54. Hotel Paradise – Martha Grimes
In Hotel Paradise, the narrator has family around, but is basically seen as underfoot if she isn’t doing her job at the resort, serving her mother’s food to the guests. She becomes obsessed with the death of another 12 year old in the area 40 years earlier and spends the story unraveling what really happened, while also providing a carefully drawn picture of the area she’s in and the people who inhabit it with their weird proclivities and willingness to live in a dying resort town. There were several mentions of tomato aspic. Aspic to me is one of the more confusing things anyone has ever tried to eat, perhaps that’s not a true mystery, but I digress.
The ending isn’t very neat and tidy, and that may have a lot to do with this being the first book in a series. I didn’t know if was part of a series when I read it, so, it just seemed familiar to me as someone else who had to create and solve their own mysteries because no one else was around.
After Merricat passed, Peregrine got choosier about her friend-pigs, and maybe indulged her investigative streak a little more dangerously than one would expect.
1. Spell Bound – Kelley Armstrong
The series is almost over, so it’s time for the character cameo rodeo. And making Savannah, the young witch, the main character again sort of takes the edge off the stakes of the supposed build up to the grand finale. When the world you’ve created has a shitload of characters, many with very similar traits of running at trouble after finding it, it can be just a little fillery. I have seen some reviews that pegged this entry in the Otherworld series as YA, which I think is an apt comparison. Savannah’s wanted to be the poster child of the Supernatural Liberation Movement, she wants Adam to see her as more of a potential love interest than just a whiny kid and his best friend, she lost her powers and needs to get them back, she’s being chased by a witch hunter – all of these are normal YA/coming of age sorts of topics. So it was a little weird to have this as the penultimate entry. Oh well.
As ladypigs, Peregrine and Ozma know some penultimate book of the series level-intrigue and you can see it on their sweet little faces.
92. The Day Is Dark – Yrsa Sigurdardottir
I have read a couple of books lately that involve Greenland and as I am a fan of stories like The Thing and scared of latent bacterial diseases that are definitely going to come out of the permafrost and kill me off if I finally get to move somewhere I can breathe without my allergies being a major daily concern…well, this book worked for me. It’s bleak and there are several unlikable characters, even if none of them is an alien-infected dog.
It’s another story of Thora, the lawyer who gets to do more than most lawyers I’ve heard of, traveling to Greenland because of a possible failed operation and some missing workers. Is this still monetarily viable for the company? That is, um, not intriguing to me at all, but the rest of it was. There was a lot of cold, messing around with bones (not the best idea here), a dead guy in a freezer, some elements that were supernatural via religious ideas, and a lot of unpleasant conversation. It also touched on how awful it is to be the odd one out in a group of workers, so, much is covered. Oh, and Thora packed like a total moron for the trip while trashed. Nice. Very human.
In this herd of golden pigs – Horace, Ozma, Finny, and ultimate ruler Peregrine, everyone was an odd one and that’s why they were all so wholly lovable as a group.
54. Frostbite – Richelle Mead
Ski trip! When I was in middle school it was not at a vampire academy, of course, however, our ski trip was only for the day and it was supposed to be a reward- as opposed to a way to keep students safe from an amassing bad vampire attack. For me, it was not a reward because I did not understand skiing in several ways. I definitely french fried when I should have pizzad and could not for the life of me get the hang of that rope thing that pulls you up the hill. Thankfully I had other friends who got bored easily and we pretended we had the money to play video games for a good part of the day. The Moroi and dhampirs of the Vampire Academy series don’t even find the video game room. They’re too busy acting older than they are (like lots of high school kids) and scheming of how to fight back against the bad vampires, the Strigoi, who act like Danny Huston in 30 Days of Night, and getting their romantic feelings all torn asunder.
Rose did not irritate me even half as much in this sequel as she did in Vampire Academy. I guess she’s sort of growing up, sort of, or I’m less concerned with teenage ridiculousness. Either way, I did enjoy reading this one and when the foundations have already been set there’s room to move around. Even her being jealous of her tutor Dmitri’s having a lady friend who he could maybe end up guarding or end up with romantically didn’t seem overwrought. And the vampire court stuff that I mostly find pretty dull was not as intrusive, most likely thanks to the actions of some very impulsive novice guardians who almost get themselves killed. They also french fried when they should have pizzad.
