Coolio, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ Rapper, Dies at 59 –

From a bookish, asthmatic child to crack addict to mainstream recording powerhouse, Coolio charted a path to hip-hop superstardom like no other.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/arts/music/coolio-rapper-dead.html

Sad news for music fans. Fans of fine action movies will look up his Wikipedia listing and wonder if they should watch his movie “Submerged” out of respect.

They should not. Nil nisi bonum, my dudes.

Coolio, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ Rapper, Dies at 59 –

From a bookish, asthmatic child to crack addict to mainstream recording powerhouse, Coolio charted a path to hip-hop superstardom like no other.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/arts/music/coolio-rapper-dead.html

Sad news for music fans. Fans of fine action movies will look up his Wikipedia listing and wonder if they should watch his movie “Submerged” out of respect.

They should not. Nil nisi bonum, my dudes.

Homescapes: Time Suck, Coin Suck, Energy Suck, Yet I Can’t Stop Playing

Homescapes Level 7602, “The Wood Estate Mystery” – is it time to move on?

Homescapes is a video game for smartphones and tablets that’s designed to remove money from your wallet, time from your day, and you from engagement with everything else that’s going on in your life.

Match 3 – what to do? Hyper bombs, jets, or rockets?

It’s a match-3 type of game, very similar to Bejeweled (which I used to like a lot) or Candy Crush. It has levels to pass, and to break up the repetitiveness, it’s also an exploration, makeover, redesign game. There are periodic events where you compete head to head, within your team, or against other teams. There are also “seasons” lasting about 4 weeks where you are supposed to gather tokens to trade in to redesign areas of the game, or to change the appearance of an in-game character. There’s a fair amount of exploration; as you progress through the levels you first renovate and redecorate the main character’s family home, then a lake cabin that he buys, then an estate belonging to an estranged family member. Along the way you help “Austin,” the main character, make his parents’ lives better and fix their mysteriously neglected mansion. There’s a whole storyline with characters, separate from the simple match-3 mechanics where you gather tokens and stars to advance the “plot.”

Team Freckle Juice

I’m on a pretty good “team,” Freckle Juice. I thought the name was funny when I joined but I hope it doesn’t put off prospective new members who might suspect that it’s for pale people only. When I joined, it was new and I was the second or third person. The team leader is pretty engaged and expects team members to be minimally engaged, which is better than my last team. Homescapes has a “limited lives” system – you get 5 turns and then have to wait for your lives to refill… unless you pay extra for more lives. But you can ask for and give turns to teammates, and Facebook friends who connect to you in-game. Occasionally, we’re pretty successful as a a team in the weekly competitions. We won the one above for example. We got a lot of coin out of that.

Coins are the in-game currency; you can buy extra lives and power-ups (called boosters in-game). Stars are awarded for every level you clear – 1 level, one star. Hard levels, you get more coins. And then there’s various kinds of tokens; sometimes it’s a different kind of object that you match, like red bow ties (Austin the butler is famous for always wearing a bow tie) or some seasonal object (Christmas balls during the Christmas seasonal redesign event, etc.).

Homescapes: The Wood Estate Mystery. Energy suck, coin suck, time suck

Currently, we’re in a sort of short seasonal event called Mysteries of Wood Escape. Here’s a walkthrough on You Tube that makes it look easy and achievable in the short time you’re given (about 10-14 days on this one). Newsflash: it’s not possible to complete unless you cheat.

YouTube: Mysteries of Wood Escape Walkthrough



Here’s a good example of Time Suck: while working on this blogpost, I absent-mindedly opened the game, forgetting that today is my “seventh day” in a row, that comes with some timed bonus power-ups. They only last 30 minutes. Can’t waste time blogging when I was stuck on a level!

Time’s a wastin’! Only 26 more minutes of unlimited boosters!
Instant Showdown! Explode more bombs than the opponent!

But first, I’m offered an Instant Showdown against someone who may be a real player… all I have to do is create more bombs than they do in the next 6 hours. With the bombs booster activated, I’m pretty good at creating “carpet bombing” with the “disco ball” (like a Hypercube in Bejeweled). This is actually one I win at pretty regularly when I get a good start. Notice the extra bonus icon for an extra charge in dollars.

