August Reading

It was probably the worst month for reading that I have had since I started keeping track. I only read four

I blame the lack of reading on my selection from the 100 best novels list: Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift. It took me the first half of the month to finish.  I knew the basic story, at least of the Lilliputians, from a cartoon I remember watching as a child.  And I may even have read that part before. But I had never read the whole book. It was a difficult book to read — mostly because there was no action, no gripping story to keep me up at night reading. It was good, though, and now I can say that I have read it, but I don’t think it is suddenly going to become a best seller.

After that, I read three mysteries:

  • Murder on Magazine by Julie Smith is the tenth book in her Skip Langdon series. I really enjoyed this book and, although I haven’t read all the earlier books, it put me at no disadvantage. Smith is a good writer and Langdon is a great cop. I really recommend these books!
  • A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters was my introduction to this series of books. I have seen them forever and, with my liking for the time period and my odd connection to Benedictines, I had always wanted to read them When I ran across this one on sale, I bought it. It is actually the 21st book in the series, but it explains how Cadfael came to the monastery and introduces him to the reader in a way that I really enjoyed. I plan to read more of these.
  • Wasted Justice by Diane Capri is the fourth book in her Judge Willa Carson series. I have only read one of the earlier books, I think, and I had obviously missed some big life events in between that one and this one, but I still enjoyed the book a lot. The characters are engaging, and the mystery is a good one. I recommend it highly!

So that was it for August. I have already read one book this month, so I hope that this month will be better. Don’t expect to see any 100 Best… books when I report next month, though!


July Reading

I read quite a bit last month, but none of it came from the 100 Best… lists.  I wanted a break from them. Since it has taken my more than 2 weeks to read my 100 Best Novel this month, I think it was a wise move. But more about that book next month!

I read three mysteries,

  • The Moonglow Cafe and Three Silver Doves by Deborah Garner. These are part of a series I started some time ago. I am enjoying them more and more all the time.  The main character, Paige Mackenzie, is a writer for a Manhattan newspaper who, in these books, is sent to Montana and New Mexico, respectively, to research and write stories. She becomes involved with the locals and gets caught up in their mysteries while managing to spend time with her favorite cowboy. These are good mysteries filled with interesting people.
  • The Good Byline by Jill Orr which tells the story of a young woman’s search for the truth as she endeavors to write an obituary for her murdered high school friend.It isn’t nearly as morbid as it might sound. I hope to read more books in this series.

I read four books of speculative fiction.

  • Golden Heart: A Gaslight Fantasy by Christine Pope was a book I got in June through Story Bundle. I cannot find it anywhere else., which is too bad because it was a good book.
  • Blades of Magic: Crown Service #1 by Terah Edun was another good book. Sara’s father was a deserter, and she and her mother have suffered as a result of his crime.  She joins the Mercenary Guild to fight in the war and to try to discover the truth. It was a great book.  I have others in the series and will start on them soon.
  • Crosstalk by Connie Willis was a hilarious rom-com about our seemingly never-ending search for ways to become more connected. Enter the possibility of increasing empathy with your partner by having an outpatient procedure performed. Unfortunately, Briddey gets way more than she bargained for when she agreed to her boyfriend’s request to get it done. Connie Willis never ceases to entertain me in the most ingenious ways! Check this and all her other books out, please!
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab was last month’s’s ebook club selection. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into the book, but I ended up loving it. Kell is a magician who can travel between parallel Londons, an ability not shared by many people. He delivers messages between the rulers of the different cities/countries and engages in a little personal business on the side. And, of course, it all goes bad. Can Kell save his own London? Can he stay alive long enough to have a chance? We can only hope so! This was a great story, and I hope to read the others in the series.

I also read The Mendinandi License by Randall Reneau. This is another in a series I have been reading off and on for a while. This one takes place in Africa. Trace and his friends are hired for a job, but before they can begin, everything goes wrong. I loved this book for a lot of reasons, including the descriptions of Mali. If you like a lot of action, this book will be right up your alley. Check it out!

The only non-fiction book I read was Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop by Kate Wilhelm. It was fascinating! Not only did it provide insight into Clarion, but it also offered rational and valuable guidance for writers’ workshops in general. If you are interested in writing and writing workshops, I recommend it.

