Saturday, 17 February 2018

Mid-Feb 2018 Update

It's a quiet Saturday morning, not much footie on the TV as most of the FA Cup games are on Sports Net World, which I refuse to pay extra for. Glad that Brighton has moved into the next round. We're also in that gap while South Korea sleeps; so Olympics coverage doesn't start until a bit later. So just before I take the dogs out for their walk, I thought it might be time for a mid-month update.

Since my last entry, I've finished 4 books, two that I started in January and two more recent ones. I'll update that, let you know what 4 books I've currently got on the go and then show you 4 books that arrived in the mail yesterday. Oh Happy Days!! :0)

Just Finished

1. Adam Bede by George Eliot. This was one of the first books that I started in 2018 and it was one of my Decades Challenge choices; Pre-1900. I've now read 3 books by George Eliot over the past few years. She is definitely one of my favourite Classic authors. (My review is below)








"Adam Bede is the third book by George Eliot that I've read over the past 3 or 4 years, the others being Daniel Deronda and The Mill on the Floss. Adam Bede, written in 1859, was her first novel. I preferred the other two but this book was still an impressive work.
At it's simplest, it's a love triangle. Adam Bede runs from 1799 - 1807. Adam Bede is a carpenter who lives with his brother Seth and his parents. He loves the niece of a reasonably prosperous farmer, Martin Poyser, Hetty, but because he is responsible for caring for his parents, he doesn't feel he is yet ready to pledge his love to Hetty. Hetty, a pretty girl of 18, has cast her eye and hopes towards the rich son of the local landowner, a young man above her station, he being Arthur Donnithorne. Arthur is a friendly, handsome young man who is waiting for his grandfather to die so he can inherit the estate. He is a happy-go-lucky sort, who wants everyone to like him and has great plans for the estate land. He flirts with and develops feelings for pretty Hetty.
So there is the basic premise. Some unfortunate aspects to this triangle. Adam is a good friend of Arthur's. Hetty, even though she does realise that nothing can ever become of her love for Arthur, is able to talk herself into a belief that he might still marry her. This whole situation will have drastic consequences; a situation that is so well developed by Eliot that you will find yourself reading on and on to find out how it might resolve.
There are other story lines as well and other excellent characters. Seth loves Dinah, another niece of the Poysers, who spends time at their home. Dinah is a wonderful character, a young woman who is a Methodist preacher, who cares for the poor and downtrodden in her county. Everybody likes Dinah; she brings comfort to so many. As I mentioned, Seth loves her but, she won't marry him because she is dedicated to her preaching. (In a way there will be another interesting triangle that affects these two as the story develops)
It's an excellent story and as I write this review I can appreciate it even more. It's a slow build and you get to know and care for all of the different characters. There is great tragedy and there is also great love. For a first novel and one that lead the way for Eliot's other writings, it's a pretty darn good start. Eliot only wrote 7 novels between 1859 and 1874. If the others are as good as the three I've already read, I'll be trying them as well. (4 stars)"

2. Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte. This was also one of my first 4 books of 2018. It sure was a big one. I have to say it moved along quickly, but, really!, did it need to be 900 pages! Oh yes, this is the third and final book in Whyte's Templar trilogy, one of my Ongoing Series challenge books.








"Order in Chaos is the third book in Jack Whyte's Templar trilogy.  I've had mixed feelings about it as I've read the story. On the one hand, I think it's about 400 pages too long (it runs 900+ pages) but on the other hand, whenever I sat down to it and spent some time with it, I found it flowed nicely and before I knew it, I'd covered 50+ pages. But on the other hand, I kept moaning about the lack of action. Then again, it did cover quite momentous events in the lives of the Templar knights and especially that of Will Sinclair, who must save and re-establish his knight.
So what is the story about? It's set in 1307 and the years following. The Knights Templar are well-established in France, wealthy and settled in their strongholds. But there is a threat to their existence. King Philip of France has ordered the arrests of all of the Templars in France, with the concurrence of his puppet pope, Clement. Philip wants the Templar wealth to help pay off his great debts. The leader of the Templars has sent Will Sinclair, one of his trusted advisors and a member of the Templar inner circle on a mission to gather the Templar treasure and as many of his people as he can and take them to safety and establish the Templar elsewhere.
Sinclair decides to go to Scotland, his home country and offer his services to the Scottish king, Robert Bruce. The story follows this journey and Sinclair's attempts to save and restructure his organization. As I mentioned, it's a long story and moves along this path until the Battle of Bannock Burn, between Scotland and England.
Along the way we meet Lady Jessica, who brings her dead husband's treasure to support Robert and also interacts with Sinclair; a monk who has lived a life of chastity. This brings about its own tensions and developments. You can throw in another sideline as well, the journey of a small band of knights to try and find the fabled land of 'Merica. Now for the most part, many of the major events described above are viewed on the periphery of the specific events surrounding Will Sinclair.
I could go on and on, as mentioned previously, the story is 900+ pages but you get the gist I think. The whole trilogy is an interesting concept and I'm glad I have finished it. Do I strongly recommend? No. But if you like that medieval type story, it's worth trying the first, Knights of the Black and White, to see what you think. :0) (3 stars)"

3. The Dolly Dolly Spy by Adam Diment. This is a new series for me, featuring British spy, Philip McAlpine. Diment only wrote 4 books in the series.







"The Dolly Dolly Spy is the first of four books by Adam Diment featuring British spy, Philip McAlpine. It was first published in 1967 and it definitely has that '60s vibe about it. McAlpine is a security officer for a big firm and is blackmailed into working for a subset of MI6.
He is sent for pilot and armed combat training in the US and assigned to a job with a company, International Charters that works out of a small island in Greece. He does legal and illegal flying missions and periodically reports back to his boss in England with information on his missions. Ultimately he gets assigned a specific mission, to acquire a target that MI6 wants to interrogate.
On its own it's a relatively simple spy story but there is more to it than that. The feel for the time is excellent. It's maybe a James Bond light but the characters are interesting. McAlpine is a neat guy, kind of a coward but still a guy whose quick off the mark and a problem solver. There is enough action, a bit of sex and drugs and rock 'n roll, and an entertaining spy story. Diment disappeared after his fourth book and has retained a cult following (from what I read anyway). If the other books are as entertaining, I'm looking forward to them. (4 stars)"

4. The Scarlet Pimpernal by Baroness Orczy. I read this as one of my Decades' Challenge books. It was originally published in 1903, fitting into my 1900 - 1909 grouping.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy, originally published in 1905, is an entertaining, exciting adventure. Set during the French Revolution, when the Revolutionaries are executing French noblemen and their families, the story is about the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel who with a band of intrepid followers works to spirit out as many of these people as possible to safety in England.
The French desire to find and destroy this Pimpernel. Is he a Frenchman or English noble? They send one of their representatives, the implacable Chauvelin, as their ambassador, to find out who is the Scarlet Pimpernel. He blackmails one of the most popular women in England, a French beauty, married to Englishman, Sir Andrew Blakeney, to assist in uncovering the Pimpernal's identity. He threatens to have her brother executed if she won't help him.
This begins a fast-paced, non-stop adventure, journeying from England to France as Lady Blakeney tries to save both her brother and the Pimpernel from the clutches of this evil Revolutionary. It's an easy read, a real page-turner. I think the title is somewhat misleading, as the focus is on another, but that is a small detail. The Scarlet Pimpernal follows the best traditions of the swashbuckling adventure, tension, action and a happy ending. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

February is moving along nicely so far. It helps when you are enjoying the books you're reading of course. ;0) I'm still reading Company Town by Madeline Ashby, which I mentioned in my last BLog entry. The other three books I've got on the go are below.

