Just for Fun reading challenge 2012


The sixth Phryne Fisher book set in the 1920s Australia. Finally in Audible!

Publication year: 1994
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 7 hrs and 22 minutes

Mr. Christopher is found dead in his room in the boarding house he is staying. The boarding house doesn’t lack for suspects, because most of the boarders are dancers, circus worker, or otherwise of questionable morals. However, one of the boarders, Miss Parks, has been recently released from prison after she had been imprisoned for a long time since she had been found guilty of killing her husband and most boarders immediately agree that she must have killed the Christopher. When young constable Tommy Harrison and his superior John, Jack, Robinson start investigating the murder, they find out that Christoper was a hermaphrodite, and a woman loved him as a man while a man loved her as a woman. He/she worked in Farrell’s traveling circus. Then the cops get mixed up with the local gangsters.

Meanwhile, the Honorable Phryne Fisher is bored. Her adopted daughters are at school, the Butlers, her lovers, and even her maid are away. She longs for human contact and just then three of her friends from a traveling circus and carnival ask for her help. Strange things have been happening in Farrell’s Circus and Wild Beast Show, and Alan, Samson, and Doreen are afraid that their livelihood is in danger. So, Phryne agrees to take the plunge into a whole another world and investige the circus undercover. She takes on a pseudonym and becomes a trick-horse rider, drawing on her past when she was poor.

Soon, Phryne feels lonely in the circus, too. She realizes that the circus has a rigid caste system and beliefs which separates the circus people from the “carnies” and the gypsies and the foreigners, clowns shouldn’t have lovers because then they aren’t sad enough to be funny, and anyone crossing those lines are thought as a weirdo among freaks. Fortunately, Phryne makes quick friends, too.

The book has a large cast of characters. Only some of the familiar characters make an appearance and then only briefly; most of the time Phryne is in the circus and Robinson is investigating his case. The new characters are very interesting bunch, as you might expect from circus people. I also thought they were very human with superstitions and flaws and unexpected depths. I liked especially the dwarf although he didn’t have many scenes.

Phryne also has to confront her need for approval. She’s very lonely and depressed when she doesn’t have, well, admiring friends or lovers around her. She will do quite a lot to get that approval. She also realizes how much she really likes being rich; having fancy clothing, good food, and servants.

I doubt that the cast here will become regulars the same way that many of the previous books’ casts have become. But I hope we will see them sometime again.

The audio book has a short discussion between Greenwood and the reader Daniels. Greenwood says that she wanted to shake the complacency which might have built up in the previous books, taking Phryne away from her familiar routines and people. She was very successful in this. She also revealed that when she was twelve, she had run away to the circus with a couple of friends. The circus folk returned them to their parents but Greenwood had learned to trick ride. Fascinating!

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The fourth story in the Clockwork Century series.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Running Time: 12 hrs and 9 minutes

Josephine Early runs a bordello house in New Orleans. She, and all of her girls, are of mixed race and she knows very well how precarious her position is. Not surprisingly, she supports the Union. However, for years now New Orleans has been a occupied city. The city was first conquered by the Union because of the port and the river but then it was reconquered by Texas which is still occupying it. The locals don’t like the Texans at all but few can do anything about the situation. Josephine if one of those few.

She’s a spy for the Union and she’s involved in other plots, as well. Her brother runs with the local pirates and her pet project is the Ganymede, a war ship that sails underwater. However, she needs a crew she can rely on and who are brave enough to sail the Ganymede. The previous crews drowned. Her last chance is an old lover whom she hasn’t seen in ten years: Andan Cly. And then there’s the zombie problem.

Andan Cly is thinking about settling down. He’s almost respectable now; running supplies to the underground city of Seattle instead of pirating. He’s also met a spirited woman who is another reason to settle down. He agrees to make a supply run for the city’s de facto ruler, Jaychoo (spelling?), and others when he receives a telegram from Josephine and decides to go to New Orleans to see her, perhaps for the last time.

I was a bit hesitant to get this book because of the many mixed reviews around. However, Ganymede was just as fun as the previous books and I was glad I bought it. The story has a mix of old and new characters. While the story starts in New Orleans with new characters, it moves quickly to Seattle, where we meet most of Boneshaker’s cast and Mercy from the previous book. This was great. We also get information about the giant machines which keep the air in the underground city breathable; they’re old and haven’t been repaired or serviced for a long time. I will be hugely surprised if Priest doesn’t follow this up in some next book.

The zombies have spread from Seattle to the rest of the US even though most folks don’t yet believe they exist. Cly and his small crew know about them, so they have no problem fighting the rotters.

