It would have been impossible to keep up the pace of April’s reading for too long but I am happy to have finished 14 books in May, especially as I also threw two books against a wall unfinished as well (one of which I’d ploughed a good way through before admitting defeat). What did suffer in May though was my reviewing as several completed books have already faded too much from my memory for me to review even semi-intelligently.
My book of the month has to be Robert Gott’s THE HOLIDAY MURDERS which is an Australian historical mystery set towards the end of World War Two. The police are represented three very different characters all helping to form the fledgling Homicide squad in Victoria and they investigate a series of brutal murders that seem to involve fascists operating in Australia. For me this one had it all – authentic historical feel, interesting characters and a ripper yarn.
Among the other books I finished (in order) were:
- Stuart Littlemore’s HARRY CURRY: THE MURDER BOOK: a series of cases overseen by a Sydney lawyer which I thought offered some interesting insights into Australia’s legal system
- Romy Ash’s FLOUNDERING had a great sense of place and an authentic narrative voice but in the end it’s point of view didn’t do enough for me
- Patrick Holland’s THE DARKEST LITTLE ROOM had a great sense of place but its complete objectification of women and meandering plot ultimately left me cold
- Bronwyn Parry’s DEAD HEAT offered a great depiction of life as an Australian national parks ranger and had a solid mystery
- Malla Nunn’s SILENT VALLEY is one of the ones I wish I’d reviewed when I read it – another great instalment of her 1950’s South African series
- Ross Collier’s TUG OF WAR is a romp of a tale of spying set in Australia the middle of World War 2 and shows the American and Australian intelligence sections jarring with each other a little
- Stav Sherez’ ELEVEN DAYS is another atmospheric tale showing an underbelly of modern London as this time Jack Carrigan and Geneva Miller investigate a fire at a convent which killed 10 nuns and an eleventh unidentified person.
- B Michael Radburn’s BLACKWATER MOON was more coming of age yarn than crime fiction but had a compelling central character and some genuine surprises. A great book to suggest to guys who don’t read much or don’t read much fiction as it’s very accessible but thought provoking too.
- Jarad Henry’s PINK TIDE is another solid offering from this author though I do think he’s given his central character, Ruebens McCauley, one too many of life’s troubles to overcome
- Wiley CASH’s A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is a terrific audio book – seems almost to have been written for that particular medium to the point that I’m not quite sure I’d feel the same about reading a print version.
- Chris Grabenstein’s FREE FALL was another delightful offering featuring Jersey Shore good guys John Ceepak and Danny Boyle solving the murder of an elderly man and fending off threats from Ceepak’s degenerate father. So many times in fiction people who’ve had abusive childhoods – like John Ceepak – end up doing terrible things as adults so it’s somehow comforting to see a character who can overcome a rotten start in life to be a genuine hero.
The book which shall not be named
As part of the judging panel I’m on I also had to read a self-published novel that I won’t name (though I am sorely tempted, I actually plotted my own murder as I read this awful tosh) which the author should be ashamed to have submitted. It was literally full to the brim of basic proofreading and editing errors (a cat’s name changes from one chapter to the next, one person’s name changes within the space of a few lines, multiple lines are repeated several times over – as if the author had copied and pasted them from one spot to another rather than cut and pasted – and so on). I could have excused the lightweight story but to submit something it was clear even the close family mentioned in the acknowledgements hadn’t bothered to look at thoroughly made a mockery of the process and has done this author’s fellow self-published authors no good in their collective fight to be treated equally. At least by me.
Progress towards my book-ish goals
- Eleven of the 14 books I finished in May were by Australian authors bringing my total for the year to 27 (nearly half of all the books I’ve read). I’ve got to be happy with this total as it’s the number I read for the whole of 2012 so it shouldn’t be too hard for me to do better this year 🙂 I am however jonesing for some translated fiction so have stocked up thanks to my local library
- Only 4 of May’s Aussie author books were by women though, bringing my total for the year to 10. I intend to remedy that in the coming months.
- My book acquisition goal went well again in May with the only books bought from overseas being my drug of choice (audio books which are not available locally). I did buy two physical books (bringing my total for the year to 3!) but I bought them at my local indie store.
I really didn’t do much of anything else blog-wise, except ponder who would win the inaugural Petrona Award for Scandi crime. I’d have been happy with any of the four contenders taking out the prize but it is particularly fitting that the first award given in Maxine Clarke’s honour went to Liza Marklund.
