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My reading list for July and June recap

readinglist

In June I

I also

This month I am planning to

  • read a couple of book that I got on Netgalley
  • continue Hunting and gathering by Anna Gavalda

I think I am giving up on the Caitlin Moran book for now. I can’t find the right mood to continue it now. Maybe in winter.

How was YOUR reading month?

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In my mailbox

 

I am still good at not buying anything. But when I saw the following non-fiction book available on Netgalley I could not resist.

For review

  • Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
    I have read about Huguette Clark a few times in news magazines and always wanted to find out more about her.

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This is a completely new take on Sherlock Holmes. Instead of making Watson the buffoon, they do it with Holmes. Even though Matt Frewer might be a good Holmes as far as looks go, but he plays him in such an exaggerated way, gesturing wildly, rolling the eyes, jumping back and forward like a complete nutcase, that I found that this movie’s only saving grace is that you see Holmes much less than in other versions.  Even though the other actors are not bad at  all I just couldn’t get over the fact that Holmes was a complete loonie.

In the hotel room scene where Holmes shows his excellent deducting skills with the anonymous letter and “The Times” Watson keeps on smiling benevolently as if his favourite pet monkey had just done some extraordinary performance. Their relationship was rather strange and I could not imagine that those two are friends. Holmes would have fit perfectly into a Black Adder episode as the idiot friend of Black Adder, I especially can envisage him as Prince George who was so splendidly brought to life by Hugh Laurie.

Really, a completely disastrous Holmes adaptation, thanks to Matt Frewer. The first 4 minutes should give you a good idea. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb.com

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The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Button

Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

Hopefully you are enjoying your stay at my blog and have a look around. Lately I have been reviewing a lot of cozy mysteries and cook books, but if you look at earlier posts you will find a variety of genres and topics, my reading taste is rather eclectic. If you would like to know about future giveaways and new posts in general please consider subscribing to my RSS feed or follow me on twitter. You can also add me on Google+.

With the beginning of summer we are all thinking about vacation, sun, heat and (possibly) the odd lonely island. To put everybody in the right mood I chose “Robinson Crusoe” as my giveaway. It is a used copy in the sense that we had it on our shelf, but it is unread.

Cover Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

From Goodreads:

Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being.

Enter the giveaway:

To enter just leave a comment telling me what books you would take on a lonely island (no books on how to make a boat/raft etc. or how to catch fish, please!). If you comment without answering I will delete your comment in order to make it fair for all participants.

The other participants

Don’t forget to hop on to the other participating blogs! You will find the complete list on Judith’s Leeswammes’ blog. Have fun and good luck with all the giveaways.

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The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

 Cover The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Insurance investigator tries to prove a murder (or three)

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Absolutely. I loved it.

For people who: old fashioned like detective novels, modern detective novels, epistolary novels


My thoughts: 

The Notting Hill Mystery is said to be the first detective novel (published 1862-1863), even though some claim otherwise. Whether it is or not is irrelevant. I was so mesmerized by it I couldn’t put it down. Even though the crime and the perpetrator are clear from the start the suspense comes from finding out how the murderer did it and how the detective finds evidence. Not that we ever accompany the detective on his investigations, the whole book is a presentation of evidence in the form of floor plans, letters, statements and testimonials from witnesses and I can only begin to imagine how much time and effort it cost poor Henderson to track down people and get them to cooperate. There are dubious circus managers, insurance clerks, maids fired for petty theft, there is no end to the list of people who have something to contribute.

Things that nowadays take 5 minutes to find out with the help of an email to Australia, must have taken months then, but Henderson perseveres. A word of caution: In order to go with the flow and accept the solution to the mystery you need to be open to rather esoteric (or mumbo jumbo, depending on your point of view) topics,  but, really, the story is so well told and from so many different perspectives that it hardly matters whether you believe in animal magnetism or not.

