Lillelara

Lillelara

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

Reading progress update: I've read 19 out of 270 pages.
The Cry of the Owl - Patricia Highsmith

Since today is a bank holiday in Germany, I decided to get lost in a Patricia Highsmith novel. So far we have the main character Robert, who stalks a woman, because she seems to be perfectly at ease with her life and the house she lives in:

 

But the second and third times he had seen her, at two- or three-weeks intervals, he had realized what he liked, and that was the girl´s placid temperament, her obvious affection for her rather ramshackle house, her contentment with her life. All this he could see through the kitchen window.

 

His pleasure in watching her, he realized, was very much connected with the house. He liked her domesticity, liked to see her take pleasure in putting up curtains and hanging pictures. He liked her best pottering around in the kitchen, which was fortunate, as the kitchen had three windows and all the windows were somewhat shielded by trees that gave him concealment. There was also on the property a small tool house six feet high, plus the broken-down basketball goal at the end of the driveway, which had provided a screen for him once when her boy friend had come up the driveway with his headlights blazing.

 

Highsmith is the best at creating disturbing characters.

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 304 out of 304 pages.
The Séance: A Victorian Mystery - John Harwood

I really liked this book up until page 220, but then it turned into a ridiculous mess with a stupid and anticlimatic ending. What a huge disappointment. At least I can count it for the haunted house square.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 304 pages.
The Séance: A Victorian Mystery - John Harwood

Well, the main chararcter, Constance Langton, is a complete moron.

 

[Source]

 

For the last 40 pages this book has taken a complete nose dive, so at the moment I´m not a happy reader.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 152 out of 304 pages.
The Séance: A Victorian Mystery - John Harwood

The Seance is really good so far. I love the atmosphere that John Harwood creates with his writing and the way the novel is structured kind of reminds me of Wilkie Collins´ works.

 

And it´s a book that could be used for a variety of squares:

There is a haunted house, there are ghosts and supernatural elements in the story, the house is surrounded by a dark and gloomy wood, it fits the horror genre and the gothic square, a huge part of the story takes place in London (even though the haunted house is outside of London) and since the book has been published in 2008 it fits the "Modern Masters of Horror" square as well. It could even fit the locked room mystery square, although I don´t think that it would be the perfect book for that one.

 

I decided to go for the haunted house square with this novel.

 

Review
3 Stars
The Moving Finger
The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie

The small town of Lymstock gets terrorized by a person, who sends out poison pen letters to the inhabitants of the village. At first the villagers consider the letters to be of no importance, but this changes when one of the recipients of the letters dies.

 

I neither loved The Moving Finger nor did I dislike it. Overall it was an okay read, with a plot that won´t make a lasting impression on me.

 

I liked the gossipy nature of the small town setting and the poison pen letter plot and I enjoyed the brother-sister relationsship between Jerry and Joanna. I could have done without the romance plot, which wasn´t a very convincing one. Overall I don´t think that Christie is good at writing romances, which makes me want to pick up one of her romance novels in the near future. Just to see if my assessment is right.

 

My biggest complain about this book is that it is called a Miss Marple novel, even though Miss Marple only makes an appearance in about 10 pages of the novel. Of course, during this short amount of the time she is responsibly for solving the case and all the other characters (especially the police officers) are apparently too stupid to solve the crime themselves. I know, I know, that´s the way Miss Marple operates, but in this book it bugged me a lot.

 

I´ve read this book for the "Terror in a small town" square for the halloween bingo and since the person, who writes the letters, is wreaking havoc in the Lymstock, it´s a perfect fit for that square.

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

This was an enjoyable and nice read, containing beautiful descriptions of the Cretan landscape, a plucky heroin, a non-sappy romance and an okay mystery. The perfect book to cuddle up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a steaming cup of a hot beverage in one´s hands.

 

Towards the end of the novel Mary Stewart wrote this outrageous dialogue, though:

 

"[...] Oh, and she threw a rock at (insert name of the criminal here)."

"Did she? Good for her! Did she hit him?"

"Did you ever know a female hit anything? That she aimed at, I mean? She hit me," [...]

