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review 2013-11-02 14:00
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
The Big Four - Agatha Christie

From Goodreads: Hercule Poirot is preparing for a voyage to South America. Looming in the doorway of his bedroom is an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust and mud. The man's gaunt face registers Poirot for a moment, and then he collapses. The stranger recovers long enough to identify Poirot by name and madly and repeatedly scribble the figure '4' on a piece of paper. Poirot cancels his trip. An investigation is in order. Fortunately, Poirot has the faithful Captain Hastings at his side as he plunges into a conspiracy of international scope -- one that would consolidate power in the deadly cabal known as 'The Big Four.'


Comments: This is only the second Hercules Poirot (and third Agatha Christie) book I've read. Had I encountered this Poirot first, I don't know if I would have read another.


I understand that Christie was trying something different with her great detective by pitting him against four masterminds. It shows that he is fallible -- he arrives at the wrong conclusions or he realizes, a shade too late, that he's made the wrong assumptions many times during the course of this book. They are always many steps ahead of Poirot and it's difficult for him to out-wit them. He confesses to Hasting that he doesn't play chess, and I think that's part of his problem.


Because of the way the book was plotted, I had a hard time believing that #4, the Englishman, could pull off all those impersonations -- especially if it was a long-term one. Giving Poirot a worthy adversary is a great idea, I just think it wasn't well executed. Though I didn't enjoy the plot, I still enjoyed Poirot and Hastings. I have a couple of her better-known Poirots and I'm looking forward to reading those.


Start: 4 January 2013

Finished: 8 January 2013


Disclaimer: I purchased this book.


(Cross-posted from my blog)

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review 2013-10-30 14:00
Darth Maul: Saboteur by James Luceno
Saboteur - James Luceno

Summary: On Dorvalla, a pair of rival ore mining companies compete for business. One company, Lommite Limited, has been suffering from "accidents" – sabotage – and plans to retaliate. Meanwhile, Darth Sidious dispatches Darth Maul to Dorvalla: he needs the Neimoidians to gain control of the shipping, so he can proceed with his own dark plans. The story sets the stage for the events in James Luceno’s Cloak of Deception.


Review: Darth Maul’s part of this story is mostly peripheral. However, his actions dictate the rest of the characters actions. He easily sabotages everyone else’s sabotage plans. In the end, the Trade Federation gets their contract. Luceno sets the stage for the events in the beginning of Cloak. It’s just as good as the novel, written with the same humor and unfolding plot.


Tarkin makes an appearance in this story.


Favorite Quotes:


"Compassionate and Neimoidian don’t belong in the same sentence, Monchar." – Jurnel Arrant.


"How is it that whenever tragedy strikes, the first ones I hear from are the Neimoidians?" – Jurnel Arrant


"The Neimoidians are greedy and weak-willed. I find them unworthy."

"You left out duplicitous and sniveling."

  – Darth Maul, Darth Sidious


(Cross-posted from my blog)


Note: I read this prior 2006, which was before I kept a formalized book journal, so I don't have a "read" date.  Though I used the e-book cover, I actually read the paper version included in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter (Michael Reaves).  Also, I have a thing for Neimoidians.  They're so absurd, I love them. :-)

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review 2013-10-28 14:00
The Society Catch by Louise Allen
The Society Catch (Harlequin Historical, #809) - Louise Allen

From the back: Miss Joanna Fulgrave has turned herself into the perfect society catch to be worthy of dashing Colonel Giles Gregory. But all her hard effort to improve herself comes to nothing when it looks as if Giles is about to propose to someone else. Deciding that bad behavior is infinitely more attractive than perfection, Joanna flees her shocked family. Giles is hot on her trail, determined to catch her and bring her safely home.


Comment: I enjoyed Ms. Allen’s previous Harlequin Historical, The Earl’s Intended Wife (793), very much and I hoped this one would be just as enjoyable. Though there where a few things I thought were far-fetched, I could easy overlook them because the over all story held my interest.


Joanna’s best-laid plans fall apart when she believes the man she’s in love with is going to propose to another woman. The shock is so great that Joanna throws away her status as the perfect debutante and behaves recklessly, much to the consternation of her parents. For nearly two Seasons, they’ve stood by as Joanna rejected suitors with very little explanation. Rufus Carstairs, Earl of Clifton, has expressed his desire to court Joanna and is even willing to overlook her behavior. Joanna won’t have him. Her parents, pushed to the end of their patience, decide to pack her off to Bath and elderly relative -- instead of joining the family in Brighton -- until she comes to her senses and agrees to marry Clifton. So Joanna does the only thing she thinks she can do: she runs away.

