The Beautiful Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by Ajoobacats found here.  Thank you!

In keeping with the award, here are 7 facts about me:

  • I love to cook and bake.
  • I teach math for a living.
  • I love to read mystery novels.
  • Autumn is my favorite season.
  • The original Angry Grey Cat developed renal failure and had to be put to sleep a couple months ago.
  • I am an introvert and really enjoy time at home.
  • I have been playing with ideas for writing my own mystery novel for quite a while.

I nominate the following bloggers:

These are all blogs that I check in with and read regularly, usually through Bloglovin’.

Cover Her Face & Afterlife with Archie Vol. 8

I recently read a P.D. James book that was #14 in the Adam Dalgliesh series and really enjoyed it so I decided to start the series from the beginning.  Cover Her Face is book 1 in the series and it is a very traditional Agatha Christie-esque style mystery, locked room, secluded manor house, upstairs-downstairs tensions, a victim with many enemies, questionable alibis for many of the suspects and the parlour reveal scene at the end.  This book is definitely a example of the classism and morality of the time as the plot centers around an unwed mother, whom the lady of the manor has graciously given a position in her household to that includes room and board and allows her son to be with her.  The attitudes towards unwed mothers and public (taxpayer’s) support of them actually become the topic of a somewhat heated dinner table discussion.

This was a good classic mystery, well written and plotted.  I didn’t know the culprit until the end and it was somewhat of a surprise to me. While  I preferred The Private Patient, this was still very good.

Undead with Archie Vol. 8 is part of a series that I am reading based on the Archie comics of my youth.  I really appreciate the combination of nostalgia from my youth and zombies.  It is very well done and the artwork is compatible with the originals but with an updated feel.  In this edition, Archie contemplates the events so far in their escape from Riverdale as the survivors attempt to celebrate Christmas.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes.  Any adult fans of the original Archie comics and The Walking Dead should give these a try.

Fables Volumes 3 & 4

I have been reading the graphic novel series Fables.  Today I finished volumes 3 and 4.  These were different from the first two in that there seemed to be some more distinct storylines.  Many of the same characters are revisited, Snow White, Rose Red, Bigby, Bluebeard, Flycatcher, and Prince Charming.  Sleeping Beauty has a pivotal storyline that was a very good play on her original curse.

In these books Fabletown faces more adversity from the outside and the fables must band together to save their homes and themselves.  Meanwhile, there are also changes afoot from the inside and a surprisingly powerful ally appears.

I am really enjoying this series with its many references to fairy tales, fables and legends from a variety of cultures.  I would recommend this to adult fans of plays on fairy tales.  There is sex and violence both in these books.

What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George

I picked this up at a library book sale. I have not read Elizabeth George before, but I am aware of her long running series with Inspector Lynley.  This is actually not a mystery really.  I would just call it a crime novel.  Apparently in the previous book in the series Inspector Lynley’s wife is killed and this book tells the story of the killer’s life leading up to the event that takes her life.

The killer is Joel a young orphan with an out of control older sister, an overwhelmed aunt, who they live with, and a younger brother who is supposed to be autistic from the descriptions.  Joel tries to do everything to take care of his ragged family and survive in a world of drugs, prostitutes, bullies and crime.  Unfortunately, his best is not enough.  This book explores statements about class and race and social inequities that are not “fun” to read about.  It opens up the discussion of choice and how things such as one’s race, wealth, or other accident of birth limit choices sometimes to the point that there are no good ones.

Although this was not what I was expecting (I thought it was going to be a mystery), it was well written and the author did a particularly good job with the character’s voices, speaking street language in a way that seemed natural and not contrived. I do think that a reader would benefit from at the least being familiar with the series, if not having read the directly preceding book.

Whodunnit? Wednesday

Whodunnit Wednesday

A meme for mystery readers, just grab a hold and then post your link in the comments below.

I have read a few mysteries in the last couple days including Drop Dead Chocolate, Demise in Denim and Brighton Belle.

Drop Dead Chocolate is in the Donut Shop Mystery Series.  I have been reading this series for a little while but I am nowhere near caught up.  I really enjoy it though and so I am sure that I will eventually.  The characters are engaging and more realistic than in some cozies that I read.  The plot kept me interested throughout and I didn’t know exactly who did it until the end so that was fun.  A good read for cozy mystery fans!

