Sunday, 24 March 2019

City of the Lost


City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong has languished on my Nook for a couple of years. My eldest daughter recommended the series but I completely forgot about it, and even that I had the first book, until I saw Kay's post and a bell went off in my addled brain. I do find that ereaders, Kindles and Nooks (and I have both), are basically gigantic black holes for books though. No matter, I found the ebook and spent last week reading it.



Casey Duncan is a police detective living the city life in Canada (I didn't catch which city, Toronto I assume). She has a secret: she killed someone when she was in her teens. Her friend, Diana, who knows about this, has problems of her own. Her abusive and controlling ex-husband is making life intolerable to the point of violence against her. The two need to escape, move on again, but where? They hear about a place, deep in the Yukon forests, where people who need to escape from something can go. At a price. But 'price' to Casey is not an issue, her parents left her comfortably off when they died.

The town of Rockton is not easy to get into. You need good reasons to get past the ruling council, who don't themselves live there. Casey is helped by the fact that she's a detective and the town is in need of one to assist the sheriff. Eventually the two women manage to get in, Diana going ahead first, Casey following a few weeks later.

On arrival Casey is immediately taken up by the local law-enforcement officers, who are basically the sheriff, Eric Dalton, and Will Anders, a deputy. It's clear from the off that the sheriff is a difficult personality and Casey struggles to get along with him, suspecting that he doesn't trust her. He's in need of help though, as people are disappearing into the forest and dying, killed by persons unknown. Half the town are criminals but also out in the forest live several different kinds of undesirables, some a lot more undesirable than others. The situation is dangerous and highly volatile and Casey's life is further complicated by the fact that her friend, Diana, has managed to get in with a Bad Lot. How can life here in a small town in the Canadian wilderness possibly be more complicated than it was in a large metropolitan city?

Kelley Artmstrong's most famous series is of course 'Women of the Otherworld', a werewolf based horror series. I've tried so hard to like them but with zero success, something about them just doesn't appeal. I like her writing though, she's always very readable, and I've always regretted that I didn't like the Otherworld books, hoping that she might write something else that I like more.

Well she has. This crime based series is much more my thing though it has to be said, it does come really close to 'horror' without actually being of that genre. Armstrong really ramps it up with her hints of 'what's out there in the forest', aided and abetted by descriptions of what happens to people who inadvertently, or otherwise, go wandering off. I know there are plenty of 'winderness horror' books out there, I haven't read any, but I suspect this is possibly an acceptable alternative for wimps like me who don't actually want to be terrified, just mildly alarmed.

For that reason and for a very strong sense of place I have to say I enjoyed the book very much. I'm not so sure about the main characters. I quite liked Casey but wasn't ecstatic over her, same for Sheriff Dalton. I think, like many series, it's necessary to read several books in to really get used to the characters and allow them to grow on you. That's happened to me with a lot of series so I'm happy to persevere. Plus, I'm intrigued to see where the author can go with such a small community as it seems to me that options are limited and I'm not sure that 'quirky wilderness characters' will be enough to keep my interest. We'll see.

City of the Lost is my 4th. book for The 12th. Annual Canadian Book Challenge, which is being hosted by The Indextrious Reader. I suspect I'm not going to complete this. I came to it 4 months late and it being to read 13 books by the end of June, I doubt I'll manage it. What I'll probably do is sign up again and give myself a full year to do it properly. So far though I have visited Quebec, twice, Toronto, and now The Yukon, so that's not bad, but I am hoping to cover all 13 provinces and terrtiories at some stage.

It's also my 10th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge and also qualifies for her Calendar of Crime challenge under the December category 'Author's birth month'.

~~~oOo~~~

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin


Please ignore, this is repeated from my last post to enable me to post it on the Calandar of Crime Link site.


The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge under the December category of 'A book title starting with the letter D' (the 'The' doesn't count). I'm also using it as my first book for The European Reading Challenge 2019 as it is set in Belgium.

Rene Delfosse and Jean Chabot are two young lads out on the town in Liége, in Belgium. The bar they're in is known as a bit of a den of iniquity and it makes the boys feel grown-up being there. They're keeping company with a dancer, Adéle, who suddenly moves away to entertain a man who appears to be from Greece. Also present, drinking in the bar, is a heavily built Frenchman that no one has seen before. The two boys are up to no good. They have a plan to hide in the cellars after closing time, creep back up to the bar, and rob the till. Putting their plan into action it all goes smoothly, until they realise there's a dead body behind the bar. It's the Greek looking gentleman from earlier in the evening. Terrified, the boys make a run for it thinking they can just disappear and no one will be any the wiser, but they've reckoned without the heavily built Frenchman...

Not my favourite Maigret so far (Maigret in Holland, The Misty Harbour, The Judge's House, Maigret and the Flemish Shop) but enjoyable nevertheless. Nice sense of the city of Liége during the wars, it was Simenon's home city and his love for it shows. The two feckless lads, one from a rich family, the other a poorish one, are depicted as rather amoral. Simenon picked one of them to concentrate on and the boy's increasing sense of desperation as he tries to hide his crimes from his parents and steer clear of the police is very well portrayed. I gave it a 3 star rating on Goodreads, rounded down from 3.5 as they don't do halves on there. For me it was not one of his best as it lacked the atmosphere of some of the novels I mentioned previously. I must admit I do enjoy these occasional Maigret reads and what a shame ITV have seen fit to cancel their excellent series with Rowan Atkinson, I felt it had a lot of potential.

~~~oOo~~~

Friday, 15 March 2019

Catching up on crime novels


First up, Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie. This qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge under the September category of 'Author's birth month'.

There are nine stories in this anthology, seven Miss Marple stories and two supernatural. Some of my favourite stories: Sanctuary, where Miss Marple and her god-daughter, Bunch Harmon, a vicar's wife, join forces to solve the mystery of a dead man in the church. The Case of the Perfect Maid where Miss Marple's maid asks her to help her friend, Gladdie, who's been dismissed from her job as a maid with two sisters. Very ingenious solution to this one. The Dressmaker's Doll, a supernatural story about a doll in a dressmaker's shop which moves of its own accord. In a Glass Darkly, another wierd tale, a man dressing in front of a mirror sees a strangling reflected in said mirror, when he turns around there's nothing there. Greenshaw's Folly is a tale of a new will, witnessed by Miss Marple's nephew, Raymond. The writer of the will is then murdered with an arrow... this is another story with an ingenious solution.

