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Hunter's Green for Country House Mystery

Hunter's Green - Phyllis A. Whitney

After the manly pissing contest that is Jaws, I wanted something different.

Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 320 pages.

Jaws - Peter Benchley

For the Drowning Deep


It's been more than forty years since I read this and boy is it different reading this as an adult versus as a kid.


The inflation. The casual sexism. The really weird history of the serial rapist.


I am liking the time he takes to explain the cast of characters, and the whole economy of the Hamptons. And I love the newspaper editor.

Mistress of Mellyn - Victoria Holt for Genre: Suspense

Mistress of Mellyn - Victoria Holt

Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it was the disappointment of the last book, maybe the potato finally got digested, whatever it was I quite enjoyed this. Unlike the heroine I have a bit of familiarity with gothic conventions, so there weren't a lot of surprises, not that I expected any. But now I would like to do some kind of survey of the genre, noting popular locales (Cornwall and Scotland, of course, but where else), characteristics of the leads, relationship with the servents, what happened to the first wife, etc. No doubt the time of the writing has more influence on these attributes than the supposed setting year.


Fun times with old houses and dark doubts.


Library copy 


Would also work for Romantic Suspense, Terrifying Women, Gothic, Country House Mystery, and Amateur Sleuth.

Topper - Thorne Smith 

Topper; Classic American Humor Fiction - Thorne Smith

It is, by this time, a cliche: boring business dude meets a manic pixie dreamgirl who shakes up his days, keeps him up all night, teaches him about love, and then passes into the great beyond. What makes this book still feel marvelously fresh is that the MPDG isn't all that wacky, she's married, and she's already dead at the start of the book. Other than drinking mind-bending Prohibition-era quantities of booze, the adventures themselves are amazingly simple. Topper and his ghost companions enjoy several good meals, but otherwise they spend the summer mostly sleeping rough, swimming in rivers and the Atlantic, canoeing, reading [book:Ulysses|338798] aloud, and just digging the beauty of nature. There is singing and dancing, even a little brawling, but it's so charmingly bucolic. After all, if Topper gets up to 25 MPH in his car it feels fast and dangerous, and it no doubt was since roads were iffy and there were still a lot of farmers with horses about.<br/><br/>I was worried about Topper's wife. Needlessly. Smith is a writer who can produce the banter of Coward, and also spend a lot of time telling us how Topper feels about his cat. I knew it was going to have a happy ending, but I didn't know the ending would be so perfect. The overall effect is charming, but never twee. Highly recommended.



Mistress of Mellyn - Victoria Holt for Genre: Suspense

Mistress of Mellyn - Victoria Holt

I feel the need to read something different, and this needs to go back to the library soonish.

Fairest - Gail Carson Levine for A Grimm Tale

Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

Meh. There were some nice changes from the standard Snow White, and I  quite liked that she wasn't beautiful at all, but downright ugly. But it will never be my favorite. Weirdly, whereas the musical aspect of Seraphina really engaged me, the constant singing just kind of annoyed me, and that is huge.


It's written for a middle grade audience, there's no sex, or drugs, or actual  murder, and the resolution is elegant. But it felt watered-down to me, way more so than the Disney version. It's first person, so there's no worry for the reader, but it goes beyond that: there is reference to revolution but I didn't believe it. The stakes felt really minor. Or maybe I'm bothered that the heroine only twice showed any initiative. She never made decisions she just did whatever she was told. At least Snow White comes up with the housekeeper idea, even if it is a stereotype.


Or it could just be that I've been tired and cranky all day despite the lovely rain.


Library copy 

Fairest - Gail Carson Levine for A Grimm Tale

Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

  Starting tonight. I may have read this within the last twenty years, but I don't have it recorded, so maybe not. Maybe I planned to read it aloud and didn't get to it. I haven't read any Carson Levine in a while, but I remember her fairy tale retellings fondly.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

  Clever chicks who kick ass and go back to save people and are kind to smaller children...I love Tana. There's plenty of creepy atmosphere, and vampire slaying, and gore for days, but there's no swearing or sex (if that's something you look for) and in its own way it's rather wholesome. Tana and Buffy would get along well together.


Library copy

Halloween Bingo 2018 update

While I have been reading long books and failing to update my card many squares have been called. Apparently I have been reading on the wrong row. Quel frommage.

Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 419 pages.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

I've made very little progress despite two bonus days at home because other family members get cabin fever and want me to do things other than read. So I 'vs been making Halloween sugar cookies and watching season 2 of The Good Place, and looking at a lot of weather maps. Also I got distracted looking up Springfield MA which is Coldtown, and has a surprisingly large stock of Victorian homes for sale.


But I am really liking Coldtown which centres yet another brave and impulsive heroine and a Russian connection. Two big plates o' shrimp.

Reading progress update: I've read 161 out of 419 pages.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

We've arrived in cold town. Complications ensue.

Reading progress update: I've read 65 out of 419 pages. For Genre: Horror

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

Holly Black does not mess about, she throws you into the dark straight off. I am not frightened of a vampire apocalypse, but as a metaphor about everyone having a darkside, oh yeah, she goes there. Fortunately I have cats.



Nothing could go wrong with companions like these.



Allow me to introduce Queen Luna Grey DeLisle. Luna doesn't much like Calder, but they both want very much to get all the attention.

Scarlett Eno is keeping a watch on the leaves being blown about. 


I'm done now with the cat pictures. 

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 419 pages.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

For Genre: Horror


I was looking at my card to choose my next read strategically, and then looking at my list, to choose something brief and easily finished, and I dithered. Then Tash walked in and asked what I was doing and wanted to pick the next one. First pick was something I don't have yet, second was the buddy read, so third time's a charm.


Supposedly this was selected for the name, but also Spiderwick was a foundational series and film.


I confess, I don't remember what it is supposed to be about, but Black is strong and capable of serious creepiness (Doll Bones, shudder). Onward.

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King for Modern Masters of Horror

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King

  I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.


Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.


Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.



Library copy

Reading progress update: I've read 646 out of 720 pages.

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King

I'm still enjoying this, but I'm jealous of everyone who is reading something else, too. Everyone else's books are funnier (Sayers) or scarier or cozier. Memo to myself: next year only short books after Sept 1 and be sure and check the page count for the electronic ones.


On the plus side, I am enjoying two Modern Masters of Horror at once, so that's something. I wonder which of the four novelists in the family are most in demand for bedtime stories?

Reading progress update: I've read 427 out of 720 pages.

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King

I have no idea what the collaboration process was, and honestly, have very little interest. But it reads as though Stephen King wrote one of his larger books, and then invited Owen King to go over it and try to add as many words as possible. I haven't yet read anything that is just by Owen, but there isn't anything that feels like a different voice.


I get how even when two authors are swapping whole chapters back and forth (like Cohen and Levithan) the text feels like one voice, because no doubt both are tinkering and suggesting edits. But it also feels a little like magic in Good Omens or any of the Nicci French books. 


Anyway, I'm enjoying everything about it except the lack of diversity. If you only have one character who is different, it's pretty nearly impossible to read that one as an individual rather than as a Representative and awful, whether as a model minority or the worst stereotype.