Tuesday, October 31, 2017


How is it the end of October already?! Luckily I got my fill of RIP reads over the past two months with 25 perilous reads, 17 of them rereads. Yay!

I loved my massive Agatha Christie binge. I had great fun with audiobooks from Carlos Ruiz Zafón and John Connolly. And I finished the event with a collection of ghost stories--Ghostly--collected by Audrey Niffenegger. With just two duds (I guess I am not really a fan of some modern ghost stories), this was a great collection.

So, I would stop the RIP reads now except that my hold on the audiobook of The Screaming Staircase just came in so I'm gonna need a few more days on this challenge ... ::wink::

What was your favorite read this season (perilous or not)?

Reminder: Witch Week is starting over at Emerald City Book Review today ...

Until we meet again ... in a dark alley, under a full moon,

Saturday, October 28, 2017

#RIPXII 18: New Release: Race to the Bottom of the Sea

Even though Z is starting to transition out of middle grade books, I still love reading them -- especially when I come across a new gem like Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar (released earlier this month by Candlewick Press). The story starts peacefully with eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail out on a boat on the last day of the season, looking to tag sharks, while her parents are down below in a submersible that she designed and built herself. However, it quickly turns dark when a big storm blows in and her parents don't make it back to shore. Fidelia barely has time to grieve before she is kidnapped by pirates because of her ocean expertise and inventing skills and is forced to help them in their search for lost treasure.

So ... wow. I was honestly shocked by how dark and bleak this book got. One specific story line had an inevitable tragic ending with no hope of change offered at all. There was another whose best possible outcome was still incredibly heartbreaking. And this story did not have jovial, cartoony pirates. They were weather-beaten and disciplined and, quite frankly, usually heartless and self-serving. I was surprised by all of this but also impressed that Eagar didn't water the tale down (bad ocean pun). But all of the dark stuff also helped Fidelia's bravery and intelligence shine brighter. She also made me regret not being an active marine scientist. Damn that mal de mer.

Sticking to the shore,

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#RIPXII 3-17: Agatha's Poisons

After my latest reading project, I just might be able to poison someone and get away with it. I started by picking up Kathryn Harkup's A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. I soon noticed that each of the fourteen chapters was based on a specific Christie book or short story collection and, because I wanted comfort reads this season, this project quickly formed in my head -- read or reread a classic mystery before each chapter of non-fiction. It turned out to be a wonderful idea. I loved reading the novel or stories and then delving into why the poison of choice was used and if Christie made any errors, the science of what it is and how it kills, how/if it would have been detected at the time, and some real life poisoning cases/influences. I loved the science, the history, and, yes, the Poirot (and Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, Ariadne Oliver, and even Mr. Satterthwaite). I was shocked as I reached book ten or eleven and found that I wasn't at all tired of Dame Agatha's stories. Each one was unique, with a wide variety of settings, characters, and even points of view.

These are the books I read, ranging in publication date from 1921 to 1961:

Murder is Easy
The Labours of Hercules
Sparkling Cyanide
Appointment with Death
Crooked House
Five Little Pigs
4:50 from Paddington
Three Act Tragedy
Sad Cypress
Dumb Witness
Partners in Crime
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Pale Horse
Lord Edgware Dies

I want to point out too that Harkup's book has the most amazing appendix -- a list of every Agatha Christie story and how all of the people die in them! I still have a few Agatha books that I haven't read (I own 66 of her books, not counting her autobiography and her travelogues) but when I'm done, I'll really dive into that appendix.

The only person that wasn't exactly happy with this project was my husband. Apparently, having your wife learn the ins and outs of 14 deadly poisons and then recount all of the gruesome details in bed each night for weeks isn't fun. All I know is that I've already made the mistake of saying too much.

Formulating an alibi,

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Release: A Far, Far Better Thing to Do + GIVEAWAY

Okay, fam ... be honest with me ... the world has got you down, right? You're constantly looking for distractions but you can't always find the energy to focus on an actual book? Luckily for us, the brilliant folks at Running Press have just put out A Far, Far Better Thing to Do: A Lit Lover's Activity Book by Joelle Herr, illustrated by Lindsey Spinks. This little book is perfect for all of the times when you just want to put down your phone and pick up a pencil.

Instead of scrolling, you can put your own flair onto the portrait of Dorian Gray,

Go on a short quest to capture the white whale,

Or play a little game of Marry, Kill, "Do" where nobody else need see your answers.

(I really couldn't marry or "do" Poe so I guess he must die.)
There are word searches, crosswords, trivia games, coloring pages, and even writing exercises that should give any literature lover at least a few hours of time away from current events. And if you're feeling especially depleted, you can opt for a low-energy activity like a maze or a connect-the-dot picture.


The publisher has kindly offered to send copies of this activity book to a couple of you so, if you are interested, just leave a comment below and tell me which book you would feel most qualified to make crossword clues for. I'll be picking two winners in a week (Friday, Oct 13). International entries are okay and don't forget to leave an email address or twitter handle or something so that I can contact you! (And my answer is either Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or American Gods. Weird combo, I know.)

Brushing up on first lines,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bryant and May, Completed (For Now)

It is with a heavy heart that I must reveal that ... I've caught up in my favorite current series. Bryant and May have been my companions during the dog days of summers past, the late night hours of readathons, and the stressful days of current events. But, with Bryant and May: Strange Tide, I've used up all of my comfort reads for the moment. I was saving the last couple of books for stressful times and, well, yeah ...

I won't lie. This one, the 13th in the series, was a tough read. One of the main characters isn't well, as you can guess would eventually happen with two elderly detectives past the expected ends of their careers. But these aren't just any men and the reader can't help but pull for them to stay on the job for as long as they possibly can because they are likely the only ones who can figure out why bodies keep showing up near the Thames. Full of lots of Thames lore and current London politics, I once again learned while I was entertained. Sigh. I love that the most.

Now for the good news -- Bryant and May: Wild Chamber comes out in the US on December 5 so luckily I don't have to wait too long until I have another comfort read waiting on my TBR shelf for the next rainy day (figuratively, of course, because ... Seattle).

Following the Thames,