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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

A Place of Execution
Val McDermid
Progress: 182/404pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
Cherie Priest
Progress: 13%
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Booklikes-opoly Turn 22 (June 25th)

It's still the 25th where I am and I finished A Place of Execution a little while ago tonight so I decided to roll again. I got doubles! But snake eyes.


"Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event."


So unless someone can tell me that someone cries in Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal (a library book I need to get around to), it looks like I'll be looking for water on a cover. So let's see:

One Hundred Ablutions - Jacqueline Carey  The Malice - Peter C. Newman  

One Hundred Ablutions is a short story. I suppose I could read it and then read Ghost Talkers and see if I can use it instead. Or read Ghost Talkers first.


Anyway, for my second roll:

So I guess I'll be looking for "thriller" books...


Hey, it turns out that my current audiobook, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman, is tagged as thriller. I'm about 30% through it, so based on a page count of 204, I'd be able to count about 144 pages once I finished it. So that's a possibility.


Some other options for #26:

What Angels Fear - C.S. Harris  By Gaslight: A Novel - Steven D. Price  The Lamp of the Wicked - Phil Rickman  Ashes of the Elements - Alys Clare  


Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher

This was a fun and quick read albeit a bit disorganized. It was probably geared more to people who knew more about Carrie Fisher and her hijinks over the years, however. It was funny but not laugh out loud so and it made me hate George Lucas a little for the whole bra thing.


I’m counting this as my Free Friday #2 read for booklikes-opoly, so that’s another $4 to add to my bank (page count: 159), bringing the total to $140.

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

This was a quaint old mystery, and the writing was suffused with a surprising amount of humour (it helped birth the “character sets pocket on fire with pipe” shelf). Originally published in 1908, the narrator is an elderly spinster who gets mired in a murder investigation when she leases a house in the country for the summer. The mystery had a lot of twisty bits but I got tired of the endless foreshadowing. That said, it was still a fun read, and I might seek out more of Rinehart’s books in the future.


I read this for booklikes-opoly Free Friday #1. I’ve seen different page numbers (I actually read the Gutenberg version), so I’m going with 192, which seems reasonable and nets me $4 for my bank (new total: $136).


Previous updates:

20 %

8 %

The Once and Future King by T H White (Audiobook)

The Once and Future King - T.H. White, Neville Jason

Series: The Once and Future King #1-5


Narrated by Neville Jackson


This was supposed to represent a collection of five books, but the titles didn’t seem to be announced (or I kept missing them) so they all just blurred together. I liked the first book, The Sword in the Stone, and I’d give that one 3 stars because although I liked it the animal stories became a bit repetitive. That covers Arthur’s childhood (I think). I’d recommend stopping after that because the rest just seemed long. Stop after he becomes king, anyway, at whichever book it is. It seems like it’s impossible to write an Arthurian story where Lancelot and Guinevere aren’t boring and whiny. Later on Merlin went on some long rants about the nature of man and war that could seriously put you to sleep.


My opinion may be in the minority but it is what it is. Oh, and I could definitely have done without so many songs. The narrator wasn’t bad but he couldn’t make Merlin’s philosophizing interesting.


Previous updates:

1023/1983 minutes (52 %)

681/1983 minutes (34 %)


Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank  - Elizabeth Peters

Series: Amelia Peabody #1


I didn’t like the tone this book started off with, and I found Amelia really annoying, at least at the start. She grew on me once she picked up Evelyn as a companion, however. I did like their interactions. Amelia, a rich Englishwoman, has travelled to Rome from where she plans to sail on to Egypt to winter voyaging up the Nile when she encounters Evelyn, who seems a suitable replacement for the paid companion who had recently become ill and had to be sent back home. So Amelia and Evelyn both set off for Egypt where they do some sightseeing and hire a boat to take them up the Nile. Partway through their voyage they fetch up at an archaeological dig where strange happenings occur and a mummy seems to have come back from the dead. Maybe. That’s the mystery.


I had guessed a lot about the resolution of the mystery although I’ll admit I hadn’t quite worked out every detail. I ended up enjoying the book despite the rough beginning, so I may look into whether my library has the next one. Eventually.


I read this for booklikes-opoly square New Orleans Station #14 “Read a book that involves overseas travel”. Since Amelia has travelled first to Rome and then travels on to Egypt, I think the book fits. At 226 pages, with the new rules in effect, this nets me $6 for my bank, bringing my total balance to $132. Yay!


Previous update:

72 %

Booklikes-opoly Turn 21 (June 22nd)

I finished Crocodile on the Sandbank although I don't have time to write a review now. I will by tomorrow at the latest though.



This is a new square for me. I think it was said that England counted as an island for this. Is that right? If so, it looks like I could read A Place Of Execution by Val McDermid or All Is Fair by Emma Newman. Otherwise I'll have to think a bit.

A Place Of Execution - Val McDermid    All is Fair: The Split Worlds - Book Three - Emma Newman 



Bank: $132

Reading progress update: I've read 72%.

Crocodile on the Sandbank  - Elizabeth Peters

So, this happens:

As he spoke, in an insufferably sarcastic tone, I thought I detected a faint smell of singeing cloth.


The smell of singeing cloth grew stronger. I have a very keen sense of smell.


There was definitely a small curl of smoke issuing from the pocket in which Emerson had placed his pipe.


