May Reading Wrap Up

 


May Reading Wrap Up

In May I made progress on reading from my physical shelves although I did give up some reading time to binge Grey's Anatomy.  I watched the first episode and fell in like and have been watching it ever since. I only have to cover my eyes when the surgeons are slicing into people. LOL!

I read eight books of which six were physical and two were ebooks. Progress! The longest book was The Belle of Belgrave square at 421 pages and the shortest was Rendezvou with Rama at 304. No chunky books this month. 

My bedtime reads included John Scalzi's Old Man's War, the first book in a science fiction series in which the elderly are recruited, taken off planet and their consciousness is transferred in young bodies to be solders. Interesting premise.  (318) ****

Second was a reread of Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama in which space explorers and scientist board an alien space craft traveling through our solar system, 304)  ****

Third was Derek Paul's A Machine Divine: A Young Adult Steam Punk fantasy in which college studies get involved in politics, a secret society, science experiments, and a mad man running around gassing people, 377) ****

Next was Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, a science fiction, time travel, multiverse type of story in which a man gets kidnapped and the kidnapper assumes his life. 352) ****

Then Ernest Cline's Armada, a young adult, science fiction story in which video gamers join a real life defense league to save the world. 355) ****

Our 52 Books Author of the month was Peng Shepherd and read The Cartographers. A mystery thriller, full of magical realism which had a good premise but meh delivery, 392) ***

The two ebooks I read were 

Nalini Singh's Archangel's Lineage, in the sixteenth Guild Hunter urban fantasy/romance in which Raphael and Elana and the rest of the angels have to fight to save the world on brink of destruction due to ancestors, plus Elena deals with her father's heart attack, 398, e) *****

And Mimi Matthews' historical romance, The Belle of Belgrave Square about a bookworm and ex military hero with secrets of his own, 421, E) ****

James M's IDW Sonic review catch up time

 

 
   

  



Hi, Sonic lovers. I'M BACK!
Yeah, apologies for being gone, life was... busy. Anyways, time to review some Sonic comics. Starting with issue 68, the last main IDW Sonic issue before we shifted to a miniseries and back to the main comic. So what do I think of it?

Issue 68, featuring Sonic and Tails on a small quest where they bump into a large salamander while looking for a Chaos Emerald. In my opinion, it's a good, well-written issue with heartwarming moments and the dynamic between Sonic and Tails is heartfelt. They are a good duo, the Mario and Luigi of the Sonic series. 9.5/10. I should read that again soon, because I like reading past comics from time to time. Now, we get into the Fang miniseries....

Fang the Hunter #1-4 revolves around Fang, Bean and Bark, sometime before Sonic Adventure 1 (and it was confirmed that the Classic Sonic era is in the same timeline as the Modern Sonic era as SEGA has listened to fan criticism and is trying to make a unified universe), looking for the eighth Chaos Emerald while getting into some wacky stuff that culminates in a battle with the Hard-Boiled Heavies before Eggman recruits Fang to investigate a new island, setting up the events of Sonic Superstars. It was fun to read overall, and I enjoyed it just as everyone else did, and the appearance of a certain McGuffin from the main series was interesting. 10/10. I would love to see more Classic Sonic, at least until SEGA decides enough is enough.

Now we have Sonic issue 69, where we deal with some Sonic Riders-related fun as Clutch the Possum enacts a shady plan with Mimic, Surge, and Kit... and Eggman teams up with Sonic near the end. Not much to say, but that was super fun to look at. 9.8/10. As someone who played some Sonic Riders, specifically Zero Gravity, it was nice to see Riders get some love. The writing is real good, and the art looks decent. 

And just like that, we're all caught up.
See you around for more reviews!

April Reading Wrap Up

 


April Reading Wrap Up


Read nine books this month of which three were physical and the rest eBooks which meant slow progress with clearing my shelves.  The longest was David Brin's Earth at 704 pages and the shortest was Trisha Das's Never Meant to stay at 280 pages.  

I discovered reading science fiction / fantasy in physical book format at bedtime for some weird reason gives my brain something to think about and puts me to sleep. 

