Book Reviews

CCSpin #30…And the winner is…#5 Pastoral by Nevile Shute

I’m excited to be reading another by Nevile Shute! My most recent read by him was The Far Country, which I loved. (My review is linked).

Pastoral by Nevile Shute

Here’s my list:

NEW List for Spin #30

Newly added books are in bold.

  1. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Serial Reader) 
  2. The Squire by Enid Bagnold
  3. A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  4. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  5. Pastoral by Nevil Shute
  6. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  7. Vera by Elizabeth Von Arnim
  8. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Serial Reader)
  9. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  10. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  11. The Glass Blowers by Daphne Du Maurier
  12. Business As Usual by Jane Oliver
  13. In Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor 
  14. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  15. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  16. Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  17. The Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming
  18. O! Pioneers by Willa Cather (Serial Reader)
  19. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  20. Burmese Days by George Orwell

Are you happy with your spin result? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #30

ClassicsClubSpin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

Before next Sunday, 12 June, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. On that day the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by August 7,  2022.

My list for the previous spin is at the bottom of this post and shows the three books on that list that I’ve completed since that spin with links to their reviews. I do not necessarily list exactly the same books until they are done. I take into consideration what is possible to be read in the time frame and adjust accordingly. If that’s not ok…..oh well!

NEW List for Spin #30

Newly added books are in bold.

  1. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Serial Reader) 
  2. The Squire by Enid Bagnold
  3. A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  4. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  5. Pastoral by Nevil Shute
  6. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  7. Vera by Elizabeth Von Arnim
  8. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Serial Reader)
  9. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  10. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  11. The Glass Blowers by Daphne Du Maurier
  12. Business As Usual by Jane Oliver
  13. In Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor 
  14. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  15. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  16. Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  17. The Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming
  18. O! Pioneers by Willa Cather (Serial Reader)
  19. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  20. Burmese Days by George Orwell

     

OLD Spin #29 List

  1. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  2. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  3. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier  Review
  4. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  5. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Serial Reader)
  6. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  7. A Far Country by Neville Shute     Review
  8. O! Pioneers by Willa Cather (Serial Reader)
  9. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
  10. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Serial Reader)
  11. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Serial Reader)  Review (did not read on Serial Reader)
  12. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  13. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  14. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  15. Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  16. Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  17. Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell
  18. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
  19. The Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming
  20. Business As Usual by Jane Oliver

Would you like to tackle some classics? You can join in the spin! Read all the details on about the

Spins at The Classics Club.

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #29 Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

What is a Classics Club Spin?

Create a post that lists twenty “classic” books of your choice that you want to read.  This is your Classics Club Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. On the stated date, The Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the stated date. It’s usually a 4–6 week period of time. You may like to stack your list with books that you know are do-able for you within that time frame. See the full description at The Classics Club.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

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The Story

This Christie’s first mystery novel as well as the first Hercule Poirot book. “Filled with suspenseful plot twists and viable suspects ranging from the victim’s much younger husband, to her resentful step-sons, one ultimate question remains: Who killed Emily Inglethorp?” (Amazon). 

Was she poisoned? Was her husband the murderer? Was there a new will? Was there double-jeopardy?

If you have a good copy of t his book (I had the cheap kindle versions so ….) there is a map of the house, a detail of the crime scene and a fragment of a document included for extra fun. (You get what you pay for when you go super-cheap–no fun).

My Thoughts

I almost didn’t include this book on my Spin List. Sadly, I wished I had gone with that impulse. Having endured the new movie of Death on the Nile, read Midwinter Murder to start the year, and having read both Murder in Mesopotamia (for the 1936 Club Spin) and Absent in Spring (written as Mary Westmacott) last year, I am about Christie-d out. I am gamely trying to read all of her books, but at a speed of about one or two per year. The movie pushed me over the edge I think.

Nonetheless, she isn’t called the Queen of Mystery for nothing! This was a “locked room” mystery (I got a chuckle when the man Poirot is reviewing evidence suggested that the woman’s husband had to have killed her because naturally she would open the door to her husband! “Not tonight, darling, I fear I cannot receive you–I have a headache” must never have occurred to the man).

Naturally it is a great who-done-it and another time I would have enjoyed it more. Regardless, duty is done and I can cross it off my list and report that I read my Spin book! Next spin–no Agathas on the list though.

My Verdict

3.5

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #29

ClassicsClubSpin

Thanks to Margaret at Books Please whose post reminded me it was Spin time again!

What is a Spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 20th March, 2022, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.  This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period….On Sunday 20th, March, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the 30th April, 2022. That’s a six week reading window for this spin. You may like to stack your list with books that you know are do-able for you within that time frame. See the full description at The Classics Club.

My Result for the  Last Spin, #28

The last Spin saw me totally fail! I got The Face of War by Martha Gellhorn and didn’t get even one page of it read. Woe is me. Mea culpa! So, I decided not to put that one back on my list. I own it so I can read it another time. I also thought I’d see what new (new to the platform that is) classics Serial Reader might have. I sang the praises loud and long for this app when it came out, but tend to forget it now. Recently I downloaded it again and started looking at the titles. That way I could just figure out how many “daily” episodes to read each day during the spin. Nifty, right? We’ll see. I also remembered to look at 1001 Books to Read Before You Die–at least the original version. I like “competitive” reading with lists like that. Finally, I checked my Kindle to see what was languishing there.

My Spin Lists

As always, I started with my list for the last Spin and pruned and added to it. I took out those I’d read or lost interest in and added some new ones.

