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Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Classic Noir Group Read

Some preliminary book ideas


I've certainly not made any final decisions about what I'm reading for bingo, but I do have some ideas percolating!


Chilling Children: I am definitely reading something by Lois Duncan for this square. I bought several of hers when they went on sale several years ago because my daughter was the right age and devoured them. Down A Dark Hall was one of my favorites back when I was the right age for Lois Duncan, so I think that'll probably be the one I pick.


Classic Noir: I am strongly leaning towards Cornell Woolrich's The Bride Wore Black. It's available for $4.99 on kindle & I've never read anything by Woolrich. I will also be participating in the September group read, so I'll either use that read for classic noir (if it fits) or as a wild card for a different category.


Romantic suspense: This one is looking likely to be This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart, which is on its way to me even as I type!


Gothic: this will likely be a Phyllis Whitney or a Barbara Michaels. I already have Blue Fire by Whitney.


Supernatural: I bought The Revenant of Thraxton Hall last year to read during Halloween bingo and I never got around to it! This year it is in!


Diverse voices: Same with Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older, which would qualify under supernatural or ghosts, so I can read it for diverse voices.


Witches: Since Alice Hoffman is releasing a prequel to Practical Magic this year, called Rules of Magic, I'm planning to read Practical Magic for this square.


Magical Realism: And then I will read Rules of Magic for this square, once it is released on October 10th.


Haunted House: I may reread The Little Stranger for this one. It's been about four years since I read it the first time and I really liked it. I think it would hold up well to a reread.


Ghosts: The final book of the Jackaby quartet, The Dire King, is scheduled for publication on 8/22. One of my favorite fictional ghosts, Jenny, is featured in the series. This one is already pre-ordered & may be the first book I read for the game!


That's my first ten ideas! I'm so excited for this round, I can hardly stand it!

Bingo Card Tutorial

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader:

So, Linda was asking about filling in the bingo card with images, so I thought I would do a little tutorial of how PicMonkey works. This is my favorite photo editing site because there is so much fun stuff available to play with - pretty much all of my images come off of PicMonkey.


PicMonkey has a free version and a premium version. I have the premium version, but the free version will work fine for this.


So, to begin - I download the bingo card to a folder on my computer. I reuse the image and when I'm done modifying it, I resave it under the same name so I'm always using the most current (i.e., filled in) version.


When you open PicMonkey, this is what it looks like:



You want the edit function, not the design or the collage. Although the collage function is awesome for making book cover collages and the actual bingo card itself, soI use it a lot!


When you click on edit, it opens up some options to choose an image, including computer. Browse and find your bingo card on your computer and upload it.


It will look more or less like this:



You find the overlays under either the butterfly or the apple. The apple has the themes, which is what is showing over on the left hand side. There are tons of available themes, including 6 Halloween-style themes and at least 3 Christmas-style themes. That is where you will find your cute overlays for your bingo markers.



These are under the Trick or Treat theme. You click on them, and then drag them into place. Super simple! Sometimes they need to be resized, which is easy to do!


Anyway, I hope that helps! Have fun!

Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

I was so busy creating bingo cards that I haven't really had a chance to put my thoughts in order on this buddy read. 


I finished this one last night, blasting through the last 25% or so of the mystery. The "criminal mastermind" trope, honestly, isn't one of my favorites, but even knowing that, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And while I generally acknowledge Agatha Christie to be the Queen of Everything, Patricia Wentworth did the criminal mastermind better than Christie in The Big Four.


These golden age mysteries are just such a pleasure for me to read that I often forgive them for quirks that would really bother me in a modern mystery. Margot, aka Greta, would've made me pull my hair out by the roots in a new release. Yes, she was TSTL. Yes, she was so ridiculously naive that no one could possibly be that dumb. And the idea that she would marry Archie, who is very nearly as stupid as she is, would be terrifying if it weren't so improbable.


I do think that the relationship issues between Charles and Margaret were solved rather too neatly. In addition, Margaret was written as a character of brains and integrity, so some of her decisions seemed decidedly unlikely. I'm curious to see the development of Miss Silver in later releases, and I enjoyed Patricia Wentworth's tidy prose. She has a lot of books available including a lot of non-Miss Silver books that have been re-issued. 


Tigus posted a list of favorite Miss Silver novels, so I'm pretty psyched to check those out! It looks like this isn't really a series that needs to be read in order?

The Bingo Group Reads


Obsidian and I are proposing two group reads as part of the bingo game. These are optional, but are usually really a lot of fun! We're planning for one in September and one in October. 


We'd like to read some sort of a classic mystery - pulp, noir, hardboiled, etc., for the September read. Think Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich and the like. I've opened a nomination thread in the discussion group here.


The great thing about a group read is that it is a wild card for any square! So, if you realize along the way that you aren't going to be able to find a book for a square, come and buddy read with us & you'll be able to check that off your list. 

All caught up!

Whew! I have created 26 bingo cards today! 


It's not too late to request one, obviously, I'm just so excited to be all caught up! If I missed your card, post on the discussion thread or PM me!

Halloween bingo 2017: the spaces


This is the bingo card I created for myself, by way of example. Each card has 24 spaces, with a free space in the middle. Readers can fill the free space with any book that qualifies for any of the 31 squares listed below. You don't have to wait for the call to fill that space!


The 31 spaces:


  1. Locked room mystery: A subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime—almost always murder—is committed under circumstances which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime and/or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene.
  2. Country house mystery: A closed circle mystery, occurring at a gathering like a house party. 
  3. Classic noir: A subgenre of mystery that includes authors such as Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich. Anything that also qualifies as "hard-boiled" will work for this square.
  4. Murder most foul: any murder mystery!
  5. Amateur sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement.
  6. Romantic suspense: any romance which has a significant sub-plot that involves mystery, thriller or suspense.
  7. Serial/spree killer: any book that involves a serial killer or a spree killer, no matter what genre/sub-genre it involves.
  8. Cozy mystery: a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.
  9. American horror story: horror, set in the USA.
  10. Genre: horror: this seems obvious.
  11. Gothic: any book with significant: a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.  
  12. Darkest London: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book set in London.
  13. Modern Masters of Horror: horror published in or after 2000.
  14. Supernatural: mystery, suspense or horror books which include elements that defy current understanding of the natural world, including magic, witchcraft and/or crypto-zoological aspects.
  15. Ghost: any mystery, suspense or horror which involves a ghost, or a character who believes that the events involve a ghost.
  16. Haunted houses: any structure or location that is, or is believed to be, "haunted" qualifies - it doesn't need to be a house.
  17. Vampires
  18. Werewolves
  19. Witches
  20. Demons
  21. Classic horror: horror that was published prior to 1980
  22. Chilling children: any book tagged horror, YA horror or MG horror that includes a child or children as a main character.
  23. Aliens: beings from outer space.
  24. Monsters: any crytpozoological or mythological creature that isn't a vampire, werewolf, or demon. Or zombie.
  25. The dead will walk: basically, zombies.
  26. 80's horror: any horror published between 1980 and 1989, or which is set in that time period.
  27. In the dark, dark woods: a mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book in which a forest/woods plays a significant role, or which has a forest/woods on the cover.
  28. Terror in a small town: horror/murder which causes fear, set in a small town.
  29. Magical realism: a genre which  expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding or revealing magical elements.
  30. Terrifying women: horror written by a female author.
  31. Diverse voices: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book written by an author of color.


All card requests will be taken on the "card requests" thread in the bingo group, which you can find here. I will be posting the spaces on that thread once I get up - this scheduled to drop at 5:00 a.m. my time, since I am the west coast.


You can identify up to 7 squares that you don't want to have included on your card. If you want to be surprised, let me know, and I will create an individual card by randomly excluding 7 squares.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

I will have more on this tomorrow!


I wasn't at all sure what to expect with this one, but I really liked it and I'm sure I will read more Patricia Wentworth! I'm really glad I decided to participate in this quick buddy read!

Reading progress update: I've read 44%.

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

Themis-Athena's earlier post was so well-done that I can't possibly match it in terms of analysis!


Miss Silver is mildly frightening, Margot is so silly it's really not quite credible, Freddie (OK, this is funny, because his name is actually Archie, but he seems like his name should be Freddie, and this must because Themis compared him to Freddie Arbuthnot, so now in my head his name is Freddie) is an ass, but I'm growing quite fond of both Charles & Margaret. Obviously there is a secret there that they must overcome in order to once again be together.