Emerson did not reply. A most peculiar expression had come over his face. I watched him for a moment, relishing the situation with, I fear, a malice most unbecoming a Christian woman.
“Your pocket is on fire,” I added. “I thought when you put your pipe away that it was not quite out, but you dislike advice so much…. Good night.”
I went away, leaving Emerson dancing up and down in the moonlight, beating at his pocket with both hands.

Remember that scene in The Circular Staircase? This is a thing! A definite thing! Also possibly known as a trope.

Booklikes-opoly Turn 20 (June 20th)

Bank: $126


My first roll since the shake-up!


This one might take some thinking...I suppose there's always Crocodile on the Sandbank:

Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters 


The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough

The Grass Crown  - Colleen McCullough

Series: Masters of Rome #2


Boy, that felt long!


I don’t know my ancient Roman history very well, so I can’t judge how faithful McCullough was to all the facts, but she makes Roman politics sound absolutely mad. Well, all politics are a bit mad, but this runs the gamut from simple bribery to murder in the streets plus all sorts of machinations. I’m only giving it three stars because it oscillated between absolutely riveting (and sometimes comical) scenes, usually involving Sulla, and parts where the narrative lagged. I’m not sure we needed to see that much from Mithridates point of view, for example.


Sulla’s still a terrible person but awesome to read about. Reading about Marius’s downfall was disturbing. Roman politics are mad….oh, and there’s a civil war with the Italians. So lots of exciting happenings, interspersed with some dull bits.


Reading about the Roman politics made me think of some of the current news headlines, actually. I read this for the More Historical Than Fiction June read as well as for booklikes-opoly square Main Street 11 “Read a book written by an author born before 1955”. Colleen McCullough was born in 1937. I started this book before the booklikes-opoly shake-up so it’s only worth the original rewards but I’m counting it as being 815 pages (after that it’s the author’s note, a list of consuls, and the glossary), so I’m adding $10 to my bank. New total: $126.


Previous updates:

777 of 894 pages

493 of 894 pages

431 of 894 pages

103 of 894 pages

74 of 894 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 777 out of 894 pages.

The Grass Crown  - Colleen McCullough

I think I've lost track of which is supposed to be Rome's "true" government at this point. I mean, we have consul against consul and all sorts of stuff going on.


It's madness, I tell you.

Reading progress update: I've read 493 out of 894 pages.

The Grass Crown  - Colleen McCullough

I'm loving Rutilius Rufus's suggestion to convince Cornelia Sulla to agree to marry Quintus Pompeius. It basically amounts to dropping hints that Sulla is changing his mind and wants to marry her off to some especially odious fellow and then letting her meet Young Marius again (with whom she's in love) and let them annoy each other because he'll be pre-occupied with his career rather than her. And finally letting her actually meet Quintus Pompeius since she hasn't even laid eyes on him.


For context, Rutilius Rufus solves all of his friends' children's thorny marriage issues. And his plan certainly beats Sulla's threats to beat her to death or to sell her off into slavery. This leads to this exchange:

"I'm already a slave!" she called back.

What a soldier she would have made!

That last was in Sulla's thoughts. He really shouldn't lose his temper with her; it doesn't help him.

Reading progress update: I've read 431 out of 894 pages.

The Grass Crown  - Colleen McCullough

Finally past the halfway mark! I'm not counting the glossary at the end, so I'm considering this book to be only 815 pages. Let's see if I can finish the second half in less than a week...


My problem is that, just like the first one, parts of this book are awesome and riveting and some parts are just meh. Like, did we really have to have those sections from Mithridates's point of view? Plus it's a really long book.

Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

In certain walks of life the tea-pot is the refuge in times of stress, trouble or sickness: they give tea to the dying and they put it in the baby's nursing bottle.

The baby's nursing bottle may be going a bit far, but some people do give tea to kids...

Reading progress update: I've read 8%.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

I know I'm behind everyone (I'll read all your posts once I get to that point in the story), but I found this part amusing:

"Thomas," I said, "you have been smoking."


"No, ma'm." He was injured innocence itself. "It's on my coat, ma'm. Over at the club the gentlemen"


But Thomas did not finish. The pantry was suddenly filled with the odor of singeing cloth. Thomas gave a clutch at his coat, whirled to the sink, filled a tumbler with water and poured it into his right pocket with the celerity of practice.


"Thomas," I said, when he was sheepishly mopping the floor, "smoking is a filthy and injurious habit. If you must smoke, you must; but don't stick a lighted pipe in your pocket again. Your skin's your own: you can blister it if you like. But this house is not mine, and I don't want a conflagration."

I also liked the scenes between the old spinster lady and her maid, Liddy.

Reading progress: I've read 1%.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous.

Based on the first sentence, it's ambiguous  whether the spinster lost her mind prior to going out of town for the summer or as a result of subsequent events.


From the later paragraphs, it seems to be that the mere act of deserting "town" for the summer like everyone else was deemed a not very sane thing to do by the narrator.


I figured I'd start this even if I didn't end up counting it for booklikes-opoly (I'm still in the middle of The Grass Grown and I plan to finish it) so that I can tag along for the buddy read. Some clarification of the new free Friday rules would be nice, however.

Reading progress update: I've read 103 out of 894 pages.

The Grass Crown  - Colleen McCullough

Were the Romans really this averse to a state-funded bureaucracy?


Instead of sending out tax collectors to assess how much tax is owed etc., they have publicani bid on the tax contract. The Romans declare their minimum tax required, and they award the contract to the publicani that bid the highest. So then the publicani squeeze as much taxes as possible from the region so that they can pocket the difference between what is paid and what is owed to the Rome to maximize their profits.