This was an all round excellent anthology. I enjoyed every story and thought the two supernatural tales were particularly good. I'm also very taken with Christie's use of humour in her books. I don't think she gets full credit for this and it certainly isn't reflected in the very latest TV adaptations. This, from The Perfect Maid made me giggle:

The dim light showed her to be a thin, indecisive-looking creature, with a good deal of greyish-yellow hair untidily wound around her head and errupting into curls, the whole thing looking like a bird's nest of which no self-respecting bird could be proud.

Wonderful. I've reserved another Miss Marple anthology, Thirteen Guests, from the library.


Next, The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon. This qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge under the December category of 'A book title starting with the letter D' (the 'The' doesn't count). I'm also using it as my first book for The European Reading Challenge 2019 as it is set in Belgium.

Rene Delfosse and Jean Chabot are two young lads out on the town in Liége, in Belgium. The bar they're in is known as a bit of a den of iniquity and it makes the boys feel grown-up being there. They're keeping company with a dancer, Adéle, who suddenly moves away to entertain a man who appears to be from Greece. Also present, drinking in the bar, is a heavily built Frenchman that no one has seen before. The two boys are up to no good. They have a plan to hide in the cellars after closing time, creep back up to the bar, and rob the till. Putting their plan into action it all goes smoothly, until they realise there's a dead body behind the bar. It's the Greek looking gentleman from earlier in the evening. Terrified, the boys make a run for it thinking they can just disappear and no one will be any the wiser, but they've reckoned without the heavily built Frenchman...

Not my favourite Maigret so far (Maigret in Holland, The Misty Harbour, The Judge's House, Maigret and the Flemish Shop) but enjoyable nevertheless. Nice sense of the city of Liége during the wars, it was Simenon's home city and his love for it shows. The two feckless lads, one from a rich family, the other a poorish one, are depicted as rather amoral. Simenon picked one of them to concentrate on and the boy's increasing sense of desperation as he tries to hide his crimes from his parents and steer clear of the police is very well portrayed. I gave it a 3 star rating on Goodreads, rounded down from 3.5 as they don't do halves on there. For me it was not one of his best as it lacked the atmosphere of some of the novels I mentioned previously. I must admit I do enjoy these occasional Maigret reads and what a shame ITV have seen fit to cancel their excellent series with Rowan Atkinson, I felt it had a lot of potential.

~~~oOo~~~


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

New books!


I did a quick flit around several charity shops yesterday while my husband was at the drs. I wasn't holding out a lot of hope as I tend to look for more unusual books, the usual I can find in the library generally speaking. But Marie Curie and Cancer Research came up trumps. Really delighted with the four I found.



From the bottom:

Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael Palin. This is basically what it says on the tin, a non-fiction story of the history of HMS Erebus, the ship that was involved in the ill-fated Franklin expediton of 1845. This one has a beautiful front cover too.

















Munich by Robert Harris. This one is based around Chamberlain's efforts to prevent World War 2 and is, I gather, rather good.


Pole to Pole by Michael Palin. Based on the TV series where the intrepid Palin travels from the North to the South Pole along the line of longitude, 30 degrees east.


The Magnetic North: Travels in the Arctic by Sara Wheeler. This charts the author's travels around the Arctic Ocean and the lands which surround it. This is also rather good I've heard and also has a nice cover.

















The last two books are not charity shop buys but were sent to me by the British Library publishers for review. They're two science fiction volumes, The Darkest of Nights and The Tide Went Out both by Charles Eric Maine. Nice covers on these too.




The charity shop buys seem to centre around my love of reading about cold places... generally mountains... I haven't read a lot about Arctic and Antarctic exploration, looks like I'm about to start. Anyway, very pleased with my book haul (especially as I was actually looking for jigsaws) and rather fancy I should troll around the charity shops a bit more often.

~~~oOo~~~

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The European Reading Challenge


Well, I lasted just over a month. The European Reading challenge 2018 finished at the end of January of this year. I'm already doing 5 other challenges so I decided that I probably shouldn't do this as well. Famous last words. I really really miss it and am going to sign up for another year. This is the link to the sign-up post for The European Reading Challenge 2019, where you will find info and rules. The host is Rose City Reader.



The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour.

These are the standard European countries:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

I'm going to do the FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE) which is to: Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

Last year I managed eight books for this challenge and would hope to do as well this year too. I loved doing it and know it'll be great fun to do again.

~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Weekend at Thrackley


Could the covers of these British Library Crime Classic books possibly be any prettier?


Gorgeous. (Hands up who read that in the voice of Craig Revel-Horwood.)

Anyway. Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville is my book 8 for Bev's Mount TBR challenge, my 3rd. book for Becky's World at War challenge covering the category 'A fiction book set in the 1930s', and my 8th. book for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge covering the December category of 'House Party'.

Jim Henderson is down on his luck. A veteran of World War One, he's not been able to get a job, is thus very hard-up, and has to live in a lodging house with a Mrs. Bertram who, 'read the newspapers rather more than was good for her'. When he receives an invitation to a House party from an Edwin Carson, who claims to have been a friend of his father, he looks upon it as weekend of free food. He's even more pleased to discover that a friend of his, Freddie Usher, has also been invited, although Freddie has no idea why he's on the invitation list.

The two motor off to Surrey and discover on arrival that Thrackley is a large, forbidding establishment in the middle of some dark pine woods. Both of them start to wish they'd not come but standing on the entrance steps is an actress that Freddie's a bit keen on, so stay they do.

As well as the actress and themselves, there're a couple of artists, a Lady Stone and Carson's daughter, Mary. None of them have the first clue why they've been invited but Freddie was asked to bring the family jewels as Carson is an expert in precious stones and wants to see the collection.
The women of the group also have expensive jewellery on them. Jim is confused. He has no expensive gems for his host to study so why is he here?

As a whodunnit this really isn't. There is a dead body but it's way into the book and it's quite clear who did the deed. The book is more of a mystery story to be honest, a slightly obvious one if you read a lot of crime fic as I do, but that didn't matter a jot, the air of menace as the book proceeds and things turn nasty is quite tangible and the change of atmosphere is depicted very cleverly by the author.

Everything about the book is slightly unusual, it's written with a very light hand, Edmund Crispin springs to mind in regard to the humour that's very prevalent at the beginning of the book. I loved Mrs. Bertram, Freddie Usher is straight out of P.G. Wodehouse and Edwin Carson and his rather strange staff fitted into it all very neatly as traditional villains. It even felt a trifle Ealing Comedy-ish... all a bit bonkers... slightly like one of those Brian Rix farces we used to see on the telly, only with a menacing atmosphere.