Unfortunately, the story had some problems as well. There’s a continuity mistake with Cly and Mercy. They appear to meet for the first time in this book.. except that Cly flew Mercy to Seattle in Dreadnought. I was also left wondering why the underwater ship didn’t have any sailors in the crew. I also thought that Cly agreed to sail the Ganymede a bit too easily considering that the previous crews had all died. I also liked Kate Reading’s narration a lot better than Ballerini’s. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t tried to make female voices. Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t know anything about Angeline or about Lucy O’Gunning because their voices are pretty similar to the prostitutes. (In Boneshaker it was established that Angeline has a damaged throat so she doesn’t sound like a “normal” woman.)

The characters are again great. Josephine is a resourceful woman in the early forties (yes, forties!). She carries a gun and is fully aware of the dangers in all of her professions. She’s also very protective of her underlings and her brother, and she passionately wants Texas out of her city. Her ladies are all practical and have their own quirks.

Cly is equally protective of his crew and he’s also a very capable man. He thinks a bit about his former life with Josephine but thankfully doesn’t angst about it. One of his crewmen is out of Seattle for the first time and Cly acts as a sort of mentor and father figure to him.

This was more uneven than the previous stories but I’m eagerly waiting for the next book.

A new book in the Diving universe! It’s the third book in the series after Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins. Some spoilers for those two books.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Jennifer van Dyck
Running Time: 9 hrs and 49 minutes

Boneyards opens five years after the end of City of Ruins. The crew of the Ivuar has had a rough time when they are adjusting to their new life. Some have resigned and left, and a few have killed themselves. However, some are still working for their Captain Coop. Boss has employed Coop and his crew, and together they are trying to find out what happened to the world Coop knew. They are also doing their best to keep all technology out of the hands of the Enterran Empire. They are researching all clues they can find about the Dignity Vessels and sector bases which where functional five thousand years ago. What or who destroyed a society powerful enough to build them?

About half of the book focuses on Squishy. Twenty years ago she used to work for the Empire researching Stealth Tech but when she realized just how dangerous it was, she quit and left for wreck diving. She worked for a while with Boss. When the story starts, she’s infiltrated a Stealth Tech research station in order to destroy their work in the hope of saving lives of innocent people. Squishy is also a doctor and she cares a lot about other people’s lives. A lot of Squishy’s story is told in flashbacks some 20 years, back, some a year back. Unfortunately, this was sometimes a little hard to follow in the audio book when I can’t just flip a few pages back, but I enjoyed learning about Squishy’s back story in more detail.

Most of the characters from previous books return and I enjoyed their interaction. However, the book doesn’t advance the overall plot about the anacopa drive much, except for the ending. I also enjoyed a lot that the time displacement wasn’t dealt with easily, as it usually is in Star Trek type stories. Instead the people are stranded and some are rather desperate because of it. Some, such as Coop, are trying to focus on their work and a few couldn’t handle it at all.

Both Coop and Boss are leaders but they have worked together for a while and have a comfortable working relationship, but their personal relationship isn’t as comfortable. They are lovers, but they haven’t revealed that to their crews and Boss doesn’t even think of him much. They don’t interfere with each other’s crews. Coop’s people are military and they don’t sometimes like the way that the civilians work or can argue with their leader.

Most of the characters are single minded in their goals and they are often also paranoid loners. Boss is somewhat more comfortable with her leadership position than before but she still wants to do everything herself. Boss’s crew and the crew from the past work together but sometimes one side lacks information that it very obvious to the other and this causes conflict.

I liked the book a lot but it wasn’t as good as the City of Ruins. However, the ending promises really interesting things to come.

Four Buffy books set at the beginning of season four.

Publication year: 2003
Original books: Prophecies, Dark Times, King of the Dead, Original Sins, all published in 2001
Format: print
Page count: 573
Publisher: Pocket Books

Yes! This was an excellent Buffy alternate universe story!

The story starts when Buffy has started collage and is determined to be both 100 % Buffy and 100% Slayer. Unfortunately, this means pushing away her friends as she’s trying to protect them. Willow especially is hurt by this behavior and Buffy seems to drift apart from her friends.

While patrolling, she encounters four vampires who have glowing eyes and can siphon off her energy with touch. They talk about their master Camazotz. Giles finds out that Camazotz used to be a Mayan god of bats. A dead Slayer Lucy Hannover appears to Buffy in a dream and warns her that the Prophet has foreseen that Buffy will make a huge mistake.

