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Search tags: Themis-Athena\'s-reviews
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text 2016-11-20 16:54
Reading progress update: I've read 340 out of 928 pages.
Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart

 

(Page numbers are for the omnibus edition.)

 

Well, I finished The Crystal Cave (a while ago in fact) and have now moved on to The Hollow Hills, which picks up right where the first book of the trilogy ends.  Merlin is still rather unlike the wise old wizard as whom I'd so far seen him and is becoming ever closer to what I'd so far imagined young Arthur to have been ... but I'm still enjoying the read as such.

 

For those who care, I thought I'd share a couple of photos from the location of the final chapters of The Crystal Cave and the first chapters of The Hollow Hills, Tintagel, where legend has it that King Arthur was conceived ... or, well, photos of what's left of the Tintagel castle ruins (which incidentally date from the 12th, not from the 6th century), as well as the paths that Merlin and Uther would have had to climb, first down to the beach and then back up along the face of the cliff, to get to the castle high up on the promontory:

 




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review 2016-11-20 15:11
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the Tenth: The Holiday Down Under
Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates - Kerry Greenwood

- Read a book set in Australia or by an Australian author,  or read a book you would consider a "beach read".

 

Well, I can see how a screen version of this might work rather nicely, but alas, as written, it wasn't really for me.  I liked Bert and Cec, and Dr. MacMillan, and Dot (once transformed, though her transformation was perhaps a bit of a rapid one) ... but I couldn't much bring myself to care for either Phryne herself, or the narrative voice, or the story as such.  And I'm afraid the author already lost me right at the beginning, where there is an IMHO not-very-successfully-executed attempt at an Agatha Christie / Arthur Conan Doyle supersleuth-style "instant solution" of a crime committed in Phryne's presence (which then, even more implausibly, serves as instant motivation for one of those present at the scene, who doesn't until then have seemed to know much about Phryne, to entrust her with the both expensive and rather delicate task of travelling all the way to Australia to look after his daughter's wellbeing).  Moreover, both the author and Phryne seemed to share a sneering tone, talking down to the reader and half the other characters alike, which I found rather grating, particularly in a book billed as a "cozy" mystery.  Fundamentally, though, what I found fairly preposterous was the notion that a young woman, who hasn't been to Australia since her childhood days (when she moved in quite different circles from those in which she is moving upon her return, and who therefore can't possibly know or anticipate all the pitfalls of her commission), only needs to show up in Melbourne and, in the space of a mere couple of days, manages to solve not one but several crimes that have had the Melbourne police all up in arms for months ... and all this by pushing buttons that, in the case of both of the chief criminals, should have stared any halfway competent policeman and / or the criminals' own associates in the face within about the same amount of time it ended up taking Phryne to discover them.  (But then, Phryne has virtually no faults at all to begin with -- she is Superwoman incarnate, which is one of my major pet peeves anyway.)  Add to all that the super-clumsy drop of a clue as to the final reveal fairly early on in the story -- the sort of clue that, if used by Christie or Conan Doyle at all, is bound to be a means of the most skillful misdirection, not the sort of dead giveaway it is here -- and I was seriously underwhelmend all the way through.

 

Still, as I said, there were characters I enjoyed, and the writing, narrative voice and major plot implausibilities aside, flowed nicely -- and judging by the popularity of  both the book and the TV series, I decidedly seem to be in the minority here as far as my overall opinion is concerned ...

 

Merken

Merken

Merken

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review 2016-11-19 15:13
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express
Murder on the Orient Express: Complete & Unabridged (Audiocd) - Agatha Christie

 

- Read a book that involves train travel (such as Murder on the Orient Express).

 

Well, as it happened I did pick Murder on the Orient Express for this square.  Not that I'm not intimately familiar with the story as such already -- it was actually one of the first books by Agatha Christie that I ever read, not to mention watching (and owning) the screen adaptation starring Albert Finney and half of classic Hollywood's A list.  But I'd never listened to the audio version read by David Suchet, and I am very glad to finally have remedied that now.  Not only is Suchet the obvious choice to read any of Christie's Poirot novels because his name has practically become synonymous with that of the little Belgian himself -- great character actor that he is, he was obviously also having the time of his life with all of the story's other roles, including those of the women; and particularly so, Mrs. Hubbard, whose interpretation by Suchet also gives the listener more than a minor glance at the fun that recent London audiences must have been having watching him appear as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest (drag and all). 

