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First, a big thank you to all fantasy and YA writers who still bother with stand-alone novels!

Summers at Castle Auburn continues to be my ultimate comfort-book even this third time around. It’s everything a fantasy YA with a touch of romance should be, and a sure fix for a reading slump.

Coriel is the illegitimate child of a powerful lord and a humble herbal healer. Her mother dies when she’s a child, so she’s raised by her grandmother, who teachers her the family’s medical traditions. When the father she never met also dies, her uncle shows up at her village with a proposal: Coriel can continue to live with her grandmother, but must spend her summers at Court with her father’s family. In particular she should learn the ways of nobility with her step-mother and sister Elisandra, who’s engaged to the future King. So start Coriel’s summers at Castle Aurburn.

The story begins the summer Coriel’s 14 and follows her coming of age tale. It’s a gentle story about not-so gentle topics. As she grows up, our heroine gradually removes the proverbial pink glasses and starts seeing the people around her in a different light. Coriel’s court is not all about sun and silks and she soon wakes up to harsh realities, like the truth about a faery people called the aliora, prized as slaves for their unfailing kindness even in captivity.

There are several very well integrated sub-plots and at no point did I think (as I often do with romantic stories), “Get on with it and show me the next scene where they’re together!” There’s character development to balance the world building and political intrigue to cut the sugary parts. It’s also fun to see how Coriel lives between such different realities without ever really belonging to any. In many occasions Coriel’s innocence borders on the annoying, but it’s impossible not to like her after seeing her use her “commoner” side to successfully live at the Court.

But what IMO really distinguishes Summers at Castle Auburn from others of its type is Shinn’s different take on established fantasy/romance stereotypes. For instance, Elisandra could have easily been the naïve-but-annoying type (à la Guinevere or Sansa), or the jealous half-sister who wants all the spotlight. Instead, Elisandra is incredibly loyal to Coriel and her gentleness doesn’t conflict with her moral determination.

I’m still surprised this book is not more popular. Maybe as a stand-alone it was eclipsed by Shinn’s more popular series? I’ve never read anything else by her – should I?

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, this book might be a good distraction while you wait for the movie.

It’s a compilation of 13 essays by fantasy authors on the trilogy’s themes. It you’ve read the canon, you know there’s a lot of juicy stuff to discuss, from the light-hearted (go team Gale!), to the serious (torture, oppression), from the philosophical (aren’t we as thrilled to watch the Games as the people in the Capitol?), to the practical (what would you do when confronted with a wolf mutt?).

These essays made me realize once more the power YA books can have in fostering civil rights, and the potential of this trilogy in particular to become the 1984 of its young generation. It’s not as “literary” or high-brow, but in the hands of a creative teacher it can have a major impact, especially in discussing democracy, freedom of expression, propaganda and human nature. The essays also showed me that, under the right sort of light, The Hunger Games could be considered subversive. Are they already in the Banned Books List? It shouldn’t take long…

These three essays in particular caught my attention.

The first was Someone To Watch Over Me, by Lili Wilkinson. She writes about surveillance as a means of social control and divides her essay into the three participants of this system: the Watched, the Watchers and the Engineers. Each of these three groups holds some power, but what happens when one group gets too much control? She discusses Katniss’ transition from being controlled by the Capitol’s Game Engineers to the rebels “Watchers-turned-Engineers”, and touches a point I thought of often while reading the books: we, the watchers of reality TV and “realistic” news are just as voyeurs as the citizens of Capitol:

Sure, nobody dies on our reality TV shows, But we still watch people suffer. We watch them endure physical and mental challenges on Survivor, subject them to isolation in Big Brother, tell them their dreams will never come true ion Idol, and break their hearts on The Bachelorette. Reality TV is all about putting people in difficult situations and watching how they react. Some people come our stranger, richer, and healthier, facing a lifetime of success. Others are voted off the island early on, their failure broadcast all over the world. How many steps are there, between our own TV shows and the Hunger Games?

