Sunday, 26 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading, Awards

I'm feeling the best I've felt all week. Not sure what is but I've been achy all over. I think doing some stretches and such helped. We've had mixed weather this week, alternating nice, sunny mild days with windy, rainy ones.

So what to talk about today. I'll update a book I've finished this weekend, plus what I've started. Also it's time to update my awards lists and if it's not to big of a post by then, I'll get back to my History of North America.

Just Finished

1. Wobble to Death by Peter Lovesey. This was my first exposure to Lovesey's writing. I enjoyed it. My review is below.

"Wobble To Death by Peter Lovesey is the first book in his historical mystery series featuring Scotland Yard Sgt Cribb. It is also my first exposure to his writing. It's an interesting premise to say the least.
The story is set in London, 1879 and is centered around a pedestrian race at the Agricultural Hall. From the foreword, these races took place fairly regularly, where groups or walkers would participate in a 6 day race, with the winner being the one who was able to walk the longest distance; somewhere over 500 miles, in the six days. It reminds me of the movie They Shoot Horses, Don't They, which was about marathon dance contests.
Anyway, in this particular race one of the contestants dies and this brings in Sgt Cribb and Constable Thackeray to investigate the circumstances. It turns out the contestant was, in fact, murdered. There are a number of potential suspects that the two intrepid detectives must investigate. It's an interesting story with interesting characters, somewhat light on the mystery but still entertaining. You get a nice picture of the time and the race and contestants. It was a nice introduction to the series and I will find other books featuring Sgt Cribb. (3.5 stars) Lovesey also writes the Peter Diamond mystery series. I have the first book in that series to try as well."

Currently Reading

My Cadfael Books
As my replacement to Wobble to Death, I've continued with historical mysteries. This time it's the 10th book in the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, The Pilgrim of Hate. It's been a most enjoyable series so far. The synopsis is below.

"Pilgrims are gathering from far and wide to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the translation of Saint Winifred's bones to the Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury. In distant Winchester, a knight, supporter of Empress Maud, has been murdered - not apparently an event of importance to those seeking miraculous cures at the saint's shrine. But among the throng some strange customers indeed begin to puzzle Brother Cadfael -  and as the story unfolds it becomes evident that the murder is a much less remote affair that it first seemed."

2017 Awards and the Birth Date Thing

US Billboard Charts #1 Single 10 November 2017

Rockstar by Post Malone ft 21 Savage. Post Malone is an American rapper from Syracuse, N.Y.  Rockstar was his first #1 single. It features American rapper, 21 Savage. (If you click on the song title, you can catch the YouTube video. I don't particularly like it.)

UK #1 Single 10 November 2017

Havana by Camila Cabello ft Young Thug. Camila Cabello is a Cuban - American singer, who started out with Fifth Harmony. This is her first #1 song and it features American rapper, Young Thug.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2017

Origin by Dan Brown.This is the fifth installment of Brown's Robert Langdon series; Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Inferno. I've read Angels and Demons and it was OK. I may have to try the other books sometime. The synopsis is below.

"Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that ‘will change the face of science forever’. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. This evening is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence.
But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
In order to evade a tormented enemy who is one step ahead of them at every turn, Langdon and Vidal must navigate labyrinthine passageways of hidden history and ancient religion. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried – until now."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This is the sixth novel by America writer Colson Whitehead.

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro (UK).  Ishiguro is a Japanese - born, British novelist, screen writer and short story writer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as a writer 'who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.'

Hugo Award Winner 2017

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. This is the second book in American writer, Jemisin's, Broken Earth trilogy. The Fifth Season won the Hugo last year. It will be followed by The Stone Sky.

"The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy. It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken."

Edgar Award Winner 2017

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. This is Hawley's fifth book. He's also known for creating the TV series Fargo and Legion.

"On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members--including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot--the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations--all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. American writer Saunders is an author of short stories, novellas, children's books and novels. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel.

"February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body."

Giller Prize Winner 2017

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill. Redhill is an American - born poet, novelist and playwright.This was his fourth work of fiction. He also wrote under the pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe.

"Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore?
Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death."

So there you go. I'll do the History and Science entry next time. If you are interested in seeing what other books were on the list for the various Awards, the links for each are below.

