Better Late Than Never: My 2017 Reading Stats

Normally, I would have posted this sometime between late December 2017 and about the 10th of January 2018, but the timing of my blog posts have been non-existent to irregular at best. So for what it’s worth, here is a brief accounting of my reading in 2017.

The total books read in 2017 was 115, a little higher than my usual average of about 90 and above my yearly goal of 104, or two per week.

2017 books by Quarter  
    Genre 1st 2nd 3rd 4th totals
Adventure 1 8 3 2 14
Autobiography/Biography 2 1 0 0 3
YA 1 0 2 1 4
General fiction 4 0 0 1 5
Graphic Novel 0 1 2 2 5
Humor 1 0 2 0 3
Mystery 13 8 14 13 48
Non-fiction 5 4 9 2 20
Science Fiction / Fantasy 4 3 3 3 13
Totals 31 25 35 24 115

Compared to other years, my mystery reading was a much higher percentage of the total, while science fiction/fantasy was way down. I’m not sure of the reason for this, other than mystery was apparently what I was in the mood for. I do notice I have four SF novels sitting here from last year, still with bookmarks in them, so maybe I just ran out of steam for the genre. The other thing of note is the non-fiction number is way up. Not sure why, just came across many interesting books, I guess.

In future posts (soon, soon) I’ll get more specific about the reading I did since I put the blog on hiatus early last Fall, but for now you at least have the numbers.

Posted in Books & Reading, Mystery, Short Stories | 13 Comments

Doing OK

It’s been a while since I posted, and though I don’t have a lot to say, I thought it would be good to check in with any readers still out there.

I’m doing okay, been a little sick but not the flu, been reading every day, watching it rain most days, was watching some football, though that’s about over. In November I read, as usual, a goodly amount of Sherlock Holmes stories, mostly recent ones, though I did re-read – in December – Holmes for the Holidays, which is a favorite anthology. I also just read some pulp railroad novelettes, and am re-reading some Nero Wolfe.

I’m skipping the Grammy Award broadcast just now, choosing to write this and then return to Wolfe and Goodwin (in And Be A Villain).

Monday, after an appointment to get new reading glasses, I’m hoping to get out into the garden as there is work to do there, spreading compost in the beds and, even in winter, pulling weeds. That’s it for now. Be good.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 10 Comments

Merry Christmas!

We’ve had our Christmas roast and trimmings on Christmas Eve, and it started snowing about dinner time, so it will be a white Christmas here.

Here’s hoping everyone has the very happiest and merriest of Christmases!

Posted in At Home in Portland | 13 Comments

Bill Crider’s Holmes stories

Bill Crider, lookin’ cool

I first became aware of Bill Crider while browsing the mystery section of a large BookStar store in Southern California, finding the cover of one of his books intriguing and buying it. I was buying a lot of books then, as I still do, and so the book didn’t get read for a while, but I really enjoyed it, and no, I don’t remember now which one it was.

Later, I came across Bill in the pages of Cap’n Bob Napier’s Mystery and Detective Monthly (MDM) and became a contributor thereto. It was his sense of humor that first struck me, and has continued to charm me since. That appreciation grew when I became a member of DAPA-Em, the mystery apa. I always looked forward to reading Bill’s ‘zine, Macavity. and seeing him at the DAPA gatherings at conventions.

I’ve read many of his Truman Smith, Carl Burns and Sheriff Dan Rhodes books, (though there are a few still left to enjoy,) but today I thought I’d talk about his Sherlock Holmes short stories.

I’ve been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I first read the tales, and am always pleased to come across good pastiches, so I grabbed a copy of Holmes For The Holidays when I spotted it at the bookstore in November 1996. Edited by Anne Perry, it contained 14 stories by a variety of mystery writers, including Loren D. Estleman, Reginald Hill, Edward Hoch and Bill Crider. His story, “The Adventure of the Christmas Ghosts” was a favorite in the collection.

In October 1999 a second volume, More Holmes for the Holidays was published, which included another Bill Crider Holmes pastiche, “The Adventure of the Christmas Bear”, which became another favorite. As much as I’ve enjoyed Bill Crider’s novels, I’ve had a soft sport for those stories ever since. Several other Holmes stories by Bill found their way into other anthologies over the years, but they are not always easy to find.

So I was delighted when recently I discovered the 2017 Crossroads Press Gordian Knot e-book, Eight Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It’s contents:

  • “Adventures of the Young British Soldier”
  • “The Case of the Vanished Vampire”
  • “The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul”
  • The Adventure of the Christmas Bear”
  • “The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard”
  • “The Case of the Vampire’s Mark”
  • “The Adventure in the White City”
  • “The Adventures of the Christmas Ghosts”
  • “Death Did Not Become Him”.

Let’s face it, Bill Crider, besides being a wonderful person, is an excellent writer, and I recommend all of his novels, whether P.I. Truman Smith, teacher Carl Burns or Sheriff Dan Rhodes or his westerns, especially Outrage at Blanco, or any others. You just can’t go wrong, reading Crider. Even better is knowing him, if you’ve been fortunate enough to. The last time I saw him, he was with Judy at the San Francisco Bouchercon. It was a treat, and is a fond memory. Bill Crider – what a guy.

