Top 10 Tuesday!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

This is my first time joining in the fun here, but I needed a good topic today and I figured there was no time like the present to start with this one.

This was a hard one. Normally if I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the book. So the reverse is kind of true also. If I like the characters, I generally like the book.

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One – Detective Harry Bosch – The Black Echo by Michael Connolly. Connolly did a great job creating a MC that was complex, dark, with a compelling back story. The book however, was too dark for me to really enjoy. If you like the dark detective types, then I would recommend it.

Two and Three- Tommy and Tuppence – Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie. This was a case for me of where a good author writes a really bad book. Tommy and Tuppence, a team of married detectives, are now much older and have slowed down. But I don’t think that was the reason I didn’t like the book. There was just no plot. So disappointing, because I loved the previous books.

Four – Mr. March – March by Geraldine Brooks. In this retelling of the classic story Little Women, Reverend March is away with the Union troops during Civil War. It’s a great premise for a story. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the book. The author throws in a love triangle for no apparent reason, besides changing the familiar characters into people I didn’t like.

Five – Ozma The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige. Oh, this series. It had so much potential. But the writer was problematic, the second book let me down so hard, and the whole thing became such a mess. Such a shame. It could have been great.

Six – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is where it all began, but it really wasn’t such a great book. It’s got some major plot holes, some serious pacing issues, but the characters became icons.

Seven and Eight – Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon in Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter by Emily Brightwell. This is sort of an obscure series, but I remember being so disappointed by the end of the series. She took characters I’d come to love and just stuck them in this lame book.

Nine – Don Quixote in the same book by Miguel de Cervantes. It was actually BECAUSE I liked the character so much that I lost patience with this book. Every single other character treats him like crap, but it’s OK, because he’s crazy. Listen, I have so many issues with this book, I could go on for hours. But I’ll stop there.

Ten – Mary Russell in Mary Russell’s War by Laurie R. King. Another case of a bad book by a good author. It’s a collection of short stories that all should have been left in the bin. Stick to the novels in this case.

 

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The Seven Dials Mystery

Title: The Seven Dials Mystery

Author: Agatha Christie

Themes: adventure, secret criminal organizations, exotic foreign adventuresses, stolen government plans, and plenty more
Setting: Chimneys in England

If you’ve only read Agatha Christie for her mysteries featuring the famous Belgian sleuth or the mild old lady with the mind like a steel trap, then you have missed some thrilling adventure stories. This one is the second one set at the Stately Home of Chimneys in England. The first one, The Secret of Chimneys, takes place four years earlier and involves the missing heir to the throne of a fictional European country, a stolen government contract, the Comrades of the Black Hand or something like that, and a very satisfying love story. This one differs only in the details; the feel is just the same.

Lady Eileen Brent, known to all as Bundle, discovers that a young man of her acquaintance has died in her home. They had let it to a wealthy industrialist, and during a house party, the man had died in his sleep. Now Bundle nearly runs over the dead man’s best friend, who dies of a gunshot wound in her arms, whispering the words, “Tell – Seven Dials – Jimmy Thessinger.” Bundle rushes off to find Jimmy and enlist him in her fight against this evil criminal gang.

Really, really fun. I listened to this one, and I do have a few complaints about the audio version. The reader, whose name I can’t locate, did fine with the voices of most of the major characters, but she had a tendency to make the rest of the young girls screechy and shrill. I didn’t like Superintendent Battle’s accent either. She did a good job at making them all sound different, but she was much too screechy now and then, and the American woman at the very end was just dreadful. No one sounds like that. Ever.

If you want an exciting, clean adventure with some romance and not a lot to slow it down, try the stand alone titles by Agatha Christie. I also love The Man in the Brown Suit, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, and They Came to Baghdad. 5 stars for book, 4 for audio.

Review: The Tuesday Club Murders

Title: The Tuesday Club Murders or The 13 Problems (Miss Marple #2)

Author: Agatha Christie

Setting: England 1930s or so

Format: physical book

Plot: Author Raymond West is staying with his aunt in the country. One evening at a dinner with friends, he proposes that they each relate a mystery, then see who can come up with the best solution to the story. To his surprise, sweet little Aunt Jane wins every time.

