• Furrowed Middlebrow Project Book Review: Smouldering Fire

    Author: D.E. Stevenson

    Rating: 4 stars

    Publication Date: 1935

    Book Blurb: Despite his passionate love for Ardfalloch, Iain has been driven to let his home and estate to Mr. Hetherington Smith, a wealthy London businessman, and his kindly wife (who was, truth be told, happier when they were poor).

    MacAslan stays on in a cottage by the loch, aided by his devoted keeper Donald and Donald’s wife Morag. But he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Linda Medworth and her young son, invited to Ardfalloch by Mrs Hetherington Smith. Lush Highland scenery and a ruined castle set the stage for a mystery, and tension builds to a shocking conclusion.

    This was an enjoyable read. It was almost, almost a 5-star read. Very atmospheric. The supporting characters were fleshed out so well. I didn’t realize how well writers did that back then. I find it lacking today – but it could just be the books I had been reading recently. I cared just as much about the outcomes of the supporting characters as I did for the main characters. Matter of fact, my favorite character was Mrs. Hetherington- Smith whose purpose in the book was twofold – to act as a catalyst for our two main characters to meet, and to address the farce that money= happiness.

    There are some statements in here about class, good and bad. You’re able to make an observation and draw your own conclusions on the matter so I was ok with how it was presented. Books written Pre- WWII are interesting to me cuz you know what is coming but the writer doesn’t. I find the dynamic and tones interesting – what is viewed as important to the book’s characters or the hope you know will be dashed soon.

    The romance was ok, but the “hero” was a little… quirky. I don’t know a better word. The contrast between city and Highland life felt like you were reading two books sometimes – and I mean that as a compliment. I will be reading more from this author.

    This book has a title that denotes a bodice ripper romance title to me. But it’s not. Recommend!

  • Project Updates – August 2022

    As August comes to a close, I wanted to give some updates on the projects I am working on:

    For my Short Classics Project I read 4 books/plays in August:

    The winner I would have to say is The Misanthrope which was clever and surprisingly relevant. And it made me laugh at times! The others were not as entertaining but definitely worth a read.

    I have decided I am going to read the Furrowed Middlebrow line by Dean Street Press. This is a line of vintage women’s fiction. I read one of the books in August and that was:

    That was a delightful read. I am currently reading:

    … so stay tuned for that review. Dean Street Press offers a free kindle book of the week from this line and I hope they keep this up.

    My last project is the British Library Crime Classics. This month and in the past I have read:

    I enjoyed The Cornish Coast Murder. But I remember I really enjoyed Murder in Piccadilly and so I do recommend that one as well.

    I’m enjoying my reading lately. Through my digging, I have discovered some other golden age mysteries and reads that I look forward to trying, so you will see them sampled in between my projects. Dean Street Press has some good series recommendations I had never heard of, such as this one by Vivian Francis. I have found I cannot read these books as quickly as I can some more modern ones as the reading is more…dense (?) I won’t rush or I will lose my joy. Going for quality over quantity.

    Happy reading!

  • British Library Crime Classics Project: Book Review: The Cornish Coast Murder

    Author: John Bude

    Publication Date: 1935

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: “Never, even in his most optimistic moments, had he visualized a scene of this nature—himself in one arm-chair, a police officer in another, and between them . . . a mystery.” So thinks the Reverend Dodd—vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen and a reader of detective novels—when an actual mystery unexpectedly lands on his doorstep in The Cornish Coast Murder. Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen, shot through the head—and the local police investigator is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Fortunately for the inspector, the Reverend Dodd is at hand, ready to put his lifetime of vicarious detecting experience to the test.

    This was a decent read. It had a cozy feel to it. Seriously – the book starts with a vicar sitting by a fire with a good friend, waiting for books to be delivered. He is an avid reader of mystery novels and fancies himself a sleuth. Someone get me a cup of tea and a blanket…


    The mystery was good – a man is shot in the head. The shots came through a window and there are no unexplained tracks leading to the house, and the other side of the house is facing a cliff – so how was he shot? Who had a motive?


    I liked the head-scratching when it came to the mystery. I did think it spent a little too much time on the red herrings, and it felt a little long thus why I only gave it three stars. But I didn’t guess the murderer, so I was engaged most of the time trying to figure things out.


    I enjoyed the ending, especially the vicar’s response to the case and how he felt about solving murders. It was more pensive and thoughtful as opposed to today’s on-to-the-next-murder trope in cozy mysteries.


    Recommend!


    Oh, the British Library Crime Classics have beautiful covers!

  • Book Haul!!!!!!

    I’ve gotten quite a few books lately, I’m on a bit of a classics kick. I thought I would share…

    These I purchased within the past month.

    My NetGalley Aquisitions:

    And Free from the Guttenberg Project:

    Looking forward to reading these in the upcoming months!

  • Friday Reads 8/26/22

    Happy Friday!

    These are the books I will be working on over the weekend and into next week.

    My mother- in- law is on the mend. She is doing much better, thank goodness. I only read one book this past week but it was a good one, and provided a nice escape. I put down a lot of what I had planned to read, which is fine. Some books don’t do well under stressful conditions, so I will pick them up another time.

    I will have some posts coming up on my book projects, so stay tuned.

    Happy reading and have a great weekend!

