Books, hockey, and a bucketful of snark

Being the musings of a Yorkshire lass living in the USA. I'm a book geek, bird nerd, grammar Nazi, and hockey nut.  Sarcasm is my default setting. 

Reading progress update: I've read 193 out of 400 pages.

Serpents in the Cold (The Boston Saga) - Douglas Graham Purdy, Thomas O'Malley

"What did she do for the office?"


"What we all do there. Lots of filing, answering phones, meeting and greeting, taking notes. Basic office work. And even though it's not rocket science, she didn't do too well at it."


Wait a minute.... Not rocket science? This book is set in 1951, and I know rocket science has been around since then, but this idiom has always seemed fairly modern to me. So I did a bit of digging and it looks as if I was right.

Reading progress update: I've read 73 out of 400 pages.

Serpents in the Cold (The Boston Saga) - Douglas Graham Purdy, Thomas O'Malley

A serial killer stalks the streets of 1950s Boston--and two friends take it upon themselves to bring him down. Post-war Boston is down on its luck and looking for change. A year after the Great Brink's Robbery--the largest robbery in the history of the United States--Boston is known more for its seedy underbelly than for its rich, historical past. The winter of 1951 is the worst in recent memory, and the Bruins are suffering another losing season.


Like Boston itself, lifelong residents Cal O'Brien and Dante Cooper are struggling to find their identities after World War II. Cal has built a mildly promising life for himself as an employee of a company providing private security, whether to an honorable businessman who needs a night watchman or to an Irish mafioso who needs to have someone's legs broken. Dante is everything Cal is not. A heroin addict trying and failing to stay clean, Dante feels the call to do good after he discovers that his sister-in-law was the latest victim of a serial killer targeting disadvantaged women. Woefully unqualified, but determined to help, Cal and Dante take it upon themselves to track the killer--but their daunting quest takes on dangerous consequences when the trail leads them to the highest ranks of city government. There are a few well-placed men who don't want Cal and Dante to solve this case.


I only picked this up because it happened to be next to the Tim O'Mara book I was collecting for my husband. But the first paragraph of the blurb was enough for me to add it to my pile.

Finished it!

Sacrifice Fly - Tim O'Mara

Raymond Donne wasn't always a schoolteacher. Not only did he patrol the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as one of New York's Finest, but being the nephew of the chief of detectives, he was expected to go on to bigger things. At least he was until the accident that destroyed his knees. Unable to do the job the way he wanted, he became a teacher in the same neighborhood, and did everything he could to put the force behind him and come to terms with the change.


Then Frankie Rivas, a student in Ray's class and a baseball phenom, stops showing up to school. With Frankie in danger of failing and missing out on a scholarship, Ray goes looking for him, only to find Frankie's father bludgeoned to death in their apartment. Frankie and his younger sister are gone, possibly on the run. But did Frankie really kill his father? Ray can't believe it. But then who did, and where are Frankie and his sister? Ray doesn't know, but if he's going to have any chance of bringing them home safely, he's going to have to return to the life, the people, and the demons he walked out on all those years ago.


I really enjoyed this one. Basically, if you like Sara Paretsky and Dennis Lehane, you'll like this one. An excellent mystery with a dogged protagonist who thinks the police aren't doing enough to solve the case. Plenty of sports, dive bars, and a setting so well written you feel as if you are there.

Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 352 pages.

The Icarus Girl - Helen Oyeyemi

Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all.


The author wrote this novel when she was 19 years old and studying for her 'A' Levels. I suddenly feel very inadequate. When I was studying for my 'A' Levels, I was usually in the pub.

Easily the best book I've read this year

Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

This book was so very, very good.


It opens conventionally enough with the disappearance of a teenage girl in a rural village in England's Peak District. But if you think this is going to be a straightforward police procedural, you couldn't be more wrong.


The book spans 13 years, with each chapter starting at midnight on New Year's Day and as the years progress we get brief glimpses into the lives of the villagers. Babies are born, people die, friendships are made then broken. Teenagers grow up and leave for university. Some come back, some move away.There are marriages, divorces, and always at the back of everyone's minds is the unsolved mystery of the missing girl.


We see how some parts of village life change over the years; small businesses struggle to compete against the big box stores, farmers have to diversify, Mischief Night is subsumed by the more commercial Halloween. And how some things never change; like the annual cricket match against the neighboring village, the well-dressing, harvest festival, and the Christmas pantomime.


And we also see the cycles of nature and the changing seasons. The swallows arriving and departing. The fieldfares and goldcrests building their nests. Foxes, badgers and bats emerging from hibernation.


