Paws goes at it in 2017, part 2
This is a continuation of the topic Paws goes at it in 2017.
This topic was continued by Paws(forThought) goes at it in 2017, part 3.
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Hi, I'm Paws and after several years of being stuck in a reading funk I seem to have got my mojo back. Woohoo! At time of writing I've read 15 books in 2017 - most of them in the past two months. I hope it'll continue to go well and that many more books will pass through my hands and by my eyes before the end of the year.
I like books of many different genres, but a lot of what I read are classics, fantasy,, science fiction, graphic novels, and
I love movies, board games, yoga, cats, reading, TV (mainly British comedy panel shows, and I'm re-watching a lot of shows from days gone by), podcasts, writing, travelling, and visiting flea markets. Oh, and my baby nephew.
Besides books you'll also find me talking about dinosaurs, astronomy, feminism, nature preservation and other things I'm interested in on this thread. And I'll also periodically post photos of adorable baby animals - just to liven things up a little.
I'm always up for dinosaur talk and dinosaur book recommendations.
Books read in 2017
Best Detective Stories of Agatha Christie by Agatha Christie
The Golden Ball and Other Stories by Agatha Christie
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Poirots problem by Agatha Christie
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
Maigret's First Case by Georges Simenon
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Maigret's Dead Man by Georges Simenon
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
Books read in 2017
Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie
Murder Is Easy by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond
More About Paddington by Michael Bond
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
= Terrible - stay away
= Bad, but had some redeeming feature/s
= Good, but could be better
= Really good; loved it
= Exceptional read; favourite
And stars inbetween.
And finally a Brontosaurus because my favourite dinosaur might be coming back. Not back to life, obviously, because this isn't Jurassic Park, but back as in reinstated as an accepted genus.
>5 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul! Feels good to need a second thread. I think it's been a while since I was active enough, and read enough, to need one.
I'm currently reading:
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
Murder Is Easy by Agatha Christie
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
and I'm about to start Kraken by China Miéville because it's due back at the library in a week and I'd rather not have to re-new the loan.
We've had amazing weather the past few days, so I've spent most of my time lying on a towel in the garden and getting a tan, while listening to my favourite podcasts, or sitting on the front steps solving crossword puzzles. So there hasn't been a lot of reading, but that's about to change since it's now pouring down rain and according to the weather report it's supposed to stay rainy for the next few days.
I was just about to head out to the shop when the skies opened up. Typical, but I'll get the stuff I need tomorrow instead - I'm not out of anything important.
I read Heart of Darkness last October. That was a very interesting read - and not quite what I was expecting.
As for George R. R. Martin.... I read all his books but I won't be reading any more. His story was an object lesson in how focussing on too many characters will bog down a story.
>12 sirfurboy: I've been trying to get through Heart of Darkness since last year and I never seem to make much headway with it. I don't dislike it, it just seems to take forever to get through.
I love George R. R. Martin and strongly disagree with you on his focus on many characters. I think it's a great way to really get to know the characters better instead of just one or two people's views.
>13 PawsforThought: I don't disagree about the strength in understanding the characters. Robin Hobb used this really well in the Liveship Traders (among others) in my opinion. Making you hate someone and then come to understand and love them. It is a very powerful way to create very rich characterisations, and Martin has achieved some excellent characterisations in his novels.
Where I think Martin has gone wrong is to do this just too much, so that his last two books (A Feast for Crows, and A dance with Dragons) are basically what he intended for just one book, but where he ripped half of the storylines out of the first to write the second, thus getting bogged down on the same timeline on both. The consequence: nearly 2000 pages and 12 years and counting before the next instalment.
That is not to detract from the strengths of his book, but I have doubted for pretty much the whole last decade whether he will ever finish this series.
>14 sirfurboy: I haven't reached the last two books yet so I guess I'll have to wait and see if I agree with you. But based on your description I completely understand your frustration.
Went in to town today for some errands and got very pleasantly surprised when I got back. Not only had some of the books I ordered off BookDepository a few weeks ago arrived, but the mailman had also very considerately pulled a plastic bag over the mailbox, because the packages were sticking up a bit and there's risk of rain. The mail company (Postnord) have had some massive criticisms lately, but at least in my town, they're doing a great job.
The books that arrived were:
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
Very Good, Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse
and finally, the one I've been most excited about...
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science and Our Favourite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek
I'm still waiting for a few other books to arrive - including some very interesting titles on women in history, but they'll probably be here within a few days.
Now I'm going to celebrate my Brontosaurus book by watching Jurassic Park tonight. And maybe see if I can find some nice-looking dinosaur t-shirts online...
Have a happy evening! Jurassic Park is still the best.
Didn't know that the brontosaurus genus has been debated...
Happy new thread, Paws. What a cute kitty thread topper .. talk about an overload of cuteness!
Hooray for the thoughtfulness of your mailman. I'm very lucky to be in a town where our postal officers are all really nice, both at the post office and also the mail carriers.
Congratulations on the nice book haul. I love coming home to book delivery surprises.
>17 EllaTim: Yeah, it's really an amazing film. And considering how much more we know about dinosaurs now than we did 25 years ago, it's amazing how accurate it still is.
And yeah, there's been debate about the Brontosaurus. About two years ago, a few paleontologist put out the idea that based on new finds in the skeletal structure, Brontosaurus should possibly be considered its own genus instead of being just Apatosaurus.
>18 cameling: I think we have different mailmen/-women than a few years ago, because they used to tear up our driveway really badly (we have gravel) and they would never have been nice enough to cover up a package.
My in-laws have a cranky mailman. He's never pleasant even when they say hello when they see him, and if they're at the door when they see him pulling up, to save him having to walk up to the house to deliver the mail, my 93 year old MIL sometimes goes out to get the mail from him.. and he's growled at her to hurry up, that he hasn't all day! Sheesh ... we've been telling her to not risk falling over by walking too quickly (and she has COPD too) and that since he's such an unpleasant person, she should just stay indoors and the mailman can just walk up and deliver the mail through their mail slot like he usually does.
>20 cameling: Ah, what a horrible attitude! I agree that your mother-in-law should just stay indoors and have him walk up.
Many years ago, I got a GREAT Dino t-shirt, WINDOW TO THE PAST, in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.
If it turns up online or at the Royal Tyrrel Museum site (which has other good ones),
I'll send a link. Maybe eBay vintage also...?
>22 m.belljackson: Aw, thanks, I appreciate that. My brother gets a lot of stuff off eBay - I'm gonna ask him to keep an eye out for dino t-shirts.
I didn't know this when I bought it but My Beloved Brontosaurus's dustjacket folds out to become a poster! Or technically two, because it's double-sided.
Really cool, though I'll keep it as a dustjacket - for now at least.
>27 FAMeulstee: Thank you! Yes, whoever it was that delivered mail today (I have no idea, it's not the same person every day and they do it when I'm at work (except for now, since I'm off for my summer holidays)) was a very kind person. If they hadn't done it and it had rained, my wonderful books would have been ruined.
>24 PawsforThought: Cool dustjackets! I love the fancy skin colours of the second picture.
>29 EllaTim: That's the side that's on the outside of the dustjacket so forms the cover of the book (well, part of it does). I like the colours too. I don' think I'd imagine a Brontosaurus being orange-y, but it's nice when dinosaurs aren't all just a murky green-brown-grey.
>31 EllaTim: Exactly. I watched a ton of dinosaur documentaries a few months ago and that issue was brought up in most of them. Of course, we can look at animals in our modern world and see what colours they have and make educated guesses based on their similarities (like their place in the eco system) but we'll never know.
>32 PawsforThought: "but we'll never know."