Reaction: I love Miss Marple. I always pictured her as a sweet, white-haired lady with “a mind like a steel trap,” as a police acquaintance says. Now that I’ve seen the mysteries with Joan Hickson in the role, I can’t imagine anyone else. She’s deceptively mild, but oh, what a wicked tongue she has when she wants to. Miss Marple was always very much a gentlewoman, but not always a gentle woman.

While I prefer the longer books like The Body in the Library, the nice thing about the short stories is that you can pick them up when you just have a few minutes to read and then put it down again without worrying about remembering where you were in the story next time. I’ve been working on rereading this one for a couple of months, and I never felt any rush to finish, just a bit of happiness every time I picked it up.

My favorite story is the one told by glamorous actress Jane Hillyer of a burglary. If you haven’t read Miss Marple before, I think I’d recommend starting with the first one, Murder at the Vicarage.

Book a Party

You’re having a tea party for 5 guests. You may invite anyone from any book. Who would you invite and why? What would you serve? What do you do?

My guests. I’m going to make this an all female party, because it’s my meme and I can, so let’s get that out of the way. My picks would be

  1. Elizabeth Bennett. She’s witty, intelligent, and I’m dying to ask her about life in Regency era England. As well as gossip about our husbands. (Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen)
  2. Jane Marple. Also intelligent, and such a great source of gossip. It would be lovely to really hear an expert on human behavior. (Miss Marple mysteries by Agatha Christie)
  3. Scheherazade. She could entertain us with some amazing stories and I’d love to hear whether the sultan was worth all that in the end. (Arabian Nights)
  4. Molly Weasley. She’s a mom, like me, and we’d both welcome a chance to talk about our kids. And she’s an unbelievable badass as well. (Harry Potter series by J K Rowling)
  5. Meg Langslow. She’s not so funny all by herself, but as the calm within the storm, her tales would be hysterical. (Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews)

Menu. Right, any party I attend would be better with chocolate, so let me start there. We’d have a chocolate fondue, tea or coffee for my guests and more chocolate for me. Maybe Molly Weasley would surprise us with some magical desserts and Scheherazade could bring Turkish Delight.

Activity. Maybe a few old-fashioned parlor games? I think Miss Marple or Elizabeth Bennett would be the winners there. Then we could just sit around and tell stories and eat the chocolate.

 

Right, so that’s my list. What about you? Who would you invite and why?

 

Book Review: Murder at Hazelmoor

The new residents at Sittaford House planned a little evening party with neighbors. Even the snowstorm didn’t discourage them. But when a little harmless table turning became something more sinister, everyone became a little nervous. Was Captain Trevelyan really dead? His friend Major Burnaby set off on a 6 mile hike to find out.

The police decide that there was nothing supernatural about the death – it was murder, and they know who did it. But the fiance of the accused is sure of his innocence and sets off to find the real killer.

I really liked this one. It’s set in the moors and there’s this great sense of isolation, which is intensified by the presence of a prison nearby. When one of the inmates escapes, the police have to decide how he fits into the crime.

This is one of the few Agatha Christie books that doesn’t feature either Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. I didn’t miss them, but if you didn’t know that, you might keep waiting for them to show up. Recommended, but more fun on a cold and windy night.

Book Review: The Woman on the Orient Express

Title: The Woman on the Orient Express

Author: Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Format: Kindle Unlimited lets you listen and read, so audio & ebook

Setting: Traveling through Europe to Mesopotamia, 1928

Story: Agatha Christie is running away. Again. Her unfaithful husband has finally pushed a divorce through and is remarrying. Agatha decides a trip is just the thing, but she’s still pretty miserable. She decides to travel incognito, and meets two women on her trip, Kathleen and Nancy. Everyone is hiding something, and it will end (eventually) with someone dead.

I liked this story. I picked it up mainly because I am such a fan of Agatha Christie, and Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorites. Plus, it was such a romantic journey in its time – bridging two separate worlds, going somewhere completely new. This was based in fact, but still fiction. Christie did take the Orient Express to Baghdad and she did go out to an archaeological dig there. Some of the people, including Max, are based on real people. But I don’t want to reveal too much.

I would recommend this one mainly for fans of Agatha Christie. It moved slowly sometimes and I think the ending was a little disappointing, but it was still fun.