Irresponsible Reader

Irresponsible Reader

I read widely and voraciously, with little discipline (although I have my bouts). And then I write about it -- sometimes a little, sometimes more (not sure how often I get to "a lot", so let's go with "more" instead). I'm a Mystery junkie and have been since I can remember, I love Urban Fantasy, I can't pass up good Science Fiction or Fantasy, I've been known to dabble in Chick Lit ('tho, honestly, I'm more comfortable in "Lad Lit"), even a decent Western will do the trick.

Saturday Miscellany - 4/21/18

Odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

  • Born to the Blade by Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw, Malka Older and Michael R. Underwood -- a serialized fantasy novel from a heckuva group of writers, I'm almost done with episode 1 and it's a strong start. Look into this one.
  • The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts -- I'm not even going to try to sum this up, click the link to get more info, and then probably go buy it somewhere.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/21/saturday-miscellany-4-21-18
Review
4 Stars
A Dynamite Legal Thriller
The Plea - Cavanagh,  Steve

Lawyers don’t usually question whether or not a client is telling truth. That way lies madness. You do what you have to and trust the system. So, the guilty plead guilty. The innocent fight their case and the jury decides. If a by-product of that process is the emergence of the truth, then so be it, but the truth is not the aim of the process. The verdict is the aim. Truth has no place in the trial because no one is concerned with finding it, least of all the lawyers or the judge.



If that's not cynical enough for you, try this:

I saw through Dell’s game. It was a familiar one. It’s a game the justice system plays every single day in America--because sometimes it simply doesn’t matter if you’re really innocent of the crime; the only smart move is to plead guilty and make a deal for a lesser sentence.

“You want me to read the new evidence and tell David that irrespective of his innocence, he will definitely be convicted and his only choice is to plead guilty and make a deal to cut his sentence.”

“Bingo,” said Dell.

Happens all the time. I’ve done it myself. Innocent people often don’t want to take the chance of losing and doing fifteen or twenty years when they could make a deal and be out in two. It’s mathematics--not justice, but that's the reality.


Don't worry -- this book is not a diatribe about the shortcomings of the American judicial system (as appropriate as one might be), little comments like that are just a little bit of flavoring accenting the story, grounding it in the real world despite the craziness filling the book.

Eddie Flynn, for those new to the character, is a con man who went straight and then went to Law School. Following that, he made a couple big mistakes -- one cost him the career he had built, the other cost him his family. He's in the process of rebuilding both -- no easy task -- but you have to root for the guy trying to recover.

Eddie's approached (okay, ambushed) by the FBI, who wants Eddie to take on a new client, David Child. Child's a tech billionaire accused of murdering his girlfriend, and the FBI wants Eddie to convince him to plead to the charges. Then he needs to convince Eddie to help the FBI take down the law firm that currently represents him -- and is laundering money on a mind-boggling scale. If Eddie refuses? The FBI has enough evidence to put Eddie's ex away for a long time (did I mention that she works for the aforementioned firm, totally unaware that she's incriminated in the laundering?).

So, somehow Eddie has to separate Child from his current counsel, replace them, and then persuade Child to work with the FBI -- within a couple of days. No easy task. Then Eddie becomes convinced that Child is innocent. Which complicates things tremendously. So how does Eddie clear Child, keep his wife out of jail and help the FBI take down the laundering lawyers? Well, it'll take every bit of his old tricks, and maybe a few new ones.

I'm not a huge legal thriller guy -- never read a Grisham -- but when you give me a compelling character (particularly a defense attorney) like Eddie Flynn, I'm in. Watching Eddie navigate through the tricky waters of the system -- including jail guards, court staff, judges, prosecutors -- is a blast. This was like a serious version of the Andy Carpenter books. I would like to see Eddie take on a client he because he wanted to for a change, but that's not a complaint about this book, it'd just be nice to see.

Sure, it's your appreciation for Eddie Flynn that'll determine if you like this book or not, but he's not the only character to focus on -- there's David Child himself, who is interestingly drawn -- he's a fairly typical computer-genius character, socially awkward, etc. Typical, yes, but used well. My only complaint about Child's associate, Holly, is that we didn't get more of her (not that Cavanagh could've easily fit more of her in). The villains? Nasty, vile people -- believable (with one possible exception, but I liked him enough I don't care) -- all of them were well used, well drawn and just what the doctor ordered.