This was recommended to me by a couple of people and I'm grateful to them as it was definitely one of the best BLCC books I've read. I think Alan Melville wrote quite a few more crime books including Quick Curtain and Death of Anton, both available from the BLCC.


~~~oOo~~~

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Maisie Dobbs


I posted this brief review in my 'Books Read in February' post earlier today, but when I tried to list it on the Calendar of Crime review page it gave me every pic in that post to choose from except 'Maisie Dobbs'. So I'm blogging it separately and hopefully it will now work.




This book was a reread for me from at least ten years ago. I hadn't been all that smitten with it back then but during a blog chat with Judith from Reader in the Wilderness about the series I decided to give it another go, given how popular it is with a lot of people. Basically, Maisie Dobbs has set up a private detective agency after serving in WW1 as a nurse and going to Cambridge university. She has a very humble background but was sponsored by Lady Rowan Compton when she was caught reading in the library in the middle of the night, something maids were obviously not supposed to do. The Great War interupts her studies at Cambridge. Maisie goes to The Front to be a nurse where she falls in love with a doctor. What happens there, how Maisie subsequently sets up her agency and conducts her first case is the subject of the book.

I have to say I enjoyed it much more than the first time around. So much seemed unlikely back then, such as a member of the peerage sponsoring a maid, but perhaps I'm less critical these days: more accepting. Whatever... I'd forgotten how good the book is on nursing in WW1, the full horror is there, particularly as regards the facial injuries of some wounded soldiers. I wouldn't call this a murder mystery. This is more social history with a mystery thrown in and as that it works very well. Looking at some of the upcoming books, there are 15 altogether, I find myself eager to find out what happens to Maisie so have reserved book 2, Birds of a Feather, from the library.

Maisie Dobbs qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime under the May category 'Military figure has major role'... in fact there are two or three in the book. It also qualifies for Becky's World at War challenge under the category 'A fiction book set in the 1920s'.

~~~oOo~~~

Books read in February


For the last week or two we've had record temperatures here in the UK. Parts of the country saw 20C yesterday, these are not just spring temps, they're summer ones! Doesn't feel right, I much prefer a proper winter and indeed, it is due to get colder from the weekend I think. Not that the daffs don't look lovely...


Anyway, enough weather and gardening news, February was a quiet reading month for me, five books read and these are they:

8. The Risk of Darkness - Susan Hill

9. To Oldly Go: Tales of Intrepid Travel by the Over 60s - A Bradt Travel Guide

10. Aiofe's Chariot - Katherine Pathak

11. The Mitford Girls - Mary S. Lovell

12. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear

This book was a reread for me from at least ten years ago. I hadn't been all that smitten with it back then but during a blog chat with Judith from Reader in the Wilderness about the series I decided to give it another go, given how popular it is with a lot of people. Basically, Maisie Dobbs has set up a private detective agency after serving in WW1 as a nurse and going to Cambridge university. She has a very humble background but was sponsored by Lady Rowan Compton when she was caught reading in the library in the middle of the night, something maids were obviously not supposed to do. The Great War interupts her studies at Cambridge. Maisie goes to The Front to be a nurse where she falls in love with a doctor. What happens there, how Maisie subsequently sets up her agency and conducts her first case is the subject of the book. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than the first time around. So much seemed unlikely back then, such as a member of the peerage sponsoring a maid, but perhaps I'm less critical these days: more accepting. Whatever... I'd forgotten how good the book is on nursing in WW1, the full horror is there, particularly as regards the facial injuries of some wounded soldiers. I wouldn't call this a murder mystery. This is more social history with a mystery thrown in and as that it works very well. Looking at some of the upcoming books, there are 15 altogether, I find myself eager to find out what happens to Maisie so have reserved book 2, Birds of a Feather, from the library. Maisie Dobbs qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime under the May category 'Military figure has major role'... in fact there are two or three in the book. It also qualifies for Becky's World at War challenge under the category 'A fiction book set in the 1920s'.

Very pleased with this month's books. Five might not seem like a lot but two of them were over 500 pages so those took a while to get through, particularly The Mitford Girls, not that it wasn't well worth it as that was a brilliant book. In fact, every book this month was good, no complaints at all.


These are the two books I'm reading at the moment:




They have something in common, a lovely vein of gentle, dry humour running through both of them.


And after those I'm not sure what I'll read. Possibly one or two of these:




And as well as reading 5 books this month I also completed this:



