Current Reading: the reading blahs

I’ve been picking up books and putting them back down. I’ve been reading a few pages, and finding myself staring out the window. I’ve been napping, leafing through magazines, watching some TV. I’ve read maybe twenty or thirty pages in the last week. I returned two library ebooks unread. I guess I’ve got the reading blahs this week.

I do have a couple of things that are promising, if I can stay focused.

Barbara, however, is plugging along, having the Maltabano she was reading last week and now moved on to I Found You by Lisa Jewell, which came from the library. She got it based on a review in Mystery Scene.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 27 Comments

Forgotten Book: Deadly Nightshade by Cynthia Riggs

this is the 255th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Deadly Nightshade by Cynthia Riggs, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2001, hardcover – mystery, cozy

I don’t read a ton of cozies, but once in a while I’m tempted by a review. I was thus tempted by a review of a newer book by Riggs, but decided to go to the first in the series, which is set in New England.

Victoria Trumbull has lived most of her 92 years on the Island. Like other Islanders, she knows the sound of the sea in calm and stormy weather – and she knows the sounds that do not belong. One evening while Victoria waits on the dock for her granddaughter to return with the harbormaster, she hears a chilling scream followed by a splash and the sound of tires skidding on sand. She investigates and discovers a mutilated body floating on the outgoing tide.

With her granddaughter, and also Domingo, the harbormaster, a swarm of Island characters, and a few mysterious visitors, Victoria manages to get in a good bit of detective work. However, she isn’t able to prevent further homicide. As the tension mounts, Victoria concocts a scheme to reveal the killer and still has time to prepare her traditional Saturday night supper of Boston baked beans.

I won’t say more, it too easy to spoil a cozy, and a story of this type. I skimmed through this one in a couple of days. For the cozy readers out there, this is probably a good to maybe. For the rest, keep working on your To Be Read stack.


Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Non-fiction | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday, Barbara!

It’s my lovely spouse’s birthday today!

Our celebration will be low-key, staying in on a rainy day, curling up by the fire with a book. Maybe a movie later.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

Current Reading: Lafferty, Steele, Patrick, Camilleri

I finished Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, a locked room science fiction mystery, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Recommend.

I also read Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson. This was the second book by her I’ve tried, the other being The Reek of Red Herring. I’m sorry to say that though I liked Neighbors better than Herring, neither particularly worked for me. Her writing style lends itself to dense descriptive phrasing, which I rather liked, but the plots didn’t carry my interest. Sometimes authors just don’t click.

Next up was Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steene, which I thought was great fun. It’s the origin story of an updated Captain Future, a pulp character created by Edmund Hamilton. Good fun.

Now I’m working my way through a cozy which two reviews praised: Design for Dying by Renee Patrick (Rosemarie Keenan and Vince Keenan). I don’t read a lot of cozies, but I’m enjoying this one, which takes place in 1930s Hollywood. It’s an amateur detective (Lillian Frost) and homicide cop sort-of team up, with film wardrobe designer Edith Head in a major role. I’m at about the midpoint.

I have two more library books here and two more on the way. How does this happen?

Barbara finished, and enjoyed, The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. She’s sad because it’s the last in the series, and there will be no more.

Now she’s about halfway along in Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri, an Inspector Maltalbano novel.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 22 Comments

Forgotten book: Jeopardy is My Job by Stephen Marlowe

Jeopardy is My Job by Stephen Marlowe, © May 1962, Gold Medal 1962 paperback, mystery featuring Chester Drum

In this Chester Drum adventure, Drum is hired by “the Governor” to find his adult son, who has gone missing in Spain. As the search gets underway, Drum is put off by the lifestyle of American expatriates living on the Costa Del Sol, and wonders if the missing son has simply melted into this live-for-today group. As he digs deeper, however, he uncovers widespread smuggling. It’s used as a form of investment: give some money to an “agent” to invest with a smuggler, get your dividend which is a share of the profits of the shipment.

He also discovers the missing man’s beautiful daughter, who is in love with a local bull fighter, is involved up to her pretty neck and seems to know a lot more than she’s admitting. With few clues to follow, in true hardboiled P.I. fashion Drum has to poke his nose in wherever he can to sniff out motive and try to figure out where the missing man may have gone—and whether he is alive or dead.

This is an entertaining P.I. novel, and the setting, typically of Drum novels set around the world, provides a nice change from big-city grit. Though I suspect this isn’t the best of the series, I like the character of Drum and Marlowe’s writing.

~  ~  ~  ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews
at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 17 Comments

Current Reading: still Lafferty, Mankell

Not a much reading progress for either one of us this last week. I’m still plugging along in Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty, a science fiction novel that’s also a murder mystery. I’m enjoying it, but I’ve been busy with other things and so it’s become one of those books I drop into when I can, instead of a leave-me-alone-I’m-reading kind of book.

Meanwhile the library books continue to pile up, so I’d better get my reading act together.