 

A superb reading of one of Agatha Christie's very best mysteries and one of my all-time favorite books.  Bravo, Mr. Suchet!

 

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

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text 2016-10-23 19:25
Black Cat Productions Presents: Bingos No. 12 & 13 and BINGO BLACK OUT!

 

 

 

This has been enormously great fun; thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for putting this together and hosting it!  I've loved following everybody's reads – still sorry RL duties made me bow out for 2+ weeks smack in the middle of it all.  Most of my selections turned out to be enjoyable, many even great reads, and as a bonus I've discovered two new favorite series (James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series and Peter May's Lewis crime novels) and a new favorite character in an already-loved series (Angua, in the Night Watch subseries of Terry Pratchett's Discworld).

 

 

The Books:

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 5, No. 6 & No. 12

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits
=>  Bingos No. 6 & No. 11

Witches – Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens 
=>  Bingos No. 3No. 6

Genre: Horror – Mary Shelley: Frankenstein 
=>  Bingos No. 6 & No. 8

Black Cat – Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder 
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 5No. 6 & No. 9

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues 
=> Bingos No. 10 & No. 12

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw 
=> Bingos No. 1, No. 10 & No. 11

Young Adult Horror – Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost 
=>  Bingos No. 3 & No. 10

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn 
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 8 & No. 10

Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles 
=>  Bingos No. 9 & No. 10

Grave or Graveyard – Bram Stoker: Dracula & Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado 
=>  Final Bingo Square: Bingos No. 12 & No. 13

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse 
=>  Bingos No. 11 & No. 13

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 3, No. 4,  No. 5 & No. 13

Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto 
=>  Bingos No. 8 & No. 13

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band 
=>  Bingos No. 9 & No. 13

"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher 
=> Bingos No. 7 & No. 12

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 7 & No. 11

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None 
=>  Bingos No. 3 & No. 7

Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 7 & No. 8

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman 
=>  Bingos No. 7 & No. 9

Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay 
=>  Bingos No. 2, No. 4, No. 5 & No. 12

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire 
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 11

Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 3

Pumpkin – Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 8

Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 2, No. 5 & No. 9

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-23 19:20
Final Bingo Square: Grave or Graveyard
Dracula - Bram Stoker,David Suchet,Tom Hiddleston
The Cask of Amontillado - Edgar Allan Poe

Changed my mind (yet again) and switched books for my final bingo square, as I'm not sure I'll be in much of a mind to finish my previous choice for "Grave or Graveyard," Umberto Eco's Cemetery of Prague.

 

So I switched to the 2016 BBC audio adaptation of Dracula, starring David Suchet in the title role and Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Harker; combined for good measure with Edgar Allan Poe's Cask of Amontillado: Dracula for the crucial Whitby graveyard scenes (and the fact that Whitby Abbey actually inspired the whole novel, which has drawn the goth scene to the town, which in turn has given rise to plans for a mock Whitby graveyard so as to restore some respect to the real place); and The Cask of Amontillado for the fact that ... well, one ironically-named Fortunato does end up in a grave of a very particular sort at the end of the kind of story only Poe could have come up with.

 

The Dracula adaptation is an abridged one; David Suchet makes for a great Dracula, but not all of the book's profoundly somber atmosphere translates well here – I couldn't help being reminded of some of the camp movie additions of yesteryear.

 

Poe's Cask of Amontillado OTOH is one of my favorite short stories (by Poe, as well as overall); it's a concise, perfectly-executed piece of mounting tension and dread, laced with irony and merciless resolve.

 

Anyway, so that concludes my bingo reads – wrap-up post coming separately.  Thanks to Moonlight Murder and Obsidian Blue ... I've had a blast!

 

Whitby Abbey and Graveyard (photos mine)

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