28 February 2010

Sunday Salon - Travelling - What made it into my case

As I indicated yesterday, husband and I on our travels again.

This will be a real test for my Kindle because I have been looking forward to using that mainly as my source of reading. I have over 50 unread items on it so I'll not be short of reading material.

People have been asking how long the battery will last between drinks and I honestly don't know. I have a couple of really long haul flights - Adelaide to Los Angeles and then on to Washington, Washington to Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi to home, so I'll know at the end won't I?

I found though that I also have to carry some ordinary books that I have been unable to get on the Kindle, and I'm also carrying some Australian books for members of 4MA that I am meeting in Washington.

What I'm reading 
  • now - CROSSFIRE - Miyuki Miyabe
  • next - A CARRION DEATH, Michael Stanley
  • audio (in the car) - THE CONCRETE BLONDE, Michael Connelly
  • Kindle - THE RUNNER, Peter May
A bigger worry has been taking adequate and appropriate clothes for the ends of the thermometer.

The case is already too heavy!!

Things to do on my blog this week:
  • There's a poll on my blog that asks you how old the author of the book you are currently reading is. You can leave a comment too, and tell me what you are currently reading.
  • This week the Crime Fiction Alphabet will visit the letter T. Why not contribute?
Posted on my site in the last week or so
News you may have missed

27 February 2010

On My Travels - Blogging In Absentia

Off on some travels today - Washington DC for a conference for a few days and then home via Abu Dhabi. Hoping to see some 4MA cyber friends in Washington too, to deliver some Aussie crime fiction to them.

So I've scheduled an occasional post for the next 10 days, but nothing like my usual prolific self.

I may get to do some updates in the next 10 days, because of course I am taking books with me - mainly on the Kindle, but I have a couple of "paper" books I have to read too. But otherwise I'll catch up when I get back.

26 February 2010

10 Rules for Writing Crime Fiction

The Guardian (UK) has asked some well known writers for their 10 rules. 

Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy,
Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson

Ian Rankin's tips are classic:
1 Read lots.
2 Write lots.
3 Learn to be self-critical.
4 Learn what criticism to accept.
5 Be persistent.
6 Have a story worth telling.
7 Don't give up.
8 Know the market.
9 Get lucky.
10 Stay lucky.

PD James obviously believes in an economy of words (either that or she can't count, but I guess when you are as old as the hills, that's forgiveable)
1 Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more ­effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.
2 Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
3 Don't just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.
4 Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
5 Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other ­people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.

Diana Athill can't count either.
1 Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out – they can be got right only by ear).
2 Cut (perhaps that should be CUT): only by having no ­inessential words can every essential word be made to count.
3 You don't always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye. Almost always it turns out that they'd be better dead. (Not every little twinge of satisfaction is suspect – it's the ones which amount to a sort of smug glee you must watch out for.)

25 February 2010

Forgotten Book: THE CASE OF THE CHINESE BOXES, Marele Day

This contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books is an Australian author, so the chances are that she is new-to-you.

THE CASE OF THE CHINESE BOXES was published in1990 and occurs in my records towards the end of 1992. The only cover image I've been able to find is a bit indistinct.

This is the 2nd in Day's Claudia Valentine series:
1. The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender (1988)
2. The Case of the Chinese Boxes (1990)
3. The Last Tango of Dolores Delgado (1993)
4. The Disappearances of Madalena Grimaldi (1995)

There is a nice review of CHINESE BOXES here 
The largest bank heist in Australian history finds tough Sydney investigator Claudia Valentine hired by a Chinese family to search for a key stolen from a safety deposit box. 

Marele Day has continued to write but more literary works (not crime fiction)
Shirley's Song (1984)
Lambs of God (1997)
Mavis Levack, P.I. (2000)
Mrs Cook: The Real and Imagined Life of the Captain's Wife (2003)
The Sea Bed (2009)

Marele Day was given a Lifetime Achievement award at the Ned Kellys in 2008.

I believe from what was said there, that the Ned Kelly awards were her brain child.   

Bernadette at Reactions to Reading said of THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF HARRY LAVENDER: If you like private eyes with a lot of guts and a sense of humour you could do a lot worse than track down this book.

