Saturday, October 31, 2015

R.I.P.X - A summary....

What a fun time it has been to participate, if a little quietly, in R.I.P. X.  I've meant to join in with this event for years and years.  Of course, just when it started, I kind of quit writing reviews.  Ah well.  It's all good.  I am going to use this as a summary post of what I've read during September and October that falls into the R.I.P. category.  And, no, not everything I've read would qualify.  Most things, but not all.  Here's what I read for Peril the First:


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

Dust And Shadow by Lyndsay Faye

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

As you can see, I was kind of focused on the Lisbeth Salander books.  The first 3 were re-reads for me in preparation for the 4th.  All good.  Then a little Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and then some Maine vampires.

Books in Print or E-Books

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan (aka What She Knew in the US - will be published 12/1/15)

Long Upon The Land by Margaret Maron (the last Deborah Knott mystery - #20 - sob!)

After The Storm by Linda Castillo

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

Disclaimer by Renee' Knight

Bliss House by Laura Benedict

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Missing You by Harlan Coben

I managed to read some of the newest books in several of my favorite series and also picked up some new authors.  Bliss House would qualify as horror and Missing You was a book group read.  The goal was to read 4 books in the category and between the audio and regular books, I read 15.  Score!

I totally failed on reading or watching any of the items that I shared in the picture above (which was on my original post).  What is it about making set lists or publicly sharing your 'picks'?  I immediately want to read something else.  Ha!  Well, all of these are still in my home, so maybe next year, right?

I guess the new fall shows in my regular TV watching would qualify for Peril On the Screen.  I watch a lot (really a lot) of crime shows.  And I'm happy that the new season has begun.  I wasn't overly enthused with this summer's Masterpiece Mystery.  There was no Lewis.  I'm waiting for the next season of that show - have to have my Hathaway fix.

Hope everyone else had a good reading time in September and October and you can bet that I'll be joining in again next year.  Here's to R.I.P. XI, yes??

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Salem's Lot Read-a-Long - A Stephen King classic!

I was delighted to participate in the Salem's Lot Readalong that was hosted by the lovely ladies, Melissa, Trish and Care.  Totally delighted.  Thanks to all of them for thinking of it, suggesting it to all of us, and giving me a little push to read this long-loved book by Stephen King.  Also thanks to Melissa for my little extra that she sent.  You can see it in the picture below.

Salem's Lot is the perfect October read.  Truly.  Well, maybe if you don't like vampires, it may not be.  But for me.  Yes, yes, yes.  And as much as I love Edward Cullen (and I do), King's vampires definitely do not sparkle in the sunlight.  Ha!

This was actually the first Stephen King book that I read - way, way, way back when I was a junior in college.  I remember that I was waiting for my car to be serviced at Sears.  I walked over to a nearby grocery store to buy a soft drink and took a look at the paperbacks that were on one of those turning displays.  This was the cover that I saw:

A little creepy, right?  Or maybe more than a little.  I bought the book and started to read.  The first book I ever read that included vampires.  I had not read Dracula at that point and I think my impressions of the Count were tinged with laughter.  Bella Lugosi and company.  This was the time of Young Frankenstein and I thought that 'I want to drink your blood' sounded comical.  Hmmm...not so much to Mr. King.  I honestly remember being pleasantly scared and then not so pleasantly as I continued reading.

I went to college in Abilene, Texas - land of wind and dust storms.  My roommate was gone that weekend and as I read further and further into the story, the wind rose and the screens on the windows rattled.  I think I was at the part where it was apparent that the person had to invite the vampire in.  I heard scratching at the window.  I about jumped out of my bed.  Still a vivid memory.

By the time I finished Salem's Lot, I was a fan of Stephen King.  I went on to read many of his books and The Stand is one of my favorite books ever.  I loved how he took the ordinary - a pet, a car, a flu, a teenage girl that feels left out, a hotel closed for the winter, or even clowns or spiders - and made the situation extraordinary.  He dared to confess that he still thought there might be something under the bed or in the closet or outside the window.  I was happy to know that I wasn't the only one that didn't dangle my arm over the side of the bed or my foot.  I wasn't the only one who always, always looked in the backseat before I got in the car (still do).

I listened to Salem's Lot on audio, read by Ron McLarty.  He did a good job.  The tension was still there.  Maybe not quite so much as when I was 20.  I've learned a lot about horror stories since 1977.

I did notice some fun cultural details that brought back memories.  Everyone smoked so much.  Wow.  That's how it was.  And they smoked everywhere.  Drive-ins.  Used to love the drive-in (and not for that!).  Even little things like 'putting down the phone receiver'.  And who remembers Wolfman Jack?  He might have been the most famous disc jockey of that era.  I could get his show late at night on a radio that I had in my room at home.  Loved his voice.  I've never been to Maine, but I feel that Stephen King made all of us think that the woods were certainly 'dark and deep' there.

