Monday, 28 October 2013

Two months left in 2013... *shocked look*

The year is already winding down, amazing as that seems, so while the puppies are entertaining themselves by eating all the twigs and pine cones that have blown into the backyard the past couple of days, I thought I'd take a look at what I might like to read to finish off the year. Just as an aside, I had chosen a total of 80 books to read as part of my overall goodreads challenge and I'm happy to say I've completed 81 as of today. Maybe next year I'll increase by another 5. Time will tell. :0)

Overall so far, it's been a pretty good year. For my Reading Group 12 + 2 challenge, I've completed 11 of the 14 and overall enjoyed them all. My favourites of this challenge so far have been Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks, a classic, a mystery and a SciFi novel. I still have 3 to read, but only need one to complete the challenge. I hope to read at least two of them; The Far Country by Nevil Shute and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean. I fear that Lady Chatterley's Lover will have to wait until next year. As to next year, well, I haven't given this challenge too much thought, but I can think of a couple at least; Parade's End by Ford Maddox Ford, one classic; Goliath  by Scott Westerfield, maybe Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart. Unless I go in a completely different direction, I'd like to continue with a few classics, a mystery or two and maybe a SciFi or so. We'll see as Dec approaches.

At the moment, I'm in the process of finishing a genre challenge book for October, horror for the Halloween month. The book is The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert. I had enjoyed the TV series a few months ago and the book is as good so far. It was a slow burn, but it's moving along nicely now, excellent horror/ ghost story. The other book I'm trying to finish by end month is Circus by Alistair MacLean. He has been my focus author this month and so far I've enjoyed South by Java Head and Night Without End, both excellent well-paced stories, one a war book, the second a pure thriller. Circus isn't quite as good as the first two, but still an entertaining, page-turning story in the thriller mode.

Focus Authors - I've enjoyed this challenge very much, that being focusing on a particular author each month as part of my reading selections. I've featured either specific series, like John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books and Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian mysteries, as well, just books by favourite authors that have either deserved a re-read or were new to me; authors such as Philip K. Dick and Alistair MacLean. I still have two authors to focus on for the rest of the year, November will be Ian Rankin, of the Rebus mysteries and December will feature Ellis Peters, author of the Cadfael mysteries. I have read various books in both series, but I hope to catch up somewhat, with at least two if not three from each series. I've been reading the Rankin books in order, so the next three in the series are Dead Souls, Set in Darkness and The Falls. I haven't followed the Cadfael books in order, but now that I have most of the collection, I'll work my way from the earliest of those I haven't read.. Next three in line for me are #1 A Morbid Taste for Bones, #3 Monk's Hood and #4 St Peter's Fair. Looking forward to these. Taking a look at 2014, these are some authors I'd like to add to my focus challenge... Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti books (I've read a few and enjoyed very much so far), James Hawkins' Inspector Bliss books and Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books, to name a few..

Alphabetical Mystery Authors - Over the past two years, I've managed to read a mystery by various mystery writers, working my way up from A. This year I've made it to the letter H, my last book being An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, a Harper Connelly mystery, which has become a favourite of mine. I'd like to continue with the letter H and read at least 2 more authors before year end.. The next two on the list will be Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart (or maybe Death in Paradise) and Blood Hunt by Jack Harvey. So many H's. Of the books in this challenge I've enjoyed the most include The Killing at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham and Marnie by Winston Graham. I'll continue with this challenge. If I only read the two above this year, I'll start 2014 off with James Hawkins, Mo Hayder and Patricia Highsmith. I hope to get out of the H's next year. This year, so far, I have managed to read 14 books in this challenge.

Anyway, there you have it. I think with that, I've left myself some room for other books until the end of the year, especially if I can manage about 7 or 8 books a month. *fingers crossed* There are other challenges that are still being done, the Time Traveller Challenge. We're in the 1500's and I plan to read Revelation by CJ Sansom for that. We'll have two more genre challenges before year end, November at the moment looks to be Espionage, so I may dig out a John le Carre for that and who knows what December will bring.

Anyway folks, still have to do some laundry and see what destruction the puppies are causing. Keep on reading!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Comox Valley Rotary Club Book Sale

It's been a little while since my last Blog. It's been a busy month or so, working reasonably regularly, entertaining the puppies and trying to get in some reading. I'm amazed that October is here and almost over. It feels like autumn now, the past few days have been foggy and cool, kind of a typical West Coast pattern.

