Sunday, 18 December 2011

2011 Year in Review - Pt II

Yesterday I highlighted about half of the books I read this past year and was part way through my SciFi/ Fantasy/ Horror selections. So let's continue from there..

3 Stars

36. Robert Rankin - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse *** This was an odd little story. I found the book in Victoria, along with The Toyminator and I've read this one so far. Humorous and interesting.
37. John Brunner - The Shockwave Rider *** It had been a long time since I'd read anything by Brunner; Stand on Zanzibar is an old favourite. This didn't let me down, very interesting story.
38. Iain M. Banks - The State of the Art *** I had read the Algebraist and Matter previously and got this collection of short stories as  a present. While not as good as his other stories, it's a good introduction to his style and also to The Culture books.
39. Tanya Huff - Blood Books, Vol II *** I enjoy her stories and these didn't let me down at all. There is also an entertaining TV series based on her Blood Books. Both are very entertaining. and she's Canadian as well. :0)
40. JG Ballard - The Crystal World *** Ballard has a unique perspective on SciFi. This wasn't one of my favourite Ballard stories, but still very interesting. Try also The Drowned World or The Wind from Nowhere.
41. Lester del Rey - Outpost of Jupiter *** del Rey is an old school SciFi story teller and his stories are always interesting, well-paced and page turners.
42. Aldous Huxley - Brave New World *** This is a classic SciFi novel. While it doesn't astound me, it's still worth reading to get Huxley's perspective.
43. Philip K. Dick - The Unteleported Man/ Howard L. Cory - The Mind Monsters *** This is one of those SciFi novels I used to read as a kid. Two books in one, one at either end. They were neat and always interesting. I enjoyed Dick's story more than Cory's. I found Cory's a bit silly, but Dick's was much more entertaining. It was fun reliving a bit of my childhood though.
44. William Gibson - Burning Chrome ** I do enjoy Gibson's style. But there have been a couple of his books, The Difference Engine and this collection of short stories, that have disappointed me. I liked a couple of the short stories, but on the whole, I felt let down.
45. Harry Turtledove - Opening Atlantis ** I have for the most part enjoyed Turtledove's alternate history/ alternate universe stories. But this one was nothing like his others. I think the storyline was too limiting, not enough characters and a weak premise. I won't be reading any more of the series.
46. Robert Bloch - The Couch ** Not a favourite, sort of on the line of a made-for-TV movie. It was nothing more than OK.


5 Stars
I've had a great year when it comes to mysteries. I've discovered many new authors that I am looking forward to reading much more of and also continued on with other series that I've enjoyed and continue to do so. I look forward to continuing my love affair with a good mystery in 2012.

47. Jo Nesbo - The Redbreast ***** I have enjoyed many of the Scandinavian mystery writers I've discovered the past few years. Nesbo was another. Harry Hole is an interesting police inspector, with personal issues. As well, he is involved in interesting cases (well, this one at least so far) and the story was tense, exciting and moved along nicely. This was one of my surprises of 2011.
48. Ariana Franklin - The Serpent's Tale ***** You will see another Franklin story featured here. I discovered her historical mysteries in January and was taken with her story-telling style right away. This is the second in her Mistress of the Art of Death series and it expanded on and improved her characters and stories. A great story and mystery.
49. Janet Evanovich - Hot Six **** I hadn't read a Stephanie Plum mystery for a couple of years. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this series; it's light, funny, sexy and just a great read.
50. Margery Allingham - Pearls Before Swine **** An old style British mystery, a la Agatha Christie. This was my first Albert Campion mystery and I enjoyed immensely. I've got a couple more on my shelf for next year. :0)
51. Josephine Tey - A Shilling for Candles **** Not a prolific writer, she wrote 8 mysteries during her life. This was my first attempt at one of her stories. A well-crafted mystery featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Grant. I liked the characters and the interesting plot line.
52/ 53. Lynda LaPlante - Above Suspicion and Blind Fury **** I put these two stories together as they both feature DI Anna Fraser, another interesting character from LaPlante's character pool. These are the first and sixth of the series. I should have read in sequence probably, but it didn't seem to matter. I enjoy her style very much.
54. Patricia Wentworth - Wicked Uncle **** Another English mystery, featuring Wentworth's elderly lady sleuth, Miss Silver. Another first time author for me and another enjoyable parlour mystery.
55. Donna Leon - Dressed for Death **** Probably my favourite mystery series at this time; I love the Commissario Brunetti mysteries. The setting, Venice, is exotic, the characters well-developed and they draw you in. And the mysteries are all interesting and challenging. Love them!
56. C.J. Samson - Sovereign **** Another excellent historical mystery. Set during the time of Henry VIII it features hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake who finds himself caught up in deadly mysteries and court intrigue. Another great series that gets better with each book.
57. Giles Blunt - Blackfly Season **** An entertaining Canadian series which features my home town of North Bay (disguised as Algonquin Bay), Ontario. Detective John Cardinal is a Police Officer dealing with personal issues as he works to solve interesting mysteries in Northern Ontario, capably aided by his partner, Lise Delorme. A nice feel for the area and tells an interesting story.
58. CS Forester - Payment Deferred **** I'd read a few of his Hornblower novels but didn't realise he'd written any mysteries. I discovered by accident and was glad I had. A nice, tense psychological mystery.
59. Mark Billingham - Sleepyhead **** My first Billingham novel. Very interesting premise, a victim with 'locked-in syndrome' and a new mystery protagonist in Tom Thorne. I quite enjoyed.

