2014 Reading Stats

My goal is always two books per week, 104 per year. This year I read 105, which is just over that goal. Here’s the breakdown:

2014 by quartersFantasy and science fiction reading was up, mystery down some, otherwise about the same across the board. A new category, e-books, has been added as I read a few and may read a few more in 2015,

Posted in reading | Tagged | 17 Comments

Current Reading, December 29, 2014 – January 4, 2015

The holidays and end of year stuff is over and it’s time to get back to the business of reading. Here’s what we’re up to.

Richard
moriarty-us cvr
I finished Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz (from library). I liked Horowitz’ previous book, House of Silk, so I was eager to read this, but it didn’t impress me as much, and the twist at very nearly the end bothered me. I’ll say no more, as I don’t want to spoil it for others, but consider this my review of the book and leave it at that.

Can't Make This UpI’m now reading You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels, the sports announcer (from library). I’m enjoying it a lot as I remember much of what he talks about as he covers his various assignments  as a play-by-play announcer over the years. Recommended for the sports fan.

Bob the Cat WhoNext up is A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen (from library). While browsing in B&N before Christmas I spotted the author’s new book about Bob, and decided -on a whim- to read the first book, which I found at the library. Speaking of which, I have three other library books sitting here waiting, so who knows when I’ll get to the new things I got for Christmas.

Barbara
Barbara  finished Wild, and now she’s reading Mark burning girlBillingham’s The Burning Girl (from library).Next up is another Jo Nesbo novel, Nemesis (also from the library…).

Barbara also has several other things on hold at the library, waiting for her turn, so no doubt something else will pop up before she finishes the Nesbo.

And yes, I’ll be reading some SF-F soon as well as mysteries and miscellaneous stuff.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery | 14 Comments

Resolutions, sort of

calvin-and-hobbes-New-Years-ResolutionI used to make a new year’s resolutions every year. I’d resolve to read more, which I’ve done. I’ve resolved to lose weight, which has been, literally, an up and down thing and is still at the top of my things I NEED to do list.

A few years ago I resolved to read two books I already had for every one I bought or got from the library. I did okay, but wasn’t 100% successful. I think that’s another good one, and I’ll take a shot again this year, but I suspect I’ll really just read what I feel like reading at the time, and that’s a pretty darn good way to go. These days, I read a lot more books from the library, and have cut back on buying books, and that’s good, because it supports the library (for which we pay a special tax here) and for the budget.

I’m also going to try to put up more posts, but that depends on what I have to say.

I’ll also try for the usual: healthier eating, more exercise, make better choices, be more kind in everything I do and say. We’ll see. It would sure be easier if I just resolved to eat more chocolate.

Current Reading post will go up Monday mid-day. 

Posted in At Home in Portland | 14 Comments

Broken Bullhorn 2014 in review

The people at WordPress do this every year, and some other bloggers have already put theirs up… here’s mine.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 16 Comments

Favorite Books Read in 2014

In no particular order, here are the books I liked best in 2014.

constellation 2Constellation vol 1 cvrConstellation vol. 1 by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller – science fiction, and Constellation vol. 2 by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, science fiction. These are the first and second (a third is due next year) short story collections set in the Liaden Universe. These were two of the best short story collections I read all year

Art of John Harris

The Art of John Harris by John Harris – art/illustration, a very well produced art book full of great images, mostly recent, by a favorite SF artist.

prey on patmosassassins of athensThe Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger, the second in the very good mystery series set in Greece and Prey on Patmos by Jeffrey Sigel, mystery, the third in the series and another very good mystery. With six books now in the series, these may still be my favorites.

halfway

The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs edited by Mike Resnick, adventure-fantasy, original stories set in Burroughs various worlds.

here, thereThe Long Way HomeThe Long Road Home by Louise Penny, mystery. The latest of Penny’s Three Pines / Inspector Gamache novels, a series I really love.

Here, There, Elsewhere by William Heat-Moon, nonfiction. These are short travel essays. Insightful, thought-provoking and well written.

Lock InHuman DivisionThe Human Division by John Scalzi, and Lock In by John Scalzi, both science fiction novels. These two Scalzi novels were highly enjoyable and kept me turning the pages.

DeathworldDeathworld by Harry Harrison, science fiction, I originally read this when it was serialized in Astounding Science Fiction and re-read it in 2014 (e-book from the library). Still enjoyable after all those years.

