Sunday, February 26, 2012

Echo Park (audio book) by Michael Connelly, read by Len Cariou

Once again, I've started a series significantly further in than I'd like - this is the 12th book in Connelly's Harry Bosch series. I could tell there were some character relationships I might have had a better appreciation for if I had read the earlier books, but I thought character relationships were explained well enough that I didn't feel lost.


Harry Bosch is now part of the Open-unsolved Unit. As someone who believes strongly in "the way of the true detective," he feels strongly about every case he is unable to wrap up. One particular case, involving the murder of a young woman early in his career, has come back to haunt him.

When the DA contacts him about interviewing a man, Raynard Waits, who has confessed to her murder, Bosch is both reluctant to get involved and unable to turn away. He's reluctant, because one of the conditions of the confession and information about the location of the body (and many others) is that Waits won't get the death sentence. Although helping a killer avoid death leaves a bad taste in Bosch's mouth, Bosch agrees to help, because the victims might not otherwise get any justice at all.

Things don't go as planned, and it's not long before Bosch suspects that someone involved in the case is dirty. Bosch somehow has to figure out what's true and what isn't before more people die.


I almost quit listening to this book during, I think, disc 4, because it looked like things were going to go directions I didn't particularly want to deal with in audio book form. Waits had just described what he'd done to the victim from one of Bosch's old cases (one word: necrophilia). He ended by saying that was just the start of what he'd done, and that what he had to say about how he'd dealt with his other victims would be worse. If that were true, I didn't know that I wanted to hear about it all.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gosick (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll

This series is 24 episodes long.

I'll try to keep from including too many spoilers, but the one thing I will say, because I know I would liked to have known it (it might have lessened my fear of watching the final few episodes): although some tragic things do happen, the ending is not completely tragic. The absolute worst stuff that I feared would happen did not happen.


This series takes place primarily during 1924 and 1925 in the fictional European country of Saubure. Kujo is a Japanese foreign exchange student at the prestigious St. Marguerite Academy in Saubure. Although he's a nice guy, he has problems making friends, due to his fellow students having nicknamed him the "Black Reaper." His nickname comes from a famous local ghost story - ghost and fairy stories are incredibly popular in the area.

While visiting the academy's gorgeous library, Kujo comes across a beautiful, doll-like, and brilliant girl named Victorique. Over the course of the series, Kujo assists Victorique with solving various mysteries, and the two become close friends, with lots of hints that they like each other as more than just friends. Kujo learns that Victorique is basically imprisoned at the academy, only able to leave when her father, via her older half-brother, allows her to leave. Victorique's father plans to use her as a tool for his and Saubure's survival in the coming second World War (which ends up taking place earlier than our World War II, so I'd call this an alternate history series).

As Victorique unravels more mysteries about her mother's past and the pasts of several powerful people in Saubure, the country moves closer and closer to being drawn into the next great war. Despite the strength of their bond, Victorique and Kujo may not be able to stay together forever.


This is the third time I've tried to write this review. I keep failing to properly communicate how much I enjoyed this show without giving too much away. I'm still not entirely satisfied with what I've written, but it's better than my other attempts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pandemonium (graphic novel) written by Chris Wooding, illustrated by Cassandra Diaz

This is one of the ARCs I got at ALA Midwinter. The book's release date was January 1, 2012, according to Amazon.


Seifer Tombchewer is captain of his local skullball team (think Quidditch, except the players have wings instead of brooms and are trying to hit the ball with their heads). He's popular and the local girls love him. His father thinks he should be happy in their isolated little village, but Seifer can't help but want more. He wants to get out and see the world he only knows through his crazy grandfather's books.

Seifer gets his chance when he's knocked unconscious and brought to the palace. There, he is told that Prince Talon, Lord Defender of the Realm, has gone missing, and that he happens to look exactly like the prince. In order to draw the prince's kidnappers out of hiding, Seifer is supposed to pretend to be him. And if the prince is never found, Seifer may be stuck pretending to be Prince Talon for the rest of his life.

Prince Talon's job is to ensure the stability of the kingdom. His absence caused the kingdom's enemies to become bolder, and even Talon's apparent return isn't enough to quiet things down. While hiding his true identity, Seifer somehow has to deal with assassination and invasion attempts. Luckily, he befriends Lady Carcassa Malefica (Cassie), who protects him with her magika and even teaches him how to use it a little himself.


