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Showing posts from 2005

Book to movie review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

(I only review movies that are based on books, and I do not review them as independent works, but as inter-semiotic translations, interpretations or adaptations of books. Therefore a perfectly good movie (when seen independently of the book) may get a negative review for not being a good adaptation. Note that a “good translation/interpretation/adaptation” does not necessarily mean “scrupulously exact”. The two genres are to a certain extent incompatible and therefore a movie adaptation can never be completely true to the book.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a visually great movie, full of action, and the young actors have come a long way from the first movie. The previous three Harry Potter movies could be watched and enjoyed by people who had not read the books, but this movie zooms along at such a great speed that an audience member who has not read the book has a hard time figuring it all out (this has been confirmed by several people), so fast does it flick from one scene

Bibliophile and audio books

I have long held a prejudice against certain audio books. Not for the common reason that listening to books is “cheating” – I grew up listening to the daily reading of books on Icelandic Channel 1 radio, and loved it. No, it’s because so many of them are abridged, or worse, retold. Imagine taking Jane Austen’s famous opening line of Pride and Prejudice (one of the most recognised in English literature): “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”, and changing it to something like: “It is a well known fact that a single, rich man needs a wife”. I can’t remember the exact wording of the mangling, but this invented example is quite as bad as the one I met with on starting to listen to what turned out to be a retelling of P&P (nowhere did it say so on the packaging). Needless to say, I returned the tapes to the library without bothering to listen to any more. In spite of my aversion to abridged books, I can li

Mystery author # 5: Mary Roberts Rinehart

Here is my second classic mystery author. She wrote before, during and after the Golden Age of mystery fiction (the dates vary, but all agree that it covers the 1920s, 30s and 40s), and several of her books are still in print in spite of some rather harsh criticism of her work (to me an indicator that she probably had a formula that she overused). This, her second novel, is her most famous work and is considered to be one of her finest mysteries. Title: The Circular Staircase Year of publication: 1908 Availability: In print, copyright expired. Available for free online at Project Gutenberg Pages: I read the e-book in Word, using the Geneva font. At 12 points it came to 201 pages. The Dover Mystery Classics paperback edition is 192 pages. Setting and time: Eastern USA, contemporary to the writing Type of mystery: Whodunit, country house mystery Type of investigator: Amateur sleuth & a police detective Some themes: Murder, fraud, embezzlement, superstition The story (some may

The human torch visits the library

This happened when I was about 15. Every year in December I remember and give thanks that no harm came of it. We lived a short way from the municipal library and I would go on regular excursions to get something to read. This particular December day was cold and snowy and I put on my brand new warm pink sweater (this was in the 1980s and bright pink was THE colour) and my ugly but warm wool-lined winter coat. I had no idea at the time, but that coat would save me from much harm. Once at the library, I started browsing the shelves. The library is housed in a small room in the basement of the community centre and all the space is used to the fullest, meaning narrow and cramped aisles. I went up to the shelves next to the librarian to browse and hardly noticed the Christmas decoration she had put on her desk, complete with lit candle. Then I walked over to the display of new books. Suddenly I felt very hot, so I took my coat off, only to discover that the back was on fire. I had obviously

Mystery author # 4: Edward Marston

Title : The Roaring Boy Year of publication : 1995 Number in series : 7 Availability : In print Pages : 291 Setting and time: England: A London suburb, Elizabethan times Type of mystery : Murder (whydunit*), historical Type of investigator : Amateur sleuth (crime magnet) Deaths : 5 Some themes : Murder, acting, playwriting, miscarriage of justice, love, misuse of power I actually read this right after the Hannah March book, but I wanted to review a different type of mystery inbetween so that I would not be clumping together three English historical sleuths. Summary (slight SPOILERS) : A stranger approaches theatrical book-keeper Nicholas Bracewell with a draft of a play he wants the group’s playwright to fine-tune and the playgroup to stage. The play is about a miscarriage of justice: an unfaithful wife and her lover have been wrongly executed for the murder of the woman’s husband. His sister refuses to marry her fiancé until the real murderer, a nobleman, has been exposed. We then me

Books Bibliophile read this month

Looks like I’m slowing down. I usually read closer to 20 books per month, but I have had a heavy load of homework this month and pleasure reading has been pushed to the side. Death in Fashion by Marian Babson. Whodunit murder mystery. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares. Young adult novel. On Writing: A memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Non-fiction: memoir and writer’s manual. The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex by Piven, Borgenicht & Worick. Self-help. (I plan to review this with another title from the series that I’m currently reading). Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Novel. (Finally got round to reading it after having seen two films. Not nearly as corny as I expected). Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb. Futuristic police mystery thriller. With a Christmas theme. If you would like to read a Bibliophile review of any of these books, let me know.

