Random Thoughts

about reading, writing, and anything else that interests me

March Reading

I read two non-fiction books last month:

  • Off The Grid Living- How To Raise Chickens, Survive Without Power, and Live Off The Grid by Ben Night was a very brief, superficial overview of living off the grid. At times it seemed like it was directed to preppers and at other times not so much.  Not being a prepper, I was glad for the other times, but it wasn’t very satisfying or informative.  Maybe I know more about the subject than the intended audience (Although, as I said, I am not exactly sure who that would be.), but it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t know.  Perhaps, though, if you were totally clueless about living off the grid, there would have been enough information to encourage you to study the issue more deeply — or to completely scare you away from the idea.   So it might be an OK book — just not for me.
  • The Technique of the Mystery Story by Carolyn Wells was a very good book about writing mysteries.  The author provided a lot of interesting information.  Since this is an old book, written more than 100 years ago, its references are to Poe and Doyle and other writers of their time, not to anyone currently writing mysteries.  For some that might be a drawback, but to me it made it all the more valuable.  The authors she talks about are classic mystery writers.  I can learn a lot from them.  She also talks about the struggle to have mysteries seen as literature — a fascinating topic.

Six novels got added to my list in March:

  • Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet was an easy read, just what I was looking for at the time.  It was funny and, perhaps to some, somewhat sacrilegious.  I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make a huge impression on me.  I would consider reading others of her books, but I am not rushing out today to get them.
  • Walking with Ducks by Martin A. Nalitz Jr. was great.  Of all the books I read last month, this was my favorite.  From the first page I was into the story because I knew the author knew what he was talking about.  Having worked in a prison and knowing a fair number of people who have been incarcerated, I recognized the truth of it.  Aside from that, it was an excellent story told very well.
  • A Touch of Ice by L.j. Charles was another fun read.  It is a romance disguised as a mystery, but I enjoyed it on both levels.  There are so many books out there now with heroes who have special powers that they use for good, solving mysteries, righting wrongs, whatever that they often run together in my mind.  This was a good one, though, and I would enjoy reading more in the series.
  • The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner was historical fiction, well-told.  The story comes through loud and clear; the history is there to add interest.  You don’t get bogged down in a lot of unnecessary details.  I enjoy reading books set in other times and other places, so this was a treat for me.  Captain Lacey is a very interesting character who sweeps you up into his adventures.
  • Paint Me Gone by Molly Greene had me confused for a long time.  In a good way.  It had lots of layers, and they were all interesting.  I know almost nothing about art or artists, so there was something to be learned there in addition to solving the mystery.  I would enjoy reading more by Ms Greene.
  • Worse Than Being Alone by Patricia M. Clark  was really enjoyable. I couldn’t stop raving about this book, and now my husband is reading it, too.  While I love reading books set in other places and times, I also love books set in places I know well — in this case the St. Louis area.  When one of the main characters travels to Cape Girardeau to talk with a professor at SEMO, I was in heaven!  The story was excellent, and while I wanted to tell the main character to hurry up her investigation before it was too late, I really have no complaints about the book at all.

I read two short stories: “The Sargaso of Space” by Edmond Hamilton  and “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe.  Both were good.  I read Poe before reading much of the Carolyn Wells book on writing mysteries, so I was familiar with the story before she kept referring to it.

I listened to two audiobooks this month:

  • Trees of Pride by G.K. Chesterton
  • Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

I have to admit I would never have read either of them.  Having them available to listen to as I drive down the road made them much more accessible to me.  I have enjoyed Chesterton’s short stories but had not read anything longer than that.  It was a good story but not gripping.  Maybe it would have been better if I had been sitting down with the book in my lap reading it in longer chunks.  I am not convinced it would have been, though.  Phantom of the Opera is, well, Phantom of the Opera.  I knew I should want to read it, but I couldn’t make myself do it.  Listening to it was a joy, though.  I will probably continue to listen to books like this that I wouldn’t otherwise read.

Well, we are several days into April and I have read a couple books already.  Let’s see how it goes!

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