Review for A Curious Incident

A Curious Incident: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by [Vicki Delany]

A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany

Genre – Cozy Mystery, Contemporary

Series – The 6th book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries series

Rating – PG for mentions of marital affairs & murder

Synopsis –

Gemma Doyle and her friend Jayne Wilson work together to run a bookshop and tearoom in a quaint New England town. During their busiest season, 11 year old Lauren comes in asking if Gemma could solve the case of her missing cat. Upon finding the lost cat, she wins the Lauren’s trust. A few days later, Lauren, comes in with a trickier task – proving her mom innocence in a murder investigation. Lauren’s mom, Sheila, is an avid gardener. Recently someone vandalized her garden. People assume she took out her frustration by killing her gardener rival Anna Wentworth. Will Gemma be able to get to the bottom of the case?

My Thoughts –

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I’m slowly getting my reading groove back!! Whewhoo!! So, I’ve read all the book in this series so far. They are typically sweet and offer a nice reprieve from whatever I’m reading at the moment. Plus who doesn’t love a Sherlock Holmes themed bookshop?? That being said, this one felt a little lacking. The last one, There’s a Murder Afoot was set in London was well done. It shook things up and focused more on Gemma’s family. While here we were back to the same old routine.

I do have to say that I like these characters… for the most part. πŸ˜‰ Gemma is likeable although at times a bit frustrating. Jayne is sweet and a good friend. I did like that the author added Lauren into the mix. She seemed to fit in. Ryan is the faithful police detective/boyfriend. I like Gemma and Ryan together and kinda hoping they tie the knot soon. While Uncle Arthur still elusive as ever. I liked that Jayne is now friends with Andy. Although I’m not sure how many books are supposed to be in the series?

The mystery as a whole was kind bland. The author has settled into a formulaic plot, someone outside Gemma’s circle killed, she sneaks onto site, does her own investigation, meets suspects, almost hurt, & then she solves the case. Gemma being able to leave her store anytime she wants also feels a little contrived at times. I actually guessed who the murderer was before Gemma. Yea, for me!! Doesn’t happen a lot. I guess, I just wanted something a little different. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few parts that had me guessing. Just this particular one not my cup of tea. πŸ˜‰

Was it my favorite in the series? No

Will I keep reading the series? Probably, I mean the whole surprise at end will definitely disrupt the usual routine. And I kinda want to see how the author uses it.

Violence – Pretty sparse. Overall, the author keeps it clean. We find out that Anna was killed by being hit by a rock, but happens off the page. Gemma trips in woods falls and bumps her head. Someone attempts to poison Gemma, but instead poisons Jayne.

Language – None

Innuendo – The main suspect’s marriage is on the rocks. She flirts with her friend’s gardener. At the end, she pulls her act together and her and her husband try to save their marriage. There are a few other affairs mentioned that get kinda tangled. The author keeps the details off the page so we know what’s going on, but not in detail. Also, there are rumors of affairs that turn out to be unfounded.

Conclusion –

I love bookstores in general, so finding a fun cozy mystery series set in a bookshop was a nice find. Plus, I read just about anything related to Sherlock Holmes. πŸ˜‰ Overall, I like this series. Certain ones I like better then others, but it’s nice that the author keeps it relatively clean. Reading this book, has made me want to visit the New England area! It sounds so picturesque.

Up next – I’ll be finishing up Hood. I kinda put it on the back burner while I finished The Count of Monte Cristo.

How about you? Do you like cozy mysteries? What’s your favorite?

Anna

Review for The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Genre – Adventure, Historical, Suspense, Romance

Series – No

Rating – PG-13 for violence, death, and an affair

Synopsis –

Edmund Dantes is a young sailor returning from a fated voyage. He is brimming with joy as he has his father, a future as captain of the Pharaon, and is engaged to his beautiful fiance, Mercedes. He does not realize the dark turn of events that will change his life forever. Three men sit at an outdoor cafe create an anonymous note that paints Dantes in a dangerous light. Their names are Fernand, Danglars, & Caderousse. At his betrothal feast, he is put under arrest for being in possession of a Bonapartist letter. Despite his innocence, the deputy crown prosecutor finds his letter which betrays his father’s Bonapartist allegiance and covers it up by sending Dante to prison. Dante is in prison for 14 years. Will he find an escape? What will become of three men who sent an innocent man to his doom?

My Thoughts –

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I’m back!! Sorry about my long absence!! I feel like it’s been forever sense I have written a post! Let’s just say life has been busy. πŸ˜‰ Plus, it took me a while to actually finish this book. Was it worth the several weeks it took?? Absolutely!!! I loved going back and rereading this classic. There were sections of the plot that I had vaguely remembered and others that felt completely new to me. Anyway, here I am and I’m going to put down my thoughts.