23 February 2010

Out on a Limb in crime fiction

When I ran last week's poll asking how many people would admit to confining their reading to a single genre I certainly didn't expect to find myself sitting out on a limb!

That's me on my lonesome at Only one, and the rest at more than one!

Many of the poll participants commented that while their preference is for crime fiction, they also read other genres such as historical, science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers,

I took heart at Deb's comment:
I read across all genres--with, of course, crime/mystery fiction being my favorite. A few years ago, I read Jane Smiley's 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A NOVEL in which she says that all novels are at heart mystery novels because something unknown is always being uncovered. I love that quote.

I tend to agree that mystery lies at the heart of most fiction - solving a puzzle seems to me to be the main reason why we read.

This comment from readerbuzz set me thinking too: I like to create my own genre names: Moving-and-Starting-Over...Books About Books...and, the current favorite, Yearlong Challenges That Started Out as Blog Posts and Built Into a Book From Which a Movie Was Later Made....

Thanks for participating in the poll everyone. It certainly had me thinking about my own addiction! And also about whether I tend to think I read solely crime fiction when in fact I read other genres too, and just don't recognise the fact. Maybe we'll analyse what I call crime fiction one day. I do know that when I occasionally venture outside what I call crime fiction, I think why am I wasting my time on this!

Agatha Christie Blog Carnival 2010 - #2

A bumper edition of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival for February 2010 is now available with 25 submissions by 20 bloggers.

Many thanks to those who contributed links to the Carnival.

Locate the carnival here

22 February 2010

Review: THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH, Simon Beckett

Another of my reviews published elsewhere back in 2007, and now published on my blog for the first time.  Published as a contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet for the letter S.

Book published by Bantam Press, Sep 2006

Three years ago forensic anthropology expert David Hunter left London to become a GP in the Norfolk Broads. The close-knit Norfolk village of Manham where he lives has no idea of his background and that's the way he wants it. It is one of those villages where it takes a lifetime to be accepted, and perhaps he'll always be an outsider.

One early July Sunday afternoon two young boys come across a maggot trail on the edge of the marsh, and moments later they find a decomposing body. When the hysterical boys arrive home, their mother calls Dr. Hunter who calls the local police. Hard as he tries to distance himself from the investigation, David is drawn in when the investigating police inspector discovers who he is. His involvement in the case is assured when a young woman fails to return home from her morning run.

The threads of the novel are an interesting interweaving of David Hunter's forensic knowledge with the way a community can turn on its members. Some see it as a chance to drop suspicion on enemies, the village priest tries to take the opportunity to make a stronger community, and outsiders like David Hunter become prime suspects. And all the time they are looking in the wrong places.

In the Acknowledgements, debut author and journalist Simon Beckett says that the inspiration for THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH came from an article he wrote about the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee, which provides intensive and realistic forensic training for crime scene investigators. In fact, Beckett has David Hunter attend a course at the academy. In the copy of the book that I read, the article is included in the final pages. That his visit to the academy made a lasting impression on Beckett is obvious throughout THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH. There's a lot of detail about what happens when a body decomposes, and there are times when you don't want your imagination to work too vividly.

Simon Beckett is strong and assured writer. THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH was short-listed for the 2006 CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel. It is available in a variety of print and audio formats. Beckett's second novel, WRITTEN IN BONE, was published in hard cover in August 2007. His website is full of goodies: interviews, promotional videos, short stories, articles, and reviews.

Review first published in Murder and Mayhem, November 2007

Simon Beckett has since written two more books:

Crime Fiction Alphabet - Week beginning 22 February 2010 - the letter S

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

Here are the rules

Each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.

So you see you have lots of choice. You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.

Please check each Monday for the letter of the week, and then link your post back to the page. Also come back and put the link to your blog post in Mr. Linky below.
Then come and check to see who else has posted and visit their blog.
You have until the end of the week to complete your mission.

NB - if Mr Linky is unavailable, I hope it is temporary - leave a link in a comment

This week's letter (S):

See other letters: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R

21 February 2010

Sunday Salon - 21 February 2010

The poll on my blog for the next 10 days or so asks you how old the author of the book you are currently reading is. You can leave a comment too, and tell me what you are currently reading.

This week there will be a new edition of the Agatha Christie Blog Carnival, and in the Crime Fiction Alphabet we will be tackling the letter S.