1. The Common Lawyer by Mark Gimenez.  This is one of my Decades' Challenge books, covering the 2000 - 2009 period. I've wanted to try Gimenez for awhile now. (The synopsis is below)









"Andy Prescott is the most laid-back young lawyer in Austin, Texas. Specialising in traffic law, he operates from a small room above a tattoo parlour. Ambition has never been Andy's strong point - he prefers to take it easy.
That is, until one of Texas's wealthiest men walks into his office. On the spot, billionaire Russell Reeves retains Andy as his lawyer and pays him more money than he has ever earned before. Andy's life is transformed.
But nothing comes for free. Russell is a desperate man whose sole aim is to save the life of his eight-year-old son, Zach. He is prepared to do anything - even if it means putting Andy's life in danger..."

2. Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is the third book in Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series. I've read a few and enjoyed them all. This fits into my Ongoing Series challenge.









"No sign of foul play. So concludes Dr. Carr's post-mortem on Agatha Dawson, and the case is closed. But Lord Peter Wimsey is not satisfied and, with no clues to work on, begins his own investigation. No clues, that is, until the sudden and senseless murder of Agatha's maid.
Then the most debonair sleuth in detective fiction is faced with the problem of catching a desperate murderer before he himself becomes one of the victims ... and of discovering what goes on in the mysterious Mrs. Forrest's Mayfair flat."

3. Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute. Shute is one of my favourite authors. This was his last published work and is one of my 12 + 4 challenges.










"Twelve thousand miles away there was a coral reef ... wedged upon that reef was a three-ton lump of lead surmounted by another lump of concrete. Deep buried in the concrete probably would still be the copper box. In the copper box was Jo's jewel case and in her jewel case were 26,000 pounds worth of diamonds...
Keith Stewart is middle-aged and happily married. A strange quirk of fate means he must exchange his Ealing workshop world for an odyssey in search of a fortune his own ingenuity had helped to hide..."

New Purchases

Four books arrived in the mail from Discovery / Hippo books. It turns out that they are the same book company... lol. Two were from ongoing series I've been enjoying and the other two are new series I want to try.

1. Think Fast, Mr. Moto by John P. Marquand. I've read most of the Mr. Moto books. They are entertaining WWII spy novels.







"Mr. Moto that very polite and very deadly Japanese Secret Agent, is in Hawaii trying to find out how large sums of American dollars are being smuggled into Manchuria. Mr. Moto knows all the angles and is able to get what he wants, even if it means breaking a man's arm or murdering him...
But the people involved in this cunning intrigue are clever - Mr. Moto has had dealings with them before and he knows if he's to stay alive, he must .... Think Fast."

2. Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher. This is the fourth book in Disher's Inspector Hal Challis mystery series, set in Australia. I've read the first two so far and enjoyed very much. Great gritty police procedural series so far.





"Inspector Hal Challis, head of Australia's Mornington Peninsula Crime Investigation Unit, has been summoned to his boyhood home. Mawson's Bluff in the Australian Outback. His father is dying.
Sergeant Ellen Destry is left to head an investigation into a ring of pedophiles. A little girl has been abducted from the fairgrounds of the annual Waterloo Show. Her mother failed to report her absence until the next day. After twenty-four hours, hope is slim that the police will find the child before it is too late.
Challis has his own investigation to conduct. When a new grave is dug in the town graveyard, an extra corpse is found. It turns out to be his sister's husband, who has been missing but was presumed to be off on an excursion of his own. Solving this long unsuspected crime is a challenge that puts Challis in peril of his life."

3. Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel. This is the first book in her Tejada mystery series set in Spain.







"Madrid 1939. Carlos Tejada Alonso y León is a Sergeant in the Guardia Civil, a rank rare for a man not yet thirty, but Tejada is an unusual recruit. The bitter civil war between the Nationalists and the Republicans has interrupted his legal studies in Salamanca. Second son of a conservative Southern family of landowners, he is an enthusiast for the Catholic Franquista cause, a dedicated, and now triumphant, Nationalist.
This war has drawn international attention. In a dress rehearsal for World War II, fascists support the Nationalists, while communists have come to the aid of the Republicans. Atrocities have devastated both sides. It is at this moment, when the Republicans have surrendered, and the Guardia Civil has begun to impose order in the ruins of Madrid, that Tejada finds the body of his best friend, a hero of the siege of Toledo, shot to death on a street named Amor de Dios. Naturally, a Red is suspected. And it is easy for Tejada to assume that the woman caught kneeling over the body is the killer. But when his doubts are aroused, he cannot help seeking justice."


4. Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage. This is the first book in Gage's Brazilian mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Mario Silva. 






"In the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal, where landless peasants are confronting the owners of vast estates, the bishop arrives by helicopter to consecrate a new church and is assassinated.
Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil, is dispatched to the interior to find the killer. The Pope himself has telephoned Brazil's president; the pressure is on Silva to perform, and fast.
Assisted by his nephew, Hector Costa, also a federal policeman, Silva must battle the state police and a corrupt judiciary as well as criminals who prey on street kids, warring factions of the Landless League, and their enemies, the big landowners, as well as the Church itself in order to solve the initial murder and several brutal killings that follow.
Justice is hard to come by. An old priest, a secret liberation theologist, is its instrument. Here is a Brazil the tourist never sees."

So there you go, pilgrims (gratuitous John Wayne reference). I hope you're having a great week and watching the Olympics. Take care.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Book Updates

It's been lovely and sunny the past few days; a nice change from the week of rain we had before. Yesterday Jo and I took a drive down island to Qualicum. We planned to have lunch at Cuckoos at Goats on the Roof but it's not yet opened from their winter holiday. It's closed until sometime in March. So instead we had lunch at Bailey's in Qualicum, nice comforting food. Always a nice, friendly place.

