Thursday, March 31, 2011

Theme Thursday: Animal



Rules:
*A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday)
*Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you're reading that features the theme
*Post it and don't forget to mention the author and title of the book
*Event is open for the whole week
*Link back to Reading Between the Pages

This week's theme is ANIMAL. Here is mine from Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes (p. 74):

And now some other fishy smell was in the air, one that only the cat Cyril would appreciate--that Racer might stumble up the next rung to a deputy assistant commissionership....

At Jury's feet at the moment was Cyril, who had slipped unobserved into the office to take his princely place on the sill behind Racer's desk. Racer hated the mangy beast (as he called him). Cyril was anything but mangy. He was copper-colored and white-pawed and divided his time between his personal grooming and outwitting the Chief Superintendent.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WWW: Wednesdays


WWW: Wednesdays is hosted by MizB ofver at Should Be Reading.

To play along just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you just recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

Current: Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes Bad tidings come to Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his sidekick Melrose Plant....The woman in the snow-covered graveyard is beautiful and sensual--just Richard Jury needs to warm up a dreary Newcastle Christmas. But the next time Jury sees her, she is dead. Melrose Plant doesn't fare much better. Snowbound at a stately mansion with a group of artists, critics, and idle-but-titled-rich, he, too, encounters a lovely lady--by stumbling over her corpse. All that connects the two yuletide murders is a remote country inn where holiday cheer turns to fear....


Read Since Last Wednesday (click titles for reviews):
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Up Next:
Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer (Heyer Challenge)
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler (Just for fun)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're being asked to list our Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Attention.

I've tried to be very good and not give you a whole list of mystery authors ('cause I could). I've mixed it up a bit...

Mystery Authors Who Could Use Some More Love1. Michael Innes: wonderfully witty, with unusual plots, sometimes a little off-the-wall--but always a good read!
2. Elizabeth Daly: touted as one of Agatha Christie's favorite mystery authors, she has written a good line of cozy mysteries featuring book-expert Henry Gamadge.
3. Edmund Crispin: Another witty British author. Worth it just to meet his amateur detective, Gervase Fen.
4. Amanda Cross: author of one of my favorite academic mysteries. Kate Fansler, professor and amateur detective, is witty, smart and someone I wish I could have as a friend.
5. Kerry Greenwood: Her Phryne Fisher series is wonderful. I've seen her name cropping up more and more....but she can stand to be mentioned more often.

Everyone Else
6. James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice B Sheldon): one of the best science fiction writers. A woman who made her way in what was viewed as a man's genre for a very long time.
7. David Lodge: terrific British wit and excellent academic satire
8. Julian Barnes: Another terrific British author (I have a weakness for those...)
9. Katherine Anne Porter: Her short stories are particularly good. One of my few American favorites.
10. Christina Rossetti: a poet who deserves more recognition...she wrote more than just "Goblin Market"


Bonus: Richard Nash: If you're interested in 18th Century British scholarship, then he's your man. One of the most under-rated 18th C scholars I know. I've read a bit of scholarly work and he actually tells you things with such wit that you don't realize you're learning something. Not only is he a great scholar, he's my friend...so I had to put in a plug for him. (And, no, he didn't ask me to.....)

Teaser Tuesdays


MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.
*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to spoil the book for others.
*Share the title and author too, so other TT particpants can add it to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!

Here's mine from Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes (p. 62):

Why are you going up to the Northeast? You never go anywhere at Christmas; you always sit in your socks and drink Cockburn's port in front of your blazing fire. And whatever will dear Agatha do without her Christmas goose?

The White Company: Review


According to the blurb on GoodReads, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered The White Company his best work and characterized it as "worth a hundred Sherlock Holmes stories." Um. Okay. Who am I to argue with a knighted author? One of his readers, that's who. And I say give me Holmes any day.


So, The White Company is a tale of knights and squires and derring-do set against the backdrop of the Hundred Year's War. There are adventures and wars and jousting and ladies' honor to be defended and brave men to be welcomed home. But, seriously, it reads like a tale for school boys. For the most part, it's decently told and there are even some scenes that are particularly well-done, but overall the feel is not of a decent work of historical fiction, but that of Boys' Own Medieval Stories. The illustrations that accompany the story, while enjoyable, also give the story a juvenile feel. After reading much about how proud Doyle was of his historical fiction, I was expecting something with a little more depth. Perhaps that's my own fault for having false expectations, but that was what I thought.


