June 4, 2017

We all float



It's now June, so I've started rereading IT for the first time in over 25 years!  I can't believe its been so long since I've read this book.  I was going to read it before seeing the remake due out in September, but when I saw that @jobis89 was doing a readalong on IG (#weallfloatreadalong) I knew I had to join in.

At the moment I'm 170 pages in (out of a whopping 1153!) and I'm realizing that I have forgotten quite a bit of the details surrounding the characters.  So far all the Losers have been contacted in 1985 by Mike, and we're now being taken back to 1958 for what I assume will be a not so pleasant walk down memory lane.


I tried reading outside on the lawn yesterday but a neighbours mowing put the kybosh on that.  Pondered trying again today as the weather is gorgeous - if bloody cold - but other neighbour has since jumped on his ride-on mower so I guess I'll just settle down on the couch in a nest of blankets while I catch up.

Fingers crossed I can get a chunk of this read today.  Need to get back into the King shelf and read more.  Perhaps I'll even tackle The Stand later this year?

Do you have a favourite King novel?  Let me know in the comments 😄

And until next time,

May 17, 2017

And the books trickle in


This is the week that the books from my PEL binge should arrive - and indeed they have started to trickle in.  I walk down the road to my cute little post office every day to check the mail and yesterday the first of the PEL editions turned up.  Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontĂ« and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens both arrived in amazing condition.  


However, the copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy was in less than desirable condition {as you can tell from the webcam shot above}.  The front cover was all bent and smushed and there is obvious crinkling of the pages throughout the book.  Not what I expected when I ordered this


Thankfully today's package made up for that disappointment.  All the books that arrived in the post this morning were in excellent condition Hard Times, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Mill on the Floss and Sons and Lovers - and all had that rubberized texture that I love!  So I will bury my disappointment over the poorer condition of Tess because, truthfully, that could have happened while the books were in transit, and instead bookgasm over my growing PEL collection.

I can't wait to get my new bookcase so I can line up all these amazing spines on the shelf ;-D

Do you collect these gorgeouse PEL editions?  Let me know what your favourite cover design is.  The covers I'd love to get my hands on are Pamela by Samuel Richardson and The Monk by Matthew Lewis... oh, and Bleak House, The Pickwick Papers, Martin Chuzzlewit and The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens.  Hmmm, Daniel Deronda by George Eliot and perhaps The Return of the Native by Hardy.  Okay, basically I want most of them! ;-D  But unfortunately they are Out of Print (OOP) and waaaaay too expensive to purchase second hand (over $200!).  Too rich for my blood.

Hmmm, I sense another post in my future - why aren't all the PEL titles still available?  ;-D

I'm off to reorganize my shelves so I can fit these babies in, but until next time,
 

May 7, 2017

Book Review | Oh Danny Boy

Oh Danny Boy
A Molly Murphy Mystery #5
Rhys Bowen

First published in 2006
This edition published in 2015

Constable, paperback (format B), 359p.
ISBN: 9781472118417

How can Molly keep the man she wants out of her life out of jail, for although he may be a love rat, he's certainly no murderer!

Irish immigrant Molly Murphy is contemplating giving up PI work for something a little less . . . exciting.  Molly has had quite enough recently - especially from the handsome but frustrating NYPD captain Daniel Sullivan.  She wants him out of her life for good.  But when Daniel is accused of accepting bribes and lands himself in the Tombs, the notorious city jail, he begs Molly to help prove he was framed.  After everything they've been through together, how can she turn him down?

As Molly finds herself drawn further into Daniel's case, she begins to fear that his trouble is related to one of his investigations: catching a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes, known as the East Side Ripper . . .





{Note: I wrote this yesterday at the coffee shop}

I read Oh Danny Boy this morning.  I then got ready and headed off into town to meet some family, and while I waited for them at the coffee shop I thought I'd write down a few thoughts on the book while it was still fresh in my mind - only I drew a blank!