The Plea isn't perfect: I figured out the whodunit almost instantly, but it took a little while to get the details of the howdunit right -- and Cavanagh fooled me a little bit on that one. But that didn't detract from the book at all -- the fun is in watching Eddie and the rest scramble to survive this horrible situation and figure things out. The plot moves at a relentless pace -- which is a cliché, I realize, but I challenge you to come up with another way to describe this plot. Eddie can barely get a moment to rest and think, and when you're reading this, you feel like you can't either.

Characters you can't help but root for (or, in some cases, against), a fast-moving plot, with just enough twists, turns and hurdles. This one'll grab you by the collar and drag you along as it rushes to the dramatic conclusion (not that you'll be fighting against it, but the dragging will help you keep up). Keep yours eyes peeled for Steve Cavanagh and Eddie Flynn, they're something to watch.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/20/the-plea-by-steve-cavanagh-is-a-dynamite-legal-thriller
Review
3 Stars
A would-be Indiana Jones-esque adventure in Egypt
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh - Carolyn Arnold

Noted thrill-seeker, adventurer and archaeologist in the Indiana Jones mold, Matt Connor, is contacted by a former colleague with a more-than-tempting offer: she's pretty sure that she's on the trail of a fascination of Matt's -- the Emerald Tablets -- and would he like to help look for them? Matt jumps at the chance and persuades Dr. Alexandria Leonard to let him bring his two friends along -- they've come along on many of his previous escapades and will be a helpful addition to this one, too.

 

He just has to convince them to come. Following the three of them being compelled to find the lost City of Gold, they've plunged themselves into their very tame careers and personal lives and away from excitement. Matt convinces them to come along (or the book would've been much shorter), and they head to Egypt a couple of days later. Keeping things very secret from just about everyone, of course, because these Emerald Tablets have great power -- we're not told anything about this power, just that no one wants it to fall into the wrong hands. When people first started talking about them in those terms, I rolled my eyes, until I realized that this was a world in which that was a thing -- tablets have power, the Ark of the Covenant probably took out a bunch of Nazis and Bobby probably found an ancient tiki that carried a curse. Once I figured out that was the kind of book I was reading, things made a little more sense. We are told almost nothing else about the Tablets, but from the way everyone acts about them (at least everyone that believes in them), you can tell they're a pretty big deal.

 

Once they arrive, things start to good poorly for the expedition -- and not in small ways, but they struggle through it all (mostly). The Tablets are not easily found -- if they even exist, that is. But there's plenty of other archeological finds to focus on -- and some real dangers. Like, say, snakes. Arnold does a great job depicting how snakes can really creep a person out -- even a person safely reading about them on their Kindle thousands of miles away from a single asp. Although at a certain point, they just disappear -- like Hamlin's Pied Piper sauntered through Egypt and every asp left with him. It was a bit disconcerting once they stopped being a concern -- especially in the last chapters where they really could've been a looming presence -- after being everywhere for a while.

This was a fun little adventure story, nothing too intense, nothing too serious, just a nice little diversion (which is good thing). But it could've been better, too.

 

Early on, when the characters are getting to know each other and get comfortable in Egypt, I really had some trouble with the conversation. Matt's friend and photographer (ugh, don't get me started on the drama surrounding bringing along a photographer), Cal, can serve a great role for the reader. Cal's only a hobbiest when it comes to this stuff from hanging out with his friend -- so he can ask a lot of questions that Arnold can use to plug the reader into the world. It's a thankless task that characters in books and TV shows have to play letting the "stars" show off their expertise. That's all well and good, but man, Cal asked some pretty dumb questions -- and what's worse, characters in and around the field of archaeology were way too impressed with others answering simple questions -- questions I could've answered. That was hard to swallow, but easy to get past.

 

But was really hard to get past -- if only because she kept throwing it in your face -- was the unsubtle emotional stories. Alex's other friend, Robyn, is clearly the love of his life -- and vice versa. But they broke up years ago, while neither has let go. And one or the other of them (and occasionally, Cal) is thinking about this every few pages, without doing anything about it. And when another romance is kindled in Egypt, the melodrama gets hard to swallow -- seriously, in an early draft of Twilight, Stephanie Meyer would've cut this kind of stuff for being "too high school." Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, Arnold can do subtle emotions, this didn't seem to be the same author who wrote Remnants -- and that's a shame.

 

The pacing of this was disappointing -- we got too much set-up, far too much time establishing the various storylines in Egypt, and then we rushed through the conclusion. I think the heart of the adventure took the last 20 percent of the book! It needed to be longer just to give it the necessary dramatic weight -- and to make the last challenges these characters faced seem more difficult and fraught than a run down to Tim Horton's for donuts and coffee.

