* = reread
by. Joe Hill
A former rock star buys a ghost, but gets more than he bargained for when his past comes back to haunt him.
This book surprised me. I wasn't expecting anything more than a simple offbeat ghost story and, to be fair, in the beginning that's what it was. Yet, if you give it a little while it creates something really great. When it comes to ghost stories we've seen it all and yet this is something new. At its surface this is a story about a man who's running from a ghost and trying to destroy it before it destroys him, but if you look a little deeper its also the story about a man who's on the run from his past.
“He climbed the stairs and started back down the hall to the bedroom. His gaze drifted to an old man, sitting in an antique Shaker chair against the wall. As soon as Jude saw him, his pulse lunged in alarm, and he looked away, fixed his gaze on his bedroom door, so he could only see the old man from the edge of his vision. In the moments that followed, Jude felt it was a matter of life and death not to make eye contact with the old man, to give no sign that he saw him. He did no see him, Jude told himself. There was no one there.”
Throne of Jade
by. Naomi Novak
In order to stay together Laurence and Temeraire are forced into going on a diplomatic mission to China. However, no matter where they go it seems forces are working to get Laurence out of the picture.
This is the sequel to His Majesty's Dragon and it's kind of a strange book in that it's mostly middle. The vast majority of the book is them at sea. It's like an Indiana Jones film if most of the movie was Indy on a plane instead of just using that quick red-line-tracing-over-a-map shot. If the book wasn't part of a series I'd say this was a significant flaw, but in context I liked it. After all the thing I enjoy about the Temeraire books is the world that's been created; the plot is almost secondary. So even though plot-wise nothing much happens in the book, I still thought it was a lot of fun.
“The Allegiance rocked abruptly over to one side, and Laurence was thrown against the railing; on the far side of the ship, a great jet of water fountained up and came splashing down upon the deck, and a monstrous draconic head lifted up above the railing: enormous, luridly orange eyes set behind a rounded snout, with ridges of webbing tangled with long trailers of black seaweed. An arm was still dangling from the creature's mouth, limply; it opened its maw and threw its head back with a jerk, swallowing the rest: its teeth were washed bright red with blood.
Riley called for the starboard broadside, and on deck Purbeck was drawing three of the gun-crews together around one of the carronades: he meant to point it at the creature directly. They were casting loose its tackles, the strongest men blocking the wheels; all sweating and utterly silent but for low grunting, working as fast as they could, greenish-pale; the forty-two-pounder could not be easily handled.
"Fire, fire, you fucking yellow-arsed millers!" Macready yelling hoarsely in the tops, already reloading his own gun. The other Marines belatedly set off a ragged volley, but the bullets did not penetrate; the serpentine neck was clad in thickly overlapping scales, blue and silver-gilt. The sea-serpent made a low croaking noise and lunged at the deck, striking two men flat and seizing another in its mouth; Doyle's shrieks could be heard even from within, his legs kicking frantically.”
by. Charles Portis
A young girl hires a grizzled Marshall to help her get revenge on the man who murdered her father.
Did I read this solely because I saw the 2010 Coen brother's movie? Yes. Yes I did. I loved that movie, so when I was told that a lot of the great dialogue in it was directly from the book I had to check it out. However, the movie is better. I hope you know me well enough to know what it means for me to be saying that as I do not say such things lightly. The story is great, the dialogue is great, the characters are great, but the delivery is weak. For instance the author has a ridiculously annoying habit of putting the "I said"s at the beginning of a sentence instead of at the end. If it wasn't for the movie, I probably would have had a lot of praise for the book; it's a very clever story with some very witty dialogue. However, the movie fixed all the things I had a problem with and even made some improvements beyond that. Thus when I read the book its flaws seemed all the more apparent to me.
“"I have slept out at night. Papa took me and Little Frank coon hunting last summer on the Petit Jean."
"We were out in the woods all night. We sat around a big fire and Yarnell told ghost stories. We had a good time."
"Blast coon hunting! This ain't no coon hunt, it don't come in forty miles of being a coon hunt!"
"It is the same idea as a coon hunt. You are just trying to make your work sound harder than it is."
"Forget coon hunting. I am telling you that where I am going is no place for a shirttail kid."
"That is what they said about coon hunting. Also Fort Smith. Yet here I am."
"The first night out you will be taking on and crying for your mama."
