30 June 2009

The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell, is the first i've read by her that i don't want to rave over. It isn't bad! It is just about Puritans and their nitpicky fights between themselves. She makes some good parallels between what the Puritans thought about coming to the colonies and America's intentions abroad. that whole "we'll be greeted as liberators" thing goes back hundreds of years. The intricacies of the Pequot War were pretty interesting in a spectator way. I just didn't get into it so much as her previous ones. I give it a 5.

currently: wondering if Al Franken is really a Senator now or if there will be more legal battles.

29 June 2009

Jane Austen for Dummies

I don't read too many "for Dummies" books. It's not that i feel above them or anything, I just don't read a bunch of "how to" in general. i tend to read more of the overview type, like Philosophy for Dummies, where you get a good overview of a subject without going into tedious details. I did finish Jane Austen for Dummies by Joan Klingel Ray last night at work. I liked the author's style and you can really tell Ray's a big fan of Austen. There's plenty about Austen's real life but i was most interested in the facts about living in her times. Now i know the differences between the various sorts of carriages, what "making love" meant at that time, exactly what made a man a gentleman and what professions were open to younger sons. i knew that Jane Austen did not write of Victorian times but didn't know her era was called the Georgian one. This book definitely added to my understanding of Austen's books as well as other classics from this era, like Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights. I recommend it if you want to know general info. a 5.

In reading through this book i found i've read all of Austen's novels now except Mansfield Park and possibly Emma. i also found out that i don't own a copy of Pride and Prejudice! Blasphemy! so i am going to hit up McKay's and snag a copy this week.

28 June 2009

Transformers 2

So i went to see this one last night. I give it a 3. it was just kinda bleh. I looked at my watch several times starting about 80 mins in, ready to get out of there, and actually started texting during it, which i NEVER do during a movie. The story was barely there. When a side character starts raving about "the plot, you know, beginning, middle, end!" you know there's a problem. i got dizzy during one part and confused later as to which robots were the good guys and which were bad. I also didn't know robots could teleport. Throw in the most stereotypical college i've ever seen (of course every freshman in your dorm is in the same class!) and a really bizarre death/dream sequence and i just felt like giving up and walking out. Yes, i fully admit i had a terrible day and a worse time after and did not want to be there anyway but i don't think that really affected my feelings toward the movie.

pluses-the army guys are hot, Megan Fox is hot, Bumblebee and the tiny RC decepticon were funny. That's all i got.

25 June 2009

Holes

I know this book is an older one but i just hadn't gotten around to it. I know Shia LaBeouf was in the movie but didn't see that either. Holes, by Louis Sachar, is about a kid, Stanley Yelnats, with a lot of bad luck. He gets convicted of stealing something he didn't steal and sent to Camp Green Lake. It's not green and there's no lake. The boys have to dig a hole every day, 5 feet deep and 5 feet across. It's hot, there are dangerous critters, and dangerous adults as well.

Sachar jumps back and forth in time. The majority of the story is about Stanley but we get flashbacks from the life of Kissin' Kate Barlow, an outlaw who robbed Stanley's ancestor. There's also the story of a different Yelnats progenitor who had a gypsy curse place on him. For a while the flashbacks seem interesting, if random, but Sachar slowly intertwines the stories and brings them to a very satisfying ending.

So here's a YA book that i own, so it also counts for my personal challenge. I give it a 6.

Currently: watching highlights from LSU's 6th baseball championship!

23 June 2009

What I Was


I tore through What I Was by Meg Rosoff yesterday. I really loved it. a 7 from me. I loved the cover, loved the dreamy quality, loved the main character H. I loved Finn and his strange little shack by the sea. Honestly, this book is one i want to reread in a few months. H is sixteen and has just come in to his 3rd boarding school. On a jog with his PE class he meets Finn, a boy his age who lived in a hut along the sea. They begin a weird sort of friendship. I really feel like i can't say too much without giving things away and you really really need to not be spoiled!

Other opinions: Nymeth's, whose fault it is that i picked up the book to begin with, and Big A little a's.

