The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Vacation book #2. I had read that this book was one of the most interesting Christie novels alongside The Murder of Royger Ackroyd.

I generally like the pacing of Christie’s novels and enjoyed Poirot and Miss Marple in the past. This one only had one Christie regular: Colonel Race. He did seem rather dashing in this novel.

The plot was alright. I do not know how I ended up reading two mystery books related to South Africa in one vacation.

The protagonist Anne Beddingfield is fun though her origin story seems slap dash. Then again, I think that’s consistent with most of Christie’s protagonists. I was surprised how she hated some woman she never met rather than the actual man who tried to kill her more than once. She couldn’t stand a woman who pretended to love a man especially her own man in the past, but the guy who tried to kill her was A-Ok. Not a great lesson that.

There is a rather bucolic ending too. All in all, a nice jaunt in Christie’s universe but nothing spectacular.

Read August 10-12, 2017 on Kindle.

Diamonds are Forever by Ian Flemming

This was one of my vacation books. I am not sure why I didn’t read Live and Let Die first. I guess it was not on Kindle for some reason.

I enjoyed Casino Royale well enough. These books should be decent pulp fiction easy for the holidays. When Bond was going to New York, I too was on a plane.

I didn’t know what to expect, but given this book did not inspire one of the better Connery Bond films, I should have expected the mediocrity. I understand these are older books, but this book had misogyny, racism, and homophobia at various points. Hit the jackpot. Aside from that, the book’s plot and villain are rather weak. Not an awful book, but certainly boring and not the best.

I debated whether to put this in the Classics club. The series as a whole is a classic and I really did like Casino Royale. This book in the series does not hold up well though. In the end, I put it in.

I will still continue to read the Flemming books.

Read August 6-9, 2017 on Kindle.

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure or Fanny Hill by John Cleland is considered the first pornography in novel form. This book was widely banned, illegally published, and denounced by its author. It is definitely a classic in an infamous way at least. But is it a good novel?
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Stuart Little by E. B. White

When I was a kid, I enjoyed Charlotte’s Web so I wanted to read another E. B. White book. I have not seen the Stuart Little movies either.

This was a nice little children’s book which is written more of a series of short stories on the adventures of Stuart Little. I liked most of the stories. The characters were sweet and I liked the New York City setting too. Margola the bird and the Little parents were lovely.

Stuart has a big personality too and it borders on being egotistical. It was amusing until one of the last stories where he develops a crush on someone. It is relatable but he then becomes defeated when things don’t go his way. The story ends there and rather abruptly.

The novel too ends on a bit of a cliff hanger. You can tell White was done with the character and stories by then so he just gave up without much of a ending.

All in all, still a sweet and nice children’s novel.

Read May 15, 2016.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This was the right spring time book for an Easter read. I’ve seen more than one adaptation of this book on TV and movies. I also think I read at the very least an adapted version of this as a kid.

I liked the transformation of spoiled and sour Mary into a kinder and more robust one. I was less interested in Colin and the move shifts more to him in the latter half. Dickon is a funny character too. I do genuinely like the kindness of the characters that Burnett writes about it here and in A Little Princess.

What I liked most about this book was that my hard cover was big and had lovely illustrations by Inga Moore. I think that was a big part of why I enjoyed the story as much as I did. As a child, I loved a similar style book of Peter Pan. It really makes a worthwhile reading experience when children’s books are presented this way.

Read March 27, 2016.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Happy Holidays!

In brief, I liked Joyce’s prose right away. There is something so simple yet good in how he puts words together.

However, the plot, the dialogue, and the character left me a bit wanting. I did like it in the beginning, but not much actually happens in terms of plot. You really have to relate to Stephen to enjoy it. I am not male or religious enough to have done so.

This book reminded me of Catcher in the Rye, but I like this book much better. I prefer Stephen much more than Holden Caulfield. It’s a similar angsty and reflective coming of age story but this one with a much more Catholic bent.

