Winter Reads

Winters in Minnesota can be very long and very cold. They are perfect for curling up by the fire, wrapped in a blanket, and with a good book in hand.

Next week the weatherman is saying that our warm spell is over. Our highs in the Minneapple will only be in the 20s Fahrenheit. That is some chilly weather with which to start December, and that means out come the books.

I have a couple stories I intend to re-read during the Yuletide season. They are Lovecraft’s “The Festival” and Crispian Thurlborn’s A Bump in the Night. Both are excellent holiday reads by master craftsmen of the written word.

As for new (to me) books, I have on my list the following:

Mannegishi by Ben Willoughby. Mr W is a very fine storyteller. He truly deserves a much wider audience.

Ganbaru by Michael Cormack. I met Mr Cormack on Facebook quite incidentally. I’m glad I did. He writes post-apocalyptic books just how I like them: cozy catastrophes in the manner of John Wyndham, John Christopher, JG Ballard, and George R Stewart. I’m almost finished with his Don’t Dream It’s Over. A superb read. Mr Cormack very definitely deserves a much wider readership.

I love Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve read his books An Artist Of The Floating World and The Remains Of The Day. I’ve also seen the movie versions of The Remains Of The Day and Never Let Me Go. So I’m thinking I might start with his first book A Pale View Of Hills and then go on to read Never Let Me Go.

The older I get the more I find that I truly enjoy reading traditional mysteries. At first I pretty much limited myself to private detective mysteries. But recently I’ve found myself branching out into the realm of the amateur sleuth. And I’m enjoying the foray. So I’ll probably add a few mysteries to the pile. Perhaps a couple Nero Wolfe novels. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Nero Wolfe and he’s long overdue for re-reading.

I’ll also probably spend a little bit of time looking at those free books that I’ve downloaded over the past year and haven’t read. There will probably be a gem or two that will make for fine winter reading.

Do you have any favorites you will be revisiting over the winter months? If so, do let me know what they are in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for a good book.

Until next time, happy reading!

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Book Review: A Quiet Life in the Country

Superb indie writers abound. Many readers complain about the indie revolution and all the crappy books out there. Granted, there are a lot of crappy books being published. But they aren’t all indie. A very sizable portion of them come from the corporate giants on their never-ending quest for the next blockbuster.

Some of the best books I’ve read this year and last year were written by indie authors. And some of the worst books I’ve read last year and this year were published by the big corporations. In this day and age, who publishes a book is no guarantee of the book’s quality.

Last week, I reviewed indie author Agatha Frost, who writes contemporary cozy mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at cozy author T. E. Kinsey, who started out going indie and then accepted a publishing deal from Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon imprint.

When I picked up a copy of A Quiet Life in the Country it was #1 on Amazon’s list of Bestselling Cozy Mysteries. That was on 2 July 17. As of yesterday (7 August), the book was #15. A long ride being in the top 20.

So what makes Kinsey’s 1908 aristocratic sleuth, Lady Hardcastle, so popular? To me the answer is simple: appealing characters, humor, and good storytelling.

The same combo that works for Agatha Frost, works for Mr Kinsey. In fact, it’s the same combo that pretty much works for every author or book I like.

The only downside to A Quiet Life In The Country is that the pacing tips towards the glacial. What saved the book for me was the humor. The jokes and puns and banter made the slow spots bearable.

The storyline is the same as in all mysteries. Lady Hardcastle and her servant, who is also her friend, have moved to the country after a life of adventure. And then they stumble across the body and then another.

Through a ruse they are allowed to work with the police detective. Eventually Lady Hardcastle and the detective solve the murders.

All pretty standard. Which is why character and humor are so important, as well as good storytelling — which turns the already familiar plot into something interesting.

Highly recommended! Get yourself a copy of A Quiet Life In The Country. You won’t be sorry.

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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