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Search tags: my-favorite-reads-2019
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review 2019-07-30 00:38
Final Thoughts: Desfile de ciervos
Desfile de ciervos - Manuel Vicent

This was an amazing read, but would probably make little sense to anyone not familiar with the political, social, and cultural goings-on in Spain during the 1990s. The story is loosely held together by a painting of the royal family commissioned in the 90s, but left unfinished for two decades. In a reverse Dorian Gray theme, the figures in the painting remain untouched while Spanish society (and the subjects of the portrait itself) decays around them.


Edit: Also, it's good to be back in the land of reading and writing. It's been a complicated couple of months, but things are finally slowing down enough for me to relax with books!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-05-24 13:42
Final Thoughts: Death on the Nile
Death on the Nile - Agatha Christie

Well, this one left me reeling in the best way. I think I was out of breath at the end! So here are some final thoughts:


1. I like the fact that the murder didn't happen until halfway through the novel. When it happens at the start of a book, we never really get to know the deceased except for hearing about them from outside perspectives. Here, we get to know Linnet, understand her world, and this makes the tragedy hit so much harder.


2. Poirot as matchmaker! I love how he nudged Rosalie and Tim together, and how he helped out Cornelia. He also knows when to show mercy (at the cost of great frustration for poor Colonel Race, who makes such a great foil here for Poirot).


3. Speaking of which, hooray for Cornelia! Bessner is perfect for her; I was going to be really angry if she'd ended up with that egotistical jerk Ferguson. He had all the makings of an abusive gaslighter; Bessner, on the other hand, respects her and is willing to nurture her interests.


4. Jacqueline was an amazing character. I'm glad that her psychology was explored so deeply, instead of making her out to be some crazed killer. Even her final action, shocking as it was, made complete sense in light of the fact that she's always taking care of Simon. Talk about emotional labor!


5. The red herrings were, as always in Christie, wonderful little tidbits. I had guessed at the mystery of the pearls (though not how it would be carried out), but Richetti being the revolutionary was a fun surprise. I also kept expecting Linnet's suitor from the start of the novel to show up in disguise at some point, but that apparently was not in the cards. The battle of the lawyers also helped make the story more interesting by providing another possible motive.


So this is definitely going in my list of favorite Christie novels; was this one of her own favorites too? And, as we've mentioned in post comments earlier this week, I'm now jealous of future readers who will get to discover it for the first time.


Thanks for a great buddy read, fellow Agathytes!

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review 2019-05-19 15:36
Final Thoughts: Mort
Mort - Terry Pratchett

"There should be a word for that brief period just after waking when the mind is full of warm pink nothing. You lie there entirely empty of thought, except for a growing suspicion that heading towards you, like a sockful of damp sand in a nocturnal alleyway, are all the recollections you’d really rather do without."


Pratchett is always such a delight, and has some of the best descriptions for random everyday sensations I've ever read (see above). Mort's story is a coming-of-age tale, set within an unusual apprenticeship for which he soon realizes he might not be an ideal candidate. His clash against the idea of inevitability sets off a chain of events that make for a great adventure as he tries to set things straight again. In the meantime, Death is taking a vacation and perhaps becoming too close to humanity. In the end, order is restored, though in an unorthodox manner, and history can continue on its course.

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review 2019-04-27 19:19
Final Thoughts: Crooked House
Crooked House - Agatha Christie

I can see why this was one of Christie's own favorite novels; it is, in the end, as much  about writing a mystery as it is about the mystery itself.


It's also one of the few of her novels where I've had a suspicion about the murderer's identity before it was revealed (I'm normally easy to fool, haha!). I didn't want it to be that particular person, though, which is why my mind kept shying away from it. And that mirrors the family's own preoccupation with the idea that it was important to find out that "the right person" had done it.


The themes of family and heredity were also really fascinating. As much as old Leonides had loved his family and worked to keep them together, it was clearly not what they themselves needed or wanted. Especially with that trait of "ruthlessness" that Sophia often refers to. In the end, the members scatter, hopefully to live more fulfilling lives.


Finally, the fact that the book's narrator was both investigating and about to marry into the family gave the book an interesting feel. The last chapters were unsettling and full of suspense, since it's critically important for Charles not just to have someone charged, but to make sure it's the person who actually did it. After all, it's not a case he's going to be able to walk away from once it's closed.

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review 2019-04-22 17:20
Final Thoughts: Indigo
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I'm so happy I discovered Ms Jenkins! This novel was absolutely amazing, so thanks to my reading buddies here for bringing this author to my attention. Hester's story was heartbreaking and uplifting, and the blend of history and fiction was seamless. I appreciated the fact that the story behind the "traitor" was nuanced, and not a simple whodunit; it was shocking and sad, but ultimately resolved in the best way possible.


I also loved the fact that there was a bibliography at the end, so I can read up on the Road. I do remember visiting Harper's Ferry on a family trip as a child (I spent about a decade in the U.S., and my parents wanted to explore all facets of its history while we lived there), where there's a memorial museum to Brown and his daring, tragic attack. But now I want to know more about the everyday men and women who made these escapes possible.


My one question is: Does Raymond have his own book? Because I would absolutely read it.

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