Mini-Review: Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie

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Murder in the Mews is a collection of four short stories/novellas featuring Hercule Poirot.  Overall, they are enjoyable but I believe that Christie is at her best with full length novels.  The first story, Murder in the Mews, was the star of this bunch.  Is it suicide?  Is it murder?

Now that I’ve seen all of the BBC Poirot adaptations (with the exception of Curtain which I don’t think I will ever be prepared for mentally), it’s interesting to match the written story with the screen story.  I vividly recall the details of the MitM adaptation and it actually made reading this more interesting, which is rare.

3.5/5 stars and a must read for fans.

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated) by JK Rowling and Jim Kay

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The first Harry Potter illustrated book has a 4.9 average rating on Goodreads.  That should tell you something.  We all know the story (and if you don’t love it, well then, move along) so I’m rating this based on the illustrations themselves.  And, they are freaking gorgeous.  Honestly, they couldn’t be better.  Jim Kay, I bow down to you.

For this post, I’ve captured a few of my favorites to share with you.  In a perfect world, I would go out, buy a second copy of the book, cut out the pictures and hang them all around my office.  I’m obsessed.  Can you tell?  Anyway, enjoy these collages of my favorite illustrations.

 

Mini-Review: Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot #15) by Agatha Christie

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Cards on the Table has an interesting twist – Christie gave us a finite number of suspects (4) and it’s clear from the start that the killer is one of that group.  This results in a tighter net for Poirot and more focus on a limited number of characters.  Overall, COTT is a strong addition to the series.

However, three things kept me from giving this 5-stars.  First, the casual use of ethnic slurs may have been common at the time but it’s still disconcerting for a modern reader.  In this case it’s the use of a slur against Italians.  I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to tell if Christie herself felt superior or if she is making a point that her characters feel superior to certain nationalities, races or social strata.  Either way, it pulls me out of enjoying the reading experience.

Second, and I believe this is the first time I’ve had this complaint with Christie, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine when an author ‘learns’ a new word and overuses it.  In this case the word is “Mephistophelian” to describe the look and demeanor of the victim.  Use it once, okay.  Use it twice, twitch but okay.  Five plus times and I’m rolling my eyes.  Just say devilish for goodness sake.

Lastly, the ending.  While I am a fan of the red herring, this one didn’t quite work for me.  I recognized the device and waited for the big reveal.  There were too many conveniences and coincidences for my liking.

Okay, this sounds like I didn’t like it, but really, I did.  4/5 stars.

January Wrap-Up

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Well, January wasn’t quite as good a reading month as I wanted but I was still able to get through 8 books:

  1. In God We Trust
  2. Throne of Glass
  3. Death in the Clouds (part of my Agatha Christie 2017 project)
  4. One Fell Sweep
  5. A Murder is Announced (another Christie)
  6. Dorothy Must Die
  7. Wuthering Heights (January Classic)
  8. Life is Short

Unfinished: Cards on the Table, Royal Assassin, Firefight, Lord of Chaos and HP #1 Illustrated.

My favorite read of the month was Wuthering Heights.  Deciding to go back and reread some classics that I had really forgotten was one of the best goals I made for this year.

Honorable Mention: One Fell Sweep.  I am a fangirl of Ilona Andrews and this is now my #2 favorite book in that library; just behind Magic Bites.

How did January go for you?

February TBR

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I haven’t written my January wrap up yet but as you can see from the stack above, I didn’t quite hit my goals.  So, here’s what I’m hoping to read in February.

January Carry Over:

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

…assuming I will finish Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie today – fingers crossed

 

February TBR:

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (my classic of the month)

They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie

Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

 

Bedside Pile of Shame (aka ‘currently reading’ for months):

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (I really hit the wall with this one and need to just focus for a few hours and finally finish it)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (Illustrated) by JK Rowling

 

What are you reading this month?

Review: Life is Short by Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein

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This isn’t my normal read but my Mama enjoyed so gave it to me.  And, I have to admit that it was not only interesting but also informative, funny and poignant.

The book’s structure worked well to tell their story.  Jennifer and Bill alternated chapters that basically gave their life history during the same time periods.  From their childhood surgeries, high school, college, work and then meeting and falling in love.  I immediately clicked with Jennifer’s story.  Her description of her medical struggles was very well done. She was able to describe some pretty horrific experiences without sounding sorry for herself (which she would have right to be).  Dr. Arnold is one tough woman.  She excelled in college, graduated medical school with honors and is a successful pediatric doctor.

It took a little longer for Bill to grow on me but once he did I became a big fan.  His descriptions of being bullied and, in one case, threatened remind us how important it is for us to have empathy and teach our children the same.  His love for Jennifer was what ultimately won me over, though.  And, his love for his children.

Overall, I liked this much more than I expected and highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about their story and some of the issues that little people put up with every day.

4/5 stars.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Before I get started, I do want to mention the beauty of the edition that I read.  I received several Barnes and Noble gift cards for my birthday and decided to buy this collectible edition.  The cover is soft and buttery feeling.  The pages are a thick stock and have a purple edge.  It is just gorgeous.

You will notice that I didn’t title this post as a review.  You can’t really review a book like Wuthering Heights.  The last time I read it was in high school…many, many years ago.  At the time I remember thinking “why is this so great?” and scoffing at the old-fashioned phrasing and actions of the main characters.  Now, I recognize the beauty of the writing and the story that is so loved and hated.

Many people consider WH to be a favorite.  I can’t say that I’m in that camp although I did rate it 5/5 stars.  The characters are unlikable (which is a death knell for many readers).  But, really, that’s the point.  Right?  We aren’t supposed to like them.  They are, for the most part, horrible, emotionally manipulative users.  There are glimpses of light here and there but as soon as you think “oh it’s going to be okay”, Bronte turns a corner and everything falls apart.  This book is the literary example of someone enjoying a good cry for no reason other than an emotional release.  Or, going through a haunted house to be scared out of your wits.  Sometimes you don’t want to read about flowery, successful love stories.  Instead you want to feel the obsession, pain and, ultimately, the destruction of Heathcliff and Catherine.

I thought it might be interesting to put together a playlist of songs that could provide background music for a first time Wuthering Heights reader.  Here are my suggestions (let me know if you can think of any other songs that would create the atmosphere of WH):

“Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge
“Crazy” by Patsy Cline
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
“My Immortal” by Evanescence
“Possession” by Sarah McLachlin
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette
“You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi
“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League