I said, "I have left off crying, and giggling as well. Now make up your mind. I don't care anything for all this talk. You told me what your price for the job was and I have come up with it. Here is the money. I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find someone who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and I have seen you shoot a gray rat. All the rest has been talk. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch boardinghouse."”
The Big Over Easy
by. Jasper Fforde
It appears that Humpty Dumpty has been murdered and it's up to Jack Spratt and the Nursery Crime Division to solve the case.
I don't know what else to say about this book other than that it's a lot of fun. It does something I love which is to take something silly and take it seriously. Terry Pratchett has said that Discworld was the result of him taking a serious look at fantasy. In the same sense Fforde has taken a serious look at Nursery Rhymes. Humpty Dumpty has fallen of a wall and no one is going to put him back together: he's dead. The mystery however? Well, that's what's really left to try and piece together. I'll warn you that there are a lot of references being thrown about in this book: references to nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and literature. The writing is clever enough that you can definitely enjoy it without knowing all the references, but if you're familiar with the things being referenced the book is all the more enjoyable.
“The yard was shaped as an oblong, fifteen feet wide and about thirty feet long, surrounded by a high brick wall with crumbling mortar. Most of the yard was filled with junk—broken bicycles, old furniture, a mattress or two. But at one end, where the dustbins were spilling their rubbish onto the ground, large pieces of eggshell told of a recent and violent death. Jack knew who the victim was immediately and had suspected for a number of years that something like this might happen. Humpty Dumpty. The fall guy. If this wasn't under the jurisdiction of the Nursery Crime Division, Jack didn't know what was. Mrs. Singh, the pathologist, was kneeling next to the shattered remains dictating notes into a tape recorder. She waved a greeting at him as he walked in but did not stop what she was doing. She indicated to a photographer areas of particular interest to her, the flash going off occasionally and looking inordinately bright in the dull closeness of the yard.
Briggs had been sitting on a low wall talking to a plainclothes policewoman, but as Jack entered, he rose and waved a hand in the direction of the corpse.
"It looks like he died from injuries sustained falling from a wall,"Briggs said. "Could be accident, suicide, who knows? He was discovered dead at 0722 this morning."
Jack looked up at the wall. It was a good eight feet high. A sturdy ladder stood propped up against it.
"Anything else I need to know?"
"A couple of points. Firstly, you're not exactly 'Mr. Popular' with the seventh floor at present. There are people up there who think that spending a quarter of a million pounds on a failed murder conviction fro three pigs is not value for money—especially when there is zero chance of getting it into Amazing Crime Stories."
"I didn't think justice was meant to have a price tag, sir."
"Clearly. But it's a public-perception thing, Spratt. Piglets are cute; wolves aren't. You might as well try and charge the farmer's wife with cruelty when she cut off the mice's tails with a carving knife."
by. Charlotte Bronte
An austere woman with a troubled past takes a job as a governess for an unusual man. There is something about him she loves, but there is something he's not telling her, and there are forces that wish to keep them apart and there's something in the house that's out to get them.
I really do make an attempt to just tell you about the books and not really review them (I usually fail, but I do try). I'm sorry to any Jane Eyre fans out there, but I don't get the appeal of this book. Halfway through I wanted to quit, but I continued reading solely because I heard that one of the characters gets seriously maimed and I wanted to be there when it happened. I was reading the book because I wanted the main characters to suffer like I had suffered.
I was led to believe that it was some classic romance on par with Pride and Prejudice, but isn't. Charlotte Bronte isn't even close to being in the same league as Jane Austen. I don't want to spoil that story, but suffice it to say the "romance" in this book is perhaps the most screwed up thing I've ever heard off. However, as dark mystery? Well, as a dark mystery this book still sucks. Which is amazing because look at some of the things that are in this book: a girl whose parents die and is sent to live with abusive relatives, a school so strict and disciplinary that student's are dropping dead, a mysterious house full of secrets, attempted murder, fires, stabbing, insanity, and lies! That sounds awesome! Right? How can you screw that story up? HOW CAN YOU SCREW THAT UP!?
I'll tell you how, by teasing your audience with these things while simultaneously ignoring them, mentioning them only in passing. Example: In the story someone lights fire to a man's bad while he sleeps in an attempt to burn him alive. Jane Eyre saves him, but he then basically tells her not to worry about it and so...she does! She doesn't worry about the fact that her "love" is hiding some major shit and that someone in the house just tried to BURN HIM ALIVE! Not caring if your lover is burned alive, that's what I call love right there.
