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What I'm Reading Now: 12 July 02

No mark upon her - Deborah Crombie

So, not much reading this week, due to the usual reason, namely, "life is what happens while you're making other plans." However, this week, I'm taking some vacation time. Granted, I've got a few commitments, and I'm hoping to take on a project a day, but one of these projects is "do nothing until I'm tired of it." (I don't expect I'll get it done that day, but one has to have a goal.) And by doing nothing, I mean sitting and reading, preferably while snuggling a cat. I have a few new books from the library that I've been looking forward to, a few from the book sale I haven't gotten to yet, and right now I feel like the reading world is my oyster, and someone's just handed me an oyster knife and pail...

In No mark upon her, Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid are now freshly married (for the third time within months) and working out how to balance their blended family, including their new foster daughter, with the demands of their careers. Both James and Kincaid are police officers, with positions that don't mesh well with a regular schedule and stable family life, but they think they can manage until a senior officer is found drowned in the Thames. While Kincaid is investigating her life as a police officer and as an Olympic-calibre athlete, James is running her own unrelated investigation, a series of rape complaints. As always, Crombie's plots are twisty and well-thought-out, and her characters (both returning and new) are fascinating. This was very good, and I'd recommend keeping an eye out for all the James and Kincaid mysteries.

What I'm Reading Now: 12 June 25

The virtual self: how our digital lives are altering the world around us-- Nora Young (non-fiction, technology)
Tuesdays at the castle-- Jessica Day George (fantasy)
Catch me-- Lisa Gardner

Why do we track ourselves, noting down where we are and what we ate for lunch in status updates and tweets? Can any good come of the masses of personal data that we create and allow to be collected about ourselves? Nora Young asks some of these questions in The virtual self. She looks at the self-tracking phenomenon, where  people keep track of all kinds of data about themselves, from meals to exercise minutes to incidences of non-moral behavior. It's not new-- people have often kept diaries and journals that include this information-- but now it's often electronic and available to the world. There are dangers, but there are some emerging benefits as well, and Young discusses these and the steps we need to take to protect our data and our virtual selves. I found it interesting reading, but sadly, I didn't retain much of the information.

"Whenever Castle Glower became bored, it would grow a new room or two." In Tuesdays at the Castle, Castle Glower is alive, and it chooses the heir to the kingdom, as well as expressing its opinion of any visitors by increasing or decreasing the size of their guest rooms. Celie is the youngest princess of Glower, busy mapping the castle, when her parents disappear and royalty from neighboring countries descend to "assist" Celie and her two older siblings. This assistance becomes more and more sinister, and the three children will need all the help they can get from a living, opinionated Castle and some unlikely allies. I've enjoyed two other of Jessica Day George's fantasy novels. Tuesdays at the Castle  is geared for a younger audience, but even so, I found it quite enjoyable. Definitely recommended for the younger set, and the young at heart.

What would you do if you knew that, in four days, someone was going to kill you? Charlene Grant has spent the last year preparing for four days from now, and one of those preparations is to find the right person to investigate her murder. Detective DD Warren has met a lot of people, but never someone looking for the right homicide detective. She's drawn to believe Charlene, but her plate is full with a series of pedophile murders-- not murders by pedophiles, but pedophiles who have been murdered-- and an ambitious colleague is pushing her way into the investigation. Some items of Charlene's past surface, and suddenly DD is wondering if Charlene was at the scene for a more direct and bloody reason. The plot twists are fast and unexpected, the final scenes are tense, and the final identity of the killer and the question of Charlene's survival are neatly and unexpectedly resolved. Catch me was an excellent book, and several characters from Gardner's other books make an appearance as well.

What I'm Reading Now: 12 Jun 19

The innocent-- David Baldacci
Spinsters in jeopardy -- Ngaio Marsh

The plot of The Innocent sounds a lot like the movie The Professional (Leon): professional hitman takes responsibility for young teenage girl after her parents are killed. At least, that's what I thought, and since I had some problems with the movie, I was a little reluctant to read the book. Only Baldacci's reputation persuaded me to give it a chance... and I'm glad I did. Will Robie is an assassin employed by the US government, and he's feeling his age creeping up on him. On a routine assignment, he has qualms and refuses to kill his target - and a sniper from another building promptly  does it for him. Robie goes to his escape route, taking a bus out of town, and spots a teen who is obviously also running away. When the bus they've just left explodes, Robie takes her with him, and the game kicks into high gear. Robie has to find out who's playing him and who the real target is while protecting the girl, and up until now, the only person he's ever protected is himself. It's a very good read, and one that I finished in a sitting.

In Spinsters in jeopardy (yet another Roderick Alleyn mystery by Ngaio Marsh), Alleyn takes a working holiday to France with his wife and young son. Troy and Ricky aren't supposed to get involved in Alleyn's investigation of a drug ring, but when Alleyn gets too close, Ricky vanishes. There's a bizarre cult in the chateau on the cliff, a murder witnessed from the window of a train, a ghost that illuminates himself, and locals Theresa and Raoul who get themselves thoroughly involved in the investigation. As always, I enjoyed Marsh's writing, although I will gently point out that writing child characters is not precisely her strong suit.