Diverse Detective Fiction Month- TBR

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It’s here: Diverse Detective Fiction Month! I’m super excited and thanks all who are joining us! (everyone else can still join us, sign up here)

So, this event (go ahead and call it a challenge if you’re feeling competitive) will be hosted by twitter button@siliconphospho and myself, twitter button@Bina_ReadThis because detective fiction is our comfort genre, but at first glance utterly normative, and when Silicon asked for recs and came up with an amazing list, things snowballed. So here we are, who’s in the mood for exploring the diverse side of detective fiction?

Here’s the guidelines:

Have fun! Also, read at least 1 diverse detective story (we encourage you to go for #ownvoices books!) and post a review on your blog or goodreads between October 1st and October 31st. Also, feel free to follow us on twitter and gush a lot about the books or audiobooks or short stories you’re reading! Use the hashtag #DiverseDetectives twitter button

So I kinda took this opportunity to stock up my mystery shelf with some much-needed diverse books. Okay fine, that’s partly the reason for the challenge! Here’s my tbr for the challenge, as you can see, I’m trying to lead by example 😉

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Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

Blanche On the Lam by Barbara Neely

Cosmic Callisto Caprica & The Missing Rings of Saturn by Sophia Chester

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Moseley

Dead Time by Eleanor Taylor Bland

The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang

Cactus Blood by Lucha Corpi

Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors ed. by Barbara Neely

Make sure to check out our goodreads list for recommendations or vote for books there if you have recommendations for us!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

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Fall, my favorite season!! So far it’s been unusually warm and sunny over here, I’d love a few degrees less but hey at least it’s dry, that never happens! Fall is when I start buying IKEA candles in bulk and get out all the quilts and spicy teas. My typical fall reading is either cozy or suspenseful lit and with the Diverse Detective Fiction Month starting this weekend, I know I’ll be reading a lot of mysteries. I’ve posted a bit already about what horror lit I want to read and what’s on this week’s list, but anyway here are 10 reads that would make an ideal fall tbr for me:

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1. Affinity by Sarah Waters gr-pic

One of my favorites to reread, it’s got Victorian England, lesbians, séance and is wonderfully atmospheric and twisty.

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2.Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova gr-pic

Latinx fantasy including brujas, monsters, LGBTQ, and kick ass women of color! Reading it for Diverse SFF Book Club.

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3.Blanche On the Lam by Barbara Neely gr-pic

One of my choices for #DiverseDetectives and I cannot wait! A smart middle-aged Black woman housekeeper turned sleuth? Hell yes!

linda ddison

4.How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison gr-pic

Always creepy, sometimes funny, horror prose and poetry! There is not enough silly and funny horror, I need more!

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5.The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia gr-pic

I loved Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban and this one is supposed to boast some Latina gothic elements. How to resist!?

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6.My Soul To Keep by Tananarive Due gr-pic

No fall list is complete without some of Due’s fiction. It’s time to start her African Immortals series, it’s got Ethiopia, vampires and (im)mortality!

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7.Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films From the 1890s to the Present by Robin R. Means Coleman gr-pic

And some good old non-fiction, how could I possibly resist the intersection of horror and race!? It’s an exploration of the visual representation of Black social history and possible spaces for challenging and subverting stereotypes.

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8.Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu gr-pic

A complex heroine, fantastic art and steampunk horror, I’m in! Everyone’s been gushing about this one, so now I only need to get my hands on a copy.

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9.Haiti Noir edited by Edwidge Danticat gr-pic

Noir lit and Haitian culture all in one! I’ve read a few in this anthology and have been meaning to get back to it for a while.

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10.Tropical Gothic in Literature and Culture: The Americas by Justin D. Edwards and Sandra Guardini eds. gr-pic

More non-fiction cause I feel the need to expand on my gothic lit knowledge and Southern gothic is a gateway to “tropical” gothic! 🙂

Now let me know which books have made it onto your fall tbr!

Weekend Reads

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It’s Friday! And thus usually the time I get most of my reading done. I’m a bit more flexible about my hours during the week at the moment but it’s still the weekends where I often save a book I’m really excited about for some serious reading time. Sometimes I make plans to read a specific book or reread an old favorite and close the door on the hectic world. So I expect weekend reads to be epic adventures, new worlds to explore or a mystery to figure out. If you want to loose yourself in a book this weekend, let me recommend some weekend reads to you:

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1. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

Family drama and money intrigue, Victorian era, Pride and Prejudice with dragons!, social commentary, dragons!