  • Book Review: Anna and Her Daughters

    Author: D. E. Stevenson

    Publication Date: 1958

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Book Blurb: For Anna Harcourt and her three daughters—lovely Helen, who always gets what she wants, young Jane, who makes the best of what she has, and Rosalie, the middle daughter who wavers somewhere in between—the world is turned upside down by their father’s death and the discovery that they will have to sell their London home. The girls are shocked when Anna buys a cottage in Ryddelton, her home town in Scotland, but they soon settle in to Scottish life, each in her own way. As time passes, the three girls must contend with love and tragedy, hope and despair, laughter and tears, all unfolding with D.E. Stevenson’s incomparable storytelling and knowledge of human nature.

    This was a delightful read. It was like a warm blanket, comforting. Upon starting the story, I became invested very quickly.

    I liked the characters. Jane is our main character and everything plays out from her particular point of view. The family dynamic was interesting – the oldest sister Helen’s selfishness was so extra, she became a good character to vent frustration upon. You could count on her to callously look out for number one and get your blood boiling. Oh, she truly angered me at points.

    This was pure escapism. With one caution: There was a side trip to Kenya, and the references to the people that lived there made me cringe. This book was written in 1958, it was different time, but all that context didn’t stop me from flinching and feeling that racism in my gut.

    That aside, Stevenson’s take on human nature – some of the gems she had to say about why Helen acted the way she did or even the topic of familial boundaries, whether it be between sisters or your influence regarding a family member’s marriage, it was well thought out and made the story more relatable rather than a one dimensional story.

    I learned about this book from a blog that spoke about the Dean Street Press line of books called Furrowed Middlebrow, which is a reprint of vintage women’s fiction. I am thinking of reading these books alongside my Short Classics Project – which I am still working on. I’m also eyeing British Library Crime Classics line of books- but I will do a post on that in the near future.

    So for this book – Recommend!

  • Friday Reads 8/19/22

    It’s been a rough week of twists and turns.

    My mother-in- law is in the hospital. She is stable, which is good. Yesterday we had down time waiting on doctors and tests. In similar situations in the past, I have found comfort reads to be a helpful distraction. Which is why I pulled out my copy of Evergreen. It’s a family saga with a nostalgic quality that I gave 5 stars to years ago. It’s definitely doing the trick.

    There’s quite a bit of travel time between the hospital and home and work, which we have been filling with spiritual things like Bible reading and discussions to help us keep a calm mindset (Philippians 4:6). I also wanted an audiobook since some of the travel will be on my own. To continue with my Short Classics Project, I used Libby and borrowed The Bridge of San Luis Rey on audio. This book won the Pulitzer and received great reviews – but I have never heard of it before… The premise is intriguing. I will give it a shot. I like the cover!

    I don’t know how much reading I will get done, but this is the plan when it comes to reading.

    Enjoy your Friday and Happy Reading everyone!

  • DNF- BABEL

    Yep, you read that right.

    Made it about 200 pages in. I can’t do 560 pages of this, this will send me spiraling into a depression. For what Kuang is doing, speaking as an African- American female who studied Mandarin for over 10 years, this is amazing. The takes on racism and translation are accurate, genius. The footnotes? She nails it.

    However, this book is making me hate reading cuz it’s just depressing to me.

    I’d rather concentrate on other books in my TBR. I may pick this up at a later date.

    Probably not.

    I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Book Review: A Doll’s House

    Author: Henrik Ibsen

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: A Doll’s House (1879), is a masterpiece of theatrical craft which, for the first time portrayed the tragic hypocrisy of Victorian middle class marriage on the stage. The play ushered in a new social era and “exploded like a bomb into contemporary life”.

    This was sad.

    You can see how this play would have been scandalous in 1879. I went into this not knowing how it resolved. And the ending was depressing. This is essentially about a deteriorating marriage that was devoid of love and respect and so it fell apart. Nora, our main character, was treated like a second class citizen and child. Torvald, her husband, was deceived and lied to. The issues these fictional characters face exist today. The conversations felt timeless and the conversations too real.

    What was startling though, is that this was based on a true story. The author knew both parties and was asked to help, because the husband in real life went to ‘extreme’ measures to deal with his wife. Instead, Ibsen turned it into a play. I mean with friends like that…

    This Short Classics Project has led to some startling discoveries…

    Onward!

  • Book Review: First Born

    Author: Will Dean

    Rating: 3 stars

    Book Blurb: Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

    Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

    But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.

    I read this on the beach while visiting the mom-in-law. I have had good success reading thrillers on the beach. Something about the waves, the sand and the tension of trying to figure out the mystery while someone’s life is in danger… so I made the spontaneous decision to put aside my current reads and check this one out.

    I have mixed feelings.

    Let me start with the positives: This book started off well, it was engaging. It kept me turning the pages trying to figure out what happened. Red Herrings all over the place. Then, at exactly the 50 percent mark, a twist happened that made me put down my Kindle and stare at the ocean for a few minutes in shock. I did NOT see it coming. I was impressed.

    And I would have remained impressed if that twist was it. But there was one more that was just… no. It deflated my enjoyment of the book. Why? Why try so hard?

    This book is dark so be forewarned. I have said in the past that I purposely do not pick up this type of thriller. The problem with twisty thrillers is that you do not know what type you are actually reading until you are invested. Probably why I am hit or miss with them. I have friends that will enjoy reading this book, I will make them aware of it. And to its credit, I never wanted to DNF the book.

    Recommend to those who like dark and twisty thrillers.