 

The mystery component (for lack of a better word), was far too easy to figure out -- but it wasn't framed as a whodunit, so that's not a slight on Arnold. But it does make you wonder about the powers of observation displayed by Matt, Cal, Alex and the rest. But the villainous characters did their overall job, keeping things moving and providing a way for Matt and the rest to have the adventure the book they needed.

 

I've given a lot of space here to my relatively minor complaints -- but it takes a bit of space to express them. I did have a good time reading the book. Matt's a fun character -- ditto for Cal. I enjoyed the chemistry between the central characters and could've easily read another hundred pages or more with them and not really noticed or minded. As long as the high school stuff was downplayed -- when that wasn't a focus, I wanted more time with all the characters.

 

This is the second in a series, but would be a find jumping-on point. I do recommend this for people looking for a light adventure, and can see myself coming back for another go-round with these characters -- I know Arnold can do better than this (and this wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as it could've been).

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hibbert & Stiles Publishing in exchange for this post. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/17/the-secret-of-the-lost-pharaoh-by-carolyn-arnold-a-would-be-indiana-jones-esque-adventure-in-egypt
Quotation of the Day
"A man condemning the income tax because of the annoyance it gives him or the expense it puts him to is merely a dog baring its teeth, and he forfeits the privileges of civilized discourse.  But it is permissible to criticize it on other and impersonal grounds.  A government, like an individual, spends money for any or all of three reasons: because it needs to, because it wants to, or simply because it has it to spend.  The last is much the shabbiest.  It is arguable, if not manifest, that a substantial proportion of this great spring flood of billions pouring into the Treasury will in effect get spent for that last shabby reason."
--Nero Wolfe
Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/16/quotation-of-the-day
Review
4.5 Stars
The Iron Druid Chronicles conclude with a bang.
Scourged - Kevin Hearne

So, in a fast 265 pages Kevin Hearne gives us: Ragnarok; a lot of dead vampires; environmental crises; a friendly sloth; puppies; send-offs to many, many characters; shocking deaths; less-than-shocking deaths; surprise non-deaths; and more discussion of poots (elven and jaguar) than one'd expect in this kind of book. The amount that he accomplishes here is really staggering. Some of it, alas, could've been deeper -- explored more thoroughly -- if he hadn't set out to do so much or if he'd taken more time with some things (and less time with others). Still, this was a heckuva way to end the series.

 

This is not the book to start this series with, go back and read Hounded if you're curious (one of the best series kick-offs around), and I'm not going to get into the plot much. It's Ragnarok. We've all known it was coming and now it's here -- 'nuff said. Along those lines, however, Hearne also gets bonus points for including a "where we are in the series" introduction, summarizing the first 8 novels and the short stories/novellas that got us to this point. Again, this should be a requirement for long-running series.

 

There's no easy way to say it: there was just too much of Granuaile and Owen. Yes, it's the best use of Owen since his introduction, don't get me wrong. But it's the Iron Druid Chronicles -- fine, use the others if you want, but they shouldn't get equal time to the Iron Druid here in the last book. Especially given the number of things -- and scope of action -- that had to be accomplished in Atticus' story, it really should've had more room to breathe. That said -- for End-of-the-World Showdowns featuring deities from multiple pantheons? This rocked. He wrapped up the story he kicked off in Hammered and Two Ravens and One Crow in a fantastic fashion, full of death, blood and tension. At the same time, he maintained the very idiosyncratic characterizations he'd created for the various gods and goddesses.

 

Speaking of Two Ravens and One Crow, a small, but fun, point from that comes back in these pages in a way that no one could have expected and added just the right level of fun to the battle.

 

Hearne did a great job integrating the short stories from Besieged into this book -- I didn't expect to see so much from them carry over to this. It all worked well and set the stage for Hearne to get in to the action of Scourged right away and he took full advantage of that.

 

There were more than a few things that seemed like they needed better explanations -- doesn't the convenient dog sitter find the way that Atticus spoils his dogs more than a little strange? Given that they've known the clock was ticking on Ragnarok, why did Atticus wait until the last second to give Granuaile and Owen their assignments? I mean, it works out well for dramatic purposes, and allows certain plot points to be triggered, but that's not a good reason for the characters to work that way. At the very least, why weren't his former apprentice and his former teacher pestering Atticus to lay out his plans long before this? While I eventually saw what Atticus and Hearne were up to, in the moment, a lot of the plan just didn't make sense. When the world is falling apart, why set someone up for an extended training session (for one example)?

