Monday, 30 April 2018

April 2018 Reading Summary

I'm overall very satisfied with my April Reading. I've read 39 books so far in 2018 and am 3 books ahead of my overall total challenge of 110 books. Below are my stats for the month of April.

April 2018

General Info                    Apr                Total
Books Read -                     10                    39
Pages Read -                    3,400               12575

Pages Breakdown
    < 250                               2                    12       
250 - 350                             4                    12
351 - 450                             2                      9
   > 450                                2                      6

5 - star                                                         2
4 - star                                 5                    24
3 - star                                 5                    12
2 - star                                                         1

Female                                3                     12
Male                                   7                     27

Fiction                                1                      9
Mystery                              6                    20
SciFi                                   3                     7
Classics                                                     1
Poetry                                                        2

Top 3 Books
1. The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock (4 stars)
"I didn't think I'd enjoy The Ash Garden by Canadian author, Dennis Bock. The subject was definitely depressing and it took me a bit to get into the flow of the story, which jumped from the past to the present and back again. But as I settled to it, it quickly drew me in.
The main theme of the story is the bombing of Hiroshima during WWII with the first atom bomb. The story revolves around 3 people; Emiko, a Japanese girl who was a child in Hiroshima when the bomb explodes and has her life turned on its end; Anton Boll, a German scientist who had escaped from Germany and was involved in the bomb construction; Sophie, Anton's wife, an Austrian woman, half - Jewish, whose parents sent her from her home to America to escape the terrors of the Nazi regime towards their community.
Emiko is disfigured by the bomb and her family destroyed and she is part of a group of girls who are sent to America for plastic surgery. Anton goes to Hiroshima immediately after the bomb to work for the Manhattan project in seeing the effects of the bombing and radiation. Sophie, who has her own physical limitations, tries to resolve her life with Anton and her desire to find out what happened to her parents.
It's a much deeper story than this premise and the journeys each person travels during the course of the story is fascinating. Their links to each other become apparent as the story progresses and there are a few surprises as well. It is a depressing story but still excellent and worth reading. (4 stars)"

2.  Heartstone by C.J. Sansom (4 stars)
"Heartstone is the 5th book in C.J. Sansom historical mystery series featuring lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. There are many branches to this story and it keeps Matthew and his capable assistant Jack Barak very busy. It makes for a long, wandering story but there was no time when it didn't hold my interest and wondering what would happen next.
Matthew is recovering from his depression of the death of his long-time house keeper, Joan. He is dealing with a number of cases and also with a young woman he'd met in a previous story, Ellen, who resides in Bedlam, an insane institution. He is struggling to help her and at the same time to find a way of dissuading her from her love for him.
Matthew is asked by King Henry VIII's wife, Lady Catherine Parr to help her with a situation. This means Matthew will have to go to Portsmouth to check on a young man, Hugh Curteys, who may be being misused by his Ward, Mr. Hobbey. Matthew feels this might help him find out more about Ellen's past as she lived in a nearby town.
What else?? Well, Matthew is suspicious of his new steward, an old soldier Mr Coldiron, and the young lady he calls his daughter, Josephine. And, of course, there is the threat of an invasion from France while Matthew is in Portsmouth. Troops are being drafted and sent to Portsmouth. Jack Barak is threatened with being drafted as well while his wife, Tamasin, is near giving birth. There are many old and new enemies for Matthew to deal with, Sir Richard Rich and Lawyer Dyrick. Whew! Is that enough for you?
Well, the story is involved, with many, many twists and turns and threats to both Matthew and Jack. It's a fascinating and interesting follow-on to the other books in the series. Don't be intimidated by the size, there are no wasted pages and the story is rich, historical and detailed. It's one of the more entertaining series I've read and enjoyed. (4 stars)"