So, I clear quite a few of the standard match-3 levels, gaining just 9 of the blue energy bolts required by this “Wood Estate Mystery” event. During my run through the levels, I get irritated by the fact that having “double jet planes” which clear 4 spaces on landing” don’t always mean 2 separate planes hitting 2 separate targets – in this case, both planes went to the same target twice, forcing me to repeat the level at least once to finish it. The game design sometimes seems to “cheat” you out of a play. I mess myself up sometimes, too.

Boosters are counting down. Next challenge: cats and cocktails!

So I make good progress and clear as many levels as I can in the time allotted, gaining more energy to clear the Wood game, coins to buy my way out of trouble if necessary, and stars to advance the “main narrative” of helping Austin renovate the family homes.

Ads based on the mini game are banned in the UK.

But wait! I’m offered yet another side challenge, an easy looking mini-game that looks like the original ad that drew me into the Homescapes universal time/energy/star/coin black hole. Ads like this are reportedly banned in the UK as misleading as they’re not representative of normal gameplay. I knew this, very quickly, when I started about a year and a half ago (I started playing a few months before my furlough from work finally ended and I was assigned to a new set of accounts to support).

This side challenge, and many other distractions that come up, only appears when in the middle of a timed event that benefits the player.

I usually skip these as they waste time while the timer keeps ticking down, for a reward of only 50 coins and just 1 star, unless I’m close to finishing an “area” or a “day” in the main narrative and need stars.

Great! Coins, stars, and event token earned. I had zero stars. Now I have 1.

“Woo-hoo!”, as Austin the bullet is fond of saying. I cleared a “super hard” level worth 150 coins, 12 energy bolts, and… just one star. It’s always just one star, no matter how hard the level is. At this moment, an “infinite lives” timer has just expired, but I have boosters due to the “kite event” being active as long as I keep winning on the first attempt.

Energy Suck: so I go into the “Wood Estate Mystery” with more than 220 energy bolts. The premise is you have to clear brush and fog in order to reach objectives in the story (“chapters”) and along the way, pick up coins and energy and boosters from various bushes and chests that have glowing beacons. But most of these booster bushes and chests must be accessed by a very convoluted route requiring huge amounts of energy. They rarely show up in the normal course of clearing a path in the “chapter” narrative. And sometimes, you encounter a red bomb package that clears a LOT of fog at once… but costs you 1,000 coins. And in the normal game, it costs 9,00 coins to get just 5 extra moves in a level, or if outside a level, to get 5 more lives (better value unless you’re desperate to pass a difficult level).

Just buy your way out of a jam…

Energy is hard to earn, but easy… oh so easy to buy. Fortunately, Homescapes has been set so that I can’t buy anything in-game without getting David to agree to the purchase from one of his devices. This is the ONLY game or purchase that is set up like this; it’s a safety feature and I’m actually glad it’s there. I would have drained various gift debit cards otherwise.

Coin Suck: There’s ALWAYS something buy in this game. There’s a safe stuff with coins, that I earned the right to buy at a a reduced rate… 2 days into the game. I thought I was earning FREE coins. Nope.

There’s this bonus event thing that gives you boosters and coins and lives and so on as you clear levels. The goals are easy to achieve at first, and then IMPOSSIBLE to complete as you go. All to get a special “pet” that wanders around the estate, or a special profile picture. These events change monthly except that right now, it’s a weekly payment and thus is about 4 times the cost of the previous monthly bonus deals. About 3 or 4 months ago, I resolved to NOT buy my way out of hard levels any more, because I was constantly too “broke” to afford 900 coins. I also resolved longer ago than that not to buy any of the extra bonus event benefits like 8 lives instead of 5 plus more loot, because the owners of the Playrix games company are obscenely rich Russians now based in either the UK or Ireland, and I wasn’t comfortable with giving them MORE money.

So since my Homescapes team regularly seems to win or place or show in the “coin challenges” that come up every week, I’ve literally been saving my coins and not using them unless there’s a very good reason, and I keep raising my “hard deck” below which I will not go, which is currently at least 5,000 coins, but often raised to at least 8,000 coins. I’ve got pretty good strategies for not having to buy my way out of a hard level now; these include “ABC” (“always be clearing”) moves, and “XYZ” (“examine your moveZ”) for either a combination of boosters, or a move that achieves at least 2 and preferably 3 actions toward that level’s goal.

My advice to new players interested in this game is this: Don’t get sucked into it, unless you set yourself some rules to live by first. Don’t spend money. Don’t go looking for game cheats that’ll only get you banned. But do find a good team to start out with to help you with lives and tips (Facebook groups are probably the safest place to look). If you know someone who plays it, ask them if their team has an opening. Do ignore the events and redecorating that don’t interest you; they’re frustrating as you go up the levels because they’re so hard to complete and the payoff in boosters and coins isn’t worth it. Do set timers to remind you to close the game and go outside and do something else.

