Friday, March 11, 2022

Reading Summary for February 2022

This is my idea of a good mix of reading for the month. A majority of the books were mysteries. One nonfiction book and two general fiction books. The only improvement would have been if I had read at least one vintage mystery. 


Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (2001) by Diane McWhorter

This book won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. From the Pulitzer site:

"A major work of history, investigative journalism that breaks new ground, and personal memoir, Carry Me Home is a dramatic account of the civil rights era's climactic battle in Birmingham, as the movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., brought down the institutions of segregation."

I started reading this book one year ago, took about a long break in the middle, and took about a month to finish the last 300 pages (of 600). 

General Fiction

Convenience Store Woman (2016) by Sayaka Murata

Translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori 

This is an interesting story about a woman who does not fit in. Keiko is a 36-year-old woman who has been a part-time convenience store worker in Tokyo for 18 years. The novel is short, about 160 pages, and very strange, but I loved it.  Reviewed here.

Strange Weather in Tokyo (2001) by Hiromi Kawakami

Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell 

Another book set in Tokyo. The style of this book was unusual. It seemed to be made up of vignettes of the friendship between a woman and a male teacher who had been her teacher in school. Then it pulls together and has more focus, and I liked the ending a lot. Reviewed here.

Crime Fiction

Nemesis (2002) by Jo Nesbø

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Nemesis is the fourth novel in the Harry Hole series, which is mostly set in Norway. I did not enjoy reading this novel, but I recognize the high level of Nesbø's writing. Reviewed here.

Dressed for Death (1994) by Donna Leon

This is the third book in the Commissario Brunetti series, set in Italy; it has been over ten years since I read the first two  books in the series. Brunetti has to go to Mestre to handle a case because the Commissarios there are all unavailable. The dead body of a man, badly beaten, is found near a slaughterhouse; the face is so mutilated that identification of the body is difficult. I liked this book and I am glad I got back to reading this series.

The Thursday Murder Club (2020) by Richard Osman

A quartet of men and women in their seventies or eighties form a club called the Thursday Murder Club. They start out investigating cold cases, whose case files they inherited from a former member who had access to police files. Then they have the opportunity to investigate a real crime, when a part owner of their retirement complex is killed. I found a lot to like about this book and plan to read the second book in the series as soon as possible.

One Corpse Too Many (1979) by Ellis Peters

The best thing about the books in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series is the setting. I learn so much about the times reading these books. Per Goodreads, the books in the series are "set between about 1135 and about 1145, during 'The Anarchy', the destructive contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud." This is the third book in the series and I have many more left to read.

The Postscript Murders (2020) by Elly Griffiths

This novel features Harbinder Kaur, who was also a character in an earlier book by Griffiths (The Stranger Diaries). Harbinder is a closeted gay Sikh Detective Sergeant in the police in Shoreham, West Sussex. She is the principle investigator into the death of an elderly woman, Peggy Smith, in a apartment complex for senior citizens, although initially she is not convinced it was murder. Peggy's carer, Natalka, is the one who is convinced that Peggy's death was murder, and she and two of her friends who knew Peggy also investigate. I liked this book very much, although it is quite different from The Stranger Diaries

Status of my challenges:

  • I have read three novels for the European Reading Challenge, but only reviewed one of them so far.
  • I have read and reviewed three novels for the Japanese Literary Challenge. That challenge will end on March 31, 2022. 
  • I have read at least two books that fit categories for the Bingo Challenge. I will go into more detail on that when I have more read for that challenge.
  • Back to the Classics Challenge: Nothing so far.
  • The TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader: Nothing so far.
  • I recently joined the Mount TBR Challenge, run by Bev Hankins, via Goodreads. So far this year I have read 13 books from my TBR for that challenge.
  • Reading Ireland is going on for the month of March at 746 Books, and I have read one book for that event. I hope to read another this month.

