Casvelyn's 12 in 12 Tea Party, Part II

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Casvelyn's 12 in 12 Tea Party, Part II

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

1casvelyn
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:24am

I drink a lot of tea (as in every day), so I’ve themed my categories around tea. I'm planning on spending the first six months of the year reading whatever I want and fitting it in where it may. Then I'll spend the second six months filling in the holes.

The Rules

- Read 60 books (5 per category) between January 1 and December 31, 2012 to complete the challenge
- Each category must include at least one mystery (substitute true crime or biography of a mystery novelist for non-fiction)
- Each book counts only once

Books Read: 60 / 60

Categories

COMPLETED 1. Aged Pu-erh (can be aged 30 or more years) - 19th century fiction

COMPLETED 2. First Flush (the first spring tea growth) - published 2010 or later

COMPLETED 3. British Breakfast - British authors

COMPLETED 4. Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP is a very high grade of tea) - 1001 Books/Guardian 1000

COMPLETED 5. Kenilworth (the name of a tea plantation, a tea blend, and a novel) - historical fiction (yes, I will be reading Kenilworth)

COMPLETED 6. Russian Caravan (a dark and smoky blend) - mystery, part 1 - dark and mysterious

COMPLETED 7. Sweet Tea with Lemon - mystery, part 2 - light and refreshing

COMPLETED 8. Jasmine Monkey King - fantasy

COMPLETED 9. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. - science fiction

COMPLETED 10. PG Tips - non-fiction

COMPLETED 11. Monk's Blend (I've had the same tin of this for... years now. It's one of my favorites, but the tea room where I get it closed, so this is all I've got.) - off the shelf

COMPLETED 12. Green Tea (green tea is the least processed kind of tea, the "first" kind of tea produced during processing) - first in a series

2casvelyn
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:25am

1. Aged Pu-erh 19th-century fiction

1. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.7)
2. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.7)
3. The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale (4.4)
4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (5.0)

M. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.5)

Average category rating: 4.6

3casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:51pm

2. First Flush Published in the 2010s

1. Yesterday's Dead by Pat Bourke (4.2)
2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (5.0)
3. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (4.1)
4. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (3.3)

M. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (3.3)

Average category rating: 3.9

4casvelyn
Redigerat: okt 14, 2012, 1:49pm

3. British Breakfast British authors

1. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (3.5)
2. Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken (3.8)
3. At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie (3.6)
4. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis (4.3)

M. The China Governess by Margery Allingham (3.6)

Category average rating: 3.8

5casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:46pm

4. Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1001 Books to Read Before You Die/Guardian 1000

1. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (5.0)
2. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (5.0)
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (4.9)
4. Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (3.4)

M. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.5)

Category average rating: 4.6

6casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:46pm

5. Kenilworth Historical fiction

1. The Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede (5.0)
2. Kenilworth by Walter Scott (4.1)
3. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (3.0)
4. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (4.0)

M. The Three Body Problem by Catherine Shaw (3.4)

Category average rating: 3.9

7casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:47pm

6. Russian Caravan Mysteries... possibly dark and mysterious

1. Silence Observed by Michael Innes (4.6)
2. Hare Sitting Up by Michael Innes (4.0)
3. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.6)
4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.3)

M. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.1)

Category average rating: 4.3

8casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 18, 2012, 1:14pm

7. Sweet Tea with Lemon Mysteries... possibly light and refreshing

1. The Long Farewell by Michael Innes (4.5)
2. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.3)
3. The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (4.2)
4. Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie (3.2)

M. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey (4.8)

Category average rating: 4.2

9casvelyn
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:26am

8. Jasmine Monkey King Fantasy

1. Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede (4.7)
2. The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (4.2)
3. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (3.9)
4. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (4.2)

M. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (4.5)

Average category rating: 4.3

10casvelyn
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 11:27am

9. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Science fiction

1. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (5.0)
2. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein (4.3)
3. Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (4.9)
4. That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis (5.0)

M. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (3.9)

Average category rating: 4.6

11casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 18, 2012, 1:06pm

10. PG Tips Non-fiction

1. Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh (4.9)
2. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan (5.0)
3. Euthyphro by Plato (4.2)
4. The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism by Laurence des Cars (4.3)

M. Before Sherlock Holmes: How Magazines and Newspapers Invented the Detective Story by LeRoy Lad Panek (2.8)

Category average rating: 4.2

12casvelyn
Redigerat: nov 23, 2012, 11:54am

11. Monk's Blend Off the shelf

1. The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes (3.8)
2. Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout (3.7)
3. The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach (3.3)
4. Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie (3.8)

M. Curtain by Agatha Christie (5.0)

Category average rating: 3.9

13casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:47pm

12. Green Tea First in a series

1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolien (5.0)
2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (5.0)
3. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (3.5)
4. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (3.9)

M. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde (4.7)

Category average rating: 4.4

14casvelyn
jul 3, 2012, 7:33pm

Okay, I got this up and running. Welcome to my second thread! Have some tea and stay awhile!

15lkernagh
jul 3, 2012, 9:20pm

Settling into your second thread and have avoided all of your 'possibilities' - yes closed as I skimmed to the bottom of the thread - so that I can try and keep my wishlist and TBR pile to manageable levels! Happy reading!

16cammykitty
jul 4, 2012, 1:58am

Wishlist to manageable levels. HaHaHa!!! & btw, I loved your list of favorites by year. I'm not sure I could do that myself, & it sounds like the germ of an idea for another lt challenge group.

17DorsVenabili
jul 4, 2012, 9:07am

From the previous thread - The Spoon River Anthology - love it! My favorite poem is "Ruben Pantier." Do you know about the Richard Buckner album, The Hill where he sets many of the poems to music? It's great.

18casvelyn
jul 4, 2012, 11:13am

>15 lkernagh: No!!!! You're foiling my evil plot to give everybody more to read!!! :)

>16 cammykitty: Actually, it started me on a mission to read one book from each year of the nineteenth century, since I mostly read post-1900 stuff. I'm not making it into a formal challenge or setting a time limit or anything, because that's 100 books and I don't want to ignore other centuries for 2+ years just so I can read more nineteenth century stuff.

