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JL's Bibliomania

Also on GoodReads as J L's Bibliomania:


and Litsy @jlsbibliomania


While my first love was SF, I read widely in YA, urban fantasy, police procedurals,  middle-grade, and non-fiction. 




Currently reading

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Douglas Carlton Abrams, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama XIV

Halloween Bingo Card Preview

Preview of my Horror-wimp Bingo Card



Thank you Moonlight 


Now to pick what to read...


A few possibilities come to mind quickly


I'm thinking about joining the Classic Noir buddy read and counting it for the named square or the center 


I'll probably read the next volume in the CJ Cherryh Foreigner series for Aliens


I'm trying to read at least another few of the Incryptid series before Philcon and those definitely fit for Supernatural  and perhaps a few other squares


Vampires is likely to be Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris.  While I've not loved the last few volumes, with only 2 books left, I'm going to make an attempt to finish it.


I started White Trash Zombies once before, but just wasn't in the right mood.  


Unless I went entirely for short stories, there's no way that blacking out the card is feasible given my typically available reading time and book-finishing speed.  I'm planning to take some time over the weekend thinking through possibilities and plot out at least one complete set of 5, because a goal of 1 bingo is much less daunting.


The Flat Book Society: Our First (and Second) Reads!

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid

Voting for the first two books came to an end today and we have two books tied at 7 votes each, so they're our first two reads.


Starting September 1st and running through October 31st:

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary RoachThe irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. 


The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars.


Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis?


In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies. 


And Starting November 1st running through December 31st:

Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermidThe dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died - and who killed them. Forensic scientists can use a corpse, the scene of a crime or a single hair to unlock the secrets of the past and allow justice to be done.

Bestselling crime author Val McDermid will draw on interviews with top-level professionals to delve, in her own inimitable style, into the questions and mysteries that surround this fascinating science. How is evidence collected from a brutal crime scene? What happens at an autopsy? What techniques, from blood spatter and DNA analysis to entomology, do such experts use? How far can we trust forensic evidence?

Looking at famous murder cases, as well as investigations into the living - sexual assaults, missing persons, mistaken identity - she will lay bare the secrets of forensics from the courts of seventeenth-century Europe through Jack the Ripper to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.


Reminders will definitely go out closer to our starting dates, and threads will be setup beforehand.  (There is one thread for each in the club now for general comments).


If either (or both!) of these books sound good to anyone not already in The Flat Book Club, our door is always open and everyone interested is welcome. 


Reblogged from Murder by Death

The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch

I enjoyed spending time back in the skewed world of PC Grant and his "Falcon" cases. But at the same time, I was slightly disappointed by Installment #6 in The Rivers of London Series.  


Not sure how much of that disappointment is from The Hanging Tree being a weaker, mature series book, where it feels like all that gets advanced is the plot and the character's don't grow much.

We DO learn the name/identity of a key villain, but somehow that doesn't seem to change much of anything. 

(show spoiler)



Or how much of my disappointment is just general malaise and book hangover from the intensity of the last few weeks of Booklikes-opoly.




Dies the Fire

Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

On March 17, 1998 there was a brilliant flash of light, and afterwards explosives (including gunpowder), internal combustion, and electricity no longer work.  Dies the Fire follows two small bands trying to stay alive during the first months immediately after The Change.  Clan MacKenzie, led by Ren Fair singer and Wiccan High Priestess Juniper MacKenzie, quickly bolts to her cabin in the foothills and settles into a communal kibbutz-like agrarian lifestyle in the Willamette Valley.  Clan Bear, led by ex-marine pilot Mike Havel with his deputies an African American horse trainer and a female live-steel sword fighting veterinarian, develop into a wandering militia as they wend their way from Idaho back to the Willamette.


Other reviewers appear to love Dies the Fire or hate it (Reviews are either 1 star or 4 stars).  I do agree that in many way’s Dies the Fire is an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and Renaissance Fair fan’s wet dream – folks who play Middle Ages have an advantage on the fighting and crafting skills to survive.  Similarly, the villain, the so-called Protector of Portland, is a lawful evil stereotype with medieval history background who tries to start a Feudal setup with him as kingpin and the local gangs as levies.