3,000 pieces, Alesund in Norway. Happy reading in March!

~~~oOo~~~

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Several non-fictions


Several non-fiction books to review briefly today, read over the last 4 or 5 weeks.

First up, Around the World in 80 Days by Michael Palin. This was my 2nd. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 reading challenge.


There can be very few people who have not seen one of Michael Palin's excellent travel documentaries. He's been everywhere, Pole to Pole, around the Pacific Rim, The Himalayas, explored Eastern Europe and recently went to North Korea. Around the World in 80 Days was his first adventure though, and it was quite surprising, looking at the photos in the book, to see how young he looks. Anyway, having watched all of these docs, I realised recently that I'd never read any of the accompanying books. And then out of the blue my grand-daughter gave me 80 Days for Christmas: perfect. So I've been reading it slowly since the new year and thoroughly enjoying Palin's rather wry, gentle style of writing and humour. You can of course read it in his voice which I always find very helpful. It was all rather familiar - he whips across Europe to Istambul on the Orient Express and from there to Eygpt, which he finds chaotic but convivial, to Saudi Arabia which is too regimented and controlled for his liking. Along the way someone suggests to him that Israel will cease to exist in 25 years, as this was 1988 we can see what happened to that prediction. He sails slowly on a dhow from Arabia to India and I remember that this was one of my favourite parts of the TV programme, I loved how the pace of life slowed so completely. After that it's mainly very large container type ships he travels on which are not as interesting and you see how boredom sets in with him and his various 'Passepartouts'. What, stupidly, surprised me was how much sea travel was actually necessary, I suppose it's quicker and less complicated than going by land. In fact he was on one container ship that goes round and round the globe constantly in 63 days and, ironically, he realises that he could just have got on one of those to do the challenge. An enjoyable read, I enjoyed Palin's writing very much and also hearing about all the books he read along the way and how he acquired them. I shall read more and have in fact reserved his book about Eastern Europe from the library.


Next, To Oldly Go: Tales of Intrepid Travel by the Over-60s. I can't find an editor for this collection but it's published by the Bradt travel guide people. This is my book 6 for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge.


The travel writer, Dervla Murphy, provides an excellent foreward to this collection of travel tales of the over 60s, questioning why, in Jane Austen's time, people allowed middle age to take over at 40, especially as plenty of people back then lived into their 80s and 90s. These days that would be laughable and this volume of travel stories underlines that. It's full of people hardly in the first flush of youth, undertaking all kinds of perilous or slightly mad journeys. A few of my favourites: Matthew Paris swimming across the Thames - very dangerous apparently especially if you mistime your attempt by an hour. Diana Moran (the Green Goddess to those of us of a certain age) walking the Great Wall of China and reflecting on how many soldiers died building it, thus it's known as the largest graveyeard in the world. M.J. Pramik, a man who can't stand heights, goes paragliding with vultures. Elizabeth Pimm drives to Italy on her own, gets a flat tyre in France, two men stop to help her and then drive off with her handbag. The nastiness of the French police towards her took me by surprise a bit. John Carter (again to those of us of a certain age, a well known travel presenter on TV) goes white water rafting in Switzerland thinking he is in the hands of an experienced rafting crew... Rosemary Fretwell writes *beautifully* about walking the area around Cape Wrath in Scotland and so does Sue Bathurst in her piece about pony trekking in Bhutan. Janet Rogers goes to France on a working holiday to improve her French only to find the wife that she has corressponded with has gone off for the week and left her with her mono-syllabic husband. This collection varies a bit, some of the tales were a trifle pedestrian, or just not of interest, football in Sierra Leone for instance. But those that were good were very, very good and not all of the best ones were by professional writers. A lot were amateurs writing beautifully about their trips. I must investigate Bradt Travel Literature to see what else they have.


Lastly, The Mitford Sisters by Mary S.Lovell. This is my 7th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge.

On the back of this book there's a quote by Lord Redesdale which pretty much sums this book up. "I am normal, my wife is normal, but my daughters are each more foolish that the other." To be honest, that's not quite fair although it's a good quote. Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Decca (Jessica) and Debo were certainly a diverse bunch and it's often forgotten that they had a brother until the middle of World War 2, Tom who, if memory serves, came between Pam and Diana. It's quite hard to review such a huge (almost 600 pages) book because it covers such a huge timespan, 1904 - 2000 (Debo and Diana were still alive when it was written) and covers such a lot of ground. A lot of it is dedicated to what happened to the family during the war. It's well documented that Unity fell in love with Hitler but I didn't realise how determined she was to meet him and how she persuaded a lot of her family to do likewise once she knew him well. Pretty much all but Decca fell under his spell and only the girls' father, David, really changed his mind. Also fascinating was the story of how Diana fell for Oswald Mosely and became part of his BUF (British Union of Fascists). For someone like me who's only just beginning to learn the ins and outs of WW2 this made for rivetting reading. Decca lived mainly in the US and was an out and out communist, Nancy was a hugely famous writer, far more than I realised, Pam married a famous scientist at the time and Debo became famous as the woman who saved Chatsworth... I've read several of her books. There's so much to this book that I'd have to write reams to do it justice. For me, Mary S. Lovell struck the perfect balance. The facts, some of them, are quite extreme but I never felt preached at. It's clear what her opinions are about the sisters' shenanigans but she does try to give both sides of the argument when possible and treats the reader as intelligent enough to come to their own conclusions. I thought the writing was excellent too, very conversational and readable. I'm delighted to discover that I have another book by her on my shelves, The Riviera Set, and she's also done one about The Churchills which I will certainly be getting.

~~~oOo~~~

Monday, 18 February 2019

Aoife's Chariot


Aoife's Chariot by Katherine Pathak is my 6th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 and also qualifies for her Calendar of Crime challenge under the April category of 'Book title has word starting with A'.



Imogen Croft is a Scot who lives with her husband, Hugh, and children on the Essex coast in England. She had rather an idyllic childhood on the Scottish island of Garansay, situated in the Firth of Clyde, brought up with two older brothers, Michael and Allan. All three of the siblings have moved away but still maintain contact. When their mother, Isabel, dies suddenly the brothers suggest that Imogen goes north to look at the old farm and decide what should be done with it. Should it be sold, or should they keep it?

Some years ago Isabel had lost a bag when walking on the nearby mountain. Whatever had been in the bag was so important that it has caused a major upset in the family. It was never found... until now. Some builders find it and hand it to Imogen, but it's empty. Who took the contents?

At a fete, Imogen has a confrontational run-in with one of her brothers' old acquaintances, Alison. The woman is clearly drunk and has a reputation for this kind of behaviour. No one thinks any more about it until her body is discovered floating in a loch up on the mountain. Investigations reveal, shockingly, that the manner of Alison's death is identical to that of an aunt... her father's sister. How can this possibly be?

This one of those delicious 'family secret' type stories and, mixed with mysterious deaths and a fair bit of family history, it works tremendously well. Imogen slowly realises there are secrets in her family that she had no idea existed. Who was the mysterious Aileen who died young and who nobody talked much about? Why did her father distance himself from the family he was brought up with in the slums of Glasgow, to the point where Imogen hardly knew any of them? And what was in the bag her mother lost that was such a devastating loss? Imogen's quest to find an answer to these questions and more takes the reader on a fascinating journey.

One of the nice things about this story, for me, was its depiction of a happily married couple as the main characters. This is quite unusual, authors seem reluctant to allow any of their detectives a normal life. There are few who are not alcoholic, or in possession of three ex-wives and a clutch of hostile, estranged kids, sometimes all of the above... or indeed other sundry skeletons in residence in the cupboard rattling the lock to come out. So nice to have an ordinary couple, with ordinary kids and ordinary problems living a normal life. All power to Katherine Pathak's elbow say I, it's so refreshing.

I gather that the island of Garansay is probably the Isle of Arran. I've never been but after reading this book I would now love to. It's a character in its own right, so vividly does the author bring it to life. I loved descriptions of childhood haunts and grieved a bit with Imogen as she mourns the loss of the peace and quiet now that tourists have discovered their island. One section towards the end where there's a violent storm was so effective I felt I was actually there. Superb.

Aoife's Chariot is book 1 of a series, the 'Imogen and Hugh Croft' mysteries, of which there are currently 6 books and a short story. I'm so looking forward to reading more and have already bought book 2, The Only Survivor, for my Kindle.