New York Times Best Sellers during 2017

Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists in All Categories 2017

The Hugo Awards 2017

The Edgar Awards 2017

Man Booker Prize 2017

Giller Prize 2017

Monday, 20 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading and Some New Books

Finally, a day without rain. Well, it still sprinkled a bit, but there was actually some sunshine. We've had this strange bird stalking our house the past week or so. He keeps flying at the windows, either in the kitchen or in the lounge, depending on his mood. He's just a little fella, flies off when I wave my hands in front of the window then comes back after. Weird.

Just Finished

Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser. This is the second book in the Flashman adventure series. My review is below.

"Royal Flash is the 2nd book in the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. This story was used for the movie (1975) starring Malcolm McDowell as the irrepressible Harry Flashman. The book was first published in 970.
Flashman is one of those heroes / anti-heroes like Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower. The difference is that Flashman is a rogue and a coward always looking out for number 1, AKA himself. In Royal Flash, a dalliance he has with an Irish beauty, during which he also meets Otto von Bismark (who he embarrasses) causes much tribulation in Flashman's future. He embarrasses this Lola Montez as well and she is used as bait to get Flashy into an untenable situation.
Flash is encouraged to go to Germany to help Lola with a situation. The combination of his troubles with his in-laws and a payment of a considerable amount of money sways him towards this voyage even though he wonders why Lola would want his help after what he has done to her.
This starts Flash on an unplanned adventure to a small state north of Germany where he is forced to impersonate a Crown Prince of Denmark, all part of the subterfuges of future Iron Chancellor, Bismark. It's a fun and adventure-filled story, with Flash both enjoying himself (heck, he does get to dally with a beautiful princess) and fighting to save his skin.
The story moves from London to Munich to northern Germany and the action flows easily along the route. The story is interesting and moves along nicely. How will it all turn out for Flashy? Well, there are another 10+ books in the series, so you can figure it out for yourself. If you want an enjoyable adventure, you might like the Flash series. (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

I'm continuing with my Spy / Adventure / War genre with my next book, the 11th book in the James Bond spy series by Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I mentioned it in my previous BLog entry and there is a synopsis there. (Just click on the title and scroll down a bit. :0)

Some New Books

I returned some books to Nearly New Books a couple of days ago and checked out their new stock. I found the following books.

1. Adam Hall - Quiller Solitaire. (Note - I scanned these books instead of photographing them; hence the slight different format.)

"The agent he was assigned to protect has been murdered - and now Quiller is out for blood. His mission - and his penance - is to find the assassin by infiltrating Nemesis, a frighteningly efficient Euro-terrorist organization with horrifying designs on the future of humanity. In the lethal domain of the death masters. Quiller has never been more alone .. or more needed - as he sits atop a twenty thousand pound payload of nerve gas and high explosives, rocketing through the skies above an unsuspecting world on a direct, non-stop flight to Armageddon."

2. Martin Limon - Slicky Boys. This is the 2nd book in a new series for me that is set in South Korea. I'm looking forward to starting it.

"George Sueno and his partner Ernie Bascom thought they'd seen it all. For military cops in Korea, back-alley knifings, flesh peddler's drug rings - they're all in a day's work. But nothing prepared them for the slickest criminals this side of the DMZ.
The Slicky Boys were everywhere. They could kill a man a thousand ways you don't even want to know about. And you'll never hear them coming.
The Slicky Boys steal, they kill, they slip away. And George and Ernie are about to discover that even the U.S. military is no match for evil, and that human sympathy can sometimes lead to a lonely grave."

3. Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Regiment. This is the 17th book in the Sharpe series. (Note - I remember this one in the TV series.)

"Major Richard Sharpe's men are in mortal danger - not from the French, but from the bureaucrats of Whitehall. Unless reinforcements can be brought from England, the depleted South Essex will be disbanded, its troops scattered throughout the army.
Determined not to see his regiment die, Sharpe returns to England and uncovers a nest of well-bred, high-ranking traitors, any one of whom could utterly destroy his career with a word, or a stroke of the pen. Sharpe is forced into the most desperate gamble of his life - and not even the influence of the Prince Regent may be enough to save him."

