Sunday, January 23, 2011


With January 2/3 of the way over, I've read 5 mysteries and 4 books in other genres. This is about normal for me, as about 50% of all the books I read are mysteries of one kind or another.

Having signed up for the Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge 2011, I'm challenged to not only read mysteries, but post reviews of what I'm reading. And, with the large number of mysteries that I will have read by the end of the year, my personal challenge is to read 12 mysteries from 12 different sub-genres. There are lots of ways to subdivide mysteries into sub-genres, so I'm going to use the list posted by Book City Chick.

The first book which I counted toward this challenge was Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell, which I reviewed on 7 January. I have two others to claim toward completion of the challenge, so let's get on with the reviews:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WWW...Wednesday: 12 January 2011

WWW_Wednesdays icon I'm pleased to post my response to MizB's WWW ... WEDNESDAY meme from her Should be Reading blog. She asks three simple questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

1:  Yesterday, I started a new cozy mystery, Killer Hair by Ellen Byerrum, which I featured in yesterday's Teaser Tuesday post. I'm now solidly in the middle of chapter 4 and enjoying it very much. On my Blackberry, I'm reading Field of Dishonor by David Weber, the fourth novel in his Honor Harrington series of military SF. Since I infrequently read on my Blackberry, it's likely to be several months before I finish this book. And, in audio, I'm listening to Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn, a prequel to her Tales of the Otori trilogy. Like with books on the Blackberry, it will take me several months to finish reading this book—I only listen to audio books when I'm driving and alone in the car.

Killer Hair by Ellen Byerrum Field of Dishonor by David Weber Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn

2:  Yesterday morning, I finished reading Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase. This Paranormal Romance had a very interesting set of characters and I enjoyed most of the book except for the sex scenes. I know that there's a very large audience for the more explicit romance novels, but I'm not too fond of them. But, since this book actually had a good plot going and enjoyable charcters, I decided to go ahead and finish reading it. I don't know if I'm going to read the others in the series, though.

Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase

3:  Next up is The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer. I checked it out from my local library on Saturday, so I need to read it quickly and return it.

The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: 11 January 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. My teaser comes from Killer Hair by Ellen Byerrum, first in her Crimes of Fashion mystery series. The opening paragraph of this book was so hysterically funny that I chose to share it instead of a random quote.

Lacey Smithsonian looked down at the unfortunate woman in the coffin and thought, Oh my God, that is the worst haircut I've ever seen.

Killer Hair by Ellen ByerrumWhat makes this quote so funny is that the deceased young woman was herself a hairdresser—or should I say "stylist"? When the police found Angie Woods dead with a drastic haircut and a razor in her hand, they assumed that she had committed suicide over the disastrous result. But, this wouldn't be a proper mystery if that were all there were to the story. Of course Angie was murdered, and it falls to fashion columnist Lacey Smithsonian to track down who did it and why.

Pick up a copy of Killer Hair if you want a riotously funny read. And, researching the book online, I found that it was made into a movie by Lifetime. On the web page for the movie, they indicate that it's not on the schedule for the next 6 weeks, but I'm hoping to catch it if they show it again.

Now, anyone can play along on Teaser Tuesday! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Review: Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell

Hornet's Nest by Patricia CornwellHornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell
Andy Brazil Series #1

Pages: 438
Started: 1 Jan 2011
Finished: 4 Jan 2011
First Published: 1996
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery, police procedural
My Rating: 3/5

Acquired: Received from Lori at BookCrossing.

Disposition: Will be sent to Ramson who selected from a Virtual Book Box at

First paragraph:

That morning, summer sulked and gathered darkly over Charlotte, and heat shimmered on pavement. Traffic teemed, people pushing forward to promise as they drove through new construction, and the past was bulldozed away. The USBank Corporate Center soared sixty stories above downtown, topped by a crown that looked like organ pipes playing a hymn to the god of money. This was a city of ambition and change. It had grown so fast, it could not always find its own streets. Like a boy in puberty, it was rapidly unfolding and clumsy at times, and a little too full of what its original settlers had called pride.

In a drastic departure from her acclaimed Kay Scarpetta series, Cornwell introduces a new cast of characters. This time, the setting is Charlotte, North Carolina.

A serial murderer is preying on out-of-town businessmen, and the pressure is on Police Chief Judy Hammer and her deputy chief, Virginia West, to solve the crimes and put an end to the killings before adverse publicity begins to affect the economy of the area. Andy Brazil, son of a murdered policeman, aspires to write award-winning news stories and has trained as a police volunteer in order to get assigned to the crime beat. Hammer and West are not happy when the editor of The Charlotte Observer newspaper requests that Brazil be allowed to ride along with the police on their regular patrols.

