Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Books Read


1. U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

2. The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

3. Amendment of Life by Catherine Aird

4. The Vault by Ruth Rendell

5. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

6. The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

7. Fate by Amanda Hocking

8. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain1943

9. Ocracokes Curse- The Mystery at Teach's Hole by Mark Duffey

10. The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell

11. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey 1929

12. The Problem of the Wire Cage by John Dickson Carr1939

13. The Burning court by John Dickson Carr1937

14. The Black Tower by P D James

15. The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly 1951

16. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

17. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

18. V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

19. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

20. Shroud of Darkness by E C R Lorac1954

21. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey1951

22. The Retribution by Val McDermid

23. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

24. Water-Blue Eyes by Domingo Villar

25. Death Comes to Pemberely by P. D. James

26. DeKok and Murder on Blood Mountain by A.C. Baantjer

27. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

28. I could Murder Her by E C R Lorac 1951

29. Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie

30. The Tragedy of Z- A Drury Lane Mystery by Ellery Queen 1934

31. The Witches by Roald Dahl

32. Escape the Night by Mignon G. Eberhart1944

33. I am the Cat by Rosemary Kutak1948

34. A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

35. Tom Brown's Body by Gladys Mitchell 1949

36. The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen1953

37. Second Form at Clares by Enid Blyton

38. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

39. Candide by Voltaire

40. First Love by Ivan Turgenev

41. The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher

42. Shadows over paradise by Anne K Edwards

43. The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum

44. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

45. Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler

46. Venetia by Georgette Heyer

47. Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace

48. A Case to answer by Margret Yorke

49. The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume

50. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

51. Zone Defence by Petros Markaris

52. Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky

53. The Question of Belief by Donna Leon

54. Number Sense by Stanislas Dehaene

55. Clockwise by Elle Strauss

56. Middlemarch by George Eliot

57. Xpd by Len Deighton

58. Dangerous Past by A F Ebbers

59. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

60. The Marais Assassin by Claude Izner

61. The Saint Zita Society by Ruth Rendell 2012

62. One Major Mistake by Starr Gardineier Reina 2012

63. Small Island by Andrea Levy

64. Dracula by Bram Stoker

65. A Stranger is Watching by Mary Higgins Clark

66. Manga Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliet

67. When Red is Black by Qiu Xiaolong

68. The Great Impersonation by E Philiphs Oppenhiem 1920

69. Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

70. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

71. The Postman always rings twice by James M. Cain1934

72. Asta's Book by Barbara Vine (1993

73. Behold Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer 1936

74. Phantom by Jo Nesbo (2012)

75. Caravan of Thieves by David Rich


76. The Piccadilly Puzzle by Fergus Hume

77. Perfect People by Peter James

78.The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

79. Bloodline by James Rollins (2012)

80. The man in the picture by Susan Hill

81. The mist in the mirror by Susan Hill

82. The Caller by Karin Fossum (Norway)

83. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

84. Whited Sepulchres by Anne Perry

85. What am I doing here? By Liz Cowley

86. The Little stranger by Sarah Waters

87. The Women's Room by Marilyn French

88. Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography by Chas Newkey-Burden

89. The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher

90. Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter

91. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

92. A dark-Adaptd eye by Barbara Vine

93. False Pretences by Margret Yorke

94. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

95. A Killing Kindness by Reginald Hill

96. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

97. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868

98. Joe Muller Detective by Auguste Groner

99. The man who went up in smoke by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

100. Last to die by Tess Gerritsen

101. Brick Lane by Monica Ali

102. The Black Path by Asa Larsson

103. Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum

104. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey1948

105. Snow Angels by James Thompson

106. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

107. The Casual vacancy by J K Rowling

108. The Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry

109. The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

110. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

111. The Long Song by Andrea Levy

112. The Expats by Chris Pavone

113. The Bat by Jo Nesbo

114. The Game of thrones by George R R Martin

115. Sleuth of St.James Square by Melville Davisson Post



Reading Challenge Addict 2012 Wrap-up

Reading Challenge Addict 2012 (40/40)

I signed up for the reading challenge addict challenge to complete 16 challenges. Here are all the challenges that I participated and completed successfully.

1. Antonym Reading Challenge

2. A to Z Mystery Author Reading Challenge

3. A to Z Author Reading Challenge

4. Support Your Local library Challenge

5. What's in a Name 5 Challenge

6. Chunkster Reading Challenge

7. What an Animal V Reading Challenge


8. A to Z Reading Challenge (Titles)

9. Merely Mystery Reading Challenge

10. 2012 Bucket List Reading Challenge

11. 2012 Ebook Reading Challenge

12. 2012 Ebook Challenge

13. Cruisin thru cozies Reading Challenge


14. Borrowed Book Challenge


15. Criminal Plots II Challenge

16. Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge

17. 2012 Color Coded Challenge

18. Getting Lost in a Comfortable Book

19. Birth Year Reading Challenge

20. Eclectic Reading Challenge

21. 2012 Vintage MysteryReading Challenge

22. Free Books 2012 Challenge

23. Off the Shelf 2012

24. Read Your Own Books

25. Back to classics Challenge

26. Classics Challenge

27. 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

28. Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge

29. Books Published in the first years of my life Challenge

30. New Authors Challenge

31. British Book Challenge

32. 2012 Why buy the Cow Reading Challenge

33. European Reading Challenge

34. Mixing it Up

35. Fall into Reading Challenge

36. Olympic Reading Challenge

37. R.I.P. VII

38. Orange July

39. Paris in July

40. Reading Challenge Addict (40/40)


European Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I signed up to read books based in Europe for the European Reading Challenge. Here are the books I read:

