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Month: February 2019

READING THE TBR, DAY 48: Ever (2008) by Gail Carson Levine

When Borders closed down around the world, it was sad, of course — it was the only book superstore of its like in Melbourne, for example — but it also led to some insanely great bargains in the final days of its EVERYTHING MUST GO sale.

There were two Borders in Melbourne, and I remember bouncing back and forth between them, in the months leading up to the final closure, snapping up new titles for what felt like pennies on the dollar. There were hardbacks for the cost of paperbacks, and paperbacks for the cost of second-hand paperbacks. It was very exciting. On the final FINAL day of the sale, I found myself in the SFF section of city store, mere minutes before closing time, and the books were all $1 each. $1! I stacked them high, dropped them at the counter then went back for another load. In all, I I bought something like 50 books that day, and being in such a hurry, I most assuredly judged them by their covers. 

For this one, I took a look at the cover and thought: YA fairy tale retelling. Possibly medieval YA romance. Either of which I would have welcomed. But it turns out, no, this is a fantasy novel told in the sparest of prose that almost feels like it’s… Gilgamesh, or something. It deals with a young girl, due to be sacrificed to a god, who becomes the consort of yet another god. Told in alternating chapters, Kezi (the girl) and Olus (the god) fall in love and speak in flat formality while they seek to gain her immortality.

I’m not sure what Levine was going for here. Maybe it was some kind of experiment, trying bring the sensibility of an ancient text to modern day YA PNR. Neither character has any… character. They sound pretty much exactly the same. Even the life-and-death stuff is boring. The only thing I like about this book is that it equates Christian mythology with pantheist mythology, and shows the corruption that comes with religious power, which is exactly as it should be.

But other than this, the book is just terrible. TERRIBLE.

EDIT: Hey! Turns out Levine also wrote Ella Enchanted. Perhaps that was subconsciously in my mind when I thought it would be a fairy tale retelling, as much as the cover. I really liked Ella Enchanted. I can hardly believe this was the same author. I suppose I should be impressed that she was so prepared to try something so completely new. I am, but I still don’t like it. 


TBR DAY 48: Ever by Gail Carson Levine
GENRE: YA Fantasy
TIME ON THE TBR: 7 1/2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Borders, Melbourne Central.

READING THE TBR, DAY 47: Becoming (2018) by Michelle Obama

I bought this book on the day of its release, and galloped through the first quarter, which tells of Michelle Obama’s early life in Chicago, among a close-knit working class community, her family devoted to each other, but burdened by generations of inequality of outcome. The prose is conversational and frank, but also highly evocative, bringing the reader directly into Obama’s — then, Robinson’s — head and heart as much as it  conveys the bald facts of life and death and struggle and joy.

These pre-Barack years are fascinating, and her perfectionism and drive to succeed and impress, enrolling in Law School as much for how it would appear to others as for her own interest in the field, is entirely relatable. Her meeting with Obama, at the law firm at which she is toiling away and at which he works for a summer, is lovingly detailed, her first impressions giving way to an inevitable lovers-of-friends tale that you would have seen coming a mile off, even if you didn’t already know they were married. 

The story she tells is actually pretty similar to that seen in the film Southside with You, which I watched a couple of years ago and had no idea was about the Obamas’ meet cute until embarrassingly far into events. Not knowing, then, anything of their relationship backstory, nothing really tipped me off until a guy called Barack showed up. I’m pleased to report that the film — which is lovely — is pretty accurate, although from memory I think it condenses several months into a single day. A single date. But that doesn’t hurt the movie at all.

Where I stopped reading the book quite so avidly was not long after the deepening of this relationship. They date, live together, get married, have kids. But at the same time, Barack Obama is running for office, fist State Senate then regular Senate then President, and I remember that the campaign stuff made me so angry, so anxious, that I needed to take a break.

Why so angry, so anxious? I know he wins, after all. For a start, the racism faced by both Obamas is just horrific and difficult to read, and the sexism directed at Michelle is no less infuriating. Of course, living through it was doubtless much, much worse, and her ability to articulate it in such understanding terms, but to also not minimize her personal hurt, is incredibly admirable.

