Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wild Goose Chase Challenge

Bruce @ The Bookshelf Gargoyle (he of the "Title Fight Reading Challenge of 2016) is offering up another "wild and crazy" reading challenge for 2017. As he says: "If running around like a headless chook trying to find your next read isn’t really your style, then why not try the Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge 2017? This is a category-based challenge and is designed to be fun, frivolous and filled with feathers. Well, maybe not that last one."

For full details and to sign up, click on the link above. Here are the basics:

* The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31, 2017.
* Challengees must read at least one book from each category (listed below).  Challengees must read a DIFFERENT book for each category – even if your book title might fit a number of categories, it will only count towards a single category.  Challengees are free to choose which category best suits.

Here are the categories and my proposed titles. Will update with actual reads, review links, and dates finished as I go:

1. A book with a word of phrase relating to wildness in the title – any interpretation of the word “wild” is acceptable (eg: The Call of the Wild, Angry Aztecs, Crazy for You; An Untamed State)
A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hanson
2. A book with a species of bird (or the word “bird”) in the title: (eg: The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Thorn Birds, Turkey: A Modern History)
The Thursday Turkey Murders by Craig Rice OR The Penguin Pool Murders by Stuart Palmer
3. A book with an exotic or far-flung location in the title – fantasy and mythical locations are acceptable (eg: Paradise Lost, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Atlantis Rising)
The Matter of Paradise by Meggs Brown OR The Hidden Planet: Science Fiction Adventures on Venus by Donald A Wollheim, ed. 

4.  A book with an object you might hunt for in the title (eg: Treasure Island, One for the Money, The History of Love, Dreams from my Father, A Monster Calls, All the Answers)
Zadok's Treasure by Margot Arnold OR Up the Ladder of Gold by E. Phillips Oppenheim OR The Golden Ball & Other Stories by Agatha Christie
5. A book with a synonym for chase in the title (or its derivatives: chasing, chased, etc) (eg: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Follow the River, Man’s Search for Meaning, The Night Stalker)
 In Search of the Great Dead by Richard Cecil OR Search for a Scientist by Charles Leonard OR The Father Hunt by Rex Stout

6.  A book with a means of transport in the title (eg: If I Built a CarWalk Two Moons, The Girl on the Train)
Death of a Train by Freeman Wills Crofts OR The Body Missed the Boat by Jack Iams OR The Ship Without a Crew by Howard Pease
7.  A book with an object you might take on a search or hunt in the title (eg: The Golden Compass, The Map to Everywhere, Water for Elephants, Team of Rivals )
The Quest of the Missing Map by Carolyn Keene OR Dread & Water by Douglas Clark OR Death in Shallow Water by Miles Burton

Cocktails & the Killer

Cocktails and the Killer (aka Ladies Won't Wait; 1951) by Peter Cheyney is purportedly (according to the back cover blurb) "an intoxicating trail of intrigue, murder and deadly romance through the bistros and boudoirs of the world's worst underground!" Michal Kells is a British secret agent hanging out in France and waiting for his next assignment when he comes across a beautiful woman--almost too beautiful to be true--who seems extraordinarily interested in him. Lucky fellow! When he finally has a chance to sidle up beside her, he's a bit surprised when she works the current code phrase into her conversation. "Ladies won't wait." They arrange a less public rendezvous, but Kells arrives to find his fellow agent dead. 

Following up what few leads he has, he discovers links to the disappearance of another agent, a possible German defector who has been working for the Russians, a highly-sought scientist, and a deadly female agent who will stop at nothing to get what the Russians want and keep the German with thoughts of the West where he belongs. Kells talks to everyone (and I do mean everyone) who might be able to assist him as he unravels the international threads. He will have to outwit the Russian lady if he's to keep the remaining players alive in this most dangerous of games.

This is a spy story that doesn't even come close to the thrills of James Bond. A LOT of talk--very little action. Kells is an agent who, quite frankly, doesn't seem to be trying to hide the fact that he's an espionage agent in Her Majesty's Secret Service. He tells at least three or four people over the course of the book what he does for a living. Shouldn't that be a bad thing? Of course, I suppose when you talk as much as Kells does in this book it isn't surprising that he spills this information. I was pretty under-whelmed by the whole thing and it should have been a dandy plot. By the time we get to the grand finale--explosion and all--it was hard to muster much enthusiasm. Especially when the big bang got so little air time. 

