Tag Archives: Rex Stout

Five on the Go–The Fiction Edition

For an extremely brief moment on the morning of January 1, 2014, I considered the following resolution: I will read only one book at a time.

Hahahaha!

I think it took all of two seconds for me to realize how horridly I’d fail at such a resolution. And so, thankfully, I didn’t add that to my 2014 list of intentions.

Which turns out to be a very a good thing, since I currently have five novels on the go, and I’m very happy with all my selections. I’d hate to have started out the new year with such a big resolution-fail.

The really nice thing is that a couple of the books I have on the go are outside my normal "reading zone", and I’m really enjoying them. (My reading zone typically consists of mysteries, urban fantasies, and middle grade fiction.)

Print Books and Ebooks on the Go

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I’ve been reading, and loving, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. While it might technically be called a mystery, I guess, it really isn’t, and it’s far more literary than most of the books I read. I find I prefer reading The Goldfinch in small, delicious chunks, with my notebook at hand, ready to scribble down phrases that captivate me. I don’t normally read like this, and I’m finding I really like it, for a change of pace from my normal reading method, where I devour the story and turn the pages as quickly as I can.

the signature of all things by elizabeth gilbert

The other book I’m reading that’s outside my normal reading zone is Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. It’s described as "a glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge" and seriously, I hardly ever read books that are glorious and sweeping novels of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge. Also, it’s historical fiction, and I generally tend to steer clear of historical fiction.

But I’m loving it! Gilbert’s writing is sumptuous but oh-so-readable, and she drew me in from the very first chapter. The unfortunate thing with this book is I have it on loan from the Toronto Public Library’s ebook selection, which doesn’t allow for renewals (not that I’d be able to renew this one anyway, as it’s got a holds list). I’ll probably end up buying the ebook so I can finish it.

the invisible code by christopher fowler

Moving on, back into my reading zone, I’ve been delighting myself with the latest and deliciously quirky Bryant and May book, The Invisible Code: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery, by Christopher Fowler. I’ve read several of the books in this series (not in order, though …) and each one is always such fun. The Invisible Code is no exception, and it’s fun to see Bryant and May, both "senior" detectives – especially Bryant – ambling through the world of cellphones and Facebook.

Audiobooks on the Go

I also have a couple of novels going in audio.

dry bones by peter may

I started listening to Peter May’s Dry Bones, narrated by Simon Vance. This is my introduction to Scottish forensic scientist and biologist Enzo Macleod (and it’s the first in the series – finally, I’m starting a series at the beginning!). I’m only a couple of chapters in so far, and am enjoying Vance’s narration immensely.

prisoners base by rex stout

And I’m near the end of Prisoner’s Base, a Nero Wolfe mystery by Rex Stout, narrated by Michael Pritchard. This is a reread in audio; like the Agatha Christie mysteries, I’ve listened to all the audio versions currently available (that I can find, anyway) of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Along with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, they are what I like to call my "comfort listens" – I can have them on in the background even when I’m working, because I already know the stories so well. I can tune in and tune out, filling in the blanks whenever needed!

What about you? What are you currently reading, fiction-wise? Do you stick with one book, or are you more comfortable having several on the go?

A Reading Ramble: Inferno, A Natural History of Dragons, Smoke and Mirrors and More

I’m pleased to report that I kept up my reading even during the crazy busy month of June – so it’s time for another rambly post (my spellchecker tells me rambly is not a word but I like the sound of it anyway) about what I’ve been reading.

One book I tackled in June was Dan Brown’s Inferno. So here’s the quick and dirty: it didn’t work for me. I was very excited when I picked it up from the library, and cracked it open as soon as I got home. I got about halfway through the novel and realized I felt the same way about it as I did Angels & Demons: the story was exciting, and I was learning some interesting things, but I didn’t really care one way or another how the novel ended.

With Angels & Demons, I quit reading at about the 80% mark. I remember thinking to myself, all this excitement is rather tiring, and anyway, I know Langdon will end up fine, right? I felt the same with Inferno, except I got to that point a little earlier than I did with Angels & Demons. Since I knew lots of people were eagerly awaiting Inferno, I returned it to the library two days later (I waited a day to see if maybe I was just in a tired mood, and really did want to finish it after all – it turned out I really didn’t).

A Natural History of DragonsI absolutely adored this book

Happily, though, I also got my hands on a copy of A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. I LOVED this book – it’s one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s the kind of book I just want to press on everyone I know: “Read it, read it, oh, you simply must read it!”

And really, you simply must. I mean, it’s got dragons! An independent, feisty female main character! And did I mention, dragons?

For all you Flavia de Luce fans out there, Isabella (Lady Trent) is like Flavia all grown up – if, that is, Flavia had lived in a Victorian-type era in a world where dragons exist.

Last month I also managed to get tickets to see Neil Gaiman when he comes to Toronto in August on his book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, so I decided I’d catch up on my Gaiman (I’ve only read two of his books so far, Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book, both of which I loved). To get myself started, I skimmed through Prince of Stories (I had to skim, since the book contains synopses of all Gaiman’s works published at the time Prince of Stories was released, and I didn’t want to read anything spoiler-ish, but even skimming, it was quite lovely to read about everything Gaiman has done).

Smoke and MirrorsSuch a lovely short story collection!

And now I’m halfway through Smoke and Mirrors, and really enjoying it. When I was in my early 20s, I was an avid short story reader, and Smoke and Mirrors reminds me how satisfying a well-crafted short story can be. And I have to say, I am SO in awe of the way Gaiman handles narrative poetry!

I’m also halfway through Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, but it looks like I won’t be able to finish it for a while. I have it on ebook loan from the library, and there are several people on the wait list after me, which means I won’t be able to renew it. Which reminds me – I should go and add myself to the holds list again! It’s my first taste of Hill’s work, and I’m liking it very much so far.