The Vault by Ruth Rendell (UK)

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky(Russia)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak(Germany)

Water-Blue Eyes by Domingo Villar(Spain)


DeKok and Murder on Blood Mountain by A.C. Baantjer(Netherlands)

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo(Norway)

Candide by Voltaire(Portugal)

The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum(Switzerland)

Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler1948(Turkey)

Zone Defence by Petros Markaris (Greece)

The Question of Belief by Donna Leon(Italy)

The Marais Assassin by Claude Izner(France)

Dracula by Bram Stoker(Romania)

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason(Iceland)

The man who went up in smoke by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Hungary)

The Black Path by Asa Larsson (Sweden)

Snow Angels by James Thompson (Finland)

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (Latvia)

Joe Muller Detective by Auguste Groner (Austria)

The Expats by Chris Pavone (Luxembourg)



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Joe Muller Detective by Auguste Groner

Last year (2011) I read The case of the lamp that went out by Auguste Groner featuring Austrian detective Joe Muller, a different kind of detective who cares not only about the victim but also the perpetrator. When I found four novelettes featuring Joe Muller in the public domain I downloaded the ebooks.

In 'The Case of the Golden Bullet', Professor Fellner, is found shot dead in a locked room. The autopsy reveals that Fellner was killed with a golden bullet. Muller uses disguise and solves the case. He is compassionate not towards the victim but towards the murderer.

In 'The Case of the Registered Letter', Babette Graumann approaches Joe Muller to save her nephew who had been wrongly arrested for a murder. There is lots of evidence incriminating Albert Graumann. But Muller believes in his innocence, how will he prove Albert's innocence? Muller uses the nature of the accused to show that he could not have committed the crime. This is an interesting story though I don't think quite possible. There is an important message too.

In 'The Case of the pocket Dairy found in snow', a working-man on his way home, finds a package, with instructions to hand it over to the nearest police sation. The package contains a woman's pocket diary that details her kidnap. Will Muller find her and rescue her before it is too late? The rescue forms the story.

In 'The case of the Pool of blood in Pastor's Study', the Pastor's study is filled with a pool of blood, Pastor's body is missing. Joe Muller is called to investigate, he finds strange circular pattern in the room and a lead. What are the circular patters? What happened to the body? He quickly solves the case.

Interesting stories but no twist or surprise. Muller is a detective with a heart rather than a thinking machine. Originally written in German, and translated and compiled in an omnibus in 1910. These ebooks can be found in Gutenberg.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Black Path by Asa Larsson

The Black Path by Asa Larsson is third book featuring Rebecka Martinsson. When the story starts with the recovery of Rebecka Martinsson from a trauma, I started wondering if I made a mistake by picking up the third book, without reading the first two. Looking into some reviews on the internet, I found that The Black Path works quite well as a standalone. Now to the story.

A woman is found murdered in an 'ark', a fishing cabin with a hole in the floor through which one could fish from a hole in the frozen lake. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella and Sven-Erik Stalnacke start investigating the case. Who is the murdered woman? What is she doing alone in the Ark? Who killed her and why?

Once you know who the victim is, you know who did it too. The story develops into the possible motives and how she is murdered. Rebecka after the trauma moves to Kiruna and helps with the investigation. While Anna-Maria is involved in the field work part of the investigation, Rebecka scours the internet for information and analyses the financial information of a leading industrialist to help with the investigation. We get insight into Rebecka's childhood, why she lived with her grandmother and the family life of Anna-Maria.

The backstories of various key players (read suspects) are narrated and the various story arcs converge together leading to the final denouement. One aspect that caught my attention in this story is the concept of Maternal love. Rebecka's mother is not able to cope up with the responsibilities of motherhood and finally leaves her with her grandmother. Ester is brought up by foster parents, and longs for appreciation from her foster mother. It did look like Ester's foster mother loved her, but why can't she appreciate the fact that Ester is a better artist than her. Why should she be so cruel? While Ester's character and story is interesting, I couldn't help wondering the purpose of her story. It does add up in the end-in the Black Path.

Translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, The Black Path is a gripping police procedural.

Note: If you wonder what an Ark looks like. I think it is the cabin in the book cover.

