Blog Archives

Soulless – Review

soullessCurrently on Loan from the Library:

The Long War by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Bad Religion by: Ross Douthat

Other Books I’m Reading:

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

Directive 51 by: John Barnes

Soulless by: Gail Carriger

I admit it. I’m a pretty opinionated person. It is not often that I don’t know exactly how to review a book. Usually I can point to the thing I liked, the things that worked, the parts that were a total disaster. I’m not actually sure I can do any of that with Gail Carriger’s book Soulless. But I’m going to try.

I came across Soulless because of my husband. He was reading an article about new genre twists and asked me if I’d ever heard of Gail Carriger. I hadn’t. How embarrassing. So I popped her book on my to read list, and proceeded to try and get my hands on a copy. It does not exist in my local library lending system. I hadn’t been able to find it at any local books store. It took months, and I finally broke down and bought my copy from an dealer for one cent plus shipping.

Leaving aside the fact that I generally mock the whole, the Undead fall in love genera (sorry Joss) almost as much as I mock the Jesus is my boyfriend genera, there are problems with this book. Stilted dialogue, both internal and external. Scenes I’m not certain make sense. Stock characters that are trotted in because the author needs a place holder. Plenty of romance novel type scenes of corporeal exuberance. Choppy plot. Hit and miss descriptions of people and places. In short, it is not what I look for in a Steampunk novel. Or any novel really.

And yet. And yet.

It’s as if Gail Carriger sat down and did exactly what they tell you to do in writing classes. Write what you like. I think she had a ball writing this. It’s funny, and quirky. Sure it’s a bit silly in places, but it’s fun. And wait for it…….. I enjoyed it.

Obviously I will have to research her work further. Purely for scientific reasons you understand.

Favorite Scene: Queen Victoria randomly shows up.

Favorite Scene to Mock: Let’s have sex on the dungeon floor before the madmen kill us.

Favorite Quote: “These are my monocular cross-magnification lenses with spectra-modifier attachment, and they are invaluable. I will thank you not to mock them so openly.”

Enjoyability: I’m going four and a half stars on this. Definitely a guilty pleasure read.

Where to read this book: Alone. On your e-reader. Possibly in the dark.

Further reading: Started Directive 51. It’s a good day to be me.

The Forever Queen

foreverqueenCurrently on Loan from the Library:

The Forever Queen by: Helen Hollick

The Long War by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Bad Religion by: Ross Douthat

Other Books I’m Reading:

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year. I was sad about it. Yet, it turned out to be a good thing. There were sick children, and car repairs, and last minute travel. Basically if rocks fell and everybody died I wouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised. While all that was going on, I thought I’d go on a many worlds kick to round out the Finity review.

That turned out to be not the best of ideas. I started The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. However, I didn’t finish. Dick’s actual life is always more interesting to me than his writing. I also started The Long War by Pratchett and Baxter. Got halfway through that before putting it down. There was some question in my mind about series, and maybe the last book was so bad because they were just setting up their universe. Nope. In fact, if you want a full review of The Long War just look at my April 15th 2013 review of The Long Earth and change out the titles in your head.

What could make this all better? Obviously. Vikings. The Forever Queen is about Emma of Normandy. Wife of English king Æthelred the Unready. Isn’t that a great name? He was unready too. Mostly, unready for the Vikings that were ravaging his lands. So his wife Emma has to step up and try to get something, anything done. Which is how she ends up married to the Danish invader, and new king, Cnut the Great.

I’ve got to give Helen Hollick her props. She is writing about an era with not a lot of reference material, and some extremely confusing names, and she’s doing it well. While the book does drag around the death of Æthelred, making the reader wish that Emma would just take care of business already. Still, mostly the plot moves along at an occasionally dry but steady clip.

There are some tragic scenes that are not depicted in overly gory detail. So far less gory than most Viking tales. There is a very upsetting scene of Emma getting beaten by Æthelred that may be difficult for some readers.

Hollick also explores the origins of King Harthancunt, Emma’s son by Cnut, Edward the Confessor one of Emma’s sons by Æthelred, and William the Conqueror who is Emma’s illegitimate great nephew. There are many royal children with very sad lives in this book. In fact the whole era after Cnut is sort of like the year of the five emperors in Roman History. No sooner in one guy on the throne than he is dead and someone else is sticking their face on the currency.

All in all, a solid read.

