Thursday, July 21, 2016

Time Heals No Wounds - Hendrik Falkenberg

FTC Compliance Statement: I received a free, time-limited electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via in exchange for my honest review, which is provided below. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review in any way and my opinion is my own.

As an avid reader, it's hard to pass up an interesting-looking mystery novel, and I couldn't resist the description of this book, which turned out to be quite the page turner! The plot kept me guessing and the main character was likable; I would love to read more of his adventures. This is a great summer/beach read. Recommended.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Winemaker Detective Mysteries - An Omnibus - Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen

FTC Compliance Statement: I received a free, time-limited electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via in exchange for my honest review, which is provided below. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review in any way and my opinion is my own. 

As longtime readers may know,  I love a good series, but I am fanatical about reading a series in order. So this collection, which includes the first 3 books in the Winemaker Detective Series, looked like the perfect way to start something new. And it was - I have a new favorite series to look forward to devouring!

The stories in this collection were quick reads with enjoyable mysteries and of course, the French wine country settings. You can learn quite a bit about wine, as it's an integral part of the story. The characters are nicely drawn and I look forward to reading more about them in the next books in the series. The translation is very well done and is a pleasure to read. The only "drawback" to these books was that they made me long for a wonderful French meal with a wonderful French wine to accompany it - does anyone live as well as the French? All in all this is a great series. Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Jolly Coroner - Quentin Canterel

FTC Compliance Statement: I received a free, time-limited electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via in exchange for my honest review, which is provided below. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review in any way and my opinion is my own. 

Could not resist the description of this book when I saw it in a NetGalley email. I have some disjointed thoughts that I will present as my review:

If you'll forgive me for bragging for a moment, I like to think I have a pretty good vocabulary, but this book sometimes read as if it had been written with liberal use of the Oxford English Dictionary and a thick thesaurus, with a plethora of words too big to be called 25 cent words - maybe 75 cent words? It was like reading something by Martin Amis. I used context clues a lot because I was too lazy to use a dictionary myself.

The titular character reminded me of Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces - I wonder if that is deliberate? I liked some of the funnier elements of this character.

The author did a nice job of tying together some disparate story elements, and I would have liked to know a bit more about a couple of them. One in particular needed a better resolution because I feel really sorry for the character!

I found the love story in the book a little puzzling; I can see why the male character is interested in the female character, but not the reverse - so I wouldn't have minded a bit more about why she became enamored of him.

All in all this was a much quicker read than I anticipated and it's definitely a very unpredictable and surprising tale.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June - This Month in Reading

UGH, yet another month when the title of this post may as well have been "this month in NOT reading."

Somehow June got away from me. I didn't much feel like reading again (or at least I didn't feel much like reading the books I happen to have on hand), and I had some other things come up that took up mental time and energy that I might have otherwise used on reading. I also fell prey to NetGalley and I now have a few books in the queue that I have to review for them - it wasn't part of my plan, but what can I say, I sometimes do things that make no sense. On the plus side, I didn't go to the library once, so at least I didn't go grabbing a bunch of books there, or adding more Library Sale books to the TBR pile, so that's good.

With these dismal results in mind, I'm going to plan on a couple things for July:

-Clear up the NetGalley books I need to read/review
-Do 1 foreign language book
-Do 1 reread

It's so much more than I accomplished last month it seems like a lot but I think I can buckle down and make it happen. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery - Julie Campbell

So after all my big talk about reading foreign language books this summer, this is the first book I review in June? I'm even shaking my head at myself over this one.

Evidently summer 2016 is going to be a bit more tiresome than usual for some reason known only to the heat and humidity. I found myself needing a quicker, easier read, and this book has been on my TBR pile for a while now, so I decided to just read it. It's a vintage copy I found on my beloved Library Sale shelves, in perfect condition, as if it had been preserved especially for me to add to my small vintage children's book collection.

As usual, the story is simple and straightforward, the "mystery" is just enough to keep one guessing a little, and the setting is an idealized smaller city/town with idealized families and etc. It fit the bill for me when I needed something light. I'm hoping I can now turn to other books and recharge my summer reading.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May - This Month in Reading

The end of May ended up being a slow time for me for reading. To be honest, for these past 2 weeks or so, I just wasn't into reading much at all. For some reason, none of the books I picked up retained my interest, and I got distracted with work and some other pastimes instead. So all in all, I only read 6 books, when I was hoping for a good 12. I also didn't manage to get in a reread, which is annoying, but what can I do? On the plus side, I finished the Color-Coded Reading Challenge and I am close to finishing the Back to the Classics Challenge, so that's good.