 

I'm not giving away anything about anyone dying -- or living -- but we know this is the finale, so we're seeing the end of stories for these characters. Some good, some shocking, some disappointing, some sad. In no particular order: Laksha got a nice send-off, I really didn't expect to see her here -- and I really appreciated what Hearne did with her. It's not honestly the ending I've had wanted for Atticus -- but it's the kind of ending that Hearne's been building to for a while now, so it's fitting. I can appreciate the way that Hearne accomplished his goals, even if I think Atticus deserved better. Owen's ending was everything you could've hoped for. Granuaile's story was fitting for her -- and a good reminder that I stopped liking her a few books ago (seriously, why couldn't she adopt an attitude similar to Owen or Flidias when it comes to their assignments during the battle?). I would've liked to have seen Perun one more time, but he got a good send off in Besieged.

 

Oberon was sidelined for most of the book -- I understand why: Atticus wanted to keep his buddy safe, and Hearne needed to keep things ominous, dramatic and threatening, which is hard to do with everyone's favorite Irish Wolfhound putting his two cents in (it's hard enough with Coyote around). Still, we got some good Oberonisms, and he elicited more than one smile from me -- and you could argue he saved the day ultimately. If I didn't know that Hearne was writing one more of Oberon's Meaty Mysteries, I'd be despondent over not seeing him again.

 

Scourged wasn't perfect, but it was very satisfying. If I have to say good-bye to these characters, this is a pretty good way to do it. There was enough excitement, drama, and happenings to fill a couple of books and Hearne got it all into one -- no mean feat -- and it was a great read. It's not easy letting go of most of these characters and this world (I mean, apart from re-reads), but I'm glad Hearne got out when he did and the way he wanted to. I'm looking forward to his future projects.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/16/scourged-by-kevin-hearne-the-iron-druid-chronicles-conclude-with-a-bang
Saturday Miscellany – 4/14/18

Worked over 50 hours this week (including today), there were only a few hours of that where I wasn't going full steam ahead. Which meant I came home and pretty much collapsed. Leaving drafts for posts on multiple books in mid-stream. Next week will likely be the same, but I'm trying to get things done. Did manage to read a bit -- some very strong stuff, which helps tremendously.

 

Anyhow, here are the odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

  • The Fairies of Sadieville by Alex Bledsoe -- Apparently, April is a month of good-byes. First, the Iron Druid. Now, the Tufa. This is one of the best series I've read the last few years -- now, you can read them all. Do so.
  • Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern -- Madam Tulip makes a movie in Scotland and, shockingly enough, becomes embroiled in murder and mayhem. I thought it was plenty of fun, as you can read here.
  • Skyjack by K. J. Howe -- Kidnap and Ransom specialist, Thea Paris, is back in this tale of secret armies, skyjacking, divided loyalties and impending doom. Here's my post about it.

Lastly, I'd like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to savageddt for following the blog this week.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/14/saturday-miscellany-4-14-18
Review
3 Stars
A Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man (and his son)
The Italian Teacher - Tom Rachman

I am going to say some nice things about this book, but the thing that kept going through my mind -- for at least the first two-thirds -- was: haven't I read this before? There are a couple of Richard Russo books hidden here, one Matthew Norman -- and I want to say DeLillo, Tropper and Weiner, too, but I can't put my finger on which of those -- and probably a few others that I don't recall. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- we've all read plenty of books that are just variations on well-established themes. What I had to ask myself was: did Rachman have anything new to say with his take? Did he throw in some interesting twists to the mix? Was it a rewarding experience for the reader? I think my answers were: not really, sort of, and not particularly.

 

The novel revolves around Bear Bavinsky, a painter of renown, an iconoclast, a rock star in a pre-rock star age -- and a serial monogamist on his second marriage when we meet him. He's essentially a Jeff Bridges character. His son, Charles (nicknamed Pinch) idolizes him (many of his children do, but Charles doesn't get over it the way most do).  Bear is mercurial, irresponsible, unfaithful, arrogant, and incredibly charming. Really, the difference between Rachman's Bear Bavinsky and Russo's Donald "Sully" Sullivan is that Bear has money (that's just to help you understand him, not a commentary on the character). When he turns on the charm, he can get seemingly anyone -- detractor, fan, or something in between -- to feel important, to feel pivotal, captivating, and so on. Most people shake off this effect after a couple of days (although they seem to hold on to a little bit of it for decades) -- Charles never does. He spends his life striving for his father's attention, favor, affection -- anything. He shapes his life around those things which will hopefully get Bear's approval -- and when he fails (or at least, doesn't succeed as he hopes) in the endeavor, and/or doesn't get Bear's approval he has a moment of clarity, stumbles into something else and then eventually falls back into the search for his Father's approbation.

