Friday, 20 January 2017

2017 Book Purchases, some late Xmas Gifts and other Miscellany

Our puppies in one of their favourite spots.. lol
Here it is, the 20th of January, 2017. I don't know if the year is moving quickly, but it always seems to catch me up.

We have had some snow this season
We've had a little bit of everything so far this year; a nice dumping of snow which only this past week has disappeared. It's been cold for us (nothing at all like back East), a week or two of 0 degree temperatures, some stormy weather, high winds and today again, sunny and mild. We are pretty temperate here so I'd much rather deal with what we have then what they can get on the other side of the Rockies. I will say one thing and that is that our local Comox snow removal folks do an excellent job keeping the streets clear and usable.

It's getting there
We continue to make progress on the work we had done in the room above the garage. The shelves and trim are painted. We need another coat on the ceiling and then the yellow for the sloping bit of the walls. The carpet is ordered and will with luck be installed in the next couple of weeks. Then it's just a matter of moving the furniture back and seeing how we want to rearrange things. (And of course putting a few books on the shelves. :0))

The skylight at the top of the stairs
You won't be able to see the above photo very well probably, but the work on the skylight is complete, new trim, bead board installed and the whole thing painted. I did post a picture of what it looked like before in an earlier BLog. It just seems so much brighter and fresher.

The newly updated Master bedroom
I haven't really added any photos of the master bedroom. We had done a fair bit to it when we first moved in; added new carpets, fresh paint, new drapes and that sort of thing. It has always been a dark room so a few years back when we had new windows put in throughout the house, we added an extra one in the corner and also had the main big window increased in size. It did help a lot but because it's a the back of the house, the room doesn't get a lot of sun during the day. In December we had three big fir trees chopped down. They were just outside the Master bedroom and already, in the morning, the room is brighter. As well, Jo has done a lot of work over the past month to freshen up the room; new bed, painted the mirrors white, switched the gray drapes to brighter white curtains; added a new chair in the left corner. It really has freshened up the room. Little things, but I find the work she has done (and basically on her own, as she is such a better painter) has made it more inviting and comfortable.

January 2017 Book Purchases

So, moving on to my January book purchases. I'm doing this a bit earlier than usual as we're planning to go to Victoria soon and I will probably visit a few of the local book stores there and I'm sure buy a few. I don't want to let this list get out of hand. The books listed below are books I've purchased since January 1st but also includes some books that Jo purchased on line for me for Xmas. They just didn't arrive in time for Xmas itself. A couple of my gifts for her were the same. Anyway, let's take a look. In no particular order, here they are.

1. The Clue of the New Shoe by Arthur Upfield - This is the 2nd book I've bought, written by Australian author, Arthur Upfield, featuring his half-Aborigine sleuth, Napoleon Bonaparte. I don't have the first book in the series yet, but I think I'll read one of these this year to see if it's worth further exploration. The synopsis is below. (I found this during a recent visit to Qualicum Beach, at the Salvation Army's Book Nook, a very nice little shop I'd never visited before.)

"The naked body of a man is discovered entombed in the walls of the Split Point Lighthouse on Australia's South East coast. Taking up investigations, Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte is curious to know why a coffin is moved in the night, who was the girl seen struggling with Dick Lake on the cliff top.... and why the Bully Buccaneers came to deal in death.
Superintendent Bolt said 'It's the toughest job we've ever had;.. but Bony never was an ordinary detective."

2. The Killing Kind by John Connolly - Irish writer, Connolly, is another new writer for me. He was recommended by one of friends in my Mystery book group. This is the third book in his Charlie Parker mystery series.

"When the discovery of a mass grave in northern Maine (Ed note - I never stated that he set his books in Ireland. :)) reveals the grim truth behind the disappearance of a religious community, private detective Charlie Parker is drawn into a violent conflict with a group of zealots intent on tracking down a relic that could link them to the slaughter. Haunted by the ghost of a small boy and tormented by the demonic killer known as Mr. Pudd, Parker is forced to fight for his lover, his friends... and his very soul."

3. The Maracot Deep by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - This is another of the books I picked up at The Book Nook. I have enjoyed Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books and some of his others. It was a nice surprise to find a book I'd never heard of before. It was originally published in 1929.

"'We slid through the claws of the horrible creature and went circling downwards into the abysmal depths...'
Down into the silent world under the Atlantic, went Doctor Maracot and his two companions. In their cage of steel and glass they gazed on a world of strange life-forms and unknown terrors...
From the deep came the fierce crustacean giant, the Marax, and in vicious battle their life-line was severed.
Stranded on the ocean floor, Maracot's expedition emerged into an even stranger world - the living remains of the lost civilisation that gave the ocean its name.. Atlantis."

4. Classics of the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier - I found this at my local, Nearly New Books. It's one of those books that attracted me immediately, hard cover, excellent condition and the nice thing about it was that, amongst the short stories within was The Birds, a story I've never read but have long been interested to find.

"This sumptuous volume (published by Victor Gollancz Ltd of London) celebrates the 80th birthday of one of the best-known and most-loved storytellers in the English language today, Daphne du Maurier.
Here are six masterpieces of the imagination, illustrated in glowing colour by prize-winning artist, Michael Foreman.
Don't Look Now, a classic story of the macabre, opens the collection, followed by The Apple Tree, The Blue Lenses (I've read this before and it was excellent), The Birds, The Alibi and Not After Midnight."

5. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier - du Maurier is one of those authors whose works I want to explore more. The only book of hers I'd read, for the longest time was, The House on the Strand and I read that two or three times. More recently I finally tried Rebecca, and loved it. I also read a collection of her short stories, The Blue Lenses and other stories and that has just made me want to read more. So when I saw this book at The Book Nook and it was in such excellent condition, I figured I should have it. It is one of her Cornish collection.

"The cold walls of Jamaica Inn smelt of guilt and deceit. Its dark secrets made the very name a byword for terror among honest Cornish folk.
Young Mary Yellan found her uncle the apparent leader of strange men who plied a strange trade. But was there more to learn? She remembered the fear in her aunt's eyes...
Out on the wild, rough moors there were only two people to befriend her - a mysterious parson and an insolent, likable rogue who broke the law every day of his life."

(Brief weather update - Just got back from our noontime walk. What a beautiful, sunny, mild day. It's days like this that make me happy that I moved out here back in 2001. )

6. Without Consent by Frances Fyfield - I've collected a few of English writer Fyfield's books the past few years and finally read one last year and enjoyed very much. This is one of the Xmas gifts that Jo got me this year. It is the sixth and last book in the Helen West mystery series.

"Prosecutor Helen West's relationship with police officer Geoffrey Bailey is becoming more serious, but the couple is at odds because Bailey's protégé, Sergeant Ryan, is suspected of rape. As the evidence mounts against Ryan, West and Bailey examine the seemingly open-and-shut case; a terrible crime warrants justice regardless of their feelings toward Ryan. But as they dig deeper, a new suspect emerges - one who possesses a cold-blooded intuition about women. West and Bailey quickly find themselves trying to clear Ryan's name and avenge a series of crimes with no evidence."

7. Day Shift by Charlaine Harris - This is the second book in Harris' Midnight, Texas series and I'm looking forward to starting it as I've enjoyed her Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly and her Lily Bard series. She tells great entertaining fantasy/ horror/ mystery stories.

"There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. When psychic Manfred Bernardo finds himself embroiled in a scandal and hounded by the press after one of his regular clients dies during a reading, he turns to enigmatic, beautiful, and dangerous Olivia Charity for help. Somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight..."

8. Nobody True by James Herbert - I've read two of Herbert's horror stories in the past couple of years, The Secret of Critchley Hall and The Fog and enjoyed both of them. He's one of those authors who I regret not having started sooner. I found this book at another cosy used book store in Qualicum, Book Case.

"I wasn't there when I died.
I'd returned from one of those out-of-body dreams, the kind where you feel your spirit has left your body and it isn't really a dream.
But somebody murdered me while I was away. Mutilated me. Left nothing for me to come back to.
Who did it? The serial killer terrorising the city? Or someone closer, someone known to me? But I had no enemies. At least, I didn't think I had.
And it's scary when you meet the serial killer, when horror is followed by even greater horror, when your own family is threatened and only you can stop the killings.
So what do you do? You have no substance, no real power. You cannot even touch.
What the hell do you do?"

9. The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg - This is the second book by Swedish writer, Lackberg, after her successful introduction to the crime / thriller genre with The Ice Princess.