My bedtime read was David Brin's science fiction adventure - Earth - which I had read way back when it first came out so didn't remember much at all. Environmental scientific experimentation, an artificial black hole in the center of the earth caused by aliens, and all about survival.  (704) ****

Next I jumped into Christopher Paolini's 5th book in the Inheritance Cycle - Murtagh: Murtagh and his dragon /thorn are outcast, or so it seems, and jump from one fire into another in their adventures searching for a murderous witch. (688) ****

Continuing with the space theme during the daytime, read Elizabeth Bear's 2nd book in her White Space duology - Machine - all about space alien doctors, shipminds, mystery, deceit, trust, life, 495, e) ****

Then Naomi Novik's first book in her Temeraire series - His Majesty's Dragon, all about Captain Laurance who reluctantly bonded with the dragon Temeraire during the Napoleonic war and grew to love and trust him above all else.  May read the rest of the series at some point.  (384, 3) ***** 

Themes of grief pervaded my next few reads with 

Trisha Das's Never Meant to Stay, was set in Delhi, and all about Indian culture with a photographer who discovers  love, grief, family, and finding yourself,  280, e) ****

Then Namrata Patel's Candid Life of Meena Dave, set in Boston's back bay, all about an Indian  photographer who inherited part of Victorian brownstone apartment, amidst secrets, love, and searching for identity. (312, e)****

I just had to reread Julia Quinn's Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (480, e) before the netflix series, and dipped into Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb's Remember When / Big Jack which was # 17.5 in the In death series. (336)


James M's review of CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET (2023)

 






Welcome back, good movie lovers.

And today, we're looking at Chicken Run's sequel DAWN OF THE NUGGET, which you can view on Netflix, and dropped in December of 2023. So what is this film all about, especially after the first film was basically a parody of prison breakout/World War II POW camp escape films?

DAWN OF THE NUGGET is a spy genre parody, and it takes place in the 1960s, within the decade after the first movie. So let's get into the plot of this film, and I'll keep it as brief as possible.

Following their escape from Tweedy's farm in the first movie, Ginger and her crew have settled on a small island, and she's hooked up with Rocky. They have a baby named Molly, who decides to leave the island and explores the outside world, only to be captured and taken to a high-tech farm with mind-controlled chickens. Ginger and her group set off on a mission to rescue Molly along with the other chickens, and after infiltrating the facility, Ginger learns that the place is run by Doctor Fry and an old enemy in Mrs. Tweedy, remember her from the first film?

Yep, those doors didn't kill her when Mr. Tweedy pushed them. And since then, Mrs. Tweedy's pretty much ditched him for a scientist. As for where Mr. Tweedy went off to in the years since the first film, we have no idea. But long story short, Ginger saves Molly and Mrs. Tweedy is defeated again... until Dreamworks decides to do a third film and bring her back for the second time. The film ends with Ginger embarking on a mission to save more chickens from other farms holding them captive.

The cast for the film is somewhat different compared to the first film. Ginger's OG voice actress didn't come back, and they brought in Thandie Newton instead of Julia Sawalha. Rocky Rhodes is voiced by Zachary Levi, who has played Shazam in the DCEU, and Mel Gibson wasn't brought back for... reasons. Fowler's OG voice actor, Benjamin Whtrow, died years before production began, and Dreamworks' new pick for Fowler's voice is the wonderful David Bradley, who's played Filtch in Harry Potter and the First Doctor in certain episodes of Doctor Who's modern revival.

Some of the voice actors from the first film do return, however, and they got Miranda Richardson to voice Mrs. Tweedy, and she isn't too bad. She does a real convincing job, especially since Mrs. Tweedy's somewhat changed since the first film, and you can somewhat tell what is going through her mind after her last defeat. She wants revenue... Actually, she wants revenge, the top motivation for Mrs. Tweedy in her second outing.

People don't seem to think highly of this film, but I say it's not too bad, and it was quite fun seeing. As for if a third film can happen, who knows if it will, but I don't have anything to complain about. You could say Mrs. Tweedy was a highlight since she was almost a bigger threat than in the first film (even though she was still a threat there), and she did not dismiss what Ginger was capable of, and she's come a long way from that attitude of "Apart from you, they're the most stupid creatures on this planet. They don't plot! They don't scheme! AND THEY ARE NOT ORGANIZED!"

Should I recommend this movie?

Go ahead and view it. I say it's worth an 8.5/10 stars. And just like that, I'll see you later!

-James M

James M's review of CHICKEN RUN (2000)

 








Hi, guys. Near the end of last year, Dreamworks released CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET, the sequel to 2000's CHICKEN RUN, on Netflix. Now, before reviewing the sequel, let's take a look at the first movie.

First, some background.

Dreamworks is the studio behind many hits such as WALLACE & GROMIT and, of course, SHREK. Oh, let's not forget SHARK TALE. However, those aren't the ONLY films they're known for, and this is where CHICKEN RUN comes in. The movie is basically THE GREAT ESCAPE, but with chickens... and a rooster. Yep, it's a parody of 1963's World War II epic, but instead of soldiers and pilots trying to escape a Nazi camp during World War II, it's British chickens, a few rats, and an American rooster escaping a farm run by greedy tunnel-visioned woman and her kinda observant farmer husband. The wonderful Mel Brooks voices the character of Rocky Rhodes, the rooster, and Mrs. Tweedy, the main villain, is voiced by Miranda Richardson, who reprises her role in the sequel. 

