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text 2019-07-01 18:44
BL-opoly: Dice Roll #13
Monk's Hood: The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael - Ellis Peters,Stephen R. Thorne

Having finally finished the books from my June 25 roll, I'm allowed to roll again today:



This sends me past GO", where I collect $5, to square 2: Who? -- Read a mystery or detective story or a book with the word "who" in the title ... thus continuing the mini-tour of "question" squares begun on June 25.


Feeling in sore need of a comfort read after C.J. Sansom's rather overwhelming Tombland -- but continuing with the area of historical fiction -- I'm going to plumb for a book from one of my favorite series, Ellis Peters's Chronicles of Brother Cadfael: MonK's Hood.


Length: 224 pages

=> + $3 upon completion.



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review 2019-01-01 01:51
A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Brother Cadfael 0.5)
A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael - Ellis Peters

My mother gave me this book when I was last home (I come by my tendency to buy duplicate books honestly), and it wasn't until I was shuffling through my TBR a few days ago that I actually stopped and looked at this one.  I wanted to know which books I needed to find to complete my collection of Brother Cadfaels.  Flipping through this one, I discovered it's a compilation of three prequel stories that Ellis Peters wrote over the years.  Bonus: one of them took place over Christmas.


I love this book!  It's illustrated with beautiful color reproductions of medieval (or medieval-style) prints, and there's an introduction by Ellis Peters, explaining a few basic details behind the Cadfael series, like how it got started, how he got his name, and why she'd never written any stories about his crusading days.  She's also very clear, in a manner that feels purposeful, that Cadfael never converted; his entrance to the abby was just the next step in his life; a life that was always one of faith and belief.  It was a wonderful introduction, and I got a very real sense that Peters knew her character to his bones, understood him, and wanted to make sure his readers did too.


As for the stories themselves, the first one, A Light on the Road To Woodstock, does indeed take place before Cadfael's entrance into the abbey.  In takes place as he returns to England for the first time after the wars, facing imminent unemployment, and looking to move on to a new phase in his life, though he doesn't know yet what it might be.  His last assignment for the lord who employs him takes him to Richmond during a court dispute with the Shrewsbury Monastery.  Here he meets the Prior of the Abbey and is confronted with a mystery concerning the Prior's disappearance.  


This is not a fair play story; the mystery is solved by Cadfael's observance of the people he knows and the human nature he's familiar with, but he does not share those observances with the reader.  Still, it's a lovely introduction to the man, and the story is a good one.


The second, my favorite of the three, is The Price of Light, the Christmas story.  Here Cadfael has been a monk for 15 years. A man of means, whose life has been a waste, is beset by ill health and realises he must do something to 'earn' his redemption (read: buy it, as cheaply as possible).  He gifts Shrewsbury Abbey with the rent from one of his holdings, and a pair of beautiful silver candlesticks, both for the betterment and maintenance of their Lady Chapel.  The gifts are made on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day, the candlesticks have been stolen. 


What follows is far more of a fair play mystery, with Cadfael poking about, observing, finding clues and sharing most of it with the reader.  The plot is pretty good for a short form mystery, and the story itself is just really lovely.  Ellis Peters understood the true grace that lies behind Christianity and faith, and she writes it beautifully - never, ever preaches it - but Cadfael and most of his brothers are written in a way that is consistent to both true Christianity and humanity, and the struggle between the two is a never-ceasing one.


The last story, Eye Witness, is a much more bog-standard short story mystery.  It falls back on a few of the standard tropes.  Man goes out to collect the rents, is bashed on the head and robbed, thrown into the river to drown, rescued, and cannot shed any light on who tried to kill him.  His son is a suspect, of course, and Cadfael gleans the truth not only through observation, but by the time-worn tradition (in mysteries) of laying a trap!  


The most pedestrian of the three, it's still a good story, and adds to the fuller picture of life at Shrewsbury.


My edition was done by Mysterious Press, and if you're a Cadfael fan who does not yet own this, I recommend it highly, both for the stories and the charm of the edition itself.

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text 2018-11-25 22:02
24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Task 4 (Characters Who Made a Career Change)
A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael) - Ellis Peters
Poirot: The Complete Battles of Hastings, Vol. 1 - Agatha Christie
Washington Black - Esi Edugyan
Trial and Error (Arcturus Crime Classics) - Anthony Berkeley
The Fabulous Clipjoint - Fredric Brown
Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth

1. Brother Cadfael: A career change can hardly get any more radical than going from crusading soldier to herbalist monk (with a sideline of detection).


2. Captain Arthur Hastings: From soldier in WWI to London detective (of sorts) to cattle rancher in "the Argentine".


3. Washington Black: From child slave on a sugarcane plantation to explorer to painter (supporting himself by working as a delivery boy) to scientist and scientific illustrator -- all in the space of barely 20 years.


4. Mr. Lawrence Todhunter: From philantropist and occasional literary columnist to murderer (which btw is not a spoiler -- it's the book's explicit premise).


5. Ed Hunter: From printer's apprentice / assistant to amateur detective to "carnie".


Special mention:


Miss Maud Silver: From governess to private investigator.


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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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text 2016-06-11 08:47
Book Haul Part Two
The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things - Paula Byrne
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
A Small Unsigned Painting - Stephen Scheding
A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure - Marlena de Blasi
Brother Cadfael's Penance - Ellis Peters
At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie
Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie
O Christmas Three: O. Henry, Tolstoy, and Dickens - Leo Tolstoy,Charles Dickens,O. Henry

I forgot when I did my book haul post yesterday, about the book sale one of the local churches was putting on today.  This is the second of their sales I've been to, and I am now a fan - not a big selection, but lots of quality.


Books I've never heard of before but looked good:

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things - Paula Byrne 

A Small Unsigned Painting - Stephen Scheding 

A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure - Marlena De Blasi 

O Christmas Three: O. Henry, Tolstoy, and Dickens - Leo Tolstoy,Charles Dickens,O. Henry 


Books I've seen/heard of before and have been moderately interested in reading:

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco 

Brother Cadfael's Penance - Ellis Peters 

At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie 

Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie 


That last one, I bought not only because I'm eventually going to read all of Christie's work, but because the pulpy cover just called to me - I love it!


I'll admit, I got a bit mercenary this morning.  On one of the tables was a cache of 5 Ian Fleming James Bond paperbacks.  Old 60's editions in good condition, for .50 each.  I've read a few book articles lately about people searching for the old paperback editions, so I grabbed them.  Then, I had a fit of conscience, because I have no desire to read James Bond.  So I put them back and about 10 seconds later, a guy grabbed all of them and walked away, which made me feel both better about myself and like I wanted to kick myself too.  


I moved on, and on my last run of the tables (to make sure I hadn't missed anything), I found all 5 of the books again - the guy had changed his mind and put them back.  So this time, I grabbed them.  I'm not sure what the heck I'm going to do with them, but one of them is a first edition.  I am going to try to put my conservation lessons to the test and gently clean them up - then decide what to do from there.


Thunderball - Ian Fleming  Dr. No - Ian Fleming  Octopussy - Ian Fleming  Moonraker - Ian Fleming  Casino Royale - Ian Fleming  

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