Lillelara

Lillelara

"A half finished book is, after all, a half finished love affair"
                 - Robert Frobischer (Cloud Atlas)

Twenty minutes past eight on a monday night

I just finished my dinner. Normally I don´t eat this late in the evening, but I had to work late and my dish took an considerable amount of time to get ready. But it was delicious and well worth the wait:

 

 

A kale frittata with goatcheese, accompanied by sour cream and a big bowl of salad. I still have the same amount of frittata as a left-over for my lunch tomorrow.

 

 

My plans for the rest of the evening is to snuggle up with a good book and a blanket:

 

 

I´m about 50 pages into Whose Body? and I still don´t know what to make of this book. The conversations between the characters are incredibly weird in this one.

 

I hope you all have a lovely evening as well :D.

 

Morbid curiosity ...
The Woman Who Ran - Sam Baker

... or should I avoid this book like the plague?

 

I received this mystery novel through my Willoughby book club suscription and while I laid my eyes on it I thought: Well, I would never have picked up this book in a book store. The titel of the book and the cover are not appealing to me at all. And then there is the blurb:

 

When someone is under your skin, there is only so far you can run...She can run. But can she hide?

Helen Graham is a new arrival in a tiny Yorkshire village, renting dilapidated Wildfell Hall. The villagers are intensely curious - what makes her so jumpy and why is she so evasive? Their interest is Helen's worst nightmare. Looking over her shoulder every day, she tries to piece together her past before it can catch up with her. With everything she knows in fragments, from her marriage to her career as a war photographer, how can she work out who to trust and what to believe? Most days she can barely remember who she is...

 

Helen? ... Wildfell Hall? ... Apparently this book is based on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This tiny snippet of information peaks my curiosity enough to read this book, yet at the same time I´m pretty sure that I´m going to dislike this book immensely.

 

I think it would be the best for my reading health to give this book a pass and give it away to charity.

Review
4 Stars
Affinity
Affinity - Sarah Waters

After the death of her father and an episode of severe depression, Margaret Prior becomes a lady visitor in the Millbank prison. Here she encounters Selina Dawes, a spiritual medium, who claims to speak to the dead. A woman, who Margaret can´t resist to become infatuated with.

 

This was a great read. Out of the four Sarah Waters novels I have read so far, this is the one I liked the best. Which is odd, because this is the gloomiest and darkest of them all. The prison setting with its oppressiveness made this an exceptional dark and gothic read and the plot was riveting and kept me glued to the pages. As for the ending:

 

About a halfway through the novel I suspected what was going to happen. Knowing this didn´t take anything away from my enjoyment reading this novel. It was a whole lot of fun to watch the disaster unfold (I didn´t have a lot of sympathies for the main characters to begin with).

(show spoiler)

 

I was hesitant picking this novel up because I have heard that Affinity is the least favorite book of many Sarah Waters readers. Which makes me even more happy that I happened to like it.

Review
2.5 Stars
The Tremor of Forgery
The Tremor of Forgery: A Virago Modern Classic (Virago Modern Classics) - Denise Mina (introduction) Patricia Highsmith (author)

The Tremor of Forgery is an odd book. We got:

 

  • a tale about ones own morale and whether or not it is the right decision to adapt the moral code of the country that your currently living in.
  • vivid descriptions of Tunesia, which confirmed my conviction that I never will revisit this country again.
  • xenophobic Americans, who are being racists in a foreign country. The comments about Arabs and their behaviour were enervating and I felt the slight urge to punch the American characters repeatedly in the face.
  • a Dane, which is equally racist. He is slightly excused because of his dog.
  • yes, a dog.
  • a possibly closeted gay main character, who strikes up a friendship with an openly gay character.
  • murder and theft.
  • a book, written by the main character.
  • a suicide.
  • a weak female protagonist.
  • a lot of couscous and a LOT of tap water.

 

Yes, it´s an odd book and not whole lot is happening in this novel. It´s not my favorite Highsmith, simply because it wasn´t disturbing enough for me. But I finished this book two days ago and I´m still thinking about it. And I don´t know what was so special about this book for me to do that. Apparently Highsmith´s writing has that effect on me.

Review
4 Stars
Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

I won´t be saying much about the story. It´s brilliant and worth every single star of my five star rating back when I read it for the very first time.

