Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill


The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill is the first novel in the 'A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery' series. I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill, which was narrated by Clive Chafer.

I enjoy reading mystery novels. I also enjoy discovering new to me authors and new to me mystery series. So, I am pleased to have discovered The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill for these reasons. 

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill!! The novel itself is set in 1975 in communist Laos. The main character, Dr. Siri Paiboun, is a 72 year old doctor who has been appointed the national coroner. Dr. Siri Paiboun does not want this job as he hasn't been trained as a pathologist and also because he wants to retire after living a long life. However, the Laos government has no other trained candidates besides Dr. Siri Paiboun as most of the educated class has fled the country. So Dr. Siri Paiboun is stuck with working as national coroner.

Dr. Siri Paiboun is a wonderful character! He's smart (brilliant actually), witty, compassionate, and interesting to say the least. Dr. Siri Paiboun also dreams/receives communications from the spirit world, which makes for interesting reading and plot development. I would definitely say that Dr. Siri Paiboun is my favorite character from this novel. I also enjoyed most of the other characters as well.

The writing for The Coroner's Lunch is solid and so is the storyline. I may just continue on with this mystery series as I liked the characters and the writing so much!

Below is the publisher's summary for The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill from Chirp's website:

Laos, 1975. The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri Paiboun, a seventy-two-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is appointed national coroner. Although he has no training for the job, there is no one else: the rest of the educated class have fled.

He is expected to come up with the answers the party wants, but crafty and charming Dr. Siri is immune to bureaucratic pressure. At his age, he reasons, what can they do to him? And he knows he cannot fail the dead who come into his care without risk of incurring their boundless displeasure. Eternity could be a long time to have the spirits mad at you.

I am giving The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith


Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith is another one of those novels that has been siting in my 'to be read' pile for 9-10 years or perhaps even longer. 

I FINALLY made time to listen to the unabridged audio version of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter this month. I wasn't disappointed at all with this historical fiction/thriller/horror novel as it far exceeded my expectations of it. The writing is excellent... And the the plot, storyline, and character development were engrossing throughout the novel itself. 

I wasn't entirely sure what I was expecting when I first began listening to Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter, but I found the novel to be engrossing from the very start and also well narrated by Scott Holst

The novel chronicles the life of Abraham Lincoln from his youth through to his assassination. I liked that the novel focuses MAINLY on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. The novel itself mostly reads like a biography with vampires added in an interesting fashion that almost (and I emphasize the word 'almost') makes it seems like the existence of vampires could possibly be credible. Vampires are not romanticized is this novel like they have been in so many works of fiction, which makes for a refreshing take on the topic of vampires in general.

I felt like the ending for Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter was a bit soft though. Perhaps the author could have written the ending differently for a stronger impact, instead of the ending that it was. If you've read Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter, what did you think of the ending?

I do LOVE the cover art for Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter. I was thrilled to discover a photo that shows both the front cover and back cover of this novel to share in my review. Yes, it's a bit gory, but seems appropriate for the title and topic of the novel.

Below is the publisher's summary for Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith I found on Chirp's website:

Indiana. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.” “My baby boy…” she whispers before dying. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, ”henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

I am giving Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore


I've had The Sherlockian by Graham Moore in my 'to be read' pile for a decade or longer. I finally listened to the unabridged audio version of The Sherlockian by Graham Moore and narrated by Steven Crossley this month. Listening time for The Sherlockian is 11 hours, 43 minutes.

I really enjoyed The Sherlockian quite a bit! In fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The narration was great and it made the storyline pop even more. The Sherlockian is a combination mystery/thriller, contemporary and historical fiction read. So, if you like these genres and are also a Sherlock Holmes/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan, then this read may definitely be the one for you!

I enjoyed the alternating timelines featuring contemporary day juxtaposed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's time in alternating chapters. As readers, we follow Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's life as well as modern day, where main character, Harold White, is trying to find out where Doyle's lost diary is located and solving a murder among other things. Lots of twists and turns make for an interesting read.

The ending for this novel answered many questions. But I still felt some things were lacking in the wrap up of The Sherlockian

I don't know if Graham Moore has written any other novels. I could check, but I think I will take a pass. As much as I enjoyed The Sherlockian and the writing within its pages, I'm not hankering to read another novel by the author.

Below is the publisher's summary for The Sherlockian by Graham Moore I discovered on Chirp's website:
Hurtling from present day New York to Victorian London, The Sherlockian weaves the history of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into an inspired and entertaining double mystery that proves to be anything but “elementary.” In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective’s next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning-crowds sported black armbands in grief-and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin. Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had “murdered” Holmes in “The Final Problem,” he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.... Or has it? When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he’s about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world’s leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold-using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories-who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.
I am giving The Sherlockian by Graham Moore a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen


I have wanted to read Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen off and on for over a decade now. I even had a used paperback edition of the novel at one point in time, but never read it. 

I love elephants... But circuses have a dark history with regards to animal abuse. So, after hearing that animal abuse happens within the pages of Water For Elephants, I just couldn't bring myself to read it. Yes, yes, I know Water For Elephants is a work of fiction, but I couldn't bare to read this novel even though I'd heard it was a good read and should consider reading it for the writing and storyline alone.

Fast forward to this month. I decided to read Water For Elephants after all. Mainly, I decided to read Water For Elephants because I wanted to finally give this novel a chance. Also because maybe, just maybe, I was missing a great book filled with an amazing storyline and wonderful characters.