At some point if I keep going up the levels in my current location in-game, I’ll be in the “Tournament of Champions,” the level where people have to wait for Playrix to release new levels and eventually, new “estates” and areas around the fictional lakeside community. This isn’t ideal because as you play in “TOC” you’re not accumulating stars in order to advance quickly once a brand new area is opened (there are 3 so far). But at least I don’t plan to spend a lot of real world money from this point forward, and you shouldn’t, either.

Homescapes: Time Suck, Coin Suck, Energy Suck, Yet I Can’t Stop Playing

Homescapes Level 7602, “The Wood Estate Mystery” – is it time to move on?

Homescapes is a video game for smartphones and tablets that’s designed to remove money from your wallet, time from your day, and you from engagement with everything else that’s going on in your life.

Match 3 – what to do? Hyper bombs, jets, or rockets?

It’s a match-3 type of game, very similar to Bejeweled (which I used to like a lot) or Candy Crush. It has levels to pass, and to break up the repetitiveness, it’s also an exploration, makeover, redesign game. There are periodic events where you compete head to head, within your team, or against other teams. There are also “seasons” lasting about 4 weeks where you are supposed to gather tokens to trade in to redesign areas of the game, or to change the appearance of an in-game character. There’s a fair amount of exploration; as you progress through the levels you first renovate and redecorate the main character’s family home, then a lake cabin that he buys, then an estate belonging to an estranged family member. Along the way you help “Austin,” the main character, make his parents’ lives better and fix their mysteriously neglected mansion. There’s a whole storyline with characters, separate from the simple match-3 mechanics where you gather tokens and stars to advance the “plot.”

Team Freckle Juice

I’m on a pretty good “team,” Freckle Juice. I thought the name was funny when I joined but I hope it doesn’t put off prospective new members who might suspect that it’s for pale people only. When I joined, it was new and I was the second or third person. The team leader is pretty engaged and expects team members to be minimally engaged, which is better than my last team. Homescapes has a “limited lives” system – you get 5 turns and then have to wait for your lives to refill… unless you pay extra for more lives. But you can ask for and give turns to teammates, and Facebook friends who connect to you in-game. Occasionally, we’re pretty successful as a a team in the weekly competitions. We won the one above for example. We got a lot of coin out of that.

Coins are the in-game currency; you can buy extra lives and power-ups (called boosters in-game). Stars are awarded for every level you clear – 1 level, one star. Hard levels, you get more coins. And then there’s various kinds of tokens; sometimes it’s a different kind of object that you match, like red bow ties (Austin the butler is famous for always wearing a bow tie) or some seasonal object (Christmas balls during the Christmas seasonal redesign event, etc.).

Homescapes: The Wood Estate Mystery. Energy suck, coin suck, time suck

Currently, we’re in a sort of short seasonal event called Mysteries of Wood Escape. Here’s a walkthrough on You Tube that makes it look easy and achievable in the short time you’re given (about 10-14 days on this one). Newsflash: it’s not possible to complete unless you cheat.

YouTube: Mysteries of Wood Escape Walkthrough



Here’s a good example of Time Suck: while working on this blogpost, I absent-mindedly opened the game, forgetting that today is my “seventh day” in a row, that comes with some timed bonus power-ups. They only last 30 minutes. Can’t waste time blogging when I was stuck on a level!

Time’s a wastin’! Only 26 more minutes of unlimited boosters!
Instant Showdown! Explode more bombs than the opponent!

But first, I’m offered an Instant Showdown against someone who may be a real player… all I have to do is create more bombs than they do in the next 6 hours. With the bombs booster activated, I’m pretty good at creating “carpet bombing” with the “disco ball” (like a Hypercube in Bejeweled). This is actually one I win at pretty regularly when I get a good start. Notice the extra bonus icon for an extra charge in dollars.

So, I clear quite a few of the standard match-3 levels, gaining just 9 of the blue energy bolts required by this “Wood Estate Mystery” event. During my run through the levels, I get irritated by the fact that having “double jet planes” which clear 4 spaces on landing” don’t always mean 2 separate planes hitting 2 separate targets – in this case, both planes went to the same target twice, forcing me to repeat the level at least once to finish it. The game design sometimes seems to “cheat” you out of a play. I mess myself up sometimes, too.

