Friday, October 12, 2018

A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry

Image result for A Sudden, Fearful DeathWe've dealt with coercion, deception of honor, sodomy, and pedophilia.  Why not move onto rape and women's rights?  I'm starting to wonder if Perry's need to shake up the social cauldron is just ruining this series.

A nurse that Hester knew in the Crimea is found stuffed into a laundry chute at Royal Free Hospital.  All the staff are suspects, but everyone certainly looks with more scrutiny at the nurses than the respectable doctors.  We get into yet another status argument of women's capabilities--ad nauseam

The debate of man versus woman is the sole purpose of the entire case, which again spends most of the story being a courtroom drama with very little detective work.  In fact, being a nurse's death, we have Hester at the front of the novel and Monk barely present.

Not that I'm not grateful to be away from the amnesic suffering of Monk, but this is "A William Monk novel."  I really expect there to be more detective work and less legal argument.

I'm really started to fatigue of this series.  How I was hoping to find an excellent Victorian detective series with some morals.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet, #3)There is an extravagant time skip between A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wind in the Door.  Meg is now married to Calvin and very much pregnant.  I'm actually happy that an author didn't waste sequels on developing romance and dragging us through Meg's angsty teen years.

She is home for the Thanksgiving holiday--where only Charles Wallace remains at home--since Calvin is overseas at a lecture.  Her mother-in-law is suddenly drawn to attend when she has never participated in Murry functions previously.

L'Engle has taken us through the cosmos to determine what is reality, shrank us to minuscule farandolae to determine size is relevant, and now she is sending us careening through time to determine inter-connectivity.  Charles Wallace must learn that when you ask Where your are, you should really be asking When.

What would a children's fantasy be without mythical creatures?  We've met aliens, stars, and dragons.  Now, we get unicorns.  Such beauty and glory in the creatures that L'Engle depicts.  

I love the morals and the lessons that are ever present in the "The Time Quintet."  Some of the books are better than the others, but the series as a whole should never be forgotten in time.  The story elegantly weaves the history of people through a thousand years of time.  The decisions that were made by our ancestors is the consequence of our future.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Defend and Betray by Anne Perry

Image result for Defend and BetrayPerry certainly isn't afraid to tackle any social subject.  That is what drew me to start this mystery series.  I was hoping for a good mystery that I didn't solve right away but have failed in that mission.  What keeps me renting these books is Perry's unforgiving delve into social niceties. 

For all of that, Defend and Betray went too far off the soapbox for me.  Some subjects are naturally abhorrent to a rational human.  They don't need attention drawn to them.  While you may be trying to help the victims, you are just shining a spotlight on a behavior that could be given unintended consequences for all the attention.

The only redeeming factor to this book--after skipping chapters at a time when I figured out why Alexandra killed her husband--was the court scene at the finale.  I was only too happy to have missed the unnecessary dissertation on the immoral acts of the Carlyon family as well as the always too lengthy rambling of Monk trying to figure out his amnesia.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet, #2)Madeleine L'Engle took science and made fantastic stories for children.  She combined the modern sciences with the magic of faith and tradition.  A Wrinkle in Time presented children with string theory, stars, and the power of love.  Now we get to explore identity, mythology, and biology.

While I'm sad we've left behind Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, we have a new and fascinating set of characters.  And dragon fewmets.  

Proginoskes and Sporos join Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin at school with Blajeny.  The trio have traveled the vast universe to save their father from IT and learned about the dark stain spreading through the cosmos.  Now they must learn that size is relative and darkness can taint everything.

We are introduced to the true villains of the series.  The Echthroi are fallen angels, whose goal is to stain the song of the cosmos, and they are very determined to destroy Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin.  They do not want the students to graduate from their three trials and create quite a bit of mischief and mayhem.

Meg's struggle can become a little tedious and certainly overdone.  We knew from the first book that she has a hard time accepting herself and her abilities.  We really did not need the continuation.  It tarnishes her education in becoming a Namer--in my opinion.  The concept of Naming is wonderful and should have been able to shine more brightly.

Proginoskes is one of the most beautiful characters L'Engle has created.  I seriously broke down into tears by the end of the book, but they weren't the sad kind.  The poignancy of this novel is just as strong to me as an adult as it was as a child (perhaps even more, actually).