“"Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you will compel me to go through a private marriage ceremony, besides that performed at the altar. You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar conditions."
"I only want an easy mind, sir; not crushed by crowded obligations. Do you remember what you said of Céline Varens?—of the diamonds, the cashmeres you gave her? I will not be your English Céline Varens. I shall continue to act as Adéle's governess; by that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides. I'll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and you shall give me nothing, but————"
"Well, but what?"
"Your regard; and if I give you mine in return, that debt will be quit."
"Well, for cool native impudence, and pure innate pride, you haven't your equal," said he. We were now approaching Thornfield. "Will it please you to dine with me to-day?" he asked, as we re-entered the gates.
"No, thank you, sir."
"And what for 'no, thank you'? if I may inquire."
"I never have dined with you, sir: and I see no reason why I should now: till———"
"Till what? You delight in half-phrases."
"Till I can't help it."”
The Daughter of Time
by. Josephine Tey
A detective is stuck in the hospital after injuring his leg. To pass the time he finds a mystery to distract him. However, this mystery happened 200 years ago when Richard III murdered his nephews...or did he?
I'm not sure how to describe this book. It is a very interesting and well told mystery about a very confusing subject. It's all about the British monarchy and British history in general so I spent a lot of parts not really understanding who was who and what exactly had gone down. But I read the entire book despite that...so that's gotta tell you something. If you aren't completely ignorant of European history (like I am) then you probably won't have any problems. If you're like me than maybe you'll like the interesting premise, the mystery, and the humor.
“"Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean service. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it. He hated the sight of it.
He had suggested to The Midget that she might turn his bed around a little so that he could have a new patch of ceiling to explore. But it seemed that that would spoil the symmetry of the room, and in hospitals symmetry ranked just a short head behind cleanliness and a whole length in front of Godliness. Anything out of the parallel was hospital profanity. Why didn't he read? she asked. Why didn't he go on reading some of those expensive brand-new novels that his friends kept on bringing him?
"There are far too many people born into the world, and far too many words written. Millions and millions of them pouring from the presses every minute. It's a horrible thought."
"You sound constipated," said The Midget.”
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by. Mark Twain
The story of modernity meeting history. The story of medieval chivalry meeting American ingenuity. The story of a Connecticut Yankee finding himself in the court of King Arthur.
If this book hadn't been recommended to me I would never have touched it. The [blank] in King Arthur's court plot line has been responsible for some of the dumbest movies around. A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Black Knight, A Knight in Camelot, "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court". But apparently this is where it all came from. And it was written by Mark Twain! Who'd have thunk it? Despite the horrors it has birthed, it is actually a very fun book. I was laughing out loud at a couple of parts. Taking ideas we take for granted and putting them in a setting where they're unheard of is pretty hilarious. My only problem with the story was that the main character is way too smart. Here is a short list of some of his skills: he can mix together explosives, he can build a gun, he can synthesize his own form of plastic, he can organize a military, he can organize a school, he can build a working telephone, and he can build an electrical generator. I mean holy shit. A telephone? From medieval components? Bullshit.
“"Your name please?"
"I hight the Demoiselle Alisande la Carteloise, an it please you."
"Do you know anybody here who can identify you?"
"That were not likely, fair lord, I being come hither now for the first time."
"Have you brought any letters—any documents—any proofs that you are trustworthy and truthful?"
"Of a surety, no; and wherefore should I? Have I not a tongue, and cannot I say all that myself?"
"But your saying it, you know, and somebody else's saying it, is different."
"Different? How might that be? I fear me I do not understand."
"Don't understand? Land of—why, you see—you see—why, great Scott, can't you understand the difference between your—why do you look so innocent and idiotic!"
"I? In truth I know not, but an it were the will of God."”
The Eyre Affair
by. Jasper Fforde
It's up to Literary Detective Thursday Next to stop the world's greatest criminal when he takes Jane Eyre hostage.
I don't know what to say about this. I don't think it was for me, but I do appreciate a lot of it. It creates a world that intimately loves literature, and that world is actually very intriguing. A world where counterfetting books is a big business, where productions of Richard III can have the same audience interaction as Rocky Horror, and where machines will deliver lines from shakespere for a quarter.