Baron R** deserves a place among the top fiends in detective fiction.  He achieves the results he wants in such a casual way that people who do his bidding actually do not even realize this and rather think he wanted them to do the opposite. Very admirable, when you come to think of it. Even at the end of the book it is more than questionable whether his crimes can ever be proven and whether he can be prosecuted (let alone convicted). It is obvious he did it, but nailing him down is another matter. Brilliant!

Right from the start The Notting Hill Mystery reminded me of another favourite detective novel by Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace which came much later (1930) called “The documents in the case”. In that book the whole case is presented in the form of documents (letters, witness reports etc.) without any detective work as we know it going on.

Absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend it.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Notting Hill Mystery
Author Charles Warren Adams
Publisher The British Library Publishing Division
ISBN 9780712358590
I got this book from John
Buy link Buy The Notting Hill Mystery
More info Read about The Notting Hill Mystery in The Guardian
And some more info Find The Notting Hilly Mystery at the Internet Archive (Links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article)

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Simply delicious Amish cooking by Sherry Gore

Cover Simply Delicious Amish Cooking by Sherry Gore

 

I was a tiny bit disappointed with this book. Not so much with the contents but the presentation. For some reason the lovely cover made me anticipate tons of color photos of Amish life, farms, kitchens and what not, but all it offered was a black and white photograph at the beginning of each chapter. Other than that the contents is exactly what it says on the cover, recipes and short stories or memories told by various people. Interesting but nothing Earth shattering either.

The recipes are organized in various chapters starting with breakfast recipes then going through the usual vegetables, meats, seafood, pies to a chapter called “this and that”, which consists of some rather “exotic” recipes like for example “Dark chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt” or “Hand-dipped chocolate-covered coconut patties”. This surprised me as I somehow thought that Amish meals would be a little more, um, frugal. Obviously I don’t know a lot about the Amish. Anyway, I quite liked the sound of most of them and will definitely try out a few in the course of my NEW52 Foodie Project.

Some of my favourites that I want to try were:

  • Banana sour cream bread
  • Grilled lime fish fillets
  • Shrimp scampi
  • Busy day cookies and probably every other cookie in the book
  • Lemon sour cream pie

I got quite a lot of nice sounding recipes out of this book but all in all it did not quite meet my expectations.


Product info and buy link :

Title Simply delicious Amish cooking
Author Sherry Gore
Publisher Zondervan
ISBN 9780310335542
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy Simply delicious Amish cooking

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

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Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley

Cover Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Renovating a haunted house can be dangerous.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, quite.

For people who: like cozy mysteries, renovating, lovely settings


My thoughts: 

I don’t know what exactly is going on but in all the cozies I read lately there seem to be long lost kids involved. Kids given up for adoption or kids that lost their whole family in a killing disappear for 20 years and then turn up again incognito. Must be some sort of trend maybe?

Anyway, this mystery is pretty good. I liked the DIY theme and I learned a lot about US houses. Never knew what a ranch house was or a crawlspace. John tells me that a crawlspace is the perfect hiding spot for bodies (and in fact has been used by many serial killers). This book takes advantage of that comfortable disposal location.

The main characters are all quite interesting and/or likeable; there is the usual chief of police, the bitchy ex, the successful entrepreneur, the nerd, everyone you expect in a small town. On top of that there is a ghost haunting the house, always a plus.  Somehow that “spooked” part was rather small, as the ghost seemed to have disappeared after the discovery of the body (maybe scared of the dead?) and only re-appeared at the end in a rather weak explanation.

Speaking of the ghost, the book title as well as the synopsis on the cover totally exaggerated the whole haunting issue. It says for example that the ghost “is not happy with the alterations” implying it acts like some sort of poltergeist toppling over projects and what not, when in reality it does nothing of the sort.   I don’t know why publishers feel the necessity to make the books sound more dramatic than they are. I am not reading a cozy for the drama anyway.

All that being said, this is a nice and comfy cozy with a satisfying resolution; I would like to read more of that series.