I checked out two used book stores in Qualicum as Jo and I wandered around; found a few at the Book Nook. Unfortunately I forgot my book lists (I had planned to bring them) so I ended up buying a couple of books I already had.. *sigh* They'll go in my little free library. The location is now listed on the Little Free Library website. :0)

We drove back to Comox via the coast road, just an all-around pleasant, relaxing day. The puppies were very excited to have us home; Clyde, especially, doesn't enjoy it when we're away for more than an hour or so.

We're now quite heavily involved watching Winter Olympic coverage, at the moment especially enjoying the mixed curling. It's a neat take on the game and Canada is doing very well so far, qualified for the semi-finals. This afternoon we've got team figure skating; that should be good.

Anyway, on to book updates. I've finished two books so far in February and hope to finish a couple of more shortly. My reviews of the two completed books, plus synopses of the books I've started and recently purchased follow.

Just Finished

1. The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith (Rebecca Schwarz #2). This is one of my Ongoing Series books.











"The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith is Smith's second book in her Rebecca Schwartz mystery series. She also writes the Skip Langdon and Tabitha Walls' series. Rebecca Schwarz is a lawyer based in San Francisco working in partnership with her friend, Chris Nicholson. This mystery finds them involved in the world of Sourdough bread and bakeries.
Both attend a play by acquaintance Peter Martinelli. Martinelli, it turns out, comes from a family that had been successful in the sourdough bread industry, supposedly very big in the San Francisco area. He inherited the 'starter' dough for their famous sourdough bread. Martinelli is persuaded to sell this starter dough off at an auction, which sparks interest from rival bakers, the brothers Tosi, Sally Devereaux (a smaller baker) and Clayton Thompson, rep for a major bread-making conglomerate. All the interested parties arrive for the auction but when Martinelli doesn't show up, Rebecca and her boy-friend Rob the reporter discover his dead body (murdered).
This begins an investigation by Rebecca, Rob and Chris into the world of sourdough bread and who might be guilty of the murder. It's a fun ride, in a similar vein as those of Lilian Jackson Braun's 'Cat who' mysteries, or Karen Kijewski's Kat Colorado mysteries. There are plenty of suspects, including all the competing parties and even Peter Martinelli's sister, who had also wanted the starter dough.
Combined a quick paced mystery / adventure with lots of action, you also have Rebecca's relationships, with her Jewish parents, her sister and boyfriend and all of the other's mentioned. It's not a complex mystery, just an entertaining one. Enjoy. (3 stars)"

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe #1). This is from my New Series challenge.

"The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is my first exposure to this excellent writer of the noir genre. Chandler created Private Investigator Philip Marlowe, who worked the streets of San Francisco. There was a movie made of this story starring Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. I think I've seen it but will now have to watch it again.
Marlowe is hired by a wealthy San Francisco family to try to sort out a black-mailing situation. The wealthy senior of the family has two wild daughters, especially Carmen, who is the subject of 'personal' photos. The investigation moves Marlowe into the criminal underworld and into close contact with various criminals and also murders. It's a nicely confusing plot, with many twists and turns and enough action to keep you very interested in the story.
Chandler has a way with telling his story. His characters are so well-described that you can picture them clearly. They have unique personalities and you do find yourself drawn to some and repulsed or afraid of others. His story telling is straight-forward, with a touch of humour and also a nice flair for the written word. I love this line, "I went back to the office and sat in my swivel chair and tried to catch up on my foot-dangling." I know it's just one small sample but it's so perfect and the story is filled with such perfection.
You don't necessarily get to know a great deal of Marlowe's past but you definitely get a feel for the type of character he is. Even though a private eye, he's got friends in the police force who respect him. He's similar to Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer, John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, a loner private eye with standards. I don't know that I see Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe but I'll have to think more on that subject. I do know I am looking forward to reading the other books in this short series. Excellent and for lovers of great mystery, must-reads. (5 stars)"

Just Started

I've been working on two books since the beginning of January and can finally see the end of the tunnel for both. Adam Bede by George Eliot is getting better and better and for a book written in 1859 has quite a controversial subject matter. Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte, the 3rd book in the Templar trilogy, moves along nicely but it's probably a couple of hundred pages too long. But I have invested enough time in it that I want to finish to see how it ends.

I've started two new books, one from my Decades Challenge and one from my Canadian content challenge.

1. The Scarlet Pimpernal by Baroness Orczy (1903). So far a nicely paced historical adventure.

"Who is the Scarlet Pimpernal?
Each day this question grew more pressing to the rulers of the French Revolution. Only this man and his band of followers threatened their total power. Only this maddeningly elusive figure defied the vast network of fanatics, informers and secret agents that the Revolution spread out to catch its enemies.
Some said this man of many disguises, endless ruses and infinite daring was an exiled French nobleman, returned to wreak vengeance. Others said he was an English lord, seeking shear adventure and supreme sport in playing the most dangerous game of all.
But of only one thing could those who sought him be sure. They knew all too well the symbol of his presence, the blood-red flower known as the Scarlet Pimpernal..."

2. Company Town by Madeline Ashby. This is from my Canadian literature challenge. It falls into the dystopian future / science fiction genre and I'm enjoying so far.






"Look at one of Go Jung-hwa's clients sideways, expect to end up on the floor with a broken arm and busted nose - if she's feeling merciful.
As one of the few people without bioengineered genetic enhancements, Hwa is part of a dying breed in the city-sized oil rig New Arcadia. But she's in peak physical condition and, combined with her speed and cunning, can easily go toe-to-toe with some of the most augmented men in town. After all, she's the best bodyguard employed by the United Sex Workers of Canada.
When Lynch Ltd., a technological tycoon dynasty, purchases the entire rig, Hwa's talents and lack of any sort of altering attract their attention. They have a fifteen-year-old heir to protect, and Hwa fits the bill - any cyborg meathead can be hacked and rewired, but not her. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, especially for someone who's been living on the fringes of poverty her entire life.
But when one of her former client's - and friend - dismembered body is found floating in the North Atlantic, Hwa finds her loyalties split between her past and future. And it looks as if the future came to collect in the present..."

New Books

The books below came from various orders, my local book store and the Book Nook in Qualicum.

1. The Gondola Scam by Jonathan Gash (A Lovejoy mystery).








"Connoisseur of antiques, rhapsodizer of women, and all-around scamp, Lovejoy is hired by a millionaire collector to 'rescue' every art treasure in Venice before the fabled city sinks into the sea. His winning ways, flexible ethics, and resourceful chicanery are put to vigorous test by the murderous men and dangerous women who cross his gondola's path. In this fast-paced and outrageous caper, Lovejoy's quest for the exquisite leads to an unexpected and terrifying climax."

2. Gideon's Lot by J.J. Marric. This is an Inspector Gideon mystery. I've read a few of them and all have been enjoyable, reminding me somewhat of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series.