Saint in EuropeThe Saint in Europe by Leslie Charteris, mystery short story collection, another collection I really enjoyed. Since reading this, I’ve gotten several more Saint books, both novels and story collections.

two thirds - set aside for now

Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, edited by Otto Penzler, mystery. A giant 1,100 page anthology of Black Mask pulp stories. It was very good, but took me most of the year, reading off and on, to finish.

novels 9, 10 and 11

Sector General by James White, and Ambulance Ship by James White, two novels in White’s hospital in space series. Both novels are in the book shown. This is a series I keep coming back to, enjoying every time.

The_House_of_SilkHouse of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, mystery novel. Holmes and Watson hunt for the killer of a young boy, and as it turns out, much more. Very good. I won’t quite finish Horowitz’ next book, Moriarty, before the end of the year.

That’s it. There were many other books I enjoyed reading in 2014, but when I go back and look at my ratings (1-5, 5 being best) these are ones I graded highest.

Posted in reading | 22 Comments

Current Reading, December 22 – 28, 2014

The busier it gets here, the less reading I seem to do, and it’s been “holiday busy”.

I finished Greenglass House by Kate Milford, which was a disappointment, I expected better. I liked the setting, the characters and though it was pretty wordy, things went along fine until two-thirds of the way in the author pulled a trick with one of the main characters that I didn’t think was fair. I also kept plugging away at The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries until the day itself, and am only a quarter way in. Now I have to decide whether to put it away until next November or just keep going. I read The Maze by Peter David and have started Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.

Barbara finished Stephen King’s Revival and said she liked it. Now she’s reading Wild which I didn’t get to before other library books showed up. She is liking the sections with walking the trail, some of the other parts, not so much. I don’t think she wants to see the film. She has another book by Mark Billingham up next, The Burning Girl.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading | 12 Comments

New Arrivals, Christmas edition

“Santa” was very generous this year, but then, that’s no surprise as I was very good all year long. I’ll start out with the mystery fiction:

The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler [Vintage Crime/Black Lizard 2014 trade paper, gift] – mystery short story collection. This 938 page (!) collection is packed with good stuff and will take a lot of time to read, but I’m looking forward to it.

Easy Death by Daniel Boyd [Hard Case Crime 2014 trade paper, gift] – mystery novel. The second novel by Boyd, known to me from my days in DAPA-Em, the mystery APA. Set at Christmastime 1951, this one is not to be missed.

Hunter and Hunted, The Ed and Am Hunter Novels, Part One by Fredric Brown [Stewart Masters Publishing 2002 hardcover, gift] – mystery, four novel collection. The first volume in SMPL’s Fredric Brown Mystery Library, and the only one, as far as I can tell. I have the Haffner Press set on order – been on order for a very long time – and I have two of these four novels in paperback, but that’s okay, as Brown is so good. I need to be reading more of his stuff.

As a lover of jazz, I was delighted to find these under the tree:

Charlie Haden / Jim Hall Impulse Records 1990 CD, recorded at the Montreal Jazz Festival, July 2, 1990. Time: 1 hr. 16 min. [gift] – jazz featuring bassist Hayden and guitarist Hall. Great stuff.

Bill Evans – The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 by Bill Evans trio. [Riverside   Records 2005 set of 1961 live recordings at The Village Vanguard, Greenwich Village, New York. 3 CD set] – jazz. I have a lot of Bill Evans on CD but not these recordings, until now. Yes, there are duplicates, or almost duplicates, because over the six sets here, some songs were played more than once, or several times, but with live jazz, there are always differences, great and small. A lot of happy listening here.

Then the graphic novel-comic book items and adventure:

Doctor Strange: The Oath by Vaughn & Martin, 2010 collection [gift] – collected comic issues, Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment by various writers and pencilers, [gift] collected comic issues and Doctor Strange – Strange Tales by various writers and pencilers, [gift] collected comic issues.

Teen Titans, A Celebration of 50 years DC Comics [gift]. Collection of stories covering fifty years of the title. I’ve always enjoyed the Teen Titans stories, maybe it’s the angst in them, or the slightly less than invulnerable nature of these kids.

Dinotopia: Wind Chaser by Scott Ciencin [paperback, used copy] – first in the YA series I’ve been reading.

Doc Savage: The Whistling Wraith by Will Murray & Lester Dent as by Kenneth Robeson [Altus Press 2014 trade paper, gift] – adventure fiction novel. I now have all of the – so far – Wild Adventures of Doc Savage but these keep coming out faster than I can work them into my reading schedule (if I had anything that organized). I’ve liked the ones I’ve read, so I keep picking them up.