4. Colin Cotterill - Curse of the Pogo Stick. This is book five in Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I have enjoyed it very much so far.

"Laos, 1977. Dr. Siri Paiboun, the spry seventy three-year-old reluctant national coroner of Laos, is on his way back from a Communist party meeting when he is ambushed on a jungle trail and kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers. His only route to freedom is to exorcise the village of its demon - a task he has no idea how to accomplish - and in doing so he brings to pass the prediction of Auntie Bpoo, a transvestite fortune teller. Meanwhile, back in Vientiane, Nurse Dtui, Dr. Siri's fiancée are on their own to track down the assassin who is intent on wiping out the mortuary staff.
Exploding corpses, zombie muggers, and a geriatric gun fight - just another day at the Laos national morgue."

5. Peter Robinson - A Necessary End. This is the 3rd book in the Inspector Bank's series.

"One rainy March evening, an anti-nuclear demonstration outside the Eastvale Community Centre turns nasty: the mood of the crowd begins to darken as the weather worsens. Finally the police lose control and violence erupts, leaving one policeman dead with almost a hundred suspects.
Detective Chief Inspector Banks is back, investigating his third case in Yorkshire. But things become difficult for him when Superintendent Richard 'Dirty Dick' Burgess is sent from London, for political reasons, to lead the investigation. Sitting through a host of unusual suspects and disturbing discoveries about the police themselves, Bans is warned off the case. But the only way he can salvage his career is by beating Burgess to the killer. As the two head for a final confrontation, Banks pieces together the full story behind his most tragic case so far."

So there you go. Almost time for Frankie Drake mysteries and Lucifer. Have a great week!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Just Finished, Currently Reading and What's Left for 2017?

Well, it's the middle of November 2017... Wow! As of today, I've completed 105 of what I hoped would be 120 books in 2017. I've been in a bit of a slump in November, not sure if I've just chosen more difficult reads or if I'm just finding myself getting more occupied with other things.. *hack kaff, like this Blog*. ;0) The other day I went through my book shelves (that in itself can take a couple of hours) to choose the books I'll try to read to finish off the year. If I can finish the four I've got on the go plus those I've picked I would end the year with 121 books. We'll see.

Just Finished

At any rate, I finished my 105th book a couple of days ago. It fit into my Mystery - Sleuths sub-genre. Running Blind is the 4th book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher thriller series. As usual, it didn't disappoint. My review follows.

"Running Blind is the 4th Jack Reacher thriller by Lee Child. Like the other Reacher stories I've read, it's definitely long, but like the others, as well, it is eminently readable, moving along at a nice pace.
There were things that irritated me about the story; how the FBI coerces Reacher into helping them, Reacher's negative attitude to helping them (both somewhat related of course). But it was an interesting case and I really liked Harper, his FBI partner; intelligent, attractive and a strong character.
A number of women, ex of the Army, have been murdered in strange circumstances (very strange). They were all involved in sexual harassment cases while in the military. FBI profilers feel it's someone 'like Reacher' and force (almost blackmail) him into helping them.
The killer leaves no clues and there are no signs of violence. The murders take place in all parts of the country. Reacher and Harper work as a team to try and find clues and catch the killer before any more women die. Complicating the case is that Reacher knows one of the women as he investigated her rape case while he was an MP and he wants to keep her safe. Reacher must also decide if the wants to live a more settled life with his girl friend Jodie, introduced in the previous story.
It's a fast-paced story with a fair bit of action; nothing excessive mind you. I had an idea about the killer about half way through the story. I wasn't totally correct but had the gist of the solution. I can't say I was totally satisfied with the ending; it was a bit pat and seemed a bit of a throw away, but all in all it was still an entertaining story. (3.5 stars) Echo Burning is the next Reacher story."

Currently Reading

To replace the Reacher story, I've moved over to my other mystery sub-genre; the Cops. This is my first exposure to Peter Lovesey. Wobble to Death is the first book in his Sgt Cribb historical mystery series. The synopsis is below.

