Monday, November 15, 2010

"By the Pricking of My Thumbs..."

 "...Something wicked this way comes." William Shakespeare – Macbeth (Act IV, Scene 1)

I have been conducting a little "experiment" where I am leaving my computer off for the day to see how much I can get accomplished. If I turn it on at all, it is not until night time. I have accomplished so many things in the past three or four days of doing this. I won't bore you with everything that I have finished, but I have been able to finish TWO books, Endless Nights and By the Pricking of My Thumbs, both by Agatha Christie.


This novel, published in 1968, features two of Christie's regular characters, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. They are, by this time, quite older than in their spy-games days, as they are now grandparents. It's nice to see them resurface in a later novel. (They first appeared in their early twenties in The Secret Adversary, published in 1922).

In By the Pricking of My Thumbs,while visiting an aunt in a nursing home, they encounter an elderly woman by the name of Mrs. Lancaster. She utters a bewildering comment to Tuppence about something behind the fireplace and a poor child. When Mrs. Lancaster suddenly disappears, and the Beresfords discover a painting of a house in connection with Mrs Lancaster, a house that Tuppence knows she has seen somewhere before, the wheels are in motion. Tuppence cannot fight the feeling of danger and is determined to find out what has happened to Mrs. Lancaster and how the painting, or the house are connected.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Box-O-Books Giveaway

Okay, I realize that I may be going a little crazy with these giveaway posts (can 2 qualify as "going crazy"?), but I'm really excited about this one! Emily over at Red House Books is hosting a Box-O-Books Mega Giveaway! Why am I so excited about this? Because I would LOVE to win this to help stock that future bookshelf in my future high school English classroom! Seriously, providing students with ample reading material in the classroom is important. Stocking those shelves can be pricey, so what better solution than to win a box of books?

But go check it out. Even if you aren't an English teacher, it may be something you would be interested in.

"Matched" by Ally Condie Giveaway

I have just heard about this novel, Matched by Ally Condie, and I think that it sounds great! Based on the description that this reviewer has given, it sounds as though it will have similar themes to The Giver by Lois Lowry and even possibly The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, both books that I enjoyed.

There is a giveaway contest for this book over at I Read Banned Books (as we all should). It ends November 24th, so check it out!

And yes, your suspicions are correct, I DID just earn bonus entries for this post. HOWEVER, I really do think this book looks great and probably would have still recommended it if I had come across it first.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Endless Night"

Guess what folks? I am this close to accomplishing my goal of reading all of Agatha Christie's stories. I have read 72 novels and 140+ short stories thus far! I am entering the 1970s, 1972 to be exact. But prior to that, I finished reading Endless Night which was published in 1967.

When I started reading this novel, I was surprised as it started reading like one of Christie's Mary Westmacott "romances". It is told in first person, the narrator being a young man, and begins with his thoughts and feelings about falling in love with both a place and a girl. It does not initially read like a typical Christie mystery to me.

The majority of this novel is a story about the young couple as they fall in love, marry, and begin their life together. They have built a dream home that they had been planning together since the day they met. Everything seems to be going well, and, in my opinion, it would have remained so if Christie had continued with this aspect of the story. However, like most of her stories, there is a pretty big twist at the end that changes the story from what the reader has expected. Brief rundown of the main conflict: they move into their house, but are soon threatened by a local gypsy who warns them that there is a curse on their land yadda, yadda, yadda. There is also some conflict between the couple and their various family members, but for the purpose of this post, I'm skipping over those details.

As I was thoroughly enjoying the "romance" story between the two main characters, I found myself to be very disappointed with the ending. While the first three-quarters of the novel seemed to occur at a comfortable pace, the ending seemed too rushed. Everything was happening too quickly, without any real details. All of a sudden, there have been three deaths, only one presented to the readers; the other two were revealed through correspondences. I also felt that there were too many loose ends that were left hanging, not tied up or concluded in any way. There were too many coincidences among the characters; they were connected in ways that were a little unbelievable, if not bewildering. It seemed as though Christie was throwing in as many little red herrings as she possibly could with this one.

But what I was most disappointed with was the twist at the end. And I suppose that's mainly because I prefer to see the good in people,and would like to believe that what we see, and what we are told can be trusted.

Not so with this novel.

I was surprised to learn that this novel was actually a favorite of both Christie and her husband. The reason being the exact one that I ended up disliking about it; the twist at the end. Without giving any details away, it basically involves a character who chooses "evil" over "good".

I think that this story would have been more successful (for my tastes) if Christie had chosen to go in a different direction with it. As it is, I would probably only recommend Endless Night to people who enjoy unexpected, unbelievable twists, who are thoroughly bored and desperate for a book to read, or who, like me, have set a personal goal of completing all of Agatha Christie's novels.

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