McGregor's writing is sparse, but wonderfully lyrical. Some reviewers complain that it's repetitive, but to me that's the whole point. Each chapter starts with the words, “At midnight when the year turned...” Everything is rhythmical and cyclical and life goes on.


If you like to reach the end of a book and have all the loose ends tied up neatly, all questions answered, and with justice seen to be done, then this isn't the book for you. If you enjoy ambiguity, beautiful writing, and have more questions than answers, I can't recommend it highly enough.


And if you're wondering what well-dressing is...



Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

Midwinter in an English village. A teenage girl has gone missing. Everyone is called upon to join the search. The villagers fan out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on what is usually a place of peace. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

As the seasons unfold and the search for the missing girl goes on, there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together and those who break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a tragedy refuse to subside.


I read McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things when it was published back in 2002, and it stayed with me for a very long time.


A friend who also read it and loved it, recently emailed me asking if I'd read Reservoir 13 yet, because if not, I should remedy that immediately.


So here goes...


RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe - Rob Hume

Have just got back home after visiting friends and family back in the UK. We had a great time catching up with everyone and celebrating my Dad's 86th birthday, but one of the highlights of our trip was the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire.


We saw gannets, razorbills, guillemots (or murres as they're known in the US), kittiwakes, fulmars, and shags. But none of them are as cute as a puffin.






Puffin (seriously, can you get any cuter than this?)

Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

Staked - Kevin Hearne

I started reading this series while waiting for Jim Butcher to return to the world of Harry Dresden, and there are plenty of comparisons to be made between Hearne's Iron Druid and Butcher's Harry Dresden (though to be honest, I would always back Kate Daniels against either of them).


Both series have vampires, werewolves, fae, and assorted deities, plus a good dollop of magic. And both have lots of humour and pop culture references, and a way too perfect female love interest.


They also both have a big, scary dog; Mouse in Harry's corner, and the sausage-obsessed Oberon for Team Atticus.


But I'm on Team Harry, and that's because Harry has one thing that Atticus doesn't have. And that thing is a 30lb badass cat called Mister.



I must be mad

So yesterday was my 17th wedding anniversary. How did I spend it? By running a half marathon. All I can say is it seemed like a good idea when I booked it.



My husband very sensibly played golf instead.

Finished it!

Trapped - Kevin Hearne

I read the first four of these books one after the other and it was a bit much so I decided to take a break. I was getting annoyed that Atticus was blithely going about his business (euphemism for causing absolute chaos in Asgard) and not receiving any payback for the pretty momentous things he was doing.


But in book five, the payback starts to happen. There are vampires, dark elves, dwarfs, Norse gods, Roman gods, Greek gods (yes, they are very different, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise), And they all have scores to settle.


But the best bit is, it turns out Granuaile is a cat person. Take that, Oberon!

Reading progress update: I've read 78%.

Trapped - Kevin Hearne

"I don't know where Toronto is," the dryad said, looking lost.


"It's a place across the ocean with a great film festival and a bad hockey team", I explained, but she still looked bewildered. "Their ticket prices are sky-high but they haven't hefted the Stanley Cup since 1967. I know there's always next year, but, damn, you know?"


Nailed it!

Some of you know I lost my mum to pancreatic cancer just before Thanksgiving last year.


Today was tough, but I have so many happy memories.


First hummingbird of the year
First hummingbird of the year

I put the feeders up when I got in from work, and twenty minutes later this little chap appeared. Summer is here!

this popped up in my Facebook feed, and gave me a much needed Monday morning laugh.


Holy Fools - Joanne Harris

I normally love novels set in this time period (17th century France), and this one should have been absolutely perfect for me. Intrigue in a nunnery, plus the heroine's backstory of being a former high-wire circus performer. What more could you ask for?


Well for the heroine not to wimp out at the end and go meekly back to Snidely Whiplash, er I mean the one-dimensional, moustache-twirling bad guy who kidnapped her daughter, for starters.

(show spoiler)


Finished it!

Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

I did enjoy revisiting the world of The Others. I like their no-nonsense, "if you break our rules you will get eaten" attitude. I mean what part of "do not take a motor boat onto the water because if you do you will die" do people not understand?


The Others don't bother with that namby-pamby three strikes and you're out malarkey. With them it's one strike and you will be torn limb from limb, bitten to death, or turned into a human torch by a friendly elemental.


Yeah, that's the kind of rule I can get behind.



Currently reading

The Concrete Blonde (Harry Bosch) by Connelly, Michael published by Grand Central Publishing (2007)
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain
Progress: 70/368 pages
The Shining
Stephen King