Mostly fair to middling

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I had (have) COVID-19. I won’t reiterate everything I said there since you already read, or can go read, it. As for how we’re doing now, I’m still not feeling great, but Kim is feeling better and already is back to work (a 911 dispatcher). This morning, I’m just trying to decide what I might read and/or watch today.

With both my reading and TV watching, I feel like I’ve just been going through the motions. This past week I finished Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr, the first book I’ve finished this month. It wasn’t great, it was okay. That’s also how my TV watching mostly has been going: fair to middling. I watched Season 1 of Wayne on Amazon Prime, which I realized about Episode 6 that I wasn’t feeling, but since the season only had 10 episodes, and I couldn’t focus on making a decision on what I wanted to watch, I finished it. I liked the lead characters of Wayne and Del, and their chemistry, but I felt the plot petered out toward the end. I then watched Series 1 of an Icelandic crime drama The Cliff. It only had four episodes and I realized in about the second one, it wasn’t going anywhere but I continued to watch it too. Out of the two, I’d recommend Wayne more, if you don’t mind language and violence.

I started one other series this week, Before We Die, a Swedish crime drama, on PBS Masterpiece and this one is better than fair to middling. I’m only three episodes in into the eight-episode first season, but this one, I actually want to see more of. I’ll probably watch this some this afternoon while my wife is asleep (she works a 12-hour shift starting tonight at 8 p.m.).

Otherwise, I might try to read a little from a collection of the first three Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths that I picked up on my Kindle earlier this year. I dipped into it once before but it didn’t grab me, but based on lavish praise from Amanda of the blog The Zen Leaf I’m giving it another try.

In honor of my and my wife’s 24th wedding anniversary coming up on Monday, Nov. 23, I’ll leave you with this Cat Power version of an Otis Redding classic that I just heard on Sleepy Hollow on XPN:

Murderbot & Meditation

I am still reading The Murderbot Diaries. I read the first one, All Systems Red, last Sunday, and then finished the second one, Artificial Condition, Thursday night. I’m now on to the third one, Rogue Protocol, tomorrow afternoon. I loved the first one and enjoyed the second one.

Also this week, I ditched my subscription to Audible in favor of a meditation app, Insight Timer. Not only is the app a third of the cost of Audible per year, but also I believe I will get more use out of it than Audible. I’m just not an audiobook person.

I understand the appeal for those who commute or who like to do housework while listening to an audiobook, but I do neither. I work five minutes away from the library where I work and I don’t like doing housework 😉 . The real reason, though, is just that I don’t like being read to when I can read faster than any narrator. Plus I’m weird, at least to some of you, in that sometimes I like to listen to music, mostly instrumental, when I read.

As I write this, it’s a little after 7 p.m. Saturday, and I missed Dewey’s Reverse Readathon, which started at 8 p.m. EST Friday night and ends at 8 p.m. EST Saturday night. I had to work earlier today so I knew I wouldn’t be participating…

To be honest, I think I’m over readathons. After 15-plus years of being a book blogger, I think I’ve done enough readathons. Also with the torch being handed on from Andi and company at Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon to the next generation, I think it’s time to say goodbye to them (readathons). Plus I like to read at my own pace, which is slow – and steady. I don’t need the pressure.

So whatchya’ll reading now? Anything good (or bad). Share in the comments.

Past, present, and perhaps, future reading

What I Read This Past Week

When I left you last week, I planned to read Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert, which is part of the British Library Crime Classics series. I started it last Sunday and finished it on Wednesday.

At first, I thought Gilbert got too bogged down in legalese, but about 20 pages in, it picked up rather quickly…once a body of man was discovered stuffed in a deed box! From there, for the most part, it was rather enjoyable as a chief inspector and a member of the law firm try to discover who killed the man. I’ll admit I lost track at the end because of long work days, so I rated it four out of five stars on Goodreads, but it probably was closer to a 4.5 or even a five.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

“A friend in the enemy’s camp,” said the Assistant Commissioner. “It’s quite a good idea. Only for heaven’s sake don’t be like that mug in the detective story who confides all his best ideas to a friendly sort of character who turns out to be the murderer in Chapter Sixteen.”

Appropriately, the book had 16 chapters.