To start this is a massive book!! My copy is 1,243 pages. I believe War and Peace was just a tad longer, but not by much. Which is kinda funny cause The Count of Monte Cristo picks up only a few years in history after War & Peace . πŸ˜‰ There are many subplots woven throughout and affect the main plot in intricate ways. Yet, they all come together and it eventually makes sense why we had all these odd sections of the story. Trust me on this! It does pay off, massively! Real quickly, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read it yet tread carefully!

Now, with a such a large book, you would except lots of characters. And there you are right!! There is a ton of characters some from the days when Dante was a young lad, who come back after his escape. Others seem to be completely new *cough* Albert and Franz, looking at you. Dumas does tend to help the reader out by reminding us occasionally who everyone is which is handy. The few characters I struggled with were Albert’s bigwig friends. Who don’t play a major role, but tend to pop up every now and again.

Many of the characters you cannot help but fall in love with like the Abbe Faria, Valentine, Mercedes, Morrel & Dantes himself. I remembered liking the Abbe from my previous read and I found I liked his wit and immense knowledge of the world and languages that he passes on to Dantes. Valentine is so sweet and innocent & I love her love for her grandfather, who at first seemed kinda a scoundrel, but does grow on me. Her relationship with Morrel is an interesting romance. They have so many obstacles to overcome, and yet Morrel is patient. It’s hard to pinpoint what I like about Mercedes as she is more of a complex character who for the majority of the book sits backstage. She loves her son and has endured some tough times.

Then we come to Dantes. What a character arc he goes on!! I kinda had a love/hate relationship with him. On the one hand his friends betrayed him and married his fiance so kinda deserve his revenge. On the other Dantes becomes consumed by his revenge and at times allows the innocent to suffer. Dantes does do it with class and almost uses other characters to pull the trigger if you will. His climax at the end of the book got to me. After seeing what had occurred at the Villefort home, he is overcome with just how far he went down this path. Does have regrets with how everything happened? Yes, I believe so. We see a bit of it with how he treats Morrel. Does he get a happy ending? To an extent, yes.

And what about the villains you ask? Well, most of them I truly despised. Danglars being the worst scoundrel. Ugh, his whole family is rather atrocious.

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Fernand was second to Danglars. He actually sent the evil letter. Caderousse while despicable, wasn’t a complete goner. I had hope for him, sadly that didn’t help. Villefort was the only scoundrel you feel a bit sorry for.

I did want to briefly mention the pacing. For being an adventure novel, it starts off with quite a bang. The first 2oo pages or so move quickly and set everything in motion. Then after that we get a lull.

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There were a few chapters that really dragged, but the whole Roman Bandits chapter could have been completely cut. No use at all, except to give background to a minor character. Just why??

Before I finish, I did want to mention how surprised I was at how Dumas wove some philosophical and religious discussions into the book , similar to War & Peace. There is a brilliant quote during Dantes imprisonment, “God is the last refuge. Such unfortunates, who should begin with Our Lord, only come to trust in Him after exhausting all other sources of hope” (Dumas, p.131). Later, Dante truly believed he was being used by God to minister God’s vengeance. Many of the characters take to praying to God throughout the book which you just don’t see in many books these days. At the very end Dantes comes to realize that the Almighty is the only one who can hold supreme power and the ultimate judge.

Language – Mild infrequent uses of language. Mostly kept within the PG realm.

Violence – There is quite a bit of it. You have a character killed by Caderousse in cold blood for money. During an affair, Villefort tries to kill a baby, turns out someone saves the baby. Mrs. Villefort poisons several members of her family, again for money. Fernand commits suicide. Several other characters die various deaths.

Innuendo – There are two affairs that occur. The first is between Mr. Danglars & Mrs. Villefort. Theirs is pretty subtle. I missed it at first only later do you see its implications. Nothing overt though. Then you have Mrs. Danglars and Lucian Debray. Again, Dumas is subtle so you blink you’ll miss it.

Conclusion –

Honestly, it has been wonderful to read this classic again!! This is a book that I will probably return to in the future as well. There are so many good themes throughout and I picked up on different things this go around. The characters were not so cut and dry. They had depth to them. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d highly recommend picking it up!! I am hoping to add more classics to my reading list. Any suggestions?

* Up next I will be starting a lighter read – an installment in The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series & listening to Silas Marner (a reread for me).

Have you read it? What are your thoughts? How is your winter going?