How many indeed! *shudder*

At the start of her essay The Politics of Mockingjay, political columnist Sarah Littman mentions an interview where Collins said she drew her inspiration for The Hunger Games when she was zapping one night between the Iraq war coverage and “reality” TV. Littman then (bravely) goes on to compare certain elements of The Hunger Games to the Bush administration. In particular she talks about people turning a blind eye to everything a government does because of propaganda or crisis-mode (e.g. Patriot Act after 9/11):

I consider Mockinjay a brilliant book of our time. Not only does it raise the difficult, eternal question of war and humanity, grief and revenge, but one hopes it will encourage all of us to become more politically aware and active, and not to ever allow ourselves to risk the erosion of our democracy and civil liberties for panem et circenses.

Another one my favorite essays is about the power of fashion: Crime of Fashion – written by Terri Clark. I’m a sucker for a good makeover story, but there is more at stake in the Hunger Games’ fashion than looking fierce. Clothes make a statement in this world, and such a strong one that Cinna, Katniss’ stylist, suffers the consequences. Cinna was actually one of my favorite characters in the trilogy and I’d love to know more about him. His role in bringing down the Capitol is often ignored, but Clark captured it well:

All of the Capitol stylists are well practiced at polishing and presenting their contestants, but Cinna takes this craft to a new level. Not only is he genius at creating provocative, memorable costumes, he utilizes his fashion artistry as a political platform that subtly plays on his audience’s sensibilities.

With the help of examples from our world, from J-Lo to Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin, Clark goes on to discuss the power of fashion and how it helps shape public image. Très intéressant!

Overall, there’s much food for thought in this collection and I highly recommend it to all fans. I think teachers and parents in particular might take a lot from it.

A big thank you to the kind people over at BenBella Books for sending me a copy.

***

Other thoughts: Reading Through Life (yours?)

Almost 100 years after it was written, here I am reading Daddy-Long-Legs. Isn’t it amazing that no matter how much you read, or how much you think you know about books, you there will always be hidden treasures for you to find? This very short story (perfect for a readaton) became one of my favorite epistolary novels, together with Last Days of Summer and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

It’s about an American orphan named Jerusha “Judy” Abbott, whose writing gets the attention of one of her orphanage’s patrons. This man, who she’s never met, offers to pay for her college education in exchange for monthly ”report” letters. She doesn’t even know his name but decides to call him Daddy-Long-Legs because she once glimpsed his long shadow.

These letters are always one-sided and her voice is funny, full of energy and incredibly easy to empathize with, especially since you get to see her catch up on all the books she’s never read before:

I never read Mother Goose or David Copperfield or Ivanhoe or Cinderella or Blue Beard or Robinson Crusoe or Jane Eyre or Alice in Wonderland or a word of Rudyard Kipling. I didn’t know that Henry the Eighth was married more than once or that Shelley was a poet. I didn’t know that people used to be monkeys and that the Garden of Eden was a beautiful myth. I didn’t know that R.L.S. stood for Robert Louis Stevenson or that George Eliot was a lady. I had never seen a picture of the Mona Lisa and (it’s true but you won’ believe it) I had never heard of Sherlock Holmes.

This enthusiasm for discovering new things and an unabashed joie de vivre are not as annoying as they might sound, and Webster has my respect for not turning Judy into another Pollyanna. There are snarly remarks, some tantrums and the occasional blue moment, but Judy is all the more real for it.

Did you notice the reference to Evolution? Although at first sight this might be just another charming novel about a gifted and spunky orphan, but it feels incredibly advanced. Comparisons with Anne Shirley and Jo March are unavoidable, but Judy is more revolutionary: she believes in Evolution, supports the Suffrage Movement and (gasp!) wants to be a socialist.

You know, I think I’ll be a Socialist, too. You wouldn’t mind, would you, Daddy? They’re quite different from Anarchists; they don’t believe in blowing people up. Probably I am one by rights; I belong to the proletariat. I haven’t determined yet just which kind I am going to be. I will look into the subject over Sunday, and declare my principles in my next.

I can’t imagine Anne or Jo writing something similar. Even if they’re famous for their progressiveness, I always felt that reputation was mostly due to their decision to shun marriage and become financially independent, which didn’t turn out quite as they planned.

It was also fun to know about the routine of a women’s college at that time. Similar descriptions were some of my favorite parts of the Green Gables series, and the reason I enjoyed the Mallory Towers and The Twins at St Claire’s so much.

