Sunday, June 25, 2017

Half a year's reading - 2017

I really do mean to jot down my monthly readings, but, hey, six months is better than 2016's yearly report!

In the early months, I spent my reading time right here in New Hampshire, down on the seacoast. The author changes the names of the towns, but anyone who lives here knows exactly where he means.


I have meant to read Brendan DuBois (pronounced boys) for ages, and finally, after listening to him on NHPR here and here (and just a warning you may not want to listen if you are just beginning the books), I bought some of his books for the kindle and read eight of them. Amazon says that Lewis Cole, is "one of the most appealing heroes in mystery fiction," and he really is. We learn in the early books of his back story and how shattered it has left him. He is settled into an old house right on the sea where he rebuilds his life in the community, solving mysteries along the way. He is not your usual 'hero.' He is close to a mafia type from the North End of Boston. He does some things he is not proud of. But he also is very kind to women, and is close friends with the local cop and newspaper writer. I don't want to give much more detail because it is very interesting how his story unwinds with each book. This is a series that needs to be read in order. Part way through my reading, I actually emailed the author. A few days later it came back saying it was undeliverable. Must have been an old address. But I wanted to tell him how bad the kindle versions were of the early books. There were glaring misspellings. I told him that I loved the books so I soldiered on, but that some readers might be so put off they would just quit. So, I would recommend that you buy or borrow the print versions, at least for the first several in the series.

I've not read any books like this before. They are mysteries, but also I think they could be called thrillers. There is a lot of excitement.

Have you noticed how the price of kindle books just goes up and up? I never minded paying eight dollars for the old mysteries I love, but it seems like newer books cost almost as much on the kindle as they do in print. In most cases, I'll  go with the print version, and just read the old books on the kindle.

I read The Little Book of Hyyge which I had noted here. Although I am interested in the concept, I found the book labored to make its point, and said the same things over and over in different ways. I don't think a whole book on it was necessary. An article would suffice.

I read the six books in the Fred Vickery series one right after the other. They were written in the 1990s by Sherry Lewis, and I found them really wonderful. He is a widower, a few years old than I am, with adult children and grandchildren. Only one of his four kids lives in the same Colorado town as he does, but the others pop into the books, sometimes being the main story. These are mysteries, and though the setting is nice and he is a great character, they are not 'cozy.' Bad murders happen, and innocent people are suspected. Fred is friends with the Sheriff, who was his daughter's high school boyfriend. The local doctor is his friend but also his nemesis, always watching what Fred is eating after a small heart attack. The books develop as the series moves along, and we find out more about the man, his late wife, and his family. I really love these six books. They are an excellent little set. The titles and order of the books may be found here.

I read and enjoyed two old ones by Freeman Wills Crofts who should be as well known as Agatha.

I continued where I left off in the Hamish Macbeth series (number 26) and decided I am done. I just don't like them enough for me to spend my time on. I also checked in on Simon Brett's Fethering series and after only a few chapters I decided I was done with those books, too.

The MC Beaton, Hamish Macbeth book, Death of a Chimney Sweep, and Peter May's The Blackhouse were read for the Read Scotland Challenge. As bland as Hamish was, the Blackhouse was an edge of my seat kind of book. Whew. And I've been assured by my friend Kay that the second one, The Lewis Man, is even better. I bought a lovely picture book companion to May's work that helps bring the setting alive.


I read In This Grave Hour, the 13th and latest Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear. It was wonderful. I love this series so much, and there is a special place in my heart for these excellent books.

I read an installment in the always delightful Coffeehouse mystery series by Cleo Coyle - A Brew to a Kill. Snappy dialogue, intelligent characters with loads of personality, and that wonderful New York City locale.

I began the first book in a new series by Susie Steiner, called Missing Presumed, which I liked very much. I could see the BBC or itv making this into a television show. I was annoyed by the bits about the main character's dating life, but not enough to keep me away from the great story.

A refreshing quality about the older mysteries is that there is very little about the main detective's life. Sometimes I just want the mystery, thank you very much, and I'm now reading more Michael Gilbert, one of the very great writers, I believe. One of his sleuths lives in a boarding house and that's about all the reader knows!

I didn't write about the other 'perfect' book I read that I mentioned in my book report on Stir. I want to spend a full post on it at some point, but I'll tell you here what it is, The Song of Hartgrove Hall, published in Great Britain as The Song Collector, by Natasha Solomons. I loved it beyond words, and will try to do it credit when I finally sit down to write about it.

So there you have it. My reading from January through (most of) June. 29 books.

31 comments:

  1. Wonderful summary of your reading this year, thus far! I just counted how many books I've read in 2017. It's a whopping 10. Can you believe that?? At least I'll have a better chance of catching up with my reviews, right? ;)

    Off to jot down some of these titles in my TBR list.

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    1. Gosh, thanks so much, Les! I'm interested in which ones you would want to read.

