Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Agatha Christie Challenge

Agatha Christie Challenge

When: 2009
What: Read at least two books by or about Agatha Christie

My list:

Agatha Christie. The Murder at Hazelmoor -- finished 11/11/2009
Agatha Christie. Murder in Retrospect -- finished 12/24/2009
Agatha Christie. A Murder is Announced -- finished 12/29/2009

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

First sentence:

"Between 7.30 and 8.30 every morning except Sundays, Johnnie Butt made the round of the village of Chipping Cleghorn on his bicycle, whistling vociferously between his teeth, and alighting at each house or cottage to shove through the letterbox such morning papers had been ordered by the occupants of the house in question from Mr Totman, stationer, of the High Street."


"A murder is announced, and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 pm. . .

The ad in the local paper is a joke, of course. In bad taste, of course.

But none of Miss Blacklock's friends can resist calling on her at the appointed hour. Certainly not Miss Marple. . .

At 6:30 precisely, the lights go out. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a good mystery with lots of twists. I liked how Miss Marple and the Detective Inspector Craddock gradually put together the truth surrounding the murder announcement.

Date read: 12/29/2009
Book #: 65
Challenge: Agatha Christie Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0006165281
ISBN-13: 9780006165286
Publisher: Fontana
Year: 1990 (original: 1950)
# of pages: 237
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Friday, December 25, 2009

Murder in Retrospect by Agatha Christie

First sentence:

"Hercule Poirot looked with interest and appreciation at the young woman who was being ushered into the room."


"Amyas Crale had been famous as a painter...and infamous as a lover. His fiery wife, Caroline, had been jealous as she was devoted. So naturally it was she who was tried and convicted for his murder. Now their daughter, Carla, presents the brilliant Hercules Poirot with the greatest challenge of his career - to clear her mother's name by finding the fatal flaw in what, after sixteen years, appears to be the perfect crime!" -- from the backcover

My thoughts:

Not only can Poirot solve a recent crime, but he can solve one sixteen years later! I liked how he knew how to behave with each person, making him or her feel comfortable enough to share what they saw and believed.

Date read: 12/24/2009
Book #: 64
Challenge: Agatha Christie Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0425093255
ISBN-13: 9780425093252
Publisher: Berkley
Year: 1985 (original: 1941)
# of pages: 216
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

First sentence:

"I never used to keep close track of the phases of the moon."


"Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work—magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses—and the first two don’t count…" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

Although it's been a while since I've read a Dresden Files book, I had no problems getting back in the magical world of Harry Dresden. I enjoyed all the twists and surprises, and I liked Harry learning about different types of shape shifting. I look forward to reading the next Dresden Files book, Grave Peril.

Date read: 12/24/2009
Book #: 63
Series: Dresden Files, #2
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Urban Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0451458125
ISBN-13: 9780451458124
Publisher: ROC
Year: 2001
# of pages: 342
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Support Your Local Library Challenge

Support Your Local Library Challenge

When: 2009
What: Read either 12, 25 or 50 books from the library.

I will read 12 books from the library this year. I'll post the authors and titles after I read them.

1. Charles Stross. The Merchants' War -- finished 1/13/2009
2. Michael Dirda. Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life -- finished 1/29/2009
3. Bob Edgar. Middle Church -- finished 3/30/2009
4. Margalit Fox. Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind -- finished 5/28/2009
5. China MiƩville. Un Lun Dun -- finished 9/13/2009
6. David Maine. Fallen -- finished 10/13/2009
7. Travis Holland. The Archivist's Story -- finished 10/26/2009
8. Nancy Atherton. Aunt Dimity: Snowbound -- finished 11/18/2009
9. John Burdett. Bangkok Haunts -- finished 12/2/2009
10. John Twelve Hawks. The Traveler -- finished 12/22/2009

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

First sentence:

"Maya reached out and took her father's hand as they walked from the Underground to the light"


A world that exists in the shadows of our own.

A conflict we will never see.

One woman stands between those determined to control history and those who will risk their lives for freedom.

Maya is hiding in plain sight in London. The twenty-six-year-old has abandoned the dangerous obligations pressed upon her by her father, and chosen instead to live a normal life. But Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins—a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few known as Travelers.

Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, one of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history. Travelers are able to attain pure enlightenment, and have for centuries ushered change into the world. Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always protected themselves by living “off the Grid”—that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.

Summoned by her ailing father, Maya is told of the existence of the brothers. The Corrigans are in severe danger, stalked by powerful men known as the Tabula—ruthless mercenaries who have hunted Travelers for generations. This group is determined to inflict order on the world by controlling it, and they view Travelers as an intolerable threat. As Maya races to California to protect the brothers, she is reluctantly pulled back into the cold and solitary Harlequin existence. A colossal battle looms—one that will reveal not only the identities of Gabriel and Michael Corrigan but also a secret history of our time.

