Friday, April 16, 2021

#FridayReads: Cordelia Gray Has Risen...

Okay. Okay. I told myself to take a minute or two out of Friday to write an updated post–or a #FridayReads deal thing. So, while I sit here at a blank page trying to put an essay down on paper, let me catch readers up on what I have next in mind to read.

Oh, I plan on doing some duel reading (more on the other book later). 50 pages a day. Something like that. Not my usual gig, but I don't want to lose steam with my second offering…

Therefore, first up is…

The Skull Beneath the Skin by P. D. James. This is the second and final entry in James's Cordelia Gray detective agency series.

Shamefully, I started this book ten years ago, after reading the wonderfulness of the first book in the series, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. So why am I just now picking up Gray's second and final mystery?

You want to know the truth? I had a dream about it and, in that dream, I was Cordelia Gray. Blame it on the Benadryl, but I tell you no lies. I laid my ass down one night and dreamt about reading this book, as I, in the dream, was Cordelia Gray solving a mystery involving crows. Maybe that was guilt for not completing this book working through my subconscious.  Yet, needless to say, I took the hint.  Dreaming about unread books has happened to me before.

But just in case, I have to list what made me stop the book ten years ago about a quarter ways through:

1.    As I've stated over the years, I can't stand mysteries involving theatres, movie lots, television sound-stages, scripts, and curtains—basically, entertainment business stuff. Don't ask me why because I don't even know why these set-ups annoy me. Nevertheless, in the case of The Skull Beneath the Skin, an actress is receiving poison-pen letters. Heading toward a performance on an island somewhere in Britain, said actress's husband employed Gray to go undercover as her secretary-companion. Gray's job is to stealthy find the culprit of these letters before he or she exacts their desired threats upon the actress. Naturally, a pile of bodies will help Gray toward the truth.

2.    I bailed as the chapters moved further away from Gray's perspective and into others. I'm used to this now from James.  Her mysteries have strength and resonance because of her ability to brighten her characters with personalities, nuance, secrets, and motives (not to dismiss her incredible literary writing qualities applied to her mysteries).  When she hops perspectives, you get first-hand observation to play inference with her mystery-writing game.  But as I've always said about James, you MUST read between the lines of her dialogue.  That's where she can really trip you up.

I GUESS I'M CONSIDERED ACTIVATED NOW
At the time of my initial attempt at the book, I was new to James. I had yet to even start her Adam Dalgliesh series. Which, thankfully, I stand at a six-out-of-fourteen down as of writing this. So I found Skull to be tepid and laborious than my experience with the first Gray mystery.  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman was shorter, and darn-right airtight with its clever mystery and pacing.  Nevertheless, reading the wonderfulness of Dalgliesh has grounded away those regards for James's work.

And so, ladies and gentleman, that's why I'm here. It's finally time to give Cordelia Gray her proper due.  I don't know why Storm from X-Men came to mind, other than I feel all powerful and activated and ready to handle my business by giving this series a proper closing.  I'm over 50 pages in already and ready to GO!  Only then can I knock on the doors of the eight books I have left in the Dalgliesh series.

(Forgive all spelling and grammatical errors.  I seriously have an essay to write, so I'm making this one quick.)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

I Did a Thing Thursday...

 

The only side effect I'm "suffering" is the bottomless (and perhaps boneless) hunger to stay up late at night reading this amazing-ass book in one last sitting... 



With that said, HAPPY READING!  And take care of yourself!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

GUEST POST: The Jackdaw and the Doll by John Biscello (Illustrations by Izumi Yokoyama)

 



"K. leads a double life. Timid office clerk by day, storyteller by night. But not just any storyteller. Transforming into a jackdaw, K. takes secret night-flights around the city, collecting moments of inspiration. Confronted by sickness, and “The Shroud” which has haunted him since childhood, K., joined by his new love, Dora, moves away from home to The City of Birds. It is there that he will meet a young girl, heartbroken over her lost doll, and be given a golden chance to share the healing magic of storytelling.  A fable about love, compassion and creativity, inspired by a story about the writer, Franz Kafka."


