Sunday, January 24, 2016

Welcome to the Year of Slack

Last year, I'm not gonna lie to you, it sucked a bag of dicks.   We did finally move and the spousal unit got his new robot hip.  I fell far short of my goal to read 60 books and the amount of knitting I did was paltry at best.

This year, I am all about doing what I want to do.  I have read 6 books already.  I have finished a pair of socks and 2 hats started last year.  I have drunk a river of tea.

I don't read books that are necessarily new or notable.  I have Platte River Taste-- a mile wide and 2 feet deep.  Here are the first 6 of the year.

Book 1: Bloody Mary by JA Konrath.  The author thinks these books are not gory.  The author is wrong.  This is the 2nd in a series, but I don't feel compelled to read the rest of the series, though I do have book 3 since I bought an ebook bundle on the advice of a friend. Maybe if there is a snow day.  Or camping trip.  I am not wild about serial killers, so this is not really my cup of tea.  I think it's not a horrible book, so if that is your thing, I would recommend it. The main character is her own worst enemy.  And that is with the serial killers.

Book 2: The Lie and the Lady by Kate Noble.  I liked the first book in the series so I read this one next. It was pretty good, though  most of the plot hinged on people not telling each other anything.  A few honest conversations would have cut the length of the book in half.  That was a little frustrating.

Books 3, 4, and 5:  The Blackbird Sisters books by Nancy Martin.  I don't know why I'm even reading these.  I can't stand the heroine's sisters at all. The heroine is mildly frustrating in her amateurish detecting and inability to sack up and be with her shady boyfriend.  Again, a few honest conversations would move the plot forward pretty nicely.

Book 6:  Anything For You by Kristan Higgins.  I really liked this one better than the previous installment in the series.  Don't get me wrong though, I like all of Higgins' books to at least some degree.  This one has a lot more of the story telling from the hero's point of view than previous installments. It was not as funny as some of Higgins' other books, but a lot of times, the humor comes from the heroine getting herself into awkward situations, the heroine of this one, was a great blend of super competent  boot-strapper with fragile underbelly.

In terms of knitting, I have spiralled out of control with the volume of works in progress.  I have 2 pairs of socks for myself going.  I have a pair going for my mom.  I have 2 cowls in progress. I have a lace stole in progress.  I have Stephen West's Doodler hibernating as I am stuck all to hell on clue 2.

I have been keeping really good sock notes on Ravelry because I mostly make socks for myself and I want to get to a point where I have a solid recipe that fits my foot.  I have small feet that are very wide at the toe and  considerably narrower at the heel.  My ankles and calves are . . . sturdy to say the least.  Even when I am slim, I do not have graceful looking ankles. I am fiddling around with gauge to find the right blend of comfort and strength. I think I want to make a lot more plain vanilla socks until I know how to get all the fundamentals right on a sock.

Brace yourselves, sock notes are coming.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

So. Many. Books

So, I haven't updated in ages.  Two months.  I am still on track tfo complete 60 books this year.  Here are the titles since I last blogged and a brief blurblette:

Book 15: Dark Debt by Chloe Neill:  This was a solid installment in the series.

Book 16:  The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart by Lawrence Block:  In this mystery, Bernie is attending a Bogey film festival with a mystery lady, and also trying to unravel the secrets of a lost kingdom.  I found it a little convoluted, but dammit, Bernie is so likeable.

Book 17:  A Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin by Sophie Jordan:  I rated this one pretty low on goodreads.  I just didn't care for the step-siblings getting toget her, the past abuse against the hero as a child by the mother of the heroine, or the villain at the end.  It was a free Friday selection at BN, but I don't know that I will be exploring more by this author.

Book 18:  Yesterday's Gone: Episode 1 by Sean Platt:  I am lukewarm on whether or not I will read more of this series.  There is a character that is a young child and his voice is annoying.  I really am not getting into the way this particular post apocalyptic world is built, where nearly everyone has disappeared and there are weird animals left behind that are like pod-people versions of the pets they've replaced.

Book 19:  Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle:  I did not care for this one.  The villains were cartoonish and the heroine made her situation worse with a stubborn refusal to communicate honestly with the hero.  I wanted to read this because one of the sequels was so well rated, but the first installment in this series was weak,

Book 20:  Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick:  No one is gladder than I am that Amanda Quick has left of paranormals and returned to the straight up, no bullshit Historical Romance.  Quick wrote the first historical that I ever read, so I owe her a great debt.  Many happy hours of reading due to her novel Scandal. Amity, the heroine, narrowly escapes the clutches of a serial killer.  It is due entirely to her strength and resolve.  She rescues herself!  The hero, Benedict, is greatly in her debt as she has saved his life and preserved a great state secret for him.  When they are linked by scandal, he steps in to return the favor she did him with a little reputation protecting.  And of course, they have to fend off one of Amity's former suitors who is No Damn Good and catch the killer.

Book 21:  The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle:  This was much better than Along Came a Duke.  I haven't decided if I will read the installments between these novels.