Peggy at Peggy's Porch has also reviewed this book here.

~~~oOo~~~

Friday, 15 February 2019

Update on the book series I read


Well here we are, it's a while since I did an update of the various series I read (November 2017 in fact) so it's time to do just that. I have a dilemma when I look at the list. Why? Well there're so many that I've just not bothered with in ages and I'm trying to figure out why this is. Do I have a short attention span when it comes to keeping up or is it the fault of the books for not holding my attention? Maybe I just love starting shiny new series? Possibly there's something about the direction some of them take which no longer appeals: I know this to be true of one or two. In one case - Dark Iceland - I'm confused about which book to read next so that doesn't help.

I also wonder if it's just not possible to keep up with so many series so I end up reading just the ones which interest me the most 'at the moment'. I should really delete that second list of crime books and forget about them but I find I can't. After all, I'm notorious for returning to a series years after I read the last one, loving it, and finding my enthusiam renewed. Never say 'never'.


Crime - currently reading:

Charlie Parker - John Connolly - (read 12... up to book 13)
Ruth Galloway - Elly Griffiths (read 9)
Lord Peter Wimsey - (read 9)
Bruno, Chief of Police - Martin Walker (Read 3)
Comm. Adamsberg - Fred Vargas (Read books 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9)
Kate Shugak - Dana Stabenow (read 9)
Armande Gamache - Louise Penny (read 8)
Simon Serailler - Susan Hill (read 3)
DCI Dani Bevan - Katherine Pathak (read 1)
Imogen & Hugh Croft - Katherine Pathak (reading the 1st. book)
Rabbi Small - Harry Kemelman (read 1)
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (read 1)


Also crime, but series I haven't read in a while but am unwilling to abandon just yet:

Montalbano - Andrea Camilleri (read 5)
Matthew Shardlake – C.J. Sansom (read 3)
Flavia de Luce - Alan Bradley (read 7)
Daisy Dalrymple - Carola Dunn (read 21)
Rizzoli and Isles - Tess Gerritsen (read 8)
Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes – Laurie R. King (read 5)
The Lewis trilogy - Peter May (read 2)
Gordianus the Finder - Steven Saylor (read 2)
Medicus - Ruth Downie (read 2)
Kate Burkholder - Linda Castillo (read 2)
Reverand Clare Fergusson - Julia Spencer-Fleming (read 3)
No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency - A. McCall-Smith (read 11)
Sea Detective - Mark Douglas Home (read 2)
Hannah Scarlett - Martin Edwards (read 6)
Jacquot - Martin O'Brien (read 5)
Enzo McLeod - Peter May (read 2)
Inspector Wexford - Ruth Rendall (read 2)
Dark Iceland - Ragnar Jónasson (Read 1)


Where the next genre is concerned the problem is a different one. This genre just does not interest me as much any more. And yet when I do read something from it, I usually enjoy it and find it a refreshing change. So this list will remain and I'm not going to put stress on myself over it, just read from it as and when I fancy.


Sci Fi, Fantasy and horror - both adult and young adult:

Mercy Thompson - Patricia Briggs (read 6)
Jackelian - Stephen Hunt (read 2)
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch (read 4)
Liveship Trader - Robin Hobb (read 1)
Astreiant - Melissa Scott - (read 2 1/2)
Hyperion - Dan Simmons (read 1)
Lady Trent - Marie Brennan (read 3)
Cloud Roads - Martha Wells (read 1)
St. Marys - Jodi Taylor (read 1)
Pern - Anne McCaffrey (ongoing)


I wrote this in November 2017:

I've become a serious crime fic reader, with a definite bent towards vintage crime and anything set overseas, especially the USA or France. I also seem to have shifted slightly from being a fiction reader to someone who also reads a fair bit of non-fiction. Given that I'm not a speedy reader that means something has to give and it's tended to be my series reading.

And really, that still applies. Tastes change as get we get older, I eat food now that I wouldn't have even contemplated trying a few years ago, my taste in clothes has definitely changed, TV shows that once were 'must watch' are now 'can't stomach at all'. Opinions alter, even friends sometimes have a shelf-life. So why shouldn't our taste in books also undergo a radical change from time to time? It's life, Jim...


~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Risk of Darkness


The Risk of Darkness is book three in Susan Hill's 'Simon Serrailler' (I still don't really know how to pronounce that surname properly) series of murder mysteries. It's my fifth book for Bev's Calendar of Crime reading challenge and covers the February category of 'Author's birth month'.




A child abductor is still at large in England (see book two). It's a source of huge frustration to the police in Lafferton from where one of the young boys was snatched. Despite all their efforts they were unable to catch the culprit.

A sudden phonecall takes DCI Simon Serrailler to Yorkshire where a young girl has been abducted from beside an ice-cream van... there are witnesses this time. They pin the person down but a car chase ensues. Serrailler ends up on a cliff ledge hundreds of feet above a stormy sea with the fugitive but there is something rather unexpected about this abductor of small children...

That seems a bit brief but that is the basic storyline. There is of course a lot more to this novel. The abductor is caught early on in the story with a child in the boot of the car. So we know who it is. The novel is really about how the police go about proving the same person is responsible for the other abductions. There is also heaps about Serrailler's private life, his family, especially his sister, Cat, and issues she has with her job and husband. Simon's treatment of women once again rears its ugly head, I liked the way his sister read him the riot act over this.

And there is also a lot concerning periphery characters. A subplot concerning a bereaved husband becoming mentally unstable for instance and holding a female vicar hostage. In fact the poor female vicar suffers endlessly. Knowing that Susan Hill was against the ordination of women back in the day made me wonder if she had an ulterior motive here. The family of the child abductor also feature a lot, their reactions, their actions, the terrible effect it has on them which will now never end... it's perhaps something we don't think about enough, a nightmare scenario that we all hope never to go through.

It's not an easy read this book. Susan Hill writes in a way which really gets to you. And I'm a bit of a wimp about child abduction in crime stories anyway, so I must admit to being a bit dismayed that the case wasn't sewn up in book two and continues on into this third book. It's quite psychological, motivations feature a lot, sections are written from the point of view of the perpetrator's of awful crimes... it's all fascinating but not comfortable reading. It's a pageturner, I tend to read Hill's crime books fairly quickly in four or five large chunks (the book is nearly 500 pages long) but after this I will need something much lighter. And shorter!

