Spring Sprung Titles

What to say about April? I ran my fastest 10k while ill (go figure). I met two new runners and may have convinced someone to at least try. I don’t know where this acceptance to run with others is coming from. To share a conversation I had with someone: I asked where she runs. She replied she doesn’t have my pace, “nowhere near it” were her exact words. I answered I don’t have that pace all the time either. Me & my pace visit from time to time but we don’t make it a thing. She laughed and I saw myself ten years ago talking to someone who face-times with friends while running. I worried about her relationship with pace. But, this blog is turning into a thing different from reading.

So, without further ado, here are the finished books:

Fiction:

  • Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee – read in one day
  • Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez – read in two days
  • Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard – read in four days (this book annoyed me and I kept having to put it down)

Nonfiction:

  • Lost Upland: stories of the Dordogne Region by W.S. Merwin – confessional: DNF (bored, bored, bored)
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Henry James: the Untried Years by Leon Edel
  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark – this was cheeky!

Series continuations:

  • “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton (I’m calling this a continuation even though I read “A” a long time ago.)
  • Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (AB + print so I could finish on time – today!)
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves – another quick read (finished in four days)

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Blue Lightning

Cleeves, Ann. Blue Lightning. New York: Minotaur Books, 2010.

Reason read: to finish the series started in January in honor of the Shetland Up Helly Aa festival.

In Blue Lightning Jimmy Perez, now engaged to Fran, the woman he met in Cleeves’s first book Raven Black, takes her home to meet his parents. He’s not looking forward to the trip because he doesn’t get along with his father and home is a smidgen of an island called Fair Isle. When Jimmy was younger he couldn’t wait to move away and escape the trappings of parental expectations. True to form, murder follows Jimmy & Fran (she found the murder victims in Raven Black). Thanks to terrible storms prohibiting people from coming to or leaving the island they are forced, along with Jimmy’s partner, Sandy, to solve the crime without help from the mainland. Things go from bad to worse when there is a second murder and shockingly, a third. This time the murders center around birds as the killer has woven bird feathers though the first victim’s hair & strewn feathers over the second victim’s body.

For the most part I enjoyed this fourth book in the Jimmy Perez series. It isn’t necessary to read the other three to understand or enjoy Blue Lightning. My only complaint? After the second death I knew when the third victim would die.

Book trivia: In the acknowledgments Cleeves makes reference to a crime scene saying, “probably the most awkward crime scene I’ve yet devised.” It made me curious to know if I would recognize the scene (spoiler alert: because in every Cleeves mystery so far multiple people have died, hence multiple crime scenes). What would make one particular crime scene awkward. Then, I got to it, recognized it & decided, yes it’s awkward.

Author fact:  I don’t have anything new to share about Ms. Cleeves except to say the series continues after Blue Lightning.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Sheltering in the Shetlands” (p 205).


April Snow Job

As we move into April I am not confident we won’t get another 26″ snow storm. If we ever joked in the past about not being able to predict the weather, now it is impossible. It’s no laughing matter. My rose bushes, right now struggling under the weight of frozen water, could tell you that. But never mind the weather. Let’s talk about the month of April. April is another 10k for cancer. I’m hoping to break the hour time since I was five seconds away in March. April is also Easter. April is my sister’s birth month. April is also books, books and more books…of course:

Fiction:

  • ‘F’ is For Fugitive by Sue Grafton ~ in honor of Grafton’s birth month. Technically, I should have read all the “alphabet” books by Grafton one right after the other, but I didn’t have that system when I read “A” is for Alibi. I think it goes without saying I do now.
  • The Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee ~ in honor of Lee’s birth month. I am not looking forward to this one even though it looks like a quick read.
  • A Celibate Season by Carol Shields ~ in honor of April being Letter Writing Month. This is so short I should be able to read it in one sitting.

Nonfiction:

  • Henry James: the Untried Years (1843 – 1870) by Leon Edel ~ in honor of James’s birth month. This first volume chronicles James’s childhood and youth.
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee ~ in honor of the Alaska trip I’m taking in August.

Series continuations:

  • The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ this is to finish the series started in January, in honor of Science Fiction month. I liked Endymion the best so I have high hopes for The Rise of Endymion. I am listening to this on audio and reading the print because I know I will never finish the 575+ pages by April 30th.
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves ~ this is to finish the series started in January, in honor of Shetland’s fire festival, Up Helly Aa. This is another one I should be able to finish in a day or two.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Extra (for fun):

  • Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara- ~ my sister sent this in my belated birthday package. Whatever she recommends I usually end up liking whether it be music or books. For those of you who really know me – I know what you’re thinking. Yes, my birthday was in February. I got the birthday package over a month later. It’s what we do.

If there is time (since three books are really, really short):

  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark ~ in honor of National Library Week
  • The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez ~ in honor of April’s Mathematics, Science and Technology Week
  • Lost Upland by WS Merwin ~ in honor of well, you know the song…April in Paris. Cheesy, I know.

Red Bones

Cleeves, Ann. Red Bones. New York: Minotaur Press, 2009.

Reason read: I started the Cleeves series in January in honor of the Up Helly Aa festival. This is the third book in the series.

Detective Jimmy Perez has a new case. At first it is a simple open and shut accidental shooting involving his partner’s grandmother and a rabbit hunt gone wrong. Sandy’s grandmother has been found dead of a gunshot wound and Sandy’s own cousin, Ronald Clouston, confessed to hunting rabbits by moonlight. It was just a horrible mistake. Or was it? Weird coincidences start piling up. Just days before Mina’s death old pieces of a skeleton were found on her property. She had approved an archaeology dig just steps from her front door and a student, hoping to prove existence of an ancient estate on the property, discovered the bones. This same student later discovers ancient coins, proving her theory. She is elated. So, when she is found dead of an apparent suicide, supposedly despondent over Mina’s death, everyone is shocked. What is going on? It’s up to Jimmy to figure it out. While his love interest (Fran from the other Cleeves mysteries) is away in London, he has plenty of time.
A bonus to Red Bones is that Jimmy’s partner, Sandy, plays a bigger role in this mystery. Because it involves his family we get to see more of his character.