Moving from the back alleys of Prague to the heart of Los Angeles, from the high deserts of Arizona to a guarded research facility in New York, The Traveler explores a parallel world that exists alongside our own. John Twelve Hawks’s stunningly suspenseful debut is an international publishing sensation that marks the arrival of a major new talent.

My thoughts:

As the first book in a trilogy, this book sets up the characters and the overall situation very well. Twelve Hawks does a good job of bringing the reader into this world, and I liked how everybody, including the antagonists (Brethren/Tabula), believed that they were doing the right thing. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Dark River.

Date read: 12/21/2009
Book #: 62
Challenge: Support Your Local Library Challenge
Series: The Fourth Realm, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Urban Fantasy

ISBN-10: 038551428X
ISBN-13: 9780385514286
Publisher: Doubleday
Year: 2005
# of pages: 456
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Sunday, December 20, 2009

999 Challenge

999 Challenge

When: 2009
What: Read 9 books each in 9 categories. Up to 9 books can overlap. If you're really ambitious, finish by September 9, 2009.

Here's my list:

I. Fiction:
  1. Chuck Palahniuk. Invisible Monsters -- finished 2/17/2009
  2. Jim Crace. The Gift of Stones -- finished 3/19/2009
  3. Lalita Tademy. Cane River
  4. Michael Koepf. Fisherman's Son
  5. Melissa Bank. The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing
  6. Bea Gonzales. The Mapmaker's Opera
  7. Roger Hubank. North
  8. Ana Castillo. Peel My Love Like an Onion
  9. Jincy Willett. Winner of the National Book Award

II. Fantasy:
  1. Alexander Irvine. The Narrows -- finished 1/16/2009
  2. Alice Hoffman. Practical Magic -- finished 3/1/2009
  3. Robin McKinley. Spindle's End -- finished 4/11/2009
  4. Kristen Britain. Green Rider -- finished 9/7/2009
  5. Graham Joyce. Dreamside -- finished 11/6/2009
  6. Will Shetterly. Elsewhere
  7. Esther Friesner. Here Be Demons
  8. John M. Ford. The Last Hot Time
  9. Robert C. Fleet. Last Mountain
III. Science Fiction:
  1. Sheri Tepper. Six Moon Dance -- finished 3/23/2009
  2. Robert A. Metzger. Picoverse -- finished 8/9/2009
  3. Robert Heinlein. Have Space Suit - Will Travel -- finished 8/20/2009
  4. Charles Stross. Accelerando
  5. Jack McDevitt. Engines of God
  6. Iain Banks. Excession
  7. Kate Mosse. Labyrinth
  8. Michael Kurland. Psi Hunt
  9. Edmund Cooper. Seahorse in the Sky
IV. Mystery:
  1. Jefferson Bass. Carved in Bone -- finished 4/2/2009
  2. Keith Ablow. Denial -- finished 9/4/2009
  3. Carol O'Connell. Find Me -- finished 11/4/2009
  4. Agatha Christie. Murder at Hazelmoor -- finished 11/11/2009
  5. Javier Sierra. The Secret Supper
  6. Robert Tine. Desperate Measures
  7. Boris Akunin. The Winter Queen
  8. Robert Goldsborough. Murder in E Minor
  9. Trish Skillman. Someone to Watch Over
V. Thriller:
  1. Charles Atkins. The Cadaver's Ball -- finished 2/10/2009
  2. Mark Nykanen. Hush -- finished 2/20/2009
  3. Chris Mooney. Deviant Ways -- finished 3/11/2009
  4. Jennifer Lee Carrell. Interred With Their Bones -- finished 4/12/2009
  5. Stan Pottinger. Final Procedure
  6. Greg Iles. Footprints of God
  7. Sophie Hannah. Hurting Distance
  8. Ron Cutler. Ice Man
  9. Mo Hayder. Pig Island
VI. Nonfiction
  1. Diane Ackerman. A Natural History of the Senses -- finished 2/11/2009
  2. Howard Norman. In Fond Remembrance of Me: A Memoir of Myth and Uncommon Friendship in the Arctic -- finished 2/14/2009
  3. Ann Rule. The Stranger Beside Me -- finished 5/10/2009
  4. Sir Francis Chichester. Gipsy Moth Circles the World -- finished 7/7/ 2009
  5. Jack Olsen. The Climb Up to Hell -- finished 7/10/2009
  6. Fred Rosen. Body Dump -- finished 9/19/2009
  7. Jon Krakauer. Into the Wild -- finished 10/1/2009
  8. Gary Kinder. Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
  9. Glyn Williams. Voyages of Delusion
VII. Anthologies:
  1. James Alan Gardner. Gravity Wells -- finished 2/2/2009
  2. The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft:The Road to Madness -- finished 12/19/2009
  3. Stephen King. Everything's Eventual
  4. Robert Heinlein. Green Hills of Earth
  5. Holidays are Hell
  6. Matilda at the Speed of Light
  7. Museum of Horrors
  8. No Rest for the Witches
VIII. First in a Series:
  1. Jonathan Stroud. The Amulet of Samarkand -- finished 1/30/2009
  2. Jefferson Bass. Carved in Bone -- finished 4/2/2009
  3. Anne McCaffrey. Acorna: The Unicorn Girl -- finished 5/9/2009
  4. Keith Ablow. Denial -- finished 9/4/2009
  5. Glenn Cook. The Black Company
  6. Matthew Cook. Blood Magic
  7. J. Calvin Pierce. The Door to Ambermere
  8. Robert Jordan. Eye of the World
  9. C.J. Cherryh. Foreigner