Favorite Scene: Cnut and Emma meet for the first time.

Favorite Quote: “Ælfgifu of Northampton was two months dead.” – Okay, it may not seem like much, but I had a party.

Enjoyability: Solid four stars.

Where to read this book: Anywhere.

Further reading: Really looking forward to the new Allison Weir, and the new Bernard Cornwell. Both coming out in the next six week. Can’t wait.

Finity – Review

finityCurrently on Loan from the Library:

Finity by: John Barnes

The King’s Deception by: Steve Berry

Robert J. Parker’s Wonderland by: Ace Atkins

Earth Made of Glass by: John Barnes

Cold Vengeance by: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Kill List by: Frederick Forsyth

Other Books I’m Reading:

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I was hesitant to pick up another many earths type book after my disappointment with The Long Earth by Pratchett and Baxter. However, I’d heard good buzz about Barnes’ Daybreak series. Which my library does not have access to. So, until I could chase his more recent work to the ground, I decided to go with what I did have easy access too.

I have to say I was not disappointed. Finity is 98% of a ripping yarn. Instead of the traveling through many worlds fiasco of other books, Finity starts out like you would expect an alternate history tale to start. I am a sucker for alternate history books. So I was good with that. The many worlds concept is added as we realize that people are blinking in and out from other time lines.

The hero of the book is one Professor Lyle Peripart. He is a third generation American ex pat living in New Zealand, since America is now part of the Reichs. That’s right. Germany won World War II by blowing up a chunk of the west coast. Lyle is working on some pretty abstract theories about a new kind of logic called abduction, when he is plucked out of obscurity by Geoffrey Iphwin CEO of ConTech.

Once Lyle, and his fiancé Helen are hired by Iphwin, all the crazy breaks free, and culminates in a violent road trip to find out what has happened to all the people who should be in America. It’s a fun, face paced, adventure read.

This is only 98% of a good read because of one scene of corporeal exuberance that is awkward, unnecessary, and weirdly placed. As well as, the ending. They sort of find the answer they are looking for, and then everyone left alive goes home. It’s exceptionally anticlimactic.

It is possible that Finity was intended as the first of a series.  If that is the case, then the ending is a little less grievous.

Favorite Scene: The incident at the Curious Monkey.

Favorite Quote: “Some of the answers correlate,” Helen said, “but that kind of figures. Hardly anyone has Mickey Mouse being a Disney character and a newspaper character named after a brand of chewing gum; nobody had Teddy Roosevelt assassinated by German agents in 1916 and being Secretary of War during World War Two.”

Enjoyability: Four and a half stars. Everything except of the ending was a five.

Where to read this book: Anywhere. But afterwards you may want to stay away from phones for a while.

Further reading: I started the Steve Berry book. Looks promising.

And the Mountains Echoed – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:


And the Mountains Echoed by: Khaled Hosseini

The King’s Deception by: Steve Berry

Dissolution by: C.J. Sansom

Earth Made of Glass by: John Barnes

Finity by: John Barnes

Young Petrella by: Michael Gilbert

Other Books I’m Reading:

Riotous Assembly by: Tom Sharpe

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

First I have to admit that I’ve never read either of the other two Khaled Hosseini books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. It is possible that my lack of experience with his other works coupled with my lack of knowledge about Islamic traditions, and Farsi poetry are about to lead me to be very cruel to his hauntingly lovely and misunderstood work And the Mountains Echoed. But I don’t think so.

And the Mountains Echoed is not so much a novel as a series of vignettes about loss and endurance. Which could be okay, except that the author tips his hand in the first fifty pages essentially telling the reader how the book it going to end. How it has to end. Sadly between the start and the obvious ending the plot arch is jerky as teen learning to drive a stick shift. There are characters that show up with no explanation, and disappear when their section is done. Leaving me with the feeling that Hosseini was simply trying to get his word count up. There are interesting things that happen off to the side and are never explored. There are parts of the book that are long retellings of what happened with none of the emotion or interest that would have been present had the reader been shown instead. Perhaps most confusing of all, the time line for all of the characters is frankly mushy.

The whole book felt flat and educational. Not educational in that good way either. Where the teacher has peaked your interest in further study. Educational in that way where you end up being thankful that you got a good grade on the test and can move on.

Which is what I’m going to do now. Move on.

Favorite Scene: Abdullah realizing why they are in Kabul.