Halloween bingo: game format


Game Format Changes!


We're going to be playing our game a bit differently this year!


The first difference is that all of the players will play with a different bingo card! OB & I have come up with 31 reading "squares" that are focused in four broad categories: mystery/murder, horror, Stranger Things (the television show) and supernatural/creature feature. Each card will have a combination of 24 squares, with a free space!


Custom Cards!


So, how do you get your card? You ask me to create you one! I'll be announcing all of the categories in tomorrow's post, and you will be able to request your card with as much or as little specificity as you desire! You can give me the list of 24 squares that you want, you can identify specific squares that you don't want, you can ask for a focus on one or two of the four broad categories, or you can just let me surprise you! The easiest way to request your card will be in the bingo group, where there will be a thread created for just this purpose!


Bingo Calls!


Next - we're adding bingo calls to the game! Every other day, starting on September 1, 2017, OB or I will post the "square" that we are calling for the day. You do not need to finish the book before the next call & books can be read in any order. However, to "fill" a square, two events must both have occurred - the square must be called & you must have finished the book! Every square will eventually get called, so everyone will be able to "black out" their card by the end of the game!


Group Reads!


Group reads are optional, but are a lot of fun! We'll be doing two group reads this year, one in September & one in October. The September read will be a classic noir mystery & the October read will be classic horror. Further details will be announced on this later - but the good news is that the group reads will operate as universal matches. You can fill any square with the group read if you participate by reading the book and posting in the group discussion at least once!


Bragging Rights!


This game is just for fun - so no prizes. But the winners get full bragging rights, and reading and playing is its own reward!

MR & OB are at it again..........



We're shaking up the game this year!


Stay tuned!

The buddy read schedule!

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth The Talented Mr. Ripley  - Patricia Highsmith The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

August 14, 2017:


MBD & Themis-Athena put together a quick buddy read of The Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth starting today.


August 18, 2017:


The buddy read for The Talented Mr. Ripley is scheduled to begin. There is an open thread in the Buddy Reads group, located here, and we are using the tag "ripley read" for our posts!


September 8, 2017:


The buddy read for The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is scheduled to begin. I have opened a thread for that one in the Buddy Reads group as well, located here, and we will use the tag "100 classic crimes" for that one!


The Flat Book Society is in the process of choosing their next read.


If you have other ideas/plans for buddy reads, post in the comments!

Buddy read progress update: I've read 5%.

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

I saw that MBD started last night (which was probably today in her neck of the woods), so I decided to start it as well, even though I was cheating a little bit! I only read the first two chapters, though!


So far, it has a distinct Seven Dials vibe going on, with what appears to be the meeting of some sort of a secret society where the members go by numbers. Even Charles hiding in the closet reminds me of the scene where Bundle infiltrates the club and hides in a cabinet.

The Romance is a Nope

Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer

This was my second (at least) read of Regency Buck. There were parts of it that I liked better this time around, and parts that I actually liked less.


The hero, Lord Worth, is no more likeable in this read than he was the first time I read it. I just cannot conceive of his appeal for Judith, who is headstrong and occasionally obtuse, but who is generally of a friendly, informal disposition. Worth, on the other hand, is cold, withdrawn and often downright unpleasant. He also more or less assaults Judith on their first meeting by kissing her without her consent, an incident that is not made more appealing with threats of repetition.


She made light of the circumstance of the stranger’s kissing her: he would bestow just such a careless embrace on a pretty chambermaid, she dared say. It was certain that he mistook her station in life.


I don't find this even remotely appealing, not the least on behalf of the pretty chambermaids of the Regency, who deserved better than to suffer random groping by asshole peers taking unwanted liberties upon their persons. Ugh. There is one occasion where he actually threatens to beat her.


Do not look daggers at me: I am wholly impervious to displays of that kind. Your tantrums may do very well at home, but they arouse in me nothing more than a desire to beat you soundly. And that, Miss Taverner, if ever I do marry you, is precisely what I shall do.’


