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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

An Excellent Mystery
Ellis Peters
Progress: 100%
Europe In Autumn
Dave Hutchinson, Graham Rowat
Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Progress: 125/314pages
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

Reading progress update: I've read 2%.

Poulets grillés - Sophie Hénaff

Son histoire avait commencé par un simple accident : un coéquipier blessé d’un coup de couteau au cours d’une arrestation. La routine. Le flic de remplacement pendant la convalescence avait été blessé à son tour. Les risques du métier. Le suivant avait pris une balle et trois jours de coma. Le dernier était mort, jeté du haut d’un immeuble. La culpabilité de Torrez avait été écartée chaque fois. Il ne pouvait être responsable en rien, pas même de négligence. Mais son aura était désormais plus épaisse que la poix. Il portait Malheur. Personne ne faisait plus équipe avec Torrez. Personne ne touchait Torrez et peu le regardaient encore dans les yeux. Sauf Capestan, qui se foutait des mauvais sorts.


– Je ne suis pas superstitieuse.


– Vous le deviendrez, affirma Valincourt, d’un ton sépulcral.


That Malheur made me smile.


So far, so good. The French is very readable.

Snakes and Ladders - Last but not Least

I was going to pass on this whole game but then Silver Thistle decided to join late and I remembered that I had a really cute cat icon to use as a playing piece, so...



Esme is agog at the resemblance.




(Moonlight Reader's rule post)



1. Author is a woman

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Walking to Aldebaran - Adrian Tchaikovsky

A few minutes pass as it inches closer, its mouthparts twitching in hungry anticipation. Human ingenuity is drawing a blank. Captain Kirk would have thought of something by now, I’m sure, but I have no red-shirted confederates to feed to it.

Reading progress update: I've read 32%.

Walking to Aldebaran - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Picture someone wandering around Fae roads underground. Passing through dark corridor after dark corridor and dark chamber after dark chamber with the occasional light that allows you to stop constantly trailing one hand against the wall. There are monsters lurking in the shadows and odd creatures occasionally encountered. Now instead of Fae, make them aliens and the road structure an artefact in space in some distortion of relativity that links the vast distances between stars, and you've got Walking to Aldebaran.


Not sure if I managed to evoke the spooky atmosphere, but Fae roads are the first thing that I thought of. So far it's pretty good, too.

Murder on the Blackboard by Stuart Palmer

Murder on the Blackboard - Stuart Palmer

Series: Hildegarde Winters #3


Despite what this site might tell you, this is definitely book 3 in the series. It makes reference to the events of Murder on Wheels.


In this one, a teacher at Miss Withers’s school is murdered but when the police arrive, the body has disappeared. Naturally, Miss Withers inserts herself in the investigation to try to figure out who murdered the young teacher and why. Shenanigans happen.


I enjoyed this book but I found I was a bit confused on some of the fine details regarding motive and Miss Withers’s reasoning at the end. The resolution was a bit of a letdown too, so this one seems a bit rougher than the previous one. Maybe that’s why it’s sometimes categorized as the second book?


I did find the contemporary observations of life in 1930s New York to be interesting, particularly in how roommates were pretty much a must and how most didn’t even have proper bedrooms it seems, at least among the teachers.

Murder on Wheels by Stuart Palmer

Murder on Wheels - Stuart Palmer

Series: Hildegarde Winters #2


Despite what this site might tell you, this is definitely book 2 in the series, so I didn’t read them out of order (I was worried about that, briefly).


This book reprises our schoolteacher and police detective from The Penguin Pool Murder. This time the schoolteacher tags along again when a man is mysteriously murdered and is found after a car crash outside his vehicle in the middle of the street with a rope around his neck. The back and forth between the detective and the amateur was amusing and I quite enjoyed the book. It was fun to be taken back to a 1930s New York seen from a 1930s perspective.


Previous updates:

31 %

15 %

Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

Murder on Wheels - Stuart Palmer

The Inspector was very uncomfortable. “Why … I was going to tell you about that. A little later.”


“You were? Oscar Piper, you wanted to demonstrate your masculine superiority, that’s all. You thought I was getting too sure of myself after my luck in the last case we did together, and so you handed yourself a handicap. You held back some evidence so that I wouldn’t beat you too badly!”