 

Ironically, compared to the rest of Bear's kids, Charles has that approval. He just doesn't realize it -- and maybe it's because the rest have given up and don't seek him out as much. We follow Charles' life from childhood, to adolescence (living with a divorced mother now), in college, early adulthood and then in his 50s. Striving for significance, striving for something beyond his reach -- and yearning for his father. It's a decent, if lonely, life -- and could've been something better if he hadn't allowed so much of it to be shaped by his father, what Charles things his father wants, and then listening to his father's input when he really shouldn't.

 

As the jacket copy says, "Until one day, Pinch begins an astonishing plan that’ll change art history forever..." It stops being a book that I've read before (mostly), takes on its own flavor -- and gets worse. But your results may vary.

 

I thought Bear was an interesting character -- but not one I wanted to spend a lot of time with. I felt too much pity for Charles to really get invested in him. No one else in the book was really worth the effort. The story was unimpressive and oddly paced. Which is not to say it's a bad novel, it's just not one I could appreciate that much. There were conversations, scenes, etc. that were just great. I kept waiting for there to be a moment (probably the "Until one day...") that this book turned for me -- like Rachman's last one did -- and it never came.

 

Maybe it was just my mood, maybe it's my utter incapability of appreciating visual art, maybe it's actually Rachman stumbling. I don't know -- this just didn't work for me. Am I glad I read it? I think so -- if only because I don't have to wonder what the new Rachman book is like. I'm still giving it 3 stars because of the skill Rachman displayed -- I just didn't enjoy what he did with it.

 

<a href="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/2018-library-love-challenge-review-link-ups/" target="_blank"><img class="aligncenter" style="border:none;height:auto;width:300px;" src="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2018LibraryLoveChallenge07-400x400-angelsgp.jpg" alt="2018 Library Love Challenge" /></a>

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/09/the-italian-teacher-by-rom-rachman
Saturday Miscellany - 4/7/18

Another week of small lists. Small, but packed with goodness.

 

Here are the odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

  • Scourged by Kevin Hearne -- This is the big one of the week, er, month for me. I've been an unabashed fan of this series since the release of Hounded, and devoured this finale. UF readers will want to look for this one (and many probably are). Will be posting about it soonish.
  • School for Psychics by K. C. Archer -- this looks like a variation on a common theme -- secret school for people with extraordinary abilities (Brakebills, Hogwarts, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, etc.) -- but with an intriguing take.
Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/07/saturday-miscellany-4-7-18
This is not a book I should've read
Secular Jewish Culture - Yaakov  Malkin, Yaakov  Malkin, Felice  Pazner Malkin, Shmuel  Sermoneta-Gertel

I don't know where the person who offered me this book found me, nor why they thought I'd like the book. Nor do I even remember what it was about this book that I thought sounded like it could be my cup of tea -- but man, were we both wrong.

 

Which is not to say that this is a bad book, or an uninteresting book. But this is not the kind of thing I usually read or blog about -- the typical secular Jewish writing around here is Jennifer Weiner or Hagit R. Oron. And the academically-oriented reading I usually do is definitely not the secular variety.

 

This is essentially a manifesto and apologetic for the study of Secular Jewish Culture as an academic discipline. The various authors definitively state what it is that Secular Jews believe, think, and cherish -- which is far less diverse than say, CNN on-air talent, or members of my household. White largely set positively, on the whole much of this book defines Secular Jewish Culture by what it isn't, and given that most people have a hard time separating the ethnicity from some form of the religion, that makes sense. But it doesn't make for good reading.

 

Granted, it's obvious from the outset that I'm not going to approach the Hebrew Scriptures from the same perspective as these authors, so it's not surprising that I'd characterize almost all of their reactions to those scriptures as misreading the text -- I can handle that, really. But some of the misreadings are so bad, and seemingly deliberately so, that I was frequently angered as I read them.

 

I had a long list of things I wanted to talk about, but I really can't muster the interest -- and I can't imagine anyone reading this post will be able to, either -- so I'll just wrap things up.. It was generally a slog to read -- but I can't fault it for that, it's not supposed to be a page-turner. It definitely set out to accomplish a few tasks, and on the whole, it succeeded. Except for making me want to read anything else from any of these authors. Did I like it? No. Is it a good book? Maybe? Probably? Are there many people that will think this book is a treasure? Yup, but I'm not one of them.

 

I honestly think this book deserves more stars than this, it's a good book. But, I didn't like it and this is my blog, so . . .