The Expats by Chris Pavone

When Dexter Moore gets a job offer in Luxembourg, his wife Kate Moore decides to leave her secretive job in U.S. and enjoy being a stay-at-home mom in their new home. The Moores move to Luxembourg and Dexter is always busy at his work. Kate finds lots of time on her hands and in spite of constant jet-setting travelling different European countries in the weekends and holidays, she is bored. Kate gets friendly with Julia and Bill Maclean, only to learn that all is not as it seems. Is it because Kate is bored that she finds the need to investigate her new friends or is just her habit? What are the secrets our Kate is hiding? What are the secrets, if any, her new friends are hiding? Why is Dexter so secretive about his new employer?

The story has a disjointed feel. One moment the children are going to school in Luxembourg, another in Paris. It takes some time to understand that they are different timelines. Only the present is labelled as Today, the timeline in the past is not labelled, causing confusion. I don't know if it is done on purpose. It takes lots of time to get used to the structure. The story gets interesting to me after a magical number appears. Before that the story seemed to be going in the direction of spouse swapping. With the magical number, the story takes a completely different turn. The second half is exciting with lots of surprises, twists and turns. And you get a feel of the expat life in Luxembourg.

I bought the ebook for £0.20 for kindle from Amazon UK. For all I know, it is still the same price, a bargain I think.

The Man Who Went Up in Smoke by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

The Man Who Went up in Smoke, published in 1966, is the second book featuring Martin Beck, Swedish Police detective. This book is translated from Swedish by Joan Tate and published in English in 1969.

Martin Beck is called back from a holiday to look for a missing Swedish journalist in Budapest. Budapest in 1960s is under the Soviet rule and it is interesting how this hardly reflects on the case. Martin Beck has to look for the journalist without any help from local authorities. How to look for somebody in a foreign country without the help of the local authorities? He is not entirely sure what to do. One moment he hurries up to do something, next he slows down. What to do? Back home, his colleague provides him with one lead. Beck goes to check the lead. He is still not sure that anything is going to come out of this. What happened to the journalist? Did he disappear and go up in smoke?

Budapest is described beatifully, that I want to visit. But this is Budapest of 1960s , how does it look half a century later. As the story progressed, I understood what really happened, but didn't figure out the why. This is a short novel can be read in one or two sittings. This is my first Martin Beck read and I look forward to read more books in this series.

I like the title, it is very clever.

Friday, 28 December 2012

2012 Why buy the cow? Reading Challenge Wrap-up

I participated in the 2012 Why buy the cow? Reading Challenge to read 12 free ebooks. Here are the books I read

The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

Candide by Voltaire

The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher

Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace1926

The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868


British Book Challenge 2012 Wrap-up

I participated in the British Book Challenge 2012 to read 12 by British Authors. I read 57 books by British Authors. Here are the books I read


1. The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

2. Amendment of Life by Catherine Aird

3. The Vault by Ruth Rendell

4. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

5. The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

6. The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell

7. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey 1929

8. The Problem of the Wire Cage by John Dickson Carr

9. The Burning court by John Dickson Carr1937

10. The Black Tower by P D James

11. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

12. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

13. Shroud of Darkness by E C R Lorac1954

14. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey1951

15. The Retribution by Val McDermid

16. Death Comes to Pemberely by P. D. James

17. I could Murder Her by E C R Lorac 1951

18. Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie

19. The Witches by Roald Dahl

20. Tom Brown's Body by Gladys Mitchell 1949

21. Second Form at Clare's by Enid Blyton

22. The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher

23. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

24. Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler1948

25. Venetia by Georgette Heyer


26. Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace1926

27. A Case to answer by Margret Yorke

28. The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume

29. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

30. Middlemarch by George Eliot

31. XPD by Len Deighton

32. The Saint Zita Society by Ruth Rendell 2012


33. Small Island by Andrea Levy

34. Dracula by Bram Stoker

35. The Great Impersonation by E Philiphs Oppenhiem 1920

36. Asta's Book by Barbara Vine (1993


37. Behold Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer 1936


38. The Piccadilly Puzzle by Fergus Hume

39. Perfect People by Peter James

40. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde



41. The man in the picture by Susan Hill

42. The mist in the mirror by Susan Hill


43. Whited Sepulchres by Anne Perry

44. What am I doing here? By Liz Cowley

45. The Little stranger by Sarah Waters

46. Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography by Chas Newkey-Burden

47. The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher

48. Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter

49. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

50. A dark-Adaptd eye by Barbara Vine

51. False Pretences by Margret Yorke

52. A Killing Kindness by Reginald Hill

53. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

54. Brick Lane by Monica Ali

55. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

56. The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

57. The Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry


New Authors Challenge 2012 wrap-up


I signed up for the New Author 2012 Challenge to read 15 new authors. I read 69 new authors to me.

