Series: Rivers of London Graphic Novels #5
A quick read featuring Reynard up to his old tricks where he manages to involve Abigail in a kidnapping. Someone should tell that girl not to talk to foxes. Literally. But at least Dan's family is safe.
I read this for the "Darkest London" square for 2018 Halloween Bingo. I'm pretty sure it works. A lot of it takes place in London. And the estate must be near London.
Um, can I count this for Darkest London?
So it looks like here we have a British-born, American-raised MC working as a secretary for Churchill during the war.
Crossing my fingers...
Series: A Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery #1
This is another one of the books that I stumbled across while looking for mystery genre audiobook possibilities at my library since I've been doing so much walking lately that I need to listen to something! Don't be scared away by my rating, for the reasons that I'll explain below.
Lady Frances (I think I'm using the naming convention correctly since her father had a title) is a very modern woman in Edwardian London (1901-1910) who has moved out of her brother's house upon his marriage (to a good friend of hers) to a respectable ladies hotel because she's just that kind of independent woman. She's involved in the suffragette movement too, naturally, and actually went to university in America (so she calls it "college"). She gets drawn into a mystery when a friend of hers asks her to help look for a manuscript that her brother (the friend's brother) was writing before his accidental death.
All that is well and good. The mystery was somewhat interesting, the narration was good, and the relationship between Frances/Franny and her maid, Mallow, was well done (Mallow got promoted to lady's maid partly because she used to cover for Franny back in the day). It was well-done but overall just average, and I'm giving it 2.5 stars instead of 3 because it was just a bit too American and Franny was just a bit too modern. At one point she calls trousers "pants", which was just a little bit shocking (I don't know when pants came to be known as underwear in Britain but to a modern ear it doesn't quite work), and her insistence that Mallow travel first class with her on the train just struck me as odd. Also, I think it may still have been just a little bit early for the upper class to be dining in restaurants for dinner/supper (I may be wrong on this point) and I'm pretty sure accepting a tête-à-tête dinner invitation to a man's house would have been outright scandalous.
There were a few other things, but to me it felt that Franny ignored her class just a little too much to really work for me. I like to read historical fiction books that try to understand the culture of the time rather than just overwrite it with modern sensibilities. Admittedly, some books piss me off when they seem to be doing the opposite (applying outdated notions to modern day settings). However, I do know that others enjoy modern women plopped into historical settings, and so if you're one of them you might want to look into this one. It is part of a series, and if my library has the rest of them, I may check them out.
Also, Franny's first suitor was far more interesting when the reader thought he was just trying to seduce her and/or take advantage of her.
I'm counting this one for the "Amateur Sleuth" square for the 2018 Halloween Bingo.
'It makes you wonder if there is anything to astrology after all.'
'Oh, there is,' said Susan, 'Delusion, wishful thinking and gullibility.'
'Well, I expect you have heard of Rule One, right?' he said.
That seemed to give them pause. One said, 'We know millions of rules, human.'
'Billions. Trillions,' said another.
'Well, you can't attack me,' said Lu-Tze, ' 'cos of Rule one.'
The nearest Auditors went into a huddle.
'It must involve gravitation.'
'No, quantum effects. Obviously.'
'Logically there cannot be a Rule One because at that point there would be no concept of plurality.'
'But if there is not a Rule One, can there be any other rules? If there is no Rule One, where is Rule Two?'
'There are millions of rules! They cannot fail to be numbered!'
Wonderful, thought Lu-Tze. All I have to do is wait until their heads melt.
Koan 97: 'Do unto otters as you would have them do unto you.' Hmm. No real help there. Besides, he'd occasionally been unsure that he'd written that one down properly, although it certainly had worked. He'd always left aquatic mammals well alone, and they had done the same to him.
I'm all over the place.
[Reminder: pumpkin border = called ; pumpkins with tree scene sticker = read]
1. A Grimm Tale:
2. Genre: Horror:
4. Doomsday: Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
5. Darkest London:
9. Creepy Carnivals:
10. Terrifying women:
11. Ghost stories:
12. Relics and Curiosities: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
13. Free Space:
14. Diverse voices: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (audiobook)
15. Terror in a small town:
16. Fear the Drowning Deep:
18. Genre: Suspense:
19. Amateur sleuth:
20. Country house mystery:
22. Baker Street Irregulars: Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger (audiobook)
23. New release: Before Mars by Emma Newman
24. Murder Most Foul: A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas (audiobook)
Series: Discworld #1
Although not exactly in line with the other Discworld series, this first book is still a fun satire of 1980s fantasy novels with lots of funny bits and quips. I enjoyed Nigel Planer's narration, and I'm happy I went the audio route this time.