Favorite Quote: “Or rather, someone’s tragically misguided idea of a mansion, three stories high, pink, green, yellow, white, with parapets and turrets and pointed eaves and mosaics and mirrored skyscraper glass.”

Enjoyability: Two stars. And that’s taking into consideration I’m a white midwestern Lutheran who doesn’t know the first thing about Farsi poetry.

Where to read this book: Somewhere with lots of caffeine close at hand.

Further reading: I’m thinking some John Barnes. The covers look really promising.

The House Next Door – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The Queen by: Steven James

Revenge Wears Prada by: Lauren Weisberger

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by: Ian Morimer

Kraken by: China Mieville

Reamde by: Neal Stephenson

Other Books I’m Reading:

Riotous Assembly by: Tom Sharpe

Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I always appreciate it when an author steps away from what they normally write to try something different. I think most authors have more stories to tell then the ones they publish. When an audience becomes used to a certain kind of book from a writer of course they want more of that sort of book. But I like the glances down the road not taken. Even if they aren’t totally successful.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons is one of those steps away from the normal. Siddons, who has long been known for lush books about Southern life and culture, actually doesn’t step too far from her normal realm here. The book is still set in the south, and still displays many of the usual Siddons motifs. However, The House Next Door is a psychological thriller.

Colquitt Kennedy and her husband Walter have a nice quiet middle class life, until someone starts to build a house on the property next to theirs. Colquitt is actually a little put out that someone is building next door, until she meets and befriends the young architect Kim Dougherty. It’s Kim’s first house. He’s excited, and desperate that everyone should recognize his special genius. Which of course Colquitt does.

Then things turn dark. There are accidents, and unexplained incidences connected with the house. People seem to have personality changes when they are in the house or become depressed. Leading Colquitt and eventually Walter to believe that the house is evil. Or possibly haunted. Of course you can’t have a haunted house on the block killing people, so Colquitt and Walter decide to take care of business.

Here is the thing that keeps this book from being just another haunted house story. Colquitt is the first person narrator of the story. So it’s not always clear if she is telling the absolute truth about things. The truth as she sees it. Or the truth as she’s been influenced to see it by the house. She could be suffering from a deep and scary form of psychopathy, or she could be dealing with a very evil house. It’s never really made clear either way. Although I have an opinion given the last ten pages.

The House Next Door was written in the late 1970’s. Younger reader may find some of it a bit dated. I don’t think it detracts from the book. Sensitive readers should be aware there is one scene containing a mildly graphic description of a miscarriage. On the whole though it is not a gory book.

If you do decide to read The House Next Door clear some time in your schedule. I read it in one sitting the first time. I was up until 3 a.m. It gives the phrase architectural nightmare a whole different meaning.

Favorite Scene: Kim comes by for a drink the first time.

Favorite Quote: “If we find that all our efforts have failed and someone buys the house, we shall set fire to it and burn it down. We will to this at night, before it is occupied. In another time they would have plowed the charred ground and sowed it with salt.

If it should come to that, I do not think we will be punished.

I do not think we will be alive long enough. “

Enjoyability: Five stars.

Where to read this book: Probably not at night alone in a house. I read it at night, but I was not alone.

Further reading: I have a whole pile of books. I should probably just start at the top and work down.

Sense and Sensibility – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

A Serpent’s Tooth by: Craig Johnson

The Princes in the Tower by: Alison Weir

The Glass Blowers by: Daphne Du Maurier

Reamde by: Neal Stephenson

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I’ve been reading many works of actual History lately. Mostly Alison Weir. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, her book on Mary Boleyn is a recommend. I’m still working my way through The Princes in the Tower. It is looking like a recommend right now too. I have, over the years, come to really enjoy Weir’s scholarly work almost as much as I dislike her fiction. She’s got a Biography of Elizabeth of York slated to come out in December. I’m excited.

Since reading me writing on the intricacies of the English monarchy is…not that interesting, I thought we’d talk about Jane Austen today instead.

I know that when you start on Jane Austen everybody will tell you that Pride and Prejudice is the book you should start with. Don’t get me wrong P&P is a great book. Funny. Insightful. Possibly proving that Jane was an early master of game theory. It’s a great read.

Persuasion is my personal favorite. If I thought I could ever write a book that good, I’d probably never leave my computer again.