My thoughts:
This was an entertaining, but awkwardly written, story. The lead characters were all flawed and while this could have made them more realistic, too much time is spent inside each character's head as they examine their own motives throughout the book. Brazil suffers from a serious inferiority complex and seems particularly vulnerable and childish; Hammer is a high achiever, but distressed by the state of her marriage as her obese husband spirals ever deeper into depression; and West is simply tempermental and annoying. As if this weren't enough, Cornwell tells part of the story from the point of view of West's cat! The characters had lots of promise, the plot was decent, but the execution was just not well done at all.

I read to the end, and I'm willing to read the next book in the series, so I'm giving this a 3 out of 5 rating. I've read worse.

This book is counting toward the Book Bucket and Mystery/Suspense challenges.

Monday, January 03, 2011

42 Challenge #1 - EscapePod Episode 272

Episode 272: Christmas Wedding written by Vylar Kaftan and read by Mur Lafferty.

In a time immediately following the catastrophic explosion at Yellowstone, a small group of people have banded together for protection and community, attempting to create a new "normal" in a world where everything has gone wrong. And what's more normal than a wedding?

This was a sweet short story in which the post-apocalyptic setting is merely incidental. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour—well, 57 minutes and 2 seconds to be exact. The reader's voice was easy to listen to and she deftly handled the transitions to and from the flashbacks in the story.

I've been downloading the weekly podcasts from EscapePod for quite some time, but haven't taken the time to listen to many of them. So, to kick off my participation in the 42 Challenge, I decided to listen to this episode posted on 23 December.

This short story first appeared in Warrior Wisewoman, an anthology of science fiction published by Norilana Books in June 2008. Book cover below links to the book at Amazon.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010: A Reading Retrospective

Books of 2010 image

It's time to summarize another year's reading. I have all the details dutifully recorded in a text file on my laptop. Periodically, I have posted that same list in a more web-friendly format at The Books of 2010. The simple facts: I read 160 books with a total of 51,296 pages. (Or page-equivalents. For electronic books or audio books, I use the page count from the mass-market paperback.) This is just a bit more than in 2009 when I read 138 books and 46,515 pages.

Now, what else do I know? Well, statistics say that this is an average of 13 books per month, 4275 pages per month, and 320 pages per book. My records tell me that I read the most books in December, with 18 books completed and the fewest in June with 8 books. Page-wise, I read 5906 pages in December and only 2034 in June. The shortest book I read was Five Have a Mystery to Solve by Enid Blyton, a young adult mystery with only 141 pages, while the longest book was a science fiction novel, Regenesis by C J Cherryh, which weighed in at 682 pages.

I read 126 books printed on paper, 26 in electronic format, and 7 unabridged audio books. By genre, there were 48 mysteries, 44 paranormal and urban fantasy (PUF), 19 science fiction, 14 classic fantasy, 12 romance and chick lit, 9 historical fiction, 4 mainstream novels, 2 Christian fiction, and 4 non-fiction books.

What's surprising is the drastic increase in PUF books. For a lady who barely read fantasy at all 4 years ago, this is an amazing change.

Challenge Accepted: Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011

Mystery Suspense Challenge 2011 Icon Carolyn at Book Chick City is again sponsoring her Mystery Suspense Challenge. When my reading pal, Shaunesay, over at BookObsessed posted that she had signed up, I figured I'd go look and see what the challenge was all about. I had thought I was finished selecting challenges and now just needed to start reading. But this one was tempting because Carolyn is offering prizes to the participants.

That's right—read a minimum of 12 mystery or suspense novels in 2011 and win prizes! Now, how hard could that be? Particularly since I've read more than 40 mysteries every year that I've kept track. Now I tend not to sign up for challenges where the outcome is a slam-dunk, but this challenge has Prizes!

Here are the specifics on how this challenge works:

* Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011
* Rules: To read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)
* You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.
* You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.

And the prizes? To start with, signing up for the challenge gets you an Advanced Readers Copy of The Survivor, a debut novel by Sean Slater, due to be published in March 2011. And then, Carolyn promised further prizes, courtesy of Simon & Schuster, throughout the year. Now I ask you—how could I possibly pass up this challenge?

If you want to join me in this challenge, just click the icon at the top of this post or over in my sidebar. I'll be looking to see what you're reading this year. You can follow my progress on my 2011 Challenge progress page.

Update @ 20:00: I've decided that since I read more than 40 mysteries for the past 6 years or more, I'm going to use Carolyn's sub-genre categories and each of the 12 books I'll count toward this challenge will come from a different sub-genre.