Posted on my site in the last week or so
News you may have missed
What I'm reading 
  • now - CROSSFIRE - Miyuki Miyabe
  • audio (in the car) - THE CONCRETE BLONDE, Michael Connelly
  • Kindle - THE RUNNER, Peter May
Challenge Update

Crime Fiction Alphabet - Summarising the letter R

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

The letter for the week beginning 15 February was the Letter R

As I expected my valiant contributors appeared to have little trouble with the letter R
There were some old favourites as well as a couple of new-to-me authors.

Once again we had 11 contributors.

Tomorrow, 22 February, we will be featuring the letter S, which given the depth of knowledge shown by our contributors should cause no problems at all.

And then we will have 7 more letters to come.
If you read and write about crime fiction, we'd love to have your contribution. It is really very easy - just write a post on your blog about a crime fiction writer or book where the author's first or last name or the title of the book begins with the letter S, and then come in to tomorrow's post and put the URL of your post into Mr Linky.

Contributions for the letter R:
See other letters: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R

20 February 2010

How old is the writer of the book you are currently reading?

Over in the right hand column you will find a poll that asks the same question as the title of this post.

Do you take much notice of the age of your favourite authors?

Ruth Rendell turned 80 this week, PD James is 90 this year, Alexander McCall Smith will be 62, Dick Francis recently died at 89, and if Agatha Christie was still alive she'd be turning 120.

Do authors get better as they get older? Do they age like wine?
Or do you think they should stop working at retirement age?
What would we have missed out on if your favourite author had done that?

If you have to do some research so that you can participate in the poll, you could try Fantastic Fiction or even Wikipedia.

Do leave a comment about the book you are reading, and the age of the author.

Review: THE SURGEON, Tess Gerritsen

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (December 23, 2009)
Tess Gerritsen was already a well established author when THE SURGEON launched the Jane Rizzoli series in 2001. Jane is a female detective working in a man's world in the Boston Police Department. She's recently moved from Vice and Narcotics to Homicide. She's the only woman in Homicide and already there has been trouble between her and another detective. She's a woman out to make her mark.

There's a serial killer on the loose in Boston, his hallmark that he operates on his victims, removing body parts while they are still alive. Jane Rizzoli knows solving this case could be the making of her career. Her assigned partner is "Saint" Thomas Moore, the cop who never stepped over the line, never swore, never lost his cool.

THE SURGEON snags the reader straightaway, opening with a prologue from the killer's point of view.
Today they will find her body.
Today they will know we are back

The Surgeon has a fixation of Boston doctor Catherine Cordell. His victims, we learn, are women who have already been damaged, as has Catherine Cordell, through rape. In their own ways Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore both step over the line, Rizzoli in a way that could mean the end of her career.

The blurb on the front of the book says THE SURGEON is a page turner - as I read this on my Kindle, the "next page" button got a rapid work out.
An excellent read and highly recommended.
Perhaps I should warn that some of the medical details may make you a little squeamish.

My rating 4.7

Read an excerpt on Gerritsen's own site.

I featured Tess Gerritsen  for my letter G in the Crime Fiction Alphabet.
You'll find in that post my reviews of  THE MEPHISTO CLUB (4.6) and THE BONE GARDEN (4.6)

My other mini-reviews:

This is the novel immediately before 'Body Double'.  Not even the icy temperatures of a typical New England winter can match the bone-chilling scene of carnage discovered at the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Light. Within the cloistered convent lie two nuns–one dead, one critically injured–victims of an unspeakably savage attacker. The brutal crime appears to be without motive, but medical examiner Maura Isles’s autopsy of the dead woman yields a shocking surprise: twenty-year-old Sister Camille gave birth before she was murdered. Then another body is found mutilated beyond recognition. Together, Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli uncover an ancient horror that connects these terrible slaughters. As long-buried secrets come to light, Maura Isles finds herself drawn inexorably toward the heart of an investigation that strikes close to home–and toward a dawning revelation about the killer’s identity too shattering to consider.  Also available as an abridged audio cassette, abridged audio CD, an abridged downloadable audiobook, an abridged downloadable audiobook and an eBook.

