REVIEW: Equinox By Michael White

Possibly even done better than Dan Brown

Do you secretly relish fiendish murders where organs are removed and ancient coins put in their place? Does your heart sing whenever you hear the words “occult”, “secret society”, “ancient rituals” or  “alchemy”? Are you intrigued by historical figures such as Issac Newton? Do you like short exciting chapters that make you want to read on? Do you enjoy Dan Brown?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions then Equinox by Michael White is the book for you!

Equinox is about a series of murders that happen in Oxford and starts strong with the stalking and murder of the first victim (a young woman) being told in the voice of the mysterious and meticulous killer. You are then introduced to the two main protagonists: Philip Bainbridge who is a crime-scene photographer; and his ex and mother of his child, Laura Niven who changed career from crime journalist to crime author. The investigation of the mystery is mainly done by the two, with a bit of help from their mathematics student daughter, Jo and her boyfriend Tom who has an interest in Astrology, and they actually find out more than the investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Monroe. From the first murder Philip and Laura become involved. Philip is called to photograph the scene but as he was giving Laura a lift he stops in with her and tells her to wait in the car until he is finished. Laura, of course, doesn’t wait in the car but instead goes snooping behind the flaps of the crime scene tent and sees the gristly murder close-up: the young woman’s throat has been slit and her chest cavity opened to remove her heart. She then finds out that in place of the heart there is an ancient gold coin which looks Egyptian. The next day a similar murder is discovered, but this time a young woman’s brain has been removed and the coin is silver. From then on Laura is determined to find out more about the ancient coins and to use the murders as a starting point for a new novel, but when she starts her research she finds that the murders go back much further then she thought and follow a specific pattern.

When Laura finds out about the coins she discovers something that leads her to believe that there will be more deaths very soon and the whole business becomes much more serious than a good idea for a best-seller. The first murder was committed on the vernal equinox (one of the two days a year when the day and night are equal) at the point when the sun entered the astrological sign of Aries, a planet that is associated with the heart and gold, and Laura thinks the other murder will also coincide with a planetary alignment. When her daughter’s boyfriend goes onto an astrology website they work out that the second murder happened when the moon (which is associated with the brain and silver) entered Aries and  that three planets are due to enter the same sign over the next week forming a five-body conjunction, an event that has only happened a handful of times over the past thousand years.

The mystery progresses quickly from there, with pieces coming together in a very satisfying Ah! moment kinda way.  Through most of the book there are also chapters that are set in 1690 following Alchemist Issac Newton and they give good historical context to the whole mystery. Plus there is a “truth behind the fiction” section at the end of the book, that really shows the extensive research the author has done and is just pretty interesting 🙂 I recommend it to anyone who likes secret societies and ritual murder mysteries….especially if you like Dan Brown 😛

I give Equinox by Michael White:

4 / 5 Stars

A-Rise new Library!

This post is a little behind the eight ball, but on the 16th there was an open day for The RISE (which houses the new library in my suburb of Maylands as well as a gym/sports hall, community centre, meeting rooms and a child health clinic) and I was there to FINALLY take a look-see inside 🙂

According to The Eastern Reporter The RISE stands for Recreation Information Socialising Entertainment and also refers to how huge-mongous it is. Personally I think the name is a bit wanky, and I also thought it would be confusing as there is already a nightclub in Perth called the Rise, but I have since found out that they have shut down so I guess that won’t be a problem….still wanky tho – whats wrong with Maylands Multipurpose Centre (which is what everyone thought it was going to be called)?

Despite the name, the building is very impressive and it was great fun exploring all the rooms of this huge structure that I have watched emerge over the last year or so. I was the most excited to see the new library of course, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s still sort of small but makes better use of the space and the layout is quite intuitive. The whole library is very bright and colourful and thanks to large windows on most of the wall space, it is filled with natural light. I was also stoked to see that they have upgraded their computers and there is a nifty self check-out computer that I used on my first proper visit 🙂

The first book I borrowed from the new library - The next Flavia de Luce mystery 😀

So, if any Bookbaggers out there are in or near Maylands in Perth, and haven’t checked out the RISE yet then go have a look or recommend it to people nearby – It’s just another step to making our humble suburb all fancy 😛

There are rumours that the old library building (that previously has been the city meeting hall and a theatre) will become a community theatre again, which would be great, but at the moment it still sporadically hosts an art gallery in its basement and otherwise is a cruising spot for horny pigeons 🙂

 

Equal Day, Equal Night….Lots of Death

The other day (when I finished Devil’s Food) I laid out my library books and was quite excited by my options! There was 7 books on the pile and I would’ve been happy to start any of them, but after my eeny meeny miny moe ritual I was left with Equinox by Michael White, which Is one of the ones I’ve had out for the longest, so I was quite pleased.

Riveting already!