I will admit to liking the character of Alleyne, the young man raised in a monastery who finds himself thrust out into the world in his twentieth year per his father's instructions. Before he fully renounces the world, he must live in it so he may have complete information on which to base his decision. I find Alleyne's adjustment to his worldly surroundings to be funny and true to nature (although perhaps he overcomes his confusion a little quickly). And I thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with his newfound friends Hordle John and Samkin Aylward. These three men and their allegience to Sir Nigel Loring saved the book for me. Sir Nigel has a bit of Don Quixote about him....but with far more successful results and a bit more reality to his derring-do.


As a tale of honor and loyalty, it is well-written and perhaps if I had come to it without preconceived notions I would have rated it higher. As it is, I give The White Company three out of five stars.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Books Won Challenge 2011


What the heck, let's sign up for another challenge! After all, I've already completed five so I'm feeling a little light in the challenge department (I only have 15 more or so to do....). Soooooo, here goes I'm diving into the Books Won Challenge sponsored by So Many Precious Books, So Little Time. Here's the Scoop:

She created this challenge last year to challenge herself and others that have won books, to read and review some of them. If you would like to join her, here are the levels:

Honorable Mention: Read 1-3 book you won.
Bronze: Read 4-6 books you won.
Silver: Read 7-9 Books you won.
Gold: Read 10 or more books you won.

The Rules:
1. You must write a review for each book that you read for it to count. If you do not have a blog you can write your reviews on a place like Amazon, Powell's, Chapters, etc.
2.Crossovers with other challenges are okay.

3. Audiobooks and ebooks count, as long as you won them.
4. You can change up levels but cannot go back down a level.
5. You don't have to make a list ahead of time for this challenge but you can if you want to.

To sign up, leave a direct link to your blog post about this challenge, using Mr. Linky on her page.

I plan on going for the Silver Level (7-9 books won) and here are the intended reads and reviews:

1.
The Praise Singer by Mary Renault (12/20/11)
2.
Scorpions: The Battles & Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman (7/1/11)
3. The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins
4.
The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
5.
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
6.
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
7.
Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey
8.
Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton (6/28/11)

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter L


Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise sponsors The Aphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. your post MUST be related to the first letter of the book's title, the first letter of the author's first name or the first letter of the author's surname. You can write a book review or a bio of an author so long as it fits the rules somehow.


This week is all about the letter L. L is for Lockridge. Frances and Richard Lockridge. This husband and wife team created several series detectives in various mystery novels from the late 1930s through the 1960s. These detectives include Inspector Heimrich, Detective Nathan Shapiro, Paul Lane, Bernie Simmons, and their most famous creation, Mr. & Mrs. (Jerry & Pam) North. The North novels also feature Lt. (later Captain) Bill Weigand and Sgt. Mullins. All of these stories, while revolving around sometimes brutal murders, are very light and breezy in tone. The perfect afternoon read when one wants a good, fun mystery that won't require too much brain power. I love Pam North and her illogical logic...her way of making intuitive jumps that always bring Bill Weigand to the correct solution in the end. I also like the way the Lockridges involve the many cats of the Norths and the dog of Shapiro in the stories. They have a way of writing about the animals in a very accurate yet humorous way that stops short of being too cutesy. The Lockridge books give readers a nice snapshot of New York City and the surrounding area in 1930s-1960s. For the most part, it seems like a mighty fine place to have been.

Frances first developed the plot for The Norths Meet Murder (the first mystery novel) in 1937 and, when she found herself having trouble with her characters, Richard offered his collaboration and a madcap mystery career was launched. After Frances passed away in 1963, Richard continued to write mysteries--using every series except the Norths and also writing some non-series mysteries that fall more into the thriller genre. While I have enjoyed the later books, I find myself liking those written in collaboration with Frances much more. This husband and wife team had a very special magic that is evident in the earlier books.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey. It's where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It's a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over via the link above and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading.


Books Read Last Week (click on titles for review):
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers
[a very slow week this time....]

Currently Reading:

The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Reared in a monastery, Alleyne Edricson intended to become a monk, but his wise father had made a provision in his will that his son was to spend his 21st year in the outside world and there learn more about his fellow men and how they lived before he taking his final vows.


Books that spark my interest:
Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer (Heyer Challenge)
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler (Just for fun)


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday Snapshot (on Sunday)

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books. All you have to do is "post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mr. Linky on [her] blog. Photos can be old or new, and be of anything as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give is up to you." All she asks is that you don't just post random photos that you find online.



I'm so far behind on my blogging....but I wanted to do this one. The reason I'm behind is because we're planning my son's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Here's my fine young man...way back when (above) and now (below).




Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vintage Mystery Congratulations


Vintage Mystery Challengers....We have another winner! Carol K Carr has just wrapped up the "Take 'Em to Trial" level in the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. Way to go Carol! Be sure and check out her reviews on the progress post--they are well-written and she has chosen some lesser known vintage authors that just might strike your fancy. The prize list has been sent to her and she'll soon have another mystery to read.

Oh, and by the way, Carol isn't just a mystery-lover. She's a bona fide mystery author. She has penned the very fine India Black: A Madam of Espionage Mystery (click for my review of the ARC edition). Although it is not a vintage mystery, it is set in the vintage Victorian period and is a terrific book. I highly recommend that you run out and get this and add it to your TBR piles.



A reminder about challenge completion and prizes:

When you've finished your challenge level and are ready to collect a prize, send me an email at phryne1969 AT gmail DOT com. I will then send you a list of available prizes. All prizes are fair to fine reading copies of mysteries. Most are by vintage authors and are duplicates that I've accumulated through forgetfulness (I could have sworn I didn't have a copy of....) or because I've found a better copy. Better for me may mean anything from a first edition or a pocket-size edition (I love those little books) or just one that has a really cool cover and doesn't necessarily speak to the condition.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Whose Body? Review


With Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers, I went back to the very beginning of the Lord Peter Wimsey stories and fell in love with Lord Peter and Bunter and the Dowager Duchess all over again. Of course, there's nothing like the experience of discovering these delightful characters for the first time, but Sayers writes so wonderfully that it's pretty darn close. I loved every minute from the opening: "Oh, damn!" said Lord Peter Wimsey at Picadilly Circus. "Hi, driver!" to the very ending: "Bunter!" "My lord?" "The Napoleon brandy."

In this first of Lord Peter's exploits we have two mysterious circumstances. First, there is the rather odd appearance of a dead body found in an architect's bathtub...found wearing nothing but a pair of gold pince-nez. As the frontispiece says: "The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder--especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before sightless eyes." Then there's the disappearance of a prominent financier from his home. A financier who apparently took off in the middle of the night in nothing but his birthday suit. "...one is forced to suppose that a respectable middle-aged Hebrew financier either went mad between twelve and six a.m. and walked quietly out of his house in his birthday suit on a November night, or else was spirited away like the lady in the 'Ingoldsby Legends,' body and bones, leaving only a heap of crumpled clothes behind him." At first, the police suspect that the body in the bath must be the missing man, but this is soon proved to be wrong.


Lord Peter is called into the case on behalf of the architect who soon finds himself suspected of disposing of the man in his bath (though why he wouldn't go all the way and dispose of the body entirely never occurs to the slow-witted Inspector in charge of this one). Meanwhile, his friend, Inspector Parker, is given the task of tracking down the unclothed businessman. The two share information on their individual cases, compare notes, and even exchange missions. After interviewing everyone from an American railroad tycoon to a respectable lawyer in Salisbury to the great nerve specialist Sir Julian Freke, Lord Peter soon has all the clues at hand and it isn't long before he is able to hand Parker the solution to both mysteries on a silver platter.


Although it is always a delight to read the Lord Peter stories for his character alone, this time I was particularly taken with his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver. Her interactions with Mr. Milligan, the American tycoon, and her recital of the events of the inquest on the body in the bath are absolutely exquisite. She attends the inquest in order to support the aged, near-deaf mother of Mr. Thipps, the poor architect suspected of the murder. Here's the opening bit of her impersonation of Mrs. Thipps being interrogated by the Coroner:


" 'Did you hear anything unsual in the night?' says the little man, leaning forward and screaming at her, and so crimson in the face and his ears sticking out so--just like a cherubim in that poem of Tennyson's--or is a cherub blue?--perhaps it's a seraphim I mean--anyway, you know what I mean all eyes, with little wings on its head."


Wonderful, just wonderful. And the scene with the young medical student towards the end is also not to be missed. I'm so glad I joined up for the Wimsey Challenge giving me a valid excuse for rereading the Sayers mysteries and I definitely needed this little bit of comfort reading after the exertion of reading
Lair of the White Worm. As usual, Sayers earns a full five stars.

Friday 56


The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It's really easy to participate.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it up at Freda's site.


Here's mine from The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (actually from page 59 because 56-8 has illustrations):

"It passes me," he cried, "how all you lusty fellows can bide scratching your backs at home when there are such doings over the seas."

Book Beginnings on Friday



Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages. Here's what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy's place.