VANISH (4.5)
The last thing that Boston medical examiner Maura Isles expects to find in her morgue in a zipped up body bag is a Jane Doe that is still alive. And the last thing that Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli expects to happen when she goes to hospital to have her baby is to become a hostage. When these two threads combine you have an explosive mixture.

19 February 2010

Review: THE SUFFOCATING SEA, Pauline Rowson

Published in 2008, 3rd in Pauline Rowson's Andy Horton series, set in Portsmouth (UK).

I listened to this as an audio book downloaded from Audible.com.
Read by Gordon Griffin, whom I have already met reading RED BONES by Ann Cleeves.

The investigation of a suspicious death in Horsea Marina leads DI Andy Horton to wonder why the victim had come to Portsmouth. When a priest whom the victim visited suddenly dies, and then his lawyer disappears, Andy Horton's gut instincts tell him that these incidents are all connected even if there is no obvious proof.

There's a satisfying complexity added to the plot when Andy becomes aware of a connection between the dead priest and his own mother who disappeared when he was 10 years old.  Other strands to the plot such as Andy's own problems with access to his daughter, the poor health of his sergeant's father, Andy's relationship with his Super, and then an attempt on Andy's life, all mean that there is never a dull moment for the reader. The characters are strongly drawn, and the plot moves quickly.

I enjoyed this title more than I did DEADLY WATERS which I read last year and felt I was missing too much of the back story.

My rating: 4.6

On Pauline Rowson's site: well worth exploring.

Selected as the "Best of British Crime Fiction" by The Book Depository.

Read the first chapter (pdf format) 

Read an extract online

The Andy Horton series

1. Tide of Death (2006)
2. Deadly Waters (2007)
3. The Suffocating Sea (2008)
4. Dead Man's Wharf (2009)

18 February 2010

Review: BLOOD & ICE, Robert Masello

Harvill Secker 2009, ISBN 978-1-846-55273-1, 495 pages

December 28, 1856, in the Southern Ocean very close to Antarctica, the captain and crew of the Brig Coventry make an unsettling discovery about their two passengers, a husband and his wife, and throw them overboard, in chains, into the frigid black water.

In the present day Michael Wilde photographic journalist is given a commission to write a feature about the work being done at Point Adelie in the Antarctic. On his first diving expedition in Antarctic waters he discovers frozen bodies trapped in an underwater glacier. What he doesn't expect is that they will wake.

If you want to read more of the plot of this book than I am going to tell you here, visit the Bantam Dell site, or Robert Masello's own site, or even Amazon.

I've seen BLOOD & ICE categorised as suspense, thriller, fantasy, horror, and it certainly is a little outside my usual crime fiction fare. Certainly there is mystery, and there is murder, but Masello goes well beyond that in the themes that hold the plot together. Be prepared to have your credulity challenged. One reviewer wrote: riotous mix of history, cryogenics, vampirism, and a chilling adventure and he is not far wrong.

BLOOD & ICE took me a little beyond my comfort zone, but I liked the strong evidence of research that underlies the book, whether it is of the historical period surrounding the Crimean War in the 1850s, or life in an Antarctic research station. The writing is very polished and the stories intertwine well. The character of Michael Wilde is further fleshed out with the story of his girlfriend Kristin existing on a life support machine, after a climbing accident.

My rating: 4.5

Robert Masello has written 6 other novels including BESTIARYand VIGIL.
BLOOD & ICE is his most recent.

Review by Duncan Lawie on Strange Horizons

Forgotten Book: RUMPOLE FOR THE DEFENCE, John Mortimer

It's quite a while since I've read a Rumpole book, although according to my records, twenty or so years ago I devoured them, and last year I featured RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY in Friday's Forgotten Books.
Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books

Last year it was the death of John Mortimer that triggered my post, but today it is the fact that my husband bought a copy of RUMPOLE AND THE PENGE BUNGALOW MURDERS in a Penguin Classic edition for the very respectable price of $9.99.

RUMPOLE FOR THE DEFENCE (1982) is a collection of seven short stories about the Old Bailey hack Rumpole, and the various judges and oddballs he encounters.

Part of what endeared the Rumpole books to me was the portrayal of Rumpole in the TV series by Australian actor Leo McKern, who seemed to fit the role so well. - and weren't the opening credits and cartoons wonderful?

