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text 2018-12-11 21:48
Reading progress update: I've read 34%. - finally - a Poirot book that feels polished and assured
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

After some dissatisfaction with the much later "Third Girl", I decided to try an earlier Poirot to see what I'd been missing.


"The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd" seems to be the most highly recommended Agatha Christie book. It's also the fourth Hercule Poirot book, qualifying it for Door 13 Advent in the 24 Festive Tasks challenge.


I'm about a third of the way through and very pleased with this book. The writing is assured and confident. The narrator, a local doctor, is a good observer and makes a great foil for the rather odd little Belgian man who lives next door to him. The murder mystery is a sort of amped-up locked room mystery with a wide variety of possible villains and some peculiar plot twists, for example how the good doctor is first made aware of Ackroyd's death.


I think what I'm enjoying most is that, in this book, Agatha Christie has forgone the authorial voice and is telling the tale entirely through the eyes of the good doctor. I wonder if this is a deliberate allusion to Holmes and Watson. In any event, so far it has produced a clearer and more intimate view of what is going on as well as a fresh-pair-of-eyes assessment of Poirot.

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text 2018-12-06 02:02
Task 1: St. Nick book wish list

Dear St. Nick:


I have many bookish wishes for the holiday season. Some of them will be admittedly easier than others.


1. A complete set of the 130 books published by Persephone Books and all 687 Virago Modern Classics. In print and ebook formats please. I know this is a lot of books, so I will also need a few additional bookshelves.


2.  For someone to discover a trove - say a minimum of ten - Superintendent Battle/Colonel Race/stand-alone mysteries written by Agatha Christie between 1930 and 1945, previously undiscovered in a trunk in someone's country house.


3. A solid adaptation of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries to be released on either Amazon or Netflix.


4. And, while we're talking adaptations here, the Amazon Middle Earth adaptation had better be amazing.


5. Since my visit to Memphis, Tennessee, it occurs to me that someone - and specifically an author of color since I'm not interested in a white washed version - needs to write a well-researched historical saga about the intersection of rock and roll and the civil rights movement on Beale Street from the perspective of the African-American community. Somewhere there is an author who can do it justice and I want to read this book (or, better yet this series of books).


I've always believed in you.

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text 2018-12-03 20:04
Advent-24 Tasks



Task 1:  Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade.



Yeah, I broke this out this weekend. I just posted the same picture from last year though because the one I took of it this morning was really blurry. I was in a hurry. I also managed to put up my stockings too. However that's it for decorations so far this year. The counter-tops and half bath were done this weekend. So hoping when I get home today there are signs of more progress. We are looking at finishing up everything by this Friday (please let that happen). 


Task 2: The holidays season is in full swing – tell us:  What’s your favorite tradition?


Well my own tradition is to watch every version of "A Christmas Carol" that I can before Christmas. I also still throw in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" because Linus is the best and his speech always moves me to tears. This Saturday I watched "Scrooge" with Albert Finney. Up next I think is going to be "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott and then "A Christmas Carol" with Patrick Stewart. If you don't think I am putting The Muppets in there, you don't know me. 


Image result for i thank you very much scrooge gif


Image result for muppets christmas carol gif


Task 3: The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing). Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!


That's a no from me. Sorry, I don't have my kitchen back, and even when I do get it back (hopefully this Friday). I am going to be missing from the site from December 10th on. I am having surgery the 11th and will be in the hospital for a few days. And then when I get released, no lifting. I think my Kindle is light enough for me to get away with lifting things. 


Task 4: Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it. Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg


No thanks. 


Book: Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.


Planned read is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1) by Gregory Maguire. I am basing this on Goodreads though. It may not be correct. 

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review 2018-12-01 18:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 13 - Advent, Book (or Short Story, actually)
A Study in Emerald - Jouni Koponen,Neil Gaiman


Shout-out to Arbie and Moonlight, who mentioned this elsewhere, with Moonlight sharing the link to the free copy available on Neil Gaiman's website.  Thank you both!


Also a huge shout-out to the story's illustrator, Jouni Koponen, who created a Victorian newspaper / tabloid / penny dreadful look, complete with a set of cleverly done, frankly hilarious period style mock advertisements (which are actually the best part of the whole thing).


Gaiman likes to spin literature classics from other genres (notably mysteries) through the Cthulhu myth; I imagine the temptation to give Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon the Lovecraft treatment was irresistable.  That said, in-jokes and allusions to Conan Doyle abound in text, structure, plot and characters alike; all the way to the solution, which is patterned on that of one of Holmes's most famous cases. -- I'll never like any pastiche anywhere near as much as the original, but as Holmes pastiches go, this one is well done; true enough to the original not to come across as disrespectful or mocking and at the same time with enough of a spin to make it clear that this cannot possibly be anything other than a pastiche.  From what little I know of the Cthulhu myth, I would hope that Lovecraft readers would say the same.


This came just in time for the Advent square in 24 Festive Tasks, so I'll claim it as my read for that square.

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review 2018-11-25 01:01
An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters
An Excellent Mystery - Ellis Peters

I love this series more every time I read further into it. This is the eleventh of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, and is set in the fall of 1141. King Stephen and Empress Maude are making war, as usual, when two strangers show up at the Abbey in Shrewsbury.


This mystery centers around a young woman, Julian Cruce, who has disappeared before entering a convent. As mysteries go, it's quite easy to figure out - and there are, as well, some pretty obvious difficulties with the plot. None of that hampers my enjoyment of the book, however, as these mysteries have become one of my go to comfort reads.


I picked up my copy at Wallace Books today, for a whopping $3.50 of my credit, and dove right in after I finished putting up some of my Christmas decorations. I was really wanting the next book as well, The Raven in the Foregate, because it is a Christmas mystery. I've been reading them in order, so I was happy that this one was available, since I had read up to the tenth, but disappointed that there wasn't a copy of the next one to buy as well. At this point, I think I will probably buy a used print copy on amazon, since the kindle book is priced at over $10.00, which is high for a book first published 30 years ago. Maybe Open Road will put the series on sale over Christmas!


I'm using this book for Day of Penance (book concerning a man of the cloth/Brother Cadfael is a monk).

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