Here's mine from The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

The great bell of Beaulieu was ringing. Far away through the forest might be heard its musical clangor and swell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chalk Up Another Challenge


I actually finished my challenge yesterday (March 23) with Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker, but hadn't had a chance to get my wrap-up together. Considering that I already had a color-theme going on when I decided to sponsor this challenge, this wasn't a lot of work. The hardest color to take care of wound up being White. I started Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman, but just could not trudge my way through that one. And then when Lair of the White Worm (short as it was at about 120 pages) seemed to drag, I thought I might have to start yet another White book. But I vanquished the worm and the challenge is now complete!

*Read nine books in the following categories.

1. A book with "Blue" in the title.
The Girl in Blue by P. G. Wodehouse (3/12/11)
2. A book with "Red" in the title.
The Trail of the Red Diamonds by L. Ron Hubbard (3/11/11)
3. A book with "Yellow" in the title.
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (3/7/11)
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (3/7/11)
4. A book with "Green" in the title.
The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippmann (2/15/11)
5. A book with "Brown" in the title.
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (3/20/11)
6. A book with "Black" in the title.
Black Orchids by Rex Stout (1/21/11)
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (3/15/11)
7. A book with "White" in the title.
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker (3/23/11)
8. A book with any other color in the title (Purple, Orange, Turquoise, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (1/13/11)

9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).
Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh (3/1/11)


Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter K



Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise sponsors The Aphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. your post MUST be related to the first letter of the book's title, the first letter of the author's first name or the first letter of the author's surname. You can write a book review or a bio of an author so long as it fits the rules somehow.


This week is all about the letter K. And I say that K is for Laurie R. King. She is best known as the author of two series of detective fiction: a series of historical mysteries which feature Mary Russell with her mentor and later partner, Sherlock Holmes, and a series featuring Kate Martinelli, a lesbian San Francisco police officer. Her first book, A Grave Talent, was awarded the 1994 Edgar for Best First Novel as well as the 1995 John Creasey Memorial Award. She has also won the 1996 Nero award for A Monstrous Regiment of Women and the 2002 Macavity award for Best Novel for Folly.


My love for King's work is focused on her Russell and Holmes series. I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes (though no true Sherlockian by any means) and have read many pastiches of the master--both good and bad. Who would have thought that anyone could find a woman who could replace The woman in Sherlock's mind. But King has done it and done it so convincingly and so well that it seems like the entire Canon could have been leading up to it. Mary Russell is a true match and equal partner in every way for Sherlock Holmes. And there is never a feeling that King has developed this character as a "Mary Sue" (most generally known in science fiction circles as a character inserted into a well-know series--for instance, Star Trek novels--purely as a way to get the author involved with her favorite characters). I have loved watching the Russell/Holmes relationship develop over the course of the series and eagerly await the time that I can fit another episode into my most urgent TBR pile.

Theme Thursday: Building



Rules:
*A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday)
*Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you're reading that features the theme
*Post it and don't forget to mention the author and title of the book
*Event is open for the whole week
*Link back to Reading Between the Pages

This week's theme is Building. Here is mine from Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers (p. 61):

My mother--most energetic, self-sacrificin' sort of woman, don't you see, is thinkin' of gettin' up a sort of charity bazaar down at Denver this winter, in aid of the church roof, y'know. Very sad case, Mr. Milligan--fine old antique--early English windows and decorated angel roof, and all that--all tumblin' to pieces, rain pourin' in and so on--vicar catchin' rheumatism at early service, owin' to the draught blowin' in over the altar--you know the sort of thing.

Wondrous Words Wednesday (On Thursday)


Kathy over at Bermudaonion's Weblog hosts Wondrous Words Wednesday. If you come across a word (or two) while reading that is new to you and would like to share your new knowledge, then hop over to Kathy's place an link up! I'm running late this week....life has gotten hectic.


Here is what I've got From Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker :


Castellation: furnished with turrets and battlements like a castle


Context: all along the ridge the rock cropped out, bare and bleak, but broken in a rough natural castellation.


Paroxysm: A sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity


Context: Within the niche Lady Arabella cowered in a paroxysm of fear.


Raucous: rough-sounding and harsh; boisterous and disorderly


Context: In a voice which was raucous and brutal--much like that which is heard when a wife is being beaten by her husband in a slum--he hissed out, his syllables cutting through the roaring of the storm....


From Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers


Vademecum: Something regularly carried about by a person


Context: I measured it with my stick--the gentleman-scout's vademecum, I call it--it's marked off in inches.


I could guess castellation from the context and both paroxysm and raucous were familiar to me...but when I found myself groping to put into words what they meant, I figured I better look them up and share. I completely missed vademecum on my previous readings of Sayers and had no clue what this was.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lair of the White Worm: Review


Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker doesn't exactly live up to its blurb: In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves' a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim...