The photo at the top of the post shows a gorgeous cactus in front of a business in downtown Santa Barbara. The photo immediately above is of a stonework fence in the Mission Canyon area near the Santa Barbara Mission. My husband took both photos. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


Rick Robinson said...

Wow, so many challenges, so many books I’d consider off the beaten track, such as the translated ones. Good for you!

Meanwhile I gaze listlessly at the books here, reading feels like a plodding chore. I ordered a book I was eager to read, but it had to come from the UK. After weeks they said it must be lost. So I requested - and got - a refund, then they said they’d already sent a replacement. Eventually the book came but I had to take the package to the Post Office and refuse it. Phooey. All that took two months and I wound up with nada. I’m now wary of anything which needs to come Royal Mail!

I talked Barbara into trying the first of Christopher Fowler’s first Bryant & May novel, FULL DARK HOUSE. She liked it a lot. Be well.

Rick Robinson said...

The only one of these I’ve read is the Cadfael, though I did read two of Leon’s books.

TracyK said...

Rick, when I was writing all the challenges down it did seem like too much. But I will do what I can and enjoy it.

I did just have an Irish private detective novel I had to give up on. And my reading is slower. My current read is a mystery by Catherine Aird, much tamer and more relaxed. I loved the Cadfael book and will be reading more soon.

That story about the package from the UK sounds like a nightmare. That's a shame. I am glad to hear that Barbara liked the first Bryant & May novel. I need to move forward on that series too. Take care of yourself.

Mary R. said...

Glad you are enjoying the Leon. Elly Griffiths is on my TBR -- need to get to those.

TracyK said...

Mary, I did like this book in the Commissario Brunetti series, and I have four more that follow it. So I am set for a while.

I like the two books by Griffiths that feature Harbinder Kaur and I will be getting the next one too. When it is out here. I don't like her first series as well, although a lot of readers love that one, and I haven't tried the 2nd series she writes.

Kay said...

Tracy, first of all, I loved the pictures! Very unique. Hoping to be able to get back out to my walking this next week and also hope there might be pictures to come. Ha!

I'm glad you liked The Thursday Murder Club. I liked it a lot too and will be reading the second book before long. I'm now rereading The Stranger Diaries for a book discussion this next Thursday. Enjoying it again and plan to read the next. I like Harbinder Kaur. I've meant to try Donna Leon's series for many years. Even have the first book. One day...LOL!

Hope you have a good week!

Anonymous said...

I read and enjoyed all but the newest Ruth Galloway by Griffiths. Haven't tried any of her other series though. I'm intrigued by Donna Leon, having never read a mystery set in Italy before. Thanks for the recommendation.

Cath said...

Love the Ellis Peters books and have some of the Cadfael TV series, with Derek Jacobi, recorded to watch too. They're not bad.

Postscript Murders is on my radar. Perhaps I'll try to get hold of a copy to read soon. I think I might be missing a trick by not reading Donna Leon. I may have read one years ago but that's all.

A good and varied reading month for you, Tracy!

Jo said...

I love that Nonfiction book you read in Feb. I also read a nonfiction about the civil rights movement. Mine was called Bearing the Cross, about Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.It was quite engrossing!
I love how you keep track of your challenges,have a great week!

TracyK said...

Kay, I am glad you enjoyed the pictures.

The Thursday Murder Club was great, and I hope I like the 2nd one as much. I am reading more recent mystery books now, I guess variety is good. I do hope you like the books by Donna Leon. I thought the one I read in February was very well done.

TracyK said...

Mia, thanks for visiting. I will come check out your blog soon.

I like Griffiths' new series better than the Ruth Galloway series, but I will admit some of the characters in that series have grown on me. I will be reading the fifth in the series soon.

The Donna Leon series is definitely worth trying, and there are other good series set in Italy. I have read a few books in the Inspector Montalbano series by Italian author Andrea Camilleri.

TracyK said...

Cath, When I finished reading One Corpse Too Many, my first thought was that it would make a great film, and then I remembered that the series has been adapted for TV. I am going to try a few episodes for sure.

