Voice: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Blazed through The Bone Ships in the wee hours. Whoa, self did not realize there was actual intimacy between two characters? Anyhoo, she’s just begun The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow, a writer she has never read before.

All the books she’s read so far this year are by writers she’s never read before. Except for Louise Penny. Self has read an early Inspector Gamache, but had no memory of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, go figure!

At seven, I’d spent considerably more time with Mr. Locke than with my own biological father, and insofar as it was possible to love someone so naturally comfortable in three-piece suits, I loved him.

As was his custom, Mr. Locke had taken rooms for us in the nicest establishment available; in Kentucky, that translated to a sprawling pinewood hotel on the edge of the Mississippi, clearly built by someone who wanted to open a grand hotel but hadn’t ever met one in real life.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow, p. 5

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Reading Year (So Far, 2021)

From wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Science Fiction:

  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal – So far, one of the best novels she’s read in 2021
  • Ballistic Kiss, by Richard Kadrey – wildly inventive, self wasn’t so taken with the he/she/they gender politics of a major character

In a category by itself:

  • Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash — A first book by a 22-year-old, E.S.A.D.

Kick-Ass Discovery of the Year:

  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry, the sequel to a 1982 novel, The Butcher’s Boy – That’s chutzpah, coming up with a sequel 40 years later. Kudos! Self added The Butcher’s Boy to her reading list.

from wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Mysteries:

  • All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny — Self adored Jean-Guy Beauvoir and of course Paris.
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry — All hail the May-December almost-romance between 25-year-old Daniel Pitt and 40-year-old Miriam Crofft, daughter of his employer.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Memoir

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama — Beautifully written, can’t believe 45 was succeeded by Drumpf.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Fiction

  • SHUGGIE BAIN, by Douglas Stuart — an absolutely immersive experience, though her favorite character was not the title character but his unheralded older brother, Leek

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Business and Economics

  • No Rules Rules — This one was a disappointment.

from wsj’s Books of the Year 2020/Travels in the New North

  • Ice Walker, by James Raffan — another absolutely immersive experience, the ending almost broke self.

from Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from a Year Spent Indoors (Locus Magazine)

  • the first two books in Joe Abercrombie’s (smashing) Age of Madness trilogy and her first Grimdark: A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace

The Pace Is Picking Up!

Miriam teams up with Mr. Ottershaw, an old family friend, and a widower. From all the intensity Mr. Ottershaw brings to their conversations, self thinks the fact that he is a widower has got to figure for something in the plot. (Though if he does propose, that would be too bad, because then “young Pitt” would no longer be hanging around Miriam as much, and self likes the hint of a May-December romance — with role reversal — between Miriam and Pitt)

Mr. Ottershaw’s laboratory is a “huge, complex room filled with instruments. Some were as large as a furnace and others as small as tweezers that could lift a single hair less than half an inch long.” (One Fatal Flaw, p. 139)

It is 1911. Forensic science is in its infancy.

“I’m not part of anything bigger, and I need to be.”

Oh bravo, Miriam Crofft, gentlewoman scientist in England 1911.

Reading One Fatal Flaw, Book 3 of the Daniel Pitt series by Anne Perry. It’s self’s first Anne Perry! Apparently it’s a log-running series (like Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache series), but most of the books were about Daniel Pitt’s parents. Now, the next generation has taken over.

Daniel Pitt is 25, a graduate of Cambridge, and still quite green. He receives superb assistance from the daughter of his boss, Miriam. Miriam is a much-loved only child, and her father indulged all her scientific notions and built her a chemistry lab in the basement of their home.

It’s very interesting.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

BALLISTIC KISS (Sandman Slim # 11)

Stayed up late to finish reading All the Devils are Here. Though the denouement was a little drawn out, it ended satisfyingly, with the entire family (including Jean-Guy Beauvoir, who self wouldn’t mind reading a stand-alone series about) back in Three Pines.