The OLD List from Spin 28

  1. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark  Review HERE
  3. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  4. A Far Country by Neville Shute
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  7. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  8. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  9. Loving Spirit by Daphne DuMaurier
  10. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  11. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin Review HERE.
  12. The Face of War by Martha Gelhorn
  13. The Headmistress by Angela Thirkell
  14.  We Fed Them Cactus by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca
  15. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  16. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  17. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  20. The Way Things Are by E.M. Delafield

My NEW Spin #29 List

  1. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  2. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  3. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  4. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  5. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Serial Reader)
  6. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  7. A Far Country by Neville Shute
  8. O! Pioneers by Willa Cather (Serial Reader)
  9. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
  10. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Serial Reader)
  11. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Serial Reader)
  12. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  13. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  14. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  15. Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  16. Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  17. Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell
  18. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
  19. The Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming
  20. Business As Usual by Jane Oliver
Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #28 Result is….Number 12!!!! Faces of War!

I’m sooooooooooooo excited! One of the new-to-this-spin titles added to my classics list WON!! Woot! Go, Martha!!Martha Gellhorn’s (sometime Mrs. Ernest Hemingway) collection of war-reporting columns/stories/essays, The Face of War, is the winner. I found an e-book copy at my library, so I’m all set!

My List

  1. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  4. A Far Country by Neville Shute
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  7. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  8. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  9. Loving Spirit by Daphne DuMaurier
  10. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  11. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
  12. The Face of War by Martha Gelhorn THE WINNER!!!
  13. The Headmistress by Angela Thirkell
  14.  We Fed Them Cactus by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca
  15. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  16. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  17. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  20. The Way Things Are by E.M. Delafield

“The Face of War is a classic of frontline journalism by “the premier war correspondent of the twentieth century” (Ward Just, The New York Times Magazine).

Whether in Java, Finland, the Middle East, or Vietnam, she used the same vigorous approach. “I wrote very fast, as I had to,” she says, “afraid that I would forget the exact sound, smell, words, gestures, which were special to this moment and this place.” As Merle Rubin noted in his review of this volume for The Christian ScienceMonitor, “Martha Gellhorn’s courageous, independent-minded reportage breaks through geopolitical abstractions and ideological propaganda to take the reader straight to the scene of the event.” (Amazon).

Tune in

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #28 List

spinning-book

On Sunday 17th, October, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the 12th December, 2021. That’s an eight week reading window for this spin. You may like to stack your list with books that you know are do-able for you within that time frame.

New to Classics Club and its fun spins? Read all about it here on the Classics Club blog.

My List

  1. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  4. A Far Country by Neville Shute
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  7. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  8. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  9. Loving Spirit by Daphne DuMaurier
  10. Mariana by Monica Dickens
  11. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
  12. The Face of War by Martha Gelhorn
  13. The Headmistress by Angela Thirkell
  14.  We Fed Them Cactus by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca
  15. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  16. Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym
  17. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  18. Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
  19. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  20. The Way Things Are by E.M. Delafield

Tune in on Sunday to find out which number is drawn!

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #27 Review: Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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My Interest

I love participating in the Classics Club Spins! It’s such a fun way to read through classics you might never try.

 

The Story

Impoverished gentlewoman, Emily Fox-Seton, supports herself being useful to busy ladies. She’s the Victoria equivalent of Door Dash, Stitch Fix, Amazon and more rolled into one. She does errands to keep herself barely above penury. She fears the Work House and lies awake at night fretting that genteel ladies will no longer need her to walk a hundred miles to pick up fish and save their dinner parties from the shame of no fish course!

But, being “the right sort,” only down-on-her-luck financially, she is at least in the company of people who think nothing of hosting a house party for 20 for at least a month. Sadly, the poor thing doesn’t ride–not to the hounds or just in the home park.Nonetheless, her circumstances have the advantage of putting her in the path of well-off men, some of whom are single. Now, she’s a bit past her sell-by date in Victorian terms, but still within her childbearing years albeit at an age where a husband could only likely expect about 10 children instead of 18.

After saving the above-mentioned-dinner-party, she is rescued by the Marquess of Walderhurst–an eligible, older widower with no heir. She is a lovely, quiet, sensible thing and James Walderhurst sees her potential. He has a money-grubbing distant relative as his heir presumptive, so why not take a chance on this little chit who colors so prettily when he speaks to her. Better still, his sister likes Emily, too.

My Thoughts

This was a delightful story. Could you see the plot a mile off? Of course! Was the putative “Cousin Matthew” [Downton Abbey] hatching schemes at a rate that would have made Miss O’Brien need a cuppa and a fag out back with Thomas? [Downton, again]. Oh, yes! But this story is Victorian and we know it ends on a happy note–it must, it simply had to hadn’t it? (Yes, sadly, there are racist comments about an Indian servant. Be aware.)

I listened to the excellent audio book from Persephone Books which is only $4.99 on Audible (linked)

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hogsdon-Burnett

My Verdict

4 Stars

To learn more about The Classics Club and their “Spins” read this post.

For my past Spin book reviews click the title to go to my review:

Wide Saragaso Sea

Tortilla Flat

Excellent Women

Groves of Academe

Book Reviews

Classics Club Spin #27 Book Will Be….

#ccspin 

Number 6 is the lucky draw!

The book I must read by August 22nd is….

Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

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Frances Hodgson Burnett published The Making of a Marchioness in 1901. She had written Little Lord Fauntleroy 15 years before and would write The Secret Garden in 10 years’ time; it is these two books for which she is best known. Yet Marchioness was one of Nancy Mitford’s favourite books, was considered ‘the best novel Mrs Hodgson Burnett wrote’ by Marghanita Laski, and is taught on a university course in America together with novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Daisy Miller.ness by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

I bought this on sale on audio recently, so now I”ll enjoy it on my commute some week.

You can see my entire list for this spin HERE.