After a bit of bickering and research, the group finds out that Camazotz and his vampires have come over the sea. Giles and Buffy head for the harbor master’s office. Unfortunately, they are overwhelmed and Buffy has to flee and leave Giles behind.

Willow summons Lucy to help them and Lucy says that the Prophet can help them. The group isn’t familiar with her but they have no choice. The Prophet appears and says that she can give Buffy a vision of the future. Buffy agrees. However, when Buffy touches the Prophet, she sends Buffy’s soul five years into the future and inhabits Buffy’s body.

Buffy realizes that she has been a captive of the vampires for five years and meanwhile the Vampire King and his minions have taken over Sunnydale. Back in the past, the rest of the group will have to deal with the weirdly behaving Buffy.

Each book ends in a cliffhanger, except for the last one, of course.

The future is bleak. Everyone in Sunnydale has either fled or is under the vampires’ rule. Buffy has been in isolation for years and has hardened, both body and soul. Fortunately, she has little trouble with integrating her current and past souls. The younger Buffy is often horrified with what she finds in the future and is determined to find a way to chance it. There are still a few who fight for Sunnydale. The surviving Slayerettes have banded together with the Watchers’ Council and the military, and are trying desperately to save the town.

Like in any good alternative reality, the Lost Slayer has several canon characters who have gone through different experiences and are therefore different from the canon characters. Xander is perhaps the one who has changed most. He’s become bitter and a great fighter. Willow is the unofficial leader of the paramilitary group, even Council leaders refer to her charisma and leadership abilities. There are several others, but I won’t spoil them. Many of the characters are rather desperate and hardened from battle.

The books have several original characters, too. Perhaps the most intriguing one was Christoper Lonergan who seems to have a paranormal ability to sense when a vampire is near and how powerful that vampire is. He’s also a Catholic priest and yet he’s joined in with the military effort to clean out the vampires from Sunnydale. Anne Kuei is a young new Slayer who is fighting for the first time. Understandably, she’s bit afraid and anxious but she’s also very brave, and able to fight her fears. None of the Initiative characters made appearances which was a little disappointing.

It seems to me that Buffy’s friends were a bit too competent in battle. Willow’s witch powers are more flashy and powerful than in the show. She’s very powerful in the future but she uses quite powerful magicks in the present, too. For example, she conjures up a wall of fire to keep vampires back. Oz, Xander, and Anya are able to fight of several vampires at once. The vampires here are supposed to be stronger and faster than the normal vampires and yet they seem almost ridiculously easy to kill, when convenient for the plot.

Buffy is the main POV character through out the series. In the first book, Willow and Giles are also POV characters, but not nearly as long as Buffy. In the last two books, there are more POV characters than in the previous ones.

The pacing is quick, except for the first book. The first book spends quite a lot of time before the plot really gets rolling, focusing instead on Buffy’s difficulties in collage and problems with her friends. Oh and Giles’ sometime girlfriend Olivia makes an appearance and we get to know more about her than in the show.

This series is written for the fans for the show.

I couldn’t resist this one, either: Just for Fun reading challenge 2012

As bloggers we are all on timetables to read books, get reviews posted, host giveaways, etc.
But we also travel around to other blogs and see books we would just like to read because of their recommendation or the cover or title catches our interest. The Meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” adds more books to my Wish List and To-Be-Read pile every week.

As followers you get our recommendations, win books from us, pick up books at the library or buy them at a store.
But our lives are so busy these books sometimes sit in our To-Be-Read piles for months or even years.

This is the second year I am hosting this challenge to
encourage you to read some of those books.
12 books in 12 months.

This year this challenge will be set up as a group on Good Reads. If you are not a member it is very easy to join. There are many benefits other than this challenge, you can keep track of the books you read and get great recommendations from other members too. Just go here http://www.goodreads.com/ to sign up.

Then go to JUST FOR FUN READING CHALLENGE 2012.

Join the group!
This group will close to new members on January 31, 2012.

This sounds great! In fact I already know which books I’m going to read just for fun: Buffy and Star Trek: TNG. I decided to reread a few of the TNG books I have and to finally start the Time to… series.

Read:
1, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder: The Lost Slayer Omnibus
2, Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Boneyards
3, Cherie Priest: Ganymede
4, Kerry Greenwood: Blood and Circuses
5, Kerry Greenwood: Urn Burial
6, Liz Williams: the Poison Master
7, Liz Williams: Nine Layers of Sky
8, Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters
9, Carolyn Crane: Head Rush
10, Terry Pratchett: Guards! Guards!
11, Seanan McGuire: Ashes of Honor
12, Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Blowback

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