What I Read … Part 5

Continuing with my reading during the Blog Pause of last year with the rest of October.

Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson – As I said last post, I really got caught by the Longmire books and just kept going on one after the other. This one has many long flashbacks to Longmire’s, and Henry Standing Bear’s, time in Viet Nam, all tied neatly with current events in Wyoming. I liked this one a lot, though Barbara didn’t like it as well.

Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar – I was so enthusiastic about this that I raved in a blog post (HERE) last October. My opinion hasn’t changed, as I re-read it with great pleasure a couple of months ago.

The Black Camel by Earl Derr Biggers – This is the fourth in the Charlie Chan series, published in 1929. I was working my way through the series when I got to this, and I find the Chan mysteries always enjoyable, as opposed to the films which I’ve never managed to warm up to.

The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker – This interesting little fantasy was recommended to me by my friend Andrea Johnson, who is a particular fan of Baker. I enjoy Baker’s writing too, though this is a bit atypical. One of my favorites of hers is The Bird of the River. This is a fun book.

Star Wars: Crimson Empire by Richardson and Gulacy – graphic novel – I read a graphic novel every now and then, and at one time bought a great many of them, so it’s easy to pluck one off the shelf for a quick break from novels. I’d read this before, but it was fun to cruise through it again.

The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson – Another Johnson, and we’re not done yet. Longmire is such a strong character, and the cast around him keep me interested as well. In this one he is called to what appears to be a murder and arson, but as usual in these, there is a great deal more below the surface than is initially suspected. I really like these novels, and I’m trying to pace myself, but it’s hard.

Above the Timberline written and painted by Gregory Manchess – Manchess is a very favorite SFF artist, and I was delighted when I read he was creating this beautiful oversized book. My delight was doubled when I finally got the book in hand. The story is pretty good and the artwork is very good indeed. What a wonderful thing it is that such books exist.

Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson – Yes, another Longmire novel, and another good one, perhaps my favorite in the series to this point. I know I’m not doing much in the way of plot summaries in these “what I read” posts, but I just want to show you what I read while the blog was dark last Fall and Winter. Trust me, this is a good one, but the series really does need to be read in order.

Unquiet Spirits by Bonnie Macbird – This is one of those books that grow on you. When I first finished it, I thought it was okay, but I recalled it more positively as time went on. This is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, as is probably obvious by the cover, in which Holmes and Watson journey to Scotland to investigate what seems to be sabotage at a distillery there. Yes, Scotch is the drink, and there is much skullduggery afoot.

That wraps up October, and I see from my lists I read less in November, and even less in December. So another post and we’ll be through 2017.

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What I Read During Those Months Part 4

scroll down for previous parts of this series

Continuing with my reading during the Blog Pause of last year with the rest of September 2017 and a peek at October.

Elon Musk – Tesla, Space and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Vance Ashlee – I think Musk is a fascinating person, and at one time I considered buying a Tesla, but decided it was too expensive. But I wanted to find out more about the man. An interesting book.

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson – After seeing Johnson on a panel at the Monterey Left Coast Crime, I bought this book and it sat in the TBR area for a long time. I then read his Wait For Signs short story collection and liked it a lot, but still didn’t start this one. Finally one day I thought “I need to read that” so I did. I loved it! It started me reading a run of books by the author, as you will see.

The Khufra Run by Jack Higgins – Though I have several of Higgins’ books sitting around, I’d never tried one until this paperback. It was pretty good, but not terrific, and I’m unsure if I’ll try another or donate them to the library.

Death Without Company and Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson – I read these back to back, and, after a break for some short stories, kept on in the series, as you’ll see next post. I really got hooked on Longmire. If you’re wondering, no, I haven’t watched the TV adaptation, and have no interest in doing so. I have the characters in my head and don’t want to see a casting director’s version.

Motives For Murder – Stories by the Detection Club for Peter Lovesey edited by Martin Edwards – A tribute anthology to a fine writer. Though I found it a bit uneven, as is often the case with books like this. Edwards did a fine job of editing, but the Lovesey connection was weak in some cases.

Next time, the rest of October 2017. I’m catching you up, as quickly as I can. There’ll be more Johnson, and a variety of others; some may surprise you. Until then, be well.