 

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for this post and my honest opinion, I appreciate the opportunity.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/05/secular-jewish-culture-by-yaakov-malkin-shmuel-sermoneta-gertel
I'm not going to talk about Scourged by Kevin Hearne today...
Scourged - Kevin Hearne

I was able to take the evening last night (when this posts, anyway -- was just a few minutes ago really) to read the last two-thirds of <b>Scourged</b> while sipping some Tullamore Dew (<a href="https://wp.me/p3z9AH-3iu" rel="noopener" target="_blank">see yesterday's rambling</a>). And it was a very satisfying way to spend an evening, no doubt.

 

My intention was to turn immediately to writing a blog post/review/rave about it, but I think I want to spend some time thinking about it before I start to write. A couple of spoilers about what I'll end up saying: I really, really, really liked it. It wasn't as triumphal as a part of me had hoped ("Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!"), but it wasn't as grim as I feared (<strong>Angel</strong> "Not Fade Away"'s ending). It wasn't perfect, but it was very satisfying. If I have to say good-bye to these characters, this is the way to do it.

 

And I'd better shut up before I end up writing a whole post after all.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/05/im-not-going-to-talk-about-scourged-by-kevin-hearne-today
Pairing Potent Potables with your Perusals of Prose

I was kicking myself last evening for forgetting to get some Tullamore Dew to go with my reading of the last of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Scourged. I've been meaning to try the stuff ever since the Widow MacDonagh kept going on about it in the first couple of books, and it seemed like a fitting companion as I bid farewell to the series.

 

It got me thinking: what other books/series have an obvious beverage paring?

 

Harry Dresden's a big Coke guy, well, that and Mac's ale -- which is sadly, fictional, or it'd be my go-to. Zaphod Beeblebrox's Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, and the Ol' Janx Spirit used to make them are likewise fictional. Ditto for Nero Wolfe's favorite beer, Remmers. Just about everything that Atticus drinks after book three is fictional -- and borderline supernatural, no?

 

On the whole, I have different tastes than Robert B. Parker's characters (and can't afford Hawk's preferences). Spenser has guided me toward a beer or two that I liked, but there's no drink you can point at and say -- that's Spenser (or Jesse Stone). Tres Navarre was a big Shiner Bock drinker, and at least one of his books contained a recipe for a (supposedly) fantastic margarita (which was tasty, but not really better than any other one). Just about everything that John Rebus drinks is local for him, which makes it impossible for me. Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole don't have a signature drink that I can recall.

 

On the less intoxicating side, there's Archie Goodwin's milk, Jack Reacher's coffee (although, who needs caffeine while you're reading Lee Child at his best?), and Jane Yellowrock's tea (I don't think I could drink it the way she does).

 

When I started writing this, I figured I'd be able to come up with a decent list of drinks to go with various series, but I seem to be coming up pretty short. Sure, there's James Bond with his "cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. . . [he's] is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it." But that's too easy (and I haven't read anything about him since high school). How about you all?

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/04/pairing-potent-potables-with-your-perusals-of-prose
Review
3 Stars
Magic investigators on the trail of a killer.
Good Guys - Brust,  Steven

Kind of odd, isn’t it? I’m waiting for my chance to kill a complete stranger, and to kill him in an ugly and gruesome way, so I fill in the time by checking out local architecture and museums. How did I become this person? Well, put that way, it was simple: Some son of a bitch had destroyed my life, and he just didn't give a shit. To him, I’d been another chance to climb a ladder, add zeroes to his bank account, have more people calling him sir. To him, that’s what mattered. Maybe there really is no satisfaction in revenge, but I can tell you one thing for sure: There's no satisfaction in letting someone get away with ruining your life, either.

 

And the Museum of Science and Industry is as good as the hype, so there’s that.

 

In almost every Urban Fantasy series there's some sort of explanation for how magic/magic beings/magic users/etc. is/are kept under wraps so that we muggles can keep living our lives unaware of what's going on all around us. Some of it is a by-product of magic/the supernatural that just clouds our minds, some of it is the result of efforts of the supernatural community (or at least part of it) keeping it under wraps. In Steven Brust's Good Guys, The Foundation is tasked (among other things) with keeping magic off of the radar of mundane people.

 

Now when you have someone like our above narrator, killing complete strangers in ugly and gruesome ways enabled by magic, that particular task gets more difficult than usual. Here enter our protagonists -- a Foundation Investigation and Enforcement team consisting of a very skilled investigator, a young sorcerer, and someone who provides security for them -- they might also pick up a little extra help along the way. The team works through a combination of old school detective work, magic, high-tech wizardry and gumption to find the connections between these victims and use that to uncover just who might be behind the killings.

