104 in 2014: 14. War and law

Still catching up on last year’s journal – here are the next 10 titles and a bit of musing, or possibly ranting…

#131Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics cover Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics GN by Chris Duffy (Read 11/11/2014) What better day than Remembrance Day to discover this evocative collection? Giving graphic form to words from some of the Trench Poets of World War I, this is an accessible way to discover a range of works and decide which poet’s you are interested in reading more of. The artists have been candid about their struggles to do justice to the poet’s experience, and their notes are also worth reading. It is a book guaranteed to make you think.

#132Delia's Shadow cover Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer (Read 12/11/2014) Less with the thinking, now. I found this historical mystery/paranormal thriller/romance very hard to get into. Not because it required a willing suspension of disbelief with the main character being haunted to return to San Francisco nine years after the 1906 earthquake. I have not issues with the whole “I see dead people” thing. The story just just seemed to move at a really glacial pace. Really, really, really glacial. So much so, it was an effort of will to finish, rather than abandon it. Some of the writing is lovely, but the story was very straightforward, without much mystery or suspense – just going through the motions until the serial killer gets caught with the help of some ghosts. Still, it was a debut, so I hope for better things in future from an author with a nice eye for description.

#133Fables, Vol. 19: Snow White cover Fables Vol. 19: Snow White GN by Bill Willingham (Read 13/11/2014) I did NOT see that coming. I’ve been keenly following the Fables for a little while now (glut reading the back issues until I caught up with published items and then impatiently waiting for the next one to come out) The events of this issue run parallel with the last, Cubs in Toyland. I was intrigued by that issue, wondering where the series would go after the end of both the Adversary and Mr Dark plots. This issue, though, fell flat for me. I’m not going to start throwing around spoilers, I’ll just say that I was bemused by the first storyline about Bufkin, and incredulous by the second one about Snow White’s former beau. So I’m sulking, now.

#134Oliver + S Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children cover Oliver + S Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children by Liesl Gibson (Read 14/11/2014) If you live in a climate that allows small children to wear mittens and capes and similar adorable accessories then there are a couple of lovely projects in this book. If, like me, you are basking in the sub-tropics, not so much. Cest la vie.

#135Irresistible Bags cover Irresistible Bags by Marie Claire (Read 14/11/2014) Mmmm, but everyone needs bags, right? Especially nice sturdy totes to carry books to the library and home from the library and to the library and home with the next lot. Rinse and repeat. I like to sew bags. They don’t use a lot of fabric. They are functional and beautiful. They are relatively quick and simple to make, meaning achievable rather than a project I lose interest in halfway. Perfect, really. And this book has a bag pattern for everyone.

#136Terms & Conditions cover Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy (Read 15/11/2014) I enjoyed this book enormously, and it’s awesome for a debut novel. The main character, Frank, wakes up after a car accident and has no memory of who he is. Over the course of the book he pieces his life, and his history, back together. He discovers he is a corporate lawyer, responsible for the fine print in contracts. Does he even want his old life back? Or can he make a new one? The book contains a lot of footnotes. I mean, even the footnotes have footnotes, in ever decreasing font size. I know some people find footnotes in novels annoying, or distracting, but here they are used to perfect comedic timing. The book made me laugh, even though it deals with topics that include modern relationships, trust and betrayal, the ethics of weapons manufacturing and how your family shapes you. The HR corporate jargon stuff alone is hilarious – it’s funny because it’s true.

#137When Autumn Leaves cover When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster (Read 16/11/2014) The framing story for this collection of stories all set in the same small town is that Autumn, the resident witch, needs to move on, and to do so she has to choose her successor. I’d been led to expect something a little bit like Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden or Practical Magic, or something by Sarah Addison Allen. Instead, it’s full of vague New Age mysticism that I found annoying, and bits of stories that don’t go anywhere, because none of them seem to relate meaningfully to what follows. It’s impossible to give a hoot about any of the characters – they never feel real enough. It also boasts some of the most dreadful dialogue that I have read in a long time. It’s so bad it almost gets the prize for “worst aspect of the writing”, but I’m going to give that to the insanely bad, cliche use of characters looking in a mirror and then describing their soft, honey-coloured tresses (etc, etc) in an internal monologue so the reader knows what they look like.  Oh, as we all do…Thought has obviously been put into the structure of the book with the stories referencing different elements and Neopagan wheel of the year feast days, but just not enough work into the actual writing to make me want to recommend it to anyone.

#138The Bone Key cover The Bone Key by Sarah Monette (Read 18/11/2014) I re-read this collection of short stories about archivist and reluctant occultist Kyle Murchison Booth because I acquired my own copy and had to read it before tucking it away for reading again at some later date. You can go here if you want to read me enthusing a lot about this title. I highly recommend it.

Nov 05, 2014#139The Witcher, Volume 1: House of Glass cover The Witcher, Volume 1: House of Glass GN by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio (Read 21/11/2014) Here’s an example of me judging a book by its cover. Or, more accurately, grabbing a graphic novel because Mike Mignola did the cover and then being disappointed by the art, and the story inside. The eponymous Witcher is from a popular RPG video game, which in turn is based on the character from the best-selling novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m going to have a look at one of the novels, because there was so much potential for this to be a good story – I rather suspect it’s lost something in its circuitous translation to the graphic novel format.

#140don't point that thing at me cover Don’t Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli (Read 25/11/2014) What a disreputable and dissolute character The Hon. Charlie Mortdecai is. He’s a dodgy art dealer who gets involved in crime and espionage at an international level, and given that he’s a selfish coward and a drunk, doesn’t cope very well. The whole thing has a lighthearted, very P.G. Wodehouse feel to it, but unlike Bertie Wooster bumbling around with spare cats and misplaced pearls, Mortdecai is being tortured by corrupt detectives and killing people who were hoping to kill him. Which makes the lightheartedness a little off. It ends very abruptly, with a cliffhanger, so best to have the next volume to hand (or borrow the collected trilogy) or you’ll be cranky.

I never doubted that I would reach our official 2 per week reading challenge of 104 in 2014. The question for me, at the end of November, was would I make a 3 per week average of 156 books read? We shall see. More from me soon.