Yes, not only had I finished the book less than 40 minutes ago, but I could not remember anything.  Not even the title.  This only lasted about 20 seconds, but I seriously had to mentally review the books I'd received in the mail this week for the title to come to mind.  I can't remember this happening to me before, and it says a lot about what I thought of this story - forgettable.

ODB seems to pick up a couple of weeks after the events of In Like Flynn (#4) and although I do like Molly, the collection of misfits and bohemians she surrounds herself with do rather test my patience at times.  Gus and Sid would have to be my favourite of the friends.  But by far the most annoying character for me is the stereotypical Irish charmer, Daniel Sullivan.  His attitude and behaviour stinks.  While he doesn't want to hurt his fiancĂ© feelings or cause her any humiliation in breaking their engagement.  However by doing this, and stringing Molly along, he has just hurt and humiliated the woman he claims to love!  When Molly runs home after the final events of the previous book, she keeps Daniel out of her life, binning his daily missives - only to find out he's in the clink.  So, Molly being Molly, sets out to clear Daniel's name.  I applauded her decision to rid herself of the charming rogue, but it seems like you can't have a cosy mystery these days without the obligatory star-crossed lovers who must overcome numerous obstacles, blah, blah, blah.  Pure claptrap (although it does zest up the subplots).

The mystery of who set up Daniel is neatly solved, but only after Molly has a few close calls, and has to venture into the seedier parts of town.  Her dedication to this man is frustrating.  He doesn't mind calling on her to get him out of a jam, but No! Women should not be detectives or PI's!  Argggh!  I can't wait for Molly to spring a certain bit of news on him in the next book (which I may borrow from my library?) because I would love to see his reaction.

So while I haven't read the first couple of books, and I enjoyed (?) In Like Flynn, I'm not sure if I enjoyed ODB well enough to continue on buying the books.  Admittedly, I only have the two I've mentioned in this post (Murphy's Law is on it's way though), but I'm not sure that this is the cosy series for me.  I could be wrong and once this issue about them being together is sorted it could be great so I will cautiously be reading further books in the series from my local library as they become available.

Sadly, Oh Danny Boy was not the amazing comeuppance I thought it would be for a certain NYPD Captain - and for that fact I've given this book



Well, those were my thoughts on Oh Danny Boy.  I wish I had enjoyed the book more as the cover is gorgeous!  Have you reading this series?  Let me know what you think of Molly and Daniel's relationship in the comments below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And until next time,
 


May 5, 2017

Book Review | All The Little Liars

US Hardcover edition
All The Little Liars
Aurora Teagarden #9
Charlaine Harris

Published in Hardcover 2016
This edition published in January 2017

PIAKUS, paperback (format B), 244p.
ISBN: 9780349416236

Librarian Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small town: four children, including her fifteen-year-old brother, Philip, have vanished from the school football field. What's even more worrisome is the dead body found at their last known location. While the local police comb the county for the missing children, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the two incidents have something to do with a group of school bullies? Are Aurora's father's gambling debts related to the disappearance of her brother? Or could it be that Philip himself, new to town and relatively unknown, is the one responsible? With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother ...if he's still alive. 


When Poppy Done to Death came out I was okay that the series wrapped up with Aurora's news.  It was done, complete, and I didn't need more.  Fast forward thirteen years (!!) and the news dropped that Charlaine Harris was continuing her Aurora Teagarden series and although I was excited - she is a great character - my main thoughts were "why?".  

Flash forward, again, to yesterday when I received the paperback edition in the mail.  Instead of jumping right in and devouring it as soon as I'd opened the package, it just sat on the coffee table where I'd placed it.  As I cleaned up before going to bed, I picked it up and put in on the bedside table thinking that I'd look at it at some point.  Then, when I was all snug under the blankets, I realized that I hadn't brought in the book I was hoping to read and instead All The Little Liars was there so I grabbed it and started to read...

... and nintey minutes later I was done.




