Monday, May 22, 2017

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso SeaWide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Inspired by Jane Eyre, this novel in three parts is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a woman from the Caribbean who weds Rochester and ends up a prisoner in the attic of his bleak English country house.
The pictures that Rhys paints of the islands are lush and a bit frightening which sets the tone for the terrible things that go on. 
"Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible--the tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild. The paths were overgrown and and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touches. One was snaking looking, another like an octopus with long thin brown tentacles bare of leaves handing from a twisted root. Twice a year the octopus orchid flowered--then not an inch of tentacle showed. It was a bell-shaped mass of white, mauve, deep purples, wonderful to see. The scent was very sweet and strong. I never went near it." (p. 19)
This book could count toward any of several categories for the Back to the Classics challenge: 20th century classic (published 1966), a gothic classic, or a classic by a woman author.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review: Towards Zero

Towards Zero (Superintendent Battle, #5)Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Modern mysteries--books by Elizabeth George or PD James for example--typically start off with a series of snapshots of different people who will come into the investigation so you know each of the players by the time the crime occurs. Christie's books (and those of other golden age authors) don't typically follow this pattern. This one does. We see what all the people who end up on the spot when the murder occurs are doing before they come onto the scene. A very modern and well put together mystery.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Thrice the Brinded Cat hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The mystery in this novel was fairly complex for a Flavia de Luce story, but I found the final solution unsatisfying. The family interactions were fewer than usual, though Dogger was his usual wonderful self.
This story is set in England where Flavia has just returned after a stint in a Canadian boarding school. The author is Canadian so I am counting this book toward the 10th Canadian Book Challenge.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: Peril at End House

Peril at End House (Hercule Poirot, #8)Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A lovely young woman in danger draws Poirot out of retirement to untangle the mystery of who might be trying to do her harm. It is a twisty mystery full of misdirection and funny little outbursts from the world's greatest detective (self-described). Hastings is along for the ride which always improves a Poirot story in my opinion.
“You have a tendency, Hastings, to prefer the least likely. That, no doubt, is from reading too many detective stories.” ― Agatha ChristiePeril at End House
This title counts toward the What's in a Name Challenge as a book with a building in the title.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dubliners

DublinersDubliners by James Joyce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.” 
This collection of short stories takes the reader on a tour of Dublin, Ireland at the turn of the 20th century.
I have found Joyce hard-going in the past, but this volume was enjoyable and the stories were easy to follow. I liked the contrast between the various lives being led in a single city. In a couple of cases a person from one story popped up as an incidental character in another. I would have liked more connections like that as it would have given a bit more cohesion to the collection.
This book is one of my classics club titles (it was my Spring 2017 spin title, in fact). This title could count toward the Back to the Classics Challenge as either a 20th century classic (first published in 1914) or as a classic set somewhere I would like to visit.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons

The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons: A Bernie Rhodenbarr MysteryThe Burglar Who Counted the Spoons: A Bernie Rhodenbarr Mystery by Lawrence Block
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery I have read, though it is not the first in the series. The characters were engaging and I liked how specific Block was with the NYC setting. The murder mystery aspect of the book seemed more of a side-plot than a focus of the book, but overall it was an entertaining read and I would read more of this series.
This book counts toward the What's in a Name Challenge as it has a title containing an item of cutlery.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Posting a Poem #2

Mount Kearsarge by Donald Hall. I really like the sound of this poem and the irony of it.
Back in 2009 the NH Center for the Book did a series of posts featuring poems by NH authors. This was one of the featured poems.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Orlando

OrlandoOrlando by Virginia Woolf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was quite different from Mrs. Dalloway or To the Lighthouse and is definitely my least favorite of the three. There is an excellent post about this novel at Conceptual Fiction which explains the novel much better than I can. There were things about the novel that I liked: the voice of 'the biographer' that Woolf takes when dealing with time transitions and other awkward story transitions was very clever; the comments on the 'great men of letters' were very funny; and the whole section about the romance with the Russian princess was excellent. Ultimately though the book just didn't come together for me. 
This book could count toward either of two categories for the Back to the Classics challenge: 20th century classic, or a classic by a woman author.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spinning the Classics

Classics Club is having another spin. I love this part of the club, but as I have fewer than 20 books left to read on my list (after removing Swanns Way and The Decameron both of which I want to read but can't commit to without being able to clear more reading time than I have at the moment) I had to get creative about the list. Hence the introduction of "Free spaces." The number will be chosen on Friday, March 10 and the challenge is to finish the selected book by May 1.
Here is my list:
  1. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir [1949]
  2. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks [1977] 
  3. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino [1979] 
  4. Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1), Orson Scott Card [1985] 
  5. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky [1880]
  6. On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks [2001] 
  7. The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles [1969] 
  8.             FREE SPACE -read whichever you want
  9. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne [1850]
  10. Catch-22, Joseph Heller [1961]
  11. A Bell for Adano, John Hersey [1944]
  12. Dubliners, James Joyce [1914]
  13. Portrait of a Lady, Henry James 
  14. A Separate Peace, John Knowles [1959]
  15.               FREE SPACE -read whichever book T picks 
  16. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami [1994] 
  17. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys [1966]
  18. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger [1951]
  19. Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey [1918]
  20. The Robber Bridegroom, Eudora Welty [1942]
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