3. The Murder Stone  by Louise Penny (4 stars)
"I continue to enjoy the Inspector Gamache mystery series by Canadian author Louise Penny. The Murder Stone is the 4th book in the series. For a change it is not set in the small town of Three Pines, but instead at a resort, Manoir Bellechasse. However, this is still relatively nearby and we do get a brief visit to Three Pines and Peter and Clara Morrow, regulars in the first three books, play a key role in the mystery.
The Gamache's, Armand and Reine Marie, are at the Manoir to celebrate their 35th anniversary. The wealthy Morrow family, mother, step father and four children with their accompaniments, either husband / wife or child, are also there for the annual family reunion. The main purpose of this reunion is to unveil a statue honoring the original patriarch, Charles Morrow. It's quickly apparent that there are many secrets and long held resentments in this family.
Added to this is the 'murder' of one of the children, Julia, whose body is discovered crushed under the statue. This brings in Gamache's intrepid team of Inspector Belvoir and Agent Lacoste. There are also mysteries and secrets within the fabric of the Manoir as well, from the maitre d', Pierre, to the chef, Veronique, etc.
It's a nicely paced story, developing slowly and steadily as Gamache and his team search the facts, search their own histories and interact with this strange and for the most part, unlikable family. However, even there you find complexities and twists. Things aren't always as it seems. The mystery is intriguing, especially the question of how them murder could take place?
I have to say that I continue to dislike Peter, his bitterness and his jealousies. I honestly don't understand why Clara stays with him but that is a small side-note. :0) We learn more about Gamache's past, his history with his father and also how it affects his relationship with his son. As always, the food looks fantastic and we get a brief visit to Three Pines to refresh our memories of that wonderful town and its inhabitants. All in all another excellent mystery from Penny. (4 stars)"

12 + 4  Challenge (completed 7)
1. Heartstone by C.J. Sansom (4 stars)
2. Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer (4 stars)

New Series (completed 8)
3. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist (3.5 stars)
4. Hammerhead by James Mayo (3 stars)

Ongoing Series (completed 8)
5. The Murder Stone by Louise Penny (4 stars)
6. Collusion by Stuart Neville (4 stars)

Decades Challenge (completed 8)
7. The Maracot Deep by Arthur Conan Doyle (1920 - 29) (3 stars)
8. Watchman by Ian Rankin (1980 - 89) (3.5 stars)

Canadian Content (completed 8)
9. The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock (4 stars)
10. Kingdom of the Cats by Phyllis Gotlieb (3.5 stars)

May Books

Currently Reading

1. Autumn, All the Cats Return by Philippe Georget (New Series)
2. Faithful Place by Tana French (12 + 4 Challenge)
3. The Accident by Linwood Barclay (Canadian Content)
4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Rigg (12 + 4 Challenge)

In the Mill
1. Peace and War by Joe Haldeman (New Series)

William Mandella 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.

When Mandella 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.

2043. The Ngumi War rages, fought by 'soldier-boys', indestructible machines operated remotely by soldiers hundreds of miles away. Julian Class is one of those 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. Roots of Evil / A Strange Desire by Kay Mitchell (Ongoing Series)

"When a young man accidentally drives off a bridge and into the Malminster river, and a prominent town official's mistress is murdered, Chief Inspector Morrisey delves deeply into a burgeoning town scandal"

3. Plain Murder by C.S. Forester (Decades Challenge / 1930 - 39)

"At the Universal Advertising Agency on the Strand, London, a murder is being planned. Three men have been discovered taking bribes and face the grim prospect of the dole queue, unless they can get rid of the person who caught them. Their ringleader, thick-set and vicious Mr Morris, soon discovers that killing is far easier than he thought - and that he even has a talent for it. He might, he feels, be superhuman. But as he will discover, there is no such thing as the perfect crime, and no deed goes unpunished."

I'm hoping I enjoy May as much as April. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Just Finished, Some New Books and Other Things like the Author's A - Z

Our week of sunshine has ended temporarily. It's a bit drizzly today but still comfortable. As long as we get two or three sunny days before the guys come to wash the siding and such on Wednesday. Spent the morning watching footie. Brighton managed a draw with Burnley and that puts them 5 points above the relegation zone with two games to go....

It always happens when I buy a bunch of books, like my Tuesday visit to the Rotary Club Book Sale. On Thursday and Friday I received 4 new books in the mail. I'll show you those and update my reading list. I hope to finish at least two more books before the end of April, but we'll see about that. I'll also update my Author's A - Z List for you.

So let's go!!!

New Books

I received one from Discovery Books in Toledo Ohio and 3 from Awesome Books in the UK.

1. Hammerhead by James Mayo (Charles Hood #1). I saw this listed in the back of an Adam Dimond spy story I'd recently enjoyed. I thought it might be worthwhile trying. I have taking a liking to those 60's spy stories and I've since started this one, hoping to finish before May. Mayo wrote 5 books in this series and also a number of books under his real name, Stephen Coulter.

"Introducing a new Secret Service agent who's worth keeping an eye on. Name: Charles Hood, bon viveur, sportsman, and art connoisseur. Of course it's all part of a cover for something much more dangerous."

2. Kill Zone by Loren D. Estleman (Peter Macklin #1). This is another new series for me. The write-up sounded interesting.

"Peter Macklin, a consummate hit-man working for the Boniface crime family of Detroit, finds himself working for the FBI and the Secret Service to secure the release of several hundred hostages aboard a tour boat on Lake Erie."

