20 Books of Summer 2023 Edition

So, Cathy of 746 Books has decided to host again and I’ve decided to join again, even though I never make it. I extend the time – going Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day; I choose shortish books and many mysteries because I’m usually better about reading those; but still, it’s too much for me. Maybe this year is my year. Also perfectly willing to toss out list or parts of list and get on with whatever appeals at the moment. I always think vacation will help, but it doesn’t much. Any way, I will attempt to post pictures of my list as they are all ebooks. I am starting today with Michael Innes’ third Appleby mystery: Lament for a Maker.

The rest of the books at the moment include:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Eighth Detective

Traitor’s Purse

The Naked Nuns

Parting Breath

The Crooked Hinge

The House on the Cerulean Sea

The Paris Enigma

Rhododendron Pie

The Nursing Home Murder

The Green Hat

Buried for Pleasure

The Lord of Misrule – Paul Halter

The Seville Communion

The Metamorphosis

The House Without a Door – Elizabeth Daly

Behind That Curtain (one of the 11 books in the Earl Derr Biggers Collection)

The Blatchington Tangle – G.D.H. Cole & Margaret Cole

The Greene Murder Case

You may have noticed I stuck a few short classics in there. Time will tell how far I get, but I always start out with enthusiasm and gratitude to Cathy for hosting!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon April 2023

10 AM

So, late as usual, but they’re not doing it like usual, either. No wait, this is usual for me. Had a bit of a headache, but it seems to be leaving. There’s no sign up sheet. Everyone’s short-staffed, I guess, these days. I would think that would be the one thing to keep. Only way to know who’s where, but I don’t know. I’ve never hosted. It rained all day yesterday so it was much more pleasant not to go anywhere including to buy a pile of snacks, so I didn’t. Also, I’m in the middle of reading Hildegarde Withers Murder on the Blackboard which I’d like to finish, so I’m going with that. I’m about 3/4 done so even I might manage another book. Or a chunk of one. But I also have 2 articles to read and I almost always need a nap. So we shall see. I hope there are many of you, out there, reading away. Enjoy the day!

11 AM

Finished Hildegarde. There was about 13% of the previous book at the end, or I read them out of order. So I was a lot closer than I thought. I’m going with The Pot Thief Who Studied Edward Abbey. I myself tried to study Edward Abbey. I have Desert Solitaire from a trip to the Grand Canyon. Couldn’t find it so bought the e-version. At any rate, I’ve read some of it and he’s not really the sort of writer you can spoil like Orenduff did in the Georgia O’Keefe one. O’Keefe’s an artist so no spoiling her, but one of his characters spoiled The Flanders Panel. I should have stopped when they started talking about it, but I really didn’t think they would spoil the mystery. Luckily I’m old enough I forget stuff. I’m hoping before long I’ll be able to read it without remembering the spoiler. At any rate, I can’t read all day. Have to go to a concert with my mom. Gotta eat and get ready so may not write again for a while.

April 30 Midnight hour

So, thought I might manage to get a word in, but no. Started reading Pot Thief, realized I should be reading these articles, took mom to concert, took mom to nap, read part of one article, may have drifted off, then to dinner – kebabs – then home to read a few more pages of article and end up only talking about that one article. Now it’s a quarter past 12 and I will read myself to sleep which feels like it won’t be long. I can ruin my sleep by reading whenever I wake up and I probably will. I should put a picture here to enliven it. I will, almost certainly sleep past 8, I think I need a better arrangement like 8 hours 3 days in a row. Good night!

Dewey’s 24, no, maybe 7, Hour Readathon

Opening Survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? At the moment I’m in Maryland, but I scheduled a visit to Longwood today, so most of the time I’ll be going there, being there, or in a nearby hotel. So, probably not a lot of posting will happen here.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I usually pick one new book to focus on — today’s is The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare. If that doesn’t hold me, there’s many more to choose from.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? The trip to Longwood means I don’t know what I’ll be eating, but hopefully some good stuff. I definitely want a fancy coffee. I didn’t expect to get up almost on time as I didn’t go to bed on time, but here I am only half an hour late.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I think I’ve already told you. Longwood is a large garden/park which used to be one of the Dupont residences near Kennett Square, PA. They have colorful light and fountain shows in the summer/early fall, and gorgeous flower displays and this year a special light display I really wanted to see and I’m running out of time. Next year, hopefully, I’ll plan ahead better. Happy reading, everyone!

10:00 AM – The book starts off well. Alice Merely comes from a long line of women descended from Eleanore Dare – a survivor of the Roanoke Colony. Each daughter since has inherited the house and a book written in by each woman and given to her daughter. We don’t know exactly what went wrong, but something did when Alice was 13 and her mother lost her mind apparently and Alice left the home and all behind her. Grew up, got married, widowed, and now her own daughter is 13 and Alice’s past has reentered her life. Spooky. Atmospheric. Enjoying it so far, but I have to break off already to get ready to go. I apparently failed to actually buy the ticket, so the time I wanted is gone and I have to go earlier than planned. Lucky I got up early. SMH. Honestly, I need a secretary.