Oh, and the film is made by Peter Lord and Nick Park, the same lads who were involved with the WALLACE & GROMIT films. And by the way, one of the inspirations for the film came from an incident that happened in Nick Park's youth where several pet chickens of his tried to escape their pen. Yeah, chickens can kinda try to escape. Don't think about it too much. So, let's get into the story of the movie.

In 1953, somewhere in Yorkshire, England, a chicken named Ginger tries to escape a farm, which looks like a World War II prison camp, during the night while Mr. Willard Tweedy is on guard duty. Ginger's plan fails as she is caught by Mr. Tweedy, his dogs, and his wife Mrs. Tweedy, who demands to know what Ginger is doing outside the fence and tells Mr. Tweedy to deal with it. Mr. Tweedy throws the chicken into solitary confinement in a coal box, and yells at the other chickens to let it be a lesson to the lot of them.

"NO CHICKEN ESCAPES FROM TWEEDY'S FARM!" Mr. Tweedy shouts.

Life on the farm isn't kind to the chickens, whose job is to lay eggs, then the Tweedys take the eggs and sell them. And when the chickens stop laying eggs, they are killed. Mrs. Tweedy is pretty much a ruthless prison warden/Nazi camp commandant figure here, with Mr. Tweedy as her henchman. Ginger makes more attempts to escape with her friends, but she always gets caught and thrown in the coal box. One morning, during roll call, a chicken named Edwina is taken away after she stops laying eggs for days and is beheaded by Mrs. Tweedy.

Ginger is not about to give up, and calls for a meeting with the other chickens after dark. Two rats named Nick and Fletcher get involved, and Ginger asks for their help before she goes to take care of the escape committee. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tweedy has become fed up with making profits off eggs and discovers "a way to make some real money" around the farm. As she's reading into the solution, Mr. Tweedy is observing the farm and remarks that the chickens are up to something, saying they're organized, and reckons that Ginger is "their leader". 

Mrs. Tweedy, being the ruthlessly overconfident, tunnel-visioned, and pretty abusive housewife that she is, gets irked with what her husband has to say and calls the notions ridiculous before telling Mr. Tweedy that it's all in his head. She tells him to keep telling himself that, but when Mr. Tweedy tries to tell her about Ginger's prior escape attempts, Mrs. Tweedy gets angry and shouts that the chickens are the most stupid creatures on the planet.

"THEY DON'T PLOT, THEY DON'T SCHEME, AND THEY ARE NOT ORGANIZED!" She yells, completely unaware that Ginger and the chickens are having a meeting and planning another escape attempt at that moment. Amidst the meeting, Mr. Tweedy comes to check on the chickens before Mrs. Tweedy calls him away. Ginger plans for her and the others to make their new home in the countryside, even though others seem to have doubts.

Ginger steps away from the meeting, overwhelmed and clouded by uncertainty, and as she prays for a solution, an American circus rooster arrives and injures himself after seemingly flying in. In actuality, he was fired out of a cannon during a show. Ginger and the others take the rooster in, tend to his injuries, and hide him from Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy (as well as the man in charge of the circus the rooster is from). The rooster introduces himself as Rocky Rhodes and reluctantly agrees to teach the chickens how to fly.

The next day, Rocky begins teaching flying lessons to the chickens with not much progress made (and Mr. Tweedy catches a glimpse of what Ginger and her group are doing at one point). You know what is super off-putting here? The previous night, Mrs. Tweedy told Mr. Tweedy to tell himself "its all in your head". But here, he tries to tell Mrs. Tweedy what's happening, only to see the chickens pecking and Mrs. Tweedy bops him on the head. I'll tell you this now, aside from the scene where Mrs. Tweedy tells her husband to do it, Mr. Tweedy only does the "its all in your head" in two scenes in the movie.

Tangent aside. As night falls, and flying class comes to an end, a truck arrives on the farm and Rocky panics, thinking the circus has come for him. Ginger hides the rooster and watches with the rest of the chickens as the truck, which turns out to be a delivery truck, drops off strange boxes. Mrs. Tweedy tells Mr. Tweedy this is their future and the machine will bring them out of the dark ages, no more wasting time with egg farming. The next morning, Mrs. Tweedy measures the chickens and orders Mr. Tweedy to fatten them up.