Never say never :)
We don't know yet, but suppose we obtained a suitably intact sample of dinosaur DNA, we may reach a point where we could - in the future - read the sequence that tells us what colour they were.
Of course, suitably intact DNA won't exist for all dinosaurs, and may not exist for any - but it is conceivable.
I mean... haven't we all read Jurassic Park? :)
>33 sirfurboy: Don't you remember the massively important plot point in Jurassic Park? That the dinosaur DNA wasn't complete and had to be spliced? ;)
But yeah, if we ever do find dino DNA that is entact enough we could possibly know how one (or a few) types of dinosaur looked. But I'm not holding out hope.
>34 PawsforThought: That was why I said "suppose we obtained a suitably intact sample..."
>35 sirfurboy: Well, they thought it was "suitably intact", too...
I'd say it has to be completely intact, and I don't see that happening. (Although they are working on cloning a mammoth, aren't they? But then that one was frozen and not fossilized, so big difference.)
>36 PawsforThought: A mammoth is a much easier proposition, yes, as the DNA is thousands rather than millions of years old, and preserved in ice.
I don't think we need the whole genome to know what colour the animals were. We just need those parts of the genome that are relevant... but which parts they are may be hard to determine, and obtaining actual samples may be even harder.
I won't expect this in my lifetime, and we may never know. Such samples may simply no longer exist. But still, I won't stop hoping :)
>34 PawsforThought: I hadn't remembered that point. But I'm always in favour of thinking, that when the worst can happen, it certainly will;) Especially in a movie.
Cloning a mammoth? But it's not enough to have DNA, I think. I should go back to reading about genes. It would be a stunt for a zoo, but what would the mammoth think of it?
>37 sirfurboy: Good, don't stop hoping - you never should. I'd be really excited if we ever found complete enough DNA that it could be done. I just don't think it will happen. I don't think there will be DNA complete enough to find out, and I think we'll have to have a complete genome (or at least 90%+ complete) to be able to be sure it's the right part.
And sometimes animals with the exact same genes still look different, so it's still not a done deal! Just look at the first cloned cat, CC! She was more than 50% white even though her mum was completely striped.
(A mammoth could be millions of years old, though. The did live for a few million years, so it depends on how old the specimen they found is, exactly. Which I admit I have no idea of. Of course, it's still many million years younger than even the youngest of dinosaurs.)
>38 EllaTim: Life found a way. ;)
And yeah, the Russians are working on cloning a mammoth. Not sure how they'll go about it but they've announced it and it's been in the papers a bit. Check it out.
The first link goes to the online 'Siberian Times'.
It also says the following: Cloning guru Professor Hwang Woo-Suk did not go into details of the progress made in restoring the extinct species after several thousand years of extinction, but made clear he expected to publish new research in scientific journals as soon as 'checks' are complete ...The south-korean scientist thanks Vladimir Putin.... They have to find a cell that's still viable, active, or they have to reconstruct DNA.........In 2006, Hwang was dismissed by Seoul National University for faking groundbreaking work in stem cell research>
I'm not too hopefull, based on this.
>40 EllaTim: Hahaha! Yeah, I'm not terribly optimistic about it either, but we'll see what happens I guess.
>39 PawsforThought: Although Mammoth DNA could be millions of years old, work to date has used DNA from much younger animals. The Swedish team who completely sequenced Mammoth DNA in 2015 did so using DNA from one of the last mammoths, found on Wrangel Island (so some 5,000 years old) and also frozen DNA recovered from a 45,000 year old specimen.
>42 sirfurboy: I'm just saying it could be older.
I had no idea a Swedish team had worked on sequencing mammoth DNA. That hasn't been in any paper I've read.
>43 PawsforThought: Here you go: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/311/5759/392
ETA - that paper is form 2006, before they had completed the sequencing. I will see if I can find one from April 2015, when the BBC carried the article about the completion of the work.
>44 sirfurboy: Thank you! I'm bookmarking both articles and will read when I'm not so swamped with books.
I was googling and came across this gem. It's part of the Swedish children's comic "Bamse", which every Swedish person alive is well-acquainted with (and many of us love). I adored Bamse as a kid and still do today.
"Is there no cure against being fooled?"
"Yes, there's an excellent one."
"What is it?"
Rather fitting in this day and age, I'd say.
>48 FAMeulstee: Ah, Inga Borg! She's mostly famous for her books about Plupp, a blue-haired character who looks a bit like a mix between a human and a troll. They are very sweet stories (and I read most if not all of them as a kid). Many of her stories take place in Lapland, and are greatly influenced by the nature and animals there.
That's not the same Bamse as the one I was talking about, though. "Bamse" is a fairly common name for a bear - it's similar to "Teddy" in English (except it's a made up word and not a nickname used for people). It's sometimes used as babytalk the same way "kitty" and "doggy" are used.
"My" Bamse was created by created by the illustrator Rune Andréasson.
I received the second half of my books order today, but the package way too big for the mailbox this time so I had to haul myself over to the post office and get it.
This time it was:
Men Explain Things to Me: And Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit
The Glass Universe: The Hidden History of the Women Who Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel
Tales of the Jazz Age and
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
Walt Disney Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck the Don Rosa Library Vol. 4: "The Last of the Clan McDuck" by Don Rosa
Donald Duck is MASSIVE in Scandinavia and both he and Mickey Mouse have their own weekly (though it might less often nowadays) magazines. I love Don Rosa's version of Donald Duck - they were the ones that primarily featured in the magazines (and paperback issues) when I was a kid. I love the way he weaves in history, legends and literature into the adventures Donald, Uncle Scrooge and the others go on. This is were I first came into contact with the Finnish epic Kalevala, and the classic The Neverending Story. So a few years ago when they started re-issuing Rosa's complete library in hardback edition I knew I had to have them. I think six have been published so far (or maybe seven?) and I now have the first four.
I read an interview with him some years ago and he seems like a really great person - and so fond of his Swedish audience. I authors you admire turn out to be great people in real life too (like Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling and Stephen King).
I haven't, so far, been a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald (I just didn't like The Great Gatsby when I read it years ago) but I've decided to give him another chance. I've heard good things about Tender Is the Night and thought a short story collection could be a good addition too. And these covers are just too pretty not to buy, honestly. How perfect for books set during the 20's and 30's!
Then there's the book that spawned the term "mansplaining". I've been interested in Rebecca Solnit for a while now and thought I might as well start with the most (in)famous of her books.
And two books about women and space! It could only be better if it was a book about women, space and dinosaurs! I have another book by Dava Sobel (Galileo's Daughter, that's been sitting on my bookshelf for years and years without being read - why that is I don't know. I saw this title and just had to have it. And then last week on one of my favourite podcasts (BBC's A Good Read) they were talking about yet another of Sobel's books - Longitude.
16). Murder Is Easy by Agatha Christie
This is another one without Poirot and Marple - the investigation is led by the retired (but still young) policeman Luke Fitzwilliam. He's a pleasant enough character but I was a bit annoyed by some presumptions he made about who the killer might be (and I turned out to be right so feel vindicated in my annoyance).
There's a piece of dialogue between Mr Fitzwilliam and Bridget Conway that I really love. He's made several comments about her looking like a witch and being devilish, and when he talks about old Miss Pinkerton being worried about Bridget's safety, she answers "Don't worry. The devil protects his own." Bahaha!
I really liked Bridget - she was a bit of a breath of fresh air. She felt very modern for a book written in the 30's.
Number of pages: 214
A nice haul of books, Paws.
I've also heared good things of Tender is the night.
Uncle Scrooge! I didn't know he was called that, but what was it in the dutch version, read it a 1000 times, and now can't remember...
