Saturday, 22 March 2014

Latest Purchases

It's a coldish, drizzly day, the missus is out and it's just me and the dogs. The dogs are rough-housing and I'm avoiding doing housework for another half hour or so. What better way to do that than to go through my most recent purchases. I've purchased 4 new books in the past week, three used mysteries and one new history book. Let's start with the mysteries...

Kate Ellis' The Skeleton Room - The Skeleton Room is the 7th book in Ellis' DI Wesley Peterson series. I've been reading the DI Joe Plantagenet series so far and enjoying very much. There are only 4 books in the Plantagenet series so I'll have to start the other sooner or later. Not that I'm complaining. I understand that the Peterson series involves more archaeological type mysteries. Looking forward to seeing what they are like. This is the synopsis of The Skeleton Room -

"When workmen converting former girls' boarding school, Chadleigh Hall, into a luxury hotel find a skeleton in a sealed room, DI Wesley Peterson and his boss, Gerry Heffernan are called in to investigate. Within minutes they have a second suspicious death on their hands—a team of marine archaeologists working on a nearby shipwreck have dragged a woman's body from the sea, and it becomes clear that her death was no accident. The dead woman's husband may be linked with a brutal robbery of computer equipment, but Wesley soon discovers that the victim had secrets of her own. As he investigates Chadleigh Hall's past and the woman's violent death, matters are further complicated for Wesley when a man wanted for a murder appears on the scene, a man who may know more about Wesley's cases than he admits."

Arnaldur Indridason is an Icelandic mystery writer. He has written a series of crime novels set in Reykjavik, featuring police detective Erlendur as his main character. I have purchased a couple of books in the series now, Jar City and Silence of the Grave. They do look interesting and I have enjoyed most of the Scandinavian mysteries I've read so far. This is the synopsis -

"Building work in an expanding Reykjavik uncovers a shallow grave. Years before, this part of the city was all open hills, and Erlendur and his team hope this is a typical Icelandic missing person scenario; perhaps someone once lost in the snow who has lain peacefully buried for decades. Things are never that simple. Whilst Erlendur struggles to hold together the crumbling fragments of his own family, his case unearths many other tales of family pin. The hills have more than one tragic story to tell: tales of failed relationships and heartbreak; of anger, domestic violence and fear; of family loyalty and family shame. Few people are still alive who can tell the story, but even secrets taken to the grave cannot remain hidden forever."

Kate Atkinson writes the Jackson Brodie mysteries, amongst her other stories and it has become a favourite of mine. When Will There Be Good News? came out originally in 2008. I'm sure it'll be as good as the others.

"On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever... On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound... At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency... These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls "an absolute must-read."

I read one of Margaret MacMillan's other books, Paris 1919 while I was stationed in the Middle East. I thought it was a fascinating history of the events that took place at the Paris Peace conference following WWI. She described the events so very well and her way of breaking down the various personalities and how the decisions the made affected the world even of today made it a fascinating read. This latest venture describes the events leading up to WWI, a book that is especially appropriate given that this is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. If this is half as good as Paris 1919, I will enjoy very much.

"The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress, and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict that killed millions, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces, and fatally undermined Europe’s dominance of the world. It was a war that could have been avoided up to the last moment—so why did it happen?

Beginning in the early nineteenth century and ending with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, award-winning historian Margaret Macmillan uncovers the huge political and technological changes, national decisions, and just as important, the small moments of human muddle and weakness that led Europe from peace to disaster. This masterful exploration of how Europe chose its path towards war will change and enrich how we see this defining moment in history."

So there you have it, my latest purchases. I'll let you know what I think of them as I get a chance to read them.. Now it's back to some house cleaning and maybe a chance to settle down with A Feast of Crows for an hour or so. :0)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Middle of March 2104 - Currently Reading

It's been a quick month and I've only managed to complete one whole book. I finished two others that I'd started in February so in fact I've read 3 books in March to the tune of 915 pages. I've finished two Lee Child thrillers, the first two in the series, which I enjoyed very much. I also completed my second V.S. Naipaul novel, The Mimic Men, which I have to say was very disappointing. It just didn't do anything for me; no characters (such as they were) to feel anything for, no real story, just disappointing. It won't dissuade me from reading any other of Naipaul's stories, but I don't plan to read any more in the immediate future.

