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review 2020-05-25 15:01
Smith of Wootton Major / Farmer Giles of Ham ★★★★★
Smith of Wootton Major / Farmer Giles of Ham - J.R.R. Tolkien

I admit I'm biased, but I loved these two short stories as much now as I did when I was a little kid just discovering Tolkien. I feel as though they represent both his love of the heroic and the mysteriously romantic nature seen in LotR, but also his affectionately scathing take on human nature seen in The Hobbit. With SoWM illustrating the first and FGoH the second. I think these would be a good intro to Tolkien for anyone hesitant to make the larger commitment to his novels. 

 

Paperback version, found at my public library's Friends of the Library sale. 

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review 2020-05-25 02:46
Gods of Jade and Shadow (DNF) ★★☆☆☆
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was mildly interesting but there were just too much teenaged angst and too many YA tropes for me to enjoy it.

 

DNF at 25%

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via overdrive.

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review 2020-05-24 14:55
The Bungalow Mystery ★★★★☆
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Overall review for both the 1930 original story and the 1960 revision, after reading and comparing both.

 

The third book in the series was perhaps the most exciting so far, with Nancy almost continually in peril and getting herself out of one scrape after another. As usual, the mystery depends heavily on coincidence and inconsistencies that don’t stand up to much scrutiny, but it gives Nancy plenty of opportunity to show off (modestly, of course) her smarts, her skills, and her courage.

There is a significant difference in storytelling style and characterization between the versions.

 

The 1930 plot and characters are kept simple and few. We are more often inside Nancy’s head as she’s working out the clues and coming to conclusions. There is a buildup of suspense, violence both actual and implied, and Nancy is far more impulsive and emotional – she gets spooked, is at times frightened, but bravely recovers and thinks things through.  The 1960 version introduces many more characters, romance elements, and a far more complicated plot, but we don’t get to solve the mystery inside Nancy’s head. We are on the outside and she just tells us her conclusions along with the other characters. This Nancy is also brave, but she is almost always deliberate, cool, and collected; justifying her actions as staying within the letter of the law and as morally just.

 

Original 1930 text: ★★★★★

Revised 1960 text: ★★☆☆☆

Averages out to a probably over-generous ★★★★☆

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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review 2020-05-24 14:41
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim ★★★★★
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim (A short story) - Agatha Christie

Although I am really just getting to know him, I think M. Poirot may be at his best in short-story form. I love everything about him, from his arrogance to his insistence of the use of his little gray cells to his mustaches. And the solutions to his mysteries are almost always a surprise but are never, ever a cheat. 

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. Sad as I was that Hugh Fraser wasn't narrating this, David Suchet nevertheless did a fine job. 

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review 2020-05-23 13:40
Year of Wonders ★★★★★
Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks

I came to this book by an NPR article discussing pandemic lit. It's a fictionalized tale of the real English town that, struck by plague in 1665, chose to sacrifice themselves by quarantining the town in hopes of preventing the spread of disease to their neighbors.

 

At least, that's the framework for the story, but the real story is its characters and how they respond to the crisis, how they endure or find strength or break as they lose their neighbors and loved ones. How for some, it's business and opportunism as usual as they use legal means to take a valuable mine from an orphaned child because her dead father can no longer work it or defend it, or price-gouging for grave-digging services when the church graveyard is full and there is a shortage of able-bodied men. How the taverns are always full and the fearful mob inevitably looks for witches to burn. 

 

But it's also the story of neighbors looking out for each other, of a mother rising above the grief of her lost children to care for the dying and deliver the new babies when the doctors flee the town, of the religious leaders look past their fundamental differences to provide leadership to people in need, how a pastor and his wife work tirelessly to minister to the whole town, good or evil of spirit, deserving and undeserving. 

 

There are some odd twists at the end that surprised and angered and disappointed me, but overall the story had me fascinated throughout. 

 

Audiobook via Overdrive, and I strongly recommend you do NOT do this one on audio, because it's read by the author who may be a very good writer but is a terrible narrator, and yet I was so engaged with the story that even her droning voice couldn't put me off.  

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