Equinox is in the same vein as Dan Brown’s novels – It’s quite fast-paced and has short to-the-point chapters that first focus on character development, then investigation/research into the mystery which has an esoteric twist. I’ve read 16 chapters already (just over 100 pages) and am already hooked! So far the basic story revolves around Philip Bainbridge, a photographer that makes ends meet by snapping gristly crime-scene photos; and his ex and mother of his child, Laura Niven, a former crime-journalist who has recently become a popular crime writer. The mystery starts with a young woman being found dead in her car, with her chest surgically opened so her heart could be removed and an ancient gold coin put in its place. Philip is called in to photograph the scene and Laura sneaks a look at the gruesome body and becomes intrigued. When a second similar murder is discovered, Laura is determined to investigate the murders and use what she finds for a new best-seller.

The book also has occasional chapters set in 1690 which follow Issac Newton and his involvement with alchemy, which adds an extra slice of intrigue to the story.

Stay tuned for a review 🙂

Happy Reading!

REVIEW: Devil’s Food By Kerry Greenwood

Regular readers (or Bookbaggers as I affectionately call y’all 🙂 ) will be well aware of my love for Corinna Chapman and the series so far, so I’ll keep this short and sweet 🙂

Mmmmm Devil's food cake 🙂

Devil’s Food is the third Corinna Chapman mystery and revolves around a few mysteries all involving a similar problem: dangerous weight-loss. The first one starts when Corinna’s shop assistants, Kylie and Gossamer (who are typical weight/image obsessed teens) lash out at each other then dissolve into hysterics. Upon investigation Corinna finds a mysterious weight-loss tea in the girls apartment and resident witch Meroe confirms that the tea contains deadly ingredients and the girls strange behaviour was due to a slight overdose. Soon other residents of Insula (the Ancient Roman themed apartment the books are set in) Jon and Kepler hold a meeting to discuss a similar issue – suspicious herbs have been found in free trade products that Jon imports. Corinna and her detective boyfriend Daniel follow a couple of leads – a late-night club called Cade Vlad Tepes where Kylie and Goss say they got the tea; and the creepy Discarnate Brotherhood which have recently commissioned Corinna to make their ‘Famine Bread’ an unpalatable loaf made from lentil flour. On top of all this Corinna’s judgemental hippie mother, Starshine arrives out of the blue and demands Corinna helps her find her father, Sunlight, who is in Melbourne ‘finding himself’ and has been uncontactable.

Corinna somehow manages to balance all these dramas and still bakes fabulous bread, enjoys a G&T or two and a warm cat on her lap, and has romantic interludes with her hunky man (good on her!). This book is my favourite of the series so far, for a few reasons:

  1. Corinna and Daniel’s relationship has progressed and they’re so sweet that I feel really happy for them (even tho they’re not real :P)
  2. The residents of Insula came together like a real family in this book – helping Kylie and Goss recover; helping Jon and Kepler with the mystery of the herb-filled urns; looking after Jason (Corinna’s former-junkie-turned-master-muffin-creator baker’s assistant) when he is sick; and lastly celebrating Jason’s 16th birthday.
  3. The mysteries’ conclusions were actually surprising! usually I guess whodunnit at least with one or two mysteries In a many layered mystery, but with both conclusions in Devil’s Food, the guilty parties didn’t even cross my mind until all was almost revealed 🙂 It’s much more fun that way.
  4. At the end of most chapters was a creepy little snippet which starts with “the man who was not yet a murderer” and became more and more chilling as they went on. It was a very mysterious touch that made me want to read another chapter…and another.
  5. At the beginning of the book is a diagram showing all the apartments of Insula and who lives in them, which I found very useful as it’s a series with a wonderful host of characters which are sometimes tricky to keep track of. A similar diagram can be found on the official Corinna Chapman website if you’re interested.

Overall It was a very enjoyable book – a fun, warming winter read perfect for holidays (which I’m currently on :D). I can’t wait til I get my hands on the next Corinna Chapman book – Trick or Treat – and the last one (so far!) – Forbidden Fruit.

I give Devil’s Food by Kerry Greenwood:

4/5 Stars

Top 10 Non-Human Characters

I decided to make this Top 10 because as I was compiling the Top 10 Male Characters I noticed that the majority of them were dead or other-worldly creatures. So, I edited that list and created a whole new one 🙂 Suffice to say all the characters on this Top 10 are either male or at least it can be assumed that they are or once were male. *Note: the list does not include animal characters as they are another Top 10 I will do soon :)*

1. Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

The Skulduggery Pleasant series wouldn’t be half as funny if it weren’t for its wise-cracking fedora-wearing skeleton detective. Skulduggery is an Elemental (which is a kind of sorcerer who can control the elements) and is technically dead but was brought back to life by magic. But being a walking skeleton doesn’t stop him from kicking supernatural-badguy ass and looking awesome (while a bit thin) while doing it.