However, structurally, I think Sense and Sensibility is by far the best of Jane’s works. Every character in S&S has another character in the book who is their equal in situation and rank, but who makes the opposite decisions about life. Talk about the deft and handling of the old morality play. It’s not just that the main heroines Elinor and Marianne Dashwood have opposite temperaments. One of the hero’s, Edward Ferrars is also his brother’s opposite. Sir John Middleton, who is the benefactor of the Dashwood ladies, he provides them a reasonable place to live, is the opposite of the John Dashwood, the half brother who wants to get the Dashwood ladies out of his house. Then there are Anne and Lucy Steele, who are the opposites of Elinor and Marianne. Even Colonel Brandon has his opposites both in John Willoughby, and eventually Mr. Thomas Palmer.

I can see why this book is not as popular as Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion. Sense and Sensibility is an earlier work. Some of the characters are not as well rounded as they would be in her later works. Elinor can be read as cold or just a goody two shoes at times. Marianne can be down right dense.

There are also people who have read the book and were deeply disappointed that Marianne married and was apparently happy with Colonel Brandon. That ending has never bothered me. It makes perfect sense in relation to the rest of the book. Of course Marianne has to marry Colonel Brandon. He’s the opposite of Willoughby. Likewise, she has to be just as happy with him, as she would have been unhappy with Willoughby. Otherwise the rest off the book doesn’t add up.

The very first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, I wrote the worst ever modern take on this story. To this day it’s a stain on my hard drive. So trust me when I tell you that what Austen did in Sense and Sensibility proves her writing chops. I couldn’t do it successfully, and I have yet to read a book where anyone else could either.

So, what is your favorite Austen? Why? And which heroine are you?

Personally, I’m an Anne with a heavy dash of Elinor thrown in.

Favorite Scene: The scene where Edward is not married after all.

Favorite Quote: “Excuse me,” said she (Elinor), “and be assured that I meant no offense to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.”

Enjoyability: Five stars

Where to read this book: Anywhere. It will make you look really smart.

Further reading: I found a Daphne Du Maurier at the library this week that I didn’t know existed. I have great hopes for it.

The Posionwood Bible – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Hell is Empty by: Craig Johnson

Bel Canto by: Ann Pratchett

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by: Andrew Sean Greer

Breaking Point by: C.J. Box

The Poisonwood Bible by: Barbara Kingslover

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neil Stephenson

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover sounds like a good proposition to start with. Rev. Nathan Price decides he has a call to be a missionary in Africa. So he beats the Missionary Society who doesn’t want to send him to Africa into submission. Then he drags his wife, who is not equipped to handle the mission, and his four daughters to a small village in Africa. The book is set in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when Congo is starting to become Zaire.

Sadly this book turned out to be long on plotting, and short on execution. So what I’m going to do is make a list of the seven things I found most irritating about the book. Then I’m going to stop writing. This is not because my list will be comprehensive. It’s because I don’t want to get slimy venom all over the internet.

  1. Rev. Price is a Baptist. Yet, he believes in and preaches from the Apocrypha. There is no explanation given for this beyond one of the daughters remarking that her father believes the Apocrypha is scripture and thinks all Baptists should too. Okay then.
  2. Rev. Price seems absolutely bent on baptizing the native children in the nearby river. But the natives don’t want to be baptized in the river. They don’t want to get eaten by the crocodiles. Totally reasonable. Yet, though it is noted that at home they use a big bath tub for baptizing, Rev. Price continues to insist on the river. Why? Never explained.
  3. A Baptist preacher that wants to baptize children who have not yet reached to age of accountability. Hum. Interesting.
  4. When Rev. Price’s wife finally decides to leave with her daughters, she allows the seventeen year old to run off with the smarmy pilot who they have all disliked throughout the book. Even though it is obvious that the pilot has no intention of even marrying the daughter. Well, true, her parenting skills aren’t top notch. Still Mom should have been horrified at the idea.
  5. Likewise the sixteen year old daughter is allowed to stay in Africa unmarried, with the black teacher from the local school, who is clearly in love with her. At least this couple gets married. But boy, you’d think a white Southern Baptist mother from Georgia would be at least hesitant to promote an interracial couple in the 1960’s. Then there is the interesting parenting choice involved in leaving your sick sixteen year old in Africa with a man not her husband.
  6. After the women leave Africa, the book devolves from showing the action, to telling all that happens. It drags pretty badly.
  7. At no point is Rev. Price written in a way that allows me to believe he was the sort of pastor who could have kept an American congregation together, let alone fostered one in Africa. It’s not just that he’s unbending or a zealot. It’s more like he has no basic understanding of human beings, not even himself. In fact that whole Apocrypha thing probably would have gotten him fired from most of the Baptist congregations I’ve seen in action. So how has this man got a job in the first place?