I've had a pretty good month of reading in October. I'm happy to say I finally finished George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. It's been my most challenging read this year, but I am so glad that I made the effort and stuck with it. This is the review I put in goodreads. "Not my normal story at all; I do tend to more light reading, thriller, adventure, but at times I do try to explore more challenging stories. This was definitely one of those. It's a true classic, well-written and intelligent. The story focuses on two main characters, Gwendolen Harleth, a selfish, young lady who thinks the world revolves around her and Daniel Deronda, a gentlemen, searching for himself. This search has many aspects, the simple one being trying to ascertain who his parents are as he has grown up under the protection/ guidance of Sir Hugo Mallinger from childhood. This also involves more internal searching, who is he, why does he think as he does. He is a caring individual, selflessly helping friends and strangers; his flighty school friend Hugo Meyrick, the lovely Jewess Mira and even Gwendolen.. There is so much in this book, unspoken love, a brief study of what it is like to be Jewish in those times, death, romance, etc. I was very surprised how much I enjoyed the story and as I worked my way through the initial pages to get accustomed to the style of the time, it was published in 1876, I enjoyed it immensely. As much as Gwendolen irritated me to no end with her selfishness, at the same time, there was an inkling of sympathy for the plight she finds herself in (even if much of it is due to her own actions) and ultimately.. well, I won't go there. It's a heavy tome, but well worth reading. I'm very glad I did."

My focus author this month is Alistair MacLean, a writer of thrillers who I enjoyed immensely in my Teen years. I've read one book already this month, South By Java Head, which was one I'd not read before. It follows a group of English men/ women escaping from Singapore in the van of the Japanese take over of the city and their attempts to gain freedom. It was an excellent story, understated but full of adventure, with excellent characters. I'm currently reading Night Without End, set in Greenland. It involves a plane crash and as of now the attempts by a scientific expedition to save the survivors. An added twist, quite typical in a MacLean thriller, there is at least one killer amongst the survivors and the hero, Doctor Mason, must try to discover his/ her identity as he races across the ice cap in temperatures of 70 degrees below zero, trying to bring the survivors to safety.

I'm also reading a book for this month's genre challenge. It being October, Halloween month, we of course voted for horror/ ghost stories. I've already read a group of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft and enjoyed very much. I'm now reading The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert, English horror writer. I was attracted to the book by a recent BBC adaptation of it. The missus and I enjoyed it very much. . It starred Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis as two parents who move to Devon temporarily to help the family move on from the disappearance/ death of their young son. Of course, Crickley Hall, the place to which they move has secrets of its own and that's the gist of the story. The series was excellent, tensely written and wonderfully acted. The book, so far, is also living up to its promise.


This is one of my favourite events of the year in the Valley. Twice a year, the Rotary Club has a week long book sale to raise money for various charities they sponsor. I usually go a couple of times during the week and tend to find many excellent books; like my TBR list needs to be built up.. ;0). Prices are fair, during the week, they charged $5.00 for 3 books, or $2.00 a book and on the last day, $5.00 for a bag of books. It's always well-attended and a fun way to spend a couple of hours. This past week was the sale and I found many excellent books. Here are some highlights.


There were some excellent classics and I've been trying to read 2 or 3 a year since I joined goodreads. Variety is the spice of life.. ;0) Anyway, quite often I pick one based on a BBC radio adaptation that the missus is listening to, or a PBS special. This week, I found copies of the following, all in very nice condition -
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Man with Two Left Feet and other stories by P.G. Wodehouse
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Coming up for Air by George Orwell
 A Room with a View by E.M. Forster and
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (yup, I enjoyed Daniel Deronda so much, I thought I should try another)


This is my favourite genre of late. I have various challenges involving mystery writers, my main one being to work my way through the alphabet, reading at least one by each author on my shelves. I'm currently up to the H's, after almost two years.. lol. Anyway, here are some of the new books I will be adding to my bookshelves (don't tell the missus.. well, actually, she was at the sale with me.)
The Burning Girl, by Mark Billingham, a Tom Thorne mystery
The Headmaster's Wife by Jane Haddam, a Gregor Demarkian mystery
Petrella at Q by Michael Gilbert, a year in the life of DI Daniel Petrella
The Chelsea Murders by Lionel Davidson
Too Many Women by Rex Stout, a Nero Wolfe mystery
He Who Fears the Wolf, by Karin Fossum, a Scandinavian mystery, and
O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King, a Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes mystery.


I have many ongoing series; some of the books above belong to series. I have been trying to catch up somewhat this year on many of my series, picking one a month and generally have managed to make a dent in some of them. I bought a few books belonging to two specific series, this past week. One of them is John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books. I focused on this series in September and enjoyed very much. This week I added the following to my shelves -
Pale Gray for Guilt #9, Darker than Amber #7 and Dress Her in Indigo #11. It's been a most enjoyable series so far; I'm glad I finally took a chance on it.
The other series is that of Brother Cadfael, written by Ellis Peters and starring Derek Jacobi in the TV adaptation. It's an excellent historical mystery series. This week I added Saint Peter's Fair #4 and The Sanctuary Sparrow #7.

Miscellaneous Books

I also managed to find a few miscellaneous books, fantasies, Spy thrillers and such. My next challenge will be to find space on my book shelves.. lol. Anyway, these are they -
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, my first fantasy by him.
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst, a war/ spy novel in his Night Soldiers series, excellent one that is.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first in this series
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong, a book of witches and fantasy.

And one by the missus, Calendar Girl by Tricia Stewart.

Well, there you go, the week that was. The next sale is in February.. woooo hooooo.
Related Posts with Thumbnails