"London, 1879. In the vast, freezing Agricultural hall the crowds are gathering to bet on which of a motley group of pedestrian walkers will become Champion Pedestrian of the World. The race will last six days, covering over five-hundred miles around and around the hall. Conditions are barbaric: the rivalries are even worse. As the contestants wobble dizzily onwards, they are overtaken ... by unexpected death.
With the help of sore-footed Constable Thackeray, Sergeant Cribb must also race against time to catch the ruthless murderer."

The other books I'm currently reading are -

1. George MacDonald Fraser - Royal Flash. This is the 2nd book in the Flashman series and finds Flash being forced to impersonate the Prince of Denmark in a plot by Bismark. Interesting so far.
2. Anne Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. My first exposure to this Bronte sister. Slow go so far but still interesting.
3. CJ Cherryh - Downbelow Station. This is my first attempt at Cherryh's science fiction. It's taken a bit to get into the story but I'm enjoying now.

I hope to finish these stories and maybe one more by the end of November which should give me a good chance of achieving my 120 book total for the year. We'll see. Below are the 12 books I've set aside for the rest of the year. I've got a few other in mind should I really get going with my reading.

The Rest of 2017

1. Carl Reiner - How Paul Robeson Saved My Life and other Mostly Happy Stories. I've had this for 7 years or more. I think it'll be fun to finally try this, a nice light story.

"Filled with rich, multidimensional tales, this collection of short stories from one of America's truly great comedic minds is at once poignant, nostalgic, and laugh-out-loud funny. "How Paul Robeson Save My Life," the story of Reiner's experiences in the army during World War II, is a darkly funny look at racism. "Lance and Gwendolyn" is a modern-day fairy tale with some surprising twists. "Dial 411 for Legal Smut" is a tongue-in-cheek look at phone sex. Whatever topic he tackles, Reiner always manages to capture the highs and lows, the follies and foibles of everyday life."

2. Jean Potts - The Man with the Cane. This is my first attempt at anything by Potts. The Man with the Cane was written in 1957.

"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."

3. Ellis Peters - The Pilgrim of Hate. This is the 10th book in the Cadfael series. I've enjoyed all of the others very much so far.

"Pilgrims are gathering from far and wide to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the translation of Saint Winifred's bones to the Benedictine Abbey at Shrewsbury. In distant Winchester, a knight, supporter of Empress Maud, has been murdered - not apparently an event of importance to those seeking miraculous cures at the saint's shrine. but among the throng some strange customers indeed begin to puzzle Brother Cadfael -  and as the story unfolds it becomes evident that the murder is a much less remote affair than it first seemed."

4. Martin Limon - Jade Lady Burning. This is not only a new series for me but also one of my more recent purchases. I like the locale, South Korea, and hope it is an interesting series. It features US MP's George Sueno and Ernie Bascom. Sounds like an interesting concept.

"Almost twenty years after the end of the Korean War, the US Military is still present throughout South Korea, and tensions run high. Koreans look for any opportunity to hate the soldiers who drink at their bars and carouse with their women. When Pak Ok-Suk, a young Korean woman, is found brutally murdered in a torched apartment in the Itaewon red-light district of Seoul, it looks like it might be the work of her American soldier boyfriend. Sergeants George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, Military Police for the US 8th Army, are assigned to the case, but they have nothing to go on other than a tenuous connection to an infamous prostitute. As repressed resentments erupt around them, the pair set out on an increasingly dangerous quest to find evidence that will exonerate their countryman."

5. Susan Hill - The Various Haunts of Men. This is the 1st book in Hill's Inspector Chief Simon Serrailler mystery series. I have previously read one of the series but I'm looking forward to starting at the beginning.

"A woman vanishes in the fog up on 'the Hill', an area locally known for its tranquillity and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man and even a dog disappear no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet cathedral town. Young policewoman Freya Graffam is assigned to the case; she's new to the job, compassionate, inquisitive, dedicated and needs to know - perhaps too much.
She and the enigmatic detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler have the task of unravelling the mystery behind this gruesome sequence of events. From the passages revealing the killer's mind to the final heart-stopping twist, The Various Haunts of Men is a masterly crime debut and is the first in what promises to be a magnificent series featuring Simon Serrailler."