It was OK.  Really, nothing style-wise had changed in the 13 intervening years.  All the characters felt the same, Aurora, Robin, Phillip, Aida and John, Phil and Betty Jo.  A similar style of mystery coupled with Aurora's inability to leave well enough alone... well, you know how it goes.  Basically, this could have been written 12 years ago for it felt so familiar.

However, there were two differences - Aurora's pregnancy, and her finally standing up to her father and his ex-wife, Betty Jo.  Now, we all knew going in that Aurora was pregnant - this little tidbit dropped in the last book - but Aurora had never stood up to her father about his shitty attitude and lack of responsibility towards his offspring or spouses.  Oh, she may have thought about the things that she'd like to have said, but they never passed her lips... until this book.  It is probably the biggest change in her character.  Is it only because she's pregnant that she's grown assured enough to finally speak her mind?  Well, I'll find out in the next book if it's a character trait that will stick.  I hope it does because self assured Aurora is pretty damn great.

Of the mystery itself, that was well done.  I had an inkling who might have been involved, and I was sort of right.  The disappearance of Phillip and friends was a great way to reintroduce Phillip to the readers, as well as his lackluster parents.  In earlier books Phil and Betty Jo came off as sanctimonious prats, but now the blinders are off and we see them for the self absorbed jerks they are.  I wasn't surprised to find out that Phil was in hot water with gambling debts to some rather unsavory characters (hmmm, will this be a future story arc perhaps?) or that Betty Jo had run off to a commune to get away from not only Phil, but the repercussions of his gambling strife.  Great potential drama, but not worth the aggravation.  I'm really hoping that we don't see more of them in future books.

So while All The Little Liars was a fast paced book, there was just something about it that left me feeling a tad disappointed.  It's been almost 24 hours since I finished it, and I still haven't been able to pinpoint where it fell down for me.  All the elements were there, but for some reason I just wasn't as into it as I'd expected to be.  I'm really hoping that's because I've been reading so many cosy books recently that it's just cosy overload.  I'm definitely going to be rereading this (and all the previous books) before the release of book 10 later this year.

For now, I give All The Little Liars




I hope you enjoyed my quick first thoughts on All The Little Liars.  Let me know in the comments if you have read it, and what your thoughts were about Charlaine Harris picking up the series 13 years later? 


Until next time, my lovelies
 

May 2, 2017

Book Review | Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
Persephone Books #38
Julia Strachey

First published in 1932 by Hogarth Press
This edition published in 2011 by Persephone Books

Persephone Books, paperback, 119p.
ISBN: 9781906462079


It is a brisk English March day, and Dolly is getting ready to marry the wrong man. Waylaid by the sulking admirer who lost his chance, an astonishingly oblivious mother bustling around and making a fuss, and her own sinking dread, the bride-to-be struggles to reach the altar.








Well, this what not at all what I expected.  After watching a few book reviews on YouTube, I was expecting to find a book seething with emotion, angst and drama - instead I got a story that centers around an oddball family as they muddle their way through the morning of Dolly Thatcham's wedding.

Dolly seems to float through the events under a haze of rum, and Joseph (the ex) hangs around the house like a stray dog, while her family is just tedious.   Little sister Kitty is a gaudy, poor imitation of her beautiful elder sister, and is starting to become man crazy.  The descriptions of her makeup alone would send any gentleman running in the opposite direction!  Then you come across the terrible twosome - her brothers, Robert and Tom.  Robert is continuously going on about Captain Blood, or telling his OCD brother, Tom, to "...go and put your head in a bag." as Tom continuously nags, and manhandles, his brother about changing his socks of all things!  Very odd.

Mrs Thatcham is a disaster as organizer of the household during this stressful time.  She mixed up her buffet orders, double books bedrooms (so to speak, but with funny results), and is oblivious to anything but the goal of marrying off her daughter.

In one of my favourite scenes, Joseph finally unloads on Mrs Thatchum in regards to what Dolly did last summer.  It was probably made up, but there was almost a malicious hint of truth to parts of it that would have made a great addition, and twist, if the story had of been longer.  We only see Owen, the groom, once and that is at the end when Dolly and Joseph were arguing alone in a room and he barges in at the wrong moment.  There is such potential in this book and it is frustrating to see great moments fall by the wayside.