 

I had a problem with the narration of this audiobook. Dan Stevens is an excellent narrator and I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. But he simply isn´t a convincing Poirot (it didn´t help that I listened to David Suchets splendid Poirot performance in Death on the Nile before listening to this audiobook). Whereas Suchet is bringing Poirot to live with his charming ways in one moment and his obnoxious behaviour in another by the mere use of his voice, the narration of Dan Stevens Poirot has stayed the same throughout the whole book and thus he hasn´t been able to bring the little Belgian detective to life for me.

 

I have to check out the David Suchet narration of this audiobook. I´m pretty sure I will like that one better.

Halloween Bingo: Update #11

With Country House Mystery called I´ve got bingo 3 and 4.

 

 

I will use this as my main bingo post and update it along the way.

 

Finished books: 

 

1. Monsters: Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child 

2. American Horror Story: Salem´s Lot by Stephen King

3. In the Dark, Dark Woods: Endless Night by Agatha Christie

4. Classic Horror: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

5. Classic Noir: Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

6. Chilling Children: The Bad Seed by William March

7. Aliens: Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comic Series by Mark Verheiden

8. Magical Realism: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (buddy read - free square)

9. Genre Horror: The Moorstone Sickness by Bernard Taylor

10. Country House Mystery: The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

11. Ghosts: Thin Air by Michelle Paver

12. Locked Room Mystery: The Tokyo Zodiay Murders by Soji Shimada

13. Romantic Suspence: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

14. Terror in a Small Town: The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

15. Haunted House: The Seance by John Harwood

16. Serial / Spree Killer: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

17. Terrifying Women: The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

18. Free square: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

19. Modern Masters of Horror: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

20. Murder Most Foul: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

21. 80s Horror: Gilded Needles by Michael McDowell

22. Darkest London: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

23. Gothic: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

24. Amateur Sleuth: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

25. Diverse Voices: Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler

 

My markers: 

 

 Square has been called

 

 Square has been read

 

 Square has been called and read

Review
2 Stars
Life after LIfe
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

I have feelings about this book. Predominantly annoyance, because I really did not get this book and the message it tried to convey. I didn´t care about the theme of reincarnation or the philosophical musings that time is like a palimpsest, the only thing I did care about was the end after 600 excruciating pages. My first complaint is that this novel is too long and it could easily have been cut by 200 – 300 pages.

 

As I have said, I don´t get this book. Ursula doesn´t become a better person towards the end of the novel (as a matter of fact she doesn´t know that she is reliving her life, she only has something like a déjà-vu all the time). And the first chapter, in which Ursula shoots Hitler, is a huge led down. I´m honestly not sure what that has been all about. Call me stupid, but I´m not clever enough for this book. Or I simply shut down my brain on page 400, simply because I couldn´t care less for this story.

 

This novel is so bleak and depressing, every new life of Ursula´s was downright horrible. In some of these storylines I was eagerly anticipating for Ursula to kick the bucket. There were two lives in particular I immensely disliked:

 

      • Ursula getting raped, which leads to pregnancy and an abortion, nearly dying of an infection and ultimately being married to an abusive husband, who kills her with an ashtray.
      • Ursula being married to a German, who of course becomes something in huge in the party, which leads to her staying with Hitler in the Alps.
(show spoiler)

 

Even if this book is well-written and an engaging and immersive read, the plot is sentimental and preposterous drivel. Not my kind of book.

Reading progress update: I've read 311 out of 609 pages.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Regardless how many times Ursula is able to live her life over again, one fact remains about all of her lifes: they suck. Good grief, this book is bleak.

 

Still not sure what to make of this book. So far the story has been rather pointless, I´m not particularly fond of the characters and the structure of the book feels gimmicky.

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 609 pages.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson just spent a couple of pages, describing how the main characters mother secretly lusts for the farmer with the blue eyes. Since this is a book about Ursula, living her life over and over again, I wonder if that information has any relevance in the upcoming chapters.

My last three bingo reads and reading black out

I´ve finished my last three bingo reads this morning and I have a reading black out on my bingo card.

 

 

From now on I will get a new bingo with every square on my card that will get called.

 

Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu 

 

To be honest, I don´t have whole lot to say about this book. It´s been neither a story that I particularly enjoyed nor one I immensely disliked. It was just okay. It´s been nice, though, to read the story that inspired Bram Stoker´s Dracula. 