Anna

Review for Return of Tarzan

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Genre – Adventure, Survival, Classic

Series – Second book in the Tarzan series

Rating – PG for peril and violence

Synopsis –

Picking up where Tarzan of the Apes left off, we find Tarzan on an ocean liner heading toward France. He has left Jane that she could marry Clayton. In doing so, he has given up his rightful title of Lord Greystoke. During the ocean crossing, Tarzan intercepts several attempts at besmirching and harming the Count De Coude’s honor. The count and his wife Olga are hounded by a man named Nikolas Rokoff. In siding with the Count, Tarzan has created a formidable enemy in Rokoff who will go to the ends of the earth to seek his revenge. Will Tarzan be able to settle for living a quiet life in France or will he revert to his former lifestyle as an ape-man?

My Thoughts –

I wanted to make sure I published another review before the end of the year. So, I decided upon Tarzan. I enjoy these rollicking adventure stories. They have a completely different feel to them compared to some of the writers today. You have a duel, espionage, fights, desert battles, and surviving the hostile jungle. I will say the first book is better in my opinion. Although, the two books could almost be merged together. The Return of Tarzan continues many of the themes from the first book.

Really the only thing that I didn’t care for was how the RoT was almost two separate books. The first section was set in France with the whole intrigue surrounding the Count and his wife. This section was well written, and I really enjoyed the duel and the courage and sacrifice Tarzan shows. The second half kinda wanders a bit and seems the author throws everything he can think of into it. You go from Tarzan being a spy to him finding the lost city of Opar and let’s not forgot the whole Arabian battle in Sidi Aissa. A little too much hopping from one event to the next for me.

I really liked Tarzan’s progression from a man who didn’t understand many common practices to becoming fluent in a variety of languages and cultured enough to pass in society. He truly cares for those around him and is a loyal person to the point of sacrificing his life. Also, I liked Jane’s personal development as she realized where her heart truly lay.

What a relief it was that Burroughs left off much of his primeval man talk. In Tarzan of the Apes, he spent a lot of time talking about about how man had evolved from the primeval ape. You can really see how Darwin’s theory impacted Burrough’s writing a bit which is kinda sad. Although, Burroughs also mentions a Creator or deity a few times.

Language – Pretty clean, only a handful of uses of mild language

Violence – There are several attempts made to kill or hurt the Count and his wife. Tarzan intercedes in a way that no one is harmed. There is a duel between Tarzan and the Count over possible infidelity. (more on that later) Tarzan is shot twice, but only scratches and is not seriously harmed. He is lead into a trap by Rokoff, yet Tarzan kills and harms Rokoff’s men and a few police officers. He almost kills the count in a fit of rage. Later in Africa is left for dead in the desert. He kills several lions to save his life. Burroughs makes it clear that he does not advocate aimless killing for sport. Tarzan battles several Arabs who work for Rokoff. Later, he is presumed dead after being pushed off a ship. I will note that most of the killing is bloodless and not very descriptive.

Innuendo – Throughout the book it is shown Tarzan being noble and heroic in his dealings with women except for one instance. After meeting Olga on the ocean liner, they become friends and he spends quite a bit of time with her and her husband at their home. Rokoff finds out about this and sets up phony letters to get Tarzan alone with Olga. Upon realizing the set up, Tarzan tells Olga what has happened and he comforts her. They end up kissing. The Count, also sent a letter, rushes home and sees them kissing. He believes that more had occurred. So sets up a duel. Tarzan realizes his mistake takes the blame for what happened and cleared Olga of any crime.

Conclusion –

All in all, it was a light splashy read. For a short novel it takes you many places around the world. I don’t know much about Burroughs, but he wrote in way that felt that he had been to all these places, especially the African sections. I really preferred the first book though. His whole learning to read/write was just fascinating, maybe that’s just cause I’m a teacher πŸ˜‰ The portions of the book on the various ships were great and probably my favorite parts!

Now over to you! Have you read this book or the previous one? How was your Christmas?

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Anna

Top Audiobooks of 2020

I have listened so a handful of audiobooks this year, less then I did last year. Probably due to the pandemic and less driving. πŸ™ Anyway, I wanted to mention a few that I have really enjoyed. Most of these the narrator does a great job drawing you into the story, with one exception. I’m not going to list these any particular order.

On with the show!

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow

This year I dipped my toe in a fair amount of Russian themed books. I had come across A Gentleman in Moscow on several blogs and decided I was in the mood to travel back in time to 1922 Moscow. πŸ˜‰ I really enjoyed this one!! Nicholas Smith narrates and truly brings the character Count Alexander Rostov to life. It tells the story of Count Rostov and how the Bolshevik tribunal place him under house arrest at the fancy Hotel Metropol. While there, he meets some of the most interesting people who help break up him hum drum existence and change his life. This is a whopper of an audiobook as it clocks in at 17 hours, but I’d highly recommend listening to it!