But the other thing that really annoyed me here, that really made me stop reading for so long, was the cynical manipulations of politicking, the optics and the carefully-honed messages and the exploratory committees and the months and years of campaigning. What a terrible waste of time, of resources, of money. I think back on my least favourite parts of The West Wing, a show I love, but I always hated the constant calculations over what things looked like and sounded like, rather than what they were. “It’s just politics,” various operatives say to Michelle, basically telling her to just smile and accept this insincere charade.

And I see in here the climate that allowed the rise of Trump. Yes, a lot of those who voted for him no doubt shared his heinous views. Some of them just responded to him as a TV star and so-called self-made so-called billionaire — the embodiment of the American dream. But there can be no doubt that part of his appeal was that his remarks, no matter how repugnant, were at least, apparently, honest. They hadn’t been workshopped and opinion polled and focus grouped. 

He didn’t care about optics. He didn’t care about offense. He just said what he wanted to say.

This is not to suggest that the Obamas didn’t. I’m sure they meant most, if not all, of what they had to say. But between speech writers and message shapers and press secretaries and stylists, it all just feels so disingenuous. The opposite of Michelle Obama, certainly, who could not be more… wait, why is “ingenuous” not the opposite of “disingenuous”?.. candid if she tried.

The rest of the book is taken up with their time in office, in focusing on childhood health and holding food corporations accountable. There are security threats and attacks on the Obamas and the country. There is the credit crunch and natural disasters. There is bringing art to the White House — the first White House Evening of Poetry and Spoken Word in 2009 features Lin-Manuel Miranda trying out his new song about Alexander Hamilton — and television appearances and all the while being a wife and mother. It is a whirlwind full of name dropping (“our friend, the Queen”) but also policy and disaster and failure and the ever present problem with those pesky optics. 

And all the while, racists.

In all, this is an incredible book by — and about — an incredible woman. And like her life, it is upsetting at time, but is ultimately a triumph. 


TBR DAY 47: Becoming by Michelle Obama
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Politics
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 3 months.  
PURCHASED FROM: Dymocks, Melbourne.
KEEP: Yep.

READING THE TBR, DAY 46: Mister Monday (2003) by Garth Nix

I bought this book, and the other six in the series, for $3 each at a supermarket in Singapore. I took them with me to Sydney, to Auckland, then back to Singapore, then to Atlanta, and then at last brought them home with me to Melbourne, three years after buying them. Having invested so much of my always precious baggage allowance in these books for such a long time, I was really hoping they were worth it.

I think that’s why I’ve never actually read them. I was scared they wouldn’t be.

Well, if Mister Monday is any indication, I used my suitcase space wisely. What a stunningly original and utterly bizarre world Nix has created here, in this Middle Grade fantasy series about a boy who is thrust into an alternate world by sheer chance (I think?) and ends up being the only one who can save it. Of course. Okay, so maybe the plot isn’t as original as the world.

In fact, given that our young hero’s name is Arthur Penhaligon, I’m assuming that he is based on King Arthur, and yeah, you know how much I love Arthurian myth. But that is the worst part of the book (and, I hope, series), the rest is filled with breezily impossible people and impossible places and a strong, capable heroine in Suzy Blueshoes, a denizen of the weird world in which Arthur so precipitously finds himself, and a deity who is female and is betrayed by her adjutants. So there’s religious allegory, as well.

There is a lot of action in this book, and once it gets going it is quite exhilarating — for its target audience, I am sure the book is a total thrill ride. (Though, definitely confusing, and how all the magic of the world of the House — the alternate dimension — works is anyone’s guess.) I liked it a lot, am very worried about the world outside the House, with Arthur’s hodgepodge of a fused family living amidst the threat of plague and such. But it is Arthur’s quest to understand the Will of the Architect (goddess) of the many worlds and save her from her power-hungry, sinful (as in, Seven Deadly Sins-ful) lieutenants that is at the heart of the book, and, I assume, series.

I enjoyed this one enough, and am curious enough about what happens, that I’ll definitely be jumping back into it soon. Very pleased I liked it. Otherwise, all those air miles these books took with me would have been a huge regret.


