Archive for March, 2008

Sequestered Hearts (book #37)

16 March 2008

2007, Erin Dutton.

 A romance. Terrible title, but otherwise not too bad.

The Unfinished Clue (book #36)

16 March 2008

Georgette Heyer, 1933.

Busman’s Honeymoon (book #35)

16 March 2008

Dorothy Sayers, 1937

Re-read to look at the quotations used – I thought there might be a disproportionate number from the Merchant of Venice, but was wrong.

Search the Shadows (book #33)

13 March 2008

Barbara Michaels, 1987.

Not one of her best. In particular, the ending has icky overtones, reminiscent of The Love Talker. I was amused by the heroine’s statement that it was odd that her mother, years ago, had not taken her, as a baby, on a journey – “an infant, who sleeps most of the time anyway, isn’t much trouble”.

Christopher Fry (book #32)

13 March 2008

Derek Stanford, 1954.

A good quotation from “Thor, With Angels”:

(It doesn’t do a man any good, daylight.
It means up and doing, and that means up to no good.
The best life is led horizontal … )

This interview is quite amusing, mostly unintentionally (“To my surprise, I discovered that he too felt diffident at the prospect of talking to someone much more knowledgeable about Arthurian legend … I offered him what encouragement I could”.)

Sam the Sudden (book #31)

9 March 2008

Wodehouse, 1925.

Ok, though not the best Wodehouse I’ve read.

I like this, from the first paragraph:

All day long, New York, stewing in the rays of a late August sun, had been growing warmer and warmer; until now, at three o’clock in the afternoon, its inhabitants … had divided themselves by a sort of natural cleavage into two main bodies – the one crawling about and asking those they met if this was hot enough for them, the other maintaining that what they minded was not so much the heat as the humidity.

And these:

He replaced the paper [photograph of woman he’s fallen in love with] in his note-case and sighed. “Love is a wonderful thing, Hash.”
Mr Todhunter’s ample mouth curled sardonically.
When you’ve seen as much of life as I have,” he replied, you’d rather have a cup of tea.”

“If you’re thinking of the pudding, I’m afraid that’s off. The kitten fell into the custard. … And when I’d fished her out there wasn’t hardly any left. Seemed to have soaked into her like as if she was a sponge. Still, there’d be enough for you if Mr Wrenn didn’t want any.”

I wondered what “limado” is – at a Lyons someone orders “cocoa and sparkling limado simultaneously and was washing down a meal of Cambridge sausages and pastry with alternate draughts of both liquids” – and found these annotations, which have some interesting stuff.

The Android’s Dream (book #30)

1 March 2008

John Scalzi, 2006.

 “it’s a lot to lay on someone in one night that she’s part sheep, her life’s in danger, and she’s needed by the government for the purposes of interplanetary peace”

Not my sort of book really – not enough women (Robin is good when she first appears, but fades out) and too many conspiracies.

Death Goes On Retreat (#book #30)

1 March 2008

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie, 1995.

Cosy about a detecting nun. Not really very good at all. The author is actually a nun, so presumably the surname O’Marie is not her original name – there are no other O’Maries in the BL catalogue.

Chinese Myths and Fantasies (book #29)

1 March 2008

Cyril Birch, 1961.

I found these a bit impenetrable, particularly the long story “The Revolt of the Demons,” which I think links into the Monkey King – in the story, the White Monkey Spirit is the Guardian of the Cave of the White Cloud. The pictures, by Joan Kiddell-Monroe, are good, though.

A man meeting a ghost:


A servant trying to stab a small child in the market (he’s been told she’s an evil spirit):


I don’t know if the bare chests have any historical basis.

Cross Stitch (book #28)

1 March 2008

Diana Gabaldon, 1991.

Published as Outlander in the US – I’m not sure why the difference, but Cross Stitch doesn’t seem a very relevant title. A doorstop of a book, 864 pages.

Here’s Gabaldon on her writing:

Dougal MacKenzie stood up and asked who she was, and she replied (without consulting me), “I’m Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp – and who the hell are you?”

To which I said – “Hey! You don’t sound anything like an 18th century person!” So I fought with her for several pages, trying to beat her into shape and make her talk appropriately – but she wasn’t having any. She just kept making smart-ass modern remarks about everything she saw, and she started telling the story herself.

There’s lots of this weird stuff around about writing, and it is strange that people think in this way about creativity. Also, the “dinna”s get on my nerves.