>17 DorsVenabili: In high school, my English class was so enamored of Masters' poetry that we wrote two volumes of epitaph poems, one of which we turned into a play which we then performed for the public. So I really have a soft spot for Spoon River, even though I've never read the whole anthology. I've heard of the Buckner album, but never listened to it, because I wanted to read the poems first.

19LauraBrook
jul 4, 2012, 12:25pm

Back again for more bookish madness! Any chance you've got any of that iced tea still? Sure is hot and muggy here in Wisconsin. :)

20casvelyn
jul 4, 2012, 2:05pm

>19 LauraBrook: I've got tea, but my ice all melted hours ago. :) We're at 98 F here in Indiana, but humidity is only 36% because it hasn't rained in nearly a month.

21clfisha
Redigerat: jul 5, 2012, 4:58am

Love your favourite books by year, I might have to create mind so I can use it to expand my reading filling in the gaps. Hmm category for next year!

and can we have some of heat please.. it hasn't stopped raining in the UK!

22cammykitty
jul 5, 2012, 11:50pm

21 I'll take your rain!!! We hit 101 F in Minnesota a couple days ago, and that just doesn't happen here. Today, it was too hot for the mosquitoes. :)

18 You must have had the coolest high school English class. Cool story, and teenagers of every generation would love writing epitaphs.

23casvelyn
jul 6, 2012, 6:31pm

The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes
New York: HarperPerennial, 1990 (originally published 1943); 293 pages

Obtained: Owned; Half Price Books clearance sale

Category: Monk's Blend/off the shelf (Can it count as off the shelf if I just bought it last month?)
Rating: 3.8
.....Liked: 3.5
.....Plot: 3.5
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: Harney and Son's Black Currant (with milk)

Review
When a professor at a small university is found killed by a meteorite, it is up to Inspector Appleby to discover who dropped the meteorite off a nearby tower and why. Unfortunately, the deceased wasn't much liked by any of his colleagues, and nearly every suspect has something to hide.

As I've said before, Innes novels tend to be hit-or-miss, and this one was a bit of a miss. The first half is good, but then it seems that Innes got a bit lost in his own plot and then just decided to abruptly end the book. All the loose ends are tied up, but the ending is unsatisfactory. Also, I had trouble keeping track of the characters, partly because they all seemed to be a variation on the stereotypical eccentric professor and partly because half their surnames started with P.

24cammykitty
jul 6, 2012, 8:45pm

All their surnames started with P???? That's just too cute, and bad writing as well. Thanks for taking the bullet on this one!

25casvelyn
jul 6, 2012, 9:48pm

Well, not all of them, but enough to be confusing.

26cammykitty
jul 7, 2012, 4:28am

Perfectly preposterous!

27casvelyn
jul 7, 2012, 10:29am

:)

28casvelyn
jul 11, 2012, 5:12pm

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan
Philadelphia: Running Press, 2011 (originally published 2011); 237 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: PG Tips/non-fiction
Rating: 5.0
.....Liked: 5.0
.....Accuracy: 5.0
.....Writing: 5.0

Accompanying Tea: none

Review
I love this book so much, I'm going to have to buy myself a copy at some point. I don't can, although I want to eventually, but I do make a lot of jams and pickles, so the recipes in this book were perfect for me.

29casvelyn
Redigerat: jul 16, 2012, 12:39pm

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Colin Smythe, 1999 (originally published 1983); 205 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Green tea/first in a series
Rating: 3.9
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 3.5
.....Characterization: 4.5
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: Tazo Zen (green tea with spearmint and lemongrass)

Review
I'm not really sure what to think of this book, or what to say about it. The whole thing was nonsense, but it was intelligent, entertaining nonsense. I think I liked it, and I plan on reading further in the Discworld series.

30casvelyn
jul 16, 2012, 12:37pm

Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, 2003 (originally published 1934); 263 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: FTGFOP/1001/1000 Books
Rating: 3.4
.....Liked: 3.0
.....Plot: 3.5
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: none

Review
Jeeves actually quits working for Wooster, because Bertie plans on moving to a country cottage so he can play his banjolele without disturbing the neighbors. Unfortunately, the banjolele disturbs Jeeves. (And there is such an instrument as the banjolele--I learn something new every day!) So Jeeves takes up employment with Lord Chuffnell and works to get "Chuffy" engaged to the daughter of a wealthy American. Hilarity ensues.

Except that I don't find Wodehouse as amusing as he's alleged to be. Mostly I find Wooster to be ridiculously immature and Jeeves to be crazy for putting up with Wooster when Jeeves is clearly so intelligent and good a problem-solving. It does seem that his talents are somewhat wasted as a valet. Also, this book contains some unfortunate racism that wouldn't have been seen as offensive in the 1930s, although it certainly is now. So all in all an average read.

31Bjace
jul 17, 2012, 3:43pm

Thank you, Jeeves was my first Jeeves novel and I still chuckle over the thought of Bertie being pursued by Brinkley with a carving knife. I was looking at your prospective books and wondering if you're robbing my library or I'm robbing yours. I'm reading a Michael Innes Lament for a maker right now.

32casvelyn
aug 1, 2012, 1:10pm

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
Dodd, Mead & Company, 1966 (originally published 1965); 272 pages

Obtained: Half Price Books clearance sale

Category: British Breakfast/British authors
Rating: 3.6
.....Liked: 3.5
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 3.0
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: none

Review
Not one of my favorite Christies. Just sort of dull and not as good as her earlier work.

33casvelyn
aug 1, 2012, 1:21pm

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Crown Publishers, 2012 (first edition); 333 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: First Flush/published 2010 or later
Rating: 5.0
.....Liked: 5.0
.....Plot: 5.0
.....Characterization: 5.0
.....Writing: 5.0

Accompanying Tea: none

Review
I absolutely loved this book. I am just about as introverted as humanly possible, and also extremely shy and rather sensitive*. The book is geared more for people who want to learn about introversion or those who feel that there is something wrong with them if they are introverted. For someone who is more comfortable with their own personality traits, this book might be less useful. I suspect that the section on raising introverted children would be particularly useful for extroverted parents who don't understand why their kids don't want to play with everyone or prefer to sit quietly and read rather than play team sports. (Personally, I'm glad that I have introverted parents who encouraged me to be myself.)