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What I Read During Those Months Part 3

Continuing with my reading during the Blog Pause of last Summer-Fall-Winter. This time it’s September 2017, which – as I did with August – I’ll have to split in half due to numbers.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny – I’ve read all of the Three Pines / Chief Inspector Gamache novels, and I’ve enjoyed them all, though of course there are favorites. This 2017 book is the latest, until this coming Fall, and picks up plot threads from previous books. Though these books can be read as stand-alines, I really think it’s far preferable to read the series in order. This one has the ongoing battle between the Sureté and drug runners. An especially exciting ending, with a bit of a cliff hanger, making me eagerly look forward to the next one (coming this Fall).

Bag Balm and Duct Tape by Beach Conger, M.D. – When young Dr. Beach Conger accepts an appointment to a hospital in rural Vermont, neither party knew a thing about the other. Conger envisioned living out the rest of his days splitting wood, healing the sick, and being adored as a kindly country doctor. His new patients figured they had their work cut out for them, breaking in this whippersnapper from Berkeley, California. I found it entertaining, but I wish Conger’s narrative voice had been friendlier to the reader.

Marked For Murder by “Brett Halliday” (Davis Dresser) – Shayne’s close friend news-paperman Timothy Rourke takes center stage for most of this one. In the past week, three murders have been committed in Miami Beach, and the only person who sees the connection is Rourke. As the mayor and the chief of police deny rumors of political dirty doings and an apparent crime wave, Rourke hollers from page one: Organized crime has taken over Miami, and the bloodshed has only just begun. Rourke is beaten to a pulp for exposing the mob’s dirty dealings, and then he discovers a hot-eyed blonde in his apartment packing a .32. The situation is spinning out of control, and only one man can save the city from itself: Mike Shayne. I like these a lot, and this was a very good one.

Canoeing with the Cree by Eric Sevaried – In 1930, between high school and college,  Sevaried and his best friend Walter C. Port decide to take a long and difficult canoe trip. The two novice paddlers launched a secondhand 18-foot canvas canoe into the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling for an ambitious summer-long journey from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. Without benefit of radio, motor, or good maps, the teenagers made their way over 2,250 miles of rivers, lakes, and difficult portages. I found this account fascinating.

Not So Wild A Dream by Eric Sevaried – The author’s first-person account of a young journalist’s experience before and during during World War II, including his youth in North Dakota, his decision to study journalism, and his early involvement in radio reporting during the beginnings of World War II.

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie – At a Hallowe’en party held at Rowena Drake’s home in Woodleigh Common, thirteen-year-old Joyce Reynolds tells everyone attending she had once seen a murder, but had not realised it was one until later. When the party ends, Joyce is found dead, having been drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. (What a way to go.) I found this to be one of the weaker of Christie’s Oliver / Poirot novels, and I saw the solution coming, something I usually can’t do with Christie.

Next time: Elon Musk, Craig Johnson, Jack Higgins, and more. See you then.

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What I Read During Those Months Part 2

Finishing with August 2017, which includes some “forgotten” books.

Rex Stout – I read both The Final Deduction and Three Doors to Death in re-enjoying some Nero Wolfe. It’s always a pleasure to read about Nero and Archie, no less so in these two stories.

William Kent Krueger – Sulfer Springs, Krueger’s new book for 2017, the 16th in the series. I enjoyed it, as I do all of his books, though I don’t think it is one of his best. Still, any Krueger is better than no Krueger.

In this one he travels to the Southwest in search of his new wife’s son, who has been working as a counselor in a well-known drug rehab center. When they arrive, they learn that Peter was fired six months earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. So they head to the little desert town of Sulfur Springs where Peter has been receiving his mail. But no one in Sulfur Springs seems to know him. They do, however, recognize the name Rodriguez. Carlos Rodriguez is the head of a cartel that controls everything illegal crossing the border from Mexico into Coronado County, Arizona. Pretty good one.

Truman Capote – In Cold Blood. I’d heard a lot about this book, perhaps I saw a made for TV movie about it, or documentary or something, but I’d not read the book. Deciding it was time to do so, I got a copy from the library. At the time it created a sensation, but these days, with so much violence and killing almost a daily occurrence, it had much less impact.