Book 22:  Dying In the Wool by Frances Brody: I am a big fan of historicals that take place in the first half of the 20th Century. Of particular interest to me are post WW1 English stories. During WW1, Kate Shakelton's husband was declared Missing, Presumed Dead.  Since the war, she works on behalf of others in her situation to find the fates of their missing loved ones.  In this first installment, she looks for her friend's father, who went missing at home.

Book 23:  The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble:  The nobleman actually thinks people like him for himself and that he is lucky.  He is completely ignorant of the privilege he enjoys.  So his secretary makes him a large bet that if they switch places, he won't be nearly as well loved and nor as lucky.  Oh, if only someone would do this for all the 1%'ers.  The poor heroine was a pawn in all of this, and I was a little nervous that she was going to get run all over.

Book 24:  A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody:  The second Kate Shakelton focuses on a murder after a community play production, a missing girl, and mystery left after the Boer Wars.  I didn't care for the Boer War flashbacks because the characters were such assholes, but also because I prefer a more solid point of view in my third person narrative mysteries.  The ending was a little unsatisfying to me because I felt some of the non-murderous shenanigans deserved a little more comeuppance.

Book 25:  The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrows:  I am a sucker for ladies with a past.  The Duke is a bit of a dick to his Disaster Duchess.  He is pretty much in a tailspin for most of the book until he finally gets his head pulled out of his ass.  The lady's big scandal was really a mess and the resolution of it was equally complicated.  I did like it a great deal, though in general, I would prefer not to read any more books where the ruined heroine was not ruined by consent.

Book 26:  Douglas by Grace Burrows:  And despite my desire to no longer read about women who were raped and lost their reputations, I went right into this book!  What the everloving fuck is wrong with me?  The heroine is an unmarried mother who rusticates in the country, managing her cousin's estate.  The hero is meeting with her for assistance in appraising a property he wants to buy.  As it happens, the heroine was tricked into eloping, the father of the child doesn't know of her existance and the heroine doesn't know what the father's motives and intentions were until the very very end of the book,  There is a significant part of the plot driven along merely by secrecy, which is lame, but I did like this book.  It's the 8th in a series of TWELVE.  That is too damn many installments.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book 14

Book 14:  When the Marquess Met His Match:  An American Heiress in London by Laura Lee Guhrke

I  did not loooove this book, but it was a fun way to while the time between loads of laundry.  The hero is kind of  a big baby with his Daddy issues and his lack of funds.  The heroine is a matchmaker who specializes in helping American heiresses trade huge dowries for titled marriages.  Her own marriage was a rather sad affair, but at least her husband had the courtesy to die.  She sort of throws herself on the grenade here to keep the hero from chasing a really sweet girl who deserves better than the utter rake and despoiler she initially believes the hero to be.

Without being too spoilery, didn't I just read another historical that prominently featured beer brewing?  Is that the new thing in historicals?  Are hops really that sexy?

***pause for light googling****

I did! A Hellion In Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries features a rival brewer and brewster! And relatives holding the purse strings over the hero's head.

I think I read, maybe a couple years ago, yet another historical where the hero from penniless nobility married an heiress whose father was a brewer.

Book 12.5 and 13

Book 12.5  and 13. . how can that be?

Chloe Neill  wrote a novella for the Chicagoland Vampire series.  Goodreads now shows me as ahead of schedule on my goal of 60 books for the year.  I don't feel right about counting Lucky Break as an entire book.

Lucky Break is a pretty quick read.  Merit and Ethan are trying to have a romantic weekend away from the turmoil of all that supernatural bullshit they deal with.  However, if they wanted that REALLY, I question whether or not they would go stay in the rustic guest cottage of a shape shifter.  Naturally, there is drama before they even can get unpacked.  The shifter husband of their vampire friend has turned up dead thanks to a hard blow to the head.  Merit and Ethan get involved, along with the packleader for the midwest, who is featured in other installments of the series.  The death is part of a longterm feud in the area between rogue vamps and a loosely organized pack of shifters.  There are spoilers for the previous installment in this novella, so best to read it all in order.

Dark Debt is the following, full length installment in the series.  Ethan is just about to settle into his new role in the not very exciting world of vampire politics when his maker, Balthasar, leaves him a menacing note.  But! But!  He's supposed to be dead!  The super powerful vampire has strong powers over glamoring, and he's pissed that Ethan left him for dead centuries ago.  At the same time, Merit's human father calls in a favor so that Merit and Ethan will meet up with a powerful businessman on his behalf.  Meanwhile, a criminal organization called The Circle is menacing one of the other vampire houses in Chicago.  Turns out the previous head of the house was in deep debt to the organization and they have decided it's time to collect.    It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that the shit is not all hitting the fan by coincidence.  This is not a close series of random events, but a more complicated conspiracy.  As usual, Neill delivers a complicated plot, a lot of ass kicking, a sprinkling of nookie, and descriptions of disgusting Chicago Style Pizza.  THAT IS NOT PIZZA.  Despite the discs of abomination, I still think it's a good, fun installment in the series.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book 12

Book 12 World's Greatest Sleuth by Steve Hockensmith

In this book, Otto and Gustav are attending the World's Fair in Chicago.  There is a contest to crown the World's Greatest Sleuth now that Holmes has gone over the falls.  I have to say that I checked this one out from the library a couple of years ago and renewed it 3 times without finishing it.   Just a few weeks ago, I pulled it out again.  It's been enough years since it came out, with no other Amlingmeyer books following it, that I was pretty sure this would be the final installment of the Holmes on the Range Series.  The whole series is goofy and funny, the mysteries themselves are not rocket surgery.  I found this final installment though to be extra goofy and the mystery to be far less compelling.  Ultimately, there were just a lot of elaborate shenanigans and hijinx.  I was glad for the ending the brothers got, but I suppose I could have just read the first 3 and last 3 chapters.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Books 10 and 11

Book 10:  Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang

If, like me, your rap name would be something along the lines of Marshmallo Chic or Wonda Bread, then you may want to get the Urban Dictionary app on your smart phone before reading Fresh Off The Boat.  Eddie Huang's parents are FOTB from Taiwan and Eddie was obsessed with rap, hiphop, and urban street culture.  He ran wild, he chased girls, did and sold drugs and got into a few fights.  He also went to law school, started an urban clothing line, and opened a restaurant.  There is no app that will help you understand the struggles of a minority who is trying to distance himself from a stereotype while also being true to his own history and identity.  I loved the stuff he was grappling with there. It really resonated with me as a woman and feminist. The reviews of the book are very mixed on good reads, probably because people are uncomfortable with chapters called "Rotten Bananas" and "Pink Nipples" (HOLY SHIT DID I LAUGH MY ASS OFF OR WHAT?)  or maybe they think it's ridiculous to spell anything like n!gg@.  Ugh. STILL OFFENSIVE, but doesn't make the book less compelling.  (See Also:  Huck Finn).

Entwined with identity is food, and as the son of a restaurant owner who later became a restaurant owner as well, Huang has put in a lot of food talk in this book.  However, it's not a cookbook, and there are no recipes.  This book is about flavors and dishes and how they call us back to who we are and where we came from.  So if you want to learn how to make anything, this is not the book for you.

This is also not a book for the fans of Tiger Mom who want to make their kids learn violin and get into Ivy League schools.  This is for people who want to SMASH THE PATRIARCHY.

I guess you can tell by the large amount of all caps, that I recommend this book.

Book 11:  Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

This is the coziest mystery I've read in a while.  I am not a huge fan of cozies that take place in restaurants, book stores, yarn stores, or whatever.  I do however, like historical mysteries from the 20th Century and these take place a few years after the end of WWII in England, near Cambridge.  I cannot even pretend I understand specifics of UK geography.  Google it.

Sidney is the vicar in Grantchester, he is friends with one of he local police, Geordie Keating.  In this first book in the series, there are 6 loosely connected novellas with each being its own case.  Sidney asks questions, ruminates on good and evil, and eventually comes up with the culprits.  He also walks his dog, Dickens, exasperates his housekeeper, Mrs. Maguire, and is torn between a couple of complicated women.

Not all the stories in this book are part of season 1 of the Masterpiece Mystery series Grantchester.  I have not yet seen the season closer on that one.  The novellas also do not contain all the same events nor all the same endings, so it would be possible to enjoy both.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book 9

Book 9: Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

So the heroine, Iris, is one of the terrible musicians of the Smythe-Smith quartet and the hero is named in the title.  Richard is looking for a bride and he intends to get married with all haste.  It is implied he's a fortune hunter but his reasons for a hasty marriage are so much worse.  I am still a little amazed Iris didn't club him to death and bury him under the roses.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Book 8

Book 8:  Open Season by CJ Box

As a big fan of the Longmire books and the Holmes on the Range series, I was hoping to find another Cowboy Detective series.  I picked up this one, the first in the Joe Pickett series based on recommendations online.   I found the ending a bit predictable in terms of whodunnit.

I am not sure if Joe Pickett is a smart enough detective for me. Joe is a game warden in WY, who has made a couple of dumb mistakes on the job.  I myself have made my share of dumb mistakes, so I tried to give ole Joe the benefit of the doubt.  It was apparent to me in Chapter 1 that he's 2 strikes in.  Needless to say, it's not exactly a career enhancer when a guy picks Joe's lawn as his final resting place.

Joe's clearly married above himself and his wife is a bit flat and martyry for my taste.  As bland as she seemed, her mom was downright annoying.  Joe's daughter, Sheridan is the most believable female in the story.  Also, there are bimbos.  Terribly drawn bimbos.

Joe kind of blunders his way into the cross hairs here and there are casualties as a result that I found tough to swallow.  Joe's internal assertion that his family was stronger at the end seemed completely artificial to me and unbelievable.  I also thought the resolution of events for the first victim's family to be a bit of a stretch.