Was May a good reading month for you? Did you have a favourite book or three for the month? If you are a blogger (or keeper of good records) how to you balance reading time with reviewing time? Does one sometimes win out over the other as it did for me in May?
Bernadette – You did indeed have a good reading month. I’ve already got The Holiday Murders on my list thanks to your review. I’m looking forward to reading it. And as for that book-which-will-not-be-named, I know what you mean about those basic sorts of things like character names that you’d think people would notice. This is why good editing and honest first readers are so important…
Margot if you wait until later in the month and are prepared to go home with extra luggage you’re welcome to take it home with you (The Holiday Murders that is, not the awful book with the bad proofreading) (though you can have that too if you need a doorstop)
Bernadette, 14 well done! I have ordered the Wiley Cash book on the basis of your review. Sherez book I will keep an eye out for.
I like to get a review done a day or so after the book is finished, otherwise I’ll forget. I think I only started blogging as a note-to-self mainly, because when I started recording what I had read back in 2010, I was shocked by how little info I had retained after re-visiting my list a couple of years later. The books I loathed were what stuck with me the most.
I think I sometimes feel pressure to blog, unduly I suppose, but I don’t want to let down my adoring public! Ha ha….. tongue is truly in cheek, honest. I have signed up to a couple of the weekly/monthly round-ups at Mysteries in Paradise, so do find myself chasing my tale sometimes. I think I skip reading time to try and keep up to date with the blog.
I think I usually skip reading time too Col, to keep the blog – at least the reviews – coming. And like you it’s for me rather than the hoards of adoring fans. This month I had some deadlines to meet which is why I was more focused on the reading than the writing about reading – but am annoyed now because I won’t remember the un-reviewed books as much as I would want to.
It often takes me longer to write a review than read a book! I think there have been about 5 books I hadn’t written reviews for this year since it wasn’t ‘ required’ though I hope to do so eventually
I think I’ll give The Holiday Murders a go, which is not yet available in UK/Ireland but I can get on Kindle through the US outlet for $19 (which is what I’d pay for a hardback release here, so seems a little pricey given I don’t get the artefact of a book but a digital file, but there you go). Sounds like a cross between A Few Right Thinking Men and Diggers Rest Hotel and if in the same vein I should enjoy.
These monthly reading summaries are always so interesting, and there’s always a nugget or two in the batch. I’ve read positive comments about The Holiday Murder before, so I’ll add it to the TBR list, hoping I’ll come across it.
My favorite book for May was (and I know we agree to disagree on this) was the delightful The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. Right now I miss Normandy and the cast of characters who run the gamut of eccentric, which is fine with me. And, yes, there are logical, scientific solutions here, even if there is a medieval myth leading off the story. There is also a lot of humor. And for animal lovers, there is a pigeon in the book and a dog who offers a clue.
There are other top books in my list, too — The Earth Hums in B Flat was wonderful. And I just finished Linwood Barclay’s latest thriller — Trust Your Eyes. Kerrie Smith rates it a 5 out of 5 on her May reading round-up and I agree with her assessment. One can’t put it down and the wit is sharp.
I am in awe of bloggers. I couldn’t read and write reviews like this, but I sure enjoy reading them.
14 books! That’s seriously impressive. At the moment my reading has slowed a bit so I tend to review as much as read. But I seem to be getting my mojo back so perhaps this will change in June.
That’s some power reading. Good for you. I’m one of those people who often read books twice over if they’re good so 14 might take me some time. I’m on a second read of Bennett Coles sci fi military fiction ‘ Casualties of War’ and I just have to send out the recommendation for this one http://www.bennettrcoles.com/works/casualties-of-war.
It;s been a while since I read a book that had so much to offer. Beautifully written, great characters, fresh themes and a truly gripping plot throughout. I became a fan of Coles after reading Virtues of War but this latest work is a bold step in the right direction. Really looking forward to his next release.
It’s wonderful when you find a book that has everything you look for isn’t it? I’m afraid this particular recommendation won’t entice me – I can do sci fi (used to read loads of it) but the term military fiction is almost guaranteed to turn me off – it’s up there with gangsters/mobsters and the paranormal as subjects I just don’t respond well to.