Can you catch a fish alive?

One, two, three, four, five
Can you catch a fish alive?

Jose Ignacio has posted about a meme called One book, two book, three book, four and five….. (via Books Please and Stuck in a Book.) Here’s my contribution:

The book I’m currently reading: The Drop by Michael Connelly. I always eagerly await the next book by this author, whether it’s going to be about his usual series character Harry Bosch of the LAPD or about something else. After the first seven chapters, it is definitely well up to the usual high standard of this author – and so far there are two possible meanings of the book’s title.

The last book I finished: I’ll walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark. A “comfort” read rather than anything likely to be different from what she’s written before, but just the thing for an autumn Saturday while feeling under the weather.

The next book I want to read: Not an easy question, but I’ll say The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney, which is on my shelf thanks to the ever-generous Karen of Euro Crime. (My review of the author’s debut, The Tenderness of Wolves, indicates why I’m looking forward to her second novel.)

The last book I bought: Actually a batch from Amazon but the one that is last to arrive from these (en route) is One Coffee With by Margaret Maron, which I read a long time ago but now plan to re-read. The author has written a recent, very interesting post about this book, and how the Sigrid Harald series is now being re-issued in e-format. One of the reasons for wanting to re-read the book now is to see if, in retrospect, Sigrid is an archetype (Kathy Mallory, Liesbeth Salander and many other subsequent female characters of crime fiction.)

The last book I was given: The Boundary by Nicole Watson (link goes to the review at Fair Dinkum crime). I was sent this book by Bernadette of Reactions to Reading; on the basis of her Fair Dinkum review, I’m looking forward to it.

Now, if you want to continue the rhyme:

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten
Then I threw him back again.

I can suggest five (six) more questions 😉

Which was the last book you borrowed from the library?
What is the most recent e-book you read?
What was the last translated book you read? (If the answer to this is the same as any of your other answers, substitute the question with: What was the first book you read this year?)
Which book is at the top of your Christmas [insert appropriate festival] list?
Which so-far unpublished book are you most looking forward to reading?

My life as a book, 2011 style

Pop Culture Nerd has revived the “my life as a book” meme for 2011. If you follow the link at that blog to find out where the meme started, you go to Reactions to Reading, Petrona, Book Dilettante and Books and Bards. Books and Bards has moved house since last year, so that’s as far back as I tracked the meme’s origin.

Returning to this year, Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist and Norman at Crime Scraps Reviews have both undertaken the 2011 version, so I’ll have a go here. The idea is to answer the questions about yourself, using only book titles that you’ve read this year.

One time at band/summer camp, I: [followed] The Track of Sand (Andrea Camilleri)

Weekends at my house are: Open Season (C J Box)

My neighbour is: [the opposite of] Silent Voices (Ann Cleeves)

My boss is: Drawing Conclusions (Donna Leon)

My ex was: The Caller (Karin Fossum)

My superhero secret identity is: The Leopard (Jo Nesbo)

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry because: [it’s] A Cold Day for Murder (Dana Stabenow)

I’d win a gold medal in: Body Surfing (Anita Shreve)

I’d pay good money for: Proof of Life (Karen Campbell)

If I were president, I would: Fear Not (Anne Holt)

When I don’t have good books, I: [feel] Outrage (Arnaldur Indridason)

Loud talkers at the movies should be: Frozen Out (Quentin Bates)

*UPDATE!* Bernadette of Reactions to Reading has posted on this meme, pretty much simultaneously with this post of mine.

R J Ellory sets Book Depository competition

Ellory2 Ellory2 To celebrate R.J. Ellory winning the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2010 with A Simple Act of Violence, the Book Depository is running a competition in which the prize is an iPod touch pre-loaded with 20 books.

The competition is not the usual mindless exercise but consists of 10 questions set by the winning author. The first five questions are based on Ellory's Anniversary Man and next five based on real-life serial killers – and they are sufficiently fiendish to be of a level familiar to those who attempt the challenges regularly set by Norman of Crime Scraps!

The competition closing date is 17 September 2010, and from the terms and conditions, seems to be open to anyone, world-wide. I'm not going to be entering because I haven't read any books (yet) by R. J. Ellory and I am not interested in "real-life serial killers". But the prize is certainly attractive so anyone who is knowledgeable about either of those topics might want to give this a try. Let me know if you win!

