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8. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Woo hoo! I'm in to February now. Which means I still don't remember my thoughts on this book.

I've been a fan of this series since the start. I seem to recall that general consensus was that the last one, where Detective Peter Grant goes to the country, was less good. I loved it - it had psychopathic unicorns, for a start. The general consensus also seem to have been that this one is a return to form. (Did I mention I was a bit late reading it - I was number 46 on the list at the library when I put the reservation in). Whereas I never thought he'd gone off form.

Anyway, there's a mysterious death in One Hyde Park, the most expensive address in London, and there's Weird Shit, so Peter becomes involved. I can't remember much more; suffice to say it's a good addition to the series, and progresses the story arc so that I eagerly await the next one.

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These are all from January, so I'm being crap again.

5. The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery by Catherine Bailey

I knew this book was going to suck, but I thought it would be at least amusingly sucky. Oh boy was I wrong. I only finished it because I was going to write a long scathing review, but now I find that I can't even be bothered. (Go read the Guardian's review - it covers most of the points I would have made).

This is history for people who know nothing about history, or how society used to work. I think it's for people who read chick lit. The author is all shock! horror! that aristocratic parents in the late Victoria era weren't all cuddly with their children. And that they abused their power. Apparently that came as news, or she thinks it will do to her readers. And then there's the "explanation" that while staying away from the war to be with one's young family is seen as a good thing these days (a huge insult to every soldier with children who has deployed in recent conflicts), it was considered desertion in WWI (unless you knew the right people).

If I'd ever stuck such irrelevant quotes and padding in any of my undergraduate essays I would have been deservingly failed and have no degree.

The stupid, it burns!

If I was in any way less than effusive about Jenny Uglow's achievement in In These Times, this book has thrown into perspective what a towering piece of scholarship it is.

On the other hand, I kind of want to visit the stately homes mentioned in the book now.

6. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Regular readers will know that I adored the first book in this series, Rivers of London, but feel that recent efforts had somewhat gone off the boil.

Aaronovitch is back on top form with this one. I read it in two days.

Detective Peter Grant (in the division of all things spooky) is completely out of his element - in the countryside (Herefordshire). Some girls have gone missing and he is sent to make routine enquiries with a registered hedge wizard in the area. That's a dead end, but he feels the need to stay and help out as a regular police officer. Not surprisingly the case turns out to be all supernatural.

Alternatively funny and suspenseful (and unicorns are really scary!), I just couldn't put it down.

7. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Tom Paine?

Started reading it in the summer and then got distracted. This is Paine's treatise on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and on government in general. It's longer and more difficult that Common Sense but still full of wonderful quotes which are still relevant today. The last chapter on "Ways and Means" could bog you down in figures, but some of his best points are found there.
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51. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

The latest installment in the Peter Grant series.

Pretty much the same thing as the other three books. Enjoyed it slightly less - something was missing, not sure what.

The ending came as a surprise, till I thought about it, and it makes perfect sense.
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26. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Second in the PC Peter Grant series featuring the apprentice wizard with the Metropolitan Police. Or, what I did at the weekend.

Most books that take this little time to read are disposable and not actually terribly good. These are. They are so very London - this one is set in the dodgy clubs of Soho as Grant investigates the deaths of several jazz musicians. There are good one-liners and some thought-provoking bits. And lots of laughs.

Can't wait till volume 4 comes out in July.

April reading

6 books total, 1 non-fiction.
1 borrowed from friends, 3 from the library. So only knocked two out of the two-read pile. Which I cannot remember if I added to or not.
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15. Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

The third installment in the Peter Grant series of supernatural detective series. The more perceptive of you will notice I've not yet read the second; but this one was sitting on the shelf at the library, and frankly if I've become too stupid to deal with the ambiguities presented by reading fluff like this out of order, the label Too Stupid To Live applies.

I enjoyed the first book, Rivers of London, but had some reservations. This one I just loved. Mainly because it's about the construction of Tube tunnels and addresses that don't exist. And magic art. It also made me realise how little of London I've actually been to (just about every location in this volume).

The one thing I could live without is the story arc of the Faceless Man that's going through the whole series. I think that it detracts from rather than adds to the work. But that could be just me.

Loved it. Would be ordering the remaining volume from the library right now if my "currently reading" pile wasn't almost level with the bed.
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4. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

This month's Bibliogoths book.

Just what I need - another supernatural detective series in my life.  This one's closer to Charles Stross' Laundry series in that it centers around the latest recruit to the Metropolitan Police's unit for dealing with the weird and wonderful.

It's an odd book - I was absolutely glued to parts of it, and found that it dragged in others.  The main character is a bit of an idiot, but that's the point - we learn with him.  I think the odd pacing has to do with the two simultaneous investigations - a pissed-off ghost making people do violent things, and arbitrating a dispute between the different personificatios of the titular Rivers of London.  Although I don't intrinsically have a problem with mixing supernatural elements - what is the modern novel for, otherwise - in this case, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

Overall, a lot more that I liked than I didn't; part of its clunkiness is in its obvious setting-up for a series.  I will definitely be reading the other books, but from the library.


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