November 29th, 2010

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Book 110-111: Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess and Starter for Ten

Book 110: Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess.
Author: Simon Brett, 2010.
Genre: Murder Mystery. Thriller. Parody. 1920s.
Other Details: Hardback. 201 pages.

"If there was one thing that Blotto (properly known as the Honourable Deveraux Lyminster) didn't like about weekend house parties, it was the inevitable gathering of together of a large number of people with dark secrets in their past, along with the tiresome near-certainty that one of them would get murdered. Not to mention the unavoidable presence of a know-it-all polymathic amateur sleuth who would happen to be staying for the weekend. And the obligatory moment when the aforementioned know-it-all polymathic amateur sleuth would dragoon everyone into the library to tell them whodunit."

The aristocratic but extremely thick Blotto and his beautiful brainy sister Twinks are attending a weekend house party when indeed the inevitable happens. Their hostess is murdered. An amateur detective, conveniently staying for the weekend, deduces that the Lyminster family chauffeur Corky Froggett must have done it. The only way to prove Corky's innocence is by Blotto and Twinks finding the real perpetrator. In the course of this investigation bodies pile up as stenchers coffinate various individuals and even worse pinch Blotto's favourite motor car!

This is Simon Brett's 83rd book and is just great rollicking fun from page 1 through 201. He not only sends up the Golden Age of Detective Fiction but also popular thrillers of the period as written by the likes of John Buchan.

Book 111: Starter for Ten.
Author: David Nicholls, 2003.
Genre: Lad Fic. Coming of Age. Drama-Comedy. 1980s Britain.
Other Details: Movie tie-in edition. Trade paperback, 378 pages

It is 1985 and spotty 18-year old Brian Jackson is leaving behind his working-class roots to attend Bristol University, reading Eng. Lit.. Once there he falls head over heels with aspiring actress Alice Harbinson, who is beautiful and intimidatingly posh. A master of general knowledge, he also pursues his long-standing ambition to become a member of Bristol's University Challenge team and appear on the prestigious BBC quiz show.

This is Lad Fic, very much in the vein of Nick Hornby. While rather predictable, it was a quick easy read with plenty of funny bits. Having lived through 1980s England, I found the cultural references generated a pleasant sense of nostalgia. It went down well with our reading group where it was the November selection.
amy poehler

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38. Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs - Really interesting memoir. Really makes you appreciate your dad and think he's the best in the world considering Augusten's was a douche. It was sad in a way.

39. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman - Second book in the His Dark Materials triology. Really fascinating. Crazy that I just discovered these books like this year. But they're really great. They're hard to explain though because it's about dust and good vs evil, but really well written.

40. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - Really great book but a little too long. I feel like some parts dragged. But the whole concept and storyline of the book is really cool. How they amp you up to be ready for this one story but it's a completely different, murder-mystery-esque type story.

41. Contemporary American Monologues for Women Edited by Todd London - Just monologues for acting. Nothing like really fascinating to read, mainly did it for work. But still pretty good.

42. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Ehh, okay, couldn't really get into the storyline. I know it's a classic but it just isn't my type of classic.
Halloween - Vintage Postcard

Book #40: Wrong Holiday For The Season, But A Good Book

40. Diane C. Arkins, Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past, 112 pages, Non-fiction, Hardback, 2004 (borrowed from the library).

In the early 20th century, ladies' magazines were the source of Halloween party information. They would put forth articles on various themes, decorations, games, food, and outfits for the trendy party in your neighborhood. Some actually spun off pattern books, with paper decorations to cut out, costumes, etc. This fascinating little book, with lots of photos from cards and magazines of the time, is a great overview of the period when Halloween developed many of its party traditions.

Book 43

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Themes/Topics: Culture, Technology, Knowledge

A true classic that forebodes how we will be our own detriment. As attention spans decrease and the prevalence of technological pacifiers increase I fear the time will come sooner rather than later.