November 2010 book log

Book 74) Jennifer Ashley — Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage

Victorian romance, second of a quartet. Logged with brief notes on 6 November.

Book 75) Edward Marston — The Frost Fair

Fourth in a mystery series set in Restoration London. Logged with brief notes on 14 November.

Book 76) MC Beaton — Death of a Perfect Wife

Fourth in the Hamish Macbeth mystery series, and the last I’ll be reading. Logged with reasons why on 14 November.

Book 77) Erich Maria Remarque — All Quiet On The Western Front

Logged with notes on November 14, Remembrance Sunday

Book 78) Sam Storyteller — Your Face Is Turned (re-read)

Logged on November 14, previously reviewed on 12 April

Book 79) Georgette Heyer – No Wind of Blame

Logged with brief notes on 21 November.

Book 80) Joseph Green – The Loafers of Refuge

Battery on my Palm died and took my notes with it. A study of the settlement of a pastoral world, and the interaction between settlers from Earth and the humanoid natives. The natives are low tech, but have psi powers — which can be taught to humans who are willing to take the trouble to learn. It’s an interesting and mostly thoughtful read, but has some strange blind spots.

Book 81) Sharyn McCrumb – Zombies of the Gene Pool

Mystery set amongst science fiction fandom, and a sequel to Bimbos of the Death Sun, although you don’t need to have read the latter first. The mystery isn’t too bad, but McCrumb’s attitude to fandom makes me wonder who ran over her puppy. Yes, the sort of people she’s talking about did and do exist (I’ve met some of them), but she’s presenting the extreme as the norm. I also prefer mysteries where in theory at least you could work out the answer from clues along the way, and I’m not convinced that this one works on that level.

Book 82) Laurie R King — The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

First of a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, in which a young Edwardian woman by the name of Mary Russell literally trips over a man studying bees on the Sussex downs, recognises him as the retired detective, Sherlock Holmes, and contrives to get taken on as his apprentice, largely by virtue of being just as observant as and even less well socialised than Holmes.

Yes, it’s just as much of an author wish-fulfillment fantasy ala Mary-Sue as it sounds, at least for the first few chapters. I kept reading anyway, on the grounds that if it was that much of a Mary-Sue all the way through it probably wouldn’t have been a commercial success. Fortunately it does improve. Fortunately, because there were four of the series in The Works that day, and having bought the lot on a whim I’d have been most disappointed if they’d turned out to be too annoying to read more than one. I think part of the problem is that it’s first person POV from a POV that is *supposed* to be like an adolescent and particularly irritating version of Holmes, which can grate very badly when what your subconscious expects is Doctor Watson’s narrative voice. Taking that into account, at its best this book works well as a Holmes pastiche.

****

And I started reading an ebook of a Jeeves and Wooster collection (Cybook isn’t to hand to check the title) when I was sitting on a train last week and couldn’t find what I was supposed to be reading next, which is something from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. Bus book this week is Val McDermid’s The Grave Tattoo, which I’m unlikely to finish this week as it’s a long one.

I’m not going to break 100 books this year unless there’s an outbreak of reading over Christmas, but it’ll be closer to 100 than to 50.

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