Current Reading, December 8 – 14, 2014

I finished The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and enjoyed it. It’s a YA mystery novel with a murder (or was it?) and enough characters, clues and setting for me to enjoy. It would make a good Christmas present book for a younger reader.

Also read were  couple of short novels by John Vornholt, River Quest and Sabertooth Mountain which are part of the YA Dinotopia series. These YA novels were just lazy reading while I’m also slowly working through the seasonal Big Book of Christmas Mysteries which I’d hoped to have finished by now. So I’ll continue with that and read some novels…

three of which just showed up all at once at the library: Lock In by John Scalzi, Greenglass House by Kate Milford and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which is the basis for the current film. I’m not sure how I’ll like Wild, but I want to try it. Some of these books have been on hold for ages, but they popped up together. Funny how that keeps happening.

Barbara finished In the Dark by Brian Freeman and has started Mark Billingham’s The Bones Beneath, which she’s enjoying. She’s read a little less this week, due to many seasonal distractions, like getting a quilt finished up which is a gift for a daughter and shopping, decorating and such. Next up for her is Stephen King’s Revival. which has also just popped in at the library.

What are you reading?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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25 Responses to Current Reading, December 8 – 14, 2014

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Looks like you’re reading some interesting YA stuff. The only book on your list I’ve read to date is Scalzi’s LOCK IN, which I liked a lot (as did Jackie). I also read (free download at the time) the “prequel” novella, UNLOCKED, though it isn’t necessary to read it to enjoy the book. As you’ll see below the Stephen King came in to my library too.

    No new books last week (though one came in today and I am expecting a couple more this week or next). I was hoping to get a lot of reading done when Jackie was in Orlando last week but I lost nearly two days to a persistent sinus headache probably tied to the nor’easter that brought us 2-3 inches of rain and a few snow showers. I did get four library books finished in the end.

    First was the final Monk book by Lee Goldberg, MR. MONK GETS EVEN, kind of an odd book in that Natalie Teeger, Monk’s assistant and the narrator of all the books, is in New Jersey for the first half of the book and is retelling the story her daughter has told her. The series has been continued by a new author. I may try the next one.

    I did read two more short story collections. The first was THE BLESSINGTON METHOD & Other Strange Tales by Stanley Ellin. Most of these weren’t up to his best stuff but a couple were very good. (The book I received today was another Ellin collection.) Next was Ron Rash’s SOMETHING RICH AND STRANGE: Selected Stories. I’ve read several of Rash’s excellent collections before. He teaches at Western Carolina University. Highly recommended.

    Lastly was the aforementioned Stephen King, REVIVAL, a slow starting but involving and nasty little tale. I think King is doing some of his better writing in recent years. This 400 page book is much better than some of his bloated works of earlier years. He has some remarks on aging that really hit a nerve with me.

    Current reading (almost finished) is an Anthony Boucher collection, UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE and Shepard Rifkin’s second Damian McQuaid mystery, THE SNOW RATTLERS.

  2. Richard says:

    Jeff, sorry to hear of the sinus problems, hope you are better now. I knew of but decided to skip the prequel to Lock In. I’m not sure which of the three library books that I picked up today I’ll start with, but it might be the Scalzi. While you finished two story collections, I read two stories. Fill in the usual how-fast-you-read remark here.

    I’d say I’ll try Ron Rash, but I have so many story collections to be read here I can’t add any. Barbara will finish the Billingham (she’s a third in) before starting the King, but she’s eager for it. Seems like Up the Down Staircase is taking you a long time, is it not capturing you interest?

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I just finished the Boucher collection. It was obviously published by his wife in 1969, the year after he died, but all the stories were written (or at least published) in 1941-45.

    I generally take a paperback when we go out so I have something to read at Starbucks, preferably something that I can pick up and put down easily. That’s why STAIRCASE is taking longer. I’m more than halfway through it and will probably finish it soon.

    Thanks. Once the front passed through on Thursday my headache cleared up overnight. But it was pretty severe for a couple of days.

  4. Richard says:

    Are the Boucher stories mystery, SF or…? What’s the title?

  5. Tomorrow is FINAL EXAM day for my students (and me). Once I’ve corrected all the exams, I have to figure out FINAL GRADES and submit them to our online grading software. Soon I’ll be a free man and I can start reading for pleasure again. I have dozens of books clamoring to be read. One of them is the Ron Rash book Jeff mentioned. It’s made a number of Year’s Best Books lists.

  6. Richard says:

    Your experience will see you through the tests, grading and all with ease, George. I guess I’ll have to reconsider that Rash collection. Checking the library….

  7. Jerry House says:

    I hope Barbara enjoys REVIVAL, Richard. I did. I’m looking forward to the Scalzi and will probably tackle the Penzler Christmas book sometime next year.