The coolest detective that happens to be a skeleton

2. Aziraphale

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

One of the best things about this hilarious book, co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is the relationship between Aziraphale the angel and Crowley the demon who are chosen by their respective sides to watch over and guide the anti-christ. Aziraphale is adorably wholesome, nerdy and a little queer and yet he’s not the typical angel. There are points in the book where its obvious that he’s just doing the good thing because its expected which is a funny contrast to Crowley who doesn’t really put much effort into being evil. I also really liked that Aziraphale’s cover while on Earth is the owner of a dusty little bookshop 🙂

Just as I would imagine an angel 🙂

3. Crowley

 Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I couldn’t have Aziraphale without his “evil” counterpart Crowley. Crowley was originally the serpent in the Garden of Eden (and called Crawly) and then “an Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards”. In contrast to Aziraphale he lives in a very nice apartment, has a gorgeous 1926 black Bentley (that he’s had since it was new) and always looks cool. He also is unusual for a demon as he doesn’t really have the stomach for cruelty and of course, he’s quite fond on Aziraphale (‘tho he wouldn’t admit it) when he should be his enemy.

That's one chilled out demon

4. Calcifer

Howl’s Castle Series by Diana Wynne Jones

Another demon, but of a very different sort. Calcifer is a fire demon and in Howl’s Moving Castle he is bound to Wizard Howl and forced to heat the castle and perform various magics to keep it going. He was my favourite character in the animated movie based on the book, because of his grumpiness and adorable facial expressions (he’s a very expressive fire!). In the book he’s a little more sinister rather than cute, but he’s still very funny and quite likeable for a demon – I love him 🙂

I NEED MORE LOGS!!!!

5. Death

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Death is one of (if not THE) best thing about the Discworld books. He is sufficiently creepy and mysterious but with a dry wit, curiosity for humans and a love of cats that makes him very endearing and likeable. I loved him in the three books that deal with Rincewind the wizard (The Colour of Magic; The Light Fantastic and  Sourcery) as he pops up whenever Ricewind is in a “near-death” experience (which is often!) but especially in Mort where he is one of the main characters and has to teach his apprentice, Mort, how to be Death. When I die I hope that Death is like the one in Discworld 🙂

Death in Hogfather

6. Death

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak

Another personification of Death, but one that is a little different. Death isn’t exactly a character in this book because he’s the narrator, but he does sort-of interact with the main character so he isn’t a traditional narrator. This Death is quite sensitive to the suffering of mankind and doesn’t like war. He also badly wants a vacation but can’t take one as he has no replacement. I especially like how he remembers each time he takes a soul by the colour the sky was. A beautiful book, and Death as a narrator makes it that much better.

"The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs and pepper, streaked across the redness."

7. Malingo

The Books of Abarat by  Clive Barker

Malingo is a Geshrat which is a humanoid creature in the world of Abarat. The main character of the books, Candy, meets Malingo in the first book (Abarat) in the house of Kaspar Wolfswinkel, a nasty magician. Malingo is his down-trodden servant and gets beaten regularly until Candy saves him and he joins her on her journeys. Malingo was one of my fave characters in Abarat. He’s just so sweet and innocent and you want to give him a big hug! The book is accompanied by Clive Barker’s vibrant paintings, so you get a good picture of what Malingo looks like rather than just relying on the descriptions.

One of Clive Barker's painting that appears in Abarat

8. The Luggage

The Colour of Magic; The Light Fantastic and Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Lots of Pratchett characters in this list! The Luggage is possible the strangest character on this list because it is in no way human-like. The Luggage is basically a sentient chest made from sapient pearwood (which is a rare magical plant in Discworld) that runs around on hundreds of legs, has a gaping mouth with huge square teeth, and follows it’s owner EVERYWHERE (which includes off the Rim and Deaths domain). He (It?) also has the habit of eating people who endanger it’s owner in any way, as well as bits of the scenery, but the next time it’s opened all that’s in there is the owners laundry, “freshly pressed and smelling of lavender”. The owner of the Luggage is originally Twoflower, a tourist in Ankh-Morpork but in The Light Fantastic he gives it to Rincewind the wizard.

Nom nom nom

9. Matt Richter

Nekropolis by  Tim Waggoner

Matt Richter is a detective in the realm of Nekropolis which houses vampires, demons, witches and other supernatural beings. The thing that makes Matt unusual is he’s a zombie, sustained by voodoo charms. To pay for these life-sustaining charms Matt takes on cases, which in Nekropolis usually means danger. Matt is just like an old pulp-fiction detective with his long trench-coat and hat pulled down over his face, but he can’t drink like one because he has to vomit it up before it decays in his stomach. His wise-cracking, self-deprecating humor is hilarious and also the fact that he’s a zombie but yet is just like a classy detective of yesteryear. A very fun book, and I’m glad that there is two sequels – Dead Streets and Dark War.

A very unique detective

10. Mr Tumnus

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

I’ve loved the adorably nervous faun Mr Tumnus since I first read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was a kid. Me and my best friend also listened to the audiobook of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe countless times, and I thought the actor that played Tumnus in the movie adaptation (James McAvoy) was really good too 🙂

Love the scarf 🙂

This was a bit of a one-off post because I ment to do all three Top 10’s the other day, but found that three is a bit much. So, from now on I will do two Top 10’s at the end of each month on the same theme 🙂

Happy reading Bookbaggers!