Later, as the chickens are partying, Rocky's wing finally recovers, just before Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy activate their newly-made pie machine, which Mrs. Tweedy intends to use to kill the chickens and make pies out of them. To test it, she has Mr. Tweedy get her a chicken. Mr. Tweedy knows just the one, and gets Ginger as subject zero for the chicken pie machine. And I bet he didn't hesitate to tell Mrs. Tweedy why he chose Ginger, reminding her of the chicken's prior escape attempts (and Mr. Tweedy likely did inform her about Ginger's escape attempts in the past after stopping them), and Mrs. Tweedy, despite her "they're not organized" attitude" was like, "Okay, I guess today's your lucky day."

Anyways, Rocky, with some assistance from the other chickens, makes his way into the farm and goes inside the pie machine after Ginger. They narrowly make it out, but not before causing some damage to the machine, which puts it out of order and irks Mrs. Tweedy. The other chickens learn of what Mrs. Tweedy has planned for them and Fowler, a rooster who was in the Royal Air Force during World War II and acts as the chickens' seinor ranking officer, lets Rocky have his bunk. Rocky departs the farm the next morning, and the chickens discover, with help from a poster, that he couldn't actually fly.

However, during a fight involving Fowler, Ginger asks the old rooster about the Royal Air Force and the "Old Crate". Fowler shows the chickens what he's been talking about and Ginger formulates the ultimate escape plan, which involves building a plane. Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedy is working hard to fix the pie machine, and nearly gets it to work again while the chickens are halfway with making the old crate.

The chickens work endlessly on the Old Crate, determined to escape, and, one fateful night, Mr. Tweedy gets the pie machine to work again. Mrs. Tweedy tells him to get all of the chickens, and when he does, Mr. Tweedy is shocked to see the chickens using his tools to work on something. Ginger and her group attack him, causing Mr. Tweedy to scream out to his wife, only for Mrs. Tweedy to ignore him and assume that her husband called the chickens disgusting. Ginger silences Mr. Tweedy, and the chickens trap him under a hut.

At this point, there's no turning back. The chickens finish the plane and prepare to fly, Ginger learns Fowler never piloted the old crate in his RAF days, and convinces him to fly. Fowler agrees, and the plane gets moving. The chickens are just about to lift off when Mr. Tweedy somehow gets up and knocks over the ramp before getting knocked over by the plane. Ginger goes to get the ramp, only for Mrs. Tweedy to intervene with her axe just as Rocky arrives and hits her with a bike.

Ginger and Rocky fix the ramp and the plane takes off. The two flightless birds climb aboard as the Old Crate flies away from the farm. However, Mrs. Tweedy is far from finished as she grabs onto some Christmas lights hanging from the plane, determined to get those chickens. Ginger confronts her, and Mrs. Tweedy tries to kill the smart chicken, only to wind up cutting the line and she falls towards her own farm.

In Fowler's words, "Bombs away!"

Mrs. Tweedy falls into her own pie machine, which blows up due to overwhelming pressure and decimates the barn. Mr. Tweedy checks on his humiliated wife and isn't very delicate when he says he told her Ginger's group "was organized" before the barn doors fall on Mrs. Tweedy. It's not like they actually missed and Mrs. Tweedy is far from finished with the chickens, but that's a different story for another day. The chickens make it to freedom, Ginger and Rocky fall in love, and the story ends with the two rats Nick and Fletcher talking about starting a chicken farm and the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first.

So, that's Chicken Run.

I first saw this film at my grandparents' place in Arizona when I was younger, and they actually let us take it home. Since then, we've kept it in our DVD collection, and I've viewed it multiple times. At one point, I saw it several months after seeing THE GREAT ESCAPE and my most recent viewing of it was right before we watched the sequel. 

For it's time, the movie is wonderfully done, and the soundtrack is quite amazing with THE EVIL MRS. TWEEDY being one heck of a score, going from almost whimsical to being downright terrifying, and there are other fantastic moments with music throughout the movie too. Oh, and Mel Brooks is a fantastical actor to play Rocky, even though Zachary Levi voices him in the sequel, and Miranda Richardson has range as Mrs. Tweedy. By the way, a BTS reel showed her doing the "NO CHICKEN ESCAPES FROM TWEEDY'S FARM" line in Mrs. Tweedy's voice, that kinda implies she was going to be the one to deliver it instead of her husband in the movie.

As for Mr. Tweedy's actor, Tony Haygarth crushed it, and we won't forget such a legend. Rest in peace, Tony, you will be missed deeply. The tone of the movie is also fantastic, it can be serious and then shift into light-hearted territory, all while certain danger looms throughout in various scenes while both sides plan their moves. The animation is fluid, and the suspense is handled decently. If any of you never saw it before, it's on Netflix, DVD and other platforms. Chicken Run gets a 10, and I recommend it to movie nerds out there.