I know this hasn't been a review of any sort, just a mishmash of my thoughts.  However, it has whetted my appetite to do some re-reading of my favorite King books.  It's about time for me to visit The Stand again and did you know that Mr. King won an Edgar Award for a book recently, Mr. Mercedes?  Who would have thought it?  Thanks again, Melissa, Trish and Care!  A perfect October read.    

Monday, October 26, 2015

Semi-monthly (?) update - 10/26/15 - mostly what I've been reading....

Hello everyone!  Did you think that I disappeared forever?  Well, I almost did or rather I thought about it.  However, I'm feeling a little motivated this morning to share a bit about what's going on with me and mostly about my reading.  Here's what's up:

Life in General...

Things are still good for me healthwise.  I visited with a nutritionist and she gave me some good feedback, while mostly being really encouraging about what I'm already doing.  It was nice to hear that I'm making good choices.  The weight loss and walking more quest continues.  Isn't it funny how the pounds lost rate slows down when you start moving more?  I know - it's totally normal, but still!  I do feel good and am making it a priority to walk at least 5 days a week.  So far, so good.

We've been out of town a bit lately and will be again in coming weeks.  My area had lots and lots of rain this last weekend, like 10+ inches.  Remnants of Patricia, the hurricane that hit Mexico, plus some other moisture.  It's a good thing that we are used to rain in big bunches.  The flooding was not as bad as earlier in the year.  Seems our drought, which came right after the May floods, is over for 2015.

Life in Reading (Audios)...

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercranz - I ended up enjoying this one.  I could tell it was a different author, but I was satisfied overall.  Simon Vance's narration was lovely, as usual.  More is told about Lisbeth's life prior to meeting Blomkvist.  There was a lot of hacking, the NSA, artificial intelligence info - really an update of the tech stuff that has become a bit out of date since the first books were published.  I liked it and will read another in the series should the author write one.

Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye - I listened to this book to satisfy my mystery book group October commitment.  It's an imagining of Sherlock Holmes investigating the Jack the Ripper killings.  With Dr. Watson narrating, of course.  My group has read another book by Lyndsay Faye - The Gods of Gotham - first in a series about the beginnings of the NYPD.  It was liked by almost all.  I really liked this book as well.  I'm very partial to Victorian mysteries and the author did a bunch of research here.  Also narrated by Simon Vance.

I also finished Salem's Lot by Stephen King, but I'll save my thoughts about that book for another post this week.  Currently, I'm enjoying the 3rd book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), Career of Evil.  Narrated by Robert Glenister, another wonderful reader.

Life in Reading (E-books or Print)...

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger - Had a good time with this epistolary novel.  Susan Rieger's debut book.  In a previous career, she was an attorney, a law professor, a dean of a law school...you get the idea.  The book is about a young criminal lawyer who gets saddled with handling a divorce case for one of her firm's largest clients or rather his daughter.  I loved the way the story was told.  Perfect for in between a bunch of crime novels.

Disclaimer by Renee' Knight - A decent psychological crime novel.  A woman picks up a book and begins reading and finds the story is about her life.  The usual disclaimer that is present in most books has been crossed out.  This one took a while to get going for me, but in the end, I enjoyed it.  Had hints of the 'secret', but had a good time with the journey.  Some quite odd people here.

Bliss House by Laura Benedict - Perfect book for the fall/spooky season - not exactly a haunted house, but of a sort.  Rainey and her teenage daughter, Ariel, move into Bliss House and are caught up in some very scary events.  They've lost their husband/father in an accident that has injured Ariel and left Rainey with huge amounts of guilt.  Bliss House has had lots of strange goings-on in it's past.  Rainey's family has lived there for many years.  The house kind of takes over their lives and affects all the people who come there, for whatever reason.  I liked it!

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter - Wow, just wow.  OK, I'll confess that I may have warped or traumatized a couple of members of my mystery group years ago by having us read Karin Slaughter's first book, Blindsighted.  Several of them are still talking about it.  Ha!  I was totally caught up in Pretty Girls.  And it was very, very violent and related terrible events.  It was a little hard for even me to take.  However, I persevered.  I don't know that I loved it (can you love a story so twisted?), but I think this author has said what she felt she needed to about violence against women.  Not for the faint of heart.  Will I continue reading her books?  Yep.  Did I wish for Will Trent in this book?  Oh, yes.  Bring back Will!!  

Missing You by Harlan Coben - The discussion book for November at my mystery book group.  I'm not going to say anything else about it, other than that I enjoyed it.  I'll perhaps say more after our book group meeting in early November.  I've loved Coben's Myron Bolitar series.  This is not part of it.  A good standalone that talks about online dating sites, identity theft and cold cases.

Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney - Just finished this one last night.  Another nice in-between book.  Angela, mother of 4 and wife of Nick, always sends a Christmas letter to friends and family.  She and her brood live on an Australian sheep station.  Her kids are mostly grown but her life is still as busy and frantic.  What to write in the letter?  She's always only told positive things, but lately - well, things have been tough.  She decides to write the letter and tell the truth for once.  Not send it, of course, but just have the peace of saying what she really thinks.  And then circumstances interfere - an accident, a hospital visit, life...and the letter gets sent accidentally.  Chaos ensues.  I really like this family drama book.  It was a little long, but I didn't mind that.  I've been reading so much in the spooky, dark range of books, it was time for a little gossip and family upheaval.  And yes, I'd read another book by this author.  And just may soon.

Life in Reading - What's Next...

I'll be back later in the week with at least one post about the Salem's Lot Readalong and also talk about or at least list what I've read for R.I.P.X.   I haven't done much about watching anything for R.I.P.X, but I guess that the crime shows I watch on TV would count.

As to what I'm reading now...well, I started Smoke this morning.  It's by Catherine McKenzie and is about a woman who had a career fighting wildfires.  So far, so good.  Otherwise, my choices will be whatever appeals at the moment.  Hope you are all well and I suspect I may be around a bit more to comment on your blogs if I get a chance this week.  I've been reading them mostly, but just not stopping in to say hi in the comments.  Have a good week!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

To blog or not to blog....that is the question

Just wanted to stop in and say that I am fine.  Reading a lot.  Taking care of myself physically.  And seem to be turning my time to other pursuits for now.  I'm not feeling the 'write about what I read' urge that kept me sitting at the computer for most of this year.  So, I'll stop in if it that reappears.  If it doesn't for a while, I'll still be checking in on what you guys share when you have a chance.  And commenting as I have time.

Not saying this blog is at an end, but posts may be sporadic.  With us moving on into the holiday season, well, lots of things going on.  This always seems to be the time of year that I lose my blogging mojo.  Take care and keep on reading!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bookish Nostalgia - October 2015

And now we are in a 'real' fall month - October.  I do like October.  It's not usually yet fall in my part of the world - we have a very short fall season, but it is mostly out of the 90's.  And sometimes Halloween is actually nippy or even cold.  We'll see how this year goes.  It's time to share my best remembered books that I read in the years 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010.  You'd think that they would be ghostly or spooky perhaps.  Well, they are at least all mysteries - shocking, I know!  Here we go:

October 1995 - Under The Beetle's Cellar by Mary Willis Walker - This was a local author for me, who wrote about a journalist, Molly Cates, from Austin.  At the time I read this book, we were living in Portland, Oregon.  And I was a bit homesick.  Under The Beetle's Cellar won several mystery awards and honestly, I just remember it scared me.  It was about religious fanatics and an Austin school bus driver who was kidnapped, along with the schoolchildren.  This was only a couple of years after the David Koresh thing in Waco, which weirded all of us out.  I might need to go back and reread Under The Beetle's Cellar.  Time has passed and 20 years later, there have been a lot more strange cult type groups uncovered.  I'm curious as to what my reaction would be now.

October 2000 - Seven Sisters by Earlene Fowler - This is the 7th book in the Benni Harper mystery series that I talked about last week in the 'My Name In Books' post,  I shared that each title of these books is a quilt pattern and that Benni is a quilter and director of a folk art museum.  She's also married to the police chief.  In my reading journal (in which I very rarely wrote notes), I mentioned that this was the 'best Benni Harper book yet and that the characterizations were improving'.  The Seven Sisters is apparently a challenging quilting pattern and the mystery here was also challenging.

October 2005 - California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker - This was a stand alone book by this author and I remember really, really liking it.  In fact, after my library branch agreed to let me start up a mystery book club, it was one of the early books that we read and discussed.  The story of some Orange County, California brothers and their relationship with a girl who is eventually murdered.  It takes place over decades and we see what happens to each brother.  Lots of California culture and history in this one.  I found it fascinating.  Another one I ought to reread.

October 2010 - Crying Blood by Donis Casey - This is the 5th book in Casey's Alafair Tucker mystery series.  Set in early 20th century Oklahoma, it's a series I've mentioned several times.  Crying Blood is primarily Shaw Tucker's tale.  He is Alafair's husband and in this book, Shaw goes hunting with his brother and their sons.  Stuff happens and it's nice to see things from Shaw's point of view.  Shaw is part Native American and there is a whole storyline that follows the lore and legends of the Native people in Crying Blood.  Enjoyed this one very much.

And that's the end of our tour of books for October.  Join me next month when I see what was capturing my attention in November.