An enjoyable quickie. Fittingly, it's the sort of mystery quick-fix you could finish on a train, say London to York...or better yet, London to Paris!
IAn enjoyable quickie. Fittingly, it's the sort of mystery quick-fix you could finish on a train, say London to York...or better yet, London to Paris!
In 4.50 from Paddington an old lady witnesses what she believes is a murder on another train traveling alongside hers. The police have nothing to go on besides her story and they're disinclined to believe her. In steps Miss Marple, that aged busybody. With the help of a young acquaintance, Marple strings together the evidence from the sidelines.
In fact, Marple appears in this book very little. Scenes play out, red herrings are dropped about the reader commingled with the real story, and Marple stitches them together or assists with helpful advice from afar before arriving on the scene to deliver the decisive blow in the end.
I believe this is only my second Miss Marple and as I said, it was quite enjoyable. Sure, it's a tad quaint in a "Murder She Wrote" way, but it's a nice change from the bloody-minded crime novels. I'd give it perhaps 4 stars if it had a touch more depth and ingenuity. But the premise is good and on the whole it's a perfect diversion for a short journey....more
...may have been the first James Bond mIt might have been For Your Eyes Only...
...or more likely Octopussy...
...but I want to say Live and Let Die...
...may have been the first James Bond movie I ever saw. Regardless, it stands as one of my first recollections of the thrilling spy and his over-the-top escapades.
I LOVED these movies as a kid. As an adult my fervor wore away, but remnants of that love never left me and eventually I became intrigued enough to check out the novels out of a curiosity to see how true the movies were to the books. Also, it just so happened that as a kid I spent some time down in Florida, where part of this novel takes place, thus upping the intrigue slightly.
In this, the second installment in the series, British spy James Bond is sent to America. After taking a beating from operatives of SMERSH, a Soviet counterintelligence agency of Fleming's making, Bond is set on a bit of revenge. Does that make him, a white Brit, the ideal spy to infiltrate the black organized crime scene? Perhaps not, but woohoo, let's go along for the ride anyhow!
There's plenty of action in Live and Let Die, but there's also a little social commentary and local color. Fleming did some research on this and that and he wants to show you what he learned. That's how this book reads at times. I like detail and setting a scene, just don't go Moby Dick on me. This is far too short to come near that, but it edges towards it at times.
The movie differs from the book in a few ways. It's been a while, but if I recall correctly the focus is on drugs over pirate treasure, and it's set at times in New Orleans, not Florida. The blaxploitation is still there though!
Ah, racism. It's hard to talk about this book without mentioning it. The constant use of the word negro alone is cringe-worthy. There are very few portrayals of positive, black community role models. Many are depicted as still being under the spell of Caribbean voodoo.
However, this is a spy thriller, not a political commentary. The "bad guy" and his henchmen are black, so they're going to be portrayed negatively. It seems some have mistaken the racial overtones within this book to be blatant racism. For instance, the chapter title "Nigger Heaven" is a reference to a pro-black and pro-Harlem renaissance novel of the same name. If you didn't know that, you would indeed form a low opinion of Fleming...unless you're a white supremacist. But I don't see hatred here by Fleming. Some of his characters may reflect prejudiced attitudes, but others do not. M, the pinnacle of intelligence herein, sees blacks as coming into their own and rediscovering their own attributes after throwing off the yoke of oppression. Anyhow, that's enough of that. I'm a middle aged white guy and so I'm apparently predisposed to turn a blind eye to racism against minorities. However, that's not me. I stand for equality right down the line. Anyway, back to the book...
When comparing the movies to the books, it's tough on the books (at least what I've read so far). The movies are designed to squeeze every bit of excitement they can out of the story. Here, the books are a little more leisurely when it comes to the action. Perhaps Fleming was remembering his own experiences working for and with intelligence agencies during the war. It was no doubt not half as exciting as it's portrayed in the movies.
In summary, this is not essential reading unless you're a diehard for spy books. If anything approaching un-sanitized racial discussion triggers you, I'd steer clear too. But hey, those who prefer their hero not rape anyone, take heart! Live and Let Die is much less rapey than Casino Royale! ...more
If you've read every Austen book and finished off Gaskell as well, if you've watched up all of Downton Abbey and polished off Upstairs, Downstairs tooIf you've read every Austen book and finished off Gaskell as well, if you've watched up all of Downton Abbey and polished off Upstairs, Downstairs too, and yet you still want more uptight British aristocracy drama from the Victorian/Edwardian era, Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite by Anthony Trollope is just what you're looking for!
This book is all about the social mores of the times, mid 19th century rural England. Watching these characters act and live by these intricate and sometimes convoluted rules of behavior can be frustrating for the modern reader. In this respect, Trollope excels himself, exceeding all expectation for a trying read indeed!
If you've read Sense and Sensibility, the plot of Sir Harry Hotspur Of Humblethwaite will feel very similar to that of the Marianne Dashwood storyline. The good girl wants the bad boy and there's nothing that can be said by her rational, thoughtful friends to dissuade her, because they are rational and thoughtful, thus too cold to understand true love. Kids will be kids, as the saying goes. You can lead a girl to Colonel Brandon, but she'll drink up Willoughby until she bursts!
None of the above truly mars this novel. What makes this a less-than-stellar read is the author's fourth wall breaking and use of exposition in place of storytelling: Dear reader, let me tell you about the feelings of these characters rather than showing you. Again, different eras, differing tastes. I'm not saying Trollope couldn't do it, but he didn't...for the most part. Don't get me wrong, there are some quality dramatic scenes that play out in a satisfying way, which save the book from being an utter drudge read.