In the background of all this there’s the mystery of who exactly her anonymous benefactor is and Judy’s romantic interest(s). A lot to put in less than 200 pages, but it works perfectly.

The book and its sequel are available for free on Gutenberg.

***

Other thoughts: The Written Wordthings mean a lot, Shelf Love, Stella Matutina

Remember when I was complaining about vampire and werewolf fatigue? Well, the little buggers are everywhere and caught me unaware in The Graveyard Book. Still, I don’t regret it. Unlike other supernatural novels I’ve read recently, and even thought this is somewhere between children’s and YA, it had some seriously creepy moments. The scene of Bod is in his cradle listening to Jack going through the house gave me goose-bumps.

I’m probably one of the only fantasy fans out there who has never read The Graveyard Book, so I’ll just say that it’s about a 2-year-old orphan boy who’s adopted by the ghosts and other creatures of an old graveyard. The story has just the right amount of the eerie, the funny, the touching and the adventurous. To pack so much is such a small book and at the same time make it so unpretentious (almost modest) says a lot about Gaiman’s abilities.

It also achieves that most elusive goal of being a children’s book with a moral that’s not force-fed down our throats.

It’s not exactly a coming of age book, but every chapter works like an episode of Bod’s life that will mold him into what he’ll become. It left me with the same bitter-sweet feeling I get with stories about kids making their way into the world and parents coming to terms with it, hoping the tools they gave them will be enough.

Dear Mr. Gaiman, can we have a book just about Bod’s guardian, Silas?

This was only my second Gaiman, and the first one written by him alone. What should I go for next? American Gods? Anansi Boys?

In May I committed to reading two big and dense (but really fantastic) books, which meant that during two months my reading was a bit on the unvarying side. During that time audiobooks kept me lightly entertained: a bit of Narnia, a quick chick-lit and the Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce.

Don’t remember where I first heard about this YA series, probably in a “Best Kick-Ass Heroines” list. Or it might have been in a “Best Books with Dragons” one.

This is the second of Pierce’s series set in the world of Tortall and I can’t say the plot is completely original, but it’s still an interesting take. We follow a young girl with mysterious and great powers as she learns to control them, overcomes male expectations, saves the world and in between discovers her real origins.

What makes our heroine – Daine – special is that she has a connection to animals. She can speak to them and, as time passes, she can also become one. I’m not one for stories with talking animals, except in animated movies, but I easily accepted this one. Actually, the best thing about the series was the way animals are described, especially their habits and body moments. They sounded true to life and very endearing. Pierce is even able to make me feel emotional towards a live blob of dark liquid (literally, there’s an ink-pool-like animal in the last book).

Also appreciated that Pierce doesn’t shy away from political intrigue and talk (just talk, fear not!) of sex, which is unusually for your typical (young-)YA. And although Daine has a touch of the Mary-Sue about her, she surprised me at points, like continuing to be carnivore even though she thinks of animals as people. On the other hand, I had problems with characters saying things like “Catch my drift?” in a supposedly medieval world. Also, Daine’s relationship with her relatives in the last book sounded underdeveloped and awkward, especially after the build up led me to expect some sort of cathartic moment.

In the end, I didn’t feel strongly about the series, but it delivered what I needed at the time: an enjoyable, light fantasy, with a 3D main character and some depth to the plot.

Have you read any Tamora Pierce? Any recommendations? 

Someone at Goodreads said that Fly By Night was “written as a gushy Valentine to the English language” and I’m hard pressed to come up with a better description. Because that’s exactly what this book is.

Hardinge is clearly someone who deeply  loves and respects the power of words. They’re chosen carefully and deliberately and I often had the feeling she took her time in getting a sentence just right. It could have become too contrived but it doesn’t, and you actually realize there was no better way to convey that particular idea:

The papery sound of rain.

or

The captain was a grim-smiling river-king named Partridge. There was something crooked in the make of his right wrist, as if it had been broken and never quite healed, and something crooked in the corner of his smile, as if that too had been broken and put back together slightly wrong.

You read this and can perfectly hear that sound and clearly picture the kind of smile she means. I love it when an author uses diagonal ways to create an exact image.

Fly by Night is the story of 12-year-old Mosca Mye. She loves words and it’s her favorite treat to find new ones she can play with. Before her father died he taught her how to read, and in doing so he broke convention. You see, Mosca lives in a world where education is feared and books are seen with distrust.