I'm counting this for the Relics and Curiosities square for the Halloween Bingo.
'I can see into your mind, false wizard! Am I not a dryad? Do you not know that what you belittle by the name tree is but the mere four-dimensional analogue of a whole multidimensional universe which – no, I can see you do not. I should have realized that you weren't a real wizard when I saw you didn't have a staff.'
The Auditors are great.
'Understood, said one of the incarnate ones. 'We know the way. We will lead.'
It walked into the door
The Auditors clustered around the door for a while, and then one of them glared at Lady LeJean, who smiled.
'Doorknob,' she said.
The Auditor turned back to the door, stared at the brass knob, and then looked the door up and down. It dissolved into dust.
'Doorknob was simpler,' said Lady LeJean.
As a matter of fact, Death has never really got the hang of doorknobs either. Or latches.
Come to think of it, Lu-Tze reminds me a lot of Granny Weatherwax. It's lines like these that do it:
'Well, I just... I thought... well, I just thought you'd be teaching me more, that's all.'
'I'm teaching you things all the time,' said Lu-Tze. 'You might not be learning them, of course.'
"There was something called the Rules, Susan knew. They weren't written down, in the same way that mountains weren't written down. They were far more fundamental to the operation of the universe than mere mechanical things like gravity. The Auditors might hate the untidiness caused by the emergence of life, but the Rules did not allow them to do anything about it. The ascent of mankind must have been a boon to them. At last there was a species that could be persuaded to shoot itself in the foot."
'Do you really have semaphore addresses in Uberwald?'
'Oh, yeth, We are ready to grathp the future with both hands, thur.'
'—and four thumbs—'
'Yeth, thur. We can grathp like anything.'
[This Igor has an extra thumb on each hand. Now, do you think he has the extra thumb beside his pinkie on each hand or beside the first thumb? I would think that the former would make more sense, especially for grasping things...]
' 'Scuse me,' said the raven, 'but how come Miss Ogg became Mrs Ogg? Sounds like a bit of a rural arrangement, if you catch my meaning.'
WITCHES ARE MATRILINEAL, said Death. THEY FIND IT MUCH EASIER TO CHANGE MEN THAN TO CHANGE NAMES.
I'll be using this one for the Cryptozoology square because a yeti shows up later on. Although I wonder if the Death of Rats could count as well?
Since I came so late to the party with this one, I knew enough from other people's updates that I needed to adjust my expectations somewhat. This wasn't a survey of plagues over the centuries with discussions of symptoms, causes, and societal effects of various contagious diseases. It was a chattier discussion that liked to use a lot of exclamation marks and throw in cultural references and attempts at humour.
Some of the chapters were more interesting than others, but I slowly became more and more appalled by the blithely American-centric attitude that went so far as to refer to some countries as "core" countries and some as "periphery". Now, she never actually defines what constitutes a "core" country versus a peripheral one, so I'm not exactly sure what she means here (it's not like she's even talking about a particular industry where core might mean countries strongly involved in that industry)...it's really just not a term I've ever encountered before and it makes me wonder what kind of circles the author moves in where she wouldn't think that she needed to define it because it was so commonly used.
It also makes me wonder whether part of the reason she disliked John Snow so much wasn't because he was a tee-totalling vegetarian but because he was British? I realize she was probably aiming for a humorous angle when commenting on the various people involved in her plagues but a lot of her comments just came off as silly. As she approached the modern day "plagues", the book became more and more American, too.
I will say that Wright at least comes down against the anti-vaxxers, but viewed against the rest of the book, I just don't feel that that merits raising my rating even by half a star. I didn't mention it in an update, but I'm also skeptical of her coverage of the Antonine plague because she runs two plagues together and then claims that they continue to deplete the Roman empire to the point of failure over another hundred years.
I recommend Medical Detective aka The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sarah Hempel if you want to read a slightly less hostile account of John Snow's detective work. Elentarri's review has a more extensive list of alternate books to read.
To end on a more cheery note, here's a doctored up Huggins (I hope Broken Tune doesn't mind the appropriation):
Previous updates (with [hopefully] helpful summaries:
Page 2 (first core country rant, longevity rant, and modern viewpoint rant aka the introduction)
Page 11 (cholera in Roman times rant and other Roman stuff)
Page 25 (picturing ostriches as really big geese)
Page 44 (the dangers of bathing in the middle ages)
Page 113 (the dangers of drinking raw milk, or, the problem with viewing the past through a modern lens)
Page 123 (reference to Jenny Lawson)
Page 125 (more on "periphery" countries)
Page 206 (judgement against those who do not race balloons)
Oh, and I'll be counting this towards the Doomsday square in Halloween Bingo.