As an aside, I can see why Raven Black was everyone’s favorite. I found Red Bones a bit whiny for lack of a better term. Everyone seems really emotional, especially Sandy and not just because his grandmother died. And. And! And, why is it that Jimmy Perez is the only murder investigator in all of the Shetland Islands? He never seems to work with anyone else on a case.

Author fact: My first fact was about how Cleeves is the reader-in residence at a crime writing festival. My second fact was about the awards she either has been short listed for or has won. My third fact, taken from the dust jacket, is that she lives in Yorkshire, England (as of 2009).

Book trivia: this time there is a map of the Shetland Islands in the book (no need to go to Cleeves’ website this time).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go again, in the chapter called “Sheltering in the Shetlands” (p 204).


Spring Forward

I’m really looking forward to spring. The chance to run outside (sorry, New Guinea) & a little more green in my life. Here are the books planned:

Fiction:

  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel ~ in honor of the best time to visit Mexico (AB). I think this will only take a few days to read so I’m adding:
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB) as a backup ~ in honor of the Oscars (even though they just happened, embarrassingly so).
  • Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy ~ in honor of the time Niagara Falls stopped flowing, and,
  • Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe ~ in honor of Nigeria’s president as of 2015.

Both of these fictions are short-short so I should be able to read them in a day or two each.

Nonfiction:

  • Breaks in the Game by David Halberstam ~ in honor of March Madness (basketball)
  • The Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph ~ in honor of Nebraska becoming a state in March.

Series Continuations:

  • Red Bones by Ann Cleeves ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Up Helly Aa.
  • Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. This sucker is 600 pages long. Not sure I’ll finish it in time…
  • Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith ~ to continue the series started in February in honor of Exploration month. This is an ILL and it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure I will finish it in time.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne ~ maybe. I “won” it in February but it hasn’t arrived yet.
  • EDITED to ADD: I just got word I also “won” My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul. It isn’t expected to arrive for awhile so this is really an April book.

White Nights

Cleeves, Ann. White Nights. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008.

Reason read: to continue the series started with Raven Black in honor of Shetland’s Viking Fire Fest (Up Helly Aa) in January.

Jimmy Perez (from Raven Black) is back in White Nights. Even though this is a sequel it could be read on its own. A few characters are the same but the plot is not a continuation of the first. This time it’s  midsummer in the Shetland Islands, a time when the sun doesn’t set completely and there’s always a hint of light. It’s the time for insomnia and…murder. A stranger has come to the Shetland Islands to  disrupt the art opening of established artist, Bella Sinclair. Crying and creating a scene, he succeeds in ruining the party and then disappears into the night. When the same stranger is found wearing a clown mask and hanging from the rafters in an old fishing shed Jimmy Perez must untangle the mystery. Who was this masked man, why did he create such a disturbance at Bella’s party and why is he now dead? Jimmy is sure it’s murder. Each question leads Jimmy to clues that further confuse him. When another man is found dead, this time the nephew of Bella Sinclair, it seems obvious someone wants to hurt Bella…but why?

Author fact: last time the fact was Cleeves was the reader-in-residence for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival & that’s still true. This time the fact is Cleeves was short listed twice for the CWA Gold Dagger Award before winning the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award.

Book trivia: Fran (from the first book) finds the two bodies. This time Kenny finds the two bodies.

Nancy said: I think I’ll skip Nancy said part when it comes to series. Most of the time she isn’t going to say anything different about the second, third, or even fourth book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Sheltering in the Shetlands” (p 204).


Raven Black

Cleeves, Ann. Raven Black. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.

Reason read: Shetland celebrates a Viking Fire fest on the last Tuesday in January called Up Helly Aa. Of course part of Raven Black takes place during Up Helly Aa.

Meet Inspector Jimmy Perez. In Ann Cleeves’s “Shetland” series, Perez is the angst-ridden, private detective charged with solving murders in the Shetland Islands. In Raven Black a teenager is brutally strangled just before the Up Helly Aa festival. Proximity and rumor make neighbor Magnus Tait the likely suspect. Magus, elderly and mentally ill has been the prime suspect in another unsolved crime from eight years ago: an eleven year old went missing and her body, never found.

Spoiler and Confessional: I had to roll my eyes just a little when I read the premise for this book: tiny community is rocked by the murder of a teenager. Everyone thinks the strange recluse with mental illness committed the crime because he probably killed the girl who went missing eight years ago, as well. After all, that man on the hill is not quite right. Cleeves takes that stereotype even further by making the mentally ill man look as guilty as possible along the way. The shocker would have been, yup, he did do it. Guilty as charged.

Author fact: at the time of publication, Ann Cleeves was the reader-in-residence for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

Tons of book trivia: Raven Black is the first book in the Inspector Jimmy Perez series. There are three more, all on my list. Another piece of trivia: on her website, Ann Cleeves includes a map of Jimmy Perez’s Shetland. Very helpful. Also, Raven Black was made into a television series for the BBC in 2012. Last piece of trivia (and probably the most important one), Raven Black won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award.

Nancy said: “murder most foul” (p 205). Okay, so she could have said “murder most fowl” since the title of the book includes a bird and the murder victim was ravaged by ravens…

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called “Sheltering in the Shetlands” (p 204).