I love that title 'Men explain things to me', it does happen, yes. Interested in your opinion about it. (The Glass universe as well, by the way)
>52 EllaTim: I'm really pleased with my haul. The bad things is, of course, that buying books (and especially receiving them) makes you want to buy even more ones...
I know Uncle Scrooge McDuck as "Farbror Joakim von Anka" (Uncle Joakim von Duck). "Uncle Scrooge" is a pretty clever name, though.
Wikipedia tells me he's "Oom Dagobert Duck" in Dutch.
I've actually been really lucky and don't get mansplained very often. My sister-in-laws dad does it sometimes, but he does it with men and women - I just tune him out.
17). The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The first of the Poirot novels, and Agatha Christie's first published novel over all. It's a good one and I found myself changing who I thought the murderer was several times throughout reading (usually my suspicion fell on whoever seemed least likely to Hastings at the moment - because I know enough about how Agatha Christie works by now). I did get surprised in the end, however.
I still have a few more Christie novels lying around but I'm trying to mix it up a little so am simultaneously reading two other books. I' have to read at least one chapter of each book every day - preferably two - and once I've done that I can read as much A.C. as I like.
Number of pages: 252
I've been thinking about adding ratings to my "reviews" (I don't like calling them reviews because I'm not reviewing the books as such, just pointing out that I've read them). But I'm not quite sure.
Those of you who do use ratings, how do you use them? Is it a 1-5 star rating? Or is it something else? Do you use "half-points/half-stars"? What do the ratings mean to you? (How much is every star worth? Does a 1 mean it was terrible or is a terrible book unrated?) Tell me!
My ratings are different from most LT because I give a lot of FIVES.
First, because I LOVE or really like the book and second, when I know I could never have written anything that Great...!
A book to keep.
4 = Good, but not Great
Likely will not keep
(I use l/2 only rarely - when it seems that the author could have done better, but didn't...or somehow let readers down.)
3 = Really average - will not read again
2 = Inferior - likely skipped parts
1 = don't think I've used this one - either applied Nancy Pearl rules or recycled it into my path if truly offensive
>58 m.belljackson: Great, thanks! It's good to read other people's reasoning.
I think you're more generous with grades than I would be - I doubt I'd give something a 4 but not want to keep it (I doubt it'd give something a 3 and not want to keep it, even).
I do rate my books and this is roughly what the stars mean, I do use half stars.
5* great book, I think everyone should read it
4* very good book, I think people who like the genre would enjoy it too
3* decent book, has some flaws
2* disappointing book, wondering if anyone would like it
1* terrible book, a waste of paper
I am reading through all my childrens and YA books. I cull books below 4 stars, except the ones that won an important award. 5 star library books go on my wishlist, as I want have a copy on my shelves.
>60 FAMeulstee: That sounds like a really good system, and your way of culling/acquiring books seems similar to mine (except nearly all books I read are library books so it's more wishlisting and less culling).
If you click above on m.belljackson (I think that's how it works),
you can see all the 180 books I've reviewed to see all the 4s and 5s.
>53 PawsforThought: Yes, Dagobert! Oh, uncle Scrooge is much more fitting as a name:) It wasn't easy to find a good translation for a name like that, I guess.
>57 PawsforThought: Good question, and interesting to see how everyone does this.
I do rate books, but not always, I sometimes skip rating when I'm in doubt about it.
5* Exceptional book, I loved it, really special
4* Good, I enjoyed it, would recommend it to others
3* Average, though I still liked it enough
2* Not worth your while
1* Lousy, I hated it
I would sooner give 5* than 1*. Chances are that I won't finish a book that I don't like, and then won't review or rate it. I don't want to waste my time on anything that I don't like, or that starts to feel boring, while there are so many better books to be read.
>63 EllaTim: No, it must be pretty tricky. The name "Scrooge" as much more meaning in English than it does Swedish (and I'd imagine other languages) as it's become a noun as well as a name.
Your rating system seems to be pretty in line with how I imagine I'd do it. And I agree that if a book is crap enough to warrant a 1, chances are I won't finish it in the first place.
Though I'm a pretty harsh judge so I think 5s would be few and far between.
Thanks for letting me know about your system.
>64 PawsforThought: Then I would be interested to know what your 5* are, must be worth while.
Oke, interesting list! There's still some books I have to read, I see. Like Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and Art Spiegelman, I have heard a lot of praise about those here And Romeo and Juliet is such a classic.
I would rate 1984 and Alice in Wonderland definitely also als 5*.
But I realise that for instance for Alice in Wonderland, I've read the book as a child, and reread and reread it, and looked at the wonderful pictures, again and again. How could I be objective, and how can that compare to Harry Potter, that I love as well, but that I never read like that? My point is that I feel my ratings are very subjective, and for me only reflect how much I enjoyed the book.
>67 EllaTim: Oh, it's absolutely subjective, but I feel like I wouldn't be able to emotionally connect as much to a book if it wasn't incredibly well written (and thus deserving of a 5* anyway). Does that make sense?
It's incredibly rare that I connect as much to a book now that I'm (supposedly) an adult as I did when I was a child. But HP was an exception to that - though I wasn't quite an adult yet when I started reading them. I did connect more to Azkaban than the rest of the series which is why that's the only one that has a 5*.
Happy new thread! Love the kitten topper. So sweet!
>16 PawsforThought: - Now that is service!
I rate my books according to how much I liked reading them. I do think to be honest about what I liked or disliked about a book and rarely rate a book with a 1 or 2 because I do want to recognize the effort of the author in writing them. However, there are, on occasion, some books that are so poorly written that they so annoy me in which case, I will give out a 1 or 2 star rating to warn others potential readers. The 5 stars have to be phenomenal reads. My 3 and 3.5 stars are for books I've enjoyed and my 4 and 4.5 rated books are ones that are really good but not quite exceptional.
18). Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
Number of pages: 233
This novel takes place inside the head of Joe Bonham, who's been immensely wounded during WW1. He has no way of communicating with the outside world and so the novel is all about his thoughts and memories. Ther eare memories of his childhood, both happy ones (like Christmas Eve when they were all together and his mother read 'Twas the Night before Christmas and the Christmas Gospel), sad ones (like when his father died or his best friend betrayed him) and ones from the war.
I didn't think I was going to like this book much when I picked it up. The writing is almost stream-of-conciousness-like which I normally hate) because it reflects Joe's thoughts, and thoughts are erratic and jump around a lot. But I got into it after a while and I did end up liking it a lot. It's a very powerful novel and an incredible insight into what it must feel like to be in Joe's situation. And it's a very powerful anti-war propaganda. Joe's tirade against hypocritical war mongering politicians and other people who themselves will never be put in and danger is the best part of the book.
>71 cameling: Your ratings sound similar to how I feel, though I might be a bit more picky about how the book is written. I have a very hard time enjoying a book at all if it's not well-written. I'm a bit harsher than some other people in that respect, I think. (But I write myself so I think I can afford to be.)
>75 brodiew2: Welcome!
Wodehouse is great, isn't he? I'm slowly but surely collecting all the Jeeves & Wooster novels. I might start on the Blandings & Psmith novels after that, but I have to read more of them first to decide if it's worth it (it probably is).
I adore those Christie covers. I think it was a limited edition series, because they don't seem to be widely available anymore. I'd love to have them all, though.
And you can expect more dinosaur pics here.
>76 EllaTim: Yeah, it was pretty tough at times - which is why I took a couple of breaks and read some Agatha Christie.
And yeah, that's why I thought it might be a good idea to start rating. I find it helpful to read people's rating when I'm on their threads, so why not do it myself?
19.) The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 224
This is a collection of short mysteries that Miss Marple and some of her friends tell each other and then try to see who can figure out "whodunnit". There are digitalis poisonings, people pushed off bridges, fraudulent psychics (tautology!), and Spanish gold. And I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that Miss Marple is the one to figure them all out.