  • The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener

After reading the first two books in the Peter Nimble Adventures, I found that the author had written several other novels. This particular one peaked by interested. It tells the story of siblings who work as servants inside an old manor house. The family that lives there seem to be plagued by problems. The siblings resolve to mind their own business and just do their job, but when Kip sees a mysterious spectre roaming the grounds, Molly needs to figure out what is going on before it’s too late. While creepy at times, it becomes more of a fable for what happens when people become greedy. Beverly Crick adds to the quirky characters. While the book is aimed at middle graders, I’d say young adult on up.

  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane Audiobook By Cynthia Hand,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Brodi Ashton,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Jodi Meadows cover art

Years ago I had read about the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey. This retelling throws history out the window and embarks on its own fantasy twist to the tale. I love retellings and decided to give this one a try. It’s narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and I can honestly say I wasn’t a huge fan of either the book or the narration style. I feel like it had a lot of potential, but I didn’t like the lead character who seemed very prideful to me. Anyway, it was a pretty light and fluffy audiobook, good for the summer (as it has that feel and that’s when I listened to it).

  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

This was probably my favorite of the audiobooks I listened to this year!! Also, was of the shorter audiobooks only a little over 7 hours, but it is packed with charm and whimsy! The lead character is very relatable and the narrator, Elizabeth Jasicki, did it justice! It is about 15 year old Jennifer Strange who currently runs Kazam, a employment agency for magicians. She has things running as smoothly as they can while the real owner is missing. Yet, odd things begin to happen as the last dragon is predicted to die shortly. The long and short of it is, is a coming of age story with fantasy set in a world very similar to our own. I’d highly recommend giving this one a go!

  • Britt Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman
Britt-Marie Was Here Audiobook By Fredrik Backman cover art

This was the book club’s pick for the month of November and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! I had never read anything by Backman prior to this. So, it was a fun surprise. The narrator is fantastic at giving all the characters a varied voice and made you feel for Britt-Marie. After finding out her husband was having an affair, Britt Marie finds one of the few jobs available for someone her age, running a youth center in Borg. The people in this small broken down village lead Britt-Marie to discover who she really is and what she wants from life. There are so many heartwarming scenes that will make you laugh and then cry. *Warning* The language in this one is rough and used throughout by certain characters.

  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edger Rice Burroughs
Tarzan of the Apes

This was a re-listen for me as I had read this several years ago. To prepare for reading the next book, Return of Tarzan, I figured I’d listen to it in order to re-familiarize myself with the story. Tarzan’s parents die tragically in the jungle leaving behind a wee baby. Kala the ape had just lost her baby and adopts Tarzan as her own. Tarzan grows up with the apes and learns their ways and language. He doesn’t meet one of his own kind until a African native kills Kala. He begins to learn to read and write. When a ship brings Jane Porter and her father Archimedes Porter, Tarzan must decide whether he wants to stay in the jungle or leave for civilization. I enjoyed revisiting the jungle! Jeff Harding does a wonderful job narrating.

Well, that’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed seeing what I listened to this year. Cannot wait to hear from you all! Do you enjoy audiobooks? Or prefer an actual book? What did you listen to this year?

Anna

Review of Ishmael

Ishmael by E. D. E. N. Southworth

Genre – Adult, Historical, Christian Fiction

Series – 1st of two books, followed by Self-Raised

Rating – PG for thematic elements and discussions of a illegitimate birth.

Synopsis –

Hannah and Nora are two sisters who, although they are dirt poor, are quite content with their life. Until Nora meets Herman Brudenell, the handsome land owner’s son. Nora falls in love with him despite Hannah being very obstinate against it. They are soon married in secret for Herman’s mother’s sake. A series of events leads to Nora’s death in childbirth, and cause Herman to flee his newly born son, Ishmael. Despite the odds against him, Ishmael lives. He faces many hardships on his road to understand the world around him.

My Thoughts –

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I finally finished it! Whoohoo! It took me a while to work my way through Ishmael, but hey, at least I made it. My goal was to finish before Christmas, so check that off the list. I cannot say this was my favorite Lamplighter book, but there were some good elements to it. Quite a bit different from any of the other Lamplighters that I had read previously.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritties shall we? To start the character development and setting are spot on! Southworth does a great job giving the characters a backstory and motives for their growth or moral decline. The setting felt real, probably due to fact that this book was written close to time it was set. Ishmael is a likeable character, you root for him to be victorious over the circumstances of his birth and childhood years. Although, for the majority of the book, he felt almost too perfect. He didn’t have any major flaws to speak of, until literally the last chapter. So, that got on my nerves a bit. Beatrice is great women who loves and sacrifices her wants for her friend Claudia.

Now, I had one major problem with it – main character love interest. He fell for the snotty and proud Claudia who views him as a dog. Ugh, this annoyed me so much. He literally will do anything she asks. I really wanted Ishmael to realize how Beatrice felt and cared about him. That being said thankfully the romance side of the story takes a backseat to his growth as a person and Ishmael climbing the proverbial work ladder.