Boosters are counting down. Next challenge: cats and cocktails!

So I make good progress and clear as many levels as I can in the time allotted, gaining more energy to clear the Wood game, coins to buy my way out of trouble if necessary, and stars to advance the “main narrative” of helping Austin renovate the family homes.

Ads based on the mini game are banned in the UK.

But wait! I’m offered yet another side challenge, an easy looking mini-game that looks like the original ad that drew me into the Homescapes universal time/energy/star/coin black hole. Ads like this are reportedly banned in the UK as misleading as they’re not representative of normal gameplay. I knew this, very quickly, when I started about a year and a half ago (I started playing a few months before my furlough from work finally ended and I was assigned to a new set of accounts to support).

This side challenge, and many other distractions that come up, only appears when in the middle of a timed event that benefits the player.

I usually skip these as they waste time while the timer keeps ticking down, for a reward of only 50 coins and just 1 star, unless I’m close to finishing an “area” or a “day” in the main narrative and need stars.

Great! Coins, stars, and event token earned. I had zero stars. Now I have 1.

“Woo-hoo!”, as Austin the bullet is fond of saying. I cleared a “super hard” level worth 150 coins, 12 energy bolts, and… just one star. It’s always just one star, no matter how hard the level is. At this moment, an “infinite lives” timer has just expired, but I have boosters due to the “kite event” being active as long as I keep winning on the first attempt.

Energy Suck: so I go into the “Wood Estate Mystery” with more than 220 energy bolts. The premise is you have to clear brush and fog in order to reach objectives in the story (“chapters”) and along the way, pick up coins and energy and boosters from various bushes and chests that have glowing beacons. But most of these booster bushes and chests must be accessed by a very convoluted route requiring huge amounts of energy. They rarely show up in the normal course of clearing a path in the “chapter” narrative. And sometimes, you encounter a red bomb package that clears a LOT of fog at once… but costs you 1,000 coins. And in the normal game, it costs 9,00 coins to get just 5 extra moves in a level, or if outside a level, to get 5 more lives (better value unless you’re desperate to pass a difficult level).

Just buy your way out of a jam…

Energy is hard to earn, but easy… oh so easy to buy. Fortunately, Homescapes has been set so that I can’t buy anything in-game without getting David to agree to the purchase from one of his devices. This is the ONLY game or purchase that is set up like this; it’s a safety feature and I’m actually glad it’s there. I would have drained various gift debit cards otherwise.

Coin Suck: There’s ALWAYS something buy in this game. There’s a safe stuff with coins, that I earned the right to buy at a a reduced rate… 2 days into the game. I thought I was earning FREE coins. Nope.

There’s this bonus event thing that gives you boosters and coins and lives and so on as you clear levels. The goals are easy to achieve at first, and then IMPOSSIBLE to complete as you go. All to get a special “pet” that wanders around the estate, or a special profile picture. These events change monthly except that right now, it’s a weekly payment and thus is about 4 times the cost of the previous monthly bonus deals. About 3 or 4 months ago, I resolved to NOT buy my way out of hard levels any more, because I was constantly too “broke” to afford 900 coins. I also resolved longer ago than that not to buy any of the extra bonus event benefits like 8 lives instead of 5 plus more loot, because the owners of the Playrix games company are obscenely rich Russians now based in either the UK or Ireland, and I wasn’t comfortable with giving them MORE money.

So since my Homescapes team regularly seems to win or place or show in the “coin challenges” that come up every week, I’ve literally been saving my coins and not using them unless there’s a very good reason, and I keep raising my “hard deck” below which I will not go, which is currently at least 5,000 coins, but often raised to at least 8,000 coins. I’ve got pretty good strategies for not having to buy my way out of a hard level now; these include “ABC” (“always be clearing”) moves, and “XYZ” (“examine your moveZ”) for either a combination of boosters, or a move that achieves at least 2 and preferably 3 actions toward that level’s goal.

My advice to new players interested in this game is this: Don’t get sucked into it, unless you set yourself some rules to live by first. Don’t spend money. Don’t go looking for game cheats that’ll only get you banned. But do find a good team to start out with to help you with lives and tips (Facebook groups are probably the safest place to look). If you know someone who plays it, ask them if their team has an opening. Do ignore the events and redecorating that don’t interest you; they’re frustrating as you go up the levels because they’re so hard to complete and the payoff in boosters and coins isn’t worth it. Do set timers to remind you to close the game and go outside and do something else.