At only 119 pages, I sped through this.  The writing was simple and straightforward, the plot uncomplicated, but that lack of emotion and drama - especially when the ex turns up desperate to speak with the bride before her wedding! - was strange.  Where was the alcohol fueled rant from Dolly about her current situation?  About her discovering that Joseph, the ex, was there?  The wavering of courage and doubt about walking down the aisle?  There was none of that.

So, while not what I was hoping for, CWFTW was still an entertaining way to spend an hour of so, and has me intrigued enough to track down a copy of the adaptation to see what the changed, and how they adapted this into a full length movie.



I'm not sure if I'll collect any more Persephone Books.  They are crazy expensive, especially in Australia, but if you could recommend one last book I should buy what would it be?  Leave a comment and let me know ;-D

And until next time,
 

May 1, 2017

Pre-birthday splurge

Yeah.  So, this was a thing over the weekend.  Money has been a little tight - still have to pay my electricity and telephone bill this week - but with my birthday coming up I wanted to treat myself to a book or two since my family don't buy me books because they are never sure what I've got, or want to read.  

Enter the smart phone.  I was browsing the Book Depository and Awesome Books websites on Saturday night and after about an hour of idle searching it was a shock to discover that I had 10 books heading my way!  Okay, two were for my mum for Mother's Day, but daammmmn!

Sunday afternoon.  I'm online again and poddling about Awesome Books - again! - adding books to my wishlist (and the cart) when I hit on the 'genius' idea of buying up some more Penguin English Library (PEL) editions to add to my collection.  Yeah, really bright idea.  Bought a further 8 books, and then jumped on AbeBooks to find some OOP PEL editions and ended up spending more money as I found two (and bought a third book anyway)!

So, here is a list of what I bought on this birthday binge of shame...


As you can see, I must have lost my mind for a few hours!  In truth, these are books that I've wanted for a long time - and that I will be reading in the future - so I don't feel too guilty about buying them as a majority of them are used books in great condition.  However, I probably could have timed this splurge better ;-D

In the meantime, I have not been reading as much as I would like.  Everyday chores like laundry, mowing the lawn, gardening, cooking, etc., have been a priority.  Hoping to read Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen this month.  I read Emma last May and loved it, so finger's crossed I have the same reaction to S&S.

Since I've spent way too much recently on books, I'm going to concentrate more on my massive TBR pile (300+ books I think) and get a chunk of that read before I allow myself another book order.  I'll settle for reading 20-30 titles.  It will be a challenge, but with winter only a few weeks away, and the colder nights, I'm hoping to snuggle up with some good books over the coming weeks - there's nothing on TV anyway ;-D

Have you had a huge book splurge?  If you have, let me know how many books you got so I don't feel so bad ;-D

Until next time,

April 14, 2017

New addition to the family


Last Saturday RSPCA QLD was having a $50 adoption weekend for all adult cats and dogs.  Great!  I have been interested in getting a dog for a while now, and living in the country I would just feel a little bit more secure with a dog in the yard.  So I went on Saturday morning, waited 10 minutes until they opened - with about 6 other people - and when the gates opened I was off to the dog section.  Saw some lovely animals (they only had 4 on display), and only one of those was a contender.  A beautiful, shy girl who had a slight malformation of the jaw (which didn't bother me as long as she was healthy) but unfortunately she was way too big for me to feed!  

So, discouraged, I swung past the cat cage as I was leaving - and you just know what happened next!

Yes, I found another furry friend to bring home.  Smokey was just so sweet and desperate to be patted.  If I went out of his sight he meowed, and when I opened his cage he almost jumped into my arms and snuggled his head under my chin.  The big mooch knew exactly what to do to worm his way into my affections.