TBR DAY 46: Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix
GENRE: YA Fantasy
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 10 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Carrefour, Singapore.
KEEP: Probably not. I’ll pass it on to a suitable pre-teen.

READING THE TBR, DAY 45: Marvel Classics: Sense and Sensibility (2010) by Jane Austen

It is always a pleasure to reread Austen, and doing so in Marvel Classics comic form is perhaps the most fun I have had with an off-beat adaptation of such since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This really is a lot of fun. The art is pastel and perfect, lots of sharp lines and finely-drawn ladies in eerily similar gowns, but everyone is very distinct from each other and the settings are nicely hinted at. The tale is abridged, necessarily, but all the important stuff is maintained, with Elinor’s silent angst and Marianne’s obvious despair both beautifully rendered. And, Mrs. Fanny Dashwood. She is the DEVIL, with her penny-pinching and top loftiness towards our Dashwood ladies, which is conveyed very nicely here.

Upon completing this limited comic run I immediately rewatched the 1995 Sense and Sensibility for the umpteenth time (oh, Emma Thompson, you are amazing) and there can be no higher praise of an Austen interpretation than that it makes you seek out yet more interpretations of the same text. I genuinely loved this. (A few typos notwithstanding. But… how to you make typos in a Austen adaptation? HOW?)

Marvel Classics: Pride and Prejudice and Marvel Classics: Northanger Abbey are both also on my TBR shelves. Will definitely be reading both soon.


TBR DAY 45: Marvel Classics: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler, illustrated by Sonny Liew
GENRE: Classics, Jane Austen, Literature, Classic Romance, Adaptation
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 5 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur, Melbourne.
KEEP: Yes!

READING THE TBR, DAY 44: Homo Deus (2015) by Noah Yuval Harari

Sapiens is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. I came five years late to the party, only discovering it in 2016, but as it is still on the ascendancy amongst readers the world over — it’s currently #5 on the Amazon best-seller charts, for example, and has been on lists like it worldwide pretty much since its release — I feel like I was, if not in on the ground floor, than at least around the fourth or fifth.

I have told everyone I know about Sapiens. I have bought it for more than a few of them. I quote from it regularly, and paraphrase it even more so.  So quite why it has taken me this long to read Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari’s follow-up to his popular science masterpiece, I am not sure. I bought it in hardcover when it was released in 2017, you’d have thought I’d dive straight in. I certainly thought I would.

But then I learned, I kind of have to be in the mood for popular science. And I am rarely in the mood.

One of the reasons for this, I think, is that non-fiction is challenging, and especially so is a book like this, that makes you confront your instincts, your very DNA, and try to figure out what the hell you are doing with your life. If Sapiens explains where we came from, and how and why we made the world our own, Homo Deus (subtitled A Brief History of the Future)asks where we are going, and how and why we might get there.

Part sociology, part anthropology, part psychology and even part science fiction, there is some repetition from Sapiens in here for the newcomer to Harari’s theories (he uses analogy to once again highlight the importance to history of human imagination, and it is once again brilliant), but much of the book deals with the seemingly inevitable cyberization of our future. Full of easily accessible hypotheses and, of course, incisive quotes to know and share, this is an absolutely fascinating journey through past, present and future, as clear and concise as it is worrisome and somewhat chilling.

Here, a selection of my favourite passages:  

“This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies.”

“The most common reaction of the human mind to achievement is not satisfaction, but craving for more.”

“History isn’t a single narrative, but thousands of alternative narratives. Whenever we choose to tell one, we are also choosing to silence others. 

And this!

“The greatest scientific discovery was the discovery of ignorance.”



TBR DAY 44: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Noah Yuval Harari
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Popular Science
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 1 year.  
PURCHASED FROM: Hill of Content, Melbourne.
KEEP: Yes, but will also lend it to everyone.

READING THE TBR, DAY 43: Aleriel, or a Voyage to Other Worlds (1883) by W. S. Lach-Szyrma

It is amazing to me how many authors of speculative fiction in the past thought there might be life on Mars. Our whole solar system was teeming with intelligent beings, they thought, living among verdant rolling hills of lavender grass under chartreuse skies.

