Virtual Relocation

Last week, Goodreads quit automagically copying book reviews to WordPress blogs, citing an incompatibility with their new storage system. You may have noticed that this blog is composed largely of my book reviews. Since this heralds a major change in the content of the blog, and I was wanting to make some other changes anyway, I am taking this opportunity to re-brand and set up a whole new blog. I’ll be using WordPress still, but I have purchased a domain that will allow me to present my work under more than one of my pen names rather than focusing on my speculative fiction written as Chris L. Pontius. I am also planning to set up a Patreon account. Both of these are still in the conceptual phase, but I will comment here with links when they are ready.

I’m not exactly mothballing this blog, but don’t expect much in the way of future posts. I will continue to comment on and update posts of ongoing projects at least until there is a good transition point, so by all means, stay subscribed if any of that interests you. I have not decided what to do about posting copies of my book reviews going forward, but I am still reviewing regularly on the Goodreads site. I also plan to do more with my author profile there, so follow me if you haven’t already done so, and you can keep up with all of my reviews and ramblings there.

While the loss of the Goodreads copy feature was disappointing, I’m pretty stoked about moving forward with an online presence that will, I hope, be easier for me as well as for my readers. I may be quieter than usual online while I’m getting things all built and connected, but I’ll be back soon!

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Review: The Seven Dials Mystery

The Seven Dials Mystery
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #34 for 2016
Habitica’s Legendary Book Club Modest Reading Challenge Task: A book that you’ve already read at least once
Old Firehouse Books Summer Bingo Square: A book that’s been on your shelf for more than five years

Ah, Bundle and Battle, together again! This made me want to go read The Secret of Chimneys again. It’s a pity Christie didn’t do more with these characters. But given how this novel ended, I guess I’m not surprised.

I was expecting this to be a quick re-read, but I was amazed at how much time I spent chasing down odd vocabulary words and trying to figure out what kind of “automatic” pistol Stevens had managed to procure for Jimmy. I’m pretty sure it was an ACP .455, which appears to me to be a semi-automatic, despite its name. I’m also pretty sure that Christie was poking fun at pulp thriller writers of the day when Jimmy made it clear that he wanted a “blue-nosed,” fully automatic pistol. And I think it’s more than a little sad that a century or so after the ACP was introduced, so many people are still using “automatic” and “semi-automatic” interchangeably.

But I digress. I was also amazed at how little of the plot I remembered. The plot twist really got me, even though I avoided some of the red herrings and, really, I ought to have known better. Some of the explanations regarding the origins of the Seven Dials Club weren’t completely satisfying, but if not examined too closely, they make for some cleverly constructed clues.

I really enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout this book. There was a distinct P.G. Wodehouse influence, and Christie’s snarky asides and gift for snappy dialogue were delightfully evident. There’s even a fun little subplot of romance, complete with a proposal scene that puts Jane Austen to shame. I’d recommend this to anybody looking for a light-hearted mystery romp set in the late 1920s.

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Review: The Green Mile, Part 6: Coffey on the Mile

The Green Mile, Part 6: Coffey on the Mile
The Green Mile, Part 6: Coffey on the Mile by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #8 for 2015

This was an excellent resolution to the series, tying together the stories of young Paul and old Paul as well as driving home the themes. Gift or curse? Death as release. Facing judgment. I liked how King built in the epilogue by giving everybody’s death details along the way. This is very much a book about death, but it makes it clear that death is not just about death. Death is contrast to life. As such, it points up the importance of how we live our lives.

This is easily the best King I’ve ever read, but it occurs to me that I really haven’t read that much King. I should rectify that.

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Review: The Green Mile, Part 5: Night Journey

The Green Mile, Part 5: Night Journey
The Green Mile, Part 5: Night Journey by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #7 for 2015

This installment showcases King’s genius for foreshadowing in such a way that still leaves plenty of room for speculation and wonderment. Even though I am now getting a really good idea of how the front story and the back story will come together, and I know that the escapade had to have turned out to be something of a success, the suspense remains high. I recommend reading this one only if you have the final episode ready at hand.

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Review: The Green Mile, Part 4: The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix

The Green Mile, Part 4: The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix
The Green Mile, Part 4: The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #6 of 2015

There were some horrific scenes in this installment, but King handled them delicately, which I think takes a great deal of talent. There is also an economy of description that makes it a real page-turner. One thing I liked about this part in particular is that the front story — Paul in the old folks’ home — really started coming out as more than just an excuse to have a story at all.

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Review: The Green Mile, Part 3: Coffey’s Hands

The Green Mile, Part 3: Coffey's Hands
The Green Mile, Part 3: Coffey’s Hands by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #5 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criterion Met:
-A book with magic

Tons of foreshadowing in this installment, but also lots of plot development. I really liked how King was pacing and framing this story. A few bits were on the predictable side, but the story flowed nicely all the same and made me eager for the next book.

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Review: A Natural History of Dragons

A Natural History of Dragons
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #4 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criteria Met:
-A book set in a different country
-A book a friend recommended
-A book that made you cry

The plot may have been all over the place and a little oddly paced, and a few things may have been a bit predictable, but I enjoyed the heck out of this faux memoir. The voice was consistently well executed throughout and made it easy to immerse myself in this tale of adventure and dragon lore.

Brennan set Lady Trent’s story in an alternate world that is analogous to our Victorian era without actually being our Victorian era, and that may have helped prevent it from feeling derivative even though I was constantly reminded of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody Emerson and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily, with a dash of Agatha Christie’s autobiographical Come, Tell Me How You Live as well. I occasionally wondered if this alternate reality was truly necessary for the insertion of real (if non-supernatural) dragons, and I’ve decided that it was. It was actually a very clever device to make the world, its dragons, and its characters feel extremely authentic.

I can understand some readers wishing for more dragons in the story, but there was enough dragon action to keep me satisfied, and I plan to read more in this series. I would recommend this especially to fans of Peabody and Lady Emily, but also to those interested in dragon tales and historical mysteries.

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