This is a pretty nice little read. I enjoy having mysteries as short stories sometimes - it's a nice break from the long form (when I'm impatient and want to know who did it NOW). Most of these stories are fairly interesting, though none of them really stood out to me. I'm glad I read them, and I enjoyed myself reading them but they're not Christie's best work.
This thread might become a little quiet for the next 10 days, because I'm going away on holiday. I'm heading down to visit my brother's family for the weekend and then on to Paris for a week (I'm equally excited and nervous).
I am bringing a couple of books (yes, only two because I have restricted luggage space and also one of them is a brick) but whether I'll finish any of them is completely up in the air. We'll see.
Feel free to stop by here anyway, and talk about whatever you feel like while I look at art and eat croissants until they come out of my ears.
>79 PawsforThought: Have a great trip. I have to wait 3 months before I go to Paris. I hope you enjoy it.
And as for luggage space for books: that is why we have e-readers!
>80 sirfurboy: Thank you!
I refuse e-readers. Partly because there's nothing like holding a real book in your hands, and partly because they give me headaches.
>81 PawsforThought: I understand the attachment to paper. Still, when travelling they transformed the weight of my luggage! Strange about the headaches. e-ink is supposed to be as easy on the eye as paper.
>82 sirfurboy: I often bring paperback copies when I go somewhere and then leave them at the hotel - extra space for any souvenirs that I might have bought.
And re: headaches. I get them from my tablet too if I read on it but not when watching videos or surfing. And I get them from lavender even though that's supposed to help with headaches. I'm just weird, I guess.
Have a great time, Cousin Paws! Loving the cat - er, chat. Especially the tiny cat hat. Jane won't tolerate collars or clothes, but I wonder how she'd feel about a hat....
Given the new film, and that I've been spoiled by the previous film, I really should read Murder on the Orient Express. Added to TBR!
Bon voyage, Paws! Enjoy your vacation, especially all the croissants you'll be stuffing yourself with in Paris. I'm especially envious of the baskets of fresh, flaky croissants you'll be enjoying because I just had some really bad (hard, dense and doughy) croissants this past weekend, which was terribly disappointing because I do so love a good croissant or 3. You'll just have to eat about 10 for me.
Enjoy les vacances, Paws. Cute outfit, above. The baguette under the arm still missing though.
Je suis retournée! (Well, almost. I'm in Sweden at least, but my train home-home doesn't leave for another three hours.)
I had a lovely time in Paris - thank you all for your well-wishes. It's a wonderful city, but my goodness do they love smoking (and hate escalators at metro stations, apparently - my thighs were aching by the third day).
>85 FAMeulstee: I've never heard of such a song, sounds funny.
>86 Fourpawz2: My own chat is not a fan of clothes but he does indulge us and allow us to but a red bow on him for half an hour or so on Christmas. And he likes walking around with a towel draped over him (making him look like a boxer on his way into the ring) when it's been raining and he's soaked.
>88 rretzler: I'm loving my Christie reads. It's pretty nice to know what you're getting (more or less) sometimes.
>89 brodiew2: I don't think I'm going to watch it, actually. Looks a bit too much "see how many stars we can fit into one film" for me. Including actors I'm not really a fan of. And while I love Kenneth Branagh, he most definitely isn't Poirot.
>90 cameling: I only had about 8, but they were all glorious. Also, great beignets (au pomme).
>91 EllaTim: Ah, yes, of course! Sorry about that. (The French really do walk around with bags of baguettes (and other breads and pastries). It's a glorious sight to see - I thought that was just a made up stereotype.
My twitter feed today led me to the website A Mighty Girl, which I've heard about before but never looked at before. It's a website full of tips for books, movies, toys etc. for girls that aren't "girly" in the traditional sense. Their tag line in The world's largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls, so really ALL girls.
The book section contains lots on interesting things, including LT faves like Coraline, Lumberjanes, Anne of Green Gables,
Ms. Marvel and Northern Lights. I also saw The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, which I've bought a copy of both for myself and my sis-in-law.
I should probably stay away from it unless I want to be a lot poorer than I am.
>92 PawsforThought: Yes, they do seem to smoke more in France than pretty much anywhere in the anglosphere, and part of that is that smoking around other people seems to still be more socially acceptable despite some very strong anti smoking bans recently enacted.
In terms of numbers, France is about a generation behind the UK. The French smoking rate is nearly 28%, which is what the UK rate was about 25 years ago I think. Now the UK rate is 19%, and it is even lower in the USA (17%) and both Canada and Australia (15%). Oddly, India and Iran have the lowest rates of all (11%).
Generally I have felt for a long time that more people smoke on the European Continent than in the UK, although this may be because of the countries I visited. Rates are low in Scandinavia. The rate in Denmark is 17%, Sweden 20%. However, looking at the countries whose languages I can speak: Italy, which I would have thought was high, has a rate of 24% (lower than France) which is also the rate of all the Benelux countries. The big surprise for me is that Germany has a rate of 30% (and the dubious honour of having the highest prevalence of cigarette vending machines in the developed world).
Then there is Greece. In Greece, the smoking rate is 42%. Now you know why there is always a haze around the acropolis.
>95 sirfurboy: In my experience, way more people smoke in the UK than in the Nordic countries and Germany.
According to the latest statistics I can find, the number of people in Sweden who smoke daily is 11% (the number of "party smokers" is obviously higher, but they're not the ones smoking in restaurant patios or outside shops). I hardly ever have to walk through someone's cigarette smoke here (and when I do, I always passive-aggressively cough really loudly to make them feel bad about smoking around other people). There is talk about introducing laws that would completely ban smoking in public areas (and our smoking laws are already pretty stringent).
I feel sorry for all the asthmatics in France.
The chapter, "A Bird's Eye View of Paris," in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame might bring back
good memories after your recent trip.
>97 m.belljackson: Oh, yeah? I've never read any Hugo, so I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the tip!
That descriptive chapter is a wonder, but the rest of the book is pretty chilling.
>96 PawsforThought: The data does not bear out that smoking is higher in the UK than Nordic countries, although clearly experience will differ. My data was from the WHO published age-standardized prevalence of tobacco smoking among persons 15 years and older in 2015.
Source data as published by the World Health Organization in 2016
And yet this carefully collated comparative measure does not necessarily chime with all data, owing to population differences, and more importantly, culture. If you are in a culture where smoking is not socially acceptable, for instance, you won't tend to be confronted by it. That is becoming the case in the UK, where I rarely see smoking these days, except when walking past small knots of people out the back of buildings, huddled together to share their smoking breaks.
Wikipedia seems to rely on an older source for the Swedish smoking rate in their article here:
And yet that suggests that only 17% of Swedish men smoked in 2003. As rates are falling, perhaps the number is indeed down to the 11% you suggest. Indeed the Eurobarometer 458 suggests the figure could be as low as 5% here:
But notice that this surveys "Attitudes to Smoking" rather than the actual rate. It has a figure for the rate, but as it is survey based, that may not be accurate. What is more likely correct is that the Swedish attitude is that smoking in public is just not done, and on that aspect it would appear to lead Europe and the whole world. Britain is a way behind that, France further again, and we should not mention Germany or Greece!
So yes, in summary, I think the WHO estimate is probably good. The data it uses is good, the methodology probably correct and so on a country by country comparison, it is a good measure of the smoking rate, but what the WHO data cannot show is how much smoking you will see in a country. In Sweden, apparently very little.
