We’re in Portugal, with erratic internet access, hence the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. This little wasp in building a nest on a pile of coffee-table books in my study. The nest will probably have to go, but meanwhile, I am fascinated.
Reading and Viewing
4 June E With a twist*** – Jack Kilborn and JA Konrath. Clever ‘locked room’ mystery but not very memorable.
8 June E Westward Weird***** – an anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. The stories, a really odd mixture of sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and horror, are of a uniformly high quality and I thoroughly enjoyed the collection. The factor than ties them together is the ‘Wild West’ setting, though the connection is not always as it seems and one or two of the stories take place on other planets or in alternate histories. I bought this because it contains a short story by Seanan McGuire that ties in with one of her urban fantasy series, but I loved all the other contributions too.
14 June P Discount Armageddon***** – Seanan McGuire. The author had a short story in the Westward Weird anthology, set in her new ‘world’ of cryptozoologists (monster hunters) and I had read some snippets on her blog. So I bought the first novel in the the series and it was excellent: exciting, well-written and fun, with lots of well-imagined non-humans including a dragon under Manhattan. But although I admire it, it didn’t really hook me the way the October Daye series does. I wait impatiently for the next October Daye novel; I think the cryptozoologists will be more of an occasional read.
14 June P The Ice Dragon** – George R. R. Martin. I assume this was intended as a children’s book; it is short, fully illustrated and simply told. However, it’s a very melancholy story and I’m not at all sure it would be popular with the age range it seems to be directed at. I’m also not sure Martin has really got inside the head of a small child. Disappointing.
15 June E All Roads Lead to You***** – Harper Fox. I love Harper Fox’s m/m romances and after reading about this one on her blog, and the ‘competition’ to name it (no, I didn’t win), I had to buy it. A very romantic and satisfying story of an ex-model who is seeking the boy he thought was a just pizza waiter in Rome.
17June E Against the Light*** – Dave Duncan. The author takes the idea of the Gunpowder Plot and transforms it into a fantasy with magic instead of Catholicism. The story is exciting and the characters are well drawn but the world building fails. References to police officers and people being ‘dorky’ in an essentially historical story simply don’t work. There is also too much explicit description of tortures and punishments.
17June E Lonely*** – Scarlet Blackwell. Sweet but unmemorable m/m romance about a lonely vet who bonds with a client over a dog.
18June E A Solid Core of Alpha***** – Amy Lane. Gripping sci-fi m/m romance. A twelve year old boy, sole survivor of a planetary catastrophe, creates a family of holograms to sustain his ten year journey through space. Then, grown up, he has to face reality. I loved this book.
20June E Sister of the Hedge and other stories**** – Jim Hines. Interesting and very different take on a number of fairy stories and myths. Good writing.
21June E Perfect Day***** – Josh Lanyon. Bittersweet and ultimately satisfying m/m romance short story in which everything hinges on a bee sting.
24June E Close Enough to Kill** – Beverly Barton. Boring and banal serial-killer ‘thriller’. The plot was poor and there was far too much explicit sex between various characters, including the lead detectives, and far too much detail about the killer’s torture programme.
27June E The Quiche of Death** – M.C.Beaton. Boring ‘whodunnit’ with and unpleasant ‘heroine’. The first story in the Agatha Raisin Omnibus. I won’t be reading the other three.
28June E Rome Burning***** – Sophia McDougall. Second book in the Romanitas trilogy, set in a word where the Roman Empire never fell. Exciting, fascinating, romantic, tragic… I enjoyed Romanitas, the first book, and I shall be buying the sequel, Savage City.
29June E Necessity’s Door*** – Fiona Glass. A novella in which a cop goes undercover as a rentboy and is tempted both by the money and by one of his customers. I felt the format was too short to explore the issues properly.
1June Star Trek 9: Insurrection.** Boring. Maybe when it was first made the special effects would have saved it. (I understand it was the first of the Star Trek films to be made with CGI effects.) Watched today it just seemed like an over-long version of a TV episode.
2June Garrow’s Law Season 2***** Fascinating series that mixes fact with fiction to create drama from the life and career of William Garrow, the barrister who is regarded as the ‘father’ of the English adversarial courtroom system. I will definitely buy Season 3.
6June Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 **** Much better than part 1, with some excellent special effects, but I wonder if anyone who hadn’t read the books had the faintest idea what was going on? Of course, the majority of viewers would have read the books, but still…
9June The Colour of Magic***** Two linked films on one disc – the made-for-TV versions of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, overseen and introduced by Terry Pratchett. Excellent sets, special effects and acting – and of course I love the books anyway.
11June Desperate Housewives ***** Season 8 (final season). I’ve followed this series all the way through and loved it. It was quite sad to watch the final finale and I will always remember the inhabitants of Wisteria Lane. Great scripts that combined humour, excitement and tragedy, great acting that made the people seem completely real, and an interesting look at a small part of a very foreign culture.
12June How to Train your Dragon**** Beautifully made ‘cartoon’ (Dreamworks) film about ‘Vikings’ and dragons. Exquisite artwork and quirky plot. My daughter recommended it and I enjoyed it very much but wouldn’t watch it again now that I know the outcome.
15June Eragon** A rather trite story with very unrealistic sets and some stilted script. I liked the dragon but the rest was disappointing.