Thursday, August 25, 2011

{not so much review as quick thought-gathering}

What have I been reading lately? 

Well... I've completely fallen behind with all my (on the whole, pretty tenuous and crazily laid-back) reading 'plans' and have about 30 things on my 'active' list that I am either reading or about to read or started to read so long ago that I really should just start them again as Heaven knows what they were about. There is no question that I am prey to complete book sluttiness and a lack of impulse control. I also seem to have been neglecting non-fiction of late and I think this is because I am meant (er... overdue) to be reviewing some classical studies books for a journal and the non-fiction bit of my mind is occupied there. 

How to be a Woman

That said... Danielle (whose enticing blog A Work in Progress offers me far too many distractions!) asked what non-fiction books we've been enjoying and I have to say that Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman is my Personal Non-Fiction Book of The Year. Brilliantly funny. I don't often laugh aloud when reading (except when reading E. F. Benson), but she is hysterical. And there are important and very sensible messages for women who are feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to embrace, e.g., Brazilian waxes and dodgy undies. Loved this book.

Dead Until Dark Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 1 Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse) By Charlaine Harris

Because I find it difficult to begin a series and just read one book, I derailed my reading plans on Charlaine Harris' 'Sookie Stackhouse' series. The first couple were good fun {REVIEW}, then there was a slumpy decline in the middle (one book in particular not only omitted a big chunk of background which was essential for the book - it had appeared somewhere in a short story, apparently - but suffered from dodgy editing which had failed to correct continuity problems) but the last couple sort of picked up the pace again, though I had lost my enthusiasm by then. I don't think I really like the supernatural that much, but Southern food sounds great. I've got one more to go; not sure I'll bother. 

I was reading Kerrie's post at Mysteries in Paradise (a local, Adelaide blog which I really enjoy) on whether one can view series vs. stand-alone-book in terms of a dichotomy between character development (series) and plot (stand-alone). Certainly in the Sookie Stackhouse series it is clear that the reader can have both but as the series progresses there is the problem of bringing the reader up to speed on the characters. This is tricky: how much background is sufficient?

Beekeeping for Beginners (Short Story) The Beekeeper's Apprentice: A Novel (Mary Russell Novels)

And then there's the interesting case of an author who has gone backwards in a much-loved series and provided her readers with another take on an earlier book. This would count as a fleshing-out of the characters, as the plot has already appeared. Laurie R. King's Beekeeping for Beginners is a short story (available only, I think, as an e-book) which  takes the reader back to the meeting between Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. This time around, the meeting and subsequent events are presented from Holmes' perspective. I thought this was an interesting idea and one which had a lot to offer fans of the series. It made me - as I presume was intended - want to go back and read all of the Mary Russell series again (I am only up to The Language of Bees, so I should still be going forward, not backwards).   

This Rough Magic. Mary Stewart  My Brother Michael. Mary Stewart (Mary Stewart Modern Classic)  The Moonspinners. Mary Stewart
Another Mary: one wonderful discovery for me - courtesy of mentions on so many other blogs - is Mary Stewart. I cannot imagine why I haven't read these before as they magically combine a fistful of ingredients that I find terribly appealing in a book (crime, mystery, romance, plucky heroines, nice frocks, wonderful scenery, travel, etc.). I have now read three set in Greece (I thought I'd start with familiar territory) - This Rough Magic [Corfu], My Brother Michael [Delphi], and The Moonspinners [Crete]. Wonderful. I can see that reading the rest of her enormous oeuvre is going to stuff up all my plans for the next few months, esp. given their reissue (ghastly covers, as above). This is a thought which fills me with complete contentment.

One last thought: every book above was read on my Kindle. It has taken over my life. It has solved my book storage problems. I can eat with two hands now when I read at dinner. I am an addict.


  1. Sigh. I adore Laurie King, and it's been much too long since I've read any of Mary Stewart's thrillers. I read a bunch of them when I was in high school and none since. I'll have to remedy that.

