Friday, 10 February 2017

Snow and Feb Book Purchases

Well, after about six days steady of snow, it's finally sunny and warmer out and slowly melting. The snow has been replaced by rain. Here in Comox we're better off than the interior of BC which I understand is now suffering freezing rain. But it has still been an interesting time for us as we don't normally get such steady, heavy snowfall.

Our backyard has some new visitors other than sparrows and robins
I think it's been a bit trying for some of our feathered neighbours. The ducks that live in a nearby pond and down in the harbour haven't been able to find grass to get a rest from the water. And we've been seeing them about all over the place the past few days. They even took a bit of a break in our backyard on Thursday.

Feeding our friends
I've been spreading bird seed where ever there is an open space, under a row of bushes we've got in the back yard and also on the stump outside our study window.

Hey buddy! Clean the snow off our dining table and put some more seed down!
There have been some fat robins enjoying that area and the sparrows hide out under the bushes. I think today that I saw a woodpecker on the stump. Neat!

One last photo for you. My neighbour, unlike the rest of us in our crescent who have either cedar shake or asphalt shingle roofs, has a steel tile roof. When the snow builds up on it and then the roof warms up, it slides off in one big sheet. You can see the pile of snow that now blocks his front door after the previous few falls.. It's amazing to watch, but not fun to try and shovel. We almost got one but instead decided on an asphalt shingle roof. Good thing, as our hedge would not survive a couple of dumps like that.

Now on to book purchases. I usually only do one per month, but on the 7th, in between snow falls, I went to Nearly New Books while I was out doing some chores and dropped off about 20 books or so. I also found a few new ones. As well, the same day I had a book order from Goldstones in the UK arrive in the mail. So rather than wait, here are the books I got on the 7th.

Nearly New Books, Comox BC

1. Eye for an Eye by T. Frank Muir. This is a new author for me, as most of the books I got were this time. It is the first book in a mystery series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist  of the Fife Constabulary, in Scotland.

"Six corpses have turned up in the cobbled streets of St. Andrews, all known spousal abusers, who suffered the same gruesome fate - stabbed to death in the left eye. But with no new leads left to explore and public censure mounting, DCI Gilchrist is forced off the case.

Why the left eye? With his career on the line, Gilchrist vows to catch the killer alone. But as he digs deeper into the case, Gilchrist fears he is up against the deadliest of killers - a psychopath on the verge of mental collapse."

2. Complicity by Iain Banks. I'm well familiar with Banks' writing, either his science fiction or his fiction.

"A few spliffs, a spot of S&M, phone through the copy of tomorrow's front page, catch up with the latest from your mystery source - could be big, could be very big - in fact, just a regular day at the office for free-wheeling, substance-abusing Cameron Colley, a fully paid-up Gonzo hack on an Edinburgh newspaper.

The source is pretty thin, but Cameron senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago - only to find that the police are checking out a series of bizarre deaths that are happening right now. And Cameron just might know more about it than he'd care to admit."

3. Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. I've read and enjoyed the first two of Cotterill's Dr, Siri Paiboun mystery series. This is the first book in a new series for him, featuring Thai journalist Jimm Juree. I'm looking forward to trying it as well.

"Jimm Juree is an ambitious journalist with a somewhat eccentric family. When Jimm's mother sells the family home in Chiang Mai and relocates, Jimm is forced to follow her family to a rural village on the coast of southern Thailand. Which leads Jimm to the inescapable conclusion: Her career - maybe even her life - is over.

So when a van containing the inexplicable skeletal remains of two vintage-era hippies, one of them wearing a hat, is unearthed in a local farmer's field, Jimm is thrilled. Shortly thereafter an abbot at a local Buddhist temple is viciously murdered, with the temple's monk and nun the only suspects. Suddenly Jimm's new life becomes somewhat more promising - and a lot more deadly.

4. Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly. I readily admit that I bought this book mainly for the cover. The fact that I'd never read The Wind in the Willows also factored in as it is a classic children's fantasy. And, yes, I realise that this not the original author but wait for my next book.. :)

"Jacqueline Kelly masterfully evokes the magic of Kenneth Grahame's beloved children's classic in this sequel to The Wind in the Willows. With lavish illustrations by Clint Young, the venerable Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger are back - and as lovable and charming as ever!"

5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I think it's time that I explored this work. I've enjoyed other children's classics, especially the Winnie-the-Pooh books and luckily my book store had a copy of The Wind in the Willows.

"Finding the secret of the wind is hard enough without Mole wandering off into the Wild Wood and getting caught in a snowstorm or Toad stealing motorcars and landing in jail. Between practical Water Rat and wise old Badger, the four of them manage, after many great adventures and much laughter, to settle down to a quiet roar with an understanding of the wind's song and the Wild Wood."