~~~oOo~~~

Friday, 1 February 2019

Books read in January


The first month of 2019 is behind us already. Incredible, I'm clueless as where time goes these days. Regardless, January was quite a good reading month for me, seven books read and these are they:

1. The Christmas Secret - Anne Perry

2. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - Harry Kemelman

3. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny

4. Around the World in 80 Days - Michael Palin (To be reviewed)

5. Uprooted - Naomi Novik

6. Fire in the Thatch - E.C.R. Lorac

7. A Talent to Annoy - Nancy Mitford

This is a book of essays by novelist, Nancy Mitford. I have to admit that I've not read any of her novels but I do enjoy a book of essays and articles and this one was not a disappointment. Obviously some were more interesting than others. My favourites were a highly amusing piece on going to see Wagner for the first time, an essay on the English Aristocracy, an article about the Mapp and Lucia books, a really brilliant one on Scott's ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic (beautifully written) and one called 'Blor' which was all about the six Mitford sisters' childhood nanny. There was much more to enjoy, Nancy Mitford had a really cutting sense of humour and knew how to use it on paper, I laughed quite lot... but I also learnt an awful lot. She says at the end of the Scott piece, talking about various books on the subject, 'I would like to think that I may have induced somebody to read them again'. Well, I hope she would be happy to know that her excellent essay has made me want to do just that and I've reserved one of her recs from the library.


I'm quite pleased with my reading month. Seven excellent books, two non-fictions, some really superb crime writing, I mean really superb. Too difficult to choose a favourite as The Beautiful Mystery, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late and Fire in the Thatch were all so good.



I would recommend these three books to any lover of crime fiction, although The Beautiful Mystery would not be a good place to start the Armande Gamache series.


In my post at the beginning of January I did a little collage of six books I was hoping to read that month. I'm delighted to report that I actually read five of those six books. Clearly, doing that worked quite nicely for me. So nicely, I think I'll do it again. Here're a few I hope to get to, but there are others, so I won't be stressing on what gets read and what doesn't. I shall go with the flow...




I'm likely to start with The Bedlam Stacks but only because its a library book due back on the 11th. Feb. and someone else wants it so I can't renew. The cheek of it...

Happy reading and this is what my town in Devon, UK, looks like this morning, the 1st. of February:



~~~oOo~~~

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Fire in the Thatch


Having quite a good reading month thus far. Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. Lorac is my 4th book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge, my 4th. book also for her Calendar of Crime challenge covering the April category of 'Month related item' (Church) and my 1st. book for the World at War challenge which is being hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews and covering the category of 'A book set in England, Ireland or Scotland', (mine is England).


The Mallorys are a small group of villages deep in the English countryside somewhere near Tiverton in mid-Devon. Colonel St. Cyres lives there in a manor house with his daughter, Anne, and daughter-in-law, June, and her small son. They're living with the colonel as refugees from war-torn London - her husband is currently a POW in Japan - but June is not happy... Devon is far too quiet and humdrum for her and she's bored out of her mind. It's due to this that she tries to persuade her father-in-law to rent a cottage in the manor's grounds to some friends of hers from the capitol but the old man is having none of it, having heard rumours that June might be having an affair with one of the friends.

Instead Colonel St. Cyres rents the cottage to Nicholas Vaughan, an ex-naval man, invalided out of the navy having come close to being blinded. Nick is steady and a hard, meticulous worker and soon has 'Little Thatch' renovated and its garden rejuvenated after many years of neglect. He keeps himself to himself but people in the surrounding villages like and respect him.

It therefore comes as a tremendous shock when the cottage burns to the ground one night with Nick inside it. It's presumed to be an accident, but Nick's ex-commanding officer thinks otherwise and persuades Scotland Yard to send someone to check. Detective Inspector McDonald is dispatched and at first is inclined to agree with the official verdict of an accident caused by a chimney fire or electrical fault. But he soon realises that this verdict does not match with Vaughan's meticulous personality. Given the man's thorough and particular ways it seems unlikely in the extreme that he would be lax in matters of fires or electricity. It has to be murder but who on earth would want such a man dead?

Usually when you read a murder mystery of the vintage persuasion, the one that's been done away with is not all that pleasant. The rich head of the family for instance, who's horrible to one and all because he holds the purse strings and has fun manipulating people. A spiteful woman who knows everyone's business and spreads malicious gossip or writes poisonous letters... these are typical of the done away with that the reader isn't too botheried has been done in. But for me, Fire in the Thatch was different. Why? Because I desperately did not want the victim to die even though I'd deduced he was going to from the blurb on the cover. I loved reading how Nicholas Vaughan went about renovating the thatched cottage, his gardening... he was a good man and I was quite affected by his death. This is good writing, to make readers actually care about your characters and be very upset when they're killed.

I enjoyed the particular setting of this book because I live there. Not in a pretty Devon village, but in the nearest town, Tiverton, which is mentioned often. I can't say that I know where E.C.R. Lorac was thinking of for the group of hamlets known as The Mallorys but that doesn't mean they're not there as I don't know every village hereabouts and it seemed they were quite a few miles out in the countryside. (Not for nothing is there a village about 15 miles out of Tiverton called No Man's Land.) There are huge swathes of countryside in Devon that have nothing in them but farms and small villages and this is depicted beautifully, indeed I rather suspect the areas have not changed much in the 70 years since this book was written.

I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads. I loved it. Gobbled it up in 2 days and had no idea until the last chapter who had done the deed. And I thought 'why' was quite clever too. I'm very pleased that I have several more by E.C.R. Lorac to read, two kindly given to me by Elaine at Random Jottings and a couple I bought for myself. Can't wait, excellent writer.


~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Uprooted


Uprooted by Naomi Novik was my 3rd. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 reading challenge.



In the idyllic village in which Agnieszka lives there is a problem. Every ten years the 'Dragon' takes a girl and this girl is lost to her family for another ten years. The dragon is not actually a dragon at all, he's a wizard, and no harm comes to the girls, they return after their ten years is up and nearly always go to live somewhere other than the village because they have been changed in some way.

Another choosing is fast approaching but the villagers are relaxed. They know who will be chosen, Agnieszka's best friend, a girl named Kasia, who's head and shoulders prettier and braver than all the other girls. Except that's not what happens: Agnieszka is chosen instead. It's a huge shock to one and all, particularly Agnieszka.

The other problem the village has is The Wood: something malevolent lives there and controls it. It's the reason a wizard lives in the tower, his job is to hold back The Wood and stop it from encroaching, smothering the valley and possibly the whole land. It kills people as it goes, and not in a nice way, they're locked inside trees and become corrupted.

But Agnieszka is different to the other girls that have been taken by The Dragon in the past - she has magic and refuses to be just a skivvy. Things are about to change.

I've had this on my TBR pile for four or five years and never quite got around to it, so on the basis that I am trying to get rid of a few of my older books I did the random grab thing and read it. It read a bit like a retold fairy tale, a sub-genre of Fantasy that I'm not that crazy about, but I couldn't pin down which fairy tale so that was fine. I think I read somewhere that it might be a Polish fairy tale and it did read like that I must admit.

I gave it four stars on Goodreads despite the fact that I was slightly ambivilent about it. Four stars because I loved the writing and the setting of a forested valley was sublime - beautifully described it felt so real. The story itself, well I found it rather exhausting to be honest. Non-stop angst and very little that was happy or good ever happening. It was relentless. I got to the end but couldn't read more than 50 pages without needing a break from the angst. I think I've turned into a wimp in my old age, although I don't react in this way to crime/murder stories so 'go figure' as they say in the US.

I was also a little uneasy about how the wizard treated Agnieszka at the beginning, one or two scenes felt a bit off to me, but that's possibly just me being sensitive. For most fans of fantasy books I think this would be an excellent read and very enjoyable. It's beautifully written, exciting, action packed (but like I said, possibly too much for me) and full of well-rounded, individual characters. And I liked the idea of a forest being taken over and turning evil. It felt very original and I liked that.

