Books of the month: June 2016

Pick of the month

This month had several contenders for my favourite read but I’ve managed to narrow it down to two and for the same reasons: they’ve stood the test of time and have been given a second life by small publishing houses.

TheChimneyMurderE.M Channon’s THE CHIMNEY MURDER was first published in 1929 and I only found a copy because it was re-released a couple of years ago by a delightful, independent press. What I loved about the book – in which a dismembered body is discovered scattered about an English family’s house – were its feminine heroines and its surprisingly modern sensibility. I’ve been participating fairly regularly in the Past Offences Crimes of the Century challenge for a couple of years now and have had mixed success on the quality front but it’s been worth the awful reads to find a gem like this one, which I never would have bothered to look for if I hadn’t been looking for books published in particular years.

Australian author Jean Bedford’s NOW YOU SEE ME is newer, first published in 1997, but also only came to my attention because of a re-release this year thanks to a different independent press. It is a dark but compelling story that centres on child abuse and its horrendous consequences. Although the content is very graphic it’s not gratuitous and I found myself accepting the author’s intent even if I might have made different choices myself.

In essence then my pick of the month is the wonderful publishers like Greyladies and Endeavour who scour the world’s out-of-print titles and bring the good ones back to life.

The rest, in reading order 

I’d hoped to pick up my reading pace a bit in June but international visitors, end of the financial year madness at my day job and wanting to bury my head in totally mindless television to escape election madness here and overseas meant I didn’t do nearly as much reading as I ought to have done

  • *FOREIGN ECLAIRS by Julie Hyzy (no review, but an entertaining continuation of this cosy series set in the White House kitchens)
  • *DEADLY DEALER by Ellery Adams (another enjoyable cosy audio book which pitted a niche journalist against people who collect)
  • THE TRAP by Melanie Raabe is about an agoraphobic author who lures the man she thinks killed her sister a dozen years ago to her home – I didn’t think much of it but everyone in my book club enjoyed it much more than I did so perhaps I am wrong
  • *THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE by Lou Berney was recommended to me by frequent visitor to crime fiction blogs Kathy D. for the state of Oklahoma in my quest to read a book by a new-to-me author from every state in the USA. It’s a fantastic novel about the past, its hold on us, the slipperiness of memory and the nature of obsession.
  • *THE LIGHT ON THE WATER by Olga Lorenzo is the tenth book I’ve read for this year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge and it is an outstanding character study of a woman whose autistic daughter disappears on a hiking trip. I loved the way Lorenzo writes.

anything with an asterisk is worth a read.

Progress Towards 2016’s Bookish Goals

Challenge Goal Progress
Australian Women Writers Challenge Read 25 eligible books, review at least 20 of them Read and reviewed 10 books
Reading US Fiction Challenge Read 6 books by new to me authors set in different states of the US  3/6 achieved
Personal – Reduce TBR Have a TBR of 100 or less by the end of 2016 (starting point 145) TBR = 142 at end of month
Personal – Buy Australian Buy no physical or eBooks from non-Australian stores None this month, 2 this year
Personal – Read older books too Participate in at least 6 of the monthly Crimes of the Century challenges hosted at Past Offences  6/6 achieved
Personal – No Girl books Read no books with the word Girl in the title. Because meh.  0/0 achieved

In positive news I have completed my personal challenge to participate in at least 6 Crimes of the Century challenges and there are still 6 months of the year left. Assuming I can find something interesting to read each month I will continue and will be reading Australian author A.E. Martin’s MURDER IN SIDESHOW ALLEY for the 1944 challenge this month.

The rest of my challenges are looking shakier, though there is still hope for the Reading USA Fiction challenge and I do have another book recommended by Kathy D. for the state of Mississippi to read this month. I think my only hope of reducing the TBR to under 100 books by the end of the year is to do some more culling of my collection and I’m worried I won’t be able to read 15 more books by Aussie women writers in the second half of the year. Though I do have at least 2 more lined up for July.

Coming Up

I’ve just started listening to Patricia Abbott’s second full length novel SHOT IN DETROIT and am selfishly delighted by at least one aspect of it. A swag of library book requests all came in at once last week so I’ll be knuckling down to those, starting with a local Adelaide author’s second historical novel dealing with 1950’s banking and crime.

Off to vote now. I should be happier about having the opportunity – many people fought very hard and some died so I could – but as some local commentator or comedian put it this week our choice is akin to being starving only to be presented with two meals you’re allergic to. But it’s compulsory here in Australia so off I must go, at least I can listen to my audio book while I queue up.

What about you? Did you have a great read during June? Anything good coming up for July? Do the seasons affect your reading? Are you looking forward to some summer beach reads or some winter warmers? 

This entry was posted in books of the month, E.M. Channon, Ellery Adams, Jean Bedford (Aus), Julie Hyzy, Lou Berney, Melanie Raabe, Olga Lorenzo (Aus). Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Books of the month: June 2016

  1. kathy d. says:

    Thanks for the mention. I have fallen in love with the Outer Hebrides and Fin MacLeod, written about by Peter May. Read “The Blackhouse,” and “The Lewis Man” in June, almost got post-good-book slump. Read Nevada Barr’s “Boar Island,” set in Acadia National Park in Maine; had some surprising plot devices, which were groaners, but on the other hand, I laughed a lot.
    And “The Quality of Silence,” set in Alaska is about a woman and her hearing-impaired daughter who drive to the Arctic Circle to find her spouse. It’s interesting to read about the feelings of a hearing-impaired child and how she thinks and communicates. Also, the woman is very knowledgeable about astronomy, so I learned something about the solar system.
    I am trying to read some fiction sans murders, but this is proving difficult. Somehow a book without a dead body in it just isn’t compelling, but I’ll keep trying.
    Am determined to good some non-crime fiction this summer and read some new authors — including those books that arrived from Oz. Those are my next books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have read the first of those Peter May books but for some reason have not read the rest – must rectify that – I know I have the second book somewhere here.

      I know what you mean about finding good books without dead bodies…it’s a difficult task 🙂


  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Believe me, Bernadette, I know the feeling of wanting to do anything to avoid the election madness. Oh, trust me. I’m glad you found some good reads this month, and that you finished one of your challenges. And I truly hope you like Shot in Detroit; I’ll look forward to your review if you put one up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tracybham says:

    A nice list of books there and some I would like to read, if I could ever pare down my huge TBR stacks. Especially the Lou Berney book. I still have not read a book from that series by Julie Hyzy, although I have the first on based on your recommendation.

    An interesting question about if the seasons affect my reading. No, I cannot say that they do. When my workload is very heavy, which is unpredictable and has happened more frequently lately, I slow down in reading and blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

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