Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bit of a mix of a police procedural set in modern London, but with magic and ghosts. We have a new London constable who discovers he can see ghosts and is immediately recruited by the magical division of the Metropolitan Police. He begins learning how to do magic, while helping to solve a murder in London’s theatre district. Peter is mixed race, street-wise, pragmatic, but curious about things, and he has a wry sense of humor. DCI Nightingale is enigmatic, and who knows how old he really is. London itself is a strong element of the story – lots of slang. My main criticism is that I’m not at all sure what the sub-plot of the river gods and goddesses has to do with anything. There were several times in the story that I felt like I had missed something and didn’t really know what was going on. He also had a tendency to explain too much about things to his audience. Otherwise, I thought this was a riot (pun intended.) Nice world building, believable, fast-paced, and great understated sense of humor. I look forward to the next book.

Book description: Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Upstream: Selected Essays

Upstream: Selected EssaysUpstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely, contemplative book. I’m sure it would reward rereading. I loved the first third of the book where she talks about growing up and getting “lost” in nature, and her observations and musings on the spider in the stairwell. This is when Mary Oliver is at her best. The rest of the book seemed a bit uneven to me. I was a little disappointed in the section on the great romantic poets. I love Thoreau, Emerson, and especially Walt Whitman, but I didn’t feel there was any depth to her comments – it didn’t give me any insights into their work, or inspire me to pick up their poetry anew. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, but this didn’t wow me.

Book description: A collection of essays in which Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself withing the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. She contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully and intelligently, and to observe with passion.