Tuesday, March 31, 2015


A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."

[NOTE 3/31/15:] Last year I began including a quote with my comments on each book, and I liked that it grounded what is essentially just my brief thoughts. This year, however, as I am now spending a large portion of my time sewing in an attempt to add to our household income, and while this is a great time to listen to audiobooks, it does not lend itself to easily capturing a good quote. Therefore, going forward I will not be including a quote with all the books I read this year.


Both of these novels remind me greatly of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder stories, except with more tea & literature and less action.

They are heavy on characterization and focus on solving the mystery, itself.

The Golden Notebook (audiobook) - Doris Lessing

If you are interested in a close reading of this book, try {The Golden Notebook dot com}.

This is one of the books, the reading of which, was considered de rigueur by feminists of my generation. Yes, I just got around to reading it.

I find myself wishing that I had read it in the seventies when I had the chance. Never having read anything about the book, I was expecting non-fiction. Although we still have far to go in building a true egalitarian society, we have come a long way. And as I read it seemed somewhat dated.

The Caves of Steel (audiobook)
 - Isaac Asimov

As this story unfolded, I was reminded of the influence Mr. Asimov has had on American culture, in the direction of so much of our science fiction, and our very conception of robotics and AI.

Could it be said that Asimov is to science fiction what Tolkien is to fantasy?

(It was also remarkably reminiscent of a short lived television series from last year,
 called Almost Human.)

There Was An Old Woman (audiobook) - Ellery Queen

I know! I know! I know!          Oh! s#%t!

Even though I read all the Ellery Queen mysteries when I was *ahem* young, they are new to me these days. (There's a really bad Alzheimer's joke in that.)

Without a doubt, they remain some of the best constructed and most confounding mysteries I've ever read. I'm never disappointed, even when I do (rarely) solve one.

 - Agatha Christie

A nice, classic collection of Agatha Christie short stories

One of them however, The Dressmaker's Doll, is not your typical Agatha Christie story, in that it was not a murder mystery.

Muahahaha . . .

The Halloween Tree (audiobook) - Ray Bradbury

I sure picked the wrong time of year to read this one. It would have been much better at Halloween Hint. Hint.

It's hard for me to believe that he's no longer with us. Some people aren't just a part of the fabric of our lives, they helped create it, and they leave a hole when they are gone.

Is there an author who has made you feel this way?

 - Lilian Jackson Braun

Where would we be without cats? 

This go'rou nd Coco & Yum Yum help solve a murder involving trains, family curses, and embezzlement.

- Lilian Jackson Braun

What's in a name - besides confusion that is?

 - Lilian Jackson Braun

There were so many mysteries to solve in this one!

The Cat Who Tailed a Thief (audiobook)
- Lilian Jackson Braun

Along with the mystery, we get some "Short and Tall Tales," as told to Qwillerman by various interesting Moose County inhabitants.

- Lilian Jackson Braun

Coco works his magic even thousands of miles away.

The Cat Who Went Into the Closet - (audiobook)
- Lilian Jackson Braun

I share Coco's fascination with over stuffed closets. I, however, lack his intuition.

- Lilian Jackson Braun

 Some people are really jerks.

On the bright side, I've always loved that apple barn.

- Lilian Jackson Braun

New friends, solitude, and rain don't dampen Coco's mojo. Though Quill does get bogged down a bit.


- Agatha Christie

Although I have repeatedly read Ms Christie's Poirot And Miss Marple stories, this is the first of the Tommy & Tuppence stories I've read. The characters were enjoyable and that always adds to a story.

Voluntary Committal (audiobook)
- Joe Hill

This story moves beyond the usual mystery and conjures up some intriguing possibilities.

 - Roald Dahl

After the Dahl stories I'd read with my children over the years, it was not what I expected. It was an uplifting story that left me with a smile.

The Case of the Middle Aged Wife (audiobook)
 - Agatha Christie

I saw the ending early in the story, but it was enjoyable, none the less.

 - Agatha Christie

This one bore a remarkable similarity to The Case of the Middle Aged Wife, which made the solution quite easy.

Suicide Run (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

This is a collection of three Harry Bosch short stories, and they are good for what they are. As far as Harry Bosch stories go they seem lacking and unfinished.

I wonder if this is how his ideas begin, and he just fleshes them out until they are a complete creation.


Demolition Angel (ebook) - Robert Crais

"She was alone with it. She told herself that was okay; she had been alone for three years."

This novel puts Carol Starkey, a minor player in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series, at center stage, where she acquits herself quite admirably.

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights (ebook) - Faye Kellerman

"Your mask is Karl Marx," Feinermann said.
"No, it's not," Karl protested. "I'm Albert Einstein."
"I hate to say this, young man, but you're no Albert Einstein."

Most of these short stories were pretty good, and two of them were co-written her children.

But a couple of them were not mysteries and seemed out of place. After all, it was billed as an anthology of crime stories.

Critical Mass (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"They ravage, they slaughter, and call it 'empire.' They create a desert and call it 'peace.'" 
Old evils and their legacy show up in the present, and V.I. is right in the middle of the maelstrom. 

She never forgets the voiceless and abused.

Chasing Darkness (ebook) - Robert Crais

Politics and corruption stand squarely in the way of justice, until Elvis finds himself an unwilling champion.

One of the things I like about Elvis is that no matter how hard he might try not to be, he is always a good person (albeit a badass one).

Blacklist (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

This story moves from a man blamed for his own murder, to McCarthy era blacklists, and V.I. doesn't bat an eye as she finds herself up against the Patriot Act. I wish I had her nerve.

The Watchman (ebook) - Robert Crais

“She asked me why I always had something flip to say. I said that I didn't know, but having been blessed with the gift, I felt obliged to use it.”

Mr. Crais' Elvis/Pike mysteries are my new favorite series, and this one does not disappoint. Pike takes the lead in this one, though his buddy Elvis is right there when he's needed.

I only discovered the series last year and am still catching up on reading all that are currently available.

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