The odd thing is, Kells is an interesting character who is vastly under-used as an agent. The man should be having WAY more adventures with action in them. The various women that he interacts with are also interesting and could help make a great plot. If everybody would just shut up for a while and DO things instead of talking about things that have been done, are being done, or will be done.  ★★--all for characterization.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Night Bloggers

This month at our Tuesday Night Bloggers meetings we will be examining mysteries within a historical context--either historical mysteries (written, say in 1930 but set in the Victorian period, for example) or which take place during or around a historical event or which address historical issues. The field is wide-open so if you have historical mysterious thoughts to share, please stop by for group discussion and I'll add your posts to the list. We tend to focus on the Golden Age of crime fiction--generally accepted as published between the World Wars, but everyone seems to have a slightly different definition and we're pretty flexible. Essays on more recent crime fiction are welcome as well.

This week's Historical Experts:

Brad @ Ah Sweet Mystery Blog: "Magpie Murders: The Silver Age & the Modern Era Collide"
Kate @ Cross Examining Crime: "Writing the 1930s"
JJ @ The Invisible Event: "Man & Superman: Refining the Protagonist in John Dickson Carr's Historical Mysteries"
The Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel: "In Praise of Michael Jecks"
Moira @ Clothes in Books: "Boston 1918"

Previous Posts
Week #1 Post  
Week #2 Post 
Week #3 Post
Week #4 Post


And that's all folks...I haven't had a chance to put anything together this week. So, I'm going  to sit this one out. Next month the Tuesday Night Bloggers will be taking a look at Foreign Mysteries (non-US and non-UK)--either set in a foreign locale, translated works from authors outside, or, for the more adventurous, a comparison of books written by someone NOT from the locale in question to a work by someone from that country. 

I'll be collecting here at the Block again in December, so feel free to join in and I'll add you to each week's listing.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beverly Gray's Mystery: Review

Beverly Gray's Mystery (1948) by Clair Blank features an intrepid girl detective in the mold of the original Nancy Drew. Unlike Nancy who seems to forever be in her mid- (earliest version of her stories) to late-teens, Beverly's story is a progressive one. Her fictional career begins in college, takes her through some adventures post-college, and then finds her taking on a job (as a reporter) and becoming a government agent at times. Having stumbled upon Beverly during one of our antique mall rambles, I've landed in the middle of her series at a time when she is already established as an investigative reporter.

In this adventure which occurs around the Christmas holidays, Beverly sets out to interview an Indian prince who is visiting the United States and who has given a valuable horse named Star of the East to his American friend, Mr. Mengle. She has her friend newspaper photographer Lenora Whitehill with her to take pictures of the horse and the two friends. But before Beverly can ask her first question, the prince's groom discovers that the Star of the East has disappeared. A weekend feature turns into an investigative piece as Beverly and Lenora look into the mystery of the missing horse. Things turn a bit ugly as Max Mengle is hit over the head and hospitalized, a young actress disappears (thought to be kidnapped), and Beverly finds herself nearly run over by a car and locked in an abandoned house. Did the horse-nappers attack Max? Was it the prince's groom? Or perhaps it was his younger brother--in an argument over his engagement to the actress? It all becomes clear to Beverly in the end--she finds the horse...and, incidentally, a valuable stolen jewel in the process. And the story wraps up with Christmas in Beverly's apartment with TWO Santa Clauses!

Beverly Gray is another heroine that I wish I had met when I was young. She's resourceful and independent and a good role model for young girls. From what I read of her online, she's a bit more realistic than Nancy Drew--going to work and living away from home in the big city. Of course, she still has way more adventures than most of us do in everyday life, but the stories wouldn't be nearly as exciting without them. 

Beverly uses her investigative skills to get to the bottom of this mystery--following clues, asking penetrating questions, and tracking down the missing people and the horse. It was fairly obvious to me what happened to the animal, but Blank did a good job spreading the suspicion around so it wasn't as clear who the culprit was. A fun read that would have been even better if I had read it when I was younger. ★★and 1/2.

