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review 2018-07-21 17:14
Hercule Poirot #2
The Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie

This is Christie's second Poirot mystery, and her third full-length novel. I read it for my chronological re-read of the Christie canon, which will include the short collections in order of publication.

She definitely has not hit her stride in this novel - in my opinion, that really happens with her sixth novel (and fourth Poirot offering) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Murder on the Links is a middling Christie - better than some, but not one of her best.

A couple of specific notes - Hastings reappears as Poirot's sidekick. He is introduced in The Mysterious Affair at Styles as Watson to Poirot's Sherlock. Murder on the Links is told from the perspective of Hastings in a first person perspective. I find Hastings nearly intolerable in this book - his preening behavior in attempting to attract the fair "Cinderella" is about as subtle as a male peacock in full mating display. In other words, he acts like a buffoon.

I know, I know, Hastings always acts like a buffoon. But the prosecutor in me nearly swooned when he let his fair lady love - who won't even friggin' tell him her actual name - into the shed where the body, and the murder weapon, are being stored. All I can think about is "chain of custody, chain of custody, chain of custody." Someone should've thrashed him. If the murderer hadn't died before the end of the book, he had compromised the evidence to the point that, even in 1923, prosecution would've been nearly impossible.

And that ending. Oh, dear, that acrobatic, silly ending. 

One of the purposes of my reread - besides just sheer fun - is to take a look at Agatha's approach to justice and responsibility in her books, and try to evaluate if it changes or evolves over time. In Styles, the killers were obviously handed over to the authorities, but no mention is made as to their fate. Christie approaches the murder as a puzzle, and much more time is spent on matchmaking between the various existing or potential couples than on mourning the victim. In Links, the murderer receives street justice in self-defense and is killed before the end of the book.

Christie's early books had a romantic streak - couples were constantly falling in love at the drop of a hat. Hastings ultimately marries Cinderella, whose real name is Dulcie, as we learn at the end of the book. That pairing is totally unconvincing, and doesn't seem to age well as the books continue to be written. By the time Hastings disappears completely from the narrative, I am heartily sick of him. I far prefer Ariadne Oliver as Poirot's sidekick, even if most of her books aren't up to the quality of the early Poirots.

TLDR: a second tier Poirot with an annoying sidekick, but still a fun read for Christie fans.
 

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text 2018-07-16 03:43
at 100 pages, hmmmm
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike

I thought I'd try something by Mr. Updike that wasn't Rabbit Angstrom-y.

 

This is the single worst writing from women's point of view that I've ever encountered. These women are the least believable I've ever encountered, and I've read some really bad books. I understand these witches are fantasy, but I can't believe witches would be so ridiculous. Nor can I imagine grown women who complain about getting their periods for a full five (5) days! Or women who think the way these "women" do about their bodies. Men, apparently, believe women are nothing but our bodies and our relationships to men. He gives them interesting professions, then he reduces them to insipid caricatures. 

 

Dear Male Writers - Woman Have Breasts and Vaginas. I'm going to write a book where the man's balls are all I talk about if I run into this again. Shockingly, our bodies and fear of aging are not the only thing we ever think about.

 

Argh. I'm very tempted to stop reading this. It's making me irritable. 

 

However, now the man has entered the picture, so I may try to continue, since I'm almost a third of a way through. But not tonight. I need some female comedy -- on to Netflix!

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video 2018-07-14 19:30
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review 2018-07-12 19:32
Living and Dying
The Bright Hour - Nina Riggs
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
Blue Nights by Didion, Joan 1st (first) Edition [Hardcover(2011)] - Joan Didion
A Widow's Story - Joyce Carol Oates
Missing Mom - Joyce Carol Oates
About Alice - Calvin Trillin
How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter - Sherwin B. Nuland

So, I've been off BL for a long, long time. A lot has happened, I got pregnant and had a daughter. My mom got sick and passed away. I had to clear out and sell my childhood home and all the contents while trying to balance all of that and my full time job. It's been...something.

 

For a while, not long after my mom died (3 days before Christmas 2016 when my daughter was only 5 months old) I started searching out and reading books that dealt with death and grief. I read a lot of Joan Didion The Year of Magical ThinkingBlue Nights. I read When Breath Becomes Air and About Alice and A Widow's Story. I started Missing Mom and couldn't go any further because it was too hard and How We Die.

 

The Bright Hour is one of the most beautiful books I've read, ever. I can't possibly describe it except to use it's full title--The Bright Hour: a memoir of living and dying. It is so full of life, all the messiness and happiness and tragedy and humor and it faces death and mortality head on, unflinching. 

 

I recently reread it, now a year and a half since my mother passed, it still has such power and peace. I can't recommend it enough.

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review 2018-07-12 13:13
The Year of Taking Chances - Lucy Diamond

Gemma Bailey loves her life. She is still madly in love with her husband Spencer and has a beautiful house to raise her two children in. Caitlin has returned to her childhood home to sort through the belongings of her mum, who has recently died. Saffron is growing tired of life in London and has lots of thinking to do. All come together by accident at Gemma’s New Years Eve party. Life begins to throw obstacles at the three women and as they tackle these problems their friendship grows.

 

This is the first Lucy Diamond book I have read but it won’t be the last. This was a fun, comforting read, perfect to curl up with and get lost in. I liked all of the characters, though if I’m honest Spencer did grate on my nerves on occasion. All three main leads were likeable and individual. I enjoyed following all of the separate stories and seeing how their lives interacted. My favourite character by far though was Bunty, Saffron’s initially annoying client. I can see a spin off story with her as the lead and Gemma, Caitlin and Saffron as supporting cast.

 

Each chapter focusses on one of the characters and I found this to be a great technique as it allowed the reader to see how the story of each woman impacted themselves and the others and made the story rounder.

 

Yes I guessed every part of the storyline before it appeared on the page. Sometimes that’s something that can spoil a story but I didn’t care. It was an enjoyable journey watching the story get there. One I hope to take again with Lucy’s other novels.

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