Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I DNF'd a Book


Reasons I DNF'd (Did Not Finish) a Book

Well it has been awhile since I have posted for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I don't know why but these posts seem to take a lot of work and thinking for me. I love doing them but they are time consuming. Today I'm just going to make a list and join in! No book covers or titles, because I wouldn't want to actually name these books and discourage the authors. So here is my list as to why I didn't finish certain books. (You can decide if they are "petty" reasons as the original challenge is titled :) 

1. The terrible dialogue- I just can't with some of these modern books and inserting modern discussion into historical novels. Makes me want to toss the book across the room.

2. Too long- Don't get me wrong, I love an epic as much as anyone but some books just don't need to be 1,000 pages. You could cut it in half and still get the gist of the story.

3. The plot twists in a way I find unbelievable- Sometimes I'm halfway through a book and it just becomes too far fetched. I just can't buy into it anymore and want to stop reading.

4. I've figured out whodunnit quickly- When reading a mystery if I really think it's too easy I will skip to the end or just stop reading. This is terrible I know but I'm being honest, I do this!

5. Annoying Main Characters- I have to have some buy in with the main character. If I don't like them and I'm supposed to (meaning they aren't the villain) I don't always want to continue with the story.

6. Written in present tense language- This seems to be the new trend and I do not enjoy it! Give me the old fashioned narrator style.

7. A better book caught my eye- I do try to finish books I like before straying off to start a new one. But sometimes I come across a book I just have to begin reading today! And I ditch the other book and forget to get back to it. This is a bad habit to get into where you have all these half finished good books.

8. Politics enters the story- When I'm reading a good historical fiction book or mystery the last thing I want is someone preaching at me about modern day standards. So if I get the sense that is happening I'm apt to DNF that book quickly. It better have a realistic sense of the time or I'm out.

9. The story just moves too slowly- The book starts out strong and I'm really hooked. But halfway through I start realizing there is nothing new happening and the author is just rehashing and dragging out the ending. I confess this is when I start skimming, which I hate to do but sometimes you just have to.

10. Part of a series that isn't evolving- I absolutely love books that are part of a series. I know I'll never be able to read all of them but I love knowing the same characters are there if I want to meet them again. So I have to choose wisely and if a series is getting stale with the same plot lines told over again, I ditch it. And start another series. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (Miss Marple Mysteries Book One) Read Christie 2024 April Selection


Publication Date:
October 1930

256 pages

This is the first Christie story to feature Miss Marple and for that reason alone I wanted to read it. Reverend Lawrence Clement narrates the story. He is the vicar of St. Mary Mead and lives with his wife Griselda who is a much younger and cheerful lady. His nephew Dennis lives with them. Clement dislikes the church warden he works with, Colonel Protheroe, and that sentiment is shared by many in the village. When Protheroe is shot to death in Clement's office one evening while the vicar is called away, Clement is pulled into finding out who did it and why. 

Prior to the shooting, Clement observed Protheroe's wife, Anne in a romantic encounter with one Lawrence Redding, an artist who is just visiting the village and although he doesn't out them at the time, he now wonders if they had anything to do with the murder. 

The police are unable to narrow down a working timeline of the murder due to conflicting notes and reports of the actual time of the gunshot. Miss Marple, local villager and shrewd amateur detective of sorts has her own theories. She believes there are seven people who could have had the means and motive and begins to zero in on their wherabouts and likelihood of guilt. The hardest clue to discern the answer to is the sound of the gunshot itself. Witnesses claim to have heard the sound coming from the woods, not the vicar's house. Also, at least one of the suspects was seen near the woods, but not carrying a pistol. It is tough for Miss Marple to puzzle out.

Meanwhile, Clement, who despises the Inspector Slack assigned to the case, finds his curate, Hawes, dying from an overdose and confessing to stealing from the church accounts. He also has a note that appears to confirm his guilt. Can Miss Marple narrow her suspect list down to find the real murderer in time? Or is is Hawes?

My Thoughts:
I liked the narration of Clement and his way of thinking. He is an interesting character and it is fun to hear his depictions of his wife and the local, colorful people in the town. Sometimes he doesn't sound much like a vicar in that he is very human, but that is what makes him interesting. Miss Marple doesn't figure in the story nearly as much as him, although we definitely see her personality come through with her sleuthing skills. 

I found the women in the story to be a bit shallow and irritating: Griselda, Clement's wife, Lettice Protheroe, the Colonel's daughter, and Anne Protheroe, the Colonel's wife all seem a bit scatterbrained and helpless. 