John Steinbeck – This was the third (fourth?) time I’d read Travels With Charlie, and I may have enjoyed it even more than the previous times. This insight-filled account of Steinbeck’s travels around a large portion of the U.S. in a semi-homemade camper with his standard Poodle, Charlie, is full of characters, place descriptions, and observations on human nature. I’d forgotten a lot of what’s in the book and enjoyed it immensely. This is just flat a wonderful book.

Bill Bryson – The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson is a talented writer and I’ve read several of his books, each about entirely different subjects. This humorous story was just “okay”, a book I enjoyed but was glad I got from the library instead of shelling out the cost.

Charles Portis – I’ve seen the film of True Grit several times, the John Wayne version being my preferred one, but I’d not read the book. This was a time of thinking it was time I read certain books, I guess, the Capote, this one. So again – thank you Multnomah County Library System – I got this. I guess I expected something slightly different, or perhaps I was overly influenced by the films, but I found myself finishing the book and wishing I’d watched the movie instead.

Paul Horgon – The Great River, the Rio Grande in North American History (no image). Don’t ask me why I decided to try this dense, scholarly history of the Rio Grande in American history, because I’m unsure now, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I did read over half of it before it kind of overwhelmed me. Vastly informative, but…did I say dense? Absolutely.

That wraps up last August, next time it’ll be September, when I get back to mysteries and adventure. Louise Penny, Brett Halliday, Agatha Christie and more!

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What I Read During Those Months – Part 1

I put the blog on “Pause” almost nine months ago, and haven’t been posting my Current Reading posts since. However, it’s time I got back into posting more often, and I’m starting with a lot of catch-up posts to fill readers in on what I read during the time. I’ll do a month or two each post until we’re current.  These posts won’t included Barbara’s reading. It’s my plan to then keep going with the weekly post.

Bruce Catton – I’m going to start with August 2017. Barbara and I re-watched Ken Burns’ The Civil War because I wanted to see it again, and after seeing it I read The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton, followed by The Terrible Swift Sword. The two books comprise his Civil War duology.

Alan Dean Foster – I followed that with a science fiction novel, Icerigger,  by Alan Dean Foster. This was a book suggested by a Friday Forgotten Book blogger; it may have been Bill Crider or James Reasoner, I no longer remember. It was an enjoyable, if light, SF novel of humans crash-landed on a low-civilization planet, using their engineering “smarts” to cross wide expanses toward possible escape at a space port. There is a sequel which I have but haven’t yet read.

M. C. Beaton – Then I got into the mood for a cozy. I don’t read many, but when the mood strikes I will. Itmay have been a friend of my wife mentioning she liked these, but whatever the reason, I started with the first of M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth mysteries, Death of A Gossip. I then went on with the series in order: Death of A Cad, Death of An Outsider, Death of A Perfect Wife, Death of A Hussy, Death of A Snoop and finally Death of A Glutton. That was enough of Beaton for me, – there are many more – though I did enjoy both the character, Macbeth, and setting, a small village in Scotland.

Bill Crider – For a special Friday Forgotten Books on Bill Crider, I picked a collection of his Sherlock Holmes stories, as I wanted to contribute something different. All eight had appeared in other places, but it was nice to have them gathered together in this ebook. These are terrific Holmes stories, by the way

Erle Stanley Gardner – Then I was in the mood for some Perry Mason, so I read the double paperback including The Case of the Runaway Blonde and The Case of the Hungry Horse. I especially liked the latter, though both were good. It’s always good to revisit the Mason novels.

That’s enough for this first look back, next time I’ll cover the rest of the month, including William Kent Krueger, Rex Stout, Truman Capote and more.

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Happy Birthday, Barbara!

Today Barbara is mumblety-mumble years old. Happy birthday!

We had plans, but she has an infected, root canal situation, so it’s antibiotics, tepid soft food and plenty of rest.

We’ll watch the NFL draft tonight and see what happens, then early to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

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Spring

Though not yet for everyone across the land, here in Portland we have Spring. I thought I’d share a few pictures taken in our garden over the last couple of days.

By the way, I haven’t forgotten my promise to begin posting on the books I read last Fall during my “blog pause”. Soon, I assure you.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 11 Comments

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