Southworth does a great job weaving faith throughout the book. We see Ishmael’s faith in the Lord grow from barely recognizing his Creator and almost worshiping the founding fathers to a strong devotion to the Lord and reliance upon him. Even Hannah, listened to her dying sister and opted to leave revenge in God’s hands. She could very easily have told everyone the truth of Ishmael’s parentage. So, I appreciated that aspect.

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I do have to mention that it moves very slowly. The plot takes it times and meanders a little bit which was part of the reason I struggled to really sink into the novel. Maybe it’s just me being picky. πŸ˜‰ Whatever the reason, (mentally saying quote from the Grinch) just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

Language – Just a few uses of mind swearing, used by Ishmael’s rivals.

Innuendo – Several of his schoolmates make fun of his birth. Leads to several characters believing that Ishmael was born out of wedlock.

Violence – A house is burning and Ishmael rushes in to save to boys who were trapped. He suffered some burns and bruises. Later, he endeavors to halt a runaway horse and carriage. He is trampled by the horse and wheels of carriage. He breaks a few ribs and both of his legs, maybe his arm as well.

Conclusion –

I can say that I enjoyed bits and pieces. There were many aspects of the book that were very compelling and realistic. Several character just annoyed me with their constant pettiness, but the main character was devoted to the Lord. Written during a very interesting time in history. I can say I read it! Overall, word building was fantastic and very clean.

How is your December going? Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

Anna

Review of Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Series – #17 Hercule Poirot

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

The famous French detective Hercule Poirot has decided to take a vacation to Egypt. Little did he know that he would become involved in the mysterious murder of Linnet Ridgeway a British rich aristocrat. A few months before heading to Egypt, Linnet meets with her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort to talk about Jacqueline’s possible engagement. Jacqueline is madly in love with Simon Doyle, a poor country man, and wants Linnet to give her consent to Jacqueline’s marriage. Several months later. Poirot meets Linnet during his trip in Egypt, and she had married Simon. Linnet is scared for her life and begs Poirot to investigate. After she is murdered on a boat, Poirot needs all of skill to figure out exactly what happened.

My Thoughts –

Sorry if my thoughts get a little jumbled, I finished this book almost a week ago and its still swirling around my head. I’ve only read/listened to a handful of Christie’s novels, yet this one seems to stand out to me. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express with its unique ending, but I almost liked Death on the Nile more. For starters, the focus is on character development and exploring what makes each suspect tick. I loved this aspect, most whodunit’s just focus on the crime. Then the murder doesn’t happen until half-way through the book. Again, this was different then most mystery novels I’ve read and it really worked!

There is a whole host of characters, some of whom are very well created. I really like how Christie wrote Jacqueline. Although she carries a grudge, I liked and felt sorry for her. I also was drawn to Cornelia; what a bright flower among so many flawed people. Cornelia had a kind and humble heart. Now, I cannot forget Poirot. He is definitely a quirky detective; he’s able to notice things that nobody else does, but also has a soft side. There was a section where he takes Jacqueline aside and they have a little chat. It was such an emotional scene and after having only met this women, Poirot cared about her.

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The plot had several twists and turns to it. I was so sure that certain characters were innocent, but Christie had me fooled. There were a few things that I found odd, but wasn’t able to put everything together.

Although this is not a Christian book by any means, Poirot believes in God. He quotes scripture a few times at just the right moment and on the inside I was like “Yes!” Also, he tries to prevent several characters from making poor decisions.

Language – Mild infrequent swearing

Innuendo – A character marries her best friend’s boyfriend, (we find out later this was all planned by best friend to get money). A character references sex as a subject in her book she wrote.

Violence -Now while it is a murder mystery, Christie keeps the violence to a minimum. You know they die and how, but it isn’t gratuitous. A character is found dead the next morning by gunshot to head. Another character is shot in the leg. A few other characters die, but not very detailed. Later to avoid going to prison, a character commits suicide.

Conclusion –

Death on the Nile gives an interesting look at what can lead a person to do horrible things. There is a lot to think about and I really enjoyed diving into another Agatha Christie novel. I had a hard time putting it down!! Personally, I love seeing an in depth look at characters and their development . So this was right up my alley. Overall, a well written story that defiantly worth a read!

Have you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you have a favorite? Hope you are having a wonderful November!

Anna

Review for I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Genre – Historical, coming of age, romance

Series – No

Rating – PG – for mild innuendo

Synopsis –

Cassandra has received a journal and decides to practice her speed writing by writing about her life living in a run down castle with her family. Her mother died many years ago and her father remarried a women named Topaz. Cassandra’s family has no money, and so excitement surfaces when two American bachelors move into their landowner’s estate. Rose, the sister, is determined to marry someone who has money because she is sick of being poor. As her father sinks into a miserable and forlorn state, Cassandra desperately wants to help out. Will Cassandra be able to come up with a form of income? or will these 2 Americans kick their family out for good?

