Thursday, 11 October 2012

Happy late blogiversary to me! and some mystery reviews

It feels like ages since I posted here.  My life is still a bit crazy, with still sorting out what to do about the foundation and estimates. I am thrilled to say that I have been on a reading binge since my last post, and I have some quick book reviews for you tonight.  Before then, I wanted to give a quick update:  I once again passed my blogiversary!  This is the third year in a row that I missed it, and I'm perplexed.  I spend most of the year waiting for it so I can talk about cake and what blogging means to me and all the wonderful people I have met who love books as much as I do, and then every year something has happened in my life and I am never here on Oct 1!!! 

Here is the link to my very first post, five years ago.  Yes, my blog is 5 years old now!  5 wonderful, exciting, magical, sad, and challenging years for me.  Through it all, my blog has kept company with me.  I have read many more books per year since joining the online community, and I have found so many books I wouldn't have read otherwise, because of you, dear Readers.  Most of all, is you, all of you.  My conversations in my life are peppered with 'my book-twin in Korea', Ana in Portugal, Geranium Cat, Bride, and Cath in England, Debi and Chris and Eva in the US, Carl, Jeanne......Kelly here in Canada with me.....Kay, Wendy, many wonderful conversations about books, and about our lives as we share them, and grow along with one another.  My life, as tumultuous as it has been these past five years (and I'm really hoping it will settle soon), has also been made more joyous because I've met and come to know all of you through the years.  Our sad loss of Dewey, which still haunts all of us who had time to know her before she left this world. Some of you have dropped from blogging alot to just checking in, as your lives have changed.  Certainly my blog has reflected my life, as the last two years I was barely able to maintain it, and yet that love of books,and missing talking with you about books, kept bringing me back.  So it hasn't been an easy 5 years, though I suspect this will be one of those times in my life when I look back a few years from now and think, "Gosh I learned so much!' 

I plan to keep on blogging, as I have tried to write much more often this year, than in the past. It hasn't always been easy, but it is fun, and I always, always love coming to read what you are saying and thinking about books and life.  So, here's to my 5 year anniversary!  Here is a picture of one of my favourite cakes to make, Nigella Lawson's Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake, with a link to her recipe in case you are tempted.  

 MMMMM  I might have to make it soon......even a diabetic deserves a treat now and then!!! Happy 5 years, and thanks so much for sharing it all with me.  I hope you'll come along with me in the coming years, there are more books to read and discover........

All right, to the quick book reviews:

Blood Harvest - S.J. Bolton - fabulous dark mystery thriller.  I couldn't put it down.  A family moves into a house in a small village, and strange things start happening to the children.  A girl's figure is seen in the cemetary that surrounds the house....but is she real or is she a ghost?  Several little girls have died in the past several years, is she one of them?  And why can the boys in the house hear her, but no one else does?  Perfect read for RIP VII.  5/5  ***thanks to Kay at Purple Sage and Scorpions for her review here of S.J. Bolton's other books, which led me to checking to see what my library had.
Driftnet - Lin Anderson - first in a Glasgow mystery series, featuring Rhona MacLeod, a forensic scientist. A young boy is found dead, in a room, a rent boy.  Prostitute.  He looks surprisingly like Rhona MacLeod, who gave a baby up for adoption at his birth, and so who has a personal interest in discovering what happened to the baby she gave up.  Is this where he came to be, on her table, murdered?  A very good first mystery novel in a series that has 7 books now in the series.  I enjoyed it very much.  4.5/5 

The Twilight Time - Karen Campbell.  Another first mystery in a growing series.   It is set in Glasgow again, and is about as gritty and realistic a portrayal of modern policing as I've come across yet.  Anna Cameron is assigned to the Flexi Unit, and the story opens with her first day on the job.  She is leading the unit, and already some of the officers resent her before she even starts.  This is realistic dialogue, tensions, setting, with the Flexi Unit patrolling the worst drug -and- prostitute-addled street in Glasgow.  An elderly man is murdered, and in the investigation Anna is wounded by  someone who is stalking prostitutes and slashing them.  Along the way Jamie's wife Cath (an ex-police officer herself) gets involved, and all through the novel we have the police work, and the private lives, laid out, so we are living through the investigation with these three characters.  Highly recommended.  I've already ordered the second book with Anna, Shadowplay.  I've just discovered that Jamie has his own book, After The Fire, so I have to see if I can find that here. 5/5

