Showing posts from September, 2018

Reading journal: Embers and Echoes by Daniel De Lorne

Genre: Rural gay romance Published: 2018 Date read: September 2018 Ben Fields, a policeman, and Toby Grimshaw, a firefighter, have a history. In a small town like Echo Springs, on the edge of the outback, they can’t avoid each other, especially when the town is threatened by escalating arson attacks. We want Ben and Toby to solve the mystery, survive the danger, and get back together, and since this is a romance, they do. An enjoyable light read.

Reading journal: The War that Ended Peace: The road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan

Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2013 Date read: September 2018 A discussion of the factors that resulted in the twentieth century's history of bloodshed, war and suffering. The author has a chatty, readable style, and I enjoyed what I read, although three chapters in we were still very much in the ‘great men’ style of history, with a detailed exploration of the personality failings of Kaiser Wilhelm. Unstated but obvious were his many similarities with President Donald Trump. I didn’t finish the book. That was nothing to do with its qualities or the work of the author, but solely due to the poor performance of my Kindle e-reader. As an academic work, this book has many footnotes linked to the text. Unfortunately it is impossible not to accidentally click on these when trying to change to the next page, and once you have been taken to the footnotes, there’s no way back to where you were in the text. All you can do is go back to the chapter you were reading and turn pages u

Reading journal: City of Lies by Sam Hawke

Genre: Fantasy Published: 2018 Series: Poison War Date read: September 2018 This action/mystery story is set in a well-constructed fantasy world where the people of the city of Silasta are disconnected from their country cousins and have forgotten their own religious and historical roots. The plot revolves around Jovan, a young man responsible for protecting the city’s Chancellor from being poisoned, Jovan’s sister, Kalina, and the new Chancellor, Jovan’s friend Tain. The city suffers disaster after disaster; unexplained deaths, an attacking army, a siege, sabotage and threats from a menacing traitor within. The young people have personal problems too. Under stress Jovan becomes anxious and obsessive-compulsive, while Kalina battles asthma-related frailty. This is a solid read for fantasy lovers, with plenty of action, high stakes, entwined coming of age stories, and a reasonable mystery to be solved. I found the descriptions of the city and the caste system particularly

Reading journal: The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L Sayers

Genre: Crime Published: 1930 Date read: July 2018 This has been sitting on the shelf for decades, but I don’t remember ever reading it before. It’s not the kind of thing you would forget. The story is told through a series of letters and documents, apparently known as an epistolary novel. The basic set-up is this: an older man and his younger wife’s lives are upset when two young men, artists, move into their house as boarders. The wife may or may not have an affair with one of them. Portraits are painted. An older female companion is gratuitously denigrated and then vanishes from the plot for no apparent reason. There is suspicion, then angry words, and in due course the older man, an expert on fungi, nevertheless dies of what appears to be mushroom poisoning. A long-absent son returns and pursues evidence that this was no accident. The style is dreadful and there is no suspense. I could hardly care enough to read to the end, so unpleasant were all the characters. And I do

Reading journal: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2018 Date read: August 2018 Well-written and imaginative, but rather doom-laden story. In a post-plague future, humanity have survived and moved on, but underlying characteristics of duplicity and self-interest remain. A scientific project involving time travel to observe early Mesopotamian civilisation goes wrong when one of the party sabotages the mission. The story is told from two viewpoints, scientist Minh and ancient king Shulgi, and jumps around in time, so that nothing that happens is really a surprise. I would have liked it to be. I was interested in Minh’s perspective. Minh is a plague baby, and must manage a range of physical ailments as a result of early damage. She has bio-prosthetic limbs and a bad case of depression. Her greatest wish is to be a recluse, living a quiet life pruning peach trees, but financial obligations intrude and she is forced to interact with others and to participate in the time travel project. The moti

Spring downunder in Australia

If you live in the northern hemisphere, Australia's seasons can be confusing. Here's what you need to know about spring. Spring goes from 1 September to 30 November. Technically. Sometimes it only lasts about a week. It's freezing, you blink, and it's suddenly baking hot. Spring in the north of Australia is less exciting, as of course it's the tropics. In fact, the tropics really have entirely different seasons, the wet and the dry. We don't pay as much attention as we should because only small numbers of people live in the tropics compared to the southern cities. What we don't have  Spring break, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. We don't have spring break because spring is the end of the academic year for us. Halloween just doesn't mean anything on a warm spring evening looking forward into summer. Of course a few people do Trick or Treat, especially my Canadian in-laws, but it isn't a national past-time. Thanksgiving is not part