Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monthly Reader Statistics: MARCH 2015

This series of blog posts is as the title suggests; monthly statistics for the latest completed month with a year to date summary of my reading. I actually look at my reader stats every so often, more out of curiosity as opposed to using them to achieve a goal. I like to know how many of the books I've read are for review verses how many I have read just 'cos (those I purchased or borrowed) or the difference between physical books and kindle ebooks. As I don't tend to make a conscious decision to read an ebook verses a physical book or read a book given to me for review verses something from my tbr, it's just what attracts me at the time - I thought these statistics would prove a useful 'nice-to-know' and an interesting footnote in my 2015 reading journey. 

Monthly Reads (books completed reading): 15

Re-reads: 2
Review books: 4
Audio books: 1
*Just 'cos reads: 8
Kindle: 4
2015 published: 5

Year To Date Reads: 43

Re-reads: 5
Review books: 18
Audio books: 3
*Just ‘cos reads: 16
Kindle: 12
2015 published: 13

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*doesn't include re-reads/audio
- - - - - 

Best Reads of March:

Canary  Life or Death  The Port Fairy Murders

Review Links:

CANARY by Duane Swierczynski

LIFE OR DEATH by Michael Robotham


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Catching up: THE ROSARY GIRLS by Richard Montanari

The Rosary Girls (Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne, #1)
From the back of the book:
Someone is killing devout young women, bolting their hands together in prayer, and committing an abomination upon their otherwise perfect bodies. Byrne and Balzano spearhead the hunt for the serial killer, who leads them on a methodically planned journey. Suspects appear before them like bad dreams–and vanish just as quickly. And while Byrne’s sins begin to catch up with him, and Balzano tries to solve the blood-splattered puzzle, the body count rises. Meanwhile, the calendar is approaching Easter and the day of the resurrection. When the last rosary is counted, a madman’s methods will be revealed, and the final crime will be the one that hurts the most.

My Review:
THE ROSARY GIRLS is a solid conventional police procedural that pits its protagonists against a heinous spate of crimes that surprisingly spans a short period of time. Throughout the course of a week, new homicide detective Jessica Balzano and her seasoned partner Kevin Byrne are haunted by the ghosts of the Rosary Killers victims; searching for answers in holy places to solve unholy acts of horror.

As the first book in the Balzano and Byrne series, THE ROSARY GIRLS reads rather deep. Byrne is a vet with baggage; murder on his conscious and a personal life devoid of human contact outside of the job. While Balzano isn't your typical rookie cop on the beat. She's a boxer with who packs a punch in the ring just as well as she handles the murder book.

Despite the page count clocking in at 500 (for the mass market paperback) THE ROSARY GIRLS is actually a quick read. I managed to knock it off in three sittings. This is both a sign of a good writer and an engaging plot. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Here's what I'm reading this week: 

The Rosary Girls (Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne, #1)THE ROSARY GIRLS by Richard Montanari 

Kevin Byrne is a veteran cop who already knows that edge: He’s been living on it far too long. His marriage failing, his former partner wasting away in a hospital, and his heart lost to mad fury, Byrne loves to take risks and is breaking every rule in the book. And now he has been given a rookie partner. Jessica Balzano, the daughter of a famous Philly cop, doesn’t want Byrne’s help. But they will need each other desperately, since they’ve just caught the case of a lifetime: Someone is killing devout young women, bolting their hands together in prayer, and committing an abomination upon their otherwise perfect bodies.

Byrne and Balzano spearhead the hunt for the serial killer, who leads them on a methodically planned journey. Suspects appear before them like bad dreams–and vanish just as quickly. And while Byrne’s sins begin to catch up with him, and Balzano tries to solve the blood-splattered puzzle, the body count rises. Meanwhile, the calendar is approaching Easter and the day of the resurrection. When the last rosary is counted, a madman’s methods will be revealed, and the final crime will be the one that hurts the most.

The Invisible Man from SalemTHE INVISIBLE MAN FROM SALEM by Christoffer Carlsson

A bestselling and award-winning first volume in a trilogy by Sweden's leading noir crime novelist, starring a troubled police officer called Leo Junker.

