Jun 2nd already. I spent the day with the puppies while the missus was out. Read a bit, climbed up and down ladders cleaning another portion of the siding. At this rate, I'll finish in August.. ;0).. But that's OK. Relaxing with Jo and the dogs on a nice cool breezy evening. Longmire has started up again, one of our favourite series. I do have to start reading the books and see if they are as interesting. I've got the first one on my book shelf waiting my attention. But, for now, while the missus catches up on Coronation Street and I do from the other room, time to look back at May and see how I'm doing so far this year.
As of the end of May, I've completed 42 books, approximately 15,000 pages. My goodreads challenge was up'd to 90 books this year. I think I'm well on the way to completing that challenge. Looking at some of my other challenges;
1. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford - "This was a challenging, but ultimately, an enjoyable, but interesting read. The book is made of four separate books, Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and, The Last Post. It is set in England and France, before, during and after WWI. It deals with Christopher Tietjens, his wife Sylvia and Valentine Wannop, a young woman who has captured Christopher's heart. Around these people are family members, Christopher's brother, Mark; friends, associates and many others. Christopher's relationship with his wife is bitter and harsh, she goes out of her way to destroy his life, even though she won't grant him a divorce. At the same time, Christopher has fallen in love with the young woman, Valentine, who he met as a result of his father's friendship with her mother. Amidst these personal issues is the war, life in the trenches, all these matters. The story is detailed, it takes time to get used to the flow of the story, but when you do, it is most enthralling. The second and third books, which deal more with the War itself, I personally found the most interesting. Critics have said that there needn't have been a fourth book, that Christopher, himself, isn't really even present, but ultimately, I found that it wrapped up so many of the unresolved issues very nicely. Definitely worth reading, if you want to try a classic."
2. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler Olsen - This was the first in the Department Q mysteries from Denmark. "What a surprisingly excellent mystery and story. I've had it on my bookshelf for awhile and am so glad that I finally pulled it down to read. The mystery, the cold case involving the disappearance of Merete, was different from any I've read before. The main characters, Carl Morck, head of new Division Q and his assistant, Assad, were so well crafted. Carl is a police detective just coming back to work after he and his two partners were ambushed, one killed, one a cripple still in hospital and Carl, recovered, now trying to get back to work. His boss assigns him to a newly created unit as its chief, partly to keep him away from the other detectives. Carl avoids work until his new assistant, Assad brings him the cold case involving Merete, who became missing, presumed dead, five years ago on a ferry to Germany. The story weaves between Carl and Assad, working their way through the old case and Merete, working from the past, 5 years before, until the present as she tries to adjust and sort out where she is and why she was abducted in the first place. Carl is an interesting character, his personal life also slowly being developed and his investigating talents becoming more visible. All in all, it was an excellent story, witty, but also with a great deal of tension as the story winds up to its climax. Loved it and am looking forward to reading more Department Q mysteries."
3. Black Diamond by Martin Walker - This has definitely become one of my favourite mystery series. I love the characters and the locale and the stories, which get better and better. "There is something about this series that I love. I picked up the first book, Bruno, Chief Of Police, because I was firstly attracted to the cover. And then when I read the synopsis, I had to give it a try. I wasn't disappointed, quickly falling in love with Bruno's life, his village and friends. I've since read the second book, The Dark Vineyard|, which was even better, further developing Bruno's character and letting us know more about his friends and his village. I finished this third book this morning; I had to find out how it would end. I have to give this a five-star rating. I find that Martin Walker writes the story in such a way that I find myself drawn into the life of the community of St Denis in the district of Perigord. I find myself caring for Bruno, worrying about his future, his personal life and the lives of his close friends; the Baron, Pamela (the English resident), the lovely Fabiola (the doctor) and all of the others. This story is filled with action, from illegal truffle activities, illegal Asian immigrants, gang wars and political intrigue. But even with all that, there is time to delve into the community that Bruno patrols and into Bruno's life. He loves his community and will do anything to protect it. The people are colourful and different from my own experiences and Walker describes them gently and lovingly. And the food... ah, the food, my mouth waters as I watch Bruno prepare his repasts. At any rate, it's an excellent series and I'm happy to discover that there are at least three follow-on books for me to find and see what will happen next? Will Bruno settle down with Pamela? Or someone else? :) Enjoy!"
4. Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles - I had previously read one of his mysteries, under his true name, Anthony Berkeley Cox and enjoyed. I also thought this was quite excellent. "I quite enjoyed this mystery. It develops very nicely, with Dr Bickleigh, unhappily married, a man who falls in love with and has romantic liaisons with other women. His wife is sharp, bossy, but tolerates these affairs until one particular. Dr Bickleigh now has to decide to do something so he can realise this love; there is murder, further attempted murders, a trial, with a surprising outcome. It's well-written, the personalities well-developed and the story is interesting and entertaining. I liked it much more than I thought I would. Excellent."
5. Murder on St. Mark's Place by Victoria Thompson - This was my second Gaslight mystery and I enjoyed it even more than the first. Victoria Thompson has provided more details into her characters and the story was quite interesting. "I enjoyed the first Gaslight series mystery earlier and must say I liked this one even more. I like both of the main characters, Sarah Brandt, the midwife who also gets involved solving mysteries, and Police detective, Frank Malloy. They make a very nice team and the mysteries they work on are well-crafted and well-paced. I like reading about the time frame the stories are set in, turn-of-the- century New York City. I like how both characters personal stories are developing and I like their relationship, which is developing into a very nice friendship. I also like that Sarah's neighbour, Mrs. Ellsworth is taking shape and becoming more three-dimensional, not just a busy-body neighbour. Victoria Thompson has moved the series to a new level with this second story and I hope the others continue to develop her characters and her writing style. Excellent and most enjoyable. And an interesting, tensely crafted mystery to boot."
6. Sabre Tooth by Peter O'Donnell, and
7. I, Lucifer by Peter O'Donnell. These were the 2nd and 3rd Modesty Blaise thriller adventures. I've been collecting the series, but haven't been able to get my hands on the first of the series, yet. I will though, especially now that I've read books 2 and 3. Interesting, James Bondish, thrillers set in exotic locales and with interesting villains. Modesty is a lovely, smart, athletic woman who can handle most anyone. And with her partner Willie Garvin is more than capable of coming out on top. Very enjoyable stories.
8. Pluto Rising by Karen Irving - This is the first in the Katy Klein mystery trilogy. Katy Klein is an ex-psychiatrist, who has switched to a career as an astrologist and finds herself entwined in a murder and suspenseful mystery. I particularly enjoyed that the books was set in Ottawa, Canada as I lived there for a good 18 years. It's always nice to know where the events are taking place. "A solid 3.5 star rating. It reminds me somewhat of a mystery series set in Niagara Falls, the Benny Cooperman books. Katy Klein is a Jewish/ Canadian ex-psychologist who has made a drastic career change and now works as a professional astrologer in Ottawa, Canada. She lives with her teenage daughter, Dawn and her ex-husband lives in the upstairs flat. Adding to the mix is her friend, Greg, a psychologist. The four make a nice, friendly team who find themselves caught up in the 'suspicious' death of a client of Katy's, Adam, who also had previously been treated by Greg for serious issues. Adam ends up dead and almost against their wills, Katy and friends get caught up in trying to solve what happened and what, in Adam's past, led to his killing. It was fun being in Ottawa again, a city I spent about 20 years in, over various periods, and it was nice to read an easy, interesting story as well. I wish more had been made up about the astrological aspects of the story as the bits that were provided added to the interest. I especially wish Karen had explained the header of the various chapters and how they related to what was going on; For example, Chap one starts off Sun opposition Uranus, Moon opposition Mars, Mars in conjunct Uranus. What does it mean?? All in all, entertaining story, with interesting characters."
9. The Collector by John Fowles (a four star read) - "A strange, interesting story about Frederick, a butterfly collector, who comes into a large sum of money. Frederick has been in love, from a distance, with Miranda, but had no hope of her falling in love with him. He is a strange, withdrawn man with no social skills and she is a young, beautiful art student. Frederick prepares his house (bought with is new found money) and then captures Miranda and installs her in his cellar. Thus begins a strange relationship, he the collector, she his butterfly. The story is told in two parts, first from his perspective then, from hers, in diary form. A very interesting, but also depressing story. Worth reading and also worth trying to find the movie and seeing it. I don't know which I preferred."
10. Perfume; The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind - Probably the most disappointing book I read in May. I had quite high expectations of it, but it just never lived up to them. "I'm afraid I was disappointed with this story. The write up sounded intriguing and the story started off very interesting but ultimately I don't think it really went anywhere. There was enough in it to hold my interest, but that was about it. Not what I expected I guess but it ended up only being average to me. Sad to say."
So there you have it, my May reads. All in all, I enjoyed everything I read. Some interesting new authors and series and some old reliables. A nice mix.
Enjoy your June!