Category Archives: Reading

Dying to Sell

Maggie Sefton is the author of a cozy mystery series with a knitting theme that I really enjoy despite not being a knitter, so I was looking forward to the first (and at this time, only) book in her real estate series, Dying to Sell. It was certainly an okay book, and I don’t have really any specific issues with it, such as problems with the plot or with characterization or anything like that, but I ended up being somewhat disappointed nonetheless. Sadly, the book just didn’t hold my interest. Around page 60 I seriously considered just putting it down and returning it to the library, but decided to plug on because it was the monthly read for one of my Yahoo! reading groups.

I’m glad I finished it because at least I have an honest opinion of the novel, but I didn’t expect it to take me an entire week to read it! I usually try to cram in as much reading time over the weekend as I can, but the weekend I should have easily finished this book, I just didn’t care enough about how it would end and ended up spending most of my free time playing a videogame instead (Sims 2 Castaway for Sony PSP). I finally finished that following Monday just so I could move on to another book.

I am, however, looking very much forward to reading the rest of the books in Sefton’s knitting series that I haven’t gotten to quite yet.

Inside Straight

Before I write about the first book I finished in February, a little background.

Back in August, my high school held an all-class reunion for its 40th anniversary celebration. Now, my closest friends from high school are not from my graduating class, and it was great seeing all sorts of people, most of whom were the folks I hung out with graduated a year before me. However, I saw no more than maybe five other people from my class, and none of them were people I hung out with except maybe a little for marching band. One I was really glad to see because she has cystic fibrosis and I had wondered upon occasion about how things might be going for her, but other than that, none of the folks I really hoped to see turned up. This inspired to me to start Googling a few names of people I wish I hadn’t lost touch with. It feels a little weird to do this sort of thing, but it can lead to happy results.

Of course, this works better for some names than others just based on how common the name might be, but “Ian Tregillis” managed to find a surprising number of hits. Some I wasn’t surprised about, things related to his work or his education. But there were other links to click on too, like one related to a short story published at Trabuco Road, a blog entry mention by someone I would later find is a writer and friend of his, and finally a mention on a page that also included a picture, so I realized I really was tracking down the right person.

I’m normally not great about this sort of thing, but there was an email address at the bottom of the page that short story was published on, so I decided to drop a note to Ian. A few weeks later I got an email in return, and we’ve exchanged a few emails since then.

All this to explain how I learned of Inside Straight, which Ian was a writer in. It’s sort of a difficult book to explain, so I’ll just refer you to the Wild Cards website, the series that Inside Straight is the latest volume of. I had no idea what I’d think of Inside Straight going in, but how could I not enjoy a book that incorporates a reality show into its plot? I haven’t read any of the previous books, but I certainly hope to because I found the Wild Cards universe fascinating. I’m also looking forward to the next installment, which I understand is coming in December. Who knows, perhaps between now and then I’ll get better at writing actual reviews instead of just “I liked it!”

If you Google Ian these days, the first hit will be his recently launched website. It is beautifully designed, has a good bit of humor, and you can learn a bit about his forthcoming trilogy, The Milkweed Triptych.

January Reads

I had sort of intended to start blogging more regularly about what I’m reading, but January ended up being a month where I read more than I spent time on the computer (outside of work, that is). So, just a rundown instead. I’ll try to start doing better soon!

I read a surprising (for me) number of novels: 9. But that might explain why my I’m still behind on watching shows recorded on my TiVo and computer that I haven’t had time to watch yet. The number at the end of each item is the rating based on the stars on (1 = didn’t like it, 2 = it was okay, 3 = liked it, 4 = really liked it, 5 = it was amazing). Very few books get 5s from me. The fact that I only started three new series while making progress on another six made it a really good month from that standpoint.

  • The Curse of the Holy Pail (#2, Odelia Grey) – Sue Ann Jaffarian (4)
  • Dying to Be Thin (#1, Kate Gallagher) – Kathryn Lilley (2)
  • The Jasmine Moon Murder (#5, Theodosia Browning) – Laura Childs (4)
  • Dead and Berried (#2, Grey Whale Inn) – Karen MacInerney (3)
  • The Chemistry of Death (#1, David Hunter) – Simon Beckett (4)
  • String of Lies (#2, Craft Corner) – Mary Ellen Hughes (3)
  • A Playdate with Death (#3, Juliet Applebaum) – Ayelet Waldman (4)
  • Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse (#1, Mr. Monk) – Lee Goldberg (3)
  • Sorcery and the Single Girl (#2, Jane Madison) – Mindy Klasky (4)

One goal of mine for 2008 is to read more shorter fiction, especially since I find myself regular buying publications such as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction. I did pretty well with this goal in January.

  • “Dark Integers” – Greg Egan (novelette, Asimov’s October/November 2007)
  • “The Voice at the Barbican Gate” – Eric Rutter (short story, Alfred Hitchcock January/February 2008)
  • “A Killing in Midtown” – G. Miki Hayden (short story, Alfred Hitchcock January/February 2008)
  • “A Bridge Too Far” – Zoë Sharp (short story, Ellery Queen July 2007)
  • “Dead as a Dog” – Doug Allyn (short story, Ellery Queen July 2007)
  • “Finished” – Robert Reed (short story, Asimov’s September 2005)
  • “There Is No Crime on Easter Island” – Nancy Pickard (Ellery Queen September/October 2005)
  • Interlude in Death – J.D. Robb (novella)

I certainly won’t end up reading as much in February, but it’ll be a good month nonetheless.

The Long Weekend

Having four whole days away from work was wonderful. There are just a lot of little things there right now that are perturbing, though I’m sure they’ll work themselves out soon.

