Book 2 in the Family Skeleton series. Still fun.
Book 2 in the Family Skeleton series. Still fun.
Really good novella set in the near-enough future about a super-messed up citizenship test. Good and disturbing – the good kind of disturbing.
I’m not sure who recommended this book, but whoever it was, I don’t trust them anymore. It’s not bad – the writing is better than the last one I read – but it’s disturbing and it really hammers you over the head with the “men are horrible and it’s women who bear the brunt and feel shame their entire lives” message. I’m not arguing the point, but goodness some awful things happen, and I wasn’t really prepared for that when I started reading.
It’s funny how many books I’ve read recently that cross characters from different books or fictionalize (and then match up) real people who probably didn’t know each other (and certainly didn’t solve mysteries together). The Case of the Missing Miss paired up Charles Dodgson with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (which I started yesterday) pairs up the daughter of Dr. Jeckyll with Holmes and Watson (and I’m expecting Dr. Frankenstein to make an appearance, or perhaps his daughter). Then there are all the alternative Holmes/Watson stories, like The Tea Master and the Detective (Watson is a sentient spaceship who makes tea) and A Study in Charlotte, where the Holmes and Watson characters are descendants of Sherlock and the good doctor. And I have another one I’ll read soon (A Study in Honor) set in the near future with Dr. Janet Watson and Sara Holmes.
It’s essentially fan fiction (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and these last few years appear to be THE time for it.
Updated days later: Since I ended up not liking the Jeckyll and Hyde and Holmes and Watson and Frankenstein and so on and so on and so on book, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for this blog post. It’s still notable (I think) how many of these books there have been lately (or at least how many of them I’ve been reading), but I’m less inclined to gush about it since I was disappointed by the latest one*. And to be fair, I wasn’t crazy about the Dodgson/Doyle one, either. To be more fair, the issues I had with both books had nothing to do with their premises. I take issue with the execution (which I discussed in my mini reviews for both books, so I’m not going to repeat myself here). I absolutely plan to keep reading this stuff. Hey, look, that’s a sort of enthusiasm. Yay, genre! Boo, bad writing!
*I’m especially disappointed by the Alchemist’s Daughter book because I heard the author speak at Boskone in February, and I really liked her. I feel betrayed. Just a little.
First in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, we have Dr. Jeckyll’s daughter teaming up with Holmes and Watson in 1890s London to find the murderous Mr. Hyde and get the monetary reward because poor Miss Jeckyll is dead broke. The book is being written by a character we don’t meet (in the narrative, anyway) until much later in the book, but we know she’s writing it right away because the other characters have conversations with her about the narrative, within the narrative. It’s loads of fun.
Update: NOPE. It started out fun and interesting, but the writing style got really irritating (although not the interruptions from characters – that was still mostly fun). It’s full of exposition, all tell and no show, and it’s all happening in the dialogue, which makes the dialogue really clunky and painful to read. It’s a pity. I really wanted to like this book.
Last in the Lady Helen series, we move the action to Bath and OH the drama and the men fighting over Lady Helen (even though she’s betrothed!) and the SECRETS and the clothes and poor Darby, and oh yes, fighting the big bad nasty demon-types. And I knew it, I KNEW it, and I’m not going to tell you what I knew because spoilers, but it’s nice to be right.
This was fun. I’m bummed there’s no more.
You’re out with a stroller? You must be that one person I don’t really know who just had a baby! When I’m out for a walk with Jack and I meet someone else out and about in whatever neighborhood I’m in, there’s a 75% chance they’re going to ask me if I’m so-and-so from down the street who just had a baby. Not ONCE have I been their so-and-so from down the street who just had a baby. I’ve had that conversation with a LOT of people in at least three different neighborhoods.
I’m walking down the sidewalk minding my own business.
“He might bark, but I promise he’s friendly.”
Um, what? Oh, that poodle who looks like he has a mohawk is in the front yard. “Thanks!”