I guess because I have always known that this is virtually impossible — unless there is something awesome happening under that ice shield on Europa — I’ve thought of a lot of early SF is quaint, but what never really occurred to me is how revolutionary it was, in religious terms.

Take, for example, W. S.  Lach-Szyrma (the “W. S.”, by the way, stands for Wladislaw Somerville), the late-19th century English clergyman who wrote this book. Dude was a curate, and sure, the Church of England isn’t nearly as fractious about much of its doctrine as are some of the more stringent Christian sects, but the fact that he was prepared to posit that there was life outside Earth not exactly like man and not exactly “created in God’s image” (like humans) is kind of extraordinary. There are people on the planet who refuse to concede such a thing even now. Because Bible.

True, the story itself isn’t nearly as progressive, especially in its treatment of women — there’s a whole passage about how the free intermingling of the sexes on Venus would surely lead the men there into temptation, because women are inherently wanton, but as long as the females remain circumspect then the males can hold their appetites in check, I didn’t like that part at all — and it is, of course, classist and racist throughout. I am, in fact, not entirely sure that Lach-Szyrma was aware of his own rebellion against church doctrine in here, given how much of the rest of the book reinforces the idea of the One True God. (Hindu people are given very short shrift, and it’s icky. So are Muslims, actually, which kind of runs counter the One True God argument, but hey, what are you gonna do? Racists gonna racist. And 1880s gonna 1880.)

We learn about the solar system’s inhabitants from an alien visitor from Venus, the titular Aleriel (masquerading as one Dr. Posela) who encounters a student in a besieged Paris and befriends him, while learning more of Earth ways. Through a series of letters he details customs and beings from Mars — they used to be warlike and nasty like us Earthlings, but then they started executing all their teen troublemakers and now everything is fine — and presents his own immortal species as Perfect Beings of Perfection. Jupiter was once apparently peopled by intelligent marine life, but the Venusians didn’t like that they refused to talk to them so they committed genocide, I guess? That part was unclear.

Oh, also! The Venusians’ intrastellar travel is via meteor, to which they quite literally attach themselves (!) in order to pass between the planets.

So it’s all very silly, full of attitudes that are very much a product of its time and its author’s place in society, but it is also very inventive — science fiction was still very new back then, and space-bound SF even more so — and well-told, in its first person/epistolary style. It’s not particularly good, or even enjoyable, for the most part, but as a step along the way to what the genre would eventually become, it’s a book I’m glad to have read.  


TBR DAY 43: Aleriel, or a Voyage to Other Worlds by W. S. Lach-Szyrma
GENRE: Science Fiction, Classic
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 14 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: A vintage bookshop on Charing Cross Rd, London.
KEEP: Yes, of course. It’s a First Edition.

READING THE TBR, DAY 42: The Kiss Quotient (2018) by Helen Hoang

The pre-release buzz for this book was so effervescent that I pre-ordered it just on that basis. An autistic, math-genius heroine who hires an escort to help her learn social cues and romantic interactions? Sign me up.

Then, just six months after its release, this book was acclaimed as the Best Romance of 2018 in the annual Goodreads poll, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it yet. I run a magazine called Romantic Intentions Quarterly, after all, AND THIS WAS THE BEST ROMANCE NOVEL OF LAST YEAR.

Shame on me.

So why didn’t I read it before now? The answer is, simply, sex. I am not one who likes too much steam in my romance novels, and I certainly don’t like graphic descriptions thereof interrupting my narrative. Of course, a lot of romance readers love highly-detailed sex scenes, they love the frankness and/or the euphemisms and/or the pages upon pages of painstakingly-described orgasms. I never have. To me, it feels super-voyeuristic. And it just makes me uncomfortable to be so privy to the deepest fantasies dwelling in anyone else’s mind.

I should make it very clear, here, that I am more than happy for my heroes and heroines to be having sex. And if heroes are having sex with heroes and heroines are having sex with heroines, or there is any other permutation of such going on among anyone on any part of the sexuality spectrum, yay, great, hooray. This is not, for example, a faith-based objection. There is no so-called moral imperative at play. I’m just very much a close the bedroom door, fade to black, pillow talk afterwards, let’s get back to the story kind of gal.