6. Wycliffe and the Four Jacks by W.J. Burley. The Chief Superintendent Wycliffe mysteries are one those I like to pull off the shelves and relax with, like many others of my favourite mystery series. This is the tenth book.

"David Cleeve lived the way a bestselling novelist should live - in an opulent house set in a beautiful corner of Cornwall. But beneath the successful fa├žade he lived a private nightmare. For at regular intervals a sinister and mysterious warning arrived - a single playing card, the Jack of Diamonds.

The day came when -ominously - the card arrived torn in half, and that night a murderer struck.

Chief Superintendent Wycliffe - on holiday in the area - found himself drawn into the investigation of the murder - which became a double murder, arson, and a series of crimes that stretched back over many years."

Goldstone Books, UK

I tend to order books from on line book shops when I can't find them locally and they've been in my TBR book for a while. The five books below fall into that category.

1. Peace and War by Joe Haldeman. I've been looking for Haldeman's The Forever War for a while now. This book is the Omnibus edition, containing War, Free and Peace.

"War - William Mandela is a reluctant hero, drafted to fight in a distant interstellar war against unknowable and unconquerable aliens. But his greatest test will come when he returns to Earth. Relativity means that every time he returns home after a few months' tour of duty, centuries have passed on Earth, making him and his fellows ever more isolated from the world for whose future they are fighting.

Free - When Mandela returns for the last time he finds humanity has evolved into a group mind called man. Living a dull life in an autocratic and intrusive society, missing the certainties of combat and feeling increasingly alienated, the veterans plan an escape. But when their ship starts to fail, their journey becomes a search for the Unknown.

Peace - 2043. The Ngumi War rages, fought by 'soldierboys', indestructible machines operated remotely by soldiers hundreds of miles away. Julian Class is one of these soldiers, and for him war is truly hell. But he and his companion, Dr. Amelia Harding, have discovered something that could literally take the universe back to square one. For Julian, the discovery isn't so much terrifying as tempting."

2. The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. I either read about this book in the back of one I was reading or it was recommended by one of my Mystery, Thriller book club.

"Vanessa Munroe deals in information: covert information. With an extraordinary intellect and ruthless fighting skills, she will work for anyone - government or individual - who'll pay her.

Now a Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his missing daughter. Where international investigators have failed, Munroe journeys deep into lawless central Africa.

And then things spin out of control.

Soon Munroe finds herself cut off from civilisation and left for dead. Her only hope of discovering the truth - and of getting out of Africa alive - is to face up to the violent past that she's fought so hard to forget."

3. Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White. White lived from 1876 - 1944) and I've looked for her books for a very long time. According to the write-up for this book, she was acclaimed as the mistress of the macabre mystery. She wrote only 15 mysteries. Some Must Watch was the inspiration for the movie, The Spiral Staircase.

"Film director Robert Siodmak took Some Must Watch as the inspiration for his classic, bone-chilling thriller, The Spiral Staircase. In this novel, Helen Capel takes the position of lady-help in a remote country house owned by the Warren family. She learns that a murderer is on the loose. All four of his victims were young girls, and the last of these was strangled in a lonely house just five miles away. Helen feels safe inside the house, protected, but the maniac is closer than she fears."

4. The Book of the New Sun - Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe. I read a collection of short stories by Wolfe and enjoyed very much.

"Voted the greatest fantasy of all time after The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways.

Severian is a torturer, exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his victims, and now journeying to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner's sword, Terminus Est. This edition contains The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, the first two volumes of The Book of the New Sun"

5. The Man with the Cane by Jean Potts. Potts is another mystery writer I've been looking for. I was thrilled when I found this book.

"It all started when Val Bryant took out his six-year-old daughter, Annabelle, for the afternoon. She lived with her mother, Val's ex-wife Doris, now married to rich executive, J. Monroe Ward.

Annabelle happened to mention a man she had met, a man she called Cane. She told Val he had eyebrows like little moustaches, whiskers in his ears, and that he always carried a cane (with which he could swing Annabelle up to the ceiling).

Val might not have remembered her remarks but for a strange and sinister coincidence. That very night he found the body of a man sprawled on the church steps. The man was violently dead - obviously murdered with his own cane. It didn't take Val long to realise that he fitted exactly the description Annabelle had given him of her Mr. Cane.

No one could work out how Annabelle knew him. She had never been left on her own. Neither Doris nor Monroe claimed acquaintance. And Maudie, Doris's sprightly mother, and Barbara, her beautiful sister-in-law, also denied any knowledge of him.

So Val started probing and it wasn't long before he discovered that Mr. Cane, alias Mr. Custer, had an unpleasant hold on nearly all of them."

So there you, all updated. The missus is doing some rearranging so I'd better close this off. 'Til next time we meet.

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