skjam: (professional)
Hi folks!

This time we're exploring books Goodreads has suggested to me based on what I have put on my science fiction shelf. This includes science fiction, books about science fiction, books about science in science fiction contexts, and a few oddball books that are on the border of SF and fantasy.

As always, let me know if you've read any of these and have an opinion, or heard some interesting buzz.

From the ancient past to the unthinkable future. )

Your thoughts and comments?
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
This list will be a bit shorter than the others, as the Goodreads audience isn't as heavily into pulp as they are some other categories. Pulp is less of a genre than a "feel." Action-packed, high excitement, not much introspection, kind of low-brow. On this shelf I put not only books and stories actually published in the pulp magazines, but homages and patisches. I'm seeing a lot of noir in here too.

The Alcoholics by Jim Thompson
Almuric by Robert E. Howard

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Chthulu - The Mythos and Kindred Horrors by Rober E. Howard
Conan by Robert E. Howard

Die a Little by Megan Abbott
The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon

Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips

The Getaway by Jim Thompson
The Grifters by Jim Thompson

Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls by Mike Mignola
The Hunter by Richard Stark

The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Money Shot by Christa Faust

Queenpin by Megan Abbott

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis

Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke by Philip Jose Farmer
361 by Donald E. Westlake
A Touch of Death by Charles Williams
Trouble Is My Business by Raymond Chandler

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

--

A fair number of repeat authors this time, including the surprise entry Jim Thompson.

As always, your thoughts and comments, especially if you've read any of these or heard good buzz.

SKJAM!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Using a widget to show my current top 100 books listed on Goodreads.

long list )

Your thoughts and comments?
SKJAM!
skjam: (gasgun)
Hi folks!

Since I have a little time, how about another look at what Goodreads recommends for me? This time the suggestions are based on what I've marked down for my mystery shelf. Now, not everything on that shelf is a mystery, strictly speaking. There's some thrillers, borderline horror, true crime, that sort of thing as well.

If you've read any of these books, or heard some buzz, feel free to comment and tell me about it.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker
Burned by Thomas Enger

A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly
Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis
Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller
Essential Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle

Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips
The Family Vault by Charlotte MacLeod
From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: After Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Richard Lancelyn Green
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman

Ghosts in the Snow by Tamara Siler Jones
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Hoodoo Money by Sharon C. Pennington

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr

Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Didbin
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Bo Hampton
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas

Malice in Maggody by Joan Hess
The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures by Mike Ashley
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Q by Luther Blissett
Queenpin by Megan Abbott

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod
Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by by Darwyn Cook

The Seventh Sinner by Elizabeth Peters
Sherlock Holmes in America by Martin H. Greenberg
Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould
Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
The Turn of the Screw and the Aspern Papers by Henry James

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

There;s a disproportionate amount of Sherlock Holmes on this list.

Your thoughts and comments?
SKJAM!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
I've been busy, so haven't done one of these lists in a few months. I hope you're still up to helping me sort through the recommendations pile!

This time, we're looking at books recommended by Goodreads based on my manga shelf. To no one's surprise, the vast majority of these are themselves manga. If you've read any of these or heard some buzz, let me know.

Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Alice 19th, Vol. 01: Lotis Master by Yuu Watase
Angin Musim Gugur by Kyoko Hikawa
The Art of Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Basara, Vol. 1 by Yumi Tamura
The Betrayal Knows My Name, Volume 1 by Hotaru Odagiri
Blame!, Vol. 1 by Tsutomu Nihei
Blood+, Vol. 01 by Asuka Katsura
A Bride's Story, Vol. 01 by Kaoru Mori

Children of the Sea, Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi
Cowboy Bebop, Vol. 1 by Yutaka Nanten

Demon Diary, Vol. 01 by Kara
Descendants of Darkness, Volume 1 by Yoko Matsushita
The Devil Does Exist, Volume 1 by Mitsuba Takanashi
A Distant Neighborhood, Vol. 1 by Jiro Taniguchi
Dragon Head, Volume 1 by Minetaro Mochizuki
Dramacon, Volume 1 by Svetlana Chmakova
The Drops of God 1 by Tadashi Agi
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio

Eden: It's an Endless World, Volume 1 by Hiroki Endo
Electric Daisy, Vol. 1 by Kyousuke Motomi

Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow
Girl Got Game, Volume 1 by Shizuru Seino
Goth by Otsuichi

Hai Miiko! 4 by Ono Eriko
Hana-Kimi, Vol. 1 by Hisaya Nakajo
High School Debut, Vol. 1 by Kazune Kawahara

Kamichama Karin, Vol. 01 by Koge-Donbo
Kare First Love, Volume 1 by Kaho Miyasaka

Lady Snowblood, Vol. 1: The Deep-Seated Grudge, Part 1 by Kazuo Koike
Love*Com, Volume 1 by Aya Nakahara
Love Hina, Vol. 01 by Ken Akamatsu

Mars, Volume 01 by Fuyumi Soryo
MeruPuri, Vol. 01 by Matsuri Hino

Nodame Cantabile, Vol. 1 by Tomoko Ninomiya

The One I Love: Watashi no Sukinahito by CLAMP
Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 01 by Bisco Hatori

Pixie Pop: Gokkun Pucho, Vol. 01 by Ema Toyama
The Prince of Tennis, Volume 1 by Takeshi Konomi

Rave Master, Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima
Red River, Vol. 1 by Chie Shinohara

Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, Vol. 01 by Arina Tanemura
Saturn Apartment, Vol. 1 by Hisae Iwaoka
The Story of Saiunkoku, Vol. 1 by Kairi Yura
Suppli, Volume 1 by Mari Okazaki

Tramps Like Us, Volume 1 by Yayoi Ogawa
Twin Spica, Volume: 01 by Kou Yaginuma

What a Wonderful World!, Volume 1 by Inio Asano

Yurara, Vol. 1 by Chika Shiomi

07-Ghost, Volume 01 by Yuki Amemiya

At least some of the more obscure entries are because I've already read all the big-name titles over the years....
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Just so you can see all the books at once...





Skjam!'s firstreads book montage



Come and See: Acts and Letters

Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: Oregon and Washington: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long - Distance Trail

The Complete Knifepoint Horror

Where the Cherry Tree Grew: The Story of Ferry Farm, George Washington's Boyhood Home

Blood Lance: A Medieval Noir

Batman/Deathblow Deluxe Edition

Math Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Math Terms, Strategies, and Tables

George W. Hamilton, USMC: America's Greatest World War I Hero

The Devil with Wings

One For The Money

The Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake

Until Thy Wrath Be Past

Prophets and Apostles

Board to Death

Cell 8

The Case of the Missing Servant: From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator

Brandwashed: How Marketers and Advertisers Obscure the Truth, Manipulate Our Minds, and Persuade Us to Buy

The Sufferings of Young Werther: A New Translation by Stanley Corngold

Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure

City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago



Skjam!'s favorite books ยป

Share book reviews and ratings with Skjam!, and even join a book club on Goodreads.



skjam: Ghost cat in a fez (fez)
Hi folks! Time for another go-round of what Goodreads thinks I might like. This time, it's based on the horror books I've read. Horror is kind of a tricky genre--Often it slides off into ludicrous or just icky.

I've read at least some of these, or a srory or two from the anthologies. Just don't remember enough to rank them. As always, if you've read one of these or heard buzz, let me know in the comments.

An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

The Beetle by Richard Marsh
Blood+ 01 by Asuka Katsura
Blood and Smoke by Stephen King
Books of Blood, Vol. 1 by Clive Barker

Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly
Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman

Descendants of Darkness, Volume 1 by Yoko Matsushita
Dragon Head, Volume 1 by Minetaro Mochizuki

Elfen Lied, V. 1 by Lynn Okamoto
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James
Godchild, #1 by Kaori Yuki
Goth by Otsuichi
Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis
Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits by Garth Ennis
Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano
Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D, Volume 01 by Saiko Takaki
Higurashi When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc, Vol. 1 by Ryukishio7