When as travelling storyteller called Eponymous Clent (how great is that name?) passes through her town, she see him as her (and her pet goose Saracen) way into the big world. But Eponymous is not all that he seems and he takes her on an adventure that reaches the Kingdom’s highest circles.

Although Mosca is still 12, this is not a children’s story – it has too many layers, it’s too subtle in its humor and sarcasm, and is even more complex than your average YA. There’s intrigue, madness and debates about freedom of religion and expression. So much so that I now remember the book as political… and laugh-out-loud funny as well. Mosca Mye is a great heroine, here are two of my favorite lines:

“Where is your sense of patriotism?” I keep it hid away safe, along with my sense of trust, Mr. Clent. I don’t use ’em much in case they get scratched.”

“True stories seldom have endings.  I don’t want a happy ending, I want more story.”

In the end, it’s a book about books, written by a book lover for other book lovers and I think you’d enjoy it. The second of the series, Twilight Robbery, is already out there.

Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad.

I was actually considering just having one word in this review: “Meh”…

In Victorian London, Sally Lockhart becomes an orphan at 16. Shortly after she receives a mysterious letter which kick-starts an adventure in pursuit of the truth about her past and family.

I’ve read it in audiobook and it might be the reason I didn’t feel strongly about anything in the book, either in a good or bad way. I’ve been building the theory that with audio, the existence of a reader between me and the story somehow detaches me from it.

The story was interesting enough, and I was surprised at how Philip Pullman approached opium addiction and organized crime in a YA book, but Sally was just to perfect.

She’s “uncommonly pretty” and although not familiar with the more feminine arts of languages and music, she’s an expert in military tactics, accountancy, business management and a great shot and rider (sounds cool doesn’t it? I thought so too!). Pullman went for the unconventional heroine, but Sally is just too aloof, never directly affected by dangerous situations (unlike the secondary characters, who are kidnapped and beaten bloody because of her) and smoothly solving the problems of everyone around her.

Secondary characters are all very Dickensian as suits the Victorian setting, but the wonderful world building and brilliant atmosphere he created for “His Dark Materials” was missing here. Descriptions, plot twists and characters, they all felt a bit hurried and lacking depth (no excuse that it’s YA!).

Has anyone seen the TV adaptation with Billie Piper? What did you think? Haven’t see it yet, she fell in my consideration after staring in the worst Jane Austen adaptation ever made to date 😉

This is one of those books that hit you on a personal level, so much so that I even struggled a bit with this post.

One year Frankie’s was an intelligent and slightly geeky 14-year-old, the next she gains “four inches in height and twenty pounds in all the right places.” These changes make all the difference in her social standing at Alabaster, the elite boarding school she attends. For a start, she starts dating Matthew, the senior at the top of the social food-chain. He’s handsome, popular, rich, and of course practically didn’t know she existed until now.

Through Matthew Frankie gains access to the cool kids’ group, including secret midnight parties and the right to sit down at the “senior’s table”. She soon finds out that he’s also part of an all-male (in)famous secret Society from which she’s obviously excluded. So Frankie devises a plan to anonymously take over the Society. She does a great job of it, but what would happen if people knew that the master-mind behind it all is not only a sophomore girl, but someone they’re just use to thinking about as Matthew’s pretty appendix?

The plot might sound like your regular YA ugly duckling novel, but you’re in for a surprise. It’s actually a clever and fresh approach to what’s it like to be a smart girl growing up and facing heads-on what Nymeth very well called the “invisible barriers”.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s a book that makes you look back to your own experiences, so here’s me getting personal: I don’t remember ever being discriminated during school or on a professional level because I’m a woman. I know I’m very lucky in this and I’m sure it helped that I always chose comfortably “feminine” areas: I did high-school in a leftist arts schools, in college I studied Advertising and Marketing and then went on to work in corporate communications.

I was never really challenged in those parts of my life, so although some friends and even my boyfriend consider me a feminist *, this never was a dominant issue in my life. Not as another point that came out strongly in the book and really hit a cord: “knowing your place in the world”.

Kids at Alabaster knew theirs, especially the boys who were the elite among the elite. That confidence paved the road to their success and leadership. Frankie wandered several times what it must be like to be that sure of your own potential, and I wondered along with her.

