A Dog for Davie’s Hill

 

by Clare Bice

Published: 1956

I actually really enjoyed this book.  Set in Scotland, it is the story of a young boy named Davie, who is given the care of a young (and rambunctious) border collie named Fly.

The story itself is a bit disjointed, some about training a sheepdog, some about sheepdog trials, some about sheep being stolen, but the characters are just so warm and happy, and the relationship between Davie and his father is a beautiful thing.

Overall, this is a simple and sweet book, which would be especially enjoyable for younger readers, possibly as a read-aloud.  For me, it’s a 3/5.

Death on the Nile

 

by Agatha Christie

Published: 1937

This is one of Christie’s better-known mysteries, but is not (again) a particular favorite of mine.  There is simply too much going on: a murderer, a jewel thief, and an international spy all on board the same pleasure cruise on the Nile???  However, setting aside the mystery, I think that this book does have some depth to offer in the way that Christie reflects on how our actions impact others, and how a choice can change a great deal of the future.

Overall, this book is a 3/5, but for some more in-depth thoughts on this story, I will have to include some spoilers…

Continue reading

Regency Buck

by Georgette Heyer

Published: 1935

I do love Georgette Heyer, and am slowly reading my way through all of her books owned by my library.  They are light-hearted and happy and super relaxing.

This particular one was a bit heavy on the drama for me, but was still a fun tale with witty dialogue and some good lessons on growing up.  While I guessed who the real villain was early on, it was fun to see how the plot unwound.  My only real beef with the story was that the friendship between the heroine and the hero did not seem very well developed, thus making it a bit unbelievable when they fell into each other’s arms in the end.

Still, an all -around good time, 3/5.

 

Wild Horse Island

 

by Elisa Bialk

Published: 1951

So this is another booksale book, and one that I picked up because I love this illustrator, Paul Brown.  His line drawings are beautiful.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much story to go along with them.  Throughout this book, Jim is excited when his family moves west because he loves horses and dreams of capturing a wild one of his own.

It’s a fine book, with Jim learning to settle into his new home and making new friends, but the over-arching plot of the Quest for the Wild Horse is choppy and hard to follow.  The author tries to give us some lessons about growing up and becoming your own person, but it just doesn’t come through.

The book itself is a 2/5, but I’m afraid that I’m keeping it because I still like to look at Brown’s illustrations!

A Pelican at Blandings

 

by P.G. Wodehouse

Published: 1969

Every time I start to review a Wodehouse book, I give it up as a hopeless case.  I feel as though I should write a blanket review and repost it every time I read a Wodehouse book.

But while the reviews all sound the same, the books are each different and entertaining in their own way.  While his plots often seem to follow the same basic circuit, the language, the characters, are all different and delightful.

Take this quote–

“We ought to send for a doctor!”

“I don’t want a doctor!”

“Then I shall go and heat you up a nice glass of milk,” said Ma Balsam. She belonged to the school of thought which holds that a nice glass of hot milk, while not baffling the death angel altogether, can at least postpone the inevitable.

And I tell you, there is a line like that on every page.  I can’t read his books in public; I laugh out loud and embarrass myself.

This one was a strong 4/5.  I enjoyed this book immensely.

Poirot Loses a Client

 

by Agatha Christie

Published: 1937

Captain Hastings is back in this Poirot adventure, wherein Poirot receives a letter from a client dated two months earlier.  Upon investigation, Poirot discovers that the writer of this letter has since died…  apparently naturally.

This book was alright, but not a particular favorite of mine.  While the mystery was good, for me, the ending seemed like a bit of a stretch.  Still, I do love Captain Hastings!

3/5.

Jules Verne

by Herbert R. Lottman

Published: 1996

This biography followed the life of one of my dad’s favorite authors, Jules Verne.  The author of such famous tales as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, Verne wrote a bizarre and (at the time) fresh combination of adventure and science fiction presented as almost-fact.

While Verne’s books can sometimes get overly technical (I learned to skip any paragraph with latitudes and longitudes when reading 20,000 Leagues), they are still great fun, and classic adventures.  Reading this biography inspired me to reread (and first-time read) some of Verne’s classics, so you can expect to see some of the appear over the next several months.

This biography was well-written and fairly easy to read (it wasn’t the author’s fault that apparently everyone in France was named either Jules or Jacques).  Verne led an interesting life, and the author was respectful in his writings.  (So often, modern biographies love to turn everyone into bisexual whores based on “recently discovered letters” or some such fiddle-faddle.  I’m not saying that everyone was living pure and clean lives, but I do find it hard to believe that everyone in the 1800’s was living a secret double life dressed in drag.)  While he would mention various rumors or theories, he was honest about the sources that claimed such rumors.  Overall, he stuck with the actual point of a biography–the progress through the subject’s life.

I greatly enjoyed this read, and look forward to reading some of Vernes’s stories soon.

A Most Unsuitable Match

 

by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Published: 2011

First off, it’s been several weeks since I actually read this, so I am sorry that I can’t remember everyone’s names…

This book beautifully illustrates everything I hate about pseudo-Christian chick lit.  The entire book was a slow-motion train wreck.  The characters were stiff and wooden and made completely unrealistic decisions.  The heroine was self-centered, stupid, and soulless.  The heroes (because yes, there were two, involving the dreaded and pointless love-interest triangle) were overly stereotyped and thus unrelateable.  The plot was full of drama and random deaths and accidents and Indian attacks and shipwrecks and robberies and betrayal all in an attempt to cover the fact that there was no storyline worth pursuing.

But the worst part was the attempt to make this a “Christian” story.  While the heroine wanders about bemoaning her lack of faith, and the heroes spout Bible verses (and one of them decides to become a missionary), there is no depth.  No real issues are addressed, and there is no resolution–the heroine begins the book confused by the things that are happening in her life and wondering why God is allowing these things to happen.  In the end, not only have none of her questions been answered, she has basically decided that she doesn’t care about those questions any more, and decides to marry the missionary dude despite the fact that she isn’t sure that her faith is strong enough to make him a good wife.

Instead of taking an opportunity to have some real discussions about how God uses events in our lives to shape us, grow us, and teach us, the author seems content to brush all of the heroine’s concerns aside in favor of a “happy ending.”  I was left feeling like the marriage that was the book’s climax would be a long and difficult struggle, rather than a strong partnership.

The love triangle was also pointless and frustrating, because I actually liked the other fellow far better, and felt that he would have been a much better match for the heroine; plus, she led him on dreadfully.  See, they end up in this town in the frontier, and she likes Dude #1 a lot, and there is no reason not to, because he’s charming in every way.  Then Dude #1 has to go off on this important quest, so he leaves her behind, but they have this kind of unspoken agreement because they’ve been together for a couple of months now and flirting like crazy.  While Dude #1 is gone, the chick meets Dude #2, who is a doctor and who has a son who is blind.  Well, the chick’s best friend is blind so she knows all these ways to help the son get along (he wasn’t born blind; he had been blinded by some disease) and pretty soon she’s having dinner at their house and hanging out with them all the time and comforting Dude #2 when he’s struggling with different things and they’re all homey and cozy because she hangs out there in the evenings knitting and stuff and basically she just totally ignores the fact that she more or less told Dude #1 that she was interested in him.  Then Dude #1 gets attacked by Indians on his way back (except they were actually attacking another band of Indians and he just got caught in the crossfire because OF COURSE the Indians would never attack a white man because they’re super nice and not anything like the bloodthirsty stereotype!) and he gets this weird brain injury where he loses his voice so now she has both dudes and she keeps dithering back and forth and it is just DREADFUL.  And in the end, she marries Dude #1, and I actually think she would have done much better with Dude #2, so even that didn’t end right as far as I was concerned.

Finally, the very title of this book made no sense.  There was no reason at all why the chick shouldn’t have fallen in love with and married the dude that she did.  They were equals socially and financially, they were attracted to each other and got along fine.  In fact, the only reason the match seemed unsuitable was because the dude far more serious about his faith than she was, and that was the one thing that the author completely ignored.

All in all, this book was definitely a mere 1/5.

The Nickel-Plated Beauty

 

by Patricia Beatty

Published: 1972

In this historical fiction set along the northwest coast, the Kimball family is poor but happy.  When the oldest Kimball child orders a brand-new (and very expensive) cookstove C.O.D., he has no idea that he will be expected to pay for it when it arrives.  Through a series of events, the children arrange for the storekeeper to hold the stove until Christmas, giving them all summer and fall to try and earn the money.  The rest of the story follows their ingenuity and persistence as they work hard to earn the stove for their mother.

I’ve been reading several of Beatty’s book recently, because I seem to have acquired them at various booksales over the years, but have never really sat down and read through them.  While I have decided to pass on most of them, this one was a keeper for me.  The family is delightful, and the unselfishness of the children, as they devote all of their spare time to earning money so they can purchase a present for their mother, is admirable and touching.  This family seemed more real than many of Beatty’s other characters, and I enjoyed their dialogue and interaction.

This book is still a 3/5 for me, but a high 3, and a keeper for my library.

Murder in the Mews

 

by Agatha Christie

Published: 1931

This book is actually four short stories, starring Hercule Poirot.  While all four are fine mysteries, I’m never really a huge fan of short mystery stories, because there isn’t really time to connect with the characters; consequently, I don’t really care who killed whom.  Still, they are a fun read.

3/5.