Sunday, August 8, 2021

Reading in July 2021

No wonder this felt like a weird reading month. I only read three mystery novels, although two other books I read were nonfiction related to mysteries. Five of the fiction books read were from my 20 Books of Summer list, the sixth was from my Classics Club list.

Nonfiction / Mystery reference

Southern Cross Crime (2020) by Craig Sisterson

This book is subtitled "The Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of Australia and New Zealand," and that describes the contents pretty well. I have been hoping someone would publish this type of mystery reference for those areas, and Craig Sisterson is definitely the one to do it. 

Nonfiction / Memoir

Poirot and Me (2013) by David Suchet and Geoffrey Wansell

Having read almost all of the Poirot novels, and watched ALL of the Poirot TV episodes, I was ready to read this book by Suchet which functions as a memoir of the years that the Poirot series aired. I enjoyed all of it. He includes interesting facts about the various episodes and the parts he played in the years when Poirot was not being filmed. Also discussed is how decisions were made on the portrayal of Poirot and the time setting for all the TV episodes. I found this to be very entertaining and fun to read.

General Fiction / Classic

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston

This was my book chosen for the Classics Club Spin. It was a wonderful read, although I had misgivings before I started reading because much of it is written in dialect.

Historical Fiction

H.M.S. Surprise (1973) by Patrick O'Brian

This the third book in O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin series. The novel was not that long but took me a while to read. I enjoyed it immensely and I am sure I will be reading all 20 of the books.

Science Fiction

Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov

Foundation is a science fiction classic, the first part of a trilogy. My review here.

Crime Fiction

A Killing Spring (1996) by Gail Bowen

This is the 5th book in a mystery series about Joanne Kilbourn, a political analyst and university professor who gets involved in criminal investigations. The setting is Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I keep coming back because I like the setting, and they are certainly not boring. My review here.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963) by Ian Fleming

This is the 11th book in the James Bond series, and in my opinion, one of the best in the series. There are three books in the James Bond series that feature the villain Blofeld of Spectre, and this novel was the second one, following Thunderball. I enjoyed the book. I loved it when I first read it because the heroine's name was Tracy and at the time I did not know many girls named Tracy. So it was a nostalgic read for me. The film version stars George Lazenby as Bond and Diana Rigg as Tracy; we watched it back in 2018, and now we will watch it again.

Women with a Blue Pencil (2015) by Gordon McAlpine

This novel is set in 1941, at the time when the attack on Pearl Harbor takes place. A Japanese-American man has written a novel with a Japanese-American protagonist, but after the attack, his editor can't publish it and asks him to change the story. The story is told via two parallel narratives (a version of the original story and the version suggested by his editor), interlaced with the letters from Maxine, the editor, cajoling Tamiko into continuing the new version of the novels. I loved the story, especially when it all came together. My review here.

Reading Next?

I have five books left on my 20 Books of Summer list, and I am having a hard time deciding what to read next. Possibly The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer or Way Station by Clifford D. Simak or The Turquoise Shop by Frances Crane. Those books were all published between 1941 and 1963.

The photo at the head of this post is a Rudbeckia plant in a bed in the front. The photo immediately above shows flowers from two Mandevilla plants in the back patio area, one pink and one dark red. Both photos were taken by my husband. They were planted in the last month and we will have to see how they do over the next few months.


Cath said...

I've read two of your books, Poirot and Me and HMS Surprise. I loved David Suchet's very accessible writing style, I've seen him iterviewed and he seems like an extremely nice man. I've also read two of the books you're thinking of reading, The Grand Sophy and Way Station, both very good. Have fun deciding... I'm terrible at that and put it down to having far too much choice. LOL

TracyK said...

Cath, I liked Poirot and Me a lot, and Suchet sounded like a nice person to me too. I loved hearing about the various cast members and why changes were made to the story lines. Some of them are common sense, they can't really have Poirot not doing much when the show is about him.

