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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Whose Body?
Dorothy L. Sayers, David Case
Kushiel's Dart
Jacqueline Carey
Progress: 18%
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
Cherie Priest
Progress: 18%
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra Khaw

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef (Gods and Monsters) - Cassandra Khaw

Series: Gods & Monsters #1


This was interesting because it was different, but I didn't end up enjoying the investigation portion all that much. It started off fairly strong, with Rupert talking about his "day" job as a chef to ghouls but the investigation seemed to mostly consist of Rupert doing magic spells to talk to people while they tried to kill him.


Despite his ghost tattoos, Rupert's a pretty average (albeit destined for hell unless he cleans up his karma by essentially doing community service) guy and so it was weird that he was drawing all this attention by incredibly powerful supernatural beings. He was terribly outclassed and it just seemed a bit...much?


I may read the sequel but I won't be rushing out to do so. This was only a novella, so maybe there just wasn't enough room for a satisfactory exploration of the world.


I read this for the "Diverse Voices" square for the Halloween Bingo but it could also be used for "Murder Most Foul", "Supernatural", "Monsters" (dragons, ghouls, undead-baby monsters), "Genre: Horror" (pretty gruesome), "Terrifying Women", "Amateur Sleuth", and "Ghost" squares. I might have missed some.


My cover:

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch (audiobook)

Whispers Under Ground  - Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Series: Peter Grant #3


More fun with Peter Grant via the voice of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.


Although the story kicks off with Peter and Leslie investigating the haunting of a rail tunnel at Abigail's behest, Peter quickly finds himself investigating the death of an American art student found stabbed in the back with a shard of magical pottery in the Underground. This leads us to meet Zack, another great character and the one who starts calling the policemen from the Folly the Isaacs (for Isaac Newton, naturally).


Peter also gets to showcase some of his police professionalism during interrogations and we get introduced to the Suspicious Behaviour Bingo Card, which I find a lot of fun.


I'm thinking about using this for one of my Halloween Bingo squares but I'm not sure which one. Although there is that segment with the haunted railway track, I'm not sure it plays a big enough role for "Haunted Houses". I may use it for "Supernatural" though, and it could of course also be used for "Murder Most Foul" and "Darkest London" (I'm still trying to save The Furthest Station for Darkest London).

Why shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer

I was worried that I wouldn't like this book because of my disastrous encounter with Venetia, one of Heyer's regency romances, but this was pretty good. 


Mr. Frank Amberley, a barrister visiting his relatives in the country, comes across a man shot dead in a parked car with a woman standing alongside whilst trying to following his cousin's poor directions for a short cut. He reports the murder but doesn't mention the woman because he strongly believes she didn't do it and doesn't trust the local constabulary not to try to pin it on her by mistake, apparently. You could easily accuse him of arrogance, I suppose, but he does seem to be a clever man.


This kicks off an amateur investigation where Amberley liaises with the police without telling them everything. I didn't guess the solution to the mystery although I had an inkling about part of it. I enjoyed the dialogue the most, I think. There was a lot of clever talking or whatever you want to call it, where characters don't exactly say what they mean but you follow along anyway, or characters mock each other without the author having to come out and say it. Or maybe others wouldn't say it was like that at all but I had fun with it regardless.


The last summing up chapter could have been a teensy bit shorter, but overall it was fun.


I read this for the "Terrifying Women" square for the Halloween Bingo but it could work equally well for "Murder Most Foul" and "Amateur Sleuth". It may work for "Country House Mystery" as well, although the number of suspects isn't quite as limited as some country house settings although you are still limited by being in the country.


Previous update:


My Diverse Voices Square

For this square, I'm thinking about reading Cassandra Khaw's Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef.

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef (Gods and Monsters) - Cassandra Khaw 

For some reason the publisher (Abaddon) isn't showing the same cover as the one I purchased, so mine looks like this:


Reading progress update: I've read 52%.

Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer

When Fountain came in apologising for keeping his visitor waiting, he was turning over the pages of a dusty volume culled from the obscurity of a top shelf and said absently: ‘Not at all, not at all. I have been looking over your books. My dear sir, are you aware that they are all arranged according to size?’

This book has a kind of wry humour that amuses me. And we now have multiple amateur detectives acting at cross purposes.

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24) - Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #24


Vimes is being sent off to act as a diplomat in Uberwald for some do about the Low King of the dwarves. Sybil claims it’ll be a holiday, but as Vimes puts it, he’s a policeman and policemen find crime, so he’s going to find a crime even if he tries not to. Meanwhile, Angua leaves town and Carrot enlists the aid of Gaspode, the talking dog, to go after her. Gaspode is awesome. He’s been sending letters to the Patrician complaining about the cruelty to dogs in the city and the clerks never see who leaves the messages. He holds the crayon in his mouth to write. Oh, the poor flea-bitten mutt.


