Monday, December 29, 2014

A bookish summary...

From birdwatching in the Galapagos Islands to hiking and ziplining in the mountains near Salt Lake City, 2014 has been a pretty good year. It's been a good year in books, too. I completed two fun reading challenges:  What's in a Name and R.I.P. IX; I read 11 of the 12 classics on my list; and I got 'blackout' on my Reading Bingo card. I didn't read as many non-fiction books as I originally hoped to (only 9), and I also didn't get the number of unread books on my shelves below 20 (currently my shelves sport 38 TBR books), but other than that I did okay.

I read twice as many books by women as by men; I also read more mystery/suspense and supernatural fiction than any other kind. My least read genre: (surprisingly) chic lit/romance. (See my previous post for a list of my favorite reads in 2014.) As for new authors, I read twice as many new-to-me authors this year than authors I already knew.
Longest book read with 585 pages: Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Total # of posts written and published this year: 135
Most popular post: Reading by the Numbers

To everyone who read my blog this year, and especially to all those who took the time to comment, THANK YOU!  You're the best.

Happy New Year
and, as always,
Happy Reading!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Reads...of 2014

It's been a good year of reading for me... 
I read a lot of books that I really liked and some that I loved. 
Here are a few of my favorites:

My Absolute Favorite 2014 reads:
Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer
The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari
First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

Two Favorite New Authors:

Three of the Funniest Books I read this year: 
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox

Definitely the Scariest book:
Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

My favorite bookish journey through time:
My summer of reading books from 1914

My least favorite read:
Homer's Odyssey

And finally, my Five Favorite Suspense reads
that Thrill and Chill:
Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Where Monsters Dwell by Jorgen Brekke
Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Silence by Sarah Rayne

Happy Reading!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I hope your holidays are merry and bright and filled with the love of family and friends.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Reading the Alphabet, part Y

There are a lot more Y authors to choose from than Z:
Yarbro        Yamamoto        Yellin       Yip       Young        Yttrup

The one that caught my eye?  Yoon, Paul

Snow Hunters is the quiet story of Yohan, a North Korean soldier who defects to Brazil rather than return home to North Korea after the war. Can you imagine? Brazil is so different from Korea. Without knowing the language or understanding the culture, Yohan becomes an apprentice to a Japanese tailor and slowly makes a new life for himself in this strange new country. 
"In the harbor, crates hung suspended in the air. Birds circled them. The sea was clear. It moved toward him and faded and (Yohan) felt the time that had passed and his time here. He thought that he had made the best of it all, that he had worked and made a living, and he felt the contentment of that. He thought of what the years would bring, what sort of life was left in him. ... (And) he wondered what choice there was in what was remembered; and what was forgotten."
This beautifully written book is a story of hope, second chances, and overcoming past sorrows. I loved the glimpses of Yohan's experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war in Korea set alongside his current experiences in Brazil and the kind people he meets and befriends. This isn't a long novel, only 196 pages, but each sentence is thoughtfully crafted, each word carefully chosen. I savored every page. And to think, if I hadn't been browsing the Y shelf at the library I never would have known it existed. Here's to the letter Y!

Happy Reading!

Next up: Young, Sara (My Enemy's Cradle)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Twelfth Classic of 2014 ... On Hold


This post was supposed to be about Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes, but when I went to check it out from the library I discovered that they no longer owned a copy of this Hardy classic. (Although they did when I made my list last January.) Talk about frustrating. And while I really want to read this book, I'm not sure I want to buy it ... so I put in a request to have the library either purchase or borrow a copy. I was really hoping they'd borrow a copy through inter-library loan so I could get it quickly, but they decided to buy a copy instead. Good for the library; not so good for me. Now it'll take weeks for the newly ordered book to arrive and who knows how much longer for it to be processed. So, even though I'm at the top of the hold list, I doubt I'll get to actually read A Pair of Blue Eyes any time soon. Certainly not in time to write a post about it before the end of this year. It's disappointing--coming so close to reading all twelve of the classics on my list only to fall short at the very end--but I guess that's life. So, I'm waiting (impatiently!) for my last classic of 2014 to come in. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two Too Good To Miss...

Title: Jackaby by William Ritter
Setting: 1892, New Fiddleham, New England
The Advertisement that starts it all:
Investigative Services
Assistant Wanted
$8 Week
Must be Literate and Possess A
Keen Intellect and Open Mind.
Strong Stomach Preferred.

