Monday, February 26, 2024

New-to-Me Mystery Series -- 10 ON MY TBR

 


10 ON MY TBR
New-to-Me Mystery Series

When it comes to mysteries, do you reach for standalones or do you prefer series?

I love a good mystery series because I like to spend time with the same characters from book to book. But like most mystery readers, I find series easier to start than to finish. I made a big effort over the last couple of years to finish several series before I start any more new ones. I wrapped up: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher (up to when his brother started writing them), Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey, Louise Penny’s Three Pines (until she writes another), P. D. James’s Adam Dalgleish, Benjamin Black/John Banville's Quirke, and G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown.

There are several other mystery series I'm actively chipping away at, including Elizabeth George's Peter Lynley, Cara Black's Aimée Leduc, Ian Rankin's John Rebus, and Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti. There are probably a dozen or more I've dabbled in or at least started. 

But now that I've finished off so many, I have a little more mental capacity to start at least one more new series. This week I started Mick Herron's Slow Hoses series because I want to read the books before I watch the show.

As further inspiration for me to finish up some more series, I pulled this stack of ten mysteries from my TBR shelves. These are all published by Soho Crime, an imprint of Soho Press. I love collecting these in their original candy-colored editions. 

I plan to tackle all these series at some point. The ones in the picture and listed below are the first books in each series:

🔍 The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly, featuring Scotland Yard detective Joe Sandilands, set in 1920s India. There are 13 books in the series and the last was published in 2017, so it looks like that's it.

🔍 The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby, an “Athenian Mystery” set in ancient Greece. There are seven in the series and, likewise, the last was in 2017.

🔍 The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill, featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun, set in 1970s Laos. There are 15 in the series, the last in 2020. 

🔍 Jack of Spies by David Downing, featuring Jack McColl, a WWI-era Scottish car salesman turned British spy. There are four in the series although he has lots of other books. 

🔍 Slow Horses by Mick Herron, set in the present day and featuring a team of washed-up MI5 spies. There are 13 so far, including five novellas. 

🔍 Jade Lady Burning by Martin Limón, featuring Sergeants George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, set in 1970s South Korea. There are 16 so far, the last in 2021. 

🔍 The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey, the 1991 debut of a long series featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond. There are 21 books, the last in 2022.

🔍 Death in the Off-Season by Francine Mathews, set on Nantucket Island in current times, featuring police detective Merry Folger. There are 7 so far, the last in 2023. 

🔍 The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville, set in contemporary Northern Ireland, featuring several recurring characters. There are six books in the series, the last in 2017.

🔍 Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong, set in present-day China, featuring Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police. There are 13 books so far, the last in 2023. 

Have you read any of these series? Do any look good to you?

Thursday, February 22, 2024

An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David -- BOOK BEGINNIGNS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
In thirty five years of writing about food and cookery I have contributed articles to a very various collection of publications.
-- from An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David. I admit that opening sentence doesn’t grab me!

I love food writing. My favorites are the classic American food writers, like M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and Ruth Reichl. Elizabeth David is the English version of these favorite authors, but I’ve never read any of her books. I have her famous books, including A Book of Mediterranean Food and French Provincial Cooking, on my TBR shelf. But I’ve never tried any of her books.

I decided to start with this one, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. It is a collection of her newspaper columns and other articles. I love the cover on my American edition.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the box below. Please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media.

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from An Omelette and a Glass of Wine:

All this seems to be typical of the uneasy phase which English cooking is going through. As soon as any dish with a vaguely romantic sounding name (you may well ask why anyone should associate Vichy with romance) becomes known you find it’s got befogged by the solemn mystique which can elevate a routine leak and potato soup into what the heroine of a recent upper-class-larks novel refers to as “my perfected Vichyssoise.”

This is from a November 5, 1961, article in Punch. Elizabeth David wrote during the bad old days of British cooking, when post-war rationing was still in place or cooks were still acting like it was. She writes often, and with scorn, about canned (“tinned”) food, skimpy supplies, and generally bad cooking.




Tuesday, February 20, 2024

2023 European Reading Challenge -- WINNER!

 


2023 EUROPEAN READING CHALLENGE

THIS IS THE WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT POST FOR 2023

TO FIND THE 2023 REVIEWS, GO TO THIS PAGE

TO FIND THE 2023 WRAP UP POSTS, GO TO THIS PAGE

THE 2024 EUROPEAN READING CHALLENGE SIGN UP IS AT THIS PAGE

2023 was the 11th of the European Reading Challenge! The challenge involves reading books set in different European countries or written by authors from different European countries.

