August 21, 2016

Rivers of London: A Recap and Review of a Super Fun Series


My friend Meghan told me a while ago to request Midnight Riot on audio from our library. So I did, and have been patiently working my way up the hold list. I blazed through the whole thing in just over a day about two weeks ago -- because Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does an AMAZING job of narrating all the different British accents in the story.

The basic premise of the series is that Peter Grant, a young constable with the Metropolitan Police, is shocked to discover that he's been talking to a ghost. And then things get even weirder, when a wizard shows up to explain to Peter that magic is real, and that he himself has latent magical ability. Soon apprenticed to the sorcerer, but simultaneously continuing his police work, Peter finds himself solving murders with "unusual" qualities to them.

The series is hilarious - full of tongue-in-cheek references to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and other magical books; plus they're actually really good mysteries - with Grant narrating the typical way that police work is done in England (with some super amusing sarcastic asides). As his investigation into a series of murders goes on, he discovers links to Mama Thames (the goddess of the river), and her daughters - who include Fleet, Tyburn, and Beverly among others. (The sisters are all goddesses of minor London tributaries - hence the "Rivers of London" series - and British title of the first book. Not quite sure why they changed to Midnight Riot for the American edition.)


Book two, Moon Over Soho, found Peter and his sorcerer master investigating a series of deaths of jazz musicians. At one point he's theorizing why the musicians are dying, and he says he thinks it might be vampires who are feeding off the sound of the music. "You think there are vampires who feed off of jazz? JAZZ VAMPIRES??" I laughed out loud at the skeptical tone of voice. So great.

I'm 3/4 of the way through book 3, Whispers Underground, which is crazy, since I they're all around 11 hours long, and I stopped to listen to Naomi Novik's Uprooted in the middle! They really just are SO much fun on audio. I especially enjoy Peter's look at the world - his father is a white "cockney geezer" and jazz legend (which is partly how Peter got drawn into the events of Moon Over Soho), while his mother is a cleaning woman from West Africa, lending him a unique perspective on several different aspects of society in London. And, since I've visited London several times, I love reading about places I've been and streets I've walked.


If you like paranormal mysteries, or you're an Anglophile like me, you'll love these. And even if they're out of your normal comfort zone genre-wise, I really do recommend the audio versions extremely highly! I haven't read any in print, so they might not be quite as good without Holdbrook-Smith's superb narration, but I bet that they're still fun.


What audiobooks have YOU enjoyed lately?


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August 18, 2016

Four of Eight: How I'm Doing on My Reading Goals


Well, hello there. I dropped off the face of the Internet through a dual combo of (a) Olympics (as referenced in my last post), and (b) reading. (Shocker, I know.) Here's a little update on how my reading has progressed so far this month!



Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, etc.

Did I read it? Yes. Not as good as the original books - the script format interrupted some of the flow, and it was significantly shorter, but I still enjoyed returning to the Potter world; although I did miss the depth of story that the first 7 books had.




Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Did I read it? Ahem. Still halfway through. Haven't listened to any more in August - I got SO sidetracked by other audiobooks!



Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

Did I read it? Nope. I lost it for a week. (Eventually found it at the bottom of a basket of clean laundry, which is both a testament to how I fail at putting laundry away, and having a toddler in the house...) But, in the meantime, I missed my review deadline, so I moved on to something else.




Homeplace by Kevin Wolf

Did I read it? Yes. It was pretty good for the first 97% - an atmospheric thriller set on the plains of Colorado... a bit reminiscent of Longmire. Then the motivations of the killer were revealed, and I rolled my eyes so hard it hurt. 



Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn

Did I read it?  Not yet. I still may get there - but it is LONG, and I'm not sure that I'll have time.



Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick

Did I read it? Yes! It was quite good. I ended up having a lot more sympathy for Benedict Arnold than I would have thought possible.



Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Did I read it? Yes! It felt a little formulaic, and it was rather more sad than some of her other books. I appreciate she was maybe trying to stretch beyond her usually funny fare, but I didn't enjoy it as much as her other books. I still blazed through it though; she's captured the art of creating addicting books!




The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Did I read it? I read the first 45 pages, but then it was due at the library, and I wasn't invested enough to pay an overdue fine. So I bailed.



So I'm only 4/8 for what I planned to read, which sounds like I haven't been reading. But, I have! I've read 4 more books that weren't on my list, which means I'm at 8 books for August so far, and it's only the 18th! Much better than I've been averaging lately. Plus, I'm in the middle of two more. Woohoo! More on most of those in a separate post soon. But, I will say that I read a cute little mom-approved (i.e. no sex) romance yesterday - The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club. It was fairly formulaic, but fun.


What have YOU been reading?

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August 8, 2016

Blogging Introspection, Brought to You By the Olympics


It kind of freaks me out how accurate this post from 4 years ago still is. Because guess what I'm doing this evening? Playing Matching with Friends and Two Dots on my phone, while watching the Olympics. (The Olympic breadstick rings are from Saturday night, when I did exactly what I'm doing now, but with pizza.)

That's the weird thing about blogging for so many years - the tiny details that I would forget are so strangely entertaining when I come across them again.

Sometimes I think about giving up blogging totally. I mean, really, you guys would still find books without me! And I'd probably read more if I wasn't writing blog posts.

But then, a year from now, how will I remember what I was doing tonight??

In case you're looking for randomness to entertain you on Olympic commercial breaks, here are some of my favorite posts from the archives for this week in Quirky Bookworm history.

One Year Ago
#bookwormproblems - Anticipointment - You can thank my sister for this clever word.

Two Years Ago
Books for the Earliest of Readers - 30+ Books Your Emerging Reader Will Love  Crazy to think that just two years ago we were at this point with Eleanor! I wonder if Juliet will be there in 18 months...? Seems unlikely at this point, but hey, maybe she'll surprise me!

Three Years Ago
I Can't WAIT to Read These Books (Spoiler alert: I read them all. And one of them was terrible. *cough* Allegiant *cough*)