Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pets and Masters in Space: Part 1: The First Voyage –by Elfa Todari

Fiction / Fantasy  

122 pages / 1093 KB
4 Stars

This is one of the more original books of this genre I've read in a long time. So why the 4 stars instead of 5? Two reasons: 1.  Todari really, really needs a copy editor—I was thrown out of the story by bad cutting/pasting of words, and 2. The ending wasn't an ending. This is going to be a series of at least two books (and I have no idea when #2 is coming out, but not soon enough!) but book #1 should still be a complete book.

The 3 main characters in this book are great fun. The human goes to work for an alien and leaves Earth behind her forever. She is allowed to bring her pet cat on the space ship. The aliens are telepathic, and so is the cat. What our heroine doesn't know is, she, too, is a pet.

This book is just the first part of the journey. There is fodder here for a whole series, and I hope to eventually read them. Great fun.

The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #8–by Louise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

384 pages / 1711 KB
4 Stars

I loved this book! I have been in love with the Gregorian Chants since I was a kid, and I love how Ms Penny used them as the background of this novel. Because I know little of monastic orders, I could suspend my disbelief and just read, and enjoy this story.

That said, I must also state I found the ending somewhat abrupt and less than satisfactory, hence the 4 stars instead of 5. There were unanswered questions asked in this book that I hope will be answered in the next one. I am still reeling from the tragedy in the warehouse, and now I must contend, at least until I read #9.

When I read fiction, I want to feel better when I finish the book than when I started it. I do not have that with this book. I will continue the series, because she has made me care for the characters, and I want to get all the loose ends tied up in a pretty ribbon by the end.

A Trick of the Light: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #7 –byLouise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

350 pages / 1209 KB
5 Stars

Clara Morrow has finally realized her life's goal – she has a showing of her art in the Musee in Montreal, and a gathering of friends and fellow artists back at her home in Three Pines. Unbeknownst to her, her childhood best friend forever and college roommate and worst enemy forever has decided not only to crash the party, but have the temerity to be killed in Clara's garden.

So we are back in Three Pines, with all the usual suspects for this book. We look at Clara's art and the play of light and dark. We look at the same play of light and dark in people.

A thoroughly delightful story with thoroughly delightful characters. Well, most of them. A couple are, well, less than stellar.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #6 –by Louise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

401 pages / 1282 KB
5 Stars

At the chance of giving away some of the book, please be aware this may be a spoiler alert.

I read book #1, and then went to this book. Don't ask me why I skipped books 2-5, I haven't got a good reason. I will go back to the others, in order if possible. It is in Ms. Penny's favor that the books are self contained, even though part of a series. It is also in her favor, as a writer, that I get so emotionally involved with her stories, her characters. She does not invite me in to sit on the sofa and watch as her characters entertain me, she grabs me by the hand and pulls me in to play right alongside Gamache and company. And, so, by the time I finished this book, I was sobbing uncontrollably.

There are a lot of flashbacks in this book, and they are not easily recognized, but once you figure out the first one or two, you shouldn't have a problem with the rest.

Gamache finds himself in Quebec City during its winter carnival, recouping from a trauma we get in flashbacks, and helping to solve a murder in a museum all the while getting troubling letters from Three Pines. People I met in Book #1 are in pain, and I suffered right along with them.

If you're a history buff, you'll enjoy the heck out of this book, I think. Even if, like me, you know next to nothing about the history of Quebec (let alone Canada), by the time you finish you'll know enough history to raise giggles when you go to Quebec and announce your ignorance. Then, again, you may become inspired enough to do some actually reading on the topic.

Good writing, great characters, marvelous story. Buy it, read it, review it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Daughters of Men --by Brenda Leifso

Poetry / Literature  

119 pages / 348 KB
5 Stars

This is a "full meal deal" of poetry, and frankly, I wish I'd written some of them!

Leifso plays with format and with style, and comes up with appetizers (follow the lines...), with perfectly paired libations (who asked you to coil the truth), to entre (Heavenly Father), to a dessert of perfect proportion (when does lament become prayer).

I thought I would read this as my bedtime book. Read a poem or two, turn out the light, and think about what I'd read as I fell asleep. I would think about how she used words, used phrases, used line breaks instead of punctuation. I would think about the images she conjured. Alas, by the time I turned out the light, I'd read the whole book.  Yes, it is that good. And it will go on my shelf and be pulled down and reread, perhaps in smaller pieces, but then, again, perhaps when I'm starving, and I'll read it straight through, again.

Daughters of Men is a powerful book, and I hope we see many more books by Brenda Leifso. (And I'm so jealous she wrote these, and not me!)

Still Life --Louise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

321 pages / 1187 KB
5 Stars

A perfect cozy to cuddle up with! Agatha Christie would be proud to have written this book.

This is the first in a series, and introduces us to the chief character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, and takes place in the little village just outside Quebec, Three Pines. I've been informed that one should not spend their time looking for the village on a map—it doesn't exist anywhere but the writer's imagination. Drat!

If you want lots of violence, gunfights, car chases in your mysteries, keep on walking, ignore this delightful book. If you want, as the cover says, a "cerebral, wise, and compassionate..." mystery, then stop, pick this one off the shelf (physical or virtual), and enjoy.

The characters are well-developed, interesting, and for the most part, likable. A school of red herrings swims in and out of the scenes, but they do not swim up and bite you, or otherwise demand your attention. They are there, but quiet and unobtrusive, as a proper fish should be.

This is the debut novel of the series, and I can hardly wait to read the rest. Several are now out, so I don't have to wait too long.

A perfect book for the beach, or a winter's night by the fire. A great escape.