In a Glass Darkly by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. Chambers

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Bo Hampton
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
Lucifer, Vol. 1: Devil in the Gateway by Mike Carey

The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis

Nightmare at 20.000 Feet: Horror Stories by Richard Matheson by Richard Matheson
Nightmates in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques by f-stop Fitzgerald

The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories by Alan Ryan
Perrault's Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

The Stand: Captain Trips by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
The Stephen King Companion by George Beahm
The Stephen King Universe: The Guide to the Worlds of the King of Horror by Stanley Wiater

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
The Turn of the Screw and the Aspern Papers by Henry James

The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre by John William Polidori
The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Your thoughts?

Book stuff

Mar. 12th, 2013 05:06 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
I have another review up at my blog http://www.skjam.com on "Where the Cherry Tree Grew", a book about George Washington's childhood home.

I got in one of those Goodreads giveaways I mention every so often.

I enjoy this, because I never know precisely which of the five-to-ten entries I've put in might pay off. I don't overdo; I only enter those giveaways where I think I can actually read the book and give it a fair review.

So I'm not sure how to react to a message I got recently offering a new app. It's designed to detect which giveaways are ending on a given day and autoenter all of them. It also tells you your odds of winning an individual giveaway or the aggregate based on how many people had entered when the program activates.

That seems like a cheat to me, and liable to get you books you wouldn't want to read, useless to you. (I note that the giveaways are apparently not completely random--the fact that I win so many of them is a clue there.) You'd be cheating yourself, and the people who actually wanted to read that particular book.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
This time I'll be listing the books Goodreads recommends from my history shelf. On this shelf I have actual history books, biographies of historical figures and fiction about history. There will be a fair number of long-titled books.

Covering all of time from the Big Bang to yesterday )

Tends towards the bloody side of history, don't it?

As always, if you've read any of these, or heard some buzz, or have a book on the subject you'd recommend instead, go ahead and comment.

Don't forget I have a review blog at http://www.skjam.com

Incidentally, the book I'm going to be concentrating on next is on the history of Ferry Farm, George Washington's childhood home.
skjam: (Imnanna)
Time for another look at what Goodreads recommends to me based on what I've read. In this installment, we look at my "Heroines" shelf recommendations.

I sort books into "heroines" if the main character is female or there's a equally important female lead. I don't if there just happens to be a woman on the hero team. As you'll see, a lot of these were shoujo manga.

Let's see how many of these books actually feature heroines. )

Let me know if you've read any of these or have other comments.
SKJAM!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
It's time for another look at what Goodreads suggests to me, based on what I've already read and reviewed.

This time, the shelf theme is "firstreads", books put up for giveaways to readers in the hopes of getting reviews. I've gotten a bunch of these by now, and reviewed every one. But since the process results in my getting semi-random books, the recommendations are likewise kind of off the wall. Also, you'll see a lot more of overly long titles in this one.

The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett
After the Fact: The Surprising Fates of American History's Heroes, Villains and Supporting Characters by Owen J. Hurd
Amelia by Henry Fielding

Bayou Myth by Mary Ann Loesch
Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End: The Story of a Crime by Leif G.W. Persson
Body Movers by Stephanie Bond
Botanicaust by Tam Linsey
Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann
Burned by Thomas Enger

Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by Paco Underhill
A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell
China Trade by S.J. Rozan
City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America by Donald L. Miller
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott
Death Angels by Ake Edwardson
Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten
Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

Echoes from the Dead by by Johan Theorin
Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything by Daniel Goleman
Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder that Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster
The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America by Marc Levinson

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-loving New York by Richard Zacks

Last Days by Adam Nevill
Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World by Maya Jasanoff

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Mystery by Shamini Flint

The Nun by Denis Diderot

The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do by Eduardo Porter

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth

Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot
Seven-X by Mike Wech
Shakespeare Undead by OLori Handeland
Silver Smoke by Monica Leonelle
Snow Angels by James Thompson
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Studio Sex by Liza Marklund

Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It by Craig Timberg

Who Is Audrey Wickersham? by Sara Shrieves
Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
skjam: Ghost cat in a fez (fez)
The Devil with WingsThe Devil with Wings by L. Ron Hubbard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Full Disclosure: I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway in the expectation that I would review it. Presumably this was influenced by my review of an earlier book in the series, "If I Were You."