I picked this one up in my search for a book with "white" in the title to help me complete my Color Coded Reading Challenge. White was looking to be a difficult color. The first book I picked out, Eight White Nights, I just could not finish because it was going nowhere fast. Lair looked to be going the same way. It's an interesting idea...ancient evil in the form of a great white worm (in the old sense--a snake/serpent or dragon) which can take on human form and lure men and women to their doom. Add in one heir to a local estate who is slowly going mad and for whateve reason wanting to control the girl he "loves" with hypnotism--to what purpose, we don't know. There is also a mysterious gathering of birds that creates havoc in the region until a giant hawk-shaped kite is flown to scare them. Could be a good story. But from the moment Adam Salton comes home to England to meet a great-uncle he never knew he had and gets involved with these local inhabitants, it's a long-haul to anything creepy or vaguely interesting happening. Salton takes long walks in the countryside. He talks with his uncle's elderly friend a lot. There's A LOT of talking. We have disjointed episodes where Adam is talking with his uncle's friend and then suddenly is out on walk and then just as suddenly back in the house to talk again.

I am glad I finished this one, though (and not just because it finishes off the challenge). The ending was good enough to make the read worthwhile. One might say a very explosive finale (pun intended). A couple of caveats for those who may be considering the book: It is not all that creepy, except, perhaps, in the final scenes. If you're looking for horror along the lines of Dracula, I don't personally think it matches up. Also, if you read an unedited copy, you're going to find the N-word sprinkled all over the place. In a very derogatory manner. Of course, it reflects the times--but you should be prepared. My version--from the library--had been "fixed." My main personal quibble with the story is that you have the hypnotist doing mental/psychic battle with Lilla, the girl he supposedly loves. This goes on in the first third of the book. Lilla is supported by her cousin Mimi. But then, all of a sudden, Mimi marries Adam--supposedly to make her safe from the white worm and we leave Lilla abandoned. Literally. We don't hear of her again until the final 20 pages of the book. After being so concerned about her cousin--a concern her husband shared up to this point, she suddenly leaves her alone. Did she think the hypnotist would just quit stopping by? I did not get that all.

I can't honestly say that this is an all-time favorite. I don't think I'll ever read it again. It had the makings of a really good story. Rumors are that Stoker was going a bit mad himself when he was writing this....I wouldn't be surprised. That certainly may explain the disjointed scenes. Two and a half stars out of five.

WWW: Wednesdays


WWW: Wednesdays is hosted by MizB ofver at Should Be Reading.

To play along just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you just recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

Current: Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim...

Read Since Last Wednesday (click titles for reviews):
Blood Upon the Snow by Hilda Lawrence
The Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Up Next:
Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer (Heyer Challenge)
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers (I've signed up for a Wimsey challenge and I'm in the mood to reread this one....)
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler (Just for fun)
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [possible for Victorian and Holmes challenges]


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's on Your Nightstand? March Edition


What's On Your Nightstand is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the fourth Tuesday of every month. http://www.5minutesforbooks.com/ --to discuss what's on our nightstands (or bookshelf or under the bed or even in the bathroom) waiting to be read. We can also give a quick recap of what we've read that month, set a goal for the next month or take picture of all the books waiting to be read. It's also a place to tell how certain books made it to the nightstand (stack, whatever) and ask for suggestions for more. She just wants to offer a place for book lovers to get together.

I somehow completely missed last month...not sure how that happened. But here's a photo of what's on (and beside) nightstand at the moment:


It's not the greatest picture, but the stacks include The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler, Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton,
Monsieur Lecoq by Emile Gaboriau, The Hollow Lands by Michael Moorcock, A Question of Time by Helen McCloy, Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer, and Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes as well as many others that I just had to have at one time or another. What the picture doesn't show are the two other bookcases in the room and stacks of books all over the place.....I think I'm addicted. Oh, and I forgot to mention the current read on the bed....Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker.


Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're being asked to list our Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves.