"The Queen Elizabeth docks at Southampton and soon Gideon is called after the criminals that had crossed the Atlantic in her - the rapist, the kidnapper, the vice-ring boys and the usual small-fish such as the thieves, the smash-and-grab and fraud operators.
They are all headed to London and London is Gideon's territory, and he sets out to make life for these men as tough as possible."

3. Relic by Preston & Child. I've seen the movie and it was kind of neat and different so I've been looking for this when I realized, after many, many years, that it was based on a book. I hope it's good.






"Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human...
But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.
Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who - or what - is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?"

4. The Black Seraphim by Michael Gilbert. I've read a few of Gilbert's mysteries. Petrella at Q and Smallbone Deceased were both 5 star reads.






"When overwork catches up with Dr. James Scotland, he takes himself off for a month's rest to the Melchester Chorister's School, where his cousin is headmaster.
Cathedral cloisters should offer peace, but the calm is deceptive. And from the moment James witnesses one of Melchester's traditional living chess games, he begins to realise that in such a tight community one makes an ill-considered move at one's peril.
Dean against Archdeacon, Archdeacon against Organist ... these devious clerical maneuverings have lethal consequences. And when sudden death strikes, suspicion invades the close like a pernicious weed."

5. One Man's Flag by David Downing (Jack McColl #2). I've enjoyed the first two John Russell WWII spy novels. I've been looking forward to trying Downing's new series.






"Spring 1915: World War One rages across Europe. Amidst this bloodbath of nations, where one man's flag is another man's shroud, a British spy is asked to do the impossible: seduce and betray the woman he loves, again. Only this time betrayal is a two-way street.
Jack McColl, a spy for His Majesty's Secret Service, is stationed in India and charged with defending the Empire against Bengali terrorists and their German allies. In England, meanwhile, radical journalist Caitlin Hanley begins rebuilding her life after the execution of her brother - an IRA sympathizer whose terrorist plot was foiled by Caitlin's ex-lover, the very same Jack McColl. The war is changing everything and giving fresh impulse to the causes Caitlin has long supported. The threat of a rising in Dublin alarms McColl's bosses as much as it dazzles Caitlin. If another Irish plot brings them back together, will it be as enemies or lovers?"

6. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I enjoyed Ware's first mystery novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood. I've seen mixed reviews of her second story. I guess time will tell which side of the fence I find myself on when I get to it.





"Travel writer Lo Blacklock's latest assignment is tantalizing: write a story about the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise ship Aurora. The promise of clear skies, calm waters, and a small list of well-heeled guests awaits. How could she say no?
As the voyage sets out, it is everything Lo could hope for. The ten cabins are plush and the guests are elegant. Soon, though, frigid winds lash the deck while dark clouds conspire overhead. Then Lo is awakened to something out of a nightmare - a sickening splash and a woman's body disappearing beneath the waves. But the passengers and crew remain accounted for, and nobody admits to having seen this woman on board.
Lo knows something has gone horrifyingly wrong. But who was the woman in cabin 10? and why will no one believe what Lo saw?"

Well, there you go. Just watching a fascinating bio on one of Canada's medal hopes, Mark McMorris, one of our snowboarders. Figure skating starts in an hour or so. Guess I'll head off to get some groceries. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

January 2018 Reading Update

It's hard to believe but here we are, one month completed in 2018. Wow!

Just Finished

Since my last entry, I finished 4 books. It made my January summary a bit better than it looked. The four books are listed below.

1. Wings of Fire by Charles Todd (Inspector Rutledge #2).











"Wings of Fire is the 2nd book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series by Charles Todd. The series is set after WWI and Rutledge is an Inspector in Scotland Yard. He served as a military policeman during the War and returned damaged, not knowing who he was. Somewhat cured, he has returned to work but still is 'haunted' by the voice of Hamish, a Scottish soldier whose death Rutledge bears some responsibility for. Hamish is his conscience and adviser or just a troublesome irritant at times.
Rutledge is sent to Cornwall by his supervisor to investigate two apparent suicides and another 'accidental' death, all from one well-known family. His supervisor in effect wants Rutledge out of his hair, as he investigates a serial killer in London. The request for an investigation comes from Rachel, another family member who feels that the deaths might not have been suicides. One of the deaths is of a famed poetess, one who affected Rutledge during his wartime service.
It's an interesting story, kind of wanders around as Rutledge begins to look into the facts of the deaths. It's a small community, where everyone knows everyone and many of the people in the town don't really want an investigation. We begin to find out the history of the family and of other deaths that occurred in the past. It's an interesting investigation peopled with interesting characters, from Rachel to Sadie, the old woman who seems to have a second sense. At times it seems pointless for Rutledge to continue investigating the deaths but as the story progresses, it grows in interest and tension. The final chapters are tense and exciting. I wondered at first where the story might go but was ultimately quite satisfied with the outcome. I hope the next books continue to grow in plot and interest. (4 stars)"

2. Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré.

"I've read many books by John le Carré. He's one of the great spy masters when it comes to story telling. Our Kind of Traitor is one of his more recent stories, published originally in 2010. I enjoyed the story but I think in many ways it was style over substance.
Perry and Gail a young English couple decide to take a vacation in Antigua. There they meet a group of Russians led by Dima who attaches himself to the couple.
It turns out that Dima is a member of a powerful Russian gangster (Vory) organization; their money launderer, and he wants to defect, along with his family to England. He indicates he has much to offer the UK in return.
Perry and Gail are interrogated by Luke, Yvonne, Ollie and their boss Hector back in London. Hector comes up with a plan to help Dima and his family defect. Dima is attending meetings in Paris and Bern to authorize fund transfer within the organization and feels he will be killed afterwards.
The rest of the story is the attempt by this group to help the family get back to England.
le Carre has a unique story telling style. The first half of the story is basically told via the interrogation of Perry and Gail, but in the second half there is much more action as we travel to Paris and then onwards to Switzerland. All in all it's a well told story, with interesting characters. The ending was somewhat disappointing but different. It was nice to try a le Carré story again. (4 stars)"

3. The Guardians by Andrew Pyper.








"Of the three books by Andrew Pyper I've read so far, The Guardians is my favourite. The Guardians are Trev, Randy, Carl and Ben, four young men who grow up in the town of Grimshaw. The Guardians is the name of their local hockey team and all four play on it.
The town of Grimshaw has a secret as well. Across the street from Ben is the Thurman house, an empty haunted house. It is the crux of this story.
Their music teacher disappears; the boys see things in the house. Are they related? Is the Coach involved?
The story is told in the past and the present by Trev. Suffering from Parkinson's disease, he starts to dictate a diary of the events of the past and at the same time he is returning to Grimshaw to attend the funeral of Ben, the self-appointed watcher of the Thurman house.
The story moves along nicely, both in the past and present and it is tensely, eerily described. What is in the Thurman House? What does it want?
Well worth reading, a creepy, interesting story with an exciting, satisfying ending. (4 stars)"

4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.