Peregrine and Merricat would find the blankets in the ski lodge and never come out. Skiing antics are not for these ladypigs.
70. All Creatures Great and Small, 21. All Things Bright and Beautiful, 37. All Things Wise and Wonderful – James Herriot
James Herriot’s series of memoirs about being a new veterinarian in Yorkshire are some of the most pleasant volumes I’ve ever read. It took me a while to realize there were only ever mild through lines and that it didn’t matter to me. Some stories stick out more than others, for instance one about a hematoma in a pig’s ear that could be in this one but also could be in another of the series, but there’s always a strong sense of Herriot’s commitment to animals and his prickly journey getting to know the people, livestock, and pets of the Yorkshire Dales.
Having grown up around farm animals in spurts, I was saved from having much direct contact with the complications of calving or much beyond seeing cattle and pigs up close, so I don’t have any direct stories of large animal veterinary activities I saw up close, but, if I wasn’t allergic to everything outside and inside and also scared by certain animals with hairless tails, I would probably have gone that route in my career. Investigating problems, figuring solutions to weird things out, and being useful are all aspects of both veterinary medicine and librarianship and these stories are chock full of all of those things with a large dose of gruff English farmers. And drinking. And also a lot of off road-style driving. Some World War II and getting married and Helen sounds cool. But I will never forget that pig ear hematoma.
The reactions to there being no guinea pigs in this series run from escape (Merricat, Horace) to begrudging solemnity (Peregrine, Danger Crumples).
71. Cold Earth – Sarah Moss
What if the archaeological dig is haunted? By personal failure? Could you dig it? Or, as is more accurate in terms of this book, can you make it? As in survive on classic novels, crackers, and sad noodles? While still pretending that your excavation matters? Can you listen to the jackass who didn’t check to see if the satellite phone they brought even works tell you not to “disturb the site” while you are developing scary symptoms of being deathly cold and it has a shelter?
I’m asking many questions, but many questions are raised by this book – especially at the end. It is a bit of a confusing ending and I can’t tell if I felt like it was rushed or if it was just too optimistic when throughout the book they keep mentioning a virus that’s spreading in not-remote Greenland areas. It seemed like when the internet went down whole hog that virus might be way more than just something to stoke their isolated paranoia.
Also, to establish my baseline for how reading this felt, Nina was soooo annoying, and she’s both the voice allowed the most space and the main one hearing and seeing ghosts. AND she’s not even an archaeologist or an anthro student, so, somehow, she wins the annoying olympics without bringing much expertise. I mean, she has expertise, but a lot of it is about food – which is not helpful on a remote dig when the “food” is dwindling. But I’m definitely not on Ruth’s super-bitch side either, or Iowan Jim’s (nope, he’s not a similar Iowan to me, he had like no fight in him), or optimistically painting terrified Catriona’s, or agreeable Ben’s, definitely not Mr. Lack of Preparation/Don’t Touch That Turf Mr. Yianni’s. I am on the side of the sheep who kept randomly bothering them. Those sheep were on to something about the intersection of curiosity and knowing your limits. I need to know if that virus was zoonotic in case the sheep didn’t make it.
Ozma and Peregrine demonstrate their work methods in this dramatic recreation of an archaeological dig on the couch. When you find “bones,” put your little teefs on them.
Filed under Books, Review
86. Last Rituals – Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Grad school is harder on some than others. Some study witchcraft, some turn to witchcraft…not all get through. And in this story a rich German student with a bisected tongue carrying on his grandfather’s legacy of studying witch hunts in Europe who can afford just about anything he wants ends up dead in a copy room in Iceland. Murdered, then ritualized. His eyes are missing. It’s up to one Icelandic lawyer and a German security dude to sort it all out for the family. This is the book that taught me about corpse-pants. It’s also the last book that I got to read alongside my longest-lived, most beautifully grumpy guinea, Peregrine. So before she passed, she also learned about corpse-pants.