Seriously, if you've never read any Rumpole then it is not too late to start - in fact now there is no danger of the series growing, you have a fixed target to aim at ( a very manageable 27) if you decide to set yourself a target of reading them all!

Here is the list courtesy Fantastic Fiction:
Rumpole of the Bailey (1978)
The Trials of Rumpole (1979)
Rumpole (1980)
Regina v Rumpole (1981)
Rumpole for the Defence (1982)
Rumpole's Return (1982)
The First Rumpole Omnibus (omnibus) (1983)
Rumpole and the Golden Thread (1983)
Rumpole for the Prosecution (1986)
Rumpole's Last Case (1987)
The Second Rumpole Omnibus (omnibus) (1987)
Rumpole and the Age of Miracles (1988)
Rumpole and the Age for Retirement (1989)
Rumpole a La Carte (1990)
Rumpole On Trial (1992)
The Best of Rumpole: A Personal Choice (1993)
Rumpole and the Angel of Death (1995)
Rumpole and the Younger Generation (1995)
The Third Rumpole Omnibus (omnibus) (1997)
Rumpole Rests His Case (2001)
Rumpole and the Primrose Path (2002)
Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders (2004)
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror (2006)
The Anti-social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole (2007)
Rumpole Misbehaves (2007)
Rumpole at Christmas (2009)
A Rumpole Christmas (2009)

16 February 2010

Detectives around the world - who is your favourite?

Jen of Jen's Books Thoughts is hosting a week which looks of great interest to we crime fiction addicts.

One element of the theme week is going to be a tournament for the "World's Favorite Detective." So this week you can nominate your favourite detective as an entry in the tournament. In fact, Jen says you can nominate more than one if you like. There are some simple rules, like no spies or amateur sleuths. There will be 64 detectives in the final list. So pop over to Jen's blog and nominate to your heart's delight.

15 February 2010

Review: SECRET ASSET, Stella Rimington

Random House Australia, Hutchinson, Sep 2006
This is another of those reviews that was originally posted elsewhere, and has been waiting its turn to be re-posted here. I wrote the original review back in 2006, and have been aiming to read some more  Rimington ever since.

So it becomes this week's contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme for the letter R.

On his death-bed Irish Nationalist Sean Keaney asks to see James Maguire, one of his former comrades. He tells Maguire that some years before the IRA planted a mole into one of the British security services. The mole, never activated, is now likely to be the equivalent of a 'loose cannon'. Maguire agrees to pass the information on to MI5 and MI6.

If Keaney's story is true, then the potential for damage is immense. MI5 Intelligence officer Liz Carlyle is taken from her current case, an investigation into a possible Islamic terrorist group in London, and re-assigned. Her task is to locate the mole from the meagre clues that Keaney, now dead, gave to Maguire. In a meeting Liz has with Maguire he poses a question which must be very relevant to British security: which has higher priority, IRA related activities or possible Islamic terrorism? Maguire says that the world has moved on, that IRA aggression is history. Liz says that it is 'unfinished business', a file that needs to be closed. As the story develops, the need to find the mole becomes more pressing. Liz Carlyle's search for him results in the death of an Oxford don, and an inevitable threat to Liz's own safety.

Author Stella Rimington has created a number of interesting characters in this, the second Liz Carlyle novel. Liz herself is thorough, level-headed and intuitive; Charles Wetherby, Director of Counter Terrorism, is supportive, determined and always unflustered; Peggy Kingsolver is a researcher able to distil information from seemingly meaningless facts. These are just some of the characters who come to life in this entertaining, well-crafted, and believable story.

I didn't feel that I learned anything earth shattering about espionage from SECRET ASSET. Stella Rimington, former head of MI5, hasn't given away any trade secrets. I am not sure whether I understand the workings of the British secret service any better than I did. If anything, it was little too predictable that there would be connections between the search for the mole and the earlier investigation that Liz was involved in. The identity of the mole is revealed almost 100 pages before the end, and then the focus moves to what the mole will do to bring MI5 down. Perhaps Rimington could have left us in ignorance a little longer.

I get the feeling that Rimington has many more tales to tell and I look forward to meeting Liz Carlyle again. I certainly will look for the first in the series, AT RISK.