Next: Ballistic Kiss, by Richard Kadrey

I reassemble the Colt, load in a couple of slugs, and open the kitchen window. Put both shots dead center into a dusty pine tree on the hillside below. The jump of the pistol in my hand and the smell of the shots instantly brighten my mood.

The phone vibrates. Someone texted me. I ignore it. Pour more coffee.

Ballistic Kiss, p. 6

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Paris, December 2017

A young couple from China asked self to take their picture, and then returned the favor by taking one of self. So here’s that very, very rare occasion when she is actually IN the picture, rather than just TAKING a picture.

She’s wearing that same exact scarf right now, since she’s been feeling chilled all afternoon. Instead of a coat, she’s wearing a flannel nightgown — hello, pandemic self! She put on her nightgown hours ago, preparatory to spending the rest of the day reading in bed. She feels like she might be coming down with something, but she can’t blame it on Pfizer 1, received Saturday: she’s felt this way for weeks. All Pfizer 1 did was exacerbate those symptoms.

Now her left arm aches. That’s where she got her shot, but it hasn’t ached since the day of. A kind of phantom pain?

Around them, floodlights lit up the magnificent monuments. Vehicles passed by. Distinctive French sirens sounded in the distance. Visitors took selfies in front of the statues.

Armand heard snippets of conversation and bursts of laughter.

All the Devils Are Here, p. 347

Angst in All the Devils Are Here

Whew! The angst in this mystery. There’s enough angst here to power a whole galaxy. Everyone in the family is a suspect to Inspector Armand Gamache, including his own son!

Did self mention the angst?

The angst also comes wrapped in a bow in the person of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, former hardscrabble kid (from East Montreal; self never having been to Montreal, or even to Quebec, she can only imagine the horrors of growing up in East Montreal), “found” and made his boss’s No. 2, thereby earning a) the love of the boss’s daughter; b) the hatred of the boss’s son; and c) the curiosity of every reader of Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache’s series (mostly female, self’s assuming)

Better than the mystery is the suspicion, the miscommunication, the times we worry for Jean-Guy Beauvoir (there’s “something wild” about him, muses a character in this book), the times he’s called stupid by a prissy female colleague (French), the times Inspector Gamache’s son Daniel looks at him with deep hatred, the times Jean-Guy looks at his boss and mentor with fierce protectiveness.

Self doesn’t know if Jean-Guy is as integral to every Inspector Armand Gamache book as he is in this one, but let’s just put it this way: if you do not like the character of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, you will probably not like All the Devils are Here.

Self, it turns out, does like the character, hence she likes this installment (#16!!!) of the Inspector Armand Gamache series, very much.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

April 6 BRIGHT SQUARES

Every day this April, a BRIGHT SQUARE.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Self took the pictures below in Afterwards, a vintage clothing and furniture store in Menlo Park. She was on her way to the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford, but her attention was caught by the big globe hanging in the window. So she decided to investigate.

The store is huge! And full of one-of-a-kind pieces. So much more fun than shopping in a department store.

Self and the woman there had a nice conversation about Louise Penny.

Squares in Picture # 1: the McDonald’s awning? The shape of the building?

Squares in Picture # 2: The chair back is sort of — squar-ish?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Back to the Hotel George V, Paris, Room 815

Inspector Armand Gamache discourages his protégé Jean-Guy Beauvoir (married to Gamache’s daughter, and all conveniently in Paris at the time the events in the book unfold, que c’est magnifique!) from ordering a club sandwich.

LOL

LOL

LOL

What’s Not To Love?

All the Devils Are Here is great: It’s got Paris. It’s got angst. It’s got the son who thinks his father doesn’t love him. It’s got the deputy married to his boss’s daughter (How did that relationship come about? Self wants to know the backstory). It’s got loads of wit. Did self already say this? She’ll say again: It’s got Paris.

Now self knows that the Sixth Arrondissement — hello — is so much classier than the Seventh Arrondissement. A three-bedroom apartment in the Sixth will run you “several million euros.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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