See you.

-CVGWJames  

James M's review of THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

 









History can never forget the Second World War, the events that led to it, those who started it, the heroes of the war, and what ended the chaotic carnage. 

In the decades since Germany and Japan's respective surrender, there have been films set during the war that told historical or fictional stories about many events involving the Allied heroes of World War II. In 1963, the world saw the release of THE GREAT ESCAPE, starring the legendary Steve McQueen, which told the story of a daring historical escape by Allied POWs and went on to inspire films such as Dreamworks' CHICKEN RUN (2000).

The film is set in 1943, almost four years into the war, and sees a group of Allied prisoners, who are known for escaping German POW camps, moved to Luft Stalag III, run by a Luftwaffe Colonel named Von Luger, actually a stand-in for Stalag III's real commandant Fredrich Willhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, who tells British Group Captain Ramsey not to make any attempts to escape, even though the Group Captain tells him that it is the sworn duty of every officer to escape. 

Captain Hilts, played by Steven McQueen, joins a group of POWs planning to escape, and, after some planning with plenty of hiccups, 76 of the prisoners, one of which is Hilts, break out of the camp using one of the tunnels they dug, and a few of them make it out of Germany while the others, including Captain Hilts, are either recaptured or killed with fifty of the escaping prisoners being executed by the Gestapo under Adolf Hitler's orders. War crime! The film ends with Hilts in the cooler at Stalag III, playing ball, and planning to escape. Again.

We own this film on DVD, and my father and I saw it together some couple of years back. This film is unforgettable, a product of it's time, and it was well-made, despite taking creative liberties with certain historical events. The sets and locations in the movie looked quite visually stunning, with Luft Stalag III reminding me of Stalag 13 from Hogan's Heroes and capturing that POW Camp vibe, and the action was well-done with the motorcycle chase being a fine highlight. Within a nearly 3 hour runtime, the movie perfectly sets up the plot, introduces us to the characters and their motivations, and showcases the heroes' efforts decently. Oh, and the soundtrack holds up for it's time.

THE GREAT ESCAPE is a worthwhile World War II film, and I'm happy to rate it a B+ & a 9.8/10. Perhaps I'll watch it again in the future when we have time.

See you soon.

March Reading Wrap Up


 

March passed way too quickly. I read ten books this month with Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow the longest at 705 pages and Charles De Lint's The Mystery of Grace the shortest at 269 pages.  I made progress reading my physical shelves with only one being an ebook. 

Our 52 books author of the month was Rebecca Yarros and I dove into what I consider a five star read of the Empryean series.    I really enjoyed the first two book and now have to wait until the beginning of next year for the third book. Which is fine since I get to read it all over again.  Fourth Wing (498 pages) is a fantasy romance with dragons and gut wrenching bad good guys and bad guys. The cadets have to master a parapet to join or fall to their deaths.  Each challenge becomes a matter of life or death, no inbetween.  In Iron Flame, (640 pages) the cadets to go war and have to deal with deception and challenges and the story is full of twists and turns.  

I got an early start on our April 52 books author of the month Bonnie Garmus  in Lessons in Chemistry.  A woman scientist and single mother in the 50's has to battle and deal with male  colleagues who treat her badly and lie and deceive her. The work culture was very misogynistic at that time. In the process she finds love and passion as well as loss.  ****

I finished the fifth book in Ben Aaronvitch's Rivers of London series with Foxglove Summer in which two girls from Heresfordshire go missing and one of them gets replaced with a changelings.  There is also a nasty unicorn involved.  ****

Faith Hunter's 6th book in the Soulwood series, Rift in the Soul came out in which Nell has to deal with more vampires, the vampire tree, gifts from nature, while preparing to marry Occam.  ****

Finally read Curse of Salem (304 pages), the 20th book in Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special paranormal crimes series,  about the five people in the leading families of Salem dying under mysterious circumstances, while lead character tried to figure out if her gift was a talent or a curse.  ****  

Reread Charles De Lint's The Mystery of Grace for one of my M reads in which a dead woman was caught by a witch in limbo and she had to figure out how to get back to the land of the living or move on to Heaven. ****

I looked forward to reading Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow since I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter's Tale and Soldier of the Great War, but was disappointed by the story line. A historical romance novel set just after WWII in New York city in which the lead character decides vigilante justice against the mob was the best way go and it ends up all wrong.  **

Helprin's novel set a theme for the next two books which went down the same path. 