3. The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison (Linda Wallheim #1). Soho Crime has many interesting series. I've been exploring them slowly and for the most part enjoying.

"Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?"

4. The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1908). One of the classics. I've not yet read anything by Rinehart but look forward to reading it. She is supposedly the writer who made 'the butler did it' famous.

"Rachel Innes, a middle-aged spinster, has barely settled in at the country house she has rented for the summer when a series of bizarre and violent events threaten to perturb her normally unflappable nature. A strange figure appears briefly in the twilight outside a window. At night, a rattling, metallic sound reverberates through dark halls, and — most disconcerting of all — the body of a strange man is found lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of a circular staircase.
Before this spine-tingling tale's ends, five connected deaths shatter the normally placid atmosphere of the vacation retreat. Rachel's devoted niece and nephew are among the prime suspects in one of the murders; stolen securities and a bank default threatens the young pair's financial security; and Aunt "Ray" ultimately fights for her life in an airless secret room.
Author of more than 60 chilling mysteries, Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876–1958) is credited with inventing the "Had-I-But-Known" school of detective fiction, which typically involved an attractive heroine caught up in a seemingly endless succession of dangerous predicaments. The Circular Staircase — originally published in 1908 — is considered the first of the genre. A clever blend of intrigue, villainy, and heart-pounding suspense, leavened with traces of wry humor, this immensely popular novel will delight today's crime fiction buffs as much as it galvanized readers almost 90 years ago."

Just Finished

Collusion by Stuart Neville (Jack Lennon #2).

"Collusion is the 2nd book in Stuart Neville's DI Jack Lennon mystery / thriller series set in Northern Ireland. Like the first book, Ghosts of Belfast, this was a gritty, action - filled story.
It's definitely useful to read the first story in this series as events carry-on from what happened in the first book. A hit-man, The Traveler, is hired by O'Kane to kill off all of those people who were involved against him in the first book. This includes Jack Lennon's ex-lover and his daughter, Marie and Ellen McKenna. Included as well is Gerry Fegan, who was heavily involved in the first book as well. Fegan is a scary individual and O'Kane wants to pay him back. Fegan also knows Marie and Ellen and had helped them get away. Fegan is hiding in New Jersey but has promised to return if Marie and Ellen are threatened.
People are killed as the Traveler does his work and Lennon tries to convince his superiors that the killings are related. But there might be collusion between the various gangsters, Catholic and Protestant, and the police and UK's Special Branch.
It's a fast - paced story, jumping from Lennon to Fegan to the Traveler as the story moves along. As Lennon works to find Marie and also the killer, he's got to find people he can trust to keep Marie safe. As the story moves along, you are drawn into the action and the secrecy. Who is helping the Traveler and can he save Marie. Everything comes to a climactic head as the story ends. You'll find yourself on the edge of your seat as you turn the pages to get to the ending. I've enjoyed both books and even though it can be somewhat confusing, what with the Loyalists and Republicans and all the competing factions, it doesn't really takeaway from the story. Well worth trying but start with the 1st book. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

I've currently got 5 on the go because I couldn't resist starting Hammerhead (see above) right away. My other new book is below.

Watchman by Ian Rankin. This is one of Rankin's earlier works, written after his first Inspector Rebus mystery.

"Bombs are exploding in the streets of London, but life seems to have planted more subtle booby-traps for Miles Flint. Miles is a spy. His job is to watch and to listen, then to report back to his superiors, nothing more. The job, affording glimpses into the most private lives of his victims, appeals to Miles. He doesn't lust after promotion, and he doesn't want action. He wants, just for once, not to botch a case. Having lost one suspect - with horrific consequences - Miles becomes too involved with another, a young Irishwoman. His marriage seems ready to crumble to dust. So does his home. But Miles is given one last chance for redemption - a trip to Belfast, which quickly becomes a flight of terror, murder and shocking discoveries. But can the voyeur survive in a world of violent action?"

Author's A - Z

David Brin
1. David Brin. American writer Brin has written some of my favorite science fiction novels and one of my favorite series, Earthclan. I'll highlight 3 of his books

a. The Postman. I've read this story 3 or 4 times, nicely readable and a great story. The movie unfortunately wasn't quite as good.

"He was a survivor - a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war.
Fate touches him one chill winter's day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery."

b. Heart of the Comet.

"An odyssey of discovery, from a shattered society through the solar system with a handful of men and women who ride a cold, hurtling ball of ice to the shaky promise of a distant, unknowable future."

c. Earthclan. This book contains two books in the Earthclan series and it was the first one that I read.

