A – Z Challenge ….. R is for …

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READING.  
At the start of the year I set a goal to read 75 books this year and then I dutifully recorded here on WordPress what I had read for a great big months!      Now, just because I haven’t been noting them here doesn’t mean that I have been neither reading nor recording.
At the end of March I’d finished 15 books but by the end of July I’d only waded through 37 books total.
At that rate I’m not going to meet my goal so I’d better lift my game the next 5 months – or find some really short books!
A hot summer has not meant lazing around with additional reading for me.  The majority ( basically all) of my reading is done on my train commutes but in the afternoons the trains are so stuffy that if I’m lucky enough to have a seat I find myself dozing off  – and sometimes even standing I’ve found myself swaying to the sandman.  Our internet has been so slow it has made being online frustrating but time away from the computer has not prompted an urge to veg out on the couch with a book.  And when I flop into bed I’m lucky to get 5 minutes reading before I’m dropping off to sleep with my glasses still on!
Anyway  here is my month by month progress since March.   A good train book means  one that I can read while also paying attention to the distractions of a crowded train –  I love the interesting & unusual conversations around me and hearing the name of the stations is fairly important – in other words a book that does not require a lot of concentration or anything “deep”.  Too many characters in a book can be a killer for a train book.
*********APRIL.
The Dead Tossed Waves   – Carrie Ryan   More a companion piece than the sequel to the Forest of Hands & Teeth as this starts about 16 years after Forest finishes and barely touches on the first book’s characters.  I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as the first one and I found the main character, Gabry, pretty irritating – sometimes to the stage of just wishing an Unconsecrated, now called Mudo but a zombie never-the-less, would just finish her off!
The Dark & Hollow Places   – Carrie Ryan.  Sequel to The Dead Tossed Waves – and I think final book in the series (??) . This was a much darker book than the previous two.  So much better than the second one but I was disappointed in the ending –  it seemed a bit like she’d reached a page limit and had to wrap up but then it probably leaves things open for a 4th book.

In the Moon of Red Ponies –  James Lee Burke.  The 4th book in the Billy Bob Holland series.  After finishing this I wrote “disappointing”  in my log.

Started Early Took My Dog –  Kate Atkinson.   I love Kate Atkinson.   There is always at least one hysterically funny scene in the Jackson Brodie series.  Poor Jackson has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and proving the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

Last Car to Elysian Fields –  James Lee Burke   The 13th book in the Dave Robicheaux series.   I felt like there was a chapter missing at the beginning of this book as things in Dave’s personal life have shifted monumentally and only get a passing mention which had me wondering “did I miss a book?” .  That annoyed me for the entire book even though I enjoyed the story and it was a good train book.   The best character was Max Coll, a haunted, psychotic ex-IRA gunman who is now a hit man in town to dispense with Father Dolan but I love the names and characterizations Burke gives his figures like Fat Sammy Figorelli,  Jumpin’ Merchie Flannigan, Castille LeJeune…..

20

**********MAY

The Dirty Parts of the Bible – Sam Torode.  Based on the ancient Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah this story is set in 1936 and features a 19 year old preacher’s son, Tobias Henry who is fixated on girls and God.  This is a coming of age type of story which is really amusing.  It reminded me of a yarn an old story teller would tell around a campfire.  I really enjoyed this book.

Field of Blood – Denise Mina .  Back to gray, grim Glasgow I go with this one.  The first book in Mina’s Paddy Meehan series.  Paddy works as a gofer at a newspaper and the story centers on the killing of a little boy by two other boys. Mina delves into sexism and newspaper politics as well as the bleakness that devours many in  Glasgow.  I found it a little slow to get into but once I did it was a good read  – not as good as the Garnethill Trilogy (which I loved earlier in the year).

The Dead Hour  –  Denise Mina.    Sequel to Field of Blood, Paddy has worked her way up to covering the late night crime beat.  A much better read than the first one this book touches on domestic abuse along with class and religious tensions (the book is set in 1984 during the Thatcher era).   I like that Paddy is not a svelte gorgeous character but rather overweight (subjected to calls of “fat cow” by her co-workers) is full of flaws and has a load of family issues to deal with.
Slip of the Knife  – Denise Mina.    Third in the Paddy Meehan series this story is set in 1990; Paddy is now a controversial columnist and one of the boys implicated in the child murder of the first book(Field of Blood) is about to be paroled. Paddy is now a more determined and independent young woman, and a single mother of a nearly 6 year old boy.  This story was a little convoluted and a reader really needed to have read the first two books before attempting this one as it would not stand alone very well.

Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew    My one attempt at non-fiction during this period!   After reading this book veggie gardening seems so easy and I’m slightly surprised that I do not have an over-abundance of veggies in my courtyard!  We made up the soil mixture suggested in the book but I decided to neither pull up my lovely courtyard pavers or put dirt on top of them to do the proper square foot gardening – and veggie gardening out the front would only lead to others reaping the benefits of my toiling.  The hot weather has had a negative effect on my yield but at least I will have fabulous soil ready for next year!

25

****************  JUNE

Deception – Denise Mina.  A husband learns things he didn’t know about his wife after she is arrested for murder.   This book is written as a series of diary entries by the husband.  It’s a story of obsession and self deception as the husband sets about trying to prove his wife’s innocence by searching through her files and computer.  I didn’t like the format of this book and found it hard to finish.   If it had been the first Denise Mina book I’d read I might never have discovered her other much more readable books.

Purple Jesus – Ron Cooper   –  I love it when I’m reading along and come across the title of the book or the meaning & explanation of that title.   This book is great and the scene where a character explains to another what  “Purple Jesus” is (not an NFL player)   is a truly laugh out loud moment.    I really really liked this book  –  it’s the second one written by Philosopher, Ron Cooper (his first was Hume’s Fork which I read earlier this year).  The story unfolds as chapters alternate between the points of view of the various characters – there is murder, a bizarre love triangle, a mystery Hairy Man and “low-country” folks and their folklore. It’s sad one moment and twisted funny the next and then Cooper throws in something that shocks you.  This book is full of eccentric characters, some religious allegory and farce and really is a great read.

Small Crimes –  by Dave Zeltserman   Set in a small town, the story follows the main character’s release from prison and his attempt to return to normalcy in his society.  This book is really dark and sordid and is basically a moral tale; small crimes lead to big crimes.  It was hard to put this down in a “train wreck”  kind of way.

Jack Daniels Stories  – J.A. Konrath –  a compilation of short stories featuring various characters from J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series.  These were easy reading and great for the commute as I’d get a story finished by the time I got to my station.

Pariah – by Dave Zeltserman    Another just-out-of-prison book.  Gritty and compelling but also full of despair   –  one of those stories where you know from the start that nothing good is going to happen – a story where the reader sort of wallows in the character’s disgraces.    A good train book.

Identity Crisis – Debbi Mack.   This book introduces attorney Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae and is about a domestic abuse case that turns deadly.   Not terrific but an okay train book.  Debbi Mack lives locally so I did enjoy reading about places I knew as the book went along.  ……………………

31

********************  JULY

Least Wanted –  Debbi Mack  –   Sam McRae has two clients accused of murder;  a young black girl accused of killing her mother and a young man already suspected of embezzling then accused of murdering his boss. As the story progresses the two cases overlap into girl gangs and pornography.  Better than her first book –  a good train book.

61 Hours  –  Lee Child  –  I said I wasn’t going to read any more of these Jack Reacher books but someone gave me this one and said it was “good”.    It was a quick read and I did find myself sucked into it right until the end.  Given there is another Reacher book after this one I thought the ending of this one was improbable – or perhaps I mean that given the ending of this one it’s not very plausible Reacher is around for another book.
Crusaders Cross – James Lee Burke   The  14th Dave Robicheaux book.  This book first takes the reader back to 1958 when Dave and his brother Jimmie are just out of high school and Jimmie falls in love with a prostitute, Ida Durbin,  who disappears.  A later day conversation between Robicheaux and a dying childhood friend about Ida, sets Dave in motion to find the truth of her disappearance.  This story was a little rambling and not as good as many of Burke’s others but still better than so many other books out there.
Pegasus Descending – James Lee Burke.  The 15th book in the Dave Robicheaux series  –  there are currently 18 books in the series so I’ve almost caught up!   Back in the days when Jim Beam with a beer chaser was Robicheaux’s best friend he was too drunk to do anything when a friend was murdered during an armored car robbery.  Years later the dead guy’s daughter turns up in Dave’s parish and Dave sets about solving several interconnected murders in an attempt to make amends.  Good train book.
Fallen – Karin Slaughter.     I love that the writer of crime fiction has the last name “Slaughter”.   I think I’ve read nearly all of her books and they have all been good reads.   This is one of those stories where the secrets of personal lives are exposed by a crime and which then threaten to destroy a family’s fabric and trust.  The crime story was good but I didn’t like the romantic thread much (the language seemed a bit Mills & Boon for me).