Readathon Coming Up

Here I am, not finishing the last event, signing up for the next. 3 weeks from Saturday (October 22nd) will be Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Yay! You don’t have to read the whole time, unless you want to. You just make reading as much a priority as you can. And snacks. Snacks are also a priority. People all over the world reading during the same 24 hour period. It’s fun. Sign up! Join us! Snack! Read! Enjoy!

Here is where: https://deweysreadathon.wordpress.com/

20 Books of Summer – Book 6 – Murders in Volume 2

Henry Gamadge #3 and in some ways the most enjoyable. I feel that Daly is getting into the swing of it. Gamadge is in his element looking into the missing volume of a set of the works of Byron. A volume that disappeared 100 years ago with the governess of the Vaureguard household, a wealthy old New York family. Society is not what it once was. The Vaureguards still have some money – one is a famous actress trying to stage a comeback. They still have the old family manse. But they really do not want to be disinherited by the head of the family who has a sad tendency to fall for stories such as the return, after a hundred years, of the governess who disappeared. It must be true. She brought the book back.

A delicate investigation for Gamadge trying to determine a way to get rid of the supposedly returned governess without offending the old man, until people start dying. An enjoyable Henry Gamadge novel and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Given that in order to finish the remaining books of the 20 I’d have to read about 400 pages a day, I’m going to go back to my original plan of reading until Labor Day. Might finish by then. I have a much better chance at any rate.

20 Books of Summer #4+

So it’s been almost exactly two months since my last entry. At least I’ve been reading more than I’ve been writing. More than usual. Maybe more than ever, but not enough unless I read every single free minute and a few that aren’t, but I’m trying.

Book #4 was The Window at the White Cat by Mary Roberts Rinehart. MRR was quite a famous and successful writer in her day. And mostly her stuff stands the test of time, if you tend to like old books. White Cat was a fun one. There are two elderly spinsters one of whom has always bullied the other until the other disappears! Their… niece? great-niece? some young female connection of theirs whose father has just died, I think… oh dear. 2 months is too long. She meets their lawyer who loves her instantly. There’s scandals and missing money and mysterious people searching houses for what? There’s a strange number turning up here and there, a constantly fainting woman, a stolen valise, or was it? Plenty going on, fast paced, a bit Sherlock Holmes mixed with a dash of Ann Radcliffe or better yet, Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I definitely recommend it if you like old mysteries and/or gothic novels. It’s not a pure gothic, just touches. Or if you like MRR, but haven’t read this one, you’re sure to enjoy it.

#5 was Slight Mourning by Catherine Aird. Fifth of the Calleshire county mysteries with Inspector Sloan which began in the late 60s and seems to have gone on until fairly recently. More of a police procedural, but fairly tame if you don’t like a lot of blood and guts. This one starts with a dinner in a mansion. The host, driving one guest home afterward, is killed on the return trip. It turns out he’s full of barbiturates. So, how did that happen? 11 others at the dinner all had the opportunity, but who and why remains to be found out. I’m very fond of this series, too, as you may have guessed.

So, 15 more to write about, should I finish all of them. It will be a minor miracle if I do. I have seven to go. Some are already started. But I’m so easily… look, squirrel!

Wish me luck. And I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer! Maybe I’ll come see what you’ve read. Maybe after August.

The Chinese Parrot – Book 3 of the 20 Books of Summer

I’m trying to catch up my reviews to my reading. Maybe a week ago I finished The Chinese Parrot – the second Charlie Chan mystery by Earl Derr Biggers. Charlie is escorting some very expensive pearls from Hawaii to San Francisco where their no longer rich owner is trying to sell them. She is going through a jeweller who still has feelings for her to sell them quickly to a wealthy business man to give to his daughter. The jeweller’s son, Bob Eden, tries to meet Charlie at the dock, but his suspicions are aroused by dubious characters hanging around him, so he leads them away and confirms they are following him. Charlie is left to make his own way to the jeweller’s, which he does without difficulty.

These suspicious characters and the millionaire’s changing directions for taking possession of the pearls leads Bob and Charlie to pretend they haven’t got the pearls while they suss out the situation at the millionaire’s lonely ranch in the desert. Poor Charlie, who was looking forward to a vacation on the mainland, is instead compelled to disguise himself as an ignorant Chinese servant and cook for the cranky millionaire and his secretary. It feels a bit slow waiting for things to happen and Charlie to figure out what is really going on, but it is not a long book and I enjoyed it. I will keep reading the Chan mysteries even though I had mostly guessed what had happened. Perhaps that’s why it felt slow – I wanted confirmation of my theory. Not sure if I read a similar story or saw it in a movie. But I was right.

