Book Review: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

I seem to have fallen into a habit of listening to British audiobooks (it’s the accent, I admit it!) and my most recent was no exception: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie, which besides giving me a nice accent to listen to, played into my general goal to “read” more of Dame Agatha.

This is a Hercule Poirot mystery, narrated by his friend Captain Hastings. The two encounter Miss Nick Barkley, owner of End House and recent survivor of several strange accidents. Poirot puts the pieces together, convinces Nick that someone is trying to kill her, and sets to work to prevent the murder, investigating all the people around Nick.

This is, I think, Christie in the classical style, with a big cast of suspects, frequent misdirection and re-direction, a final confrontation scene bringing all the suspects together and, of course, a final twist that I must admit I didn’t see coming. I’m going to have to try this one again one day, and watch how the clues fit together now that I know the ending! Continue reading

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7 Deadly Sins (of Reading) Meme

I saw this meme pop up on my friend Lynn’s blog recently, and thought it would be a fun one to take for a spin!

GREED – What is your most inexpensive book?

That’s hard, because I regularly go to the Library Warehouse Sale to buy books for 50 cents…  Here’s one, not actually the most inexpensive but the most jaw-dropping “it’s really that cheap?” purchase: A Window in Thrums by J. M. Barrie, 1897 edition, with the lovely handwritten inscription “For Grandmother from Mary Eunice, December 25th 1898,” sold online for the ridiculously low price of…$2.62.  !!!

I kind of feel like Greed should really ask about my most expensive book…which is a massive, two-volume set on my favorite artist, William Bouguereau, one volume of which is almost entirely images of his gorgeous paintings…and it cost me $300.  It was a moment of madness in a museum gift shop–but I’m pretty sure this is THE definitive book on his work.  And I haven’t regretted it yet!

Now I just need to muster up the courage or madness to drop another $300 (or so) on a signed J. M. Barrie.  Signed L. M. Montgomery, sadly, is FAR out of my price range.

WRATH – What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Edgar Rice Burroughs comes to mind.  I love reading his books–I have over fifty of them!  But I sigh a lot about his pathetic heroines, a few of his books have some pretty appalling racism in them, and after reading a biography…yeah, I’m pretty sure Burroughs and I could not have been friends.

GLUTTONY – What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

I Want to Go Home! by Gordon Korman.  I think by the time I was twelve, I had read it twelve times–and it stayed just as funny.

SLOTH – What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

I neglected finishing Winston and Clementine, a collection of letters between Winston Churchill and his wife, for years.  And there’s no excuse, since I loved the first part that I read–then got distracted–and didn’t get back to it. But I finally got it read as part of my chunkster challenge last year.

PRIDE – What book do you talk most about to sound like an intellectual reader?

But I never name-drop books to sound intellectual… ;)  Actually, I really don’t, mostly because all my friends like fantasy and sci fi and we have too much shared reading experience to impress each other.  Although if I was going to name-drop, Les Miserables would probably be my best bet.

LUST – What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?

Give me a green-eyed book hero and I am lost.  Which is funny, because I don’t particularly look for that in actors or, you know, real life!  It’s strictly a book thing.  I also have kind of a thing for brooding heroes with hearts of gold (in books.  Ahem).

ENVY – What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Yeah…I don’t know.  I have an Amazon wishlist, but nothing particularly jumps out as MORE desired than any other.  I’d actually really like the soundtrack of Once Upon a Forest, because I love the one song on the soundtrack that Michael Crawford sang but, um, I can’t quite bring myself to spend $25 for basically one song (well, three, I like two of the others…)  I’ll probably do it eventually, I’m just working up to it…but that’s not a book.  Though kind of on the subject, I’d be over the moon if someone gave me an autographed J. M. Barrie book!  And autographed L. M. Montgomery–I would be your best friend for life!

But I’ll feel friendly towards you too if you leave a comment with your answer to any of these questions! :)

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Book Review: Blackfin Sky

I didn’t plan to do a “dead heroine returned to life” theme this week…but I seem to have stumbled into one! Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis begins with just that premise.

Sky Rousseau hurries in late one morning to her high school, to be greeted by staring faces and the news that she died three months earlier. Sky remembers the last three months as perfectly ordinary—but her family, friends, the cute boy she’s been flirting with, and everyone else in town remembers that she drowned at Blackfin pier the night of her sixteenth birthday. Blackfin, a tiny secluded town, has never been quite normal, and now Sky has to unravel some of Blackfin’s and her family’s secrets to find out what happened, and how to defeat the danger still threatening her.

I’m debating how much I should reveal of this story—because I thought the novel got much better once a few of the mysteries were cleared up. To hit a middle ground, suffice to say that Sky discovers she has special abilities, and using them leads her to answers and gives her power to fight the villain those answers reveal. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Castle Behind Thorns

I enjoyed The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell, which seemed like a good reason to explore what else she’s written—which brought me to The Castle Behind Thorns. Not as close a fairy tale retelling as I had hoped, but still an engaging fantasy.

The Sundered Castle has stood abandoned and surrounded by a wall of thorns for thirty years, and Sand (Alexandre) has never given it much thought. No one in the village ever has. But one day Sand awakes to find himself inside the castle, inside the thorns, with no way to get out and evidence all around of a bigger mystery than the local story can explain. The earthquake that supposedly damaged the castle can’t account for shredded pillows or anvils wrenched in half. Using his wits and his blacksmith skills, Sand begins repairing items he needs—and some of the repairs work strangely, perhaps magically, well. Most significantly, Sand replaces a fallen corpse on its shelf in the crypt; a few days later, Perrotte emerges, restored to life and anxious to learn what became of her family and her castle. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Replying to Comments?

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do you reply to comments on your blog or do you figure folks won’t be stopping back to read your reply so you don’t bother?

I try to reply to comments consistently and in a timely fashion…but rather like my blog reading, it actually tends to happen in bunches when I carve out some time. And I miss comments sometimes too. I tell myself it’s a good exercise in letting go of perfection to allow that to happen…yeah, that’s still something of an internal argument!

But in general I’m pro-comment replies. I know not everyone will see the response, but some of you do—because some of you reply to my replies! I know WordPress helpfully tells WordPress users about comment-replies on other WordPress blogs, so while I don’t keep track of which comments are coming from WordPress users, I do know some replies are being seen that way. Besides, if someone asks a question, even if they don’t see the answer, maybe a later reader will, and will find it valuable!

And I feel like a practice (even imperfect) of replying to comments adds a lot to the feeling that a blog is a conversation, not just a broadcast—and conversation is certainly what I am aiming for!

Thoughts? Comments? I promise I’ll (try to) respond!

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