Mummy G. is my favorite. She was right there helping Vish Puri, no matter how many times he tells her, "investigating is not for Mummies..."
Not really. I love the series for the reoccurring characters, not the cases.
When Mummie reveals she knows why the murder was committed.
I got a little teary-eyed at the above scene. And I laughed at Chubby's attempts to follow a diet, with Rumpy after him.
I eagerly await Vish Puri, India's Most Confidential Private Investigator's next adventure. "Confidentiality is our watchword!"
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs, be warned: this memoir is nothing like them. Nor is it particularly well written. I almost couldn't get through the first seven chapters because of the constant reiteration of the phrases "back then" "back in those days" and "back in the old days." It's relentless, kind of verbal Chinese water torture. Eventually, it either lessened or I got used to it.
As to content, this isn't a novel or an expose of any kind. There isn't much that struck me as shocking as the author seemed to expect (for example, some servants liked to read) , but that may be because I am an American reading this in the twenty-first century. Or that "them upstairs" expected those below to be grateful to them. There was some interesting detail about the mechanics of housekeeping and how Margaret learned to cook. The news that fresh food made from scratch tastes way better than what we have today just didn't strike me as amazing news.
Since this was an impulse download done at a time I was trying to distract myself, the book really didn't suit my purposes. I wish I'd kept searching, but not terrible. Just terribly bland.
The series is moving right along with Tilla and Ruso diverted to a posting far away from the Emperor's planned itinerary... in order to run right into the imperial procession. I think this outing features the best mystery of all the books and I'm delighted to say that my favorite character, Tila, is as delightful as ever. I did miss Albanus. Can't he somehow become attached to Ruso so he can stay where the action is? Valens makes a return performance as well as Ruso's arch enemy Mettelus. As always, the dialogue is humorous and the relationship between Tila and Ruso hasn't grown stale at all. It's at the heart of all the books.
All I can do is hope that Ruth Downie is busy working on the sixth in the series. She left us with a slight cliff hanger. Totally recommend.
I don't know how I missed Ruth Downie and the Russo series, but since the first book was published in 2007, it must be true which is a bummer for me. But, on the good side, there are now four more novels in the series ready to download without any waiting. Discovering a new series is one of the best things that I spend my credits on!
I realize that people who are very particular about historical accuracy might find Medicus trying, but I have no such standards. I thought it was great! There is a strain of sentimentality in the work that is more common is "cozy" mysteries, but that charmed me right away.
I hope the next book holds to the same tone and builds the momentum so well done in Medicus. I'm going to download book two now. Fingers crossed.
Someone needs to get fired, dismissed without reference, for the audio production of this book. I don't blame the narrators, since both the male and female narrators, use the same breathless, idiotic delivery. It's the sing-song voice adults use to talk baby talk to infants. Let me ask you this, would a physics book be performed this way? I hated it so much this book sat in my library for about six months, even though I'd enjoyed Michael Newton's earlier work, until I realized that I could put the book on "faster" speed and that helped a little bit. At least enough so that I was able to listen to it.
Still, if you have a choice, get the written version of this. You'll thank me.
The story of Typhoid Mary haunts our collective memory, from the time before vaccinations, antibiotics, or any understanding of the microscopic world. This was an era when disease seemed to descend out of nowhere and the only treatments available were cold baths, cold clothes and fervent prayers. So, a healthy carrier - an infectious person with no signs of the illness themselves - became the stuff of nightmares.
Instead of taking the perspective of the victims, however, Fever is told from Mary Mallon's point of view. I admit, I was skeptical because I've known how terrifying it is to watch a child get sicker and sicker and the true impotence of doctors in the face of the unknown. But I got drawn into her story. I believed the voice taking me step by step through Mary's decisions, even after she should have known better...
I'm wondering if the line between historical and fiction is getting too blurry, because I had to keep reminding myself this was fiction. But that's my only caveat. Recommend.
Waking Up In Heaven is a new entry into the same genre as Proof of Heaven (Alexander) and To Heaven and Back (Neal). For lack of a better term, the afterlife genre. It's written by Crystal McVea and she narrates her own story of dying and getting to heaven and returning.
The book is laid out cleverly - with a flash of what she saw in the afterlife, followed by hours of her life story, followed by minute two in Heaven, back to hours of her life story... a slick arrangement designed to keep the reader/listener plowing through to find out the answer to the only interesting question here: what happened after you died?