*Sensitivity is a trait discussed in the book; a highly sensitive person reacts easily to or is bothered more by external stimuli than the average person. Approximately 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts. For me, sensitivity explains why I can't bear to be in the room if a radio is on and likely explains why the caffeine levels in coffee make me feel confused, not alert.

34casvelyn
aug 1, 2012, 1:26pm

Euthyphro by Plato
Penguin Books, 2010 (included in The Last Days of Socrates); 25 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: PG Tips/non-fiction
Rating: 4.2
.....Liked: 3.5
.....Plot: 5.0
.....Characterization: 5.0
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: none

Review
Not my favorite Plato (I think that honor goes to The Apology of Socrates, which blows me away every time I read it). I don't know if it's Christopher Howe's translation or what, but parts of this read like the script from a Marx Brothers' movie. For example:

"... then for a start, if the pious were loved because it is pious, the god-loved would also be loved because it is god-loved; and then, if the god-loved were god-loved because it was loved by the gods, the pious would also be pious because it was loved; but as it is you see that the two things are the opposite way round to each other, which shows that they're completely different from one another..."

Yeah. Try saying that three times fast.

35casvelyn
Redigerat: aug 2, 2012, 12:03am

July Recap

Books read: 8
Pages read: 1662
Percent complete (overall): 41% (Need to be at 58% to be on schedule)

Best Book: Quiet
Worst Book: At Bertram's Hotel was disappointing

1. Aged Pu-erh/nineteenth century novels
(none)

2. First Flush/published 2010 or later
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

3. British Breakfast/British or English authors
At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie

4. Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe/1001 Books or Guardian 1000
Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

5. Kenilworth/historical fiction
(none)

6. Russian Caravan/mystery, dark and mysterious
(none)

7. Sweet Tea with Lemon/mystery, light and enjoyable
(none)

8. Jasmine Monkey King/fantasy
(none)

9. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot/science fiction
(none)

10. PG Tips
Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
Euthyphro by Plato

11. Monk's Blend/off the shelf
The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes

12. Green Tea/first in a series
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

36lkernagh
aug 1, 2012, 9:31pm

Looks like you had an interesting reading month. Ironically, I have never read any of Agatha Christie's works but one of my favorite's is the 1987 movie adaptation of At Bertram's Hotel starring Joan Hickson.

37cammykitty
aug 1, 2012, 10:43pm

Ouch! That does read like Marx brothers.

& Di just loaned me Quiet. I'm excited to get a chance to read it. A lot of you have read it and really liked it. I, personally, am an introvert that can usually fake being an extrovert. Tonight - I failed at faking it. Too tired.

38Yells
aug 1, 2012, 11:01pm

Introverts unite!

39casvelyn
aug 2, 2012, 12:15am

>36 lkernagh: I like the Joan Hickson adaptations as well. They tend to be the most accurate to the books.

>37 cammykitty: I don't know how good I am at faking being an introvert. I'm sociable, and somewhat naturally vivacious, but I prefer to be alone.

>38 Yells: But only if we don't have to meet up.

40casvelyn
aug 4, 2012, 2:31pm

Is it bad if I've got my theme and categories ready for the 13 in 13 already?

41DeltaQueen50
aug 4, 2012, 4:25pm

LOL! I certainly hope not since I have most of mine lined up as well.

42Bjace
aug 4, 2012, 5:25pm

No, it's not. I've been thinking about mine.

43majkia
aug 4, 2012, 6:43pm

there are times I hate you OCD people....

44casvelyn
aug 4, 2012, 6:59pm

This time it's actually not OCD... the theme just sort of came to me and the categories followed from that. Well, except for two categories that I really want to use but haven't been able to find a thematic name for yet.

45majkia
aug 4, 2012, 7:08pm

only teasing, of course (and envy). I'm just no where near organized enough to have come up with a new theme, although I have been thinking about it.

46casvelyn
aug 4, 2012, 7:09pm

I know, but I am generally OCD about these types of things, so serendipity is out of character for me.

47AHS-Wolfy
aug 5, 2012, 5:36am

Next year's challenge has been under discussion for some time. You can find it here.

48casvelyn
aug 5, 2012, 8:16am

Thanks! I have been following the discussion over there from time to time.

49RidgewayGirl
aug 5, 2012, 4:14pm

I'm not particularly introverted (although I do value time alone), but unnecessary noise in a room drives me nuts. And don't get me started on televisions in waiting rooms or left playing in a house with no one watching. I'm impressed with people who can sit and read in a room with the TV on, when I don't even like music playing.

50cammykitty
aug 6, 2012, 3:25am

OMG! Televisions in waiting rooms!!! I've actually gotten up and turned them off, and then been thanked by someone else who had been sitting in the same room trying hard to ignore it!

@39 - you funny

& I know my 2013 categories already - Diversicon changes to Tiptree, Caribbean changes to Mexico, new category folklore/folkloric fiction. I love thinking ahead. After all, I can't buy any more books to fit into this year's challenge. My categories already have too many candidates on my shelves.

51casvelyn
Redigerat: aug 25, 2012, 11:42pm

Kenilworth by Walter Scott
Penguin Books, 1999 (originally published 1821); 467 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Kenilworth/historical fiction (where else?)
Rating: 4.1
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: Harney and Sons Orange Pekoe, Tazo Zen (unfortunately, I'm out of Kenilworth)

Review
CAUTION: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, is the favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. There is even talk that she might marry him. The Earl relishes the idea, because he wants nothing more than to be wealthy and powerful. There's only one problem. The Earl is already married.

Before Elizabeth began to look upon him with such favor, the Earl met and fell in love with the beautiful daughter of a minor noble. He keeps his wife hidden in rural Berkshire, because he just doesn't quite know how to tell the Queen of England he's only pretending to be available. But Amy wants to be recognized as the Countess of Leicester (who knew that earls' wives were countesses?) before the Queen and everyone, so she escapes her gilded cage and crashes the Earl's party at Kenilworth Castle. Mayhem ensues, people die, the Earl is disgraced, and nothing turns out as any character wishes.

Once I got past the archaic language (not just the nineteenth-century prose of Scott, but the sixteenth-century dialect he gives to most of his characters), I found Kenilworth to be quite enjoyable. It's long, but doesn't really feel as if it drags on. There are a lot of plot twists, some of which are more plausible than others.

The book, while based on real people,* also contains some purely fictional people and is ultimately fiction with a bit of history. The Earl of Leicester really did marry Amy, but openly, and they had a happy marriage until her death.

*At one point, a character named Walter was introduced. I thought it odd that Walter didn't seem to have a surname when every other character did, until Walter happened to lay down his new and expensive cloak so that Queen Elizabeth didn't have to step in the mud. Then I said to myself, "Oh, THAT Walter!" After that, his full name was given.

52cammykitty
aug 25, 2012, 10:51pm

Well, history contains spoilers too. Sounds like it was actually a fun read, which surprises me. I don't usually hear Sir Walter Scott and think tense historic fiction. Glad you liked it.

53casvelyn
aug 25, 2012, 11:41pm

It was really much less hard to follow and much more exciting than I thought it would be. I actually had to fight the temptation to skip to the end to see how everything turned out, particularly since every time I thought things couldn't get any worse, Scott went and made them worse.

I think I labor under the delusion that all nineteenth-century novelists are like Victor Hugo--decent, even brilliant, core plot, but masked by tons of irrelevant, boring, and long-winded filler.

54cammykitty
aug 26, 2012, 12:32am

Hmmmm, you're tempting me.

55Bjace
aug 26, 2012, 7:21am

I had a very good time with Ivanhoe earlier this year.

56casvelyn
aug 26, 2012, 4:21pm

Ivanhoe is on the agenda for next year. I tried it once in middle school and never finished it due to boredom. But now I think I like Scott well enough to try again.

57casvelyn
aug 26, 2012, 5:04pm

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Speak, 2007 (originally published 1981); 383 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Kenilworth/historical fiction
Rating: 3.0
.....Liked: 2.5
.....Plot: 3.5
.....Characterization: 3.5
.....Writing: 3.5

Accompanying Tea: Tazo Zen

Review
After fleeing Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, Countess Anna Grazinsky takes a position as housemaid in an English country home in order to support her family. There she wins friends among the servants and family alike and eventually finds herself falling in love with the lord who owns the estate. Unfortunately, he believes her to be only a servant and he's engaged to someone else.

I enjoyed this book very much, until one certain point ruined it completely. The lord's fiancee, Muriel, is a proponent of eugenics. I don't object to eugenics in fiction, but in this case, eugenics is presented merely as a way to make Muriel even more disagreeable and snobbish than she otherwise would be. The ideas of eugenics are revolting and wrong. The eugenics movement worked to devalue ethnic minorities, the disabled, children, families, women, and human rights. It is a nasty part of history to be taken seriously, not used in light fiction to make characters look mean.

I also thought that the point where Rupert and Anna fall in love was unrealistic. Seriously, he bursts into the barber's shop and forbids her from cutting her hair, and she just falls for him? (She had lovely, long hair and was going to bob it as per the latest styles of the 1920s.)

58christina_reads
aug 27, 2012, 11:40am

Interesting reaction to A Countess Below Stairs. It's one of my favorites, so naturally I'm disappointed that you didn't like it; but it just goes to show how differently people will react to certain parts of a book! Your point about the treatment of eugenics is a good one. I didn't personally view the book as trivializing eugenics, but I can certainly see why it would strike someone that way.

59casvelyn
Redigerat: aug 27, 2012, 10:42pm

Christina, apart from the eugenics stuff, I actually loved the book. Part of my thing with eugenics being taken seriously is the research that many of my fellow grad students did on racism in Indiana, including eugenics. Indiana history is full of the effects of racism, from a nineteenth-century law banning blacks from moving into the state to the KKK getting elected to most of the highest positions of state government in the 1920s. The eugenics movement caught on here in a big way, with "Better Baby Contests" and anti-miscegenation laws and forced sterilization of the mentally disabled (although sterilizations took place for only two years, the law remained on the books until 1974). I think that because the ideas seem so "out there" to people nowadays, it's hard to realize that there were people who took this stuff as the gospel truth. On the other had, I'm also fascinated with the Progressive idea of human perfectibility through science.

ETA: It's also quite possible that eugenics proponents in England did not hold the same beliefs as eugenics proponents in America, and that Ibbotson's work reflects this.

60Bjace
aug 27, 2012, 10:07pm

Eugenics shows up in all kinds of books. If you've ever read Daddy long legs, there's a sequel in which one of her friends takes over the running of an orphanage. She and the doctor who run the place thought that the mentally handicapped, the tuburcular and the alcoholic could be explained by heredity and dealt with by careful, selective breeding. The book is called Dear enemy and is an otherwise charming story.

61casvelyn
aug 27, 2012, 10:51pm

>60 Bjace: I want to read Daddy Long Legs eventually, but I had no idea there was a sequel. I wonder that no one seemed to notice that, at least in plants and animals, when one breeds some negative traits out, one typically also breeds other negative traits in. Thus we have tomatoes that ship well but taste bland and dogs that conform to breed standards but develop back problems. So if they did manage to breed out certain human traits, there'd still be other bad traits. Not that there's anything wrong with breeding plants or dogs, as opposed to all the ethical/moral issues in breeding people.

It reminds me of an article I read recently about an Oxford ethics professor who argues that parents have a moral obligation to create "designer" babies when the technology becomes possible so that they can essentially breed out their children's propensity to do bad things... just so many things wrong with that idea.

62psutto
Redigerat: aug 28, 2012, 6:32am

I've got a Eugenics sub-category for my 2013 so making notes here...

I read a biography of Galton extreme measures a while back which was interesting, Galton basically started the Eugenics movement...