"David Brin's Uplift Universe portrays humanity's desperate struggle for survival in a dangerous universe... and how we may cope by taking wise partners with us on this journey. Artificial intelligence is one way that we may add diversity to our civilization. But in this series we've done it by giving a boost in intelligence to some of our fellow creatures on Planet Earth. Dolphins and apes - especially - seem trapped under a "glass ceiling" that limits their ability to speak, to argue, to create, to use tools, to invent and take part in Terran culture. But what if we, the first species on Earth to cross the wide gulf of sapience, were to turn around and offer a hand to others? To pass on the gift (that sometimes threatens to be a curse) of fully empowered mind?"

Anne, Charlotte and Emily
2. The Brontes (Charlotte, Anne & Emily). In high school, Grade 13 to be specific, I took Wuthering Heights and recall not particularly liking it. I never read another again until the past few years when I decided to start reading more classics. Since then I've read and enjoyed books by both Charlotte and Anne. Below are two favorites.

a. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

 "Great story. I had great difficulty putting it down. Jane is a fantastic character; strong, intelligent, independent. I liked how she stood up to her cousin, how well she did at the boarding school she was sent to (as an outcast) and how she performed at Rochester's home when she became governess to his ward, the lovely Adelie. Even with the 'plot device' as my wife calls it, which kind of makes you go, 'yeah right', it's a fantastic story; a love story, a Gothic romance at times, an adventure (Jane's life is an adventure) and just a great work of fiction. There were characters I liked very much; Mrs Fairfax (Rochester's house keeper), who treats Jane so caringly, after a life of much tribulation for Jane; St. John's sisters, Diana and Mary, both lovely, who take Jane and make her part of their family; even the headmistress of the boarding school, who loves her charges, even under the strictures of the school's Master. The scenes with Rochester's 'wife' are quite intense and even spooky. The description of the north of England, where the story takes place, is well - described. The story is excellent, the characters well-developed and I'm glad that I read it finally. I guess I'll now have to try Charlotte Bronte's sisters, Wuthering Heights again now.. :) "

b. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë was originally published under the pseudonym Acton Bell, basically required during the time it was written, 1848, as it was difficult for women to publish under their own name. It's the 2nd Bronte novel I've read in the last couple of years, the first being The Professor, by sister Charlotte Bronte. I think I preferred The Professor, but both were fine stories.
We find Helen Graham and her son recently installed in Wildfell Hall, a mysterious woman with little back story. She gradually becomes acquainted with the residents of the area. Gilbert Markham, a land owner who lives with his mother, brother and sister becomes infatuated with Helen and while she seems to reciprocate, she also pushes him away, frustrating him greatly. Helen's reputation becomes suspect to the locals due to the time she spends with her landlord, Mr. Lawrence.
When challenged by Halford, Helen gives him her diary to read in order to explain everything. This story tells of her life with her husband, Mr. Huntingdon and the reason she has come to Wildfell Hall, quite a disturbing, tragic tale. Of course there is much more to the story, especially the ending which I won't tell.
It's a long tale, told in various formats, diaries, letters and basic story telling which I found quite interesting. Men aren't for the most part portrayed very sympathetically, especially Huntingdon and his friends. Halford is good-hearted but also head strong and emotional. Helen is a strong character, dealing with many hardships and trying to raise her son away from the influences of his father. It's often a depressing story but also an excellent one. As I got into it, I found myself spending more and more time with it, wanting to see how it resolved. (4 stars)"

Peter V. Brett
3. Peter Brett. I forgot this author in my last post (confused him with Simon Brett). Brett is an American fantasy author, noted for the Demon Cycle series. I received the first as a gift and have since purchased the 2nd. I definitely plan to read the first this year.... I think..

a. The Warded Man.

"As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise--demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards--symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human members dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night."

b.  The Desert Spear.

"Demons rise nightly, but so has a legendary Deliverer. From Desert Spear city, Ahmann Jardir unites tribes into an army. In the North, the tattooed Warded Man denies the title. The two former friends are now fierce adversaries. Healer Leesha, musician Rojer, and abused farm-girl Renna Tanner return with Arlen. Against all comes a demon prince, more intelligent, powerful, and deadly. Bonus 20 pages, author interview."

Well, there you go. I hope you're enjoying your weekend. Take care!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Comox Valley Rotary Club Book Sale 25 - 28 April 2018

I went to the first day of our local Rotary Club book sale today and found a few books; 3 books for $5.00, so I bought 15. I don't think I'll go again but if we're not doing anything on Saturday, I might go once again. It's usually $5.00 or so for a bag of books so it is worth it. Below are the books I found today.

