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moonlightreader

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.

Currently reading

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Andrea Wulf
Progress: 40/496 pages

Something for the fall?

I know that there are other classic crime fans here on BL, & I'm wondering if anyone is interested in reading this with me - it won't be released until August 1, so you've got time to contemplate! I'm thinking of approximately Labor Day for a read!

 

 

This book tells the story of crime fiction published during the first half of the twentieth century. The diversity of this much-loved genre is breathtaking, and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, the leading expert on classic crime discusses one hundred books ranging from The Hound of the Baskervilles to Strangers on a Train which highlight the entertaining plots, the literary achievements, and the social significance of vintage crime fiction. This book serves as a companion to the acclaimed British Library Crime Classics series but it tells a very diverse story. It presents the development of crime fiction-from Sherlock Holmes to the end of the golden age-in an accessible, informative and engaging style.

Readers who enjoy classic crime will make fascinating discoveries and learn about forgotten gems as well as bestselling authors. Even the most widely read connoisseurs will find books (and trivia) with which they are unfamiliar-as well as unexpected choices to debate. Classic crime is a richly varied and deeply pleasurable genre that is enjoying a world-wide renaissance as dozens of neglected novels and stories are resurrected for modern readers to enjoy. The overriding aim of this book is to provide a launch point that enables readers to embark on their own voyages of discovery.

Ripley Read!

The Talented Mr. Ripley  - Patricia Highsmith

BrokenTune & I had discussed doing a buddy read of The Talented Mr. Ripley & I think here were a few others who were up for it! Let's figure out when we want to start!

Paradise Pier #28

Silence in Hanover Close - Anne Perry

I landed on Paradise Pier #28, which calls for a book set during the Victorian era. I still have two of these Open Road editions of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series that I bought on sale, so I decided to read this one! I'm not sure if this is a reread or not - I have read a number of these books before, but never quite know which ones.

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

I read this as a buddy read, but went on vacation at about the halfway point. My hotel wifi was pretty worthless, so I wasn't able to login while I was Disneylanding - and Disneyland isn't really a place for internet activity, in any case, because by the time I'd get back to my room, I was so exhausted that I sort of just collapsed into bed!

 

Anyway, I quite liked this fun mystery. There is a lot going on, and I found the main character to be a hoot. She has very little instinct for self-preservation, and is a bit bumbling, but is also funny and brave and loyal. I did figure out some of the elements and had a pretty good idea of the solution before the reveal, but the complicated plotting was well-done. 

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart is sometimes referred to as an American Agatha Christie, but this book didn't read like Agatha to me, nor did the other book by her that I've read, The Window at the White Cat. Something about her writing style is peculiarly American, and there are hard-boiled qualities to it - she's not noir, but she is also not cozy.

 

A lot of Rinehart's books are in the public domain. My kindle version of The Circular Staircase only set me back $.99 - for readers who enjoy vintage mysteries, I'd recommend giving her a try.

Update!

I've had a crazy week or so - we took the kiddos to Disneyland, so I've been absent from BL and GR for days!

 

I did finish The Circular Staircase, but sort of petered out on the buddy read because my internet access was so sketchy. I ended up enjoying it a lot - I would definitely read more by Rinehart! I'm going to try to put my thoughts together in the next day or so!

 

I've been ignoring booklikes-opoly as well, but will likely roll again tomorrow!

 

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did last week!

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

Sit down,” I said grimly. “Have you found a clue that will incriminate me, Mr. Jamieson?” He had the grace to look uncomfortable.

 

“No,” he said. “If you had killed Mr. Armstrong, you would have left no clues. You would have had too much intelligence.”

 

The plot has thickened and I have no idea what is happening here! Do we have an unreliable narrator? What is going on with the bank failure? Is Halsey involved? Did Gertrude lie? Why did the maid have the china & silver in a basket? Who escaped down the laundry chute? Who took the cuff link? 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

THIS IS THE STORY OF how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous.

 

I love the beginning! It reminds me of an adult Nancy Drew, with summer houses and wicker hampers and cuff links.