63RidgewayGirl
aug 28, 2012, 10:07am

Dear Enemy is a charming book, and a great way to get a look at how eugenics was viewed a hundred years ago, before the Nazis spoiled it for everyone (JOKE! That was a joke). Seriously, it was a bad idea that gained traction among the progressives and socially aware because they were seeing so much poverty exacerbated by what they perceived as genetic flaws. Of course, today we know that those flaws were most often caused by poverty itself (poor diet, living conditions, etc...) and that basic prejudice played a big part in things. But Dear Enemy lays out the basic arguments and even brings up a fantastically flawed (and actively engineered) study that was convincing to many back then. I ended up reading up on the study in question and it was stunning in its badness. We're just better at spotting a bad re-touching job on a picture these days.

Dear Enemy says quite a bit about how orphans were treated back then. Webster was firmly for equal opportunities for all, despite one's heritage or socio-economic position and I think that redeems the book.

64Bjace
aug 28, 2012, 12:06pm

#63, RidgewayGirl, are you talking about the Kallikak book? I'm a professional genealogist and I was stunned by the lack of proof and method in this supposedly scientific tome. It's amazing to think that anyone took it seriously.

65casvelyn
aug 28, 2012, 12:10pm

>63 RidgewayGirl: I suspect that some people just used this supposedly scientific study to reinforce what they already believed.

66RidgewayGirl
aug 28, 2012, 12:41pm

It was the Kallikak book! Those photographs were amazing. Of course, this was when photography was new. Remember Arthur Conan Doyle was taken in by some pretty fakey pictures in his time.

67casvelyn
aug 28, 2012, 10:57pm

Well, I said I wasn't going to post my 13 in 13 thread until later, but since I had everything ready to go anyway, complete with HTML, I went ahead and posted. Check it out:

2013: In which casvelyn reads, categorically, whatever she wants, with baked goods

68casvelyn
sep 11, 2012, 8:41pm

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Soho Press, 2004 (originally published 2004); 311 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Kenilworth/historical fiction
Rating: 4.0
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: none--I read this at night, and I wanted to be able to sleep

Review

As far as mystery series set in Britain between the two World Wars, I'd say the Mary Russell series is my favorite. However, Maisie Dobbs is definitely second. This is the second book in the series, and while I didn't like it as well as the first, it was still entertaining. I like how Winspear took a little piece of history she learned in school and turned it into a whole novel years later. I like Maisie as a main character. My only criticism would be that Maisie seems a bit too perfect. She's pretty, she's brilliant, she's well-educated, she's not wealthy, but she's got connections that allow her to live a great life, she's able to use meditation in a way that makes her almost psychic (really helps when one's a detective). Really, the only problem in her life seems to be that she's got two men who want to go out with her. The mystery was interesting, but Maisie's personal life is rather dull.

69casvelyn
sep 11, 2012, 8:44pm

At the end of August, I changed the rules of my challenge to allow rereads and multiple books by the same author in the same category, because there was no way I was going to get done by the end of the year, particularly since I lost two months of reading to my graduate seminar in the first quarter of 2012. So now I've got 16 books left to go and I'm speeding along toward the end of the challenge.

70cbl_tn
sep 11, 2012, 8:53pm

I've read all of the Maisie Dobbs books to date. I think you'll find that Maisie's personal life gets more interesting (and less perfect) as the series goes on. Birds of a Feather is possibly my least favorite book in the series.

71casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 11, 2012, 8:57pm

>70 cbl_tn: I plan on reading the rest of the Maisie Dobbs books at some point, probably next year as part of my "series started prior to 2013" category. I do like them, just not as much as other books. I love the historical details that played a relatively minor part in world or even British history but that Winspear turns into major plot points.

72cammykitty
sep 15, 2012, 12:06am

Ooooo - Maisie does sound too perfect - a Mary Sue. I still haven't read Maisie Dobbs book yet, but still plan too. I hope she takes a while before the Mary Sueness sets in.

73casvelyn
Redigerat: sep 16, 2012, 12:38am

I cleaned up my bookshelves today, and discovered why I don't have any room for books: too much other stuff on the shelves! Here's what I found:

- 1 wine glass
- 5 coffee cups
- 2 flash drives
- 2 bottles of ink (one brown, one black)
- 4 journals
- 1 bottle superglue
- 1 bottle rubbing alcohol (don't ask, because I have no idea)
- 5 glass insulators of the sort used on telephone lines
- 4 antique medicine bottles
- 2 bars of soap
- 1 milk bottle full of rocks
- a three-inch stack of Greek flash cards
- 27 cat toys (!!!)
- 1 computer mouse
- 2 rulers
- 1 tarnished silver butter knife (???)
- 7 drawing pencils (ranging from 4B to 2H)
- 1 Rubbermaid container of the sort that one keeps leftovers in
- 1 used teabag (the heck, you say?)
- 6 unused, unopened blank audio cassette tapes
- 1 chocolate bar wrapper (Vosges Cherry Rooibos--good stuff)

Just FYI, these are my BEDROOM bookshelves, so I really can't explain the butter knife AT ALL. Actually, I can't explain any of this, except the cat toys. They were actually under the shelves, where my cat stuffed them, because he's crazy like that.

74lkernagh
sep 16, 2012, 11:10am

Yay, now you have room for books!

75Yells
sep 16, 2012, 2:17pm

Book goblins?

76cammykitty
sep 16, 2012, 9:40pm

Nah, it's the cat. It's all the cat. Even the butter knife. He was going to use it to spread goose liver pate on the mouse, but then he realized it was only a computer mouse.

77casvelyn
sep 16, 2012, 9:48pm

>76 cammykitty: Actually, if you knew my cat, you'd realize that he'd do something like that, if only he had thumbs and was a bit taller.

78thornton37814
sep 17, 2012, 4:11pm

Hmmm - what to do with blank cassettes? Add them to your 8-track collection, perhaps?

79casvelyn
sep 17, 2012, 5:35pm

>78 thornton37814: Actually, 8-tracks were defunct before I was born, so I'll just put them with my CDs instead.

80casvelyn
sep 18, 2012, 1:05pm

The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism by Laurence des Cars
Harry N. Abrams, 2000 (originally published ???); 127 pages

Obtained: Inter-library loan

Category: PG Tips/non-fiction
Rating: 4.3
.....Liked: 3.5
.....Argument: n/a
.....Accuracy: 5.0
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: Tazo Zen

Review
When I requested this book via ILL, I expected it to be an academic work. Instead, this is an introduction to the Pre-Raphaelites. Nevertheless, it's still a good and interesting book on the Pre-Raphaelites and their work, with lots of full-color pictures and an appendix with commentary on the artists from people like Charles Dickens (who hated their work) and other significant artistic figures of the day.

