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review 2017-11-20 21:55
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 12 - Saturnalia: Sayers's Harlequinade
Murder Must Advertise: A BBC Full-Cast Radio Drama - Full Cast,Ian Carmichael,Dorothy L. Sayers

 

Another quick trip down memory lane, courtesy of the BBC's full cast audio adaptation of this novel starring Ian Carmiachel (who also starred in the first of the Beeb's two TV series based on Sayers's novels).

 

This was Sayers's revenge on the advertising business, based on her own early job experience as an advertising copywriter -- as well as (so her biographers tell us) her revenge on an ex-colleague who tried to blackmail her and who is made to tumble down an iron staircase modelled on the one at their former workplace, ending up dead. -- This is also the one Wimsey book (perhaps with the exception of the very first one, Whose Body?) where Wimsey is, at times, most similar to Bertie Wooster ... except that he's playing a role here, as he has been smuggled into Pym's Publicity for purposes of an undercover investigation into the tumbled-down man's death.  What ensues is one of Sayers's wildest rides; a veritable harlequinade that has Wimsey even impersonating himself (or his evil look-alike cousin).

 

I would have preferred to obtain a reading of Sayers's actual book by Ian Carmichael (he was a brilliant narrator and had played Wimsey so often by the time these audio recordings came around that he had the character down pat and could slip him on and off like a well-worn sweater), but since for this particular book that doesn't seem to be available, I'll happily content myself with this full cast recording.

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text 2017-11-20 15:15
Reading progress update: I've read 171 out of 352 pages.
Lonely Magdalen: A Murder Story - Henry Wade

The investigation into the death of a prostitute found strangled in Hampstead Heath -- the eponymous "Magdalen" (though that isn't actually her name).  I finished Part 1, the first part of the investigation, this morning and have now started the middle part, which tells the victim's life story from age 14 on and is shaping up as a fairly sizeable tragedy.

 

I'm glad to see the investigation is in Inspector Poole's hands at last; his boss (Chief Inspector Beldam), who's been in charge so far, just got on my nerves after a while.  That said, Wade -- a high-ranking public official with a baronetcy, Eton / Oxford and war service background himself -- clearly knew what he was writing about.  (And is the victim's supposed last name, Knox, a friendly co-Detection Club-member jibe at Ronald Knox?  The members of the Detection Club were known to do this sort of thing on occasion ...)

 

High marks to Arcturus Publishing, too, for the splendid cover, which encapsulates the eponymous "Lonely Magdalen" and the novel's general mood to perfection.

 

I'm reading this for the Long Arm of the Law (Chapter 14) square of the Detection Club bingo and for the Pancha Ganapti square of the 16 Festive Tasks.

 



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review 2017-11-20 13:23
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 - Kwanzaa: Headless Chicken Parade Part 2: Albert Campion
Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham,David Thorpe

 

Well, I suppose that's what I get for not checking a book's online blurbs before reading it.  I downoladed this book purely because it was available on Audible and it was one of Allingham's Campion books that I hadn't read yet.  Turns out its plot chiefly rests on not one but two mystery tropes I don't particularly care for: the amnesiac detective and "Fifth Column" shenanigans, Golden Age mystery writer variety.

 

A few hours before the beginning of this book, Campion -- out on a secret mission whose full details are only known to him and Oates -- has gotten himself coshed on the head.  The book opens with him waking up in a hospital not knowing who he is and how he got there.  From an overheard conversation he concludes that he has been involved in a violent altercation that ended in the death of a policeman.  Within minutes, a young lady named Amanda whom Campion doesn't recognize but who seems to know him very well appears next to his hospital bed and whisks him away in what he discovers is his own car, to the house of an eminent scientists where, it turns out, Amanda and he are staying.  Campion also discovers that he seems to be involved in some sort of highly charged top-secret mission.  Now, instead of lying low until he has regained his wits and knows precisely who he is, what his role in that ominous mission is, whom he can trust, and what not to do if he doesn't want to give himself away -- and despite the fact that that same evening a death occurs that may well be connected with the ominous mission -- Campion starts running around like a headless chicken trying to bring the whole thing to completion.

 

Full marks for implausibility so far, Ms. Allingham.

 

Which brings us to trope no. 2, and which in its details is just about as ridiculously implausible as is the amnesia part of this book's plot.  Yet, the saving grace of this second part of the plot is (alas) that in the days of Russian meddling with the American and European democracies' political process via Facebook campaigns, "fake news" and other instances of rumor mongery, the mere concept of an enemy power's meddling with a country's political process

(here: by way of manipulating the target country's monetary politics)

(spoiler show)

does unfortunately no longer sound quite as ridiculous as it might have even a few years ago.

 

Still I really would have wished Allingham hadn't tried to match Christie in the wartime spy shenaningans game -- which was not a particular forte of either of them.