I haven't read anything else by Rosoff but since her other's are YA i may have to get a few later for that challenge. If you liked this one, you may like Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. It has another young male narrator in England, takes place in the early 80's, and is a coming of age type story. Also, with the twisty relationship between H and Finn it reminded me of Let the Right One In. So i've managed to connect it to vampires too. :)

22 June 2009

Sleeping Murder

I finished up Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie this morning. Another with Miss Marple. She's not the main character though. That would be Gwenda (love the name) Reed. She and her husband Giles have just come to England from New Zealand. They buy a house but Gwenda keeps having a strange feeling of deja vu. When she starts having visions of a dead woman at the bottom of the stairs she thinks that the new house is haunted.

Miss Marple pieces together a non-supernatural explanation: Gwenda lived in the house as a child and saw some sort of dreadful event. Though Miss Marple councils them not to, Gwenda and Giles set out to piece together what happened.

It was a nice solid mystery. I figured out who the killer was but i fully admit i may have read this one a loooong time ago so that may be why. The book wasn't familiar but i've read so many Christie's as a middle schooler i can't rule it out. a 5.

20 June 2009

Halfway through the Year update

as of 6/20
Total: 69

Non-fiction: 19

Library: 49
(i signed up for the 50 book challenge at the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge so i'm going to finish one up within the next few days)


9 for 09 challenge: 1/9
Classics Challenge: 3/5
OUaT3: 5/5
also done!
1% Challenge: 5/10

I think that's all of the challenges i'm working on so far. I feel like i've forgotten one! I had been saving this post for July 1 but hey, it works for Geeks this week! I'm 28/59 overall so i'm literally about halfway. I like challenges and enjoy trying to finish them. I also don't sweat if i don't. I think it does give me ideas of categories to read. I would not read so much Young Adult fiction if i hadn't started the YA challenge last year. I wouldn't have really tried to tackle reading Shakespeare if not for that challenge this year. In fact, I may go read one aloud with a Shakespeare group soon. The Classics and 1% are helpful for working on the 1001 List and, by reading other's reviews, gives me ideas for what other ones from the list i may enjoy.

as for favorite ones...that's hard to say! I like the Science Book Challenge because it's an under read category i feel. Also, you write reviews for an actual wiki site for science books! Carl's challenges are always fun and very community-oriented. He's so good at getting people together and communicating. Not that i don't enjoy all of the ones i sign up for!

19 June 2009

I'd like to read more Vowell, please!

Ok an amazingly funny quote, one that is particularly apt in TN.
But I fear that the consumer who buys a Confederate flag coffee cup, which she will then put on her American flag place mat, is the sort of sophisticated thinker who is open-minded enough that she is capable of hating blacks and Arabs at the same time.
Lovely. These lines are from Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. She's completely ruining my intentions to not get library books! This book has been my favorite of hers so far.

While touring around to see various places that had something to do with the first three presidential assassinations (Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley) may not be for everyone, Vowell make it sound pretty fun. She goes to the sites where the murder occured, to the places the presidents died, to where the assassins ran to, even to the spot Roosevelt was when he became president. Who knew that there are bits of Lincolns skull and Booth's sternum in museums? While the bulk of the book deals with Lincoln (as it should) i found the parts about Garfield and McKinley more interesting. I guess because i knew so little about them. I didn't know that Theodore Roosevelt became president due to assassination. She's made me want to read biographies now, especially one of Roosevelt.

She also does a great job of connecting history to current events. I knew nothing of the Spanish-American War, yet Vowell just doesn't make it interesting, she's able to draw parallels with the Iraq war and the Bush administration.

I give this one a 7 and i've given up. I'm reserving The Wordy Shipmates then I'll do Radio On. After that one i'm finished with her! Until she writes another. I can't help but admit i totally have a crush on her. She's hilarious and goofy and nerdy and smart and dark. Uber-cool.

18 June 2009

Btt for 6/18

Cool topic.