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    2. Well, the Brendan DuBois books sound like something I'd enjoy, as does the Fred Vickery series. I read the first in the Cleo Coyle series a few years back after reading your review and would like to get back to the others. I'm sure my reading will pick up later this fall. Between settling in and house guests, life is full and busy!

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    3. I heard of the FV years ago but I think he was more appealing because I am closer to his age now, and have grandchildren (though his are older). I'm always wowed by the CC books, and I wish I wrote full reports like I used to so others would be encouraged to read the books. I'm happy your life is going so well.

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  2. Oh Dear Nan - you are so naughty! I have just ordered Dead Sand Brendan duBois on the strength of your comments to see if I like it enough to find the others!! As if I didn't have enough books to read.......
    Hygge? Yes, what is that all about? It was all over the UK like a rash from December on until Spring, mainly because books about hygge were selling like hot cakes for Christmas! Good job no-one bought me one!! The trick journalists pull is to tell you that the word is untranslatable. Well - I am married to a Scot from Glasgow. There are a whole set of words in use in this house (oxter for one) which have Scandinavian roots (we had a lot of invasions in the early days!!) but which are not in common use in southern England. But turning the lights down and lighting a few candles whilst wrapped in a blanket drinking hot chocolate? That's not a lifestyle, that's just being cosy!
    I read a lot of Agatha Raisin by M C Beaton before giving up as they became more and more preposterous, so I never bothered with Hamish McBeth.
    I am totally with you on Maisie Dobbs. Love that lonely heroine and her clever way of working things out (and it doesn't hurt that her office is in the region of Warren Street, where my workplace Tube station was in London.
    And finally Natasha Solomons. Is this the only one of hers you have read? Is so I can recommend The Novel in the Viola (also published as The House at Tyneford) which is based on fact and set not far along the coast from me.
    Enough now. Thanks for that post, I enjoyed reading and replying.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I think NS is a wonderful writer. I loved the pace of this book. And now, hoping that you come back, you had a post a while back asking for people to leave you messages. I cannot leave you a comment without becoming part of Google+. I don't want to be part of it, so I can't comment. I suspect other possible commenters have faced the same problem. There's a setting on your blog way at the bottom after you click on 'Settings' in the blogger overview. I so hope you come back. I believe I left this message in another reply to a comment from you but not sure if you ever saw it.

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    2. Oh Nan - thank you for that - and yes, I did see your other message. I would love people to leave comments so I will have to think about this. And also have a look at my "settings" although I will admit I am techno-blind!! I will ask a techy friend for help, I think! Thanks again for your message.

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  3. This was a very readable and entertaining summary, Nan, thank you!
    Some of the books you mention I have seen reviewed on other blogs but not (yet) read myself. The mysteries/thrillers by Brendan DuBois sound good; I wonder whether revised ebooks are available of them in the meantime, with some editing? Like you, if a book really "gets" me, I read on in spite of being annoyed by so many typing/spelling errors, but it does take away from the overall reading pleasure.

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  4. These 29 books sound like they were all pretty good. I also have the newest Maisie Dobbs to read and I'm glad to see you like it.

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    1. I don't stay with books I don't love so mostly the ones I finish are books I really enjoy. Maisie never lets me down.

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  5. Hi just found your blog as someone mentioned you on Random Jottings. Lovely to tune in and find a book list - do love a good book list!
    I shall now check out what you've written about - I read the latest Jacqueline Winspear this month too - Loved it and I'm with you on the Simon Brett Feathering series - just couldn't be bothered with them which is odd as his earlier books were much more readable and I'm afraid I just don't understand why M C Beatons books are so popular, though I loved the Hamish Macbeth TV series many years ago

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by. I liked HM on tv too except for that weird guy!

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  6. I am so glad you mentioned your experience with reading Brendan DuBois. I have a book of short stories he wrote and I have been interested in trying the Lewis Cole books but have never taken that step. I need to do that soon.

    I am also going to be reading more by Michael Gilbert. I read a book of his short stories, and then bought some more of his books. Not so easy to find used though.

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    1. It is such a good series. I have a few more to read, and I hope he never stops! And I have this little goal to read more and more of MG!

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  7. Thanks for your good recommendations! I bought the first Lewis Cole and the first Fred Vickery for my Kindle and am reading Dead Sand now....I wonder if you have read anything by Sarah Shaber. She has two series - one about Simon Shaw and one I enjoyed even more about Louise Pearlie http://www.bookseriesinorder.com/sarah-r-shaber/ Louise works for OSS in Washington, DC during WWII and gradually gets to do more and more of interest. Professor Shaw is more contemporary. Shaber is a very good writer, I think.

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    1. Oh, I'm so pleased! I haven't read anything by SS, but will look into her work. Thanks so much.