ETA I found this graphic from Eurobarometer 458. This is "Prevalence of Daily Smoking" which is not the same as the smoking rate, but a good indication of how much smoking you will experience in a country. The UK, Netherlands and Denmark all do very well at 16%, but Sweden is on 5%. France, by this measure, is the third worst. Bulgaria pips Greece to worst place and Germany performs better than expected, just better than average for the EU:
>Interesting discussion. Here in the Netherlands smoking seems to be on the rise again, with more young people starting to smoke again.
Still, smoking in cafes or restaurants is not done anymore. People who want to smoke have to step outside. Smoking in trains is out, fortunately. No smoking in shops, even in the tobacco shop down the road, where, only ten years ago, you had to hold your breath when you had to buy something there. So attitudes have changed a lot when it comes to smoking in public.
I expect that it could be difficult to get surveys to really compare between countries. Still, interesting to compare Bulgaria or Greece to Sweden, well done Sweden!
>100 sirfurboy: My sources had data from 2016, but were in Swedish so I didn't post links to them. I agree that the "attitude to smoking" is a very important part of the issue. Here, smoking around other people (unless you know for a fact that they'e smokers too) is seen as rude and inconsiderate. I'd genuinely consider smoking next to a child to be child abuse.
And smoking in cafés, restaurants, clubs, etc. or anywhere on school grounds (not just indoors but outdoors) is illegal.
I find it interesting that Germany is apparently pretty high on the list, because I don't recall having any issues with people smoking when I was in Berlin a few years ago. If I could have had a guess as to how much people in Germany smoked I would have guess slightly, but not much, more than in Sweden.
Maybe Berlin is "better" than the rest of the country? Or maybe I was just incredibly lucky and only walked around places where no smoker was currently in.
I'd like to add that one reason why Scandinavia and Finland are rated so low on smoking is that more people up here use "snus" instead. It's generally referred to as "snuff" in English, but it's not snorted, but instead shaped into a roughly small bean sized ball and placed under the upper lip. It looks filthy and is just as carcinogen as cigarettes, but it doesn't affect other people, at least.
>101 EllaTim: I was in Amsterdam last year and didn't really notise any large amount of smoking (other than the obvious smell of cannabis outside certain places).
I think there are many reasons for why Sweden (and the other Nordic countries) have done well with the reduction in smoking. One is the increased taxes and plain packaging that are common in many countries now, and the laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants and such.
Another big reason is a big push in education. I vividly remember the STAD lessons at school (sniffing, tobacco, alcohol, drugs) where you went through what they are and what they do to your body. We got those lessons as early as 5th grade. And it seems to really work, because the younger generation are the ones who use tobacco the least, and alcohol use among teenagers have gone down consistently for over a decade.
Apparently it's Shark Week this week, which I wasn't aware of until about ten minutes ago. It's not really a "thing" over here, but I love sharks so I'm celebrating a bit. Might catch a few cool shark docus later on, but for now - enjoy a photo of a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) a.k.a. the garbage can of the sea.
Good morning, Paws! I hope all is well with you.
Have you read Murder on the Orient Express? I had a false start on it, but am considering giving it another try.
>104 brodiew2: Yeah, I read it years ago. It was one of my first Christies. Not one of my favourites though. I know most people rate it as one of her best, if not THE best - I differ greatly from most readers in that regard. I just found it unsatisfying.
20.) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 255
Roger Ackroyd is found murdered in his own home - with a dagger in his back. Everyone in the house has had a motive and/or opportunity to commit the crime, but suspicions quickly fall on Mr Ackroyd's stepson Ralph Paton, who leaves town immediately after the murder.
Poirot, who has retired and settled in the village to farm pumpkins, is asked to help with the case, and since his trusty sidekick Hastings has moved to South America, he now relies on the help of the local doctor, James Sheppard - one of the last people to see Ackroyd alive.
I found this to be a fairly good read but didn't like the way it ended and found it to be a little odd. I
The Swedish title for this book is "The Dagger from Tunis", which makes it sounds more exotic than it is - I was expecting something along the line of Murder in Mesopotamia or Death on the Nile.
>106 PawsforThought: - Love the cover on this one. Am guessing that this cover is from the same series as the cover that you posted on my thread for Murder in Mesopotamia.
>107 Fourpawz2: Yeah, it's the same series. It's so gorgeous!
The version I read doesn't look like this at all (I pick covers based on which version I like best, not which version I read - I want my thread to be pretty). It's just red with a black-and-white photo of David Suchet's Poirot. Pretty boring even if you did like movie/TV tie-ins (which I don't).
>109 EBT1002: Ah, great! Thanks for the link. I'll definitely keep track of what's happening.
>106 PawsforThought: Hi Paws. I can remember reading this one, and being very surprised about the ending. I certainly didn't see it coming. Those covers certainly are nice, I thought it was a Penguin series, but could be mistaken.
>11 PawsforThought: I think it's Harper Collins, but could be wrong. Pretty sure it's not Penguin, though.
Ok, it's been a few years ago that I read those books. Used to swap them with friends, so I haven't got a single paper Christie left, it's all ebooks that I read now.
But I'm still fond of them, ebooks are handy, but they lack something as well.
>113 EllaTim: I don't own a single Christie. I used to, but it was only a few and they were an edition that only covered about 10 or so of the novels and no more were going to be published. I want all of mine to be the same edition so I donated the ones I had to the library.
I'm not one for ebooks. I understand why people find them handy but I couldn't give them up. Partly because of the headaches I talked about with sirfurboy, and partly because of the feeling of turning a physical leaf.
I can understand about wanting all your Christies to be the same edition! Have you got your eye out for a certain edition?
>115 EllaTim: I'd love to have the one that I've posted in >51 PawsforThought:, >56 PawsforThought:, >78 PawsforThought: and >106 PawsforThought:, which I believe is the "Agatha Christie" limited hardback edition from Harper Collins. Would probably be next to impossible to get hold of in new or good condition. We'll see what happens. Maybe the world will surprise me and they'll be incredibly easy to get hold of, or maybe another edition with great covers will be published in hardback (I only buy hardback books).
Hello Paws! I hope all is well with you.
I've passed into Book4 of The Two Towers and met one of my favorite quotes of the series in the final pages of Book 3. Theoden's response to Saraumon honeyed words was brilliant!
>117 brodiew2: Ooh, I can't recall what he said (and I've only read it in Swedish so wouldn't know exactly what it was in English anyway).
21). A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Number of pages: 120
When Michael Bond died earlier this summer I decided I needed to pick up a couple of Paddington books in his honour. I know I've had at least one of them read to be as a child but didn't remember anything about them, so this was a new experience.
This is the first of the many, many Paddington books.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown are at Paddington Station to pick up their daughter Judith who's on leave from school when they stumble upon a rather dirty and ratty-looking bear who explains that he's come all the way from Darkest Peru as a stowaway.
They decide to adopt him, name him Paddington after the place they found him and their lives are never the same.
This is such a sweet and lovely book, and Paddington really is a classic character. I understand why he's become so important to people (when Bond died, there were people leaving jars of marmalade - Paddington's favourite thing in the world - beside the Paddington statue at Paddington Station). The first chapter also contains a very poignant remark about refugees and humanity.
>116 PawsforThought: Those are nice looking indeed. but, yes, limited hardback edition, might have become a collectors item.
I've never come across them, but I wish you good hunting!
>121 EllaTim: Thanks. A few of the less well-known titles are available on BookDepository and I've seen most of the others on Amazon's used section. I always found it a bit tricky to buy used books online since it's difficult to tell the exact state of the book if you can't hold it in your hands.
Those Agatha Christie books do get a tad addictive don't they. I think The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is probably my favourite of hers.
Have a great weekend.
>124 PaulCranswick: Thanks. My weekend was good but not long enough.
I'm back at work after a fairly long (but still too short) and nice summer vacation. I'm not looking forward to this year but I'll try to make the best of it. The busiest time of the year is coming up (mid-August to late September) so I doubt I'll have time/energy to read as much as I have during summer. But we'll see - I do have two books that will be finished soon.
Good morning, Paws! I am on the final disc of The Two Towers. Frodo just fended off Shelob with Sting and Galadriel's light!
>126 brodiew2: Oooh! Exciting times! I hate-love the Shelob-sections because I'm not a fan of spiders.
22.) The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 298
After the wealthy judge Mr Protheroe is found murdered in the vicar's study at the vicarage in St mary Mead, Lawrence Redding - who is having an affair with Mrs Protheroe - almost immediately confesses and turns himself in to the police. But the details don't add up and he's released. But then who did murder Mr Protheroe? Plenty had reason to, and a few had opportunity. But the one who figures it all out is of course Miss Marple.
This was a good one! The ending is borderline ludicrous but still interesting. I wasn't sure I liked Mr. Clement or his wife at first, but they both grew on me and I was rather fond of them at the end. The way they're basically kept hostage by their maid (who can't cook and barely ever cleans) is pretty funny.
23.) Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond
Number of pages: 116
Paddington and the Brown family are going on holiday to France, and Paddington is going to be in charge of the travel route. He manages to get into trouble packing, at airport customs, driving through the french country side, during the village fair and when the Tour de France passes through. Typical Paddington.
Another very sweet book about the bear who constantly manages to get into trouble but somehow always comes out of them unharmed. I'm really enjoying reading these books, even though my blood pressure rises a bit whenever Paddington does something he shouldn't.
>129 PawsforThought: I think that "sweet book" perfectly describes the Paddington series, Paws. I remember reading all of these to my kids when they were small and probably enjoying them more than they did!
Have a lovely Sunday.
>130 PaulCranswick: Thanks. My Sunday is just about over and another week awaits. It'll be a long one, so after I've finished a few chores around the house I'm going to take advantage of the couple of hours of peace and calm I have left and just down and read.
Hi! Enjoying all the Christie reads and the Paddington. Not so much the smoking, cough, cough. Good luck with the busy time of your work year coming up.
>132 Berly: Hi! I'm enjoying all the Christies too. I only have two more at home, and then I'll have to order new ones from the library. I think they have about 10 more. I'm Reading some other books at the moment but am looking forward to picking up a Christie again soon.
And thanks for the well-wishes; the next 2-3 weeks will be absolutely swamped at work, and this week will be incredibly busy at home too. I'm really looking forward to things cooling down at work and being quiet at home.
24). More About Paddington by Michael Bond
Number of pages: 116
The second book about Paddington Bear (or Padintun as he spells it himself) sees the bear and the Brown family welcome autumn and winter, celebrate Guy Fawkes Night and Christmas and have a ton of adventures along the way (including another shopping trip, which is always a challenge when Paddington is there).
This is probably my favourite of the Paddington books so far. They're all lovely and nice to read but I like this one just a little bit more. Might be because I'm ridiculously fond of Christmas. My favourite chapter was about Guy Fawkes Night, when Paddington manages to not only scrape together a big bonfire and a ton of fireworks, but also produces an unusually well-dressed Guy Fawkes doll.
Good morning, Paws! I hope all is well with you.
I picked up a Christie audio this weekend, but it most not be one of her better known. Have you read Toward Zero?
>135 brodiew2: Not yet, but it's in my TBR pile - I'm hoping to get to it before the end of the month.
I had all three of those Paddington books as a child. They're wonderful, aren't they?
>137 SandDune: They are! I didn't have any of them, but I'm sure I had at least some of the Paddington stories read to me when I was very little.
It's been a while since I posted adorable baby animals, and since I've been talking about (and fawning over) police "cadet" puppies over on cameling's thread, I thought I'd post one over here.
I'm not a dog person, but no one can deny how cute these little ones are:
And this little cutie who's going to be a guide dog one day:
>139 PawsforThought: oh, the second picture, so adorable. my cat can look at me like that as well, (usually when he wants a treat)
>140 EllaTim: He's cute enough to eat, isn't he?
My cat has perfected the "I'm starving to death, please feed me" look. And he has the nerve to try and pull it even if it's only been an hour since he last ate.
>142 EllaTim: There's a reason why we've had to put him on a diet nearly once a year for the past ten years.
>144 PaulCranswick: I know!
And here's a St- bernard puppy preparing for a future of rescuing people stranded in the Alps. (I don't think St- Bernards actually do that, but still.)
>145 PawsforThought: Saint Bernards did do that, long time ago before they became giant pets ;-)
The puppy is way to cute, as were the others up there.
>147 FAMeulstee: Yeah, long ago, but they don't do it still, right? I highly doubt it'd be a very effective way of finding people lost in the mountains in these days of helicopters and radios and mobiles phones and whatnot.
>148 PawsforThought: They still use dogs for search & rescue, but other breeds: mostly shepherds and retrievers. Saint Bernards are too big to be effective.
>149 FAMeulstee: I figured they might be. German shepherds and retrievers sound more apt for the job.
25.) Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Number of pages: 318
I don't think it's possible to describe a Douglas Adams novel well enough for people to understand what it's about without telling them the whole plot. And even then it's likely they won't understand. This is a novel about electric munks, people who are killed but don't realize, time travel and much more.
I knew the Dirk Gently books existed but never cared enough to read them until this past New Years when I was sick with stomach flu and one of the only things keeping my spirits up was watching the Netflix series (sort of) based on them. I loved the series and while I quickly realized that it wasn't particularly faithful to its source material, I wanted to read the books.
I didn't love the book. I liked it, but it took too long to really get started and once it did, it was a bit too confusing. Douglas Adams had a wonderful brain and I'm really impressed with what he managed to come up with. I think I might enjoy it more if I re-read it, as there is so much happening (and so much confusing philosophy going on) that you can't quite keep up. So going through it again would probably be helpful in figuring out what is going on.
I'll probably read the next book (The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul), but not just yet.
I have to say I have a fondness for the idea of charging clients to lay on the beach and contemplate the interconnectedness of things. 😀
26). After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 312
At a gathering at the family estate following the funeral of Richard Abernethie, his sister Cora exclaims "But he was murdered, wasn't he?", which makes the rest of the relatives very uneasy. There had been no reason to believe foul play was involved until then - Mr Abernethie had been ill, his son had recently died and he died peacefully in his sleep. When Cora is later found brutally murdered it does start to look as if someone is covering something up.
I quite like this one. It's a bit unusual - it's a Poirot novel but he doesn't even show up until halfway through and doesn't have any major part in the story until at least 2/3 of the way in. I did figure out some of the clues but not enough to be able to piece them together and figured out who the guilty person was.
>151 PawsforThought: I love Douglas Adams' writing and humour. Although nothing will ever beat the Hitchhiker's Guide, I did enjoy Dirk Gently too. Nice write up, even if you did not absolutely love it.
>I've started this book but got bogged down, not getting it's humour. Maybe it isn't for me, but as you say it took some time to really get started I might give it a second chance. So many people who love it...
>154 sirfurboy: I liked it, but didn't love it - and I adored Hitchhiker's Guide. And the Dirk Gently TV series is fantastic. I do think I'll read the next book as well, just not now.
>155 EllaTim: Yeah, I've heard glowing reviews for it so it felt strange when it didn't really click for me. I do think you should give it a go, though.
27). The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
Number of pages: 117
Holmes and Watson are rescued from boredom by a Miss Morsten who asks them to investigate her father's disappearance years ago. This leads to a meeting with Mr Sholto, whose brother is murdered just as he's found a treasure their father had hidden and which Miss Morsten was owned a part of.
