It’s over halfway into the readathon and so I’ve decided to update you on my achievements. There haven’t been that many lol. I’ve read a total of one book and around 394 pages. Now onto more reading and my second book.
Today’s the day!! Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is happening now and after getting a bunch of chores out of the way, I’m ready to start! I going to be starting with Elizabeth Goudge’s A City of Bells and hopefully will finish it. Also on my TBR is Thornyhold by Mary Stewart and Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver.
I don’t know about you, but I am super excited for Halloween this year. To start celebrating I decided to pair a Halloween movie with a book.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
This movie is a Halloween classic and to pair with it, I think a great match is another classic one that is as lighthearted, and fun, as well as uplifting. So to pair with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton
The Exorcist is a horror classic, scary no matter what time of year you watch it. My match for this movie is another classic the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is an epistolary novel of letters from Uncle to Nephew demons. These letters describe how demons influence a person’s decisions, leading them to Hell. Both the exorcist and the Screwtape Letters deal with demons. The Exorcist describes a possession while the Screwtape Letters demonstrate how a person’s ideas and thoughts can be subtly influenced by demons. Which is scarier, its hard to say…
The third movie I chose is the Addams Family, a movie that takes classic horror and gothic tropes and turns them on their head in hilarious ways. A great book that captures some of the same absurdity is Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers. (Yes, I had to include a Dorothy Sayers novel, because she is fantastic.) The mundane office suddenly becomes the scene of a murder. This book is filled with humor, primarily from our protagonist, Peter Wimsey. Murder Must Advertise is definitely one of my favorite books in the series. I think you could read any of the Peter Wimsey mysteries out of order. However, you should read the ones with Harriet Vane in order.
Hocus Pocus has become something of a modern classic, for good reason, it has everything you could want in it: witches, romance, a mystery to solve, and a great musical number. While I can’t promise you a great musical number in Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell, it has everything else. It follows the author of Confessions of an Opium Eater, Thomas De Quincey and his daughter as they try to solve the murders De Quincey is being accused of. Murders that are the recreations of a series of famous murders De Quincey once wrote about.
loweentown is another movie that revels in its eccentricies and I think a wonderful pairing for this movie, would be Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. This is a book whose strength lies in the absurdity of its main character Hercule Poirot.
I tend to think of October as the month for mysteries, even though mystery month is actually during May. But October just seems like the perfect time to curl up with a sweater and a mystery to me. The series I would recommend picking up if you’re like me and are looking for a good cozy mystery series is the Peter Wimsey Mysteries.
All About the Series:
There are 12 novels (starting with Whose Body?) in the Peter Wimsey Mysteries, which is not enough in my opinion. (you can see where this review is going already). This series follows our protagonist, Peter Wimsey, a man of uncounted hidden talents, and a person people always seem to underestimate. Which is a fact he often uses to his advantage. Along the way, we encounter a recurring cast of characters all of who are wonderful, including Bunter, his manservant, Chief Inspector Parker and a definite favorite of mine: Peter’s mother the Dowager Duchess. In each novel we learn more about Peter and these characters. We also meet Harriet Vane who becomes incredibly important to our protagonist. *Wink Wink*
Each novel contains a mystery for Peter (or Peter and Harriet) to solve with the help of the recurring characters. Each of these mysteries is contained within the novel. In other words, the mystery is always solved at the end of the novel.
What I Thought:
I loved these mysteries. Dorothy Sayers was an incredibly smart and talented writer. Her mysteries require some brain power and the occasional lookup of information to understand a reference, but I think this adds to the novels rather than detracts. I found this website very helpful with its annotations of many of her novels and short stories. I’ll link it here: https://planetpeschel.com/the-wimsey-annotations/
One of the things I loved about these novels was the setting, and Dorothy Sayers does a truly remarkable job with an atmospheric setting. She truly has a gift for bringing to life these settings, and it’s especially memorable in The Nine Tailors. As these books were set in Dorothy Sayers present day (late 1920’s to early 1930’s) her novels are rich in the details of this time period in England, and I found this time period incredibly absorbing. The author asks relevant questions of her day which are still incredibly relevant today, for example in Gaudy Night she questions where a woman’s life belongs: to scholarship or to the home. Also memorable is the insight into the industry of advertising and inside look into the workplace during the early 30’s in Murder Must Advertise.
The mysteries in each novel were always entertaining and interesting. I would make a terrible detective as I never was able to solve the mystery very quickly. I also liked that the mysteries were wrapped up at the end of each novel with no cliffhangers. Occasionally, the mystery seemed a little overcomplicated especially in Five Red Herrings (should have seen that coming by the title lol) but I never lost interest as the characters always kept me intrigued.
The characters seem to be what actually keeps me reading a series and Dorothy Sayer’s characters were very easy to get invested in. Besides Peter my favorite character has to be the Dowager Duchess. Each character has a distinct personality and voice and their unique perspective usually gives Peter the insight into the mystery. Harriet Vane is important because she is the only character, besides Peter, who narrates substantial parts of the novels she’s in, therefore, allowing the reader to see Peter from a unique perspective.
