Monday, 28 April 2014

April 2014 Review and Currently Reading, plus whatever.. :0)

It's not quite the end of April, but I don't think I'll finish any of the books I'm currently reading by end month, so let's take a look back at the past month. Overall, I've completed 8 books this past month, making a total for the year of 32. So I'm well on my way to meeting my goodreads challenge total for the year of 90 books. I've currently got 3 on the go and should finish at least two of them early in May. I'm pretty happy overall with what I've picked and with my pace. I've also completed 11,500 pages so far, that's purely for interest sake.

Looking back over the month, six books were mysteries, 1 was an adventure and the 8th was a biography. One five - star read, one four - star and six three - star selections. These are the books I completed this month:

1. The Long Run: A New York Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete (Biography) by Matt Long. This was a three star read. "A very interesting story. Matt Long was a NY fire fighter who ran the New York Marathon and was training for the Boston Marathon. While riding his bike for training he was run over by a bus, sustaining severe, life-threatening injuries. The story is about his struggle to regain his body and try to get his life back a semblance of normalcy. It also goes into his past, his relationship with his family and friends."

2. Endangered Species (Mystery) by Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon #5). 3 - star read. "The Anna Pigeon books are comfort food. I always enjoy entering Anna's life and finding out about which National Park she will be working at. In this story she is in Cumberland Island Park in Georgia as a Fire fighter, there with other Park Service employees just in case. Also in the mix are the Loggerhead turtles, coming ashore during their annual migration to lay their eggs and as well, a plane crash and possible murder. The story meanders through the mystery, Anna is lovely as ever. I also liked the bits involving Frederick, her FBI friend in Chicago, and her sister in New York who is receiving threatening letters and phone calls. All in all, I enjoyed very much and look forward to my next Anna Pigeon mystery, Blind Descent, set in Carlsbad Caverns, NM."

3. The Lost World (Adventure) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 3 stars. "A good solid adventure from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Professor Challenger and a team of associates head to South America to prove that his original discovery of a plateau where creatures from the deep past still live. A well-written and interesting story. I've seen the movie adaptation and also enjoyed. Doyle writes with a nice flow and creates interesting heroic characters. I enjoyed the story very much. Supposedly there are others in the Professor Challenger series. I will definitely look them up."

4. Blind Descent (Mystery) by Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon #6). 3 - star read. "Another solid Anna Pigeon mystery, this one is set in Carlsbad Caverns. Almost a parlour mystery in its inception as Anna's friend Frieda is injured in a closed cavern with limited people about to have committed the murder attempt. There are many claustrophobic periods as Anna crawls through narrow tunnels with other cavers trying to extricate Frieda. A totally new experience for me, this caver's world, both exciting and terrifying. The mystery broadens once the group is above surface, with many suspects. Excellent mystery all round and most enjoyable read."

5. Gently Down the Stream (Mystery) by Alan Hunter (Inspector George Gently #3). 3 stars. "This was my first attempt at a George Gently mystery. It is the third in the series. I've watched and enjoyed the British TV series based on the books very much. Having said that, this book had a totally different feel than the TV series; most of the characters, other than Gently, were different and I believe even the setting is a different part of England. I still enjoyed the story mind you. It had a nice feel and pace to it and I liked Gently and his partner, Dutt. I will say that fairly early on, I had it basically figured out and found myself silently shouting at Gently as he worked methodically to come to his solution. All in all, I enjoyed and will read more of the series."

6. Murder on Astor Place (Mystery) by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mystery #1). 3 stars. "A new author for me, this is the first book in the Gaslight mystery series. I enjoyed this very much. I liked the setting, New York city when Teddy Roosevelt was trying to improve the police force. The story resolves around mid-wife, Sarah Brandt, a widow, and Police Sgt Frank Malloy. Malloy asks her help to go through the effects of a young woman murdered in a flat in a house where Sarah has gone to perform her mid-wife duties. Almost against his will, Frank finds himself getting more assistance from Sarah in investigating the case. With her background with the rich of New York, she can gain ready access to the people involved. The story was interesting, well-paced and well-written. I'm looking forward to starting the second book, Murder on St Mark's Place."

7. The House of Silk (Mystery) by Anthony Horowitz. 4 stars. "Pleasantly surprised by this story. This was a new author for me, trying for a new twist on a classic character, Sherlock Holmes. Mr Horowitz didn't disappoint. The story was well-written and had a very interesting plot. I will say I had a reasonable idea of what the House of Silk was, I also didn't know what the House of Silk was involved with and I also didn't know how the original story line linked up with the House of Silk story line. Very pleased that I enjoyed it so much. Worth anybody trying."

8. Disordered Minds (Mystery) by Minette Walters. 5 stars. "Excellent 'mystery' by Minette Walters. I think she is one of the unique mystery writers I've ever read. Each story I've read is unique in its own right and covers different aspects of human behaviour. In this story, two investigators, one a university professor and the other a town councillor, Jonathan and George, delve into the past to try and prove that a convicted murderer, a young man with mental difficulties, who committed suicide in prison, was, in fact, innocent of the murder. The trail of their investigation is an interesting one, involving many twists and turns, potential suspects, deceit, etc. As well, they both must deal with their own issues, that many or man not colour their investigation. Walters has a unique style of writing, this story is partly written in emails, case transcripts, etc. I liked both Jonathan and George and their book editor, Andrew Spicer and the other characters are interesting and full of mystery. Excellent story and highly recommended."