To each their own, right? (RIQ is almost entirely peopled with staff who strongly disagree with me on this, by the way.)

So when I started hearing about how gosh-darned sexy this book was, how hot was Stella’s education at the hands of professional lady-killer Michael, I put it aside, not sure I’d ever pick it up again. But then two of my staff writers from RIQ, the wonderful Maura Tan and Clara Shipman, separately and enthusiastically endorsed the book and all-but insisted I read it immediately, and so here we are.

I totally get it. I see what they — and most everyone else in Romancelandia — loved about it. The high functioning autistic Stella is a thoroughly unique personality, and the Pretty Woman-esque plot totally works for me–just as it did in Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young back in 2000, and a score of others since. I loved that Michael is mixed-race: half Vietnamese, half-Swedish and all delicious. And I especially loved that Stella’s high-powered job as a creator of delicate algorithms made her so financially independent that she was able to live her life on her own terms. I love that she uses her money not as a source of happiness, but to help her find her way there — even if it all begins mostly because her mother wants her to settle down. Also, this book is very sex worker positive, and yes, sex work is a legitimate profession for anyone who might choose it and there should not be any shame associated with it at all. (One day, we’ll live in a Firefly universe, where registered Companions have the highest of statuses in society.)

So, absolutely. A lot to like. A lot to love. But there is also A LOT of graphic sex in this book. For many, if not most, romance readers, that is no doubt among its biggest selling points. For me? No. But I can appreciate enough of what is going on around it to overlook the many, many pages I ended up having to skip — flip, flip, are they still doing it?, yep, flip, flip, ooh look dialogue, blush!, flip, flip — and remain pleased at having read it, regardless.

Especially since everyone else apparently has.      


TBR DAY 42: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
GENRE: Romance
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 8 months.  

READING THE TBR, DAY 41: Dead Witch Walking (2004) by Kim Harrison

I’m not sure how this Urban Fantasy series managed to slip through my UF obsession of the mid- to late-aughts, but somehow until today, while I have owned this first book in the series forever, it seems, I had not previously entered The Hollows, the alternate world of magical creatures inhabited by our heroine, Rachel Morgan. (Confession: I don’t like it when characters have the same name as me, it’s weird.) Rachel is, of course, a private detective-type, which is pretty much a necessity in a certain sort of UF, and there is, of course, a conspiracy among those who wish to either suppress or harness her surprising powers (also an imperative) at whatever the cost.  

When the book begins, Rachel is a bounty hunter, enforcing the law for The Man. And a Bad Man he is. Fed up, she quits her job and takes her frenemy vampire Ivy along with her. But one doesn’t just quit being a bounty hunter for The Man, aka Inderlander Security, oh no. So now there is a hit out on Rachel, and she has to figure out who’s behind it and why while also getting to the bottom of why her blood is so potent to vampires (like Ivy… Ivy’s almost Edward-and-Bella-level obsessed) and also, who has been messing with her spells and why.

There is a lot of “But… why?” in this book. My biggest “But… why?” is directed at the humans of this world, many of whom watched their loved ones die from a plague brought about by genetically modified tomatoes. (Yup.) And okay, sure, that is how the Inderlanders — vampires, witches, pixies, what have you (the pixies are great) — got up the courage to reveal themselves to the world, since all those dead humans made for population parity. But did you really need to outlaw science afterwards, humans? REALLY? 

The humans in the Hollows world are annoying as hell. And the villain could not be more villainy if he was patting a white cat and plotting to kill Rachel with laser sharks. His plan is almost that bad, actually.

Still, the world is beautifully realized, the alternate history is a new one, I loved that Rachel’s magic takes work and discipline, and I especially liked that while she is obviously Secretly Special (a major UF necessity) she is also kind of a doofus, and messes up nine times out of ten. It’s all pretty standard UF stuff, and somewhat forgettable, but I nevertheless had a great time with Rachel — ugh, I wish she had a different name, though — and will definitely be moving onto the next Hollows book (which I already own, along with the two after that) very, very soon.  


TBR DAY 41: Dead Witch Walking (Hollows #1) by Kim Harrison 
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
TIME ON THE TBR: ~11 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Borders, Singapore.
KEEP: No, I’ll probably pass this one on.