Night Kills  –  John Lutz.   This one sucked me in so that a few times I found myself almost missing my station.  Lutz reveals his bad-guys early on so the reader doesn’t have to work at figuring anything out and the story is more about whether the police will catch them before the next woman is shot in the heart.  There are a few unlikely scenarios but overall the storyline is good and the book is a fast read.

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17 responses

  1. LOL! Emjay, you probably read more books over this summer than I have over the year! I just checked my Goodreads journal and I think I managed to finish a dozen since January. Some of it may be because of time—it seems like the year has gone awfully fast, it’s been so eventful for our family. But I hardly think you have to apologize for not reading enough!

    “Square Foot Gardening” is a classic in the genre of modern urban gardening. However, I don’t think Mel took into consideration how hot cities become with all the concrete, metal and brick around, not to mention the difficulties of keeping plants watered, even if you have an outdoor faucet. My own little raised garden was raided by urban wildlife, another thing Mel didn’t take into consideration. I’m not talking about raccoons, rabbits and squirrels, though we had those too. It was the neighborhood kids who went through my yard and stole our strawberries, tomatoes and carrots, and their parents made enough money to buy their own grocery store! My parents now have the same problem with children taking their fruits and veggies, but these kids probably have a greater reason—most of them come from families receiving food stamps or WIC coupons.

    • Last year I had a goal to read 50 books and I finished 62 – for some reason that convinced me I could read 75 this year!!! LOL – not sure of my reasoning on that.

      My courtyard faces the south so it gets sun all day and with all those lovely cement pavers and the black tar running along the alley it is always much hotter out there than the temp on our timber deck. Not a tree in sight out there either and never likely to be as the yards are too small. Tonight when I was watering I noticed that the weeds are vying to be taller than my rose bushes while the hydrangeas were limp and keeling over!

      In my neighbourhood, every year around Mother’s Day people “lose” potted plants and even entire plants from their gardens.

  2. Wow!!!!! Usually, for my literature class, I have to read one book a week. 75 books would call for at least one and a half books a week. Wow!!! You go, girl! You’ll have so much literature knowledge in that head of yours, you wouldn’t know what to do with it… other than make us look stupid. 😛

    • When I was at uni I don’t think I did any reading just for enjoyment – I was too busy trying to get through all the set texts. I don’t think much of what I read at the moment would be considered high brow literature but it’s great for my crowded train rides. I don’t know how you get through a book a week for your literature class *and* whatever you have to read for your other courses not to mention essays, assignments etc – you must never sleep! 🙂

  3. I love these little capsule reviews – like taking a few drops of different flavorings: condensed, and very tasty.

    I’m a terribly slow reader – on top of that, I only allow myself to work on two books at a time…taking those two things together, my total reading list for the year is always an embarrasing one.

  4. Thats a ton of reading there! I’m impressed and I see a few here that I really want to investigate at the local public library. I’ve read a fair bit this summer, but I think you have me beat!

  5. Yeah, I have read 14 books this year and that’s a pretty good pace for me. Of course now I am stuck on a slow-moving but still good book which will take me off my pace, but that’s okay. I’m temporarily off the crime novels, but I was reading a lot of James Ellroy and Dexter at the beginning of the summer. I have 2 or 3 more Ellroy novels and I need to get my hands on the remaining 3 Dexter novels.

  6. so many books-you are crazy 🙂 I remember me about your books last year and I told you the same…..O.k. my books for this year: “Die Dienstags-Frauen from Monika Peetz, “Zwei an einem Tag” from David Nicholls and the repair-book from my Harley (lots of times) and the repair – book form my other bike the Zephir-lol

  7. This makes me feel so guilty…I don’t think I’ve read a single book this summer! I have one that I take with me to baby doctor appointments, but I’m only halfway through it. I’m a reading specialist, for goodness sakes…and I’m setting such a horrible example for the kiddo’s! Kudo’s to you for sticking to your goal!

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