 

The investigation is well-constructed and keeps the reader guessing and invested. Brust's jumping between various perspectives is well-done -- the touch of only the killer being in the first person is an interesting touch (most authors would have one or more of the Foundation team as first person, with the killer in third) -- not just with the team, but with various other individuals within the Foundation, giving a real sense of the scope of this group. The characters are interestingly conceived and executed -- the killer's motivation is easy to understand (not saying it's easy to sympathize with, but you have a hard time wanting him stopped at all costs). When the pieces finally fall into place, it's very satisfying.

 

One of the nicest touches Brust gave this world is a tiny budget for the Foundation -- for a global security and research enterprise, they seem to be operating on a shoestring budget -- they certainly don't pay their employees very well. I'm not sure why this tickles me the way it does, but unlike the Men in Black, S.H.I.E.L.D., or any of the other clandestine groups that fill our imaginations -- these guys can't just whisk around the world at the drop of the hat. They have to fly coach at one point, rather than use the teleportation ability of the Foundation.

 

The members of the team make very little, and live pretty solitary lives (it's not like they can tell anyone what they do) -- there was a humanizing moment for each of them at various points through the story considering a pet to help them fight the solitude (all different potential pets, too).

 

This was a solid thriller with some great Urban Fantasy touches, a very satisfying solution that rings true. Well-paced, well conceived, and well-executed -- in short just what you want out of this novel. A very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. I don't think this is the first of a series -- but if I'm wrong, I'll gladly jump on the sequel.

 

2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/03/good-guys-by-steven-brust
Review
3 Stars
The conclusion of a totally O.K. follow-up to the Lunar Chronicles
Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue - Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate, Stephen Gilpin

I'm really not sure what to say about this one. It's part two of the story begun in <b>Wires and Nerve</b> where Iko is tasked with hunting down rogue Lunar wolf warriors scattered over the Earth. We also see what reforms Cinder is bringing to the Lunar government and what happens to the rest of the main characters from <b>The Lunar Chronicles</b> following <b>Winter</b>.

 

Honestly, I think I'm going to just copy and paste from the last book, because this is really just part 2 of that same story and my comments stay the same:

 

The Lunar wolf warriors are not just going to roll over, there are some that are preparing to strike back against Iko -- and Cinder.

 

Throw in a love story, an examination of Iko's true nature, and some nice catch-up with our old friends, and you've got yourself a fun story. It's fun, but it's light. If it were prose instead of a graphic novel, it might take 40 pages to tell this story. Which doesn't make it bad, just slight.

 

I was shocked to see a different artist credited with this one -- maybe my memory is shakier than I realized, but man...I thought it was the same stuff. Gilpin did a great job keeping the look the same. Yeah, cartoonish -- but it fits the story. It's dynamic, eye catching and fun -- just what Iko's story should be.

 

I'm glad I read these two, but I hope Meyer walks away from this world now to focus on whatever's next. Read this if you read the first. If you're curious about what happens after <b>Winter</b>, these two are a fun way to scratch that itch, but totally unessential.


<a href="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/2018-library-love-challenge-review-link-ups/" target="_blank"><img class="aligncenter" style="border:none;height:auto;width:300px;" src="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2018LibraryLoveChallenge07-400x400-angelsgp.jpg" alt="2018 Library Love Challenge" /></a>

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/02/wires-and-nerve-volume-2-by-marissa-meyer-stephen-gilpin
March 2018: What I Read/Listened to/Wrote

So, here's what happened here in March. It wasn't a great month -- lots of stuff at work distracted me, some sickness, and whatnot threw me off. There were 7 books I didn't get to that I'd either planned on or committed to read. Neither of which is something I enjoy doing. Hopefully April is all about catching up.

 

Books/Novels/Novellas Read/Listened to:

Mr. Neutron Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance Burn Bright
4 Stars 4 Stars 3.5 Stars
Greek Mythology: Beyond Mount Olympus Nils Cuts His Nails – The Scissors Game Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32
2 1/2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
My Little Eye Vernon the Vegetarian Lion Tricks for Free
4 1/2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
Volume 9: Sermons to the Church Everything is Normal Skyjack
5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
An Ill-Fated Sky Secular Jewish Culture Wires and Nerve, Volume 2
4 1/2 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars
Good Guys            
3.5 Stars            

 

Still Reading:

Christianity at the Crossroads            

 

Reviews Posted:

 

Book Challenge Progress:

Angel's Guilty Pleasures

Wires and Nerves, Volume 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate (link forthcoming)

Good Guys by Steve Brust (link forthcoming)

Mr. Neutron by Joe Ponepinto

Nils Cuts His Nails – The Scissors Game by Nurit Zvolon, Rotem Lots-Zaiden Vernon the Vegetarian Lion by John Hughson, Ali Smith (link forthcoming -- I thought I'd written it up by now)

Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet Kid by Sergey Grechishkin

Secular Jewish Culture by Yaakov Malkin, ed.