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:

So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?


so this year I've read, roughly estimated as i tend to forget to tag, about 12 fantasy and 5 sci-fi books. That doesn't even count all the graphic novels, as Fables falls under fantasy and Y: The Last Man is definitely sci-fi. So yeah, i enjoy both genres. I've got more fantasy than sci-fi on my Librarything page but my tastes have been drifting toward sci-fi recently. I also enjoy books that play with those boundaries, between "regular" books and genres and between sci-fi and fantasy. The Dark Tower series is a great example. Parts are pure fantasy, parts pure sci-fi, and it's an incredible mix.

As I'm working on Tuesday, i doubt i'll be doing anything particularly fun for the day!

17 June 2009

Weird Mystery


The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry is a strange little mystery. Charles Unwin is a clerk in an unknown city where it always seems to rain. He works for a place called The Agency, which seems to be the only source of law and order, and writes reports for Detective Travis Sivart. Unwin is a lonely, lost soul at the beginning of the novel.

The Agency seems to be some sort of spy ring as well as Unwin worries at the beginning he'll get in trouble for going out of his normal routine. He saw a beautiful woman one day and every morning for the previous few weeks he goes to the same train station to see her again. One day a man approaches Unwin, says that Unwin has been promoted to Detective and gives him The Manual of Detection, a book that The Agency uses to train the detectives. Unwin knows this promotion must be some mistake and begins searching for Sivart so Unwin can go back to being his clerk. Unfortunately, Unwin almost immediately discovers a murder in The Agency itself!

The book takes some strange turns. Unwin meets some bizarre people: his secretary Emily who has narcolepsy and carries a lunchbox all the time, Moore, a security guard at a museum who is always muttering about needing to forget, the Rooks, twin brother bad guys and Cleo Greenwood, the femme fatale who makes people fall asleep with her voice. The whole dreaminess was strange to read about but became very cool. Also, I finally got some symbolism! Unwin- doesn't mean to lose, it means that a perceived win was taken away. Sivart and then Unwin discover that some of Sivart's triumphs were not so. His wins over his adversaries are all undone.

I liked it. It is a 6. it was a little bit hard to get in because of the atmosphere and it is a book you have to pay attention too. It was impossible to try to read at work.

Other ideas: Fantasy Book Critic, Word Lily, Next Read, and Reader's Journal.

16 June 2009

The Last Man-Done!

Last night i finished Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughn and Pia Guerra. One of the Amazon reviewers calls it bittersweet and i can only agree. I cried and cried. I wish it had ended differently but i loved how it ended. does that make sense?

Volume 9 is titled Motherland. We get Yorick and company to China as they go after the ninja Toyota. Rose proves she's a good guy and we get another possible reason for the plague when we see who ninja girl was working for. Hero's group runs from the Israeli's and hops on a boat to Europe. Volume 10 is called Whys and Wherefores. Every one of our major characters, minus Dr. Mann and Rose, who are staying in China to research cloning, is heading to Paris. We get reunions and realizations. We get pain and beauty and sadness and love. It is simply an incredible ending.

Read it. Really. I give these last 2 issues a 7. The series gets a 7 too. Loved it!

15 June 2009

Wastelands

I finished up a book of short stories called Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams. It's a weird grouping of stories, many pretty pessimistic. Some deal with a world that's gone downhill but not dead, like "Bread and Bombs", while others are about a really bleak and dead world, like "Salvage" and "The Last of the O-Forms".

I'd say the best stories for me were "And the Deep Blue Sea" about a motorcycle courier's deal with the devil, "The People of Sand and Slag" which is about a what happens when future race of beings who can eat anything and regrow limbs find a normal dog, "Artie's Angels" about a kid who compels others to rise above the baseness of their circumstances, "Ginny Sweethip's Flying Circus" which is puts a new twist on the world's oldest profession, and "Judgement Passed" about some astronauts who come back to find the population of Earth raptured away.

Worst? I was surprised i didn't really like the Stephen King story "The End of the Whole Mess". It's a first person story in which the narrator describes how he and his brother caused the world to end. I also had NO CLUE what was going on in Gene Wolfe's "Mute". Are the kids dead? abandoned? trapped in some computer alternate reality? I even looked it up online but couldn't find too much. oh well.

