Thursday, 1 September 2016

August 2016 Reading Summary

B & C from a year or so ago, but just as scruffy
It's a rainy day and the pups were supposed to be spending the afternoon at the pet groomers. They were very excited to go for a car drive with daddy, but unfortunately when we arrived, it turned out that our booking hadn't been noted. So after all the excitement, especially from his highness, Clyde, who maybe thought he was going back to the vet, we returned home and they are still scruffy. However, it's a short reprieve as our groomer was able to reschedule for Saturday. Tee hee. Won't Bonnie and Clyde be surprised!

Now on to the business at hand. My August 2016 Reading summary. The month started off a bit slow as I had some heavier books on the go at the beginning of August, but overall I'm quite satisfied with my reading results. I'm within 2 books of reaching my overall total of 100. I'm looking forward to finishing off with a flurry. Here are my totals for August and overall for 2016.

Books Read     August - 11               Total - 98
Pages Read      August - 3,900          Total - 30,000

Pages Breakdown
       < 250         August - 5                  Total - 42
250  - 350         August - 1                  Total - 25
351  - 450         August - 2                  Total - 14
       > 450         August - 3                  Total - 17

Author Gender
Female             August - 4                   Total - 31
Male                August - 7                    Total - 67

Ratings
5 - star             August - 2                    Total - 14
4 - star             August - 4                    Total - 49
3 - star             August - 5                    Total - 35

Genres
Fiction            August - 5                     Total - 17
Mystery          August - 2                     Total - 46
SciFi               August - 2                     Total - 19
Non-Fic          August - 1                     Total -  8
Humour          August - 0                     Total -  3
Classics          August - 1                     Total -  5

Now onto my specific challenges and what books I read -

Reading Group 12 + 0 (More Canadian Fiction)

1. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (4 stars).

" The Penelopiad: the Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood was one of a series of books released in 2005, the others by other acclaimed authors; e.g. Alexander McCall Smith, Philip Pullman, etc., featuring a modern retelling of various myths, either Greek, Celtic, Christian, etc. The Penelopiad is a retelling of the tale of Odysseus, his courting of Penelope, his dashing off to the War on Troy and his return journey, this time from the perspective of his wife Penelope. Penelope remains in Ithaca and must keep his estates in good order and also fend off the suitors who are gorging her food and courting her to try and get their hands on her estate. Penelope tells this story from the future, her spirit now living in Hades. The 12 maids that Odysseus executed on his return act as a Greek chorus, fleshing out Penelope's story. It's an interesting retelling of this tale, with allusions to the present, conversations with Penelope's cousin, Helen (of Troy) and makes the adventure and myth accessible and enjoyable to read. Margaret Atwood is always an excellent story-teller and intelligent author and this book lives up to her standards. I may have to check out the other stories in this series.

2. Solomon Gursky by Mordecai Richler (5 stars).

"What a joy to read! How do you describe Solomon Gursky Was Here? In its simplest form, it's the story of Ephraim Gursky, a minor crook and forger, who escapes from prison in England and tricks his way onto the ill-fated Franklin expedition, and manages to survive the disaster. He roams the Arctic, becomes a religious leader to a band of Eskimos; in some way he persuades them they are one of the 12 tribes of Israel. He eventually finds his way to Saskatchewan, starts a family and then the story follows his three grand-children; Solomon, Barney and Morrie and their children. The grand-sons found successful liquor business, built partly on smuggling booze to the US during their prohibition; then settle in Montreal. The other aspect of the story follows one Moses Berger, son of poet LB Berger, who worked for the Gursky families. Moses goes through this story trying to find out the truth about Solomon Gursky; a trickster like his grand father, who died in a plane crash in the North of Canada. That is the story in its simplest form. It meanders from the past, following Ephraim, then his grand sons and their kids; also following Moses, now drunk, a failed writer as he explores the Gursky family. There are so many lovely tidbits, humour; just great, entertaining story-telling. It's an entertaining read and it winds up in such a satisfying manner; it was a pure joy to read. I highly recommend. It's been many years since I read something by Mordecai Richler and I'm going to have to find Barney's Version next."

3. The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan (4 stars).

"I'm not sure exactly what to say about this book, except how much I enjoyed reading it. Susan Swan is a new author for me. I decided to try and find this book based on a recommendation in a book about Canadian Literature. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up; the various comments varied from 'A haunting new novel...' to 'Extremely funny... a thoroughly modern tale of shifting sexualities...'... So with that information, I started The Wives Of Bath. I don't want to spoiler the book as there is a very interesting 'twist', if you want to call it that, even though throughout the story there are hints about how it might end. It is the story of a young teenage girl, Mary Beatrice Bradford, aka Mouse, who is sent to a boarding school for girls, on the outskirts of Toronto. Mouse has a slight deformity in her back and is shy about it. She is the narrator of this tale and uses various forms of communication to impart this interesting unique story; letters to JFK (a man she admires greatly), conversations with her back (nicknamed Alice), and straight story-telling. The focus of her story is her room-mate, Paulie Lewis, an orphan who the headmistress is trying to help. The other room-mate is Victoria, who is in love with Paulie's brother, an older boy who works at the school. There are twists in this tale I won't tell you about, but suffice it to say, that the story is so well-written and interesting, that you will be drawn in and eventually, won't be able to put it down to find out the ending. There are fascinating relationships; with Mouse and her father and stepmother, with the various girls, with Mouse and Paulie, with Mouse and the headmistress. I guess this could qualify as Young Adult, but a mature Young Adult. A pleasant surprise and I highly recommend."

Decades

4. 1910 - 19. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (3 stars).