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  8. Nan~What a wonderful bookish post. I've scribbled down several authors/books to check out. Agree with you on Hamish--getting just too silly, almost as if Beaton doesn't know what to do with him any more. AcornTV is airing the Hamish Macbeth series (I think it started last night), and I'll try watching these. When I wasn't able to read very much last year, I got way behind in the Masie Dobbs series along with several other series I was attempting to stay current with. Catching up will be fun. And hygge? I think a book telling me to relax, light candles, and drink hot chocolate (or tea) is a bit unnecessary--have been doing that for years!

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    1. I thought of trying the HM series again, but I remember really not liking a character that was added - a sort of 'woo woo' guy. If I had another room in my house haha I would buy all the Maisie books and all the Mma Ramotswe books and line them all up. Such a lovely display of two of my favorite fictional characters. That's so true about hygge.

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  9. Nan, I did enjoy this post, and I've also scribbled down some of the authors to take a look at. I've been meaning to read the Natasha Solomons you mention, because I liked The Novel in the Viola (also published as The House at Tyneford) so much. I thought it was wonderful. I have some Peter May on the Kindle, bought because other people said they were good, but I don't read a lot of crime and these seem a little dark for my taste, so they are still unread. Maybe I should try again! And I'm obviously very contrary, because my liking for 'cosy' crime doesn't extend to MC Beaton - I've always found her work badly written with ridiculous plots and unbelievable characters,

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    1. I wonder why they change titles? I am definitely buying this book - did you see that Susan also recommended it? Yes, the PM was dark but good, but dark at the end. I must be 'contrary' too because I'll like some 'cozy' series like say, The Gray Whale Inn mysteries - http://karenmacinerney.com/category/the-gray-whale-inn-mysteries/ - but I don't like other food related mysteries. And I love the Cleo Coyle's but not others that might be considered of the same ilk. Another cozy writer I really love is Hazel Holt, who recently died. I have meant to do a post about her. Intelligent and fun books.

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  10. Wow! I've written down 3 new to me authors to find at the library, one from the comments left you! The Maisie Dobbs books that I have meant to already try, the Lewis Cole books, but I think especially the Louise Pearlie ones as I love books about D.C. during WWII.

    Of course I know you don't care for Louise Penny but I'm hoping her new one this summer will revert back to her earlier ones I loved so much because I really love reading about all the home life details. I bet you don't care for another of my old favorite mystery authors, Charlotte McLeod? No one but me likes them that I've met yet but I adore each one of them and I reread them regularly. And I also love the very slow moving, calm Isabel Dalhousie books by McCall-Smith. Ones like these and Dorothy Sayers work stay on my shelves decade after decade while others get read and donated.

    I thoroughly enjoy each post on your reading lists, Nan!

    Dewena

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    1. Be sure to read Maisie in order because time goes on and life changes with every book. They are slow, contemplative, and intelligent. http://www.jacquelinewinspear.com/novels.php I am going to try the Louise Pearlie series, too! I have read a couple CM - the Peter Shandy series. I keep meaning to get back to them. And I like Phoebe Atwood - do you read her? And I adore the Isabel books. I've read most of the Peter Wimsey books, but not all the ones with Harriet Vane. I have them waiting for me. Thanks so much for your words.

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  11. I've been meaning to read the Maisie Dobbs forever -- and I wrote DuBois on my library list -- Bill would also like this series, he reads thrillers but likes character-driven ones too . Place-centered books are fun to read and it's neat when they are about your place. I hope our library way over here on the other side of the country has this series! Thanks for the reminders (I'd forgotten about Cleo and the coffee house -- will look for more of her) and for the nudges (Winspear) and for the new suggestions (the Sherry Lewis series also sounds great). As always, thank you.

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    1. And I thank you for your always thoughtful comments. If your library doesn't have the books, they could ILL them, I think.

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  12. Thanks for your comment on my blog post about British TV, we have similar taste in many shows, I can see. I will try the Fred Vickery series (as a senior myself I like older protagonists from time to time), and I am reading all the Maisie Dobbs and Peter May books.

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    1. I've found lots of shows on Britbox that I want to see! Thanks again.

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  13. Thank you for this recap of your reading. I get so many good suggestions for books through my favorite blogs.
    I also like M.C. Beaton and have read almost all of the Agatha Raisin series. I wish I had learned of the Read Scotland event, should have paid more attention. Maybe next year I can join in. Oh, Peter May has been in my to-read section on Goodreads for a while. I will most certainly check out this book you highlighted. Very enjoyable post, Nan :-)

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  14. I've read the posts and watched the video on hyyge, which I've never heard of before but my husband and I think our house and cottage are hyyge because everyone immediately wants to stay here once they walk in. They describe it as comfortable and cozy and interesting. I will say those who love modern and sleek and minimalism probably wouldn't like it as much. Thanks for introducing the concept. Now I'll probably see it everywhere, and I won't be a dunce. I also enjoyed seeing the books you've read and it has made me, reluctantly, add books to my TBR list that already will take me the next 50 years to complete. That would be okay if I were 10 years old at the present, but I'm not.

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