have no problem with atheists, until they pull shit like the big bads in Fuller being pro-life Christians.

Let me tell you something, Mr. Stross. Pro-life Christians would not a) get involved in demon worship and b) eat the faces off little children. You disgust me.
Let’s see, in the US, abortionists and their clinics are very free to perform their “procedures.” They are not under threat of bombing. One abortionist has been killed in recent times. One. Oh, and guess what? His killer has been convicted and sent to jail. The pro-life community condemned his actions.  The whole purpose of the pro-life community is to protect life, not take it.

Next topic. I cannot understand why anyone would want to live in a society that restricts everyday citizens’ access to guns. Oooh, now I’m going to be labeled as violent. No, actually, I just believe that a society that makes gun ownership a crime is a a society that wishes to control its citizens with little ability to fight back if it should come to that. Over here, in the US, the right to bear arms is a constitutional guarantee. The founding fathers of our country wanted to make sure that the government could not completely control the lives of its citizens. They recognized that it was important to make sure that the American people were guaranteed an ability to defend themselves, from anyone trying to take their lives. Unfortunately, modern society has done a lot to destroy that by making guns themselves into a villain. Not those who use guns for harm, but the actual weapons. We’re taught that only the police and military should have access to guns. If anyone has a gun collection or even a single gun, they are automatically suspect of having violent tendencies. This was definitely not the intent of the founding fathers.

On to the last point. The Fuller Memorandum ended in a predictable and quite silly way. In between the preaching, there was hardly a plot. Very little action and the surprises, well, weren’t very surprising. I wouldn’t say I’m much of a fan anymore. Will I give the next book a try? Maybe. I don’t know yet. My enthusiasm for this series has gone from about 9 to a 1.

Sad, because I did like the previous books somewhat.

Reviews: 4 books by Mary Stewart

Wherein I discuss:

Thornyhold, Rose Cottage, The Ivy Tree and Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart.


Upcoming reviews for August reads

A Princess of Mars by Burroughs

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart

Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Review: Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

I did not know that there was a superhero fiction genre until I read this post by Empire of Jeff.

Is there a sequel?  I want to read more about this hapless, yet not powerless group of “worthless” superheroes.

I liked Playing for Keeps.  It kept the suspense, had a light touch of romance, and above all, had a tough female lead surrounded by good cast of supporting characters.  The progression of the plot worked out well and at a good pace.  There’s nothing worse than a plot that moves slower than a rivulet of molasses.  Here, not a problem.

It was a good exercise in how much influence others can have on how individuals see themselves.  Because these “lesser” powered humans were told that they were useless, they believed it.  Their low self-esteem prevented them from fully exploring their potential.  This, I believe, is a common problem with kids today, outside of fiction.  How many people have been told they are “stupid,” and believed it?  I’ve watched this occur with my own relatives.  They aspire to no more than what they’ve been told is their destiny.  Not a bit higher.
We could change society by changing our perceptions of potential.

Review: Different Women Dancing by Johnathan Gash

I’ll stick to Lovejoy.

DWD was, well, a soft-ish porn romance disguised as a mystery novel. Not my cuppa tea. The characters weren’t likeable and the ending was… not an ending. Bonn was written as if Gash was uncomfortable with him, while Clare was… weak and boring. I couldn’t tell you her age or what she looked like. Same for Bonn (except I read him as a Neal Caffrey (White Collar) type).

Then, there’s the violence coupled with sex. #1 reason why I can’t stand Dean Koontz and I won’t stand for it in the books I do read. Disappointed.

I never went in for the romance novels as a genre, so I’m not too thrilled when facets sneak into my books. It’s why I gave up on Stephanie Plum and it’s why I won’t read any others of this series, if it indeed is a series. The porny bits plus the violence coupled with sex… it’s just altogether off-putting. The vibe was very BDSM, somehow.

Now I find myself hoping that the Lovejoy series isn’t like this later on!

Review: Halting State by Charles Stross

I’ll admit that I like Stross’s work. It’s not perfect, but I get it. Halting State, for me, was a lot easier to follow than the Laundry Files series. Possibly due to brief Lovecraftian references, instead of the more lengthy stuff in the LFs. No magic made through computation and mathematical theory, per se. Any magic is virtual in the Halting State universe. Also, it’s a much closer look at technology and how it might evolve from where we are today. Something which is quite dear to me – a reason why I liked Gibson’s Idoru, although I find Stross’s a little more believable somehow.

It’s quite odd to read a book that features a couple who, when combined, feel quite close to home. Nice, really. The characters featured are interesting enough to keep attention, without going overboard on melodrama.

The only quibble I could come up with was the portrayal of the USA as some languishing superpower, while the EU was somehow on top. It doesn’t really ring true, what with our current political situations. Right now, the US is following down the EU’s path, something that isn’t going to lead us anywhere good, if you look at the current state of the EU. I wouldn’t say that Halting State’s picture of the EU was very rosy, mind you. It just was a little off to throw in the USA as a backwards country.

Review: Mobbed by Carol Higgins Clark

What can I say?

Mobbed was a very typical Higgins Clark book.  Light reading fare.  Way too many character viewpoints.  Unnecessary to introduce a new character every chapter.  Of course, it all tied together at the end, predictably.

It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say it’s a re-read.

Review: Gun, With Occasional Music

Gun, with Occasional Music By Jonathan Lethem

First up, I have to admit that I picked this up from a link over at AoSHQ and there were several recommendations at the link. I had the publication year mixed up with one from the 50s going into the read.

At first, I liked this story. It was a little odd and didn’t quite hit the pulpy bar I’d set. A LOT of drug use, which, keeping in mind that I thought this was written in the 50s, surprised me. The realization that this must have been written in the 90s hit right when the gratuitous sex scene was thrown in. By that time, I’d started to become less than enamored with the story anyway, but that was the last straw.

A wholly unsatisfying read with unnecessary claptrap thrown in. Not pulp. Not even what I consider scifi. It was a cardboard attempt at a murder mystery.

I think I’ve read some other books lately, but I can’t remember – it could be that I’ve started a few, but haven’t finished them yet.