Short Takes: Stills, Epics & Ice

“Still Life” by Louise Penny, a Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mystery, is worth reading. For some unknown reason, I had in my head not to read a Louise Penny book. Then I accepted a monthly book offer from River Run Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH. They advertised if I sent them a short list of books that I liked, they would use that list to choose new books for me. They send one a month at a set price. After having received four books, I can say I have really enjoyed two of them, this being one. None of the four would I have bought on my own. “Still Life” is not only a good mystery, it is extremely well written. The description of setting and of characters is first rate. I have already bought my second Louise Penny novel. 

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” was written two thousand years ago. I discovered it by watching a video description about it on Their invitation to world literature is a wonderful look at books that are considered classics, some of which are modern day. “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is an amazing read mostly because of the date it was written. It can be purchased free on the web. Be sure to view the video after you finish. 

“Black Ice” by Michael Connelly is one of many Connelly has written about Detective Harry Bosch. Bosch gets into more trouble with his superiors and his dates than he does with the bad guys. All of which makes him real. There is always enough tension in each mystery to qualify them as thrillers. If you have not read a Harry Bosch story, start with the first book and enjoy them all. 


Short Reviews: No Dragons, No Justice, But Plenty of Witnesses

February is usually a good month in NH for reading. This year was “not my best” as is often said on American Idol. Yea, I admit, I watch Idol. Susan and I have watched it for years. What you ask does that have to do with books? It keeps me from them. This is okay because most nights by 8 PM I am too tired to read.

I am still going through books I inherited from my friend Peggy after she died. “No One Noticed the Cat” is a simple little mystery written by Anne McCaffrey, the author who has written much about dragons. It was just okay. I don’t recommend unless like me you inherit the book. I vote that Ms. McCaffrey stick to dragons. This is a good thing for next to cats and dogs, I love dragons, and she writes about them very imaginatively. As to cats? So many others have written better stories and even better mysteries.

Another inheritance from Peggy was “Injustice for Us All” by J.A Vance. This is my second book by this author. Each have been quick and easy reads, entertaining me just enough. I would categorize them as airplane or beach reads. This, the second of her books about the detective that has bad luck with women, I started at 30,000 feet.

My third book for February was one I had to read for a class called Politics and the Pulpit. The book is “Reclaiming Prophetic Witness” by Paul Rasor. It speaks to churches and pastors taking a more active role in the issues of the day. It is academic in nature, but if you think churches should play more a role in US decision making or defending the poor, then I suggest you read it. When done, you will be either for or against its message, but in either case better informed.

Catch Up

I haven’t convinced myself if my love of writing includes book reviews. Thus far it feels a bit clinical. Too academic. Tomorrow I am going to attend an online course on English Composition that will push me one way or the other. It is centered on academic research and writing rather than the creative. I thought I should visit the belly of the whale before knocking it any further. Jonah learned a lot so why not me. At the very least, it might make my professors happier.

Meanwhile, I bring you up to date on my other January readings. As Lynn Spreen, author of Dakota Blues, has told me, I could just as easily do this on Good Reads. Maybe this will blog will morph into something else. Stay tuned.

In the remainder of this post I will offer some thumbs up or down with occasional embellishments. Since my reading of Dakota Blues, I listened in the car to Live By Night by Dennis Lehane. First one of his for me. Kind of dark, but I liked it.  Then I read The Financial Lives of Poets. I liked it , but it is surely not for everybody. Strange.

Then I went on a downward spiral with the next few books. Two in a row I could not finish. I am told that many liked The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Philipp Sendker. I read a third of it and then put it down. This was followed by a nonfiction book called On Constitutional Disobedience by Louis Michael Seidman. It appears to be quite good if you are ready to read about constitutional law which I was not. Once again I put it down a third way in.

I finished my book reading in January with a terrific book Following Atticus by Tom Ryan. If you live in New England, love dogs and have hiked any of the peaks in NH that are over four thousand feet, this book is a must. I can attest to all three so I thought it was terrific.

In my next post I will cover some of my February readings.