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text 2018-05-24 15:06
Reading progress update: I've read 234 out of 416 pages.
A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny

OMG, it was difficult to set this book down last night!

 

I spent a couple of hours in the evening with a friend and her big lovable oaf of a dog.  She works for a Guide Dog charity and they are collecting clothing, suitcases, bedding, towels, etc. for an enormous garage sale to raise money for the organization.  I packed an huge, heavy suitcase with clothing.  Then I emptied out the bottom of my coat closet--a garbage bag of shoes!  Looking around, I saw my mom's cedar chest--with a thick coating of dust on it.  Hmmm....I can't be using whatever's in there!  Three more garbage bags of sheets, towels, blankets.  The cedar chest is empty now and I feel like I've had a weight lifted off me.

 

I highly recommend a good purge to make life look a little brighter!

 

But when I got home from my delivery mission, I had to have another visit with Inspector Gamache, and it ran a little late.  *Yawn*

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url 2018-05-24 05:00
Author Of The Month - Quinn Anderson - Grand Finale

Please join us once more as we celebrate this fabulous author! 

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text 2018-05-24 04:50
A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup

Since this is a re-read for me, and I stand by my original review/rating, this post will serve as my final reading update.  As such a few thoughts on the final three entires:

 

Ricin:

"[...] to ensure no ricin makes it into the castor oil it is heated to more than 80C at it is extracted; this denatures the protein, so inactivating it."

 

Something for the raw food movement to remember:  don't buy cold-pressed castor oil.  Sometimes, processed is better.

 

Strychnine:

Oh dear god what a thoroughly hideous way to die.  The deciding factor for me, in a book full of thoroughly hideous ways to go, is that you're completely aware of what's going on the entire time it's happening.  Like Hemlock, only here there's zero chance of getting the "nice" kind (if a nice kind of hemlock actually does exist - let's nobody find out).  

 

I also had the weird and totally superfluous thought:  I wonder if anyone's ever tried spraying a victim down in solarcaine?  (Solarcaine is an aerosol form of lidocaine - topical anesthetic.)  Because, you know, it's a numbing agent, which would cut off nerve stimulation.  Although I can't imagine it would be very comforting to be in the throes of strychnine and hear: "Quick! Get the sunburn spray - this might feel a little cold..."

 

So, now you know where my mind goes when it's running from descriptions of horrific death.  Sunburn spray.

 

Moving on... Veronal.  

I had almost no thoughts about Veronal at all; probably because I was still musing over the sunburn spray ... not because of any deficiencies in Harkup's writing.

 

As I said at the start; I happily stand by my first assessment of the book at the 4.5 stars I gave it.  It's entertaining and accessible without sacrificing intellectual merit.

 

If you have a reading retention rate for details better than mine, you might find some of the sections she doesn't label as spoilers to be over-revealing.  Unlike others, the only one I found that will stick with me over time is the (to me) dead give away in the Veronal chapter for Lord Edgware Dies, although maybe it isn't. The way it's written it seems there's only one scene needed to identify the murderer, given what Harkup shares here.  Perhaps the scene is more complicated than she describes though.  Luckily, I need only read enough books between now and my next Christie to completely forget, confuse or conflate the details I've read here.  Silver linings...

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text 2018-05-23 13:43

 

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review 2018-05-23 08:42
The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers' Journey Through Curiosities of History
The Secret Library - Oliver Tearle

This started off super-slow for me for the same reason any overview of history does:  it starts with ancient history.  I know it's important.  I know it influences just about everything today, but it's, forgive me, a bit dull.  

 

Once we got through The Classical World and the Middle Ages though, things picked up.  For each age, Tearle selects a few texts that can, or should, be considered significant.  Some of them are the no-brainers we've all heard of (Shakespeare) and some are names or titles that have unjustly fallen into oblivion (Mary Elizabeth Braddon, whom he argues might be the author of the first English detective novel. Trail of the Serpent).  Whether widely known or not, Tearle tries to focus on thoughts, ideas, or facts that aren't widely known so that there's something new here for likely anyone, no matter how well read.

 

Informative, readable, and once past the Middle ages, very enjoyable.

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