Sunday, July 1, 2018

Reading Summary for June 2018

In 2018, I have been reading more each month (than in previous years) and it still amazes me. This month I read 10 books and they were all good reads. And some of them were spectacular. As usual, most of the books were crime fiction, but I did read two books that were not mystery or crime related. Eight of these books were books on my 20 Books of Summer list.

My two non-mystery reads in June were ...

Auntie Mame (1955) by Patrick Dennis
A story about a young boy raised by his aunt after his father dies. The book reads like connected short stories, each highlighting a different stage in the boy's growing-up years.  It is wacky and entertaining, definitely not my usual fare, and I enjoyed almost every story. The story has been adapted for film and as a play.
Tales of the City (1978) by Armistead Maupin
I really have no idea how I missed this series over the years. Set in San Francisco, California, and very close to the year I visited the city the first time. Not mystery related, so that probably has something to do with it. I did learn about the books in 2014 at Clothes in Books, yet still wasn't tempted to try one. This month the time was right. It took me a while to get into the story, but I ending up loving the book and planning to read more in the series.
And now on to the eight crime fiction reads:

The Bone Garden (2003) by Kate Ellis
This is the fifth book in a series that has an archaeological theme and has two mysteries in each novel, one past, one in the present. This one had interesting characters and a decent story, but I did have some problems with it. Many readers are very happy with the series though, so if you haven't tried it, I do recommend it.

An Expert in Murder (2008) by Nicola Upson
Mystery novelist Josephine Tey is the sleuth in this one. I am not sure how much the sleuth in this book resembles the real Josephine Tey (whose real name was Elizabeth Mackintosh), but I did find the story compelling and enjoyed the setting, so I will read more of this series.
Death in the Garden (1995)
by Elizabeth Ironside
A historical novel, with story lines in two different time periods. In 1925, Diana Pollexfen was accused of killing her husband, but found innocent. Sixty years later, her grandniece decides to find out what really happened. Both stories and the way they tie together are excellent, and the writing is very, very good.

Murder is Academic (2002) by Christine Poulson
This is the first book in Poulson's Cambridge Mystery series, starring Cassandra James. After reading Poulson's most recent mysteries (Deep Water and Cold, Cold Heart) I wanted to go back and read her first series. That was a good decision; this was a lovely book, with interesting, believable characters and a great ending. The UK title is Dead Letters.
The Terra-Cotta Dog (1996) by Andrea Camilleri
The second Inspector Montalbano mystery, set in Italy, part of a long-running series. Montalbano finds a cave filled with artifacts and the bodies of two young lovers who have been dead for 50 years. I had read the previous book in the series but had forgotten how much of an independent loner the inspector is. The story is very complex.
White Sky, Black Ice (1999) by Stan Jones
This series stars Nathan Active, an Alaska state trooper, half Inupiat and half white, assigned to the remote village of Chukchi. The story has an interesting and unusual setting and the plotting is fine, but it is the character that I want to know more about. And it is that element that will bring me back to read more books in the series. 

Thunderball (1961) by Ian Fleming
This is the second James Bond book I read this year. It is the first of three novels featuring Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of the criminal organization SPECTRE. As always, a good read.

Faithful Place (2010) by Tana French
I read this for the European Challenge for Ireland. Set in Dublin, featuring Frank Mackey, a Dublin detective working in the Undercover department. Frank returns to his old neighborhood and the family he left 22 years earlier to investigate a possible crime. Another great story by this author, my favorite of her books ... so far.

18 comments:

  1. I've actually read three of these books and enjoyed them as well... Tales of the City, An Expert in Murder and The Terra-cotta Dog. Interestingly, even though I enjoyed Tales of the City and planned to read more, I never did. A Very good reading month for you.

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    1. It was a good reading month, Cath. The Terra-Cotta Dog is my book for Italy for the European Reading Challenge. And right now I am reading a Miss Marple mystery and a non-fiction book about Charlie Chan.

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    1. I stayed up too late a couple of nights, Patti. I could not put the book down.

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  3. So glad you had some very good reading this month, Tracy. And, as always, I really like the variety in what you read.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. My only regret this month was that I read less vintage mysteries.

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  4. I haven't read any of them but I have read one of the Josephine Tey books by Nicola Upson and I wasn't happy about her use of an actual person as a character. I don't see the point of it and having read a Tey biography, she was not at all like Upson's character.

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    1. I know, Katrina. That bothered me some too. I have a couple more books in the series already, so I will continue reading those and see what I think.

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  5. TracyK: I am glad you enjoyed White Sky, Black Ice. I love the series and have read all the books. I hope you write a full review. I think Nathan Active is a great character. I believe the series deserves to be better known.

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    1. I do plan to write a full review, Bill. It was a very good read and I want to read more about Nathan Active. I have the 2nd book already. I regret having waited this long to start the series.

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  6. Looks like you had a productive month. Jones and Fleming are the standouts for me. I tried Maupin years ago but gave up. I'm not tempted to try again.

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    1. The Stan Jones book was very good, and I will read more. I can't remember, have you ever tried Tana French? Very UN-cozy, and this one is really on the gritty side. But I am not trying to add more books to your stacks.

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    2. I think I'm kind of put off French because every one of hers seems to be of housebrick proportions. I know it's not a valid reason for avoiding them, but I kind of feel defeated before I start. I have enjoyed many longer books in the past and will do again no doubt, but maybe I need to schedule one in when I'm on holiday.

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    3. Now that is a fair assessment, and I do sympathize. Faithful Place was "only" 400 pages and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it could have been shorter for sure. And the first two were closer to 450 pages and both felt too long. But I like French's books so much I ignore that part.

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  7. I have read most of these, and am sure you will love the rest of the Maupins. I read the Elizabeth Ironside a few years back and enjoyed it very much, I'm surprised she is not better-known: I think you're the first person I have come across who has read it.

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    1. I will be looking for the Maupin books at the book sale this year, Moira, and also the Betty MacDonald books as you suggested. I too am surprised at how little I find about Elizabeth Ironside's books. Maybe because it has been a while since she has published one?

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  8. You read some interesting titles w/some great covers. FAITHFUL PLACE is my favorite as well and the only one I recognize from your list. So glad you enjoyed it! I haven't had any success so far with her follow-ups. She fell off my auto-buy list last year. --Keishon

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    1. It is hard to see how French could beat Faithful Place, Keishon, but I will keep trying them. They are usually long, and it takes me a while to decide to read long books.

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