On Wednesday evening I finished reading a couple of books. First, The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood is the first of three books written about Widge, an orphan who ends up in the acting company Shakespeare wrote for and performed with through a series of misadventures. I stumbled across this book a few months ago while at the Red Balloon Bookshop for a reading and signing by Anne Ursu, and thought it would be good for my middle nephew’s birthday. He turned 9 nearly two weeks ago…I suppose I should get this in the mail to him! Whether or not Allen likes this, I’m planning to read the other novels about Widge eventually.

Second was Meg Cabot’s Size 12 Is Not Fat. I have loved everything I’ve read by Meg Cabot until this point, so I was really looking forward to her first mystery. It certainly wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t all that I was hoping for either. I’ll likely read the next in the series since I already own it, but if it’s not better than the first I’m not sure if I’ll continue past that.

On Thursday I read The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman. This was a recent group read for one of my online reading groups that I didn’t participate in, but the book caught my eye when I was at the library one day and I figured I might get around to checking it out. I’m so glad I did! I enjoyed the mystery, but even more I enjoyed learning a bit about (from what I gathered) Orthodox Judaism, and in particular what a yeshiva is. The Ritual Bath was written a little over 20 years ago, so I’m not sure if any of this information is dated, but it’s fascinating nonetheless and overall the book didn’t feel very dated. This is just the first of what is currently a 16-book series, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

On Saturday night I finally got around to watching a movie I’ve had from Netflix since March. Yeah, March. Sadly, the movie wasn’t worth the wait. It certainly had some critical aclaim, but Sherrybaby just left me feeling sad and dirty. I was glad I had a DVD from season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy to cheer me up afterwards.

Over the weekend I was also able to finish up a couple of pending projects, catch up with some TV I’ve been woefully behind on, and read most of another book. A few more 4-day weekends and I might be caught up with all kinds of things!

Where does the time go?

I really had planned to update this a bit more frequently, so how have I not posted for over a month? Where does the time go, anyway?

In a last Cozy Mystery Challenge update, I actually won one of the books that authors had contributed as prizes. I received Deadly Advice, signed by author Roberta Isleib, a while ago now…I really need to send her a thank-you.

So, what else has been up… I got back in touch with a friend from high school. I really need to respond to that last email from him. Oops. Seriously, time is just getting away from me lately.

A few weeks ago I bought a Nintendo DS after seeing how much fun a coworker had with hers. I can’t believe how many games I’ve accumulated for that thing already. I haven’t been playing as much the past week or so, but I really need to at least get back to Brain Age.

A couple of weeks ago (really, this is the end of what seems like a really big spending spree) I bought an iPhone. It was either a Palm Treo or the iPhone, and the iPhone won out. I love it. I can access my Yahoo! Mail (which my primary personal email account is already forwarded to) seamlessly, I’ve got anytime-I-want access to the Web…oh, and it’s a phone too, though somewhat ironically I probably use that feature the least. It’s even better than my laptop for reading stuff in bed, so I’ve actually been getting caught up with my favorite recaps over at Television Without Pity.

My regular reading has been in a bit of a slump. I’m trying to read a book I’m giving one of my nephews for his birthday (he won’t notice if I’m careful, right?), but I need to get that out in the mail and can’t pick up the copy from the library I requested until Thursday, so I’ll likely pick up something else to start soon. I recently picked up the latest issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and am in the midst of the second story. I really do love short mystery stories when I take the time to read them! If you enjoy them as well, I recommend Criminal Brief: The Mystery Short Story Web Log Project. Which reminds me, I really should read that more often too…

A little teaser: Someday soon I’m going to get up early enough to have time to take pictures and finally do a “day in the life,” now powered by iPhone! Unfortunately for you, my life isn’t that exciting.

Cozy Mystery Challenge Update #4

The Cozy Mystery Challenge has come to an end. I didn’t finish all 12 books I had on my list, but I did finish nine, which made it a great reading month for me compared to my usual four to six books per month. (I also finished the unabridged audiobook of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, for a round 10 books for the month.)

Number 6 was A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie. I’m really enjoying the Psychic Eye series, and now I only have two books left to be caught up with it!

Number 7 was Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos by Donna Andrews. I read the first two books of this series back in 2003, and I was so glad to get back to it!

Number 8 was Needled in Death by Maggie Sefton. Even though I don’t have a clue how to knit (I can barely crochet), I really like the setting of this series both in Colorado and around a knitting shop.

Number 9, which I barely finished by the deadline yesterday, was Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly. I don’t think I laughed out loud with this one as much as I did the first in the series when I read it back in 2004, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Kris for hosting this challenge; I really enjoyed it and look forward to participating in the future!

Cozy Mystery Challenge Update #3

Well, my reading has slowed down a bit, but I have finished two more books from my list of 12: The Ghost and the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly on September 9 and Last Writes by Laura Levine on September 10. They are both the second in their respective series, and while I think neither was quite as good as its predecessor, they were still good enough or fun enough that I plan to continue the series.

I’m now reading book #6, and hope to finish that over the weekend. I might yet have a chance to finish all 12 books!

Also over the weekend I hope to post a photo or two of the new car I just bought last night. It’s a 2008 Honda Fit Sport, in Storm Silver Metallic. I wasn’t thrilled about the color from what I saw online, but after seeing it in daylight today, I really like it; it doesn’t look as dark as the website makes it seem. Obviously all I’ve done is drive it home last night and to work this morning, but I’m looking forward to getting out and about this weekend and see just how fun it really is to drive.