Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Terrence Morgan has no interest in investigating any more troubles of little importance at the Fargenstropple estate, especially since he’s been promoted to Chief Inspector at work. But when stolen family jewels factor into the estate’s latest disturbance, Terrence doubles down in The Fargenstropple Case by author Lia London.

Delightful! Simply delightful, this short and sweet mystery is. It has a positively British flair, complete with British spellings and characters with a pleasant bunch of surnames, such as Nigglesby and Crumfellow. There are also plenty of animals (including rodents, if you don’t mind those), and a jaunty thread of romance adds to the fun. I ran into a few minor grammar issues concerning dialogue tags, but it’s possible they’re there intentionally, for comedy’s sake.

I count it a boon to sometimes find mysteries that involve cases other than murder. Of course, murder-less mysteries don’t all have to be as quirky as this one, but if you’re looking for an hour or two of light and hilarious entertainment with clever twists, you’d do well to check out this little cozy.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A young girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany, with stolen books as her prized possessions. Her foster family, secretly, illegally sheltering a Jew. Life, Death, and the power of words meet in The Book Thief, a novel by author Markus Zusak.

I picked up a copy of the film based on this book, but I didn’t want to watch it without reading the original story first. So I read it.

I stopped reading for a while, toward the middle of it. Stopped, sighed, and wept after reading about Liesel reading one of her books, one she didn’t steal. I guess the rest of my weeping during a number of other scenes was just more of a deep, inward groan.

There were also parts that made me smile, and times when I had to pause and shake my head at some of the brilliant turns of phrase that fill this novel: ironic, ominous, and beautiful turns by turns.

Having already caught snatches of praise in the wind about this book, I did my best not to hear too much more before I read it, since a book’s wide acclaim doesn’t guarantee that I’ll personally love it. And, honestly, it’d be one thing for an author to use tragic themes from World War II and the Holocaust and to merely write a grim, sad novel, as grimness and sadness alone aren’t enough to make a novel resonate with me.

But to tell a raw, nuanced, layered, crushing, bittersweet, and haunting story that affirms life even in the midst of death… That’s something else. That resonates.

A singular work, this is.

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Note to my blog readers: along with depictions of wartime violence, this book contains a moderate amount of profanity.

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Shortly after I finished the novel, I did indeed watch the film.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Cecilia Carroway has become an ace pilot fighting with the Allies in World War I, but she gets shot down behind enemy lines and is taken prisoner. She and a misfit crew of other Allied prisoners will have to find a way to escape, and she’s determined to do some damage along the way in Ace Carroway and the Great War by author Guy Worthey.

Well! I wanted something different with this book, and that’s what I got: maybe a mix of alternate history and a bit of a steampunk sci-fi adventure. Can’t say I pinned down the right genres, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novella nonetheless.

It kind of reminded me of a top-notch 60s movie, The Great Escape, in some ways. There’s something old-fashioned about the style, and the story deals with a serious war without taking itself too seriously, but also without being a mere joke. I could laugh at some parts, while other parts hit me in the gut.

And as for Ace. She is one bad, bad chick. Capable, competent, compassionate, commanding. Doesn’t make a show of being arrogant, doesn’t make a show of being modest. She’s almost too perfect, but she’s got a weakness or two, and you can tell she’s human. Ace and the odd, multicultural bunch of prisoners she teams up with didn’t take long to grow on me.

Also, given that Ace is the only woman in her Allied crew, it would’ve been the “easy thing” to turn the crew’s scenario into something sexual, and I’m pretty sure the characters are aware of it, somewhere in their minds. But they don’t go there, plain and simple. This story doesn’t need it, wouldn’t have had convincing time for it anyway, so I appreciate that it wasn’t just thrown in for conspicuous kicks.

I understand there are further Adventures of Ace Carroway to come. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for ’em.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

After a shopping trip gone somewhat wrong, Henry’s dog, Ribsy, ends up lost. So begins an adventure of ups and downs on this lively and loyal canine’s quest to find his way back home in Ribsy by author Beverly Cleary.

Gee. I know I read this book at some point during my childhood, and I’ll bet I enjoyed it. I also think it’s very likely that I enjoyed it even more this time around.

While this is another Henry Huggins and Ribsy tale, this one is mostly from middle-aged Ribsy’s point of view. (Double gee. Did that detail ever stick out to me before, that friendly and enthusiastic Ribsy is middle-aged?)

This book didn’t have quite as many laughs for me as other Henry books, but I felt just as much. Felt for Ribsy through all of the twists and turns on his search for home and his favorite boy. Couldn’t help but smile at Ribsy’s antics and his “making every effort to be charming” even under new and strange circumstances.

It’s funny how insightful this story manages to be, giving glimpses into the lives of an interesting mix of people along the way. And with the way various moments during Ribsy’s journey tugged on my heartstrings, the moments of excitement were all the more satisfying.

Yup. Emotional, exciting, and satisfying all around. A book with plenty more reasons why Cleary is still my all-time favorite children’s book author.

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Ribsy’s adventures with Henry Huggins begin in, well, Henry Huggins.