Friday, November 25, 2016

You Read How Many Books? 2017


hosted by Gina  at Dragon's Lair

Guidelines are pretty simple. Choose a level of books to aim for and submit a list. Reviews are optional. I will be going for 150 books (in keeping with my Goodreads goal). For more info and to sign up, pleas click link above.


Reading Challenge Addict

You know what they say about the best laid plans....Despite my resolution to read only books from my personally owned TBR stacks (don't worry, I have plenty of books) and the resolution to only sign up for challenges which I can meet reading my own books, I'm still adding challenges to my list like they're going out of style. I may not reach 30-some challenges again-- (Yes, I'm currently rushing around madly trying to cram as many books in between work and end-of-year holiday preparation as I can...)--BUT I have already grabbed up 14 challenges for 2017 and this year isn't even over. So, of course I'm going to have to sign up for the Reading Challenge Addict Challenge.  This challenge support group/group of enablers was the brainchild of two lovely ladies: Cheryl of CMash Reads and Gina at Hott Books.  They are also the Hostesses with the Mostest over at Partner in Crime Tours and Providence Book Promotions.  They got very busy with their book tour sites and asked me to step in and shepherd our little group of Challenge Addicts.  I took up the reins....and here we go for another year of challenge madness.  For details on the challenge rules and levels, hop on the site above. 

And my Challenge Level?  As mentioned, I've already got 14 challenges lined up and I'm sure that more will come along, so....Sign me up for the top level, baby.

Out of This World: 16+ Challenges (Entered & Completed)

As I did last year, I will only track my challenges in one spot.  See my 2017 Challenges tab along the top or click HERE to see which challenges have reeled me in this year....

Craving For Cozies 2017

Craving For Cozies 2017 – Reading Challenge

Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as “cozies”, are a sub-genre of crime fiction/mysteries in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The crime solver is an amateur sleuth, usually but not always a woman, who is thrust into the aftermath of the murder. The protagonist frequently has an occupation or hobby that brings appealing information to the reader.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2017 and ends December 31, 2017

There are several levels of participation (click link above for more info or to join). I plan on doing the lowest level

Peckish – 1 – 10 Cozy Mysteries 

because it fits in with the other cozy challenge I'm doing which requires 10 books.

My List:
1. Murder at the Masque by Amy Myers
2. Cat in an Alien X-Ray by Carole Nelson Douglas
3. Lie of the Needle by Cate Price
4. Aunt Dimity's Christmas by Nancy Atherton
5. Mrs. Malory & the Lilies that Fester
6. Mrs. Jeffries Pinches the Post
7. Read & Buried by Erika Chase
8. Murder at Teatime by Stefanie Matteson
9. Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering
10. TBD

Charity Reading Challenge

Charity Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January-December 2017
# of books: You decide

Sign up by leaving a comment.

Read for a good cause! Buy books at a charity shop, or, even a friends of the library book sale, or, donate a certain percentage of money for each book you read for the challenge. You can choose your own goal of how many books to read, what charity you'll be donating money towards, how much money, etc. (For example, you might want to donate $1 for each paperback you read, or, $3 for every hardback you read. You can work out the details yourself.) For full details click on link above.

I'm signing up for another round. It was interesting to to track my charity giving based on books during 2016. I get a great number of my used books from our Friends of the Library [FoL] used book shop and their twice yearly sales as well as the Hoosier Hills [Food Bank] Community Book Fair. I'll be reading books that I've gotten from there over the years--and don't worry, I'm sure I'll be spending more this year. My goal will be at least 12 books from charity buying and I'll also record each time I indulge my book habit at FoL book shop and at the fall book fair in 2017.


European Reading Challenge 2017

The European Reading Challenge January 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018

Gilion is once again offering the European Reading Challenge in 2016 – where participants tour Europe through books.  And have a chance to win a prize.  Please join us for the Grand Tour!

THE GIST: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour. (Check out the full details at her page)

THE LIST: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

NOTE: Even after Brexit, the United Kingdom is still one country, in Europe, that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. So one book from any one of these four counts as your one book for the United Kingdom.