My big thanks go to all the participants who joined me for the Grand Tour last year!

JET SETTER GRAND PRIZE WINNER

The 2023 Jet Setter prize goes to Sabine at sabines.literary.world who participated on Instagram. 2023 is the third year in a row that Sabine has won the challenge. But she slowed down a bit last year. In 2021, Sabine visited all 50 European states -- TWICE! In 2022, she hit another grand slam, but only one time around the continent. In 2023, she visited 35 of the 50 European states and reviewed the books she read. Her wrap up post discusses her reading journey. At this rate, she might actually face competition next year!

Honorary Mention (but no prizes) go to the ten other participants who completed the challenge and posted wrap up posts about the countries they visited and the books they read:


My own wrap-up post is here. I read 12 books from different European countries, and four were translations, which is better than the year before. I didn't even try to review the books I read, which is more than I can handle as long as I am running my own law firm.

Congratulations to all the readers who completed the 2023 challenge!

There is still plenty of time to join us in 2024.

JOIN THE 2024 CHALLENGE! SIGN UP HERE!

The gist: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour.

Sign up HERE for the 2024 Challenge.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money.
-- from Tom Jones (aka The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling) by Henry Fielding, Book I -- "Containing as Much of the Birth of the Foundling as is Necessary or Proper to Acquaint the Reader with in the Beginning of this History," Chapter i -- "The introduction to the work, or bill of fare to the feast."

Well, any book that sends me to the dictionary in the first sentence is going to be a doozy! The Cambridge Dictionary defines "eleemosynary" as "relating to or depending on charity (= help given freely to people who are in need, and organizations that provide this help)."  I can't find a definition for "public ordinary," but I did see the term used to describe a "public" school, in the British sense of meaning a school with paid pupils. In my brain, I thought of it as an "ordinary pub," which is wrong but makes sense. 

Despite this odd beginning, Tom Jones is a rollicking good yarn! It was first published in 1749 and I don't read many books written in the 18th Century. It is pretty racy, even raunchy. It's all about the adventures of Tom Jones, an orphan raised by a wealthy quire. Many of these adventures involve sex with most of the women he meets, highwaymen, gypsies, lots of fights, ghost stories -- everything you need for a page-turner. It is also very funny. I'm reading it with my ears and have laughed out loud several times. 

Finally reading Tom Jones makes me want to tackle other classics that have languished on my shelves. This one is on my new Classics Club list


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the box below. Please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media.

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56


-- from Tom Jones:
Jones immediately interposing, a fierce contention arose, which soon proceeded to blows on both sides. And now Mrs. Waters (for we must confess she was in the same bed), being, I suppose, awakened from her sleep, and seeing two men fighting in her bedchamber, began to scream in the most violent manner, crying out murder! robbery! and more frequently rape! which last, some, perhaps, may wonder she should mention, who do not consider that these words of exclamation are used by ladies in a fright, as fa, la, la, ra, da, &c., are in music, only as the vehicles of sound, and without any fixed ideas.
It's not a quick read, but entertaining. I always find it easier to read these dense classics as audiobooks because a good narrator parses all the long sentences for me.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
Years later, when she had gone and was no longer part of their lives, the thing they remembered about her was her smile.
-- from Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier. This is the latest buddy read for the Du Maurier Deep Dive  group I'm in on Instagram. It is a historical fiction novel about Mary Anne Clarke, a wife, mother, and mistress of the Duke of York in the early 1800s. She was also du Maurier's great-great-great grandmother. I am racing through it. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS 

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the box below. Please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media. 

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.


THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Mary Anne:
It was the Duke of York and his niece, the Princess Victoria. He had aged lately —he looked a great deal more than sixty-two.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
An ambitious, stunning, and seductive young woman, Mary Anne finds the single most rewarding way to rise above her miserable cockney world: she will become the mistress to a royal duke. In doing so, she provokes a scandal that rocks Regency England. Mary Anne glitters with sex, scandal, corruption, and the privileged world of high society.

Based on the true story of one of du Maurier's own distant relatives, Mary Anne's love of money and the men who spend it embroil her in risks that threaten her very existence.


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