Currently Reading.

1. Parade's End (Classic) by Ford Madox Ford. This is one of my 12 + 4 Reading Group challenge selections. I have previously enjoyed the BBC mini-series. The book is challenging, but I'm enjoying so far. "In four volumes (Some Do Not..., No More Parades, A Man Could Stand and the Last Post), Parade's End traces the psychological damage inflicted by battle, the collapse of England's secure Edwardian values and the new age, embodied by Christopher Tietjen's beautiful, selfish wife, Sylvia. It is an elegy for the war dead and the passing of a way of life, and a work of amazing subtlety and profundity."

2. Murder on St. Mark's Place (Gaslight Mystery #2) by Victoria Thompson. I enjoyed the first book very much. This is in aid of my Bedside Table challenge. "Thinking she has been summoned by German immigrant Agnes Otto to usher a new life into the world, Sarah Brandt is greeted by the news of an untimely death instead. It seems that Agnes's beautiful younger sister, Gerda, had fallen into the life of a 'Charity Girl'. Caught up in the false glamour of the city's nightlife, she would trade her company - and her favours - not for money, but for lavish gifts and an evening's entertainment. And now she was dead, victim, no doubt, of one of her 'gentlemen friends.' No one cares much about the fate of girls like Gerda; but Sarah does. And she vows to find her killer. To do so, she turns to Sergeant Frank Malloy. As the two pursue an investigation that leads from the bright lights of Coney Island to the stately homes of Fifth Avenue, the find that their shared passion for justice may cost them dearly.."

3. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Mystery/ Horror) by Patrick Suskind. "In the slums of 18th-century Paris a baby is born. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille clings to life with an iron will, growing into a dark and sinister young man who, although he has no scent of his own, possesses an incomparable sense of smell. He apprentices himself to a perfumer and quickly masters the ancient art of mixing flowers, herbs, and oils. But his quest to create the 'ultimate perfume' leads him to commit a series of brutal murders until no woman can feel safe as his final horrifying secret is revealed."

Newest Purchases

1. Stardust (Fantasy) by Neil Gaiman. I've seen the movie previously and enjoyed very much. "What happens when you make a promise to bring back a fallen star? Teenager Tristran Thorn is about to find out, as he ventures beyond the wall of his English countryside town. After falling in love with the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester, he sets out on a quest to fulfil his promise to his beloved--and stumbles into the magical realm that lies beyond. "

2. The Armada Boy (Mystery) (Wesley Peterson #2) by Kate Ellis. I've read other Kate Ellis series, the Joe Plantagenet mysteries, and enjoyed very much. I'm looking forward to trying her other series featuring Wesley Peterson. "An American veteran of the D-Day landings on a sentimental journey with his old unit to their base is the last body archaeologist Neil Watson expects to find in the ruins of an old chapel. Neil turns to his old friend from student days, Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, for help. Ironically, both men are looking at an invading force—Wesley the World War II American veterans, and Neil a group of shipwrecked Spaniards reputed to have met a sticky end at the hands of outraged locals as they limped from the wreckage of the great Armada in 1588. Local memories prove retentive and Wesley is soon caught up in 50 year-old accusations, resentments, and romances. Wesley's case grows more perplexing, while Neil uncovers a tragic story from the distant past. More than 400 years apart, two strangers in a strange land have died violently. Wesley is running out of time to find out why."

3. Sanctuary (Mystery) (Jack Taylor #7). The missus and I have watched the first two episodes of the TV series based on the books. It's gritty but well worth watching. When I discovered that Ken Bruen wrote the books, I started looking for them. This is the first one I've found so far. "When a letter containing a list of victims arrives in the post, PI Jack Taylor is sickened, but tells himself the list has nothing to do with him. He has enough to do just staying sane. His close friend Ridge is recovering from surgery and alcohol’s siren song is calling to him ever more insistently. A guard and then a judge die in mysterious circumstances. But it is not until a child is added to the list that Taylor determines to find the identity of the killer, and put a stop to the killings at any cost. What he doesn’t know is that his relationship with the killer is far closer than he thinks, and that it’s about to become deeply personal. Spiked with dark humour, seasoned with acute insights into the perils of urbanisation, and fuelled by rage at man’s inhumanity to man, this is crime-writing at its darkest and most original."

4. The Hanging in the Hotel (Mystery) (Fethering #5). I have slowly been buying Simon Brett mysteries for awhile, but have yet to read one. He writes various series; Charles Paris, Mrs. Pargeter and the Fethering series. I plan to start at least one in the next month or so.. " The Hopwicke Country House Hotel, owned by Jude's glamorous friend Suzy Longthorne, is to host an event for the all-male society, The Pillars of Sussex. On the night, Jude helps Suzy serve dinner, and in the early hours of the morning they watch with relief as the guests drag themselves to their beds. The next morning, one young solicitor does not come down for breakfast. Jude heads for Nigel Ackford's room, presuming he is feeling the effects of the night before. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Nigel has been spared his hangover. For Jude finds him hanging from the beams of his four-poster bed . . . Convinced it was not suicide, Carole and Jude must now find out the truth behind an elaborate attempt to cover up a simple, cold-blooded murder . . ."

So there you go, another month updated. I'm enjoying my selections so much this year and I do like the focus that the various challenges has given me, as well as letting me read such a great variety of books. More in the coming weeks.

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