Book Review: Sad Cypress

Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie

Sad Cypress (Hercule Poirot, #22)
by Agatha Christie
5 out of 5 stars

Elinor has been accused of murder. Young Mary Gerrard was poisoned with morphine, and Elinor was the only one who had access to the sandwiches that Mary ate. Only Hercule Poirot can sift through the evidence and find the truth. There are various suspects: Elinor’s ex-fiancée who was fascinated with the dead girl, the doctor who attended Mary’s last moments, and two nurses who love to gossip. Who had the motive to kill an innocent young woman just turned twenty-one?

I loved this mystery! The clues really had me guessing, and I had no idea who the murderer could be until close to the end. I guessed that something was amiss with the nurses, but I also suspected the ex-fiancée, and I couldn’t figure out what the doctor was up to. They are all so slippery and everybody lies to Poirot.

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Book Review: Cousin Phillis and Other Stories

Cousin Phillis and Other Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cousin Phillis and Other Tales
by Elizabeth Gaskell
4 out of 5 stars
I have such mixed feelings about this book. It’s a collection of short stories, and every single one is depressing! These are the saddest, most awful stories I have ever read. The real problem is that the writing is so brilliant that it really makes you care about the characters! So when everything goes wrong, it is absolutely heartbreaking.
Also most of the stories finish with a lot of unresolved questions. They end abruptly with someone’s death, and we aren’t told if the surviving characters go on to get married or live happy lives or buy back the farm or anything. Loose ends dangling everywhere! Agh! Very frustrating.
I couldn’t finish reading them, because I was getting too depressed.

Update 2021: I finished reading the last two stories in this collection “Curious if True” and “Cousin Phillis”. These stories were a bit happier and more structured, and I enjoyed them!

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Book Review: Bambi

Bambi by Felix Salten

Bambi
by Felix Salten
4 out of 5 stars

Bambi is born in a peaceful thicket, and he explores the meadow with his mother. He makes friends with the woodland creatures, and meets two other fawns, Feline and Gobo.

As Bambi grows up, he learns that there is danger in the forest, and the human hunters are a constant terror. Bambi witnesses a young buck killed by a mysterious thunder, and hears the buck’s screams as the humans deliver the final death blow with a knife.

Bambi’s own family is threatened, and Bambi sees other creatures meet death when a duck is eaten by a fox, and later that same fox is killed by hunting dogs.

Bambi meets his own father, the Prince of the forest, and learns wisdom from him. Bambi learns how to elude the human hunters. Bambi grows up and falls in love and has children of his own. There is always the danger of the hunt like a shadow over Bambi’s life, but somehow life goes on.

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Play Review: The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Agatha Christie

The Mousetrap and Other Plays
by Agatha ChristieIra Levin (Introduction)
3 out of 5 stars
This is such a great collection of Agatha Christie’s plays! Some I liked more than others, but they were all interesting and mysterious.

There were a couple of the plays where I found it easy to guess who the murderer was. I wonder if I saw the play actually being acted on stage, it might not be so easy to tell. So much depends on the tone of voice and the atmosphere of a scene. Reading a play just isn’t the same.

I love the complex characters, and all the red herrings and wild clues! Each play has a certain charm and fascination that kept my attention.

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Book Review: The Voyage of Barracks

The Voyage of Barracks by Stuart Petrie

The Voyage of Barracks
by Stuart Petrie
5 out of 5 stars
The Gunn family love their beautiful country home, but when a nasty factory is built across the road, they decide to attach a balloon to their house and float around the world looking for a new peaceful place to live.

I adore this book. I’ve read it several times now, and it is delightful every time!

I love all the different places that they visit; a desert oasis, the top of the Acropolis, an island with cannibals, a small village in the Alps, and the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera.

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Book Review: Pocketful of Rye

A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

A Pocket Full of Rye
by Agatha Christie
4 out of 5 stars

A businessman collapses in his office, poisoned by a rare substance. His widow has been hiding an affair, and the police inspector sees her smiling behind her fake tears. Miss Marple comes into the case to investigate the involvement of her former maid, and notices that the murdered man had rye grain in his pocket. Several other facets of the case seem to mimic the nursery rhyme about a king in his counting house, the queen eating bread and honey, and the maid in the garden hanging out the clothes. Inspector Neele will need Miss Marple’s help to unravel the clues!

I liked the way this murder mystery followed the nursery rhyme, “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, four and twenty blackbirds baked into a pie…” There were so many red herrings and each of them were memorable and interesting! The plot really had me guessing, and I was fascinated by the way Miss Marple figured it all out.

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Book Review: The Making of a Marchioness

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Making of a Marchioness
by Frances Hodgson BurnettC.D. Williams (Illustrator)
3 out of 5 stars

Emily is an assistant to the rich high-class ladies in London, making her living by planning parties, running errands, and doing little things that no one else wants to do. She lives in a small apartment where she is good friends with her landlady, Mrs. Cupp. Emily is hired to help entertain at a country manor and organize the yearly fête for the village children. She befriends one of the guests, Lady Agatha, and encourages her to attract the attention of the most eligible rich bachelor at the manor, Lord Walderhurst. But his lordship seems unimpressed with any of the single ladies present, until he reveals his true feelings to the one woman who has caught his fancy.

I do enjoy this author’s writing style and the charm of the setting, but I didn’t really like this plot. It was pretty obvious who Lord Walderhurst was going to end up with, and I didn’t like the way the romance unfolded.

I also didn’t really like the characters. They are all rather shallow and drab. Emily is so perfect and so self-sacrificing that it got on my nerves. I wanted to like her, but she is so completely angelic that she doesn’t seem like a real person.

Lord Walderhurst is practically a non-entity. He has almost no dialogue, no personality, no charisma. He is taciturn and aloof with everyone. He admits that he is a selfish person, and he is looking for a wife who is unselfish. He is supposed to be the hero of the story, but I just hated him.

The supporting characters are made of cardboard. They have no depth at all. They serve their purpose to set the stage for Emily’s story and then they fade quietly into the background with no more substance than a stage prop.

However, I still enjoyed this story because I do love the charming writing style. It kept my attention and I read it all in one sitting! I would probably reread this book someday, because it just sweeps you away into this beautiful Victorian setting of grace and glamour.