1. The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

2. Amendment of Life by Catherine Aird

3. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

4. The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

5. Fate by Amanda Hocking

6. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain1943

7. Ocracokes Curse- The Mystery at Teach's Hole by Mark Duffey

8. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey 1929

9. The Burning court by John Dickson Carr1937

10. The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly 1951

11. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

12. Shroud of Darkness by E C R Lorac1954

13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

14. Water-Blue Eyes by Domingo Villar

15. DeKok and Murder on Blood Mountain by A.C. Baantjer

16. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

17. Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie

18. The Tragedy of Z- A Drury Lane Mystery by Ellery Queen 1934

19. Escape the Night by Mignon G. Eberhart1944

20. I am the Cat by Rosemary Kutak1948

21. A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

22. Tom Brown's Body by Gladys Mitchell 1949

23. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

24. Candide by Voltaire

25. First Love by Ivan Turgenev

26. The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher

27. Shadows over paradise by Anne K Edwards

28. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

29. Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler1948

30. Venetia by Georgette Heyer

31. Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace1926

32. A Case to answer by Margret Yorke

33. The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume

34. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

35. Zone Defence by Petros Markaris

36. Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky

37. The Question of Belief by Donna Leon

38. Clockwise by Elle Strauss

39. XPD by Len Deighton

40. Dangerous Past by A F Ebbers

41. The Marais Assassin by Claude Izner

42. One Major Mistake by Starr Gardineier Reina 2012

43. Small Island by Andrea Levy

44. Dracula by Bram Stoker

45. Manga Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliet

46. When Red is Black by Qiu Xiaolong

47. The Great Impersonation by E Philiphs Oppenhiem 1920

48. Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

49. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

50. Caravan of Thieves by David Rich

51. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

52. The man in the picture by Susan Hill

53. The Caller by Karin Fossum

54. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

55. The Little stranger by Sarah Waters

56. The Women's Room by Marilyn French

57. Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography by Chas Newkey-Burden

58. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

59. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

60. A Killing Kindness by Reginald Hill

61. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

62. The man who went up in smoke by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

63. Last to die by Tess Gerritsen

64. Brick Lane by Monica Ali

65. The Black Path by Asa Larsson

66. Snow Angels by James Thompson

67. The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

68. The Expats by Chris Pavone

69. A Game of thrones by George R R Martin





Books Published in the First Years of My Life Wrap-up

I participated in the Books Published in the First Years of My Life at toddler level, that is read three books from my early years. Here are the books.

The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum1978

Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter1979

A Killing Kindness by Reginald Hill1980

A Killing Kindness by Reginald Hill

Crime stories could be stark and grim, especially one where young women are strangled and a serial killer is at work. I like my crime stories with a dose of humour. It is to sample Dalziel's humour that I picked this book and I am not disappointed.

In this book set in Yorkshire, young women are strangled and murdered. The bodies are neatly laid out by the murderer. These murders do not look like sex crimes. There does not seem to be much similarity between the women. What is the connecting link between these women? How is the Choker selecting his victims? Is he killing the women out of kindness?

When the story starts with a Seance, and a caller calls up a newspaper with Shakespeare quotes after each murder, we do know this is not a run of the mill murder of passion and money. Mix in a Psychologist and two Linguists who never agree on anything to help with the investigation and Dalziel who puts clairvoyant, psychologist and the linguist in the same bracket and believes all this is nonsense. And then we have a woman who believes her estranged husband with a midlife crisis is the strangler, the Choker. All this combined together makes interesting reading.

This is a prefect police procedure where various police personnel work out various portions of the mystery. Though Dalziel gets a lucky break, more than Dalziel it is Wield's and Poscoe's case. It is interesting how a boss(Dalziel) affects his subordinates and how his nature rubs into them. I did guess who the killer is, but not the reason. What act of kindness the killer is performing is quite beyond my comprehension! Yep somebody is killing off women out of kindness.

Published in 1980, A Killing Kindness is the sixth book in the Dalziel and Poscoe series. This is the first book I read by Reginald Hill and I will be reading more.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge Wrap-up

I participated in Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge to read 10 mysteries set during the period 1837-1910. Here are the books I read

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Victorian London)

Izner- The Marais Assassin by Claude Izner (Victorian Paris)

Whited Sepulchres by Anne Perry (Victorian London)

The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume1907

The Piccadilly Puzzle by Fergus Hume1889

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868

The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

Joe Muller Detective by Augusta Groner

The Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry (Victorian London)




52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge Wrap-Up

Here is my end-of-year post for 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge. My answers for the questions:

1) How many books did you read this year? So far: 109. May read 3 more.

2) Did you meet or beat your own personal goal? My top goal was 52 books, ya, I am more than happy.

3) Favorite book of 2012? (You can list more than one or break it down by genre): Here are my top reads of the year
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Candide by Voltaire
The Burning court by John Dickson Carr
Escape the Night by Mignon G. Eberhart
Asta's Book by Barbara Vine

4) Least favorite book of 2012 and why?
Fate by Amanda Hocking
It is the second book in a series. There was nowhere in the book the indication that I should have read the first book before reading this. Some books even if they are part of a series, are good standalone. It wasn't in a genre I usually enjoy and the story had no depth, very predictable.

5) One book you thought you'd never read and was pleasantly surprised you like it?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I am not into what is called as YA. I didn't expect to read it. But had a inkling that it would be soon shown on TV. So decided to give it a try and yes I loved it.

6) One book you thought you'd love but didn't?