The writing is a bit more polished than that of S.M. Stirling’s earlier Nantucket Trilogy, but still descends into detailed inventory and infodump from time to time.  On this re-read, I’m also painfully aware of some of the odd tokenization of certain characters – Will Dutton, Mike Havel’s African American 2nd and his Mexican wife are the primary non-Caucasians except for the Nez Perce.  Is that because there just aren’t many people of color in that part of the world, or it is because Stirling is consciously trying to be diverse? He’s not quite succeeding at avoiding the magical Negro stereotype.  Juniper’s daughter, Eilir is congenitally deaf due to measles but preternaturally good at reading lips and unusually Juniper’s inner circle appear to all be fluent in sign and a potential best friend picks up signing effortlessly.  Is that because Stirling is indulging in building the world he wishes, or because he feels the need to include someone with disabilities and then doesn’t quite make it realistic? And despite these criticisms, of all the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction I've read, Dies the Fire is the one that haunts me and that I dream about.  


The Emberverse, as this series is now known, is up to 13 volumes with the 14th, which follows the grandchildren of the original characters, expected out later in 2017. I read the first few books when they were originally released, but lost interest. I got back into the series because the audiobook is available on Hoopla from my library. Taking the time that an audiobook enforces, I’m more aware of the number of times that certain descriptions and concepts are repeated than I was the first time I read Dies the Fire.  I was talking to my husband about this and we came to the conclusion that S.M. Stirling, much like L.E. Modesitt, comes up with interesting premises and is a reasonable wordsmith but they both have favorite set pieces and conceits that they reach for just a bit too often – they can become their own cliché.


I wasn’t impressed with the Tantor Audiobook.  While Todd McLaren had a reasonably pleasant voice, the frequent mispronunciations were annoying and point to a lack of research and sloppy preparation.  (He mispronounces Chuchulian, Samhain, Lunasadh, Athame, céilidh, and ballista, among other things).


Audiobook started during #24in48.  Prorated portion of 431 of 1319* minutes or 187 of the 573 page paperback used as my last Free Friday selection for Booklikes-opoly. I finished it up while listening in the car on the way to camp to pick up my son and while sitting with Ozzie last night.


*I’d been calculating based on 1380 minutes since the downloaded file said 23 hours, but the book actually finished in 21 hours and 59 minutes

Booklikes-opoly Roll Final Tally

Since I got geeky and started a spreadsheet after The Big Shakeup 


Date Rolled

Date Finished Bank Balance Book Pages Square Comment
  April 15th $20 Opening Balance      
April 15th April 27th $23  Hidden Figures 214 Electric Company 5 214 of 265 pgs
April 27th April 29th $28  Jeweled Fire 403 Fantasyland 9  
April 29th May 11th $31  Salt to the Sea 378 New Orleans 21  
April 29th May 14th $36  Fast Women 451 Carsland 18  
April 29th May 19th $38  The Outsiders (audiobook) 192 Main Street 11  
April 29th May 27th $43  Goliath  543 Paradise Pier 28   
May 27th May 30th $46  Etched in Bone  297 Start/Free Choice 297 of 397 pgs
May 29th June 9th $47  The Devil and Daniel Webster  40 Main Street 13  
June 10th June 10th  -- Bailed out with 300 pgs from the Jail Bank & donated 49 pages back 49 JAIL  
June 12th June 14th $50  Save Me a Seat 240 Tomorrowland 34  
May 29th June 15th $53  206 Bones (audiobook) 308 Mystery 8  
June 12th June 19th $56  Midnight Blue Light Special 338 Railroad 29  
The Big Shakeup  
June 19th June 30th $62 Blue on Blue 342 Frontierland 2  
June 16th July 1st $72 Scorpio Races 404 Free Friday  
June 30th July 11th $82 Precursor 448 Free Friday  
July 4th July 14th $88 All American Boys 310 Main Street 10  
June 30th July 19th  $98 Fallen Angel (audiobook) 416 Fantasyland 6   
July 4th     This Is Not A Game (skipped)   Railroad 14 Skipped
July 14th July 20th $104 Ancillary Sword 356 Carsland 18  
July 14th July 27th $108 The Invention Of Nature (DNF) 109 Free Friday DNF
July 20th July 27th $110 Kim (DNF) 94 Adventureland 26 DNF
July 28th July 30th $114 Dies The Fire (audiobook) 187 Free Friday 431 of 1319 mins
July 27th July 31st $118 The Hanging Tree 130 Mystery 35 Ran out of time


(appologies for the hideous non-formatting) 


I'll revise this post later if I happen to get above 200 pages in The Hanging Tree tonight. More thoughts on the books I read and game may come next weekend.


Thanks again to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for dreaming this up and for moderating.

Fare Thee Well Ozymandius King of Kings

I met a traveller from an antique land, 
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, 
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; 
And on the pedestal, these words appear: 
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; 
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! 
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare 
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Ozzie Adopted March 2008 - July 31, 2017

Last Free Friday Selection

Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

Reading progress update: As of 12:01 am on Friday, July 28, 2017 I've listened to 888 out of 1380 minutes, or just under 2/3 of the audiobook of Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling 


The paperback clocks in at a whopping 573 pages, so I am declaring the last 1/3 (the equivalent of approximately 200 pages) as my last Free Friday selection.  


I doubt I'll have time to listen to 8+ hours of audiobook between now and Monday night, but do anticipate listening to it for much of my 3 hour trip to pick up elder son from camp on Sunday.  


Good reading all during the final sprint to the end.


Time to Move On

I've been going nowhere fast with my two in-progress Booklikes-opoly selections.  So with the end of the game fast approaching, I've decided to press pause on Kim - Rudyard Kipling,A.L. Rowse at 94 pages (Adventureland 26) and The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf at 110 pages (Free Friday) so that I can have the fun of rolling again, and hopefully finishing at least 1 more book before the banks close on Monday.


Current Bank Balance: $110

Last Roll Date: July 14th


Roll #20

The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch   


Great!! I think that The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch which is an ILL book and isn't renewable counts as a police procedural and the main character is a Constable.  I've been really looking forward to reading this.


And I rolled doubles, so here I go again!



Oh look!  Now I'm on Frontierland 2. I must be fated to read The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch next because it also fits this square.  While Constable Peter Grant rarely draws a gun, he definitely knows how.  This is my 2nd visit to Frontierland 2 so it's up for a bonus. 


And for the dangerous 3rd roll:



 I've also been here before, but before the bonuses came into effect.  


Books on my hope to read soon shelf that fit also fit one or more of these squares are Unquiet Land: An Elemental Blessings Novel - Sharon Shinn (Fantasyland 9) and Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach  (Frontierland 2).


Unquiet Land: An Elemental Blessings Novel - Sharon Shinn  Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach  


I'll decide which book goes with Frontierland 2 once I see how much reading time I can fit into this busy, busy weekend.

The Fallen Angel

The Fallen Angel - Daniel Silva

The Fallen Angel is a mid-series entry (#12) in Daniel Silva’s long-running series about Israeli spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon. At the beginning of The Fallen Angel, Gabriel is retired from the intrigue business and at the Vatican to restore a painting by Caravaggio. He is drawn into an investigation of the death of a female curator who was investigating malfeasance in the Vatican collection by his friend and occasional ally, private secretary to his Holiness Pope Paul VII, Monsignor Luigi Donati. Of course, Donati knows more than he initially reveals and soon Gabriel is off to the Italian countryside followed by St. Moritz to investigate. It being a Gabriel Allon story, there can’t be just one villain, just one plot, and soon enough the story circles back to events in Israel and the clock is ticking as Gabriel races to save the world in the nick of time.


Read by iconic narrator George Guidall, The Fallen Angel, like many thrillers made an excellent audiobook. While The Fallen Angel can stand alone, I would have benefitted from a more recent memory of the previous volume in the series (which I somehow appear to have missed). Gabriel has been aging in real time and would be in his late 50s at the time of The Fallen Angel. He is still, barely, young enough for the high jinx to be plausible. While Daniel Silva continues to turn out one well researched Gabriel story a year (#17 was published earlier in July 2017), the stories since The Fallen Angel just haven’t been quite as compelling.


Read for  Fantasyland 6: Read a book set in a Western European Country or with a wintry scene on the cover




All American Boys

All American Boys - Brendan Kiely, Jason Reynolds

All American Boys follows two young men - one African American, one Caucasian - after an incident of racist police brutality.  Rashad, who is innocent, is beaten severely enough to be hospitalized by a White police officer who claimed he was stealing a bag of chips from a convenient store.  Quinn observes the incident and then struggles with whether to let people know that he was there.


Set in a generic small city or large town named Springfield, the story could be taking place anywhere in today’s America.  I’ve been hearing about this book from teacher and librarian bloggers since its release in 2015 and thought it would be a good fit for the optional 4th of July Booklikes-opoly Americana book selection.


