Book Review: Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Okay, Aaronovitch. You’ve got me. I was already on board with this series, finding Peter to be a likeable and humorous narrator, and quite enjoying the other characters a great deal as well, but this?

This one might have broken me just a bit. I can’t even find an appropriate “mind blown” GIF to insert here, because…just…damn.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to discuss this book without going into spoiler territory, so I’ll see what I can do to avoid them until at all necessary. Fear not, I will mark them very clearly so that you know when to stop reading.

There will eventually be spoilers. Continue reading

The Wheels on the Justice System Go Round and Round

Guess who’s got jury duty?

Time for an interesting fact about me: counting today, I’ve been called down to the courthouse for jury selection exactly three times in my life.

I am in the process of serving on my third jury.

And so, this is why there is a brief pause in my usual offering of vaguely snarky media commentary and book reviews. Fret not, that’s all coming back as soon as I can 1) catch up on the shows I’ve been missing and 2) finish reading a damned book for once.

Something about yours truly must either really appeal to attorneys or just fail to offend them enough to send me on my way. I’ve joked to my friends that I have some kind of weird curse/blessing. It’s as if my fairy godparent came down and stood over my crib, then decided that instead of a more useful blessing, they decided to curse/gift me with having to serve on every single jury that I would ever possibly be considered for. Least useful blessing ever, or possibly the lamest curse in the history.

I jest, but I genuinely don’t mind doing this. Trial by jury is an integral part of the legal process. I am, however, in the really odd position of being able to compare various courts and the accommodations that are made for jurors.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Wiccan Wheel Mysteries by Jennifer David Hesse

Well, okay. This isn’t a proper review, exactly. It’s more like my overall thoughts on the first three books in this new-to-me cozy series.

But first, let me chat with you about cozies. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, just visit this website and the answer to almost any question that you might have is likely here. In short, a cozy mystery lacks gratuitous scenes of bloody murder, features a usually quirky, always likeable protagonist, who also happens to be an amateur detective, and things are wrapped up by the end of the book. There’s almost always some kind of theme that ties the series together — maybe the protag owns a bookshop (which seems to be really popular) or a bakery. Perhaps she Does Scrapbooking, or is active in her church. These are all themes that I’ve found, by the way.

Read on, if you wish to listen whilst I wax poetic about my favorite type of comfort reading! Continue reading

Revisiting Neptune Part 2: A Short Review of the Veronica Mars Movie

Veronica Mars as a film shouldn’t really have worked. In some ways, it did. But in other ways…well. If you’re already a fan of the show, then you already know what you’re getting yourself into. When I watched this movie the first time, after it was originally released, I was simply delighted to get more time with my favorite tiny, blonde detective. Who doesn’t like getting together with old friends?

The movie holds up pretty well on subsequent viewings. I’m so mad, though.

Cutting for spoilers. I do this for your own good, you know. Continue reading

Revisiting Neptune: An Extremely Short Review of Veronica Mars, Seasons 1-3

In the past few weeks, I performed a magnificently lazy feat: I re-binged all three currently existing seasons of Veronica Mars. I came to the Veronica party a little late. I caught a few episodes when season three was airing, and it was enough to make me want to go back to the beginning. I acquired the series on DVD, watched it eagerly, and then entered a new chamber of Television Purgatory. I already had a room, you see, because of Firefly, so I’m well acquainted with the place. The Veronica Mars movie and subsequent novels were nice additions to the series, and I’ll be revisiting those soon. But this is about the original show.

If you’re a fan of the show, you probably already know that Hulu’s reviving the series in a somewhat limited fashion. This being 2019, of course, “limited” is a relative term. If the show does well, I can see Hulu trying to work out a deal for further episodes. And I really, really want to see it succeed on the financial scale that will convince Hulu to keep the train rolling, if they can work out a deal with Thomas, Bell, and everyone else involved.

Spoilers are coming.  Continue reading

Book Review: Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

So here it is,  book 3 of the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series. This is the book that temporarily derailed a friend of mine from the series, so I wasn’t entirely sure how things were going to go for me. This friend and I have similar tastes, so I will admit to being a bit concerned. Nevertheless, I plunged in.

I do have to say that this book was a little better than I had anticipated. Which is a great thing. I’m still a little leery of Aaronovitch and his very male cast of characters. Stephanopoulos being more in the thick of things was a nice move. Further, I am rather fascinated with Lady Ty and what, precisely, she does. What is she responsible for, within her mother’s court? What’s her role?

Cut because I care. There might be spoilers. Continue reading

Book Review: Normal by Warren Ellis

I admitted in another review that the only reason that I read this book when I did was because I wanted to be able to finish 2018 on an even number of books. I was sitting at 69 when December 31 of last year dawned, and Normal was sitting right there, slim and nonthreatening. After flipping through the book and discovering that it was a mere 160 pages, and having nothing better to do on New Year’s Eve (my life is deeply boring in the socializing department these days), I figured that I could whip through the book before midnight struck, thus making my final book tally for 2018 sit at 70.

I received the book via a horror novel subscription box that went up in terrible flames last year. I won’t name it, because I don’t wish to draw out the thieving troll who ripped off his entire subscription base and did a great deal of damage to several small presses. If the book hadn’t come from that service, however, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. It’s not the most compelling cover that I’ve ever seen. I’ve also never read anything else by Ellis, so there wasn’t a burning need to leap into the pages. And the premise is not the most joyful thing, either:

Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geo-engineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.

For both types, if you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the “abyss gaze” takes hold there’s only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.

When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis’s Normal, Dearden uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future—and the past, and the now.

I’m not always looking for happiness when I read something. The holidays, however, are not my favorite time of year, and this? Did not seem like the best thing to read when one was already in a low mood.

No spoilers. Cutting it anyway. Continue reading