"What a wonderful story The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is. I've had it on my book shelf for a year or so and added it to my 12+ 4 reading challenge on the recommendation of a Goodread's friend.
It was so nice to read an uplifting, joyous story such as this. It's a story of growing up, discovering friendship and love and it leaves you feeling very positive and happy. (well, there were a few tears shed at the end but only because it was a positive ending.)
Young Mary Lennox is growing up in India. Her mother abandons her to the care of an Indian governess; she never really wanted a child. Mary becomes a loner, a temperamental, selfish young girl. When her parents die due to a cholera epidemic, she is sent to England to live with an uncle who resides at his estate in Misselthwaite Manor. Her uncle is basically a hermit who has never recovered from the death of his wife. He wants nothing to do with Mary, heading off to Europe and other places as soon as she arrives. Mary is once again alone but she slowly begins to make 'actual' friends, firstly her maid, Martha, a young Yorkshire lass, then a robin, etc. She then discovers the entrance to a locked garden; her uncle had closed it down when his wife died. It was her favorite and she died when a branch fell on her. Mary also discovers another resident in the manor, who turns out to be her cousin, Colin.
Without ruining the story by telling you anymore, suffice it to say that the two develop a close relationship and learn about friendship and love as they grow. The link with the garden, their development as the garden grows and multiplies, is most interesting. The story is full of wonderful characters; not the least Mary and Colin but also Martha, Martha's brother Dickon, their mother and even the old gardener, Ben.
I was so pleased to read this story, to read a perfect little story that left me feeling positive and happy at the end. Everyone should read! Thanks for adding to my challenge list, Alissa. (5 stars)"

January Reading Summary Stats

I'm satisfied with my first month's stats. I'm not counting two big books that I've not yet finished but I've read 800 pages amongst both. I'm sure I'll have them finished in February.. Hoping so anyway. So onwards to my January Summary. I'm basically following my format from last year. My Goodread's challenge is to read 110 books; I've reduced it from my 120 planned total from 2017.

General Info
Books Read - 9
Pages Read - 2550

Pages Breakdown
    < 250     4
250 - 350   2
351 - 450   3
   > 450

Ratings
5 - star      1
4 - star      5
3 - star      3
2 - star

Gender
Female     2
Male        7

Genres
Fiction     2
Mystery   5
SciFi        2
Non-Fic
Classics

Top 3 Books
1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (5 stars)
2. Cakes and Ale - W. Somerset Maugham (4 stars)
3. The Guardians - Andrew Pyper (4 stars)

2018 Reading Challenges

12 + 4 Challenge (3 completed)
1. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (4 stars)
2. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham (4 stars)
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (5 stars)

New Series
4. Banquets of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov (Black Widowers #4) (3 stars)
5. Mrs. Pargeter's Package by Simon Brett (Mrs. Pargeter #3) (3 stars)

Ongoing Series
6. Wings of Fire by Charles Todd (Inspector Rutledge #2) (4 stars)

Decades Challenge
7. Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré (Decades Challenge - 2010) (4 stars)

Canadian Content
8. The Pyx by John Buell (3 stars)
9. The Guardians by Andrew Pyper (4 stars)

Currently Reading
1. Adam Bede by George Eliot (Decades Challenge - Pre-1900s)
2. Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte (Ongoing Series - Templars #3)
3. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (New Series - Philip Marlowe #1)
4. The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith (Ongoing Series - Rebecca Schwarz #2)

Next Books on Deck
1. The Scarlet Pimpernal by Baroness Orczy (Decades Challenge - 1900 - 1909).








2. Company Town by Madeline Ashby (Canadian Content)








3. Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute (12 + 4 Challenge)











There you go. I'm looking forward to February. Have a great month.


Saturday, 27 January 2018

A Few New Purchases

Canadian Nationals - Dance Champions 2018
In one of my last posts, I mentioned the lovely weekend that Jo and I had in Vancouver attending the Canadian National Dance Championships. This was to determine the skaters who would be attending the upcoming Olympics in South Korea.

Pairs Champions
We had a fantastic time. The venue was excellent and even the food was pretty darn good. It was neat to see performers such as Patrick Chan, Duhamel and Radford and Virtue and Moir who were probably participating in their final Canadian nationals. Bittersweet somewhat. The missus was in tears many times over the weekend.

Shae-Lynne Bourne in the stands
It was also neat just checking out the people in the stands; like some favorites like Jeffrey Buttle and Shae-Lynn Bourne who also acted as host of the event.

All in all it was a great weekend. We may check out the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver next December.... depending if there are any Canadians in it, that is. :0)

We had a bit of a surprise this morning. It wasn't forecast but overnight we had a big dumping of snow. Of course, it stopped mid-morning and the sun has come out. It's done a pretty good job of getting rid of most of it. Yay!

New Books

I found a few new books when I went out on Thursday, making the rounds of the local Little Free Libraries and Nearly New Books.

1. C.J. Box - Endangered.  Box is a new author for me. He writes the Joe Pickett mystery series, amongst others.











"Joe Pickett had good reason to dislike Dallas Cates, and now he has even more—Joe’s eighteen-year-old daughter, April, has run off with him. And then comes even worse news: She has been found in a ditch along the highway—alive, but just barely, the victim of blunt force trauma. Cates denies having anything to do with it, but Joe knows in his gut who’s responsible. What he doesn’t know is the kind of danger he’s about to encounter. Cates is bad enough, but Cates’s family is like none Joe has ever met."

2. Ken Bruen - The Magdalen Martyrs. This is the 3rd book in the Jack Taylor mystery series. 












"
Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn't trust when his phone rings. He's in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a "hard man." Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned.
Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman, now either dead or very old, who long ago helped his mother escape from the notorious Magdalen laundry, where young wayward girls were imprisoned and abused. Jack doesn't like the odds of finding the woman, but counts himself lucky that the task is at least on the right side of the law.
Until he spends a few days spinning his wheels and is dragged in front of Cassell for a quick reminder of his priorities. Bill's goons do a little spinning of their own, playing a game of Russian roulette a little too close to the back of Jack's head. It's only blind luck and the mercy of a god he no longer trusts that land Jack back on the street rather than face down in a cellar with a bullet in his skull. He's got one chance to stay alive: find this woman.
Unfortunately, he can't escape his own curiosity, and an unnerving hunch quickly turns into a solid fact: just who Jack's looking for, and why, aren't nearly what they seem."


3. Stephen King - End of Watch. This is the 3rd book in King's Bill Hodges' series. I haven't read the first two; Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers so I might have to start with them.










