All the unread books

March 24, 2010

For the love of crime – discovering Stuart MacBride

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 12:33 am
Tags: ,

Yeah, yeah, I’m supposed to have finished ‘Northanger Abbey’ by now and started my B books.  But I haven’t.  I’ve been immersed in my favourite genre…crime.  What’s more I’ve discovered a new writer and have been greedily snorting his books.  Stuart MacBride hails from Aberdeen and his character, Logan Macrae, is a local detective and a magnet for trouble and mayhem.  I’ve read four books in the series (books 1, 2, 3 and 5) and am reading a fourth (book 4) and so far he’s been stabbed, blown up, and bashed, and I’m now worried about what the cannibal he’s chasing in the current book has in store for him.

What do I love?  MacBride, like all good crime writers, has a wonderful sense of place.  Aberdeen is a living and breathing element in his books.  It’s grotty and grimy, and usually raining but you know he loves the place.  I don’t know what’s in the water in Scotland but the Scots breed wonderful crime writers.  MacBride’s main character is three dimensional and infallible.  And the support cast is just as interesting, including his girlfriend of books 1-3, Jackie ‘Ball breaker’ Watson, a feisty and engaging police officer.  His writing is funny and involving.  Having said that (as they say in the classics), let me say this – there are elements in his books which were entertaining at the start but, five books down the track, are starting to irritate.  Poor Macrae works intolerable hours and never seems to have a day off.   His superior officers are always dragging him off to do things when he’s trying to clock off and it’s starting to wear me down.  Give the man a break!

So if you are interested – Cold Granite; Dying Light; Broken Skin (also called Bloodshot); Flesh House (which I’m reading now); and Blind Eye.  Apparently there’s a new book, Dark Blood, due out next month.  MacBride has a website but it’s currently under re-construction (


February 9, 2010

The B List

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 1:26 am

I’m nearing the end of Northanger Abbey and thought I’d get my list of B books happening.  In the interests of not boring myself to death, I’m skipping Emma and leaving that for the end.  My rules, my prerogative to change them.

The B List is:

James Baldwin – Another Country

John Banville – The Book of Evidence and Dr Copernicus

Pat Barker – Life Class

Djuna Barnes – Nightwood

Malcolm Bradbury – The History Man

Harold Brodkey – Profane Friendship

Charlotte Bronte – Villette and Jane Eyre

Geraldine Brooks – March

A pretty diverse bunch of books and there’s a couple there I’m looking forward to actually reading.

The first Sisters in Crime event for 2010 went really well.  Katherine and Phillipa are wonderful women with lots to say.  I’m lucky to have had them to interview.

Right, I’m off to get James Baldwin off the shelves.

January 31, 2010

Still on Northanger Abbey

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 11:32 pm

And so my challenge is waning somewhat.  I’m enjoying Northanger Abbey but I’m distracted by a million other things.  Two kids for a start.  But also my part in the first Sisters in Crime Victoria event for 2010.  I’m interviewing two Australian women crime writers, Katherine Howell and PD Martin, about their latest releases.  So I’ve been madly reading Katherine’s fabulous Cold Justice which continues the story of her police woman, Ella Marconi, and again melds it with the story of a female paramedic, Georgie.  Katherine is an ex-paramedic and her rendering of the lives of paramedics is real, confronting and funny.  A great read.  I’m halfway through PD’s Kiss of Death which is the latest in the Sophie Anderson series.  Sophie is a FBI profiler and a psychic.  While that sounds naff, it’s not and PD does a great job handling the psychic angle.  This book centres on vampires.  I’m not into the whole vampire thing so it’s taken me a while to get over my dislike of it and get into the book.  But I have and I’m happily tagging along with Sophie.  The event is this Friday night at Bell’s Hotel in Moray St, South Melbourne.  Starts at 8pm – no need to book.

As far as Northanger Abbey goes, our heroine has left the fun and games of Bath and has arrived at the abbey.  She is desperate for an adventure…..

January 6, 2010

Crime fiction kills Jane Austen

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 11:20 pm

I’ve started Northanger Abbey.  So far I’ve met our heroine, Catherine Morland, who was a tomboy as a child and rather plain but is now 17 and a tad fairer in the face.  She dreams of being a heroine and now has the chance to realise that dream as she has accompanied a neighbour to Bath. 

As a teenager, I loved Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice was a favourite and I read it several times.  Since that time I’ve become a crime fiction tragic and I’ve discovered it’s ruined Jane Austen for me.  Too much action and lean writing has meant that I know find Jane’s writing style hard going.  Damn you, Raymond Chandler!  I will persevere but I predict that Emma will kill me.

While I’m reading Northanger Abbey, I’m also reading Robert Crais’ Two Minute Rule and Meg Gardiner’s The Memory Collector.

January 5, 2010

The A Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 5:31 am
Tags: ,

The A books are fairly boring:

Jeffrey Archer – Collected Short Stories

Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen – Emma 

Yes, it’s true…I haven’t read Emma.  God knows I’ve tried but it’s so frickin boring.

Ok – so I should be starting with Jeffrey Archer but it’s my partner’s book so I’m allowing myself to give it a miss.  Northanger Abbey it is.

The premise

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigbluepen @ 5:14 am

I have a fairly large collection of books.  All neatly arranged on my shelves.  All the crime fiction and non-fiction are together; all the general fiction is arranged alphabetically and the rest of the non-fiction is grouped in my own translation of the Dewey decimal system.  Yes, I’m anally retentive – my Moon is in Virgo and that’s my excuse.  I try to dust the books and shelves regularly and as I do I inevitably contemplate the books.  The ones I’ve read and loved; the ones that disappointed me and the ones that remain unread.  And I have to say that last group is rather large.  And it embarrasses me.  So my project for this year is to read all the books in my library that I haven’t read.  In alphabetical order naturally.  Read, comment, discuss and debate.  Everything is up for discussion.

I’m off now to compile the list of A books.

Blog at