Oh, one more thing: All those themed cozies  have an appendix with a few recipes, tips, patterns, whatever is related to the theme. OK, in the case of a coffeehouse mystery I see why a coffee recipe might be of interest for the reader to do next time s/he goes into the kitchen. I might even use a knitting pattern (if I am really desperate). However, nobody, really nobody would look for home renovating inspiration or instructions in a cozy mystery! So why bother? Sometimes those publishers take it a bit too far.


Product info and buy link :

Title Spackled and spooked
Author Jennie Bentley
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 9780425229132
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Spackled and spooked

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

Cover Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Niece inherits murdered aunt’s cottage and learns how to knit in the yarn shop next door. As a side activity she tracks down her aunt’s killer.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love very cozy mysteries, rather uneventful plots and nice people.


My thoughts: 

This is another really lovely start to a themed mystery series that won’t get your heart rate up at all, but will rather entertain you pleasantly.

Kelly finds her aunt’s killer while at the same time gets her work done via home office, learns how to knit, socializes with tons of new people. The reader wonders how any of the people in the shop get their (house-)work done. They seem to hang out around a big table and knit all day, in between working a little at a cafè, as a realtor or a programmer. Rather unrealistic, but what the heck!

The snooping around is done in a rather moderate way. A confrontation with the murderer that in other books often occurs with no precautions taken and then results in the impending death of the sleuth who is rescued only by a whisker happens here very reasonably with backup and no danger whatsoever. This book won’t have you at the edge of your seat, but leave you happily satisfied and content – and isn’t that the purpose of a cozy? Loved it!


Product info and buy link :

Title Knit one, kill two
Author Maggie Sefton
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425203590
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Knit one, kill two

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

 Cover A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Young widow gets thrown into the artsy business world and needs to find her way around. Snooping around included.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cozies with moderate sleuthing, crafts, antique malls and the like


My thoughts: 

I got this book from Birgit without knowing anything about this series. The crafty/artsy theme appealed to me and I quite liked the atmosphere and the setting. Even though some things didn’t add up or made sense to me, for example, why would a run down artisans’ alley which was completely neglected be crucial for the survival of a Victorian square with lovely specialty shops is a mystery to me. Why shoppers would head for the dark, uninviting artists’ place and then – as a second thought – visit the pretty shops was never explained.

The sleuth, even though not 100% my kind of girl (how often can you say “swell” in one paragraph?), was bearable and not too nosy. Her sleuthing and snooping was also quite moderate, she had her work cut out already with getting that shack back up to par. Quite nice after being around all those uber busybodies who put their noses into everybody else’s business 24/7.

I am definitely curious about what is going to happen to Artisans’ Alley now that Katie is in charge. My remodeling/remaking nature is coming through and I want to see it transformed into a place where I would like to shop as well. The sequels are a must read for me for that reason alone.


Product info and buy link :

Title A crafty killing
Author Lorraine Bartlett
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425239858
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy A crafty killing

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Crafty Tuesday: Balcony update and PRV Challenge

crafty_tuesday

Even though the weather is far from appropriate my balcony project is finished and everything is ready. Now we only need the sun and warmth to enjoy our improved balcony. You remember, this was my first post about my plan of action.

Now our balcony looks like this – and I just can’t wait for summer to arrive.

Table and chairs

Sitting area

Triangle pillow

I LOVE my new triangle pillow from which my view is like this:

View - if you are lucky

Pretty neat, eh?

As I am now in the home decor mood I decided to turn this into a long term project and joined the Post Road Vintage Challenge. I am planning to improve some part of our home every month. The balcony is only the beginning. If you are looking for some inspiration for home decor and a lovely style for the home, check out Heather’s website, it is awesome.

Have you done anything crafty lately? Let me know, I am always looking for inspiration.