This volume is part of the "Golden Age Stories" reprints of L. Ron Hubbard's pulp writing. A lot of effort has been put into making the book physically attractive, and the appearance is of very high quality. I wish some other authors got the same treatment!

The short novel within is set in 1930s Manchukuo, a part of northeastern China set up as a puppet state by the Japanese invaders. The Japanese are being battled by a man they call "Akuma no Hane", which the author translates as "the devil with wings." (A closer translation would be "The Devil's Feather." Most of the names of Japanese people are likewise suspect.) This mysterious black-clad aviator has been harrying their troops for the last three years.

But now it seems Akuma no Hane has gone too far, killing the American civil engineer Robert Weston. Now, not only is Captain Ito Shinohari of Japanese Intelligence after the aviator, but Bob's sister Patricia is also out for blood. Now the pilot and his faithful sidekick Ching must race to discover the truth and head off a Russian-japanese war!

This is an exciting pulp story, foll of action and gunplay. The centerpiece is a fierce dogfight told from Patricia's confused viewpoint in the back of Akuma no Hane's plane. The period racism is toned down considerably; Shinohari isn't evil because he's Japanese, but because he cares more about his own advancement than the good of his country. The Japanese in general are in the wrong, but that's because they're invaders, not the color of their skin.

The story does less well with Patricia, whose bravery and determination are emphasized in her first confrontation with Akuma no Hane, And then...she accomplishes absolutely nothing in the story, becoming a tagalong for the Devil. There's a romance angle, but it's badly shoehorned in towards the end. A woman with agency Patricia is not. If that sort of thing bothers you, take off half a star.

The volume comes with a glossary, which will be helpful for readers who are unfamiliar with 1930s history, plus the same introduction and potted hagiography of L. Ron Hubbard that comes with every volume in the series, plus a several page preview of "The Green God," another volume in the series.

This is a very quick read, and with the recycled material, I cannot recommend paying full price for this one. If you enjoy daring tales of aviation and the Far East, check to see if you can get The Devil--with wings from your library, or wait until it shows up used.



View all my reviews
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Once again I bring you a selection from the Goodreads recommendation page. These are based on the books I have on my "comics" shelf. And again, some of these I've read at least a little of, but don't remember well enough to give a rating.

Mostly also comics, surprisingly enough. )

Your thoughts and comments, any of these you would endorse?
SKJAM!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Continuing my series of posts about what Goodreads recommends to me based on my shelves, today we look at children's books that the website recommends.

As before, some of these are ones I'm fairly certain I've read before, but it's been so long that I've forgotten if they're any good or would stand up to my current interst.

long list )

A fair bit of redundancy in there.

Your thoughts and comments?
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
As most of you know, I'm on Goodreads. Based on the books I've put on various shelves, Goodreads makes suggestions of other books it thinks I might like. Some I've read but it was so long ago that I can't remember enogh to rank them. Others I am unsure of, or even downright suspicious about.

So, I would like you to look over a typical recommendations list (this is from my "Adventure" shelf) and if you've read one of these or are familiar with the buzz, give me some info. I'm sorting these into alphabetical by title.

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
Almuric by Robert E. Howard
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

Castle Waiting, Vol. 1 by Linda Medley
Children of the Sea, Volume One by Daisuke Igarashi
Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford
Dragons of the Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis

Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard by Arthur Conan Doyle

Foiled by Jane Yolen

Grandville by Bryan Talbot

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Hunt at the Well of Eternity by Gabriel Hunt

In Search of the Castaways; or the Children of Captain Grant by Jules Verne

Jellaby by Kean Soo
Jhereg by Steven Brust

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
King Arthur and His Knights: Selected Tales by Thomas Malory
Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert E. Howard

The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques
Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Northlanders, Vol. 1: Sven the Returned by Brian Wood

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Precipice by John Jackson Miller
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis
The Return of the Shadow: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part One by J.R.R. Tolkein

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
The Sword In the Stone by T.H. White
Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber

Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson Vol. 1 by Walt Simonson
The Time Traders by Andre Norton

The Whale Road by Robert Low
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Slema Lagerlof

X'ed Out by Charles Burns

Your thoughts and comments?