I'm currently reading 3 novels, the fact that two are quite long is slowing me down this month. However, I'm enjoying each very much. These are the three novels I'm reading -

I'm about 1/3 of the way through the 4th book in the Game of Thrones series, A Feast for Crows. I wanted to get it read before the 3rd season of the TV series begins. It's a bit different from the others, focusing on maybe more minor characters and being a bit less grand in scope. I do like how it's paced and how Martin develops his story and his characters. So far, the focus has been on Cersei and Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, Brianne and Samwell for the most part. I'm still enjoying very much as events have been taking place in the background that continues the story nicely. It's an excellent series and I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys fantasy and grand battles and great characters.

Inkheart is the first book in the Inkheart trilogy, written by German author, Cornelia Funke. I first became aware of the book when I saw the movie, starring Brendan Fraser and Eliza Bennett, amongst others in an excellent cast. The movie was excellent and both I and my missus enjoyed tremendously. I finally bought a copy of the first book a couple of years ago and am about 60% through it. A most enjoyable fantasy; the gist being that Mo (Brendan Fraser's character in the movie) has the ability to bring characters to life when he reads stories out loud. However when a character comes out of the book, someone or something must go into the story to replace that brought out. A consequence of this was that his wife was sent into the story Inkheart and Mo and his daughter Meggie now are pursued by Capricorn and his men, who don't want to be read back into the story, but do want something else brought out. It's an interesting idea and well-crafted. I will probably have to find the other books in the trilogy now.. Darn, another series.. ;0)

Another new author for me. This is the second in the Joe Plantagenet mystery series. (Unfortunately, I didn't realise I had the first book already.... *sigh*.... so that will be my next to read. I am a dumb ass!! lol). It doesn't really matter I don't think as I can catch up on the personal aspects of DI Joe Plantagenet's life when I read the first. Having rambled on, let's get back to the story. I think I've found a new mystery writer to follow. I'm enjoying this very much. Set in Eborby, UK, DI Plantagenet is called upon to help solve a recent murder of a young woman, with links back a series of crimes from the 1950's. The woman has been strangled and mutilated and a doll, with the same mutilations placed beside her dead body. I'm enjoying this story very much so far; it's not overly graphic, but the case is still disturbing. There are ongoing stories that may or may not be related to Plantagenet's case, all very well-written and laid out. I'm finding it hard to put down, enjoying very much. I'll read the first book next. Ellis has four books in the Plantagenet series and she also has another series that I'm looking forward to trying, the Wesley Peterson mysteries. I have a couple of books in that series already, so I'm on the way!!

Well, there you have it, my March reading so far. Other than one strike-out, I'm enjoying very much.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Recent Purchases and Current Reading

I'm constantly amazed at how quickly the year is passing by. Already the 1st of March 2014 and I don't remember it getting here. Wow! It's been an interesting couple of weeks. My daughter, Jennifer, came for a visit from Kingston, ON during her Spring break. We had a nice time; she got some studying in, we wandered about downtown and the three of us spent each evening enjoying a couple of games of Rummicub. She left just in time, mind you. As soon as she left we had 4 days straight of snow..
Our crescent after a couple of days of snow 
It was truly amazing. It's since warmed up considerably and the roofs are pretty well bare, but the snow still lingers.

Regarding my 2014 Reading, I've completed 16 books as of end February. Last night I finished Susan Hill's The Pure in Heart, the 2nd book in her DCI Simon Serrailler series. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the 1st, but I don't know that it mattered all that much that I started with the 2nd. I'd previously read her The Woman in Black ghost story and enjoyed immensely. I wondered how she would do with a switch to mysteries and I wasn't at all disappointed. I like her writing style, I enjoyed the characters and also the plot, which came at you from many different directions. Excellent story. I've got another of the Serrailler series on my bookshelf, but I will try to find the others so I can continue in sequence.

At the moment, starting off March, I'm finishing off two books, V.S. Naipaul's The Mimic Men and Lee Child's first Jack Reacher thriller, Killing Floor (which is excellent). I'm about to start the 4th book in the Game of Thrones series, A Feast of Crows, hoping to get well into it before the TV series starts up again.