We also got a couple of books for “the house”:

Gary Frank’s Oregon, Second Edition  a guide to Oregon travel, lodgings and (especially) dining, culled from his columns in the newspaper. Great for when we’re out of town, have guests or just feel like trying a new place.

Make It Ahead by Ina Garten, a cookbook by a food show/chef we like.

We both had a wonderful Christmas, and we hope you did too!

Posted in Adventure, books, fantasy, graphic novel, Jazz, mystery | 12 Comments

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Seems like the run-up to Christmas started last summer, but the day is here.

Christmas candle & HollyI hope everyone has the very best holiday celebration, however you choose to do that. For those celebrating Christmas, I hope Santa brings you a gift you’ll love.

Also, let’s not forget there’s so much more to this end of December, end of year holiday, whether it be the turn to winter or the birth of the Savior. God bless you, every one.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 11 Comments

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

night before

Posted in At Home in Portland | 5 Comments

Current Reading, December 15 – 21, 2014

Happy holidays! We’ve been very busy with Christmas stuff, so reading is down some.

Richard
I finished Lock In by John Scalzi, which I liked more than I expected. I say that because it wasn’t what I was expecting (a medical thriller) but was instead a very good SF detective novel. Next up for me are Greenglass House by Kate Milford and Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Barbara
Barbara finished Mark Billingham’s The Bones Beneath. She always likes his books. Now she’s about halfway through Stephen King’s Revival. which she’s enjoying. After that, she may try Wild if I either don’t get to it or finish it quickly, before it’s due back to the library. She also has eight other things on hold at the library, waiting for her turn, so something will pop up.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Christmas Season 2

IMG_2874The tree is decorated, the cards are on the mantle, the house decorated, the stockings hung (with care).

The shopping is finished (thank goodness), the packages wrapped and under the tree.

tree2

We’re all settled in, only a few days before the big day. Outside it’s pouring rain, we’re expecting four or more inches this weekend. Rivers are rising.

IMG_2879

Inside, it’s toasty and warm, with holiday music, hot coffee and hot cocoa with mini- marshmallows. Also, today is cookie baking. The house smells great!

IMG_2881

cookies

This evening the Christmas Vacation  and Scrooge movies will be watched. with cookies and cold milk. Reading, football, dozing cats, Christmas music, cookie baking, the tree and lights.

What could be better?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

ffb: Frederick Nebel stories and novels, and some other arrivals

this is the 160th in my series of forgotten or seldom read book posts

New Arrivals:
These are new arrivals, but they are – the books anyway – forgotten books so it qualifies for a Friday Forgotten post, in my opinion. With Christmas on the horizon, it’s a real splurge to be buying things, but I couldn’t resist these.

These Nebel stories and short novels were published in pulps:

Flame Island and Other Tales of Adventure by Frederick Nebel [Black Dog Books 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – adventure short story collection. I like Nebel’s pulp writing, and this collection of 14 short stories looks to be very good. This is BDB’s Frederick Nebel Library Volume 3.

Forbidden River by Frederick Nebel [Black Dog Books 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – five adventure novels. These five novels, Wolves of the Wild; A Gambler Passes; Forbidden River; The Roaring Horde and Gold! are all set in, as the cover states it, “the Frozen North”. It’s a setting I enjoy. This is BDB’s Frederick Nebel Library Volume 4.

Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon [University of Chicago Press, British Library Crime Classics, 2014 paperback, purchased new] – mystery novel. Originally published in 1937. The blurb on the publisher website:

A snowbound train should be a safe, if slightly inconvenient, place to spend Christmas, no? Not in Mystery in White: Death, it turns out, is a passenger on this run, and as passengers begin to fear, and some make a bid for escape, J. Jefferson Farjeon keeps ratcheting up the tension”

Looks good, and at just the right time. Top of the TBR (after the library books, which continue to pour in).

… and a couple of new CDs …

d’Apotheose and Autres Sonades by Franςois Couperain [Harmonia Mundi HMC 902193, length: 57 m, purchased new] – classical music. I was in the mood to try something new to me, so I got this.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies written and conducted by Howard Shore [Warner Brothers, Water Tower Music WTM 39601, 2 CD, total length: 1 h 50 m, purchased new (also have mp3 version as part of the package] – music, original motion picture soundtrack, special edition. I now have all of the Howard Shore music for the Middle Earth films, Hobbit (three films) and Lord of the Rings (three films). Since, as the title implies, the film is full of battle, this soundtrack has a lot of great big, loud, dramatic music in it. Maybe just a bit too much.

