Sunday, May 8, 2022

Reading Summary for April 2022

I felt like my reading in April went very slowly, and that has continued into May. Towards the end of April, there were nine days that I did not finish a book at all which never happens to me. But I did read eight books in April. Two general fiction books, one fantasy, and five books in the crime fiction genre. All of them were good reads, and three of them I gave five stars, which for me just means that they were especially good reads. So, not a bad month at all.

And here is what I have read...

General Fiction

Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier

This is the most widely known novel written by Daphne de Maurier. It may not be the best; I haven't read any others. I read Rebecca for my Classics Club list and for the Back to the Classics Challenge and it was a great read. I can't decide if I had read it before, years ago. Maybe I had just watched the Hitchcock film. Either way, we will be watching the Hitchcock film again soon.

Because of Sam
(1954) by Molly Clavering

This book is part of the Furrowed Middlebrow collection from Dean Street Press, books by women writers of the early to mid-twentieth century. I had heard of the author, and purchased some her books for the Kindle, including Because of Sam, but I was motivated to read this book after I read Cath's review at Read-Warbler. I loved it, although it took me half the book to figure out where it was going, and even then I was only partly right. It is a lovely postwar story set in a village in Scotland. 


The Midnight Library (2020) by Matt Haig

After dying, Nora Seed wakes up in a library and the books on the shelves are all possible lives she could live. She is given the opportunity to try some of those lives and return to one of them if she chooses. The story is about regrets and opportunities. This was my first book by Matt Haig.  It did not live up to my expectations but I still enjoyed it a lot. I do look forward to reading Haig's other books on my shelves.

Crime Fiction

Go, Lovely Rose (1954) by Jean Potts

Rachel Buckmaster returns to her small midwestern hometown when her brother calls to tell her that the housekeeper who had lived with them for decades has died. When her death is declared murder rather than accidental, Rachel's brother is the main suspect. My review here.

Dog On It (2009) by Spencer Quinn

This was a book which went beyond my expectations. It is a mystery narrated by a dog, and I was a bit leery of that, although I knew that this is a series loved by many. Chet, the dog who narrates, flunked out of K-9 training, but still has the heart of a detective. His owner, private investigator Bernie Little, is not perfect but never gives up on the case. Together they are a great pair and I hope to read more of the books in the series. The setting seems to be Arizona, although I don't think that is really specified in this book.

Beast in View (1955) by Margaret Millar

Beast in View by Margaret Millar was my pick from the latest Classic Club Spin. Helen Clarvoe is a rich young woman who lives in a low quality hotel. She gets a threatening call from a woman from her past that she does not remember, and calls in her father's old investment counselor to help. This is a very brief book that could easily be read in one sitting or in one day. The book was published in 1955, and won the Edgar for Best Novel in 1956. My review here.

Bangkok 8 (2003) by John Burdett

This story is set in Thailand and the main character is a Thai policeman, Sonchai Jitpleecheep. His partner (and life-long friend) is killed on the job and Sonchai has vowed revenge. The story is told from Sonchai's point of view and I really like the voice it is told in. The story covers some challenging topics: transsexualism, prostitution, drugs and alcoholism. This book is #1 in a series I would like to continue reading.

Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
(1934) by Agatha Christie

This is lighter and breezier than most novels by Agatha Christie. The two main characters are Bobby Jones, the vicar's son, and Lady Frances Derwent (Frankie). They were friends in childhood but have drifted apart as they grew older. Bobby discovers a dead body which had fallen off of the cliffs of the Welsh seacoast, and Frankie is convinced it was murder. It was a very entertaining story, once I settled into the tone of the book, and I never had a clue who the murderer was. I read it at this time because we wanted to watch Hugh Laurie's adaptation, and we have now done that. I enjoyed it as much or more than the book.