"For nearly six years, in Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, Brady Hartsfield has been in a persistent vegetative state. A complete recovery seems unlikely for the insane perpetrator of the “Mercedes Massacre,” in which eight people were killed and many more maimed for life. But behind the vacant stare, Brady is very much awake and aware, having been pumped full of experimental drugs . . . scheming, biding his time as he trains himself to take full advantage of the deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room. Brady Hartsfield is about to embark on a new reign of terror against thousands of innocents, hell bent on taking revenge against anyone who crossed his path—with retired police detective Bill Hodges at the very top of that long list..."


4. Orson Scott Card - Children of the Mind. This is the 4th book in the Ender's science fiction series. 











"The planet Lusitania is home to three sentient species: the Pequeninos; a large colony of humans; and the Hive Queen, brought there by Ender. But once again the human race has grown fearful; the Starways Congress has gathered a fleet to destroy Lusitania.Jane, the evolved computer intelliegence, can save the three sentient races of Lusitania. She has learned how to move ships outside the universe, and then instantly back to a different world, abolishing the light-speed limit. But It takes all the processing power available to her, and the Starways Congress is shutting down the Net, world by world. Soon Jane will not be able to move the ships. Ender’s children must save her if they are to save themselves."

5. Kerry Greenwood - Raisins and Almonds. This is the 9th book in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mystery series. 











"In investigating the poisoning of a young man in a bookshop at the Eastern Market, and the wrongful arrest of one Miss Sylvia Lee, Phryne Fisher is plunged into another exciting adventure. Stopping only for a brief, but intensely erotic, dalliance with the beautiful Simon Abrahams Phryne picks her way through the mystery with help from the old faithfuls - Bert, Cec, Dot and Detective Inspector 'Call Me Jack' Robinson. But ultimately it is her stealth and wit which solve the crime - and all for the price of a song."

So there you go. At the moment, Jo and I are watching the first round of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Curling for those of you who might not know what it is. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Mid January 2018 Update

We've been building an ark out in the back yard the past few days... (just kidding of course). But it's been very rainy and windy since the missus and I returned from our excellent weekend in Vancouver. There is a duck pond just down the road from our house and it connects to a farmer's field where he lets his dairy cows graze. When the pups and I went for our noon walk today (thankfully, it's sunny and fresh for a change), I could see that the pond has expanded by about 4 times its normal length. I'm sure the ducks like it but the cows won't be too happy.

Last weekend, as I mentioned, Jo and I went to Vancouver to watch the Canadian National Figure Skating championships, held at University of British Columbia. It was a great weekend. This was our first time staying in an Air B&B place and it was excellent; a comfortable basement flat very near to the event. We brought food for the first couple of nights but went out the last two; a nice Italian restaurant and an equally nice Greek restaurant. The figure skating was fantastic; brought Jo to tears a few times. It was probably our last opportunity to see some of our favorites live; Duhamel & Radford, Virtue & Moir, Patric Chan, etc. It was an excellent mix of veteran skaters and up-and-comers. Even the gala on Sunday was super; just an excellent afternoon. We picked up the puppies at the kennel Monday afternoon; they were so dirty and tired. LOL! It's been nice to be back home I must say; fun to go away for a couple of days but great to get back out home stomping grounds.

Finished Reading

I've finished two more books since my last update. It's been somewhat slow but I'm enjoying all my books. Below are my latest two books with reviews.

1. Mrs. Pargeter's Package by Simon Brett. This was my first book in Brett's Mrs. Pargeter mysteries. I didn't have copies of the first two books so started with #3. I don't think it affected my enjoyment. My review is below.










"I've read books from other series by Simon Brett; 3 of the Fethering books and one of the Charles Paris books. I enjoyed both series so have been looking to try the Mrs. Pargeter mysteries and have just finished the third book in the series, Mrs. Pargeter's Package. Overall, I preferred the other series but I still liked this book. It was cozy, light and entertaining.
Melita Pargeter is a 60ish widow. Her husband was a successful businessman, some of his methods may have been less than legal. But he also had many friends and it seems that they feel an obligation to support Melita due to their working with her hubbie.
Melita is taking a trip to Corfu, the Greek Island, with a friend, Joyce, who is trying to get over the death of her husband. There is a mystery here. Joyce is looking for something in Corfu and she ends up dead. The local police officer says it was suicide but after looking the situation over, Melita feels that it was murder.
With the help of Larry Lambeth, a fellow pretty good at forgery, Melita searches for clues to Joyce's death. Back in London, detective Truffler Mason and wheeler dealer Hamish Ramon Henriques (HRH), help Mrs. Pargeter look into deaths and other clues that might help.
It wasn't a complex story but it moved along nicely and it kept me interested. Call it light and fluffy and a fun read. (3 stars)"

2. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham. I've read and enjoyed a few of Maugham's works. I read this as part of my 2018 12 + 4 Challenge, recommended by one of my Goodreads' compatriots, Bob.





"I've previously read 3 other books by English author W. Somerset Maugham; The Razor's Edge (5 stars), The Moon and Sixpence (5 stars) and Ashenden (4 stars) and as you can see I've enjoyed them all. The Razor's Edge in particular was one of my favourite books of all-time. It is that book that got me so interested in reading more of Maugham's works. Cakes and Ale: Or, The Skeleton in the Cupboard was recommended to me by one of my Goodread friends. (Thanks Bob.)
So the book... The story is purportedly a story about an acquaintance, author Edward Driffield, of the narrator, William Ashenden, another writer. In fact, it is more about the writer's first wife, barmaid Rosie. The reason for Ashenden telling this story is that another writer and acquaintance, Alroy Kear, has been requested to write a biography of Driffield, now deceased, by Driffield's second wife. Kear knows that Ashenden met Driffield as a young boy and later as a young man and he wants Ashenden's assistance in getting a feel for Driffield's earlier years as a writer.
This request causes Ashenden to cast back into his life and to his early memories of Driffield and also of Rosie. It's an interesting tale. We get a great perspective of his small town of Blackstable, the snobbery of his uncle and aunt towards Driffield and his wife, etc. We do get to meet Driffield but the author's first person account focuses more on Rosie, understandable because she is a memorable character; good-hearted, fresh, humorous, attractive. There are many interesting incidents; the midnight move from Barnstable by Driffield and Rosie leaving behind many unpaid debts; Rosie's relationship with 'Lord' George, Ashenden's later relationship with Rosie, etc.
I do like Maugham's writing style; it seems unemotional and factual at times but there is an underlying feeling throughout, evidenced by his attraction and feelings for Rosie; his defense of Rosie later in the book. It's a joy to read his thoughts on writing and just to delve into the story itself. I find it interesting that he uses the character 'Ashenden' in this story and also in others; Razor's Edge, Ashenden itself. I also liked his first person style of story telling, it makes it more personal. Excellent story and well-worth reading. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

With my two longer term stories, I've also started the two books below. Enjoying both so far. The synopsis of both books are below the photo.

