My holiday reading August 2011

I’ve just returned from a week away, where owing to circumstances of various kinds, I spent a lot of time in a villa with nothing to do but read. Hence, even though I took a few printed books and stocked up on Kindle back-ups before I left, I ran out of books to read about two-thirds of the way through the holiday. This event made me so thankful for the Kindle – a trip to an Internet cafe at a local taverna allowed me to download two books via the USB port and charging lead. When I found that I’d finished these two books by the last day and was thus bookless for the return journey (horror!) I tried the same trick in a taverna in a different town near the airport. Here, the security settings were set so high that although I purchased a book I could not download it, and nobody on the premises was in the least bit Internet-savvy. Thinking I was doomed, I discovered that the next-door taverna offered free wi-fi, and our chairs were near enough to it for me to access it via my Kindle device – so the just-purchased book magically appeared. Wonderful stuff!

I hope to review all the books I read, if I can remember them all, so I’ll list them here to help my memory at least to that extent. I’ll add a star rating to each just in case I don’t get around to writing a review of any of them (5 being excellent and 1 why bother). For fun, I have indicated which Kindle books were outrageously cheap; by default you can assume the rest cost between ยฃ5 and ยฃ7, more than fair. The print books are all publishers’ advance copies, either direct, via Euro Crime or in one case, Vine – two exceptions being one I borrowed and one I’d previously purchased for a daughter.

Asa Larsson: Until thy Wrath be Past, tr Laurie Thompson (Martinsson #4) [print] *****
Hakan Nesser: The Unlucky Lottery, tr Laurie Thompson (Van Veeteren #6) [print] ****
Dana Stabenow; Fire and Ice (Liam Campbell #1) [Kindle 99p] **
Jean-Francois Parot: The Chatelet Apprentice, tr M Glencross (le Floch #1) [Kindle 99p] *
Cath Staincliffe: Witness [Kindle 99p] ****
Alan Carter: Prime Cut [Kindle] ***
Elizabeth Haynes: Into the Darkest Corner [Kindle 99p] ****
Sofi Oksanen: Purge, tr Lola Rogers [Kindle 99p] ****
Jarkko Sipilla: Against the Wall, tr Peter Leppa (Helsinki Homicide #1) [Kindle] ***
Deon Meyer: Trackers, tr Laura Seegers [print] *****
Marco Vichi: Death in August, tr Stephen Sartarelli (Insp Bordelli #1) [print] **
Stephen Gallagher: Rain (left behind by previous occupant) [print] *
Stephen White: The Last Lie (Alan Gregory # 16) [Kindle] ****
C J Box: Cold Wind (Joe Pickett # 11) [Kindle] *****
Graham Greene: The Third Man (borrowed from younger daughter) [print] ***
Diane Janes: Why Don’t You Come For Me? [Kindle 99p] (still reading)

31 thoughts on “My holiday reading August 2011

  1. As a postscript, there were a good many books left behind by previous occupants, but I was not tempted to read any of them. They covered a range of fictional and non-fictional genres – the crime fiction being of the thriller variety, represented by, eg, David Baldacci, Jeffrey Archer, Lee Child (I’d read the left-behind title), and assorted conspiracy/ancient code/prophecy type books. There was no James Patterson or, unsurprisingly, translated fiction.

  2. Maxine – I’m so glad you got chances to get something to read! It looks, too, as though you had more books that were good (or at least decent) than books you didn’t like. I’m happy for you. I really do look forward to your reviews of them and welcome back! I’ve missed you.

    • I missed you too, Margot! It is quite saddening not to be able to check in daily to one’s online friends. But, on the other hand, not having access to the internet does not allow one to get stressed out in other ways! Enforced relaxation is OK so long as it does not become too protracted ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. An amazing amount for just a week, by my standards anyway.

    I’m intrigued, do you use any specific speed reading techniques or are you just able to rattle through them?

    Nige aka nwpsys.