Jessica Strawser's The Last Caretaker  started out with good intentions then went down the wrong path in dealing with domestic violence, vigilante justice and solving problems without  the authorities. ** meh

And Leslie Wolfe's The Surgeon when a cardiac patient died under mysterious circumstances and the lead characters were involved in abuse, adultery, blackmail, and decided vigilante justice without the police was the best solution. ** meh

Going into April reading two chunky books David Brin's Earth and Christopher Paolini's Murtagh.

Book Review: In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helprin


 

I just finished reading Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow, a chunky book of 700 pages. A love story, a war story, a story of wealth, a story of New York after WWII.  

"Of the widest scope – from the air over Sicily to the heat-and-color-saturated Sacramento Valley; the Bay of Biscay to the sea off Maine; the steel mills of Gary, Indiana to the beaches of Amagansett; London in the blitz; the invasion of Normandy; and a single shell gliding across an American lake in August; from the luminous houses of the wealthy to the pounding of the boards beneath a Broadway chorus line – this is yet, first, and foremost a love story, but also a hymn to New York of the period when one great age elided into the other that we call our own. Rich in language and classical allusion, it is true to the mottoes at its outset: the Dantean “Amor mi mosse, che me fa parlare,” “Love moved me, and made me speak,” and to the lines of Lucretius that describe Catherine’s extraordinary representation of the powers, beauties, and graces of womanhood – “Nothing comes forth into the shores of light, or is glad or lovely without you.”

I am so mad right now. No happily ever after. No riding into the sunset. No walking hand in hand with the love of his life for the rest of his life. Harry chose and he chose wrong. It reminded me of the Suitable Boy in which the girl chose the wrong boy and I wanted to throw the book across the room.

I invested in the story, in the characters, in the setting, in the words so elegant and lengthy. I loved the descriptions, the discussions, the points to ponder. Then got thrown under the bus. I ranted and raved to my husband who reminded of a horrible book he bought me once that was supposedly a love story but told the history of every single character and every single place as it was introduced and even included the history of golf. An inside joke us since hubby is very verbose. Why explain it simply when you can tell the history of golf. And the dang book had it. But I read it because he bought it for me.

But I defended In Sunlight and In Shadow because I loved the writing. I loved A Winter’s Tale. I loved The Soldier of the Great War. I was sure I’d love ISaiS.  

Call it arrogance, ignorance, ego, sacrifice, a miscarriage of justice, pride, or whatever, but when Harry refuses to accept any assistance whatsoever in saving his business and decides to take on the mafia problem himself, he became a selfish fool. He let the mafia drive his business into the ground. He wasn’t a stupid man, yet he was. He made his choice and choose that over Catherine. Yeah for Catherine finally getting what she wanted and realizing she'd been seen, she'd been heard, and she could have a great singing career,  but she would have to do it without Harry. 

** for failing to live up to my expectations. 

February Reading Wrap Up


 

February was a great reading month.  Slowed down a bit and even though I read thirteen books this month and cleared 6 more dusty books off my shelves and the remaining were ebooks, added 5 more. My buying ban was suspended for one day on account our Mom/son trip to Barnes & Noble during the Superbowl.  Plus he kept handing me books – this looks good mom!  Since this is the Chinese new year and it’s the year of the dragon,  we got The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker, as well as the latest in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series – Curse of Salem by Kay Hooper and Kristin Hannah’s The Women, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, and Ernest Cline’s Armada.  

And I admit I cheated while listening to an audible book of Jenny Colgan's Cafe by the Sea. I was enjoying the story so much, had to get the kindle version to finish since I wouldn't be able to listen to the rest of the story as much as I wanted.
  
Our 52 Books author of the month was Ben Aaronovitch and I completed three more books in the Rivers of London series which is about Peter Grant, a mixed race detective, for the London Metropolitan Police who works for Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, the head of a magical and supernatural Special Operations Unit.  A combination mystery, fantasy, and police procedural, the series is both serious and hilarious.

I alternated between  Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series and rereading Elizabeth Hunter's Irin Chronicles while on the treadmill this month. 

Ben Aaronovitch - Moon over Soho #2 Rivers of London:  **** Someone is killing jazz musicians, (396, e)

Ben Aaronovitch - Whispers Underground #3 Rivers of London:  ****A murder in the underground leads Peter to a hidden community, the art scene, and the Faceless Man (429, e)

Ben Aaronovitch - Broken Homes #4 Rivers of London:  ****Chasing the Faceless man, Peter runs across weird happenings at an condemned housing estate in which everyone is a suspect, as well as some prickly river spirits. (320, e)

Sharon Bolton - Now You See Me #1 Lancey Flint: **** A London, police procedural which is full of twists and turns, red herrings, and a jack the ripper look alike, (400)

Jenny Colgan - Cafe by the Sea #1 Mure: **** Paralegal Flora left Scotland years before and swore she wouldn't go back. When her boss and secret crush requested she return as part of her job, she learns what family and life are really about. (416, e and audible)

Justin Cronin - The Ferryman: *****  Real life or a dystopian world, the future or the past, a dream or reality, upper class versus the working class, fantasy or deceit, lies or truths. This story is so complex, it leaves you breathless, especially with the twists and turns. (Dystopian, alternate world, 560)

John Grisham - Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer:  ****Thirteen year old Theo, the son of two lawyers provides advice to his school mates while getting involved in a murder mystery and murder trial in which he's the only one who knows the truth and has to figure out what to do. 