A brief note: In many ways the novels with Harriet Vane function as a stand-alone series you could read out of order from the other books in the series. Starting with Strong Poison they are only dependent on the reader having read the previous books with Harriet Vane.
I would recommend these novels to anyone looking for a good comfy mystery. If you are interested in the romance I would read the Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane novels but all of these books are wonderful reads.
First Book: Whose Body?
Collection of Short Stories (a very good place to start): Lord Peter
Recently, I’ve found myself rewatching the TV show Fringe and loving it. Albeit, a little quirky, it is a wonderfully engrossing show with a fantastic cast of characters. The relationship between the characters and the weird cases is what makes this show so good. If you like Fringe and want to read a book that has a similar vibe then check out these books!
If Dr. Walter Bishop could invent a way to get from one universe to another, then time travel is should be next on his list. This book explores the idea of what would happen if historians and scientists had the ability to time travel. Yep, you guessed it chaos, mayhem, and hilarity ensue. The characters are just as zany in Fringe, although, in Just One Damned Thing After Another, they drink more tea.
2. Flu by Gina Kolata
In some ways, it’s fascinating learning about the terrifying possibilities the advances in science can create. But not all the terrifying possibilities are man-made. The flu is something in most cases is fairly innocuous, especially to people in the prime of their lives and health. But the 1918 flu turned all that on its head. It seemed to be particularly affecting to the strong and healthy, especially, those kept together in close quarters like those in the military. Flu provides a fascinating, but also an absolutely terrifying portrayal of how this disease rocked the US.
3. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
In every episode of Fringe is a mystery to solve. If you enjoy this aspect of the show, then a great read is the original sleuth himself, Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock uses the clues around him to solve the case just like the Fringe team does, although in their case the mysteries tend to be a little weirder.
There you go, three books or short story collections you’ll like if you liked Fringe. Let me know what you think. Have you seen Fringe? What are your recommendations?
What it’s About:
Wolves are one of the most interesting and gorgeous animals that exist. Their story is a sad one, but also more recently its become one of hope as well as, one of redemption. Barry Lopez in Of Wolves and Men relays the story of this remarkable creature: its history and how it has captured our imagination more than almost any other animal.
Of Wolves and Men is split into two sections. One is the natural history portion and the other tells of humans interaction with wolves. The first portion describes the evolution of the wolf, its adaptations and its biology. It also describes the characteristic behavior of the wolf and of the wolf pack. The author describes why exactly the wolf does what it does. However, this book was published in 1978 so many sections have the possibility of being outdated.
The second portion describes the way that the wolf has been perceived by human society. The author has obviously done extensive research into how the wolf was and is perceived by various cultures from western culture to Native American and Inuit culture. The author also explores how this perception has colored the human’s interactions with the wolf. For example, many Native American tribes revered the wolf and therefore kills were done sparingly and with much respect. In comparison, the ranchers of the American west killed wolves excessively and senselessly with little thought to the consequences the means of killing might cause to the environment or even to the animals they claimed to be protecting.
I enjoyed learning about wolves and in many ways this book provided a good introduction to the behavior of the wolf. This has definitely lead to an increased interest in picking up other books about wolves. The author did a good job in covering his subject and the reader can fell his passion for these animals. The author is good at explaining his thoughts and his writing is very accessible.
I was absolutely riveted by the natural history sections of this book. It was fascinating when the author was talking about wolves and wolf packs. Those sections were my favorites of the whole book. While the chapter on the hunting of wolves was hard to read, because of the senseless and gruesome way the wolves were killed; it was an important chapter to read. However, the folklore and the way humans of different culture perceive the wolf sections was where I started to lose interest. Obviously, human perception can influence our behavior towards an animal, and as our perception and assumptions about an animal change so can our behavior. I did find the initial explanations and descriptions of wolves and their place in different culture religions and folklore initially interesting, it got more than a little tedious as the chapters went on. I think that the author just spent too long on the subject, especially when he spent pages on werewolves, which was mostly human on human violence and had nothing really to do with wolves.
I also would have liked to see more about the ongoing changing perception western culture has toward wolves: why did our perceptions change and how that is affecting the wolves. Elaborating on that, I would have liked to have read more about the reintroduction of wolves in various ecosystems. I doubt much was known then about the longterm benefits the wolf would have on the ecosystem, but it still would have been interesting reading about how it came about and any short-term effects the wolves had negative or positive. I think this was a big point that the author missed. That human perception can change and recognize our mistakes which gives us hope for the future. It deserved more than the few sentences the author gave it, especially when he spent so much time on werewolves.
This book was a good introduction to wolves I would recommend it to anyone who is primarily interested in a historical accounting of human’s perceptions of wolves.
These past couple months I’ve acquired quite a few new books. So, I thought I’d share them with you. Let me know if there are any you’ve read and liked or read and didn’t like.
The first couple books are all about religion, they include:
1. Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America by John J. Fialka
2. Letters to a Diminished Church by Dorothy Sayers
3. Tried by Fire by William J. Bennet
And These are all the Fiction Books I’ve picked up recently:
4. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
5. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
7. The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor