Saturday, 3 May 2014

Books 2014, #1 - #20

Light interlude - I was catching up on Knitting on the Green's latest reviews when I realised I hadn't done this for a while. I haven't been reading that much so far this year as I no longer have a commute and there has been so much else to take in. I have waded through more than 40 Japanese craft books from the Library (I take a photo of the cover so I know if I have mined this one already or not because the old memory isn't what it was) as well but that is more looking and learning than reading. Or are the two the same?! Where I have done well is audiobooks. I've clumped these all together at the end. I listen to them while sewing which explains how I've got through so many.

Pictures are amazon affiliate links but are only there to look pretty. No need to click on them unless you really want to buy the book. I've also put books by the same author together even though I read them at different times so the list is not in order.

#1 Death on the Lizard

#2 Death at Dartmoor
by Robin Paige

More cosy mysteries. In the Lizard we have Mr Marconi and his wireless getting into hot water and our heroic couple help sort them out. In Dartmoor we have an escaped convict who Lord Sheridan thinks might be innocent and wants to prove is so using these new fangled fingerprints he's so keen on. In both these books the Sheridans are married and so they're not too soppy. It is interesting how the division of labour is very much along traditional gender lines (Charles goes off to interrogate the prison guards while Kate visits the local gentility) and yet these books still manage to maintain Kate's independence and therefore difference to the other ladies of the age.

#3 Revelations of a Lady Detective
by William S Haywood

This one was mentioned in a BBC documentary (I can't remember now whether it was tv or radio) as one of the first times a woman was the detective in a novel. Published in 1864, it isn't exactly an in depth mystery tale by today's standards. In fact it is a series of short stories which represent cases Mrs Paschal is asked to work on. The fact that the cover shows her smoking, scandalous at the time, shows how much of an innovation it all was. An interesting read though and well worth a look if you are a crime fiction buff.

#4 The Devil's Cave
by Martin Walker

Dear Bruno is involved in another mystery in his small french town. Set during the current period and tinged with current politics and believable red tape, these stories are good fun and it is interesting to see which of the cast of the town and national authorities we have already been introduced to in the previous books will come along and be the focus of different elements. A killing with possible satanic elements takes place and while the Mayor wants to dampen any negative publicity a local tourist attraction seems to be trying to maximise the drama for its own ends. Good stuff. 

#5 O Jerusalem
by Laurie R King

While I am reading these in order, this one goes back to before Sherlock Holmes married (stop laughing if this is news to you) and when his wife to be was about 17 and the two of them were just master and apprentice and hiding out in the Middle East. It links in with the first book and was quite good. I find myself turning to these books when I want to read something that is more gripping than a cosy mystery, but not terribly complicated. 

#6 Murder Underground

#7 Death on the Cherwell
by Mavis Doriel Hay

These two were in my 'recommendations' on Amazon and are part of a republished set called "British Library Crime Classics". I suspect these might stem from the popularity of the crime writing exhibition KnittingOnTheGreen and I went to last year which I blogged about here. Ms Hay only wrote three mysteries between the wars and then got involved in war work and went on to write more about traditional crafts. A lady after my own heart. Both books were well written and had a good pace to them. Two people from the first pop up in the second but both involve a group of about 10 people who could have had a motive for the doings. I would recommend either to anyone who likes a bit of classic crime. 

#8 How To Wash A Cat
by Rebecca M Hale

You know how sometimes you quite like a book but there is one character you cannot stand? Well let me state now that if that guy Monty is in any of her other books there is absolutely no way I can read them. He was intolerable. And the lead's reaction to him was unfathomable. I would have had him arrested at the very least for repeated breaking and entering, never mind telling him to GO AWAY for five frickin minutes and leave me in peace. Apart from Monty...calm down Byrne...this was a very enjoyable and fast read where a woman with two cats inherits an antique shop from her Uncle. Secret passages and buried treasure can only be mere pages away. It looks like this is the first in the series so I may try another, but only if someone has first redacted all mentions of Monty.

#9 An Expert in Murder (Audiobook)
by Nicola Upson

This is the first of the 'Josephine Tey Mysteries' which it is a bit odd to be reading because I didn't like Ms Tey's actual work when I read it. However, this listen was enough to make me think I should give it another go, as I very much enjoyed this story. This is a series Knitting on the Green has reviewed several times and has the author as one of the main characters although she doesn't butt in - it is the police who do the actual detection while she has her own thing going on in the background. Admittedly she reaches the solution before they do but that is kind of accidental. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it. 

#10 The Case is Closed (Audiobook)
by Patricia Wentworth

I usually love Miss Silver books but this one was a real downer to start with. Endless prose about how hard a woman's life is after her husband, who claims his innocence, is convicted of murdering his uncle. It takes her plucky friend to pluckily contact her plucky ex-fiance who in turn pluckily contacts Miss Silver to discover the truth. There's a lot of pluck in this one. Once you wade past the doom of a beginning this is actually very good with lots of investigating by Miss S and a few near misses for the plucky lovely. I won't spoil things by saying whether she is reconciled with the ex or not... 