I guess I should mention that I also picked up, for 99 cents each, a few of Amazon’s e-book Megapacks, which are a great bargain. The ones I got were SF but there are plenty mystery ones too.  You can find them here.

Posted in Adventure, Friday Forgotten Book, mystery, New Arrivals | 13 Comments

Current Reading, December 8 – 14, 2014

Richard
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
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?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Christmas Season

Today was “get the tree” day here, so we were at the Boy Scout lot when they opened at 9:00 a.m. this morning. IMG_2851The cat slept on. We forgot the camera, but we were the first ones on the lot and the young guys there were eager to help us. Loaded and tied onto the car, off we went to Starbucks, where Barbara had a steamed apple juice w/ cinnamon & caramel and I got an eggnog latte.

IMG_2854We also bought a pair of new mugs.  Once home with the mugs, we snapped a photo of them posed with Emmets, my favorite coffee additive, then they were then washed and filled with coffee goodness. Yum!

We had decided to get a smaller tree this year ( just about six feet) after some ceiling-scrapers the last few years, but it sure looks tiny to us. We’re hoping we’ll get useIMG_0466d to it, or that maybe it will look taller with the tree topper on it, or whatever. I figure a few more coffee-and-Emmet’s will solve the problem.

I cut the twine off the tree, since the Boy Scouts were showing their stuff with the knots, and we carried it in, got it in the tree stand and level. IMG_2858

Next, of course comes the decorating, first lights – hope none of the strings are burned out – then the ornaments. The problem with a much smaller tree is we have room for far less stuff on it, so decisions will be made. Of course the Enterprise will be on it, and the Harry Potter and Hedwig ornaments will go on, and the special things and colored balls and all, just a lot less of them.

We still have outdoor stuff to do; the wreath is already up, and the house lights, but the front door surround (more lights) and another wreath for the front door are still to go. Then we will start on the inside: mantle, dining room table, coffee table, and all the rest. There may be another post as the process continues, or maybe I’ll be too tired.. Meanwhile, the cat is still sleeping, now under the tree.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 20 Comments

Current Reading, December 1 – 7, 2014

Richard
Not a lot of reading, but I’m plugging along. I finished Jeffrey Siger’s Sons of Sparta which I enjoyed but didn’t think was as good as the previous two books. Still, it’s a series I enjoy and will certainly read the next when it comes out.

I also read The Silence of the Library by Miranda James, part of the author’s “cat in the stacks” mystery series. It’s a cozy, and while I’m not a big cozy reader, the plot is about collectors of young adult mystery series, and the author of one such (fictional) series who is living and agrees to speak at the local library. That intrigued me, but I thought the book, while entertaining, was pretty much light fluff.

I recently came across mention of a Newberry Medal winner, a mystery, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin which was new to me. I got it from the library and am about 50 pages into it.

Barbara
Barbara finished Deadline by John Sandford and is now about halfway through In the Dark by Brian Freeman. Next up for her is Mark Billingham’s The Bones Beneath.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery | Tagged , | 10 Comments

ffb: Tales from High Hallack – the Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton, Volume 1 by Andre Norton

this is the 159th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Tales from High HallackTales from High Hallack, Volume 1 by Andre Norton, edited by Jean Rabe [Premier Digital Publishing 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – fantasy / science fiction short story collection.

Though not an old book by publication date, most of these stories are from the Fifties and are the author’s early fantasy, though there are a couple that are mixed SF-F and a straight science fiction story or two. I expected to like the first few – the oldest stories – more than I did, but some of Norton’s early fantasy is a bit murky. Still, it’s well written and the stories got steadily better as I read on. I’ll be picking up Volume 2 (which is now available, as is Volume 3) soon. This is well worth having.

From the publisher’s description:

“For well over a half century, ANDRE NORTON was one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy authors in the world. With series such as Time Traders, Solar Queen, Forerunner, Beast Master, Crosstime, and Janus, as well as many stand-alone novels, her tales of adventure have drawn countless readers to science fiction. Her fantasy novels, including the bestselling Witch World series, her Magic series, and many other unrelated novels, have been popular with readers for decades. Norton died on March 2005 at her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Jean Rabe was the co-author of several novels with Andre Norton, and edited several of her short stories for various DAW Books anthologies. Rabe and Norton were long-time friends.”

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase

Posted in fantasy, Friday Forgotten Book, Review | 19 Comments

Current Reading, November 24 – 30, 2014

Reading – Richard
Reading? What reading? Seems like all I’ve done in the last week is watch football and eat. The weather has gotten steadily colder, just 24 when we got up this morning, and we had our first snow yesterday, though it didn’t stick.

Though I did finish two collections, mostly my short story reading plan got sunk by library books and distractions. One of those distractions was Brian Payton’s WWII novel The Wind Is Not A River, which is written in the present tense. It was a struggle, and I couldn’t finish it.

I’ve just started another book from the library, Son’s of Sparta by Jeffrey Siger. I have two more library books waiting to be picked up. Heaven knows when I’ll get back to the short stories.

Reading – Barbara
Barbara finished Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson, the third Repairman Jack novel, and she read Son’s of Sparta by Jeffrey Siger. She won’t say anything about it because I’m reading it now, but I’m pretty sure she liked it. She’s now reading Deadline by John Sandford.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving-hasnt-changed-muchI hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stay safe and warm, everyone.

We have a lot to be thankful for! Family, friends, freedom, food, our health and happiness. Oh, and of course there’s football.

We’ll have a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes, broccoli casserole and pumpkin pie. Yum.

What’s your Thanksgiving like?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 13 Comments

review: The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbs by George Mann

The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbs by George Mann, [Titan Books, 2013 trade paper] – mystery-steampunk adventure. Fifteen stories, 400 pages. A book in the Newbury & Hobbes Investigation series.

The Casebook Of Newbury and Hobbes

It’s no surprise, to book lovers and readers who travel a blog circuit of some sort, that we love to discover books, read reviews, engage in conversations about new-to-us books. It seems to happen all the time, at least it does to me. Such a discovery earlier this year, was George Mann’s Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead. I was in the mood for a pastiche and it filled the bill. I liked it enough to search out other things by Mann, which led me to this book.

It’s London, the late Nineteenth Century. Yes, Holmes makes a brief appearance in one of the stories, but these are by no means a pastiche. No, this is a steampunk London, with all that implies. There are various human and mechanical bad guys. There are also some horrific creatures lurking – mostly in the night – in the city: plague revenants, mechanical beasts, tentacled leviathans, even reanimated pygmies.

Private inquiry agent Maurice Newbury and his co-investigator Veronica Hobbs work with Scotland Yard Inspector Bainbridge to ferret out the criminals and their often nasty inventions, solve the mysteries behind the creatures and crimes. While Newbury spends as much time contemplating as solving, we are treated to a good deal of action and threat throughout. Some of the stories run to 20 or more pages, some are but a quarter of that.

These stories are entertaining and well written. I enjoyed  them, sometimes reading several together, sometimes one now and then. When I turned the last page, I thought I should keep an eye out for a promised second volume. A good bit of fun, these.

Posted in Adventure, mystery, Review | 7 Comments

Current Reading, November 17 – 23, 2014

Reading – Richard
I’m plugging away. My intention to read mostly short stories during November got off to a late start due to several library books drifting into the house, but I finished those up last week, as shown in last week’s post.

 

Before I launched into the several short story collections, however, I thought it was time to read the 299 page special edition of Blood ‘N’ Thunder that came last Summer and has been sitting here since. In addition to the usual editorial, convention reports and articles, this huge issue had a lot more fiction than usual, which accounts for the size. I enjoyed it, though not all of the articles were of deep interest to me, as usual. The fiction reprints were nice. Now the issue is filed away with the other ones and out of the way.

On to the short stories. I’ll not say much other than listing my progress, as I have reviews forthcoming. I finished the short story collection The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbs by George Mann. Also finished was Tales from High Hallack – the Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton, Volume 1 by Andre Norton.

What’s up next? Short stories, but also another library book has come, The Wind Is Not A River by Brian Payton, a WWII novel.

Reading – Barbara
Barbara finished the latest Charlie Parker mystery by favorite author John Connolly, The Wolf in Winter. She always likes the Parker mysteries. She also finished another 86th Precinct novel, Ten Plus One by Ed McBain. Now she’s reading Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson, the third Repairman Jack novel. A lot of what we’re reading these days is coming from the library.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, fantasy, mystery | 14 Comments