Tuesday, 2 May 2017

April 2017 Reading Summary

It's Tuesday afternoon and the missus and I are ensconced in the study. Jo is chatting online with her girlfriend in England and I, of course, am working on my BLog. We're just hiding out while the guys are upstairs installing the new carpeting. Looking forward to seeing the final product. We've got to get cracking in a little while cleaning up the family room and kitchen as we've got people coming over for dinner this evening. The rest of the house will be pretty bare. That's our job for the next 3 or 4 days, getting the house back in order before Fiona arrives for a visit. Jo is very excited about it. :)

Anyway, it's a new month so while Jo is chatting, I'm going to do my monthly reading summary.

April 2017 Reading Summary

General Stats                       April                   1st Quarter
Books Read                              7                            40           (It's been a bit of slow month. I'll blame all the work we've been doing as well as the time I've been spending on this BLog.)
Pages Read                             1600                     10,100

Pages Breakdown
       < 250                                 5                              23
250 - 350                                  1                              11
351 - 450                                  1                                4
      > 451                                  0                                2

Author Gender
Female                                      3                              10
Male                                         4                               30

5 - star                                      0                                2
4 - star                                      3                               22
3 - star                                      2                               13
2 - star                                      2                                3

Fiction                                                                        3
Mystery                                   4                               18
SciFi                                        3                               18
Non-Fiction                                                               1
Humour                                                                     0
Classics                                                                     0

12 + 4 Challenge (Part Deux)
I read two books in my second challenge.

1. Night Walk by Elizabeth Daly (4 stars)

2. Death and Letters by Elizabeth Daly (3.5 stars)

Classics (pre-1900) - I'm still working on my first book in this challenge. I WILL finish it in May.

Mysteries (The Cops)
I finished one more book in this challenge.

3. Ratking by Michael Dibdin (3.5 stars). This is the first book in the Aurelio Zen mystery series.

Mysteries (Sleuths)
I finished one more book in this challenge.

4. Tender Death by Annette Meyers (3.5 stars). This is the 2nd book in the Smith and Wetzon mystery series.

Fantasy / Science Fiction / Horror
I finished 3 books in these categories.

5. The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner (2.5 stars)

6. Vermilion Sands by J.G. Ballard (4 stars).

7. Providence 1 - 4 by Alan Moore (4 stars).

Spy / Thriller / Adventure - I still haven't really got into this challenge yet, but some of my new 12 + 4 challenge books will fit this category.

Non - Fiction - I've completed one so far.

My Top Three Books of April - No 5 - star reads in April, but there were some solid 4's. They are below with my reviews.

3. Vermilion Sands by J.G. Ballard -

"J.G. Ballard is one of the most unique, strange writers I've ever read. The first story of his that I read was The Drowned World, which pictures a world that is sinking under water. He wrote that in 1962 and it was one of his earliest books. I next read, The Wind from Nowhere, which pictures mankind forced to live underground to avoid the ever increasing winds that scour the Earth's surface. Even those stories portray his unique writing style, his moodiness, his ability to describe the settings he is trying to picture.
Since then I've read High-rise, Crash, Hello America, etc. Some of them are somewhat inaccessible; you are an observer in these strange worlds or situations that he is describing. But, even with them, you have to find out what will happen to the people he places in such disturbing surroundings.
Vermillion Sands was written in 1971 and is a collection of Ballard's short stories. They all portray the decaying life of artists and rich people living in the area of Vermillion Sands. It's another strange futuristic world; a desert sea, sand rays, musical sand towers, etc.
Fascinating and Ballard sort of enfolds you in the life and setting. Artists make clothing from bio materials that have a life of their own. Poets no longer write their own poetry, but use machines to draw themes and words to create poetry and then set out the parameters for people to read them. Artists soar to the skies to create art from the cumulus clouds that float above them. Rich people sail the sand seas in sail ships.
It's a fascinating scene and the stories that surround these moody settings are also interesting, somewhat emotionless, but still keep you reading to see how they resolve. Another interesting work from Ballard."

2. Providence Chapters 1 - 4 by Alan Moore -

"Providence 1-4 by Alan Moore contains the first 4 chapters of one Moore's latest graphic novels. It is related to two previous series, Alan Moore's the Courtyard and Alan Moore's Neonomicon, all of which explore the visions of H. P. Lovecraft.
In the first four chapters of Providence we find newspaper reporter, Robert Black, leaving his job as a reporter for the New York Herald (time frame early 1900's) to gather materiel to write the Great American novel. He finds himself getting deeper into a cult of 'Outsiders' as he leaves New York behind and moves up North further into the hinterland. He sees strange things, his dreams become riddled with strange images. The graphic novel is a mixture of comic book style, which follows the story itself and pure novel, in the form of Blake's journal, where he expounds on what he sees during his travels and also presents possible ideas for the great novel.
I've always enjoyed Alan Moore's unique vision and this has been no exception. Excellent artwork and an interesting story so far. I'm looking forward to the next chapters coming out."

1. Night Walk by Elizabeth Daly -

" This is the 2nd Henry Gamadge mystery I've read. Elizabeth Daly started the series in 1940 and wrote 16 books. Gamadge is a mysterious criminologist, he was involved in secret activities during WWII and has since been involved with old documents and papers, helping ascertain forgeries and such. He also finds himself involved solving mysteries and is somewhat similar to Margery Allingham's Albert Campion or Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey.
Night Walk was Daly's 12th Gamadge mystery. Gamadge is asked by an acquaintance to assist in investigating a murder that took place in upper New York state at the small community of Frazer's Mills. His friend is in love with a local girl, the ward of the victim, and he fears that she might be a suspect. Gamadge assumes the role of patient at a local sanatorium, obtains the police support for his independent investigation and thus the story starts.
It's a cozy style of story telling. Gamadge wanders about the local area, asking questions, quietly observing and ultimately coming up with a possible solution and final answer. It's all done in a genteel, interesting style. It's easy to fall into the locale, to like the people and enjoy Gamadge as a perceptive, low key investigator. The final solution might seem a bit pat, but it does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the story."

Leading into May, these are the books I've got on the go.

Currently Reading

1. Cop Hater by Ed McBain. This is the first book in the 87th Precinct series by McBain. It was originally published in 1956. I have to say that I am so enjoying this book. It's my first experience with McBain and I love his style of presenting a story. I can't wait to get to the end to see how it will resolve itself. I know I'll start the 2nd book, The Mugger, right after as I've got it waiting my attention.

2. The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. I've been reading this book for a month or so. I am enjoying it but it is a slow read and I find it easy to pick up one of my other books and put this one aside. I will finish it this month though.

3. A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh. This is the next book in my 12 + 4 challenge. Marsh is one of my favourite classic mystery writers, author of the Roderick Alleyn mysteries. They seem to get better and better as I have gotten into the series.

4. S is for Silence by Sue Grafton. I always enjoy picking up a Kinsey Milhone mystery. I've been reading them for a few years now, usually two or three a year. This will fit into my Sleuths challenge.

Another month gone. I hope May is a bit more productive.

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