 

 

Peril at End House - Agatha Christie 

 

I loved this Hercule Poirot mystery. Hastings and Poirot are at their best with some hilarious witty banter, the mystery was a great one and it´s been an overall joy to read this book.

 

 

Btw, Peril at End House has been my 100th book this year, setting up a new reading record. I have never read so many books before in a single year (last year I read 100 books in total, this year it will be indefinitely more).

 

 

 

 

Bloodchild: And Other Stories - Octavia E. Butler 

 

These short stories didn´t do a whole lot for me. I liked some of the premises of the stories, but I don´t feel like Butler explored her ideas to the fullest. And I really didn´t like how some of these stories ended.

I liked that Butler included afterthoughts to each story, explaining what inspired her to write it. And the two essays that were included in this collection, dealing with Butlers writing life, were okay as well. But overall I´m not impressed by Butlers short stories. I might give her novels a try, though.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 164 out of 287 pages.
Peril at End House - Agatha Christie

Poirot and Hastings are adorable in this book:

 

Poirot looked at me and sighed.

"If only - if only, Hastings, you would part your hair in the middle instead of the side! What a difference it would make to the symmetry of your appearance. And your moustache. If you must have a moustache, let it be a real moustache - a thing of beauty, such as mine."

Repressing a shudder at the thought, I took the note firmly from Poirot´s hand and left the room.

 

And I´m a big fan of Poirot´s moustache:

 

We have been slowly ascending the zig-zag path up the cliff. It was at this juncture that we passed throught the little gate into the grounds of End House.

"Pouf!" said Poirot. "That ascent is a steep one. I am hot. My moustaches are limp. [...]"

 

Reading progress update: I've read 43%.
Bloodchild: And Other Stories - Octavia E. Butler

Right at the beginning of this collection Butler admits that she isn´t the most accomplished short story writer and that she is better at writing novels. Maybe she is right about that, because I am underwhelmed by these stories.

[Source]

 

I have to admit, though, that I´m not a big short story fan to begin with.

 

Review
3 Stars
The Secret Adversary
The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie did it again. She completely fooled me and my initial suspicion has been wrong. Not that I didn´t expect this, because, let´s be honest, it´s an Agatha Christie novel. She just knows how to use red herrings.

 

I have to admit, though, that I´m not a big fan of her spy / secret organization novels. They are just incredibly ridiculous and the numeral system for the villians reminds me of:

 

[Source]

 

Ups, wrong book / movie series. But to be honest, whenever Nr. 1 or Nr. 14 are mentioned I´m reminded of the James Bond movies and it´s a bit distracting. Suffice it to say that Christie has used this device in one of her other books as well (I think The Seven Dials Mystery). So it´s getting kind of old.

 

As for Tommy and Tuppence, how these two have managed to stay alive is beyond me. They make stupid decisions and the "bright young things" attitude was enervating and annoying at times. It´s not like I hated these characters, but I haven´t fallen head over heels in love with them either. I hope in the next books they will grow up and become more mature.

 

I´ve read this novel for the "Darkest London" square for the halloween bingo. A big portion of the book takes place in London.

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 324 pages.
The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie

I have an inkling who the infamous Mr. Brown is in real life. I wonder if I´m right.

 

Btw, I didn´t show you my new Poirot mug, haven´t I? 

 

 

 

A pot of tea and an Agatha Christie novel. The perfect way to spend a thursday with (the usual) changing weather. 

 

Review
4.5 Stars
Gilded Needles
Gilded Needles - Michael McDowell

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! What a vicious revenge story! The novel starts slowly, but the pay off in the end has been brilliant.

 

Besides being a great and captivating read, the very last page made my day:

 

[...] she was the darling of a small but elegant hotel on the bleak coast of the North Sea at Dagebuell, near the German border with Denmark.

 

Dagebüll is about a 20 minute car drive away from my parents house.

 

Imagine Black Lena Shanks having lived in (almost) the same place as I did.

 

[Source]

(show spoiler)

 

Reading progress update: I've read 79%.
Gilded Needles - Michael McDowell

Some of these characters are so gullible. Unbelievable.

 

 

currently reading

Progress: 79/214pages
Progress: 16/766minutes
Progress: 1870/4318minutes