M.V. CAREY – The 3 Investigators Mysteries: Three Great Mysteries

Leave a comment

13 Jan 2010 – PDSA Shop

By the way, I know some of these have been read out of order and are from rather random dates – they were pulled from the pile of "series, 3 investigators and pony books" that I keep for moments of need.

The Mystery of the Magic Circle – the boys are doing some holiday work when they come across a mysterious reclusive film star and a puzzling circle of friends and associates.  Jupiter is of course a film buff, and they can’t help but look into it.  Some great scenes, but personally I didn’t like the idea that the star did have some magic powers, as the books usually go to great pains to explain anything that seems magical with an everyday reality.

The Mystery of the Scar Faced Beggar – Hitchcock has died and this one explains how the boys find their new mentor.  Mr Sebastian seems somehow mixed up in a bank robbery, but they can’t work out how. Meanwhile, there’s a blind, scarred beggar who might not be a beggar OR blind, OR, indeed, have a scar, and some deeply silly stuff about South American revolutionaries. Great stuff!

The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs – this is a great cliff-hanger (ha, ha) which finds the boys trapped for most of the action on a remote ranch, whose owner has decided to live what we would now call "off grid".  It plays on people’s preconceptions and beliefs to wonderful effect – a really good one.

JUDITH M. BERRISFORD – “Jackie Won a Pony”

Leave a comment

12 Sep 2010 – Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road

Jackie’s staying with cousins when she finds out her essay has won her the prize of a pony! Given the choice of ponies at a stable yard, she chooses a very different model.  Then, with nowhere to keep him, she treks across country to her other aunt’s house.  But who’s following her, and what’s going to happen if the press finds out? Quite sketchy of plot and fast moving but a fun read, especially when unwell.

PAUL MAGRS – The Bride That Time Forgot

Leave a comment

Acquired from publisher Oct 2010

Paul’s publisher kindly sent me an advance copy of this one – Brenda and Effie vol 5!  Well, this one’s a bit sad.  Brenda and Effie have had a falling-out, and it’s over Men, of course, with Brenda’s beau being fairly keen to see Effie’s off the premises.  Told from the viewpoint of Brenda, Effie and dear old Robert (perhaps my favourite character in this series, and hooray, he’s got a new chap to help him get over the disappointment of the faerie fellow from the last book), we gallop through a range of references, including skillful weaving of past and present, some great use of "The Lost World" and a reference to another book that made me hoot with joy (but to reveal which is was would be to include a dirty great spoiler!).  Paul’s vintage Corrie/ Alan Bennett way with observation and the use of words is here again, and there are some great ideas and set pieces.  Has he taken Brenda and Effie as far as they can go, though, or will there be more…?

Note: I’m waiting for a smaller paperback version to come out in March – I’ll circulate this copy to those local or who don’t mind the higher postage…

E. L. HAVERFIELD – The Discovery of Kate

Leave a comment

Bought 27 Feb 2010 – Methodist Book Sale

Note inside front cover: "From Mrs. Woodgates. Christmas, 1932."
Book plate on first free endpaper: "This book belongs to Joan Brown, 5 Princes St, Dorchester, Dorset"

This was a fabulous school story, full of suspense and the trembling horrors of teenage girls’ friendships, as kind hearted Kate tries to negotiate between being taken over by a bossy, unpopular girl and moving towards the nicer bunch.  The villains are obviously so, because they treat dogs badly, and there are a lot of the jolly cliches that populate girls’ school stories (although no-one gets trapped in a cave by the sea!) but what the heck, it’s a good read, affecting and very entertaining. Lovely illustrations, too.

JAN STRUTHER – Mrs Miniver

Leave a comment

Acquired via BookCrossing 09 Dec 2010 – bookring

A wonderful book – I’m amazed I haven’t read this before, actually.  Columns written for The Times in the late 1930s about family life, with the addition of letters written in the beginning part of WW2.   The pieces are so absolutely beautifully written and observed – I particularly liked the one about the different ways the children opened their Christmas stockings, but every essay has a lovely turn of phrase, a gentle humour or a sharp observation.  An excellent read, and made me want to go back to the Diaries of the Provincial Lady, which are funnier, but have something of the same tone.

I was at the end of this bookring and am allowed to do what I want with it, so do shout if you’d like a read of it and I’ll send it along!

IRIS MURDOCH – The Book And The Brotherhood

Leave a comment

30 Dec 1990

I knew this was one of my favourite Murdochs, but couldn’t remember why, past Gerard’s magnificently described parrot, Grey.  Well, there are pretty well the only two scenes in Murdoch to bring a tear to my eye… one of my favourite characters in all of her works, Jenkin Riderhood, a discussion of what happens when a group of friends who set up a fund to support the writing of a Marxist tome turn away from the extreme left and, indeed, the author, and beautifully-realised portraits of the subtleties of friendship as well as of marriage.

This is Murdoch at the height of her powers still; an engaing, absorbing read with a wonderful cast of characters, some great set-pieces, a good cat, a marvellous parrot and a book you can’t put down, even though it’s 600 pages long.

JANE ROBINSON – Bluestockings

Leave a comment

Acquired via BookCrossing 26 Nov 2010 – mini bookring

The inspirational story of the women who, from the late nineteenth century through to the inter-war years, paved the way for all of us British female graduates.  From undergraduettes who were thought to be damaging their chances of child-rearing, through chaperones, women only dances and thickets of rules and regulations, Robinson draws out personal histories through letters and diaries and shapes her material well into themes such as applying for University, friendships etc. She doesn’t ignore the darker side of life but this is essentially a life-affirming and positive read, very well done and filling a gap that hadn’t previously been looked at, as far as I know.

M.C. BEATON – Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate

Leave a comment

Borrowed from Ali

Another cosy Agatha Raisin – this time there’s a new curate in the village but although most people think he’s great, Mrs Bloxby, the Vicar’s wife, isn’t too sure.  And it looks like the Vicar wasn’t too sure about him too, as he’s found dead in his study! Can Agatha prove his innocence, even though he can’t stand her either? And will anything happen between Aggie and her handsome new neighbour…?

Newer Entries