  

I paid my $50 and brought him home only to face my next obstacles. . . Evie Nyxx and the Kinder.  How the hell was I going to introduce this smoochy man to two female adult cats (who have a tight bond!) without WWIII breaking out every few minutes?  Thank God I have a spare bedroom, because that is where he spent the majority of the first 4-5 days.  I'd sit with him for chunks of time, bring him out for limited cuddling on the couch, and also take him in for quick visits with the girls.  It's now day 7 and he is finally able to wander around the house all day without being snarled at.

Evie Nyxx and Kinder have been very good.  They are still a little hesitant of his place in the social hierarchy, but I expect that squabble to come over the next couple of days, perhaps weeks.  I'm keeping a close eye on things at the moment because when I got Smokey (perhaps a future name change to Shadow?) he was only just over 2.5kg and is quite a skinny and wobbly little man.  I think over the next few weeks he'll put on a few kg's (at least another 2) and I'll feel better about him being able to defend himself if needed.  At the moment the girls would totally flatten him.


As you can see, he has interesting colouring.  The papers say he's a Black Smoke Tabby.  I'd never heard of that so of course I Googled it.  Apparently it is not a common colouring, but when you see his marking, in person so to speak, they are quite subtle and it takes a while for your eyes to make out the stripes on his body.  Easier on his tail and legs, but when he's put on more weight, and the fur regrows on his front leg (shaved for his op - snip, snip!) I'll try to take some better photo's of him.  Like Kinder, he has a knack for moving his head right as I take the picture.  Frustrating, but feels pretty good when I finally get a picture of them sitting still enough to be in focus ;-D

With a new cat in the house I haven't had much time for reading.  I've picked up the new paperback of End of Watch by Stephen King, and have ordered a few more books that I found on special while perusing Book Depository.  Hopefully they will arrive by the end of next week.  Luckily the new boy is a huge smoochy snuggler so I can get some cuddles while I rug up on the couch to read this winter.  Unfortunately, so is Evie Nyxx.  If there is to be a battle, I think who sleeps on the bed, or couch, next to me might be it!

Will let you know how it goes.  And until next time,
 

January 29, 2017

The Crossing Places | Book Review

The Crossing Places 
Dr. Ruth Galloway Mystery #1
Elly Griffiths

Originally published: 2009
This edition published: 2016

Quercus, pbk (format B), 314p.
ISBN: 9781786481863

A child's bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to date them.  Are these the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years ago?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for this missing child.  Ever since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible.  He knows Ruth's instinct and experience can help him finally put this case to rest.

Then a second child goes missing, and Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she's getting closer to the truth...





 



After finishing Amy Snow, I really needed something with a bit of an edge to it. Luckily The Crossing Places also arrived in the mail and it was perfect to lift me out of the slight book funk I found myself in.

Dr. Ruth Galloway was such a refreshing character to follow. At almost 40, Ruth is single, overweight, intelligent, unconcerned about her appearance (to a certain extent), and is more into her work than relationships - oh, and she has cats! I really connected with her, and found her to be a refreshing main character. DCI Harry Nelson was exactly what you would expect of a book copper. He's rugged, authoritative, and determined to catch the murderer. I wasn't sure what to think of their one night stand (he's married with 2 almost adult daughters), and yet, they both treat the matter like it was one of those things, and let's move on. Unlike Harry's wife (of the lovely hair, trim figure and outgoing nature), Ruth seems to attract his attention regardless of her rather unconventional appearance (by today's standards). So although I usually don't like books with cheaters in it, I did enjoy seeing a non-typical protagonist attracting the attention of the stern DCI. There are a few other flaky secondary characters that orbit Ruth and Nelson, and I'm hoping they come back in future books as they were a great contrast for these two intelligent, driven professionals.

Of the mystery itself, I was rather intrigued as I do love a good mystery, and if it involves archaeology - even better! I won't rave on about the archaeology, but it plays a large part of the plot line - especially those letters that DCI has been receiving. I twigged to one person, then discarded them. However I was right, but the red herrings placed along the way did a good job of distracting me.