~~~oOo~~~


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Wrap-up post for European Reading challenge 2018


So, the European Reading challenge 2018 actually ends on the 31st. of this month but I'm pretty sure I won't be adding to the eight books I read for it so it's time for the wrap-up post.


The challenge was to read at least five books set in different European countries. These are the eight books I managed to read:

1. ITALY: Summer in the Islands - Matthew Fort

2. FRANCE: A Climate of Fear - Fred Vargas

3. ICELAND: Snow Blind - Ragnar Jónasson

4. SPAIN: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning - Laurie Lee

5. GERMANY: Travellers in the Third Reich - Julia Boyd

6. BULGARIA: The Shadow Land - Elzabeth Kostova

7. SWITZERLAND: Swiss Vendetta - Tracee De Hahn

8. SCOTLAND (my 'UK' book): Against a Dark Sky - Katherine Pathak


I chose all of these books because I felt they would tell me something about the country in which they are set. And they did exactly that. All eight belonged very much in their respective countries and were excellent reads. I really enjoyed this challenge, I'm not doing it this year as I have five others on the go but will definitely be doing it again at some stage as I found it hugely enjoyable. Many thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting.

~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Beautiful Mystery


Well, it seems I've been channeling religion since the start of the New Year. I honestly had not realised it until a day or two ago but my first book of the year was about a Victorian vicar and his wife moving to a small village, the second about a New England Rabbi and the third, The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, is about a monastry in the middle of the Quebec wilderness. It's more than a bit bizarre really.

The book is my third book for the 12th. Canadian Book challenge and also my third book for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge. covering the July category 'A book that takes place in the US or Canada'.


The monastry of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups (St. Gilbert Among the Wolves) is a mysterious monastry in the wilds of Quebec. Mysterious because its whereabouts was unknown until they put out a cd of their Gregorian chants, which caused a sensation because it was so wonderful. People descended on the monastry but no one was ever admitted, the 24 monks who live there wanted to remain silent and isolated.

Which worked fine until the prior, a brilliant choirmaster, is found dead in the Abbot's garden, apparently beaten to death with a blunt instrument. This of course brings the Sureté du Québec down upon their heads in the shape of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his assistant, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Gamache is fascinated by the monks and their way of life, Beauvoir not so much, all he wants to do is get back to Gamache's daughter, Annie, whom he has been secretly dating.

Finding a killer amongst 24 silent monks is every bit as difficult as it might sound. The monks' vow of silence is lifted temporarily and slowly but surely the secrets emerge. It seems there is a rift and the monks are on one side or the other... but who could've felt strongly enough to murder? Quite a few as it turns out.

Goodness me, this is a powerful, multi-layered, hard-hitting book. I've read a few crime stories set in monastries, to be honest, I nearly always lose track of who's who and who did what to whom and why... but not this time. Louise Penny keeps her finger right on the button and I never lost sight of the people, their motivation, or the background detail of what's going on with Gamache and his bosses back at the Sureté du Quebec.

That last point features very strongly in this book. It's been on the back-burner for a while, but always there, simmering away - mentioned in passing so the reader doesn't forget that Gamache has real problems at work. He and Beauvoir are both still recovering from a traumatic incident: Gamache is doing well and Beauvoir appears to be coping, but he is fragile still and vulnerable. The murder aspect of this book was very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed the monastic elements and learning about the chants. And what a gorgeous setting!

