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Hate crime investigation.

Posted : 6 years ago on 13 September 2013 12:32 (A review of Snuff (Discworld Novels))

In this 39th Discworld novel, Samuel Vimes is coerced by his wife Lady Sybil into taking a holiday in Crundells, their estate in the Quirmian countryside.

Whereas his 6-year-old son Young Sam is delighted to discover a whole new world of animal poo, far from the hustle and bustle of Ankh-Morpork, the Commander of the City Watch is feeling totally at odds and out of his depth.

However, Vimes's copper instincts tell him something unlawful is going on. And soon he discovers that a young goblin girl has been violently murdered and that Jefferson, the village smith, is missing. With the help of Feeney Upshot, the local pig farmer-cum-constable, he starts to investigate. An adventure that will take them underground and above water, even as far as Howondaland.

This is a very enjoyable story, reminiscent of crime fiction. Vimes's arrival in Crundells reminded me of Downton Abbey, and I also loved exploring the Goblin cave and learning about its people. But the part I enjoyed the most is the middle of the book, when the thrilling murder investigation is in full swing.

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Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 July 2013 01:25 (A review of Believing the Lie)

This Inspector Lynley novel takes place in Cumbria, in the Lakes District, England.

Zed Benjamin is a young reporter at the tabloid the Source. Soon after his second visit to Cumbria after his boss's request to sex-up his story about reformed addict Nick Fairclough, Nick's cousin Ian Cresswell drowns accidentally, after a fight with his partner.

Ian's uncle, wealthy Bernard Fairclough, is a friend of the Assistant Commissioner, Sir David Hillier. Together they asks Thomas Lynley to discretely investigate Ian's death, to verify whether Nick was involved. Lynley recruits the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James, as well as that of his colleague DS Barbara Havers.

Rummaging through the family's affairs, they're bound to find something dirty. Misunderstandings mixed with personal feelings will trigger imbroglios, sometimes with dire consequences.

I picked up this book because there were only three in English at the Nota Bene shop in Måløy, Norway, and I didn't feel like reading about Lycans. I must say I wasn't very fond of Elizabeth George convoluted sentences at first, but the story grew on me, especially after the primary investigation was solved and all the rest remained to disentangle. The end was quite thrilling, however I'm not sure if I'm going to read her other works.

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An exciting novel full of charming people.

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 July 2013 01:23 (A review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)

The story of this epistolary novel takes place just after the end of WWII. Juliet Ashton is a London-based writer who used to have a humorous column in the Times under the name of Izzy Bickerstaff.

While she is at a loss as what to write next, she receives a letter from a Mr Dawsey Adams in Guernsey, saying he has book that once belonged to her, which he got from the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and could she please tell him more about its author.

Juliet's curiosity is piqued by the Society's name and thus they start exchanging mail about literature and life on the island during the war, soon involving Dawsey's neighbours in their correspondence. As letters come and go, Juliet grows fond of her new friends and after a few months, she decides to travel to the Channel Islands and meet them in person.

This book was offered to me by my father-in-law, who knows I usually only read Fantasy. However, he was spot on! This is indeed an exciting novel full of charming people. I wish I could go on reading about them, and I would love to see a film!

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A moreish taste after all.

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 14 June 2013 12:08 (A review of A Dance With Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire 5)

A Dance with Dragons if the fifth book in The Song of Ice and Fire series (after A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Crows and a Feast for Crows and before, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

The beginning of this volume is chronologically parallel to A Feast for Crows and focuses on the other half of characters, on events in the North of Westeros and beyond the Narrow Sea.

Tyrion's part starts in Pentos, where he will be embarked on an unusual adventure to Volantis and Mereen.

In the East, both Quentyn Martell, Victarion Greyjoy are on their way to Mereen to ask Dænerys's hand in marriage, while she tries to conciliate dragons, husband, lover and peace for her people.

At the Wall, Jon is trying to cozy up to Stannis and the Red Priestess Melisandre, to ensure their help in the defense against the Others.

Beyond it, Bran is searching the three-eyed crow with Hodor, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Summer.

In the last quarter of the book, characters from A Feast for Crows rejoin the cast as timeframes are once again synchronized.

It took me over six months to finish this heavy volume! And even though I'm very glad to finally be done with it, one particular event in the last chapters came as a great shock and now I can't wait to read The Winds of Winter (whenever it comes out).