Barbara is still reading The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. She has three other library books stacked up here, so we’re both falling behind.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 28 Comments

Forgotten Book: Wilderness Days by Sigurd Olson

this is the 253rd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Wilderness Days by Sigurd Olson, Alfred A. Knopf (a Borzoi Book) ©1972, this 7th printing 1984, hardcover
non-fiction – essays on nature

wilderness-daysI find reading about nature soothing. Part of it is my being an armchair naturalist. I’d rather read about the caribou migration than be there in the cold and swarms of blackflies. But it’s more than that. The insights contained in a book like this put the world into perspective for me, reminding me of how richly textured it is, how much more of it exists than what I see on a daily basis. It’s refreshing.

“My wilderness is concerned with the simple joys, timelessness, and perspective found in a way of life close to the past. I have heard the song of the wilderness in the beautiful lake region of the Quetico-Superior, where travel is still by pack and canoe over the ancient trails of Indians and voyageurs.

Everyone is listening for something and the search for the places where the singing may be heard goes on everywhere. There is a restlessness within us, an impatience which modern life with it’s comforts and distractions does not satisfy. We sense intuitively there must be something more.”

– Sigurd Olson, from the prologue

I’ve been interested in “nature” for as long as I can remember. I grew up on a few acres of fruit and avocado trees bordering on a huge tract of undeveloped land. Cross a narrow gravel road and there was nothing but sere hills, scrub, pepper trees, narrow defiles filled with poison oak occasionally harboring a trickle of water. Birds, snakes, spiders, skunks, possum were there. Each summer I roamed this space, alone and happy.

I bought Wilderness Days in 1985, read a little of it, boxed it up for a move, and recently rediscovered it, a bookmark about a quarter way in.

This book is a collection of Olson’s writings taken from many books over years of travel in the Quetico-Superior region of Canada. The book is organized by seasons beginning with Spring. Each piece is illustrated with a sketch by Frances Lee Jaques or Robert Hines.

Olson is a keen observer and a talented enough writer to relate what he sees so the picture is clear in the mind’s eye. When he talks about the special quality of light on a late afternoon I get as much of an idea of what he is seeing as possible without seeing myself. His words build the atmosphere of the scene, give the texture of the place, it’s sounds, smells, magic.

This is a book to read a little at a time, to savor, to mull over what I’d read, relating it to what I knew, contemplating concepts and enjoying the word pictures. Very nice indeed, and calming in our current world.


Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Non-fiction | 7 Comments

Stimulating the Economy: Speed Queen washer & dryer

We’ve had to replace our six-and-half year old (!) GE washer and dryer, as the washer was working poorly and the dryer control broke. Honestly, we’ve never been that happy with them, but they were on sale…

After doing the research, we decided on a Speed Queen washer and dryer. It’s a brand I’d not heard of until we read Consumer Reports and other research sites.

So we bought the made-in-America Speed Queen model RSP113TW01 (top of the residential line) front loading washer and it’s companion electric dryer. Speed Queen exclusively made commercial washers and dryers (the company has no other product lines), until about 5 years ago, when they moved into the residential market. They’re top rated for reliability and durability ever since.

These units are pricey, but we decided quality and durability were more important than price in this instance.  They come with a 5 year warranty and are expected to last five times that long. These days that’s a lot. We should have them installed in about 10 days.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 15 Comments

Current Reading: Czerski, Doyle, Vaughn, Lafferty, Mankell

I put requests in for books at the library, and they all seem to become available in bunches.  The first was Storm In A Teacup, by Helen Czerski, which I learned about from George Kelley’s blog. It’s non-fiction, about physics in every day life, and I found it interesting and skimmed through it with pleasure.

Next was Martin Marten by Brian Doyle, a coming of age story about two characters, a young Pine Marten and a fourteen year-old boy, both living in the forest below Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Local setting and author. Well written.

Then Carrie Vaughn’s Martians Abroad, a science fiction story of a girl from Mars who is sent by her mother to attend Earth’s Galileo Academy, a highly prestigious school prep school for young adults who are going on to careers in business or space. Polly wants to be a starship captain but she needs the classwork. Being from Mars, when almost all of the other students are “Earthers” causes problems, but she and her brother Charles manage. I enjoyed the book a lot and am hoping for a sequel.

Now I’m reading Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty, a science fiction novel that’s also a murder mystery. Automatic systems awaken clones of the six-person crew of the Dormire where they find the original crew floating, dead, in null gravity. How is obvious, but why and by whom is a mystery. It’s a locked room mystery on a ship which has somehow veered off course with potentially disastrous results. Good so far.

Barbara finished Night School by Lee Child, and is now reading The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. It’s the 12th (and last, due to his death) in the Wallander series.

She’s reading the series in order, but has skipped over The Grave the 11th book, as it has yet to be translated.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 30 Comments

Current Reading: Rankin, Child

I decided to read the other Rebus book, Mortal Causes, that I’d gotten from BookSwap, a couple books earlier in the series than Let It Bleed (my review here) I’m nearly done with it, and liking it better. Still, I think it will be a while before I read another by Ian Rankin.

Now, suddenly, I have several books waiting at the library. Funny how that happens. So when I finish the Rebus, I’ll start on those.

Barbara finished Harbour Street by Anne Cleeves, and has started Night School by Lee Child, a Reacher novel. She always likes those, so I’m sure she will enjoy this one too. 

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 19 Comments