    • Thanks Nige! No, no special technique apart from a lifetime of reading as my main hobby. I also barely watch TV. At the moment I am not really mobile so if I don’t have access to the Internet there is really only one thing to do while everyone else goes snorkelling etc! But even when at home, I spend any non-work non-domestic time reading in preference to anything else. But I do notice that Kindle reading seems much quicker than print reading – though the book does not stick in the mind in the same way, as if some cues are missing (font? cover? herd memory of the pages?) On a Kindle it is all the same.

  4. At first I was going to say, how on earth could you run out of books to read on a Kindle? (I have an electronic TBR loaded onto mine.) But then I saw how many books you devoured in a week and I can kind of understand! Wow! You certainly read a lot in such a short space of time!

    And your villa looks lovely! Were, exactly, did you go?

    Glad to hear you liked the Asa Larsson. I’ve just finished reading it myself and really enjoyed it โ€” so nice to have two strong female lead characters instead of grumpy, morose male detectives taking centre stage.

    • When I first got my Kindle a year ago, I was aware of the awful scope for parallel acquisitions of books (already bad enough from Amazon, real bookshops, library and publishers) as well as lack of impulse control (one-click buying being the only way one can buy Kindles, as opposed to putting them in a basket for later consideration!), Kim. So I decided I’d only ever have one backlog on Kindle – failed owing to all these 99 p offers and titles like Carter’s (Aussie, incidentally) and the Helsinki Homicide that one can only get in this form in the UK. Now, I’ve caught up with myself.

      not being mobile for a week and not having internet or the ability to do house stuff means a lot of reading!

      Glad you liked the Asa Larsson, it had one element I don’t like (as in The Lovely Bones) but I thought it wonderful.

    • PS – Latchi in Cyprus. Marvellous and practically unspoilt compared with the established resorts. On the north west coast, nearest “town” is Polis. Near the pool of Aphrodite ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. What a wonderful-looking place. It sounds like you had plenty of opportunity to test the effectiveness of the kindle in bright sunlight :-).

    Smiled at your download drama story. Nothing will get in the way of this woman and her books! Welcome back, Maxine.

  6. Thanks for those ratings Maxine, you have confirmed my reading plans for the next couple of weeks. Although I have just started reading Blood Sisters [sent to me by a kind person] I am very much looking forward to the Asa Larsson and the Hakan Nesser. Loved kimbofo’s comment about ‘grumpy, morose, male detectives’ I agree; as a grumpy morose male reader I would much rather read about ‘strong female lead characters’ than more morose males. ;o)

  7. 14 books in a week? Impressive.
    I have ร…sa Larsson on my TBR (though in Swedish which takes some extra time) so I am going to read that one under all circumstances, but I am curious to see what you think about Dana Stabenow. I have also noticed her cheap backlist, and sometimes you get really good books that way. I read my first Lin Anderson while you were away and quite liked it ($ 0.99 via smashwords).

    • Thanks, Dorte. I read Lin Anderson’s first but did not really get on with it. I reviewed the first of Dana Stabenow’s other series (very similar!) recently, as that was also a 99p “loss leader”!

  8. Maxine,
    I have a post dedicated to your blog today. I also have added Petrona to my list of “Blogs of Substance” on my blog, which is located below my list of books read in 2011.

    Thank you for such a great resource!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

  9. I too am amazed by how many books you read. Glad you had a good break, and it would be good to learn more of your thoughts about the contrast between reading on a Kindle and reading a book. As yet I have no Kindle, but…..

  10. Villa looks fantastic Maxine and as everyone else has said a very impressive haul of books. Thinking of going on a speed reading course myself to try and speed up what is currently very slow reading on my part. Thanks for the * on each book as well, I will use them in my next purchases.

    • Thanks for dropping by Jeremy! Those Hakan Nessers are good and with your publisher contacts you can probably get comp copies ๐Ÿ˜‰ . Cyprus is lovely and not expensive, and they drive on the LHS of the road which is useful. Everyone speaks English and lots of nice children’s facilities. The more remote places (eg Latchi where we were) seem much nicer than the built up tourist areas though (eg round Paphos where the airport is). Paphos has a great archaeological site if you can find it!

