Sunday, December 31, 2017

November & December Wrap-Up and Pick of the Months

So...things here at the Block are ending more with a whimper than a bang this year. I fell off the reading and reviewing wagon back in November (just got caught up on all the reviews from mid-November to now) and didn't even manage to put up a P.O.M. award for last month. Which means I'm going to smash November and December into one post. I'll also add my entries for Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month over at Mysteries in Paradise.....Here we go....

Total Books Read: 15 [pretty paltry for a two-month total]
Total Pages: 3,810 [ont the other hand, this isn't too bad]

Average Rating: 3.15 stars  
Top Rating: 4 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 53%

Percentage by US Authors: 53%

Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  7% 
Percentage Mystery:  93% 
Percentage Fiction: 100%
Percentage written 2000+: 20%
Percentage of Rereads: 13%
Percentage Read for Challenges: 100% {It's eas
y to have every book count for a challenge when you sign up for as many as I do.}    
Number of Challenges fulfilled so far: 29 (88%) And that means for the first time in a long time, I haven't fulfilled all of my challenges. :-(

AND, as mentioned above,
Kerrie had us all set up for another year of Crime Fiction Favorites. What she was looking for is our Top Mystery Read for each month. December found me with only five mysteries--one of those a children's book--adding up to a rather odd month for me.

Penelope Passes or Why Did She Die? Joan Coggin (3.5 stars) 

Murder at Beechlands by Maureen Sarsfield (3 stars) Maniac Rendezvous by Marc Brandel (1 star) Murder by Experts by Ellery Queen, ed (3.75 stars) The Budapest Parade Murders by Van Wyck Mason (3 star) Trial by Terror by Frances & Richard Lockridge (4 stars) Death for My Beloved [APA Enduring Old Charms] by Dorise Miles Disney (unrated)
The Christmas Murder [APA An English Murder] by Cyril Hare (4 stars) Murder in Ordinary Time by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie (3 stars) Crime for Christmas by Richard Dalby, ed (3 stars) Mistletoe & Mayhem by Richard Dalby, ed. (3.75 stars) The Corpse in the Snowman by Nicholas Blake (4 stars) The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright (4 stars) A Dollhouse to Die For by Cate Price (3 stars)

There were no five-star winners in either month. Our four star winners are Trial by Terror by Frances & Richard Lockridge and The Christmas Murder by Cyril Hare in November and The Corpse in the Snowman by Nicholas Blake and The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright in December.  

Trial by Terror follows Heimrich to Florida and is well done. Great descriptions of the area and the Lockridges use the political of the 1950s to great effect. They also play Heimrich's busman's holiday crime solving with just the right touch. Obviously, he's out of his jurisdiction, but he can't help but notice the characters and actions of his fellow resort guests. There are clues to be had, albeit slight and it's possible for them to slip on by with no notice, but the astute reader could get to Heimrich's solution. But while the Lockridges are always a delight, they have taken P.O.M. honors in the past, so they will have to sit this round out. 

That leaves us with The Christmas Murder by Cyril Hare to take home November's P.O.M. Award.

It is a lovely country house mystery with a positive view of Jewish refugees and an interesting look at British class structure woven in. Those who enjoy the Golden Age style--where the clues are displayed (whether one is astute enough to pick them all up or not) and fair play is observed--will enjoy this one.

As one might guess, there's a corpse in the snowman in Nicholas Blake's book. But we don't know who it is for most of the book. Nigel Strangeways is called in initially to get to the bottom of a strange incident in a supposedly haunted room. But murder intervenes before he can make much headway and soon he is trying to figure out who wanted to kill Elizabeth Restorick. He won't know the answer to that until the corpse is found in the snowman. Murder for Christmas is always an interesting twist for the holidays and Nicholas Blake provides another nice country house murder as a yuletide present with plenty of red herrings and clues to go round. A highly enjoyable winter read. But one Christmas mystery in this round-up is enough. So the month's POM Award goes to....

The House on Foster Hill (2017) is a debut novel by Jaime Jo Wright that caught my eye when I last visited the library. It combines a modern mystery with a parallel story from a century ago. This was a real page-turner for me. I enjoyed both timelines, though I must admit that I would have been perfectly happy with a book that focused on Ivy. I found her to be a much more interesting and compelling character and novel that focused completely on her time line just might have been a five-star winner. I did appreciate the way Wright tied the two time-lines together and the twist at the end did surprise me. Did not see that coming! A very strong debut novel.

Stay tuned for the complete year-end review with the P.O.M. Grand Prize and other tidbits.

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