A reminder that I have a formal blog now" http://www.skjam.com

SKJAM!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Blood Lance: A Medieval NoirBlood Lance: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Disclosure: I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it. Also, I read an Advanced Reading Copy, and there may be small changes between it and the final product.

This is the fifth Crispin Guest novel, featuring a disgraced knight of the Fourteenth Century who takes up a career of detection, earning the nickname "Tracker." I have not read the previous volumes.

Guest happens to witness a man falling from a bridge into the Thames. By the time he reaches the man, the fallen person is already dead--and he didn't drown. The dead man was an armourer, who it would appear owned a piece of the Lance of Longinius, a relic that supposedly pierced the side of Jesus Christ, and grants victory in battle. The lance has since gone missing, and multiple parties are working at crosspurposes to find it. Two of these are old friends of Crispin's, but are they his friends now?

All this is set against political maneuverings in the English court, as soon-to-be adult King Richard's favorite is losing his grip on power. The climax of the novel is an exciting trial by combat, with the actual solution of the mystery for a coda.

The noir elements are quite obvious; the morally ambiguous but still upright protagonist, everyone having secrets and many of those unpleasant, miserable weather and darkness (at least at the beginning, authorities who can't be trusted and the detective's falling for a woman too close to the case.

ONe tricky element of the story is the Spear. This is, apparently, not the first time Crispin Guest has come into contact with a supposed holy object. And while it's left ambiguous whether or not the Spear actually has any powers, (Guest himself is a skeptic) the coincidences keep piling up. Towards the end, at least one character believes that these are not coincidences, and that artifacts seek out Crispin for a purpose as yet unknown.

It's a good read by itself, and I would certainly be willing to look up other volumes in the series.



View all my reviews
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
As most of you know, I'm on Goodreads. Based on the books I've put on various shelves, Goodreads makes suggestions of other books it thinks I might like. Some I've read but it was so long ago that I can't remember enogh to rank them. Others I am unsure of, or even downright suspicious about.

So, I would like you to look over a typical recommendations list (this is from my "Read" shelf) and if you've read one of these or are familiar with the buzz, give me some info. I'm sorting these into alphabetical by title.

Recommended from my "Read" list

Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969 by Dan Nadel

Battle Angel Alita Volume One: Rusty Angel by Yukito Kushiro
The Black Strangler and Other American Tales by Robert E Howard
Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time byMatt Haig

Callirhoe by Chariton
A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Cricket On the Hearth by Charles Dickens
The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi
Daredevil Legends, Volume One: Yellow by Jeph Loeb
The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

The End of the Line: An Anthology of Underground Horror by Jonathan Oliver
Essential Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe

Fables Volume One: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
Fast One by Paul Cain
Fifty-to-One by Charles Ardai
The Forgotten Realm: Boxed Campaign Set by Ed Greenwood

Ghosts and Grisly Things by Ramsey Campbell
The Goon: Noir by Thomas Lennon
The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America by Marc Levinson
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West
Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano
Hellboy Volume 8: Darkness Calls by Mike Mignola

Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York by Richard Zacks

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr
King Arthur and His Knights: Selected Tales by Thomas Malory
KOP by Warren Hammond

The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
Lesser Demons by Norma Partridge
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint

Northwest of Earth by C.L. Moore

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Return of the Sorceror: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith by Clark Ashton Smith
Richard Stark's Parker #1: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

Selected Stories by O. Henry
Silver Smoke by Monica Leonelle
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb
Suprman: Secret Idenity by Kurt Busiek

Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke by Phillip Jose Farmer
The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans by Rick Geary
Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell

Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charmas


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I find it a little interesting that the two repeat authors are Charles Dickens (with essentially the same book!) and Jeph Loeb.