Death Comes to Pemberely by P. D. James. Add two of my favourite authors in my favourite genre and a recipe for disaster. No humour or intelligence in Elizabeth Darcy, not a satisfying mystery from P D James.

7) One book that touched you - made you laugh, cry, sing or dance.

Small Island by Andrea Levy- Sometimes my blood was boiling and others I was laughing out loud.

8) Any new to you authors discovered and you can't wait to read more of their stories?
I look forward to reading books by these authors that I discovered this year.
Baantjer
Jo Nesbo
Petros Markaris
Domingo Villar
Karin Fossum


9) Name the longest book you read? Shortest?
Longest: Game of Thrones by George. R R Martin (894) currently reading
Shortest: Candide by Voltaire 94

10) Name the most unputdownable book you read?
Read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in one sitting.


11) Book that had the greatest impact on you this year?
Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling. Can probably never forget Krystal.

12) What book would you recommend everybody read?

Candide by Voltaire


13) Share your most favorite cover(s): I never ever judge a book by its cover, don't even notice it.

14) Do you have a character you fell in love with?
Not really! I liked many. Kurt Wallander, Andy Dalziel, Harry Hole, Sam Spade, Costas Haritos, Dekok to name a few.

15) What was your most favorite part of the challenge? Did you do any of the mini challenges?
Got me reading at least one book a week, many times more.

What are your goals for the new year? To read more non fiction? To dip your toes into a mystery or a urban fantasy? What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?
To read at least some books from other genres than mystery. Got a big list of books piled up for 2013. Looking forward to read books by my favourite crime writers Sue Grafton, Barbara Vine, Val McDermid, Harlan Coben and discover some new ones.

Classics Challenge Wrap-Up

I participated in the Classics Challenge hosted by November's Autumn. Here are the classics I read this year!

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey1951

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Candide by Voltaire

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Middlemarch by George Eliot


The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien


Small Island by Andrea Levy

Dracula by Bram Stoker


The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Postman always rings twice by James M. Cain1934

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868

The Women's Room by Marilyn French

I participated in two prompts!

Quotes from a Classic I read this year
Visual Tour of a Classic


Back to Classics Challenge Complete

I signed up for the The Back To The Classics Challenge 2012 hosted by Sarah Reads too Much to read Classics in the following categories. Here are the book I read.

Any 19th Century Classic- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Middlemarch by George Eliot
Any 20th Century Classic- The Women's Room by Marilyn French
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vunnegut
Reread a classic of your choice- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868
A Classic Play- An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction- The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Classic Romance- The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language - Candide by Voltaire
Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Classic Award Winner - Small Island by Andrea Levy -Orange Fiction
Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime- The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien


Candide by Voltaire

Trust me to confuse Peter James with P D James, Simon Kernick with Ian Rankin and Virgil with Voltaire. What I was hoping to read was an epic poem, a daunting task with probably a reward (some philosophical thoughts, beautiful lines, great story etc) in the end. What I end up reading is a small delightful rewarding tale with gems of wisdom and a immense serving of humour. A kind of tale that I could probably dip in now and then. Published in 1759 Candide by Voltaire presents the case against Optimism. Now to the tale.

Candide grows up in the household of a Baron in Westphalia under the guidance of Pangloss, who earnestly believes that all is for the best and

“the nose has been formed to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles.”

When Candide is caught kissing Cunegonde, Baron's daughter, and is thrown out of the house. Candide is forced to join the Bulgarian Army and faces various hardships and punishments. But he still believes that all is for the best. Candide is briefly reunited with his mentor Pangloss, who still believes that all is for the best. He journeys all over Europe and finally decides to cross the Ocean and go to the New World 'which is the best of all possible worlds'.

When Candide's companion bemoans all the misfortunes they have faced. A old woman who becomes their companion narrates her story, the hardships she faced and her unwillingness to end all the pain.

“A hundred times I was upon the point of killing myself; but still I loved life. This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down? to detest existence and yet to cling to one's existence? In brief, to caress the serpent which devours us, till he has eaten our very heart?”

The New World is no different. Candide faces one hardship after another making him question if all is really for the best.

“What is this optimism?" said Cacambo.

"Alas!" said Candide, "it is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it is wrong.”

He visits El Dorado , the land of the plenty, but is not content to stay there for ever. He continues on the journey and meets Martin another philosopher with whom he has many discourses. In the end they decide that there is only one way to make life bearable.

"Let us work, then, without disputing; for it is the only way to make life bearable."

Yes! Without much ado "let us cultivate our garden.”

This book is available as a free ebook from various websites including Gutenberg.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Fall into Reading 2012 Challenge Complete

I participated in the Fall into Reading 2012 challenge from September 22-December 21 hosted by Katrina at callapidder days
So here is my list! I changed Blood Work by Barbara Vine to A Dark-Adapted Eye by Vine as I had to return the book to the library. All the other books are from the initial list.
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (27/10/2012)
Bloodline by James Rollins (30/9/2012)
The mist in the mirror by Susan Hill-(4/10/2012)
The man in the picture by Susan Hill- (1/10/2012)
The little stranger by Sarah Waters (17/10/2012)
The Caller by Karin Fossum (5/10/2012)
The lock artist by Steve Hamilton(17/11/2012)
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (4/12/2012)
The long song by Andrea Levy (21/12/12)
Whited Sepulchres by Anne Perry(13/10/2012)
False Pretences by Margret Yorke (8/11/2012)
Service of all the Dead by Colin Dexter(22/10/2012)

Free Books 2012 Challenge Complete

I signed up to read 15 free books for this challenge. Here are the books I read.

