Book Banter: Midnight Riot

midnightTitle: Midnight Riot

Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 298 pages

Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Rookie constable Peter Grant is hoping to be a detective, but it seems like he’s doomed to a life of paperwork. Lucky (or unluckily) for him, a gristly murder case brings him face to face with the crimes only witness, who just happens to be a ghost. Peter is reassigned to DCI Thomas Nightingale, the Metropolitan police’s only wizard/detective. As the crimes spread over the city, Peter and Nightingale must take on feuding river gods and the ghosts of London long-past to bring order back to the city.

Banter Points: If anyone has the power to even jostle Harry Dresden in his number one spot for favorite crime-fighting-wizard, Peter Grant may be that contender. “Midnight Riot” is a mash-up of Dresden, Harry Potter and Endeavour, with a less-mopey Brit detective. It’s straight-up English police procedural, with all the slang (like nick, copper, guv’nor, etc.) and sorting out the crime over a pint at the local that you’d expect.

Aaronovitch has given Grant just enough of a cheeky first-person narrative voice to make him entirely endearing. Likewise, Nightingale, is so stingy with details about the relationship between magic and the police and how long he’s been a part of both that it makes him enigmatically endearing.

Bummer Points: I can’t really say much without giving anything away, but I will say the ending felt very abrupt for all the build up through the book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: It’s only March, but it’s highly likely I’ve already found my 2017 winner for “Best Discovered Author” for the Word Nerd awards this year. There are five or six more of these and you can bet they are going in my TBR pile!

Inequality

2013-07-29-coffeepic

All coffee is not created equal, according to this Huffington Post article showing the amount of caffeine per fluid ounce.

Open Notes

All that paper is the open notes of the test I’m taking next Monday.

The rack on the table has 11 inches of paper to use to answer somewhere between 15 and 20 questions.

April 4 has never looked so lovely.

Perhaps

A little music Monday for you…

Book Banter: The Glittering Court

Books-Richelle MeadTitle: The Glittering Court

Author: Richelle Mead

Length: 13 hours/audio

Genre: YA

Plot Basics: Elizabeth Whitmore can’t stand the idea of her arranged marriage to keep her title of Countess. So she takes her maid’s place in a firm that trains common born girls to be wives for the growing upper class in a new colony. As she becomes Adelaide, she’s drawn to one of the firm’s workers and ends up on an adventure for love in the new colony.

Banter Points: Mead has done quite a bit of world building for this book that flows together nicely in the story.

Bummer Points: I can’t believe I actually made it through all 13 hours of this audiobook. First, a confession: I mean to look for Rachel Vincent, got my author names confused and ended up with Richelle Mead. At first, I was expecting this to be a Prince and the Pauper type swap story, but instead it became a rambling YA romance.

Adelaide goes through all the machinations of pretending she’s common while learning how to be noble. Meanwhile, she’s nursing a big crush for Cedric, the son of the owner of the bride-procuring company she’s working for. She’s dealing with new friendships with her two roommates.

Then the book traipses off to the colony where the girls have to go through suitors and get married off. The whole premise is thinly-disguised gold-digging so Mead throws in real gold-digging too, along with some religious freedom issues and pirates.

I kept listening thinking that at some point the book would get good. But it never materialized into a solid story. I kept trying to care about the characters, but there was too much description of clothing and not enough description of anything else. The romance felt contrived and unbelievable; if Adelaide was as pragmatic as she was made out to be, she wouldn’t have gone through everything she did. She would have packed it up, gone home and been a boring lady.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’m not going on with the rest of this series.

 

Making friends

Last night, I helped out a friend with an envelope stuffing party. I realized that this person introduced me to seven people in the last year, invited me to dinner multiple times, and pretty much makes this meme true for me.  She is one of two extroverts in my life and I’m so glad for her.

Who are you grateful for today?

Book Banter: All the Birds in the Sky

birdsTitle: All the Birds in the Sky

Author: Charlie Jane Anders

Length: 319 pages

Genre: literary sci-fi

Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Patricia and Laurence are two outsiders — she, apparently, is a witch and can talk to birds and he is a geek of the first-degree, building time machines and AI interfaces in his bedroom. They become friends in middle school, trying to stick up for each other when the world seems against them. But, sinister forces tear their friendship apart. Until 10 year later when they reunite in San Francisco on opposite side of what might be a war for the planet, pitting magic against science.

Banter Points: Thank goodness for The Morning News Tournament of Books or I might never have encountered this quirky gem of a novel. When #ToB2017 announced the short list, I realized with some level of chagrin, that I hadn’t read any of this year’s choices. I read the descriptions and “All the Birds in the Sky” was the one to pick up immediately.

For all the kids who grew up on Harry Potter, this is the next book for them. Anders has crafted a serious and yet charming book with a plot line that hangs on the edge of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction. She edges up to that line — major world disasters are hinted at, but never fully explained — in such a way that creates a wonderful blend of tension but doesn’t take the reader away from the main story. It’s really a book about friendship and fate and big picture questions about science and magic, all while retaining a heart and a soul.

Bummer Points: This book isn’t any one thing which might aggravate some readers. It’s not just a story about friendship. And it’s not hardcore disaster sci-fi. It’s both. Additionally,  Anders makes some jumps and then goes back to tell the reader what happened. I’m sure she had her reasons, but I had to wonder if a straight-line narrative would have worked just as well.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve already gotten one co-worker to pick this up after a #FridayReads post and I highly suspect this is 2017’s first pusher book of the year.

ToB Thoughts: To read the Opening Round critique of “All the Birds in the Sky,” click here.

Tomorrow it’s up against Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” which just seems highly unfair. I haven’t read “Underground Railroad,” not for lack of interest, but more for lack of time, but I suspect it’s going to sail through the Quaterfinals. I’ve got my fingers crossed that tomorrow’s judge will go for the upset, not because Whitehead’s book about race is not timely and important, but because Anders’ book about science, magic and friendship speaks to a different zeitgeistic (can I make that an adjective?) element and one that we’re not talking about very much.

 

Book Banter: The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title:  The Queen Of Tearling514XGcRc9SL.jpg

Author:  Erika Johansen

Genre:  Dystopian

Length:  643 pages

Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics:  The rightful queen was hidden away shortly after her birth to protect her life.  Kelsea Raleigh is now 19 years old and seeks to reclaim her throne.  Her journey reveals that the task is larger than she ever envisioned, if she survives the journey to her holdings.

Banter Points:  I know that this was a recommendation either from a Goodreads friend or a Facebook friend but my typically referrals haven’t read it.  This frustrates me because I’m enjoyed the book and have moved on to book two already,  It would be nice to tell them “thank you” and then ask what else they are reading.

I like the pseudo fairy tale feel to the telling of this story.  Rather than it being historical, it’s future.  Something has happened and the world has lost technology, gained magic, and The Church is an influence similar to medieval times.  Society has reverted in other ways too, losing advancements in equality and medicine.

The how and why of this world is fascinating to me.

Bummer Points:  By the end of the book, I was fascinated by the “why” of what happened.  How did the world step back from technology?  Why did they run to the new place?  What were they running from?  I tried to find some additional information, but wasn’t able to find an author website or book website outside of bookstores or the publisher.

Stacie’s Recommendation:  Read it.  I’m half way through book two and have high hopes for how this trilogy will end.