Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What I've been reading in September...

***Blogger and I are still learning to get along these days.  I accidentally 'published' this post, but it obviously wasn't ready for that.  Let's try this again...with more content.  Ha!


Hello book friends!  How have you been?  Hope all are well and staying buried in books and reading.  That's what I've been doing mostly and I've read some good books.  Several good books actually.  Let me share about them.

I got caught up on Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, which has 5 books right now and will have #6 in February.  I read #3 This Fallen Prey, #4 Watcher in the Woods, and #5 Alone in the Wild.  I really like this series which is set in the wilds of Canada, off the grid, and features Casey Duncan, her significant other Eric Dalton, and others.  The reader learns more and more about Rockton and the people who live there and in the area.  Crazy stuff.

My next read was One By One, Ruth Ware's new book set in the French Alps.  Our mystery book group had read her previous book, The Turn of the Key, for September (which was about 50-50 thumbs up by our group).  I was excited to start this one because I suspected that her inspiration was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  The answer to that question was 'yes-ish'.  I did like this book.  It held my interest and made feel quite cold.  Set at a ski chalet in winter, a group from a start-up tech company comes for a work retreat and lots of things happen.  Scary things.  Dire things.  I won't tell too much, but I will say that I guessed how it might play out early on.  There were a few surprises, but not as many as I might have liked.  As I said, I liked it, but I think that Ware's first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood, remains my favorite. 

On to the new Louise Penny book, #16 in her mystery series, and one I was really anticipating (I'm always anticipating Louise's new books!).  Oh my word!  I loved this book.  I really did.  I can say that about all this author's writing, but some books are special favorites and I think All the Devils Are Here will qualify for that with me.  It is set almost entirely in Paris with the characters mostly being from Gamache's own family.  That is not a bad thing for me, but I know that some of this author's fans mostly prefer for the setting to remain in Canada and Three Pines.  However, in my opinion, it's good for Louise to take her characters out of the small village occasionally and some of my favorites are set in other spots.  I mentioned that I attended an event virtually where Penny spoke about her work and she said that when she's outside of Three Pines, she is able to reveal more about Gamache and whoever is with him because she doesn't have to update so much about the many characters that reside in Three Pines - or not update as much.  I can see that here.  

For me, this was a book about family - the Gamache family.  Many things are revealed that we might have guessed or that the author had hinted in the past.  Reine-Marie Gamache has a big role in this book as does Jean Guy.  Armand's growing-up years are mentioned and sorted through a bit.  His godfather appears.  And Daniel, the Gamache's son, is finally front and center, which he has not been through the whole series.  We learn a lot.  This story is about family and love and betrayal and lies and trust and discovering still more aspects of our protagonist, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  Highly recommended by me. 

The last book I'll talk about today is #5 in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Troubled Blood.  I had been highly anticipating this book as I've really enjoyed the whole Strike series.  And I wasn't disappointed, though the reader might need to know that this book came in at 944 pages.  I didn't mind and actually did a read/listen and loved it.  Cormoran and Robin, his partner in the private detective firm, are asked to investigate a cold case disappearance of a woman by her daughter.  The woman, Dr. Margo Bamborough, has been missing for 40 years, so quite a 'cold' case.  Cormoran has never taken a cold case, but he and Robin and their other colleagues give it their best.  There are other cases as well, of course, and also a lot of family situations for both Robin and Cormoran.  We get to know their colleagues better and our protagonists better.  As I said, I really loved the book.  It wasn't particularly fast-paced for the most part, but I was OK with that.  Another highly recommended series.  

That's about all I have today.  I'm currently listening to The Widows by Jess Montgomery for our October mystery book group discussion.  I'm reading the first book in Nora Roberts' Chronicles of the One trilogy, Year One.  I'll share my thoughts about both of those in couple of weeks, along with whatever else has crossed my path.  Take care.  Wear your mask.  Enjoy your reading! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

In which I discuss my love of re-reading...yes, this is a rerun (mostly) but I'm curious about your thoughts here...

This is a post that I shared several years ago.  I'm still a re-reader and I'm curious about your habits in this regard, especially during this most unusual year.  Thanks for indulging me and commenting - ha!


As I begin this little discussion about my habit of re-reading books, I'm going to first share three quotes:

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.   ~~Francois Mauriac~~

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.     ~~Clifton Fadiman~~

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.     ~~W. Somerset Maugham~~

I want to talk a little bit about re-reading books.  Do you have this practice?  Do you go back to the books you read when you were younger and see if they hold up well?  Or do you finish a great book and turn back to the first page and begin again?  Or maybe you've enjoyed a book in print form and then later, you try it in audio format.