IX. Not First in a Series:
  1. Raymond Feist. The King's Buccaneer -- finished 1/20/2009
  2. Eoin Colfer. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident -- finished 6/5/2009
  3. Carol O'Connell. Find Me -- finished 11/4/2009
  4. Mark Anthony. Blood of Mystery
  5. C.J. Cherryh. Brothers of Earth
  6. Simon R. Green. Deathstalker War
  7. Sara Paretsky. Hard Time
  8. Fredrik Pohl. Heechee Rendezvous
  9. Pamela Dean. The Hidden Land

999 Challenge - VII. Anthologies

To see my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.

  1. James Alan Gardner. Gravity Wells -- finished 2/2/2009
  2. The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft:The Road to Madness -- finished 12/19/2009
  3. Stephen King. Everything's Eventual
  4. Robert Heinlein. Green Hills of Earth
  5. Holidays are Hell
  6. Matilda at the Speed of Light
  7. Museum of Horrors
  8. No Rest for the Witches

The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness

First sentence:

"The horrible conclusion which had been gradually obtruding itself upon my confused and reluctant mind was now an awful certainty."


One of the most influential practitioners of American horror, H.P. Lovecraft inspired the work of Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker. As he perfected his mastery of the macabre, his works developed from seminal fragments into acknowledged masterpieces of terror. This volume traces his chilling career and includes:

IMPRISONED WITH THE PHARAOHS--Houdini seeks to reveal the demons that inhabit the Egyptian night.
AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS--An unsuspecting expedition uncovers a city of untold terror, buried beneath an Antarctic wasteland.

Plus, for the first time in any Del Rey edition:

HERBERT WEST: REANIMATOR--Mad experiments yield hideous results in this, the inspiration for the cult film Re-Animator.
COOL AIR--An icy apartment hides secrets no man dares unlock.
THE TERRIBLE OLD MAN--The intruders seek a fortune but find only death!

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories and novellas by H.P. Lovecraft. My favorites included "Herbert West--Renanimator," "Imprisoned with the Pharoahs," and "At the Mountains of Madness." The first one I liked because of the way the narrator told the story - first a little bit, and then it repeats with more and more detail. I liked the second story because it was told from the point of view of Harry Houdini. And finally, I liked the third story because it was a good mix of discovery, adventure, and horror. Plus, it takes place in one of my favorite literary settings, Antarctica.

Date read: 12/19/2009
Book #: 61
Challenge: 999 Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Horror

ISBN-10: 0345384229
ISBN-13: 9780345384225
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 1996
# of pages: 379
LibraryThing page

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett

First sentence:

"Few crimes makes us fear for the evolution of our species."


"Sonai Jitpleecheep -- the devout Buddhist Royal Thai Police detective who led us through the best sellers Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo -- returns in this blistering new novel.

Sonjai has seen virtually everything on his beat in Bangkok's District 8, but nothing like the video he's just been sent anonymously: "Few crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species. I am watching one right now."

He's watching a snuff film. And the person dying before his disbelieving eyes is Damrong -- a woman he once loved obsessively and, now it becomes clear, endlessly. And there is something more: something at the end of the film that leaves Sonjai both figuratively and literally haunted.

While his investigation will lead him through the office of the ever-scheming police captain, Vikorn ('Don't spoil a great case with too much perfectionism,' he advises Sonjai); in and out of the influence of a perhaps psychotic wandering monk; and eventually into the gilded rooms of the most exclusive men's club in Bangkok (whose members will do anything to protect their identities, and to explore their most secret fantasies), it also leads him to his own simple bedroom where he sleeps next to his pregnant wife while his dreams deliver him up to Damrong. . .

Ferociously smart and funny, furiously fast-paced, and laced through with an erotic ghost story that gives a new dark twist to the life of our hero, Bangkok Haunts does exactly that from the first page to last." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I liked this installment in the Bangkok series featuring detective Sonjai Jitpleecheep. I especially liked how Burdett, through Sonjai's narration, brings the reader into different worlds and cultures. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Godfather of Kathmandu.

Date read: 12/2/2009
Book #: 60
Challenge: Support Your Local Library Challenge
Series: Bangkok #3
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0307263185
ISBN-13: 9780307263186
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 2007
# of pages: 290
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page