Oh, and random bit of information: Laurence des Cars is a woman, and Laurence is her real name (she's French).

81christina_reads
sep 19, 2012, 11:13am

The bookshelf list made me laugh. Glad you managed to clear out all that stuff!

82cammykitty
sep 19, 2012, 9:38pm

Any book with full-color pictures of pre-raphaelite paintings is going to be enjoyable. :)

83casvelyn
sep 22, 2012, 1:07pm

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2006 (originally published 2006); 378 pages

Obtained: Library book sale

Category: Jasmine Monkey King/fantasy
Rating: 4.5
.....Liked: 4.5
.....Plot: 4.5
.....Characterization: 5.0
.....Writing: 5.0

Accompanying Tea: Tazo Zen

Review
I don't really know what to say about Jasper Fforde that I haven't said already. I love his work, and you should read it.

84casvelyn
sep 22, 2012, 1:14pm

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Pocket Books, 1988 (originally published 1987); 306 pages

Obtained: Library book sale

Category: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot./science fiction
Rating: 3.9
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 3.5
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: Coffee, actually

Review
Continuing in the absurdist speculative fiction trend, I decided to read the only science fiction mystery on my 1400+ TBR list. (I'm reading a mystery in every category.) I think I like the Hitchhiker books better than Dirk Gently, although I could see the Doctor Who influences in this book (Adams recycled it out of a rejected Who episode), and anything that resembles Doctor Who is a good thing in my book.

I do love this quote, though:

"His professorship was an obscure one, to say the least, and since he dispensed with his lecturing duties by the simple and time-honored technique of presenting all his potential students with an exhaustive list of books that he knew for a fact had been out of print for thirty years, then flying into a tantrum if they failed to find them, no one had ever discovered the precise nature of his academic discipline. He had, of course, long ago taken the precaution of removing the only extant copies of the books on his reading list from the university and college libraries, as a result of which he had plenty of time to, well, to do whatever it was he did."

If only our work could be so easy. Of course, with Amazon and Ebay and such, it's a lot easier to track down copies of out-of-print works than it would have been in the 1980s.

85mamzel
sep 24, 2012, 10:37am

Did you see that Fforde has a new book coming out next month called The Last Dragonslayer?

86Yells
Redigerat: sep 24, 2012, 11:18am

85 - Sorry to burst your bubble but that one isn't new. I am staring at it on my shelf as I type (bought it a few months ago but haven't had time to write it yet). I did read somewhere that he is busy writing for this series as well as he other ones so I would imagine something should be coming out soon.

ETA - I just checked and didn't realise that it was never published in the US so yes, it is coming to you guys for the first time. I am so used to things hitting the US before us, I never thought about it working the other way around! :) The Woman Who Died A Lot is also coming (squee!)

87casvelyn
sep 24, 2012, 12:45pm

I've got The Last Dragonslayer and The Woman Who Died a Lot both on request at my public library, so I'll get one of the first copies when the library gets its copies from the publisher! Yay!

Yes, because a book by a British author should always be published in Britain first, right? Actually, if it's Jasper Fforde, it should be published everywhere in the world at the same time, so there's no waiting for anybody, anywhere, ever.

88LauraBrook
sep 28, 2012, 12:55pm

Agreed. I adore your bookshelf list, and I'm so glad you loved The Fourth Bear! Mr. Fforde himself is coming to my city on October 10th, and I can hardly wait!!!!

89psutto
sep 28, 2012, 1:05pm

-88 saw him do a talk a couple of months ago, very entertaining

90casvelyn
sep 28, 2012, 4:09pm

Laura, that is so exciting! If Milwaukee was just a little closer to my house...

91LauraBrook
sep 28, 2012, 4:20pm

Well, in the scope of things we aren't too far apart! :)

92casvelyn
sep 28, 2012, 8:39pm

Just 5-ish hours!

93mamzel
okt 1, 2012, 12:22pm

>86 Yells: It's just like TV series. I have to suffer the brags and raves about Dr. Who and other BBC series before they make their way over the pond. (And that's not a pun on Pond.)

94casvelyn
Redigerat: okt 14, 2012, 1:48pm

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
Simon & Schuster, 1996 (originally published 1938); 160 pages

Obtained: Borrowed from my parents

Category: British Breakfast/British authors
Rating: 4.3
.....Liked: 4.5
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: I read this roughly two weeks ago, so I don't remember if there was tea involved. Knowing myself, there probably was.

Review
After lamenting what they viewed as the deplorable state of modern speculative fiction, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien decided that they would each write a science fiction story--Lewis would write about space travel and Tolkien would write about time travel.* Lewis' story is what became Out of the Silent Planet

This is the story of a Professor Ransom, who is kidnapped by an old acquaintance while out on a walking holiday, and taken to Mars in the acquaintance's spaceship. (Okay, that makes the plot sound implausible and ridiculous, and while it is implausible in the sense that people don't build their own private spaceships in their backyards, the book really is not as ludicrous as I just made it sound.) Anyhow, Ransom realizes that his kidnapper wants to "sacrifice" him to the residents of Mars in exchange for being able to peaceably exploit the mineral resources of that planet. Ransom manages to befriend the Martians and eventually finds his way back to earth while preventing the exploitation and subjugation of Mars. Overall, I found the book entertaining, but I suspect that it functions more as an introduction to the rest of the trilogy (which is more about spiritual warfare than space travel) than as a stand-alone story.

*If I recall correctly, Tolkien never finished his time travel book, but what he did write has since been included in a collection of miscellaneous writings edited by his son, Christopher.

95casvelyn
okt 21, 2012, 8:42pm

The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde
Viking, 2012 (originally published 2012); 366 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Jasmine Monkey King/fantasy
Rating: 4.2
.....Liked: 4.5
.....Plot: 4.0
.....Characterization: 4.5
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: Harney and Sons' Black Currant

Review

In this installment of the Thursday Next series, Thursday is appointed to a head librarian position, and Swindon faces smiting from an angry deity.

