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Showing posts from December, 2008

Congratulations Sir Terry

Terry Pratchett has been knighted. Congratulations, Sir Terry!

While the honour comes from his services to literature, he seems to be shaping up to become a spokesman for Alzheimer's research, which could very well have won him the honour in a few year's time, if he had not got it for his writing.

Mystery author #52: Qiu Xiaolong

Title:A Loyal Character Dancer
Series detective: Chief Inspector Chen Cao
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 2002
Type of mystery: Missing person, murder, organised crime; police procedural
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Shanghai, China; 1990s

Story:
Chief Inspector Chen, a young officer and rising star in the Shanghai police deoartment, is ordered by his superior to accompany and entertain an American police officer, U.S. Marshal Catherine Rohn. Rohn has come to China to escort to the USA the wife of a man who is an important witness in a case against a human smuggling ring that both the USA and China want to break up. But the woman has gone missing, and Chen is torn between the need to find her and wanting to solve an apparently gang-related murder. Rohn is not ready remain inactive while the Chinese police conduct the search for the missing woman, which complicates matters, as does a growing attraction between her and Chen and the attempts of Chen’s political enemies w…

Bibliophile reviews The Twelve Deaths of Christmas by Marian Babson

Year of publication:1979
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: London, England; contemporary

Story:
Over the space of 12 days leading up to Christmas a murderer is on the loose in London, killing at random with whatever weapon is at hand. We know from the beginning that this is someone who suffers from pathological headaches that bring out a switch in personality from a respectable citizen into someone whose grip on sanity has been loosened to the extent that they act on the little annoyances that occasionally drive all of us to commit murder in our imagination, while still being able to look and act normal. When they recover from the headache, they don’t remember what they did, so there is no suspicious behaviour to give them away. The second thing we are allowed to know is that this person lives in a boarding house in London, but which one of the inhabitants is it?

Review:
This is not what I would call a cosy mystery. Its tone is too nasty for that, with …

Added another batch to BookMooch

This time it‘s a mixed bag of humour, action, romance, science fiction and picaresque.

Kingsley Amis:Lucky Jim
Alan Dean Foster:Jed the Dead
Carl Hiaasen:Double Whammy
Valerie King:A Christmas Masquerade
Stephanie Laurens:A Comfortable Wife
Alan Parker:The Sucker's kiss
Nina Porter:A Matchmaker's Match

Bibliophile reviews two Christmas crime novels by Mary & Carol Higgins Clark

I decided to review these two Christmas themed crime novels together, as they were written by the same author team and belong to the same series, or actually two series, one by each author. I think Mary started writing her Christmas novels with Silent Night (which I haven’t read), but the first one I read was All Through the Night, which I think is her first Christmas novel to feature lottery winner and amateur sleuth Alvirah Meehan. The subsequent Christmas novels have been written in co-operation with her daughter Carol, who is a writer in her own right.

Deck the Halls appears to be their first collaboration, but since then they have written a number of Christmas novels together, featuring Alvirah together with Carol’s series sleuth, Regan Reilly and her boyfriend (later husband) Jack.

These two (and All Through the Night) are not mysteries, but rather suspense novels with caper elements. The reader knows the whole time who the criminals are and the viewpoint swings between the sleuth…

Added more books to my BookMooch inventory

This time it's a stack of Regency romances someone gave me just as I was losing interest in the genre. Some of them appear to have never been read.

Titles:
Claire Darcy: Elyza
Barbara Hazard: The Calico Countess
Sandra Heath: A Matter Of Duty
Elizabeth Hewitt: Marriage By Consent
Judith A. Landsdowne: Lord Nightingale's Triumph
Dorothy Mack: The Steadfast Heart
Anita Mills: Scandal Bound
Patricia Oliver: Lord Gresham's Lady
Mary Evans Porter: Toast Of The Town
Margaret Summerville: Fortune's Folly
Sheila Walsh: The Rose Domino
Joan Wolf: A Double Deception

Christmas presents for book lovers

It seems everyone is offering Christmas gift suggestions for those without a clue as what to give their loved ones...and here is another one:

The obvious thing to give a book lover for Christmas is a book (or two). However, if you don’t know the person’s reading tastes well enough or are unfamiliar with which books they already own and you feel that book tokens or a book store gift certificate is not personal enough, here are some suggestions. First the practical ones:
a reading light, either a clip-on battery-operated travel model or one they can put on a desk or stand on the floor.
a book stand or book holder. They come in different shapes and sizes, from big stands made for reading in bed to small travel models designed to hold books open.a reading pillow. The luxury model looks like the back and armrests of a comfy chair, while the cheaper versions look sort of like breastfeeding pillows.book marks. personalised book plates.a book case.removable book covers to protect the books they…

Once more, with feeling:

Read my words:
I
do
not
accept
spam
comments.

I consider you telling me about your book to be borderline spam. I realise it's a tough market and you want to sell as many copies as possible, but if you think a smarmy comment telling me how wonderful my blog is will get me to buy your book or advertise for you for free, you are mistaken. If you ask me nicely, I may publish information about your book, but don't count on it.

Furthermore:
I consider a publisher telling me about a book they've published to be spam.
Telling me about a website that is not book-themed is spam.
Telling me about a book-themed commercial website is spam.
Trying to sell me anything is spam.

So save yourselves the trouble and don't sent me spam comments. I will not publish them.