This post is part of

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My June reading list and May recap

readinglist

In May I

Also I

This month I am planning to

  • finish a couple of Amish cook books
  • continue with How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran, a book I was looking forward to but am not thrilled about.
    I am at chapter 2 and don’t find it very appealing, neither the topics she covers nor the writing style.

How was YOUR reading month?

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Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle

inanutshell 

I read it in:  English

I liked it:       No

Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mystery, #2)Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Didn’t like this one. The constant thoughts of the killer got on my nerves. "Genius", give me a break!
Quinn comes in for some reason or other looking like hell, swamped with cases and Clare has nothing better to do than to educate him on the fabulous blend of coffee she is going to offer him once she has ground the beans to perfection. Please! You can take the theme a bit too far!

View all my reviews

 


Product info and buy link :

Title Through the Grinder
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425197141
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Through the Grinder

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Duke of Scandal by Adele Ashworth

I realized I can copy my Goodreads reviews into a blog post. How convenient for some short bits, especially if it is a DNF.

inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it:      Not particularly

Duke of Scandal (Duke Trilogy, #2)Duke of Scandal by Adele Ashworth

DNF
I didn’t particularly like the heroine and was not interested in what became of her.
Skipped about three fourths of the book to read the last chapter. Why did she leave him and then come back without giving any explanation for her stupid behaviour? Why did he accept his reputation as a sexual deviant? To protect his brother? Made no sense under the circumstances.

View all my reviews


Product info and buy link :

Title Duke of Scandal
Author Adele Ashworth
Publisher Avon Books
ISBN 9780060528416
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Duke of Scandal

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle

 Cover Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle

Very short synopsis:

Finally Matt is getting married and will soon be out of the house. However, someone seems to be on the warpath and wants to kill bridezilla.


inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it:    Rather

For people who like: cozy mysteries, coffee

I must admit that I am jumping around a bit in this series. The last book that I read was no. 2 (Through the Grinder) and it was extremely disappointing. I got so annoyed with it in fact that I dnf’ed it. This one was much better again.

I am happy to say that Cleo Coyle has finally gotten the name of Jackson Pollock right. This was a huge bugbear for me, but eventually the man got his proper name.

Then again there is always room for more error…listen to this:

“…Saloma Sunrise.”

“Saloma?” Nunzio smiled. “My little hometown?”

“And Ovid’s, too, right?”

He nodded, clearly happy that I’d done my research.

I am afraid, not. Ovid’s birthplace is called Sulmona nowadays, and was then called Sulmo. Saloma is – according to my research which took me all of 30 seconds-  a community in Kentucky. A bit out of the way as far as Ovid is concerned. I don’t know why this author never gets the facts straight. Research, yeah, right.

Back to the story. It was quite nice, with tons of suspects, not too many corpses and a Clare as meddling as ever. In the end Breanna turned out to be human after all and with Matt  out of the house Clare finally has the flat to herself and Mike. All is well.


Product info and buy link :

Title Espresso Shot
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 9780425230763
I got this book from Birgit at the Book Garden
Buy link Buy Espresso Shot

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking

“The case of the silk stocking” is an uncharacteristic Sherlock Holmes movie with a newly written story and not based on any book by Conan Doyle. A serial killer with a fetish goes about and kills daughters of the high society. Lovely settings, foggy atmosphere and it features my favourite Watson. However, the best asset is Rupert Everett. He plays Holmes as a rather bored detective (no display of astounding deduction skills here) and I loved his calm manner. Nothing of the jumpy, bipolar Jeremy Brett, but rather a haunted drug addict with issues. Plus, Rupert Everett is pure eye candy. Very much looking like Holmes, and oh, so handsome. He could just stand there and not do anything and I would gush about him.

I wish they would remake every single Holmes episode out there with him. He is the perfect Sherlock Holmes in every way.

The case of the silk stocking on imdb

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Crafty Tuesday: Busy with balcony transformation

crafty_tuesday

Nothing too crafty today but rather a home decor project. As I have already done some very basic sewing for our balcony in 2011 I feel I can sort it under Crafty Tuesday.

Curtain shelfCurtain table

We are living in a flat and the balcony faces the soccer pitch of a small local club – which makes for some loud and amusing entertainment on weekends. About two weeks ago I decided that its current looks is not very inducive to relaxation so I am in the process of transforming it into a wellness heaven (well, sort of).

This is its state during a preliminary cleaning (with a little helper):

Balcony cleaning

My plan of action (already set in motion):

  • Buy plants and pots at the garden center
  • Order a bamboo rug for the stone floor on ebay
  • Buy a couple more cushions for the chairs at IKEA
  • Find a triangle pillow for the floor to lounge and read on
  • Buy large pillows for the floor at IKEA
  • Get prayer flags as decoration on ebay
  • At my swap site I discovered a couple of cute bottle holders that you can loop around the railing.

I will keep you posted over the next few weeks. Once everything gets here my balcony will be ready for summer. Can’t wait!

Do you have a balcony, patio or garden? Show me some pictures, please!

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Fix-it and forget-it: Vegetarian Main dishes by Phyllis Pellman Good

Cover Fix it and forget it Vegetarian main dishes


inanutshell 

I was slightly disappointed with this book. The last vegetarian book in this series had plenty of slow cooker meals, but in this book a lot of the recipes were non-crockpot meals and I am not sure how that ties in with the fix-it and forget-it idea.

Right the first recipe is for mushroom manicotti, and, frankly, I do not see the “forget-it” in a meal that calls for cooked manicotti, preparing the stuffing, stuffing the pasta, bake it and then prepare a tomato sauce on the side to serve it with.

So far to me this series represented easy recipes where I could throw the ingredients into the slow cooker and forget about them until the cooker had worked its magic. This concept seems to have been given up now for the sake of “roasting, stir-frying and steaming – all the methods that so highlight vegetables’ star qualities”. Admittedly those recipes sound mouth watering and lovely: Tasty lentil tacos, Polenta with spicy bean sauce, Quinoa with broccoli and hoisin sauce, but they are not what I came for.

I saved some of the slow cooker recipes and am definitely planning on making them soon. The non-crockpot dishes are definitely worth a go as well, just that they are not the fix-it and forget-it kind. If you don’t mind that, go for this book.


Product info and buy link :

Title Fix-it and forget it: Vegetarian main dishes
Author Phyllis Pellman Good
Publisher Open Road Integrated Media
ISBN ASIN B00AYRI3GM
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy Fix-it and forget-it: Vegetarian Main Dishes

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

Article

The Borgias–The hidden history by G J. Meyer

Cover The Borgias by G. J. Meyer

 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

An unbiased (or maybe not quite, rather a little pro-Borgia) look at the Borgias from pope Calixtus III. to Cesare and Lucrezia.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Very much

For people who: like European history, the Renaissance


My thoughts: 

When I started reading this I knew next to nothing about the Borgias. I only knew that they are said to have been an infamous family, poisoning people to the left and right, power greedy as nobody else before or after, you know what I mean. Other than that I was clueless.

G.J. Meyer set out to write a book to rehabilitate that family and he does an excellent job. He starts at a time when the first member of the Borgias, Alonso de Borja, who later became pope Calixtus III., begins his career. We then are taken on a mind spinning journey through the next 80 years or so, learning about the rise of this incredible family, their drawbacks, the ramifications of their actions as well as all the political goings on in Renaissance Italy. And there is a lot to tell.

Alliances were formed one day and withdrawn the next, warlords were usurping cities all over the place, condottieri sold their services to one baron this moment and to another one the next, foreign kings were meddling nonstop. The intermarriages between families and the various relationships were mind-boggling; this is not a book that you can read without concentrating on it. The author, however, has a writing style that just flows and he explains everything so well that it is a pleasure to follow otherwise confusing events.