    My husband has appropriated my Kindle to read Trollope on! Understandable, since it makes it so much more comfortable to read in bed, but now I'm bereft. Maybe we'll have to be a two-Kindle family.

  2. My only problem with the Kindle is complete lack of willpower with regard to spontaneous purchases. They just seem sort of free when they don't exist as 'books'.


{READ IN 2017}

  • 23.
  • 22.
  • 21.
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore

{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • 92. Richardson's First Case - Basil Thomson [K]
  • 91. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 90. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz [K]
  • 89. The House of Godwinsson [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 88. Music Tells All [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 87. Helen Passes By [Bobby Owen 23] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 86. It Might Lead Anywhere [Bobby Owen 22] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 85. There's a Reason for Everything [Bobby Owen 21] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 84. Secrets Can't Be Kept [Bobby Owen 20] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 83. Night's Cloak [Bobby Owen 19] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 82. The Conqueror Inn [Bobby Owen 18] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 81. The Diabolic Candelabra [Bobby Owen 17] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 80. The Dark Garden [Bobby Owen 16] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 79. Picture Miss Seeton - Heron Carvic [K]
  • 78. Down Under (Benbow Smith 4) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 77. Walk with Care (Benbow Smith 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 76. Danger Calling (Benbow Smith 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 75. Fool Errant (Benbow Smith 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 74. The Annam Jewel - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 73. Mr Zero - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 72. Will o' the Wisp - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 71. Red Shadow - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 70. Pursuit of a Parcel (Lamb 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 69. Who Pays the Piper (Lamb 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 68. The Blind Side (Lamb 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 67. Outrageous Fortune - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 66. The Amazing Chance - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 65. Red Stefan - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 64. The Coldstone - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 63. Anne Belinda - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 62. The Black Cabinet - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 61. Hue & Cry - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 60. The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 59. The Kill Room - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 58. Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 57. Kingdom Lost - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 56. Beggar's Choice - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 55. Hole and Corner - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 54. Touch and Go - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 53. The Red Lacquer Case - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 52. Run! - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 51. Fear by Night - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • JULY
  • 50. The Dower House Mystery - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 49. The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 48. Weekend with Death - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 47. Blindfold - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 46. Silence in Court - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 45. Acts of the Assassins - Richard Beard [K]
  • JUNE
  • 44. Hack - Kieran Crowley [K]
  • 43. The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie [K]
  • 42. The Spirit Murder Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • MAY
  • 41. The Ginger Cat Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 40. The Pleasure Cruise Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 39. The Polo Ground Murder - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 38. The Outsider - Jason Dean [K]
  • 37. The Hunter's Oath - Jason Dean [K]
  • 36. Missing or Murdered - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 35. The Beetle - Richard Marsh [K]
  • 34. A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell 1) - Deanna Raybourn [K]
  • 33. The Chimera Vector - Nathan M. Farrugia [K]
  • 32. An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer [K]
  • 31. Mr Bazalgette's Agent - Leonard Merrick
  • 30. Don't Tell - Karen Rose [K]
  • 29. Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 28. Gone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 27. The Killing Hour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 26. The Next Accident - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 25. The Third Victim - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 24. The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 23. Find Her - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 22. Fear Nothing - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 21. Catch Me - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 20. Love You More - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 19. Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 18. The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 17. Hide - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 16. Alone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 15. The Humans - Matt Haig [K]
  • 14. Utopian Man - Lisa Lang
  • 13. Love Insurance - Earl Derr Biggers [K]
  • 12. The Ignition Effect - Viv Ronnebeck [K]
  • 11. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin [K]
  • 10. Dangerous & Unseemly - K. B. Owen [K]
  • 9. In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward [K[
  • 8. Half a Crown - Jo Walton [K]
  • 7. Ha'penny - Jo Walton [K]
  • 6. Hilda Wade: A Woman with Tenacity of Purpose - Grant Allen [K]
  • 5. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 4. Blue Murder - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 3. Bleeding Hooks - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 2. Knock, Murderer, Knock! - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 1. Ten Star Clues [Bobby Owen 15] - E. R. Punshon [K]