Dread & Read Selections Of 2020

I love planning my reading around Jane’s themes, especially “Reading Naturally“;  which I will miss this year.  I am here despite unreliable access to WordPress.

Most important and difficult:  my precious Mom ascended to Heaven.  I feel fortunate that she saw this new year and welcomed it with me, with her sacred Mother’s hugs and kisses.  She knows I love reading, having given me the gift of this love, regardless of different preferences in genres.   It will be a balm to the hardest absence in a Daughter’s life.



There are a number of books I hesitate to read, my spouse’s and my abundant home stock, lovingly and excitedly collected since my childhood and his.  The incentive of Jane’s generous, fun rewards, succeeds at getting me to dive into a few of them.

Neither my Mom nor I are keen on general fiction.  She prefers non-fiction.  I love fiction but need cats, the spiritual, paranormal, or mystery as the chief genre to supplement it.  I am wary of historical fiction and classics.  I have proven to love Canadian classics.  Could I relate to these stories or societies, especially way off in England?

Another dread are authors I tried and disliked.  I am a believer in skill and style that improve and series that grow more interesting.  Approaching modernity helps, as well as falling in love with characters and feeling at home with settings.  Disliking one novel does not deter me and owning many series in entirety are encouragements.

Here is my hit list.  Finishing three will be a boon:  to our space at home, my education, and satisfaction with the achievement!  It is the most gratifying, to find that I love them and I endeavour to stretch the momentum.  Thank you for your idea and wonderful gifts, Jane.



Monk’s HoodEllis Peters  1980

I couldn’t bear the slow writing style of the first novel with superfluous, irritating adjectives and adverbs.  I was glad I read the second novel because it was not only a major improvement.  I was surprised to find it action-packed:  even though, ironically, the first novel was a travelling story and the next, stayed around their monastery.  Let’s see if the sequel removes trepidation about reading the rest of Ellis Peters’s series and Edith Pargeter’s other writing!


The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s BagAlan Bradley  2010

To say I loathed the writing style and attitude of the child protagonist in the début novel puts it mildly.  I grit my teeth if I hear “precocious” as a description and found this girl mean and as hated, as other readers.  However, owning the sequel is a large incentive, along with sequels being better in my experience.  I want to like a Canadian author that many of my countrymen and countrywomen favour, so I will give it a fair go.


Sleight Of Paw”  Sofie Kelly  2011

I have dreaded the sequels by this authoress in a series I ought to love:  secret origins of cats.  Unfortunately, the stories are less about this secret and fall into the usual formula of crimes as mysteries, done poorly.  While some scenic and humorous descriptions are lovely, her focus and story-building is wasteful.  On and on she goes about what people are doing with their bodies and routines.  Mysteries should leap to essential plot-building.  Sketching settings and characters should be a heck of a lot more seamless, not pages that drag on.

Delayed since 2014, I will read this entirely because I need 2011 books from home for “Birth Year Reading 2020” and because I already own this as a new paperback, bought years ago.   It dawned on me that it is a perfect item for “Dread & Read Selections Of 2020” as well.



Jane:  please e-mail (RiedelFascination(at)Gmail(dot)com) whenever you obtain items.  Rather than be unknown until mail appears, I would like to cross successful finds off.  Thank you, with earnest pleasure.  :)  Please include a date or year on cards.  Record-keepers and gift-savers like my Mom & I know well, the importance of provenance.

Second hand in at least “very good” condition is swell.  Three gifts I would love are:

the Canadian paranormal novel “Wild Fell” Michael Rowe
the spooky novel “The Floating Staircase” Ronald Malfi
DVD / blu-ray “One Last Dance” Lisa Niemi & Patrick Swayze (region 1 “NSTN”)



The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag” Alan Bradley  2010

I liked this Canadian youth mystery sequel far better than the first!  I have yet to pen my feedback but my grade rose to a surprisingly enjoyed four stars, from the two stars of this series’ debut!  I could not stand the child protagonist, who was mean and disdainful, thinking herself more intelligent and worthy of anyone’s time.  Flavia made no attempt to be friendly, let alone make friends.  Even though there is such a thing as loners and the studious, she had not come off as a child.