I will confess that I am a re-reader from way back.  I think I've shared that my parents did not indulge my wish to physically own books when I was growing up.  I had a few, a very few.  However, money was tight and they felt that the library could provide any books I might need or want.  Which was fine until we'd go and spend 2 weeks at my grandmother's house.  I'd take armloads of books that were checked out from the library, but I'd finish them - so, I'd start over and read them again.

In my teens, I'd read sweet love stories and scary ghost stories and pretty much anything that wasn't "assigned" by my English teacher - well, I did read my assignments but never twice.  In my 20's, I discovered that I loved going back to well-loved books from my teens and taking another look.  And I've continued that practice off and on up until now.

Why, you might ask?  Well, I know that I'll never get to read all the books that I want to read in my lifetime.  I know this.  However, sometimes I just need a story that I'm familiar with for the comfort value.  It's like a warm blanket or a cup of hot chocolate or a hug from my mother.  At tough times in my life, I find myself picking up books that I remember so well and also remembering how they made me feel.  Safe, secure, a refuge as Mr. Maugham states in the quote above.

I also use re-reading as a technique to bump myself out of a reading slump and have done this for years.  My favorite go-to books are varied.  Authors might include:  Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Louise Penny, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Michaels, Nora Roberts or so many that I've talked about as favorites.

OK, now I want to hear your thoughts.  Do you read books for a second or third or endless amount of times?  Or are you a 'been there, done that' kind of reader?  I'd love to know and I'd also love to know a few of the books that you consider your favorites to visit again.  Who knows?  I might have forgotten one that I'd like to go back to for the second time.  And thanks for sharing!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

It's September and is it fall? Maybe fall-ish at some point and some reading...

Hello book friends!  I don't have a nice picture to share here this time.  Forgot to take one, but never fear.  I'll have one the next time.  Ha!  Actually, I tried to take a couple of the full moon early this morning, but they didn't please me.  So, it's September of this year of 2020.  Sometimes it feels that time is passing quickly, but mostly it just feel like a 'never-ending' year to me.  Ah well.  No complaining.  My new motto, along with 'avoid most of the news'.  Let's talk about what I've been reading.

First I'll share a little about our mystery book group's discussion of Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key.  We met last night virtually and the opinions were about 50% (or maybe a little less) liked it well enough.  Probably 50% didn't care for it.  I will say that this book is creepy with the 'smart house' theme.  Also, not too many likable characters or maybe no likable characters.  And the ending is a more than a little ambiguous.  This group had read Ware's first book, In a Dark Dark Wood, a few years ago and that book remains my favorite of hers.  It seemed that she did take inspiration from Henry James and his The Turn of the Screw, but diverged from that story some.  Not sure too many in the group will seek out Ruth Ware's next book (to be published this next week), One By One, but because the inspiration seems to be Agatha Christie, I'll be checking it out.

As to other reading, I've read 4 more Memory Man books by David Baldacci.  Really liked all of them and will be watching for the next entry into that series.  The newest, #6, was published this spring, Walk the Wire.  I like Amos Decker, the main protagonist, and also his partner, Alex Jamison.  Walk the Wire takes place in North Dakota in a fracking town.  That's not all that is there and another Baldacci character makes an appearance.  I won't say which one it is because that might be too big of a spoiler.  I will say that I'm looking forward to his new Atlee Pine book, Daylight, which will be out in November.  I've noticed that since I've not read many books by this author, I have several series to sample if I so choose.  I love that! 

After I was caught up with the Memory Man, I decided to follow one of my usual summer reading 'rules' - read cold books in summer.  I had read Kelley Armstrong's first Rockton book, City of the Lost, a while back and enjoyed it.  I decided to reread that one and then continue with the books currently out in that series.  I'm now on #2, A Darkness Absolute, and loving the cold and the characters and the remote Canadian wilderness location.  In case you don't know about this series, Rockton is a small town where people who need to disappear apply to come.  Casey Duncan is a homicide detective who has that need and she arrives to become part of Rockton's very small law enforcement group.  Some of the people in Rockton are nice and some are not.  And then there is the wilderness location and the off-the-grid theme.  I'm finding these books hold my interest quite well.

I also attended a virtual event yesterday that featured Louise Penny talking about her new book, All the Devils Are Here.  The event was hosted by Murder By the Book, an independent mystery bookstore in Houston.  Store owner, McKenna Jordan, did a great job chatting with Louise and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her writing process for this book and also how her life has been in the last few months.  Louise herself was in London and, having just arrived a few days ago, quaratined for now.  It was great that we could all 'attend' the event virtually.  One nice thing to come from this whole year - lots of author events that we can watch.  My copy of All the Devils Are Here is on my way from Murder By the Book and I will be reading it before long.  

That's about all I have.  Our weather here has been mega-humid and, though the rain chances are welcome, a promised cool front can't get here soon enough.  Maybe next week I'll be able to say that I've walked outside and not sweated a bucket - I hope so.  Take care and talk to you guys soon!