Maybe I didn't look in the right place, but I haven't been able to find any confirmation on Chris Wooding's site that Pandemonium is the first volume of a series. I hope it's not intended to be a standalone volume, because it really doesn't work as one. By the end of the volume, Prince Talon still hasn't been found, there are unanswered questions about Seifer's origins, there's more political unrest on the horizon, Seifer and Cassie's romance is still in its early stages, and Prince Talon's fiancee has just come home.

According to Amazon, Pandemonium is intended for readers ages 8 and up. I have a feeling this book would work better for readers who are closer to 8 years old than, say, their later teens or adulthood. As an adult, I found the humor to be a tad too goofy when mixed with all the political unrest. I would have liked it if the balance had tipped more in favor of seriousness, with the humor used to keep things from getting too dark. Instead, there was something over-the-top on almost every page: a giant house cat that wanted to eat Seifer, midgets that liked to cosh people, the Big-Face plague (it's exactly what it sounds like), knowledge of another culture demonstrated via loud burping, etc.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Murder Room (audio book) by P.D. James, read by Charles Keating

I had never read or listened to anything by P.D. James before listening to this. I had no idea, at the time, that this was the 12th book in James' Adam Dalgliesh series.


The Dupayne is a tiny museum dedicated to the interwar years, with an entire room, dubbed the "Murder Room," devoted to the murders that occurred during that time. The future of the Dupayne depends upon all of its trustees signing a new lease. Two of the three trustees want the Dupayne to continue to exist and are perfectly happy to sign the lease. However, the third trustee refuses to sign. If the others can't convince him to change his mind, the museum will have to close.

Then that third trustee is found murdered, burned alive in his car. The murder appears to have been committed by someone copying one of the murders showcased in the Murder Room. Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are brought in to investigate. They slowly tease apart the complicated relationships and secrets of the victim and anyone who had anything to do with him. Then another copycat murder occurs.


I realized as I was listening to this that it's been a long time since I last read or listened to a murder mystery where the murder didn't occur early on in the book. The Murder Room required a bit of patience on my part – rather than killing someone off right away, as I expected, James first laid out the cast of characters and their relationships with each other and the museum. It was interesting, but I found myself wishing I were reading the book, rather than listening to it, because I had a hard time remembering who all the characters were and which scenes they had been featured in. Things got easier to follow after the first murder, however.

Although I did find myself getting a tad impatient for someone to be murdered, I found all the characters and their relationships fascinating. The museum was an insular little world, and the people involved in it all had private lives and secrets underneath the public personas they showed their coworkers and family members. I liked speculating over which bit of information would turn out to play a vital part in the murder.

My Lady's Service (e-short story) by Marie-Elise Bassett

[As I was finishing this post and looking it over for errors, I noticed that SBTB had a new post inviting people to recommend lesbian romance. It looks like I'll be putting together another TBR list. I like to read outside my usual box sometimes, but this work was too short for the kind of relationship and emotional development that I prefer. I'm sure at least some of the commenters' recommendations will be more to my taste.]

This is the second work in the author's Songs of Sappho series. I was going to call this a novella, but it's really more of a short story. I ended up changing my "novellas" tag to "novellas/short stories," because I didn't want to have a separate "short stories" tag and be faced with deciding whether or not something is a novella or a short story in the future. Sometimes, it's hard enough figuring out whether something is better tagged as a "book" or as a "novella."

This story is 8,000 words long, which comes out to 25 pages on my Nook (20 pages, if you don't count the first few pages with the cover, copyright info, etc.).


In this historical erotic short story, Lady Kate is a 19-year-old who is being strongly encouraged by her parents to marry the elderly Lord Brougham. Kate doesn't love him, and he makes her skin crawl, but the practical part of her can see the sense in marrying him. As old as he is, she would likely be a wealthy widow soon.

However practical marrying him might be, it's still not a nice future to contemplate. Kate finds herself thinking more and more about her pretty new maid, Hannah, instead. After a surprising and enjoyable sexual encounter with Hannah, Kate feels bold enough to confess her nervousness about her future wedding night with Lord Brougham, and Hannah offers to help her prepare for it.


I can't remember how this work first came to my attention. I think it might have been a “featured book” on the main page of ARe at one point. I saw that it was the second in a series, but, from what I could tell, none of the works in the series had to be read in order. I admit to having a bit of a soft spot for stories involving master-servant romances/pseudo-romances, so I thought this story involving the relationship between a lady and her maid might be a good fit for me.