"I read Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford two years ago and it was one of my favourites of the year. I remember taking The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion in a university course and not finishing it back then. So I figured that I should give the book another chance when I found it at one of my local book stores a few months back. Well, unfortunately, it didn't do it for me.
The basic story is about the narrator, a self-sufficient American, John Dowell, his wife, Florence and their acquaintances, the Ashburnhams, Edward and Leonora. They meet in Europe where  Dowell and Florence, are at the baths in Nauheim. Both Florence and Edward have heart problems and going to the baths is helpful.
They become friends and Florence begins an affair with Edward. This isn't the first affair that Edward has had. Dowell only finds out about it after many years. There is so much more to the story than this basic outline, it meanders from the past to the present, as the narrator tells the story in his own way, discussing the various relationships of Edward, his own marriage to Florence, their interactions.
In the preface, Ford, in a letter to his wife, states that he feels this is his best story. From my own limited perspective, I disagree. I just couldn't grasp the story. It's very much a tragedy, but Dowell is a diffident narrator. He's a man of leisure who doesn't bring a lot of emotion to his story-telling. I think it's worth reading, even if just to gain an appreciation of Ford's writing style. But I much prefer Parade's End to The Good Soldier. I'm sure many others might disagree."

5. 2000-09. The Coffee Trader by David Liss (3 stars).

"There were things I liked about the story and things I didn't. I enjoyed the setting, Amsterdam in 1659 and the look at the mixture of cultures; the Dutch, the Portuguese Jews living there to escape the Inquisition in Portugal; the description of the city and how the people lived their lives. I didn't always like the characters; difficult to empathise with even the main character, but they were all interesting and well-drawn. It's a book about intrigue and plotting, focused on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and how the characters try to manipulate each other to gain advantages. Miguel, a Portuguese Jew, struggles to get out of debt and trusts nobody, a feeling that is often reciprocated. He is encouraged to manipulate the coffee trade by a Dutch widow, Geertruid, and must work against his brother, as well as a leader of the Portuguese Jewish community, Parido. But there are so many other people with their fingers in the plot, it's difficult for him to know who is for him and who is against. His actions cause untold troubles to friends and business acquaintances. All in all, it's an interesting story and worth giving a look at, even if just to get a picture of what it might have been like to live in that time."

Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy

6. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (3 stars).

"This is the 2nd book in The Strain trilogy and just like the first book, it was action-filled, tension-filled and an entertaining read. The story follows the old man, Abraham Setrakian and his group, Eph (head of the CDC), Nora, Fet (the vermin exterminator cum vampire killer) and Zack as the continue their fight against the Master as he plots to make the world a vampire haven. The book is centred on New York City, although from intimations made, you know the rest of the world is also being attacked. We also get a visit into Setrakian's past, during his time as a prisoner in Treblinka during WWII and his introduction to the vampire menace. We learn that the other Old Ones (the grouping of Vampire masters) are fighting the Master as well and we get introduced to their fighters, Gus and his gang. The story is a definite page turner and an interesting twist on the vampire mythology. Well worth trying. I won't wait as long this time to pick up the finale, The Night Eternal."

7. The Lotus Caves by John Christopher (3 stars).

"I imagine The Lotus Caves by John Christopher would be classified as Young Adult now, but either way it's an interesting little SciFi story. It features Marty and Steve, two teenagers who have grown up on the Moon in the Earth settlement there. Marty's best friend has been recently sent back to Earth for school, so Marty begins to hang out with Steve, an orphan.
They get in trouble for a prank they perform in the Bubble, where the colony resides, and then decide to take a Crawler out to explore one of the early settlements. This leads them to explore further and they crash their vehicle and find themselves in contact with an alien mind in an underground cave system.
Is the mind benign or threatening? What will happen to Marty and Steve? That you have to find out. All in all it was a readable, interesting Science fiction novel, nothing outstanding but an easy, entertaining read. I enjoyed. 
Christopher was a prolific writer and I'll keep looking for his books. The Death of Grass looks especially interesting."

Classics

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (5 stars).

"Great story. I had great difficulty putting it down. Jane is a fantastic character; strong, intelligent, independent. I liked how she stood up to her cousin, how well she did at the boarding school she was sent to (as an outcast) and how she performed at Rochester's home when she became governess to his ward, the lovely Adelie. Even with the 'plot device' as my wife calls it, which kind of makes you go, 'yeah right', it's a fantastic story; a love story, a Gothic romance at times, an adventure (Jane's life is an adventure) and just a great work of fiction. There were characters I liked very much; Mrs. Fairfax (Rochester's house keeper), who treats Jane so caringly, after a life of much tribulation for Jane; St. John's sisters, Diana and Mary, both lovely, who take Jane and make her part of their family; even the headmistress of the boarding school, who loves her charges, even under the strictures of the school's Master. The scenes with Rochester's 'wife' are quite intense and even spooky. The description of the north of England, where the story takes place, is well - described. The story is excellent, the characters well-developed and I'm glad that I read it finally. I guess I'll now have to try Charlotte Bronte's sisters, Wuthering Heights again now.."

Ongoing Series

9. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (4 stars).

"The is the first book in the Harry Bosch mystery series. I have previously read one other but will have to try it again and read the series in order. I enjoyed this very much. I liked the methodical way the crimes were investigated; I like Harry Bosch; he's an old style cop, a smoker and a coffee inhaler, but he has strong values of right and wrong. He has been moved to Hollywood division as a punishment and finds himself investigating the murder of an old companion from the Vietnam War; a fellow tunnel rat. His investigation leads him to an old bank robbery and involved with the FBI, especially Agent Eleanor Wish. He is also being tracked by the LAPD's Internal Affairs as they try to find something to discredit him with. The case is interesting, it provides details about Bosch's past, his time in the Vietnam War and how it might relate to this case. Lots of tension, interesting characters and storyline and many twists and turns. Harry, from the TV show, and Harry in the book are similar and you develop great empathy with the character. I enjoyed this story very much and look forward to further exploring Harry Bosch's mysteries."

10. A Mind to Murder by P.D. James (4 stars).

"A Mind To Murder by P.D. James is the second book in the Inspector Dalgliesh mystery series. In this mystery, Dalgliesh and his assistant, Sgt Martin, investigate the murder of the Administrative Officer at a London psychiatrist facility. To all intents it appears that the murder is an inside job. As with the other PD James books I've read, I'm impressed with how intelligently James writes. The story is a methodical police investigation, but I enjoy how she lays out a story, the methodical investigation, the development of all of the main characters; Dalgliesh and suspects alike. Dalgliesh is a thoughtful investigator, Martin, with is more down-to-earth way of looking at things, a perfect assistant. It's a pleasure to read such a well-crafted story and satisfying to discover the conclusion. I look forward to reading the next book in this series."