This is easily my favorite series to make children think about the world around them and discuss the bigger questions.  While "The Time Quintet" makes up quite a few fantastical things and places, the concept of Let's Pretend and reality is key to the entire series.  What is real?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry

A Dangerous Mourning (William Monk, #2)Monk number two was certainly an improvement on number one, but it didn't have a high bar to jump.  

We are back in aristocratic Victorian England to solve the mystery of a young woman found dead in her bedroom with the only suspects living in the house.  Nothing but class politics and home bound intrigue here.  Exciting (image my sarcastic eye rolling).

While I love Victorian England because of the many moral debates that can arise from it, this go around it was too on the nose.  The whole novel is servants versus gentry, man versus woman.  Sigh.

Also, the author still lingered on Monk's amnesia for too many pages.  It is frustrating to slog through so many unnecessary paragraphs.  I can't figure out if it is the author's attempt at burying the clues or just some really poor editing decisions to make this book 368 pages.  I feel this could have been a 200 page book easily.

The mystery was marginally better hidden this time.  While I knew the cause of death by the halfway point, I wasn't able to pin down all the players and motives involved until the 3/4 point.  A Dangerous Mourning managed to get itself one whole extra star in rating for being mildly more entertaining and taking longer to solve than The Face of a Stranger.

I'm going to try Defend and Betray next because the writing does seem to be improving considerably, and the moral discussion possibilities are strong for a mystery series.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Image result for a wrinkle in time bookI decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time because husband and I just watched the movie, and it seriously irked me.  It has been a considerable time since I first read the "Time Quintet." I couldn't remember the exact details of the book, but the message of the book had always lingered.  The movie just screamed that something was severely off kilter.  After the reread, I managed to get even angrier at the movie.

I don't expect a movie to be an exact visual representation of the book--because cinema has proven they have no idea how to do that.  I do, however, expect you to stick to the source material in a few basic ways.  Keep the plot, keep the characters, and keep the message.  Disney managed to throw all three categories out the window.

A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story of string theory and astrophysics.  It has an amazing moral dialogue to help children think about their impact in the world and just how small they are in comparison.  

Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit are some extremely phenomenal ladies.  They take Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace on an astounding journey through the galaxies to rescue their father from IT.  They go to fascinating planets and meet incredible entities along the way.  They learn valuable lessons at every juncture.

The writing is serious while being fantastic and captivating to a young reader.  It easily deserves all the awards it has received.  The story is timeless and still incredibly modern despite its original publication date.

A Wrinkle in Time is a great starting point for children to think about what good and evil mean, and their influence on the world around them.  I highly recommend these stories for every child.  Never ever let them see Oprah's movie.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

Image result for anne perry face of a strangerI decided to depart from my usual reading list again for a change of scenery.  I pulled a list of LDS authors and found Anne Perry.  She writes in the mystery genre, and I thought this would be a good chance to try a mystery that could be more than just the murder. 

I wasn't disappointed on that front.  The story wasn't just about the murder of Joscelin Grey.  There was a bigger argument going on with the characters.  I was also very smitten with the Victorian setting; the hansoms, the elite, the urchins.  It was all reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.

What I did not find entertaining, and almost made this novel impossible to read, was Inspector William Monk.  The major premise of his introductory novel revolves around a London detective waking up in hospital with amnesia.  

And he deals with that tragedy through the whole book with feet dragging, whining, blubbering annoyance.  This was very much a case where the author told too much instead of showing the reader the landscape and letting them wander.

The second negative was the matter of the who-dun-it portion.  I figured that out at the half-way point and had to slog through the rest of the novel dealing with the long winded red herrings. 

The clue that proves the killer's identity was not very well hidden in the foreshadowing.  It kind of stuck out like a sore thumb in the dialogue, and then the author pointed it out two more times.  Not very subtle.

I keep trying to find someone in the mystery genre worth reading, but I don't think I've found it just yet.  I'm going to give the second novel a shot because I enjoyed the Victorian setting and moral undertones of Anne Perry.  Hopefully she gets better at hiding the clues as she gains experience.