I was born and raised in a low middle-class family and only many years later did I’ve realized just how tough that neighborhood really was. Now I live in an environment where I know only one other Portuguese besides myself (and there are quite a few of us here, in the political capital of Europe) who has never attended a private school. So just like many people are skeptical about celebrating our success in reaching equality, I’m equality skeptical about social mobility.

The evidence I’ve seen of it in my life makes think we’re not quite through that particular “invisible barrier”. In my case, being aware of my background makes me uncomfortable in certain situations, and when it comes to my achievements I’m more prone to think “I got away with it” than “I deserved it”. The difficulty is: if beyond this particular “invisible barrier”, it must be all in my head!

Anywhooo, all this to say I found “The Disreputable History” a fascinating book and Frankie an inspiring character. She was ready to shake the hell out of the status quo and the “old boys”. She did it with style and creativity, but she was also strong enough to face the consequences – being a revolutionary is not all fun and games!

And now just a couple of random thoughts and questions for those who’ve read it (spoilers): was I the only one who immediately thought of the line “No one puts Baby in a corner!” every time her family called her “bunny rabbit”? Will there be a sequel? There seems to be some loose ends to the story, e.g. the explanation of the “sea-horse” conversation that Alpha and Matthew had, her final awareness that she wanted Alpha and decision to wait until a better time. (end spoilers)

So, if you haven’t read it yet and plan to, please let me know when your review is up, I’d really love to know your thoughts. Maybe I’ll even recommend it to my bookclub, although I’ll have a tough time getting them to read YA….

(* I think this reputation was established during a major discussion among our group about “no means no” vs. “women just like to be chased” – oh dear blog friends, I wish you were there! It was just me against five guys, and I admit it, when the discussion got really serious… I cried! I HATE that I did, but it just got to me, and I couldn’t help it…).

(reading Fables by Andre)

Hi everyone!

I’m back in Brussels after the Holidays. I’ve noticed most blogs were active but I’ve decided to really take a break and just veg-out on the couch, eat, see friends, shop and eat some more. I did manage to get some reading done, but I’ll just make short reviews in the next couple of days to come up to speed.

Meanwhile, I’ll do the classic 2010 round-up.

It’s been a good reading year, but mostly it will go down in History as The Year I Started Book Blogging. I’m already noticing that many of my choices were influenced by you and the trend will increase in 2011 for sure. Exciting times ahead!

I’ve read 88 books and 5 graphic novels. Of the books, 33 were audiobooks (not surprising considering I had laser surgery in April and couldn’t read for weeks), 1 play and only 6 non-fiction (these 6 were probably more than the last couple of years put together). I gave up on 5 books and 1 audiobook.

Top 10 fiction (in no order)

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    I know the last book of The Hunger Games disappointed a lot of people, but for me Collins was right on target. A great ending to a great trilogy.
  • Gigi by Colette
    Thank you book blogosphere for keep bringing up Colette. I’m in your debt!
  • The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
    After reading Agnes Grey, this one settled Anne as my favorite Brontë. So different from her sisters and in my humble opinion, the most ground-breaking of the three.
  • The Spring of the Ram (The House of Niccolò #2) by Dorothy Dunnett
    I bow my head to the genius of Dunnett.
  • Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernières
    My second de Bernières and he might enter my top 5 authors if Birds Without Wings is as good as I expect it to be. One of those authors that seems to be writing just for you. I only ever got that feeling before with E.M. Foster.
  • Room by Enna Donoghue
    Yep, I also surrendered to Room. The page-turner of the year.
  • Wolf Hall de Hilary Mantel
    Innovative novel of the year. Who said historical novels can’t bring anything new to literature?
  • When you reach me by Rebecca Stead
    Short YA book but full of well-developed characters, intriguing plot, humor, depth, mystery and meaning.

