Programming note.

Hey all. I’ve been doing some thinking lately, and I came to a decision: Two’s Reviews is ending, as of today.

It’s been interesting and fun, but it’s starting to affect the way I read books–I’ve found myself altering reading patterns and habits, and not for the better. Since this whole thing was predicated on my love of reading, it’s not a good thing.

So thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

All the best,

Two

p.s. I’d like to leave you with a list of books I would have reviewed in the future; I hope you find them useful.

Individual books:

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Suzanna Clarke

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

Bellman and Black, by Diane Setterfield

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Poisonwood Bible. by Barbara Kingsolver

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The Woman Who Would Be King, by Kara Cooney

The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir

State of Siege, by Eric Ambler

Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, by Karen Abbot

Interred With Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon

Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls, by Danielle Wood

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

Complete series:

Her Royal Spyness series, by Rhys Bowen

The Phryne Fisher Mysteries series, by Kerry Greenwood

The Night Watch series, by Sergei Lukyanenko

The Dublin Murder Squad series, by Tana French

The Lord Peter Wimsey series, by Dorothy L Sayers

The Old Man’s War series, by John Scalzi

The Millenium trilogy, by Stieg Larsson

The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer

The Charles Lenox series, by Charles Finch

The Jason Bourne trilogy, by Robert Ludlum

The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George RR Martin

The Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher

The Hollows series, by Kim Harrison

The Labyrinth trilogy, by Kate Mosse

The Sevenwaters trilogy, by Juliet Marillier

The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling

Agent of Hel trilogy, by Jacqueline Carey

Excellent authors in general where you really can’t go wrong:

Neil Gaiman

Terry Pratchett

Robin McKinley

Jonathan Stroud

Seanan McGuire

Mira Grant

Jim C. Hines

Gail Carriger

Mary Roach

Jasper Fforde

Agatha Christie

Elizabeth Peters

Dorothy Gilman

No Post Today

Sorry guys, but there won’t be a review today–had a family issue come up that took priority over everything (yes, even books). But there will be a review on Thursday as usual, I promise!

So in lieu of a review, I’d like to ask you–what books have you discovered through other’s recommendations? Through browsing? Through boredom (you know, the “there’s-nothing-else-to-do-but-there-is-this-book-here-so-I-might-as-well-and-holy-crap-this-is-amazing” thing)? I’d love to hear about them.

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman

The irrepressible Mrs Pollifax is at it again, this time in Bulgaria.

Carstairs of the CIA has received a desperate missive from Bulgaria: the secret police are growing more powerful and arrests are growing more and more frequent. The CIA is given a name–Tsanko–an address, and a plea: send identity papers. So Carstairs, being Carstairs, sends Mrs Pollifax off to Bulgaria with eight forged passports hidden in her hat, secure in the knowledge that it’s nothing more than a simple courier job. Just like the last one. Oh. Oops…

Upon arriving in Bulgaria, Mrs Pollifax discovers that the British guide she was to hire isn’t interested in the job after all–he’s hit some sort of jackpot. Not only that, but a young man she spoke to on the trip over has been arrested as a spy. Someone broke into her room to try to steal her coat. And Tsanko wants to meet her in a city on the other side of Bulgaria, which results in Mrs Pollifax going on a bizarre cross-country drive with a hippie hitchhiker in the passenger seat and a mysterious car following close behind.

Join Mrs Pollifax, her contact Tsanko, and her ragtag Bulgarian Underground on an ingenious adventure you’re not likely to forget.

I’ve been sick lately, and this book is one of my comfort reads. I found it in a library when I was ten, and even though I had no idea what ‘elusive’ meant or what the Iron Curtain was, it stuck with me. When I found the book again ten years later I was absolutely thrilled. It’s an exciting little book full of memorable characters and what is quite possibly the (mild spoiler) most unlikely prison break ever put on paper. But it works, and it’s fun, and you should give this one a go–at the very least, you’ll never see little old ladies the same way again.

Favorite Line:

“I wondered how long it would take you to understand,” she said happily. “Of course I’m blackmailing you. I have what you want, and you have what I want. That’s the way blackmail works, isn’t it?”

Don’t read if: you hate night-blooming cereus, geese, Young People, explosions, or telling time with eggplants.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

..well, not that different. But today, April 2, is International Children’s Book Day; instead of a review, I thought I’d post some recommendations for children of all ages. (Or if you’re like me, and perfectly happy to read kid’s books because they’re books and they’re there and some of them are really quite good)

For the very young:

 

 

Chu’s Day is a wonderful little picture book by Neil Gaiman. There’s a sneezing baby panda in it.

 

 

 

 

 If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff, is another good one; this time involving mice and cookies.

 

 

 

 

But No Elephants, by Jerry Smath, is about neurosurgery. Kidding. It’s about an old woman grudgingly acquiring a houseful of animals; hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

For 4-6 (or so) year olds:

 

 

The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish (again by Gaiman) is hilarious, and the title basically explains the whole story.

 

 

 

I Want My Hat Back is by Jon Klassen, and the first time I read it I laughed so hard I could barely breathe.

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Cow, by Terry Pratchett, is a great take on the Spot-the-Dog type books.

 

 

For kids getting into chapter books:

 

 

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J Sobol is a great book in an equally enjoyable mystery series.

 

 

 

 

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien is one I read as a kid; I loved it.

 

 

 

 

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate diCamillo is absolutely adorable–a huge-eared mouse saves the day for everyone. 

 

 

(good grief, they’re almost all animal stories. let’s change that with the next category!)

For the more advanced readers (but still age-appropriate):

 

 

The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud is a great adventure story set in an alternate-reality London.

 

 

 

 

The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley is one of the best retellings of the Robin Hood story in the history of ever.

 

 

 

 

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (by Avi) is a book about a girl crossing the Atlantic when a mutiny breaks out aboard the ship.

 

(Of course there are so many other choices, including classic options like Treasure Island or Johnny Tremain or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; but if you’re reading a review blog I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with them, so I thought I’d look for things a little less ubiquitous) Aaand, those are some of my suggestions for the book-loving child in your life. And if they don’t love books, give one of them a shot anyway. You never know what might ignite the spark.

Happy International Children’s Book Day!

 

In Memoriam

1948-2015
Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015

Sir Terry Pratchett died Thursday. He had Alzheimer’s. Rather than post a review today, I thought I’d do a bit of a roundup of some of his work, as a kind of tribute to a brilliant author who was also, by all accounts, a wonderful man.

He wrote over seventy books, books of all different kinds: novel-type books, a book of nonfiction essays, a picture book for small children, various YA, even a travel guide to that most famous of fictional cities, Ankh-Morpork. His prolificacy was astounding–at his peak, he averaged just over two books a year, and never faltered in his genius. One of his books, a non-Discworld novel written with Neil Gaiman called Good Omens, is even regarded as a cult classic (for good reason). Another of his books, Night Watch, is the only book I’ve ever read that is guaranteed to make me cry.

No topic is off-limits in Discworld: religion, terrorism, war; they’re all addressed. So are fairy tales, rock music, and trains. Pratchett looked at our world and somehow managed to pin down the human condition through satire and fantasy. I never come away from a Discworld book without a having a better understanding of what it really means to be human.

His books were never considered literature, or profound works of art. But Pratchett wrote books that move, books that teach, books that entertain and bring laughter and smiles and tears.

Isn’t that what good books, and great writers, should accomplish?

I certainly think so. And by that measure, the world has lost one of the most brilliant writers it has ever seen.