Status of my challenges and other events:

  • I have read and reviewed four novels for the European Reading Challenge. That leaves only one more to complete my goal of five books, but I hope to read more novels set in European countries.
  • I have read at least six books that fit categories for the Book Bingo Challenge
  • Back to the Classics Challenge: I have read Rebecca by du Maurier, for the "20th century classic." I have read and reviewed Beast in View by Millar, which can be used either for a "classic by a woman author" or for the "Mystery/Detective/Crime classic."
  • The TBR Pile Challenge: Two books that I read this month were for this challenge, Dog On It by Spencer Quinn and Bangkok 8 by John Burdette. 
  • In March and April I read two books for the 1954 Club: Go, Lovely Rose by Jean Potts and Death Likes It Hot by Edgar Box (aka Gore Vidal).

The photo at the top of the post and the one immediately above are from a recent visit to our local plant nursery, the first one this year. My husband took photos of plants, pots, and garden decorations. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


Cath said...

So glad you enjoyed, Because of Sam. I had no idea how it would all pan out either to be honest! LOL

I think Rebecca is widely regarded as DdM's best book although I was watching a Youtube vid last night and someone suggested it was My Cousin Rachel, which I've not read. Thought I might read that soon for the classic challenge, like you. So far my favourite of hers, which I last read in my 30s or something, is Frenchman's Creek. I must also say that she wrote some cracking short stories! The Birds was one of hers and I was really surprised at how different it is to the film.

I liked Dog On It too, think I read two in the series but no more. A good reading moth for you!

TracyK said...

Cath, I had a slow start with Because of Sam, and then once I got started, I could not stop and spent a whole afternoon reading.

I think I would like to read both My Cousin Rachel and Frenchman's Creek eventually. I will check the local bookstore next time we are there. And I am also interested in the short stories by du Maurier.

I liked Dog On It, but I have so many series going. I might wait and see if any of the books are available at the book sale later in the year.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've had months like that, too, Tracy, where the reading went slower and/or I didn't finish books. I think that happens sometimes. But you did read some good 'uns. I'm very glad you enjoyed the first of John Burdett's series. It is well-written, I think, and with a real insight into life in Bangkok. And Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie series is well done, too, I think. And you can't go very far wrong with Agatha Christie...

TracyK said...

Since Bangkok 8 had been on my TBR for at least 15 years, Margot, I am very glad I finally read it. And liked it so much.

Re Agatha Christie, last year I made a push to finish all the Poirot novels, and after that I had a hard time getting back to reading her books. I can't believe it had been nearly a year since I read a novel by Christie.

Rick Robinson said...

I am now unable to read more than a few pages in a day. The 94 pages of Slightly Foxed 71 took three weeks. I’ve nearly given up.

TracyK said...

Rick, I am sorry to hear that. It must be very discouraging for someone who likes to read as much as you do. Is this because of the back pain or other issues? In the last few months, I have noticed that I can read much less in the evening, and if I want to keep up with both short stories and novels, I will probably have to read more in the daytime, which takes time away from other things I need to do. It seems that my vision is getting worse but if so it is very gradual.

Rick Robinson said...

Mostly my upper back - it’s difficult and painful to hold, or look downward toward, a book regardless of size or weight. Even on the iPad or phone.

TracyK said...

Rick, that sounds horrible and it must cause problems in other areas of life too. I hope you will have improvement in your back pain as soon as possible. The only alternative I can think of is audible books, and I have never "read" a book that way myself, so know nothing about that.

Katrina said...

I love Rebecca, I rarely re-read books but that one is a real treat for me so I see it as a comfort read. I had no idea that Molly Clavering was from Glasgow, like me. I really must get around to reading her.
I like those garden planter heads, they would look great with plant hair.

TracyK said...

Katrina, I loved Rebecca also. For me the middle was tense as it built up to events I knew would happen, and then I enjoyed the ending although of course you could not call it a happy ending. I would enjoy rereading it.

I do hope you read some books from Clavering, to see what you think of them. I will be reading more of them.

The expressions on the faces of those planter heads are so good. I may have to force myself to spend that amount on a pot.

col2910 said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Dog on It. It's a premise that shouldn't really work but does. I have the Burdett book on the pile for a few too many years now.

TracyK said...

Col, I saw your review on Dog On It and was surprised that you liked it so much. You frequently surprise me in your taste in books.

It will be interesting to see what you think of the Burdett book when you read it. It wasn't what I was expecting.