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2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Victorian London, Dickens with lesbians, super twisty, class, thievery

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3. Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Please don’t judge the book by its cover, post-apocalyptic wasteland, this is how you do diversity, body horror, kick-ass heroine

the between

4.The Between by Tananarive Due

Floridian horror or is it a mystery or a thriller, Black family history, what is going on, warning for Due always delivers on the creepiness

sorcerer to the crown

5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Ye stuffy olde England now upgraded with magic, familiars, diverse characters, and the best heroine ever. You can read this in a day and then lament the wait for the sequel.

Do you make reading plans on some weekends? What are your favorite weekend reads?

 

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.

It’s Monday again, phew time flies! I have my thesis deadline coming up at the beginning of March, so the next few weeks will be quite stressful and sadly not filled with much fun reading. We’ll see how we’ll I’ll do with blogging until then. I can’t wait for having guilt-free reading time again!

Last Week

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I finished Indexing by Seanan McGuire, a sort of procedural urban fantasy about a law enforcement agency for fairy tales. I really enjoyed McGuire’s October Daye and the premise sounded fantastic, so I read Indexing looking for fun escapism. And that’s what I got. Sadly the characters were a bit unrelatable, I wasn’t really invested in any of them and the execution of the story didn’t live up the brilliant premise. But it was still an enjoyable read and I will definitely give the sequel a chance.

Currently

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We’re in the middle of our The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo readalong, so I’m still reading that one. It’s gotten very suspenseful now and it’s a tough read with all that’s going on, but I’m very curious about the ending now.

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I’m currently rereading Harry Potter on audiobook, it’s so nice to start again with the first book. The wide-eyed wonder, the magic, Hogwarts, Hermione! I love listening to this one before bed, it helps me calm down after a stressful day.

black skin white coats

My current non-fiction read is a fascinating account of the decolonization of Nigerian psychiatry and the globalization of psychiatry. If you’re interested in colonialism, the history of medicine and social sciences, you’ll find this one worth the read. I’m an academic, so maybe I’m biased but I think Heaton’s writing is clear and accessible.

Reading Plans

I have so many plans, but that’s for after graduation. For the next few weeks I hope I get to read period. I’m eyeing shorter works, comics and comfort reads, maybe along the lines of:

wells and wong

Murder Most Unladylike is the first Wells & Wong mystery. Set in the 1930s, the two girls Hazel and Daisy set up their very own secret detective agency.

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Continuing with the brilliant Lumberjanes, they always cheer me up!

jackaby

Started Jackaby in December I think, but right at the beginning we got to learn about the brilliant brilliant genius dude and turned me off real quick. Have been assured it’ll get better and the female character will not be starstruck sidekick throughout the novel.

What have you been reading? Any special reading plans?

Thoughts: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

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Belle Vie is a beautiful, sprawling estate in Louisiana, the ideal place for wedding parties. Oh, and it’s a former sugar cane plantation turned museum theater. As the general manager, Caren Gray works and lives on the property, where her ancestors were slaves. On the land outside the gates a huge corporation exploits cheap workers from Mexico. Tensions mount when one of the workers is found with her throat slit and Caren finds that the murder, the disappearance of a former slave in the past and her own family history are all intertwined.

This was my first of Attica Locke’s works and it is pretty much perfect. Mystery is one of my preferred genres and combine that with the social commentary, it makes my social justice warrior heart swell. And Locke is clearly very talented in that she manages to wrap complex characters, social justice, literary writing style and an exciting mystery all in one book.

The setting of the story, the eerily beautiful antebellum plantation Belle Vie really becomes a character in its own right and Caren’s late-night movements across the estate evoke a haunting atmosphere that was hard to shake after I finished the book. Not being from the US maybe I just don’t get the normalcy of it, but the re-enactments, that’s pretty messed up. I mean I understand the importance of bringing history to life, of refusing denial and forgetting to white people. But the trauma of standing where your ancestors were enslaved and taking on that role? As always, taking on the labor of teaching anti-racism in the hopes of working towards dismantling it. For more anti-racist work about slavery museum theater, let me recommend the webseries Ask A Slave.

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I also really appreciate the connection Locke draws between the antebellum slavery economy and current forms of exploitation of labor, such as cheap and often undocumented workers from Mexico. In an interview, Locke states: “I do think that for people of color – and also for women, frankly – that our economic ascent is always complicated by the fact that you’re aware of people who aren’t coming up with you” (NPR). That’s the spirit of solidarity I’m always hoping for in social justice work!

As a thriller by a woman of color writer, reading The Cutting Season counts for both R.I.P. X and Diversiverse. Aarti wrote that reading more diversely does not mean you have to change your book reading habits and I think this work is a great example of that. If you’re a mystery buff like myself, pick up this one!