"Twenty years ago two young women disappeared whilst holidaying in the peaceful resort of Fjallbacka. Now their remains have been discovered, along with a fresh victim, sending the town into shock.
Detective Patrick Hedstrom, whose partner Erica is expecting their first child, has personal reasons for wanting to find the killer. When another girl goes missing, his attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. Which of this family's dark secrets will provide the vital clue?"

10. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews - This is the first book by ex-CIA agent, Jason Matthews. The book was recommended to me by another of my Goodreads' mates. I do like me a good spy story.

"In present day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a "Sparrow," a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency's most important Russian mole.
Spies have long relied on the "honey trap," whereby vulnerable men and women are intimately compromised. Dominika learns these techniques of "sexpionage" in Russia's secret "Sparrow School", hidden outside of Moscow.
As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, trade craft, and - inevitably - forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate's game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, D.C."

11. The Fiend by Margaret Millar - Since I discovered her books, Canadian Margaret Millar has quickly become one of my favourite mystery writers. She had such a unique way of telling a story and all of the books I've read to-date have been excellent. I'm always happy when I can find another of her books. I discovered this one during our visit to Qualicum Beach, at the Book Case.

"Your daughter takes too dangerous risks with her delicate body. Children must be guarded against the cruel hazards of life and fed good, nourishing food so their bones will be p;added. Also clothing. You should put plenty of clothing on her, keep arms and legs covered, etc. In the name of God, please take better care of your little girl.
Kate Oakley received this strange letter in her morning mail. It marked the beginning of a campaign of terror waged against Kate, her little daughter, and an entire community."

12. Night Games by Mai Zetterling - The remaining books were all Xmas gifts from Jo. Mai Zetterling is a Swedish actress, director and writer. Jo had to search around quite a bit to find a copy of this book. Night games was released as a movie in 1966 in Sweden under the title, Nattlek.

"'I wanted rebirth; my birth had been a mockery. I wanted liberation from myself...' The narrator of this curious and fantastic novel is a young man born to a rich, selfish and desperate mother, who pursues a nightmarish life in which the compulsion to humiliate both himself and others, and to degrade conventional values through profanity and perversion, is seen to be an attempt to exorcise an horrific childhood.
Mariana, a beautiful girl who resembles his mother, becomes the catalyst towards which he gropes in his search for a rebirth. Before all the ghosts are laid he and Mariana explore completely the 'human hell' necessary for his final purgation."

The final three books are also Xmas gifts from Jo and are by one of my other favourite mystery writers, Minette Walters.

13. The Echo by Minette Walters - This book was originally published in 1997.

"In this hypnotic novel of psychological suspense, a homeless man is found starved to death in the garage of a ritzy London home. The police chalk it up to an unfortunate accident, but a journalist, Michael Deacon, is intrigued. Amanda Powell, a socialite whose wealthy husband vanished five years ago after being accused of embezzlement, is just as interested as Michael in finding out who died in her garage. They have no idea that this simple story will unveil a web of deceit that is as appalling as the people behind it."

14. The Sculptress by Minette Walters - This book is Walters' second and was originally published in 1993.

"It was a slaughterhouse, the most horrific scene I have ever witnessed... Olive Martin is a dangerous woman. I advise you to be extremely wary in your dealings with her.
The facts of the case were simple: Olive Martin had pleaded guilty to killing and dismembering her sister and mother, earning herself the chilling nickname 'The Sculptress'.
This much journalist Rosalind Leigh knew before her first meeting with Olive, currently serving a life sentence. How could Roz have foreseen that the encounter was destined to change her life - for ever?"

15. The Shape of Snakes by Minette Walters - This book was originally published in 2000.

"'I could never decide whether 'Mad Annie' was murdered because she was mad or because she was black...'
November 1978. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, rubbish piles in the streets - and somewhere in West London a black woman dies in a rain-soaked gutter.
Her passing would have gone unmourned but for the young woman who finds her and who believes - apparently against reason - that Annie was murdered. But whatever the truth about Annie - whether she was as mad as her neighbours claimed, whether she lived in squalor as the police - something passed between her and Mrs. Ranelagh in the moment of death which binds this one woman to her cause for the next twenty years.
But why is Mrs. Ranelagh so convinced it was murder when by her own account Annie died without speaking? And why would any woman spend twenty painstaking years uncovering the truth - unless her reasons were personal?"

So there you go... More to follow on my January reading, further book purchases, etc. Have a great weekend!

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