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Showing posts from February, 2007

The problem with Project Gutenberg

I love Project Gutenberg. For those unfamiliar with it, it is an online library of texts, recordings, film, sheet music and artwork that is not copyrighted, mostly because the copyright has expired, but in some cases because the copyright owners have decided to make them available to the world free of charge. The biggest collection is that of books, of which it has thousands, including many classics. While I am no particular lover of e-books, I have downloaded and read many books from the site that I have been unable to get from the public library. Unfortunately the site has one huge disadvantage: the search options are limited.

There are several different search options available, but unfortunately they only work as designed if you have a specific author or title in mind. You can also look by language, type of file (text, audio, picture, etc.) and several other criteria, including LoCC categories, which I assume to mean Library of Congress Catalogue classifications. But why is there…

Mystery author #28 Ellery Queen

No mystery reading challenge would be complete without a review of the books of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, better known as Ellery Queen. This formidable writing team is among the USA's most influential crime writers of the 20th century. Their eponymous detective and mystery writer is one of the "thinking machine" types who often solve mysteries by pure logic and deduction. I will be reviewing three Ellery Queen books here, but have unfortunately not been able to get my hands on any books about their other series detective, Drury Lane.

As always, I will review the writing style in the author review.

Series detective: Ellery Queen, assisted by his father, Richard Queen of the NYPD
Type of investigator: Amateur

Title:The American Gun Mystery (alt. title Death at the Rodeo)
No. in series: 6
Year of publication: 1933
Type of mystery: Murder, whodunnit, howdunnit
Setting & time: New York city, USA, 1930s

Story: The Queens attend a rodeo show and, along with hundreds of o…

Bibliophile reviews Prepared for Murder by Cecile Lamalle

Series detective: Charles "Charly" Poisson, master chef
No. in series: 3
Year of publication: 2001
Type of mystery: Cozy: murder, fraud, money laundering, foodie
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: USA, contemporary
Some themes:

I was initially going to include this book in the 52 mystery authors challenge, but although it is categorised as a mystery, I would rather call it a comic crime story, so insubstantial is the mystery element in it, which is why I am reviewing it as a regular non-challenge read. The murder mystery is really only a sub-plot to a crime story that is told quite openly from all points of view: criminals, police and bystanders. Most of the crime – and there is lots of it – is in no way mysterious to the reader and only to a few of the characters.

Story: Charly Poisson is gathering new nettles in springtime when his dog finds a decomposing body in a pond on his land. It turns out to be that of a rather unpleasant small-time criminal. Charly has been…

Reading report for January 2007

In a previous post I said I had not been reading much lately, so it came as a surprise to find that I actually read 14 books in January, which is a little above my average per month in 2006. It does not feel like I have read this many.

Here is the breakdown:
Empty shelf challenge books:
Gods, Graves and Scholars: CW Ceram
Úti að aka: Á reykspúandi kadillak yfir Ameríku (Out for a drive: By smoke-belching Cadillac across America): Einar Kárason & Ólafur Gunnarsson
Lady of Quality: Georgette Heyer
Irish Fairy Tales: Sinéad de Valera
Second Fiddle: Mary Wesley

Other books:
True North: A memoir: Jill Ker Conway
The Road from Coorain: Jill Ker Conway
Sælir eru þeir sem þyrstir (Blessed are they which do thirst): Anne Holt (possible 52 authors challenge book – if I can find another one by the same author)
The Book of Lost Books: Stuart Kelly

Rereads:
The Last Hero: Terry Pratchett
The Science of Discworld: Terry Pratchett

Reviewed:
Rhoda: A life in stories: Ellen Gilchrist
The Historian: Elizabeth Kosto…

Reading report for 2006: Most read authors

My most read author in 2006 was Terry Pratchett, which is no surprise as I embarked on a rereading of all the Discworld books, which is still not finished. If the Pratchett rereads are left out and only authors with books I read for the first time are counted, the list looks like this:

Georgette Heyer: 7
Sharyn McCrumb: 5
Marion Chesney/MC Beaton: 4
Georges Simenon: 4
Catherine Aird: 3
Robert Barnard: 3
Paul Doherty: 3
Arthur W Upfield: 3
Patricia Wentworth: 3
Terry Pratchett: 2
Arnaldur Indriðason: 2
Carolyn G Hart: 2
ST Haymon: 2
Joan Hess: 2
Caron Anne O'Marie: 2
Elizabeth Peters: 2
Kathy Reichs: 2
Josephine Tey: 2

It is interesting that all the authors whose books I read who have more than one book on the 2006 reading list are mystery authors. While Heyer is better know for romances and romantic historicals, Chesney for historical romances and Pratchett for fantasies, all have written mysteries. I read one Pratchett mystery, one Chesney mystery (written as MC Beaton) and three Heyer mysteries.

S…

Mystery author #27: MM Kaye

Title:Death in the Andamans
Year of publication: 1960
Type of mystery: Murder, whodunnit, romance
Type of investigator: Amateurs
Setting & time: The Andaman Islands, 1950s

Story: Copper Randall is visiting her friend in the Andaman Islands. On Christmas Day they attend a picnic and they and the guests barely escape over to the small island where they live, before a tropical storm hits the islands. Some of the guests end up in the sea on the way there and one of them goes missing, later to be found dead on the beach with a suspicious head wound. When another man is found dead, clearly murdered, fear sweeps through the group and the young people, Copper, her friend and their love interests, begin to investigate the deaths.

Review: This is an entertaining little "limited location" mystery where the possible killer is one of a small group of people who are stuck in one place, thus giving the amateur investigators time to solve the case without the intervention of the police.

Ratin…

Bibliophile’s reading report for 2006

I suddenly occurred to me yesterday that I had not published my annual reading report. Well, here goes:

Total books read in 2006: 160. This is 122 books fewer than in 2005, which is not surprising as I wrote my master's thesis in 2006 and thus had less time for reading.

Fiction: 119 (74,4%)
Non-fiction: 41 (25,6%)
My non-fiction percentage has risen by 4% since 2005, probably due to all the travel books I read in 2006.

Total no. of pages: 40422.
Average number of pages per book: 252. Not surprisingly, I read fewer pages in 2006 than in 2005, but the books I read in 2006 were on average 38 pages longer than those I read in 2005.
Number of books under 100 pages long: 2
Number of books over 300 pages long: 43 (26,8%)

Re-reads: 15 (9,4%)
Library and loan books: 50 (31,25%)
E-books: 1
Audio books: 1
Translated books: 13 (8,1%)

Books published before 1900: 2 (1,25%) -> Memo: Must read more classics in 2007
Books published after 2000: 27 (16,9%)

Average rating per book (out of a possible 5+)…