I'll be aiming for the FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries. I've listed possible titles from my TBR stacks below--the list may change as the year goes on.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Color Coded Reading Challenge 2017: My Sign-Up

I keep thinking that I've used up all the shades of brown on my TBR piles (I insist on having the color in my titles) and I keep finding another. So, I'll be signing up for my Color Coded Reading Challenge one more time...
  Here are the rules:
*Read nine books in the following categories. 1. A book with "Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
Twice in a Blue Moon by Patricia Moyes OR Blueprint for Murder by Roger Baxt  

2. A book with "Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
The Scarlet Thumb by Jermyn March OR The Crimson Circle by Edgar Wallace
3. A book with "Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) in the title/on the cover.
The Golden Box by Frances Crane OR Golden Ashes by Freeman Wills Crofts 

4. A book with "Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title/on the cover.
Greenface by Frank King OR Green Hazard by Manning Coles OR The Green Turtle Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr.
5. A book with "Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc) in the title/on the cover.
The Sands of Windee by Arthur W. Upfield OR Six Black Camels by Ewin Lanham 

6. A book with "Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title/on the cover.
The Ebony Bed by Rufus Gillmore 
7. A book with "White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc) in the title/on the cover.
Mr. White's Confession by Robert Clark OR The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham 

8. A book with any other color in the title/on the cover (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
The Ultra Violet Widow by Frances Crane
9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).
Puzzle in Paisley by Elizabeth Gresham OR The Polka Dot Nude by Joan Smith

2017 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Dollycas at Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book is hosting another A-Z Challenge in 2017.

January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017

The Alphabet Soup Challenge means that by December 31, 2015
your bowls must be full of one book for each letter of the Alphabet.
Each Letter Counts As 1 Spoonful

Basic Details
You can join anytime.  You do not have to review the book.
For those pesky Q, X AND Z titles the word that starts with the challenge letter can be anywhere in the title.

For full details and to sign up, click on the link above.

List of possible books--will confirm as I go:

A: About the Murder of Geraldine Foster by Anthony Abbott OR Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran
B: A Banner for Pegasus by John & Emery Bonett OR Beggar's Choice by Patricia Wentworth
C: Candleshoe by Michael Innes OR The Castle Island Case by Van Wyck Mason
D: Dangerous Ground by Francis Sill Wickware OR A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy by  Ann Cleeves
E: The Ebony Bed Murder by Rufus Gillmore OR The Egyptian Cross Mystery by Ellery Queen
F: Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes OR Fear & Miss Betony by Dorothy Bowers
G: The Gallant by Charity Blackstock OR Ghost of a Chance by Kelley Roos
H: Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart OR The Hardaway Diamonds Mystery by Miles Burton
I: The Illusion of Murder by Carol McCleary OR Information Received by E. R. Punshon
J: Journey's End by Evelyn Berckman OR The Judas Window by Carter Dickson
K: Keep It Quiet by Richard Hull OR The Killing of Katie Steelstock by Michael Gilbert
L: The Lover by Laura Wilson OR Look Your Last by John Stephen Strange
M: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume OR Murderer's Choice by Anna M. Wells
N: Nun Plussed by Monica Quill OR The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams
O: Out of the Everywhere & Other Extraordinary Visions by James Tiptree, Jr. OR Our Second Murder by Torrey Chanslor
P: Puzzle in Paisley by Elizabeth Gresham OR Puzzle for Puppets by Patrick Quentin
Q: Quick Curtain by Alan Melville OR Queen's Quorum by Ellery Queen
R: Room for Murder by Doris Miles Disney (1969 book)
S: The Suspect by L. R. Wright OR A Stranger in Mayfield by Charles Finch
T: Two Against Scotland Yard by David Frome OR Trixie Belden & the Gatehouse Mystery by Julie Campbell
U: Unto the Grave by John Penn OR Unholy Dying by R. T. Campbell
V: The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray OR A Vow of Penance by Veronica Black
W: The Wrong Box by Robert Louis Stevenson OR The Wrong Way Down by Elizabeth Daly
X: Cat in an Alien X-Ray by Carole Nelson Douglas [MCPL]
Y: Yu by Joy Shayne Laughter OR Yesterday's Murder by Craig Rice
Z: Zadok's Treasure by Margot Arnold