1. People who dog-ear books that do not belong to them. (All my friends understand that I have a murderous streak when it comes to the maltreatment of my books....). Finding it in library books drives me nearly as crazy....not quite, but nearly.
2. Ditto for people who highlight in books that do not belong to them. Did you pay for that library book? (Not counting tax money support here.) Didn't think so. Take notes--that's what pen & paper are for. Or buy your own copy...then you can refer to your highlighting whenever you want.
3. Stores that slap stickers all over the books (particularly used book stores that use the kind that apparently have super-glue on them). I can't stand having stickers on my books.
4. In the same vein...bookstores and libraries who stick stickers and/or their library coding system directly over the synopsis. How the heck am I am supposed to find out if this book really needs to come home with me if I can't figure out what it's about?
5. BUT I don't want book blurbs that TELL ALL. It's really annoying when the book blurbs/synopses give away the whole plot.
6. Book cover art that has nothing to do with the story. When there is a blond, blue-eyed damsel in distress on the cover and none to be found in the book or a bug-eyed monster on that science fiction novel just because the artist was told it was Sci-Fi, this tells me that the artist has no clue what the story was about.
7. Speaking of covers...neon covered books of any sort. Sorry, Janet Evanovich--but it's unlikely that I will ever read one of your books. They make my eyes hurt.
8. People who say, "I don't see how you can read that many books" when standing behind me in the checkout line (bookstore or library, doesn't matter). What do they care?
9. Stream of consciousness writing (so with What Red Read on this one). Something in me just wants to scream: "It's a book! It's supposed to have a plot!"
10. Children in danger/murdered/tortured etc. I'm not sure that this is a pet peeve....but it's something I cannot read unless it's a Golden Age type mystery that leaves out all the details of the crime. I just can't take details like that about children.

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?


It's Tuesday, Where Are You? is a meme hosted by An Adventure in Reading. The object is to tell us about the book you are reading by describing where you are fictionally. To join in, post about where you are and link up in the comments at her place.

Currently, I am in Stafford, England--at a place called Lesser Hill, to be exact. I have also been hanging out in a place nearby called Diana's Grove where an ancient evil, known as the White Worm (worm in the old sense, meaning serpent or dragon) is supposed to live. I've been expecting it to be creepy and sinister and scary. But so far, not so much. My companions and I have done a lot of talking but not much action.

Teaser Tuesdays


MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.
*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to spoil the book for others.
*Share the title and author too, so other TT particpants can add it to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!

Here's mine from Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker: The fear and restraint which brooded amongst the denizens of the air began to affect all life. Not only did the birds cease song or chirp, but the lowing of the cattle ceased in the fields and the varied sound of life died away. In place of these things was only a soundless gloom, more dreadful, more disheartening, more soul-killing than any concourse of sounds, no matter how full of fear and dread.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey. It's where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It's a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over via the link above and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading.


Books Read Last Week (click on titles for review):
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Blood Upon the Snow by Hilda Lawrence
The Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Currently Reading: Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim...

Books that spark my interest:
Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer (Heyer Challenge)
Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers (I've signed up for a Wimsey challenge and I'm in the mood to reread this one....)
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler (Just for fun)
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [possible for Victorian and Holmes challenges]


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet Me on Monday (39)

Meet Me on Monday is a blogging meme hosted by Java at Never Growing Old. As she says: "Blogging is a funny thing...we tell our most intimate thoughts for all to read and yet most of the time I find myself wondering, "who is this person?" I know them...but yet I don't know them! I want to know who the person behind all those words is so I thought of a great way for all of us to "meet" each other!"

Every Sunday she will post five get to know you questions that we can copy and paste into our own Monday post and we can all learn a little more about each and every one of us. To play along click on her meme name and join up with the linky.

This Week's Questions:

1. What jewelry do you wear 24/7? None. If I wear m
y wedding ring to bed, my finger swells and it turns nasty colors.




2. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it? Twirl. Unless the spaghetti just won't cooperate, then I cut.





3. How many siblings do yo
u have? None--first, last, and only.
4. Were you named after anyone? Not intentionally. My parents tried very hard NOT to name me after anyone. After I was named, a great-great aunt or some such came crawling out of the woodwork, pleased as punch to have a namesak
e.


5. Coke or Pepsi? Neit
her. I don't care for cola. Give me diet 7-Up any day. Actually, I'd prefer diet Cherry 7-Up, but only if I can have the old kind before they "new & improved & antioxidanted" it and ruined the flavor.


Vintage Mystery Sunday: Sherlock Holmes


Since one of the great loves of my reading life happens to be Vintage Mysteries, I decided to find a way to feature them on my blog beyond the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge which I am sponsoring and the frequent reviews of my current reads. Here on Vintage Mystery Sunday I plan to revisit classic mysteries that I have read and loved before blogging took over my life and I began reviewing everything I read.


I realize that there is very little that I can add to everything that has been said about Sherlock Holmes. There are societies in both England and America devoted to the Master and who debate every little detail of his life and adventures as written up by his good friend, Dr. John Watson. But I also realize that if I did not do homage to one of the greatest detectives in English fiction that I would be leaving a major hole in my development as a mystery-lover.