Mr. Neutron by Joe Ponepinto

Greek Mythology by in60Learning

Nils Cuts His Nails – The Scissors Game by Nurit Zvolon, Rotem Lots-Zaiden

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan, Lenny Wen

Vernon the Vegetarian Lion by John Hughson, Ali Smith (link forthcoming -- I thought I'd written it up by now) Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet Kid by Sergey Grechishkin

Secular Jewish Culture by Yaakov Malkin, ed.

Nothing here . . . whoops. I've gotta get moving on this one.

 

How was your month?

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/03/31/march-2018-report
Saturday Miscellany - 3/31/18

Odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

Lastly, I'd like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to oddandbookish, Samantha Loves To Read, irevuo and factfictionfake for following the blog this week.

 

 

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/03/31/saturday-miscellany-3-31-18
Review
4.5 Stars
A return to Sassanian Iran with all the magic and wonder of the predecessor.
An Ill-Fated Sky - Darrell Drake

This book releases this weekend, go pre-order now (well, not now ... wait until you read this).
--

Honour, at all costs.

 

So steadfast in its pursuit, Tirdad had never stopped to consider that anything that had to be done at all costs, shouldn’t be done at all. For all his talk of moderation, he had never thought to apply that to honour.

 

Only now did it dawn on him.

 

I probably can't get away with just telling you all to go buy and read this -- and the first, too, if you haven't. So I won't try. But that's the takeaway from this.

 

I'd imagine it's quite a trick taking a very carefully plotted stand-alone novel and turning it into the first of a trilogy, and I'm often nervous about reading something like that -- not so much that I wouldn't enjoy the new book, but that it'll take something away from my appreciation for/memory of the stand-alone. Drake has succeeded in making the book feel like something he'd planned all along and a natural outgrowth of the first novel. I can't bring myself to talk about the events of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot in any more detail than I can the events of this book, which might make some of this awkward, but let's give it a go...

 

Tirdad's cousin has tried to resurrect herself, but the way she died prevented it, instead her memories, her abilities have attached themselves to Tirdad's sword. He's now a powerful planet-reckoner (who doesn't really understand how to use his newfound power). Where some would use this as an opportunity for laughs, Drake keeps things grim and shows what happens when someone wields impossibly great power without the requisite knowledge -- disaster ensues. After healing from his wounds, Tirdad sets out to understand just what happened to his cousin, what drove her to the extremes she took. Along the way, he helps and old friend and the King of Kings wage war, has some adventures, kills supernatural creatures that far outclass him, and tries to move on with his life.

 

A good chunk of this book is just about understanding the last novel -- what really happened, what motivated the actions of all the major characters. But it's not just a rehash, nor a revision of the book. It could probably even be read by someone who hadn't read A Star-Reckoner’s Lot with little difficulty. But all that is in the midst of the adventuring -- and the plot turns and twists enough to keep you guessing as much as Tirdad. This time, the turns weren't quite as extreme as before, but they were still jarring -- and honest, he doesn't trick you here, everything is justified and supported by what came before.

 

There's a sense in which this novel isn't the fantasy adventure, but a profile of a hero. Or at least a good man. Not just any hero, but a particular one, Tirdad, the ways that his life, his choices, his family and friends shaped him into the person he is and what that looks like action. Particularly when it comes to the way he treats those he loves -- and his enemies.

 

Tirdad, of course, isn't the only character in the book. The half-div/half-human we met previously as Waray is back, too. When writing about the first book, I'd said: "The banter, the bickering, and friendship between Tirdad and Waray is one of those things that will attract you to this book" -- that that's the core relationship of this novel. What was strong before is now at the forefront -- and the reader wins. I loved Waray going into this, and love her all the more now as I've got a much better understanding of her past and what makes her tick.

 

The ending features one of my favorite cliff-hangers in quite a while, to boot.

From start to finish, Drake immerses you in this wonderful world he's created, with a magic system and mythology so foreign to most of us that it's great to dive in and experience. The characters are rich and well-drawn, and you feel for them all.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from the author in exchange for this post -- I appreciate him saving me the money, but it didn't alter what I said about this book.

 

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/03/30/an-ill-fated-sky-by-darrell-drake