Category Archives: Reading

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon

The other day I got wind of an upcoming readathon on April 23. Take the time to read for 24 hours straight? Count me in!

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Of course I won’t actually read for the entire 24 hours. For me, the readathon will run from 7 AM Saturday to 7 AM Sunday. I have a couple of engagements Saturday afternoon and evening, and I will have to sleep for at least a while overnight. But other than that, no TV or movies, just books! And snacks. And beverages.

I will likely spend some time listening to an audiobook so I can get stuff like laundry done and maybe knit for a while.

Watch this space for more updates during the readathon!

I Should Be Packing

This morning I did some packing, taking all the stuff I had in my parents’ kitchen cabinets out while Mom packed the stuff up. I had two bottles of wine I had completely forgotten about in there. I have a feeling that I’m going to have a lot of little discoveries like that. Hey, look! I have an espresso machine!

This afternoon and this evening we went through a bunch of household goods that have been stored in my parents’ basement. I still don’t know where my plates, bowls, or silverware are, but wow, I have a lot of Pampered Chef products. I was a consultant for PC for a couple of years in the late 90s, and I accumulated quite a bit in that short time. I have more stoneware than you can shake a stick at.

If I can wrangle up enough boxes, I’m hoping to work on boxing up mystery books tomorrow evening. They’re currently in two bookcases, most in one that’s pretty large, with the overflow in a smaller one. I’d like to repurpose the smaller one to house my sci-fi/fantasy books, which currently don’t have a home at all, though I don’t think they’ll all fit. However, I’m weeding out certain books as I go if I can get them on Kindle instead, so that should help all around. And, I’d certainly love to have the books I’m keeping ready for when I’ll have some help moving them.

The total stitches for my NaKnitMo practice day was 2,697, despite having to frog about 500 stitches. I’m making a circle blanket that has an increase round followed by four rounds of straight knitting, but I did the increase round a round early. Whoops. I took it out, did the row properly, and then did the increase row in the first real hour of NaKnitMo.

Throughout the day today I was able to fit in another four rounds on the blanket, so my total for today is 2,520. Below are a couple of photos, one from the top view, and another from the side. Right now it’s all squooshy on the needles, but when it grows up, it’ll be blocked and stretched out to a nice, large circle.

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I think this is going to look fabulous hanging out on one of my new sofas. (I ordered two because it was only $20 more to get a second sofa instead of a loveseat, but I can switch if the second one doesn’t fit well.) And yes, power recliners on both sides. I can’t wait to sit and knit there!

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Just to talk about something other than my move or knitting, I’m currently reading Busted Flush, edited by George R.R. Martin. I learned about the first book of what is at least a trilogy (the third is due out this winter) within the Wild Cards universe because a friend of mine from high school is one of the authors. If you’re curious about how I tracked down that friend or about the books, I wrote about it here.

Series Challenge Season 2

I love the series challenge that is being hosted by Kathrin, because I can be really horrible about not keeping up with series. I start lots of new ones, but end up neglecting ones I’ve already started in the process. I didn’t participate in the first season (it’s entirely possible I just didn’t know about it early enough), but I have a few series that I’d like to reconnect with in the next few months so might as well hop on board.

I’m not going to go crazy and think I’m going to catch up with J.D. Robb’s In Death series or anything (at the moment I’ve read 13 of the 27 full-length novels), but instead will focus on a few series where I have just a few books remaining to catch up. I’m also not including those series where I only have one left to catch up, since I’m already trying to keep up with those. Here’s my list:

1. Madelyn Alt – Maggie O’Neill

  • #2, A Charmed Death
  • #3, Hex Marks the Spot

2. Monica Ferris – Betsy Devonshire

  • #9, Embroidered Truths
  • #10, Sins and Needles
  • #11, Knitting Bones

3. Linda O. Johnston – Kendra Ballantyne

  • #2, Nothing to Fear but Ferrets
  • #3, Fine-Feathered Death
  • #4, Meow is for Murder
  • #5, Fright of the Iguana

4. Victoria Laurie – Abby Cooper

  • #4, Killer Insight
  • #5, Crime Seen

5. Emilie Richards – Aggie Sloan-Wilcox

  • #2, Let There Be Suspects
  • #3, Beware False Profits

6. Ayelet Waldman – Juliet Applebaum

  • #6, The Cradle Robbers
  • #7, Bye-Bye, Black Sheep

I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew! Two to three books a month doesn’t seem unreasonable and still leaves me time to read other books, so I might actually be able to finish this challenge unless something unexpected happens.