6. Winston Graham - Poldark. I've read other books by Graham, especially Marnie, which became one of Hitchcock's more popular mysteries. Jo and I watched season 1 of the Poldark series and enjoyed it. Now I'd like to check out the books. I've had this since 2015, awaiting my attention.

"Cornwall in the 1780's... County of mine-masters, wreckers - and turbulent passions Back to this land, his own land, comes Ross Poldark.
Ross looked across at Francis. 'I've interrupted a party. Is it in celebration of the peace or in honour of the next war?'
'No,' said Francis. 'I - er - The position is-'
'We are celebrating something far different,' said Charles, motioning for his glass to be filled. 'Francis is to be married.'
'To be married,' said Ross. 'Well, well; and who - '
'To Elizabeth,' said Mrs. Chynoweth.
There was silence. Ross put down his knife..."

7. Ian Fleming - On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I've collected and enjoyed at least half of the James Bond books so far. It's fun reliving these books. this is the 11th book in publication sequence.

"When James Bond rescues a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on one of the most dangerous men in the world: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, an evil genius who is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world."

8. Jasper Fforde - Lost in a Good Book. I enjoyed The Eyre Affair, the first book in the Thursday Next series very much. It was a unique, interesting story. I've had this second book for awhile and am looking forward to finally giving it a read.

"For Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, life should be good. Riding high on a wave of celebrity following the safe return of kidnapped Jane Eyre, Thursday ties the knot with the man she loves.
But marital bliss isn't quite as it should be. It turns out her husband of one month actually drowned thirty-eight years ago, and no one but Thursday has any memory of him at all.
Someone, somewhere is responsible.
Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday heads back into fiction in search of the truth, discovering that paper politicians, lost Shakespearean manuscripts, a flurry of near-fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?"

9. Elizabeth Ferrars - The Cup and the Lip. I've had this since 2012 and reading it will help me try a book I've had for quite awhile. Ferrars is an English crime writer. I have previously read a couple of her other mysteries.

"There is nothing unusual about stepping out of your own front door to take a walk.
Except, possibly, in the case of the distinguished novelist Dan Braile. After all, he was not only old but very sick. And it was a wet, stormy evening.
The problems began when he didn't come back. Add to that the fact that several of his friends and family wouldn't have been sorry to see him disappear. Then add to that the claims he'd made that someone was trying to poison him...
The mystery deepens when Peter Harkness finds that one of Braile's friends has been shot dead. Deepens for all of them, that is, except the murderer himself..."

10. Kilgore Trout - Venus on a Half-Shell. This is another book I've had for a long time, over 7 years I'd say. Kilgore Trout is a pen name used by science fiction writer, Philip Jose Farmer.

"The Space Wanderer, an Earthman wearing a eye-patch, levis, and a shabby gray sweater who roams the cosmos in a Chinese spaceship...
The Space Wanderer, a man without a planet who has gained immortality from an elixir drunk during a sexual interlude with an alien queen in heat...
The Space Wanderer, an intergalactic rover whose constant companions are a dog, an owl, and a female robot programmed for, among other things, unique fleshly delights...
The Space Wanderer, a pretty nice guy whose only fault is that he asks questions that no one can answer; primarily, Why are we created only to suffer and die?"

11. Agatha Christie - The Man in the Brown Suit. I wanted to try this book because it doesn't feature either Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, rather it is about Colonel Race.

"There was a strangeness about him, the man with the bronzed face, and it repelled Anne at the same time it fascinated. She thought, sometimes, she was in love with him; she knew, always, that she was a little afraid of him.
He called himself Colonel Race and it was rumored he was Secret Service.
But for Anne a feeling persisted ... that the Colonel's interest (in a mysterious master criminal whose face was unknown) stemmed from some other motive ... deeper ... more personal ... darkly dangerous..."

12. Catherine Bush - Minus Time, a Novel. This was the debut novel by Canadian author, Catherine Bush.

"Helen's world is the ultimate survival test, where toxic-food scares, contaminated water, sweeping chemical fires, and monumental earthquakes have become indistinguishable from the collapse of personal relationships and the distance within families. What can you do when your astronaut mother orbits the earth, your father finds saving people from earthquakes more important than keeping a family together, and the media persist in manipulating your private life?"

Well, there you go, the books I hope to finish off 2017 with. We'll see how well I succeed. Now to get back to reading.... Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Final Book Purchases - Victoria BC

Another rainy day since our return from Victoria. It's mild out but it's been raining off and on for the past 3 or 4 days. We're kind of hunkered down in the homestead, fighting colds, relaxing. The lights just flickered; shows how windy it is right now. So while we're taking it easy, I'll list the books I bought during our recent trip to Victoria. I visited Russell Books on Fort Street on our first morning, walked over from the hotel while Jo relaxed in our room. In the afternoon, we went to Cook Street to check out a couple of antique stores, then went to the top end of Fort Street. While Jo visited another antique store, I went over to The Chronicles of Crime, an excellent mystery book store. It's now combined with another book store, which I'll have to check out next time we go to Victoria. The books I bought are listed below.

Russell Books, Victoria BC

1. Margery Allingham - The Mind Readers. This is the 21st book by Allingham in the Albert Campion mystery series. I've read 7 of the Campion books so far and they have been entertaining, in the Poirot and Peter Wimsey style. The synopsis is below.

"The Iggy Tube was a terrifying toy that could change the course of history - or destroy the world!
To the two schoolboys who discovered it, the 'Iggy' was a handy gadget for reading people's minds.
To the group of tycoons who were willing to pay a king's ransom for it, the tube meant possession of the world's wealth.
To the world powers whose spies had orders to get the tube, it meant control of mankind."

2. Liz Evans - Who Killed Marilyn Monroe?. I've looked for Liz Evans PI Grace Smith books for a few years now so I was pleased to find the first book in this series so I can now give it a try.

"Marilyn Monroe has been murdered. And tough, irrepressible ex-cop PI Grace Smith is hired to hunt down the killer. But there are no all-expenses-paid trips to California for this investigation: Marilyn Monroe is a seaside donkey, and Grace is too broke to turn down the case.
During the investigation Grace finds herself increasingly drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder of a young prostitute whose death occurred on the same night as Marilyn's. But pitting her wits against a deranged criminal mind while trying to keep one step ahead of the police is not easy. And as Grace uncovers an extraordinary tale of greed and betrayal she soon realises her own life is in grave danger."

3. Nevil Shute - Marazan. I've been collecting and reading Shute's books the past few years. Marazan was his third book, written in 1926.

"Philip Stenning was grateful to the man who'd saved his life, grateful enough to change his identity and become part of a daredevil prison escape, grateful enough to risk being caught in the center of a family crossfire.
But Philip Stenning wasn't aware that his gratitude would carry him out of the skies into a new nerve-stretching race for his life..."

4. Vilgot Sjoman - I Am Curious (Yellow). I Am Curious (Yellow) was a controversial movie from Sweden released in 1967. I remember reading about it in Time Magazine at that time. I've never seen but I was interested in checking out the book when I saw it.

"One of the most significant films of the past ten years is one that American audiences still cannot see. Entitled I Am Curious - Yellow, it was made by the Swedish director, Vilgot Sjoman, whose earlier films included My Sister, My Love and 491. Wherever the film has been shown in Europe - in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France - it has been acclaimed by critics as an important work of art in its honest and forthright portrayal of the social, political, and sexual problems of today's youth.
This volume presents the full text of the scenario, together with 266 stills from the picture. Also included is an appendix of pertinent testimony about the film by key witnesses in the US District Court case."

5. Arthur Conan Doyle - The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard. I've enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes' stories for many a year. As I've searched for some of the books I don't have, I keep finding other books by Doyle. This is a collection of short stories featuring Brigadier Gerard.

"There is no braver officer in Napoleon's cavalry than Etienne Gerard - especially in his own opinion. Whether kidnapped by gangs of brigands or outnumbered by enemy troops, the plucky little soldier is constantly gallant, chivalrous and ready to face any danger, even if he doesn't always think before he acts.
With great gusto Gerard recounts the swashbuckling exploits and adventures  of his glittering military career - carrying out secret missions for Napoleon, making a daring break from an English prison, rescuing ladies in distress, duelling to the death against the dastardly Baron Straubenthal and even saving the day at the Battle of Waterloo."