Non-Fiction

11. The King's Grace (1910 - 1935) by John Buchan (3 stars).

"I've read a few books by John Buchan, but they've been fiction; the John Hannay adventures. It was interesting to find one of his non-fiction books. The King's Grace covers British history from 1910 - 1935, with a focus on the impact of the King. There was less focus this that I believed. It dealt more with the period before WWI, the war itself and the aftermath and how England was impacted. It especially talked about the various governments and at times talked about how the King impacted on the battlefield and also on the lives of his peoples. It was an interesting historical perspective; I've read a few books about this time and enjoyed seeing how an individual who lived through it, perceived things. Buchan has a unique perspective. Besides being a well-known writer, shortly after this book was published, he became the King's representative, the Governor - General of Canada. Interesting book."

My Top Three

It's probably easy to decide which of the books are my top three from the rating but just in case you missed, here they are:

1. Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler;
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; and
3. A Mind to Murder by P.D. James.

Currently Reading

I've finished one book (graphic novel) for September. This is for a Genre challenge in another book group of which I'm a member. The Rising Stars series was written by J. Michael Stracyzinski, the creator of Battlestar Gallactica.

I'm also reading:

1. The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper;
2. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith;
3. I Want it Now by Kingsley Amis; and
4. The Borribles - Across the Dark Metropolis by Michael de Larrabeiti.

I should be able to finish off my Canadian challenge this month, no later than October anyway. I have one more Classic to pick to finish off that challenge and I've only got another 3 or 4 for my 2nd Decades challenge. So I anticipate that I will be able to make a good stab at my ongoing series until the end of the year.

Hope you get a few ideas from my reading list. Have a great September.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Book Purchases - August 2016

Fall must be on the way. We've had 3 or 4 cool, rainy days and more on the way. It does make it all smell nice and fresh, I must say. Yesterday, the missus and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. It was a lovely day. We went out to lunch at Locals Restaurant, which has gone under various iterations over the past few years. It was the first time we'd gone there and we both enjoyed ourselves. Sat outside under the marquis, enjoying the soft music and the scenery. A lovely, idyllic location. Jo had the burger, which she enjoyed very much and for dessert tried the Creme brulé sampler, which she also enjoyed. I tried the seafood crepes and for dessert had huckleberry pie with their homemade ice cream (well, made for them by another local fixture, Hot Chocolates). It's always enjoyable when we go out for a nice meal. We do prefer the brunch/ lunch type meals. Afterwards we went to a local antique/ collectibles shop in Comox. We didn't buy anything, but it was enjoyable just to wander around. There were a couple of books I was tempted to get, but I stood tall and talked myself out of it.

Last Friday, poor little Clyde had some dental work done at our vet. He felt a bit sorry for himself for a couple of days. But he's pretty well back to normal now, barking at everybody and just being himself. I had to go to the dentist too. Just for a filling, but it wasn't my most enjoyable visit. The freezing worked partially, so I did do a bit of wincing and sweating. Tomorrow, both Bonnie and Clyde head off to the cleaners for a shave and a haircut. They do look a bit like sheep at the moment. Next week, I'm back to the dentist for another filling and then it's Bonnie's turn to get her teeth done. What about Jo, you ask? I think she's managed to avoid this palaver, enjoying herself chatting with her online friends and puttering about the house. We do live a pretty good life.

Anyway, on to the topic du jour, that being book purchasing. I did buy a few books this past month and I traded in a few as well. I'm probably about 10 or so books ahead in this game, meaning I've traded in 10 more than I've purchased. :) The shelves aren't bare yet. I think I got a nice mix of books, probably mostly mysteries, but some Science Fiction and some pure fiction. Let's take a look.

1. Meg Gardiner - Phantom Instinct. I've read one book by Meg Gardiner so far, a nicely thrilling mystery featuring a forensic psychologist, kind of a new twist. This books also looks kind of different. This is the synopsis -

"One year ago, a shoot-out in a trendy L.A. club left bartender Harper Flynn's boyfriend dead, Sheriff Aiden Garrison shattered, and two gunmen engulfed in flames. But if the case is closed, why is Harper still afraid?
Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting survivors, Harper pins her last hope on the only person willing to listen. But a traumatic brain injury has left Aiden with a rare and terrifying disorder: a delusion that random people are actually the same person in disguise.
As Harper and Aiden delve deeper into the case, Harper fears that the attack might have been more personal than anyone believed. And now her only ally is unstable, paranoid, and mistrustful because he's seeing the same enemy everywhere he looks."

2. Kay Hooper - The First Prophet. Hooper is a new author for me. I've purchased one other book by her recently. I saw this during one of my visits to a local used book store and the mix of paranormal and mystery sounded very interesting. This is the first book in the Bishop Files series.

"Within the FBI, there exists a team of psychics whose powers cannot be denied. But these agents are feared - by a cabal of conspirators with only one weapon: to blind the psychics to the evils all around them.
Months ago, Sarah Gallagher woke from a coma with psychic abilities she couldn't control. They changed her life and cost her the man she loved. And now, someone is playing games with Sarah's mind.
It begins with Sarah's home being destroyed by fire - an act of arson that draws novelist Tucker Mackenzie into Sarah's confidence. But he has other reasons for pursuing a woman who can see what others can't. So does a mysterious enemy intent on eliminating Sarah and everyone she cares about. Because it's only a matter of time before her visions lead her and Tucker to a secret many would kill to hide. Only then will they begin to discover the scope of a terrifying conspiracy so deep and complex they can trust almost no one."

American Crime stories

These next three fall into the more traditional crime series, some good old cop stuff and some forensic mystery solving.

3. Michael Connelly - The Concrete Blonde. This is the third book in the Harry Bosch mystery series. I've been enjoying the TV show based on the books and have read the first book. Both excellent.

"They call him the Dollmaker.
The serial killer who stalked Los Angeles and left a grisly calling card on the faces of his female victims. With a single faultless shot, Detective Harry Bosch thought he had ended the city's nightmare.
Now, the dead man's widow is suing Harry and the LAPD for killing the wrong man - an accusation that rings terrifyingly true when a new victim is discovered with the Dollmaker's macabre signature.
Now, for the second time, harry must hunt down a death-dealer who is very much alive, before he strikes again. It's a blood-tracked quest that will take Harry from the hard edges of the L.A. night to the last place he ever wanted to go - the darkness of his own heart."