I wasn't disappointed with Water For Elephants. Yes, animals are abused in this novel (especially the elephant) and it was difficult to read certain segments because of it, but the story and the characters made it worthwhile in the end. The novel does have a happy ending though for all, including the elephant.

Water For Elephants focuses on the life of Jacob Janowski. Jacob Janowski is an elderly man in his 90s living in an assisted living home. Jacob is curmudgeonly and is getting forgetful as he can't remember if he's 90 or 93 years old.

Jacob begins to reminisce about his life as a circus veterinarian for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth during the great depression. Jacob's focus on his early life at the circus begins when he and the other residents of the assisted living home learn that a circus is coming to town. In fact, many of the elderly residents at the assisted living facility end up going to see the circus with their families. There is also a wild claim made by another assisted living resident of being the person who brings water to the elephants at a circus. This sets Jacob off as he claims that there was no such position at a circus... And so Jacob begins the story of his life starting with his college days in veterinarian school at Cornell University, followed by a family tragedy, life working at the circus, and eventually marrying the love of his life.

Water For Elephants alternates between current day and also Jacob's past, which makes for a great read. I enjoyed the characters, the storyline, and the writing for Water For Elephants. I am so happy that I finally read this novel... Or rather, I should say listened to the unabridged audio version of Water For Elephants, which was well narrated by two different narrators.

Water For Elephants was my second read for November 2023. Have you read Water For Elephants? What did you think of it?

Below is the publisher's summary for Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen from Chirp's website:
Jacob Janowski’s luck had run out-orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was the Great Depression and for Jacob the circus was both his salvation and a living hell. There he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but brutal animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this group of misfits was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I am giving Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Ancient Art of Bookbinding Has Been Perfected!


I love these newsy type of stories about bookbinding and how small businesses are keeping the ancient art of bookbinding alive. How I'd love to be a bookbinder or an archivist... Heck, I'd even be thrilled to be a research librarian.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Dark Reservations by John Fortunato

Dark Reservations by John Fortunato is the first book I read/listened to for the month of November 2023. John Fortunato is a new to me author and the plot summary for Dark Reservations sounded really good, so I decided to give this mystery/thriller novel a go. I wasn't disappointed!

Dark Reservations by John Fortunato is a good read. It has an interesting storyline with appropriate plot twists. I liked the main character as well as the supporting cast of characters. The writing is solid. The novel itself is well paced and has a satisfying ending to round things out.

Below is the publisher's plot summary for Dark Reservations by John Fortunato I discovered on Chirp's website:

“An insightful take on life in the Southwest.” —Gene Hackman. Bureau of Indian Affairs special agent Joe Evers still mourns the death of his wife and, after a bungled investigation, faces a forced early retirement. What he needs is a new career, not another case. But when Congressman Arlen Edgerton’s bullet-riddled Lincoln turns up on the Navajo reservation—twenty years after he disappeared during a corruption probe—Joe must resurrect his failing career to solve the mysterious cold case.Joe partners with Navajo tribal officer Randall Bluehorse, his investigation antagonizes potential suspects, including a wealthy art collector, a former president of the Navajo Nation, a powerful U.S. senator, and Edgerton’s widow, who is now the front-runner in the New Mexico governor’s race. An unexpected romance further complicates both the investigation and Joe’s troubled relationship with his daughter, forcing him to confront his emotional demons while on the trail of a ruthless killer.Joe uncovers a murderous conspiracy that leads him from ancient Anasazi burial grounds on the Navajo Nation to backroom deals in Washington, D.C. Along the way, he delves into the dangerous world of black market trade in Native American artifacts. Can he unravel the mystery and bring the true criminal to justice, or will he become another silenced victim?

I am giving Dark Reservations by John Fortunato a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su

I have literally wanted to read Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su for years! I'm so glad that I finally obtained a physical copy of this book and read it in one sitting. I really like weird, quirky reads like this sometimes.

Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su is a small, hardback, coffee table sort of book... and it is a hoot! I love it. This book is a work of nonfiction about, you guessed it, crappy taxidermy. Crap Taxidermy is a very short, fast read as it largely contains photos of taxidermy gone very wrong. 

There is also an introduction by the author at the start of Crap Taxidermy. I learned that the author is an activewear designer by trade and also that she has a blog on Tumbler about taxidermy called, Crappy Taxidermy. According to the author, Crap Taxidermy is a celebration of crappy taxidermy.

I liked how Kat Su organized the taxidermy photos in her book by category, like a focus on the eyes or particular body poses, etc.

Crap Taxidermy ends with a 'how-to' section, which gives readers (and want to be taxidermists) specific directions on 'How To Stuff Your Own Mouse'. So, if you are feeling rather adventurous, you can go ahead and perform your very own taxidermy on an already dead mouse. 

I will be taking a hard pass on doing any sort of taxidermy, thank you very much. Would you be interested in doing a taxidermy?

Below is a book trailer for Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su, which features a group of women learning to taxidermy a mouse.

I am giving Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

What's the Secret Formula to Agatha Christie's Novels?


I've read countless Agatha Christie novels over the years and fell in love with many of Ms. Christie's novels. 

When I stumbled upon a Ted-Ed video on YouTube about the secret formula to Agatha Christie's murder mysteries, I couldn't resist watching this short animated film. I wasn't disappointed as I learned a lot from watching this video.

If you are an Agatha Christie lover, you may enjoy watching this informative video as well.