“Then, at the end of about seventy-five thousand words I shall collect you all into this room, and inaugurate a sort of verbal game of grandmother’s steps, creeping up behind each of the suspects in turn and saying Boo! to them in order to make them jump. At the end of which, when everybody is exhausted, including the reader, I shall produce a revolver, confess that I committed the crime, and shoot myself in front of you all.”

I’m not sure if there were 75,000 words, but it was a short novel so maybe…

Then there was this theme of describing how a crime is solved, which I thought was tied together nicely with another reference to it.

The other method is more laborious but just as certain. You weave a net. And you drag it across the pool, backwards and forwards. You won’t get everything at first, but if your mesh is fine enough and you drag deeply enough, everything must come up in the end.”

So the little wheels clicked and the spindles bobbed and curtsied, and the mesh was woven.

What I Plan To Read This Weekend

As for this weekend, my plan is to read yet another mystery, this time on this side of the Atlantic, with Trial by Fury, a John J. Malone mystery, by Craig Rice, pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig. My friend John, a former neighbor, recommended the book.

Rice, who was described as “the Dorothy Parker of detective,” was the first mystery writer to be featured on the cover of Time, yet probably like John and me, you probably never heard of her. John recommended this book, the fifth in her Craig Malone mystery series based on a recommendation from the blog The Passing Tramp. While I normally try to read series in order, John assured me it was good as a standalone, plus the series of 14 books is about $120 on Amazon so I think I’m okay with buying just one and reading it out of series order.

What sold John on the series in part is the high-society couple Jake and Helene Justus who help Malone, a Chicago attorney, in the mysteries. John said the couple is comparable to Nick and Norah Charles in The Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett. Although I never have read the series (GASP), I do remember seeing one or two of the movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy when I was younger (no, not in the theater!). So I thought I’d give this one a try based on John’s recommendation. John rarely has steered me wrong in his recommendations. Last year, for example, he recommended The Uninvited by Dorothy Macaradle, which I enjoyed.

What I Might Read Soon

Also this past week, I picked up the series, The Murderbot Diaries series, by Martha Wells after seeing the entire series (so far) at the library where I work. I haven’t read science fiction in a few years, because while I want to like science fiction, I usually don’t. Blame years of growing up reading Isaac Asimov with most modern science fiction paling in comparison. However, I’m willing to give Wells a chance since I’ve heard a lot of praise for the series. My fingers are crossed.

Update 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2: I abandoned Trial by Fury because too many typos in the Kindle edition. I returned for a refund and instead read All Systems Red, which was excellent. I’m now on to the second one, Artificial Condition.

Sabbath #11

For the last 11 Sundays, I have been taking a break from my phone: calls, texts, and news for my own personal Sabbath. I have had varying degrees of success, but for most of the Sundays, I have kept to my initial intention to unplug for the day.

It all began with putting my cellphone in a desk drawer and has evolved into shutting off all notifications on the phone, only listening to music or audiobooks on it. I switched from a Kindle Fire, on which I still was tempted to look at notifications even though I had them shut off, to an older Kindle with no bells and whistles.

  • His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Every Living Thing by James Herriot
  • Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey
  • The Rat That Began To Gnaw The Rope by C.W. Grafton (yes, father of Sue Grafton, but an accomplished writer on his own).

I also have watched three Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies, Creed 2, Rocketman (a rewatch), and The Princess Bride (also a rewatch, multiple times). I have listened to a best of 2020 playlist that I created on a free trial of Tidal, Sleepy Hollow on XPN from Philadelphia, and Guido’s Lounge Cafe on Mixcloud.

Today, the plan is to read Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert, a part of the British Library Crime Classics series. This follows my reading last week of the C.W. Grafton book that is part of the Library of Congress Crime Classics series.

This past week, I also decided to continue my subscription to Audible, even though I am an intermittent audiobook listener. However, I enjoy the free offerings they have too for members. For example, my wife and I both enjoyed listening to a Dr. Katz series, which started as a cartoon. I also have been listening to the Sherlock Holmes short stories and have a few other books already on audio for whenever I get to them. So I might listen to something later, but probably something short.

I’m not sure what I’ll watch yet, but I did purchase a streaming copy of Bowfinger and while this isn’t where I intended to leave off, I will, with one of my favorite scenes from the movie: