Monday, 20 October 2014

October Update

Hmmm, interesting, when I logged in I got error messages saying my browser isn't supporting this. Well, we'll see what happens; I seem to be able to type this. Anyway, on with the show. It's one of the first days in awhile that we haven't had lots of rain, I'm going to write this entry and if it's still reasonable out, the doggies and I are going to go outside while I rake some leaves.. Sounds like fun, eh?

It's an old picture but you get the idea...

Update on my October books

My Favourite Oct Book
I've had a reasonably successful month of October so far. I've read 9 books so far, although I have to say that 3 of them were graphic novels, so not many pages. My favourite book so far has been A Deeper Darkness, the first Samantha Owens mystery, by J.T. Ellison. It was my introduction to Ellison; I needed a book with an author whose last name starts with 'E' and this looked interesting. Samantha Owens is a city pathologist out of Tennessee. She is dealing with issues from her past; as it slowly comes out, it involves the death of her husband and children. That does take the whole story to actually be explained. I'm not ruining anything I don't think as it is included in the synopsis of the book I bought. She has many issues, including an OCD habit of washing and rewashing her hands any time she gets stressed and she has lost interest in her job and many other issues. This did grate on my nerves somewhat at the beginning as it did seem to preoccupy the writer for the first 50 or so pages. Samantha receives a request from the mother of her ex-lover, her first love, who is murdered in Washington DC in what seems to be an apparent drive-by car grab. His mother thinks there is more to this murder and asks Samantha to come in and perform a second autopsy to see if she can find out something that the original investigation couldn't. Eddie Donovan is an ex Army Ranger and his mother thinks he may have been murdered for other reasons. So Samantha reluctantly goes to Washington and soon finds herself immersed in other murders, threats to her life, interest from the police detective working the case and so much else. It is a taut, well-paced, exciting thriller once it gets going. I didn't particularly like, or maybe more appropriately, wasn't satisfied with the ending, but that was only because I hoped for a somewhat different result. However, that is a minor detail. The book was pleasantly surprising and I enjoyed it very much and now will have to find the other books in this series and maybe even try Ellison's Taylor Jackson series. (4 stars)

Currently Reading

A Deeper Darkness was the last book of the group I had started last weekend so I'm now in the process of starting three new books.

A new series - DS Grace
Dead Simple by Peter James - Dead Simple is the first book in another new series for me. I've had 4 or 5 of the books on my book shelf for at least the past year or longer so I think it's time for me to dust off the first book and see what I think of it. This is the synopsis "It was meant to be a harmless stag night prank. A few hours later four of his best friends are dead and Michael Harrison has disappeared. With only three days to the wedding, Detective Superintendent Grace - a man haunted by the shadow of his own missing wife - is contacted by Michael's beautiful, distraught fiancée, Ashley Harper. Grace discovers that the one man who ought to know Michael Harrison's whereabouts is saying nothing. But then he has a lot to gain - more than anyone realizes. For one man's disaster is another man's fortune... Dead simple.."

A comforting series - Superintendent Wycliffe
Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat by W.J. Burley - I've read about 3 of this series over the past couple of years; I dust one off every year and settle down to enjoy another Wycliffe mystery. I still have another ten or so on my bookshelf so have decided to read the next two in the series as part of my bed time challenge. This is the second book in the series and this is the synopsis - "The woman was young and slim, with auburn hair arranged on her pillow. When Superintendent Wycliffe saw her, he could almost believe she was asleep - that is, until he looked at her face. Although she had been killed by strangulation, someone had mutilated her face after she was dead. As Wycliffe investigates, he finds more questions than answers. Why did a girl with expensive clothing and make-up end up in such a seedy hotel down by the docks? Why was there a thousand pounds hidden near her, beneath a pile of clothing? And why was someone apparently trying to hide her identity?"

A thrilling book and TV series
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin - This is the fifth and so far most recent book int he Song of Fire and Ice fantasy series, that has been also made into the successful TV series, A Game of Thrones. I've been avoiding reading this fifth book as I don't know when the sixth book will come out. But now that the next iteration of the TV series will be starting in the new year, I felt I should get caught up with the happenings in Westeros and surrounding kingdoms. This book moves along in synch with the 4th book, following different characters until later on when they all catch up with each other.  This is the synopsis "In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east - with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night's Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skin-changers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.".. now you know why this is such an exciting series..

Well, the rains have started, I think I'll focus on laundry instead of yard work.. lol...

Friday, 3 October 2014

September Review and a Look at October

Well, Autumn has hit. It's been cool and cloudy, the trees are changing colours and I go to work in the dark. I should probably get the lawn mowed one more time and put down the fertiliser and do an Autumn seeding. It's been kind of quiet at work so I find myself making new lists to help me prepare for my 2015 Reading Challenges (had a few thoughts but nothing too serious yet) and also starting to make up my initial Top Ten 2014 lists for year end.

Footie season is in full swing and I'm doing reasonably well in my Barclay's Premiership Footie pool. I made whole sale changes after the first three weeks, using my Wild Card and have moved up a bit in the standings the past couple of weeks. Here's hoping that continues this weekend.

So onto my review of September's reading.

Goodreads Challenge. I read 11 books in September which brings my total for the year to 81. I hoped to finish 90 this year so I don't think I'll have any difficulties finishing that amount, plus some. Depending how many I actually read will probably affect how many I'm going to try and read in 2015. In September, I averaged about 300 pages per book. My longest was 576 pages, my shortest 149. Total for the year is approximately 27,300.

Of the 11 books I completed in September, most were mysteries -

Mysteries - 8
Biography - 1
Western - 1
and one classified as a Gothic Western, a strangely interesting story.

I read 7 books by female authors and 4 by male authors.

I had no five star selections this past month, but 6 were 4 stars and the remaining 5 were 3. (You can't do .5 ratings in Goodreads, but when I wrote my reviews, I do often give a 3.5 or 4.5.

As well, 8 of the books were parts of series I'm enjoying. One new series, that being the first book in MC Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series, which I enjoyed very much. I'd put it in the cozy mystery variety.

Favourite Book in September.

I think my favourite book of September was Dorothy L. Sayer's 2nd Lord Peter Wimsey book, Clouds of Witness. I've had a few of this series on my bookshelves for a couple of years and I finally read the first book in August and then this story in September. I'm glad I finally took a chance on Dorothy Sayers' writing; I enjoyed both very much. This was my review of the books. "This is the second in the Lord Peter Wimsey series of mysteries and it was as enjoyable as the first. In this story, Lord Peter's brother, Gerald is accused of murdering Lady Mary's (Peter and Gerald's sister) fiancé. Peter, along with his friend, Scotland Yard detective, Charles Parker and Peter's butler, Bunter, work to prove his innocence. An interesting story, with many suspects and a brother who is protecting somebody, it draws you in immediately. I particularly enjoyed certain aspects of the case, the fact that because Gerald is a peer, his trial must be conducted in the House of Lords. All in all, it was well-paced, well-crafted and had enough twists and turns to keep me reading and wondering. Excellent."

October Reading

October is, of course, Halloween month so I do plan to read a couple of horror stories. As well, in my UK Book Club group, the October genre is the graphic novel. In my last Blog, I mentioned that I had purchased 3 graphic novels. I've read two of them already and overall they were enjoyable. I still have one to read and that will be completed this weekend, I'm sure. At the moment, I'm reading the following books -

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959) - This is my first horror story of October and it's a classic. It's been the subject of two movie adaptations. I'm enjoying very much so far. This is the synopsis "Hill House stood abandoned, six miles off the road. Four people came to learn its secrets: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar; Luke, a spendthrift heir; Theodora, escaping a love affair... and Eleanor. Eleanor was lonely and vulnerable - to friendship, love and laughter, and to the house. Hill House, not sane, stood against its hills, holding darkness within. Whatever walked there, walked alone." I will read at least one more horror/ ghost story book in October. At the moment I'm leading towards  The Lurking Fear and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

2. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey (1929). This is one of my alphabetical mystery challenge selections. It's the first book in the Inspector Grant series. I have read one other previously and enjoyed. Having found the first book, I must say I'm enjoying so far, even thought I'm just starting out with it. This is the synopsis "A long line had formed for the standing-room-only section of the Woffington Theatre. Didn't You Know?, London's favourite musical comedy for the past two years, was finishing its run at the end of the week. Suddenly, the line began to move, forming a wedge before the open doors as hopeful theatregoers nudged their way forward. But one man, his head sunk down upon his chest, slowly sank to his knees and then, still more slowly, keeled over on his face. Thinking he had fainted, a spectator moved to help, but recoiled in horror from what lay before him: the man in the queue had a small silver dagger neatly plunged into his back. So begins Inspector Alan Grant's first spectacular case, and it's up to the dapper detective to discover how murder was committed among so many witnesses, none of whom saw anything." My next book for this challenge will come from lower in the alphabet, the letter "J", and I will be starting my first Peter James, Inspector Roy Grace mystery, Dead Simple.

3. The Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peters (Cadfael #7) - This is the latest book in my Bed-Time Author's Challenge. I've read a few of the Cadfael mysteries and have also enjoyed the television series very much. I will be reading one more of this series as I read two of each when I hit an author. The synopsis of this book is as follows "Liliwin, a wandering minstrel, is thrown out of Daniel Aurifaber's wedding feast after a jug is broken during his juggling act. Soon after, the groom's father is found senseless beside his empty money box. A lynch mob sets off after Liliwin, who claims sanctuary in the abbey. The next day, the Aurifaber's neighbour is found dead, and the ageing matriarch of their household has a seizure and dies soon after. The following day, the baddies make their escape taking the stolen gold and Rannilt - Liliwin's serving-girl friend - as hostage, but are stopped before the reach the Welsh border." This series is always enjoyable, nice and comforting and provides a bit of insight into the history of the time as well. I highly recommend you check out the series.

Not sure what else I'll read in October, but I've room for many freebies and to pick and choose to try and finish off a few miscellaneous challenges. It should be a good month. Enjoy and keep on reading!!
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