 

Well, a story written in the 1960s can´t do without some misogynistic behaviour, can it? Thankfully there isn´t a lot of it in this novel.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 69%.
The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

Okay ... what has just happened? This story better be a predictable one, otherwise I´m going to be so annoyed.

 

(BTW, I think this is the first time I´m demanding of a book to be predictable.)

 

Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

The heroine, Nicola, has stumbled over a man, who has been shot. Conveniently this man is British and about her own age. And since he is injured, Nicola´s Florence Nightingale insticts kick in and things are developing fast.

 

Sounds cheesy? It kind of is, but Mary Stewarts writing is so soothing and comforting, it calmed me down during my lunchbreak (due to various reason I was seriously grumpy before my break).

 

So far I´m loving this book. I´m keeping my fingers crossed that it will remain that way.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart

One of my most dreaded Halloween bingo squares, because

 

  1. I didn´t enjoy and did not finish Mary Stewarts The Crystal Cave
  2. romantic suspense novels are either a hit or a miss for me, depending on how heavily the plot relies on the romance and how sympathetic I feel towards the characters. 

 

I have to say, though, that Mary Stewart has some gorgeous description of Crete in the first chapter. And she managed to make me smile:

 

Yet here was a Dane, a well-rounded, well-found Dane (and the Danes have possibly the best food in Europe), recommending the food in a Greek village taverna.

 

Yeah, I don´t think that Danes have the best food in all of Europe (personally for me this title goes to Italy). Sure they have some very nice food, they use a lot of cream while cooking and they have Bacon and the traditional Danish hot dog, both food made in heaven. But equally they have (in my opinion) the most horrible food ever, called Svensk Pølseret (which consists of potatoes, sausages, onions, cream, tomato purèe, spices):

 

[Source]

 

Just looking at this picture gives me the shivers.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 164 out of 320 pages.
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Pushkin Vertigo) - Shika MacKenzie, Soji Shimada, Ross MacKenzie

"What else? ... Holmes was a master of disguise, wasn´t he? He dressed himself as an old woman, put on a grey wig and fake eyebrow, carried a parasol and went for a walk. Do you know how tall Holmes was? Over six feet! Obviously, the old woman would have looked like a man - or a monster! [...]"

"Watson said Holmes could have been a very strong boxer. How did he know? Probably Holmes, who was addicted to cocaine, got violent and beat him up occasionally. Poor Dr. Watson! But he could never leave Holmes, since Holmes provided him with all the material for his stories. [...]"

 

Almost an entire chapter is dedicated to some serious Sherlock Holmes and Watson bashing by one of the main characters.

 

[Source]

 

So much fun. This is such an entertaining read.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 320 pages.
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Pushkin Vertigo) - Shika MacKenzie, Soji Shimada, Ross MacKenzie

In astrology, the human body - a bag-shaped object - is a reflection of the universe in miniature. Each part of the body has its own planet that rules, protects and empowers it:

 

[...]

- The legs are aquarius, ruled by Uranus.

 

As I have said, each of us has a part of our body that is given strenght by our ruling planet.

 

Mmh, I´m an aquarius. Does this mean that I should have become a professional marathon runner.

 

 running run forrest gump leaving work run forrest GIF

[Source]

 

Well, that would have been an interesting profession for me. Because, to be honest, I´m a lame duck.

 

 

What follows is pretty creepy, though:

 

So I thought to myself: if I were to take the perfect head, the perfect breasts, the perfect hips and the perfect legs, and then combine them into a female body, I would have the perfect woman!

 

Review
4 Stars
Thin Air
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

I love stories that take place in the harsh setting of mountains. And Michelle Paver´s Thin Air combines this setting with a compelling ghost story, which makes this a truly great and enjoyable read.

 

I really appreciated the slow build up of this novel and the almost gothic feel to it. We follow the main character, Stephen, on his slow ascend of the mountain and get to experience the sheer force of the mountain, the superstitions of the sherpas and the effects of altitude sickness through his eyes. And since he is a doctor, we get a few medical facts about altitude sickness as well, which I personally appreciated very much.

