Saturday, 6 April 2013

Shopping for Books in Victoria and other things...

Actually this Blog is mostly about book buying but I wanted to start off by saying we're having a really nice time visiting Victoria, BC. Our hotel room is nice and the Internet is working perfectly so far (*touch wood*). Our first night here we had a yummy takeaway from Da Tandoor; it's always one of the things we look forward to on our visits to Victoria. Last night we watched the 1 - 2 match up in the Men's World Curling Championships, Scotland vs Sweden. The score was close but misleading. Unfortunately the Scots weren't really in the game; they just seemed a bit off. And the Swedes made some great shots. This morning we're off to see Canada vs Denmark in the 3-4 match and the winner of this plays against Scotland later today to see who plays in the gold medal match against Sweden.

I took my normal walk about some of the downtown bookstores while Jo was waking up yesterday and also visited Ivy's Books in Oak Bay when we had a nice walk around there later in the day. And yes, despite my best efforts to be good, I did buy a few books. So here you go, these were my purchases.

My first purchase of the day, I found this at a little book store, cluttered with books, down on Johnston Street. It's a Berkeley Books first edition, published in 1963 and features a variety of short stories by SciFi writer J.G. Ballard. It was his fifth release, coming after two other series of short stories and The Wind from Nowhere and The Drowned World (both which I enjoyed during my university days). Amongst the stories it features:
The 1000 Dreams of Stellavista - if you live in a psychotropic house, you will find it answering to your every mood, including murder... ;
The Watch Towers - everyone knew they were watching. But what were they?; and
Thirteen to Centaurus - this voyage was the strangest space voyage ever attempted.. but was the ship's real destination its point of origin?

After that I hit a couple of comic book stores (or if you prefer, graphic novel stores) and purchased a couple of Alan Moore creations. I quite enjoy his work; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc. At Curious Comics I picked up Nemo, Heart of Ice the latest of the League series. Next door at Legends Comics I found another new series; Fashion Beast. I bought the first 8 issues and, while I still don't really know exactly where it's going, I'm enjoying the art work and the story line so far. I was thinking it was a Phantom of the Opera type story, but as I look it up, it's more Beauty and the Beast, set in the world of fashion.

Russell Books

This is the third book in Alan Furst's Night Soldiers series; a series that focuses on different people, set during WWII in Europe. I've read two stories in the series so far and enjoy his style and story telling. They are about small people caught in momentous events and how they deal with their situations; usually heroically. The Polish Officer is set in Sept 1939; "As Warsaw falls to Hitler's Wehrmacht, Cap Alexander de Milja is recruited by the intelligence service of the Polish underground. His mission it to transport the national gold reserve to safety, hidden on a refugee train to Bucharest. Then, in the back alleys and black-market bistros of Paris, in the tenements of Warsaw, with partisan guerrillas in the frozen forests of the Ukraine, and at Calais Harbour during an attack by British bombers, de Milja fights in the war of the shadows in a world without rules, a world of danger, treachery, and betrayal." Sounds like another good one.

I have a couple of the Martin Beck mysteries on my shelves; still have to read them, but I bought another in the series when I was checking out Russell Books. The is the second novel in the series. "Inspector Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad has his summer vacation abruptly terminated when the top brass at the foreign office pack him off to Budapest to search for Alf Matsson, who has vanished. Beck investigates viperous Eastern European underworld figures and - at the risk of his life - stumbles upon the international racket in which Matsson was involved. With the coolly efficient local police on his side  and a predatory nymphet on his tail, Beck pursues a case whose international implications grow with each new clue."