4. Jefferson Bass - The Breaking Point. I've read 3 or 4 of the Body Farm series. It's been most enjoyable.

"Dr. Bill Brockton - founder of the University of Tennessee's macabre Body Farm - has enjoyed professional acclaim and personal contentment in the years since he once came close to losing his wife and son at the hands of a serial killer. His pioneering research and forensic expertise have earned him respect, renown, and high-profile cases.
Now the FBI has asked Brockton to help identify the remains of a pilot killed in a suspicious, fiery plane crash. Are the charred bones indeed those of maverick humanitarian Richard Janus? And was the nighttime crash an accident, a suicide - or a murder?
But a storm is about to hit Brockton with cataclysmic force. First, he discovers he's landed in the middle of a nasty political battle. Then his identification of the crash victim is called into question, as is the future of his research facility. Reeling from these blows, he receives a gruesome threat from the killer who nearly murdered the Broctons more than a decade before. But Brockton gets the most shocking news of all from his beloved Kathleen."

5. Robert B. Parker - Stranger in Paradise. Robert B. Parker has written the Spenser and the Jesse Stone mysteries, amongst others. I have enjoyed the TV movies featuring Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone and have slowly been getting the books. I have yet to find the first couple, but I'll persevere. This is the 7th book in the Jesse Stone series.

"Crow, an Apache hit man and a former adversary of Jesse Stone's, resurfaces in Paradise to find a missing girl and snuff out her mother. But his conscience is getting the best of him. If he doesn't make the hit, he'll pay for it. So might Jesse, who is trying to protect them all..."

International and Historical Mysteries

There are two new series in this section, but plus an old tried and true one.

6. Eliot Pattison - Water Touching Stone. I've bought the first book in the Shan Tao Yun series but haven't read it yet. I don't know anything about it really, just that it sounds very interesting. This is the 2nd book.

"Cloistered in a remote sanctuary, Shan Tao Yun has received shattering news. A teacher revered by the oppressed has been found slain. One by one, her orphaned students have followed her to her grave, victims of a child-killer harbouring unfathomable motives. Abandoning his mountain hermitage, Shan embarks on a search for justice - one carved out of the treacherous borderlands that have been shaken by perilous political upheaval. But now, shadowed by bizarre tales of an unleashed 'demon', Shan braces himself for even darker imaginings as he stalks a killer and fights to restore spiritual balance to the ancient and tenuous splendour of Tibet."

7. Ellis Peters - A Rare Benedictine. The Cadfael series is one of my favourites. I've read six or seven and try to read at least one a year. I've also slowly been collecting the books as I like the covers. A Rare Benedictine is the published book. I'm only missing a couple to round out my collection.

"'Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured.' So writes Ellis Peters in her introduction to A Rare Benedictine - three vintage tales of intrigue and treachery, featuring the monastic sleuth who has become such a cult figure of crime fiction. The story of Cadfael's entry into the monastery at Shrewsbury has been known hitherto only to a few readers; now his myriad fans can discover the chain of events that led him into the Benedictine Order."

8. Michael Dibdin - Cabal.  This is another series where I haven't read the books yet, but did enjoy the TV series. This one is set in Italy and features Italian police inspector, Aurelio Zen.

"When, one dark night in November, Prince Ludovico Ruspanti fell a hundred and fifty feet to his death in the chapel at St Peter's, Rome, there were a number of questions to be answered. Inspector Aurelio Zen finds that getting the answers isn't easy, as witness after witness is mysteriously silenced - by violent death. To crack the secret of the Vatican, Zen must penetrate the most secret place of all: the Cabal.

9. Anthony Horowitz - Moriarty. So many different authors have tried to advance the Sherlock Holmes' mysteries. I had previously read Horowitz's House of Silk and enjoyed very much. I was happy to find Moriarty on the bookshelves of one of my favourite local book stores.

"Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into Reichenbach Falls' churning depths, Frederick chase, a senior investigator at New York's infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty's death has left a convenient vacancy in London's criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place - including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.
Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes's methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London - from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways o of the Docks - in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

Canadian Mysteries - I've read books by all of these writers so it's always good to gather in some new books.

10. Giles Blunt - Breaking Lorca. Blunt writes the John Cardinal mystery series set in my home town of North Bay, Ontario and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. This is one of his standalone books and the premise sounds very interesting.

"Victor Pena, a bookish young soldier, is saved from a death sentence by his overbearing uncle, who puts him to work in a clandestine torture unit. Now Victor must consider his impending role in the fate of an unidentified young woman who is suspected of supporting the guerrillas. Before they learn so much as her name - Lorca - the squad relentlessly break her, body and soul. Victor is moved by Lorca's courage but is too terrified to help her, until a twist of fate gives him a chance at a very different kind of life - if only he is brave enough to take it."

11. Rosemary Aubert - Leave Me By Dying. Back a few years, I read the first three books in the Ellis Portal series pretty well one after the other. For some reason, I then abandoned it. Maybe I thought there were only 3 books in the series. Anyway, I was glad to discover that I was wrong.

"It's the spring of 1965. Martin Luther King is marching on Selma, Alabama. Lyndon B. Johnson is just beginning to show that he thinks escalation of the situation in Vietnam is a good idea. For 23-year-old Ellis Portal, however, it's not the new but the old that excites. he's a first-year law student at the University of Toronto, Canada. What he wants most is to become an intern of magistrate Sheldrake Tuppin and to spend time in the magistrate's clubby chambers high atop the Victorian heap that is Old City Hall.
One night, however, in the company of Gleason Adams, a man of unquestioned wealth and questionable character, Ellis is drawn into a bizarre murder mystery. When the body of this victim disappears from the morgue without a trace, Ellis is reluctantly drawn into areas of the city - and the law - that shake him out of the world of the tweedy campus and thrust him into the seedy world of questionable bars, marginal people, and deeds that have no other name than murder."