However, this was not a pleasure. It was mostly mechanical and dull in many places, while the ending is rushed and melodramatic. I could still recommend this to those who REALLY go in for the Austen/Downton kind of thing, but only them....more
I actually enjoyed this more than Justin Halpern's famous Shit My Dad Says. Probably I took to it because it speaks to me on a personal level. I was aI actually enjoyed this more than Justin Halpern's famous Shit My Dad Says. Probably I took to it because it speaks to me on a personal level. I was an unfortunate participant in my own version of so many of the embarrassing moments of adolescence described herein. Also, it has a lot of bathroom/locker room humor and part of my brain is still 13.
The book takes you from lil' Justin's first revelations on the concept of sex right up to his proposal of marriage. It felt like more of an autobio than Shit My Dad Says, but you still get quite a few pearls of wisdom from dear old dad:
“Life is fucking long, especially if you're stupid.”
“...human beings fear the unknown. So, whatever's freaking you out, grab it by the balls and say hello.”
“Most people are stupid. Nothing seems like a mistake until it’s a mistake. You stand in front of an electric fence and whip your dick out to take a piss on it, it’s pretty clear you’re about to make a mistake. Other than that, you pretty much have no way of knowing.”
What really brought this one to life for me were the little everyday interludes:
Eventually my dad got home from work and set his briefcase down. "So. How was practice?' he asked. "It was good. Why? Did you hear it wasn't?" I said, trying to keep my cool. "Son, no offense, but you play Little League. It's not the Yankees. I don't get daily reports about who's hitting the shit out of the ball.”
After reading and not being as blown away by Shit My Dad Says as everyone told me I would be, I thought I was done with Halpern's work. However, I read this because it was available and I needed a laugh at the moment, and the upshot is that I enjoyed it so much I'm quite willing to seek out his next offering. ...more
Guys Read: True Stories has some women doing the reading too, and it's not nearly as macho as the title might lead you to believe. Furthermore, you caGuys Read: True Stories has some women doing the reading too, and it's not nearly as macho as the title might lead you to believe. Furthermore, you can't describe your book as "100% amazing, 100% adventurous, 100% unbelievable" and put out this less than stellar collection of stories!
It's not terrible by any means, yet I had more hope for this than it delivered. I thought it was going to be all kinds of exciting, but only one or two of the stories lived up to the hype. The lead story about a early 19th century America ship's crew getting stranded in the Sahara was more harrowing than exciting. The somewhat tall tale of a bear attack was mostly just goofy. The endearing memoir-like remembrances of a Vietnamese girl trying to weasel her way into her pack of brothers' activities was totally out of place. As an audiobook, its performances varied in quality as well.
Now, it should be noted that this was produced for elementary school students and maaaybe high school kids, though I think they'd consider some of this stuff hokey....That's a word kids these days use right? Hokey? Anywho, the stories don't go into great detail, however, they are quick and mostly entertaining to a certain degree.
The producers make a BIG deal about these stories being non-fiction and thus real. Reality seems to be an important learning tool these days. I'd like to believe that comes from a place of integrity, where learning the facts is the pinnacle of importance. Unfortunately, it's more likely the publishing company is trying to push the "reality" angle, because of the ubiquitous role reality tv plays in the lives of American youth these days. "Cashing in" I believe is the phrase.
Adding "a popular..." to the title perfectly describes this and lets the reader know they're about to embark upon a light reading.
Giving you the entirAdding "a popular..." to the title perfectly describes this and lets the reader know they're about to embark upon a light reading.
Giving you the entirety of Ancient Egypt's imperial history and more, Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs seems to spend more time on its subtitle rather than the main. The leaders - seemingly every single one - gets a decent going-over, at least as much as can be known at this time. The history of Egypt is, after all, rather sketchy.
I picked this up as supplemental research for a fantasy series I'm working on. It didn't go as deep into the Indiana Jones type of traps and snares I was hoping for, but it is quite detailed about the temples and tombs, so it wasn't a total loss by any means.
Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs is not the most scholarly of works on the subject. Barbara Mertz got her degree in Egyptology back in the '50s, then spent much of her subsequent time writing mystery fiction. But again, that's a-okay for the kind of book we've got here. Mertz's offhand, cheeky tone keeps this light and enjoyable through out. It's the perfect refresher for us old folks whoever forgotten much of what we learned in school....more
I'm still trying to figure out how Davy Crocket, who was killed at the Alamo, was able to include details of the Battle of the Alamo in his own retrosI'm still trying to figure out how Davy Crocket, who was killed at the Alamo, was able to include details of the Battle of the Alamo in his own retrospective autobiography. I call bullshit!
Irregardless, the frontiersman of American legend and lore lays out his life in a very homespun, fireside style recollectin'. Highly enjoyable stuff here! Old-timey yarn after old-timey yarn is woven into as colorful a tapestry as you could hope for from a mostly illiterate backcountry man of his own making.
His Own Story (which I think was titled My Own Story early on) starts with Crocket's boyhood and upbringing. This is just as interesting as the battles and woodsman stories of his later life, as it gives the reader a deeper understanding of what made the man.
No matter the age through out the timeline of Crocket's life, his descriptions are sparing but adequate. His narrative often merely touches upon a subject or whole swath of an age, but once he gets into a story, he gets into it! Lively accounts of battles with the Indians and 600lb bears are relayed with so much excitement it's as good as watching a movie!
Highly recommended to those already interested in this interesting man!
Oh! I think I just might've figured out the whole "how did he write it if he was dead?" thing. Likely...or maybe I should say...possibly he had the memoir mostly finished and the Alamo chapter was written by someone else and slapped on the end.