A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny – Audio Edition

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Louise Penny | 2 comments

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #12 in the Armand Gamache (Three Pines) series
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Publication Date: 2016
Length: 13 hours, 32 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.
Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

My Thoughts:
I didn’t enjoy the previous book in the series quite as much as I had enjoyed the others. It was still good but just not quite what I had come to expect from Louise Penny. I am happy to say that with this twelfth book she is back up to the standard of the earlier books.

In fact, I thought this was one of the better books in the series.

There were several mysteries going on. Who killed the professor? Why did Gamache do some of the things he did? What is the story behind the map found in the bistro? And is there a connection between Armand Gamache and Amelia Choquet?

Penny doles out the clues in bits and pieces throughout the book and the final few chapters were quite satisfying.

I was happy to see parts of the story take place in Three Pines so the regular recurring characters were involved.

Robert Bathurst had big shoes to fill when the narrator of the first ten books passed away. This is the second one I’ve listened to him narrate. He does a great job of voice characterizations. I always knew who was speaking before it was mentioned.

These books can work as standalones but you’ll understand the ongoing stories if you start from the beginning with Still Life.

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Jim Kay, JK Rowling | 0 comments

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling with art by Jim Kay
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling with art by Jim Kay

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Oversized Hardcover
Series: Harry Potter #2
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 259
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Award-winning artist Jim Kay illustrates year two of Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, in the same beautiful, gift-ready format as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.
But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to bother to talk about the story because we all know it. I’ve read it multiple times, listened to it once (the Jim Dale versions) and plan to listen to it again (the Stephen Fry versions) so obviously, I love it.

I adored the illustrated edition of the first book. I read it last January and after I bought this one in October I knew I’d save it to read after the New Year. I hope to make that an annual tradition if the publisher and Jim Kay can get them out every year.

It’s an oversized (coffee table size) book printed on high quality paper with an attached ribbon bookmark. I’m still a little worried about what they’re going to do with Order of the Phoenix. I have to think it’ll be a two volume set or I won’t be able to lift it.

Jim Kay has done a masterful job with the illustrations. They are beautiful. I am amazed that he has managed to create these images. They are wholly new, yet at the same time remain true to both the drawings in the original editions and the sets and actors from the movies.

I felt that Jim Kay managed to take the images in my head and make them even more beautiful than I hand imagined.

The tough part was all the spiders. I had to read the pages with spiders very fast. Aragog doesn’t really bother me because he is so not a real spider. There is one two-page layout that I had to flip as quickly as possible and was very thankful there was no text on that page. Nightmare inducing for us arachnophobes.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Weekend Update – The Four Things on January 15th Edition

Posted by on Jan 15, 2017 in Weekend Update | 5 comments

Weekend Update

Four things:

  1. I’m done with Winter. Last weekend we had an ice storm then we got nearly a foot of snow Tuesday night and most of it is still here because it’s barely been above freezing since then. Both of these things are unusual for Portland. Luckily, I can work from home.
  2. I love the Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets except for one thing. I have to read the pages with the spiders very fast.
  3. Vacations are nice. We’ve got a couple of long weekend getaways planned and I’m looking forward to both of them.
  4. I’m going to the Women’s March on Portland on Saturday. I know many of my friends are participating in marches all over the country. We’re in this together!!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Fables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jan 13, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 1 comment

Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill WillinghamFables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #17 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 17 is a compilation of issues 108-113 of the comic series
From the back cover:

And a child shall lead them

The fearsome Mister Dark is dead, killed in a kamikaze attack by the only entity even colder than himself: The North Wind, King of the Frozen Wastes, Ruler of the Cardinal Winds — and Bigby Wolf’s deadbeat dad.

Now, with Bigby having renounced any claim to the throne, one of his cubs must take up the crown — and he and his wife Snow White must watch as the North Wind’s servants subject their children to a series of trials to determine who will reign supreme.

Meanwhile, winds of change are blowing in other lands as well: the once-winged monkey Bufkin’s impromptu revolution against the new ruler of the Pan Ozian Empire is gaining unexpected allies; Rose Red’s reconnaissance team finds good tidings at the Farm, just in time for Christmas; and in Castle Dark the former Nurse Spratt waits for the return of the Fables with bated breath — and sharpened blade.

My Thoughts:
I’m glad to move on from Mr. Dark. This volume has a couple of major story lines. I really enjoyed the one that focused on Bigby Wolf and Snow White’s children. One of them will take over in their grandfather’s place as the king of the North Wind. The children are subjected to a series of tests to determine which of them is the rightful heir. It’s a bit odd and fun but also a tad bit dangerous.

The second major story involved Bufkin and his crew traveling through Oz. I usually enjoy Bufkins adventures but this time around it just didn’t click with me for some reason. It was okay but I didn’t enjoy those parts of the book as much as I did the rest.

In addition, there are a couple of shorter stories. I really enjoyed Rose Red’s version of A Christmas Carol.

The artwork throughout was wonderful. The majority is by Mark Buckingham. He’s done most of the Fables series and I always enjoy his work The final issue is done by several artists and the variety of styles works well with the series of short tales that are not part of the main ongoing story line.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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