Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “classic”

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #31 – Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

This is another great Agatha Christie early book – and the other one I was able to get free for my Kindle (The Affair at Styles being the other one).  I’m going to have to start paying for them now, or figure out how the library book thing works (for the Kindle – I know how it works for real books).

This is the first Tommy and Tuppence book, although I don’t think Christie wrote many of those. Very 1920s, almost Wodehousian, with a bit of Thin Man thrown in for fun.  Tommy and Tuppence are friends, he’s an ex-soldier, she’s an ex-nurse – they’re bored and broke, and decide to form The Young Adventurers, Ltd.  They plan to hire themselves out for, well, anything.  A man overhears their plans, and offers Tuppence a position.  Trouble starts when Tuppence gives her name as “Jane Finn,” a name she had heard, but just randomly chose. The man thinks Tuppence is trying to blackmail him. Turns out Jane Finn is someone that may be important (not just to the story, but in the world of the story), and who may be suffering from total amnesia.

The British government gets involved, as does a man claiming to be Jane’s cousin. Tuppence is kidnapped, Tommy ends up stuck in a Bolshevist den, and is rescued by a young lady. Hmm.  Wonder who she might be?!

There’s a lot going on in this story, but the action moves along nicely, and of course everything is tied up with a nice bow at the end. As I said, I’m not sure how many more T&T books Christie wrote, but I definitely need to find out if there are any others, because this one was fun.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #30 – The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

       “Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie, and it was an auspicious debut. I’m a huge Christie fan by way of PBS Mystery!, but had never read many of her books (odd for someone who does as much reading as I do).  This book has started me down the Christie path, and I’m glad there are plenty of stories to catch up on.

This one is a classic locked-room mystery.  Hastings runs into an old friend, and is invited down to Styles St. Mary for a visit.  Hastings had been there before when he was younger, but had lost touch with the family. The matriarch of the family, stepmother to the sons of the house, has recently remarried – and the family is not happy.  The cast of characters is introduced, with all the potential suspects, and mater is poisoned.  Hmmm.  Who could’ve dunnit?  One of the unhappy sons, the unhappy daughter-in-law, the creepy new husband, the innocent looking family helper?  Hmmmm.

And who  might be in Styles St. Mary, friends with Hastings, and a Belgian refugee?  Hmmm.  Yup, it’s Hercule Poirot (yes, he’s a Belgie, not a Frenchie). They follow a few red herrings, jump to a few wrong conclusions, and of course use the tiny grey cells.  Poirot of course figures it out, and calls everyone together at the end to announce whodunnit.

Agatha Christie’s writing makes what is probably a very difficult task seem effortless.  I read somewhere that she wrote this first book on a dare.  I’m glad she didn’t pick truth.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #48: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee



Cannonball Read IV: Book #48/52
Published: 1960
Pages: 323
Genre: Classic

This book is on ALL the must-read classics lists, so I figured I should finally read it. Well…this is why I don’t like to read classics. It wasn’t a bad book — in fact, it was beautifully written — but I was just BORED for most of it.

First of all, the plot (I actually went into this book fairly blind as to the plot. I know this book is a huge classic, but I never really knew what it was about.): It mostly follows two kids, Scout and Jem. They’re a brother/sister duo in 1930s Alabama who run into some obstacles when their lawyer father, Atticus, decides to defend a black man who is accused of raping a white woman.

Read what I thought in my blog.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #45: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Cannonball Read IV: Book #45/52
Published: 1910
Pages: 331
Genre: Classic

I decided that I need to read more classic novels. I read a ton, but have barely read any of the books most people consider classics. I went with The Secret Garden as my first choice because I remember reading it when I was little and really liking it. I also liked the movie that came out sometime in the early/mid 90’s.

The premise is probably familiar to most people: Mary is a spoiled English child who lives in India with her wealthy family until she is orphaned after a plague strikes the area. She is shipped off to England to live in her uncle’s gigantic mansion. I remember always wanted to have a mansion like that to explore. I kind of still do. Anyways, Mary is pretty much left on her own all day and she starts getting nosy. First, she discovers a locked garden that she is told is forbidden because it was her Aunt’s, who had passed away years ago. Then she discovers that she has a cousin who is kept secret and bedridden due to a mysterious illness that he may or may not even have.

Read the rest in my blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews # 94-99: I’m nearly done with a double Cannonball, you guys!

So in the middle of October, I once again took part in the 24-hour Read-a-thon, and I’ve obviously been reading (and re-reading) books since then, but I’ve been falling behind on my blogging. So here’s a big catch-up post, and hopefully, within the week, I will have read and blogged a double Cannonball. I only set out to do a single one this year, and as a result, it seems that completing twice the amount became less of a chore.

94. A Wrinkle in Time by Madelaine L’Engle. I suspect I would have loved this more when I was younger. 4 stars.

95. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. The first book I’ve read of hers. It won’t be the last. 4 stars.

96. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. I know it’s been reviewed so well, so many times on here, and I have no idea why I didn’t pick it up before. 5 stars. By far the funniest book I read this year.

97. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long. Yet another historical romance,  surprising no one, I’m sure. “The one with the hot vicar” as Mrs. Julien dubbed it. 4 stars.

98. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Unquestionably one of the most anticipated books of the year for me, this turned out to be something completely different from what I’d expected. 4 stars.

99. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. So is it wrong that I was more charmed by the film? The 14-year-olds I teach, love it, though. 3.5 stars.


Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #46: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I chose poorly for this last book, my fellow Cannonballers. I had been frecking along at a pretty good pace, but then I picked up a 600-page Wilkie Collins classic, and it stopped me in my tracks. It was good, and I enjoyed it, but it was not a quick or easy read. It messed up my Cannonball flow!

