Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2021 is On!

Opening Event Survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Not so fine. Cloudy. Chilly. Maryland.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Plan to read The Sundial

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Poppables

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I spent half an hour trying to confirm the group read. Couldn’t find this information anywhere. Extremely frustrated. Decide to get up and look on laptop. Feed cat, get coffee. Realize it’s not Readathon Group Read, it’s R.I.P Group Read! D’oh! The Sundial. Which is what I thought in the first place.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Going to a concert with my mom so there’s a big chunk of the day not reading, I’ll maybe listen to an audiobook on the drive,

9:36 and not reading so far. Will probably fall asleep soon. My neighbor is mowing his lawn with a weed whacker. That should take some time.

1:33 – Page 50, which would feel like progress if it hadn’t taken 4 hours. I am easily distracted, I confess. Watching the neighbor stuff his paper bin with yard trim. I doubt they’ll take it.

The book is off to a pretty good start, I’d gotten it confused with The Road Through the Wall and so was surprised to find it the tale of a gothic, unpleasant family in a huge house, one of whom receives an apocalyptic message from her dead father after a nightmarish excursion through the grounds of the house. Jackson has a very… not sure the word I’m looking for dry? sly? sense of humor:

“Yes, mother.” Fancy pulled at the long skirt of the black dress her grandmother had put on her. Young Mrs. Halloran felt that black was not suitable for a ten-year-old girl, and that the dress was too long in any case, and certainly too plain and coarse for a family of the Halloran prestige; she had had an asthma attack on the very morning of the funeral to prove her point, but Fancy had been put into the black dress nevertheless. 

Lunch was a turkey sandwich and Poppables.

10:09 PM – Then there was a quantity of peanut M&Ms before falling asleep for a bit. Followed by dinner at a Peruvian restaurant and a balalaika concert. Very international evening. I am now back and trying to talk myself into reading more Shirley Jackson, but I think I’ll have an easier time convincing myself to go back to the Thursday Murder Club. Either one counts. And I’m home early enough I should be able to get another couple hours in at least.

Sunday, October 24th, 1:42 – I did get a bit more reading done, but then I got sleepy and unlike some nights, stayed sleepy. So, all in all, a very pleasant but not highly productive Readathon, which is pretty much par for the course these last few years. I’m not even halfway through The Sundial. It would be nice to finish that and Thursday Murder Club this week, but I rarely read that much any more. Readers Imbibing Peril ends on the 31st of course. I’ve watched a few things that qualify, maybe I’ll talk about those in the next week. I hope everyone else enjoyed their readathons!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2021

is soon.

Day after tomorrow 8 AM Eastern or the equivalent wherever you are, so we all read for the exact same 24 hour timespan. Whatever you want to read. Snack on whatever you want. Do both of these as much as you can for 24 hours. Personally, I’ve never made it 24 hours. That’s not important. What is important is that you read what you can and let others know you’re doing it and have a good time.

So this here is my sign up post. I was so ahead of the game that I bought too many snacks last weekend and have been eating them all week. Not good. Don’t do that. But do join me and many others from around the world and read this weekend!

The 1976 Club

I was reminded only today about this and so had not figured out what to read. I, personally, found the list of books published in 1976 to be unprepossessing. I wanted to find something which really embodied the 70s or something which fits in with R.I.P. I finally settled on The West End Horror by Nicholas Meyer Author of the 7% Solution. I read that so long ago, but it left an impression of being well written. This one seems okay, except in the foreword Meyer goes into great detail about dating the manuscript which he allegedly had offered to him by a woman from Racine, Wisconsin. He dates the manuscript late. Post WWI. But early on George Bernard Shaw visits 22B with his gait like a ‘leprecorn’ and offers them a case. Shaw is still a critic, not having reached success with his plays. He asks did they see Widower’s Houses ‘a year or two back.’ As that was performed in 1892, we should now be in 1894 give or take. Maybe I missed something because I’m listening not reading it?

Anyway, it’s the book I chose, my second for RIP, since it fits both sets of conditions. Getting sleepy, will have to write more tomorrow

10/16/21 – Figured it out. The case takes place in 1895, but wasn’t written down by Dr. Watson until after the first World War. I’d heard it, but then forgotten.

Readers Imbibing Peril XVI

Thanks to Cathy of 746 Books both for hosting the 20 Books of Summer or 5 or whatever, and for mentioning R.I.P. XVI! I think I missed last year. It’s now on Twitter, Instagram, and discussion on Discord. Of these I only use Twitter and that is practically an annual thing. So I probably would have never found it on my own.