At some point if I keep going up the levels in my current location in-game, I’ll be in the “Tournament of Champions,” the level where people have to wait for Playrix to release new levels and eventually, new “estates” and areas around the fictional lakeside community. This isn’t ideal because as you play in “TOC” you’re not accumulating stars in order to advance quickly once a brand new area is opened (there are 3 so far). But at least I don’t plan to spend a lot of real world money from this point forward, and you shouldn’t, either.

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

Category:
Publisher:
Published: 10/1/2019
Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All Rachel Maddow’s Blowout offers a dark, serpentine, riveting tour of the unimaginably lucrative and corrupt oil-and-gas industry. With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe—from Oklahoma City to Siberia to Equatorial Guinea—exposing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas. She shows how Russia’s rich…

Ampersand! Ampersand! Ampersand! My Life Is One Big “And…”

We’re in a holding pattern here at Chez Gique, waiting for something to happen – a good thing, just hasn’t happened yet. And it’s hard to be patient, and it’s hard not to hyperfocus on “when will we know happens next,” and it’s hard to keep spirits up and positive.

So in the meantime, other than the fact that a narcissistic madman is running the country, what else is going on?

Well, it’s currently hard to type words like “currently,” “hard,” or “words,” because the “R” key on my iPad Mini Rugged Zagg book is missing a keycap, and as it’s a really old Mini, it’s not worth buying a whole new one. I’m making do for now, rather than using either my (elderly) laptop or my (not as elderly) desktop. The Mini is way more comfortable for lounging on the couch, on the bed, or keeping nearby during the day.

I sent away for a repair kit from www.replacementlaptopkeys.com that finally arrived today, and I has a sad: I did NOT order an exact match for the little doodads that go under the keycap. There are a lot of ZAGG keyboards on their page and I thought I had narrowed down the best match, but no. Thanks for playing. So I sent off an email to the seller, not expecting a refund, just to see if they have a suggestion. I already tried a low tech repair that did not work, so will make do for now.

In other news of interest to nobody but me, the family seems to be okay here; my extended family back in the Intermountain West is doing well and growing, friends are okay. It’s hard to be more specific than that, because in the winter we don’t get together as often – especially my cycling friends, though we have an active chitchat always going in Facebook Messenger. There may be something going on Sunday for an outdoor activity in the cold, but (fortunately) I’m committed for Sunday mornings until after Easter over at Holy Moly.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and news via TuneIn and Stitcher lately. I’m currently listening to “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, which is a companion to his book of the same name – which I haven’t read yet. It’s still interesting because it uses Farrow’s audio files of some of his interview subjects, and in some cases, people that he went back and spoke with after the fact to get their reaction to the story. It’s fascinating, and parts of it are harrowing. Voice after voice after voice, women talking about being victimized and then silenced by Harvey Weinstein – thank God he was convicted of at least a couple of the charges against him, and is in prison awaiting sentencing.

I often listen to Pod Save America – in this era I find its snarky yet informative tone helpful. As it turns out, Ronan Farrow is the spouse of one of the PSA hosts, Jon Lovett. Apparently it’s a small world.

Another podcast is really just the audio recording of The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS) – most nights I watch the show, some nights I watch it via DVR, other times I just listen to audio. Why? Again, I find it comforting in this era. Sometimes TRMS delves deeply into a story, every now and then it goes a little too deeply into the weeds (as in the notorious night when “Trump’s NY State Tax Returns” were sort of released). I appreciate the way Maddow treats guests – it’s one on one, whether they are physically in the studio or via “remote.” Other news show hosts opt for the “panel” approach and they call on people one by one, and sometimes there’s a lot of backchat and jockeying. It can be annoying.

Maybe I watch cable news too much lately – again, due to our current predicament with an actual bully occupying the Bully Pulpit. But I feel this compulsion to be informed, or maybe it’s an obligation to be a witness to history.

For instance, yesterday was History – an impeached president* was acquitted by the spineless bootlickers of the Republican Senate (yes, I’m jaded, and this blogpost was started a few weeks ago and I’m behind). In a pleasant surprise, the junior Senator from Utah, Mitt “Mittens” Romney, voted to convict. For me, as a former Utahn (and scarred by the experience of growing up non-Mormon in Utah) I was actually shocked, and grudgingly had to give Romney props for adhering to his sacred oath of impartialism for the impeachment trial.