Please do:
Let me know about your non-commercial book website (I don't mind if you have an Amazon store or mild advertising).
Tell me about other people's non-commercial book websites.

Thank you.

TBR challenge

I came across an interesting challenge in a book column on the Wall Street Journal website: save money by reading a book that you own but have never read, through the Guardian books blog, via BookNinja's blog.

I think it's excellent advice. Although I am still not suffering much from the local financial crisis, I know that in the coming months my mortgage payments are going to go up, and necessities are already getting more expensive, leaving me with less play money. Therefore I am going to take up the challenge and try to make inroads on my TBR stack instead of buying more books. It's no hardship, considering that I own around 4-500 books I have not read and have a library TBR list of several hundred more.

However, I will continue to mooch and give away books, at least until postage gets prohibitive.

Bibliophile reviews Death of a Hussy by M.C. Beaton (mystery)

I wrote this review ages ago, but for some reason I never got round to posting it until now.

Series detective: Constable Hamish Macbeth
No. in series: 5
Year of publication: 1990
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Lochdubh village, Scotland, contemporary
Number of murders: 2
Some themes: Family ties, money, inheritance

I was familiar with M.C. Beaton in her guise as romance writer Marion Chesney long before I read this book. I enjoyed some of her light-hearted Regency romances, but knew her to be a very uneven writer after having read an Edwardian romance of hers that was such a horrible collection of bad clichés that I ended up throwing it in the trash (I wrote a review, but upon reading it over I thought it was unfit for publishing. Let's suffice to say that I do not recommend Chesney's Kitty to anyone, not even her most ardent fans).

My first attempt at reading an M.C. Beaton mystery ended with me returning the book to the library unfinished. Th…

Reading report for November 2008

It seems like November has gone by in a flash, in spite of, or perhaps because of, having been a very busy month for me. In addition to Christmas gift-making and -shopping and my bookbinding classes, I finished reading 12 books, mostly genre fiction and a couple of travel books. I made it to author no. 51 of my reading challenge, and have started on the last author.

There was only one reread this month: Pratchett’s Thud!, which I read instead of finally sitting down with Making Money which I have still not been able to work up the enthusiasm to read. I may not read it until I actually have Unseen Academicals (which Pratchett is currently writing) in my hands, as I have a dread of running out of new Discworld books to read.

The high points of the month were Henry Miller’s rambling and enthusiastic travel memoir of Greece at the beginning of World War 2, and Connie Willis’ very funny time travel adventure.

The books:
Mary Balogh: Slightly Wicked (historical romance)
Caroline Graham: Death o…

Old Mills & Boon covers

Mills & Boon celebrates its 100 birthday this year, and there is a book out to celebrate it: The Art of Romance: Mills & Boon and Harlequin Cover Designs by Joanna Bowring and Margaret O'Brien. Click on the link in the post title to see some of the covers.

The first one is especially interesting - definitely a child of its time. I can't tell if he's supposed to be on the verge of attacking her or if he's supposed to have just found her, but I would like to find out.

There is also a contest in which you can win a copy of the book if you come up with a good title for one of the covers.

Bibliophile reviews To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis

Year published: 1998
Genre: Science fiction, alternative reality, time travel
Setting & time: Oxford, England, 2057 and southern England, late Victorian era

The Story:
Due to under-manning, 21st century historian and time traveller Ned Henry is sent on an important mission to 19th century Victorian England, despite being an expert on the 20th century. Due to time-lag he is not quite sure what his mission is, but with a little rest and some detective work and help from Verity Kindle, another 21st century historian, he is able to discover what it is that he is supposed to do. At the same time, he is trying to avoid of Lady Shrapnell, a rich aristocrat who is trying to rebuild Coventry Cathedral (in Oxford) and wants him to find the artifact mentioned in the book’s subtitle, so he can recover from the time-lag and continue the search.

Technique and plot:
Here is a book I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys science fiction, historical fiction and romance, and appreciates l…

I have added more books to BookMooch

Diane Mott Davidson: The Last Suppers
Diane Mott Davidson: Prime Cut
Diane Mott Davidson: Tough Cookie
Alex Duncan: The Diary of a Country Doctor
Susan Dunlap: Diamond in the Buff
Ann Granger: A Season for Murder
James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
J.J. Marric: Gideon's Week
Anne Perry: Bluegate Fields
Anne Perry: Seven Dials
Anne Perry: Southampton Row
Arthur W. Upfield: Boney and the Mouse
Arthur W. Upfield: Murder Must Wait

Bibliophile reviews A Season for Murder by Ann Granger

Going through my library to cull books, I discovered a number of novels, novellas and a couple of short story collections with a Christmas theme. While Christmas mysteries can be read year round, and are, in fact, sometimes best read at any other time of the year – at least if you like the holidays untarnished by thoughts of dark deeds – other Christmas fiction is usually best read in December, which is why I decided to embark on a reading spree with a Christmas theme. I am not one to let mysteries disturb me, so I am including some of those as well as the science fiction, fantasy and romance Christmas stories I found. Here is the first review.

Ann Granger was my mystery author #41, and I promised I would review her as an author once I had read some more of her books. Since this one is part of the same series as the previous one, I will leave the review for until after I have read A Rare Interest in Corpses, which is from another series of hers, a historical one.

Series detectives: Cons…