12. Howard Engel - The Cooperman Variations. If you've never read a Benny Cooperman mystery, you really should. Benny is the true gumshoe, except that normally you would find him living Niagara Falls, arguing with his mother, stumbling into crime and ultimately solving murders and mysteries. The stories are told with humour and love. It's been a long time since I have read a Cooperman mystery and I now have two of them on my bookshelves waiting my attention. If you can ever find them, check out the CBC movies based on the series, starring talented Saul Rubinek as Benny.

"As Benny whiles away the hours contemplating the absence of his girlfriend Anna, the lack of stimulating paying work and the demise of his favourite restaurant (where else will he get his chopped egg sandwiches?), he is unexpectedly visited by a vision from his past. Vanessa Moss was a high-school beauty who grew up to be head of Entertainment at a television network, and the beauty remained. When a friend is murdered while at her house, Vanessa fears she was the target and that they may try again. She hires our intrepid gumshoe to watch her back - and Benny is more than willing.
So Benny travels from Grantham to the bright lights of Toronto and to the National Television Corporation building. There beneath the familiar NTC totem, a big-eyed owl, Benny poses as Vanessa's executive assistant. A tangle of competing executives, backbiting lawyers, arrogant producers and hopeful hangers-on surround Vanessa, ready to ingratiate or unset. But do they want to kill her?
When another NTC employee is murdered, Benny wonders if Dermot Keogh, the world-famous cellist who died recently in a diving accident, may be central to the mystery. As Benny tries to protect his client, give the local cops a hand and avoid making enemies of his new colleagues, he quickly discovers that taking care of Vanessa Moss is a seductive but risky business."

How About Some SciFi?

I purchased a couple of Science Fiction novels, one oldie and one fairly new one.

13. Clifford D. Simak - Time is the Simplest Thing. This is the second Simak novel I've purchased this year, the other being The Werewolf Principle. This one was originally published in 1971.

"After the ambitious lunar landings of the Seventies, man found himself barred from the outer reaches of space. It was then a whole new breed of space explorers - The Telepaths - were developed. Blaine was one of Earth's top telepathic explorers - a man capable of projecting his mind millions of years beyond time and space. But when that awesome alien creature from another dimension penetrated his brain, Blaine turned against the world and himself."

14. Pierce Brown - Golden Son. This is the 2nd book in the Red Rising trilogy. I've not yet read the 1st, but when I saw this was available at Nearly New Books in Comox, I thought I should snap it up anyway.

"He seeks justice. To free his enslaved people, Darrow has infiltrated his world's brutal, ruling class - on a mission to destroy them. And though the only path to liberation is revolution, he must strive not for vengeance but for a hopeful rebirth. He must live for more."

Canadian and other Fiction.

The final 4 books.

15. Catherine O'Flynn - What Was Lost. This was one of those books I just took a chance on.

"It is 1984, and Kate Meaney - 'Top Secret' notebook and toy monkey in tow - is hard at work as a junior detective. Busy trailing 'suspects' and carefully observing everything around her at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall, she forms an unlikely friendship with Adrian, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when this curious, spirited girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.
In 2003, Adrian's sister Lisa is working as a manager at Your Music, a discount record store. Every day she tears her hair out at the outrageous behaviour of her customers and colleagues. But along with Kurt, a security guard with a sleep disorder, she becomes entranced by the little girl they keep glimpsing on the security cameras. As Kurt and Lisa's after-hours friendship grows in intensity, it brings new loss and new longing to light."

16. Laurie Halse Anderson - The Impossible Knife of Memory. Another new author for me. I think this is a combination mystery/ young adult. Time will tell.

"For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, trying to outrun the memories that haunt them both. They moved back to Andy's hometown to try a 'normal' life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives. Hayley watches, helpless, as her father turns to drugs and alcohol to silence his demons. And then her own past creeps up, and everything falls apart.
How do you keep your father alive when death is stalking him? What are you supposed to do when your parent stops acting like an adult? And what happens if a sweet guy who can make you laugh barges his way into your world and for the first time, you find yourself thinking of the future?"

17. Mordecai Richler - Barney's Version. I rekindled my enjoyment of Richler's writing this past month with Solomon Gursky Was Here. This book was made into a well-received movie.

"Barney Panofsky has always clung to two cherished beliefs: life is absurd, and nobody ever truly understands anybody else. Even his friends tend to agree that Barney is a wife abuser, an intellectual fraud, a purveyor of pap, a drunk with a penchant for violence, and probably a murderer. But when his sworn enemy  threatens to publish this calumny, Barney is driven to write his own memoirs, rewinding the spool of his life, editing, selecting and plagiarising as his memory plays tricks on him - and on the reader.
Ebullient and perverse, he has seen off three wives: the enigmatic Clara, a martyred feminist icon; the talkative and surprising Second Mrs. Panofsky; and finally the incomparable Miriam, serene and beautiful, who stayed married to him for decades before running off with a sober academic. Barney slides from crisis to success, from low to highlife in Montreal, London and Paris, his outrageous exploits culminating in the scandal he carries around like a humpback: did he or didn't he murder his friend Boogie?"

..and in case you can't have enough Richler..

18. Emma Richler - Sister Crazy. Jemima Weiss grew up with a special feeling for British commandos, American westerns, the knights of the Round Table, bagels with cheddar on top, and, above all else, her family: her rumpled father, glamorous mother and four extraordinary siblings. Now grown into a worldly, yet deeply troubled woman, Jem reflects on her days as a young girl, even as she struggles not to be engulfed by the present. In a voice crackling with humour, Jem recounts a childhood in a family so remarkable that it has left her adrift in the adult world.
Growing up Weiss requires some cunning - an ability to manipulate nuns ('Nuns are pushovers for glamour,' says Jem), an aptitude for scaring away older brothers' girlfriends, and a nose for tracking down curious little sisters who run off to chat with the birds. And Jem does have a fanciful mind, one that tr4ansforms her family into mythological beings; her gruff Jewish father seems a gun-slinging cowboy, and her beautiful, prophetic mother is like a 'good witch,' always knowing what her children are thinking. But as a grown woman, Jem must find a way into a world of real living, where brothers no longer play at fighting but are engulfed by actual violence."