6. Edgar Rice Burroughs - The Beasts of Tarzan. I started reading the Tarzan series back in August. This is the 3rd book in the series.

"Tarzan and Mugambi, the giant Negro, with silent, feral Sheeta the panther at their side, together with Tarzan's hideous crew of great apes, made a formidable company. But they were stalking a vicious human killer who held Tarzan's son and wife as hostage..."

7. James Lee Burke - Heartwood. This is the 2nd book in the Billy Bob Holland mystery series.

"Peggy Jean Deitrich smells of heat and roses, volunteers in the local library, and hides her bruises well. Once Billy Bob Holland made love to her in the woods above the river. Now Peggy Jean is married to the richest man in town. And Billy Bob, a former Texas Ranger who now defends criminals for a living, is out to destroy them.
Earl Deitrich has had his way with the town of Deaf Smith for years. Then Earl accused a hapless roustabout of a crime, and touched off a chain reaction of murder from the streets of Houston to the hill country around Billy Bob's ranch. Fueled by his memories and regrets, following a trail of shattered lives, Billy Bob knows that he must go after Earl with a vengeance. He just doesn't know how many people will get in the way - or who will be the last to die."

8. Agatha Christie - The Big Four. I've been enjoying getting into these classics. This is the 4th Hercule Poirot mystery, originally published in 1927.

"This was the most fearsome challenge in Hercule Poirot's long career -  as the greatest detective himself admitted.
Against him were aligned the forces of a global empire of evil whose power was beyond the imagination of an unsuspecting world.
Ahead of him was a trail of terror with pitfalls at every step and death at every bizarre turn.
And always with him was the knowledge that in this game for the highest stakes of all. Poirot's first mistake would be his last..."

9. Ed McBain - The Con Man. I've read the the first two books in the 87th Precinct series so far and have enjoyed them very much. This is the 4th book in the series. The Pusher (#3) is next on my reading list.

"A trickster taking money from an old woman for his own private charity... A cheater fleecing small businesses of their hard-earned money with the oldest gimmick in town... A ladies' man after women's money, with just a little bit of love... Handsome, charming, and the deadliest denizen of the city!
If the detectives of the 87th precinct knew every trick in the book, why were the bodies still washing up on the shore?"

The Chronicles of Crime, Victoria BC

1. Georges Simenon - Maigret at the Gai-Moulin. Simenon's Maigret series is an extensive one. I've read at least 5 so far and like finding other books in the series. This one was originally published in 1931.

"It's closing time at the Gai-Moulin, and Jean Chabot and Rene Delfrosse are planning to rob the till to pay off their debts. To their surprise, they stumble upon a dead body. What at first seems to the police an open and shut case proves more complicated when the body turns up next at the zoo, stuffed into a wicker basket. Into the puzzlement steps Maigret, who makes one of the most dramatic and colorful entrances of his career as he sorts out the tangled web of deceit."

2. Janwillem van de Wetering - The Amsterdam Cops. This is the 1st book in the Grijpstra & de Gier mystery series. I had ordered this book once before and when it arrived, it turned out that it was in Dutch. I checked the text this time before I bought it. :0)

"The man is hanging from a beam in the ceiling, his small bare feet pointing to the floor, when Detective Grijpstra and Sergeant de Gier find him. Suicide? Or murder? Piet Verboom, alive, ran the Hindist Society, a restaurant-cum-commune located on a narrow Amsterdam street. Dead, his business interests now seem a good deal more complex. And why should a man of the spirit wear such an expensive gold watch? Many more questions will occur to the two policeman before they can solve this highly enjoyable mystery - one of van de Wetering's very best."

3. Rex Stout - Fer-de-Lance. I've started enjoying the Nero Wolfe mysteries the past couple of years. This is the first book in the series, published originally in 1934.

"As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadfully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda - whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart."

4. Rex Stout - The Rubber Band. This is the third book in the Nero Wolfe series, originally published in 1936.

"In all his year of detecting, the unflappable Nero Wolfe has never encountered an investigation as damnably messy as this one. For what began as a clean case of larceny quickly sank into a quagmire of blackmail and broken promises, international scandal and cold-blooded murder. Now, Nero Wolfe and his able assistant, Archie Goodwin, must bridge eras and oceans to find the link between a Wild West lynching and a respected British peer. Only then can they save Wolfe's beautiful young client - and a hotly disputed stake of a cool million dollars."

