Non Fiction Review: The Mysterious World of Agatha Christie

Mysterious World of Agatha Christie by Jeffrey Feinman

Mysterious World of Agatha Christie
by Jeffrey Feinman
2 out of 5 stars

This book was published in 1975 just before Agatha Christie’s death in January of 1976. It includes a few chapters of biography about Dame Agatha and how she became such a success. There are also chapters about her most famous characters, her theater plays, and movie adaptations of her works. There is an analysis of the components of a good mystery, and whether or not mystery novels can be considered as artistic literature. There is an entire chapter full of quotes from her critics. The last chapter is a Mystery Quiz, where the reader can try to guess which Christie book has some particular factor or item.

I was disappointed in this book. First of all, the author includes several major spoilers for some of her most popular novels, such as the ending of Murder on the Orient Express. I started skipping ahead anytime that I saw the title of one of her books that I haven’t read yet, so that I would not get spoiled!

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Book Review: Royal Magic

Royal Magic by Ruth Chew

Royal Magic
by Ruth Chew
4 out of 5 stars

Cindy and Jack are visiting a museum when they are magically transported through one of the displays into ancient Africa. In the middle of the jungle, the children meet a man with a beautiful flute who escorts them to the royal palace to meet the king of the Edo empire. There they find court intrigue and a royal secret.

I loved this fun story! The history is really interesting and we get to learn about the culture of the Edo empire (also called the Benin Kingdom) in ancient Nigeria. It was an amazing kingdom with roads and infrastructure and walled cities and trade. The king was called the Oba, and Cindy and Jack get to meet the Queen as well. I loved reading about the unique customs and manners of the people, their greetings and social hierarchy. Everything from the way they built their homes to the way they ate their food had a special organization to it.

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Book Review: The Bobbsey Twins in Mexico

The Bobbsey Twins In Mexico by Laura Lee Hope

The Bobbsey Twins In Mexico
by Laura Lee Hope
4 out of 5 stars

The Bobbsey Twins have some new neighbors in Lakeport, a Mexican family, the Castillos. The twins make friends with the Mexican children, and even learn a little Spanish. When it’s time for the Castillos to return to Mexico, they invite the Bobbsey twins to visit them on their hacienda.

I enjoyed this book a lot, because I grew up in Mexico as a child. The Bobbsey twins visit the same area in Mexico where I grew up, Mexico City D.F. They visit the pyramids at Tenochtitlan where I have been many times, and Bert even climbs the Pyramid of the Sun which I myself have climbed many times. Reading this book made me so homesick!

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Book Review: Bilbo’s Last Song

Bilbo's Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo’s Last Song
by J.R.R. TolkienPauline Baynes (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars

As Bilbo sets off on his last journey from Rivendell to the shores of the sea, he sings this last poem as his farewell to MiddleEarth before boarding a ship that will take him to Valinor with Gandalf, Frodo, and Elrond. The poem itself is not very long, with one stanza on each page.

This book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous settings that show Bilbo on his way to Valinor. The illustrations begin with Bilbo at Rivendell. He talks with Elrond about making the last trip, and they make plans for travelling. Bilbo and the company of Elves pass through the Shire, where Frodo and Sam join them. They reach the harbor where Cirdan the shipwright is waiting to greet them. They say goodbye to Sam, Merry, and Pippin. The final illustration shows Bilbo reaching the shores of Valinor.

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Non Fiction Review: The Abolition of Man

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

The Abolition of Man
by C.S. Lewis
4 out of 5 stars

Lewis shows the implications of the philosophical ideas that emotions are crude and invalid, and only “reason” should dictate our actions. Reason without emotion is unreality, and even if it were true it would only lead to the abolition of mankind. Lewis attacks the issue from several angles, debunking popular arguments that the purest form of reason is our instincts, or that benevolent actions can be found through pursuing “science” as the best moral compass for mankind to follow.

Lewis proves that moral absolutes do exist and that they are universal through all generations and cultures throughout all of time. These moral absolutes appeal to both our reason and our emotions, and you cannot cut them out of a person’s life without destroying that person. There are basic truths that are self-evident and omnipresent in all mankind.

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Book Review: The Frenzied Prince

The Frenzied Prince by Padraic Colum

The Frenzied Prince: Heroic Stories of Ancient Ireland
by Padraic Colum
4 out of 5 stars

Prince Suivne has gone mad after the battle of Moy Rah, and he wanders the wilderness running from all men. King Donald sends his best scholars to find Suivne and restore him to sanity through their art of storytelling. The storytellers find Suivne and use the stories and legends of Ireland to remind him of his lineage and obligations in the royal court.

I loved the way that each of these legends were bookended with the continuing story of Prince Suivne, and how each story had an effect on him to remind him of his heritage and to inspire him to courage and kindness. It’s a clever and effective story structure and lends an extra meaning to each of the tales.

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Book Review: The Man in the Brown Suit

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

The Man in the Brown Suit
by Agatha Christie
5 out of 5 stars
Anne is all alone in the world with no job and no family. She goes to London looking for adventure, and finds it when she encounters the Man in the Brown Suit. A strange man falls to his death in the subway, and Anne is a witness to the mysterious behavior of a passerby who claims to be a doctor and examines the body in the subway station. The man drops a cryptic note, and Anne is determined to unravel the case and find the Man in the Brown Suit. A sea voyage to South Africa reveals a group of passengers who all behave suspiciously, and Anne doesn’t know who to trust; At least, until Anne falls in love with the most mysterious passenger of all.

This book is just as wonderful reading it the second time! This is by far my favorite Agatha Christie novel!

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Book Review: Twelve Girls in the Garden

Twelve Girls in the Garden by Shane    Martin

Twelve Girls in the Garden
by Shane Martin
3 out of 5 stars

Professor Challis is invited into a garden with statues of twelve girls, and is intrigued by the mysterious disappearance of the sculptor. He meets one of the models, a Greek girl named Polly, and he begins to inquire into the mystery. Challis is plunged into the world of art dealers, audacious fake art, blackmail, and murder. But the mystery always goes back to the twelve girls who modeled for the statues in the garden.

I liked this murder mystery! It was interesting and kept my attention. I liked the writing style and the way the author paints this picture of sultry models, glamorous artists, and shady art deals in Paris or Athens. With just one paragraph, the reader is plunged into a world of glamor and deceit.

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