“But Hildegarde …”


“Yes, and you got up early this morning to try and beat me to a few facts over here, didn’t you?


“But Hildegarde, you did the same thing.”




Their relationship is definitely on the rocks, but I have hope.

Reading progress update: I've read 15%.

Murder on Wheels - Stuart Palmer

The book gods chose this 1932 mystery for me via random.org.


So far it's fun and features a guy who was apparently hanged while driving a vehicle in a kind of mad opening scene with snow and a traffic policeman who decides that it must be suicide because of the rope around the guy's neck and so MOVES THE BODY. It's 1932 and the guy was in the middle of a busy street in New York, so I guess suicides don't get photographed?


Fortunately our inspector arrives on scene shortly but it's his companion, Miss Withers, who points out that it can't have been suicide because his cigarette was still lit. Miss Withers trails after her inspector and refuses to wait in the car because apparently the last time she did that she ended up waiting 2 hours outside the registry office until after it closed because the inspector was off chasing a bad guy. I'm not entirely sure of the status of their relationship after that. I mean, are they still planning to get married? I guess I'll see. I don't remember very many details from the first book starring these two, but their second foray seems decent so far.

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Series: Hercule Poirot #33


Although not a stellarly crafted mystery, it was enjoyable overall. I wasn’t a fan of the structure, where we got so much background before getting to the mystery or murder and about two thirds of the book until we saw Poirot where he basically just snapped his fingers and figured everything out while being extremely careless when confronting the murderer. Some things that came out were surprising and others made sense in retrospect even if I didn’t predict them. I’m not sure I could have predicted a lot of the whole government oversight / spy plot/ princess thing.


I think Julia was my favourite character.


Dare I say that it might have been a better mystery without Poirot? Anyway, like I said, I enjoyed reading it overall but won’t be looking forward to a reread any time soon.


ETA: I thought it went without saying but then I figured I might as well say it: there are also some serious issues with how this book regards "foreigners" and other cultures. I just don't feel like going into it.


Previous updates:

70 %

65 %

41 %

28 %

25 %

18 %

14 %

Reading progress update: I've read 70%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

“Let us leave it at that. We have more serious things to consider, have we not?” He looked round at them. “Or perhaps you do not think so? But after all, what is three-quarters of a million or some such sum in comparison with human life?”


That sure hits home these days.

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Poirot, finally!


I don't even think Miss Marple usually takes this long to show up in one of her books. You know what this reminds me of? When Sherlock Holmes doesn't show up till halfway through in The Hound of the Baskervilles because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was sick of writing him.

Reading progress update: I've read 41%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Inspector Kelsey said politely that Miss Rowan might be correct in her assumptions, but that he couldn’t accept the theory of suicide, unless Miss Rowan could explain how Miss Springer had managed to shoot herself from a distance of at least four feet away, and had also been able to make the pistol disappear into thin air afterwards.


Miss Rowan retorted acidly that the police were well known to be prejudiced against psychology.


This really doesn't place psychologists in a good light.

Reading progress update: I've read 28%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

The brassiere inquest was amusing. I suppose a push-up bra might have been a bit risqué for a fifteen year old to wear in 1959. Although people would probably complain now too. Eye roll. I admit I had to look up what a liberty bodice was though.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Jennifer has a hollow leg. Is the tennis racket a red herring? It seems a risky place to put the stones. Maybe in the case instead?


I'm not a fan of the letters, although the one from Adam to his boss was quite amusing. This is keeping me out of trouble, not that I'm tempted to go outside. It's been doing this off and on today:


Ack! Esme keeps trying to put a paw in my soup! Cats aren't supposed to like sweet potato coconut curry, right?

Reading progress update: I've read 18%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Perhaps now I see why we're getting this background. It's going to be the schoolteacher who saw Rawlinson hide the stones, isn't it?

Reading progress update: I've read 14%.

Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie

Alright I confess I technically started last night before bed but only because I'd finished my other book and so many of you are at least 6 hours ahead.


So far this introduction or background, or whatever it is, seems to go into a lot more detail into the background of the upcoming crime than I'd expect from a Christie. But maybe that's the difference between a later Christie and an earlier Christie.