This was my first Joyce, and I do not think it will be my last. However, for a book less than 300 pages, this took me much longer than I would have liked. I hope Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake is better, but I won’t try those out for awhile.

Read December 9-25, 2015.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

This is a collection of stories from the same town of characters. I had hoped it would be like Gaskell’s Cranford, but it was a bit more like Faulkner and Stoner by John Williams.

Faulkner and Hemingway were allegedly inspired by Anderson. He is definitely a good writer and there definite moments of powerful prose and characterizations.

“Like a thousand other strong men who have come into the world here in America in these later times, James was but half strong. He could master others but he could not master himself.”

Anderson really seems to be able to get into a lot of characters in a quick succession of time. However, I found most of the stories too glum for me to enjoy fully. It’s one of the reasons I have no tried to read Faulkner again.

I yearn to read more books that are slightly less depressing. The ending is hopeful though I did feel I spent 250 pages with highly repressed characters. That’s a bit much. I did like it for the most part, but I do not think I will search out Anderson anytime soon.

Read November 30-December 2, 2015.

Little House series round-up post

I am counting this as one Classics Club entry because technically I’ve reread most of the books except two.

  1. The Little House in the Big Woods
  2. Farmer Boy
  3. Little House on the Prairie
  4. On the Banks of Plum Creek
  5. By the Shores of Silver Lake
  6. The Long Winter
  7. Little Town on the Prairie
  8. These Happy Golden Years
  9. The First Four Years

When I started this read-along, I wanted to judge if the books were as good as I remember them and if reading them as an adult coloured my views. This was not my absolute favourite series as a kid, but it definitely had its moments. I’m someone who has always been pulled to the country and simpler life. I have a lot of old fashioned tastes and hobbies so the books worked on me in that level. I also enjoy history.

I was perturbed and saddened to find that Pa Ingalls did seem to be an irresponsible father at times. As much as he loved his girls, he was a bit shady and a poor man with finances. Most kids would have a lot of this stuff go over their heads, but even as a kid, I never understood why Charles Ingalls moved his family so much across the country. I also disliked the racism especially as voiced by Ma.

I would still read or recommend these to children, even though I have the aforementioned qualms. One of the best aspects of the series is Laura herself who is honest, brave yet realistic. She is inherently relateable to most young girls. The writing is good too. I think Wilder is a lovely writer. There is some memorable images and fun moments from these books. Credit to Laura and maybe Rose Wilder Lane for that. I think it’s written well for the most part.

More than ever, this readalong has really made me excited for Pioneer Girl. I look forward to reading Laura’s even less embellished childhood.

The Classics Spin 5

Classics ClubThe Fourth Classics Spin from the Classics Club. As with before, I must pick twenty books, then a random number will be selected and each of us must read the number listed at X number by April 1, 2014.

These Spins are really useful because other reads and activities have taken me away from the challenge often.

My challenge is that I own almost every one of these books so I must read them to clear them from my shelves.

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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When I was around the age of Sara Crewe, I had seen the 1995 movie adaptation of this book and liked it. It was magical. I really adored the message about every girl being a princess and the sense of magic in the work. I didn’t know how true the movie was to the book until now.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

I had somewhat high expectations for this novel given how much I liked Agnes Grey and the style of Anne Bronte’s writing overall. I found my expectations were not quite met. In general, this is a good novel and like Grey, it is a very interesting view about Victorian marriage. As a proto-Feminist novel, I can appreciate it as well.
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The Classics Spin 4

Classics ClubThe Fourth Classics Spin from the Classics Club. As with before, I must pick twenty books, then a random number will be selected and each of us must read the number listed at X number by January 1, 2014.

Even though I still have not finished my book from the last spin, these Spins are really useful because other challenges, reads, and activities have taken me away from the classics this year.

My challenge is that I own almost every one of these books so I must read them to clear my TBR shelf.

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