The Book Depository.

Direct link to the competition page at The Book Depository website.

Favourite literary heroes

The Book Depository blog has provided the shortlist for a competition being run by Mills & Boon and the Times Cheltenham Literary festival to identify "the nation's favourite literary hero" (yuk!). Despite hating the idea of the "nation's" favourite anything, I'm quite intrigued by the concept of a favourite literary hero. Of the ones in the list provided, I would, probably obviously, choose the perfect Mr Darcy (Jane Austen's of course). I haven't read the Sharpe novels, nor the books by Jilly Cooper or Audrey Niffenegger on this list. Of the rest, I'd eliminate Heathcliff as not heroic, Oak as boring, Butler as superficial and Rochester as misogynistic (despite his rehabilitation as portrayed by Toby Stephens in the recent TV adaptation, in the book he was not so nice).

  • Richard Sharpe — Sharpe by Bernard Cornwall
  • Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy — Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Mr Mark Darcy — Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Mr Rochester — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Rupert Campbell Black — Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper
  • Rhett Butler — Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Heathcliff — Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Captain Corelli — Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
  • Henry DeTamble — The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Gabriel Oak — Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

    Before the UK's obsession with Mr Darcy and the other Mr Darcy, Guy Perron from The Raj Quartet (a.k.a. Charles Dance) had considerable mass appeal. One of my own favourite literary heroes when I was in my 20s was Mr Knightley (Jane Austen's Emma). (As an aside, why is he always played by someone too young in recent – and upcoming – dramatisations?) I also rather liked Edwin Clayhanger and Doc (Cannery Row). Before that, I adored characters like Robin Hood, Achilles and Sherlock Holmes, who probably would not have been all that nice to know in reality. A sort of modern-day equivalent of these impulsive, rebellious types is the rather appealing Sirius Black (J K Rowling), but look what happened to him. Of course nowadays I suppose I am too old to have literary heroes, and I also don't read "literature" (or Jilly Cooper!). But I do rather like Erlendur (Arnaldur Indridason) because he likes to spend his "spare" time quietly reading a book. (I'd have to draw a veil over some of the local specialities he eats.)

    If you want to vote on the shortlist above, here is where to go. You don't get my options, I'm afraid. Nor any Dickens, Eliott, Tolstoy, et al.

  • Post for a silly day: book titles, updated

    When you log into the Typepad dashboard now, you get to see all kinds of things, including a question of the day. Today's is: if you met yourself as a teenager now, what three things would you tell yourself?
    I'll take a raincheck on that, but on a day when despite my best intentions not to mention the DB or TLS words, the internet and blogosphere is overwhelmed by Dan Brown — Waterstones and the Bookseller read and live-Twittered The Lost Symbol overnight and the Guardian (clearly not as dedicated in the line of duty) started the same exercise this morning – I feel like writing something silly.

    So here is a post via Boing Boing which I think is a better challenge than the one posed by Typepad's question of the day. It is "if literary classics had been retitled", or as the source post at Your monkey called more aptly puts it: "Book titles, if they were written today". An example is:

    Then: The Wealth of Nations
    Now:  Invisible Hands: The Mysterious Market Forces That Control Our Lives and How to Profit from Them

    As is so often the case, the best examples are in the comments to both posts. A few favourites:

    Then: Dante's Inferno.
    Now: Dante's Descent into Dummy Loan Felonies —With a Detour for Minimum Security Prison— and Amazing Redemption as an "Ethical Financial Advisor"

    Then: The Art of War
    Now: 13 Chapters of Highly Effective Warfare Techniques (Illustrated)

    Here's two with Dan Brown themes:

    Then: The Double Helix
    Now: The Stuff of Life: The Hunt For the Code Behind Every Living Thing

    Then: The Iliad
    Now: The Trojan Code

    OK – that's enough DB — ed.

    Then: Moby Dick
    Now: Sea Trek 2: The Wrath of Ahab

    Then: The Bible
    Now: The Dangerous Book for Adults. Lessons on Life, Love, War and Sin. Includes dream interpretation and The Bible II – revised edition with all 4 gospels.

