Monday, 2 December 2013

December 2013 - Focus Author - Ellis Peters

Edith Pargeter AKA Ellis Peters
It's that time of year to start thinking up some Top Ten Lists, Top Ten Books, Top Ten songs, Top Ten Actresses, etc.  Also to start planning ahead for my Reading Challenges for 2014. I must admit I've jumped the gun there a bit, goaded into action by the other folks who post in my Goodreads Book Clubs. But more on that at a later date.

For now, it's only the beginning of December 2013, so time to take a look at some of my possible Reading choices for the last month of the year. (Gad! Still can't believe it's that time of year already. Must get those Xmas decorations up!)

So firstly, my Focus Author for December. This is the last of the 12 I selected for 2013. She is Edith Pargeter, although I will be reading books she wrote under the pseudonym of Ellis Peters. I've got to admit, that it took me quite awhile to realise that Ellis Peters was, in fact, a woman. But that's not a first for me. I originally thought that Alexander McCall Smith of the Number 1 Woman's Detective Agency books was 'Alexandra' and that Laurie R. King of the Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes books was in fact, 'Laurier'. As they say in Forrest Gump, 'stupid is as stupid does'.

Derek Jacoby as Cadfael
Anyway, back to Ellis Peters. Reading up on this lady, I've got to say, she is most impressive. Born in 1913, she lived until 1995. During her life, she was a prolific author, writing history and historical fiction and she also made a name for herself translating many Czech writers into English. She was born in Shropshire, which may explain her setting for the Cadfael (My December focus) mysteries, which are set in a monastery in Shropshire. She served in the Wrens during WWII and after the war visited Czechoslovakia, became so impressed with the country and the people, that she became fluent in the Czech language. As I mentioned previously, she was a prolific writer, both as Edith Pargeter and Ellis Peters. I will focus on her Cadfael mystery series, which she wrote from 1977 until 1994. She wrote 21 books in this series and it also became a very well-known TV series, starring Derek Jacoby as Brother Cadfael. The books are set in the 12th Century, running from 1137 to 1145. Cadfael is an ex-Man-at-Arms who fought in the Crusades and who late in his life has taken up the role as a Brother in a Benedictine monastery in Shrewsbury. I've already read five of the books in the series, in no particular order -

One Corpse Too Many (Cadfael #2) (4 stars)
The Leper of Saint Giles (Cadfael #5) (3 stars)
The Devil's Novice (Cadfael #8) (4 stars)
Dead Man's Ransom (Cadfael #9) (4 stars)
The Raven in the Foregate (Cadfael #15) (4 stars)

Cadfael #1
Over the past couple of years, since I first discovered Cadfael, I've slowly been collecting the books in the series. I particularly like the Warner Futura covers; the colouring, the lettering. They have a nice look to them. I currently have 17 of the books and I hope to read at least another four by end December.

As you can see from the picture above, I'm currently reading Cadfael #1, A Morbid Taste for Bones.  In this introduction to Cadfael, he and a group of monks from the monastery are off to Wales to try and obtain the bones of Saint Winifred from the town of Gwytherin. I've just started but so far the story is up to par and very interesting. I also hope to read -

Monk's Hood (Cadfael #3) (set Dec 1138)
St Peter's Fair (Cadfael #4) (set Jul 1139)
The Sanctuary Sparrow (Cadfael #7) (set Spring 1140)

Who knows, maybe I'll manage to read one more, but this should whet my appetite for more of Brother Cadfael.

I'm not too sure what else I'll be reading in Dec, but some possibilities come to mind -

Firstly I have to finish a book I started in November, a DCI Bliss mystery by James Hawkins, Missing: Presumed Dead. This is my first DCI Bliss mystery and I can't say I'm thrilled with it. The story is sort of outlandish and I think it's 100 pages too long. But I now want to see how it'll end up, so I will finish this week! So say I!! ;0)

I'm also reading an Alan Moore graphic novel, Fashion Beast, which I'm quite enjoying. He definitely has a unique style. I've enjoyed pretty well everything of his I've read up to now.
I also would like to read Rin Tin Tin, the Life and the Legend. I got this for Xmas a couple of years ago and I've wanted to read it for awhile. It will also be the 13th book in my 12 + 2 challenge this year. After that, I'm pretty well open to anything in my TBR shelves. So we'll see what I feel like and how many days left in December when it comes to finishing off the month.

Next post, I'll start with some of my Top Ten lists.. just have to make them up.

Have a great December!

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