Book Buzz: Canadian Ennui, Heartwarming Memoirs, and Canadian Murders, Eh

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For April, we’re looking at a modern literary tale of family life in rural Newfoundland, a charming memoir about familial culture clashes, and a new book in a long-running Canadian murder mystery series.

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Book Buzz: Short Story Anthologies, Standalone Debuts, and Libraries

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at a prestigious annual literary collection, a standalone mystery from one of the most popular crime writers working today, and a profile of the Los Angeles library system.

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TV Review: Maigret (2016)

Maigret

When I was a teenager, I discovered Georges Simenon’s delightful Maigret book series. Maigret was an ordinary man, refreshingly devoid of the quirks, tortured backstory, and “chosen one” vibe that many fictional detectives have. I honestly don’t remember which Maigret stories I read–I just remember enjoying them, so much so that I still cite them as favorites. They remind me a bit of Nordic Noir but with a decidedly less dour tone.

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TV Review: And Then There Were None (2016)

And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie’s best-known novel And Then There Was None is one of the 100 books that made the Great American Read list. And that seems like the perfect excuse to review the most recent adaptation of the book, this one an all-star production made for British television a couple of years ago.

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Book Buzz: Lost Items, Successful Suffragettes, and Proper Gothic Murders

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For April, we’re looking at a touching tale of things lost and things found, a history of how women won the right to vote in the United States, and a Gothic series about a 19th century woman with an unusually comprehensive knowledge of anatomy. . . .

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Old Favorites: Edgar Allan Poe

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

Whilst I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. . . .

I was first introduced to Edgar Allan Poe as a child. I don’t remember how I acquired it, but somehow I got my hands on a collection of his poems and short stories, and they became instant favorites. For many years afterward, when I was feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, I would flip to “The Raven,” and despite the fact that it is not in any way intended as relaxing, I always found it therapeutic.

Well, this week (January 19th) marks his 199th birthday, and there is no better way to celebrate the wonderfully unusual, macabre, and creepy world of Edgar Allan Poe than by revisiting his work.

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Agatha Christie’s A Holiday for Murder

Hercule Poirot's Christmas

For those looking for a prolific writer whose works are always in season, Agatha Christie should be on the top of your list. You won’t run out of books to read quickly — they are fun to revisit even if you have read them some time ago, and she even has a holiday tale. . . .

Known by several titles since its original publication in 1938, Agatha Christie’s A Holiday for Murder (aka Hercule Poirot’s Christmas or Murder for Christmas) has been delighting fans of classic murder mysteries for decades.

Simeon Lee is an unpleasant old man. He is also a very rich old man, which might explain why his timid son Alfred and Alfred’s long-suffering wife Lydia tolerate his meanness. They’ve lived with Simeon for years, despite his cruelty and the savage way he treated his late wife.

The rest of the family long ago figured out their own escape, whether it was fleeing to London for a political career like stingy George, becoming an artist and renouncing all family ties like the sensitive David, running away to Spain to get married like free-spirited Jennifer, or just absconding to parts unknown like the family’s wild child Harry.

But for Christmas, Simeon has summoned all of his sons (and their wives) back home, as well as the late Jennifer’s daughter Pilar. Also popping in is the son of his former business partner back in South Africa. It almost looks like the old man wants to make amends for the holidays, but anyone who assumes that just doesn’t know Simeon very well. . . .

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