Will definitely be picking up the next books - in fact, I let my fingers do the walking and impulse bought the next two books in the series because Ruth's revelations at the end of The Crossing Places made it too irresistible to pass up. 


★★★★☆


That was my first impression of The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths.  Let me know below what you thought of the book, or please recommend a similar series ;-D

Until next time,

January 23, 2017

Gritty crime series




I posted this pic yesterday morning (Sunday in AUS), and even now I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about Buried Strangers.  It is full of tropes/themes that work great on the screen: corruption at the highest levels as well as the grass roots of the police force, forensic facilities that seem to be 30 years behind cutting edge technology used elsewhere, multiple POVs that you can follow, interesting - if horrific - crime to solve, potential romance between colleagues, numerous dodgy characters, and a central character like Chief Inspector Mario Silva that the whole shebang could revolve around.

However, in book form it just seemed to fall flat for me.  Don't get me wrong, Buried Strangers was well written with interesting characters, but killing children to steal organs for the black market? ... so not me.  Would I want to read any further books in this series?  I really don't know.  I've looked into it, and it seems that each centers on a pretty gruesome topic

"The whole collection is known as "The Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigations". The books cover a vast array of subjects, including underage prostitution, organ theft, snuff videos, and much more." *

and I think that says it all!  I'd have to think really hard about it before I'd commit to another one as these topics sound truly disturbing to me.  I don't want to read about child prostitution or snuff videos.  I don't know who would read something like that for fun.  But, different strokes for different folks, right?

So those were my thoughts on Buried Secrets.  I didn't go into characters, plot points, etc., because it is more important that a potential reader is aware of the gritty nature of the books.  If you can't deal with these topics then I don't recommend you read the books as they don't shy away from their subject matter.  However, if a good gritty crime novel set within the seedy side of a corrupt police force seems right up your alley, then congratulations, this just might be for you ;-D

I hope this was in some way helpful.  Let me know if you've read any of the Leighton Gage books, and if you did - what did you think of them?  Would you read more?

Thanks again, and until next time...
 



Citation
* Leighton Gage. (2016, August 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:41, August 30, 2016

January 21, 2017

Where has the month gone?



It's seems like just last week when I was wishing family and friends "Happy New Year!", and now it's already three weeks into January and I'm only just getting around to updating my reading.

A lot has been happening on the reading front.  I set my GR challenge goal to 100 again.  A nice round number that I know I will reach.  I've still got books limping in that were ordered in early December - with still one, no two, tardy packages still to arrive.  I really do need a whole new bookshelf system as multiple bookcases aren't coping (and I can only have so many in a room!) that I'm considering going to a bracket system so I can use up the whole wall, not just where a bookcase can fit.



So far I've gone through nearly 30 books (with updates on GR still to come), and have also discovered a few new authors such as G.M. Malliet's Max Tudor series (thanks to Katie Howe for the recommendation), Elizabeth Peters Vicky Bliss series, and a few stand alone authors such as Sarah Maine, Anna Romer, Josephine Pennicott to name a few.  Will definitely be trying to find more by all these authors in the coming months.

Have been reasonably restrained with my thrift shop purchases (only had one go at the 3 stores in town) and picked up a few books.  Great find was a Robin Paige cozy mystery book - that turned out to be book 9, but it was still good - and a beautiful vintage copy of Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

January has also been the month of the heatwave here in QLD, Australia.  It's been amazingly hot, and I've even had to put the A/C on a few times so the cats and I didn't melt.  As you can imagine, hot weather is not conducive for tapping away at a keyboard for hours in a hot stuffy room - nor is it the best weather for having to mow your ¼ acre block! {for my efforts I ended up with strained ribs and unable to move for a few days}  Today we've had a little bit of a reprieve and the overcast weather is wonderful ;-D

Well, that's my amazingly quick update for now.  Will be posting book pics in the near future of all my bookmail (already on my IG feed), and an upcoming list of my must have pre-orders for the next few months.

Until then my lovelies,