October 2006 review originally posted on Murder and Mayhem

Stella Rimington's Liz Carlyle series (courtesy Fantastic Fiction)
Liz Carlyle
1. At Risk (2004)
2. Secret Asset (2005)
3. Illegal Action (2007)
4. Dead Line (2008)
5. Present Danger (2009)

Crime Fiction Alphabet - Week beginning 15 February 2010 - the letter R

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

Here are the rules

Each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.

So you see you have lots of choice. You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.

Please check each Monday for the letter of the week, and then link your post back to the page. Also come back and put the link to your blog post in Mr. Linky below.
Then come and check to see who else has posted and visit their blog.
You have until the end of the week to complete your mission.

NB - if Mr Linky is unavailable, I hope it is temporary - leave a link in a comment

This week's letter (R):

See other letters: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q

14 February 2010

Book Review Blog Carnival #37

Many thanks to all the contributors in this edition of the Carnival.

Book Reviews

Crime Fiction

Bernadette at Reactions to Reading presents Review: The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill
if a tale that unfolds in intricate, captivating layers and provokes much thought about what you would do in the face of modern moral dilemmas sounds like your kind of thing then read The Pure in Heart.

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise reviews THE KILLING HANDS, P.D. Martin
Looking for some Australian crime fiction? PD Martin rivals the best. This is #4 in her Sophie Anderson series, an Australian profiler working in LA with the FBI.

Scarlett Moore at Mystery Librarian presents Great Mystery Book Fun: Makeovers Can Be Murder
a witty little mystery by Kathryn Lilley that is an entertaining story starring Kate Gallagher, a plus-sized TV reporter who is assigned a new story that she dreads. She has to do a series on weight loss scams with the first episode starring Kate in a bikini. What!?! Let the panic begin…


Missy Frye  at Incurable Disease of Writing presents Book Review: Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer
Tricia Goyer delivers a perfectly paced suspense with just enough romance and history to make it a splendid read.

Sparky Bates at Accidental Reads presents The Associate - by John Grisham
I found it an interesting story that I wanted to keep reading all the way through. Those are the kind of books I like to read.

General Fiction

Surbhi Bhatia at Online 's Site presents Alchemist:: Read Only if You Dream by Paul Coelho.
The story is not a narration, but dialogues and conversations amongst various characters. It’s a book beyond being special

Jim Murdoch at The Truth About Lies presents Novel Without a Name.
This is not so much a book about war, it is a book about people who happen to be at war and who have been at war far longer than they ever expected.

Jason Ward at The Word of Ward  presents The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluth
This book is a gem. It was written over 50 years ago but deals with topics still relevant today. 

Missy Frye at Incurable Disease of Writing presents Book Review: Katy's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer
In the small Mennonite community of Schellberg, girls are expected to stay home and help their families when they finish ninth grade. But, Katy wanted to learn and so she sought and was granted approval to attend the public high school in Salina, a neighboring town. 

Darren at Bart's Bookshelf presents Review: The Bird Room by Chris Killen
This is not a book I would normally pick up off the shelves so I’m thankful to the publisher, Canongate and the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for sending it to me. 

Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays presents  The Road.
a new type of post-apocalyptic fiction, a modern type that has moved away from science fiction and towards horror.

Life Style

BWL at Christian Personal Finance presents What Everyone Should Know About Money Before They Enter the Real World by Joseph Sangl.
This is a great book for young adults.

Wallet Blogger at The Smarter Wallet presents Dave Ramsey: A Debt Fighting Guru's Money Philosophies
Several years ago, I became interested in learning more about managing my money and came across some information by Dave Ramsey. Now seems like an ideal time to revisit his money philosophies.

switch2life presents Book Review: 'Bhatkanti Raigad Jilhyachi'.
This book is travel directory of Raigad district in Maharashtra. As a travel junky I found this book very informative. Like all travel directories it has information of important places to visit, where to stay, where to eat, and historical background of a place, geographical importance, culture and daily life of the place.

Steven Handel at The Emotion Machine presents Review: 100 Ways To Screw Up Your Life.
This book is specifically designed to stir up people’s feelings and – in the process – create a lasting change.

Rose at Fine Craft Guild .com presents Craft Book of the Month.
We choose the hot-of-the-press book "Refashioned Bags: Upcycle Anything into High-Style Handbags" by artist team Justina & Faith Blakeney as our book of the month, January 2010. And we can see it is going to be one of our favorite books.


Clark Bjorke at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book! presents The Mayor of McDougal Street.
A posthumous memoir, gleaned from hours of interviews with folksinger Dave Van Ronk and a history of the "Great Folk Scare" of the 1960s as seen by one of it's central characters.

Poets & Poetry

Jim Murdoch at The Truth About Lies presents Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life
The bottom line after spending the best part of a week getting to know this guy is that I’m looking forward to reading more. That I didn’t expect; not for one minute.

Jim Murdoch at The Truth About Lies presents The Pleasure of the Damned: Poems, 1951 – 1993
Poetry by Charles Bukowksi. The thing I’ve learned about Bukowski is that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.


Rick Sincere at Book Reviews by Rick Sincere presents 'The Wayward Professor' by Joel J. Gold
I found the typescript for this book review in a long-neglected file box. It was written in 1989 or 1990 but has not been previously published.

Children's Books

Darren at Bart's Bookshelf presents Review: The Kites are Flying! by Michael Morpurgo
This is a brilliant thought provoking tale, with fantastic, effective, illustrations by Laura Carlin, that perfectly suit the mood of the book. I can’t recommend the book enough.

The next editon of the Book Review Blog Carnival will be published on 28 February 2010 at Best Books Review.
Submit your articles to the next edition here
If you are interested in hosting an edition of the carnival please contact Clark Bjorke

Sunday Salon - 14 February 2010

This week I'm running a poll on my blog asking how many fiction genres you read.
I'm unashamedly a crime fiction addict, but I know many of my blog readers are not.
How about you? What genres do you read? Which are your favourites?
Leave a comment on my post.

Posted on my site in the last week or so
News you may have missed
What I'm reading 
  • now - BLOOD & ICE, Robert Masello
  • audio (in the car) - THE SUFFOCATING SEA, Pauline Rowson
  • Kindle - THE SURGEON, Tess Gerritsen

Crime Fiction Alphabet - Summarising the letter Q

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

The letter for the week beginning 8 February was the Letter Q

The letter had loomed in contributor's minds for some weeks and many were obviously concerned that they would not be able to rise to the challenge.
But in the end it was a bit of a false alarm, although yours truly did a bit of lateral thinking.

It appears though that some participants may have used their letter X trump card!

10 contributors this week - and more really good books to add to your shopping list!
Ellery Queen made a couple of appearances as did Qiu Xiaolog.

Tomorrow, 15 February, we will be featuring the letter R, which given the depth of knowledge shown by our contributors should cause no problems at all.

And then we will have 8 more letters to come.
If you read and write about crime fiction, we'd love to have your contribution. It is really very easy - just write a post on your blog about a crime fiction writer or book where the author's first or last name or the title of the book begins with the letter Q, and then come in to tomorrow's post and put the URL of your post into Mr Linky.

Contributions for the letter Q:
See other letters: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P

13 February 2010

How many fiction genres do you read?

In the right hand column you will find this week's poll, and I invite you to both take the poll and leave a comment below.

I read almost exclsuively (99.9%) crime fiction, but I recognise that many of my friends and fellow bloggers read far more broadly than I do.

A Wikipedia article defines the following genres for the novel:
To that list I would add historical but what other novel genres have I missed?
Which do you read? Which do you like best?

oz_mystery readers turns 7

A bit belated but news nevertheless.
oz_mystery_readers, the online Yahoo discussion list that I created back in 2003, has turned 7 this week.

We are a small, but reasonably active discussion group, with a focus on Australian crime fiction. However we also discuss non-Australian authors, and we welcome members from all over the globe.
We have quite a number of Australian crime fiction authors among our membership.

Coincidentally we have exactly the same number of members as we did this time last year: 127.

We hold regular books discussions so add the book to your reading schedule and join in!

Earlier this year I posted our Baker's Dozen of best crime fiction reads for 2009.

Our current discussion book choices:
  • March 5-15, A CARRION DEATH by Michael Stanley
  • April 5-12, DEEP WATER by Peter Corris - joint Ned Kelly winner 2009
  • April 17-24, SMOKE & MIRRORS by Kel Robertson - joint Ned Kelly winner 2009

Games, Sets and Matches

Inspired by Maxine'sBernadette's, and Dorte's attempts to discover patterns in the titles of their "books in the wings", here is a sample of what's on my shelves..

Actually it didn't turn about to be as easy as I thought it would be.

  • THE SUFFOCATING SEA, Pauline Rowson
  • THE WATER'S EDGE, Karin Fossum
  • DEEP WATER, Peter Corris
  • SHALLOW WATER, Stuart Black
  • BLACK ICE, Matt Dickinson
  • WINTER OF SECRETS, Vicki Delaney
  • WHITE OUT, Greg Rucka
  • WHITEOUT, Vicki Delaney
  • BLOOD AND ICE, Robert Masello
  • THE SNOW COW, Martin Kochanski
  • CROSS FIRE, Miyuke Miyabe
  • BRAVO TWO ZERO, Andy McNab
  • AMBUSH, Paul Carson
  • PALE BATTALIONS, Robert Goddard
  • BOCA KNIGHTS, Steven M. Forman
  • FIRESTORM, Nevada Barr
  • BLOOD BROTHERS, Nora Roberts
  • THE  DYING BREED, Declan Hughes
  • WRITTEN IN BONE, Simon Beckett
  • CORONER, M.R. Hall
  • LAST RITUALS, Yrsa Sigurdardottir
  • WHEN ONE MAN DIES, Dave White

12 February 2010

ACRC Update - 12 February 2010

My intent in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge is to read her books in order, so that I can get some idea of what she is doing, problems she is attempting to solve, and her development as a writer. If you look at some of my reviews you will see that I have been able to undertake some of this reflection.

Currently I am managing about a book a month.
I've read 16 books and 6 collections of short stories.

Read & reviewed so far
    1924, POIROT INVESTIGATES (short stories: eleven in the UK, fourteen in the US)
  7. 1927, THE BIG FOUR
    1929, Partners in Crime (fifteen short stories; featuring Tommy and Tuppence)
    1930, The Mysterious Mr. Quin (twelve short stories; introducing Mr. Harley Quin)
  12. 1932, PERIL AT END HOUSE
    1932 The Thirteen Problems (thirteen short stories; featuring Miss Marple, also known as The Tuesday Club Murders in the US)
    1991, Problem at Pollensa Bay publ. 1991 (Two of them feature Hercule Poirot, two Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Harley Quin, and two Mr Parker Pyne.)
  16. 1935, THREE ACT TRAGEDY (aka MURDER IN THREE ACTS)- Hercule Poirot and Mr Satterthwaite.
    1933, The Hound of Death - 12 short stories, UK only

    Reading schedule

    1934, The Listerdale Mystery - 12 short stories, UK only
    1934, Parker Pyne Investigates - 12 stories introducing Parker Pyne and Ariadne Oliver

  20. 1936, CARDS ON THE TABLE
  22. 1937, DEATH ON THE NILE
  25. 1939, MURDER IS EASY (aka EASY TO KILL)
  27. 1940, SAD CYPRESS
Check the opening blog post of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge here.
If you'd like to join the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge click here.

I am using the list at Wikipedia of novels and collections of short stories. I will interlace the short story collections into the list where I can, but may have to read them out of order. I have decided on a method for reporting on the short stories.

Please feel free to join in my challenge, comment on my reviews etc.

I have set up a block over in the right hand column called Agatha Christie Reading Challenge (with the same logo as this post) where I am listing the books I'm currently reading and those I've finished.
The challenge is called ACRC so each review will be preceded by those letters.

If you want to follow my progress through your RSS reader, then the RSS URL is
Just save that in your bookmarks or RSS reader and you will be notified when I have written a new post.
Alternatively you could subscribe to the feed through FeedMyInbox. Just copy the RSS URL, click on the FeedMyInbox link and paste the URL in there.
You will need to confirm your subscription by email.

Contribute your blog postings about any Agatha Christie novels to the monthly carnival. Make an agreement with yourself that whenever you complete reading an Aggie you will write a blog posting about it and then submit the posting to the carnival.
If you are participating in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge then write updates like this one and submit them to the Carnival. Let us know what progress you are making.


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