Another June reading highlight: I discovered Peter Lovesey’s Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond – I read Cop to Corpse, the twelfth book in the series (which didn’t hurt my reading of it in the slightest, I might add). Lovesey’s Diamond is great when you’re in the mood for a British police procedural, with a touch of humour that makes it even more enjoyable.

In audio, I listened to Lee Child’s Running Blind and Without Fail, both great books for when you’re in a Jack Reacher mood. I also did three Nero Wolfe short story collections (all rereads) in audio: Curtains for Three, And Four to Go (which starts with a hilarious story in which Wolfe plays Santa) and Death Times Three. Interestingly, one of the shorts in Death Times Three is also in And Four to Go, in slightly shorter format and with the characters slightly changed.

So that’s been my reading month in June, more or less (I might have missed one or two books, and I’m sure if I did, it will of course come to me the moment I hit publish …). It was a pretty good month in terms of reading, and now that I’ve written this post, I’m a little surprised at how many books I did read during such a crazy busy month!

Audiobook Appreciation

I’m done with this most recent clump of deadlines! I don’t think I’ve worked at quite a pace like this for a long while – it’s been three to four weeks of fourteen hour days. I am very, very thankful for my audiobooks – I think they kept me sane in the midst of all those deadlines.

Audiobook Treasure Trove

headphones I was lucky enough to come down with a head cold for Christmas and Boxing Day, so I had a grand time those two days: I got to loll around while everyone took care of me, and to top it off, on Christmas Day, I discovered a virtual audiobook treasure chest! I spent most of Christmas Day and Boxing Day lying on the couch, listening to some great audiobooks and snacking on the most delicious foods.

If you live in Ontario, you might be able to take advantage of this audiobook treasure chest yourself. The Ontario Library Service Download Centre is available to all library patrons of participating Ontario libraries, and it is just wonderful. There are loads of audiobooks available for download, much like you would for Audible. The files are deleted at the end of your checkout period, but you can checkout each audiobook for one or two weeks, which is nice.

So far, in the past two weeks, I’ve listened to Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent, Ellen Degeneres’ The Funny Thing Is, The Green Witch and The Grey King from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, and The Bunnicula Collection by James and Deborah Howe.

Other Listens

The Price of Butcher's Meat

Over the past three weeks, I also enjoyed the audio versions of Reginald Hill’s The Price of Butcher’s Meat (I listened to the British version, which is called A Cure for All Diseases) and Exit Lines. I’d already read A Cure for All Diseases earlier last year and loved it (my review is here) – it translated superbly into audio.

I also played several Agatha Christie audios while I was working – I find I can do “rereads” in audio, as well as memoirs and nonfiction, while I’m working; I somehow have the ability to follow along while getting my work done at the same time. Audiobooks don’t work well for work if they’re audios of books I haven’t read yet, though.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Links, Poirot Investigates and The Big Four helped me get through a lot of otherwise tedious work, so I’m very thankful for them!

Curtains for ThreeAnd finally, I listened to Rex Stout’s Curtains for Three, a trilogy of three Nero Wolfe novellas. I must admit, the first few times I listened to audiobook renditions of Nero Wolfe novels, I had a hard time getting used to the narrator, Michael Pritchard, because he didn’t sound quite like I always imagined Archie Goodwin would sound. But Pritchard’s voice has grown on me, and now my idea of Archie Goodwin sounds exactly like him! I like the way that worked out.

Coming Up

Thanks to the Ontario Library Service Download Centre, I have some more goodies waiting for my hearing pleasure this coming week:

About Face

About Face, by Donna Leon. I’ve been wanting to read a Commissario Guido Brunetti book for a while, and since this one was available for checkout, I decided to give it a try. I only just started listening to it last night, and it promises to be a good story.

Silver on the Tree

Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper. This is the final book in The Dark is Rising series. The version I have is narrated by Alex Jennings, and I started listening to a bit of it yesterday as well. I’m looking forward to finishing my reread of the series in audio.

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So Long as You Both Shall Live, by Ed McBain. This is my first 87th Precinct mystery; it’s a little bit challenging keeping track of all the names in audio, and the story line behind this one isn’t quite to my taste, but I will definitely be looking into reading more of the 87th Precinct series.

Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. I’ve had Bryson’s memoir on my shelf for ages; when I saw it was available at the OLS Download Centre, I decided to check it out, as I really enjoy listening to memoirs in audio.

And from my local library:

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. The audio version of The Thirteenth Tale came highly recommended – I seem to recall lots of people recommending it on Google Wave. So I thought I’d take the plunge and give it a first read in audio instead of in print.

I recently bought the following, which are waiting for me to get to them:

The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. This is Book 1 of the Wheel of Time series – I began reading the series ages ago, but stopped at around Book 6 or 7. I recently received a review copy of the final book in the series, The Gathering Storm, which is written by Brandon Sanderson based on Robert Jordan’s extensive notes, so I thought it would be a good thing to reread the series. I’ve had so much luck with rereads in audio, I decided to give the audio version a try.

Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris. I have the first seven books in paperback, but haven’t read the Sookie Stackhouse series at all; a while back, I decided to give the first book a try in audio. I haven’t found myself in the mood for it yet, but I know I will soon – from what everyone’s been telling me, I’ll probably be hooked once I give it a try!

I also have two Audible credits to spend, and I’m thinking I’ll probably splurge on more Rex Stout and Reginald Hill.

So there you have it – audiobooks have managed to keep me on the reading track even while I was submerged up to my neck in deadlines! And yes, I’ve been feeling like a kid in a candy store …

Coming up this week: my giveaway winners! No, I haven’t forgotten about my giveaway. The winners post will be coming soon.

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