I do recommend reading Postscript Murders and I love Harbinder Kaur. But there's no rush, there are always plenty of books to read. I do plan to get the third book that she is in whenever it is available here.

I did enjoy returning to the series by Donna Leon. It is different in tone from the Andrea Camilleri series, but they both have their good points.

Margot Kinberg said...

I do like the variety in your reading, Tracy. I try to do that, too, but don't always succeed. I'm glad to see a Donna Leon here; I think she tells a good story. And I'm glad to be reminded of Convenience Store Woman. When I read your review of that novel, I thought it might be something I might want to read. I may have to look that one up.

TracyK said...

Jo, Bearing the Cross does sound like an interesting book, and now that I have read Carry Me Home, and knowing a bit more about Martin Luther King Jr., I would enjoy it more.

I did not do a good job of keeping up with challenges last year, and I am trying to do better this year.

TracyK said...

Margot, I like the variety, but I have only read two books in 2022 that are vintage mystery fiction. I don't want to get behind in that area.

I did enjoy the Donna Leon mystery and am glad I have the next four on hand to read. I highly recommend Convenience Store Woman, it is a very thought provoking book.

Rick Robinson said...

Having read some of the Cadfael books prior to seeing any of the TV show, I found Derek Jacobi to be far from my picture of the character, to his disadvantage, so didn’t watch any more. But, the books are so excellent. THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE was one of my favorites, when you get to it. You ARE reading them in order, I hope!

TracyK said...

Rick, I can see why having a picture of a character that is different from the TV version would make a difference. I had a similar problem with the Shetland TV series based on Ann Cleeves books, but they changed that show so much for TV, I just considered it a different story entirely.

I am definitely reading the Cadfael series in order. I always try to read series in order, but with the Cadfael books, I can tell that it would make a difference. I am looking forward to THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE.

Today I am changing over to a new computer, don't know how long that will take.

Rick Robinson said...

Oh my, good luck with the computer switch.

TracyK said...

We got most of it done and it went well, except for a temporary loss of data in my book cataloging software (which Glen found the fix for, Yay!). Everything feels different now, though, and I don't navigate very well on it, but that should clear up in a few days.

Constance said...

I liked The Thursday Murder Club a lot although got very confused by the actual mystery that played out over the final few chapters. I thought the author handled race well too.

My mother really likes the Donna Leon books and went to hear her in person when she was in Boston a few years ago. I could not get into the first one although tried when I went to Venice.

Catherine Aird is always a comfort! And while I love Patricia Wentworth, I don't think I would say she is as amusing as Aird.


TracyK said...

Constance, I agree, the ending related to solving the crime was not my favorite part of the mystery, maybe overly complex, but I overall I liked it a lot. The characters and relationships.

It has been many years since I read the first two Donna Leon books, but I don't remember liking them as well as I did this book. Either the one I just read is a better book or I just like that kind of read more now. I don't know but I am definitely planning to read more of them.

Regarding Catherine Aird, I finished A Most Contagious Game two days ago and I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the historical investigation and learning all about priest holes. Aird does have more humor in her books than Wentworth, but the books were written in different times also.

col2910 said...

A few authors there I've been meaning to read but never get around to - Elly Griffiths for one and Jo Nesbo, who I have read before. A decent month's reading by the looks of it.

TracyK said...

Col, I think you would like the Jo Nesbo books. I still have one of Griffiths series I have not tried at all.

CLM said...

Oh, I am so glad you liked A Most Contagious Game. Annoyingly, I took it down from the shelf to comment to you about something and got distracted. Now I have no idea where I put it! Hopefully the book and possibly brilliant thought will return . . .

Interesting new police procedural began on PBS tonight with a middle aged heroine, which is rare!

TracyK said...

Constance, I am very glad I finally read A Most Contagious Game; a fantastic read. I saw your Goodreads review and I was going to look up the men you mentioned but haven't done that yet.

You will have to tell me more about that police procedural. Is it Annika? I have heard a bit about that but not much.