Summary & Thoughts: Intrepid and feisty Abigail Rook answers this ad on her second day in New Fiddleham and becomes Mr. R.F. Jackaby's latest assistant. Her new boss has an extraordinary investigative gift--think Sherlock Holmes with a supernatural twist. Their case is not a simple murder. (Nothing with Jackaby ever is.) Abigail is about to encounter more of the unexplained and strange than she ever knew existed. She's a great character, and so is Jackaby. In fact, I loved everything about this book:  the unexpected mystery, the humor, the rich writing, Jackaby's ghostly roommate, even Charlie Cane, the young police officer who's not what he seems. I can't wait for Jackaby's and Abigail's next case!

Title: The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
Setting: Axton House, Point Bless, Virginia, 1995
Thoughts: Axton House is eerie and full of secrets. The last owner leapt to his death out of a third-story window; the new owner is having strange dreams and seeing ghostly shadows in the bathroom. Is it because of the ritual performed every December 21st by members of a secret society, or something else? Reading this book is like piecing together a puzzle without knowing the final picture. I love how it's narrated through a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, notes, and cryptic ciphers. There's a slow building of suspense in this gothic mystery, like deciphering a code without the key. The ending, by comparison, is quick, unexpected, and felt a little too abrupt. But I still liked this book.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December's Bookish Art

Sir John Lavery - Miss Auras, The Red Book
Read anything. 
Read the things they say are good for you, 
and they things they claim are junk. 
You'll find what you need to find.
Just read.
--Neil Gaiman

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Icelandic Mystery

It's supposed to be a relaxing New Age health resort on the west coast of Iceland, but Jonas Juliusson, the new owner, thinks it's haunted. So he calls in his lawyer, Thora Gudmundsdottir, to come investigate. But Thora's investigation quickly takes a dark turn when the young architect working at the resort is murdered on the beach and found naked, beaten, and with pins stuck in the souls of her feet. Now Jonas is one of the prime suspects. Thora, along with her German boyfriend, Matthew Reich, must act quickly to find out who the real murderer is before it's too late.

My Soul To Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is Nordic crime fiction at its best. There's something haunting about it. Sigurdardottir expertly weaves Iceland's unique culture and history into a deliciously compelling mystery. And Thora and Matthew are great characters; they also appear in Sigurdardottir's first novel, Last Rituals, which is a much darker and more disturbing mystery. I liked this novel better. It's fun and fast-paced and will keep you guessing until the very end.

Happy Reading!

Also by Yrsa Sigurdardottir: The Day is Dark

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Bookish Wishlist

What do I want for Christmas? Hmm. I wouldn't mind a new condo or a 2015 Mini Cooper, but who has that kind of money? Luckily, there are a few other items on my list that anyone can afford. What are they? Books, of course! So here it is, my bookish wishlist.....

Three bookish favorites I'd love to own:
 An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

Three more I'd like to read:
Valentine by George Sand
The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

And three that are out of print...and (sadly) out of reach
(but a girl can always dream):
The Summer Birds by Penelope Farmer
The 4-H Filly by Patsy Gray
Growing Up With the Impressionists - The Diary of Julie Manet

What's on your bookish wishlist this year?
Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mistletoe and Murder

"What, after all, would life be without puzzling death?"

It's Christmastime and Buckshaw is abuzz with excitement. A film crew has arrived at the de Luce family home to shoot a movie starring the famous Phyllis Wyvern. While there, Phyllis agrees to give a benefit performance at Buckshaw for the local villagers; the whole town comes to Buckshaw to see her play Juliet one last time. As always, eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is right in the middle of everything, from pestering the film crew (and her sisters!), to concocting her own homemade fireworks, to setting a trap on Christmas Eve to catch Father Christmas. All her plans change when one of their visitors turns up dead. Everyone is suspect. With a blizzard outside and a murderer within, it's up to Flavia (and Inspector Hewitt) to figure out who did it. 

What a perfect December mystery. I think Alan Bradley's I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is my favorite Flavia de Luce novel so far. Flavia is as delightfully incorrigible as ever. Her plans to trap Father Christmas and prove his existence made me laugh, and I loved how she puzzled out the who and why of this Christmas murder. This is definitely a fun yuletime read. 

Happy Reading!

The first Flavia de Luce mystery:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Taking a library leave of absence...

Lately my library books have been coming between me and the books that I own. I love going to the library, but always having a stack of library books on hand keeps me from reading anything else. (I blame those pesky due dates.) So, when Lory at The Emerald City Book Review suggested going an entire month without checking out any library books at all I thought it was a great idea.

Check it out! One whole month to read (and re-read) books from my own shelves; one month to whittle away at my TBR pile with no library books getting in the way. What a great way to start the new year. My only problem will be in deciding which of my books to read first. Feel free to join in and enjoy a library-free January.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Thanks Lory!