In the final days of summer in 2013, a young woman is shot dead in her apartment. Three floors above, the blue lights of the police cars awaken Leo Junker, a longtime police officer. Leo works in the Internal Affairs division as the lowliest form of officer — a spy. Leo is even lower, however, having been suspended after committing a terrible mistake. In what became known as the 'Gotland Affair', a police officer was accidentally killed, and Leo was found holding the offending weapon. But he wants to help on this case, despite being on mandatory leave, because this woman has connections to people from his past. Now, in the backstreets, shadowed alleyways, and decaying suburbs of Stockholm ́s underground, the search for the young woman ́s killer — and the truth of the Gotland Affair —begins.

DREAMING DEEP by Anonymous 9

A 16,000-word novelette of horror on the high seas featuring the hardworking men and women of the Port of Long Beach.

The story follows the tragic circumstances of an American ship captain who appears to lose his sanity after the disappearance of his teenage son from a dock in Long Beach, California. 

The tale pays tribute to the Cthulhu mythos created by horror master H.P. Lovecraft.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: PRIEST by Ken Bruen (Jack Taylor #5)

Priest (Jack Taylor, #5)PRIEST follows on from the shocking events at the end of THE DRAMATIST and is every bit as good as it predecessor. The only gripe I have, is Bruen tends to lean towards the formulaic, albeit, a formula he devised himself with THE PRIEST mirroring THE DRAMATIST in many ways; the cases are in the peripheral and there is a death that once again threatens to turn the reformed Jack Taylor into the drug addled drunk he once was.

Without spoiling the story, lets say Jack Taylor is back to his…err, best while at the same time being a little different and more well rounded. 

PRIEST is littered with easter eggs for Bruen fans including references to THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS and provides further insight into some of the more memorable characters Bruen has created throughout the series. Reading PRIEST you get a real sense that this is but one piece of the larger Jack Taylor story. 

I'm enjoying my reread of this series with each book being equal to or better than the first read. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Catching Up: THE SCIENCE OF PAUL by Aaron Philip Clark

The Science of Paul: A Novel of CrimeFrom the back of the book:
Ex-convict Paul Little has just walked out on the only woman who has ever loved him to return to a life of crime in Philadelphia. But when Paul gets involved with a petty thug who is later murdered, he finds himself pinned between the volatile gangster accused of the crime and the straight-laced detective who put Paul away years ago. Realizing the city may be the death of him, Paul looks to escape to North Carolina and live alone on a farm left to him by his recently deceased grandfather. Can Paul survive long enough to make it to the succor of the farm? Will he inevitably return to a life behind bars? Or is it his fate to die a victim in Philadelphia? The Science of Paul is a stunning tale of redemption and self-exploration, as one man navigates the precariousness of the streets and the inner workings of his mind.

My Review:
Paul Little is an ex-con with a destructive personality. Looking for loopholes in life to dodge normalcy he reverts to a life on the mean Philadelphia streets, breaking off a relationship with his level-headed girlfriend, and as soon as his parole period ends, breaks off all ties to the straight and narrow. Why? Well, this really isn't explained apart from the broad sweeping 'call of the streets'. 

This frustrated me. Paul didn't have a gang or criminal crew to return to. There was no loyalty to any criminal faction or particular affinity to underworld dealings (apart from a loose connection with a barbershop front) - so why did Paul revert to the dangerous and blood soaked life on the streets of Philadelphia? After reading THE SCIENCE OF PAUL, I still don't know the answer. That's not to say I didn't have a good time reading the book.

Paul post Tammy (the ex-girlfriend) makes for entertaining reading. He manages to get involved in a murder, acts as a stand-over man, and gets in deep trouble with the law. All those aspects were great. Plus, he's a character with a conscious - of sorts - remember, the criminal life crept back into his being so he was never going to be irredeemable, which suits me fine. 

Author Aaron Philip Clark knows how to write. THE SCIENCE OF PAUL is downright brutal at times, balanced with a poetic narrative that screams noir. Yet, the major fault, in my opinion, is the rationale. I need to know why Paul sought out the life he did rather than settling for a generic catch phrase. 