Have your reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

Other thoughts:

Olduvai Reads

RIP: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X

rip10500(gorgeous art by Abigail Larson)

Autumn is here, my favorite time of the year. First time we had under 20°C, I got out my cardigan and curled up on the couch with hot tea and a mystery. Cause autumn is also the perfect season for reading the creepy crawlies. I always end up reading more mysteries, gothic novels and thrillers to compensate for my summer reads, but never quite managed to sign up for the R.I.P. event in time. Well, so I’m a week late, but this year RIP is in its 1oth year (hosted by The Estella Society for a change) and I finally signed up. I’m always reading mysteries as comfort reads anyway, so I’m shooting for Peril the first, that is reading four books.

ripnineperilfirstMaking lists for these challenges is half the fun anyway, but I also know that as soon as I put together a list I will just read whatever else I can get my hands on. Small rebellions ;P Still, this satisfies my list-making obsession and I’m pretty excited about all of these reads so maybe I’ll actually stick to my list:

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I’m about halfway through Rosemary and Rue, the first October Daye novel about a changeling PI. I’m really enjoying it so far, though I prefer my urban fantasy with a bit more humor. I also got started on Cinder, only a couple pages in and I’m already sold on a smart cyborg cinder who’s one hell of a mechanic.

I really liked Susan Hill’s book about books and her ghost stories, so I’m hopeful about The Various Haunts of Men, which is the first one in a detective series. And I got Jemisin’s new book The Fifth Season just in time or RIP, it’s a sign 🙂 And, finally, I saw The Good House on audible and it sounded wonderfully creepy and I’m also happy to see  women of color horror writers getting some attention.

Are you participating in RIP? What creepy reads are on your tbr?

Thoughts: An Instance of the Fingerpost

Iain Pears’ novel has been sitting on my tbr pile for quite a while, but this month I gave myself a push, motivated by Anna and Iris’ “longawaited-reads month”. Long awaited it was indeed, but I am so happy to have finally read the book.

 An Instance of the Fingerpost is a historical, scholarly (according to the blurbs) mystery set in 17th century England, mostly Oxford. Charles II is only just back on the throne, the country is still reeling from the civil war and everyone with at least a passing interest in power and politics is still scheming. The book consists of four narratives: The Venetian Marco da Cola, the student Jack Prescott, the cryptographer Dr. John Wallis and the archivist Anthony Wood. All write down their version of the events surrounding the murder of the Oxford don Grove, years after it happened, each contradicting the others’ narrative.

At the heart of the story, however, is Sarah Blundy, a young woman, who is caught up in the events and intrigues spun around her. She is from the lower classes, something of a herbalist, educated and holds progressive views on gender equality. As a result, she is alternately taken for a witch, a whore and a prophetess. The way she is treated is abysmal, but of course many of the attitudes regarding women are only articulated differently today. She was by far the most interesting character, but the prophetess thing threw me I have to admit. But then I couldn’t relate to the religious aspects at all.

What I was most excited about was the history of medicine, I always get a kick out of that. This is the time during which the Royal Society is beginning to emerge and Robert Boyle figures in this novel, too. It was fascinating to read a fictional account about how blood transfusion could have been first attempted and it is during the 17th century that methods are beginning to change from the humours approach and the set of the stars etc, to more “modern” approaches. In fact, the characters hold very different opinions on what is legitimate medicinal treatment and constantly argue in Aristotelian fashion.

 I don’t think this worked for me as a mystery, but I really enjoyed its other aspects so I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. The first 100 pages were a bit hard going, but after I had oriented myself so to speak, I got really into it. I was scrambling to remember classes on English history, but in the end a bit of googling helped me picture the time and the connections between the historical characters better. Perhaps the blurbs are a bit misleading, this is not a page-turner, but this is one well-researched historical novel, nt some crap put together after glancing at a Wikipedia page and if you’re interested in 17th century politics, gender relations, religion and the history of medicine, I doubt that the amount of pages without instant gratification will bother you. Oh and it’s extremely well-written, too!

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link.

“Serpent, or is it crocodile?”

Or: Meeting Mrs. Bradley:

Mrs Bradley, “sometime detective and full-time Freudian”, investigates in over 60 mysteries written by the wonderfully prolific Gladys Mitchell. I just “met” her in The Saltmarsh Murders.

The bats Mrs. Gatty mentioned in the excerpt above has this thing of seeing people as animals, and in the case of Mrs. Bradley she is cannot decide if she’s serpent or crocodile. Mrs. Bradley herself is in favor of crocodile!

I’ve basically holed myself up with this mystery, a pot of tea and raspberry muffins…being lazy on a Sunday is a form of art after all. Hope you’re all well and enjoying your Sunday!