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Further plots and schemes to seize power.

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 14 June 2013 12:07 (A review of A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4))

A Feast for Crows is the fourth book in The Song of Ice and Fire series (after A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Crows and before A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

This volume is chronologically parallel to A Dance with Dragons and focuses on events in the West and South of Westeros.

Both Sansa and Tyrion have escaped King's Landing. Brienne of Tarth is looking for the former, whereas Cersei takes advantage of the disappearance of her brother to seize power for herself. She sends Jaime to reconquer Harrenhal, The Twins and Riverrun.

In the Iron Isles, Asha Greyjoy and her uncles fight for the throne. Euron sends Victorion to conquer Dænerys's heart.

After the Red Viper's death, Dorne is torn between revenge and their allegiance to Tywin Lannister.

Samwell Tarly, accompanied with Gilly and her baby, is sent to Old Town to become a mæster, while Arya becomes a novice at the House of Black and White in Braavos.

Like with the previous volumes, I found that even though the story in itself could be absorbing, George RR Martin's description of every tiny detail makes reading tiresome. So when I put down his books, I have a mixed feeling of both relief and desire to know what happens next. Especially now, I want to know what the other half of characters were up to during that time.

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(...and doesn't) Hecatomb!

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 14 June 2013 12:07 (A review of A Storm of Swords: 2 Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3, Part 2))

Blood and Gold is the second half of A Storm of Sword, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (after A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and Steel and Snow - the first part of A Storm of Swords, and before A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

In this volume, we follow Danaerys in the East, as she makes her way towards the Narrow Sea, looking for ships, conquering cities and building her army with the help of her dragons.

In Westeros, Arya Stark is still trying to go to Riverrun to join her mother, but it seems like everyone is set on putting stokes in her wheels! Meanwhile, Catelyn and Robb are on their way to the Twins, to make amends with the Freys by marrying Edmure Tully, Catelyn's brother, to Roslin, Robb's former betrothed. Will it be enough?

Jamie Lannister decides to save Brienne from Vargo Hoat and takes her with him to King's Landing, where Sansa and Tyrion are preparing for Joffrey's wedding to Maergery Tyrell. How will Queen Cersei react when she sees her beloved brother in this diminished state?

On Dragonstone, Davos the Onion Knight is trying to save Robert's bastard Edric Storm from Stannis and Melisandre's sacrificial impulses, whereas further North, Jon is coming back to the Wall to defend it against Mance Ryder's army of Wildlings.

Maybe the overlarge cast needed some trimming indeed, and I surely should have seen it coming, but I'm still a little shocked at how many central characters George RR Martin manages to kill off in half a volume! I'm not sure there's a causal link, but this installment might actually be the one I enjoyed the most, so far. More action and intrigue, and fewer chapters on military planning must have made the difference.

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When even the hero might no make it…

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 15 July 2012 04:43 (A review of A Storm of Swords: 1 Steel and Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3 Part 1))

Steel and Snow is the first half of A Storm of Sword, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (after A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, before Blood and Gold – the second part of A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

Pieces continue moving across the huge chessboard of Westeros.

Against her son's orders, Catelyn Stark has sent her hostage Jaime Lannister to Casterly Rock, escorted by Brienne of Tarth, in exchange for her daughters Sansa and Arya. Returning to Riverrun, King Robb also has a surprise for his mother, which might jeopardize certain alliances.

While Arya and Gendry are trying to reach Riverrun, Bran and his new friends Jojen and Meera Reed are fleeing Winterfell towards the Wall, following Bran's dream visions.

Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow has infiltrated Mance Rayder's Wildlings. He's falling in love with the warrior Ygritte.

After the battle at King's Landing, the Onion Knight, Davos Seaworth, has been rescued from the sea and taken prisoner in Stannis Baratheon's dungeons.

Sansa is still trapped in Casterly Rock with her betrothed King Joffrey, while the latter's mother Queen Cersei and uncle Tyrion the Imp are plotting against each other.

In the East, Daenerys, accompanied by her dragons and Ser Jorah Mormont, is buying slaves and setting them free, building herself an army to reconquer Westeros.