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text 2013-10-27 01:09
My Ratings

This is my rating scale.  This is how I rate, regardless of what any other site uses to determine a level of enjoyment:


★★★★★ -- Loved It! Definitely a keeper! Likely to be re-read! This book really grabbed/spoke to/excited me!  -- I will read more from the author.


★★★★ -- Really Liked It A Lot! Great read!  -- I will read more from the author.


★★★ -- Enjoyable Read. Held my interest. Felt I got my money’s worth.  -- Very likely to read more by the author.


★★ -- Just OK. Finished the book. Had some enjoyable moments. Book was hard to get into and/or hold my interest. Just wasn’t to my taste. -- Depending on the reason the book didn’t appeal to me, I might try to read something else by the author.  Will check out reviews first.


★ -- Finished it, but wished I hadn’t. Book may have had potential (3 or 2 star level), but failed to pay off in the end.  -- Like the 2-star rating, whether or not I read the author again will be determined by the reason the book disappointed me.


DNF  -- Did Not Finish.  Could not make myself finish reading it.  -- Again, the reasons for not finishing the book will play into whether or not I read the author again (In recent years, I haven't felt motivated enough to write one; however, there are a few that I might cross-post to Booklikes from my blog).




At this time, I have no plans to use them, even retroactively.  However, starting in 2014, I'll consider using half-stars on books read from 1 January onward.

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review 2013-10-24 17:00
The Earl's Intended Wife by Louise Allen
The Earl's Intended Wife (Harlequin Historical, #793) - Louise Allen

From the back: Hebe Carlton had little idea of her own charm until Major Alex Beresford arrived on the island of Malta. She made no attempt to cast out lures and treated him with warm practicality, showing an insight and ability to read him that few others had managed. His attentions made Hebe blossom, and her stepmother began to entertain hopes of a wedding. Then a letter arrived for Alex. The proposal of marriage he’d made to another before ever meeting Hebe had been accepted at last. He should be happy. . . But now Alex could only contemplate marrying one person — and it wasn’t his betrothed.


Hebe is no diamond of the first water. Orphaned and living with her widowed stepmother on Malta, Hebe is everyone’s friend. She isn’t out to snare a husband and she doesn’t excite the interest of the officers of the Royal Navy or Army. That is, until she meets Major the Honorable Alex Beresford, second son of the 3rd Earl of Tasborough.


Alex is no rake. An Army intelligence officer, he makes his first appearance in Hebe’s home bone weary, having just arrived from a mission. He isn’t in the mood to be charming to a young, and he assumes, marriage-minded miss. He is surprised, therefore when Hebe arranges for him to have an afternoon nap in the garden.


The author packs a lot in a short book. She tries to make every scene count. When Hebe and Alex are tossed overboard and washed ashore in France, she prudently decides not to make their trip one near miss after another and fraught with danger. Instead, she develops the characters. Hebe is resourceful in a crisis. She dresses Alex’s saber wound, and the author ups the stakes by making Alex susceptible to a marsh fever when exposed to prolong cold or wet. He gets them to a shepherd’s hut before succumbing.


A delirious Alex takes advantage of Hebe while they are hiding from the French. Hebe believes Alex thinks she’s Clarrisa, the woman he’s betrothed to. Though the experience is painful, Hebe is quick to realize that part of her didn’t want him to stop. She loves him. As for Alex, he awakes from his fever with a vague memory of the incident, but she convinces him that he was dreaming. Since neither has revealed their loved to the other, more misunderstandings ensue. However, the truth finally comes to light and they have their happily ever after.


I like how the author decided not to make Anna a former lover or mistress of Alex’s. She makes it very clear that Anna and Alex are friends because of Anna’s late husband, and there was never anything between the major and his sergeant’s wife.


Shout out to Jane Austen: Hebe is seen reading both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.


One pet peeve: Anna, a Spanish lady who confesses that she doesn’t read English very well, points out the newspaper’s death notice of the Earl Tasborough to Hebe.


The book also introduces, very briefly, the couple of the author’s next book. Hebe’s cousin, Joanna Fulgrave and Major Gregory, friend and groomsman of Alex.


Finished: 13 September 2006


Disclaimer: I purchased this book.


(Cross-posted from blog.  This is a review from 2007)

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