The Hairy Horror Trick



by Scott Corbett

Published 1969

Kirby and Fenton are stuck spending their Halloween with Kirby’s little cousin Gay.  The worst part?  Gay has discovered Kirby’s secret chemistry set, and insists that the boys give her a demonstration.  In this perfect Halloween story, the boys are stuck with a beard and a mustache that have to be scared off before their parents come home and discover all!


The Sanctuary Sparrow



by Ellis Peters

Published 1983

One of the things that I greatly enjoy about the Cadfael books is Peters’s meticulous historical research.  She manages to weave history into these stories as naturally and seamlessly as breathing, giving them depth and background.  In this book, she explores the custom of sanctuary–that a man pursued, accused of a crime, may throw himself upon the altar and be granted a 30-day grace, as long as he stays confined to the pale.

While this story is as excellent as the others, I must take a moment to grant myself a caveat–while I love these books, I do not 100% agree with Peters’s morals (via the wisdom of Cadfael).  In this book, her/Cadfael’s views on extra-marital sex do not agree with mine; I do not believe that God is so cavalier towards these relations as Cadfael would have us believe; no where in Scripture do I find written that, so long as two people love each other, it’s okay to have sex outside of marriage.

But I believe that everyone will find something with which to disagree in every book, and so am willing to overlook and not particularly fuss about this attitude that goes against my personal beliefs.  I only bring it up here because it is actually a decent part of this particular story.

Still, all in all, another strong mystery.  5/5.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown



by Maud Hart Lovelace

Published 1943

Betsy and  her friends are growing up!  In this book, the last before the girls enter high school in Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib find themselves entangled in many adventures, especially now that they are old enough to go to town by themselves.  Times are change in Deep Valley–there is a new-fangled horseless carriage, a theater, and a beautiful new hotel.

Lovelace describes the changes to the small town beautifully, probably because these books are very closely autobiographical.  I am growing more and more fond of Betsy and her friends, and cannot believe that I have only just discovered these perfect stories.


Carry On, Jeeves



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1925

Isn’t this the creepiest cover art ever?!  I don’t know who designed these.  The actual editions of the books are delightful–perfectly bound and just the right size–but the covers!  Dreadful!

Luckily, the content is just as delightful as ever.  I do love Bertie and Jeeves; however, I am more fond of the full-length novels involving this pair than I am these collections of short stories.  This book is worth picking up, though, if for no other reason than the last story, told from the first-person view of, not Bertie (as usual) but Jeeves himself.  Perfect!


The Leper of Saint Giles



by Ellis Peters

Published 1981

Well, if you happen to be reading these entries in the order in which I am posting them, I apologize–The Leper of Saint Giles is the fifth of the Brother Cadfael books, while The Virgin in the Ice is the sixth.  Somehow, I missed a page of my book log and skipped over this one!

And really, it ought not be skipped, because it is a good tale, as all of these books are.  Much of this book takes place in the abbey’s nearby shelter/church for lepers, the church of Saint Giles.  There, Brother Cadfael’s dear friend, and prior assistant, Brother Mark, is serving these needy individuals.  Brother Mark is one of my very favorite characters; he crops up throughout the series, always kind and full of servant-love.  One of the things that I greatly enjoyed about this  book was its emphasis on how even those that we normally dismiss without a second thought (in this case, the lepers) are still human–full of emotion and stories, and still inherently valuable.

Read these books.  No, seriously.  5/5.




by Georgette Heyer

Published 1953

It had been a while since I picked up a Heyer novel, so I delved into this one quite happily.  I find her stories to be delightfully relaxing, full of frivolous dialogue and drama created from the simplest of misunderstandings.  Her stories are not particularly deep or thought-provoking, but they are most certainly fun.

Cotillion turned out to be a perfect example of her best work.  The characters were very lovable–Freddy swiftly became one of my favorite Heyer characters ever, and Kitty was adorable without being dreadfully annoying.  The story ends with happy endings all around, per usual, making it a 5/5–ideal Heyer froth.

The Virgin in the Ice



by Ellis Peters

Published 1982

In this next book in the Cadfael series, Brother Cadfael finds himself doing a great deal of winter traveling.  It’s a very cold sort of book.

This particular mystery (excellent, as always) has excellent lessons in how God works through tragedy, and how our impulsive decisions can have a great deal of impact on others.  It also introduces a very important character for the future…  this series does an unbelievably good job of weaving twenty complete and individual stories into a harmonious whole.

My reviews for these books get rather redundant, because I hesitate to discuss details–I want everyone to read these books for themselves!  They are beautifully written mysteries, full of history and depth.  5/5.




by Susan May Warren

Published 2011


So I fear that at times this blog gets a bit boring.  Lately, I’ve been reading Cadfael, Corbett’s Trick books, and the Betsy books in a sort of round-robin fashion.  And while I’ve been having a perfectly lovely time (I have especially fallen in love with Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy!), my reviews tend to get a bit repetitive.

Well, fear not!  I have, in fact, been reading other books besides those.  Unfortunately, this one was dreadful.  This came as quite a surprise to me, as I have actually read other books by Warren before and found them to be decent suspense novels.  I was excited when I discovered that she had written a new trio of books, set in t he early 1900’s, following three generations of women.  Since I’ve been reading my way through twentieth-century history over the last two years, I thought to myself–Perfect!

But, like Julie Lessman’s A Hope Undauntedthis book was just full of unnecessary angst and stupidity.

The story focuses on two sisters, daughters of an important and rich newspaper baron in New York City.  The oldest daughter yearns to be a writer like her father, while the younger daughter wishes to be the belle of New York society.  I won’t bore you with the details, but basically every time you thought something good was going to happen, it ended in tragedy.  Everyone lied to everyone else, then felt bad about it.  Everyone ended up with unhappy romantic entanglements.  And there was no real story to hold things together.

It was impossible to like anyone, mainly because Warren killed off characters right and left (mostly nice ones…  the bad ones seemed to linger like a bad taste in your mouth), or nice characters turned out to be jerks.  The sisters were both irritating, poor decision-makers, and self-destructive.

And, worst of all–while other books of Warren’s that I have read have done a good job introducing and working through Christian themes, this book handled it terribly.  God was just sort of tossed out as a band-aid for random problems.  There was no real engagement or relationship with Him.  The characters’ faith just sort of came and went.  The so-called ‘Christian’ message was just randomly-inserted preaching that had no real connection to or impact on the story.  It was the sort of Christian fiction that makes my skin crawl, to think that non-Christians read that and think that that’s what we believe…  ugh.

So, in summary–impersonal characters, terrible story-telling, not a happy moment in the entire book, flat and platitude-filled religion–all combined to make this  book a complete waste of my time.  1/5.