I liked this one quite a lot - more than I remember liking A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles. It's a nice romp, though the descriptions and depictions of non-European people is very obviously not of this century and were very uncomfortable to read.
I want to read the Sherlock Holmes books, as I have never read them, maybe I will try to fit them in next year.
(and I think you mixed up two numbers in the year up there)
>158 FAMeulstee: Ah, thanks. I seem to have tripped over my fingers on the keyboard.
I generally like the Holmes books - though my memories of the other two novels have faded quite a bit, so I don't trust my own judgement on them much. I should get on to reading a couple of the short story collections.
Hi Paws. Stopping by to get caught up. Great reading continuing here I see, as well as the adorable animal pics!
>160 lkernagh: Hi, nice to see you over here. I'm really happy with my reading in the past few months. I still have slow days - and some days when I don't read a page - but it's miles away from the reading funk I was in before.
Hi Paws! I hope all is well with you.
>157 PawsforThought: Nice review on The Sign of Four. I've been a casual Sherlock fan since childhood and recent put stopped listening to Lyndsay Faye's The Whole Art of Detection. The narrator was good, it just wasn't clicking. I think it was the short story nature. In this case I would prefer a more long form story.
>157 PawsforThought: I've never heard of The Whole Art of Detection before - the only non-Doyle Holmes book I've read is Anthony Horowitz's novel The House of Silk which I liked, though it turned out to be much darker that I thought going in.
I've only read a few of the Holmes short stories but liked them all so far. I enjoy crime short stories - I find that sometimes a quick a simple story and resolution is just what I need. I much prefer short stories to very long novels when it comes to crime (though Holmes novels are never very long, so not a problem there).
I forgot to mention in >157 PawsforThought: that The Sign of the Four marks the first appearance of Toby the dog and his amazing sense of smell. This discovery just about made my day as I didn't know that Toby the dog in The Great Mouse Detective (one of the most under-appreciated Disney films ever) was based on a real character from the Doyle books. The scenes with Toby in the film are some of my favourite so it was a real treat to read "the original" scenes in the book and meet the "real Toby".
>157 PawsforThought: I really should read some Sherlock Holmes. Nice review.
28). The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Number of pages: 454
In a dystopian future North America - known as Panem - there is a yearly reality TV program called the Hunger Games, where teenagers from the 12 districts are forced to compete to the death. When her little sister's name is pulled from the ballot Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place.
I knew the story before, I saw the film when it was still in the cinema and thought it was about time I read the book, too. It's a good story, and the horrors of the Hunger Games and it's Gamekeepers (and Panem as a whole) feels uncomfortably close to home at times.
I realize that this is a YA novel and the langauge tends to be a bit simpler in those, but I was a bit disappointed/annoyed that there are parts of the book where the writing feels a bit like reading fanfiction - mainly the parts that deal with Katniss's feelings about love. It's a shame - I'd grade it higher if it hadn't been for that (it's a solid 3,5 but not enough for a 4).
>166 PawsforThought: I loved the first Hunger Games book, although I see what you mean above. I also though the third book was a real let down.
>167 sirfurboy: Ah, that's a shame! I (obviously) haven't read the third book yet, and haven't seen the last two movies either.
I did like the book quite a lot, and the story is good - but I'm a stickler for language and that kind of thing really bugs me.
>168 PawsforThought: Well your mileage may vary. I won't say what I did not like so as to avoid spoilers, but there are good points to it too.
29). Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Number of pages: 116
Charles Marlow makes a journey up the Congo river to find the by now almost mythical ivory trader Kurtz. The further he travels the most obsessed he becomes with Kurtz - who turns out to have made himself into something of a god to the local population.
Finally! I wish I could say I liked this book, but I didn't - though I don't think it's necessarily the book's fault (or not completely, at least). I had a really hard time getting into this one, and ended up putting it aside for long periods of time, reading a few pages and putting it aside again. This caused me to forget things and lose the flow, but such is life.
I did enjoy some of it and Conrad certainly had a way with words. I think I'll re-read it someday and will hopefully get more out of it then.
The footnotes were a great help, without them so much of Conrad's references and insinuations would have been completely lost on me.
>170 PawsforThought: That doesn't sound promising. Putting a book aside after a few pages is often a bad sign for me as well.
I do like the cover!
The movie brings out the true horror.
Book seems oddly paced with so much time spent just getting up the river.
>171 EllaTim: Part of it is the punctuation and formatting of the book. Marlow tells the story to his friends and so most of the book is essentially a quotation - with the English (and American?) custom of putting new quotation marks at the start of each paragraph, but not a "finishing quotation mark" at the end of the paragraph (only at the very end of the novel). This makes it a bit confusing because it's difficult to tell the narration of the novel from the speaking parts of the other characters (and the speaking parts of Marlow as a character in his own story).
>172 m.belljackson: Yeah, I found the pacing very odd. In my ca 120 page version, about 85 pages was getting up the river, 15 was meeting Kurtz, and 20 was post-Kurtz. Really odd.
>170 PawsforThought: I read Heart of Darkness earlier this year (or was it late last year? I forget now). I agree about the pacing although I think the intent of the long journey was to build up the approach to the Heart of Darkness, and raise tensions. Not sure it exactly worked though.
I did not read it in small chunks, like you did, but I was happy to get through it. I expect I would have had your experience of putting it down too had it not been quite short.
>174 sirfurboy: I started reading it when I was in my reading funk, which obviously didn't help matters. It would probably have been an easier and quicker read with fewer pauses if I had read it all now.
I didn't mind the long build up, but would have preferred if the time spent meeting Kurtz had been longer, and the end a bit more, well "more". It felt like it was a bit out of nowhere.
>177 brodiew2: Mockingjay is two films, isn't it? I might have seen the first, but can't quite remember - definitely haven't seen the second.
I liked the storyline in The Hunger Games and the way Katniss reacted re: Rue, for instance, but the whole Peeta thing annoyed me. I wasn't fond over that part of the film either, though.
30). Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 256
Mr and Mrs Nevile Strange go to visit an aunt of Nevile's every summer, even though Mrs Strange never feels welcome there because she's the second Mrs Strange, something the aunt isn't happy about. This year Nevile Strange suggest they visit at the same time as his ex-wife Audrey.
Also visiting will be Audrey's childhood friend Thomas who's just returned from a decade in southeast Asia. Other guests include a friend of the new mrs Strange, Ted Latimer, and an acquaintance of the aunt, Mr. Treves. When Mr. Treves dies from a heart attack and the aunt is brutally murdered in her bed, it's up to the police to figure it al out.
This is one of the Poirot and Marple-less Christie novels, which I am usually not as fond of, but I rather liked this one. I can't say I liked any of the characters, but that's not necessary for liking the book. The plot was interesting, if a bit exaggerated at times (but that's often the case with Dame Agatha). I didn't quite manage to figure out who the guilty person was, but I caught some of the clues leading to it and was almost there.
The characterse in this book are really of their time and the way they talk is really misogynistic, which is a bit difficult to get through (it's mostly in the first half of the book, it gets better).
On this the last day of the last summer month, I give you a baby quokka. Quokkas are from Australia, where they're lucky enough to be heading into spring and summer now. (Can you tell I'm not looking forward to the dark and cold months?)
>180 PawsforThought: Ah, so cute! I'd never even heard of quokka's!
And nice and cosy in that knitted thing.
I like the first half of autumn, till October, then usually the weather turns, and we get rain, rain, rain. Not very cold but depressing.
>181 EllaTim: They're a fairly new acquaintence of mine, too. Marsupial, of course. They're often called "the cutest animal in the world", which I'm not going to argue with.
