Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: Eye of the Red Tsar

Eye of the Red Tsar Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happened to the last Tsar and his family is a recurring mystery of the 20th century. It is, for all intents, completely resolved, and yet we keep going back and trying to figure out details.

Pekkala is a Finnish man who become's Tsar Nicholas' bodyguard and confidante over the 20 years prior to the Russian Revolution. Ten years after the Revolution has been decided, he is in a Siberian prison when he is 'rescued' by a man who works for the organization that will eventually become the KGB. They need him to find the Tsar's stash of money, still missing after all these years.

Good story, full of memories (good and bad) and horrors and family secrets and existential pain. So, a Russian novel in truth. Having watched closely over the past 20 years as the Soviet era disappeared, I am fairly clear on the events of July 1918, so some of the details in this book are just slightly off, though necessarily so to make the book work. And it does work.

I won't be reading more of this series. The end, while realistic enough, puts Pekkala in a situation that I'm not at all comfortable with. There are some famous names that crop up in the book as characters, and one of them... I just do not want to know about, no more than we as historians know IRL.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Review: Beautiful Animals

Beautiful Animals Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because the majority of it takes place on Hydra, one of my favorite places.
There's no one in this book that is at all likable. Some of the people are just horrible, HORRIBLE people, and others are just super-unpleasant. That makes it all the harder to read about in the context of a lovely Greek island.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. It would be a good book club book if only because it will stir some good discussions. The writing is lovely. The story is about as unlovely as a story can be. And yet, I finished the whole thing.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: Proven Guilty

Proven Guilty Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow.
No, just wow. I can almost feel the sea change in this book. Harry has grown up all the way. Now the hard things start. I can't think of a single part of his life that won't be affected by the things that happened in this book, from his personal relationships with his tight circle to his "professional" duties, even his magic-related business doings.

Plus there are fae, and monsters from horror movies, and old friends returned, and new friends developed, and old quarrels put aside. Seriously. This book is great. And you have to read the first 7 or you won't understand why this book is so good.

I'm a little afraid to start the next book because this one is so perfect. But there are Black Magickal doin's afoot, and I want to find out how Harry manages in his new role. Roles.

(Yes I did stay up late to finish this book)

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Death Masks

Death Masks Death Masks by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chicago's favorite (OK, only) wizard is beset on every side by people who want him dead: wizards, vampires, humans, and now some new players. Fortunately, he has God's warriors on his side and so manages to save the world from a massive plague. And Susan makes a brief reappearance.

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Review: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given this book to read by a good friend after my husband's injury in September. I eventually just skipped the first few chapters, BUT the description of the author's stroke and its aftereffects has been very useful as I travel along with someone with brain damage of various kinds. I can't recommend this book highly enough, and even the first chapters (on anatomy) might prove useful to others where they were not to me.
And the reason it took six weeks to read is because I read it in a hospital room as time allowed.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read, though not as raucous or funny as I'd expected. It had it's moments of that, of course, but in all it read more like a straight biography in the sense of "this is where I came from and this is how I got where I am." Easy to read, earnest, and kind of plain-spoken, which was a surprise for some reason.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Fifth Grave Past the Light

Fifth Grave Past the Light Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fun book--presuming that the thought of 27 dead, filthy, and crazed women sharing living space with you in a small apartment doesn't put you off too much--and full of sex. So there ya go, summation 101!

Charley is trying to figure out the ongoing arson situation, her relationship to Reyes, Cookie's relationship with Ubie, why Swopes is so irritated by Reyes besides the obvious, all while trying to actually do her, yknow, JOB as a private investigator. The denouement--as usual, Charley gets into a pretty dicey situation with someone/something trying very hard to kill her--was unexpected for me. That's always satisfying.

And the ending? Hooboy, the next book should be interesting.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Review: Y is for Yesterday

Y is for Yesterday Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was yet another of those "back in the day" stories, set contemporaneously but dealing with a case that happened years earlier. This is all made more complicated by the fact that Kinsey is still living in the 80s.

Anyway, the mother of a recently-released felon calls for help when the parents receive a blackmail note about a videotape their son was involved in before he got involved in murdering a classmate. And then there's the homeless person (people+ pets?) moving in with Kinsey's landlord. And also the guy from the last book who tried to kill Kinsey. It's a busy book.

One more left in the series. Wonder how Grafton is going to wrap it up.

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Review: Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I want to like this book, I really do. But I just can't. I'm not sure if it's because it moves super-slow or because it is too clever and winky, but halfway through the book and I'm still having trouble keeping two of the main characters straight in my head. This can't be good. And I want to read something fun. Buh-bye!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle Vicious Circle by C.J. Box
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe's family is under attack in retaliation for sending Dallas Cates to prison over some questionable hunting practices. Joe's also responsible in part for the deaths of several of Dallas's family members. There are some pretty funny (if macabre) bits involving Cates's prison buddies and sharp knives, and a seriously deranged woman near the end. Not much Nate, though he's definitely important in the plot, because who else could properly punish a cop-gone-rogue? Really, the cast of characters in this book is astoundingly good.

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