4 Stars
60. Ariana Franklin - Mistress of the Art of Death **** I discovered Franklin's series in January on a visit to Victoria. The story grabbed me immediately, fascinating characters and a tense, well-crafted mystery. Set in Henry II's England, the leading character Adelia Aguilar, a female forensic scientist must deal with a foreign land and sexist attitudes. I've now read two of this limited series. It's unfortunate that Ariana Franklin passed away when she possesses such talent.
61. Rennie Airth - River of Darkness **** I discovered Rennie Airth's Inspector John Madden mysteries on the same trip to Victoria. Set after the first World War in England, the plot was very interesting and the story tense and well-crafted. Airth's second in the series, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, will be one of my first books of 2012.
62. Barbara Cleverly - Ragtime in Simla *** This was my second Joe Sandiland mystery. There is a lot of positives going for this series, a nice historical setting in India, an interesting Police Inspector and interesting plot lines. But ultimately, while the stories are enjoyable, they don't necessarily 'wow' me.
63. Anthony Berkeley - The Poisoned Chocolate Mystery *** My first time reading anything by Berkeley and I found the story interesting. It's a parlour mystery, in this case, a murder being solved by a group of mystery enthusiasts.
64. A.A. Milne - The Red House Mystery *** I was surprised to find this book by the writer of the wonderful Winnie-the-Pooh stories. It turned out to be a tidy little mystery, nicely humorous and an interesting story.
65. Patricia Highsmith - Strangers on a Train *** The book that Alfred Hitchcock used for the movie of the same name. While I enjoyed it as a nice psychological study, at the same time, I had very high expectations and it didn't satisfy them as much as I'd liked. I'm still glad that I found the book and took the opportunity to read it.
66. Cyril Hare - Tragedy at Law *** A nice entertaining mystery set in Southern England on the Court circuit. Interesting twists and turns and it held my interest.
67. Kay Mitchell - A Lively Form of Death *** My first Mitchell mystery and I enjoyed. Very much in the Midsomer Mysteries by Caroline Graham. I liked Inspector Morrissey and I liked the plot and setting. Held my interest nicely.
68. Edmund Crispin - The Glimpses of the Moon *** This is the second Crispin mystery I read, featuring Genovese Fen. There is something about Crispin's style, sort of out there in left field. There is nice humour and neat little twists and turns. I enjoyed.
69. Ellis Peters - Leper of St Giles *** I do enjoy the Cadfael mysteries. I like the setting and I find the characters interesting. The mysteries move along at a nice pace, with the character development more important than the mystery. Having said that, Peters ties up all the loose ends nicely. I can pick up a Cadfael mystery after a long time away and know I'll be drawn back into his life easily and quickly.
80. R.D. Wingfield - A Touch of Frost *** This was my first Inspector Jack Frost mystery after many years of enjoying the TV series. I'm glad I finally delved into Wingfield's writing as I found it most entertaining.

Well, that's pretty well it for 2011. I may finish one or two more as I mentioned when I started this Blog. I'm looking forward now to 2012. I've Blog'd about my one Reading Challenge previously. I have all of those books laid out on a separate shelf in the book case upstairs. Another challenge will be to go through my many mysteries, starting at A and working along over the course of the year..


Enjoy your Christmas holidays and Best wishes for 2012. Keep on reading!

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