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Showing posts from May, 2006

Cover images and links updated

I have added cover images for some of the books I have reviewed, and am working on adding more. The plan is in the future to include cover images for all the books I review.

I am also in the process of adding masses of links to the sidebar. This should be finished by the end of the week, but I urge my readers to let me know of useful and interesting biblio-websites. Just leave the URL in a comment under this post.

The 52 Books archive is online

I've finally put all my old reviews online in one accessible place:
Bibliophile's Review and Essay Archive

All that's missing is the essays and other non-reviews. I decided not to include any of the comments, simply because it was too much work.

Please post comments here if you find any broken links.
(I am aware of the symbols that pop up in the text here and there. GeoCities doesn't like apostrophes.)

Once the reviews in Another 52 books start to drop off the page, I will add them as well. (They will still be accessible in the month by month archives here on Blogger).

Bibliophile discusses Van Dine’s rules for writing detective stories

Writers have been putting down advice for wannabe writers for centuries, about everything from how to captivate readers to how to build a story and write believable characters to getting published. The mystery genre has had its fair share, and one of the best known advisory essays is mystery writer’s S.S. Van Dine’s 1928 piece “Twenty rules for writing detective stories.”

I mentioned in one of my reviews that I might write about these rules. Well, I finally gave myself the time to do it. First comes the rule (condensed), then what I think about it.

Here are the Rules as Van Dine wrote them. (Incidentally, check out the rest of this excellent mystery reader’s resource: Gaslight)

The rules are meant to apply to whodunnit amateur detective fiction, but the main ones can be applied to police and P.I. fiction as well. I will discuss them mostly in this context, but will also mention genres where the rules don’t apply and authors who have successfully and unsuccessfully broken the rules.

1.Th…

Bibliophile reviews The Englishwoman in America (travel)

Author: Isabella Lucy Bird
Year of publication: 1856
Genre: Travel, USA and Canada
Time period: Mid-19th century

I have mentioned my love of travelogues before. I don’t just like to read new or newish books about places I would like to visit some day but also about places I have visited and historical journeys. Historical travelogues are especially interesting when they draw up a snapshot of places as they were at a given point in time, even though one always has to keep in mind that travellers often write about what they think they should have experienced or what they think the readers will want to read about rather than their actual experiences. I have a great admiration for the leisure travellers of the past who often went through amazing hardships just to be able to briefly visit a place, and I respect the commercial travellers who sometimes had to travel for many months or even years to get to their destination. Before the advent of aeroplanes and express trains the actual getting th…

Mystery author #17: Dorothy Cannell

Title:The Thin Woman
Series detective: Ellie Simons, aided by Bentley Haskell
No. in series: 1
Year of publication: 1984
Type of mystery: Cosy w/ treasure hunt, possible murder, murder attempts
Type of investigator: Amateurs
Setting & time: England, 1980’s
Some themes: Dieting, insecurity, missing persons

Story: Interior decorator Ellie Simons is fat and insecure and has always been made to feel inferior by her beautiful cousin Vanessa. When she is invited, along with all her other relatives (Vanessa included), to Merlin’s Court, her eccentric uncle’s fairy-tale castle, for a family weekend, she hires handsome Bentley Haskell, a writer who moonlights as a social escort, to accompany her and pretend to be her boyfriend. Uncle Merlin is not only eccentric, but also rich, and most of the relatives only come in the hope of getting a mention in his will. When he dies shortly afterwards, Ellie is stunned to learn that she and Ben have been left Merlin’s Court and most of Merlin’s considerable r…

Mystery author #16: Boris Akunin

Title:The Winter Queen
Original Russian title:Azazel
Translator: Andrew Bromfield
Series detective: Erast Petrovich Fandorin
No. in series: 1
Year of publication: 1998
Type of mystery: Conspiracy, murder, thriller
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Russia: Moscow & St. Petersburg, England: London; 1876
Some themes: Obsession, love, social improvement

Story: Young Erast Fandorin, a lowly police clerk of good family but small means, is sent to investigate a mysterious suicide in Moscow. This leads him to a beautiful and mysterious woman who is not all what she seems. Events lead him to London where he discovers that she is involved in some kind of conspiracy. From then on, his life is in constant danger.

Review: I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up this book, and after reading the first couple of chapters I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a mystery or the parody of one, so parodic, almost satirical at times, is the style. Akunin has a way of making subtle fun of…

Bibliophile’s reading report for April 2006

In spite of having loads of school work (did I mention that I’m about to finish my graduate studies?) I still managed to read 18 books in April. They would have been much fewer if it had not been for Easter. It’s amazing what a determined person can do over several days uninterrupted by work or classes, so I managed to finish an amazing amount of school work and read a book or two per day besides.

Reviewed:
The Barbie Chronicles: a living doll turns forty: Yona Zeldis McDonough (social history)
The Case is Closed: Patricia Wentworth (murder mystery)
Every boy's got one: Meg Cabot (romance)
Grey Mask: Patricia Wentworth (mystery)
Latter End: Patricia Wentworth (murder mystery)
Maigret has scruples: Georges Simenon (murder mystery)
Maigret in exile: Georges Simenon (murder mystery)
The Murdered House: Pierre Magnan (murder mystery)

Unreviewed:
Belle of the Ball: Pam McCutcheon (historical romance)
The Daughter of Time: Josephine Tey (murder mystery, historical)
Desert divers: Sven Li…

Other reading challenges

When I started my original challenge, I knew of 2 other bloggers with 52 book challenges (under that title). Now there are a lot more. Here is what some of them are reading. I have tried to stick to blogs that are mostly about a book-a-week challenge, or reading blogs similar to this one that include such a challenge.
(Links will open in a new window).

Keris Stainton has already read several books I’m interested in.
Largehearted boy’s challenge is now in its third year. Check out the previous years’ archives at the bottom of the page.
Ryan Pilling is reading one business book per week.
Exxie of Exxie’s Book Lounge is on her second round.
Marisa is “striving” to reach the goal. Here is her Book Project.
Heliologue’s challenge: A Modest Construct
People on 43 Things who have the goal of reading a book a week.
-and the ones who are reading 52 book in 52 weeks.
Scott made a new year’s resolution to read 52 books in 2006. He seems to be doing well so far.

Other reading challenges:
felynbelarra is do…

Breaking the addiction

It is a known fact that I am biblioholic, a raving book addict. I make no secret of that. But I am also addicted to libraries. Going to the library does for me what shopping does for shopaholics and eating for food addicts. Well, I’m going on a diet, aimed at reducing my TBR stack. I have allowed one of my library cards to expire, the one for the city library where I get most of my casual reading material. It’s not that I have taken a sudden dislike to the library or anything, but I have approximately 300 books at home waiting to be read and I can’t see myself doing that when I keep going to the library to get one book and then bring back 20. The aim is for at least 80% of the books I read every month to be mine (the rest I will get from the National Library). If this works and I manage to reduce my TBR stack by at least 50% by the end of September (when the other card expires), I will reward myself by renewing the city library card.

The card expired on April 28, and I still have some …

Mystery writer #15: Pierre Magnan

Title:The Murdered House
Original French title:La Maison assassinée
Translator: Patricia Clancy
Year of publication: Translation: 1999; Original: 1984 (I think)
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: Rural France, 1910’s
Some themes: Love, hate, murder, revenge

Story: In 1896 three week old Séraphin Monge is the only member of his family left alive after a bloody mass murder takes place in the family house in Upper Provence. In 1919 the angelic-looking Séraphin returns to his birthplace to work as a road mender and lays eyes on his legacy: the murder house, which has, like murder houses often do, stood empty and unsellable because people believe it's haunted. In an attempt to eradicate the dreams and visions that begin to haunt him after he is told the story of what happened there, he begins to tear down the house, making everyone think he is mad. He is befriended by another war veteran, who is as scarred on the outside as Séraphin is on the inside, and …

The dustcover dilemma

I have a problem with dustcovers on books. On one hand they prevent the real cover from fading and dirt and books usually have a higher resell value with an intact dustcover, but on the other hand they are usually not as attractive as the real cover. I have books bound in fake leather with gilded lettering that look quite beautiful naked on the shelves, but with dustcovers they are not as attractive, but admittedly less prone to fading. All this makes me waver between using the dustcovers and not using them.

Some of my books look much better without dustcovers, while others look better with the dustcovers on, usually because the bindings are an ugly colour or one that clashes with the rest of the books on the shelf. I have many books that need to be together on the shelves because they share a subject. Some have such ugly bindings that the dustcover is a blessing, but sitting side by side with naked books they look like clothed visitors in a nudist colony. Fortunately my library is no…