Sunday, June 4, 2017

May Wrap-Up & P.O.M. Award

Here we are continuing another year of tracking reading progress and statistics for all things bookish on the Block. I will also be contributing to Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month and handing out the coveted P.O.M. Award for the best mystery. So, here's what happened here on the Block in May....

Total Books Read: 17
Total Pages:  3,306
Average Rating: 2.97 stars  
Top Rating: 4 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 41%
Percentage by US Authors: 71%
Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  12%
Percentage Mystery:  82% 

Percentage Fiction: 100%
Percentage written 2000+: 12%
Percentage of Rereads: 18%
Percentage Read for Challenges: 100% {It's easy to have every book count for a challenge when you sign up for as many as I do.}  
Number of Challenges fulfilled so far: 12 (39%)

AND, as mentioned above, Kerrie had us all set up for another year of Crime Fiction Favorites. What she was looking for is our Top Mystery Read for each month. May was another big month for mysteries with all but three coming from that field--for a total of 14 out of 17--plus one non-fiction book related to the mystery field. Here are the books read:
Storm Center by Douglas Clark (3 stars) 
The Polka Dot Nude by Joan Smith (DNF) 
The Invisible Intruder by Carolyn Keene (4 stars) 
The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt (3 stars) 
Murder at Teatime by Stefanie Matteson (3 stars) 
Blind Man With a Pistol by Chester Himes (3 stars) 
Death Cracks a Bottle by Kenneth Giles (3 stars) 
The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur (3 stars) 
Murder in Mount Holly by Paul Theroux (3 stars)
Deadly Nightshade by Elizabeth Daly (3 stars) 
The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton (4 stars) 
Decision at Delphi by Helen MacInnes (4 stars) 
If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O by Sharyn McCrumb (3 stars) 
The Case of the Seven Sneezes by Anthony Boucher (3 stars)

May was a pretty middle-of-the-road kind of month as far as reading went. Nearly everything came in with an average, three-star rating--except for The Polka Dot Nude by Joan Smith which turned out to be bad enough that I couldn't read the whole thing and only skimmed to be able and count it for a few challenges. I did have three 4-star winners: Carolyn Keene with The Invisible Intruder, The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton, and Helen MacInnes with Decision at Delphi. Nancy Drew is always a winner with me--after all, she was my introduction to mysteries 40 years ago or so (has it really been that long?!). And The Invisible Intruder was always a favorite, mostly, I think, because it has a slightly different format than the others in the original stories. Nancy and her friends travel from place to place seeking to debunk various ghostly legends. But Nancy is a reread for me and she has won before, so that puts her out of the running for a P.O.M. The Constantine Affliction is a rollicking good novel that could definitely be a fine steampunk mystery series if Payton/Pratt decides to continue with the characters. Pimm and Ellie work well together and make an excellent team as well as an interesting couple. Winifred/Freddy is charming as well--stealing every scene she's in and adding color to the detective efforts. She could have her own book--life after the change and where it takes her after she and Pimm & Ellie sort out their relationship/s. However, the mystery plot isn't the strongest point--not much of a mystery really and those who want clues to discover on their own may be a bit disappointed.  It's well worth it for the overall story and adventure, but the weaker mystery plot just keeps it from the coveted award. Which leaves us with this month's P.O.M. Award Winner.... 

Decision at Delphi (1960) is a gripping espionage thriller with believable characters. Strang served in WWII, so it isn't unexpected that he can handle himself in tight situations. Every character we meet has an interesting backstory that works into the present and MacInnes provides the motives and philosophies of the different factions without making the reader feel like they've sat through a Cold War lecture. There are many historical details necessary to understand the setting and events in late-1950s Greece and MacInnes provides them in a way that keeps the story moving. Good historical background, beautiful descriptions of the countryside in Greece and the area surrounding Delphi in particular, and compelling characters all combine in an exciting adventure.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

17 books is fantastic! Happy June!