 

 

Game Play Shake Up

Image result for shake up

 

As I posted a few days, it's time to shake, shake, shake it up! First off, we've moved into the double your money phase of the game! From here on out, the money values have doubled as follows:

 

0 to 100 pages: $2.00
101 to 200 pages: $4.00
201 to 400 pages: $6.00
401 to 800 pages: $10.00
over 801 pages: $20.00

 

Second, we're going to have a location multiplier: the first time you finish a square is the baseline reward. The second time, your reward is enhanced by 50%, and the third time, the reward is doubled again:

 

Second finish:

 

0 to 100 pages: $3.00
101 to 200 pages: $6.00
201 to 400 pages: $9.00
401 to 800 pages: $15.00
over 801 pages: $30.00

 

Third finish:

 

0 to 100 pages: $4.00
101 to 200 pages: $8.00
201 to 400 pages: $12.00
401 to 800 pages: $20.00
over 801 pages: $40.00

 

This is prospective only, so start keeping track of the number of times you land on a square going forward.

 

Third, what are you going to do with all of that money? Well, you can hoard it all for the win. In the alternative, you can spend it in two ways: free rolls and roll aheads. A free roll will cost you $2.00. If you don't like the square you landed on, buy a free roll and roll again right away to get onto a new square. Roll aheads can be bought if you are going on vacation or are going to be incommunicado for a while - they are only $1.00, and you can buy up to 5 at a time, to plan vacation reading.

 

Fourth is free book Friday. Regardless of the square you are on, you get a free choice on the next seven Fridays to read anything.

BL-opoly at the approximate midpoint!

 

 

 

Image result for shake up

 

Prepare for a game play shake up! We're just past the mid-point of the game, and I think that it's time to shake things up!

 

Up-coming Buddy Reads!

Murder by Death & I are going to buddy read The Circular Staircase by Mary Rinehart Roberts beginning June 14. I would imagine it will be a relatively quick read!

 

BrokenTune & I are going to do a buddy read (re-read for BT) of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, although we haven't settled on a date!

 

Comment if you are interested in joining us!

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 304 pages.

In Siberia - Colin Thubron

I don't read a lot of travel literature, although I often enjoy it when I do. This is no exception. Siberia is a fascinating place.

 

So far, the most interesting thing I've learned is about a place called Akademgodorok, which translates roughly as "academic town," and which was established in 1957 as a center of scientific research. 

Adventureland 24

In Siberia - Colin Thubron

I've decided to go a different way for this square, which calls for a book set in Africa or Asia! I'm going to read some non-fiction that's been on my shelves since approximately 2012.

 

As mysterious as its beautiful, as forbidding as it is populated with warm-hearted people, Syberia is a land few Westerners know, and even fewer will ever visit. Traveling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Colin Thubron traversed this vast territory, talking to everyone he encountered about the state of the beauty, whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades; a terrain tainted by nuclear waste but filled with citizens who both welcomed him and fed him—despite their own tragic poverty. From Mongoloia to the Arctic Circle, from Rasputin's village in the west through tundra, taiga, mountains, lakes, rivers, and finally to a derelict Jewish community in the country's far eastern reaches, Colin Thubron penetrates a little-understood part of the world in a way that no writer ever has.

 

Non-fiction typically takes me a while to read, so I'll probably be on this square for a while!

Grange House by Sarah Blake

Grange House - Sarah Blake

What the hell did I just read?

 

Gird your loins, the rant train is chug, chug, chugging out of the station. Also, spoiler warning, wut.

 

Let me begin this review by saying that this book had potential for, if not greatness, at least a high degree of entertainment. Remote, fading grandeur in the north woods, ghosts, gothic awesomeness, frozen lovers pulled from an unforgiving sea.

 

Yeah, the execution? Not so much. I actually don't know how the whole frozen lovers thing ended because I skipped about 30% of this book because the main character, Maisie, was such a fucking annoying whiny brat that she made Gwenwyfhar look like a perfectly reasonable character, with fortitude and backbone to spare.

 

I still couldn't really tell you what this book is - so I'll just tell you the end because you do not want to read this book. Spoiler coming. Is it still a spoiler if what I'm spoiling is this stupid?

 

Maisie's father, Thomas Ludlow,  had an affair with Nell Grange when he was engaged to her mother. Nell gets knocked up, but sort of loses her mind and goes into a Victorian decline. Then, Thomas goes back to Boston where he takes right back up with his fiancee, Libby and marries her. Nell gives birth and Nell's sister, Susannah, rescues the baby from crazy Nell, who is going to bury her alive, for no apparent reason whatsoever. In a "twist," (you've probably already figured this out), Libby is apparently having some sort of a hysterical pregnancy, and Susannah sends a letter to Thomas to come get the baby, which is totally convenient because then NEITHER NELL NOR LIBBY know that Maisie is actually Nell's baby, not Libby's baby. When Maisie learns all of this, she gets all emo and shit about Nell, because Nell has just died, and she completely ignores her mother, who is in the process of dying, and mopes around about not having a name and not knowing who she is.

