Murder At the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown – I liked the first couple of the Lloyd and Hill detective stories I read, the first two in the series, and this seemed like a good one to try next. However, I found it to be over-plotted and over-charactered. There were several very obvious red herrings, (pink herrings?) which didn’t fool me and slowed things down considerably. The most interesting aspect of the series, at least in the books I’ve read, is the Lloyd-Hill relationship, which stuttered along here and remains unresolved, I’d give this one a “just okay”.
A Bridge for Passing by Pearl Buck – This is the autobiographical story of the filming, in Japan, of Buck’s novel The Big Wave. But it’s also a meditation of sorts on the difficulty she had accepting the death of her husband during the same time, and her struggles to focus on the film when she needed to. I enjoyed this a lot, and will now read the book the film – one I’ve never seen – was based on.
Bossypants by Tina Fey – Fey has a certain kind of humor, and you either like it or don’t, not much middle ground. Since I liked almost all of her work for Saturday Night Live, both as writer and on camera, I decided to try this when I spotted it at the library. I’d rate it “pretty good”.
So, what have YOU been reading lately?
I liked Murder At the Old Vicarage, but then I like most of the books in that series. Probably because it was set at Christmas and I like the Lloyd-Hill relationship.
I just finished Moskva by Jack Grimwood, a very violent but still worthwhile espionage book. Before that I read Gasa-Gasa Girl by Naomi Hirahara. Liked it a lot. I am still reading the book about Charlie Chan and Earl Derr Biggers by Yunte Huang. Non-fiction always takes me a while.
I liked Lloyd and Hill, so liked the series in general, without remember the specifics of most of the individual books at this late date. Their relationship grows as the series progresses. I like Tina Fey a lot too, but perhaps I was expecting too much from BOSSYPANTS. I thought it was good but not great.
We were away for four days this week, plus we spent much of July 4 at Yankee Stadium (final score: Yankees 6, Atlanta 2), so reading was down this week. I’m reading a couple of short story library downloads: A NIGHT IN THE CEMETERY and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov (I have since bought a complete Chekhov ebook collection, with over 200 stories, all 15 plays, and his novel A SHOOTING PARTY, but I am still reading this first) and the latest Martin Edwards-edited British Library anthology, FOREIGN BODIES. This one is of a similar vintage as his other collections, but all the stories are translated from other languages. So far, so good.
I did read Michael Chabon’s short collection POPS (see George Kelley’s blog for a review and recap), which was interesting, especially the lead piece about him taking his thirteen year old son to Paris Fashion Week to see the men’s clothes. I’m currently reading Jodi Taylor’s A TRAIL THROUGH TIME, in her Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, and while it is certainly worth reading, so far it is just one big chase and nowhere near as good as the previous entries. At least, that is my opinion.
I am way behind on the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, I’ve read maybe the first 3. I looked at and decided to skip that latest Edwards-edited anthology.
It’s good to have you back doing this, Rick. I always get a lot of good recommendations from your posts. I’ve never read Jill McGowan; now I have to give her a try. Thanks.
I read John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker mystery, THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS. The boody of an unknown woman is discovered in the woods. It is obvious that she has just given birth before she died and Parker is hired to find out what happened to the child. The search puts Parker in the path of a (perhaps immortal) killer and once again puts him in the cross-hairs of mysterious and evil cabal. A good read, as always, although there are faint hints that Parker’s future is uncertain.
Robert Aickman’s COMPULSORY GAMES is the latest retrospective of his stories — fifteen tales, all but four of them were included in the two-volume COLLECTED STRANGE STORIES. Aickman was the master of the late Twentieth Century ghost story. I found only one clunker in the bunch (probably my fault; the story had a completely different tone from what I had expected from Aickman). Aickman remains one of the best short story writers of his time, regardless of genre.
I also read Dean Koontz’s A DARKNESS IN MY SOUL, an early a somewhat flawed SF novel and my FFB this week. Also, Ursula Le Guin’s CONVERSATIONS ON WRITING, a small book of three interviews she did with David Naimon. It made me realize all the more how much she will be missed. I also read two Joan Aiken story collections: A WHISPER IN THE NIGHT (thirteen stories) and THE GREEN FLASH (fourteen stories), containing tales of horror, fantasy, and suspense. Both books were US editions; the UK editions had varying contents. I capped off the week with two graphic novels: Alan Moore’s BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE and Ed Brubaker’s POINT BLANK. The Moore is, by now, a classic; the Brubaker is a futuristic hard boiled Moebius strip of a story. Both good.
Coming up for reading this week: more bright and shiny.
The weather here has been blazingly hot, with brief daily rainstorms. I am now in a serious relationship with my air conditioning.
Have a good week.
I’m glad to be doing this again too. We just need to get all of the old gang back commenting. You read lots of dark stuff, indeed. I’ll loot forward to your books for next week.
With the death of Steve Ditko, I decided to go back and reread some of his early work on DOCTOR STRANGE. It really took me back to my years in the Sixties when I was really into comic books. I have several books to review from various publishers. Our TV viewing is down, but our reading time is up!
It occurred to me to do something similar, but I haven’t looked through my graphic novel collections to see what I have.
Picked up five books at the library: UNPACKING THE BOXES: A MEMOIR OF A LIFE IN PoETRY by Donald Hall, EILEEN by OTTESSA MOSHFEGH, ASYMMETRY, Lisa Halliday, THE FAVORITE SISTER, Jessica Knoll and the audio book of Megan’s YOU WILL KNOW ME, which someone said was very well done.
That sounds great, Patti. When you say “library “, do you mean library sale, or borrowing?
Borrowing. I work the library sales so I rarely get to buy books there.
I saw that in your later comment on your blob. I have 3 books out, one an ebook, now.
Murder at the Old Vicarage. Just the title turns me off. Sounds to much like a cozy.
The library just got in the new John Connelly for me. Also the Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.
This week I only read one novel-a P.I. novel by Matt Goldman-Hidden Ice which I liked. Read a lot of short stories, some rereads like The Pear Shaped Man and Nightflyers by George R R Martin. Am in the middle of a short sf novel by Peter Watts-Freeze Frame Revolution. Like Jerry I am a big fan of Robert Aickman. To those who like Aickman I recommend Reggie Oliver.
The McGown is a police procedural series. Not cozy, especially. I have a Horowitz in hand and another on my hold list at the library. I liked the last one of his I read. I haven’t read those GRR Martin stories, but then I have only read a few of his. I haven’t read any Peter Watts.
I do need to say that (as the cover makes clear), it is McGOWN, not McGOWAN.
Yep, I mis-typed it in the header. Rats. Thanks for catching it.