I really have no idea what to say about this book... the plot is too hard to describe without massive spoilers, and if you haven't read any of the series before, the plot description won't make any sense. But, if you're a fan of the Thursday Next series, you've got to read The Woman Who Died a Lot

96lkernagh
okt 21, 2012, 9:10pm

One of these days I will be tempted to go back to Fforde's Tuesday Next series.... I don't think I was fully in the mood for it when I read the first book during Fforde February..... which I am going to say is due to having no knowledge of the type of books these were. Now that I know, I will be able to gravitate to them when I am in the mood. Very happy to see the series continues to grab the attention of some readers!

97Yells
okt 21, 2012, 10:47pm

95 - Squee! I read them all again during Fforde February and my copy arrived a few days ago so I primed and ready to go. I am glad it's as good as the others.

98christina_reads
okt 22, 2012, 12:40pm

I just bought The Woman Who Died a Lot as well -- looking forward to reading it! :) I'm glad this installment is going to focus on Real Thursday rather than Book Thursday.

99casvelyn
nov 19, 2012, 10:56am

So I'd been really busy for awhile and hadn't really been reading much, but now I've gotten back to my books. So here come the reviews!

100casvelyn
Redigerat: nov 19, 2012, 11:03am

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt, 2012 (originally published 2010); 287 pages

Obtained: Public library

Category: Jasmine Monkey King/fantasy
Rating: 3.9
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 4.5
.....Pacing/Details 3.0
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.0

Accompanying Tea: None

Review

Jennifer Strange is a fifteen-year-old orphan in a world where the parentless are used as indentured servants. Jennifer manages an employment agency for wizards in the absence of the actual manager, but her staff has trouble finding work because magical power is fading and the wizards can't perform all the duties of which they used to be capable. Then a few wizards with the ability to see the future predict the last dragon in the Ununited Kingdoms* (Fforde's alternate Britain) will be killed within the week. Magic begins to return, for unknown reasons, as fear of a border war between two kingdoms becomes more and more likely. (The last dragon's land holdings border two rival nations who plan to fight for control of the dragon's lands as soon as he's dead.)

On the whole, The Last Dragonslayer is another solid work from Jasper Fforde, but I'm probably biased because I think Fforde is BRILLANT. It's not nearly as over-the-top as Thursday Next or Nursery Crimes, but not nearly as serious as Shades of Grey. However, aspects of this alternate Britain don't really make much sense. Fforde never explains why magic is weakening, or why orphans have almost no legal rights, or how the Ununited Kingdoms ended up disunited in the first place--were they always that way, or did a bigger country split up? Also, the ending is a bit abrupt, but I think writing good endings is one of Fforde's weak points anyway.

*This should, grammatically, be the Disunited Kingdoms, but that wouldn't fit with the acronym UK.

101casvelyn
nov 19, 2012, 11:03am

The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach
Doubleday, 2012 (bound galley); 276 pages

Obtained: Early Reviewers

Category: Monk's Blend/off the shelf
Rating: 3.3
.....Liked: 3.0
.....Argument: 3.5
…..Accuracy: 4.0
.....Writing: 3.0

Accompanying Tea: None

Review

Before picking up this book, I had never heard of Hetty Green, who inherited and invested her way to an estate that at the time of her death in 1916, was worth over $2 billion in today's money. She did this at a time when women were not supposed to be involved in business and certainly not in Wall Street. Green's favored strategy was buy low, sell high, and she also made her money go farther by living a plain and frugal life at a time when people with comparable wealth were living extravagantly.

Throughout the book, Wallach uses an odd mix of formal and conversational language, as if she couldn't decide whether her audience should be academic or popular. She goes into great detail on trivial aspects of Green's life, while glossing over major events. In areas where there is little information on Green's life, Wallach brings in anecdotes of the period, but does not connect these anecdotes to Green in a clear or meaningful way. Her writing style is extremely passive. There are a few typographical errors, but since I received a bound galley rather than a final copy of the book, I hope these have been corrected in the final version. A major flaw is that black people are nearly always referred to as "colored" or "Negro," even in passages written by Wallach that are not quotes from the period. Even though these were common and accepted terms in the nineteenth century, they should not be used for what appears to be no good reason in a modern work.

102casvelyn
Redigerat: nov 19, 2012, 11:10am

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
Simon & Schuster, 1996 (originally published 1943); 222 pages

Obtained: Borrowed from my parents

Category: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot./science fiction
Rating: 4.9
.....Liked: 5.0
.....Plot: 5.0
…..Pacing/Details: 4.5
.....Characterization: 5.0
.....Writing: 5.0

Accompanying Tea: serendipiTea Burrough's Brew (Indian black tea with toasted coconut)

Review

In the second book of C. S. Lewis' space trilogy, Ransom continues his adventures, traveling this time to Perelandra (Venus) to prevent the Venusian Eve from falling into sin. Weston appears on the scene, possessed by the Devil, to tempt the Lady.

I generally don't like Christian science fiction or fantasy that creates a world where God has a different name--it strikes me as irreverent at best and blasphemous at worst, and more than a little idolatrous. But Perelandra works for me, because Lewis uses our real universe and our real God instead of creating a sorry shadow of God. He also doesn't encounter the problem of having to created "another Jesus" to bring salvation to his fictional world, because the Lady of Perelandra withstands temptation.

I'm not sure that Lewis' vision of life on Earth had Adam and Eve not sinned is particularly accurate, but as Lewis himself said in another of his works, "No one is allowed to know what would have happened." So really, his guess is as good as mine. Besides, it's not as if Genesis is overly descriptive of life before the Fall. I suppose it is a kindness, really, that God didn't describe in great detail everything we as a race gave up so that we could pursue the illusion of freedom, a freedom that makes us slaves.

Otherwise, I found a lot to love in Perelandra. It's a very theological book, and I revel in theology, so it just works for me. Although a lot of the book focuses on temptation and sin, I loved the subtext of the revelous joy that comes from serving God, no matter how great or small the task He lays before us.