My Thoughts –

I didn’t realize this until after I started this book, that it is by the author of 101 Dalmatians. I have conflicting thoughts on this book; defintatly unique with a surprising ending that I kinda liked, but also felt a little dissatisfied with it. Yet, I have to say the author did a wonderful job sweeping you into the story of this family’s life. There were a few moments that very much reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. Poor family, 2 sisters that are close, rich neighbors – you get the picture. πŸ˜‰

All the characters come across in a very real way. The story itself moves along slowly as the author takes time to describe surroundings and build characters. I liked the Mortmain family, although some of their actions were a bit annoying at times. Thankfully, nothing felt contrived though. I have to say that I liked Stephan much more then I did Simon. *Spoiler Alert * I am quite glad that Cassandra does not end up with Simon, but why did she drag Stephan along !! I didn’t really like Rose. I just couldn’t support her convictions. However, I found Mr. Mortmain to be quite comedic l and a complex character.

The plot had some very sweet moments to it, but then the characters would do something that got on my nerves. I have to say I liked it, but not so much that I truly loved the story.

The characters themselves are not Christians , so their choices can sometimes reflect that. Although, Cassandra does go to church a few times and discusses theology with the priest. There was one part where Cassandra and Rose would throw these big rituals on May Day. They would read poetry, dance around the fire, and collect flowers. It just felt odd & I cannot say I cared for it.

Violence – The reason Mr. Mortmain got sent to prison was because a neighbor saw him brandishing a cake knife at his wife. (He is truly a kind man although a bit distant and sarcastic).

Language – There really wasn’t that much, maybe a few uses of mild swearing.

Innuendo – Cassandra mentions that Topaz likes to commune with nature by walking outdoors naked. (We never see this happen, but it is mentioned a few times.) Cassandra decides to sunbathe naked when none of her family members are home. She does do this in a private part of the castle where no one could stumble upon her. It is suggested that a character made love to another character.

Conclusion –

In thinking back, I have to say the first half was good and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The second half seemed to derail a little bit with a big twist at the end. Overall I’d say a unique story with some out of the box characters. Honestly I cannot think of much more to say about it.

How is your fall going? What have you been reading? Have you heard of this book?

Anna

2 Mysteries that I have recently finished

Recently I just haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, yet I have just finished 2 mysteries that were quite good! I enjoyed both, but for different reasons & and will give a mini review on both.

First, Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse.

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – Second book in the Mycroft and Sherlock series

Rating – PG -13 for violence & drug use

Synopsis – Mycroft has just started working high up in the British government and has saved the queen on a previous occasion when a series of murders occurs. At first he is not interested, but when Sherlock’s professor becomes involved and a few close calls, Mycroft begins to suspect that something is brewing. Sherlock meanwhile has secretly taken on this case as his budding investigative powers lead him into the lion’s den. Mycroft and Sherlock work together to find out who is behind these awful murders.

My Thoughts – First, I really liked the authors take on younger versions of Mycroft and Sherlock. I haven’t read the first book as I had no idea this was series, but there was enough information that I didn’t feel too lost. I preferred Sherlock’s escapades for I found Mycroft’s character not as interesting. Plus Sherlock has always been a favorite character of mine. πŸ˜‰ I liked Douglas with his orphanage for boys & appreciated his values. Nice to see Douglas endeavoring to keep his son’s memory by helping others in need. Charles and George were sweet and wanted to hear more of their story.

While the beginning was a wee bit slow, it began to pick up midway through. The action was spread out and did a decent job keeping the pace going, Although the conclusion felt a little off to me. It felt just a little anti-climatic. Oh, well. Overall I enjoyed it and liked several of the characters.

Content – Only a handful of mild uses of language. Really pretty minimal. Violence was mostly characters seeing an already dead body or a description of how they were killed. A couple mentions of genitals getting cut off. Later we learn this is a ritual done in Asia to teach others a lesson. There is a fight scene were a couple characters get beat up. The other content issue is drug use. It is a main theme as the bad guys test drugs on young children before shipping it to users. Sherlock enters a drug den and is injected multiple times.

Now for the second mystery!

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – First book in the C. D. Sloan mysteries

Rating – PG – Mild violence

Synopsis – When a nun is thought to have been murdered in the convent of St. Anselm, Inspector Sloan is called in. Sister Anne is found at the bottom cellar. The problem for Sloan is that the Nuns are a very quiet group and have given up everything worldly to live for God. Sloan begins diving into Sister Anne’s past and interrogating the others in the convent. Will Sloan be able to get to the bottom before anyone else dies?