It started on the first and I’m guessing the old description still holds. I usually managed the 4 books in 2 months 9/1-10/31. Mysterious. Creepy. Dark. Supernatural. Horror. Ghosts. Anything and everything that can be found under these headings. It’s a very flexible definition. Almost everyone can find something they enjoy that fills the bill. I only know two I’m going to be reading. The Sundial group read – I’ve had it on my list for years. And the first one will be Ngaio Marsh’s A Man Lay Dead – the first Roderick Alleyn. I read one of hers years ago and wasn’t keen, but I thought I should try again. What if I’d only ever read The Big Four or Passenger to Frankfurt? You see how unfair that would be. Tossing around ideas for the other two. Ghost stories? J. Sheridan LeFanu? Poe? I cannot decide, but I will let you know. And now, join me if you haven’t already started, as the days get shorter and colder (at least in the Northern hemisphere) and the colors and flavors of autumn start to appear…

Yes, that should be Readers not Reader’s. Sigh.

20 Books of Summer #5

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras — I’ve seen these off and on for years and was always curious. Now I’ve read one and I can thoroughly recommend it. Hubie Schuze is the eponymous Pot Thief though he doesn’t quite see it that way. He digs up old Native American pots in the desert and sells them to collectors. He has a nice little shop which reminded me of The Turquoise Shop by Frances Crane though that was Taos. Hubie has a young friend Susannah who waits tables and takes classes at the local college and has margaritas with Hubie almost every night.

Hubie gets an offer to steal a pot from a museum, one of two intact Mogollon water jugs. He doesn’t usually steal pots which have already been found, but he has money problems and the offer is tempting. He then gets a visit from an FBI agent who believes he has in his possession the only other intact Mogollon water jug, which has been recently stolen. What is going on? Then someone is killed and the police want to know why Hubie was there at the time.

J, Michael Orenduff acknowledges a certain inspiration from Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who… series. Another series I’ve long meant to read. Hubie’s a good character and so are his friends, it’s a well-paced and interesting plot. I will definitely be reading more of these. Soon, I hope.

20 Books of Summer #4

Tomorrow is the end of the Books of Summer… for everyone else. Where I live, the traditional end of summer is the first Monday of September, Labor Day. So, I’m going to carry on for another five days. And finish my own Books of Summer next Monday. 16 books in 5 days, piece of cake. Okay, no. But maybe one more?

4th book I finished some time ago was The Canary Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine It is I believe the second Philo Vance mystery and maybe some latitude should be granted, but I had problems with it. Quite a few problems. Let’s see how many I can remember.

This is actually from the movie, which I haven’t seen. I wonder if they added a swamp monster,

Perhaps the problem is once you’ve read a few impossible crimes, you recognize more of the ways they could be possible. Though frankly the police and Vance should have thought odd the guy who walked up to the apartment door and rang the bell even after being told ‘The Canary’ was out. The Canary of the title was a showgirl on Broadway before apparently leaving that career to do nothing but date older, wealthy men. The suspects are four men who dated her in the past and one who brought her home that very evening, although he’s considered alibied as he was outside the apartment with the night attendant when the lady screamed from inside the apartment and then said no, everything’s fine. Everyone treats this as pretty normal and I’m like no, this is super weird, but no one listens to me.

Vance is something like an American Wimsey, erudite, upper class, extremely cultured, and with a flippant, light-hearted manner which belies his high intelligence. Or should do. Early on he belittles the concept of organized crime. And even though he wasn’t alone in this, it still doesn’t make him look smart.

The book also feels very long. That progress takes ages and even though it’s clear to all of them that one man knows something they can’t be bothered to do much to try to get it out of him. The later Kennel Murder Case seemed better paced, better plotted, more interesting. If you’re only going to read one Philo Vance, don’t make it this one. Unless you think poker is a good substitute for evidence when it comes to catching a killer.

20 Books of Summer – #3

Charity Ends at Home by Colin Watson

I really enjoy Colin Watson’s books. This is 5th in the series. Set in Flaxborough as they all are. Published in 1968 it’s set around that tie. This one starts off with a strange, mysterious letter.

“I am in great danger … I know that murder is going to be the reward for my uncomplaining loyalty

Several copies of this letter are received anonymously by various members of the community including the local newspaper. There’s supposed to be a picture, but there isn’t any. There’s no signature. Is it a prank? Is it serious? Inspector Purbright is then required to investigate the murder of a woman who was drowned in her own decorative garden well. Did she also write the letters? It seems she did. But who did she write them about? Her husband was out. She was involved with animal charities. Was it something to do with that?

Simultaneously, Mortimer Hive, private investigator, is dividing his time between a mysterious private investigation and romancing the local barmaid from whom he purchases copious amounts of alcohol. Finally, we have the reappearance of Miss Lucilla Teatime, currently running one of the many charities in Flaxborough. Their assistance proves invaluable to Inspector Purbright. Watson is a very amusing writer. A sly wit, with a keen eye for the foibles of society.

If you prefer your Colin Watson as a radio play, you can try it here:

I stumbled across this while looking up a few facts about the book. Once upon a time several of the books were filmed and shown on Mystery! A Flaxborough Chronicle aired in 1977. I wonder why they didn’t do the rest, but apparently they’ve done at least one more as a radio play. Maybe I’ll listen to the rest of it, if it’s all available. I certainly recommend the books.

20 Books of Summer – No. 2

Deadly Nightshade. Yes. I read this. Okay, it’s coming back to me. Elizabeth Daly. The second Henry Gamadge mystery. Gamadge is called back to the site of his first detectival triumph – Maine – when a number of children are poisoned by nightshade in the town he solved his first case in. Not quite a town. Rather spread out. Someone seems to have traveled around the area offering children too young to know better nightshade berries. One child who was sensitive to it, died. One has disappeared. Fairly dark plot for a 1940 book. I enjoy Daly’s work and Gamadge as a character. In this one he has a young helper who joins him near the end.

The story starts off well enough, if creepy. Poisoning children is just seriously creepy. They find there’s a mysterious woman going around taking pictures of kids allegedly for a magazine. There’s a wealthy family whose brother and his family have unexpectedly returned from Europe owing to the war. Did the brother do it? So that his little girl could come into the jewelry their mother left to the oldest girl? Was it a crackpot lady who has recently returned to the area? What is going on?

Unfortunately I found the solution rather hard to swallow. Just like those berries. I like Gamadge’s methods and his way with children and people in general, but the actual solution to the mystery is dubious at best. I can’t really say anything because I don’t want to spoil it, but I don’t believe that that could happen in real life under those circumstances. So, there.

There is apparently a plant in the nightshade family similar to these berries that is not poisonous. Or at least not very. There are a couple websites recommending the eating of the non-deadly one, but not clear why you would chance that or recommend others do so, unless you’re hoping to get sued. Or you want to play the berry equivalent of Russian Roulette.

Don’t eat me!

20 Books of Summer – #1

So even the few books I’ve read won’t count unless I tell you about them. Mid-June I finished Love Lies Bleeding, a Gervase Fen mystery by Edmund Crispin. I always enjoy Fen – academic, eccentric, he’s come to a boy’s school to give away the prizes, but wouldn’t you know it? There’s been a death or two. Awkward. But the parents are coming so the show must go on. Behind the scenes, Fen and the police do their investigating. One of the girls at a nearby school is missing and there’s quite an amusing dog named Mr. Merrythought.

Most interesting cover

If I had written this last June, I’d have more thoughts about it. This was one of the original purposes of this blog. Not just to recommend or not various books I read, but to help me remember them. But it’s also a problem as any reviewer knows, how much to talk about. The motive for these murders could be viewed as a stretch, but then one never knows what might turn up. But I don’t want to tell you what it is because it seems like a fairly major spoiler. I have to bear in mind that this was set in the 40s (I think) Then people may be just as ignorant now, about that sort of thing. Sorry this is so vague.

The upshot is that I enjoyed this book like most Gervase Fens.

Reverse Readathon Summer 2021

Okay, I’m late. I was out having pizza and fried zucchini and now I’m very full so snacks will have to wait.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

You know I haven’t thought about it? I hope to finish The Canary Murder Case and then do more of my Books of Summer.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Bought so many. Shopped hungry. Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches? Toffee? Cashews? All of them!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I enjoy watching the Olympics so the timing of this readathon is not optimal, but I will try to read a lot.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Watch the Olympics? Finish a book? who knows?

10:14 PM

Watching the Olympics definitely slows the reading. I have to finish chapter 8 of The Fabric of the Cosmos for my World’s Tiniest Book Club. So I read during the commercials and there are a LOT of commercials. But it’s slow going, I confess.

8/7/21 – 12:09 PM

I have been finishing my assignment in Fabric of the Cosmos and am now going to switch back to The Canary Murder Case, which is taking infinitely long as I read a few pages and fall asleep. Maybe I can read a chunk (all?) this afternoon. Maybe. I fell asleep early last night so far more sleeping than reading has happened, but maybe I can do better in this last third.

1:23 PM – I am reading on my Kindle and it has not page numbers so I think I’ve read 10% of the book in the last hour. Thinking of doing some weeding because for once it’s not 100 degrees. This morning, for you snackage enthusiasts, I had a couple of chocolate chip pain au lait from Trader Joe’s. They had no scones, so I thought I’d try these. Very nice, not super-sweet. Go well with coffee.

4:03 – I weeded for a few minutes, but it was sprinkling, so I came back in. Read, dozed, now going to have some pizza. This book is the slowest read in the world. 68% done. Sheesh.

10:20 – 2 hours post end. Read. Weeded a few more minutes. Realized I could read in my recently set up hammock. Did that. Came back in. Read. Dozed off again and did not finish the half a book. But it was a nice day. Maybe the best thing I ate I shared with a friend – from Trader Joe’s, a Greek phyllo spiral stuffed with 5 cheeses. Nom.

Hope you all had a good day and read some stuff! We should do this more often!

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.