1. Adam Hall. I found 4 of the Quiller spy novels. I have yet to try the first but I will at least read one this year.

a. The Striker Portfolio (#3).

"The fly fell down." Quiller sent the message off to London as requested. He had just seen a supersonic jet plunge 60,000 feet to its destruction. It was the 36th crash, and more were to come - unless Quiller finds out who is to blame.
That meant entering the deadly shadow world between East and West, where the name of the game was betrayal and the stakes were sky-high."

b. The Tango Briefing (#5).

"At the Tango briefing Quiller got his orders. Orders that sent him on a bizarre undercover operation, a double-suicide mission in the Sahara. His assignment: find and destroy a mysterious downed aircraft before the world learns of its existence, before its cargo is disclosed, and before enemy agents destroy the plane and possibly Quiller along with it!"

c. The Mandarin Cypher (#6).

"Quiller is in Hong Kong, where he thinks he's on vacation. But every alleyway leads dead to danger, and Quiller gets the message: he's never off duty.
The plot moves into a high gear. Quiller always enjoyed his rides, but this one is taxing. He finds a woman as faithless as she is beautiful; he fails to reform her, but enjoys the effort. He takes on villains one, two and three at a time and dispatches them on land with karate and in the South Seas with its aquatic equivalent"

d. The Kobra Manifesto (#7).

"A Yugoslavian plane crashes in the south of France; a fuel tanker explodes at Rome airport, a British diplomat is shot dead in Phnom Penh. In each case Quiller, Adam Hall's relentless British agent witnesses the violence as he pursues a fanatical terrorist group known as Kobra"

2. George Orwell. I have been collecting Orwell's books and found two of his earlier publications.

a. Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936).

"London, 1936. Gordon Comstock has declared war on the money god; and Gordon is losing the war. Nearly 30 and "rather moth-eaten already," a poet whose one small book of verse has fallen "flatter than any pancake," Gordon has given up a "good" job and gone to work in a bookshop at half his former salary. Always broke, but too proud to accept charity, he rarely sees his few friends and cannot get the virginal Rosemary to bed because (or so he believes), "If you have no money ... women won't love you." On the windowsill of Gordon's shabby rooming-house room is a sickly but unkillable aspidistra - a plant he abhors as the banner of the sort of "mingy, lower-middle-class decency" he is fleeing in his downward flight."

b. The Road to Wigan Pier (1937).

"A searing account of George Orwell’s experiences of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, slum housing, mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity."

Fiction / Adventure (not mystery)

1. C.S. Forester - Hornblower and the 'Atropos'. I've read most of Forester's Horatio Hornblower series. This is one of the few books I didn't have yet.

"1805: The Early Days of Horatio Hornblower's Captaincy -
IN WHICH HE supervises the funeral of Britain's beloved Admiral Nelson;
IN WHICH HE recaptures His Brittanic Majesty's brig, Amelia Jane, from a French prize crew;
IN WHICH HE recovers a quarter million sterling from the transport, Speedwell, sunken in Turkish waters;
IN WHICH HE sails his small, swift Atropos against a mighty Spanish frigate.
HORNBLOWER AND THE ATROPOS being another stirring adventure in C. S. Forester's epic saga of English sea-power in the Great Days of Sail."

2. W. Somerset Maugham - The Magician (1908). I've read a few of Mauham's books and have been enjoying discovering his work. I had never heard of this one before but it sounds interesting.

"In Paris around 1900, Arthur and Margaret are engaged to be married. Everyone approves and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Until Oliver Haddo appears. Sinister and repulsive, Haddo fascinates Margaret's spinster friend, Susie Boyd. Yet it is not Susie who ultimately falls prey to this peculiar charm. It is Margaret, and a fate worse than death awaits her in the form of the evil Haddo."

3. P.G. Wodehouse - Meet Mr. Mulliner (1927). I enjoy Wodehouse's humor. I've read a few of his Jeeves and Wooster series as well as his PSmith books. This is a collection of short stories in his Mulliner series.

"At the Angler’s Rest, a bucolic English pub, drinking hot scotch and lemon, sits one of Wodehouse’s greatest raconteurs. Mr. Mulliner tells fabulous stories of the extraordinary behavior of his far-flung family."

4.  John Lanchester - Capital. Jo and I watched this mini-series on British TV and enjoyed it very much. I've been looking for the book.

"It's 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London - a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder - are receiving anonymous postcards reading "We Want What You Have." Who is behind it? What do they want? Epic in scope yet intimate, capturing the ordinary dramas of very different lives, this is a novel of love and suspicion, of financial collapse and terrorist threat, of property values going up and fortunes going down, and of a city at a moment of extraordinary tension."

