January 2023 Reading Thread

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Victoria Silverwolf

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Continuing my way through the fancy two-volume set of Shirley Jackson from the Library of America (all six novels and selected short stories), I have started rereading The Bird's Nest (1954), which is about a woman with multiple personalities. It was loosely adapted into the movie Lizzie (1957).
 

Randy M.

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I've been in mystery mode since November, and probably will be for a while longer.

Apparently the "Golden Age" of mysteries stretched from 1920 to 1939 (according to Wikipedia), but Golden Ages don't end so much as fade away, and to me, these books feel like those by Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr in that they use murder as a spring-board to light-hearted romps with a bit of comedy of manners thrown in.

In Bodies in a Bookshop by R. T. Campbell's Professor Stubbs helps his good friend Inspector Bishop to find the culprit. Not bad, amusing, but maybe the author was a bit too infatuated with hisr sleuth's eccentricities

Murder After Christmas by Rupert Latimer. Latimer's novel is one of the quirkiest and most consistently amusing mysteries I've read, dealing with a family of eccentrics who all seem afflicted with bad judgement complicated by an excess of discretion and civility. Really, Ealing Studios should have snatched this one up and filmed it.

The Widening Stain by W. Bolingbroke Johnson, pseudonym for Morris Bishop, educator best known for luring Vladimir Nabokov to Cornell University. Golden Age mystery set in a thinly disguised Cornell and written with something like the spirit of 1930's-'40s screwball comedies -- eccentrics exchanging bon mots and witticisms, with a few limericks tossed in -- this was extremely entertaining. A good lead in the chief cataloger, Gilda Gorham, and a range of oddball librarians, professors and adjuncts, with a slight tendency toward stereotyping.

I've been lucky so far this month. The Campbell was amusing, while the Latimer and Johnson/Bishop were among the most successfully comic crime novels I've read from the 1940s.
 

Spade

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My first full read of the year ended up being Prison of Sleep by Tim Pratt. It was just almost as enjoyable as it's predecessor Doors of Sleep. My only two gripes are really the quickness of the ending (which Doors suffered from) and the alternating characters this time which made for an unnecessarily confusing timeline. Both books are so short that they could have been one long and the alternating stories would have worked much better. It's hard to be mad because these books are fun. I could have read a million more but it sounds like he's done with them.
 

The Big Peat

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Just finished Lois McMaster Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity which was rather good except it set itself up as a mystery, then spent 40% of the book going nowhere, did the mystery in a breathless middle, then spent the rest of it having Miles deal with a massive emergency.
 

Foxbat

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Just started The Monks Of War by Desmond Seward. It's a history of the military religious orders (mainly Templars, Hospitallers, Tuetonic Knights and orders involved in the Spanish Reconquista).
 

soulsinging

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Just finished Cloud Cuckoo Land, which was very interesting and well written. Bit of a slow start but worth the investment.

Currently reading Jade City (new) and Last Argument of Kings (reread). I'm enjoying the former more than I expected given some of the superhero flourishes, wasn't expecting the godfather crime saga background. And very happy that First Law is holding up, as I was afraid the cynicism wouldn't have aged well with me.
 

pogopossum

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Finished Fairy Tale by Stephen King.
What's to say about a book that has been on the New York Times Best Sellers List for 18 weeks?
With one exception, (a re-read of The Stand ) I gave up King a couple of decades ago. Don't much like horror, even when candified by smarm.
His formula, introducing one or more likable characters to get you interested, making them the first person narrator/observer(s), and then throwing them into a pool of crap, is followed in this book. Of course he varies that somewhat a few times elsewhere. Sometime he gives a villain some interior dialogue, sometimes he throws in an omniscient observer or some other viewpoint to tell pieces of the story.
Well here he sticks to type. Except for three paragraphs, every scene is viewed that through the eyes of the protagonist. And those three are through the eyes of his dog.
The action follows King's usual. He wanders around the story with no need to say anything directly. Because your enjoying his invention, right? Well I do enjoy it. Each part is enjoyable. But he is perfectly happy to write hundreds of pages of charming.
King borrows plot elements and makes references to other authors and classic tales. That's fun for persons who have read the sources. If you are in any doubt that they are references, he has the protagonist notice the similarities and credit them by name. Here bits of classic tales (note the title) run rampant
I put it down more than once. But picked it up again wondering what he would put the lead, and more importantly the dog, through.
An okay diversion. But I did regret being sucked through 608 pages.
 

Ubergeek

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Wahloo and MajStarted The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell, Wallander # 4. My first book by this author, and one I found in a charity shop
Now , that is a great series ! If you like ' Scandi Noir ' please may I recommend the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo . This husband and wife team wrote the 10 books together , writing a chapter each throughout the books . I thought the series was great. .
 

Hugh

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Dervla Murphy "Tibetan Foothold"
This follows directly after her remarkable first book "Full Tilt" in which she cycled overland to India in 1963. Having read the first, I had no choice but to read the next. This one documents her five month stay/work in a refugee camp for Tibetan children close to Dharamsala. Her perspective is always interesting. A most unusual person.
 

Elentarri

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Perfect by Rachel Joyce: I liked it. It was different to the usual stuff I read.
Ghost 19 by Simone St. James: Horror/thriller novella. It was fun and creepy, but not terrifying.
 
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