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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Debt Collector Season One
Susan Kaye Quinn
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization
Nicholas P. Money
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Death of a Greedy Woman by M. C. Beaton (audiobook)

Death of a Greedy Woman - M.C. Beaton

Series: Hamish Macbeth #8


I think the original title for this book, "Death of a Glutton", was better. Cat lovers may want to steer clear of this one, and I have to agree with the character that said that Macbeth's way of getting a confession was amateurish.

Books are like people...

Reblogged from Elentarri's Book Blog:

Death of a Prankster by M. C. Beaton (audiobook)

Death of a Prankster - M.C. Beaton, Shaun Grindell

Series: Hamish Macbeth #7


A rather silly installment with a somewhat predictable plot, but lightly entertaining all the same.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (audiobook)

Library of Souls - Ransom Riggs, Kirby Heyborne

Series: Miss Peregrine #3


And we have the finale. It was alright, I guess, although the world still doesn't really make sense to me. There seem so few ymbryns (sp?) and they all seem so concentrated in England that it just feels off. The books also try so hard to be child-centric or at least teenager-centric so that there are all these really old "children" and it just doesn't really make sense unless you buy into the whole "ymbryns are controlling everyone" thing. Why infantilize them unless you really just want to control them?


And that romance is still weird.

Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis - James Lee Burke

A woefully unprepared group of humans starts a colony on an alien planet. Stuff goes wrong right from the beginning and it just seems like a matter of time before they die out. The cool thing is that they befriend an intelligent plant, and it negotiates with other plants on their behalf. Oh, and they move into a city left behind by other aliens who apparently also tried to colonize the planet.


So despite the apparently ill-fated nature of their colonization attempt, the book has some cool concepts. Unfortunately, I just didn't enjoy reading it all that much. It's divided into chapters in the life of the colony over the span of about a hundred years that are told from different viewpoints, so it feels more like a set of inter-related short stories than a coherent novel. Not exactly my cup of tea.


The dialogue felt really choppy in the earlier chapters, and since the main POV character was constantly changing, I had varying degrees of interest in the various chapters. Also, the book feels depressing because I feel that the colony is doomed to die out eventually.

Reading progress update: I've listened 409 out of 897 minutes.

Library of Souls - Ransom Riggs, Kirby Heyborne

"His pupils were terribly bloodshot, as if he hadn't slept in days, but otherwise unsuspicious."


Methinks that someone doesn't know which part of the eye the pupil is....

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (audiobook)

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2) - Ransom Riggs

Series: Miss Peregrine #2




It suffers from second book syndrome (a not very convincing attempt to mislead the reader into thinking the cliffhanger ending is unexpected) and from general YA-ness (but I love you!).


I've already started listening to the next book because my other options were not immediately available.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women - Kate Moore

This one was kind of hard to rate. I enjoyed reading The Radium Girls, for the most part, and I found it to be informative.  I had a few vague notions about their history, but didn't have much more than that so I did appreciate the detail that went into the background,the subsequent court cases, and the follow-up studies.


I found the amount of personal detail a bit trying and the constant references to different people to be a bit difficult to follow at times. Kate Moore's goal was to tell more of the personal story; it was just a little too personal for me at times. For example, there were so many of the dial girls that I couldn't always remember who was who, exactly, when they hadn't been mentioned for a while and then reappeared in the narrative, and there was one reference to a person that I couldn't for the life of me figure out who he was (and I flipped back to see where he had been mentioned) and only put two and two together when he was brought back later on (Roach).


That said, it's awesome that a book like this is out there, so that the names of the so-called Radium Girls continue to be spoken.

The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

This book alternated between being compulsively readable and making me wonder where the heck the author was trying to go with things. There is a lot of interesting information but sometimes it was like the author was confused about whether he should be arguing to deal with cats in a certain way, or he'd bounce around topics while really you just wanted to know whether he found his cat Augusta safe and sound in the end after one of her little escapades. I really wish he had just stopped letting her go outside. I couldn't take the suspense.


The infamous chapter 7, while sad, was quite good, and made me bump up my rating from 2.5 stars.


I guess I'd describe the book as being about understanding cats rather than being about cats, with a bit of science thrown in.


Previous updates:

72 of 235 pages (Balou likes to be loud)

7 of 235 pages (questionable cat hearing data)

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (audiobook)

Etiquette & Espionage  - Gail Carriger, Moira Quirk

Series: Finishing School #1


This was a kind of cute young-adult steampunk story about a tomboy in possibly Victorian times (there's talk of a telegraph device and gas lighting) who gets packed off to finishing school to try to polish off her rougher edges. As it turns out, however, the finishing school in question is only teaching the finer aspects of moving about in society in order to create expert intelligence agents, which is much more to Sophronia's liking. She can get behind fashion choices when they're used for camouflage, basically.


So the concept is kind of cute and silly but also somewhat entertaining. Sophronia reminds me a little of Flavia de Luce although she's a bit older. I think I'll see if my library has the next one in the series.

