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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken
Tarquin Hall
4/5 stars

While at an important dinner, Puri witnesses a guest die after eating butter chicken.  As he investigates, he becomes embroiled in the world of professional cricket, and sports gambling.  Then, to his surprise, Mummy's past becomes the key to the solution.

At first, it seemed that this mystery would be bogged down with uninteresting gambling conspiracies, but then Hall added in modern history, giving the novel a different--and enthralling--turn.  Puri, Mummy, and the rest of the cast are appealing and alive, and Hall's prose is engaging. I was skeptical at first, but this turned out to be a worthy addition to the Vish Puri series.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Wrap Up

Books Read:
The Many Conditions of Love by Farahad Zama   4/5 stars  (my review here)

Rhododendron Pie by Margery Sharp  3/5 stars
I'm ambivalent about this one; it was great at times and just okay at others.  I do want to read more of her adult books, though, after having read this one.

Marling Hall by Angela Thirkell  4/5 stars
In this witty, sometimes snarky, country house novel, Thirkell balances light romance with depictions of life during WWII.  It's charming, read-out-loud funny, and thoroughly entertaining.

Audio Books Completed:
Damsel in Distress by Carola Dunn  4/5 stars
Daisy's friend, Phillip, finds himself kidnapped along with the young heiress he wishes to marry.  Being set free, he enlists the aid of Daisy and their friends to locate and save his beloved.  This is a very improbable book, and the culprit is obvious from the start, but it's still lively and enjoyable as has been the series thus far.

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis
As I said last month, I'm too emotionally attached to these books to be critical of them.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier   3/5 stars
I'm ambivalent about this one, too.  Du Maurier is a favorite author, and I somehow hadn't read this one.  Parts were brilliant, but it was too long in some places and didn't build up quite enough suspense.

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
See above.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake  5/5 stars  (my review here)
This is a reread.

The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" by C.S. Lewis

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake 3/5 stars (my review here)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne
Kendare Blake
3/5 stars

On the island of Fennbrin, queens are always born as triplets.  These queens are endowed with magical gifts and are trained from children to use them.  Only one can be made THE queen, though, and at the age of 16 they begin a ritual that will end with only one survivor.  This second volume of a trilogy follows the three Queens during Ascension Year, as each attempts to kill the others to win the crown. 

The characters of the Queens develop further in this volume with distinct personalities, and some of the minor characters are also well-drawn. They are all three engaging in their way, and the reader will continue to be interested in their futures.  Blake writes engagingly, and moves easily from one character to the next, but overall this book is not as thrilling as it's prequel-- mainly because One Dark Throne is not as believable as Three Dark Crowns was.  It also moved slower and seemed longer than it needed to be.   The cliff-hanger, unlike in the first book, came as no surprise, and it's fairly easy to guess where the plot is going from here--again, unlike in Three Dark Crowns.  This is not necessarily a disappointing book, but it is certainly not as strong as the first.



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bollywood

Bollywood: The Films!  The Songs!  The Stars!
D.K. Publishing
5/5 stars

This fantastic book is over 300 pages of full-color photos, stills and reproductions of movie posters. It breaks down the history of Hindi Indian cinema into eras, and in these sections it expands on the important actors, directors, songs, and films of that era. For some of the films, it provides pages of information, including a time line of the plot. It also discusses the prevalent character types and themes of these various eras. This is not a book intended to be an introduction to Bollywood films, but rather an in depth guide for those deeply interested in the genre. It is an exceptional book that will take hours to peruse, and is entertaining and informative all the way through.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Many Conditions of Love by Farahad Zama

The Many Conditions of Love
Farahad Zama
4/5 stars

In this novel, sequel to the Marriage Bureau for Rich People, Aruna is happily married and living in her husband's home.  When his sister returns there to await the birth of her baby, things begin to fall apart for Aruna and her marriage.  Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Ali have reconciled with their son, Rehman, but he is secretly in a relationship of which they would not approve.  Both Rehman and Aruna have difficult times and tough decisions ahead of them.

While not as great as Zama's first novel (my review here), this is a delightful book that continues the stories of his characters.  There is not as much information on India and Indian traditions as in the Marriage Bureau, and it is not as charming, but, it is still a solidly good read.  Zama draws the reader into the relationships without being overly emotional, and writes well so that one is eager to see what will happen.  I'm looking forward to reading the next volume of this series.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October Wrap Up

Books Read:
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama  5/5 stars (my review here)

Brampton Wick by Elizabeth Fair  4/5 stars (my review here)

Audio Books Completed:
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie  4/5 stars
This is the first mystery to feature Miss Marple, and is an intelligent and interesting one.  Even though it was a reread, I was kept guessing, often "knowing" who it must be, and having to change my mind.

The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
I can't rate this series, as I am emotionally attached to these books.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
(See above.)

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King  3/5 stars (my review here)

The Storm King by Brendan Duffy  4/5 stars (my review here)

Did Not Finish:
Monsieur Beaucaire by Booth Tarkington
The plot was great, but Tarkington's way of writing Beaucaire's English was extremely distracting and I just simply could not finish it.  I read the summary on Wikipedia; it's a great plot if one can get past Tarkington's style.

The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler
This is the sixth in the Bryant and May series, and it starts off promising.  At around 2/3 of the way through, the murderer is unmasked satisfactorily, but then the story moves into a city-wide conspiracy theory that I just couldn't fully believe.  None of this series are completely plausible, but this one just went too far for me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Storm King by Brendan Duffy

The Storm King
Brendan Duffy
anticipated publication date February 2018
4/5 stars

Nate McHale survives a tragic accident in his youth, and it's effect continues through his high school and college years.  Now, 14 years later, he's a respected surgeon and a family man, having left the past behind.  Then, skeletal remains are found in his hometown of Greystone Lake, and he returns for the funeral, and to discover the murderer,   This reawakens his past with a vengeance.

The Storm King starts slow and somewhat confusingly.  The reader follows McHale's return to Greystone Lake without any knowledge of the past.  Then, Duffy begins to weave the past and present stories together and the novel becomes enthralling.  Duffy keeps the reader guessing, both as to the identity of the killer, and to where the story is actually going.  The narrative flows quickly and pulls the reader along.  (Though, I must say that the last 80 pages or so seemed too long, and at a slower pace, and detracted from what should have been a dynamic ending.)

The main character is not actually McHale, but the town itself.  Duffy creates a history, and even a mythology of sorts, for Greystone Lake, which is one of the best parts of the story.  It's not often that location plays such an integral part of the plot, and this is well done and effective.

Overall, this is a fine suspense novel, engaging and entertaining.  If suffers from a rambling ending, but otherwise makes a great, quick read.