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February and March 2021: Reading Recap

Well, go figure.  The first quarter of 2021 is already behind us, never mind that I’m still having to remind myself on occasion to write “2021” instead of “2020” … (and we’re even a week into April already, but let that go). Anyway, since I never got around to doing a “February in review” post, […]

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Literature Reviews

S.J. Rozan: China Trade

A monumental shout-out to Hobart, aka The Irresponsible Reader, for bringing this series to my attention by reviewing some of its installments in the good old BookLikes days.  I know that I am shamefully late to the party, but now that I’m finally here, I’m here to stay. China Trade is the first book of […]

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Literature Reviews

Toni Morrison: Sula

I’d been planning to pair this book with Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, as an exercise in comparing an African American and an African coming of age story, but Nervous Conditions never materialized in my mailbox, so I’m going to have to postpone that reading experience to a later date.  Which, perhaps, isn’t such a bad […]

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Literature Reviews

Zadie Smith: Feel Free

I’ve had several books by Zadie Smith sitting on my TBR for a minor eternity; oddly, when the moment came to finally pick one of them, I didn’t select one of her novels but this collection of essays — which didn’t turn out to be a bad choice, however, as the essays included here did […]

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Literature Reviews

Patricia Highsmith: Carol (The Price of Salt)

My record with Highsmith’s writing is a mixed one: I found the first Ripley novel (The Talented Mr. Ripley) morbidly fascinating and the sardonic put-down of the arts world in the second one (Ripley Under Ground) oddly amusing, and I obviously love any cat story of hers where a cat gets the better of a […]

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Literature Reviews

Olivia Manning: The Spoilt City

The second volume of Manning’s Balkan Trilogy, which in turn forms the first part of her Fortunes of War story arch (whose second part, equally consisting of three installments, is known as the Levant Trilogy).  The hexalogy is based on Manning’s own World War II expat experience; it was adapted for the small screen in […]

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Literature Reviews

Zahra Hankir & Various Authors: Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World

One of the last books I read in the first quarter of 2021 was, at the same time, also one of my reading highlights to date — and next to the likes of Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison (as well as Agatha Christie’s multiple appearances in the area of mysteries), […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Well, talk about a book that you really cannot discuss without sticking spoiler warnings onto it right, left and center!  Christie was initially raked over the coals for its solution — and while her fellow mystery authors stoutly stood by her, it strikes me that it actually does break at least one of [Ronald] Knox’s […]

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Literature Reviews

Anna Katharine Green: The Leavenworth Case

Sigh.  Can you believe that in my Golden Age mystery quest I actually acquired three different editions of this book … only to be but marginally entertained by it?  Oh well. The Leavenworth Case was one of the first-ever detective novels, even predating Sherlock Holmes by almost a decade … and it was written by […]

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Literature Reviews

Ellis Peters: Fallen into the Pit

The “Appointment with Agatha” group actually selected Dorothy L. Sayers’s The Nine Tailors as its official March 2021 side read, but as that is one of my favorite novels by Dorothy L. Sayers and one of my annual Christmas reads, I opted for the runner-up, Ellis Peters’s first “Felse investigation” instead.  And I am so […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: A Murder Is Announced

One of my confirmed all-time favorite books not only in the Miss Marple series but in Agatha Christie’s entire body of work. Like in the case of The Man in the Brown Suit and Crooked House, there currently is an audio double feature available combining The Secret of Chimneys (our “Appointment with Agatha” February 2021 […]

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Literature Music Reviews

Anne Tyler: Vinegar Girl

Sigh.  Well, I have to admit that it’s hard to translate a 16th century play’s spiky, waspish female main character, who at the end of the play seems to make a complete about-face and to submit to a man whom she professes not even to have married for love, into a modern context — and […]

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Literature Reviews

Margaret Atwood: The Robber Bride

Margaret Atwood: The Robber Bride Double sigh.  After the disappointment of Anne Tyler’s take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew I was in serious need of a pick-me-up, and after having enjoyed two other works of this sort by Margaret Atwood — as I said in my review of Tyler’s book, I really liked […]

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Literature Reviews

The Medieval Murderers: Sword of Shame

Following on from my successful foray into Philip Gooden’s — relatively — new series, I decided to conclude the month of March with a revisit of one of the Medieval Murderers‘ round robins; the second book from the series, Sword of Shame.  In its entirety, this book is fairly average for the series — well-researched […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Secret of Chimneys

Oh, I would love to love this book so much more than I ultimately do.  There Christie goes and takes me on a merry romp in the spirit of The Secret Adversary (whose plot, let’s face it, is every bit as implausible as that of The Secret of Chimneys), complete with adventurers, mysterious manuscripts and […]

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Literature Reviews

Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: Blood on the Tracks

The January “side read” — topic: Murder by Transport — for the Appointment with Agatha / Agatha Christie Centenary Celebration group read (blog master post HERE; Goodreads group HERE): For me, another reread after first having read this collection only last year, but decidedly one of my favorites among the British Library Classic Crime short […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Spider’s Web

Spider’s Web is a screwball drawing room murder mystery comedy mashup with bits of Christie’s own Bundle Brent books (The Secret of Chimneys and The Seven Dials Mystery), as well as bits of the Hitchcock comedy The Trouble with Harry thrown in for good measure.  The result is an evening’s entertainment of pure hilarity — […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: A Pocket Full of Rye

As a detective protagonist, like Agatha Christie herself, I prefer Miss Marple to Hercule Poirot, and among all of the Miss Marple books, this is one of my all-time favorites.  Needless to say, this was a (well, actually my umpteenth) repeat visit, courtesy (also on repeat) of Richard E. Grant’s narration as part of the […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Lie

This play, even to longstanding fans of Agatha Christie, must necessarily come as at least as great a surprise as to writer and director Julius Green, who discovered it in 2018 (apparently, along with a number of other plays — though at least those listed HERE were in fact already known and available in print […]

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Literature Reviews

Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Sandwiched between two personal accounts by modern-day black American leaders — Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold and Barack Obama’s A Promised Land –, as my January book for this year’s (Mostly) Dead Writers Society Literary Birthday challenge, I went back to a fictional account set in Jim Crow America: the story of Jeanie Crawford, […]

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