My Thoughts – This was a well done mystery. For the longest time, I thought someone was the culprit, but I was proved wrong. πŸ˜‰ Anyway, this was really clean and breath of fresh air. Set after WWII, it has a lot going for it. I like Sloan and his partner Crosby. They were a good pair that reminded me of a couple characters from the show Foyle’s War. While there isn’t much character development, the focus was on introducing the characters and solving the mystery. It was a pretty short book less then 200 p. We also get to see things from the sister’s perspectives and what their life was like. So pacing was pretty quick and it flowed really well for my tastes. I think that I will probably continue this series and see where it goes.

Content – Rare mild language, violence was again after the character had died. She is hit on the back of the head. The villain tries to kill another nun, but is stopped by inspector. Maybe a couple mentions of blood on her clothes. Other then that it is really clean.

Conclusion – So these are a few books that I have finished. It feels so good to finish a book!! Slowly, but surly I am ticking off books on my list. I think I only have maybe 2 or 3 left!! Yea!!! My next book will be My Dog Skip. I recently watched this movie and really enjoyed it! Then found out there was a book behind it so yeah, looking forward to that!!

What books have you read recently? Do you enjoy mysteries? Read any Sherlock Holmes pastiches? What is your favorite?

Anna

Review for That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 3rd book in the Ransom trilogy

Rating – PG-13 for strong violence and language

Synopsis –

Jane and Mark Studdock have had a rough patch in their marriage. Mark teaches at Bracton college and has recently joined the Fellowship there; he is constantly endeavoring to be a part of the inner circle. This leads him to joining an evil organization called N. I. C. E. Jane on the other hand prefers her independence, but that is changed when she has visions that begin to scare her. With help from an older couple, Jane meets the Director aka Ransom. Will Mark realize his mistake before its too late? Should Jane trust what the Director is telling her?

My Thoughts –

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I did it!! I finished the Ransom trilogy!! Whew, that has taken me on quite a journey. I actually really liked this last installment as it felt completely different from first 2 books. Lewis moves the story back to earth with a little time gap between Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. We also alternate between the N. I. C. E. stronghold at Belbery and Ransom’s group at St. Anne.

The characters that Lewis added in this book were my kind of jam. Jane and Mark felt flushed out, yet pretty relatable. I actually liked Mark, despite some of his views/flaws, and wanted him to see the error of his ways, but he was kind of fooled by N. I. C. E. flowery phrases. Jane, while stubborn, at least realized she needed help. The group at St. Anne’s was kind of funny in their own way – a band of misfits who no one would think could impact Britain. How can you not like a bear named Mr. Beltitude? Plus, Ransom was more of a background character which I think fit after his transformation on Venus. He was like the wise father to the group. In Perelandra, Ransom was odd and a bit idiotic at times, and I just didn’t care for him. So, it was definitely a breath of fresh air to see him change.

One thing Lewis add to That Hideous Strength is a bit of Arthurian legend which was not in his previous books. I liked it. Merlin was kind of kooky, but he added to the plot and was a vehicle for climax. After listening to a talk on this book, I learned that Lewis became friends with Charles Williams while writing. He influenced Lewis quite a bit. I ‘ll add a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61w7SHOJQEg

Spiritual warfare is also heavily present. The N. I. C. E. have found a way to keep a dead head alive. This invites the “macrobes” or demons to speak through this head to the key people in N. I. C. E. Their whole philosophy is to brainwash the public into a very sterile way of thinking. Meanwhile, Ransom has been conversing with the Oyarsa, who are equivalent to angels. At one point, Ransom is talking to Jane and he tells her that she will have to convert to Christianity which goes against Jane’s strong sense of will. Eventually she submits.

One downside for me at least was the ending. I kind of expected a huge battle between the Oyarsa and the bent one, but really all it took was Merlin freeing the animals, who then brought justice. It felt a little odd to me.

Language – Pretty frequently used, although mostly by the nonbelievers. I would say used more often then in the previous books. Kept within the bounds of PG though.

Violence – The directors of N. I. C. E. murder a couple of people who try to leave their organization. Mostly done off the page. Also, mentioned that they want to murder large groups of people to cleanse the world and perform experiments upon animals. They orchestrate riots in Edgestow. Miss Hardcastle takes pleasure in torturing the prisoners. In one instance she burns Jane with a cigarette. Towards the end, Merlin releases animals during a banquet at the N. I. C. E. headquarters, who proceed to kill and maul the guests. References to the room filled with blood. One character’s arm is mauled off. Later a character kills several characters and covers the room in blood. He is then eaten by a bear. So, yeah, violence is also stepped up a bit compared to previous books.