Your thoughts and comments?
SKJAM!
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The Case of the Missing Servant: A Vish Puri MysteryThe Case of the Missing Servant: A Vish Puri Mystery by Tarquin Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Disclosure: I received this book as a Firstreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.

This is the first of a series about Vish Puri, owner and operator of the Most Private Investigations office of New Dehli in India. He's already built a successful business, and bills himself as India's top private detective. While his bread-and-butter is investigating prospective bridegrooms in arranged marriages to determine if they're really suitable (and one of these investigations is a major subplot), he often has more interesting/dangerous cases.

In the present instance, a reform-minded lawyer's servant has gone missing, and the lawyer is being accused of murdering her to cover up an affair. Shortly after Vish Puri takes the case, someone tries to murder him. Can he and his agents figure out what's really going on?

There's lots of local color, including an extensive glossary, but how authentic the book is to the reality of India I will leave to other reviewers. The clash between ancient poverty and new money, the multiplicity of India's religions and languages, and the endemic corruption in the legal system all play strong roles in the story.

I should note that Vish Puri is extremely quirky in addition to being exotic to American and British readers, in much the same fashion as Hercule Poirot. This may come off as excessive to some readers. Also, there are what appear to be prophetic dreams (or heavily intutive ones), which may strike some as not "fair play."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of eccentric detectives.



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Some stuff

Jun. 17th, 2012 09:16 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Random bits--

After far too long a delay, the Lunds grocery store we were promised way back when is finally open. I was very disappointed the first day, as the signage said it would open at 6AM, and I got up to be there, but it turned out the opening for that day only was 9:30. It's a very nice store.

I'm a bit worried for the small grocery place nearby, though. Not much they can do to compete except for the much faster checkout service. The local coffee shop is more hardy and can easily handle the chain place with its genuine Bohemian atmosphere.

We have a new quality coach at work, who tells me she was seriously blown away with how good I am on the phone. I still run into rough patches when customers don't want to be helped, but it's true that when I'm on, I really am Mr. Customer Service.

Did not win any of the baskets in the United Way raffle...again. Don't know why I bother sometimes, and none of the winners ever sends a thank you note for the baskets our department creates.

Coming up on my birthday, not as excited/nervous this year. More concerned with making the CD exchange work and being fully funded for ConVergence.

Still doing very well at the Goodreads giveaways, seriously it's like they love my reviews or something. Currently waiting on "One For the Money".

Hope you folks are well as can be expected, and Happy Father's Day to all those to whom it applies.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
The Complete Knifepoint HorrorThe Complete Knifepoint Horror by Soren Narnia

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Disclosure: I received this book as part of a Firstreads giveaway on the premise that I would read and review it.

One of the interesting aspects of writing is the self-imposed challenge. Poems in a rigid format, an exact number of words, not using gendered words--it can stretch a writer's skills, even if the product isn't always great art.

As described in the blurb, "The Complete Knifepoint Horror" is an entire volume of short horror fiction stripped down to essentials. Tight first-person narration (a couple of pieces do cheat on this), no capital letter, paragraphs, page numbers or titles. No gratuitous mood-setting, fancy typography, anything like that.

For the most part, this works pretty well. When the author is "on", the narrow format makes the story especially intense. On the other hand, it tends to flatten the contrast between narrators. Nineteenth-Century and Twentyfirst-Century people "sound" identical in word choice and grammar. Sometimes if I put the book down for a moment, it was hard to tell where I'd left off, even with the aid of a bookmark.

As you might expect, full explanations are rare in these stories. Some come across as a series of random creepy events which may or may not be connected with the final horrific moment. Others leave the "monster" half-glimpsed and barely described, though there are a couple of straight-up ghost stories and a particularly good zombie apocalypse piece.

I'd also like to point out the "moss" story and the one with the deaf protagonist as innovative and especially worthwhile.

This collection should do well in audiobook or podfic format, though I would recommend having more than one reader to offset the flattening effect I mentioned above.



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