Overall, i'd give this a 5. I also would recommend reading it slowly. A few stories every week until finished, to give yourself time to take them in. There is also a huge "For Further Reading" list in the back that i had to completely ignore but others might enjoy, if you need a few more book ideas!

Other's feelings: I can't believe i didn't know Carl had reviewed this one, SQT, Adventures in Reading, Graeme's Fantasy Book Review, Grasping for the Wind, and Working Title.

Currently: chilling after my hike today.

14 June 2009

Antony and Cleopatra


I got through a history! with a bit of help from wikipedia, i finished up Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare today. The basic plot is that Antony is a Roman leader who has been in Egypt. He's in love with Cleopatra, Egypt's queen. Duty calls him back to Rome, where Octavius, the future first emperor of Rome, needs his help in war against Pompey. To try to seal the alliance, Antony marries Octavius' sister Octavia. Cleopatra doesn't like that very much. Antony and Octavius make a truce with Pompey. Then Antony comes back to Rome because Octavius breaks the truce and Antony doesn't want to be involved anymore. Then Octavius makes war on Egypt.

The history plays are more difficult for me. I found this one to be easier than the various English King plays but i did need a bit of help with the battles. The wikipedia summary of the plot made the sea battle debacles make sense. I knew the Roman history from college and my own general interest reading.

I'm not sure how i feel about this play. Who am i supposed to be rooting for? Cleopatra varies between girlish and petty to strong and noble. Antony seems really wishy washy. He loves Cleopatra when things are good but hates her when things are bad. Octavius is power hungry and not very relatable. I give this one a 4. I wouldn't mind seeing it live.


13 June 2009

Tolkein Data Dump

I finished The Magical Worlds of "Lord of the Rings" by David Colbert. It is a nice introduction to the background of Tolkein's Middle Earth. It is a middle-school level book, which makes it a bit simplistic at times but there is a nice "further reading" section in the back to dig deeper. Each section begins with a question, like "why do elves and dwarves dislike each other?" or "are the Undying Lands heaven?" and answers it in 2-6 pages, with room for illustrations. The best bits, to me, were about Tolkein's influences. References to Beowulf, the Bible, and various mythologies are more prevalent in the books than i ever knew. I would recommend it if you haven't read any background works on Tolkein and his life but if you have you'll want to skip it. a 4.

12 June 2009

movies update!

Watched a fair few over the last few weeks. not new or really impactful enough to review so i'm making a list.

Sunshine- ugh. I like Cillian Murphy but this movie was bleh. 2
Quarantine- a sort of Blair Witch type. would have liked it better if the final shot wasn't in all the commercials and even on the front of the DVD box! 4
High Noon- ok western. 4
The Dirty Dozen- WW2 movie. total classic, very good. 6
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: 7. i finished it at 3:15 this morning and immediately wanted to watch it again, that's how good this one was. I woke up thinking about it. WOW!
Young @ Heart- a 6. non-fiction about a chorus that sings rock songs, average age 80. moving and sad and funny and uplifting.

11 June 2009

Dexter

I watched the first two seasons of Dexter and really liked them. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay, is the first novel. It covers the main storyline of the Ice Truck Killer that season 1 of the show covered but the show, i think, is better. Really. The book is focused only on Dexter, which is what the show does too. But the show had much more time to explore Dexter's relationships with other people: his sister Deb, his girlfriend Rita and her kids, his colleagues and other cops. Rita has two scenes in the book and her kids only one. Deb is only involved as a cop, there's very little personal interaction between them. Most of the book is in Dexter's own head as he deals with his envy and wonder of the Ice Truck Killer. It's not bad; i give it a 4 while the show's first season was really a 7.

also, does it count as buying a book if it's a present for my almost-nephew? i mean, he's just 2 1/2 and needs presents!

10 June 2009

On my hike today I saw

This giant turtle, several deer, a bald eagle, the cute park ranger who pointed out the bald eagle, and a little boy in full Batman costume.  Fun!