1. Wings of Fire by Charles Todd. This is book two of Todd's Inspector Rutledge mystery series. It is part of my Ongoing Series challenge.

"Inspector Ian Rutledge is quickly sent to investigate the sudden deaths of three members of the same eminent Cornwall family, but the World War I veteran soon realizes that nothing about this case is routine.
Including the identity of one of the dead, a reclusive spinster unmasked as O.A. Manning, whose war poetry helped Rutledge retain his grasp on sanity in the trenches of France. Guided by the voice of Hamish, the Scot he unwillingly executed on the battlefield, Rutledge is driven to uncover the haunting truths of murder and madness rooted in a family crypt..."

2. Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré. This is a selection from my Decades Challenge.

"At a time when Britain is in the depths of a recession, a left-leaning young Oxford academic and his barrister girlfriend take an off-peak holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. By seeming chance they bump into a charismatic Russian millionaire called Dima who owns a peninsula and a diamond-encrusted gold watch. He also has a tattoo on his right thumb, and wants a game of tennis. What else he wants propels the young lovers on a perilous journey through Paris to a safe house in the Swiss Alps, leading them into the murky cloisters of the City of London and its dark dealings with rogue elements of Britain's Intelligence Establishment and the Russian mafia."

I'm hoping that in the last ten days of the month to read another two, maybe 3 books. We shall see.. Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

And So 2018 Moves Along; Books Read, Books Started and Even Some New Arrivals

Well, here it is, January 9th. Our snow is pretty well gone; we've had our first rain falls and I'm progressing with my 2018 challenges. I've also had a few books arrive in the mail and also purchased a couple at my local used book store. So, all in all, a normal, nice start to 2018. All is well in the valley. So with that preamble out of the way, below are reviews of the first 3 books I've finished in 2018, what I'm currently reading and a look at the new books being added to my book shelf.

Just Finished


1. Banquets of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov. This book came from my new series challenge. It's one of a series of mysteries, collections of short stories about a group of men who meet monthly to solve mysteries.




"I've read many of Isaac Asimov's science fiction books; the Foundation and Empire trilogy, the robot books, Fantastic Voyage, etc. He was such a good story teller. It's been many years since I last read one of his books and recently I discovered this mystery series; the Black Widowers and I bought one of them; Banquets of the Black Widowers.
The Black Widowers are a group of six gentlemen who meet on a monthly basis for a dinner and drinks and then to interrogate a visitor about a mystery in their life. They are ably assisted by their waiter, Henry, maybe the smartest member of the group.
The collection of short stories are gentle and cozy. They follow the same formula for the most part. In each one, one of the members is the host of a visitor; they chat and have dinner and then while they relax over drinks afterward, they interrogate the visitor. Even their interrogation starts off in a similar fashion; first the member must justify their lives and then they tell a story that has troubled them while the members try to offer a solution that might help the person.
There is no violent crime just incidents in their lives that they need help either remembering or rationalizing. The six widowers are middle-aged or older, curmudgeonly and interesting. Their waiter Henry serves and observes and is the voice of final solution, deferred to by the others. I enjoyed this collection very much and will search for the others. Excellent concept. (3 stars)"

2. The Pyx by John Buell. I bought this book because I'd seen the movie starring Karen Black many years ago and enjoyed it. This book fit into my Canadian Lit challenge.






"When I saw this book, The Pyx by John Buell I was interested to read it because I had enjoyed the movie based on it very much. It was an easy read but unfortunately didn't live up to the enjoyment I'd felt from the movie.
The story is presented in an interesting fashion. It starts with a possible suicide of a prostitute (falling from a high-rise building to her death) and the investigation by a Montreal police detective. The story wanders from the past, Elizabeth Lucy's weeks leading up to her death, and the present, Ferguson's investigation into the death.
The portion with Elizabeth is often rambling, with Elizabeth's thoughts. She is an addict and this impacts how she thinks. This all builds up to her final climactic scene in the apartment. The detective travels through her life in a much more rational way and has his own climactic scene.
The movie had more detail and implied devil worship. (The Pyx is the holder of the holy host and is used in black masses). The book intimates this but in a much less clear fashion and I'm not sure I would have known if I hadn't seen the movie. All in all, still an interesting book with a moody atmosphere. Glad I read. (3 stars)"

3. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. This book came from my 12 + 4 challenge. I had asked 8 Goodread friends to recommend books from my reading list and this was one of them. Thanks to Alissa for the recommendation. It was most enjoyable.





"The Winter People by Jennifer  McMahon was a total surprise; a nice surprise I must say. I went in to it with no expectations. I thought it was a basic mystery but was I in for a surprise!
Ruthie comes home one night from a date and discovers that her mother Alice is not home and that her sister Fawn has been left alone. This begins a search through their farmhouse in Vermont to discover clues to what might have happened. As well, we meet Katherine, a woman newly moved to West Hall, Vermont, searching for clues as to why her dead husband, killed in a car crash, lied to her in his last days and went to this town.
We also journey to the past, through journals discovered by both Ruthie and Katherine and also to the thoughts of Sara Harrison, who also lived in this farm house in the early 1900's. Sara has lost two children and reels with despair and loss. She blames her husband, Martin. She looks for mystical ways to get her daughter, Gertie, back and also to find out how she died.
At this point, the story veers from mystery to 'horror' and creepy. Who is this Auntie who has inserted herself into Sara's life upon the death of her mother? What are all of the things that Ruthie finds throughout the house as she searches for clues to her mother's disappearance; wallets, a hand gun, a backpack, etc? How about the tales of The Winter People dead spirits that have been seen wandering the woods and through the town streets? What about the disappearances that have taken place over the decades?
It's a fascinating story, with reminders of HP Lovecraft and Stephen King, esp It and Pet Sematary. I was drawn to the story. It was so well written and moved along between Ruthie, Katherine and Sara very nicely, in such a way to make the story so very interesting. And the ending was a nice surprise and satisfying. Loved it. Always so nice to read a book that just takes you by surprise. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

My current reading list includes two books I've previously mentioned; Adam Bede by George Eliot and Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte. My synopses of them both can be found here. I have just started the below two books.

1. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham. This is one of my 12 + 4 challenge books. It was recommended by Bob. I've read three other books by Maugham and enjoyed them all, especially The Razor's Edge. The synopsis is below -

"Of all Somerset Maugham's novels, Cakes and Ale is the gayest. The entrancing character of Rosie, a barmaid with a history and a heart of gold, places the book, as creative literature, on a level with Of Human Bondage.
Rosie, in less decorous days, had been married to a famous author whose second wife later nursed him into the position of Grand Old Man of English Letters. Some have professed to see a likeness to Thomas Hardy in Edward Driffield, and to Hugh Walpole in Alroy Kear, the ambitious but untalented biographer. Maugham, however, denied any such connection."