Moving on into March, which is already full of madness…

So we’re still waiting for Something Good to Happen, and it’s been a long and bumpy month with ups and downs. Today was a good day, with some good signs and at least an update that one option was not going to work out. More options are still out there and there is positive forward movement.

Meanwhile, Happy Coronavirus Crisis, everybody! I’m in corporate travel and it’s been wild lately with major corporations (some of them our customers) cancelling huge domestic and international meetings, and airlines canceling flights. And we’re still being “led” by a certifiable idiot who’s doing his level best to muddy the water, obscure lines of communication, and push blame on anyone (Obama!) and anything (cruise ships not yet in America!) that he can.

I am reading 3 different books and it’s slow going because I keep getting distracted by current events, workplace stresses, family doings, and anything on TV that has a sexy bald ex-admiral or treasure hunters with more money than sense. I’ll add them in later as I had to update my books plugin the hard way. But I’m reading Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout, Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, and I may or may not get to a third book that I haven’t even cracked yet.

It’s finally getting closer to spring and I need to get out on my bike. But it’s been cold off and on. Yes? No? Maybe? More & more & more & excuses needed!

Murder at the Ashmolean

Murder at the Ashmolean

Category:
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 7/18/2019
1895. A senior executive at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is found in his office with a bullet hole between his eyes, a pistol discarded close by. The death has officially been ruled as suicide by local police, but with an apparent lack of motive for such action, the museum's administrator, Gladstone Marriott, suspects foul play. With his cast-iron reputation for shrewdness, formed during his time investigating the case of Jack the Ripper alongside Inspector…

I’m currently reading this book and honest to God, it’s a slog.

I recently decided to blog more, and read more, trying to be less hyper focused on the national impeachment trial crisis. So I started using my elderly iPad, with a ZAGG keyboard featuring a busted “R” key, instead of the bigger desktop and medium laptop I have, because reasons. And herrrrrrrrrrrre we arrrrrre blogging.

So far, I’ve checked out 3 books and read two, and this last one is just not that good.

The author has a lot of writing credits for TV and media – but the characters are flat, the premise is a bit precious, and it reads like a spec script for a Victorian murder series that didn’t sell.

I’m a fast reader – I read that little dragon fantasy novel in a day. I read the true crime book in a few hours. I’ve been at this Ashmolean thing for a week. And I usually am a sucker for a British cozy set someplace like Oxford or the Cotswolds.

I have even contemplated skipping to the end and not finishing it. That’s heresy.

Meanwhile, I ordered a replacement R key, so that’s hopefully going to have a happy ending!

UPDATE: I finally gave up at about 175 pages in and skipped to the end. See Goodreads for a final review.

Finally, I ended up skipping to the end, something I almost never do with mysteries. The characters are engaging enough but a bit anachronistic, the dialogue labors to be arch, and the setting mentions just enough local color to be “Oxonian” without really giving the reader an immersive experience.

Full disclosure: I’ve visited Oxford (and the Ashmolean Museum) a few times but am no expert, and I’ve read authors who set mysteries there like Crispin, Sayers, and so on. This book just didn’t give me the right sense of time and place.

And the ending? Unsatisfying.

 

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
Category:
Publisher:
Published: 7/2/2019
Go deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD. Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator…

Lock the doors before reading.

Book Review: Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton – Pride and Prejudice and Dragons

Tooth and Claw
Category:
Author:
Genre:
Publisher:
Published: 11/12/2019
Now in a new pocket-sized hardcover edition, the World Fantasy Award-winning tale of contention over love and money--among dragons. Tooth and Claw Jo Walton burst onto the fantasy scene with The King's Peace, acclaimed by writers as diverse as Poul Anderson, Robin Hobb, and Ken MacLeod. In 2002, she was voted the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Now Walton returns with a very different kind of fantasy story: the tale of a…

What a perfect little book, introducing us to a lush Regency-era romance of manners and family intrigue – but with dragons. 

How would such a society operate? What happens when the Industrial Revolution hits and manual dexterity becomes even more critical? And how the devil do they fit on the steam trains?

I read this book – no, I devoured it whole, as is proper – within a few hours. The local library happened to have the pocket hardcover edition, and it’s a beautiful little volume.

it doesn’t seem to be part of a series, and leaves some intriguing questions about the ancient history of dragons. I’ll definitely read more by Jo Walton, an award-winning author, and hope that she’ll answer some of those questions some day.