Innuendo – Miss Hardcastle takes off her tunic revealing that she isn’t wearing a corset, while it doesn’t outright say, it hinted that Hardcastle is a lesbian. One of N. I. C. E. goals is to get rid of sex. Mention that on one side of the Moon they don’t breed, but live forever. The other side is depicted as savages. Later on, 3 N. I. C. E. members strip naked before their head. After everything is set right, Venus draws near. This leads to all the animals mating. Jane and Mark spend the night together with a promise of a child.

Conclusion –

It feels really good to have finished this series. It will probably be one that I will reread in future. It wasn’t what I expected for the final book, but it worked. I would say that this one is my favorite of the trilogy. Followed by Out of the Silent Planet then Perelandra. The N. I. C. E. organization really reminded me of the Nazis so you could see how the war impacted what Lewis wrote. Funny little anecdote, Lewis mentions Middle-earth and Numinor which is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings/ Simarillion. I thought that was kinda neat!

Have you read this trilogy? Have a favorite book by Lewis? Cannot wait to hear from you all!

Anna

Review of Perelandra

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 2nd book in the Ransom Trilogy

Rating – PG for violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

Ransom has been home a while since his adventure on Malacandra or Mars. Lewis is taking a trip to meet Ransom when stumbling upon Ransom’s house Lewis encounters an Oyarsa. Eventually Ransom shows up an explains to Lewis why he needs his help. The Oyarsa have summoned Ransom to go to Perelandra (Venus), and Lewis is supposed to help Ransom upon his return. Lewis agrees and so off Ransom goes. Perelandra is a lush planet with a variety of unique wildlife. While there, Ransom meets a Green Lady who is looking for her missing husband, the king. Will Ransom be able to figure out why he was called to Perelandra?

My Thoughts –

Well, I am now 2/3 the way through the series and can say that it is different then I had expected. This second book is much more descriptive then the first, not to say that first was descriptive, but this has an elegant feel to it. Again, like Out of the Silent Planet, this book tries to get you to think outside the box as Lewis tackles some tough subjects.

Let’s talk characters! First, yeah, Lewis sort of wrote himself into the book although albeit in a minor role. I found it kinda humorous as not many authors do that. Maybe Tolkien did as well, cannot remember though. The Green Lady is very innocent and naive, partly because she has just been awakened. Her and Ransom have many philosophical conversations, not gonna lie, but some of it went over my head. Yet, she didn’t have much of a personality. She does go through some development, but not in a way you would expect. Also, Weston comes back and this time he is possessed by Satan which makes for an interesting and odd character.

I will say that the plot is slower then the first. There isn’t much action until closer to the end. A fair amount of the story takes place in conversations arguing this and that. I loved the first few chapters with Lewis and his trip to Ransom’s house. For me it just flowed nicely and kept me engaged.

Lewis delves into several topics that Ransom, the Lady, and Weston discuss. One of the first things they go into is what is evil/good. It kinda plays on the Garden of Eden and what would have happened if Eve never sinned. The Lady doesn’t know what evil is, so Ransom tries to explain it. Lewis also mentions myths a couple times and how a myth on our world could be reality on another. Weston tries to get the Lady to disobey Maleldil’s one rule that he gave her and her husband. That is only scratching the surface. πŸ˜‰

Lewis does a great job weaving Christian elements throughout the story. Here and there Ransom will mention Genesis and the similarities with Perelandra. Multiple times they discuss how Maleldil had been made into a man on our planet and died. Ransom himself is a Christ-like character not in his characteristics, but in how he sacrifices himself. There is also mention of a cleansing of our world. So, there is a lot of Christian content which is nice to see.

Language – One use of mild language.

Violence – Ransom wakes up to find a trail of sliced frog like creatures that are dying. Turns out Weston is mutilating them. Later on Ransom attacks Weston after prompting from Maleldil. They bite, scratch, rip each other up pretty bad. Weston tears Ransom back which bleeds. They chase each other across the world until eventually Ransom pushes him over a cave ledge and he burns up. Ransom realizes as he recovers that he was hurt in his heel. Bleeds for quite a while, meaning weeks.

Innuendo – Upon meeting the Lady, Ransom realizes that both of them are naked. Later on Weston sees Random and the Lady close together (due to Random trying to warn the Lady) and thinks Ransom was seducing her. Weston cannot believe that their interaction truly wasn’t sexual. Near the end Ransom compares something to a women’s breasts.

Conclusion –

This has been an interesting series so far. Lewis delves in deep into some philosophical and spiritual issues all while conveying an interesting story. Although, I cannot say that I liked his characters which ranged from Ransom being idiotic at times to Weston, a pure form of evil. I believe that these books will need to be reread a couple times to fully appreciate what Lewis is doing. Perelandra made me ponder things that I never thought to consider. Would I recommend it? Yes, but take the time to think on what you are reading. πŸ™‚