#11 Lestrade and the Gift of the Prince (Audiobook)

#12 Lestrade and the Mirror of Murder (Audiobook)

#13 Lestrade and the Sign of Nine (Audiobook)
by MJ Trow

I hadn't realised quite how many of these books there were until I started reading/listening to them. The three above are all very good although the Sign of Nine stands out in my mind as having a particularly devillish plot and many comedic moments, the like of which you come to expect from these books. As audiobooks they also have the benefit of having been read by the Author. This is not always a good thing but in this case it really works and he is brilliant at bringing the long suffering and much injured Lestrade to life. If you haven't read one I would strongly recommend them - no knowledge or even liking of Sherlock Holmes required. 

#14 Dead in the Water (Audiobook)

#15 Murder on the Flying Scotsman (Audiobook)
by Carola Dunn

I absolutely have to stop listening to these audiobooks. An american woman called Mia Chiaromonte reads them and she has no idea how to pronounce words. There are so many examples I could give because I curse out loud each time she does it, but the one that sticks in my head is when she stated a young, teenage character was sleeping in her commies. 
Those commie bastards...them and their combs. Because what she was actually sleeping in were her combies (with the b pronounced, unlike the word comb, which Mia is apparently up to pronouncing) as in combinations, an old fashioned type of underwear. A small thing I know but when she is doing it with any word not usually found in your average Sesame Street episode it gets a bit galling. Therefore if you are going to read what are perfectly adequate, but not great, stories I'd get them as actual books. 

#16 Stop Press (Audiobook)

#17 A Night of Errors (Audiobook)

#18 Appleby and Honeybath (Audiobook)
by Michael Innes

Wow, those publishers sure weren't breaking the cover illustration budget when they brought these out. Those people who are attracted by covers wouldn't give these a second glance. Which is a shame, because this is more of the, just like Lestrade, seemingly never ending Inspector Appleby series. As far as I can tell, Appleby was only an Inspector for about 3 books, then the rest were when he was a Commissioner or retired. I guess that gives him more flexibility. In any case these were all good but of particular note was 'Appleby and Honeybath' where Honeybath finds a body in the library except that by the time he's told Appleby it has vanished.

#19 The Norfolk Mysteries (Audiobook)
by Ian Sansom

I downloaded this on a whim when it popped up in Audible's new releases and so the paperback isn't due out until July. Ian Sansom also writes the mobile library series, which I don't like, and not the Matthew Shardlake series (by C J Sansom) which I do like, which is what I was thinking of when I bought it. I mean to say - there was a sex scene! A realistic one! For a woman who is used to Dame Agatha simply not going there this was rather odd. The premise is that Sefton has been hired by a famous writer to help him compile guides to each of the counties and they are starting with Norfolk. I need to listen to it again to work out exactly who did what to whom but the idea of going through the sex scene again is putting me off. This is clearly the start of a new series but I'm not going to be following it up in future. 

#20 Miss Tonks Turns to Crime
by MC Beaton

This was a present from my cousin and very welcomed. It brought me safely back into my comfort zone since it does contain kissing but of a strictly above the waist variety so that was ok. This is a new series to me but definitely not a new series since there already seem to be at least 5 titles. The concept is that a band of 'poor relations' have clubbed their resources together, along with the proceeds of a robbery, and started a top notch hotel. Sadly as the book opens they are low on funds and it is Miss Tonks's turn to drum up the reddies. We then meet a dashing highwayman, hungarian nobility and a con artist husband and wife before everything turns out thoroughly nicely and well for all concerned, even the con artists. I am definitely going to be reading more of these. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Snippet from London

Carnaby Street Liberty Entrance Thread Rainbow in Liberty

My visit to the UK has not gone entirely as planned, completely down to the awful behaviour of my soon-to-be-but-not-soon-enough-ex-brother-in-law. I did spend a week supporting my sister and niece who have been horribly treated by him and I did then go to my Mum's and spend a few days there. That included *a lot* of cat stroking and the realisation that my Mum's cat has a really small head, which was odd. I also saw my cousin there and that was all lovely despite my Mum having broken her ankle.
IMG_2469(This isn't her - I just thought it was funny - although not for the woman obviously. I hope she made a full recovery and that the cat continues to be well rested.)
I met Pooch back at my sister's on Thursday and we headed to London on Friday where I saw a friend for lunch and all my old work colleagues in the evening for a proper old school pub session. Saturday started well with Pooch bringing me breakfast in bed and a lunch with Nickerjac and her husband as well as the irrepressible young'un who was on top form and such a wonderful boy. Sadly, en route to another friend's for tea before meeting a group for dinner, my stbbnseebil decided to tell my sister by email - copying me in - that he'd met someone else just a few weeks after walking out on her and their baby and she went to pieces. What a cock. So I am back here with her and will be until I leave to go back to Tokyo on Wednesday.
There are few plus points to all this, but it does mean I get to spend more time with Jasmine, who has decided one of her favourite things is being turned upside down. My arms are aching...I didn't have a hand free to picture that but I did catch Sian pretending she and Jasmine were running very fast earlier.  
Sian and Jasmine
She is such a lovely baby! And her Mum is such a strong person. It's going to be so hard to say goodbye to them both for a second time in just a few days.
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