Peregrine the Great, successor to Danger Crumples as herd ruler who reigned for the longest time period of any in charge pig, my muse and extremely grumpy little best friend. It’s all for her.
Filed under Books, Review
57. The Forgotten Girls – Sara Blaedel
I was browsing in a book store’s mystery section after being disappointed I couldn’t find the rest of a YA series I was trying to read when I noticed the font on the side of several Blaedel books and pulled one out. So, I know I talk a lot about book covers and fonts and frankly, there’s a lot to be desired. Much sameyness. And I was not a fan of that cheap trend of putting some random staring girl’s face on the cover of YA books. Why did they stick so many placid, vacantly staring teen girls into the void? WHY? However, I have found the cover trope that attracts me and forced me to slightly swallow my pride. The covers of all of the Blaedel books I’ve found that I actually like feature really tall trees (Yay Scandanavian and Nordic forests! Some of the few places I might actually be able to go outside on purpose for a while and not die of allergies due to their climate…although that’s changing…) and some random woman in a rain coat with her back to the viewer. Lookin’ lost in tall trees, that’s the ticket. I do like all of the mysteries and thrillers I’ve read from authors from Iceland and Denmark now, they’re so bleak it’s amazing.
Once I started reading The Forgotten Girls, it became very clear that Blaedel is someone whose books I must read all of – definitely bleak in a variety of ways, the investigating is in-depth and involved records and primary source materials, the crimes are horrible and in this one involved administrative chicanery in an institution for unwanted/potentially “embarrassing” children. So I went back to the book store and got all the ones I could find, then found the other ones with the right kind of covers – What was that chick lit bullshit in a lit up field on “The Daughter,” which is supposed to be called The Undertaker’s Daughter according to the ARC? Excuse me, no. That is not okay. – and ordered the rest on Abe Books. I did this BEFORE finding out that Louise Rick’s partner in the Special Search Agency listens to Nick Cave. BEFORE. These books are precisely my kind of reading.
I also deeply adored read-watching Jordskott. It was just about perfect for me and Pere and Finny post-Critical Care feeding.
1. The Seeing – William P. McGivern & Maureen McGivern
Orphan poet psychic Jessica Mallory has quite the story. After her parents die in a plane crash that she “sees” via colors, her social worker (a wearer of “durable double-knit” pantsuits “in subdued colors”) attempts to find her next of kin. They turn out to be a racist anxiety-riddled Aunt Maud and biological Uncle Eric the alcoholic gambling addict…but they want nothing to do with her – Phew. Jessica gets adopted and ends up living at a huge estate in Ireland. Unfortunately, Uncle Eric sees her in a magazine about horse racing because the Irish estate she lives at has horses- which is what many preteen girls want. She also has access to a priesthole and a cove and a dog AND a parapsychologist who she has a weird relationship with. He’s testing her for years and listening to her poems and then he goes to California to do some academic thing. Note: she’s underage.
When her benefactor dies her villainous aunt and uncle show up with New Jersey gangster dudes in tow and appraise the crap out of the art objects in the house, drink the good wine and whiskey, murder one of the servants, then slap Jessica around and plot her murder, to be delayed only until she predicts which ponies will win. It’s nice when relatives reconnect.
Little Orphan Poet Psychic Jessica has some friends to help her out though. One is an elderly Irishman who has magical praying powers in addition to being as psychic as her. Another is that Dr. Julian who went to California, he’s recalled by a poem in which Jessica essentially predicts their being together just like Dr. Whatshisface and Michelle of Michelle Remembers, which is pretty creepy to read. Note: she’s underage. Like so underage she can’t even drive. She barely knows anybody who doesn’t work for the estate, she never quite got to boarding school- this isn’t cool, not even for the late 1970s. The weirdest part of that is he never arrives. The book ends and Dr. Julian Future Statutory Rapist hasn’t even shown up. He somehow managed to charter a military plane and he still never gets there. The elderly Irishman does get there and manages to inadvertently kill the New Jersey gangsters. He also invokes the old gods and a variety of Druidy things to make Jessica super psychically powerful for a hot minute. Helpful.
Peregrine and Merricat survey their domain from atop the pumpkins. They see all.