Well, there you go. I've a couple of more books on order but maybe I'll try to be good until January... or maybe the end or middle of November.. ;0) Enjoy checking out these books!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

New Books Part 2

Yesterday I posted the books that I purchased while I was in North Bay, Ontario visiting my Dad last weekend. On my return to Ottawa with my older brother, we stopped at The Book Bazaar on Bank Street on my way to the airport. I found 3 books there. On my return home to Comox, I discovered that two books had also arrived in the mail. So for today's entry, I'll cover those five books.

The Book Bazaar, Bank Street, Ottawa Ontario

1. John Sanford - Eyes of Prey. This is the third book in the Lucas Davenport mystery / thriller series, so far entertaining and full of action. The synopsis is below.

"Lieutenant Davenport's sanity was nearly shattered by two murder investigations. Now he faces something worse... Two killers. One hideously scarred. The other strikingly handsome, a master manipulator fascinated with all aspects of death. The dark mirror of Davenport's soul... This is the case that will bring Davenport back to life. Or push him over the edge."

2. James Herbert - The Survivor. I've read a couple of Herbert's horror stories so far; The Secret of Crickley Hall and The Fog and enjoyed them both.

"It began with a faint whispering, then a low, evil chuckle. A shiver of fear coursed along his spine. Then he saw them - the long, pointed fingers, each with a life of its own, slithering toward him. And suddenly the hideous hand with nothing behind it was reaching out to grasp him in the grisly, intimately cold embrace of death...
It had been one of the worst crashes in airline history, killing over 300 people, and leaving only one survivor. Now the dead were buried and the town of Eton tried to forget... Until the young girl was found, screaming hysterically about malevolently grinning dolls and creatures of darkness. Until the fisherman's body was brought ashore, his face set in a grimace of utter terror. Until the priest was discovered cringing beneath the altar. Then the town was forced to face the shocking, dreadful truth about what was buried in the old graveyard..."

3. Adam Hall - The Warsaw Document.This is the 4th book in the Quiller series. I haven't yet tried it but I'm looking forward to starting it.

"The deadline was close and I knew now what London had sent me out here to do: define, infiltrate and destroy. And I couldn't do it just by standing in the way of the program Moscow was running. I'd have to get inside and blow it up from there."
Across the black snowscape of Poland's capital, a city where winter is more than a season, falls the shadow of a British Intelligence operation designed to save detente from explosion--an operation that pivots on an agent callously thrown into the front line of the Cold War and caught in the crossfire"

Golden Bridge Books, Ottawa ON

4. Adam Diment - The Dolly Dolly Spy. I read about Diment when they listed this book in the back of another book I was reading. He only wrote 4 books featuring spy Philip McAlpine, then he disappeared.

"The most modern hero in years... He's hip, he's hard, he likes birds, and, sometimes, marijuana... Philip McAlpine 'The latest instant hero of fiction. He is the contemporary Bond...McAlpine is a Secret Service agent, too. He also has the same obsessive interest in sex. But about there they part company... The Dolly Dolly Spy - There is any amount of violence and almost everybody is threatened with torture or rape or both...very efficient, not too jagged and extremely easy to read."

Blue Poppy Publishing

5. Joni Dee - And the Wolf Shall Dwell. The author had his publisher send the book to me. Much appreciated. I'm looking forward to trying it.

"Imagine being knocked over by a strange old man on a cold London morning...
The man delivers a garbled message about the Queen...
Moments later he falls under the wheels of a train...
The media calls it suicide, but you know better - something doesn't quite add up...
That was the start of the day for John Daniel, a foreign professional working in the City of London.
Meanwhile, retired MI6 agent Adam Grey receives a call from an old informant: 'Your service is rotten..."
Soon Adam is dragged out of retirement, and John is dragged into the murky world of international espionage, politics, and jihadi terrorism.
An intense and explosive thriller that hits frighteningly close to the truth for a work of fiction."

So there you go. Next I'll talk about the books I found in Victoria.

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