READING THE TBR, DAY 40: The Last Dragonslayer (2010) by Jasper Fforde

I fell in love with Jasper Fforde with the 2001 release of The Eyre Affair, the first novel in his Thursday Next series. The alternate history version of 1985 Wales therein gives us a world in which long-dead authors are the subject of heated gang violence, long-extinct animals can be had a pets, and it is possible to enter and interact with literary worlds.  It is insane, it is genius, it is endlessly entertaining.

The Last Dragonslayer — which I bought on its release in 2010, and which has languished on my TBR ever since, for some reason — is unrelated and yet is more of Fforde’s surreal alternate history, this time giving us an England with ancient kingdoms still intact, magic in the world (but on the wane) and a real live dragon. There, we meet teen orphan and predestined Dragon Slayer, Jennifer Strange, who must stand up to the King of Hereford and his cronies, fend off the constant interest of reporters and advertisers, while also running a business (!) and trying to protect the dragon from false allegations from those who want to claim his land. 

It takes a while to really get settled into this parallel dimension, which gave me a wonderful flashback to the early puzzlement and then utter delight engendered by Thursday Next’s world. In many ways, this book is just Thursday Lite, but it does end up having its own purpose, and its own trenchant observations about humanity, and it even gets quite exciting in its final third, which carries the tale through on a wave of equal amusement and adrenaline.

I really liked this book, even if I didn’t love it, and I will certainly be looking into the sequels. Probably in less than the eight years or so it took me to get around to reading this one. 


TBR DAY 40: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
GENRE: YA Fantasy/Alternate History
TIME ON THE TBR: ~ 8 years.  
KEEP: Sure.

READING THE TBR, DAY 39: Big Red Tequila (1997) by Rick Riordan

Wow, two mysteries in a row, though this one is pretty different from yesterday’s. For one thing, I know this author’s work very, very well — his various YA mythological hijinks, from Percy Jackson to Magnus Chase to those Kane kids and the god Apollo are all autobuys for me, though the Kanes’ Egyptian pantheon adventures… less so — and for another, this book is not one I particularly enjoyed.

Oh, there are definite elements of style, and of character-building, that are recognizable to me as a fan of Riordan’s later work. And to be sure, this was his very first novel and it is exactly the kind of crime novel I don’t really seek out, the kind of hard-drinking, womanizing PI stuff that, yes, has its roots in the very beginnings of the genre (and I really must read some of those “she had great gams and was trouble in red lipstick” books some day), but just really doesn’t appeal in a 90s milieu when there aren’t hats and cigarette lighting and general chivalry to ameliorate all the testosterone.

And testosterone there is here aplenty. Too aplenty.

Tres Navarre (his first name is Jackson!) has recently returned home to San Antonio, haunted by his father’s decade-ago death and at the request of a high school sweetheart. Tres is drunk for pretty much the whole book, and his mouth is so potty it is a preschool bathroom. He has some crimes to solve, and as the clues unravel, he does prove to be a fairly decent detective. He’s a very high functioning drunk, it turns out. Lucky, that.

Sadly, though, he’s not an especially entertaining one here.

What he is good at, however, is showing visitors around San Antonio, Texas. I have never been there, and certainly can never go there in the 90s, but I now kind of feel like I have been, and can. This book is like time travel as sponsored by the most forward-thinking tourist board ever. (Well, sure, all the murders aren’t a great advertisement for the city’s safety, but the food sounds delicious.) 

There are six other books in the Tres Navarre series, the last one released two years after the first Percy Jackson book hit shelves. So I am going to assume they get better — and I have enough faith in the author Riordan finally became that I will some day seek them out. However, I bought this book back in 2009, having fallen in love with Percy and eagerly awaiting his next adventure, and only just read it today (I remember giving it a try back then and barely getting a chapter in before giving up in disappointment), so I’m in no hurry.

I am eager to visit San Antonio again, though. Turns out, I love that city I have never been to.    


TBR DAY 39: Big Red Tequila (Tres Navarre #1) by Rick Riordan 
GENRE: Mystery
TIME ON THE TBR: ~10 years.