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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Why Shoot a Butler?
Georgette Heyer
Whispers Under Ground
Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Progress: 422/615minutes
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

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?

Reading progress update: I've read 37%.

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Mamma’s not really dangerous. She’s just a case of arrested development. Most of us have outgrown ethics and morals and so on. Mamma’s just not grown up to them yet.


I'm not even sure what this means. It seems like they're idealizing being a sociopath.


I don't really dislike these characters. I'm just bored by them. If this weren't a necessary square, I'd probably drop it. And I doubt I'd be able to find a more interesting noir book to replace it, unless The City & The City really would count (and that would be a reread).


The hard-drinking Nick and Nora duo has the potential to be fun, as the myriad of spinoffs and caricatures evidence, but the originals are pretty dull.

Reading progress update: I've read 8% (2)

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

She scowled at me. “And stop talking to me as if I was still twelve.”
“It’s not that,” I explained. “I’m getting tight.”

I feel I should point out, just in case anyone was unfamiliar with the term, that tight was slang for drunk back then. Because otherwise that line might read a bit weird...

Reading progress update: I've read 8%.

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Ok, so this is Asta (for others who don't know dog breeds and had to look it up):

Although this may be a miniature Schnauzer.

Reading progress update: I've read 4%.

The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

“What time is it?”
“Half past eleven. Did I wake you up?”
“Yes,” I said.

I've definitely done that to someone before. Admittedly, we were in university, and it was a Saturday.

Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 425 pages.

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

"It was turning out to be a very complicated evening, and she wasn't even sure how she felt about Magrat. The woman had left echoes of herself in the cottage – an old bangle lost under the bed, rather soppy notes in some of the ancient notebooks, vases full of desiccated flowers... You can build up a very strange view of someone via the things they leave behind the dresser."