 

And since hallucinations are a symptom of altitude sickness, I was never sure if he actually saw things in reality or if he was hallucinating:

 

But even if I´m widly mistaken about everything, about what I saw on the Crag and now here at the crevasse - even if it´s all simply the result of oxygen deficiency - how does that help? The idea that altitude is giving me waking nightmares, that thin air is altering my very perceptions and deceiving my own mind into betraying me ... I find that horryfying.

It´s a kind of possession.

 

A highly recommended, dark and subtly disturbing read.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 108 out of 223 pages.
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

Two days in and we´ve only done five miles. Like some loathsome dragon, the glacier flings obstacles in our way: ridges, crevasses, boulders bigger than cathedrals. It won´t even allow us a glimpse of the mountain.

 

When it´s coming to stories about mountaineering, I´m always wondering what´s the driving force behind the incessant urge of rockclimbers to venture into one of the most inhospitable regions of the earth. The cracking of the ice and the constant avalanches would freak me out, let alone the biting cold, the lack of oxygen and the general feeling of sickness caused by the high altitude.

 

I´m about halfway through and the ghost made it´s first appearance. Even though I´m not exactly sure if it really is a ghost that the MC saw or if he merely had some kind of hallucination. And the tension between the members of the group, especially between the two brothers, doesn´t bode well either. I´m really enjoying this story so far.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 36 out of 223 pages.
Thin Air - Michelle Paver

I looked up the Lyell expedition, which gets mentioned on the very first pages of the book. Apparently the fictional and the real expedition don´t have a whole lot in common and I skimmed through the author´s note in the back of the book, which says that the author has made the story of the Lyell expedition up. The real Lyell expedition had its own set of dramatic events and eccentric characters, but nothing to justify a ghost story. So I guess Michelle Paver made the right decision in inventing a fateful expedition.

 

I really appreciate the gloomy atmosphere of this book. The mountain being shrouded in clouds, the superstitions of the sherpas and the blatant disrespects of the mountaineers, who don´t believe in said superstitions. There is a lot of foreboding going on in this novel.

 

 

Review
3 Stars
The Crime at Black Dudley
The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham

George Abbershaw is part of a group of young people, who have been invited to a house party at the remote Black Dudley mansion. During a vivid dinner conversation, the group decides to play a game, which leads to the demice of someone. But this death isn´t the only thing that is wrong at Black Dudley.

 

So, the only thing you can be sure about is that Albert Campion isn´t the murderer, simply because this is the first book in the Albert Campion series. But then you would suspect that Campion is the main character in this novel. Which he isn´t. Instead a red haired, cherubic faced pathologist named George Abbershaw is the main character of this book and I´m wondering, at what point Allingham decided to make Campion the main protagonist of her series. Did she get fan mail that everybody just loved Campion?

 

Campion is repeatedly called an idiot and a silly ass, who is constantly chatting and making inappropiate remarks. So he isn´t a very sympathetic guy in the first place, but I can see why she choose him:

 

Abbershaw nodded and stared covertly at the fresh-faced young man with the tow-coloured hair and the foolish, pale-blue eyes behind tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles, and wondered where he had seen him before.

 

He is a nerd. Do I need to say more?

 

The plot is a weird one and I tried to connect the dots between the different plotlines, but I had a hard time doing it.

 

The fact that the murder was of secondary interest in the whole narrative and only happened, because Allingham needed a setup for her organized crime / kidnapping story, was a bit disappointing.

 

And what is up with golden age mystery writers and their love for organized crime stories? I don´t get it.

(show spoiler)

 

It wasn´t a bad read, but it wasn´t an exceptional read either. The plot could have been better, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. But I´m counting on that the next book in the series is going to be better than this one.

 

I´ve read this book for the "Country House Mystery" square for the halloween bingo and it fits like perfection. Black Dudley is a country house with hidden passageways and a dark and gloomy atmosphere and anything else you can think of.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 56%.
The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham

Martin looked at him wonderingly. "Do you always talk bilge?" he said.

"No," said Mr. Campion lightly, "but I learnt the language reading advertisements. Come on."

 

Well, talking gibberish comes in handy when you have to deal with dangerous people.

 

 

 

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