103casvelyn
nov 19, 2012, 11:10am

The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale
Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1893 (originally published 1880); 120 pages

Obtained: Amazon--FREE FOR KINDLE

Category: Aged Pu-Erh/19th-century fiction
Rating: 4.4
.....Liked: 4.0
.....Plot: 4.0
…..Pacing/Details: 5.0
.....Characterization: 4.5
.....Writing: 5.0

Accompanying Tea: serendipiTea Burroughs' Brew (Indian black tea with toasted coconut)

Review

The Peterkins are a rather unusual family living somewhere in New England (Massachusetts, I think, as Boston is mentioned with some regularity). The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin and their children, Agamemnon, Elizabeth Eliza, Solomon John, and the three little boys (with their ubiquitous India-rubber boots). The family is always having humorous adventures and problems while trying to accomplish simple tasks of daily living.

I enjoyed The Peterkin Papers very much, although I didn't find them as laugh-out-loud funny now as I did when I read them in elementary school. The book, which is a collection of short stories, is intended for children, and although it's over 100 years old, I think today's children will still see the humor in the situations in which the Peterkins find themselves. The book also provides a window into how people lived in the late 1800s. My only criticism is that as an adult, I realize that as silly as the Peterkins are, it's a wonder they manage to stay alive.

104cammykitty
nov 20, 2012, 10:56pm

Indian black tea with toasted coconut - Yum!!! & the book sounds quite enjoyable too. I didn't read it when I was a kid, and I'd love to see exactly how silly they are.

105casvelyn
nov 20, 2012, 11:15pm

It's available free for Kindle!

106casvelyn
Redigerat: nov 23, 2012, 11:53am

Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Pocket Books, 1986 (originally published 1969); 255 pages

Obtained: Library book sale

Category: Monk's Blend/off the shelf
Rating: 3.8
.....Liked: 3.5
.....Plot: 4.0
…..Pacing/Details: 3.5
.....Characterization: 4.0
.....Writing: 4.5

Accompanying Tea: serendipiTea's Burroughs' Blend (black tea with coconut)

Review

Thirteen-year-old Joyce Reynolds is found drowned in the apple-bobbing tub at a Halloween party after she claims to have witnessed a murder when she was younger. Because Joyce was known to exaggerate events to make herself seem more important and because mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver attended the party and Joyce wanted to impress the famous writer. While most people assume that Joyce was killed by a sociopathic tramp, Ariadne believes that she might have been murdered because of her claim to have witnessed a murder. Ariadne takes her theory to Hercule Poirot, who takes the case.

Hallowe'en Party is one of Christie's later novels, which I don't consider to be nearly as good as her work from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. The plot meanders through so many irrelevant details, seemingly not in an effort to create red herrings, but for no good reason whatsoever. Christie also seems to use the novel as a vehicle for discussion of the British justice system in the mid-twentieth century, as many of the characters either lament the lack of justice since hanging was done away with or try to explain all criminals as being merely misunderstood and coming from a bad childhood.

In terms of the conclusion, parts of the "big reveal" for which Poirot is so famous don't make any sense with the rest of the story--there is not one bit of evidence concerning the actions of two characters in relation to a subplot, yet somehow Poirot guessed correctly.

On the whole, Hallowe'en Party is unsatisfying as a mystery, and doesn't even have enough of Christie's creative spark to carry the illogical plot or the annoying M. Poirot. The only highlight is Christie's excellent descriptive passages of characters and settings.

107casvelyn
Redigerat: dec 1, 2012, 3:55pm

Hey! Listen! (aka a sort of November recap/December precap)

I've got just three books left to complete my 12 in 12. Certainly doable over the next month. I think I'm going to end up reading Northanger Abbey, That Hideous Strength, and The Light Fantastic. However, all of that is subject to change with or without notice.

108Bjace
dec 1, 2012, 5:33pm

Read the first two. I love the Lewis and enjoyed the Austen.

109lkernagh
dec 2, 2012, 12:04am

Three books left - that is great!

110christina_reads
dec 3, 2012, 11:25am

Congrats on having only three to go! Both Northanger Abbey and That Hideous Strength are great -- and while I haven't read The Light Fantastic yet, something tells me you can't go wrong in Discworld!

111casvelyn
dec 21, 2012, 11:23am

So yesterday I officially finished my 12 in 12 Category Challenge with Northanger Abbey, which was great. I'm still two reviews behind, so I'll be posting reviews for The Light Fantastic and NA sometime in the next few days. Otherwise, I'm probably going to be too busy with holiday plans to be on here much, but I've got my 2013 thread up and running and I'll be back in full force in January.

Also, I ended up not writing a "proper" review of That Hideous Strength because I got too much out of it to be able to write anything sensible without reading it again, which I plan to do in a few months. So here's my thoughts on the book that I posed on my blog.

112majkia
dec 21, 2012, 11:28am

Congrats!!

113AHS-Wolfy
dec 21, 2012, 3:30pm

Congrats on completing your cahllenge.

114lkernagh
dec 21, 2012, 5:43pm

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

115casvelyn
dec 21, 2012, 11:55pm

Thanks everybody! In 2011, I finished the 11 in 11 on December 31 with something like an hour to spare, so this is a nice change. Today I read an Agatha Christie novel, I'm going to try to finish my current Early Reviewers book over the weekend, and then I'm starting in on biennial Harry Potter reread. For some reason, I always associate HP with Christmas, although I have no idea why.

116cammykitty
dec 22, 2012, 2:08am

Congrats!!! You can't do better than end on Northanger Abbey. That one is fun! I especially like the little rebelliousness at the end.

117DeltaQueen50
dec 22, 2012, 3:19pm

Congratulations on finishing your challenge, it will be nice to be able to have some free reading over Christmas. See you over at the 2013 Challenge.

118casvelyn
jan 1, 2013, 9:04am

Happy New Year everybody! I guess I'm not going to write those last two reviews... I really hate writing reviews anyway, so no complaints there.

You can find me in 2013 here.

119christina_reads
jan 1, 2013, 8:02pm

Happy New Year, and congrats on completing the challenge!

120ivyd
jan 5, 2013, 2:57pm

Congratulations! See you in the 2013!