Mystery author #3: Marian Babson

Title: Death in Fashion Year of publication: 1986 Availability: Out of print, available second hand Setting: England: London, mostly inside a fashion house, mid 1980's Type of mystery: Murder and harassment (whodunit) Type of investigator: No investigator Deaths: 2 Some themes: Fashion, competition, homosexuality, jealousy, malice, daydreaming, practical jokes/harassment, murder. When someone starts harassing the staff of a London fashion house during Fashion Week, everyone suspects the head designer’s malicious boyfriend. Someone has signed them up for all sorts of services, reported a fire, sent them a funeral wreath and half a ton of gravel. When the boyfriend dies horribly, everyone is shocked – they all wanted to get rid of him, but not in such a terminal way. And the harassment is not stopping... Review: Well written and entertaining. While it qualifies as a whodunit mystery, it is not a detective story as such. There is no sleuth, the police play a minimal role, and

Bonus book review: What do you say to a naked elf? (romantic fantasy)

The best I can say abut the title is that it’s certainly inspired. Actually, it is among the tackiest and most embarrassing book titles I have come across, so tacky it made it onto my top 5 Tackiest Book Titles list. In fact, had I not read a favourable review of the book by a reviewer I trust, I would have dismissed it as über-tacky and never read it. I’m glad I did, because behind that tacky title there lurks an entertaining romantic fantasy that I wouldn’t mind re-reading at some future date. Author: Cheryl Sterling Year published: 2005 Availability: In print Summary with SLIGHT SPOILERS : Jane Drysdale is driving home late one night after a successful home sales party, her trunk full of samples of the sex toys and lingerie she was selling. Suddenly a rabbit jumps in front of the car and appears to turn into a man moments before disappearing under the car. Not unnaturally, Jane panics and ends up off road. She is promptly arrested by a group of elves and brought back through an

Mystery author #2: Hannah March

Title : Death Be My Theme Year published : 2000 Number in series : 3 Availability : In print Pages : 278 Settings and time: England: Chelsea (mostly) and surrounding country, London (a little), 1764. Type of mystery : Murder (whodunit), historical (Georgian era England) Type of investigator : Amateur sleuth/crime magnet Deaths : 4 Some themes : Murder, music, obsession, love, false identity, forgery Summary (no spoilers): In the summer of 1764, private tutor Robert Fairfax has been sent by his employers to Chelsea, then a rural health spot, to recuperate from a serious illness. He discovers that a woman he is very much in love with (I assume he met her in one of the two previous books), is staying there as well, in the same house as the Mozart family. Herr Mozart is recovering from an illness, and when little Wolfgang claims to have seen a man coming out of a room in an inn moments after the man staying there had a stroke and died, and the dead man’s wife denies the existence of any s

Bonus book review: It’s Not About the Tapas (travel)

Author : Polly Evans Year published : 2003 Pages: 304 Genre: non-fiction, travel, Spain Polly Evans, fed up with her stressful job as a journalist/editor in Hong Kong, decided to take a nice, long holiday. The obvious choice was Spain, where she had once spent a year, and so spoke the language after a fashion. She had a road bicycle built, light and strong, that would be her conveyance for the journey, and set off. The book tells of her journey, her adventures, people (and animals) she met, places she visited, along with some snippets of history. The first leg of the journey took her along the border with France, and the second through the Extremadura region in southern central Spain. It was the title that grabbed my attention when browsing for books on TitleTrader. I checked the reviews on Amazon, saw the book was about travelling in Spain, where I spent two enjoyable weeks a couple of years ago, so I sent in a request and got the book within two weeks. For once, I was not disap

Mystery author #1: Wilkie Collins - The Moonstone

As the first book of my challenge I chose a classic of the mystery genre. It has been called the first mystery novel ever written, which is not entirely correct, but it is true that it is the first mystery novel known to include all of the most important features of the modern crime mystery. Some of these features had been used in previous mystery stories, but some were new. Title: The Moonstone Year (originally) published: 1868 Availability: In print, or, since it has passed into the public domain, you can read it online or download it here Pages: 518 pages in the e-book version, downloaded and read in Word (font: Geneva, 12 pt). The Penguin Popular Classics version is 464 pages. Settings and time: English country manor and surrounding area (mostly), London (a little), India (scene setting and conclusion), mid 1800's. Type of mystery: Whodunit: theft Type of investigator: Amateurs and a professional detective Some themes: Justice and injustice, misunderstanding between love

52 mystery authors

(If you’re wondering about the abrupt start to this blog, it’s because I have just moved it from another blogging service. To visit my old blog and see my original reading challenge, essays and book reviews, click here ) I just realised I have a perfect new reading challenge lined up. A while ago I asked the members of my favourite book forum to recommend to me some good mystery authors in the hope that it would yield a good number of “new” authors. The result was a long list of authors, some of whom I was familiar with, some I had only heard mentioned, and many I knew nothing about. I compared the list with the library database and found books by more than half the authors on the list. In addition, I have several books by mystery authors I have not read before in my TBR pile. Since I have this many authors and books lined up, and all in one genre, I decided to make it a challenge to discover new mystery authors (new to me). I am not going to be strict about the time I give myself to r