Dark Fire- C.J. Sansom  - Second book in the Matthew Shardlake series.  I read this in the summer, when it was as hot out for us as it was in London in this book - a record-breaking drought for us, record-breaking drought and heat for that time in England.  Shared misery!  This was a slow mystery to get into, with Matthew dragged into defending a girl accused of murdering her cousin through the goodness of his heart.  He is mostly concerned with Dark Fire, a legend about a fire that wasn't fire, that could burn water.  Was it real? The Greeks thought so, and someone in London has told the King that they have the secret, but before it is brought before the king, the person is killed, and the workshop broken into.  Thomas Cromwell orders Shardlake to find the Greek Fire, hoping this will restore him to the king's favour.  He is slipping, as the Seymours slip in around the king, dangling Jane Seymour in front of him.  Shardlake can't refuse.  While the search for the Dark Fire was interesting, and the court politics and intrigue fascinating - especially because we know what happened with Jane, and Cromwell - the real heart of this story is whether Elizabeth killed her cousin, and what would cause a girl to do so.  A very dark horrific secret lies at the heart of this mystery, and it's not one that you would think of.  It still gives me the shivers to think of.  This was the highlight of the book, and makes it perfect for RIP VII also. The mystery part is good, though a bit confusing with the two storylines, and not quite as gripping as the first book in the series, Dissolution.  Still, among the best mystery series, and highly recommended. 4.7/5  **Cath at Read-Warbler read this last year, her post is here. (She does an excellent job explaining the plot also)  What's fun is that she thinks Dark Fire is better than the first one!  What do you think, Gentle reader?  Have you read this series?  Do you agree with me (Dissolution slightly better), or Cath?

  I am getting set to read the next one, Sovereign, which is set in my favourite city of York.  I have to add that the historical setting, dialogue, atmosphere, descriptions, are impeccable.  This is historical writing at its best. 

I would recommend all of these mysteries for RIP VII, in case you are looking for something that's not horror to read for Carl's challenge. 


brideofthebookgod said...

Happy blogiversary Susan, very glad you are continuing to post, would miss you if you werent around!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, a very happy belated blogversary to you!! Hope things settle down a bit for you in the upcoming year.

I'm so glad you reported on BLOOD HARVEST. I've got it on my list to read soon hopefully. And also thanks for mentioning more interesting books. I'll be on the lookout for them.

Sam said...

Happy blogiversary to you, Susan. Life can really get away from us sometimes, can't it? But, I suppose that probably beats a life of boredom...maybe? Seems like several of us have reached five year anniversaries in the last few months...must have been a real surge of new book blogs in 2007. Maybe that's when the idea reached its peak?

Stefanie said...

Happy blogiversary! It is amazing how quickly the time flies, isn't it? Did you have some of that cake? Does it taste as good as it looks?

Debi said...

Happy Five, if a bit belated, Susan!!!! I'm so glad you've never given up blogging through the ups and downs!!! I hope things settle down for you soon and that the next five years and beyond of blogging bring you much joy!!!

I'm fairly certain I gained three pounds just looking at the picture of that cake...and I'm thinking I'm willing to gain the ten I would surely gain if I made it. :P

Oh dear lady, you just did a number on my wish list! And somehow I suspect you're not even sorry about that. ;)

Ana S. said...

Happy belated blogiversary, Susan! I hope you stick around for many more years :)

Daphne said...

Wow, these all look so good! Happy Blogiversary! I need to read more mysteries. Maybe this winter. I like the sound of some of these.

Hang in there. It's been a rough year for many of us, but the light is starting to shine through and things get better eventually. Hugs.

raidergirl3 said...

Happy Blogaversary! Keep posting when you can. The beauty of the internet is you can take a break and come back. Friends will still be here.

I'm getting ready to read the second Matthew Shardlake (well, in the next few months!) I wonder whether I'll like the second one as much as the first, or if it will get better for me? I'll let you know.

The Willoughby Book Club said...

Congratulations - keep up the great work, and long may you blog! (at least for another 5 years)

Susan said...

Bride: Thank you! I would miss all of you too,

Kay: thank you :-) I hope things settle down too, so much! I desperately need a period of calm in my life now. I think you will enjoy Blood Harvest, and I'm glad I could return the favour of more books to look for! :-D

Sam: Thank you! LOL to having a life that's not filled with boredom....would like tranquility now, I think. I could read more!

I wonder how many of us did start blogging five years ago? I always thought I was one of the newer bloggers, though it seems to me the last year or two blogging has exploded - so many bloggers out there that I have never heard of. A lot of love of books out there :-) which is fabulous to see.