As you might know, I consider September 1 the beginning of Fall/Autumn. You might not know that I also consider June 1 to be the beginning of my least favorite season, summer. Over the years, I have done things like have a certain theme to my summer reading, and joined the Language Freak Summer Challenge (LFSC), to make summer seem more enjoyable. I don't think Ekaterina is hosting the LFSC again this year, but I am going to go it alone and concentrate on some foreign-language books I have on the TBR pile. I happen to have a book in French and the same book in English on my pile ready to go for a readalong, as well as several other books in 3 different languages, and I think this will help me recharge my reading and get excited about it again.

I'm also going to relax my library restriction - I was good about avoiding the library for the past couple of months but I will most likely have to get English-language books to do readalongs for some of my foreign-language books this summer (that won't be possible for some of them). I am going to try to otherwise avoid picking up random books just because they look interesting though. I also have a few NetGalley books that I will be reading in June, so my reading should be pretty varied.

What are your summer reading plans?

Friday, May 20, 2016

The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

This is another one of my lucky vintage book finds from the local library's perpetual used book sale shelves. It was immediately obvious to me that it was a vintage book, but I didn't realize it was the 1960s edition with illustrations by Edward Gorey until I examined it more closely. I seriously almost did a happy dance right there in the library when I saw that, especially since the book cost me $1. It would be a bargain at 10 times that price, so I happily snapped this up and added it to my TBR pile... and now I've finally read it!

The story itself is sort of underwhelming, if I'm being 100% honest. Maybe I'm just a cynical modern reader, but the story lacked a real sense of horror and urgency for me. I think it was mainly hampered by the first-person narration; we're too constrained by the narrator's narrow point of view. The illustrations are very Gorey-like, but also more impressionistic and less detailed than one might like. However, lest I give you the wrong impression, I didn't dislike this book, it was just a little too low key for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

White Leopard - Laurent Guillaume

FTC Compliance Statement: I received a free, time-limited electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via in exchange for my honest review, which is provided below. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review in any way and my opinion is my own.

If you're a crime/detective novel fan, this is a book you will probably love as much as I did. The story hits all the typical crime novel beats: cop/PI with tragic past, drugs, smuggling, violence, femmes fatales, dead witnesses, corrupt cops, etc., but the fresh setting in Mali and the winning main character makes everything new and entertaining. Apparently, this is the first of this author's books to be translated into English, and I hope it's not the last, as I'd like to read more in this series - maybe I'll track them down in French and give that a go! The publisher, Le French Book, translates French authors and it looks like they may have some other interesting books I should look into. But back to this one in particular: I really enjoyed it. It's the perfect summer page-turner. Recommended.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain (Spoilers?)

Another classic book that I knew next to nothing about before reading it. Thanks to the title, I knew it had a sort of time-travel element to it, but that was it. I expected it to be about the titular Yankee adapting to sixth century life, and instead Twain inverts that, having him establish all sorts of late 19th century things like electricity, schools, the telegraph, and etc. This is puzzling but also kind of amusing.

I can honestly say that I didn't expect the story to be such a satire - and a very pointed satire at times. Twain really roasts some of his subjects, and it is glorious as far as I'm concerned - they all deserve it. I especially liked how he satirized the gullibility of the people in general, and how they took a speaker's word for anything without ever examining a statement critically - far too many people today are this way in my opinion, and frankly it's scary. So I guess nothing much has changed, ha ha.

All in all this was classic Twain at his most entertaining and his most cranky. Recommended.

In other news, I am claiming this book for the brown category of the Color-Coded Reading Challenge, since the cover is tan and brown, as shown below.

I'm tan and brown - I'm a twofer for this challenge! 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

Before I found a vintage copy of this book on the Library Sale shelves, all I knew about it was the title - I had heard of the book but I had no idea what it was actually about. When I started reading, for the first few pages I felt confused, until I was able to understand that this is more of an extended character study than a traditional novel. And after a few pages something clicked for me and I unexpectedly fell in love with this book.

I still can't believe how engrossed I got in this story. It was soooooo hard to put the book down, because I found the characters so fascinating. The pace is relatively slow, which is actually a good thing, as it gives the reader a luxurious amount of time with these people. As someone who finds the ear in which this book is set fascinating, I greedily drank in all the details. I really felt like I was in Brooklyn, and that I knew the main characters.

To be honest, the ending did seem a little rushed to me - almost like the author ran out of time and had to quickly wrap things up. But I could have read a lot more, so I just wish there were 400 more pages to read. I'm so happy I spent a dollar to bring this new favorite classic book into my life. Highly recommended.