I love this cover

Hamlet, Revenge! – Book 2 of the 20 Books of Summer

It is now couple weeks since i finished Hamlet, Revenge! Michael Innes’ second Inspector Appleby mystery. Should have been right up my street, putting on Hamlet in a mansion. Innes was very Oxbridge intellectual and so are most of his characters. Not a major problem, but some of the conversations can be a bit hard to follow. So was the backstage area where the first murder takes place. It seems to be divided up into rooms with curtains. A nice map would have been helpful. I certainly didn’t guess who had done it. Nor why.

I can see this is not particularly helpful as a review. I liked it. It had some good characters. The earl (or whatever he was) is compared at one point to Wodehouse’s Lord Emsworth. Pretty funny I think for a real earl (within the context of the book) to adopt a character from fiction. There are mysterious messages, spy shenanigans, a man called Bunny running around recording accents on his black box and a very good description of the actor playing Hamlet doing a couple scenes. Really made me want to be there.

Overall an entertaining read, but I’m not sure it’s a great mystery. While I didn’t figure it out, I also didn’t have that satisfying, oh, yeah! feeling when All Was Revealed. More a sort of, okay, then, I guess.

The $64 Tomato – Book 1 of the 20 Books of Summer

Off to a good start – finished the first book before the challenge has even started! But how could anyone wait to start through a four day weekend? I’m probably going to need one of those every week. I have been trying to do some gardening in a small way with mixed success. Fortunately I have not kept a record of the costs because it would be very deflating, I’m sure. I had good (beginner’s) luck with a few vegetables last year. My first time and it is pretty amazing that those little seeds can produce plants which produce vegetables you can eat. William Alexander’s memoir of his first decade with quite a sizable garden for someone with a full-time job, plus he adds a small orchard, several other plots and a meadow. My neighbor has a meadow. It’s a lot of work. The $64 Tomato is kind of a major spoiler right there in the title. It’s also not entirely accurate. This is the cost as near as he can figure it in a bad year. If he calculated the cost in a good year, it would be much lower, though probably nowhere near the cost of tomatoes in the store. Then again, you can’t get these tomatoes in the store. Perhaps if he doubled up on the tomatoes and forgot the rhubarb, which by his own admission tastes pretty much the same as in the store, he might find it more worthwhile. Then again, those groundhogs are a beast.

His memoir is quite amusing. They’re pretty intense people — buying a big old abandoned house and fixing it up, their 2,000 square foot garden, all the other garden bits, preserving the results, lugging potatoes hither, thither and yon, to try to keep them through the winter. I can’t remember if he said they were better than the grocery ones. Less toxic, presumably. His battles with various vermin and beasties, contractors and equipment. It’s quite amusing and sometimes head-shaking as real life clashes with his dreams of a beautiful, perfect garden. Some of his dreams are more universal than others — fresh, flavorful produce? Easily understood. His own meadow? I guess you had to be there. Not really a book you want for instruction as much as something which will put your own gardening woes into perspective.

Moving on to one of the mysteries. Maybe The Chinese Parrot or Hamlet, Revenge! Since I stretched the dates a bit, there’s still time to join everyone. Just head over to 746 Books and sign up! Make a dent in that TBR pile.

20 Books of Summer 2022

Yes, it’s that time of year again and 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge once more. Thank goodness. Even though I mostly finish about 7 books, I still enjoy the challenge. Of course, I choose mostly relatively short, easy books. Mostly mysteries. I will not be reading Proust this summer. I’m also stretching out the time of the challenge which officially goes from 1 June to 1 Sept. But here in America, summer unofficially starts this weekend – Memorial Day weekend – and ends on Labor Day, so that’s what I’ll do. It gives me an extra 10 days, but heck I need ’em. If you’re a purist you can ignore my reading outside the official dates. I don’t care. I have a few extra books and if I don’t feel like those, I have way more on shelves and Kindle. Here’s the list. But I reserve the right to sub in as many as I feel like:

The $64 Tomato – one man’s attempt to garden
Carnival Snackery – David Sedaris’ diary
Hamlet, Revenge! – Michael Innes Appleby mystery
Confessions of a Bookseller
Murders in Volume 2 – Henry Gamadge #3
The Pot Thief Who Studied D.H. Lawrence
The Fashion in Shrouds – Campion #7 I think
Enter a Murderer – Ngaio Marsh #2
The Fatal Eggs – Mikhail Bulgakov
The Greene Murder Case – Philo Vance
The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars – Anthony Boucher
An English Murder – Cyril Hare’s other pen name
St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate – Karen Armstrong
S.S. Murder – Q, Patrick
Broomsticks Over Flaxborough – sadly few Flaxborough novels left
Slight Mourning – Catherine Aird
The French Powder Mystery – Ellery Queen
A Nice Class of Corpse – a new one for me
The Chinese Parrot – Charlie Chan

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.

Phinnea's Book Blog List

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.