Kimono Dragons

Finished part 8. Y: The Last Man volume 8: Kimono Dragons by Brian K Vaughn to be exact. We finally get to Japan! 355 and Yorick go one way to try to get Ampersand while Dr. Mann and her girlfriend Rose, the one-eyed Aussie spy, go to Dr. Mann's mother's lab. 355 and Yorick get captured by some Yakuza and finally talk. Seriously talk. It was refreshing. Dr. Mann gets a backstory, as well as Alter, the Israeli that tried to kill Yorick waaaay back in the third collection. a 5.

it is getting harder and harder to talk about the series without giving away spoilers for the previous volumes! so much in these later books refer to the previous ones that i really can't say too much. Since i just had Breaking Dawn spoiled for me by some dumb Amazon reviewer I'm admiring you awesome bloggers more and more! somehow you manage to make me really want to read things without giving things away. continue all the great work.

09 June 2009

Take the Cannoli

Both a line from The Godfather and the title of my latest read by Sarah Vowell. I am really really digging her essays. She writes a lot about the weirdness of being American, about pop culture and history and becoming who you are. The article about she and her sister driving the Trail of Tears moved me to tears. One essay is about mix tapes. She discusses the fact that mix tapes are extremely personal and wonders about a person who makes them for a living. She even talks to Nick Hornby about it! If that isn't a recommendation, i don't know what is. I give this one a 6. Wish i'd bought a couple of hers as i can't wait to read more.

08 June 2009

An Audiobook and Links!

another reason i'm not religious this is just crazy. Who Knew?


power to the people. let's go!



so I finally finished Libba Bray's The Sweet Far Thing. And i really do mean finally....i got in back in February, listened to about 4 cd's in 6 weeks, took it back, got it again in April and am finally through!!! The problem is it is simply too long. for a story that mainly takes place over about 4 months it just drags and drags.

The story itself isn't bad. We pick up with Gemma and her pals as they prepare for their debuts and their first social season. Gemma cannot figure out how to enter the realms, though she still holds the Temple magics. Various factions want Gemma to cooperate with them. Ms. McCleathy wants Gemma to give the power to the Order, the Rakshana want the power for themselves. Things don't improve once Gemma can return to the Realms. Pippa is getting really weird; the tribes are pushing to be given magic themselves; the Winterlands creatures are stirring. To top it all off, Gemma's having visions of an unknown woman and also hearing Circe speaking to her. And Kartik returns!

Again, it's not a bad story. i listened on audio and there were several sections i felt could have been chopped out completely. There's too much about Gemma feeling lonely, not fitting in. Felicity has too many subplots going on for sure! The last 2 cds really get much better as things move along to the final battle. Overall, it is a 4 and i'd give the series a 5. This one counts as my last book to OUaT3!



06 June 2009

Drag Me To Hell


Went with a couple friends last night to see Drag Me To Hell. Loved it! it's a 6.

The plot is pretty simple. A nice bank loan officer makes a rough decision to kick an old gypsy woman, t
hat they've given extensions to before, out of her house. Old gypsy woman curses the nice girl. Girl starts hearing and seeing things, finds out about the curse, and tries to stop it. The twists are pretty obvious but enjoyable.

Sam Raimi is soooo uber cool though. He doesn't go for splattery blood horror but creepy gross horror. The car scene where the main character gets cursed is fun and drippy and actiony and awesome. The big seance scene rocks! If only one of the evil beings had squealed "dead by dawn!" lol. I'd love for Raimi and Robert Rodriguez to do Grindhouse 2!

05 June 2009

The Lightning Thief

early this morning, around 2 am, i finished up The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I'm really torn. I know i should judge the book on itself only but i kept comparing it to the first Harry Potter book. It isn't entirely my fault as the plot involves a troubled, bullied boy finds out something amazing about his parentage between 6th and 7th grade. He discovers he has extraordinary powers, even among his kind, and must go to a special, protected place to train them. He makes friends with a boy who's rather clumsy and a girl who's really smart. They get a little information and then get tossed out into the world to handle themselves.