Some Like It Hot-Buttered

Over the last year or two, I’ve really tried to slim down my book-buying budget, taking advantage of the library as much as I can. But I still browse the new releases shelves in Barnes & Noble’s mystery section on a regular basis, and sometimes a title just grabs me and demands I take the book home with me. This was the case with Jeffrey Cohen’s Some Like It Hot-Buttered. The bucket of popcorn on the cover didn’t hurt either. Excuse me for a moment while I pop up a bag of Act II’s new Buttery Cinnamon

Like a lot of the lighter mysteries I enjoy reading, this isn’t a phenomonal piece of literature, but it is different in featuring a male protagonist and it is infused with just the type of dry humor I love. The comedy-only movie theatre setting was intriguing, and who knows, perhaps I’ll watch Young Frankenstein one of these days.

I’ll be watching for It Happened One Knife, scheduled to be released July 1.

The Disappeared

The reading time is decreasing even more this month (I can’t wait for summer!), but as I’m finally nearing the end of my second book, I wanted to say a little something about the first, The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Any fiction involves the author’s vision of the world their characters live in, but I’ve always had a bit of an affinity for reading an author’s vision of what the future might be like. In this case, the story is set quite a bit in the future, when humans are not only living on the moon, but also in colonies on the planets of other sentient beings.

And those other sentient beings? Might not have the same sense of justice as humans. So, now and then, when a human who has broken an alien law can afford to, he or she might Disappear to avoid the harsh consequences.

I was intrigued by both the world Rusch creates here and the premise that begins the Retrieval Artist series.

The Rest of February

Since it is now March and I’ve already finished a book this month, I’m just going to roll the rest of my February reads into one last post.

No Time for Goodbye – Linwood Barclay. Basic plot: Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge’s parents and brother disappear one night, and wondering what happened to them has haunted her for 25 years. After her story is profiled on a TV show, she starts getting some clues.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller. At points I started figuring some things out, but how the truth comes out made for a pretty compelling resolution.

Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii – Lee Goldberg. The second in the series based on the TV show characters. If you’re a fan of the show, I definitely recommend these.

The Cold Dish – Craig Johnson. It takes me forever to listen to audiobooks the length of this one since I mostly only listen during my commutes to and from work (around an hour a day, when I’m not more in a mood for some good music), but I never lost interest, which is saying something for me and audio. I think my favorite part of what was otherwise an interesting mystery was the little bits of humor sprinkled in. I’ve already purchased the next in this series and look forward to visiting Sheriff Walt Longmire in Wyoming sometime in the near future.

Written in Bone – Simon Beckett. I’m loving this series featuring Dr. David Hunter, a forensic anthropologist. Absolute page-turners, and the only problem is waiting for the third installment.

Dying to Sell

Maggie Sefton is the author of a cozy mystery series with a knitting theme that I really enjoy despite not being a knitter, so I was looking forward to the first (and at this time, only) book in her real estate series, Dying to Sell. It was certainly an okay book, and I don’t have really any specific issues with it, such as problems with the plot or with characterization or anything like that, but I ended up being somewhat disappointed nonetheless. Sadly, the book just didn’t hold my interest. Around page 60 I seriously considered just putting it down and returning it to the library, but decided to plug on because it was the monthly read for one of my Yahoo! reading groups.

I’m glad I finished it because at least I have an honest opinion of the novel, but I didn’t expect it to take me an entire week to read it! I usually try to cram in as much reading time over the weekend as I can, but the weekend I should have easily finished this book, I just didn’t care enough about how it would end and ended up spending most of my free time playing a videogame instead (Sims 2 Castaway for Sony PSP). I finally finished that following Monday just so I could move on to another book.

I am, however, looking very much forward to reading the rest of the books in Sefton’s knitting series that I haven’t gotten to quite yet.

Inside Straight

Before I write about the first book I finished in February, a little background.

Back in August, my high school held an all-class reunion for its 40th anniversary celebration. Now, my closest friends from high school are not from my graduating class, and it was great seeing all sorts of people, most of whom were the folks I hung out with graduated a year before me. However, I saw no more than maybe five other people from my class, and none of them were people I hung out with except maybe a little for marching band. One I was really glad to see because she has cystic fibrosis and I had wondered upon occasion about how things might be going for her, but other than that, none of the folks I really hoped to see turned up. This inspired to me to start Googling a few names of people I wish I hadn’t lost touch with. It feels a little weird to do this sort of thing, but it can lead to happy results.

Of course, this works better for some names than others just based on how common the name might be, but “Ian Tregillis” managed to find a surprising number of hits. Some I wasn’t surprised about, things related to his work or his education. But there were other links to click on too, like one related to a short story published at Trabuco Road, a blog entry mention by someone I would later find is a writer and friend of his, and finally a mention on a page that also included a picture, so I realized I really was tracking down the right person.

I’m normally not great about this sort of thing, but there was an email address at the bottom of the page that short story was published on, so I decided to drop a note to Ian. A few weeks later I got an email in return, and we’ve exchanged a few emails since then.

All this to explain how I learned of Inside Straight, which Ian was a writer in. It’s sort of a difficult book to explain, so I’ll just refer you to the Wild Cards website, the series that Inside Straight is the latest volume of. I had no idea what I’d think of Inside Straight going in, but how could I not enjoy a book that incorporates a reality show into its plot? I haven’t read any of the previous books, but I certainly hope to because I found the Wild Cards universe fascinating. I’m also looking forward to the next installment, which I understand is coming in December. Who knows, perhaps between now and then I’ll get better at writing actual reviews instead of just “I liked it!”

If you Google Ian these days, the first hit will be his recently launched website. It is beautifully designed, has a good bit of humor, and you can learn a bit about his forthcoming trilogy, The Milkweed Triptych.

January Reads

I had sort of intended to start blogging more regularly about what I’m reading, but January ended up being a month where I read more than I spent time on the computer (outside of work, that is). So, just a rundown instead. I’ll try to start doing better soon!

I read a surprising (for me) number of novels: 9. But that might explain why my I’m still behind on watching shows recorded on my TiVo and computer that I haven’t had time to watch yet. The number at the end of each item is the rating based on the stars on Goodreads.com (1 = didn’t like it, 2 = it was okay, 3 = liked it, 4 = really liked it, 5 = it was amazing). Very few books get 5s from me. The fact that I only started three new series while making progress on another six made it a really good month from that standpoint.

  • The Curse of the Holy Pail (#2, Odelia Grey) – Sue Ann Jaffarian (4)
  • Dying to Be Thin (#1, Kate Gallagher) – Kathryn Lilley (2)
  • The Jasmine Moon Murder (#5, Theodosia Browning) – Laura Childs (4)
  • Dead and Berried (#2, Grey Whale Inn) – Karen MacInerney (3)
  • The Chemistry of Death (#1, David Hunter) – Simon Beckett (4)
  • String of Lies (#2, Craft Corner) – Mary Ellen Hughes (3)
  • A Playdate with Death (#3, Juliet Applebaum) – Ayelet Waldman (4)
  • Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse (#1, Mr. Monk) – Lee Goldberg (3)
  • Sorcery and the Single Girl (#2, Jane Madison) – Mindy Klasky (4)

One goal of mine for 2008 is to read more shorter fiction, especially since I find myself regular buying publications such as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction. I did pretty well with this goal in January.

  • “Dark Integers” – Greg Egan (novelette, Asimov’s October/November 2007)
  • “The Voice at the Barbican Gate” – Eric Rutter (short story, Alfred Hitchcock January/February 2008)
  • “A Killing in Midtown” – G. Miki Hayden (short story, Alfred Hitchcock January/February 2008)
  • “A Bridge Too Far” – Zoë Sharp (short story, Ellery Queen July 2007)
  • “Dead as a Dog” – Doug Allyn (short story, Ellery Queen July 2007)
  • “Finished” – Robert Reed (short story, Asimov’s September 2005)
  • “There Is No Crime on Easter Island” – Nancy Pickard (Ellery Queen September/October 2005)
  • Interlude in Death – J.D. Robb (novella)

I certainly won’t end up reading as much in February, but it’ll be a good month nonetheless.

The Long Weekend

Having four whole days away from work was wonderful. There are just a lot of little things there right now that are perturbing, though I’m sure they’ll work themselves out soon.

On Wednesday evening I finished reading a couple of books. First, The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood is the first of three books written about Widge, an orphan who ends up in the acting company Shakespeare wrote for and performed with through a series of misadventures. I stumbled across this book a few months ago while at the Red Balloon Bookshop for a reading and signing by Anne Ursu, and thought it would be good for my middle nephew’s birthday. He turned 9 nearly two weeks ago…I suppose I should get this in the mail to him! Whether or not Allen likes this, I’m planning to read the other novels about Widge eventually.

Second was Meg Cabot’s Size 12 Is Not Fat. I have loved everything I’ve read by Meg Cabot until this point, so I was really looking forward to her first mystery. It certainly wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t all that I was hoping for either. I’ll likely read the next in the series since I already own it, but if it’s not better than the first I’m not sure if I’ll continue past that.

On Thursday I read The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman. This was a recent group read for one of my online reading groups that I didn’t participate in, but the book caught my eye when I was at the library one day and I figured I might get around to checking it out. I’m so glad I did! I enjoyed the mystery, but even more I enjoyed learning a bit about (from what I gathered) Orthodox Judaism, and in particular what a yeshiva is. The Ritual Bath was written a little over 20 years ago, so I’m not sure if any of this information is dated, but it’s fascinating nonetheless and overall the book didn’t feel very dated. This is just the first of what is currently a 16-book series, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

On Saturday night I finally got around to watching a movie I’ve had from Netflix since March. Yeah, March. Sadly, the movie wasn’t worth the wait. It certainly had some critical aclaim, but Sherrybaby just left me feeling sad and dirty. I was glad I had a DVD from season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy to cheer me up afterwards.

Over the weekend I was also able to finish up a couple of pending projects, catch up with some TV I’ve been woefully behind on, and read most of another book. A few more 4-day weekends and I might be caught up with all kinds of things!