This book could have used a harsher editor. Or Zombies. Lots and lots of Zombies.

Favorite Scene: The last one. I was finally at the end.

Favorite Quote: I refuse to open this book again to find one.

Enjoyability: Two stars. One star for getting published, on star for having a plot.

Where to read this book: Don’t.

Further reading: Hopefully something that could not be improved through the addition of zombies. Which begs the question. Do Zombies make everything better?


World War Z – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

 Hell is Empty by: Craig Johnson

 Bel Canto by: Ann Pratchett

 The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by: Andrew Sean Greer

 Breaking Point by: C.J. Box

 The Poisonwood Bible by: Barbara Kingslover (The book club selection for this month.  Sadly, I am underwhelmed. Also, I think I may have read part of it before, and quit.)


Other Books I’m Reading: 

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

It took me two years to give in and buy a copy of World War Z.  I had it on hold at our old library in Virginia for almost a year.  Their waiting list was long, and the copy kept getting lost.  So when we moved it was one of the very first things I requested from the new library.  Again with the waiting and the lost copies.  So finally I found a ten dollar copy at the Sam Walton family foundation, and bought the darn thing.  I admit I was a little snarly about the whole thing.  These days I usually only buy hard copy after I’ve decided I love the book and want it around the house.  The thing that finally broke me was seeing trailers for World War Z the movie.  It seemed important to read the book first.  

 I’ve got to say, Max Brooks got the book pitch perfect.  The premiss of World War Z is that a United Nations observer did interviews for a report to the United Nations.   Then he was upset when the committee he was reporting to only wanted his facts and figures.  So he complied a book of the interviews himself.

All of the interview subjects have unique voices and experiences.  All of them are believable, from the doctor in China who is confronted with some of the first cases to the veteran of the Paris underground battles once the living start to try and retake the world.  I think the thing that really sells the book is that Brooks committed to his zombies.  They are what they are all through the book.  They don’t suddenly develop special powers or speed.  They are slow moving killing machines that don’t need to eat, or breath, or think.  They aren’t bright, but they are dedicated, and you have to kill the brain to kill the beast.  Brooks set the rules, and he plays by those rules.

The obeying of the rules, gives so much power to the details of each interview.  It never occurred to me that something that didn’t need to breathe could live forever under water.  It occurred to Brooks.  Thus, the very scary roaming sea hordes that rise from the tide.  Also watch for the two guys who decide to clean up Japan, and the pilot who is downed in hostile territory.

The other thing I really like about this book is that there is some question about the survival of the human race.  As long as there are zombies, there is the very real chance of another outbreak.  Hum.  Food for thought.

There are random bloody body parts, and gross descriptions throughout the book.  I’m not usually one to be sensitive to such scenes and even I got the icks on occasion.  So sensitive readers beware.  This is also, thankfully, not a book with a love story, so don’t be looking for that.

I’ll be interested to see what Forster does with his fast moving zombies, and his underlying search for the source of the infection.  To be honest, I’m not holding out much hope for him.  I think I’ll be waiting for that one on Netflix.

Favorite Scene:  The interview in Siberia with Father Sergei Ryzhkov is complete and utter brilliance.  


Favorite Quote: “So typically Norteamericano, reaching for the stars with their asses still stuck in the mud.”


Enjoyability: Five stars with a heavy ick factor.  


Where to read this book:  Not at night before bed.  


Further reading:  I have to finish The Poisonwood Bible.  I’m on a deadline.  


What Alice Forgot – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The 9th Girl by: Tami Hoag


Other Books I’m Reading: 

World War Z by: Max Books

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson  (It may be Neil is permanently stuck on this list.)


What Alice Forgot by: Liane Moriarty is a book picked for my monthly book club by one of the other members.   That being the case, it’s not really a book I would have picked out myself.  Still, it’s one that I”m glad I got to read.  

The book starts with Alice waking up on the floor of her gym, during an interrupted spin class.  Alice interrupted the class by plummeting off her bike, whacking her head and passing out for ten minutes.  In her fall, Alice seems to have forgotten ten years of her life.  She believes she’s 29, pregnant with her first child, and happily married.  In fact, she is 39, a mother of three, and in the middle of divorcing her husband.