The man heads to the dog, and I stop at the end of his sidewalk and ask if I can say hello to the dog. Because dogs. He says of course, and I start petting the very friendly, very nice dog.
“Is your husband Matt?”
Um, what? “No….”
“Because his wife walks around here a lot and they have a two-month-old.”
“No, I’m Susannah, my husband is John, and he,” pointing at the stroller, “is nearly 6 months old.”
What I don’t get is how he only remembers the husband’s name when it seems it’s the wife he’s met on her walks, but whatever. His name is Tom, the dog’s name is Bogey (as in Humphrey), they’re both nice, and if I don’t write his name down, I’m not going to remember. Yesterday, I ran into a woman I’d met on a walk months ago and messed up her name. I remembered her kids’ names, but I guessed Grace for her. Nope. She’s Nancy. But she didn’t remember mine, so we’re even.
Second in the Lady Helen series, we move the action to Brighton and Lady Helen has to dress like a man (gasp) and keep secrets from the duke who wants to marry her while also trying not to be attracted to the earl who may have murdered his wife (but clearly did not). Also, there’s magic and power and killing nasty demon-types.
This is the first in a trilogy about a Regency period noblewoman with parents who died scandal-ridden, who, as she turns 18 and starts her first season in London, finds out she’s got this supernatural power to fight nasty demon-types, and she might just have to save the world (but not in book 1). And of course, her mentor is a smoldering earl accused of murdering his wife. Such fun!
This is a post-apocalyptic world where nearly all white people died and the people who live die by the time they’re 20 (of what sounds like the plague), so the world is populated by kids. The language is all dialect or pidgin, hard to get used to, but you get there. It’s told in the first person, so that language is all you get. It’s sometimes hard to remember that the main character is only 15. At other times, it’s painfully obvious and terribly sad that they’re all just children. I was having trouble deciding if I liked it, or even if I thought it was good, and since I finished it over a week ago and I can’t let it go, I think that’s a yes on both counts (although I’m not crazy about the VERY end).
A cozy mystery set in present-day England with dragons. It’s cute, it’s lightly humorous, it set up a lot of background stuff so I’m hoping for a full series (there’s one sequel, Christmas-related), and even though the whodunit part wasn’t that hard to figure out, I still very much enjoyed it.
Gave up: 2/22/19
I couldn’t get into this story. It started with so much exposition, and when we finally got into some characters’ heads, I was relieved and then disappointed. It’s slow-moving, and the depiction of an alien race (native to a planet humans settled on) strikes me as vaguely racist, so it’s unpleasant to read. Add to that the abundance of unnecessary commas and I had to walk away.
This short story is about a mercenary company of wizards who encounter the fantasy version of a tank during one of their battles. It’s a funny idea, told in a funny way, and I am looking forward to more tales of the Red Hats.
Example of how my brain is working right now:
One of the milestones for baby development for a couple of months ago is the ability to track an object as small as a raisin across the baby’s field of vision.
How do you know the baby is tracking the raisin? If you’re holding it, the baby could just be tracking your hand, which is (probably) much larger than the raisin.
Maybe if you hung the raisin on some string and dangled it in front of the baby…
[Picturing using a needle and thread and piercing the raisin so you can dangle it] Who would go to that trouble?
Why not just use a necklace with some kind of pendant?
Oh. Maybe that’s what they mean, but they can’t say use a pendant because they come in all sizes and they’re using raisin as a point of comparison. Duh.
No, because how hard would it be to say “baby should be able to track an object, like a pendant on a chain, as small as a raisin”?
Be clearer, baby books!
Do I have any intention of dangling a pendant (or a raisin) in front of Jack? No. Does that matter to my brain? No. Is this really any different from how my brain worked pre-Jack? No.
I liked the opening framing device more than I liked the rest of the story, although it was interesting. I didn’t love it – I feel like there were so many more stories to tell here, and the one tertiary story the author included basically only had an end. It was missing the beginning and the middle, which took all of the emotion (which I was clearly supposed to feel) out of it.