 

I listened to this book for Square 16 of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.

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review 2017-11-16 04:27
Brave New World (Audiobook)
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley,Michael York

Brave New Shock Value: the Anti-Utopia

 

So, I read that. Or listened to that. I can see why this was a revolutionary novel when it was written. Huxley set out to write a satire of the utopian novels so popular in his day and wrote a horror story instead. It's certainly imaginative, and not entirely out of left field, unfortunately. It does show its age in some respects, but since this is meant to be uncomfortable, that's not as much of a deterrent as it could be. I'm not really sure what to rate this though, so I'm leaving it unrated.

 

Narration is top-notch though - 5 stars for Michael York.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-14 10:15
October 2017 — A Belated Wrap-Up!

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 14, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things are starting to get just a bit darker and the stakes higher when it comes to Ms. Marvel’s life! She has to think whether she should be blindly following orders, even if they do come from someone she has looked up to all her life:

 

She has to concede that she can’t go fight crime somewhere she hasn’t lived long enough to understand what is happening:

 

 

She realizes that others can be surprisingly kind even when they don’t have to be:

 

 

We are also shown a glimpse of her ancestors migrating during the Partition of the Subcontinent in 1947:

 

 

 

As hauntingly beautiful as ever! A good installment where we finally discover that people who loved Maika do exist! She remains her courageous self throughout the story.

 

 

 

Review to come later.

 

 

Read my review and the status of Project Frankenstein.

 

 

As long as you expect the MC not to talk to each other and resolve the major conflict in two pages or one of them just picking up and leaving the other to”protect them” or the big baddie being dealt with in the last two pages, you will enjoy this series. I do, so I did! The humor shines through in the books and I love reading them when I need something funny and light. My favorite quote from the book:

 

 

 

 

Simply beautiful and so on point with the current events that it is scary! These four issues are just the beginning though. I hope it continues to be this awesome. Here are some scenes for you to feast your eyes on:

 

 

 

 

Take a cute cozy mystery and add some seriously messed up and furious ghosts to it and you will have created Southern Spirits. I liked the upping of the violence level, which kept this book from becoming just another cozy mystery. I also liked that the MC didn’t wait around and got down to work even when she was quaking in her boots. My favorite quote from the book:

 

 

 

 

Read my review here.

 

 

So, this is one of those instances where not reading the book blurb or any reader reviews came back to bite me in the ass! The story is the original Mary Shelley story; this book has simply some steampunkish art strewn about. Visually appealing? Hell yeah! Original? Not so much! Even so, I can now cross off this book from my list.

 

 

Review to come later.

 

 

 

While playing Work Book Bingo, I got: A Book Purchased for its Cover. That was when the misery began! I looked around in all my bookshelves trying to spot a book that I had purchased just for that reason. There weren’t any.So, I searched my Kobo library and this was the best that I could come up with.

 

I had so many issues with this book that began with the inclusion of overused tropes and ended at a TSTL protag. Yeah, I didn’t like it and these quotes can easily show why:

Ciardis gave her a look like a deer facing the glow of a bright lantern in the dark forest.

(after talking about candidates dying of asphyxiation)…I hope I never hear of such a thing happening with you, Ciardis.”

“No, of course not!”

Prince Heir or not, Sebastian’s hand-kissing technique, with a bit too much saliva involved, left a lot to be desired.

There was a scene from the book where a prophecy is made about one of the characters coming into enough power to “rend the Empire asunder”. On hearing it, the characters remained unaffected and the prophecy wasn’t even mentioned again!

There was a sprinkling of terms like the Madrassa and Hammam that have an Arabic origin. Yet the worldbuilding included none of the other elements common to Middle Eastern culture.

 

The protag gets whole dossiers full of information about her patrons-to-be. They mention everything about the persons in question. Yet they fail to mention that one of them, a General, has a bastard son who is also a mage. How do you leave out that important a bit of information? If the information gatherers didn’t know, then what good were they?

 

The protag had to undergo a 3-day long contest that would decide if she is worthy of a patron or not. One of the rules for the contest was that the activities of the first day must be hidden from her yet she could be told what would happen in the next two days. I mean, why? Was the author simply making it up as they went?

 

Another major character, the Prince Heir (who gives hand-kisses with too much saliva) went on a quest. This quest was supposed to unite him with the land he is to rule. Yet…yet…he forgot to take matches with him to light a lantern as part of the ceremony in that quest. WHY?! Oh wait, he also forgot to pack a knife that he would need for the bloodletting part of the same ritual.

 

 

A fun if a bit slow paced cozy mystery.

 

 

 

A short, classic horror read. It wasn’t even marginally close to the world-changing Frankenstein, which was also written during the same horror story writing “contest”. Yet I liked it! Like the vampires of old, this one also exuded an aura of evil that affected its victims immensely more than the actual drinking of blood did.

 

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