On Page and Screen

Literature Reviews

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit – Performed by Andy Serkis

Like its magnificent sequel, The Hobbit is, I think, many things to many people: the first exposition of the universe that would become Middle-earth; prelude to The Lord of the Rings; a bite-sized visit to Middle-earth whenever you don’t feel up to the full blow of the War of the Ring(s); one of the most […]

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Literature Reviews

Karen Wynn Fonstad: The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth

Blurb: “Find your way through every part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great creation, from the Middle-earth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the undying lands of the West … The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-earth is an essential guide to the geography of Middle-earth, from its founding in the Elder Days – as […]

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Literature Reviews

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings – Performed by Andy Serkis

In another online community, we recently talked about the new Andy Serkis Lord of the Rings recordings.  Well, it turns out that the pull of The Ring is still mighty strong, for however much it may have been destroyed in Mount Doom. I had barely gotten my hands on these audios and I found I […]

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Literature Reviews

Ann Cleeves: The Long Call

The first of Cleeves’s Two Rivers books, and while I loved the atmosphere and (generally) the writing as such, the solution was rather a letdown — basically this is yet another mystery harping on corrupt powerful stale pale males. Don’t get me wrong, the particular kind of corruption at stake here, as well as the […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Murder in Mesopotamia

Any fan of Agatha Christie’s knows that this is one of several novelizations of Christie’s own experience gained during the months and years she spent with her second husband Max Mallowan on his archeological expeditions to (today’s) Syria and Iraq: To what far-reaching extent this is true, though, only occurred to me when I read […]

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Literature Reviews

Q1 / 2022 Reading Recap

Well, as it turned out 2022 began as 2021 had ended — all work and no play, albeit with the addition of a hospital detour to boot.  (Nothing serious, just way more painful and, all told, protracted, than it had any right to be.)  So I’m back to posting one summary post for the first […]

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Literature Reviews

Raymond Chandler: The Little Sister

Blurb: “So you need help. What’s your name and trouble?” Private investigator Philip Marlowe’s latest client is Orfamay Quest. She’s come all the way from Manhattan, Kansas, to find her missing brother Orrin.  Or at least that’s what she tells Marlowe, offering him just 20 dollars for his trouble. Feeling charitable, Marlowe accepts — though […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders

Blurb: There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover and Bexhill, there seems little chance […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Death in the Clouds

Blurb: From seat No. 9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers on the short flight from Paris to London. Over to his right sat a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite; ahead, in seat No. 13, sat a countess with a poorly concealed cocaine habit; across the […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Three-Act Tragedy

The Appointment with Agatha group’s January 2022 book; a reread for me and a reminder how comparatively early in Christie’s career essentially her entire pantheon of recurring characters had come into being. Of course 14 years, all told, would not be anywhere near “early” in most every other writer’s career, but this is Christie we’re […]

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Fun and Games Literature Music Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Off With His Head (Death of a Fool)

Festive Tasks Master Update Post HERE Festive Tasks, Door 19 — Community Traditions & Folklore: Read a fairy tale, or folklore story, or books based on either.   Marsh’s third (de facto) holiday mystery, though not exactly set on Christmas but on and around Winter Solstice — because here her focus is on creating (with […]

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Fun and Games Lifestyle Literature Movies

Holiday Movies

Festive Tasks Master Update Post HERE Festive Tasks, Door 24 — Cherished Memories, Task 4: What’s your favorite Christmas/holiday movie that you can watch again and again? (This can be any movie that takes place during the holiday season, whether or not it’s in the ‘spirit’ of the season (i.e. Die Hard or Lethal Weapon). […]

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Fun and Games Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Death and the Dancing Footman

Festive Tasks Master Update Post HERE Festive Tasks, Door 15 — Correspondence: Read a book that includes a billionaire, a villain, or some other character who is especially smug or pretentious.   This isn’t strictly a Christmas mystery — the holiday never gets an express mention — but it has all the trappings of a […]

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Fun and Games Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Tied Up in Tinsel

Festive Tasks Master Update Post HERE Festive Tasks, Door 22 — Iconic Figures: To celebrate Santa Claus: read a book that qualifies as a comfort read for you.   In a year of revisiting the better part of Marsh’s canon, what book could possibly qualify better as a comfort read?  Seeing as this year might […]

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Literature Music Reviews

May 2021 Reading Recap

Still a lot of work on the back end of the blog, including on my “featured authors” pages (see the right column on the main Literature page and the introduction of my April 2021 recap post).  So, contrary to plans, still no new posts in my alphabet blogging series in May.  However, the time-consuming back end […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Mystery of the Blue Train

Agatha Christie hated this book.  While she was trying to write it, her little daughter kept distracting her and demanding her attention.  The plot is not an original idea but, for the first time (of what would eventually be multiple repeat occasions), she had chosen to expand an idea first used years earlier in a […]

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Literature Reviews

Daphne Du Maurier: My Cousin Rachel

Oh, I wanted to like this so much better than I ultimately did; for its glorious Cornish and Italian (Florence) settings alone, as well as for the fact that Du Maurier (as she herself insisted) apparently identified so much with this novel’s first person narrator, Philip Ashley, that at times she almost felt like she […]

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Literature Reviews

John Steinbeck: The Winter of Our Discontent

John Steinbeck’s final novel was one I had never gotten around to in my Steinbeck fangirl binges of yore — I knew it was reputed to be “bleak”, and after I’d seen what Steinbeck can do along those lines in The Grapes of Wrath (never mind that that actually is one of my favorite novels […]

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Literature Reviews

Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes

My May 2021 reading included one totally predictable binge: It’s Arthur Conan Doyle’s birth month, and I still had the complete Sherlock Holmes Canon as read by Stephen Fry that I’d acquired long ago sitting in my Audible app, waiting for the perfect moment to indulge … well, I figured this was it.  However, I […]

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Literature Reviews

Arthur Conan Doyle: Sir Nigel

I didn’t quite want to limit my “birthday boy” look at Arthur Conan Doyle’s work to the predictable Sherlock Holmes binge, so I decided to take a look at one of his historical novels in addition.  Well, I suppose I have to hand it to Sir Arthur for mastering, with panache, genres as diverse as […]

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