Co-authored by African American author Jason Reynolds and Caucasian author Brendan Keily, All American Boys could qualify as an #OwnVoices book.  However, I feel like All American Boys was written more as a parable to explain to Caucasian readers why this topic is important than as a book for African American readers to see themselves.  While I found the book compelling, at times All American Boy almost crosses the line to polemic and the moralizing is a bit too blatant to these adult eyes.


In the end, All American Boys is a timely memorial to Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tarika Wilson, Keith Childress and the countless other young African Americans who are disproportionately dying at the hands of police. Despite my quibbles, All American Boys admirably serves as a potential avenue to start the conversation with young adults about this complex topic.

#24in48 Wrap-up

Kim - Rudyard Kipling, A.L. Rowse The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling
I haven't been online or read as much as yesterday, but wanted to post a final tally for #24in48 July 2017 Edition

Hours reading print: 0.75 in The Invention of Nature and 1 hour in Kim

Hours listened to: 8.75 of Dies the Fire 

Book Reactions written: 2.  All American Boys will post Monday, The Fallen Angel will post Tuesday.

Other household tasks:  Farm Market, Grocery store, started a batch of sauerkraut, made bread, scaled Mount Washmore and Mount Foldmore, cooked stuffed grape leaves for dinner, and took care of the sick cat.

In other news: Younger son is home from a great 2 weeks at sleep-away camp and taller than ever. Ozzie has another vet appointment tomorrow.


That's a wrap. Good night all.




#24in48 Spine Poetry

Good morning Readathon!  I shook off my morning sleepies by running up and down the stairs from our basement library to look for books for the Hour 30 Spine Poetry Challenge 



The way I see it

I might be you

Come late to the love of birds


The sky and the forest

Heaven's reach

The quartered sea

Shadow's End

Blue on Blue

Storm in a Teacup


Which just goes to prove that on short notice and only my 1st cup of tea, I'm a really, really  bad poet. I think I'm going to have to spend some time before my next Readathon thinking about verse since there's been a spine poetry challenge in most of the readathon's I've participated in.


 See you in a while.  My audiobook and I are off to the farm market and the grocery store.

#24in48 Halftime report

Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

Bedtime Report 

Hours read: 0.75 in The Invention of Nature

Hours listened to: 5.5 in Dies the Fire 

Reviews written: none

Other household tasks advanced: Lots


See ya in the morning



Dies the Fire

Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

Of all the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction I've read, for whatever reason Dies the Fire is the one that haunts me and that I dream about.  And I can't read about what Junie finds at the Fairfax place with dry eyes.  


Rest in peace Frank and Joan Fairfax

(show spoiler)


262 of 1380 minutes

Available as an audiobook from Hoopla

Hour Twelve: Hit the Road

As usual, I keep messing up with the timer and forgetting to start/stop it.  So far today I've read in The Invention of Nature for about 45 minutes and listened to Dies the Fire for a bit over 2 hours.  And spent hours and hours surfing around looking at other people's Readathon related posts...


The Hour 12 Challenge: Hit the Road asks  1) which three audiobooks you’d recommend for a roadtrip and why, OR 2) if you could take a roadtrip to any three bookish locations, what would they be?


I listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car, both during long trips and just during normal commutes.  The three I would recommend would be:


  • Lord of The Rings read by Rob Inglis
  • The Raven Boys read by Will Patton
  • The Gabriel Allon series read by the grand-master of audiobook narrators George Guidall


In fact, pretty much any thriller or mystery is likely to read well (for instance the Anna Pigeon series read by Barbara Rosenblatt).  I do prefer when the sex of the narrator matches the sex of the main character. And there are female narrators that I like, but they just didn't come to mind first.


In terms of places to visit myself.  When I was younger, I very much wanted to visit Darkover and Pern.  These days, I wouldn't mind visiting Hogwarts, Middle Earth, or pretty much any Urban Fantasy world where magic really works for good, but I'd definitely like to come home again after my visit.

Hour 6 Shelfie Challenge

Wanted to post my shelfie before the deadline 



I have two pictures for you. The first is a wide shot of the corner of our living room that includes Mr. Skin and Bones aka Ozzie sitting in a patch of sunlight. 








What's notable about this bookshelf (of the many bookshelves in our house) is that the middle two shelves are mostly filled with library books.  The upper shelf is mine, the lower is shared by my sons. (The husband's library books were relegated to the bookcase downstairs by his office). We have had many fewer hunts for the missing library book since we designated space in the bookcases for them.