stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Mark Dunn, "Ella Minnow Pea"

Well, my first reaction to this was 'But Thurber did this better in The Wonderful O!' Actually, this is not the case. The Wonderful O is better, but it's not doing what Dunn does here. What both authors do is portray the havoc wreaked in society by the outlawing of a letter or letters. What Dunn does, and Thurber doesn't, is inflict the same privation upon himself. Inevitably, it felt rather contrived.

Various, "Spinechillers: Ghost Stories"

One of those 'get kids reading for a quid' things. Not really very scary, it must be admitted.

Davey Moore, "Dark Planet: Decide Your Destiny No. 7" (Doctor Who tie-in)

I used to love 'Choose Your Own Adventure'. Granted, one usually ended up dying horribly for the simple reason that one opened the wrong door, but it was fun to have a bit of control over a book. This was a bit of a disappointment, in that there were only three possible endings, and the choices that were offered to the reader didn't seem to make much difference to the overall trajectory of the plot - whatever you chose, you ended up in more or less the same place, in more or less the same state. Not so much fun.

Amanda Addison, "Laura's Handmade Life"

This is 'L' in the ABC roundabout, and the first one that I've really been apathetic about. ('J' was really Not My Cup Of Tea, but had a certain trainwreck fascination about it - 'she's not going to go there... she's really not going to go there... she went there'.) This one was just... meh. I really didn't care about anybody in it, nor did I find any of them interesting. Some of it was plain bad writing (important plot points happening offscreen, for example, after there had been a big lead-up); some of it was annoying. (A sewing business that just happens? Dream on. Where on earth does she find the time? And I don't care if Kitkat is fair trade these days; I was very disappointed to see the narrative unquestioningly endorsing Nestlé.)

Sarah Rayner, "One Moment, One Morning"

This one I liked a lot. While the plot is built around the death of a man, it is centred upon three well-drawn women. Well-written, sympathetic but believable characters, a positive portrayal of a lesbian character, and the sort of book that keeps you reading. Recommended.

Cassandra Golds, "Clair-de-Lune"

A rather strange little fable about a mute girl and a dancing mouse. Missing a couple of pages, unfortunately, but happily they're early on in the book so I don't think I missed too much. I will admit to shedding a tear or two.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Another one from the Ibbotson sausage romance factory. They are all exactly the same, of course, but that doesn't stop me enjoying them. I particularly love the theatrical ones - in this, the heroine, a don's daughter, runs away to Brazil with a ballet company. Awesome. There she meets the standard charismatic cadet of some minor aristocratic family, and it's all a bit yada yada from there, but the ballet bits are good.

Light-hearted, though not dismissing the competitiveness and pain of the stage. Also surprisingly relaxed about sex, which was a nice surprise. I would have much preferred this had it ended with Harriet being a great dancer and a kept woman, but you can't have everything. I hold high hopes for Natasha.

You know, what I would really like (having moved straight from the last book to this one) would be the story of Eugénie Danglars and Louise d'Armilly, told from Louise's point of view by Eva Ibbotson. I think I might have to write it myself.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Ngaio Marsh leaves her usual habitat of the professional stage in this one, and descends to the level of amateur theatricals in the village hall. Perhaps fortunately, we never get to see any of them (and I say this as a once-eager participant myself) as the murder happens before the curtain rises on the opening night.

I am getting better at picking up clues that aren't remarked on, and I got the identity of the murderer from one of these. I still can't be bothered to follow through and work out the boring opportunity bits, though. When you know how, you know who, etc, and who cares about when?

Aside from all that, the general setting left a rather nasty taste in my mouth. It was a dotty English village in spades, with not one but two cassock-clingers, and a scheming widow. Misogyny, much? Also Comic Dorset Accents, which made me cringe rather. Generally, an reasonably interesting mystery, but, like pretty much all of Marsh's, nothing that really elevates it to the level of greatness.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
A very late Marsh, published in 1982. The usual characters (Peregrine Jay, Chief Supt Alleyn, Inspector Fox, et al, sadly no Troy) seem remarkably well-preserved. In fact, the only real indications that we are now in the eighties are, firstly, the somewhat more risqué nature of the production, and, secondly, the preoccupation with unions. Otherwise, it's Marsh business as usual, with a good old-fashioned theatre murder, a generally unpleasant villain, a token Maori character and a charismatic leading lady. Nothing special, but generally enjoyable.


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June 2013

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