Recent Purchases

I have bought a few new books since my last entry here:

1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I find myself being drawn to the classics more and more. I don't think I've ever seen the movie, but have heard of it and when I saw this edition, I thought I should try it out. This is the synopsis -
"In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change."

2. The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo - I've read one of the Harry Hole thriller series and enjoyed very much. I've been picking up others in the series as I see them at my local used book stores. I've enjoyed very much so far.
"A mixture of religion, urban misery, modern European history and grisly horror story, The Redeemer takes the crime writing of Jo Nesbo to yet another level, establishing him firmly as one of the international top names in crime fiction. Through snow-swept, Christmas-illuminated Oslo town, Inspector Harry Hole chases a faceless contract killer from the former Yugoslavia among the homeless junkies, perverts and Salvationists, eagerly waiting for a new saviour to deliver them from misery – whether he brings new life or immediate death."

3. The Jackal Man by Kate Ellis. Kate Ellis is a new writer for me, even though I have purchased a couple of her books previously. They await my attention on my TBR shelves. This is the 15th story in the DI Wesley Peterson series. I must admit, the cover definitely caught my attention.
"When Clare Mayers is almost killed on her way home by a man she describes as having a "dog’s head," it's up to DI Wesley Peterson and his team to try and unravel this strange case. Meanwhile, archaeologist Neil Watson has been commissioned to examine the wealth of Egyptian artifacts amassed by the late Frederick Varley. But as Neil gets closer to uncovering the truth surrounding some sinister allegations of the past, he discovers the shocking secrets that someone is desperate to keep hidden from the prying eyes of the community. As the Jackal Man continues to torment the women of Tradmouth, is it a case of history repeating itself? And can Wesley Peterson stop him before it’s too late?"

4. Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. This is a book I've looked at a few times. When I saw it at my local, I decided it was time to pick up a copy.
"Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss lycĂ©e, and lives a life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman inspires him to question his life—and leads him to an extraordinary book that will open the possibility of changing it. Inspired by the words of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor whose intelligence and magnetism left a mark on everyone who met him and whose principles led him into a confrontation with Salazar’s dictatorship, Gergorius boards a train to Lisbon. As Gregorius becomes fascinated with unlocking the mystery of who Prado was, an extraordinary tale unfolds."

And then yesterday, I visited my Comox book store and found these..

5. Until the Night by Giles Blunt. I've enjoyed the first three in the John Cardinal series. It's set in the town of my birth, North Bay, ON, Can, and that makes it doubly interesting. Besides that, the stories have all been excellent mysteries.
"It's not unusual for John Cardinal to be hauled out of a warm bed on a cold night in Algonquin Bay to investigate a murder. And at first this dead body, sprawled in the parking lot of Motel 17, looks pretty run of the mill: the corpse has a big boot print on his neck, and the likely suspect is his lover's outraged husband. But the lover has gone missing. And then Delorme, following a hunch, locates another missing woman, a senator's wife from Ottawa, frozen in the ruins of an abandoned hotel way back in the woods. Spookily, she was chained up and abandoned wearing a new winter parka and boots, with a thermos beside her--as if her murderer was giving her a whisper of a chance at survival."

6. The Dead of Winter by Rennie Airth. I thought I was pretty lucky to find the third instalment of the DI John Madden series and that it was in pristine condition. This is a historical mystery series set in England between the 1st and 2nd World Wars. The first story was interesting, the second much better and I have high hopes for this third instalment.
"On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. Scotland Yard suspects the young Polish refugee was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn't been her employer. Madden feels he owes it to Rosa to find her killer and pushes the investigation, uncovering her connection to a murdered Parisian furrier, a member of the Resistance, and a stolen cache of diamonds."

and, finally...

7. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves. The missus and I have enjoyed the BBC series based on Ann Cleeves books. I've also read the first in the series and quite enjoyed. This is the 4th Vera Stanhope mystery.
"When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple.
Doing what she does best, Vera pulls her team together and sets them interviewing staff and those connected to the victim, while she and colleague, Sergeant Joe Ashworth, work to find a motive. While Joe struggles to reconcile his home life with the demands made on him by the job, Vera revels being back in charge of an investigation again. Death has never made her feel so alive."

So there you have it, the latest update chez moi. Take care and keep on reading!

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