Today is “Bill Crider Day” at Patti Abbott’s Friday Forgotten Books (pattinase)  So be sure and check there for the many other posts about him.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 6 Comments

Bill Crider

If you haven’t already, please read this:

I am terribly saddened, as, I’m sure, will be all of Bill’s many, many friends and acquaintances. Of course we’ll miss the blog, but not nearly as much as the man.

Our prayers are with you Bill, perhaps there will be an improvement, a turnaround. We sure hope so. God loves you, and so do we.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 8 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is a great deal to be thankful for today, and every day! I’m so thankful to be alive, thankful for my wife, our home and garden, the cat, to be living where we do.

It’s a cool, blustery, rainy day here in Portland, just right for Thanksgiving, it seems to me. It’s just the two of us, (plus the cat) but we make the whole meal, or our version of it, because we enjoy it so and love the leftovers.

The 16-lb. turkey was brined last night, came out of the solution at 6am this morning, and has been drained and will be ready to go in the oven in a few hours.It makes the house smell so good! We’ll also be having mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry-orange mold, and for dessert there will be Dutch apple pie and ice cream. The fireplace is lit and we’ll have a laid-back day, cooking, watching some football, eating, maybe getting in a walk if the rain lets up some.

I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

Getting Older

Thursday was my birthday, and a very nice one it was, but I did spend some time thinking about the number of years. My goodness. How did I manage to get so old?

When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine being this age, or for that matter, anyone being this age. That was a long time ago, and people didn’t live quite as long then, but still.

As a man in my twenties and thirties, I didn’t think about age much at all, other than in a very casual way, such as knowing the ages of family, friends, pets, maybe someone famous. I just never thought “When I’m (age), I’ll (be, do…)”.  So yesterday when I woke up and thought “It’s my birthday, I’m … years old. My God.” It’s a shock. I don’t feel that old. I don’t think I look that old. It’s true, I may act that old and I guess the number of visits I have to make to medical people would indicate I’m not in the full flush of my manhood (hmm, was I ever?), but that many decades? Wow.

I was also thinking of all the things that we had when I was growing up that are gone, and all the things we have now that didn’t exist then. Sometimes I think it was a better world without computers, certainly without smart phones and social media. Not that I miss party lines, or rotary dial phones, or having to change the channel on the television by getting up, walking over and manually turning the selector to the channel setting I wanted.

But, gosh. I’m old. I think I’ll go take a walk.

Posted in Books & Reading, Mystery, Short Stories | 17 Comments

Timeless – Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar

I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything new here at Tip the Wink, but I had to break my silence after reading this book.

Timeless – Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar [Harper Collins hardcover ISBN: 9780062402363 – Imprint: Katherine Tegen Books] – on sale 10/10/2017, 624 pages

I first heard about this book, under the slightly different title of Diego and the Steam Pirates, over four years ago. My good friend Carl V. Anderson visited the booth of Armand Baltazar at Spectrum Fantasy Art Live 2. I had asked him to pick up some artwork for me, and he got a print from this book along with a ton of other things. [see my blog post on Broken Bullhorn here].

At the time, the book was still partially written and all the artwork was yet to be completed, but I expected – guessed – it would be a graphic novel of a hundred pages or so. How wrong I was, the book is so, so much more.

Nicely bound with heavy stock throughout, filled with beautiful artwork. The story caught my imagination, but it was the artwork that initially pulled me in, all those years ago, and the book exceeds my greatest expectations by far.

The critics say:

“This epic tale from Baltazar, is not only wildly imaginative and attention-grabbing, it’s downright beautiful: more than 150 full-color photorealistic art pieces bring the characters and setting to life. A series opener that conveys a true sense of wonder and excitement on every page.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Intricate illustrations, stunning in their lush coloring and quality, are liberally interspersed. [C]inematic dialogue, glossy plot twists, and movie-ready illustrations will likely make readers feel they’ve had a theatrical experience.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The stunning artwork is the real star here. Sure to be popular with middle school fantasy readers.” — School Library Journal

The author Armand was born on Chicago’s North Side, not far from the famed Wrigley Field. After attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Armand began a visual storytelling career in feature animation as a background artist, visual development artist, and art director for DreamWorks Studios, Walt Disney, and Pixar Animation. He currently resides in Northern California with his family, creating the art and stories for the epic adventure series Timeless. There is a lot of fascinating information about him and his methods at the end of a Google search.

I can’t emphasize enough how terrific this book is. Listed by the publisher as Juvenile Fiction, for my money it’s just fine for adults, too. I loved it. I sincerely hope the promise of a series is fulfilled, and soon. Thank you for this wonderful book, Armand Baltazar.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 14 Comments


pause-buttonLately my energy and productivity are at a low ebb, with heat, health, and other things occupying my mind. So I’ve decided to put the blog on pause for a while. Catch you later.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

H O T !!

It is unusually, awful, nastily, horribly, miserably hot here, in the entire Pacific Northwest, from Seattle down through northern California, and we hates it (as Gollum would say). Three more days in triple digits, then several still in the 90s before it drops into the 80s. Even that’s not cool enough for me, but it will be an improvement. It’s been 50 days since we had a drop of rain.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 14 Comments