“ "What will you do after this?" asked Rochester, pointing out a rabbit to Pilot, who barked and ran off.
"Back to SpecOps work, I guess," I replied. "What about you?"
Rochester looked at me broodingly, his eyebrows furrowed and a look of anger rising across his features.
"There is nothing for me after Jane leaves with that slimy and pathetic excuse for a vertebrate, St. John Rivers."
"So what will you do?"
"Do? I won't do anything. Existence pretty much ceases for me about then."
"Not as such," replied Rochester, choosing his words carefully. "Where you come from you are born, you live and then you die. Am I correct?"
"More or less."
"A pretty poor way of living, I should imagine!" laughed Rochester. "And you rely upon that inward eye we call a memory to sustain yourself in times of depression, I suppose?"
"Most of the time," I replied, "although memory is but one hundredth of the strength of currently felt emotions."
"I concur. Here, I neither am born, nor die. I come into being at the age of thirty-eight and wink out again soon after, having fallen in love for the first time in my life and then lost the object of my adoration, my being!..."
He stopped and picked up the stick Pilot had considerately brought him in place of the rabbit he couldn't catch.
"You see, I can move myself to anywhere in the book I wish at a moment's notice and back again at will; the greatest parts of my life lie between the time I profess my true love to that fine, impish girl and the moment the lawyer and the fool Mason turn up to spoil my wedding and revel the madwoman in the attic. Those are the weeks to which I return most often, but I got to the bad times too——for without a yardstick sometimes the high points can be taken for granted. Sometimes I muse that I might have John stop them at the church gate and stall them until the wedding is over, but it is against the way of things."”
The Fourth Bear
by. Jasper Fforde
The notorious killer the Gingerbreadman is on the loose. The Nursery Crime Division isn't allowed anywhere near the case, but luckily their other case, the case of Goldilock's murder, seems to be be connected somehow. Unluckily Jack Spratt is suspended until he can prove that he isn't crazy.
Overall, I would say this sequel to The Big Overeasy isn't as good as the original. The references aren't as clever and the chapter introductions are significantly weaker. That being said, it is still a lot of fun. It's still the same great characters and great dialogue that made the first book so enjoyable. Plus the gingerbreadman makes for a much more interesting threat than there was present in the first book. Basically, if you're gonna take a look at this series, start with the first one. If you liked that one then you'll probably like this one as well.
“ "The Gingerbreadman is not an NCD investigation, Sergeant. You know that."
"It was a coincidence, sir," she responded confidently. "Do you think I would be crazy enough to tackle him on my own?"
"Perhaps not you," said Briggs, glancing at Jack. Briggs thought for a moment and narrowed his eyes. "This isn't a plot device number twenty-seven, is it?" he asked suspiciously.
"The one where my partner gets killed in a drug bust gone wrong and I throw in my badge and go rogue?" replied Jack innocently. "I don't think so, sir."
"No, not that one," countered Briggs in a state of some confusion. "The one where you try and find the Gingerbreadman on the sly and make Copperfield and me look like idiots."
"That would be a twenty-nine, wouldn't it?" put in Mary, who wasn't going to miss out on the fun.
"No, no," said Jack, "Briggs means a twenty-six. A twenty-nine is where the bad guy turns out quite inexplicably to be the immediate supervisor."
"A twenty-six,"said Briggs, "yes, that's the one."
"What about it?"
"You're not doing that one are you?"
"No, sir," replied Jack. "I'm suspended awaiting a psychological appraisal, and I don't know what plot device that is."
"Got to be well over a hundred," suggested Mary helpfully. ”
A Closer Shave:
Man's Daily Search For Perfection
by. Wallace Pinfold
An assortment of historical facts, tidbits, and advice about shaving.
I've become very curious about how exactly women have ended up in the shaving game. I keep hearing competing things about the history of women's shaving. I tried to find some book to illuminate my confusion, however, it seems that a book about shaving and women does not exist. In fact, there are hardly any books about the history of shaving at all and they are pretty much entirely male centric. This book is certainly a strange and slightly illiminating little look at shaving, but it is definitely male focused. However, it does provide some interesting information though. For instance we have more hairs than chimpanzees. It just doesn't seem that way because their hairs are much coarser. Crazy!
“We consider our decision to shave or not to shave an individual decision. In fact, we're only part right. The decision to shave or let one's beard grow carries a social message and the message changes over time.”