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review 2017-06-24 00:20
The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart
The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart

This was a quaint old mystery, and the writing was suffused with a surprising amount of humour (it helped birth the “character sets pocket on fire with pipe” shelf). Originally published in 1908, the narrator is an elderly spinster who gets mired in a murder investigation when she leases a house in the country for the summer. The mystery had a lot of twisty bits but I got tired of the endless foreshadowing. That said, it was still a fun read, and I might seek out more of Rinehart’s books in the future.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly Free Friday #1. I’ve seen different page numbers (I actually read the Gutenberg version), so I’m going with 192, which seems reasonable and nets me $4 for my bank (new total: $136).

 

Previous updates:

20 %

8 %

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review 2017-06-23 03:32
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters

Series: Amelia Peabody #1

 

I didn’t like the tone this book started off with, and I found Amelia really annoying, at least at the start. She grew on me once she picked up Evelyn as a companion, however. I did like their interactions. Amelia, a rich Englishwoman, has travelled to Rome from where she plans to sail on to Egypt to winter voyaging up the Nile when she encounters Evelyn, who seems a suitable replacement for the paid companion who had recently become ill and had to be sent back home. So Amelia and Evelyn both set off for Egypt where they do some sightseeing and hire a boat to take them up the Nile. Partway through their voyage they fetch up at an archaeological dig where strange happenings occur and a mummy seems to have come back from the dead. Maybe. That’s the mystery.

 

I had guessed a lot about the resolution of the mystery although I’ll admit I hadn’t quite worked out every detail. I ended up enjoying the book despite the rough beginning, so I may look into whether my library has the next one. Eventually.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square New Orleans Station #14 “Read a book that involves overseas travel”. Since Amelia has travelled first to Rome and then travels on to Egypt, I think the book fits. At 226 pages, with the new rules in effect, this nets me $6 for my bank, bringing my total balance to $132. Yay!

 

Previous update:

72 %

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text 2017-06-22 01:59
Reading progress update: I've read 72%.
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters

So, this happens:

As he spoke, in an insufferably sarcastic tone, I thought I detected a faint smell of singeing cloth.

...

The smell of singeing cloth grew stronger. I have a very keen sense of smell.

...

There was definitely a small curl of smoke issuing from the pocket in which Emerson had placed his pipe.

...

Emerson did not reply. A most peculiar expression had come over his face. I watched him for a moment, relishing the situation with, I fear, a malice most unbecoming a Christian woman.
“Your pocket is on fire,” I added. “I thought when you put your pipe away that it was not quite out, but you dislike advice so much…. Good night.”
I went away, leaving Emerson dancing up and down in the moonlight, beating at his pocket with both hands.

Remember that scene in The Circular Staircase? This is a thing! A definite thing! Also possibly known as a trope.

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review 2017-06-21 02:30
The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

Series: Masters of Rome #2

 

Boy, that felt long!

 

I don’t know my ancient Roman history very well, so I can’t judge how faithful McCullough was to all the facts, but she makes Roman politics sound absolutely mad. Well, all politics are a bit mad, but this runs the gamut from simple bribery to murder in the streets plus all sorts of machinations. I’m only giving it three stars because it oscillated between absolutely riveting (and sometimes comical) scenes, usually involving Sulla, and parts where the narrative lagged. I’m not sure we needed to see that much from Mithridates point of view, for example.

 

Sulla’s still a terrible person but awesome to read about. Reading about Marius’s downfall was disturbing. Roman politics are mad….oh, and there’s a civil war with the Italians. So lots of exciting happenings, interspersed with some dull bits.

 

Reading about the Roman politics made me think of some of the current news headlines, actually. I read this for the More Historical Than Fiction June read as well as for booklikes-opoly square Main Street 11 “Read a book written by an author born before 1955”. Colleen McCullough was born in 1937. I started this book before the booklikes-opoly shake-up so it’s only worth the original rewards but I’m counting it as being 815 pages (after that it’s the author’s note, a list of consuls, and the glossary), so I’m adding $10 to my bank. New total: $126.

 

Previous updates:

777 of 894 pages

493 of 894 pages

431 of 894 pages

103 of 894 pages

74 of 894 pages

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text 2017-06-21 00:39
Reading progress update: I've read 777 out of 894 pages.
The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough

I think I've lost track of which is supposed to be Rome's "true" government at this point. I mean, we have consul against consul and all sorts of stuff going on.

 

It's madness, I tell you.

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