Death of a Snob by M. C. Beaton (audiobook)

Death of a Snob - M.C. Beaton, Shaun Grindell

Series: Hamish Macbeth #6


This was a straightforward little mystery wherein Hamish Macbeth acts like a pansy because he thinks he's dying of influenza when he catches a cold and later indulges in some slut shaming because calmly refusing a woman who makes a pass at him isn't acceptable; he has to try to make her feel ashamed for her behaviour. Give me a break. Oh, and Priscilla gets some much needed rest.


At least the book called out the ridiculousness of a romance plot (in a book) where the heroine falls in love with her rapist.

The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott (audiobook)

The Christie Curse - Carla Mercer-Meyer, Victoria Abbott

Series: Book Collector Mystery #1


This book sounded cute: a recent college grad gets a job doing research on finding literary collectibles, and her first task is to try to find a previously unknown Christie play. It started off okay, and there's a cute dog, but I got tired of the descriptions of Jordan's vintage clothes, and the writing was just too slow in places.


At one point, when relating Jordan's reaction to being startled by someone she thinks is going to attack her, she digresses into discussing all the self defence techniques her uncles taught her, talks about how a headbutt would be most appropriate, talks about taking aim or whatever, and still hasn't actually reacted to her attacker. And that wasn't the only instance. I'm not sure if the author was trying to build suspense or something, but it just didn't work for me.


The "twists" at the end were just way too predictable; I'm not very good at calling what's going to happen in a book, so when it happens like this...I have to feel that it's the book's failing.


So not a new audio mystery series for me to work my way through, unfortunately.

Reading progress update: I've read 72 out of 235 pages.

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

I'm not sure whether Balou's "calling around sounding lost" sound counts as a rowow or a máa-oww. It sounds godawful once he gets going and it definitely sounds louder than seems possible for his size.


Mildred Moelk's work sounds interesting.

Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 235 pages.

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

My initial impression was favourable. Although the style is anecdotal and somewhat chatty, it also focuses strictly on the cat, Augusta, and discusses her hunting abilities and so on. And then I got to this paragraph:

"Cats can hear higher-frequency sounds than any other terrestrial mammal, quite a bit higher even than dogs—up to one hundred thousand hertz (cycles per second). People max out at about forty thousand, if they haven't been to too many rock concerts or ear-splitting bars (which probably eliminates about half of all American grownups)."

I was like, what? Humans hearing up to 40 kHz? <.<


Supposedly there are some endnotes for this book but I don't see any references for this statement. The figure I'm familiar with for human hearing is 20 kHz, and I saw references to 23 kHz & 28 kHz when I was digging, which still seem plausible (28 kHz is apparently under ideal laboratory conditions), but with dogs commonly getting their hearing range quoted as up to ~45 kHz, it just isn't plausible that humans could possibly hear up to 40 kHz. There will be variations in the exact numbers since you normally have to quote an exact dB level (loudness) to go with a frequency but still. The statement is qualitatively accurate but the numbers are bogus.


I did find one paper that quote 85 kHz in the abstract for the upper end of the range for cats, but the Wikipedia page on hearing ranges refers an upper limit of 79 kHz (mice get 70 kHz). So they can hear ultrasonic mouse squeaks! Tee hee. I also found this really cool chart on that page that seems to use some different numbers (77 kHz for cat, 79 kHz for mouse) but looks cool just the same.Animal hearing frequency range



Apparently some bat species can hear up to 200 kHz, which is just kind of crazy. They do sacrifice hearing on the lower end of the scale though.


And this source gives 64 kHz to cats and 91 kHz to mice!


Anyway, although I may still end up enjoying the book, I'm going to be skeptical of all numbers quoted.



Death of a Hussy by M. C. Beaton (audiobook)

Death of a Hussy - M.C. Beaton, Shaun Grindell

Series: Hamish Macbeth #5


Yes, I'm still plugging my way through these books. This one tried to have a bit of progression by having Hamish move to the city and have the villagers start a crime spree to get him back (it works, naturally). This one felt really judgemental about women again (appearance-wise) although in some ways it tried not to be. Also, it feels really odd for someone not to learn to drive until their 30s unless they live in a big city. I mean, it's 1990 not 1960, and I'm pretty sure Scotland wasn't stuck 30 years in the past. Oh, and Macbeth finally starts to appreciate Blair. Sort of.


The mystery was pretty mediocre. Maybe the next one will be better.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (audiobook)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Audio) - Jesse Bernstein, Ransom Riggs

Series: Miss Peregrine #1


I was pleasantly surprised by this book. What little I knew of it sounded weird, so I didn't know exactly what I was getting into or how the main character's story would tie into that of his grandfather's. I'm just trying not to look at some of the questionable internal logic (or at least logic that I don't quite follow about how some of the weird stuff in this world works).


An enjoyable read, at least by audio. I'm planning on checking out the next in the series. I predicted some of what happened but that just gave me a sense of accomplishment rather than disappointment.