This was a pretty dense story, and I’m not sure how much I can say without giving too much away and still giving it justice. Nutshell: Walter Hartright is a drawing teacher who is hired to teach watercolors to two young ladies of quality for a summer. The three become close, and Hartright naturally falls in love with the beautiful one (Laura). Her half-sister Marian breaks the news to him that Laura has been betrothed to a much older lord, and that she will soon be old enough to marry him. Hartright is heart-broken and leaves the house, hoping to sever the bond before Laura is in love with him too. Too late, of course, and the rest of the story follows our thwarted lovers and their quest for happiness.

There are many, many obstacles before them. A mysterious woman in white warns Laura that her fiancé Sir Percival is a monster. A mysterious Italian uncle is charming but nefarious, manipulating everyone in sight but making Marian’s skin crawl. Hartright might be being followed. The woman in white shows back up to talk about the monster fiance’s “Secret.” There are financial shenanigans, investigations, escapes from asylums…it’s all very convoluted and exciting.

The story is told in chunks: Hartright gets the first few chapters, then it switches to Marian’s diary, the family lawyer gets in on the action, the Italian uncle Count Fosco gets to testify…it’s a neat glimpse into all sides of the story, and a good look at the different personalities. Marian talks a lot of smack about the innate weakness of her fellow females, but there’s an undercurrent of snark that I enjoyed. When angry, she talks about wanting to jump on a horse and ride through a raging storm to get to the villain, but then writes: “Being, however, nothing but a woman, condemned to patience, propriety, and petticoats for life, I must…try to compose myself in some feeble and feminine way.”

Count Fosco is wildly dramatic and overimpressed with himself. A sampling of his self-adbsorbed yammering: “Youths! I invoke your sympathy. Maidens! I claim your tears. Where, in the history of the world, has a man of my order ever been found without a woman in the background self-immolated on the altar of his life? I stand here on a supreme moral elevation, and I loftily assert her accurate performance of her conjugal duties.”

I liked this book more than I expected to. I had read Wilkie Collins in lit class, but not this one. I liked the dual heroes (Hartright and Marian) and the dual villains (Sir Percival and Count Fosco). I wish Laura had been a little worthier of the devotion and love of the heroes, rather than pale and sickly and swooning, but oh well. I guess a little of that comes with the classics territory.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #20: The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy

I’m going to have to be honest on this one. Not only did I read The Orchard Keeper (1965) by Cormac McCarthy months ago, but even as I was reading, I sometimes had a hard time figuring out what was happening. In short: this review is not going to do justice to McCarthy’s writing. I’d really need to read it again and devote some time to it to understand it more fully, but that’s just not going to happen anytime soon.

As some of the Amazon reviews have reminded me, The Orchard Keeper takes place in rural Tennessee in the 1930’s. Three characters’ intertwined lives set up the background for McCarthy’s oft-recurring theme of inevitable change and nature.

Read the rest of my review here.

Sophia’s #CBR4 Review #19: Summer by Edith Wharton

I am a big fan of Edith Wharton, even when her characters are driving me crazy. Her writing is beautiful, insightful and relatable–although it was written almost 100 years ago. I think it was another cannonball reviewer who recommended Summer (1917) to me and I’ve just now finally gotten around to reading it.

Summer revolves around Charity Royall, a young woman bored by her small-town, Massachusetts life and lack of opportunities. She yearns for something more but her ignorance and lack of options holds her back. She resents and is disgusted by her guardian, Mr. Royall, the town attorney, who wants to marry her. Charity is a fascinating character who is often selfish, ignorant, and at times both snobbish and concerned with her own inadequacy. Charity meets Lucius Harney when he comes visiting, and she is immediately swept away by his intelligence, elegance, and symbol of things she’s looking for in life.

What follows is one of the most realistic love stories I have ever read.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #8 – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Oh, these people. I am amazed how an entire book can be populated by completely unlikeable people, and yet still suck me in to the story and drive me all the way to the end – all the while cursing every last one of them.

I won’t go into the story, because if you don’t know it by now, I won’t spoil it, or help you cheat in your high school English class. I’m not sure how I managed to avoid this (and most things Bronte) for so long, but here we are. The thing that pushed me over the edge was Jasper Fforde – can’t remember which of his Thursday Next books, but in one of them (maybe more) there was a counseling session in Wuthering Heights.  I didn’t get most of the jokes, so it was necessary to read the book. Now I get it.

Everyone is angry, and for the most part with no really good reason. They all treat each other like crap, also for no really good reason. Maybe it’s the weather on the moors. Having lived in the world, I knew how everything ended, but I was still pulled along for the ride. Mostly I think it was because I wanted to see if anything they did made sense, but I was doomed to disappointment on that point.

Regardless, this is one of those books everyone should read. It’s a classic for a reason. Just don’t look for answers or motives, because while there might be some, they are highly unsatisfactory.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #47 Darkover Landfall by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The beauty of being surrounded by lots of books, especially ones that you love, is that when a newer book in a series prompts you to go exploring, everything you need is right at hand.  While it was sad to read Hastur Lord, knowing that it had been Bradley’s last book, it was fun to have it remind me of stories and twists from her Darkover collection that I barely remembered.  When that happens, I tend to embark on massive rereading binges in between my other reading material.  Hastur Lord set off the avalanche that will no doubt weave through my summer and well beyond the Cannonball Read #4 challenge.

If you’ve never read this Sci-Fi classic, or if it remains a favourite on your reading list, you’ll find the rest of my review on my BookHoardingDragon blog

Happy Canada Day and Happy 4th of July! What great opportunities to curl up and read after the bustle of getting together with friends or family…

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