Sunday, September 2, 2018

Reading Summary, August 2018

This month I read 12 books, which is a lot for me. One was very short, one was very long (for me). I don't know where I found the time to read all those books, but I do know I have energy for reading but often not enough mental energy for reviewing. I completed reading all the books on my 20 Books of Summer list (actually there were 21 on the list) but reviewed only 6 of them.

Three of the books I read this month were not crime fiction, which is unusual.


Starting Out in the Evening (1997) by Brian Morton
This book follows a short period in the life of four people: Leonard Schiller, a novelist in his seventies; Heather Wolfe, a woman in her early twenties who wants to write her thesis on Schiller's novels; Ariel, Leonard's daughter, who wants very much to have a child; and Casey, one of Ariel's ex-boyfriends. It was a wonderful read but very different from my usual reading. There is a film adaptation; I will be watching it soon.
The Uncommon Reader (2007) by Alan Bennett
I enjoyed this book very much, although of course it bears no resemblance to reality. The Queen ends up visiting a bookmobile on the grounds of Buckingham Palace because her Corgis are causing a ruckus in that area. She checks out a book with no real intention of reading it, but as she gives it a try she becomes intrigued and decides to check out a another book. And thus the Queen becomes a reader. For me, it was all about discovering reading and the joys of reading.

SCIENCE FICTION reading in August

The Time Traveler's Wife (2003) by Audrey Niffenegger
It is difficult to put this book in a category. It could just as easily (and more logically) be called a romance. Time travel books are usually categorized as science fiction but on the other hand, this one has very little science involved. For several days my reading time was spent mesmerized by this story and I had no complaints about the book at all. (I will follow up with a more detailed post eventually.)

CRIME FICTION reads in August:

Dark Passage (1946) by David Goodis
A noir novel about a man in prison for his wife's murder, which he did not commit. He manages to escape from prison and returns to San Francisco and the neighborhood he lived in to try to prove his innocence. We also watched the film adaptation which starred Bogart and Bacall. See my thoughts on the book and the film adaptation here.
Follow Her Home (2013) by Steph Cha
This book is  hard to describe. It starts out seeming light, even frothy, contrary to the descriptions of noir on the cover. It takes a long time to turn darker but when it does it gets very dark quickly. The protagonist, Juniper Song, is Korean American. Philip Marlow has always been her hero, and she models her "detecting" on his adventures (sort of). I don't think this would work for everyone but it did for me.

Death in the Clouds (1935) by Agatha Christie
In this Hercule Poirot mystery, a woman is killed on an airplane during a flight from Paris to Croydon. Her death isn't discovered until well into the flight. Hercule Poirot is a passenger on the airplane but he slept through most of the flight. My full review here.

The Limbo Line (1963) by Victor Canning
Richard Manston has quit his job in intelligence work but his old  boss has called him back for another assignment. It is an old story but by one of my favorite authors so I enjoyed it a lot. I would describe it as Alistain Maclean crossed with the James Bond books by Ian Fleming. Manston shows up in the Rex Carver series by Canning. 
Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie
My second Agatha Christie for the month! I liked it even more than Death in the Clouds, but this one was a good bit darker. The death occurs on a cruise along the Nile, and Hercule Poirot, along with his old friend Colonel Race, must solve the mystery. A large cast of interesting people. And we have watched the film adaptation with Peter Ustinov as Poirot.
The Cold, Cold Ground (2012) by Adrian McKinty
This is the first in a series of six books featuring Detective Sean Duffy of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The book is set in Belfast of 1981, during the Irish Troubles, and Duffy is a Catholic cop in a primarily Protestant police force. Very good, and I hope to find a copy of the 2nd in the series soon.
A Cold Day For Murder (1992) by Dana Stabenow
Kate Shugak is a former investigator for the Alaska District Attorney's Office as this books starts. Her former boss talks her into taking on an assignment to investigate two men who have gone missing in the Alaskan wilderness. Kate is an Aleut, and very familiar with the area and the people. I had waited 12 years after I purchased my copy to read this book. What a mistake. I will be looking out for the next few books in this series. She has a lovely dog, and I loved the setting.
The Bigger They Come (1939) by A. A. Fair (aka Erle Stanley Gardner)
This was the first book in the Donald Lam and Bertha Cool series. This is the origin story. It was good to hear how Bertha and Donald got together. It was only the third book I have read in this series (since my youth) and definitely my favorite.

A Spy by Nature (2001) by Charles Cummings
Alec Milius is a natural liar, which makes him perfect for the espionage business. He gets involved in corporate espionage, but his work is guided by government departments, whether they admit it or not. It seems to be a very accurate picture of how lonely a person's life can become once he  becomes an agent. There is no one to trust, no one to turn to. It was very good read and based on the author's experience of having been recruited by MI6. I will be following this book up with the sequel, The Spanish Game.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Love Alan Bennett stories. Loved the film version of Staring Out in the Evening. Love The Cold Cold Ground. McKinty is very good.

joan.kyler said...