    Then : The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
    Now: The Jungle Book by Bernie Madoff/Ben Bernanke

    And finally….

    The Twist Progression

    The Jarndyce Inheritance

    The Havisham Agenda

    Feel free to add your own, here or at your own blog (or both!).

    My life according to books I’ve read this year

    Here is a task I found on Book Bird Dog blog – "My life according to literature". Looks like fun so I thought I would try it. You?

    Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

    Describe Yourself:
    How do you feel:
    Long Lost
    Describe where you currently live:
    Dark Times in the City
    If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
    Back to the Coast
    Your favorite form of transport:
    Shooting Star
    Your best friend is:
    Dead Lovely
    You and your friends are:
    A Place of Safety
    What’s the weather like:
    August Heat
    Favourite time of day:
    The Twilight Time
    If your life was a:
    Paper Moon
    What is life to you:
    A Lonely Place
    Your fear:
    What is the best advice you have to give:
    Hold Tight
    Thought for the Day:
    The Mind's Eye
    How I would like to die:
    Go to Helena Handbasket
    My soul's present condition:
    Close Up.

    Full list of books, with links to reviews, can be found here. You may think the above list is a bit bleak, but a glance at the titles of the books I read this year will demonstrate the challenge not to be too depressing (A Darker Domain, The Darkest Room, The Abominable Man, City of Fear, Burial, Suffer the Children, The Lying Tongue, Frozen Tracks, Dead Tomorrow, Half Broken Things, Bloodprint, Trafficked, and so on. Note to self: Must read some books with more upbeat titles.)
    How would your list look?

    Ann Cleeves hosts murder mystery event

    If you are near Masham, in North Yorkshire this week, you might like to know that the Reader-In-Residence of the Harrogate Crime-Writing Festival, award-winning author Ann Cleeves, will be holding a murder mystery event called 'Brought to Book' at the White Bear Hotel on Thursday (28 May) at 7.30 p.m. From the festival literature:

    "Brought to Book is an interactive murder mystery in which the audience turn detective to track down the killer from four possible suspects. Thursday's event will also feature performances from actors from the Masham Players. 
    Get together with friends and family to form a super sleuthing team and enjoy an evening of criminally good entertainment, food and drink."

    There does not seem to be an online booking system, but you can book tickets by calling
    the White Bear Hotel on 01765 689319 or the Theakston Brewery Visitor Centre on 01765 680 000.

    Read Euro Crime's reviews of Ann Cleeves's books here.

    Harrogate Crime-Writing Festival website. The festival takes place from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 July 2009. To book or for information on accommodation options, call: 01423 562303 or email: The organisers have also announced "creative Thursday", on 23 July, a day in which aspiring writers can pitch to an agent and editors.

    Physics of games

    Via Debra, here is a game called Totem destroyer. “Your mission is to destroy the totems without letting the golden Idol (aka Tot) fall into the ground. Use balance to keep Tot up. A cool physics based puzzle game!” It is, as Debra notes, quite addictive (I’ve dared to try it only once).

    Mindless games

    Via Cottontimer, who has an orange mind:

    Your Mind is Purple
    Purple Of all the mind types, yours is the most idealistic.
    You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
    Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

    You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places – or a very different life for yourself.

    Shakespeare games at Bantam

    Via Karen of Euro Crime, I spent a happy half hour or so last night at Bantam's Shakespeare Playhouse, "home of  Shakespeare games". You can play four games: one is a SAT (Shakespeare aptitude test in case you were wondering); then there is Hamlet's duel; name that play; and what's in a name — help Juliet play a Shakespearean dating game to uncover the identity of three potential suitors. It would perhaps have been more appropriate for Portia to have been the central character in that one, methinks.
    I didn't do too badly; my favourite game and the one I did best on was "name that play" from a quote — some of the quotes are obscure but you only have four plays to choose from (a different four for each quote), so you can often make an educated guess as to which is the right match. You can also do other things at the site, such as sign up for a classic Shakespeare quote of the week by email, as well as more conventional activities like buying various Shakespeare-related books or listening to a podcast discussion.
    Thanks, Karen, it certainly beat doing the washing up!