So there you go, my latest book - buying update. Next entry will be to update my August reading story. Take care!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 21 - A New Career - Headquarters in the Nation's Capital

It's been about six months since I added an entry dealing with my life as a Military brat and my follow-on career in the Canadian military. So if this is a new topic for you, here is the link to my last entry, when I worked as a Mobile Air Movements Officer at 1 Air Movements Unit in Edmonton, Alberta. All of the other entries can be found if you click on 'Personal' in the labels section on the right hand column.


Charlie
In the summer of 1982, we packed up the Pontiac Sunbird and Charlie, our dog, and moved away from Edmonton to Ottawa, Ontario, where I was to begin a new career as a Supply procurement officer, something for which I had as yet received no training. Our first year in Ottawa was to be very tumultuous. The system of allowances for moves was undergoing many updates and changes and there were still to be many improvements, which, unfortunately, I wasn't able to take advantage of.

I was married to a Private who had yet to receive her 'trained' qualification. When I went to the Administration section, I was told a variety of things. Firstly, because I was married to a military person, we would both get the posting allowance, which for argument sake, let's say was $1,500.00 each. Then, quickly, this was reduced because she wasn't trained, so wasn't entitled to an allowance, only I would get the full allowance. Then, no that's not right, I was now only entitled to the single allowance. It didn't matter how much you argued, well, if that's the case, why do we both get paid travel expenses? Well, that's different. Needless to say, this was one of my most frustrating moves. As well, I discovered almost two years later, that even though I had 'cleared out' of all the various locations in Edmonton, that I had been paying my Mess Dues for both Edmonton and Ottawa the whole time. I had checked on this many times in Ottawa, as my monthly pay guide showed some similar deductions and when I went to check, the pay clerks couldn't explain it. It was nice to get reimbursed all that money two year's later, but still...

In our first year in Ottawa, we moved 3 times. We found a place to rent south of Ottawa, a nice row house. We were renting from a lady who owned two houses in this condominium development. A month into our stay, the landlord told us we had to move because the lady had rented us the wrong place and we needed to move to the other one. Without elaborating on this state of affairs too much, we ended up putting our furniture in storage and moved in with my Uncle and Aunt, who lived on the Air Base at Uplands. In fact, they were living in the same row house that my parents had lived in, when they were stationed in Ottawa, back in 1971. (see this brief post for further info). We stayed their for a month or two until we found another rental unit on Paul Anka Drive. Yup, the whole thing was kind of stressful. After a year there, we bought out first house, once again south of Ottawa and lived there until our first child, Jennifer, was born, in 1986. My timings might be off somewhat, but it gives you a rough idea.

Jennifer wasn't always this quiet
When Jennifer was born, my wife got out of the military to be a full-time mother and we decided that maybe we should sell the house and move back into military housing; this time in Rockcliffe, on the east end of Ottawa. Was that the right decision? Who knows, you can only move on from the decisions you make. We lived in Rockcliffe until 1989, when my next move took place.

So, anyway, you've got the gist of the personal aspect of the move to Ottawa. It was kind of nice, the familiarity of the place, having lived there before and it was also nice being closer to family, both were just a few hours away.

National Defence Headquarters, 101 Col By Drive
So now on to my work situation. I was posted to National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario. Of course in my short career, I'd never had any exposure to what a Headquarters job might entail. It was all kind of bewildering. I showed up for my first day and basically sat around on the 5th floor as the administrative staff, the pay clerks and all and sundry gathered information, started my new files, worked on travel expense claim from my move from Edmonton, then sent me on my way to my new job.

My new job. Up until this point in my career, I had been a Base Transportation officer and a Mobile Air Movements officer. I think you see a theme. I was transport and movements. My new job was to be a Naval procurement officer, a supply officer, basically. Other than a summer as an officer cadet down at Canadian Forces Base Halifax (this entry) where I had worked in Base Supply, I had received no training in this new career. And being a somewhat senior Captain, there was a bit of an expectation that I might know something about procurement and supply. Nope, nothing. To add a bit to the confusion, I was going to be procuring for the Navy. The section was Directorate of Procurement and Supply (Maritime) or DPSupM. The specific section was involved in buying materiel for Ship Alterations. To put it simply, some engineer would decide that some part of a ship needed to be modified (improved) and would right up a specification or alteration (ShipAlt) and my section would go out and buy the item(s). Sometimes, the materials were bought in advance and stored at the various Supply Depots across the country and stored there awaiting the requirement to actually issue the items to the repair yard that was doing the work.

It eventually became an interesting job for me, but not the first year. It turned out that I was transferred into a supernumerary position. I didn't really have a job. I had a desk, but the officer who I worked with or maybe, more accurately, for, had difficulty teaching me the job. I can understand that. She had been in the job for awhile, she had her way of doing things and she didn't really have the time to teach me, or wouldn't make the time. I spent a lot of time photocopying documents, getting frustrated and often going home with a tense stomach and head-aches. There were times I didn't even want to go to work.

Proof that I actually passed.. :)
In the late fall, I was sent to Camp Borden to take my Supply Speciality course. I did pass, so now I was a Logistics Officer with the Transport, Air Movements and Supply speciality qualifications. I was slowly getting into the job as well, learning about the Contracting process, learning how to deal with the engineers who wanted us to buy for them, learning the budget process and even a bit about the Navy. By the time that I took over the job as Shipalts Officer, I was feeling a bit comfortable in the job and actually was starting to enjoy my time at DPSupM.

I played hockey and fastball with the DPSupM teams so I felt that I was fitting in pretty good. I took over responsibility for preparing or collating the budget submissions for the Directorate and even took over the job of procuring Technical Investigation and Engineering Services for the directorate when that officer was off sick. I liked the responsibility and my work was appreciated and I was actually progressing nicely, I thought.

Then in my third year in DPSupM, my career manager had his annual visit and he advised me that I was doing well and that to really give my career a boost I should get back into the Transport world. Now who am I to argue with a Lieutenant Colonel? I had my doubts after the way I left my last job in Transportation, but I thought maybe he might be right. So my next posting was to Director General Transportation (DGT). Initially the plan was that I was to be the Executive Assistant to Director Transport Management (DTM), who, it turned out was the older brother of my previous boss in Edmonton. I had an interview with LCol Popowych and when I showed up for my job, it turned out that I was now going to work in the Manpower Establishment and Training section. I probably should have known right at that moment how much of a boost to my career that being in Transport would be. Not one at all.

Same PMQ, different location, much older
Around this time, we sold our house in the south of Ottawa and moved back into PMQs, this time in Rockcliffe. Oddly enough, it was the same type of PMQ that I had grown up in about 30 years ago in Bagotville. My older brother, Rick, and his wife Johanne had also come to Ottawa around this time. In fact, for about 3 months, they lived about 3 doors down from us, until the bought in Aylmer, Quebec and we moved into PMQs. It was odd being in PMQs again. It seemed so much smaller. I found myself walking into walls, bumping into door frames.

Caitlin in a happy moment
When our second girl, Caitlin, was born in 1988, the two girls had the bedrooms upstairs and we used the extra room on the ground floor, just like my parents did in Bagotville. Déja vu all over again.

I was now back in the transport world again. I started in the Training / Manpower Establishment cell. For the one portion, I used to visit bases and help them prepare for OSMERs. Basically they had to justify how many people they had in Base Transport and maybe try and justify extra positions. We would look at their paperwork, then I would go on a visit with another member of our team and we would look at their organisation and see if their paperwork was satisfactory. When the official visit came along, we hoped that they wouldn't lose positions and maybe might even gain some. I went to three bases with this job; CFB Valcartier in Quebec, the Supply Depot in Moncton NB and Cornwallis NS, our recruit training establishment. The other part of my job involved trying to justify and program training courses for Transportation Officers, courses that would taken out of country, with other countries. This job was OK, but the whole atmosphere at DGT wasn't very positive. Maybe it was just me.


At a fun conference in Auckland, back row centre left
After a year in the one job, I was moved to a more interesting one. It involved preparing Standardisation Agreements with the Transportation agencies in our NATO allies and also with our allies in the US/ Australia/ Great Britain and New Zealand. What made it most interesting was that I got to travel to  Brussels and also to Auckland New Zealand for meetings with my counterparts in those countries. We also had our first computer in DGT at that time, a standalone mainframe. One of the officers was developing a program to help load ships and aircraft so that they could be loaded and meet proper Weight and Balance features of the given type. That was interesting, but what was really interesting (read fun) was that there was also a computer game, a very simple game, but a first for me. I spent a bit of time exploring dungeons and trying to outwit trolls and find magic potions in my spare time.

I spent 3 years in DGT and generally found the place to be a big clique. If you didn't party with the boys on Friday, you weren't one of the gang. My ratings were reflected accordingly. Ah well. I had taken some training in another program while I was there, that being the Integrated Lines of Communication (ILOC). Basically it was an agreement with the United States to allow Canadian troops and equipment travel on American airlift and sealift if we had to deploy to Europe or other locations in time of war. As part of this ILOC, a number of Canadian transportation/ movement officers were posted at American bases in Europe and the United States. Since my time was running down in DGT, for once I decided to fight for a job. I applied for positions with the US Navy in London (Military Sealift Command) and with the US Air Force in Europe (USAFE) at Ramstein, Germany.

To my surprise, I was accepted at the position in Ramstein. I was very happy about this. Of course, the Transport world couldn't let me go without a little dig. The director called me in to his office about a week before I left. My previous boss had moved to Stuttgart at the HQ there and supposedly told my current boss that he didn't think I would be suited for the job in Ramstein. What a joy it was to hear that bit of wonderful news. Especially since this Lieutenant Colonel would be my official boss in Europe. Ah well, I thought, screw it. I'll just go and enjoy my time in Europe and not worry about what he thinks.

Good bye to the Gatineau Balloon fest.
This trip to Europe did involve a bit of coordination. I found a place to live while I was in Brussels at a conference, taking a side trip to Ramstein. At this time, my younger brother, John, was stationed at our base in Lahr, Germany, so he travelled with me to Ramstein, then on to Brussels and stayed there with me for a couple of days. I found a place off base to live, agreed to buy my predecessor's old Fiat and then returned to Ottawa. The majority of our furniture would be put in storage while we were in Germany. We packed a few boxes that accompanied us; items we needed right away and then a few other boxes to come along at a later date.

Well, there you have it, our stay in Ottawa, from 1982 to 1988 was over and we were now embarking on a new adventure in Europe. Hopefully I won't take quite so long for this next part of my reminiscences. I hope you're still enjoying.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Look towards the Future - 2017 Reading Challenges?

I took a look at my BLog the other day and realised that I have sorely neglected my Reminiscences section. I'm not sure why, maybe because I haven't many photos of that particular time, maybe partly because my time in Ottawa, from 1981 - 1989, wasn't necessarily the happiest time I spent in the military. I will try to get back to that thread in the near future, I hope. :).. I also will get back to my update of the shelving we have in our house, updating how I've moved around and changed the book portions. I know you can't wait, eh?

I did find myself, the other day, starting to think of possible 2017 Reading Challenges. I guess that's because I've had such success this past year with them. I am almost finished my overall Goodreads' challenge of reading 100 books this year. As of today, I have completed 95 books, so should finish that by early September. I'm also almost finished my various Individual Reading Challenges and my 2nd 12 + 0 challenge, so I think for October through December, I will, for the most part, just read 'freebies'. So, that's what got me thinking a bit about 2017. These are some of my initial ideas.

2017 Reading Group Challenge - 12 + 4 (I'm basing this on the assumption that my Book Addicts group will continue with this challenge, as it's been going on for a long time, at least as long as I've been there). So I'm thinking that my 12 + 4 will be focused on Science Fiction and its permutations; Fantasy, Horror, Dystopic Future, Alternate History, that sort of thing. I started making up a list of Authors/ Books I have on my bookshelf in those categories, and just reaching the 'H's, I have 27 authors, plus more books by them. Of course, I will read some of them by years' end, but here are a few possible books....

1. Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard. I have three unread J.G. Ballard books on my shelves, Concrete Island, Running Wild and Vermilion Sands. Ballard is one of the most unique, strange writers that I've experienced. Take the synopsis of Concrete Island, for example.