I loved The Uncommon Reader, such a charming book. I've also been enjoying the Dana Stabenow series. I've read most of them, but a couple are eluding me. Looks like you had a nice reading month.

Rick Robinson said...

I think I read that first Stabenow, and have a few others sitting here, but I thought I remembered it as being about the Iditarod race, so maybe it was a different book. No, wait, I'm thinking of Sue Henry's book. But I do think I've read this one. I've also read the Christie books.

Rick Robinson said...

Oh and thanks for the blogroll add!

Anonymous said...

What great selection you have here, Tracy. I like the variety, and I like it that you have both classic/GA and more modern novels. You've had a good month.

TracyK said...

I have only read one other thing by Alan Bennett: WRITING HOME. And I did love it. I am looking forward to reading more by McKinty. Another one of those books that I should have read earlier.

TracyK said...

I agree on THE UNCOMMON READER, Joan. And a perfect length too. I cannot believe I waited this long to start reading the Kate Shugak series.

TracyK said...

I will have to try Sue Henry's books, also, Rick. I have one of her later ones but I would like to read the 1st one too.

TracyK said...

It was a pleasure, Rick, I should have done it before, but nowadays, until I get to retire, I have too much going on and forget a lot of things I plan to do.

TracyK said...

I always like to have a mix of older and newer novels, Margot. Makes for more variety. It was a very good month.

Anonymous said...

Some good reads, Tracy. I loved The Time Traveler's Wife but it's a one time read for me. She never had another book quite as good as that one. --Keishon

TracyK said...

Keishon, I had wondered whether I would care for any of Niffenegger's other books. They did not sound very similar which can be good or bad, depending on what the reader is looking for.

Cath said...

Twelve is fantastic! And I've read four or five of them too. I loved The Uncommon Reader, The Time Traveler's Wife not so much. The Kate Shugak books get better and better you'll be glad to hear.

TracyK said...

I am very glad to hear that the Kate Shugak series gets better and better, Cath, and I am having a hard time putting off looking for more copies until after the book sale but it only makes sense. (It is only about 2 weeks from now.) I did notice that there are widely divided reactions to The Time Traveler's Wife, and a TON of reviews at Goodreads. The Uncommon Reader was a surprise to me, I expected to like it but I found it hugely entertaining and fun.

Katrina said...

I've had A Cold Day for Murder on my Kindle for years so I must get around to it too. I wasn't so impressed by the Niffenegger book but loved the Alan Bennett one.

Yvette said...

I loved THE UNCOMMON READER, an engaging fairy tale. SO wonderful. I didn't like THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (I'm in the minority I know) so didn't finish it. I'm a big fan of Agatha Christie, I'm glad you're becoming one. I've been meaning to get my hands on a copy of DARK PASSAGE.

TracyK said...

I waited a long time to read A Cold Day for Murder, Katrina, and was glad I finally did. The Uncommon Reader was even better than I expected. And just the right length.

TracyK said...

I used to like Miss Marple more than Poirot, Yvette, and I don't even like amateur sleuths that much. But now I am getting fond of Poirot too. Agatha Christie books always keep me entertained. I had a hard time finding a copy of Dark Passage (that was not too expensive) and that is why I ended up buying a collection of Goodis's novels.

Clothes In Books said...

What very varied books you read, I am so impressed. And glad you liked the Morton.
Now you've made me think I should read another Victor Canning book, perhaps this one. I think it was on the shelves of my parents' house when I was growing up, but doubt it is still there!

TracyK said...

I did enjoy the variety of reading in August, Moira, and the best thing was that ALL of the books were good, very entertaining. I am more in reading mode than blogging / reviewing, which makes me anxious at times. I want to read more Canning also, I love his writing so much. But I am at the point where I need to buy a couple of his books if I want to read in order... which I do. The Rex Carver series and the "Birdcage" series.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Glad you enjoyed McKinty’s book. It is a great series. And STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING is a book I read a long time ago, thought very good, but never went on to other books by Morton. I should correct that.

TracyK said...

I will be looking for books by both of those authors, Elgin. McKinty's series I am sure I will enjoy. I will have to see how I get along with Morton's other books.

col2910 said...

Seems like a decent month, Tracy. A few authors there that I'd like to get to, but maybe different books....Stabenow, Canning and Goodis. I have some from McKinty and Bennett also. The TBR is monumental.

TracyK said...

I will be reading more McKinty for sure, Col, and Stabenow, Canning and Goodis. I have a good number of Goodis books available, but the others I will have to find, which just means adding to the TBR piles.