The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862

Ocracokes Curse- The Mystery at Teach's Hole by Mark Duffey

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky


An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow


Candide by Voltaire

The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher1923

Shadows over paradise by Anne K. Edwards


Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace1926


The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Dangerous Past by A F Ebbers

One Major Mistake by Starr Gardineier Reina 2012


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Caravan of Thieves by David Rich


The Piccadilly Puzzle by Fergus Hume

The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Off the Shelf 2012 & Read Your Own Books Complete

I decided to read five books from my own shelf this year for Off the Shelf Challenge and
Read Your Own Books challenge. Here are the books read

A Case to answer by Margret Yorke
The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
Whited Sepulchres by Anne Perry
Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter
False Pretences by Margret Yorke

Service of all the Dead by Colin Dexter

I picked up the Service of all the Dead by Colin Dexter published in 1979 for the books published in the first years of my life challenge. Service of all the dead had been sitting on my shelf for a long time along with other Inspector Morse books. Inspector Morse is one of my favourite detectives but I always keep picking up books from the library than my own shelves. Now to the story.

Holidays for our Inspectors are a rare thing. What do you think Inspector Morse would do on his long due holidays? Go skiing, or rest on a sun soaked beach? No. He goes to attend a service in a Church. And gets investigating two deaths on the church premises. One a murder and another a possible suicide, but is it also a murder? Harry Josephs was both poisoned and stabbed to death in the Church during a service. Some days later Lionel Lawson, the priest jumps off the Church. Did Lionel Lawson kill Josephs and commit suicide? Or did Lionel Lawson know something about Josephs' death and somebody helped him fall? How could Lawson kill anybody when the church was full and he was conducting a service? Is it even possible?

This is one of the earliest Inspector Morse books- the fourth one to be precise, and I don't find the usual wit or the meanness in Inspector Morse. I have read a few of the later books and found them all funny and intriguing. This book is intriguing too, a bit complicated, but could whatever was planned and done even possible, there seem to be too many holes for the plan to work. Some characters are introduced in the first few chapters and they all end up dead at the end of the book except for of course the killer. I didn't guess the killer. The title is very clever.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

When a life-raft floats up the coast of Ystad, Sweden, with two well-dressed men shot dead, Kurt Wallander starts his investigation. Who were these men and where were they from? How long did the life-raft float before reaching Sweden? There looks to be some connection with Latvia and Major Karlis Liepa from Riga visits Sweden to help Wallander with the case.

Wallander from the beginning hopes to push on the case to some other country. When the opportunity appears, won't he be happy? Only circumstance turn around, Major Liepa is murdered in Riga and Wallander is obliged to visit Riga to help in the investigation. Not knowing the language is not just the trouble, why is the Riga Police keeping watch on him and Baiba Liepa contacts Wallander secretly. What is happening here? The story is placed in the background of the freedom movement in Latvia in 1991.

Why is Wallander called to Riga? The Latvian police could have closed the case without causing much trouble. Wallander has quite an adventure, a small-town detective from Sweden, gets involved in greater things than he could ever imagine. When his adventures take a nightmarish turn, what will Wallander do? The Dogs of Riga are on the scent of Wallander, will he able to keep them at bay and find the truth. The hunter is closing on the prey. But who is hunting the hunter?

I have never seen a police officer in fiction who is so keen to push the case to somebody else. And when the time comes to quitting the case, he clings to it. The story moves away from the initial murders into international conspiracies and freedom movement. Wallander has a sense of somebody watching him throughout. We get a feel of what it is to live in a country under Soviet influence just before the fall of Soviet Union, under constant vigilance. Mankell plays a nice little trick in the end. This book is translated from Swedish by Laurie Thompson and published in English in 2001. An exciting adventure. I look forward to read more books featuring Kurt Wallander.

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2012 Complete

I was hoping to read 16 vintage mysteries this year. I went on to read 28 mysteries ranging from the earliest published in 1862 to 1953 in three categories London Mystery Tour, Golden Age Girls and Cherchez l'homme.

London Mystery Tour
I decided to read books with London place names in the title not necessarily based in London. So here is my Mystery tour of London streets.

London
The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix1862
The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill1895
The Piccadilly Puzzle by Fergus Hume1889
The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace1902
The Silent house in Pimlico by Fergus Hume1907
The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher 1919
The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher1923
The Tragedy of Z- A Drury Lane Mystery by Ellery Queen 1934


Golden Age Girls
The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey 1929
Behold Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer 1936
I am the Cat by Rosemary Kutak1948
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey1948
The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly 1951
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey1951
I could Murder Her by E C R Lorac 1951
Shroud of Darkness by E C R Lorac1954
Escape the Night by Mignon G. Eberhart1944
Tom Brown's Body by Gladys Mitchell 1949
All new authors to me!