The SCIENCE OF PAUL is good but it could have been great. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: On Library Book Sales

Library book sales. 

They can be hit or miss. 

The quality of books can range from like-new to well-worn to food-and-non disclosed-substance-stuck-to-the-pages. I've experienced reads from each of those categories, yet something continues to draw me to these sales, imperfections be damned. 

Obvious reason no.1 - the thrill of the hunt. As a self proclaimed bibliophile there is nothing better than discovering a diamond in the rough, that hidden gem of a book you've been searching for and, at long last find. Ditto for discovering new reads that lead to unearthing more authors and subsequent 'series' books to add to the ever growing wishlist.

Obvious reason no.2 - the price. Library sales are a great way to feed the habit without breaking the bank. Then only thing I tend to be mindful of, is when purchasing a book, you don't purchase the additional time to read it. Maintaining a reasonable sized trb pile is a constant problem - but a nice one. I've become more selective of my reads, and, as such, tend to look for books I KNOW I want to read - see 'want' not 'will' - I like to allow for some wriggle room there.

My local (when I'm at work) library is Adelaide City. Adelaide City Libraries have regular Recycled Reads book sales to recycle older resources which have been removed from their collections.

With new material added to the collection all the time the library is constantly reviewing the collection and removing older items as they become outdated or are no longer borrowed. Items removed from the collection are offered to the community through a range of book sales including small ongoing sales trolleys at City Library, North Adelaide Community Centre and Library and the Hutt Street Library.

They hold Recycled Reads sales on the first Friday of each month at the City Library in Studio One. 

In addition pop-up sales are held from time to time with today being the date of one of those 'pop-up sales'! did my treasure hunting go today? Well, as many as four new books could have found their way to my personal home library, alas, I, only bought the one (applying my tbr acquisition logic as mentioned above) - and it was a great pick-up! BITTER WASH ROAD by Aussie crime writer Garry Disher. I'm super excited about this book as it's set in Adelaide (my home town) and has been on my wishlist since the day it came out! 

Bitter Wash RoadFrom the back of the book:
Hirsch is a whistle-blower. Formerly a promising metropolitan officer, now hated and despised. Exiled to a one-cop station in South Australia's wheatbelt. Threats, Pistol cartridge in the mailbox.

So when he heads up Bitter Wash Road to investigate gunfire and finds himself cut off without backup, there are two possibilities. Either he's found the fugitive killers thought to be in the area. Or his 'backup' is about to put a bullet in him.

He's wrong on both counts. But the events that unfold turn out to be a hell of a lot more sinister.

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Despite walking away with just the one read, I'd call today's outcome a success. 

Review: THE COMEDY IS FINISHED by Donald Westlake

The Comedy is Finished (Hard Case Crime #105)Koo Davis is a comedian past his prime. Having lived a lavish life performing across the country and providing light relief to the American army during wartime, he now finds himself in the hands of a band of criminals who are using him as a pawn to free ten imprisoned activists. 

Set in 1977, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is a period piece that is very much a product of its time. The political landscape is at the forefront, and socialist viewpoints and present day issues are littered throughout the narrative to provide a true sense of time and place. Given Westlake wrote the book in the 1970's, you'd expect it to contain much of what was prevalent during that time in American history - and it does.    

The plot revolves around the kidnapping of Koo and the FBI's intervention in trying to get him back in one piece without having to free the prisoners or cater to the kidnappers other demands too willingly. 

The writing focuses on all key parties; Koo, his history and current predicament, the law enforcement agencies, and the kidnappers themselves. This allows for the reader to develop a well rounded appreciation of the situation and what the outcome means to the characters. My only gripe is that I wanted Liz, the naked and crazy torturer to play a bigger part. Westlake wrote a real winner in her and I feel she was somewhat underdeveloped - it's a minor gripe that doesn't impact the story.

THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is also not without a twist or two which leads to nice little revelations that provide further context to the story. Readers of Richard Stark's Parker series will see some common elements in the writing; namely the ability to craft a group of characters and make them all have a purpose in the book.   

Overall, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is one of the more enjoyable Westalke books published by Hardcase Crime. I highly recommend it.