After every chapter he inserts a background chapter where he explains one specific aspect of the time, for example a short history of Venice and how come it was the only city state reigned over by a council of men, what condottieri were, great discoveries of the time etc. Those chapters were breaks where one could learn about a subject in more detail before the eventful family story was taken up again.

While being pro-Borgia the author still does not sugarcoat what the Borgias did. He tells facts and does not gossip. He interprets events for which there is no evidence in the Borgias’ favour, but always mentions other points of view as well. However, his interpretations make sense.

I feel that I can hold up a conversation about the Borgias now and know what I am talking about. Next time someone mentions Lucrezia Borgia being the ultimate venefica of the last millennium, I will be able to defend her with ease. What more can you ask for?

If you even have a faint interest in history and the Renaissance and/or the Borgias, you have to read this book.


Movie tip

I could recommend the TV series from 2011 “The Borgias”, but somehow I have the feeling it won’t do justice to the Borgias, so better stay away from it.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Borgias – The hidden history
Author G. J. Meyer
Publisher Bantam
ISBN 9780345526915
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Borgias – The hidden history

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

This isn't Fiction Reading Challenge Button

This post is part of the This isn’t Fiction Reading Challenge which is hosted by The Book Garden.

Article

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

 Cover The Chinese orange mystery by Ellery Queen

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Ellery Queens once more helps his father to solve a baffling mystery.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love whodunnits, locked room mysteries


My thoughts: 

I always liked Ellery Queen mysteries. They are the perfect whodunnits with a clever detective, a father/police officer sidekick and a nice atmosphere. The plots are always elaborate and puzzling.

This one is no exception. A body is found in an anteroom and the murderer has left curious clues behind. The dead man has all his clothes on backwards, all furniture, clocks, paintings are turned to the wall, even the fruit bowl is turned upside down. All people involved seem to have a past or a secret to cover up or – at the very least – an obnoxious attitude. 

As usual, Ellery solves the mystery in his own style and leaves everybody speechless. I completely failed the challenge to the reader that you will find in every Ellery Queen mystery. It tells the reader that now he has all the clues and he should be able to figure it out. I didn’t. This mystery is so tied to the time it is set in that no modern reader would deduct the solution from what he knows. Times have changed and what was common and obvious back then is now so extraordinary that it would not come to mind immediately. Once explained it makes sense, though.

A very quick and enjoyable mystery. If you like whodunnits you will love this.

Beware! Spoilers follow:

There are various  things I want to mention for people who don’t mind spoilers. If you do, do not read on!

The story first doesn’t appear to be a locked room mystery, however, when we get the solution it turns out to have been one all along. Unusual!

How the murderer was supposed to have done the crime is unfeasible. Yes, Ellery explains the how and that is plausible, but there was just not the opportunity. The situation is almost a little bit like in Agatha Christie’s “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” where the murderer is the narrator. Here the story is not told from the killer’s point of view but we accompany him during the hour in which the murder takes place and there is just no evidence that he had time to commit the crime. He works in his office and during that time four people come in to talk to him. Are we to believe that he is supposed to have gone next door, bludgeon a man, discover something unexpected, think of a ruse to cover that up, execute it (which includes rearranging all the furniture) and then process with his original complicated plan of bolting the door inside from the outside? Um, no!

The title of the book, by the way, is a MacGuffin. All the time Ellery goes on about the tangerines, aka Chinese oranges, which were available in the anteroom and of which one was eaten, either by the victim or murderer. In reality the tangerines are of no importance at all, the orange refers to something completely different.

Still, a very good mystery and baffling to the extreme.


Movie tip

The Mandarin Mystery (downloadable for free as it is in the public domain). However, I would only watch it for scientific reasons, it is absolute bollocks and does not resemble the book in the least. I am not kidding.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Chinese Orange Mystery
Author Ellery Queen
Publisher Open Road Media
ISBN ASIN: B00B1MSILY
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Chinese Orange Mystery from various sources

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.