Review: Ten Little Herrings

Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler is the second book in a series of homage-spoof-parody to the classic mystery starring crime-writer Ethelred Tressider and his literary agent Elsie Thirkettle. I had the first book, The Herring Seller’s Apprentice out from the library a while ago but didn’t get around to reading it. On my last library visit I was really in the mood for cosy and lighthearted crime but found only the second instalment. Oh well, I didn’t want to wait and just started reading this one. And I’m glad I did because it was lots of fun!

Ten Little Herrings takes on the classic of crime fiction, the country house murder. The country house in question is a hotel in France and just why and how Ethelred and Elsie come to be there, I’ll let you find out for yourselves.

Apart from Elsie and Ethelred, most other guests are part of a convention of stamp collectors. They are a much more deadly bunch then you’d first assume (or possibly not, if you’ve read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) and it doesn’t take long before they start murdering each other. While Ethelred ponders, Elsie pounces, and the result is just hilarious. What I really enjoyed was the alternating point of view, Ethelred provides a bit of background information and Elsie does most of the chasing.  The sleuthing is noticeably done by amateurs, but always with perfect grammar!

I tend to side automatically with characters (and people) who love chocolate and Elsie was no exception. This gets her into all sorts of trouble but I thought she had a perfectly good reason 😉 Also, gotta love her publishing ethics, even if I do feel a bit sorry for Ethelred:

The Elsie Thirkettle Agency quickly attracted a number of promising young authors of high literary merit, but I managed to dump most of them.  It’s a question of quality, not quantity, you see.  The agricultural revolution was all about getting two crops a year out of a field that previously gave you one.  It’s much the same with books.  The royalties on a book that has taken five years to produce are usually much the same as on one written in six months.  I can double-, sometimes treble-, crop my authors.

If the weather in your part of the world is anything like it is here at the moment – cold, wet, very windy- then put the kettle on and curl up with Elsie and Ethelred!

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

Mini Reviews- Crime Time

Apologies for my absence (again!). I should really consider moving to a place where the weather doesn’t spontaneously go from 16°C to 30°C and give me the worst migraines as a result. It seems doubtful that I’ll ever get caught up on my reviews, but I want to at least try to make a dent in the list, so here’s another mini reviews post. Hope you’re all avid crime readers! (but since the argument can be made that all reading is clue-hunting and interpretation is sleuthing, every bookworm is a detective 😉 ).

 

I know, you’ve probably read too many thoughts on this one already, so I’ll make it short. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is (insert your favorite superlative) and I can’t recommend it enough. Apart from being a suspenseful account of a true crime, it is  a study of the 19th century and the beginnings of the detective branch in England. If you ever wanted to know how quickly people then could expect to arrive by coach or train, how news were dispersed, what attitudes were prevalent towards the police and especially the new detectives, then this should be your read. Also, if you want to know more about how the new detectives were regarded and how they shaped literature, look at The Moonstone and other detective stories of that age. I found the reconstruction of 19th century England and the Road Hill Murder very well-done and hats off to Summerscale for combining serious research (the bibliography made me drool) and scholarship with great storytelling!

Other thoughts:

Things Mean A Lot

Amy Reads

Bibliojunkie

Farm Lane Books

A Red Herring Without Mustard is the third Flavia book and Bradley has yet to disappoint. Apart from having another great title, this instalment is at least as great as the ones before. Flavia is her usual charming self, gypsy lore abounds, we get to know more about chemistry and I especially loved Flavia’s relationships with her sisters and the inspector. Also, gotta love Flavia’s lively commentary :

Alone at last! Whenever I’m with other people, part of me shrinks a little. Only when I am alone can I fully enjoy my own company.

I really should reread it!

Other thoughts:

Nonsuch Books

The Case of the Missing Servant is a cosy crime set in India (you see, I am broadening my horizon etc). Vish Puri, most private investigator, is something of an Indian Poirot, if you like these sort of comparisons. He is small, round and his little gray cells are definitely in working order. Usually he screens prospective marriage partners for the families but then he is asked by a lawyer to look into the death of his maidservant, of whose murder he is accused. This book is not only a cosy mystery, it is also very funny and provides us with a great look at present-day India without falling into the trap of presenting the country as the exotic other. I’ve also read that India Today finds Hall’s look at India convincing (which had me a bit worried as at one point, a character in the book can’t phone the police since their line isn’t working likely due to not having paid their bill! You can’t let Germans read that without a warning! 😉 ). Needless to say, I’ll be reading the sequel soon.

Other thoughts:

Bibliojunkie

Nishita’s Rants and Raves

As always, let me know if you’ve reviewed these books, and I’ll add a link!