Elizabeth Hunter Irin Chronicles is a paranormal romance with fallen angels, the children of angels, and the Irina battling for rule in Istanbul.  ****The Scribe #1 (292, e), The Singer #2 (330, e), and The Secret #3 (373, e), about Ava and Malachi incredible love story and search for the truth. 

Iain Pears - Giotti's Hand #5 Jonathan Argyll: ***An art history mystery in which the twists and turns and cover ups on all sides about how far will the police go to resolve a cold case. (Italy, police procedural, 278)

Paola Peritti - The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree:  ****Nine year old Mafalda eyesight is failing and she'll be blind within 6 months and she's determine to do all the things kids do before she can no longer see. She measures her sight by the distance she can see to the cherry tree at school.  Her story is full of angst, stubbornness, friendship, acceptance, and grief. ( 219)

Mark Pryor - The Book Artist #8 Hugo Marston :  **** A murder mystery set in Paris in which a book artist is killed and it seems like everyone is guilty, including Hugo and his girlfriend. (Paris, murder mystery, American embassy security, dusty, 272)

One Five Star read and the rest four stars with one DNF as Peter Robinson's No Cure for Love just couldn't hold my interest. 

Currently in progress :

Two chunky books:  Mark Helprin's  romance and historical fiction story about a socialite and a soldier In Sunlight and in Shadow (705), and David Brin's environmental science fiction fantasy about the world going extinct - Earth (704)  

Audible books:  Mark Weir's The Martian with James. In the car -  V.E. Schwab's Fragile Threads of Power. 

Ebook: Alternating between Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London #5 Foxglove Summer and The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.


My rating system is a mishmash of goodreads and others.  

5 star - Loved the author, and will read anything they publish. Loved the story line, loved the characters.  Couldn't put it down. Made me think. Will read it again. 

4 star - Liked the story, liked the characters, but not necessarily rereadable

3 star - Good but....

2 star - Failed to live up to my expectations 

1 star - DNF - Not my cup of tea at all and didn't want to continue.  

January Reading Wrap Up

 



Since my buying ban  is in effect, I read 11 physical books and 9 ebooks for a total of 7690 pages which equals 248 pages a day.  I read during breakfast, lunch, while on the treadmill, and after dinner. We don't watch much television and reading is as necessary as breathing to me.  

The longest book was Aeronaut's Windlass and the shortest was the novella The Pale Dreamer.  My rating system is a mishmash of goodreads and others.  

5 star - Loved the author, and will read anything they publish. Loved the story line, loved the characters.  Couldn't put it down. Made me think. Will read it again. 

4 star - Liked the story.  Liked the characters. Reread 

3 star - Okay story. 

2 star - Meh - disappointed or irritated by characters, storyline, or author's writing. 

1 star - DNF - Not my cup of tea at all, didn't want to continue reading, waste of my time. 


Lyssa Kay Adams - Undercover Bromance  ***  Characters were juvenile for their age. (Men read romance, sexual harassment, justice, 348, e)

Sara Nisha Adams - The Reading List  **** New to me author and look forward to reading more. A story about friendship and grief. A teenage girl working in library for the summer and an elderly gentleman form a friendship over books. Someone, to be revealed later, left a list of books where three different people found them with the note “Just in case you need it” and each book turned out to relate to their life and help them, somehow, someway for the better. Although I’ve already read some of the books, now I want to read them all, keeping in mind the life lessons learned by the characters in the story. A goal for this year, or maybe next. We’ll see how it goes.  (Books, friendship, grief, 373)

Sarah Addison Allen - Other Birds  ***  Coming off of Garden Spells, Other Birds didn't tug on my emotion strings as much as the Waverley's. The characters were poignant, all experiencing abandonment or other issues which affected their lives. As they work through invisible pigeons, ghosts, neglect, grief, and loss, the characters come together to form a family. I'll have to read it again when I can appreciate the story and not compare it to another book.     (Magical realism, South Carolina, Grief, romance, birds, 290)