I discovered Canadian SciFi writer, Phyllis Gotlieb's stories on a previous visit to Russell Books and I've enjoyed every story I've read so far. A few of her stories have featured the telepathic cats of Ungruwarkh. A Judgment of Dragons, originally published in 1980 is one of these stories. "Meet Prandra and Khreng, giant telepathic red cats from the planet Ungruwarkh. They are bad-tempered, they hold grudges, they are usually uninterested in anything that is not good to eat.. and they are the most unusual agents in the service of the Galactic Federation. Through space and across time, they go to the most bizarre and dangerous worlds in the galaxy. Even to Solthree (called by its natives Earth) where the are met with some alarm... "

John Bingham was born in 1908, the only son of Lord Clanmorris. He was well-travelled and began working as a journalist. I've previously read his Five Roundabouts to Heaven, and enjoyed. My Name is Michael Sibley was originally published in 1952 and was the opening phrase of a statement made to the police. The story deals with the murder of John Prosset, a school friend of Michael Sibley. The investigation is seen through Sibley's eyes and he slowly becomes a subject of suspicion. His depression at the thought led him into foolish subterfuges and his efforts to keep his fiancee and himself free from being involved only brought them further into the picture and ultimately to his trial at the Old Bailey. I enjoyed the first story I had read as I found Bingham had a way with analysing the internal workings of his characters. I'm sure this will be similar.

Cyril Hare (1900 - 1958) was an English judge and crime writer. I previously read and enjoyed Tragedy at Law which followed a circuit court judge on his rounds as various activities affect the journey. I enjoyed the story very much. Death of a Sportsman was his second novel and published in 1938. "The setting is a small resort hotel in rural England. The cast is a group of dedicated fishermen and the crime is 'murder'. Inspector Mallett's shrewd resolution of the case involves the clever use of fishing lore and practice. Vintage detection from a master" Unfortunately, Hare had a relatively short career as he,  suffered from tuberculosis after World War II and died in 1958.

Sir Fred Hoyle was a British astrophysicist and also a SciFi writer. I've read and enjoyed a few of his stories, A for Andromeda, The Fifth Planet and The Andromeda Breakthrough. The Black Cloud, his first novel, was released in 1957. "A cloud of gas, of which there are a vast number in the Universe, approaches the solar system on a course that is predicted to bring it between the Sun and the Earth, shutting off the Sun's rays, causing incalculable changes on our planet. The effect of this impending catastrophe on the scientists and politicians is convincingly described by Fred Hoyle, the leading Cambridge astronomer; so convincingly, in fact, that the reader feels that these events may actually happen. This is science fiction at its very highest level."

This is one of Alan Hunter's Inspector George Gently mysteries. The first in the series came out in 1955 and he produced almost a novel a year until 1999. Death on the Heath was first released in 1981. "The tranquil seaside village of Wolmering was frequented by only the very best people. But one of them now lay dead on the lovely heath and another of them had surely done him in. It was the firm opinion of the local constabulary - who had plucked a piece of prime evidence from the victim's pocket - that the culprit was none other than the wife's lover, Andrew Reymerston. But CI Gently was not convinced; he only wished he were. Just years before, this same Reymerston had botched an important case. Here was the perfect chance to settle old scores, but Gently knew who else had a compelling reason to commit murder."

Ivy Books

This is the last of Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death series as she died shortly after it was released. It's so unfortunate, death always is, but she was such a talented writer and had only released four stories in the series until her death. I'm sure she had many more inside her. This story is set in 1176. "Henry II sends his 10-year old daughter to Palermo to marry William II of Sicily. War on the Continent and outbreaks of the plague make it an especially dangerous journey, so the King selects as his daughter's companion the woman he trusts most: Adelar Aguilar, his mistress of the art of death. Accompanying Adelia are her Arab companion, Mansur, her lover Rowley and an unusual newcomer, the Irish sea captain O'Donnell. But another man has joined the procession - a murderer bent on the worst kind of revenge. "

I saw A Train in Winter and it looked so very interesting. As it says, it's an extraordinary story of women, friendship and survival in WWII. "It covers the story of 230 French women resisters who were sent to Auschwitz. Caroline Moorehead's book is the story of these women. 49 survived the death camp and 6 were still alive in 2010 to share the story. It looks fascinating.

So there you have it. Cutting this a bit short as we're about to head off to more curling. Enjoy your Saturday!!

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