Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Agatha Christie Review Round Up: Part Six

For my last birthday, my parents gifted me with about 35 Agatha Christie books (mainly from the series Hercule Poirot) and I've decided to make it my January and February goal to finish all of them and write mini reviews for each of them.  These mini reviews will be published in sets of three in round up posts.  The previous five sections are linked below for your convenience.
Part Five

Mrs. McGinty's Dead - Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot #30

Rating: 4.5 stars

"Mrs. McGinty died from a brutal blow to the back of her head. Suspicion falls immediately on her shifty lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes reveal traces of the victim’s blood and hair. Yet something is amiss: Bentley just doesn’t seem like a murderer.
Could the answer lie in an article clipped from a newspaper two days before the death? With a desperate killer still free, Hercule Poirot will have to stay alive long enough to find out. . . ."

I really enjoyed this!  There's a cast of characters at the beginning (at least in my edition) which is really helpful.  There's also a great twist that becomes completely obvious once you go back and look at all the clues.  As an avid watcher of Criminal Minds, I'm fascinated by the psychology of people and how that factors into decisions on whether or not someone is capable of doing things (mostly murder).  This is one of those cases where Poirot is convinced because of the psychology which is always a fascinating angle to take.  There's also a bit more humor in this book than I've encountered before with Christie's books which was a welcome change.  It's a sort of sarcastic and character humor that I love.  There's a lot more character development for Poirot in this novel and the mystery does a fine job of supplementing our understanding of him.
The Final Verdict:
While it's one of my personal favorites, I wouldn't recommend an Agatha Christie newbie start off with a novel like this.  The development of Poirot is spot-on and humorous but it isn't as crime intensive although your grey cells certainly do have their work out.
4.5 stars

Hercule Poirot #31

Rating: 3.5 stars

"Hercule Poirot is called on to investigate the murder of a brother and sister in this classic from the Queen of Mystery.

When Cora Lansquenet is savagely murdered, the odd remark she made the day before at her brother's funeral becomes chillingly important: "It's been hushed up very nicely, hasn't it. . . . But he was murdered, wasn't he?"

Desperate to learn more about both deaths, the family solicitor turns to detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery. . . ."

This novel has a nice bit of humor mixed in with the crime-solving, making a little more balanced.  I enjoyed the humor immensely and I enjoyed the ending even more.  The mystery itself is really rather well put together and each clue is well thought out.  For some reason, though, it just wasn't one of my favorites.  I did appreciate the family tree that was included in my edition of the book.  Whenever Christie includes one of those, it saves me brain power in trying to remember names and relationships instead of focusing on the actions and character personalities themselves.  Hercule Poirot does take a bit more of a backseat in this mystery, however, which is perhaps why it just didn't strike a chord with me.
The Final Verdict:
Well thought out and engaging.  Poirot, however, doesn't play as big of a role though the humor that surrounds him is spot on.
3.5 stars

Hercule Poirot #38

Rating: 4.5 stars

"Poirot is approached by a girl who shared a flat with two other girls in London. She is convinced she is a murderer. With rumours of weapons and blood stains and no hard evidence can Poirot determine whether she's guilty, innocent or mad?"

This novel is mostly interesting because we get to see Hercule Poirot more as the fallible human that the omniscient detective that we have come to know and love.  I actually really enjoyed seeing this side of Poirot and that moment when he puts it all together is a sight for sore eyes.  There are so many seemingly unconnected facts in this case that the reader is able to put together alongside Poirot which makes it extremely enjoyable.  While there were a few little details left unexplained at the end, they were minor and not relevant to the primary storyline.  The story is framed slightly differently than Poirot's other mysteries because of how it's presented to him (there's a bit of a debate whether or not there is actually a murderer on the loose) but Christie rolls with this well.
The Final Verdict:
Enjoyable for the most part with a good look at Poirot as a fallible human.
4.5 stars

That's all for now!  Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  Who is your favorite detective and would you rather read about detectives who are omniscient or fallible?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Music Monday (8)

Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Lauren over at Always Me.  Every Monday, you share one or two of your favorite songs you've been enjoying that week to help other people discover new music!  Here are my picks for this week:

I've been loving a lot of new music lately so I thought I'd share some with ya'll!  Like I mentioned in my December Wrap-Up, I've been mostly listening to The Greatest Showman, Les Mis, and Beauty and the Beast soundtracks as well as Taylor Swift's new album.  Here are a few of my absolute favorites!

Never Enough - Loren Allred

This is one of my favorite songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack (the other being Tightrope)!  Loren Allred's vocal range perfectly matches my own and I love singing along with this song.

Javert's Suicide - Russell Crowe

I absolutely love this song.  It's so full of agony and perfectly represents Javert's torn self.  It also helps that Russell Crowe's voice is perfect for it!

How Does a Moment Last Forever - Celine Dion

This is a song from the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack that I've been listening to on repeat (along with Evermore).  Celine Dion's voice is perfect for this song and this message and I love it!

I Did Something Bad - Taylor Swift

This is a song from Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation.  I like a number of the songs on the album, but this is one of my favorites!

Have you heard any of these songs before?  Any favorites?  What have you been listening to recently?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Advance Review Sunday: Wicked Charm by Amber Hart

Standalone to date

Release Date: January 30th, 2018

"Nothing good comes from living in the Devil's swamp.Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn't half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.

Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.

Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell—the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town.

But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there's something else that draws Willow to him.

When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they're leading to her own death."

Friday, January 19, 2018

50/50 Friday (68): Book With Most Complex/Straightfoward Plot Structure

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Book With Most Complex/Straightforward Plot Structure

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Agatha Christie Review Round Up: Part Five

For my birthday last year, my parents gifted me around 35 Agatha Christie books (mostly from the Hercule Poirot series) and I've made it my mission of January and February to read them all!  There are four previous parts to this series that I've linked below.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review and Release Tuesday: Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction by Erica Garza

Standalone to date

"A fiercely courageous account of one woman's unflinching, raw, and ultimately hopeful journey through sex and porn addiction.

For almost two decades, Erica Garza was consumed by a singular, secret, shame-fueled pursuit that threw her life into chaos: orgasm. Back-braced, isolated, and teased in adolescence, and ambivalent about her Catholic upbringing, Garza found a secret solace in masturbation and porn--first by way of the limited softcore viewing offered by late-night cable, and, later, with the booming proliferation of online porn.

In this wrenching, vivid account, Garza explores her sexual fixations and relives the series of disastrous relationships and one-night stands that haunt her as she runs from one side of the world to the other in a futile attempt to break free of her habits―from East Los Angeles to Hawaii and Southeast Asia, through the brothels of Bangkok and the yoga studios of Bali to disappointing stabs at twelve-steps, therapy, and rehab back home.

Garza's terror at digging so deeply into her history to understand her anxieties is palpable, as is her exhilaration when she begins to believe she might just be free of them. And yet there is no false hope or prepackaged sense of redemption. Even her relationship to the man she will ultimately marry is credibly rocky as it finds its legs with several false starts, making her increasing sense of self-acceptance and peace by journey's end feel utterly earned.

In exploring the cultural taboos surrounding sex and porn from a female perspective, Garza offers a brave and necessary voice to our evolving conversations about addiction and the impact that Internet culture has had on young women."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

December Wrap-Up

December is finally over and with it, 2017 has also come and gone.  It's kind of strange that a whole year has passed since the dreaded 2016... In any case, I'll be doing a whole year end wrap up in a week or so (when I get my life together enough to pull together ALL the stats).  For this post, I'll be focusing on the lovely month of December.

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