 

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? This may be the worst fucking plot device ever invented. 

 

Do not read this book.

 

The mid-point (46%):

 

I'm afraid that I probably should've paid more attention to the reviews, which were not great. The first bit of this one was good, but now we've moved into a really slow phase where there is absolutely NOTHING about the two drowned lovers, nor has there been since about page 30. 

 

I'm bogged down in an old diary at this point. That has nothing to do with the two drowned lovers. Maisie is back in Boston, mourning her father and being generally boring.

 

I'm going to read to 50%, and if it doesn't pick up, I'm seriously considering just skipping to the end and then calling it a DNF.

 

Bummer....

 

I decided to read this one for my "gothic" square!

 

Maisie Thomas spends every summer at Grange House, a hotel on the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant Miss Grange. In 1896, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: drowned lovers, found clasped in each other's arms. It's only the first in a series of events that casts a shadow over Maisie's summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her disturbing stories of her past. Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, Grange House is a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance.

 

Sounds good!

You clever old thing, Miss Marple

A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple) - Agatha Christie

I read this one for the "overseas travel" square because it gets Miss Marple out of St. Mary's Mead on a long vacation to the sunny climes of the West Indies. As is often the case with Christie, the reader must, rather uncomfortably, wade through some casual racism/colonialism/sexism to enjoy the mystery.

 

I don't think that this is one of Christie's best, though. Her mysteries often rely strongly on coincidence, but this one takes the use of coincidence to a whole new level of ridiculously unbelievable. I did enjoy the introduction to Mr. Rafiel, and would've liked to hear more about him. He made a nice counterpoint to Miss Marple.

Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Turston

Detective Inspector Huss - Helene Tursten

I wasn't sure about this one for at least the first 25% - either the writing or the translation seemed a bit stilted. However, I was enjoying DI Huss, so I persevered. And became engrossed.

I really love Scandi crime novels. I stumbled onto Henning Mankell donkey's years ago - long before Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy was published - and fell, not exactly in love with, but in great regard with damaged detective Kurt Wallander. At that time, Nordic Noir hadn't yet crossed the Atlantic or made it into English translation in any great volume. After The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that all changed, and now crime fiction from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and even Iceland are a dime a dozen. Well, maybe not that inexpensive, but readily available for kindle.

As is often the case in crime fiction, the initial impression of the victim as a fine, upstanding citizen, hides a sordid tale of sex, money, and drugs. All the world round, one can depend on mysteries to deliver an indictment of society, through the medium of crime. I'd like to read more about Detective Inspector Huss.

Discussion: Where do you start with an author/series

 

Before I really got into goodreads/booklikes/blogging and book conversation on the internet, I was a much more loosey-goosey reader. I'd pick up a book by an unknown author that looked good, shrug, and read it.

 

What this meant was that I often picked up a book that was in the middle of the series, or, if it was an author who didn't write series, I would pick up the book that was the most popular by that author. There is an argument for discovering books in this fashion, without focusing on where the book is in the author's career or in an interesting series. Of course, authors tended to write single arc books back then, in the dark ages, so even picking up a book in the middle of a series usually wasn't a huge problem. It was easy to figure out what was going on - unlike the way that current series are mostly published, with dangling threads and unresolved arcs continuing from book to book.

 

However, with so much information about books available at my fingertips - order of publication, series lists, etc - and most books being generally obtainable to readers (at least in the U.S.) for a reasonable price, I've become much more obstinate about reading things in order, both in terms of series, which makes sense, and in terms of publication date with respect to an individual author, which makes less sense. Unfortunately, what that means is that I find myself, by starting at the beginning, sometimes not reading the best work first. Which means that I end up dropping the author/series because there are a number of uninteresting books standing between me and the books that really appeal to me.

 

Am I the only one who does this? What do you all think? Is it better to start at the beginning or is it better to jump in once the author has hit his/her stride? Does it make more sense to start with the author's best work or a lesser known book and then work your way up to the best work? What if you can't get your hands on the first few books in a series - do you cross that series off your mental list for all time? If the author starts a spin-off series, do you feel like you need to read the original series before you can read the spin-off, even if the original doesn't really appeal to you?

 

Tell me what you think!