I thought the story moved a bit too slowly and had a lot of repetition sometimes when going through the clues but the ending made up for it. It was cleverly done as always and although I did suspect someone correctly I was wrong about the how and why. Overall it turned out to be a good, intriguing story with all the loose ends wrapped up neatly. Everyone who is a Christie fan needs to read it just because it is the first Miss Marple story. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A Royal Murder by Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 9)

Publication Date: 
Februrary 28, 2022 

290 pages

This ninth book in the series doesn't take us to an exotic location but does include plenty of royal excitement. Eleanor is attending the royal regatta boat races with her friend Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy has taken it upon herself to "help" Eleanor with her image...clothes and bearing. Eleanor, who is new to the whole lady persona she inherited upon her Uncle's death and the acquisition of his money and home, Henley Hall, obliges without enthusiasm. 

Hoping to enjoy the day peacefully, she stumbles into another murder mystery when the King's cousin, Lord Xander Taylor-Howard drops dead after drinking a glass of champagne during the after races ceremony. At first everyone thinks it might be an innocent tragedy but it soon becomes apparent that foul play is involved. 

Because of her past track record with solving suspicious deaths, Eleanor is asked to help Sir Percival, the head of the royal police, in solving the murder. She is surprised but happy to put her skills to use. She is also thrilled to be in the company of Detective Hugh Seldon, her love interest and someone she has worked with before, usually without Seldon's approval. 

As they follow the clues they have many options before them: was it gambling debts owed? Family secrets? A Russian mobster? Or a jealous lover's husband? So many suspects and directions to pursue. Of course Clifford the butler and her adorable staff pitch in when they can especially Clifford, who is always one step ahead of everyone else with background knowledge and insight. 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this one. I like it when my cozy mysteries move to a special location outside of England or America but this time the story was fun and intriguing enough that it didn't need that. The clues were interesting and kept me guessing right up until the end. There was a twist that I expected right before it was revealed and although I got the gist of it correct, there was still another piece that I didn't see coming. I absolutely love the characters in these stories, especially Clifford and his witty comments. The Henley Hall staff is so cute and work so hard to make everything perfect and beautiful and I always learn little things about the time period and running a country estate in the 1920's when they are cleaning or cooking something. 

The royal link doesn't factor in a whole lot, I think it is just there to make the story seem more surprising. But it works because it's more fun to read about Lord Xander than just plain old Xander, right? I will be reading and reviewing the next three books this year as the season dictates with their theme. The latest book 18, Murder in Mayfair, will be released in June. Wonder if I'll ever catch up?



Monday, April 15, 2024

Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries) Book Two


Publication Date: 
May 22, 2017

216 pages

Set in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in the 1930's, these charming mysteries are really unique. This is book two and I like to go in order so I will probably read and review that way. There are fourteen now with more on the way so this author has definitely found a formula that works. The stories center around native born Inspector Shanti de Silva and his British wife Jane who live in the quaint town of Nuala. Another place where murders and mysteries seem to happen quite frequently, Nuala is nevertheless a sleepy place full of good people. 

De Silva is called in to investigate the mysterious death of a lady linked to British royalty. No one knows why she decided to tumble off a cliff seemingly, to commit suicide. There is much doubt in that conclusion as the case unfolds. Was she sleepwalking? Or severely depressed and wanting to end it all? Add to the drama the uncomfortable aspect of De Silva's bosses, Archie Clutterbuck and William Petrie wanting to keep things as hush hush as possible as to avoid any possible embarrassment to the crown and de Silva is hard pressed to walk a delicate line investigating and being true to where the path follows. A mysterious Russian Count and his wife are involved in the scandal with a backstory of their own.

Along with the main mystery is the side story of the men working under de Silva's charge. Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar are young men who are dealing with their own struggles while trying to balance their work lives. De Silva is caring and patient, treating them almost as the children he and Jane do not have. When Prasanna becomes infatuated with a village girl, Kuveni, the de Silvas work to make an impossible dream a reality. 

My Thoughts:
The story unfolds very slowly. A couple of times I was distracted enough to think about skimming but I stuck with it a bit longer and was glad I did. As with book one, the author takes her time setting the scene, the colorful life in the area, and building the case with lots of detours and additional suspects. I appreciate the balance between a little bit of darkness, followed by humor and the warm interactions between the Inspector and his wife. The twists along the way were sufficient enough to keep me guessing and the last minute reveal was unexpected. You won't find many books like this one so it is a series I will definitely keep up with if I can.