You'd think that after a while I'd have learned that with George RR Martin, nothing ever goes as planned. But no, I still hope for the good to triumph once in a while. And they don't. One step forward, at least two steps back… but that's actually what makes this grim tale so gripping, when you're not even sure the hero, at least, is going to make it.

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An engrossing intrigue all the same.

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 15 July 2012 04:43 (A review of A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2))

This is the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (after A Game of Thrones and before A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

After the events of A Game of Thrones, the Seven Kingdoms are divided. Chaos reigns as several protagonists claim their right to the Iron Throne, refusing to bow to the young and capricious King Joffrey: Robert's brothers Stannis and Renly, Ned Stark's eldest son Robb, even Cersei's father Tywin Lannister.

While all armies move to conquer castles and loyalties, Catelyn tries to parley with Renly to join forces with Robb, Sansa, betrothed to Joffrey, is stuck in Casterly Rock with Queen Cersei, and Arya is fleeing with Yoren and a bunch of cutthroats bound for the Wall. As for Bran and Rickon, they're left to fend for themselves in Winterfell.

In the North, Jon Snow leaves for the Frostfangs beyond the Wall, scouting for clues of what happened to his uncle Benjen Stark and information about the mysterious and ghastly Others.

In the East, Daenerys Targaryen, with Jorah Mormont and her Dothraki, tries to come closer to the Narrow Sea, looking for ships to cross back to Westeros with her newborn dragons.

Again, I found that the fact that each and every character is named and described more confusing than worthwhile, distracting me from the plot, and making for a laborious reading. However, thanks to striking characters such as Tyrion the Imp, Bran or Arya, the intrigue is still very engrossing, even though it took me months to finish this heavy, small-font volume.

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A dark tale of treacheries and injustice.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 1 November 2011 10:24 (A review of A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1))

This is the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (before A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)).

The story starts in Winterfell, at the end of a long summer, with the Stark family: Lord Eddard and his wife Catelyn, their boys Robb, Bran and Rickon, and daughters Sansa and Arya, as well as Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow, who is about to leave Winterfell to become a brother of the Night's Watch on the Wall, the immense icy structure in the North, which protects the Seven Kingdoms from the wildlings who live beyond it.

When the Starks hear that the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, has unexpectedly died and that King Robert is heading for Winterfell with his family, the cold beauty Queen Cersei Lannister and her two brothers Jaime and Tyrion, and their three children, Eddard knows that his old friend and monarch is going to ask him to fill in the newly vacated position and reluctantly prepares to leave his home, to travel to King's Landing in the South.

Eddard has just left Winterfell when Catelyn receives a message from her sister, Lord Arryn's widow, accusing the Lannisters of her husband's murder. From then on, as the intrigue develops, the situation inexorably deteriorates, the tale becomes grim and very violent, heavy with treacheries and injustice.

At first I found the book wasn't living up to all the praise, and I was often confused with the plethora of names of lords and ladies, knights and bannermen, maesters and soldiers. But as the story progressed, I grew fond of several characters and suddenly, I was hooked. I particularly like reading about Jon Snow, young Bran, or the tomboy Arya, and Tyrion the Imp si definitely intriguing! All in all, not what I expected but unquestionably worth the read!

NB: I made the exception to my sacrosanct rule of not starting a series before the last volume is published because my boy-friend and I wanted to watch the acclaimed TV show (and I wanted to have read the book first). We're currently watching it and I must say it's very faithful to the book most of the time.

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Sorry, not for me.

Posted : 8 years ago on 29 August 2011 04:10 (A review of Wizard of the Pigeons)

Wizard of the Pigeons is a standalone novel set in Seattle in the 1980s.

Wizard is a homeless ex Viet Nam veteran living in a makeshift room on the abandoned upper floor of a department store. His magic, the Knowing, binds him to tell the Truth to the people who share their troubles with him. But there are rules too: he must never have more than one dollar in his pockets, must remain celibate, must feed and protect the pigeons.

In this book, we follow Wizard in his daily routine in the streets and squares of Seattle, or riding the free bus line, until he meets Lynda, a waitress who decides to help him, but who might also put his magic in danger.

Even though I'm a huge fan of Robin Hobb's books, I must admit urban/contemporary fantasy is definitely not for me, even written by someone as gifted as her, and I was rather impervious to Wizard's story. Sorry.

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