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Showing posts from March, 2009

Cannonball Read #19: Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

As I mentioned while reviewing And Then There Were None, I had no idea Agatha Christie was so GOOD. I kind of thought of her as some cheesy "Masterpiece Theater" dreck that is enjoyed mainly by old British ladies. Turns out I was SO wrong.

Sparkling Cyanide is another murder mystery, which is centered around the alleged suicide of cheerful party-girl Rosemary Barton. Rosemary apparently took cyanide and died in the middle of dinner party. The drama begins when her stodgy husband George begins receiving letters implying that Rosemary didn't kill herself--she was murdered! The storm begins to whirl around the cast of characters: Rosemary's dishwater younger sister Iris, Iris's boyfriend Anthony who isn't who he says he is, Ruth, George's (overly?) devoted secretary, George, and Mr. and Mrs. Farraday, a couple who are dictionary definition of "cold." George starts making inquiries, and then things get REALLY difficult.

The book moves along quickly, h…

Cannonball Read #18: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I have seen the film based on this novel (the theme at the moment seems to be books that have been made into films) and I will say that I really like it. I was a little concerned that the book would be more convoluted or more depressing or cheesy or something. Luckily, the book was equally delicious, though in different ways.

The frame of the story is the stories the elderly Mrs. Ninnie Threadgood tells her new friend Evelyn--a bored housewife who comes to the nursing home with her husband to visit his mother. Ninnie weaves for Evelyn the exciting, tragic, and very dramatic tale of the Threadgood family--specifically the story of Idgie, the tomboyish black sheep--and the lives around them during the Depression era in rural Whistlestop, Alabama. As Evelyn hears the story of Idgie, Idgie's best friend (and lover?) Ruth, Smokey Lonesome the hobo, Sipsy--the family's black servant--and her family, and everyone else, it gives Evelyn the strength to face up to her own life and try to…

Cannonball Read #16 & #17: The Poseidon Adventure & Beyond the Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico

I've combined these two books since they are for all intents and purposes a single story, albeit one that takes a very swift turn in the middle.

I have seen the original Poseidon Adventure, Poseidon--the version with Kurt Russell, as well as a few terrible rip-offs. The main idea is the same in each, though there are a variety of causes and specifics. Basically, a giant cruise ship is rolled over into an upside-down nightmare, and a small group of surviving passengers have to journey through the topsy-turvy world in an attempt to make it to the bottom (now top) of the ship where their best chance at rescue lies. The first book is really pretty excellent--there is a decent amount of action, as well as the exploration of human dynamics, and the various ways people respond to crisis. Some, like the Reverend Scott, take charge and lead as though it were something they had been born to do. Others--like Dick Shelby, his family, Mrs. Kinsale the spinster, and the Rosens, an elderly Jewish…

Cannonball Read #15: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

It seemed amazing to me that I had never read this book. In fact, until I started reading I was pretty sure I had read it at some point, but it turns out that's not actually true. Upon reflection, I realized I had seen a comedic musical based on the book at a dinner theatre years ago with my grandparents. The differences between the book and a (hilarious, admittedly) musical are unsurprisingly numerous. It turned out I'd been missing a FANTASTIC book for years because I believed I'd already read it.

For anyone unfamiliar, the plot is pretty simple: 10 people are invited for a weekend on a remote island. When they arrive, they discover they haven't been invited for a quiet country weekend, but rather to be punished for their perceived crimes against humanity by a mad man. The tough bit is they have no idea who their executioner is. As the guests start dropping dead in a variety of ways, the paranoia and suspicion and tension mount to a final and unexpected conclusion.

I h…

Quick Update: Reality TV Ate My Brain

I HAVE been reading, I swear. I have, like, four books I've finished and not blogged about yet because I am a lazy slacker. I promise I will do that soon. I will also watch movies soon for a little variety. Lately I have just been too wrapped up in Tool Academy, Rock of Love Bus, America's Best Dance Crew, America's Next Top Model, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to accomplish anything of value. Have you seen these shows? The first three are productions of VH1/MTV, so you can imagine the quality therein. Let me give you a brief overview:



1. Tool Academy is a competition between "toolish" dudes, who were tricked into the process by their girlfriends (the guys were told they were coming to compete in a "Mr. Awesome" competition. Some never quite gave up the idea that if they would just keep at it they'd be crowned Mr. Awesome.) The idea is to teach these lying, cheating, self-absorbed douchebags to be better boyfriends/people. I'm not quite sure…

Cannonball Read #14: Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy by Diana Preston

Hang on, folks. I promise you I'm almost done with non-fiction maritime disasters...actually, I AM done with the reading, but I'm just a little behind on the blogging.

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy details the sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania by German torpedo during WWI. The great thing is, the author gets very deep into the contextual circumstances surrounding the sinking, particularly the political climate at the time and use of (at the time) newly-emerging submarine technology. I will admit that I know next to nothing about WWI--in public school social studies, it's that short chapter smushed in between the Civil War and WWII...as I remember it, "somebody assassinated somebody else's archduke for some reason and then Germany got all crazy, and then eventually we won. Somehow the British were involved, the French not so much. The helmets looked like plates." Although the book is focused on the actual attack on and sinking of the Lusitania, Prest…