As the last post indicated, I first fell in love with mysteries because of Nancy Drew. And while I read many of the other young adult mystery series (Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigators), my next real step into the world of detective fiction was with Sherlock Holmes. I distinctly remember spying the green, faux-leather volume sitting in a pride-of-place display in Walden Books in the Fort Wayne mall. Christmas of 1982. It was the only thing I really wanted for Christmas that year. At 799 pages, once I unwrapped it Christmas morning, it was the biggest book I had ever owned. And I loved it. I was well-acquainted with "The Red-Headed League" before 10th grade English ever thought to assign it as part of the curriculum. I already knew Holmes' methods and knew that he never once said, "Elementary, dear Watson."



Sherlock Holmes may not have been the fair-play detective that I would learn to love in my Golden Age mysteries. He was constantly seeing and snatching up clues that he never produced for Watson or the reader until the very end, but I still enjoyed watching him work. Following him through his adventures from The Study in Scarlet all the way through to His Last Bow and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, I was thoroughly caught up in the Victiorian time period, the beginnings of the scientific approach to detection that Holmes put to use, and his constant chiding that Watson may see, but he did not observe. I also enjoyed his mastery of the art of disguise. And I know my love for mysteries would have been far different if I had never encountered London's brilliant "consulting detective."

The Man in the Brown Suit: Review


Anne Beddingfeld has always longed for adventures...and romance. Preferably romantic adventures. She has spent her life with her academic father, a man who was an expert on Primitive Man, but no expert on raising daughters or managing finances. When her father passes away, Anne finds herself set to face the world with 87 pounds and change in her pocket. Her father's well-meaning associates and the townspeople who knew them all aim to help in their suggestions that she take on a nice position as a secretary or an assistant librarian or even as wife to the doctor, but Anne is determined to find adventures. And when she watches a scared man back himself off the platform at Hyde Park Underground Station and be pronounced dead by a doctor in a brown suit who promptly disappears while leaving behind a scrap of paper with an odd message scrawled on it, she finds that she's about to get her wish. But you know what they say about being careful what you wish for.....

The Man in the Brown Suit is one of Agatha Christie's early attempts at light-hearted espionage. Yes, there are deaths and mysterious master criminals directing nefarious schemes and hidden diamonds and blackmail, but it's all of the sort that one finds it hard to take seriously. That doesn't make it any less fun or exciting to read, but it doesn't produce the edge-of-your-seat thrills that some espionage stories will.

Anne uses her last 87 pounds to book passage on a ship bound for South Africa. Her investigations into the slip of paper and the man in the brown suit convince her that something important will happen on that ship. She soon has a wounded man bursting into her cabin the middle of the night, a film canister full of diamonds is slipped throught the ventilator of her new-found friend's cabin, and an attempt is made on Anne's life. There are several suspicious characters on board...two secretaries to Sir Eustace Peldar (both acting rather oddly), a parson who claims to have recently been in Africa yet shows no signs of the African sun, a Colonel Race who everybody says is a government man, and even Sir Eustace himself. Anne is determined to suspect everyone until shown differently. She spends the rest of the story working out who she can trust and who the evil mastermind is.

While it was a bit exasperating to watch Anne fall into the classic heroine trap of being tricked into coming to an isolated home alone and then bound and gagged to wait for the "Colonel" to come, it was refreshing to see her use her resourcefulness to escape her captors. It was also nice to see her learn from the experience and not be caught napping again. Anne is a likable main character--smart, brave, and willing to learn from her mistakes. I enjoyed Anne very much. And I enjoyed the story--but, be warned, it's lighter than a lot of Christie's and the emphasis is not so much on the mystery. Three and a half stars out five.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Last Defender of Camelot


The Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny is a collection of some of his best short stories and novellas. Please note that the edition I have read is the original collection put together by Zelazny himself in 1980 and NOT the later edition which has a mix of some stories found here plus various others. It is my understanding that the newer edition, while having an added bonus of including an introduction by Robert Silverburg--another luminary in the science fiction world, unfortunately removes all of the commentary by Zelazny himself as well as removing some of the finer pieces. This is a definite loss to the reader--Zelazny comments are quite delightful and "He Who Shapes" (one of the mysteriously excised) is a marvelous story.

I don't read all that much science fiction any more. Once upon a time that was all I read. I went through a phase where Asimov, Bradbury, Silverburg, Clarke, Zelazny and others were all I read. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm a book-a-holic. I buy books like there won't be any more tomorrow and constantly have about 500-1000 sitting around in TBR piles. The Last Defender of Camelot was leftover from my SF book-buying-binge days. When Adam over at Roof Beam Reader decided to host a TBR Reading Challenge, I decided to put this on on the list. After all, it had been sitting on my TBR shelves for over twenty years, it was about time I got around to it.