Cherchez l'homme

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins1868
The Great Impersonation by E Philiphs Oppenhiem 1920
Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace1926
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett 1930
The Postman always rings twice by James M. Cain1934
The Burning court by John Dickson Carr1937
The Problem of the Wire Cage by John Dickson Carr1939
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain1943
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler1948
The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen1953
Except for Wilkie Collins all new authors to me!

Looking forward to Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2013.

The Middle Temple Murder by J S Fletcher

Spargo, sub-editor of Watchman, returning home after the papers have gone to the press at 2 in the early morning, spots news near Middle Temple lane when he finds policemen there. A porter had reported that he found a man lying dead in one of the entrances to the lane. There was nothing on the man that could lead to his identification.

They find a scrap of paper with a barrister's address on it. But the barrister is not aware of any such man. So who was he? Why was he murdered? Who murdered him? Spargo plays an active role in the investigation. He uses his influence of as a journalists to get the case solved.

With the help of the cap, the dead man was wearing, they trace him. It is a complicated and confusing case involving embezzlement, impersonation, hidden identities, invaluable stamps, hidden leather box and a twenty-one year old case.

I didn't guess the killer or the reason. There were many twists that I hadn't anticipated. Interesting mystery that got me glued from start to finish. I liked this book much much better than The Charing Cross Mystery by J S Fletcher. The Middle Temple Murder published in 1919 is available as a free ebook from many websites including Gutenberg and Amazon.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Get ready for the rebellion! Will the Districts overthrow the Capitol? After 75 years of oppression and deadly hunger games, that had taken their children's lives, the Districts are no longer going to tolerate the atrocities of the Capitol. Capitol has failed to provide them both 'bread and entertainment'. Capitol in poor judgement instead of giving bread and entertainment to the rebels, so that they would forget all about freedom, had been providing these necessities to the already complacent Capitol citizens. So a rebellion is inevitable!

So what is the role of the teenage rebel and the symbol of the rebellion? Will it be just symbolic? Will our sweet little Katniss dress-up in Mokingjay costume and dazzle people or is she going to play an active role in the rebellion?

I know, more and more, our battles are fought on TV. One image has more effect than thousand words. Getting the television under control is a major strategic victory in any coup. But Katniss is surely made for greater things than dressing-up and giving soundbites for TV, or isn't she?

If Catching Fire is slow, Mockingjay is slower for me. Katniss has a larger role to play in the rebellion but only in the last hundred or so pages of the book. But I do wish she had a greater role. Don't tell me, she is a sixteen year old, what more can she do! If a sixteen year old can instigate sleeping rebels to take up arms against the oppressor, she can surely do more. I am okay with Peeta, his change and all. But Gale! What's wrong with Gale? I was expecting a more fitting finish for the exciting Hunger Games.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy. This review contains spoilers for the first book. Now that Katniss emerges as a victor in the Hunger games, you think she would have time to analyze her feelings about Gale and Peeta. Yes. She has too much time. Katniss is a girl of action and all this analyses doesn't bide well with her.

There is a revolution brewing in the districts. President Snow decides to punish Katniss for what she did. She is to particpate in Qurater Quell, special edition of the hunger games. The Hunger Games Arena is interesting and clever.

Last hundred or so pages of the story is exciting, that is after the start of the Quarter quell. Before that it takes lots of time to cath fire. But second books in a trilogy are always a bit slow, aren't they?

I don't think what the Capitol did was clever in choosing the contestants or making Katniss as one of the contestants. Were they trying to quell a revolution or create one by their actions? Capitol should have taken her to Capitol and showered her with gifts and admiration, adulation, showcase her hunting skills and what not, so that her only problem in life should be 'Do I love Peeta or Gale?" Catching Fire is slow in Catching Fire, but then it burns.


The Sorceress of the Strand by L T Meade and Robert Eustace

The Sorceress of the Strand features the exploits of Madame Sara, an evil genius and a woman of science in six short stories.

Dixon Druce is the narrator of these stories. In the first story 'Madame Sara', Druce is introduced to Madame Sara, who owns a perfumery shop in Strand, London and is a professional beautifier expert in medicines, surgery and dentistry. Jack Selby's wife Beatrice and her sister Edith are greatly influenced by Madame Sara, though not in need of any of her services, they approach her as a dentist. At breakfast, Edith eats what everybody eats and she drops dead. Post-mortem reveals a strange poison. How did Edith die? How was the poison administered? Eric Vandeleur of the Metropolitan staff investigates.

In the second Story, The Blood-Red Cross, Dixon is a guest at George Rowland's home. Rowland is in possession of a heirloom, a necklace with eighty pearls that a bride to the family always wears on her wedding-day and kept in storage otherwise. George is engaged to Antonia Ripley. Madame Sara and Vandeleur arrive at Rowland's place too. She is after the pearls, how will she get it? Count on Madame Sara to think of something ingenious and scientific. Will Vandeleur stop her?