So that was it for July. Sorry this post is so late, but I was traveling, finishing up classes that ended a week ago, and getting ready for classes that started this week. It’s been a little crazy!



June reading

I was traveling for half the month and did way less reading than I usually do when I am on the road. Not sure what happened.  Oh well…

I read one book from the 100 best non-fiction books, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. Although it was a long, slow read, I enjoyed it.  Having lived near the Mississippi in southern Illinois, that area is familiar to me. I enjoyed reading about the river and the towns as Twain experienced them. I don’t know if the book would be of interest to someone unfamiliar with the area. My guess is that it might be too long and too detailed.

Most of my novel list book, The History of Mr. Polly by HG Wells , was read in May. It was an odd book and for a long time I was confused as to why it would be on the list. It was chosen, apparently, ” because it is, in many ways, so un-Wellsian.” Personally, I would have chosen one of his science fiction novels, but they didn’t ask me! The story was fun to read and, now that I have read it, probably deserving of inclusion on the list. It is definitely a book I never would have read if I weren’t trying to read books from the list this year.

The mystery I read last month was another old one, The Curved Blades by Carolyn Wells. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t read as easily as other books by this author that I have read. Her detective, Fleming Stone, is interesting. This time he has some personal entanglements that may be complicating his search for the murderer, but he will go to the ends of the earth to solve the case if need be. I enjoyed this book and recommend it if you like old mysteries.

I read one other piece of fiction last month, Stand to Horse by Andre Norton. I knew I liked her science fiction and was interested to see how she would handle historical fiction. The answer was, “Extremely well.” Of course! Set in New Mexico before the Civil War, it is a fascinating look at the times. I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in that period of US history.

I also read Eat, Walk, Write by Boyd Lemon. It is the story of the time he spent living in Paris. I have never had any interest in living in Paris (and his belief that a couple could live there on $100,000 a year makes me very glad of that!), but it did make me nostalgic for all the countries my family and I have lived in over the years. There is something special about living in another country, getting to know its people and culture much more intimately than you ever could by just vacationing there.I enjoyed it.

So it wasn’t a great month for reading.  I am starting to worry that this is my new normal. We’ll see if July continues at the same pace.


May reading

May was kind of a bad month for reading. Not sure why.

I read one book from the 100 best non-fiction list, On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. I thought it was one of the best and most interesting books I have ever read.  It was written over 150 years ago, but it seemed to address many of the issues in the news today. I cannot recommend it enough.

I only read on mystery, Sanctuary by Celina Grace. It is the eighth book in the series, and it was quite good.  Dead bodies keep turning up, and Kate Redman and her team have to work with cops from another jurisdiction to solve the case. I enjoyed the mystery, but I also enjoyed the characters and watching them grow as the story progressed. I recommend this one if you like British detective stories.

I red two pieces of speculative fiction:


  • Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler is the third book in the Patternist series. This one, the story of a father and two daughters who are hijacked as they are driving down the road. They are infected with an alien virus that could take over the world, and they are the ones who may be able to stop it from taking over the world. It was another excellent book from Butler. Please read it!
  • The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi was last month’s ebook selection from It was a hard book to read, but in the end, I was glad that I had. It opens in a prison, where the main character, Jean le Flambeur, is being held captive. He is rescued and then must do the bidding of his rescuer. It was often confusing, but it seemed worth the time and effort it took to read it. As one review on Amazon says, it was “Confusingly and shockingly brilliant!!!”  I am not sure I can really recommend it, but it was a good book in many ways.

And that was it.  I finished my 100 best novel entrant on June 1st, so there is nothing else to report.  Let’s see how June goes.  I am visiting family so it will probably be another slow month, but I might surprise myself!


Tor ebook club selection for May

Go to TOR’s ebook club site to download this month’s selection, Kills Death Itself by Hannu Rajaniemi. According to the book club site,

The Quantum Thief is a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence, a world of marching cities, ubiquitous public-key encryption, people communicating by sharing memories, and a race of hyper-advanced humans who originated as MMORPG guild members. But for all its wonders, it is also a story powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge, and jealousy.

It sounds like a great read.  Get it soon, though, because this offer is only good through 11:59 PM ET  on May 18th, 2018.