IZUMI YOKOYAMA: Izumi Yokoyama is a multi-media artist who lives and works in Taos, New Mexico. Born in Niigata, Japan, in 1980, Yokoyama graduated with an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and moved to the high desert. Yokoyama’s artwork, which has been presented locally and nationally, spotlights apparitional motifs while celebrating the juxtapositions of living and dying. The Japanese culture and desert stories significantly influence her creative process. She works in ink pen drawings, installations, murals, calligraphy, and interactive community projects. 


JOHN BISCELLO: Originally from Brooklyn, NY, novelist, poet, performer, and playwright, John Biscello, has called Taos, New Mexico home since 2001. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations; a collection of stories, Freeze Tag; two books of poetry, Arclight and Moonglow on Mercy Street, and an adaptation of classic folk tales, Once Upon a Time: Classic Folktales Reimagined.

  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Quick Reading Check-In on In Death Series...

I’m between courses now and decided to spend the week catching up on one of my top favorite fictional cops, Eve Dallas.  Undressing this series requires no undressing.  I’ve been talking about this series for years and, until book fifty-one, Shadows in Death, thought I was about to take a break from reading the books.  But why?  Shadows came out back in September, and since then I’ve tried four times to get through page number three in the book.  Something seemed off to the point where I could never find myself able.  Very seldom does an In Death book not hook from page one till the end.  Weird stumble, indeed.  I took it as a sign that I may just need to take a break from the series.

Until I waltz into my library’s used bookstore and saw a copy of Robb’s recently release, Faithless in Death, sitting on a display for $5.  There was absolutely no way I was going to pass that up.  It was a clearer sign.  And I took it and ran with it.

As I write this, I’m ninety pages away from the end of Faithless in Death.  I'm super happy I took on both books this past week.  I’m still crazy about this series, after all.  Yes, thirteen years and over fifty books and short stories later.

Once I wrap Faithless in Death, I’m going to put this bookshelf together to house all my In Death books (which, naturally, I own them all).  I’ve been moving books around on my shelves as new books come in, and some of the real estate surrounding my In Death books ate a chunk of that space.  So, some adjustments were necessary.

What can I say?  I’m loyal to the series.  The books need their own bookshelf.  It's that many books.  And it's that serious.

Monday, March 1, 2021

#MarchMysteryMadness Prompts & THANGS

Just a friendly reminder, #MarchMysteryMadness starts today.  And yet, here are the prompts for this year...

For further information you can join #MarchMysteryMadness Discord Group.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Black & LGBTQ Mysteries Birthday Haul



So, after recently reading the second book in Paula L.Woods’s Charlotte Justice police procedural series, I quickly booted up the laptop to order the final two books.  And, well, those suckers are HERE.  I desperately (I understate a little “desperately”) want to get started on reading the third book, Dirty Laundry.  Of course, only to follow it up with the fourth and final book, Strange Bedfellows.  It’s one of those scenarios where you’re hungry to devour the series, but you also want to savor the experience with sips.

Nevertheless, the rundown goes:

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Sister is so Nice & Message of the Week & #FridayReads

My sister ordered me a good ole copy of Cicely Tyson's memoir, As I Am, for my birthday.  Just waiting on this thing to come on.  I put it on hold at the library (with a little begrudge and potato salad on the side), but still gunning for my own copy to place nicely on my shelf.  A necessary copy.  Indeed.  Here's to waiting... impatiently... but allowing God to do His work.  I'll cry happy tears.


In the meantime, the message for the week is...


As for #FridayReads...

Earlier this week I chomped down big on A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf for the #ReadSoulLit Read-Along.  I'm a little over one hundred pages from its ending.  I'll probably finish it early next week, or even over the weekend.  It's so cold outside that I don't want to even go anywhere.  But I definitely want to finish it before the end of next week.  Unfortunately, the connection and resonance isn't as profound as it was during my earlier experience of reading A More Perfect Union.  Maybe it's because I'm juggling three books... or maybe because...

Monday, February 8, 2021

How My The Wheel of Time Hardback Book Collection is Coming!

Hee-Haah! I got the final three books in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series in hardback the past two weeks. I'm upgrading my collection from the mass market editions. I've learned how the hardcovers are better suited for my reading experience. For real, The Wheel of Time books are thick, super involved high fantasy books that begs for patience and comfort. I will go back and upgrade the first three books one day. But since I am still on book nine, I'll wait until I finish the series to do so. (I'm telling myself that barely legal lie.)