Gross. On top of that, there is no real sense that he has improved by the end of the book. He treats her indulgently, referring to her repeatedly as "adorable," in a way that is actually fairly insulting.


It seems to me that Heyer is trying hard to create a Darcy/Lizzie vibe, with the sparks that fly between them and the irreverent teasing that Lizzie uses to soften up the withdrawn, shy Darcy. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for me at all, because I just don't see Worth having Darcy's good points. Darcy seems like a jerk. Worth is a jerk.


So, as far as the romance goes, this one didn't convince me. I wanted to push Worth overboard, and have Judith marry one of the other male characters. Mr. Brummel, for example, was quite charming, as was Lord Worth's younger brother, Charles.


Now, though, the really good aspect of this book - Heyer did a great job with the mystery in this romance. Someone is trying to get Judith's brother, Peregrine, out of the way, and the way that she plotted that particular part of the book was genius. There were several bits of redirection that were extremely effective, and even the second time around, she confounded me a couple of times.


TL/DR: Keep the mystery, jettison the romance. A hero who threatens to beat the heroine is not a hero to root for.

100% Delightful

The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

You know those books that you are pretty sure you are really going to love, so you buy it and wait to read it because once you read it, you won't be able to look forward to reading it anymore? This was one of those books for me. I picked up a paperback copy of The Moonspinners donkeys ages ago, at either the UBS or a library sale, & I've been holding onto it since then. I finally decided that life was too short to not read this book, and there were other Mary Stewarts for me to read, so I should just do it already.


This is a near perfect romantic suspense novel. 


I loved everything about this book. The setting is divine - it is set on the island of Crete, primarily in a small fishing village. Mary Stewart has tremendous respect for her settings, and she works hard to incorporate details of the lives of the inhabitants that lend a great deal of richness to the setting. The main character, Nicola, is a junior undersecretary at the British embassy in Athens, and she has taken the time to learn Greek.


I love this detail. I think that this is a really important little piece of character development, especially given that this book was initially published in 1962. Mary Stewart not only gives her main character enough personal agency to go abroad to Greece and take a job on her own - something that is intimidating and noteworthy in 2017 - but that same heroine has enough intellectual curiosity and engagement to learn the language while she is there, which shows tremendous respect for the local culture. 


While Nicola did, at times, engage in some pretty silly behavior, overall this is a heroine who is genuinely independent. All too often we see authors who claim that their heroes are "independent," but whose behavior doesn't reflect that independence. In this book, Stewart never uses the word "independent" to describe Nicola, she just shows us a young British woman who IS independent without constantly having to try to convince the reader of that aspect of her character. 


Stewart also references other relationships that Nicola has been involved in, and there is a clear implication that she is a frankly modern young woman with a "past" which is treated as totally normal and not something shameful. It's really difficult to overstate the importance of this element - again, this book was written in 1962. There is no slut-shaming here, and in fact, Nicola's prior experiences with men is just taken for granted and stated matter-of-factly. Of course a young single woman has had prior experiences. 


So, the setting is delightful and the main character is likeable. The male love interest is also a likeable young man, although he is much less the focus than the heroine. Stewart's descriptions of the native flora and fauna are absolutely lovely, even as she manages to avoid allowing her narrative to devolve into a travelogue. I don't really have any complaints about this book, just minor quibbles that aren't worth delving into here.


This book could be categorized as "New Adult," and when I compare it to the crap that is being published right now under that label, I laugh. Mary Stewart is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. I foresee a future in which I've tracked down and read every single thing she's ever written.

Reading progress update: I've read 156 out of 400 pages.

The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

I've sort of unintentionally immersed myself in a reading project that I'm referring to as "All The Vintage Ladies," with my recent Georgette Heyer, Phyllis Whitney and Barbara Michaels reads. 


This book gets a lot of love, here and on Goodreads, so I decided that it would be a good time to read it. This is my fourth Mary Stewart gothic romance - I've previously read Nine Coaches Waiting, Wildfire at Midnight and The Ivy Tree.


This one is set in Crete, which compelled me to google Agios Giorgios to get a mental picture:






Aaaand, now I want to go to Crete.


So far, I really love this book. Nicola Ferris is wonderfully adventurous, and the presumed love interest, Mark, seems honorable and divinely masculine.