In this story, she was very much a child;  enjoying a puppet show and getting heck from her Dad for tardiness and forgetfulness, rather than seeming like an untouchable person.  Flavia was far more compassionate towards people in need and far more helpful like eager children generally, even with a mystery motive for making the offer.  It probably helped that the mystery was more interesting vehicle too.  I no longer hate the girl and I would pick-up the third mystery second-hand, if a look around the house verifies that I do not have it.

Reading this novel was a successful mission and giving Alan Bradley a second chance was worthwhile and rewarded the effort to conquer former dread.


Monk’s Hood”  Ellis Peters  1980

I would call this selection a success.  I will only give it three stars as well because its beginning and ending are slow, not drawing readers into the crux of the storylines.  Ellis Peters spent too long sketching terciary characters and unrelated routinse and events.  The use of needless diminutive words that I loathe like “mildly”, “gently”, “softly” still occur but far less often than the first novel, which I could scarcely read.  I believe I liked the second mystery much better, read in 2018, as much as I loathe stories connected to war or politics.  It is likely because getting to the core of this third one and closing numerous unrelated aspests of it was slow.  However, I find myself able to continue the series; which had been in doubt when I read the début. in 2016

Something my upcoming review will praise was Brother Cadfael’s very believable involvement in solving the case, over personal connections, as well as very plausibly winding up in Wales where the action came to fruition.  I loved the description of the friendly sheep he helped other brothers take care of and how these are not an animal who is killed, allowing shepherds to befriend the beautiful charges and their ewes in their care.


Sleight Of Paw”  Sofie Kelly  2011

This novel was an improvement on the first but most notably because the characters, setting, and premise were established and you could get right to the mystery story.  Unfortunately, Darlene “Sofie Kelly”, still does not know how to craft one.  It was a slog to finish, with descriptions of physical movements passing for what I dub “false action” and every scene having characters order, consume, and put away coffee or hot chocolate.

I am glad two of your groups and gift offerings, our dear Jane, made has this slog worthwhile to me.  I had already bought a few sequels new and do not regret giving this Canadian authoress another try.


About RIEDEL Fascination

I cherish animals, plants, reading, music and free spirituality. I welcome you for articles, literary activities, and interaction! Surrounding ourselves with good people is a delight. I occasionally review at The Book Depository.
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4 Responses to Dread & Read Selections Of 2020

  1. neeru says:

    Dear Carolyn

    Nice to see you posting once again and am glad you are participating in challenges in what must be a very tough period for you.

    Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time faves and i hope u enjoy it too. A correction though, the book is written by Emily Bronte and not her sister Charlotte who has written that most self-righteous heroine Jane Eyre.

    • God bless you, Neeru. I appreciated your calming e-mail, when you wished me the “om shanti” blessing and thank you for checking on me now. My Mom’s funeral service was last week. These quieter times, when the crowd of friends and family who helped us mourn, are gone back to normal lives: I will need help and find this her absence more difficult. I appreciate friends who ask me how I am later.

      I was in Jane’s groups last year but she did not add my links to her blog until now. I will continue the two she is still doing but “Reading Naturally” was my favourite and a New Zealand woman is taking a break from my other favourite, “Connect Five”. A quiet challenge year, for I believe I must also take a break from hosting my own quartet. Perhaps it will be fun to read, without the thematic guidelines I am used to!

    • Jamie, you missed what I wrote here and at Jane’s blog, that my Mom has died. Kind words are appreciated.

      I will have a look at the group you suggest. I only find the effort worth those that offer prizes but maybe I will be tempted to have someplace for my nature and spiritual reading. Thank you!

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