In 'The Face of the Abbot', Helen Sherwood seeks the help of Dixon with her inheritance, a haunted castle in Portugal. When Madame Sara prevails upon Helen to visit the castle and look into the mystery of the white face that haunts the castle, we know something is going to happen. This is a nice little gothic story. My favourite in this book.

In the Talk of the Town, Professor Piozzi discovers something spectacular but without commercial value and waiting patent. When he is poisoned do we even doubt, who is the poisoner? But what use could Madame Sara make of an invention that is not commercial?

In 'Bloodstone', Dixon is visiting his friend Lady Violet Bouverie, who is in some financial strait that she does not want her husband to know. When their esteemed visitor Mirza Ali Khan's 'Bloodstone' goes missing, suspicion falls on Violet. How will Vandeleur prove her innocence when Dixon is an eyewitness?

In 'The teeth of the Wolf', Dixon and Vandeleur are invited to visit Julia Bensasan, a lady who tames dangerous animals and Madame Sara is her friend. Can Dixon and Vandeleur escape the teeth of the wolf?

I quite like Madame Sara. She is not just a pretty face or an expert in the art of beautification. But an ingenious scientific mind, an expert plastic surgeon, an expert in toxicology, chemicals, impersonation, with a weakness for precious stones and jewels. She comes with clever methods to lure her victims and send them to their maker. Oh yes! An evil genius. I am supposed to hate this evil mastermind. With so many accomplishments how am I supposed to hate her? Clever little stories first serialised in Strand magazine and published as a book in 1903 is available as a free ebook from Manybooks website.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In future, distant or near, there is a place called Panem, with a Capitol and 12 Districts. Each district specialises in one field that ultimately serves to the need of the Capitol and its citizens. Every year 2 teenagers a boy and a girl from each district should be sent as tributes to the Capitol to participate in Hunger Games, a celebration of quelling of rebellion of the districts by the Capitol nearly 74 years ago. A token of retribution for all, that the Capitol is all powerful and can takeaway even your own children from you, you see them die televised live with all the world.

Katniss from District 12 just hopes that she is not a tribute this year. She isn't. But she does go to participate in the Hunger Games along with Peeta from her District. Will she survive the games? Does she have it in her to kill 23 other participants to emerge victor? Can she kill the little girl from District 11 who so much resembles her little sister?

Narrated in first person present tense Hunger Games has a very fast pace. Things happen one after another that I was glued to it and finished it in one sitting from 11 in the night to 5 in the early morning. I am sometimes irked by present tense, it doesn't really work for many books, but it works really well for The Hunger Games.

I do think the book should be called Love games. Does Katniss love Peeta or not? Or is it all a game? A Love game telecasted live. Suzanne Collins brings out her perspective on Reality TV with a twist. Katniss is constantly on alert. She knows she is being watched all the time. So all her actions are for the benefit of the audience. How the presence of camera changes our behaviour is interesting. Most of the twists were predictable for me. Wouldn't be surprised if there were real hunger games on TV soon! Published in 2008, this is the first book in the Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

This is the third time I read The Moonstone. The first time I was in school and this was one of the first ever mysteries I read and, second time at least a decade later. The second time I didn't remember who did it. But now I do remember who did it? So will I enjoy as much as I enjoyed it this the first two times?

The story starts with a letter on how the Moonstone got into the hands of Herncastle in the battle in Seringapatnam (Srirangapatnam) in India where a dying Indian proclaims

“The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!"

and the letter writer believes that

“It is my conviction, or my delusion, no matter which, that crime brings its own fatality with it.”

The infamous Moonstone is left as a birthday present for Miss.Rachel Verinder by her uncle Herncastle. Three Indians have traced the Moonstone to Verinder's House in Yorkshire. Miss Verinder wears the Moonstone proudly on her birthday in a large party. The next morning the Moonstone is missing. Who took the moonstone? The Indians seems to have not been involved in he theft. It looks like an inside job. So who among the residents both guests, and servants have taken the Moonstone. The suspicion moves from one to another before finally solved.

The story is made up of different narratives by people who were important eyewitness to the events, yet not the parties directly involved. Gabriel Betteredge, Verinder's house-steward, narrates the first part. Betteredge is obsessed with Robinson Crusoe and believes that it contains answers to all human problems. Betteredge's narrative has many false starts before it gets into the stride. This is an interesting approach on how to start a story and how somebody who is not a professional may write a story. There is humour throughout the story. Sergeant Cuff, the detective from Scotland Yard, with his passion for roses, investigates the case and makes predictions that come true.

As I started reading it, I realised that I don't remember much about the story, which is a good thing because lots of things did catch me by surprise. It's an enjoyable reread. A classic mystery worth revisiting. No wonder great writers have celebrated this book as the best detective story in the world. The Moonstone published in 1868, is available in the public domain and can be downloaded from many websites including Gutenberg, Amazon and Ibooks.