Runners-up
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; Niccolò Rising (House of Niccolò, #1) by Dorothy Dunnett; Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins; Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini; Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini; Agnes Grey de Anne Brontë; The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett; The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Great new authors
Dorothy Sayers, Anne Brontë, Colette and Rafael Sabatini

Only read one, but suspect they’ll become favorites as well
Brandon Sanderson. P.G. Wodehouse and Sarah Addison Allen

Biggest disappointments
Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey, An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis; City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

Top 3 non-fiction (in no order)

  • The Mitford Girls by Mary Lovell
    It wasn’t a masterpiece of literature, but it got me hooked and it made me want to know more, which is the best compliment I can pay a book.
  • The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
    The best non-fiction of the year. A gripping account of the men and women who worked to preserve art during WWII and afterwards chased after the stolen masterpieces.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Barbara Skoot
    What’s in a cell? A lot! For instance, meaningful debates on the ethics of science and about how far is your body really yours.

Top 3 graphic novels (in no order)
Again, a big thank you to all the bloggers out there who are great graphic-novels enthusiastics.

  • Les Murailles de Samaris (Les Cités Obscures, 1) by Francois Schuiten, Benoît Peeters
    Straight into my “favorite graphic novel artist” category.
  • Legends in Exile (Fables #1) and Storybook Love (Fables #3) by Bill Willingham
    Fun and incresingly dark. Looking forward to what’s to come!

As a rule, the first couple of weeks of November are extremely busy in Brussels. This year we had five events in three days, the culmination of weeks of hard work, but in the end, all extremely rewarding. The downside is having no time at all for blogging. It was the first time I spent so many days away from the blogosphere since I started, and I’m afraid I had to hit the “mark all as read” on my Google Reader, so please let me know if I missed anything important.

At the end of The Crazy Period, and as a well deserved reward, we did a road trip to visit some friends in lovely Zaragoza, where the sun was shinning and the tapas were to die for. Andre’s own pictures:

(Zaragoza sunset)

(it’s things like these tapas that make us realize just how
southern Europeans we are, although sometimes we forget…)

I still managed to get through five books (mostly audiobooks) and would like to do a longer review of three of them, but meanwhile, and to get me up to speed, I’ll just quickly go through the others.

Court Duel (The Crown and Court Duel, Book 2) by Sherwood Smith

I decided not to go for a long review of this one because honestly, I don’t really have much to say about it. I read the first in the series during the Trans-Siberian and wasn’t very impressed. While that book was all about adventures and battles, this one is a fantasy of manners. Our heroine Melaria, after overthrowing the Evil King and a period of self-education, agrees to spend some time in court and has to deal with the expected gossip, politics and general backstabbing.

It kept me interested enough (as all ugly-duckling stories do), and the romance had a good pace, but in the end, it was just too YA. This is a recurrent problem with some of this year’s books: a bit too predictable, a bit too formulaic, a bit too… cute.

The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

Audiobook heard on the way from Zaragoza and which kept us sane during the traffic jams around Paris. It’s a set of 9 stories, read by different people, including the man himself – David Suchet – and Hugh Frasier (Captain Hastings). I’ve read “And Then There Were None” and “Endless Night”, but these were my first Poirot and Miss Marple. I was enchanted. Now I really understand Christie’s power as a story-teller. Even in a very short story, such as for instance, Yellow Iris, she’s able to create the right atmosphere and play with the pace so masterfully, that she has us wrapper around her finger in a matter of minutes.

In particular I liked “Problem at Pollensa Bay” because it was the first time I came across Parker Pyne (have you ever heard of him?). After some Googleing I find out that not only he seems to be inspired by Mycroft Holmes (a secondary character I was always curious about), but that he once employed Miss Lemon. So you see, he must be someone worth knowing.

He’s the type of men who makes people comfortable and has an instinctive way of solving problems – any type of problems. In “Problem at Pollensa Bay” be helps a mother and her son see eye-to-eye on the subject of his bride, and in “The Regatta Mystery” he solves the theft of a diamond during regatta festivities at Dartmouth harbor.

Someone at Goodreads commented that Parker Pyke is the most emotional of Agatha Christie’s detectives, since he prefers matters of the heart to pure puzzles. I definitely want to know more about him now.

What are you favorite Agatha Christie’s? Any recommendations?

Quotes by Mr. Pyne:

I have had a long experience in the compilation of statistics. From that experience I can assure you that in 87% of cases dishonesty does not pay.

Unhappiness can be classified under five main heads–no more, I assure you. Once you know the cause of a malady, the remedy should not be impossible.

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