Wednesday, 28 December 2016

December 2016 Book Purchases

Mmmm... this was yummy and still some left over for another meal, at least.
Well, Xmas is all over but the screaming... er, the clean-up? Yesterday, the missus stripped down the remains of the turkey. She made a fantastic turkey curry for supper last night. Today or tomorrow she'll use some of the rest for a nice stewp (stew / soup) and we'll probably still have some for sandwiches for lunch. It was just the right size for us.

We took a drive around some of the shops yesterday afternoon. It was beautifully sunny and fresh. We treated ourselves to a new office chair (I'll put together, I hope, today). I got some new running shoes.

OK, here is my one gripe. A year ago, I got myself some new running shoes. I found a perfect pair. I do like Nike's as they fit my foot comfortably. So I brought these shoes along to the Sports store and we asked them if they still sold them. Of course not! Why would they do that!! So I tried on some other Nikes, but nope, they didn't feel comfortable on my feet at all. The young lady at the store suggested New Balance. Well, one of those pairs were acceptable and, being on sale, I bought them. I'll use them at the gym for awhile as the others are still good for running. But, what the heck, eh! Every time I find a pair of shoes that work, they stop making them and I've got to try a new type or model. I almost wrecked my feet the last time my favourite shoe went out of style. OK, gripe finished.

We also treated ourselves to new headphones. The ones I had for my Walkman, or whatever it's called these days, had crapped out. So I found a nice pair of Phillips Action Fit for when I go for a run or a work out at the gym. Jo got a nice pair of head phones Back Beat Sense that she can use when she's listening to shows on her PC. They were really spiffy. A quick trip out and we spent more than we did all Christmas... lol. We're staying indoors until 2017 now. ;0)

Anyway, on to my book purchases for December. I was pretty good the past couple of months. I've bought a few books but really tried to limit myself. My list will include a book I got for Christmas from Sue and Rob (my in-laws) and also a couple I bought for the missus for Christmas. So here we go.

December 2016 Purchases

1. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell - Sue and Rob got me this 1924 edition of Gaskell's classic book, which was originally published in 1891. It features illustrations by Irish Hugh Thomson, who also illustrated books by Jane Austen, J.M. Barrie and Dickens. I've enjoyed the Gaskell books I've read so far and also enjoyed the TV adaptation of Cranford very much. This may be one of the Classics that I read in 2017. We'll see.

Desert Island Discs
2. Desert Island Discs by Sean Magee - I do like to buy Jo a couple of books at Christmas. The last couple of years I managed to find her some books on The Archers radio show that she listens to and talks about on a Facebook page she created. I was searching for books on the BBC when I saw this one. Jo had mentioned Desert Island Discs to me a few times over the past years. It's a BBC Radio 4 show where the show's hosts ask a variety of celebrities what 8 records, one book and a luxury they would take to a mythical desert island. The show started in the 1940's and continues today and the book looks at various of the celebrities and their picks and also a brief discussion of their thoughts and lives. The book covers the 70 years the show has been in existence. I'll definitely be checking it out as well.

Elements of Style
3. Elements of Style by Erin Gates - I always like to find Jo a new and different Design book for her to peruse. I think she's got a very nice collection and she does like to search through them when she's thinking up ideas for brightening up the old homestead. Elements of Style is a lovely book by designer Erin Gates who is the founder of Erin Gates Design and creator of the Elements of Style Blog. As can be expected in any good design book, this has lovely photos to accompany the ideas and thoughts of Erin Gates on interior design. I think Jo will enjoy this.

Fever of the Bone
4. Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid - This is the sixth book in the Tony Hill / Carol Jordan mystery series by McDermid, which became the Wire in the Blood TV series. The synopsis is below.

"Meet Tony Hill's most twisted adversary - a killer with a shopping list of victims, a killer unmoved by youth and innocence, a killer driven by the most perverted of desires. Tony soon realises that the horrific murder and mutilation of teenager Jennifer Maidment is just the start of a brutal and ruthless campaign that's targeting an apparently unconnected group of young people. Struggling with the newly awakened ghosts of his own past and desperate for distraction in his work, Tony battles to find the answers that will five him personal and professional satisfaction in his most testing investigation yet."

Someone Like You
5. Someone Like You by Roald Dahl - Dahl is probably most famous for his collection of children's stories, like Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, etc. However he also wrote a number of short story collections, such as Tales of the Unexpected, More Tales of the Unexpected, including this one, which contains thrillers published in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Below is the synopsis

"A policeman's wife kills her husband with a unique murder weapon - and then involves the detectives in the destruction of the evidence....
A sinister gentleman who collects human fingers lures a young American into a bizarre and sadistic wager...
And how far will an art collector go to obtain a Soutine masterpiece - when it is tattooed on the back of a human derelict?
In eighteen superbly entertaining short stories, Roald Dahl shows why he is the greatest living master of that special kind of story that artfully leads the reader to a final stunning moment of shocked surprise."

Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective
6. Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective by Agatha Christie - I've been recently trying to find Christie's Nemesis (of course, for the life of me, I can't remember why now. Maybe I've seen TV adaptations recently or it was discussed in my Mystery reading group). At any rate, the other day I found this book, written originally in 1934 under the UK title Parker Pyne Investigates, and because it featured a character I'd not heard of by Christie, I thought I'd take a chance. This is another short story collection, but in the past couple of years, I've enjoyed exploring this genre. The synopsis is below.

"Meet the Master. His name is Mr. Parker Pyne. London is his home.
His specialities are the dark corners of the human soul and the hideous secrets that men and women can conceal...on a blood-soaked, guilt-shrouded hunting ground that extends from the most elegant pleasure spots on earth to the farthest primitive reaches of the globe..."

Last Night in Montreal
7. Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel - One of my Top Ten books of 2016 was Mandel's Station Eleven. It was so interesting and I loved reading it. I was pleasantly surprised to find one of her first book at my local used book store. You can't go wrong with a lady who grew up just down the road from your house, right? Emily was raised on Denman Island, just off Vancouver Island and not far from Comox. Anyway, back from my little tangent, this book did sound interesting and I'd like to see what her first efforts were like. The synopsis is below.

"Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and obsession. Emily St. John Mandel casts a spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world -- charged with mystery, promise and foreboding -- where small revelations continuously alter our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences."

8. Camille by Pierre Lemaitre - Lemaitre is a new author for me, a French writer of crime novels. Camille won the International Dagger Award for 2015. The synopsis is below.

"Anne Forestier finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she is caught in the middle of a raid on a jewelry store on the Champs-Elysees. Shot three times, she is lucky to survive, but hardly out of danger: her assailant knows she has seen his face and wants to silence her permanently.
When her attacker is spotted in the hospital where she is recovering from her wounds, it becomes clear that Anne is in grave danger. But one thing stands in her favour: her lover, Commandant Camille Verhoeven of the Paris police. Carrying the scars of a devastating personal loss, Camille is willing to bend or break the rules - and risk his reputation and career - to protect the woman he loves.
Concealing his connection to the victim, Camille launches the investigation into the robbery with vengeance on the mind, but it is not long before his disregard for transparency nearly gets him thrown off the force. As the clues begin to lead Camille in a seemingly infinite spiral, he realises that nothing about the case is as it seems and that he faces a brilliant criminal mind with well-laid plans that go far beyond a simple jewel heist."

The Ash Garden
9. The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock - I noticed this when I was checking the Canadian literature section of Nearly New Books, one of my local used book stores. Bock is another new author for me but the synopsis sounded interesting and a bit strange. I had to check it out.

"A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America...
A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family left behind in Austria...
A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon...
With these three people, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story - the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter - into something witnessed, as if for the first time, in all its beautiful and terrible power. As their fates triangulate, the true costs and implications of a nightmare that has persisted for more than half a century are revealed."

The Casual Vacancy
10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling - I've found myself recently slowly picking up Rowling's adult novels. For some reason, I had avoided it before, but she is such a good writer that I quite want to try these books. The Casual Vacancy was her first novel for adults. Jo watched the TV adaptation of this book and quite liked. I'll have to check both out.

"When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?"

Plague: murder has a new friend
11. Plague: murder has a new friend by C.C. Humphreys - I have previously read and enjoyed another of Humphreys' works of historical fiction, The French Executioner. I saw this at my local and it did look like an other interesting book. The synopsis is below.

"London, May 1665. On a dark road outside London, a simple robbery goes horribly wrong - when the gentlemanly highwayman William Coke discovers that his intended victims have been brutally slaughtered.
Suspected of the murders, Coke is forced into an uneasy alliance with the man who pursues him - the relentless thief-taker, Pitman.
Together they seek the killer - and uncover a conspiracy that reaches from the glittering, debauched court of King Charles to the worst slum n the city, St. Giles in the Fields.
But three's another murderer moving through the slums, the taverns and palaces, slipping under the doorways of the rich.
A mass murderer... Plague."

So there you go, my December purchases. Do any of them strike your fancy? I do have a few on order, that I ordered for the missus for Christmas, but they haven't arrive as of yet. I'll add them to my January 2017 list.

Enjoy the rest of 2016 and the very best for 2017.

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