And good thing I did, too. Zelazny still has the power to enchant me even though I am now thoroughly back in mystery-loving mode. There is no one in the science fiction world (that I've read) who can write with such power and poetry about some of the most unsettling topics. This collection includes the aforementioned "He Who Shapes" which is a story about a neuroparticipant therapist--a man who can join in with his patient's dreams and use them to shape and conquer their fears and problems. It tells what happens when a therapist becomes a little too involved in the dream..... Also included is "The Stainless Steel Leech" a science fiction version of the vampire story. My favorites though are "Damnation Alley" (a novella I read last summer and reviewed HERE), the title story and "Is There a Demon Lover in the House?"

"The Last Defender of Camelot" wonders what might happen if Lancelot, Merlin and Morgan LeFay all survived through enchantment until the 20th Century. Who would be working for good? What final battles might occur? And "Is There a Demon Lover in the House?" does a little time traveling trick of its own. With a little gothic horror thrown in--producing delicious shivers as the story comes to a close.

This was a delightful trip back into science fiction for me. I have no idea why I didn't read it when I bought it, but I'm glad to have done so now. Zelazny was a marvelous writer who apparently (according to his notes) could whip out stories right and left with brilliant detail and shockingly perfect endings. Terrific collection. Four and a half stars.

Quote It! Saturday


Freda's Voice has an awesome Saturday meme for quote lovers called Quote It! and I have another blog, Quote Mistress, which is entirely devoted to the quotes I have collected over my lifetime. So my Quote It! may be found on my quote site. I'd love for you to visit...and be sure and visit Freda's Voice too!

Saturday Snapshot March 19

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books. All you have to do is post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then have a direct link to your post on the Mr. Linky on her blog. Please don't use random photos tht you pull from the internet.






This is from our family vacation to South Dakota in 1979. That's me driving Barney's stone-age vehicle in the Flintstone Park.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday: For Japan


I am joining with bloggers around the world in support of the people of Japan.

This Friday, March 18 will be a day of blog "silence". I will not be participating in my usual blog hops/memes (Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Follow Friday 40 & Over). I hope that you will join me and, if you are able and have not already, that you will also donate to help with this ever-increasing humanitarian crisis.

Thanks to Bags, Books & Bon Jovi for bringing this to my attention and to Utterly Engaged (http://www.utterlyengaged.com/) and Ever Ours (http://www.ever-ours.com/) for joining together bloggers across the Blogosphere in support of the Japanese people. Please consider joining us in this show of love, support and prayer.


Library Loot: March 16-22


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire (The Captive Reader) and Marg (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) that encourages bloggers to share the books they've checked out of the library. If you'd like to participate, just write up your post, feel free to steal button, and link up using the Mr. Linky on Claire's site this week. And, of course, check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Here's my haul this week:

The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Reared in a monastery, Alleyne Edricson intended to become a monk, but his wise father had made a provision in his will that his son was to spend his 21st year in the outside world and there learn more about his fellow men and how they lived before he taking his final vows.

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie: How odd, Anne Beddingfield thought, that the stranger caught her eye, recoiled in horror, and fell to his death on the rails of Hyde Park Underground Station. Odder still was a doctor in a brown suit who pronounced him dead and vanished into the crowd. But what really aroused Anne's suspicions was when she learned of the doctor's link to the murder of a famous ballerina, a fortune in hidden diamonds, and a crime-lord embroiled in blackmail.

Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker: In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below seeking its next victim....

Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler: (2nd installment in a series) When we last saw Ethelred Tressider, he was pulling a disappearing act, eager to pack in his career as a mediocre mystery-writer, and happy to leave his (deservedly) long-suffering agent, Elsie, holding the bag. But any bag that Elsie holds will soon be brimful of chocolates, and as Ten Little Herrings opens, she is tracking Ethelred to his secret lair, which turns out to be a run-down French hotel hosting a stamp-collector's conference. A murder (quelle surprise!) ensues, and as the title (a nod to Agatha Christie's famous Ten Little Indians) suggests, the whole thing turns into a blissfully funny parody of classic British crime ficiton.

And from the Library's used/donated bookstore:

Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell: The year is 1820. rider Sandman, a hero of Waterloo, returns to London to wed his fiancee. But instead of settling down to fame and glory, he finds himself penniless in a country where high unemployment and social unrest rage, and where men--innocent or guilty--are hanged for the merest of crimes. When he's offered a job as private investigator to re-open the case of a painter due to be hanged for a murder he didn't commit, Sandman readily accepts--as much for the money as for a chance to see justice done in a country gone to ruins.