2. Mrs. Pargeter's Package by Simon Brett. This is a new series for me even if I'm starting at #3. I've started Brett's two other series; Charles Paris and the Fethering mysteries and enjoyed them both. I hope this is as entertaining.

"Mrs. Pargeter had not reached the indomitable age of sixty-something by neglecting her friends. Even if two weeks in Corfu was probably just about as far as she was prepared to go.
Joyce Dover had recently lost her husband. She needed the company. Yet the hot sunshine soon revealed an unsuspected dark side to the widow.
For Joyce Dover came to Agios Nikitas to die. Bu, wondered Mrs. Pargeter, was it really suicide? Or murder?"

New Books

I bought two books at Nearly New Books on the weekend when I dropped off a couple for trade-in and then today, I received two books in the mail, one from the Victoria Bookshop and one from Awesome Books, both in the UK. These are the new books.

Nearly New Books

1. Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie. This is one of Hercule Poirot's mysteries.

"Mrs. Nicoletis runs a students' hostel. Grasping and sly, she is about to become a very frightened woman.
Celia Austin is a nice enough girl - if mildly kleptomaniac. Love is doing wonders for her.
Miss Lemon is a secretary. She functions like a formidable machine - never ill, never tired, never inaccurate.
So when Hercule Poirot finds three mistakes in one of her letters, he knows something is amiss. Then comes murder number one..."

2. A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows. This is a new series for me. It sounded interesting enough to give it a shot.

"Inspector Domenic Jejeune's success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn't really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.
Newly posted to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, in the heart of Britain's premier birding country, Jejeune's two two worlds collide as he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she and others begin to have their doubt when Jejeune's most promising theory involves a feud over bird-watching lists. A second murder only complicates matters.
Everyone in town seems to have something to hide. But to expose the secrets of others, Jejeune will first have to face his own inner demons. In the case of the Saltmarsh murders, the victims may not be the only casualties."

Awesome Books

3. The Haunting of Toby Jugg by Dennis Wheatley. I've been interested in trying Wheatley's work. He was a prolific writer in adventure and horror.

"The devastation of the Second World War continues. In a castle in Wales a crippled pilot fighter pilot struggles to regain his strength. And to preserve his sanity.
Toby Jugg's courage in the air ha won him a D.F.C. But now he faces the most terrifying challenge of his life.
For in the quiet corridors of Llanferdrack House a ghastly conspiracy is moving towards its climax. A conspiracy planned and executed by an enemy as old as Chaos itself..."

4. Under Orion by Janice Law. I've been interested to find something by Law. This is the third book in her Anna Peter's series.

"Anna Peters and a company scientist fly to Germany to buy an oil formula that spells big profits for New World Oil. Anna must determine if the scientist, his go-between and a purported genius in oil chemistry are on the level. She suspects  fraud, at the very least.
The beauty of Germany's magnificent cities and countryside takes on an ominous cast as Anna unravels a tangle of personal and financial obsessions. She's on her own in trying to outmaneuver a tough adversary and to protect a foolish but gifted scientist. The bottom line of New World's latest venture is murder."

Well, there you go. Major Crimes is about to start and supper is almost ready. I hope some of the above books are interesting to some of you. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Some Holiday Photos and some New Books

Our Tree this Year

It's now the second of January 2018. Starting to get back into our usual routine. I went to the gym at the Base (19 Wing Comox) for the first time in 2018 and spent 30 minutes on the running machine. Bought some fresh bread and bananas at Extra Foods and then got the missus a large steeped tea and myself a double/double at Tim Hortons. At the moment, I'm watching footie, jumping between 3 games - Manchester City vs Watford, Southampton vs Crystal Palace and Swansea vs Tottenham, while the dogs relax with Jo upstairs.

We had a very nice, relaxing holiday season, even got some snow. Nothing like some areas get and definitely not the freezing temperatures that they got back East. But for us, it's always a surprise when we get snow and it stays. And it has for the most part. When it does snow we do get a good dump usually.

Xmas is so exhausting!
Anyway, as I said the holidays have been very nice. We've eaten well; Jo has outdone herself as always. We had a fantastic Xmas dinner and then some really super meals all week. No wonder I needed to get to the gym today. I've got to keep my chubby figure, don't you know.

Bonnie and Clyde have had a good time, well, why wouldn't they! They are spoiled rotten. They had so much fun on Xmas day, as you can see from the video above. Clyde loves nothing more than to tear apart a piece of paper. Bonnie prefers to eat it. No wonder they were so tired. LOL!

In my last BLog entry, I listed the four books I was starting off the year with. I'm enjoying so far, each is unique in its own right. A couple, Adam Bede by George Eliot and Order in Chaos by Jack Whyte are quite long but I'm enjoying how they've started so far. I think I've chosen four good books to read.

New Books

I received three books from Awesome Books in the UK just after Xmas. They are all parts of series I've been enjoying.

1. Gideon's Week by J.J. Marric. I've read two in this series so far and have enjoyed. They remind of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books, basically excellent police procedurals.

"Commander George Gideon of the Yard - his life is a tough one, with the activities of the London police his responsibility; and the week that we share with him here is no exception.
He has two big headaches - an escaped convict swearing vengeance on his wife and an innocent-looking young boy accused of murder - as well as the usual minor ailments, like burglaries and smash-and-grabs. The pressures crowd in as Gideon strives to allow London to sleep safely."

2. Wycliffe and the School Girls by W.J. Burley. Another favourite of mine. Wycliffe is another police inspector. I always enjoy how he handles a case and the mysteries are always interesting.

"First Debbie Joyce, a cabaret singer, was found strangled. A week later, in the same city, Nurse Elaine Bennett was murdered in the sae way and the alarm went out - a psychopathic killer is on the loose.
But Wycliffe was not convinced. Slowly he dug into the past of the murdered girls - a past that took him back to a school holiday and the persecution of one particular child by 'the group'. Was someone working off an old revenge - and how many more women would die because of a cruel schoolgirl joke?"

3. So Much Blood by Simon Brett. I've only read one of the Charles Paris mysteries so far and enjoyed. I've also read 3 or 4 of his Fethering mysteries and enjoyed them. They are nice light, cozy mysteries for the most part.

"Edinburgh and the Festival form both the background and the foreground to this lively whodunit. Charles Paris is flitting between a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a 'mixed-media satire', a late-night revue, and his own one-man show on Thomas Hood when a fading pop star is murdered, there is a bomb scare in Holyrood Palace, and someone make a suicide leap from the top of the Rock.."

They've been added to my 2018 Challenge spreadsheet.

So there you go, 2018 is officially started and progressing nicely. I hope everybody has a great year!
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