I suppose the life story is to establish her credibility.She tells us in the beginning that she is the ultimate sinner, having broken all ten Commandments. All. Ten. But I have to say, her shadowy past was pretty lame for someone claiming to be the ultimate sinner. It didn't seem to me that she fell that far. (i.e. she was never on drugs, never on the street, never stole, never prostituted, never hurt another person with malice, etc.) I won't tell you what she bases her claim of ultimate sinfulness on since I'm not writing spoilers here, but I was not impressed with her claim to baseness.
I did believe her claims of abuse and those claims explain her internal struggles better than the sin hypothesis. But where she and I really parted company was her insistence that she honestly believed God was punishing her for her pretty ordinary sins by inflicting traumatic brain injury on her three-year-old son. Oh, come on. Who would worship a God like that whether he/she exists or not?
In all these books, the credibility of the witness is important so we can decide what we think of their story. And here, Crystal McVea runs into some trouble. Listening to her life story (unavoidable if we want to find out what she experienced) she came across to me like one of those people who changes themselves to match whoever they are involved with/married to at the time.
So, when she meets and marries her current husband (who, though she was done with men forever, happened in less than four months - she introduced him to her six-year-old daughter after only a month!) and he is a devout Christian, life changes.
She runs into two cases of demonic possession in otherwise normal friends, something her husband is prepared to deal with, is prompted by God to leave a hundred dollar tip on a one dollar bill (something her husband finds out is the answer to a prayer) and, last but not least, a trip to the pearly gates. If Occam's Razor applies (the principle that the simplest solution is usually correct) this testimony seems much more earthly inspired than divine.
But Crystal tells us multiple times in the introduction, we will only believe her if we chose to. I guess that's true with everything, but, for me, her case did not add anything persuasive to the discussion one way or another. Skip this one.
The world of San Francisco at the beginning of the twenty first century in all its nerdy (but not hipster) fun is the setting for Mr. Penumbra''s 24 Hour Bookstore. And fun it is. Especially if you know the city as Robin Sloan so obviously does and exploits it for maximum effect - from the "Gourmet Grotto" i.e. the Powell Street mall's food court, which is exactly as portrayed, to-the-down at heel section of Broadway, described more innocuously than it actually is.
But even now (in 2013), the book feels both modern and nostalgic at the same time. The obsession with working at Google particularly dates the story to a very specific epoch. My favorite character is Mr. Penumbra. The performance holds up and I will revisit this book in the future, when I'm in the mood to time travel to the halcyon days of San Fran in 2010.
I admit, I read this book with an ulterior motive. I have kind of a "self help" interest in memory and its quirks. I have this idea that if I can polish up my past (and I don't see why not, I'm the keeper of it, after all) then it should - in countless subconscious ways - improve my present.
This book gives my ulterior motive hope because, as the book explains, memory is really a confabulation of past experiences, stories and present hopes and attitudes - not an unchanging video of the mind. Charles Fernyhough combines the latest and greatest of memory research with personal stories (like how he's attempting to give his children vivid memories of his father, who died before they were born.) He covers common memory glitches - like how siblings remember the same event, but happening to different people.
(I have this situation with my sister. I cut my finger on a peanut butter can - yes, peanut butter used to come in cans - and had to get stitches. She remembers the incident as well, but thinks it was her finger that was cut. The weird thing is that we both have a scar on that finger.)
I don't know if this book will grip those without personal gain in the back of their minds, but I enjoyed it. Recommend.
I'm so glad I downloaded The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat (ok, I'm not crazy about the title.) It was an impulse download, but the sample had made me laugh out loud so I thought I'd give it a shot. Now that I've listened to it, I wish all of my impulses ended this well!
The center and main narrator of the book is Odette - a middle-aged, black woman who lives in a small town in Indiana with her two best friends, her husband James, and a handful of lively ghosts - including Old Earl of the title. Odette was "born in a sycamore tree" and is rumored to be fearless. Time and time again, however, she proves she isn't just fearless, she's wise and filled with compassion.
Also, because of the way the narrative shifts between the past and the present, I really felt like I've known these characters their whole lives, like I was a part of their circle. I don't want to give away the plot, but I can say that I will be recommending this to anyone who asks me "read anything good lately?"' and l will be looking for more from this author. Bravo!
The point that is made over and over - that the obesity epidemic was scientifically engineered to get the exact results it has produced, i.e. sell a lot of processed food with no concern for health - is devastating to whatever crumb of credibility the food industry has left. The research that Michael Moss presents I found to be comprehensive and convincing. I hope parents take the time to listen to this and think of how to change the behaviors that "convenience" foods have instilled in the tastes of our kids. It is worth the time and the credit. Otherwise, we are out gunned in the fight.
On a purely personal note, I find the narration slightly overly conspiratorial and breathless. But I got used to it after awhile.
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