"On a day in April, just after three o'clock in the afternoon, Robert Maitland's car crashes over the concrete parapet of a high-speed highway onto the island below, where he is injured and, finally, trapped. What begins as an almost ludicrous predicament in Concrete Island soon turns into horror as Maitland - a wickedly modern Robinson Crusoe - realises that, despite evidence of other inhabitants, this doomed terrain has become a mirror of his own mind. Seeking the dark outer rim of the everyday, Ballard weaves private catastrophe into an intensely specular allegory."

Ballard can definitely be hit or miss, but he is a unique, interesting writer.

2. Looking to Windward by Iain M. Banks. Iain M. Banks has become one of my favourite writers. An author of both fiction, the strange but fascinating The Wasp Factory, for example and also of some of the best Science Fiction that I've ever read, especially his Culture books, I'm pretty sure that I'll continue with the Culture books as one of my 12 + 4 challenge books. It offers such an interesting world for you to explore. Look to Windward was the 7th book in this series. I may try to find an earlier book in the series, but they can pretty well be read as one-ofs. This is the synopsis of this book.

"It was one of the less glorious incidents of a long-ago war. It led to the destruction of two suns and the billions of lives they supported. Now, eight hundred years later, the light from the first of those ancient mistakes has reached the Culture Orbital, Masaq'. The light from the second may not."

3. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. This is a trilogy that many of my Goodreads' friends have read and liked. I finally found the first two books this past month and look forward to starting it. I may read this first before year's end, but if I do and like it, then the second book will be on my list for 2017. This is the synopsis of Red Rising.

"Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow reds, he spends his days working below ground, believing that the blood and sweat of his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Discovering that humanity colonised the surface generations ago - establishing vast cities and lush wilds - Darrow realises that he and his fellow Reds are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Driven by a longing for justice and the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power., There he will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilisation against the best and most brutal of Society's elite. But he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if he must become one of them to do so."

and a few other ideas...

4. The Fog by James Herbert;
5. The Bad Seed by William March;
6. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz;
7. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson;
8. Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Needless to say, I've got a few to choose from, but I think this might be the perfect challenge for my 12 + 4.

Individual Reading Challenges

I'm thinking that I might just focus on my countless mysteries as my Individual Challenge and leave all my other genres as a catch-all in my Individual Challenge this year. I have so many new and ongoing series on my shelves; I filled up 3 pages of mystery authors as I considered this challenge. I think that what I might do in 2017 is have a Cop vs. Sleuth challenge, with no limit on how many books I complete in this challenge. If I can read 75 or so books, it'll make a little dent in my mysteries, well, maybe a small one anyway. It will give me a chance to read some of my ongoing series and also to try some new books. These are a few possibles in this challenge.

Cops

1. The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison (Inspector Shan). This is the first book in this series. If I manage to read it before year's end, I may try the second, which is already on my bookshelves, that being Water Touching Stone. I do enjoy mysteries set in Asia.

2. Bangkok Haunts by John Burdette (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #3). This is the 3rd book in this excellent series. I enjoyed the first two very much, a mix of mystery and Thai culture and mysticism.

3. Looking Good Dead by Peter James (Inspector Grace #2). This series is set in Brighton, England. It's been awhile since I tried this series and I'm looking forward to delving into Roy Grace's mysteries and life once again.

4. Wycliffe and the Tangled Web by WJ Burley (Wycliffe #15). I've read 5 books in this series and have another 8 or so sitting on the bookshelves in our bathroom upstairs. If I choose this series, I may pick an earlier book in the series, such as Death in Stanley Street. It's an excellent series set on the Southwest coast of England.

And other possibles..

5. Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series set in Italy;
6. Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond series set in Bath, England;
7. Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti series set in Italy;
8. Malla Nunn's Inspector Cooper series set in South Africa
9. Stanley Evan's Seaweed series set in Victoria, Canada;
10. Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series set in the USA.

I include any type of law enforcement professional in this category, such as Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon, a US Park Ranger or Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes, a forensic scientist contracted to the police, or Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan, a forensic pathologist.

Sleuths

In this group, you've got the classics, like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot plus others that I've discovered as I've perused the Mystery genre.

1. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - I finally read a Nero Wolfe mystery this past year, a collection of 3 short stories and enjoyed them very much. I've got a few others on my bookshelf now, awaiting my attention.

2. Victoria Thompson's Gaslight mysteries - In truth, this series could fit in either the Sleuth or Cop category. The focus is on turn of the century midwife, Sarah Brandt, but she is helped by or helps, however you want to look at it, by New York policeman Frank Molloy as they try to solve murders in New York city. I may read one for both categories.

3. Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series - I used to watch the TV series any time I went to England on visits. It starred Ian McShane as a shiftyish antique dealer who finds himself involved in various mysteries as he hunts down unique antiques. It didn't hurt that the series also starred Phyllis Logan as the lovely Lady Jane and later on, Caroline Langrishe as Charlotte Cavendish. I only recently realised that the series was based on a series of books by Jonathan Gash. I'm looking forward to seeing how good the books are and hunting down more.

4. Laurie R. King's Mary Russell - I read the first book in this series about 10 year ago, that being The Beekeeper's Apprentice. It features one Mary Russell and her companion, Sherlock Holmes. It was an interesting concept and first book. I started picking up the next books but never actually continued reading them. This is another series I'm looking forward to making a dent in, maybe even this year.

and some others....

5. Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs - I read the first book in this series this past year and enjoyed very much. Maisie Dobbs is a budding Private Investigator just setting out on her own shortly after the end of WWI. She is dealing with experiences from the war as well as solving mysteries. Quite an enjoyable first book.

6. Nicola Upson's Josephine Tey - This will be a new series for me. Nicola Upson features mystery writer, Josephine Tey (whose books I've read) in this series, which might make for an interesting idea.

7. Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher - I've enjoyed the TV series and the first few books in this series set in Australia, lots of fun and adventure.

8. John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee - I've read the first 4 or 5 books in this hard-boiled detective series and it's about time I got back into it.

So there you go, my first look ahead to my 2017 reading challenges. Now to get back to the present..

Enjoy your week!!!


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