The nice part of autumn (colourful leaves, crisy air, etc.) lasts maybe a week or two at the most here. Then it's dreary and dark - grey skies (even if it doesn't always rain that much) and cold.
>182 PawsforThought: would love to see one!
That doesn't sound nice at all, no.
>183 EllaTim: One thing I do like about it is that you can stay indoors wrapped in blankets and read without being bothered by a guilty conscience that you're not taking advantage of the weather/temperature.
Number of books finished: 9
Longest book read: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 454 pages
Shortest book read: Paddington Abroad and More About Paddington by Michael Bond and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, all 116 pages
Pages read: 2103 pages
Oldest book: The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1890
Newest book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 2008
Male vs. female authors: 5 vs. 4
Favourite read: More About Paddington by Michael Bond
I read two more books in August than in July, and read 605 more pages (40% increase!)
I really hope I can keep going like this; I've been feeling so good lately because of all the reading. And it's nice to be able to tick off a few books from the TBR list.
Hopefully September will be just as good (or even better). One good thing about the arrival of autumn is the increase in time spent cuddled up in a comfortable chair, wrapped in a blanket, with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other.
A bit of cocooning, with a nice cup of tea. I hope September will be a good reading month for you.
>187 EllaTim: Thanks. It's looking good so far. I've started on my first two books and two chapters in, they're both excellent.
31). Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
Number of pages: 203
A naked, dead body has turned up in the bathroom of an acquaintance of Lord Peter Wimsey's mother. She calls her son, who is an amateur detective and with the help of his manservant Mr Butler, and his friend in the police force, Inspector Parker, he's on the case. And then there is also the case of the missing businessman Sir Reuben Levy.
I'm in love. This was my first time reading a Dorothy L. Sayers book, and thus my first meeting with Lord Peter Wimsey (and Mr Bunter) but it most certainly won't be my last. I was expecting the book to be a little slow and stodgy, as some books from the early part of the 20th century are, but it definitely wasn't. It's a quick and fairly easy read (though I did have to look up a few words and phrases that aren't in use anymore, and I still have no idea what "peacocks" refers to) and really funny at times.
Mr Bunter is my favourite - he's such a perfect butler, and reminds me a great deal of Wodehouse's Jeeves. Wimsey is a lot more intelligent than Bertie Wooster is, though! Butler is quite opinionated about what one does and doesn't do - and particularly what one does and doesn't wear - and at one point, he blocked the door to stop Wimsey from leaving the flat without changing his trousers when they weren't to his liking (there was a small stain on them).
And when explaining part of his dislike of another manservant he said "his trousers are not what I would wish to see in a man of his profession". Bahaha!
32). The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Number of pages: 187
In the big house where Miss Sophy lives there are also tiny, human-like people called borrowers, who live in the walls, under the floors and in other small spaces where the big people can't see them. They "borrow" everything they need from the humans in the house - but have to be careful not to get seen. Arrietty lives with her parents under the kitchen floor - they're the only borrower family still living in the house. And then a boy moves into the house.
I read and loved this book when I was around 8-9 years old but couldn't actually recall any of the plot. (The same goes for the next book in the series - The Borrowers Afield). I really enjoyed re-reading this one - liked it almost as much as I did when I was a child. The borrowers world is very well-thought out and there is a realy good attention to detail.
I'd really like to read/re-read all of the books in the series, but sadly my local library system only has this one and The Borrowers Aloft.
I think I'm going to watch Studio Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty this weekend. I've never seen it before but I've been watching a lot of Ghibli/Miyazaki films lately and after reading this it seems fitting.
Hello Paws! I hope your are enjoying this Labor Day.
>190 PawsforThought: When I saw the Sayers, I thought you muse simply be switching Matriarchs of Mystery! What pleasant surprise to find you pleasantly surprised! ;-P My mother has been a long time Sayers fan and, in some cases, has more than one copy of individual books. Gaudy Night is her favorite even to the point of making a variate part of her email address. I hope you continue to enjoy Lord Peter, Mr. Bunter, and a certain lady to be named later.
>192 brodiew2: Well, I'm not American and thus don't have Labor Day but just an ordinary Monday. And it was a so-so one. But thanks.
Nice to hear that your mum's a Sayers fan. If the rest of the books are anything like Whose Body?, I'm definitely going to be a fan too. (And I know about Harriet Vane!)
33). Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Number of pages: 160
This collects the first six chapters of the Saga series. It starts with the birth of our narrator, Hazel, and follows her starcross lovers parents - Alana and Marko - as they flee from both of their people. Along the way, they encounter arachnid "freelancers", royal robots and a teenage ghost without a lower body who talks herself into becoming their babysitter. And the adventure keeps going.
Alana is one of my favourite fictional characters of the past 20 years - she's such a bad*ss, and not your typical new mother.
It's a bit more graphic than I'd normally be comfortable with, but I like that the sex and nakedness shown is always for a reason - not just a way to show naked bodies.
>191 PawsforThought: I'm pretty certain that I read The Borrowers as a child, but I can't remember any plot. Just the idea of tiny people living in a house with big people. I also remember I loved the book!
>195 EllaTim: You don't really need much of a plot, do you? I say it's enough to just have "tiny people living in a house with big people". Was enough for me as a kid, is enough for me now.
Well, I like Saga and The Borrowers; I like Sayers and Christie. I knew I liked you!! Hope you have some great reads in September.
>197 EllaTim: I'm saying that a children's book doesn't have to have much of a typical storyline (with action following action elading to a climax, etc.) for children to find it interesting (and adults who love children's books).
I've never watched Honey I Shrunk the Kids, but I did love Thumbelina - and my favourite in the "genre" is Gnomes by Wil Huygen (countryman of yours?), which I read dozens of times as a child.
>198 Berly: Well, you obviously have incredible taste in books! Thanks, it's looking good so far - hoping it'll continue.
>I'd never heard of Wil Huygen, but he is a countryman apparently. I looked the book up, and recognised the illustrater, Rien Poortvliet. Him, I do know, his style is immediately recognisable. He liked to paint nature, hunting, but also gnomes.
I was more of a Paulus de boskabouter fan. For instance: Paulus en de eikelmannetjes. Paulus is a wood gnome, living with a set of wonderful characters, like Eucalypta the witch, and Oehoeboeroe the owl. I loved it.
34). The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
Number of pages: 188
Mark Easterbrook comes across a case of people, who aren't connected to each other dying of natural causes. There doesn't seem to be any reason for suspecting foul play, if it hadn't been for the fact that their names are found on a list that Farther Gorman got from a woman as she was confessing her sins on her deathbed. And then Father Gorman is murdered on the way home.
I'm don't believe in any form of supernatural-ness so the constant suggestion in the book that the reason people were dying was because of supernatural powers annoyed me a bit. I know Agatha Christie sometimes did tease supernatural events as the solution and then explain how it really happened, and while I'm grateful that there's always been a real solution in the ones I've come across so far, I don't particularly like those books. And that includes this one, sadly. It's okay, but it just bugged me too much to enjoy.
>200 EllaTim: There's a cartoon film about a family of gnomes like in the Huygen book - it was my favourite when I was a kid. Lots of people loved that film, and there was a big deal about it a few years ago because people wnted to get hold of it on DVD but the mastercopy of the Swedish edition had gone missing so they didn't know what to do. The distribution company asked people to send in the best versions of the film that they had (not copied off the TV, but actual, good copies) and someone found a copied-from-the-master copy in their attic. And so it was released on DVD. It was the most bought DVD of the year and the most bought product of any category on CDON (the largest of the onlineshop taht sell music, movies, etc.)
It's become one of the most beloved cartoons in the country, constantly high on the list for request to air on TV and people love to quote it.
I've never heard of Paulus before, but the drawing on the cover is adorable!
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