All of this could be played for comedy as Alice pieces together the last ten years of her life, but it’s not.  There are funny moments.  Her children realizing that Mom is not entirely home and they should take advantage of the situation is fun.  Also, watching her try and piece together the gossip at school is charming, until it’s just heartbreaking.  In the final analysis this is a literate and literary work.  Not a comedy at all.  In fact the first two chapters were so sad, I almost put the book down.  But I’m glad a read on.

By the time Alice’s memories come flooding back, she already has the facts all worked out.  I won’t say what there are.  Spoilers.  I will say that I find the ending completely believable.  Which I was pleasantly surprised about.  It would be easy for an author to write an ending to this book where all the memories come flooding back, but they make everything okay, or everything is okay in spite of them.  Liane Moriarty didn’t do that. Instead Alice is essentially forced by her mind to take one of the best pieces of advice a marriage counselor, or a mother ever gave.  If you start acting loving, even if you don’t feel it, things change in a relationship.

There is a special warning on this book.  Alice’s sister Elizabeth is having infertility problems.  It is a large, and extremely sad piece of the book.  If this is something that it bothers you to read about, this book is probably not for you.  The portions are large enough and important enough to the plot, that not reading it with the rest of the book is really not an option.

I think I’ve used “heartbreaking” and “sad” enough in this review to put a person off the book.  The book is not sad in total.  I found it to be a very enjoyable read.  But it’s a read with some bite.  Which really, doesn’t it make it that much better?

Thank you Book Club Annie for your great pick!  


Enjoyability: Five stars, and two boxes of tissue

Where to read this book:  Curled up in the air conditioning.  What a scorcher we’ve had this week.   

Further reading:  I am waiting for the library to come up with about five or six books I’ve put on hold.  Until then, I’m finishing The 9th Girl and working on the ever present Anathem.  

Bad Blood – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Bad Blood by: Dana Stabenow

The 9th Girl  by: Tami Hoag

A Tale for the Time Being by: Ruth Ozeki

What Alice Forgot by: Liane Moriarty

Blindfold Game by: Dana Stabenow


Other Books I’m Reading: 

World War Z by: Max Books

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson


“Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” – William Shakespeare


Can I just ask?  Are you Shakespearienced?  Apparently Dana Stabenow is.  Sure, the setting of Bad Blood is two villages on different sides of a river. One rich and one poor. So there are more than two families.  It’s more like four families.  Other than that it’s very Shakespearean.  Which is fine with me.  There is a reason that Shakespeare’s works are considered classics.  If you’re going to take inspiration from someplace, may as well take inspiration from the best place.  


Bad Blood is number twenty in the Kate Shugak series.  Readers familiar with the series will be familiar with Chopper Jim, Kate Shugak’s current boyfriend.  This is good because this book is really more about him than it is about Kate.  Jim is called into the poorer village on the river to investigate a murder.  At least it’s pretty clear to Jim that it’s a murder.  Everyone else is insisting it was an accident.  Meanwhile Kate does yard work, picks up mail, and runs into the still menacing Erland Bannister.  Jim get’s called to a murder on the rich side of the river next.  Again he gets the this murder is clearly an accident routine.  Which he finds frustrating.  Meanwhile Kate finds that Erland Bannister is supporting both sides of a major issue, bootlegging and drug running are on the rise in the area, and the mandatory young lovers have run away, gotten married, and gotten into a pickle.  Kate helps the young lovers even though she knows it’s going to make Jim mad, and then….  There is a huge cliff hanger. 


Let’s face it.  Twenty books is a huge number to write about one set of characters.  While I enjoyed Bad Blood, it’s not my favorite in the series.  I would actually be fine if Dana Stabenow decided that this was the last Kate Shugak book.  She is a very talented writer, and I see no reason I wouldn’t continue to be a fan no matter what she was publishing.  It is all to easy for one major character to take over a writer’s life.  Look at Arthur Conan Doyle. I would much rather have Dana Stabenow writing at the top of her game because she’s enjoying it, than writing another Kate Shugak because she has to.  


Enjoyability: Four stars

Where to read this book:  This is not a cold snowy book.  So just curled up on the coach, or laying on the beach would be good.  

Further reading:  I’m right in the middle of The 9th Girl.

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