    This week I finished David Kesterton’s THE DARKLING, which was my Forgotten Book on Friday. Also read were three Asimov SF anthologies: BEST SF #17, BEST SF#24, and HALLUCINATION ORBIT; some great stories in these. There were also some pretty good stories in T. E. Dikty’s anthology THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, NINTH EDITION, which covered late 1956 and 1957 — so the title was a misnomer. I also made the mistake of picking up one of Robert Arthur’s Three Investigators books and ending up reading five of them (I’m on a sixth now). These are easy reads and act as mental comfort food for me.

    Coming up over the next few weeks are a Ron Goulart mystery collection, a short novel by Peter Straub, another Sturgeon collection, the new Sookie Stackhouse anthology, a couple of Robert Weinberg anthologies, two more Dikty BEST OFs, an Andre Norton fantasy, a Marion Babson mystery, a Hugh Cave collection, and two graphic novel FABLES collections. Any and all of these are subject to change depending on whatever happens to strike my fancy. December seems to be a time for short story collections and anthologies. I can squeeze short stories in between the seasonal madness.

  8. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Boucher, THE COMPLEAT WEREWOLF & Other Tales of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I’d say at least a couple of the stories have horror elements too and at least one has mystery elements. I liked it.

  9. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Rash is a good writer. I have read his BURNING BRIGHT, CHEMISTRY & Other Stories and NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, all of which are partly or wholly included in the new one. Some of his stories are historical – Civil War, mostly – but most are contemporary, set in Appalachia mainly.

  10. Richard, I haven’t thought of a Christmas story or novel to ring in the lovely season but I still have time to read one or the other over the next few days. THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES sounds like a good read. I’m currently reading DECEPTION POINT by Dan Brown. It’s an espionage thriller involving NASA and the White House among other things.

  11. I’ve read those Donotopia young adults(have you read Alan Dean Foster’s two more adult-oriented Donotopias?) I have the Scalzi, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  12. That’s Dinotopia. My brain’s not functioning well this morning.

  13. Patti Abbott says:

    My kids loved THE WESTING GAME and wrote a fan latter to Raskin, which she answered. I am reading nothing. Have started at least five novels and put all of them aside.

  14. Richard says:

    Jerry, In order to have it finished by now, I should have started the Christmas Stories collection last summer! It’s a big thick book and I’m not a fast short story reader. I read plenty of Asimov anthologies Back Then, but couldn’t tell you which ones. I have been tempted to get some Three Investigator books, but they seem pricey on line plus shipping and all that. Maybe some day.

    As for mental comfort, that’s what those Dinotopia books did for me. You have lots coming up on your read list. I don’t see anything holiday themed. Do you ever do that? For years I reread A Christmas Carol every December. I agree about December and short stories, but I’m kinda stuck with the library books just now. Maybe I should just stop putting things on hold at the library.

    We try to keep the “seasonal madness” to a minimum here, but then it’s just the two of us (plus cats) so once the shopping and mailing of out of town gifts is accomplished, we just do what we feel like each day until we declare it done. Unfortunately, I have shopping for Barbara still to do and not a clue what to get.

  15. Richard says:

    Prashant, I read Deception Point a couple years ago, thought it was pretty good.

  16. Richard says:

    Randy, yes I have those two novels, an wish there were more of them.

  17. Richard says:

    Patti, apparently The Westing Game was – maybe still is – very popular. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it. You’re really in the doldrums with your reading this month!

  18. I remember back at the time a third Foster Dinotopia was announced but it never appeared.

  19. I’ve been wanting to read some of the dinotopia books. Just haven’t got around to it.

  20. Richard says:

    Charles, these are the children’s/teens stories. The original Dinotopia books, written and illustrated by James Gurney are another thing – and wonderful.

  21. Richard says:

    Randy I didn’t recall that. Darn, too bad. I guess they didn’t sell very well.By the way, like the new image better.

  22. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Patti, that’s the beauty of short stories. When nothing else satisfies you can still read a good story. Looks like I will reach my goal of 2 per day (730 per year) this year after all, as I am at 715 now.

  23. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I know. You keep on reading a story a day, or two, or sometimes more, and it’s amazing how they add up. Since I started writing them down as I read them in 2012 it has been eye-opening to me. As previously mentioned I read 103 stories (and finished 7 books of stories) in October alone.

    November 23 – 11 Donald Westlake stories
    October 26 – 8 Ron Carlson stories
    September 14 – 9 stories (most by Amy Hempel)

    And yet there have been periods – most of July and June – where I just read a single story, day after day.

  24. Jeff Meyerson inspired me to start reading a short story a day back in the 1990s and I’ve kept it up. Plenty of critics claim the short story is “dead” but I think there are still plenty of good short stories being written.

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