I don't want to say it it bad because it is not. I liked Percy and he is definitely different from Harry. I just personally don't think The Lightning Thief stands out in comparison to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Rowling's world is so detailed and it makes the action better. She leads you so carefully, explaining enough and letting us discover with Harry. We just get thrown into Percy's world. Riordan has Percy arriving at Camp Half-Blood in terrible circumstances and 2 days later Percy's just fine, taking everything in and moving into his cabin. It just didn't feel realistic, emotionally.

I give this one a 4. It counts for the YA Challenge and OUaT3. I will probably continue with the series after i get through my personal 20 and the other library books i need to read. I'm just not enthralled yet.

04 June 2009

BTT for 6/4

Btt FUN!
“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

I took this to mean not so much ones i loved but the books i keep going back and thinking about. There are all sorts of reasons that my thoughts go back to these, some just because i loved it at a intense point in my life, some even more personal. So here i go!
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings (3 or 1?) by J R R Tolkein
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Harry Potter 7 by JK Rowling
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie
The World Without Us by Alan Wiseman
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

03 June 2009

A Doll's House

I'm not sure how to count this one! I read A Doll's House, a play by Henrik Ibsen. As it is 72 pages i feel it should count as a book. I really recommend it. The basic story is about Nora and Torvald, a married couple with a few children. We find that money has been tight for them but now Torvald has an upcoming promotion which will send those troubles away. We also find out as Nora speaks to her friend Mrs. Linde that Nora had borrowed money from an employee at Torvald's bank named Krogstad. She had done that because Torvald was gravely ill. now the employee wants to blackmail Nora into convincing Torvald to let him keep his job at the bank.

it sounds way more complicated than it is. really, the plot just serves to set up the relationships. How wife and husband interact, how female friends relate, how men and women interact. It makes me want to scream, how Torvald treats Nora. She sneaks cookies because Torvald doesn't approve of her eating sweets. he calls her little pet names because that is all she is to him. I don't want to give away the ending but it is startling. I highly recommend it! a 7!

01 June 2009

More Original Chick Lit!

Ok. I don't read modern chick lit. the few that i've tried have driven me crazy! i don't like chick flicks either. They are just awful, and loaded with cliches, and have such the same personalities, and both the men and the women aren't people i'd want to know. Sleepless in Seattle is about the only one i like.

But the more i read of 18th century lit by women the more i like it! Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte, is a pretty standard story. Poorish girl, intelligent and capable but not beautiful, hires herself out as a governess. Her first employment is awful while her second is better but the children still disinclined to learn. As her charges get older the boys go off to formal school while the eldest girl becomes a debutante. Agnes begins to get more time to herself, which she uses to read and attend to the poorer cottagers in the area. She meets Mr. Edward Weston, a minister new to the area. There are complications: the debutante tries to make Mr. Weston fall for her, not because she likes him but to add him as a conquest. She also makes is so Agnes and Mr. Weston cannot see each other. Then Agnes must move home to live with her mother because her father dies. Will Agnes and Edward ever end up together? :)

in summary: i liked it! it is sooo much better than Wuthering Heights. a bit better than Northanger Abbey and at least as good as Persuasion. a 6. another DailyLit book, a 1k1 book and it counts for gobs of challenges. Yay!

Nemesis

An old school book! Literally, i tore through Agatha Christie mysteries when i was in middle and early high school. I read most of the ones with Hercule Poirot and most of the one shots as well. I hadn't read but a few of the Miss Marple books though. I finished Nemesis today.

This book is the 12th of the 13 Miss Marple mysteries that Christie wrote. It refers a bit to a previous one, A Caribbean Mystery. I haven't read that one and i was able to follow this book perfectly well. A friend that Miss Marple met during A Caribbean Mystery has died, naturally, after a long illness. Mr. Rafiel was a wealthy financial wizard and leaves instructions with his lawyers to contact Miss Marple. He offers her 20,000 pounds to look into a mystery for him. He doesn't tell her what the mystery is or even suggest who it involves. He does, however, book a tour of English gardens for her, so off she goes to satisfy her curiosity. Of course she solves the mystery and gets the money, after we meet various characters that you only run into in British mysteries! I give this one a 5.