I found a mix of books from series I've already started and a couple of new ones.

1. John Sanford - Silent Prey (Prey #4). I've read the first two books so far.

"He was right. His guards slain, the brilliant, insane pathologist of Eyes of Prey flees to New York, there to continue his research into aspects of death. Carefully, he conducts his experiments, searching the eyes of his dying victims for what they can reveal, the mounting body count causing an uproar in the city.
In desperation, the police reach out for the man who knew Bekker best, but when Lucas arrives, he finds unexpected danger as well. For Lily Rothenburg, the policewoman whose intense affair with Lucas has never completely faded, is there too. Now, consumed with her own investigation of a group of rogue killers within the police department, she draws Lucas into her orbit again, until their hunts merge, their twin obsessions driving them ever closer to the edge . . . and then over."

2. Ruth Rendell - A Guilty Thing Surprised (CI Wexford #5). I've read the first book in this series so far.

"The discovery of Elizabeth Nightingale's broken body in the woods near her home could not have come as a bigger shock. Called in to investigate, Chief Inspector Wexford quickly determines that the Nightingales were considered the perfect couple - wealthy, attractive and without an enemy in the world.
However, someone must have been alone with Elizabeth that night in the woods. Someone who hated - or perhaps loved - her enough to beat her to death.
The case seems straightforward. But Wexford soon learn that beneath the placid surface of the Nightingales' lives lie undercurrents and secrets no one ever suspected."

3. Peter Lovesey - Abracadaver (Sgt Cribb #3). I've read the first book in this series and it was entertaining enough to encourage me to continue the series.

"A sadistic practical joker is haunting the popular music halls of London, interfering with the actors and interrupting their acts by orchestrating humiliating disasters that take place in view of the audience. A trapeze artist misses her timing when the trapeze ropes are shortened. A comedian who invites the audience to sing along with him finds the words of his song “shamefully” altered. Mustard has been applied to a sword swallower’s blade. A singer’s costume has been rigged. The girl in a magician’s box is trapped. Then the mischief escalates to murder. Or was murder intended all along? That indomitable detective team, Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray of Scotland Yard, must track down the elusive criminal."

4. Andrea Camilleri - The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano #3). I've wanted to try this series for awhile. I used to have the first book but I think one time during a clean-up of my shelves I traded it in. I'll have to do a really good check through my shelves.

"In the third book in Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series, the urbane and perceptive Sicilian detective exposes a viper's nest of government corruption and international intrigue in a compelling new case. When an elderly man is stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily's coast, only Montalbano suspects the link between the two incidents. His investigation leads to the beautiful Karima, an impoverished house cleaner and sometime prostitute, whose young son steals other schoolchildren's mid-morning snacks. But Karima disappears, and the young snack thief's life-as well as Montalbano's-is on the line . . ."

5. Magdalen Nabb - The Monster of Florence (Marshall Guarnaccia #10). I checked out this series at the back of another book I was enjoying. Soho Crime publishes many series that are new to me. I've ordered the 1st book in this series and was pleasantly surprised to find another at the book sale.

"Marshal Guarnaccia's job with the Carabinieri usually involves restoring stolen handbags to grateful old ladies and lost cameras to bewildered tourists. So when he is assigned to work with the Florence police in trying to track down a vicious serial killer, he feels out of his league. The crimes he must try to understand are grotesque, the case materials harrowing.  To make matters worse, the Proc he must report to is Simonetti, the same man he knows drove an innocent man to suicide several years earlier in his blind quest for a conviction."

There you go. If I go to the last day I'll let you know if I find anything else on Saturday. Take care! 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Just Finished and Started and Author's A - Z

I'm feeling my age tonight. Went to the gym for an hour this morning and then did some yard work this afternoon. Maybe I should hire someone to do it.. :0) At the moment the missus and I are flicking back and forth between the Blue Jays game and Lethal Weapon. Enjoying both so far.

Tomorrow the Comox Valley Rotary Club starts its semi-annual book sale. It runs for 4 days. I usually go for the first day and the last day. There are always a few books there and the price is right.

Well, on to my 2018 reading.. I finished one this morning and started a new one as well. I'll continue with my ongoing list of Authors from my Goodreads book list. So without further ado, let's go!

Just Finished

Magician: Apprentice (The Riftwar Saga #1) by Raymond E. Feist. This was from my New Series challenge.

"Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist is the first book in the Riftwar Saga and was my first experience with his stories. It's an interesting concept; the world of Pug, the self-titled Magician's Apprentice, is being invaded by enemies from another world, through a rift in 'space - time'? Or something like that.
Pug has reached the age where he and his friends of the same age, especially his best friend Tomas, are chosen for their apprentice roles within the castle of the Duke of Crydee on the West of the Kingdom. Tomas is chosen by the sword master and Pug by the Wizard Kulgan. As events occur and time passes, Pug and Tomas realize that they are being attacked by people from this other world. The Duke takes a group of his leaders, along with Pug and Tomas, to the castle of the King to warn them and encourage the King to raise armies to battle the Tsurani. It's a long journey and some things happen but a lot of it is introducing people who will probably appear in future books.
The story is an easy read but it's also a bit of a slow burn. The last half has a lot more action and adventure with the group from the beginning being separated and having their own adventures. The focus at the end is Crydee just as it started and it ends without ending. That is the way of a series isn't it?.. :0)
I liked the book but wasn't overwhelmed by it. However there were enough questions raised that I will try to find the 2nd book to see what happens next. It's an interesting concept for sure and there are many interesting characters. I hope in the next book we learn more about his enemy who for the most part have been relatively faceless. Worth trying if you enjoy fantasy. (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

Watchman by Ian Rankin. This is part of my Decades Challenge. Rankin is also known for his Inspector Rebus mysteries.

 "Miles is a spy. He wants, just for once, not to botch a case. Given one last chance for redemption, he is sent to Belfast, which quickly becomes a flight of terror, murder and shocking discoveries. But can he survive in a world of violent action?"

Bill's Author's A - Z

Lilian Jackson Braun
1. Lilian Jackson Braun. Lilian Jackson Braun is an American writer who lived from 1913 - 2011 and was known for her Cat who books. There are 29 books in the series. I've read the first two so far and have two more on my bookshelf. It's a nice, entertaining cozy series.

a. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (#1).

"This is my first exposure to Lilian Jackson Braun's cozy Qwilleran and Koko (the Siamese cat) mysteries. I had previously avoided them as the concept of the reporter, aided by a cat, solving mysteries didn't really appeal to me. However as I've begun to explore the mystery genre more and more and due to recommendations from a number of Goodreads friends, I finally bit the bullet and took the plunge (how's that for mixed metaphors). And I have to say, this introduction to Qwilleran, the new reporter on the art beat of the Daily Fluxion, and his burgeoning acquaintance with Koko, his landlord's Siamese cat, was most enjoyable. This is definitely a 'cozy' mystery, a murder of a local art critic welcomes Qwill (and his bristly moustaches, which seem to have a life of its own) to his new job on the art beat. Qwill previously was a crime reporter on another paper, but due to unexplained circumstances, now finds himself exploring the local art scene of the Fluxion, a paper in some unnamed city. As he explores the art scene and familiarizing himself with it, he rents an apt from the Flux' art critic and his Siamese cat and finds himself embroiled in this mystery; one murder, maybe two, maybe three. I wanted to give this mystery a 3 star, maybe a 3.5, but ultimately, it was such an enjoyable read and the characters were interesting and the mystery was a pleasure to delve into, that I had to give it a 4 star. Looking forward to reading more of the developing relationship between Koko (the real detective) and Qwill in mystery number 2, The Cat who Ate Danish Modern."

b. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (#2).

"The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern is the second mystery in the Qwilleran and Koko series. Qwill is a down on his luck news reporter who has found new life working for the Daily Fluxion. He inherited his Siamese cat, Koko, from a friend who was murdered in the first book. In this 2nd book, Qwill discovers that he is to become the editor of a Design supplement to the newspaper, much to his chagrin. However, with a promotion as part of the job title and more money in the salary packet, he attacks his new job with gusto. Along with his camera man, Odd Benson, they head out to take photos and write the first article on an exclusive residence whose owner also is a jade fanatic. When a death occurs just after the publishing of the article and with much of the jade disappearing, it looks grim for Qwill's new career as a design reporter. However with Koko's assistance, ,Qwill works through the story and mystery, hoping to solve it and keep his job. The story is written nicely and flows smoothly. I like the characters and enjoy sitting down to this cozy mystery. Book 3 is currently on my shelf and I won't wait too long to give it a try. (4 stars)"

Richard Brautigan
2. Richard Brautigan. Brautigan is an American author, poet and short story writer who lived from 1935 - 1984. I've read one of his books, which was for a Western challenge. It would also have fit quite well for a horror challenge; a strange interesting book. I have one other book of his to read.

a. The Hawkline Monster (1974).

"A book I bought by chance after seeing it in the display cabinet of one of my favourite used book stores. It happened that Sep was Western genre month so this being a 'Gothic western' and liking the cover, I decided to give it a chance. A very easy, flowing read and a quirky interesting story. The gist being that two gunslingers are hired by a young woman to come to Oregon to kill a monster that resides in the ice caves below their house in Oregon. Many, many strange occurrences, which I'll let you discover until the face-to-face meeting with the monster. I liked the two gunslingers, Cameron and Greer, both straight-forward, easy going hit men, hit men with standards and ethics. I liked the Hawkline sisters. At times it's almost childish, the story, but it held my interest and I enjoyed it thoroughly. A solid 3.5 stars."

b. Trout Fishing in America (1967).

"A novel which is both playful and serious, hilarious and melancholy. It takes a journey which starts at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin statue in Washington Square, San Francisco, and wanders through the wonders of America's rural waterways."

Simon Brett
3. Simon Brett. Brett is an English mystery writer and radio producer. I first heard of him when Jo was listening to a radio dramatization of one of his Charles Paris novels. It starred Bill Nighy as sleuth Charles Paris. I enjoyed listening to it as well and it got me checking out his novels. I've since enjoyed at least one each of 3 of his series; Charles Paris, Mrs. Pargeter and the Fethering mysteries. All have been enjoyable. I'll highlight one of each.

a. A Comedian Dies (Charles Paris #5).

"A Comedian Dies by Simon Brett is the first Charles Paris mystery that I've read (it is the 5th in the series). I have read 3 or 4 of the Fethering series and enjoyed them. My wife used to listen to BBC radio dramatizations of the Charles Paris books, starring Bill Nighy as Paris. That is what got me interested in Simon Brett's books.
Paris is a struggling actor who gets involved solving mysteries. He has an on again / off again relationship with his wife and an on again / off again relationship with his career. The story starts with Paris and his wife attending an afternoon variety show where there is a bit of excitement; the lead performer, an up and coming comedian is electrocuted as he starts his act. The police say it was an accident, but being nosy and drawn to mystery, Paris comes to believe that, in fact, the comedian was murdered. Thus begins his rambling investigation of all of the people involved in the show. He picks up and drops suspects faster than a hot potato.
At the same time, Paris has been offered a TV job with an aging comic who is trying to reinvigorate his own career. Paris juggles this new job with his continuing investigation. It's an interesting story and an interesting conclusion. (3.5 stars)"

b. The Body on the Beach (Fethering #1).

"This is the first book in the Fethering mystery series by Simon Brett and I enjoyed very much. It was well-paced, with enough action to keep me reading and with two likable characters who I hope to find out more about. Carole Seddon is a retired public servant who has settled in the seaside town of Fethering, located near Brighton on England's southeast coast. Carole lives a routine life, walking her dog, following the routines and mores of the other retired people who have settled there. A new neighbour, Jude, arrives to unsettle Carole's routine and to bring along some excitement and friendship. The other change is the discovery, by Carole, of a body on the beach, which starts the chain of events that make up this story. It wasn't a perfect story, but it was entertaining and I will continue to read this series and take a chance on the others written by Simon Brett. Glad that I finally got a start on this series."

c. Mrs. Pargeter's Package (Mrs. Pargeter #3).

"I've read books from other series by Simon Brett; 3 of the Fethering books and one of the Charles Paris books. I enjoyed both series so have been looking to try the Mrs. Pargeter mysteries and have just finished the third book in the series, Mrs. Pargeter's Package. Overall, I preferred the other series but I still liked this book. It was cozy, light and entertaining.
Melita Pargeter is a 60ish widow. Her husband was a successful businessman, some of his methods may have been less than legal. But he also had many friends and it seems that they feel an obligation to support Melita due to their working with her hubbie.
Melita is taking a trip to Corfu, the Greek Island, with a friend, Joyce, who is trying to get over the death of her husband. There is a mystery here. Joyce is looking for something in Corfu and she ends up dead. The local police officer says it was suicide but after looking the situation over, Melita feels that it was murder.
With the help of Larry Lambeth, a fellow pretty good at forgery, Melita searches for clues to Joyce's death. Back in London, detective Truffler Mason and wheeler dealer Hamish Ramon Henriques (HRH), help Mrs. Pargeter look into deaths and other clues that might help.
It wasn't a complex story but it moved along nicely and it kept me interested. Call it light and fluffy and a fun read. (3 stars)"

Well, there you go. I just realized that I've missed one author but I'll try to remember to include that next entry. Enjoy the rest of your week. I'll let you know if I get any books at the Book Fair tomorrow.
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