Stefanie: Thank you! Yes, even though it seemed long, looking back, these seem to have been 5 quick years.

I can't make the cake unless I'm taking it somewhere/having a party, because I'm not allowed to eat very much of it (diabetic). I used to make it often! and it is so delicious. Even better than it looks. Chock full of chocolate and deep chocolate flavour. mmmmm :-D

Debi: thank you, so much. And I hope so much to have things settled and peaceful as this has been harder on me than I would have suspected. Blogging does bring me joy, and so many new books and friends!

You could make the cake for one of your children's birthdays, and that way not having it lurking on your counter, calling your name :-) it is very delicious and full of chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Well my blog will be six in January so a lot of us must have started at the same time and we're all growing up together!

Susan said...

Deb: I forgot to add, no, I'm not remotely repenting adding to your reading list!! :-D

Ana: thank you so much! I plan to. There is such a love of books and kindness among us that I would miss too much.

Daphne: Thank you. And I'm so glad I could tempt you with some more mysteries! :-D

Yes, things do get better eventually. A little light is shining, though I still don't know all my way forward yet. Hugs to you too :-) It's been a rough year for both of us.

raidergirl3: Thank you! That is the beauty of the internet, isn't it? Certainly I've taken my pauses here and there through the years....I want to post more regularly now, when I can.

I'm curious to see if you will like the second more, or the first. Certainly I like the developments and how Matthew is changing, in the two books, how more of him is revealed too. I really like this series.

The Willoughby Book Club: Thank you! And thanks for the wishes that I am able to keep blogging - I hope so too. As you can tell from my comments here on this post, it's all of you that make blogging so worthwhile, and it is fun to be part of an online community about books :-)

Susan said...

Bride: That's right, you are the same age as Sam and I (in blog years)! I'm trying to remember what happened in 2007 that led me to realize that you could create something online, write about books. I don't really know...I might have been looking for a book review, of all things! lol Do you remember what brought blogging to your attention?

Anonymous said...

I remember coming across something from a library in the US challenging people to read 52 books in 52 weeks and why not set up a blog to record progress and it sounded like a good idea so I did. Still haven't met that target in the 5 years since because I'm always so busy with work and other stuff but I do try...

Susan said...

Bride: that's interesting! I remember hearing about the challenge, though maybe not 2007 but after.....I really think I was just looking for a review of a book, and came across a book blog, and realized that people were writing about books! online! I think I lurked online for about a month, checking out how they worked and if I could do it, write about books publicly like that.

I haven't done 52 books in 52 weeks either, some weeks I read several, some weeks no books at all! always a goal, isn't it? lol

Cath said...

Hmm, I know I've been away in Wales since Monday but you posted this several days before that, so how I came to miss it I've no idea.

Anyway, Happy Happy Blog Anniversary! What a lovely comment on how much you love blogging and the people you've met. I feel exactly the same way and you're one of the people I'm so pleased to have met this way.

Nigella has just started a new TV series here, don't know if you knew that? It's all about Italian cooking and is excellent. My other favourite, Nigel Slater, also has a new series just started. I'm being spoilt.

Yes, I liked Dark Fire slightly more than Dissolution, only slightly though. I love the new assistant, Jack Barack, and see that he is also in Sovereign. I've just finished a book and am now tempted to start that... LOL.

Great post, Susan!

Susan said...

Cath: I feel the same way about you, too. It is one of the great things about blogging, the people we meet. Thank you, too :-)

Both Nigella and Nigel have new tv series??? Oooh you are so lucky!! I heard Nigel has a new cookbook, so I have it on my wishlist already. What are they both cooking on their new series?

I really liked the new assistant, too, and am delighted he is in Sovereign. I am getting ready to read it too, soon. In November, possibly December. This year! lol

Cath said...

At home with our sick grandson today so just popping in quickly.

Nigella is doing Italian cooking this time around. Nigel is doing a week's meals from your weekly shop... making sure you use everything etc. Very interesting.

Sovereign is now on the 'read soon' section of my shelf. I started The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder a week or so ago, before I got distracted by something else. Thought I should finish that before I start something new. Not sure about the Mark Hodder, the writing is not fantastic.

Susan said...

Cath: thanks for that, Nigella has always talked alot about Italian cooking and the influence on her. HOpe we get her show over here next year!

Nigel and weekly shop- that sounds interesting and fun. I'm slowly making my way through his Tender 1, Vegetable book, and the Kitchen Diaries. I use Nigella Kitchen and How To Eat regularly, too.

Hope your grandson gets better soon :-)