I had a lot of fun with this book, with the narrative split between Vimes’s journey to Bonk in Uberwald and Colon acting paranoid with terror and basically running the Watch into the ground as acting captain. I quoted some of the laugh out loud moments in my previous updates. One thing that I may not have mentioned is that one of Colon’s manifestations of paranoia is that he keeps counting the sugar cubes, coming up with different totals, and then accusing various watchmen of stealing sugar.


I think I resent the comparison of Gaspode to Nobby. Gaspode’s way cooler and just keeps getting knocked down.

And poor little Gaspode has to make his way back to Ankh-Morpork from Uberwald because they just assume he’s dead. Oh well, at least he talks his way onto a barge to save his little doggy legs.

(show spoiler)


I read this for the “Werewolves” square for Halloween Bingo, but it would also work for the “Murder Most Foul”, “Locked Room Mystery”, “Vampires”, “In the dark, dark woods” (Vimes gets chased through the woods by werewolves at one point), “Supernatural”, and “Monsters” (Trolls) squares.



Previous updates:

137 of 460 pages

119 of 460 pages

My Halloween Bingo Card

I've decided to just keep a single post for my bingo card. Called squares have purple boxes around them and read squares have coloured pumpkins.


I'm back to having my squares called. I was starting to find my card confusing, so I lightened the colour of the pumpkins on squares that haven't been called yet.



Completed reads have links to reviews (however short they may be); in-progress reads are in italics.


Diverse voices

Murder most foul: The Germanicus Mosaic by Rosemary Rowe [several murders take place]

Cozy mystery: A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell [cozy mystery that takes places in a small town where MC runs a yarn shop]

Serial/spree killer

Locked room mystery: Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie [woman murdered in her room that can only be accessed via the courtyard]


Magical realism

Classic noir: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett [lots of drinking and man's man stuff]

Vampires: Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett [there are vampires]

Country house mystery

WerewolvesThe Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett


In the dark, dark woods: The Iron Hand of Mars by Lindsey Davis [creepy Teutoberg forest scenes]

Witches: The Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell [Judith is a witch]

Free Space: Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (audiobook)




Darkest London: 

Haunted houses: 

Genre: horror: The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell [Ripper-style killings]

Demons: Lucifer Vol. 2 Children and Monsters [the devil and other demons]

Terrifying women: Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer


Amateur sleuth: 


Chilling children: 


Ghost: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (audiobook) [ghosts of Nicholas Wallpenny, Henry Pyke]

Reading progress update: I've read 137 out of 460 pages.

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24) - Terry Pratchett

It may just be my mood, but this made me actually laugh out loud (conversation between the Patrician and Acting Captain Colon):

'I have here another complaint of over-enthusiastic clamping. I'm sure you know to what I refer.'

'It was causing serious traffic congestion, sah!'

'Quite so. It is well known for it. But it is, in fact, the opera house.'


'The owner feels that big yellow clamps at each corner detract from what I might call the tone of the building. And, of course, they do prevent him from driving it away.'

Reading progress update: I've read 119 out of 460 pages.

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24) - Terry Pratchett

Carrot has enlisted Gaspode's help to track Angua. Gaspode is the flea-bitten talking wonder-dog that you may recall from earlier books.


From page 25:

'Do you know anything about this?' [Vetinari] said.

Vimes read, in large, round, crayoned letters:

'DeEr Cur, The CruELt to HOMLIss DoGs In thIs CITy Is A DIssGrays, WaT arE The WaTCH DoIng A BouT IT¿ SiNeD The LeAK AgyANsct CrUleT To DoGs.'

'Not a thing,' he said.

'My clerks say that one like it is pushed under the door most nights,' said the Patrician. 'Apparently no one is seen.'

From page 100:

A grubby cloth cap lay on the pavement. On the pavement beside the cap someone had written in damp chalk: Plese HelP This LiTTle doGGie.

Beside it sat a small dog.

It was not cut out by nature to be a friendly little waggy-tailed dog, but it was making the effort. Whenever someone walked by it sat up on its hind legs and whined pitifully.

Something landed in the cap. It was a washer.

The charitable pedestrian had gone only a few steps further along the road when he heard: 'And I hope your legs fall off, mister.'

And between Gaspode and Carrot on page 103:

'How do you manage to write, Gaspode?'

'I holds the chalk in me mouth. Easy.'

He's already a talking dog. You can't expect him to be able to spell too.

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #23


King Verence invites vampires to his daughter's christening and they decide to take over the country. And these aren't your traditional vampires who fear daylight and garlic. They're modern vampyres (the spelling was their idea) who have overcome the ancient superstitions that have been holding them back. There are the Lancre witches to take into consideration, though. Agnes has sort of taken Magrat's place as most junior witch since Magrat's been focused on queening and motherhood.


This one had some great moments but I didn't quite love it even with an appearance by the Nac mac Feegle. I read this for the "Vampires" square for the Halloween Bingo. It could also fit "Witches" (obviously) and "Supernatural" squares. Perhaps "In the dark, dark, woods" too.


Previous updates:

402 of 425 pages

369 of 425 pages

314 of 425 pages

209 of 425 pages

52 of 425 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 402 out of 425 pages.

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

‘Really? And you think you can stand in my way? An axe isn’t even a holy symbol!’
‘Oh.’ Oats looked crestfallen. Agnes saw his shoulders sag as he lowered the blade.
Then he looked up, smiled brightly and said, ‘Let’s make it so.’
Agnes saw the blade leave a gold trail in the air as it swept around. There was a soft, almost silken sound.


I love that line: "Let's make it so."

Reading progress update: I've read 369 out of 425 pages.

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

Greebo takes out a vampire.


His coffin was in the centre of the dim cellar, its lid lying carelessly on the floor beside it. He’d always been messy with the bedclothes, even as a human.
Vargo climbed in, twisted and turned a few times to get comfortable on the pillow, then pulled the lid down and latched it.
As the eye of narrative drew back from the coffin on its stand, two things happened. One happened comparatively slowly, and this was Vargo’s realization that he never recalled the coffin having a pillow before.
The other was Greebo deciding that he was as mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more. He’d been shaken around in the wheely thing and then sat on by Nanny, and he was angry about that because he knew, in a dim, animal way, that scratching Nanny might be the single most stupid thing he could do in the whole world, since no one else was prepared to feed him. This hadn’t helped his temper.
Then he’d encountered a dog, which had tried to lick him. He’d scratched and bitten it a few times, but this had had no effect apart from encouraging it to try to be more friendly.
He’d finally found a comfy resting place and had curled up into a ball, and now someone was using him as a cushion
There wasn’t a great deal of noise. The coffin rocked a few times, and then pivoted around.
Greebo sheathed his claws and went back to sleep.

Reading progress update: I've read 314 out of 425 pages.

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that—’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
‘Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—’
‘But they starts with thinking about people as things . . .’

Reading progress update: I've read 209 out of 425 pages.

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

‘Yings, yow graley yin! Suz ae rikt dheu,’ said the blue man, taking the thimble.
‘What is he?’ said Magrat. ‘They’re gnomes,’ said Nanny.
The man lowered the thimble. ‘Pictsies!’
‘Pixies, if you insist,’ said Nanny. ‘They live up on the high moors over towards Uberwald—’
‘Ach! Bae, yon snae rikt speel, y’ol behennit! Feggers! Yon ken sweal boggin bludsuckers owl dhu tae—’

I really have no idea what he's saying. Fortunately Nanny proceeds to translate:

Nanny nodded while she listened. Halfway through the little man’s rant she topped up his thimble.
‘Ah, right,’ she said, when he seemed to have finished. ‘Well, he says the Nac mac Feegle have been forced out by the vampires, see? They’ve been driving out all the . . .’ her lips moved as she tried out various translations ‘. . . old people . . .’

‘That’s very cruel!’ said Magrat.
‘No . . . I mean . . . old races. The people that live in . . . the corners. You know, the ones you don’t see around a lot . . . centaurs, bogeys, gnomes—’
‘Yeah, right . . . driving ’em out of the country.’

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

[Aside: Dashiell Hammett's name has too many double letters. I think I got it right, but I had to check.]


If that was Classic Noir, I think I'll pass on future offerings. Admittedly, I was expecting Nick and Nora Charles to indulge in lively, witty banter while maintaining an all-day happy hour. I've never seen the movies, but I've seen other takes on the trope, like Beyond Belief, and those were fun. Nick and Nora had some banter, but it was fairly weak, and I had to repeatedly stop my mind from wandering while reading the dialogue. Even cute little Asta didn't have that much of a role and couldn't save the book.


I think Nick and Nora have a different definition of 'sober' than I do. I know they were on their Christmas holiday, which explains some of it, but the drinks before breakfast points to a whole new acceptance of alcoholism.


From the minimum half star, I'm giving half a star for not hating it although I was bored at times and half a star because I thought the solution to the mystery was alright. I didn't guess who the murderer was but I had suspected that person at one point because they seemed to have opportunity.


I read this for the "Classic Noir" square for the Halloween Bingo. It could also fit the "Murder Most Foul" and "Amateur Sleuth" squares, although Nick spends the entire book denying he's on the case and not doing all that much investigating.


Now I get to go back to Discworld!


Previous updates:



8% (2)

8% (1)


Reading progress update: I've read 63%.

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Nora said: “I love you, Nicky, because you smell nice and know such fascinating people.”


Wasn't someone asking what Nora saw in Nick?