Anyway, the key question now is when will I pick the series back up again? I have been having a hankering for them (or at least to see what Rand, Mat and Nynaeve are up to).
And whenever that feeling comes knocking, I know it is almost time to cross the threshold back into The Wheel of Time. Either way, I am committed. I made it through book seven, A Crown of Swords, with complete relit enthusiasm for the books. I made it over a hurdle, and enjoyed book eight as well. However, I stalled again on book nine, Winter’s Heart. This is the “heart” of the so called “slog”. But if I can push through that one, as well as the following book, I will supposedly be good to go with the rest of the series. As readers have stated, books eleven to the end are sensational.


Anyway,
the slight bowing in my shelf holding the series up shows I am a dedicated fan.





Saturday, February 6, 2021

My #ReadSoulLit Start-Ups

 

So I would start a James Baldwin book the weekend before taking my Grandmother to two specialists the following week. Then the week after is my birthday week, as well as my return to the classroom. Busy little beaver, I suppose. Not the best time to find myself waist deep in Baldwin’s level of immersion and gripping engagement. Yet, I chose to pick up his book, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone. But who am I kidding? It is always the perfect timing for a Baldwin book. As I write this, I am fifty pages in and on my second cup of coffee for the evening. His work is that absorbing; I always want to be alert to his offerings. And here it is about to start raining! The right vibe. The right move. The right night. As I have stated, perfect timing.

I’m halfway through Tammye Huf’s A More Perfect Union. It is the book chosen for the #ReadSoulLit read-along of 2021. So far, I am liking the book. It is a fictionalized retelling of the author’s ancestors' love story, seeded in a Virginia plantation around 1849. You take a slave named, Sarah, and her Irish immigrant beau named Henry; imagine the peril involved. One thing I enjoy is Henry's narrative insight into the Irish immigrate experience. I also enjoy the parallel of family pain and trauma both Sarah and Henry share, though the overall illustrations of those shared traumas are fairly "light" (if you will). Nevertheless, their pain is something that draws them to one another. To keep a balance, Sarah and Henry do alternate shifting his or her narrative throughout the book. Yet, there is a third character named Maple that is as desperate to share her painful narrative as well. And an interesting one it is, considering she is the half-sister of the plantation’s mistress.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Do I Feel Like Reading More of Mercedes Lackey's Work?

So here it is. The truth. I closed out reading Mercedes Lackey’s By the Sword feeling unfulfilled and unmoved by the book. So I'm wary of trying more of Lackey’s work. Don’t get me wrong, though. I enjoyed Lackey's Diana Tregarde series, as well as the first book in her Elementals series. As for the two dips I’ve taken into her Valedmar series, I've yet to come away with a hunger for more. And after finishing By the Sword, I am stuck wondering whether Lackey’s work is worth it to me. You see, By the Sword started off great. I was into Lackey’s fantasy character, Kerowyn, catapulting in her own direction in life. She wasn’t interested in becoming anyone’s wife or housekeeper. Nah. She desired the mercenaries way of life, or a means to be a hero to people.


Cool fantasy stuff, indeed.

Unfortunately, by the end of the book things changed for me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Valerie Wilson Wesley's "A Glimmer of Death" is Out! Happy Release Day!


Listen. I stood at the stove about to reheat some lasagna (with cheap off-brand breadsticks from Wal-Mart and a "girl-bye" to them) when the UPS man delivered this baby to me. The book came on time. Delivered on its release date. I didn’t get played like I anticipated. So I was good to go! Y’all know the mailing services are off the chain these days. And my messy tail is contributing to it via Amazon purchases. But we’ll talk about that some other day.

THE FACTTTTT ISSSSSSS…

Valerie Wilson Wesley is one of my favorite black mystery writers, and she's back with a new series. Also, she's back with a fresh shift in gears toward undertaking the cozy mystery sub-genre. Wesley is best known for the famous Tamara Hayle lady private-eye detective series. She also has a catalog of black contemporary works out there (Playing my Mother's Blues being one). And Wesley is also known for two gothic romance novels (check the labels for “Savanna Welles”). My point is that Wesley has done about everything except cozy mysteries. Until today where we have A Glimmer of Death, book one in Wesley’s Odessa Jones series.

Get into Wesley's Tamara Hayle private-eye series, please

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