I’m a science person, right? Not a holistic medicine person. I don’t believe that apple cider vinegar can cure everything from blisters to cancer, and of COURSE we’re vaccinating Jack. I don’t plan to change my mind about any of that, but I AM willing to try just about anything to make sure I can continue to feed Jack.
A couple of weeks ago, maybe three now, Jack started to behave strangely while nursing, and without going into all the details (because I’m tired and that takes too long), I’ve asked for help, and two other moms, his doctor, and two lactation nurses (one of whom witnessed him nurse) all think I have low milk supply. Jack is still gaining weight, so no one is seriously concerned about him, but I’m not ready to give up on being his sole source of food.
Solution #1: pump constantly. Sharon (the visiting lactation nurse who looks and sounds like John’s Aunt Toni – it’s eerie) suggested pumping after every feeding for 24-48 hours. I haven’t managed EVERY feeding (sometimes I let him nap if he falls asleep eating), but I’ve been pumping a lot and not seeing a lot of improvement. We’re coming up on 96 hours, and MAYBE making some progress. We’ve replaced the bedtime feeding with a bottle because that late in the day I’m producing practically nothing and both Jack and I are very not happy about it. Anyway, the pumping is supposed to be telling my body that the baby needs more so, damn it, produce more. We’ll see.
Solution #2 is the one I want to talk about. After suggesting pumping all the time, Sharon asked, “Have you tried any herbs?” Part one of the answer: I haven’t tried ANYthing because I didn’t know what the problem was. Part two of the answer: um, what? What kind of herbs? Like, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme? Or, like, herbs? What is happening here?
Apparently, some herbs are galactagogues, meaning they’ll help produce milk, like fenugreek, alfalfa, and, I kid you not, something called blessed thistle. I feel hippy-dippier just typing that. So Sharon suggested I try those herbs, in addition to the constant pumping, either in pill form or in Mother’s Milk Tea. (I can’t believe this is a real thing.) I like tea, so I ordered some of that, and it arrived today. I was worried about the fenugreek (I really don’t like licorice), but the tea tastes pretty much like a basic chamomile (I don’t drink much herbal tea, so give me a break here if I’m totally off base), and I can deal with that. Of course, I have to deal with it 3-5 cups a day for it to be effective.
The tea has been in the house for 90 minutes, and I’ve had two cups already. I’ll get at least three in tonight.
THIS HAD BETTER WORK.
Gave up: 2/7/19
This could have been (and might be, to a different reader) an interesting story about belonging and ownership of self and taking action to control your life, but it felt like several stories all muddled together. It starts in a factory with child labor, but it leaves there quickly (and abruptly), with no sign any of that will be revisited. Then it switches to a school, with great details about tiny things that appear to have nothing to do with the plot (but they’re neat). In both settings so far, there are off-hand crude comments involving sexualizing young girls that I found really disturbing. We’re following one main character, but I have no idea what she’s going to do or even what she wants to do. I gave it up.
Gave up: 2/7/19
This is a horror story set in a store that is identical to Ikea, but isn’t Ikea. The premise is kind of funny, but the novelty wears off quickly. And then the story got actually scary (or scary enough), so I stopped reading it at night, and then I found I didn’t care enough to pick it back up during the day. No ringing endorsement here.
I’m not sure what this book is expecting of me. Sometimes the tone is light and comic, with a gruff old man harrumphing about his companions, and then the plot will get into sex trafficking and the abuse of young girls and it’s serious and disturbing, but in a light, comic tone…? It’s the first in a series about Charles Dodgson and Arthur Conan Doyle teaming up to solve crimes. I wanted to like it more than I did.
Gave up: 1/31/19
I picked this one because the author will be at the convention I’m going to in a couple of weeks, but I gave up on it almost immediately. The writing was stilted, formal, and boring, and the characters are all high-elf types with ridiculous names, and I am SO not in the mood. Hard pass.