The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2

The Sunday I fell a bit behind in my reading this week. I got distracted by various things on Hulu, including– and this is exciting– the Magic Knight Rayearth anime! It’s dubbed, which is slightly unfortunate, but I’m just happy I found it for free. I’m planning on doing a review or something once I finish watching it; so far it’s almost exactly like the manga, both the good and bad.

Anyway, luckily I had a small surplus from last week’s reading which carried me over the days I didn’t finish a book, and so as long as I finish one today I’ll be back on track!

In other news: Thursday was my third blogoversary (woohoo!). I also went up a mountain that day. The Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange is still open for another two weeks or so. And…I’m really hungry, so I’m going to get breakfast now!

Here are this week’s tiny reviews.

The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2Bone Rattler (Duncan McCallum #1) by Eliot Pattison
Published: Counterpoint (2007), eBook, 464pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

In a novel rich in historical detail, acclaimed author Eliot Pattison reconsiders the founding of America and explores how disenfranchised people of any age and place struggle to find justice, how conflicting cultures can be reconciled through compassion and tolerance, and ultimately how the natural world has its own morality.Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, protagonist Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and apparent suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners. A strange trail of clues leads Duncan into the New World and eventually thrusts him into the bloody maw of the French and Indian War. Duncan is indentured to the British Lord Ramsey, whose estate in the uncharted New York woodlands is a Heart of Darkness where multiple warring factions are engaged in physical, psychological, and spiritual battle.Exploring a frontier world shrouded in danger and defying death in a wilderness populated by European settlers, Indian shamans, and mysterious scalping parties, Duncan, the exiled chief of his near-extinct Scottish clan, finds that sometimes justice cannot be reached unless the cultures and spirits of those involved are appeased.

A surprisingly good historical fiction mystery, set in the French-Indian war period in America. It’s super realistic, by which I mean it showcases more of the bad things than the good, including the anti-Scottish/anti-Native American sentiments held by the majority of non-Scottish/non-Native American peoples. The mystery was really good, with a lot of intrigue and danger, but it lost the plot about halfway through and became something less like a mystery and more like a general historical fiction story. The ending, though, made up for the temporary lapse of focus, and actually I didn’t even mind that lapse all that much because it was full of great characters and emotional development.

The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Hercule Poirot #33) by Agatha Christie
Published: Harper (1960), eBook, 363pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Mystery

Agatha Christie's seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a The Theft of the Royal Ruby)
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
The Under Dog
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
The Dream
Greenshaw's Folly

This is a collection of short stories, mostly featuring Poirot but with one Miss Marple story at the end. I think I may have read this one before, or at least the title story– it was all very familiar and unsurprising, so I suppose I have. I thought a lot of the stories were hilarious; AC can be really funny when she wants to be! For example, here’s one of my favorite sentences from “Pudding”: “Mr Jesmond made a peculiar noise rather like a hen who has decided to lay an egg and then thought better of it.”

The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization (Neddie & Friends #1) by Daniel Pinkwater
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers (2007), eBook, 320pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy

Bestselling author Daniel Pinkwater's story of how Neddie, a shaman, a ghost, three pals, and a maneuver known as the French substitution determine the fate of the world.Melvin the Shaman. Sandor Eucalyptus. Billy the Phantom Bellboy. Daniel Pinkwater's weird and wonderful tale of Neddie Wentworthstein's quest to save civilization features some of the most unique heroes and villains a reader could hope to meet. Despite the heavy responsibility that Neddie must carry (not every kid is charged with rescuing humankind from doom), his story is hilarious, warm, welcoming, and sweet.

This is one of those books where you have to be in a mood that can tolerate weird stories that require you to have a hardcore suspension of disbelief. If you can do that, this is a very enjoyable– and adorable– story. It reminds me a bit of Terry Pratchett’s YA/MG books, only with less emphasis on how people affect each other and more emphasis on how people affect the world (I think). There’s a sequel I’m planning on reading, too.

The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2008), eBook, 336pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy

Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

Basically: ARGH, SO GOOD. Fab characters, wonderful plot, really good writing, and all the annoyances I’d had with the original story were fixed! I honestly can’t think of a single thing wrong with it. If you had problems with other retellings of this story, you might want to try this one.

The Sunday Salon (Nov. 13): Tiny reviews no. 2Billy Boyle (Billy Boyle World War II #1) by James R. Benn
Published: Soho Crime (2006), eBook, 384pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

What’s a twenty-two-year-old Irish American cop who’s never been out of Massachusetts before doing at Beardsley Hall, an English country house, having lunch with King Haakon of Norway? Billy Boyle himself wonders. Back home in Southie, he’d barely made detective when war was declared. Unwilling to fight — and perhaps die — for England, he was relieved when his mother wangled a job for him on the staff of a general married to her distant cousin. But the general turns out to be Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose headquarters are in London, which is undergoing the Blitz. And Uncle Ike wants Billy to be his personal investigator. Billy is dispatched to the seat of the Norwegian government in exile. Operation Jupiter, the impending invasion of Norway, is being planned, but it is feared that there is a German spy amongst the Norwegians. Billy doubts his own abilities, with good reason. A theft and two murders test his investigative powers, but Billy proves to be a better detective than he or anyone else.

Another historical fiction mystery– I’ve gotten really fond of these this month! This one is more light-hearted than Bone Rattler, though since it’s set in WWII it obviously has some heartbreaking moments in it. I didn’t really like Billy, who started out as a crooked cop who saw nothing wrong with being crooked, but by the end of the story I had gotten to be somewhat fond of him (so I’ll probably read the other books). The ending wasn’t all that good, unfortunately, though the rest of it was pretty fun to read.

Weekly Book Stats

Books read this week:
See above.

Books reviewed this week:
124. Magic Knight Rayearth vol. 1 – CLAMP [simple-rating: 4]
125. Magic Knight Rayearth vol. 2 – CLAMP [simple-rating: 3.5]
126. Magic Knight Rayearth vol. 3 – CLAMP [simple-rating: 3.5]
133. Fiction Ruined My Family – Jeanne Darst [simple-rating: 4.5]

Books acquired this week:

Currently reading:
I’m currently somewhere in the first book of Introducing the Honorable Phryne Fisher (which is an omnibus). It’s a 1920s mystery with a woman detective set in Australia! It’s really good so far. Phryne reminds me of someone, but I can’t think who. Maybe Lord Peter, almost?

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