book

The Terror by Dan Simmons – Book Review

A peculiar blend of historical fiction and supernatural horror, The Terror is a chilling speculation on the fate of the doomed 19th-century polar expedition led by Sir John Franklin. I read almost half of it in a long marathon session while sick in bed, and by the evening I could almost hear the groaning of the ice and the howling arctic wind. Though it’s not an easy breezy read at over 900 pages long, it’s a meticulously researched, deeply absorbing and deeply nightmarish tour de force.

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Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie – Book Review

This stand-alone mystery was one of the first Christie novels I’ve ever read, and for that reason I’ve always had a soft spot for it even though the best compliment I can give the book is “solid”. Many other Christie novels have more memorable settings and ingenious twists, this one simply has classic crime ingredients – a small group of suspects, poison and red herrings galore – that come together for a cracking good read.

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The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie – Book Review

This stand-alone mystery is one of Christie’s oddest crime novels, which is probably why it’s one of her books that stuck in my memory the most. I don’t necessarily think it’s an example of Christie at her best; the non-linear plot meanders somewhat and the resolution is far too abrupt. But it’s certainly one of her most interesting books, with some unusual elements that I can’t remember seeing anywhere else in Christie’s oeuvre.

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Book Review

I’ve already watched the mostly excellent HBO adaptation with Amy Adams before reading Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, but having read her other books I think I’d have had a fair idea of what to expect anyway. As her musical namesake Gillian Welch sings, You know some girls are bright as the morning / And some have a dark turn of mind.

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Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie – Book Review

One of the best things about my Agatha Christie challenge has been learning all sorts of trivia about the books I’ve loved for many many years. I never realised that Dead Man’s Folly was actually written around a real, specific location, namely Greenway House in South Devon. Once the beloved holiday home of Agatha Christie, the estate is now apparently open to the visitors, and if I’m ever in that part of the UK I’ll be sure to look it up.

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The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

Another compulsively readable novel from the author of Big Little Lies. I forgot to take a book with me on our recent weekend getaway to Tasmania, so I had to pick something at the airport fast. As a light holiday read this was perfect (I got it as a buy-one-get-second-halfprice deal with Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, but that one is bound to be less fluffy for sure).

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Quotes of the Day – Bill Bryson

I made it to blog post no. 500! Also, Mum and I had a very enjoyable evening yesterday at the Bill Bryson live stage event at the Palais Theatre. So here are some quotes from his books:

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”

“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”

“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.”

“I understand cricket – what’s going on, the scoring – but I can’t understand why.”

“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.”

“To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever. And when you get tired of them, you can kill and eat them. Perfect.”

“It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours – arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be.”