The personal stuff though, especially right at the end, knocked me for six. I was not expecting things to develop in that manner and even though I have seen this plot device used before, this feels hugely more personal as I've come to know and love these characters. I need a short break now before I grab the next book from the library, to get my breath back and 'gird my loins' so to speak. I'm expecting a rough ride!

~~~oOo~~~

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late


Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman is my first book for the What's In A Name 2019 challenge, which is being hosted by The Carolina Book Nook, covering the category, 'A Month or Day of the Week'.

It's also my first book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge and my second for her Calendar of Crime challenge covering the February category of 'A book title starting with 'F'.



The town of Barnard's Crossing in Massachusetts has its first rabbi: David Small. He's been there for almost a year but isn't popular with all in the Jewish community. Some feel that their rabbi should be outgoing, larger than life, but Small is quiet, introspective, bookish. There's talk of not renewing his contract but the board that deals with these things is very much split.

No one is prepared though for The Rabbi to come under suspicion for murder. The body of a young woman is found in the car-park of the syngogue. Then her purse is found in the rabbi's car which had been parked there overnight because he'd decided to walk instead of drive home late that night. The chief of police, Lannigan, doesn't really feel that David has murdered the girl but has to investigate properly. The girl, Elspeth Bleech, was a live-in mother's help who apparently had few friends and certainly no male friends. So how come she was pregnant?

I have Nan at Letters From a Hill Farm to thank for this recommendation. In fact she recommended the series years ago but I never did get around to it even though I'd downloaded this first book to my Nook. Anyway, finally I got to it and wasn't disappointed.

It's a bit of a slow-burner, Harry Kemelman takes the time to set the scene, tell us about some of the people who make up the Jewish community in Barnard's Crossing, focus a bit on the main protagonists, especially Rabbi David Small, and I liked that. It's nice to read a book that is not in a tearing haste to get to the murder or whatever else is the central theme of the story. I personally found the details about the Jewish religion fascinating. I had no idea it was so different to Christianity or that rabbis really are *not* the Jewish version of a priest or vicar. I love it when books teach me things like this.

David Small is such a multi-faceted character. I love how under-stated the author has made him, 'other-worldly' almost in his bookishness... 'away with the fairies' we used to say. But that doesn't mean he isn't sharp when it comes to investigating a murder. He doesn't actually do that much of that in this first book, that's left to Chief Lannigan, but the two men co-operate and share ideas and I liked what their relationship became, I hope that continues in subsequent books because, yes, I will certainly be reading more.

And Friday the Rabbi Slept Late also gives me a book for Massachusetts in my ongoing (since 2011!) personal challenge to read a book set in every American state.

~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Christmas Secret


My first book of 2019 is A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry. This is my first book for Bev's Calendar of Crime reading challenge. It covers the January category of 'Month-related item on the cover'... and qualifies because there is a small village snow-scene acting as a Christmas tag on the cover.




The Reverand Dominic Corde and his wife, Clarice, have been sent to the village of Cottisham, in Hertfordshire, eleven days before one Christmas in the mid-1800s. He is to fill in for Reverand Wynter who has gone off on a much needed break. They immediately fall in love with the olde worlde village, very different to the London parish where Dominic was curate to a mean spirited vicar. But despite the beauty of the village something's not right. The local villagers appear guarded. There're clearly secrets but what Clarice wonders is whether or not the Rev Wynter knew of these and what they were. And something else... where is he? Where exactly has the vicar gone on this 'much needed break'? No one seems to know...

Well anyone who has two brain cells to rub together will guess where the vicar is but my lips are sealed. The best thing about this story and the reason I gave it four stars on Goodreads was the absolutely superb snowy, wintery, 'cut off from civilisation', atmosphere depicted in it. It reminded me very strongly of Three Pines in Louise Penny's superb Armand Gamache series. It was beautifully portrayed and I loved it.

The mystery itself was a bit more pedestrian, but I liked Clarice and that she had bags of personality, curiosity and drive. There was a nice twist at the end which I didn't guess, so that was good. To be honest, I don't require a lot from a Christmas mystery, it's not intended to be improving and nor do I need it to be at the beginning of the year when there's a lot going on. The author, Anne Perry, famous for her Victorian Charlotte and Thomas Pitt and William Monk series, has written sixteen Christmas novelas and I've enjoyed those I've read. She doesn't hesitate to use elderly ladies as heroines which makes a refreshing change from fiesty, teenage, young things in a lot of other books. Good fun, wonderful setting, easy, undemanding read.

~~~oOo~~~

Saturday, 5 January 2019

What's in a Name 2019


This year the What's In A Name reading challenge is being hosted by Andrea at The Carolina Book Nook. I shouldn't really be signing up for yet more challenges as I'm already doing four but I had a lot of fun with this one last year and the books I read for this will also qualify for Mount TBR 2019 and probably other challenges as well.



The challenge extends from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits in each category.

Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.


The categories:


1. A precious stone/metal. I have Silver Bullets selected by Eleanor Dobson

2. A temperature. I have Hot Sun, Cool Shadow by Angela Murrills

3. A month or day of the week. I have Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman

4. A meal. I have Dinner With Churchill by Cita Stelzer

5. Contains the word “girl” or “woman”. I have The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

6. Contains both the words “of” AND “and”. I have The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories by Marjorie Bowen.

Of course, that may all change, but these are all on my tbr pile and it would be useful indeed to get them off it. But we shall see.

~~~oOO~~~

Friday, 4 January 2019

What's In A Name challenge complete


I only did two challenges last year and one of them has now been completed - the What's In A Name 2018 challenge which was hosted by The Worm Hole.


I read all six books required and these are they:


The word ‘the’ used twice. THE Lost Book of THE Grail by Charlie Lovett

A fruit or vegetable. The OLIVE Tree by Carol Drinkwater

A shape. The Cheltenham SQUARE Murder by John Bude

A Title that begins with Z (can be after ‘The’ or ‘A’) The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

A nationality. A SWISS Vendetta by Tracee de Hahn

A season. Absent in the SPRING by Mary Westmacott

This was a really fun challenge and many thanks to The Worm Hole for hosting.

~~~oOo~~~

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

December books, stats for 2018 and on into 2019


I don't usually have a normal reading month in December. For obvious reasons it tends to get a bit busy and I end up reading just 2 or 3 books. But this December I've done a little better with a grand total of 5. And these are they:

63. Against a Dark Sky - Katherine Pathak

64. A Song of Shadows - John Connolly

65. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley

66. The Z Murders - J. Jefferson Farjeon

67. Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure - Artemis Cooper.

Quite a long, involved biography of one of the most celebrated travel writers of all time, famous for the trilogy he wrote about his walk across Europe to Constantinople just before WW2. Having read those three books a lot of the book was familiar to me but I did enjoy reading of Leigh Fermor's exploits during the war especially on Crete. (A film was made about his capture of a German General.) It was also interesting to have a lot of the background to the books filled in and to learn a bit about Leigh Fermor's rather ebullient personality. One thing's for sure, he was learned and highly intelligent, also a perfectionist which is why it took him so long to write his famous walking books and why the third book was not finished and had to be finished by the author of this biography, Artemis Cooper, and travel writer, Colin Thubron. Anyway, I enjoyed this biography but overall it was a bit hit and miss... enjoyed parts of it, other bits dragged a little.

So that's my December in books and also the end of my 2018 reading. 67 books in all (as usual exactly the same number as Nan from Letters From a Hill Farm - hilarious) and a good mix. 33 were books from the library, 34 were my own. 22 were non-fiction, almost a third, so I'm quite happy with that number. All in all it was not a bad reading year for me, very few of the books were disappointing and you can't hope for better than that.

So, onwards and upwards and into 2019. These are the books that came into the house over the Christmas period and will be read this year, mainly gifts but not all.


Highly delighted with all of these!

And these are the books I have lined up for January.



Not sure exactly which will get read or how many but I suspect they'll all be cracking good reads so I'm quite excited at the prospect.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading in 2019.


~~~oOo~~~