  11. Great list of recommendations. And very glad you had a restful reading vacation in a beautiful spot. What could be better?
    I do want to read the new Asa Larsson, but an element of The Lovely Bones? Anything but that. I read two pages and gave it back to a friend. Hate a certain plot device. So I have to probably ignore that and read her book anyway, as I like her series, although I think I got PTSD after reading how the poor main character ended up in two books. But I’ll read it anyway, especially since you and others gave it an excellent review.
    And I’ll read the Hakan Nesser, always like Van Veeteren, the terse writing, the character development, the amazing, unexpected wit that sometimes knocks me over.
    I will put the higher starred books on my TBR list. It is frustrating over here with the translated books,as it takes decades to get them, or they cost a lot at Amazon, and the Book Depository never has anything I want to order. A quandry. Will list them anyway.

    • Agreed, Kathy, I could have done without that plot device myself, the book was wonderful without it, but then A Larsson has explored the “supernatural” (sometimes religious but also the wolf in Savage Altar and the Sami girl in The Black Path) so I suppose she’s on a track that works for her.
      It is so frustrating about geo rights, eg the Devotion of Suspect X has been out in US for a while not yet out in UK, and Misterioso (Arne Dahl) we have to buy in a US edition, v expensive but I have asked for it for my birthday ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. PS – my pre-kindle trick for not running out of books was to take one or two written in French or German so a slower read!

  13. Maxine, a word of advice: Do not see the movie of The Lovely Bones. It made me ill, really — gratuitous, gruesome violence against children, no justice for them after the slew of horrendous crimes is uncovered, and in addition, that plot device. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, fit only for psychopaths.
    Now that I got that out of the way, I want to say that I agree with what you said at Friend Feed about not at all questioning NZ crime fiction, and what you said about Vanda Symon’s books. I think she is an excellent writer and I’m still dismayed that she didn’t win the Ngaio Marsh award last year. And I wish she’d won it this year. And I’m also a bit irked that a male writer was a bit deceptive last year, in the use of a pseudonum,, and some folks, who may want to support women writers, were deceived. But, that’s just me. Others may disagree, fine.
    I will read the Asa Larsson. And, yes, the territorial rights issue is very irksome. And to top it off, my favorite mystery bookstore still doesn’t have tons of translated books which have been out and about for many months. Nor does my library … so grumpiness abounds.

    • I had already decided not to see the movie of The Lovely Bones, Kathy, partly because of the subject and partly because Peter Jackson is too slow and OTT for the subject matter (as he was with King Kong, he should stick to Tolkein!). I did read the book and liked the start (very harrowing) but felt it ran out of steam 2/3 of the way through. I did finish it but for me it was not a great book (unlike many other people’s view).
      Thanks for your support on the NZ issue, I think that Vanda just misunderstood my point, easily done. I’d love to be more expert on NZ crime fic but it is virtually unobtainable over here.
      I remember a scandal once when someone in the UK won the Virago prize or the Orange prize or some women-only prize, and it turned out that the author was a man writing under a woman’s name. I think it’s more honest to use initials instead of a first name if you don’t want to be identified by sex. This is probably a minority view as the Internet is rife with pseudonyms.

  14. Perhaps initials would be better. Women writers often do that to appear gender neutral or perhaps to slip under the radar for those who prefer male writers. The writer of the children’s book series on animorphs, K.A. Applegate, I remember from a relative’s son. He wouldn’t have read books written by women during his childhood. This is still true for some male readers, I believe. I often think initials depict women writers, but was surprised to learn S.J. Watson is male. But at least it’s ambiguous.
    And as for NZ writers, I can’t even get Vanda Symon’s books, except for one, at my library.

    • Yes, J K Rowling was advised to do this so that boys would read her books. We can’t get Vanda Symon here either, but a friend from Australia sent me one of her books (now passed on to another UK friend).

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