Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November's Books

It's been so long since I posted on this blog that I barely remember how to do it!  Life hasn't let up.  In fact, it's gotten more chaotic.  This should be a happy time, but it's very stressful.  I abhor disorder.

We bought a house in an old neighborhood just outside of the small city I was born in.  It has many different styles of architecture and huge old trees.  It's picturesque and quiet and good friends live close by.  Family, too, is closer in some cases.

But before we move in, we want a few changes made.  We want to paint, clean, etc.  We haven't put our Philadelphia house on the market yet, so we've been gradually moving smaller things from Philly to Lancaster.  That will help with the final move and should declutter the house to make it ready to sell.  But it's all taking so long!

The workmen are just getting ready to start on the 'new' house (built in 1954) renovations and the old house (which is really old, having been built in about 1840) won't go on the market until after the first of the year.  My baby grand piano is being moved tomorrow.  The rest of the big furniture will stay in Philly until the house has been sold.  Everyone wants 'staging' these days.

I've had little time to read.  If I do have time, I spend it packing or feeling guilty that I'm not packing!  I hope that things get back to normal one day soon.  This is the list of books I finished in November.

The Dry  -  Jane Harper  This is a murder mystery that takes place in Australia during a drought.  Did the drought make the murderer do it?  The ending moves as quickly as wildfire.

Caroline Writers at Home  -  Meg Reid (Ed.)  Belle's post on her blog made me want to read this book.  It's essays by writers from or living in the Carolinas.  Most are about place, about home.  I enjoyed it and delved into it on and off for several weeks.

The Bookshelf on the Corner  -  Jenny Colgan  Another of Belle's recommendations.  This was a quick, light read.  A romance and an adventure story.  I saw the ending coming, but that didn't take away from the pleasure.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras & The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy  -  Michael Orenduff  Dare I say it?  Two more that Belle liked!  I really don't read everything she reads, but she reads many books that appeal to me.  The Pot Thief digs up old pots in Arizona and sells them in his shop.  He doesn't consider it stealing.  Sometimes he liberates pots from museums, where he doesn't think they belong.  I like the characters in the books.  I have trouble seeing the connection between what he's studying and how that affects his ability to solve mysteries.  I have one more to read in the Kindle 3-pack of Pot Thief books I bought.

At this point, I think I have to give Belle more credit for all the links I've provided to her blog.  She writes descriptive and short posts, just the way I like them.

The Woman in Cabin 10  -  Ruth Ware  Many people wrote about this book.  I seldom read new books, so I waited for a year or so before I cracked this one open.  Laura (Lo) Blacklock, a travel writer who drinks too much, is invited on the virgin voyage of a posh small cruise ship.  She borrows mascara (yuck!) from the women next door, in cabin 10.  During the night, she's awakened and hears a thud and a big splash.  She sees blood on the glass divider between her terrace and that of cabin 10.  She's sure that a crime has been committed, but the cabin is empty and no one admits to seeing the woman she met.

Y is for Yesterday  -  Sue Grafton  This is a new book that I couldn't wait for, so I got in line at the library and, eventually, it showed up.  I've read all the Kinsey Millhone mysteries and I can't think of one that truly disappointed.  I like Kinsey, her lifestyle, her neighbors, and her friends.  This mystery spans 10 years.  A young girl is murdered by one of her friends, manipulated by another of their friends.  The boy who shot her has just been released from prison and someone is trying to blackmail him with a film he and his friends made of them sexually abusing another of their friends.  With friends like these kids ....  Kinsey is hired to find the blackmailer.  Then the kid who shot the girl disappears.  That can't be good.  Meanwhile, Ned Lowe, the serial killer who tried to kill Kinsey in a previous book, returns to collect the mementos from his killings and to finish off Kinsey.  I won't spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that Ed, her neighbor Henry's cat, is rescued before anything too awful happens to him.  I was feeling very apprehensive for a while, but don't worry.

Maybe once life settles down, I'll get back to books that require a bit of concentration or that allow me to escape completely into their stories.  Fingers crossed that all goes well over the next couple of months.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Books of October

I'm surprised I read as many books as I did last month.  It took me a while to read some.  You do understand that I don't necessarily start and finish all these books in one month.  I'm a mood reader, so I typically read four or five books at one time.

The last week of the month was particularly stressful:  we bought a house and buried a good friend.  More later about one of those.  I'm still recovering from both.

In October, I read these books:

The Curse of the Bronze Lamp  -  Carter Dickson

     Yvette posted about this book and it sounded so good I had to have a copy.  It's hard to find, but I got a copy on-line.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  How can you go wrong with disappearing people, an Egyptian curse, and a creepy old mansion?

A Fine and Bitter Snow  -  Dana Stabenow

     I like the Kate Shugak mysteries and have read most of them.  In this one, two older women, friends of Kate's, are attacked in their remote cabin.  One dies, the other is in a coma.  There are secrets and one of those secrets has appeared for revenge.  As usual, an exciting read.
The Magyar Venus  -  Lyn Hamilton

     Lara McClintock, antiques dealer, runs into some old college friends.  They persuade her to join them at a party for the unveiling of the Magyar Venus.  Some of her friends question the authenticity of the statue and ask her to probe its provenance.  She tracks the statue's origin to Hungary and finds a sordid tale involving one of her friends.  Another interesting book.

The Outrage on Gallows Hill  -  George Bellairs

     I've only recently discovered this author, and this is the second book of his I've read.  I enjoyed them both.  Fortunately for me, he was prolific and I have tons of his Inspector Littlejohn books to look forward to.  Littlejohn goes to the village of Ravelstone to find out who killed Ronald Free.  Free was walking home after asking his girl to marry him.  She accepted, so he was walking on air when he was garroted.  Many people aren't who they seem, there are secrets to be revealed.  I enjoyed this mystery as much as the first one I read.  I like Bellairs' style and characters.

McNally's Dare  -  Vincent Lardo

     This is another of the Archy McNally mysteries, which were originally written by Lawrence Sanders.  After Sanders' death, Vincent Lardo wrote a few more.  I can tell the difference between the two.  The Lardo books lack something, although he tries hard to emulate Sanders.  A young man shows up to claim his inheritance from his late grandmother.  On her deathbed, she cryptically questions the young man's identity.  Archy will find out if he's the real deal.

Seriously ... I'm Kidding  -  Ellen Degeneres

     I like Ellen Degeneres and have been a fan since her stand up comedy days.  I thought this book was a memoir, but it's not.  It's a bunch of stuff that's supposed to be funny.  What I realized is that Degeneres's comedy is in her delivery.  I read stoically along until I tried imagining Degeneres delivering the lines in her unique style.  Then I laughed a few times.

The Cake and the Rain  -  Jimmy Webb

     And I don't give up on the occasional celebrity books.  This one was a memoir of the 1960s and 1970s.  It's autobiographical and it's gossipy.  If you recall from my last post, as a teenager, I was smitten by the actor Richard Harris.  Jimmy Webb did the infamous album McArthur Park with Harris.  I still have a copy of the album A Tramp Shining.  So there were stories about him, about John Lennon, who comes off badly, of Glen Campbell, Joni Mitchell, and other musicians.  It was a fun, although sometimes very unfunny, book.

Murders in Volume 2  -  Elizabeth Daly

     It might have been the mood I was in, the stress and grief, all the things that had to be done to purchase the house, the long trips to and from the funeral in just a day and a half, but I could not get into this book.  I've read other Daly books and thought I liked them, but this one was dull and confusing and I had difficulty finishing it.

November, with moving and things related to moving (changing banks, updating driver's licenses, etc.), is shaping up to be a too busy month.  I've already packed and moved several boxes of TBR books.  I kept a few out but will be reading mostly on my Kindle.  The move will take quite a few weeks because we're having a bit of work done on the new house and the contractors can't start until after Thanksgiving.  They say the work will take three weeks.  It's being managed by a friend of ours who is in the business, so I hope he can keep them on schedule.  We're having shelving installed in a room that will be my new library.  We're excited about moving out of the city.  We've been here too long and I'm eager to do things like garden and bird watch.  We'll also be moving close to three of my high school friends who've remained good friends over the years.  Two of them are musicians who play gigs in local venues.  We're looking forward to being their new groupies!  Am I tempting fate to hope for a happy, healthy, peaceful life in our new home?