Marie Brennan - Tropic of Serpents #2 Lady Trent *****  Lady Trent is fascinating and enjoyed the world building and the science and her efforts to discover all she could about dragons. Whether she is navigating the male centric Victorian society to learning from the Moulish natives of Eriga, she puts her all into it. From assimilating into the culture of the palace to living with the native Indians in the swamp land of Green Hell. I love how the Moulish force her to face herself when they make her go through a purification right when she has a string of bad luck and how the guardian of the eggs puts her to the test. And her strength and ingenuity in her test to prove to Yeyuama she could be trusted to protect the dragon eggs. She is continually learning and may stumble, but she'll get right back up again, and forge onward. (Historical Fantasy, Victorian, Dragons, Green Hell, Natives, 331)

Brendan Slocumb - Violin Conspiracy ****  A mystery thriller set in New York and Europe centered around the theft of Ray's Stradivarius. Ray grieves the loss of his violin and possibly the end of his music career, his life and struggles to get where he is presently is revealed in flashbacks of his greedy family, the racism he experiences, his joy of classical music, and the competitive nature of musicians.  (334, e)

R.F. Kuang - Babel: An Arcane History *****  Once I started reading, couldn't put it down. The etymology discussions, how the characters related to the world around them, how the characters grew in knowledge, the choices they made, some good, some bad, the heart wrenching decisions. All of it combined to create a story that made me think and how it related to today's world and why people do the things they do.  (Historical Fantasy, dystopian, oxford, etymology, racism, theme of the week - cliffhanger, 544, e)

Samantha Shannon - The Bone Season #1 / The Pale Dreamer novella  ****  A dystopian world in which magic thrives behind the scenes, but is persecuted by the world. Aliens has taken over an alternative oxford, allowed by the government as a deterrent to an even greater threat. The aliens serve as prison keepers for the magically inclined.  Dark despair pervades the entire story.  (Aliens, magic vs non magic, alternative Oxford, theme of the week  - dystopian, 480, e)

Jenny Colgan - The Bookshop on the Corner **** Charming story about a young woman who takes on the adventure of moving to a new place and starting a book mobile. (Scotland, UK, 368, e)

Ashley Poston  - The Dead Romantics  ****  Another charming story about a ghostwriter who falls in love with a ghost. (Books, ghostwriter, grief, crows, 368)

J.D. Robb - Random in Death #58 In Death series  *****  (Futuristic thriller, murder, police procedural, 368)

J.T. Ellison - Lie to Me *****  Finally dove into the story which lead to me reading every spare minute. Fast paced, psychological thriller and would have never guessed who caused Sutton's and Ethan's marriage to implode. They were both to blame, yet there was someone else hiding in the shadows pulling all their strings. Thrill ride of a story with so many twists and turns, it will make you dizzy.  (Psychological thriller, lots of twists and turns, 413)

Emily St. John Mandel - Sea of Tranquility  **  Unlike any time travel book I’ve read in which it seemed all nonsensical and flat.    (Post apocalyptic, time travel, Writer, covid, 272) 

Evie Woods - The Lost Bookshop  **** four characters, dual timelines, how the past affects the present, abusive relationships, what is real and what is not, learning to trust again.  (Magical realism, dual timelines historical and present, books, England, Ireland, USA,  444, e)

Sulari Gentill - The Woman in the Library ****  A mystery within a mystery set in Boston with so many twists and turns , the characters don't know who to trust. (Mystery thriller, Boston, murder, deceit, books, 292)

Haruki Murakami - Sputnik Sweetheart  *****  I love Murakami and he always leaves me with something to think about. This one more so than others. The same themes rewritten in a different way: Cats, music, love, loss, life. The ending isn't quite so clear cut or is it?    (Author of the month, magical realism, Japan, love lost, 224, e)

Rereads 

Jim Butcher - Aeronauts Windlass #1 Cinder Spires **** Reread before start Olympian Affair. Just as good the second time around. An epic fantasy involving magic and technology combined, airship battles, talking cats, strange characters, and etheric forces.  (Dusty reread, 781)

Jenna Black  - Dark Descendant ***  Reread while on treadmill involving demi gods, immortality, private eyes, and good versus evil.  Don't think I'll reread the rest of the series again. (336, e)

Karen Rose - Count to Ten  *** * Reread of a mystery thriller revolving around an arson investigator and a police detective.  (Mystery thriller, Chicago, Illinois, romance, murder, Theme of the week - Fire, 563)

Dean Koontz - Odd Thomas ****  Odd Thomas is a quirky character who sees dead people and tries to stop the bad guys.  (Supernatural thriller, 435, e)