Demise in Denim is the 5th book in the Consignment shop mystery series. This is a series I have followed since the beginning.  I picked up this one and felt lost and couldn’t understand why.  It appears that there was a book 4 released, Dead Man Walker, a short story really at 71 pages, as an ebook only, that prefaced the events in book 5.  I usually buy my cozies as paperbacks because I have a group of friends that I trade with so I guess that is how I missed book 4 and besides that I generally don’t buy short stories.  I am not sure how I really feel about this.  I definitely did not enjoy this as much as the other books in the series, but now that the case is resolved I don’t really want to buy the ebook short story.

Brighton Belle is a historical fiction set in England, Brighton to be exact a few years after World War II.  The character of Mirabella Bevin is an ex sercret service employee, probably made redundant after the war who now works for a debt collector.  In pursuing a debtor, she uncovers circumstances that don’t quite seem right to her and set her on the path to investigating far beyond the scope of debt collection.  Along the way she picks up a sidekick, Vesta, who is a lot of fun, and loses a boss.  Some backstory about Mirabella is revealed that adds depth to her character and explains her life a little.  For some reason, this had a very Phrynee Fisher feel to me and would proablbly make quite an entertaining TV show, even moreso than a book.

So, thinking of Brighton Belle, I was wondering what TV mysteries that started as books you watch and is the book better or the TV show?  

Personally, I like the TV show for Miss FIsher’s Murder Mysteries better than the books.  It just seems to really come to life, perhaps it is because the actress is so perfectly suited?

On the other hand, Hamish Macbeth books by MC Beaton are so much better than the TV show ever was! 

This is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is Top 10 books we’d love to see as movies/TV shows.  Here are mine, in no particular order:

1,  Lynnwood – English Folk Horror that would make an excellent movie.

2. Too Big to Miss – I would love to see this with Brooke Elliott as the star

3.  The Last Policeman series would be a great mini series.

4.  The Great God Pan – classic horror

5. Inspector Erlendur Series – Nordic Noir

6. The Lewis Trilogy – set on the Isle of Lewis and dark and melancholy series along the lines of Vera and Broadchurch

7. The Spellman Files – really funny crime solving.  I’d love to see it made into a TV series.

8. Department Q series – dark, quirky humor with an eccentric cast of characters would make a great TV series

9. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – I’d love to see this as a movie.

10. The Dixie Hemingway cozy mystery series, this is well written and the protagonist Dixie Hemingway shows true growth through the course of the series.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

I will preface this by saying I have only read one other Margaret Atwood work, The Handmaiden’s Tale.Also, I am aware that many  some people consider Margaret Atwood one of the world’s greatest living authors.  With all that in mind I picked up Oryx and Crake at a community book sale.  I believe this was originally written as a stand alone but is now the first book in a Trilogy called the MaddAddam Trilogy based on the final book of the three.

The book falls in the dystopian genre…earth in a post apocalyptic time frame.  Apocalypse in the form of a particularly nasty viral outbreak.  The protagonist Snowman is a survivor from the old world and the caretaker of a new species of slightly dim humans and spends time instructing them on the desires, stories and beliefs about Oryx and Crake.  Flashbacks occur to the time when Snowman was a boy named Jimmy, unloved and not terribly bright, and Crake was a boy named Glenn, unloved but brilliant and according to Atwood herself, has Aspergers,  and Oryx, well Oryx was an unloved child porn star with a cunning type of intelligence that allowed her to survive in the world.

There are many “big” ideas to be explored here among them, culture and religion and their development ( it is inevitable?), sexism and in particular sexualization of children, intellectual elitism, big business and the evils of capitalism, friendship and love, natural world vs. scientific exploration (in particular extinction), arrogance of man when dealing in forces he cannot hope to control, mortality vs. immortality. There is much to think about in these ideas and in the book they are grounded in in the relationship between Snowman, Crake and finally Oryx.

The story drew me in from the beginning as I wanted to know what happened to the world and why???? We always want to know why.  But I have to say that if Atwood was a speaker, she would be one that I would say loved the sound of her own voice.  This would have been much more powerful book  if it was shorter, less detailed/graphic (do we really need to know exactly what sex acts Oryx had to perform as an 8 year old?), and less presumptious (let’s see how evil you think science and drug companies are when you or a loved one have cancer).  Are the companies in the book evil?  Yes, without a doubt, but they come across as charicatures in their evilness.

All in all, there is undoubtably some greatness here, but not enough to justify just under 400 pages or to draw me into a second or third turn in this world.