This time the choice of what to read is not terribly crucial, because I will get to all of them this month I hope. And luckily, they all are appealing. Way Station will be the first thing I will read by Simak though.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love to read the first two books on here. Will look for them. My library list is ridiculous and I am sure I am regarded as the town hoarder of library books.

TracyK said...

Both of those are very good books, Patti. In Craig Sisterson's book I would have liked to have more coverage on each author's books and series, but I understand that there are limitations.

I think it is a good thing to be a hoarder of books.

Margot Kinberg said...

You might not have read a whole lot of crime fiction this time, Tracy, but what you did read is great. I'm so glad you like the Gail Bowen series; I think her Joanne Kilbourn is a terrific character, and I like the setting very much, too.

TracyK said...

You are right, Margot. Two very good mysteries and an espionage thriller, all of them different. I will be reading the next Gail Bowen mystery in the next few months.

col2910 said...

I have a copy of Southern Cross Crime, but I think it's more of a reference work rather than something I could read cover to cover. I must dig out the McAlpine book from the pile. I think you might enjoy his Holmes Untangled as well.

TracyK said...

Col, I think most people would use it that way, but I like to look at all the authors to catch names and series I haven't heard of.

I will look into Holmes Untangled (although I have not read much of the Holmes series). Glen has read the two book MaAlpine wrote as Owen Fitzstephen, and liked both of them very much.

col2910 said...

I had heard of the Fitzstephen books but didn't know him and McAlpine were one and the same.

Rick Robinson said...

Lovely books, lovely flowers. Also sounds like lovely weather there.

I have several library books sitting here, one half read, the rest unread. I don’t know where to start.

Sam said...

Great reading month! I love the way that your reading picks are so different from each other. Seems like the perfect antidote to having your reading grow stale and sluggish on you.

TracyK said...

Rick, the weather has been very nice, it is overcast this morning. I am losing the light in the back patio area though. With northeast exposure, we get sun May through half of August.

Sounds like you are spoiled for choice of what to read next. I am enjoying all of the books I picked for 20 Books of Summer but I do look forward to just picking a book on a whim ... soon.

TracyK said...

Sam, I am enjoying the variety, although sometimes I miss the mystery element when I read outside of that genre. I wish I could read like you and switch between several books.

TracyK said...

Col, re McAlpine, I don't know why he chose to write under different names or how Glen stumbled upon his books. I am glad he did though.

Katrina said...

I love your husband's flower photos. I bought a copy of HMS Surprise and thought I had read it but it seems I've only read the first book in that series. An ancestor of mine was transported to Australia on that ship - for sedition!

TracyK said...

Thanks, Katrina, I like that my husband documents the plants that we have ... and sometimes I do too.

That is very interesting about one of your ancestor's being taken to Australia on the HMS Surprise. And for sedition! I have been interested in the various types of passengers that are given transport on the naval ships in these books.

Susan said...

The Bowen series sounds intriguing. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm definitely going to check it out now. I've heard good things about the O'Brien series. I might need to check that one out as well.

TracyK said...

Susan, both series are very good. I think you would enjoy Bowen's series for sure. The Aubrey / Maturin series was challenging initially for me with nautical terms, etc. but it is very engaging and I have learned a lot about that time and naval warfare, politic, and more.

Kathy's Corner said...

I had been hearing for years about Their Eyes Were Watching God and I wasn't sure if it was for me but then in 2018 I decided to give it a try and I was so moved particularly when Janie meets Tea Cake at the end of the book and they go to the Everglades to build a life and the hurricane comes. So heartbreaking.

TracyK said...

Kathy, that is why I am glad I joined in on the Classics Club. Many of the books I put on my list would never get read if I didn't get motivation from the list, and almost all of my classic reads have been very good and enjoyable. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a very moving book. It is sad but there is an upbeat note to the story which I appreciated.

I will be working on reviewing the book soon. That is always hard for me; I am intimidated by evaluating classics.