Moonlight Madness

Moonlight Madness

The third annual game of Booklikes Halloween Bingo starts 9/1/18! Join us and play!

Reading progress update: I've read 19 out of 315 pages.
The Clock Strikes Twelve  - Patricia Wentworth

Starting this one for the #1944 club.


Also, can anyone tell me what this expression means? I have seen it several times, and haven't been able to decipher it:


"Golly—isn’t this an awful room for me—my hair and all this crimson! Pity I didn’t go the whole hog and sport the emerald trouserings. One might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.”



Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 190 pages.
The Brooding Lake - Dorothy Eden

I did start this, although I didn't get very far into it! I ended up doing a lot of projects around the house over the weekend, in addition to the book sell-back/sorting project that I have already mentioned. I also cleaned out our coat closet of decades worth of old coats, mismatched gloves and ratty baseball caps, and I decuttered our pantry shelves of everything that doesn't belong in a pantry/laundry room.


In the middle of that bustling activity, I mostly just wanted to watch movies. In honor of fall, I settled to complete the lovely annual autumnal Harry Potter rewatch, and watched the second half of Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince and both Part I and Part II of The Deathly Hallows. I also made a bubbling pot of delicious turkey and bean chili and did the laundry. All in all, it was a lovely, busy, productive yet still relaxing weekend.


The first two chapters of The Brooding Lake are setting it up quite nicely. Our main character, Alice, has arrived for a visit with her friend, Camilla. In a bit of a confusing non-sequitur, it turns out that her bus driver is Felix, a lost love. It's unclear in the first few sentences if Alice recognized him when she boarded the bus or not, so that whole thing was sort of confusing. Our location is a bit obscure - it seems to be somewhere on the west coast of New Zealand, with reference to a glacier.



Above is Lake Matheson, which is apparently in the general area. It could be convincingly broody at dusk, possibly with some fog trailing about dramatically.


We haven't yet gotten to the brooding lake, however, Camilla is no where to be found. Just her cat and her parrot, randomly screaming "Get Out" are in the home... 

The great bookshelf clearing project update

My early June project to declutter my bookshelves stalled badly. I am such a mood reader, that I think at this point I just have to admit defeat with respect to a lot of the books I've managed to accumulate over the years. Unless they fall into one of the two following categories:  


1.. I am going to read this - this week; or

2. It is so obscure that I will never find it again, and it actually does interest me (i.e., I can't just check it out of the library or buy it on kindle if I decide to read it); or

3. I collect this type of book and am therefore going to keep it indefinitely;


I have concluded that it is time to get rid of it. In that spirit, I put together five of the kind of reusable shopping bags one gets at the grocery store filled with books and took them, first, to Wallace Books, a bookstore which seems to specialize in literary fiction, mystery and children's books. She took about half of them, leaving me with 2 1/2 bags of mostly romance, and resulting in store credit of $115.00 (It was more, but I bought a copy of Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey, and two older Christies: Mystery of the Blue Train and The Moving Finger).


I consolidated the rest of the books, which were mostly MMP romance and mystery that she didn't want and took them to my local UBS, where I got about another $50.00 worth of credit, so I'm up to $75.00 in credit with that store. I left the rest of the books with her for their 5 for a dollar bins out front. 


At this point, my process if I want to read a book goes like this:


1. Is it a book that I want to keep for my various bookshelf collections. If yes, buy the book; if no, then...

2. Is it available at the library? If yes, check it out. If no, then...

3. Is it something my mom/dad/husband/daughter would also read? If yes, consider buying a kindle copy to share and take it out of my monthly book budget, if no...

4. Is it something that I can find at the UBS and pay for with credit? If yes, buy it, read it, and donate, if no, then...

5. Is it available only on kindle, because it is an extremely obscure older mystery? If yes, will I read it right now? If yes, buy the book. If no, don't buy the book, because it will still be there when I get around to reading it.


I am about to go refill those bags with what will hopefully be the rest of the books that I need to sell back/donate, and then I am going to work on reorganizing my shelves while I watch Harry Potter so I can get a good, firm picture of what I am collecting. 


So far, I have managed to narrow my children's picture books down to 1 shelf of the absolutely most beautiful books that I want to keep. I am purging mostly literary fiction that I've already read, books that I have owned for more than 3 years and haven't read, and the MMPs that my mother continually inflicts on me when she comes for visits with a suitcase full of books.




1. Penguin black spine classics

2. PB gothics

3. Anything Agatha Christie

4. J.R.R. Tolkien

5. Mythology and fairy tale resources

6. Small collections of Vintage, Virago and Persephone classics

7. BLCC series classics

8. Harry Potter illustrated versions

9. Various editions of Jane Austen's novels


That's all I can think of so far, although once I get the piles from the front of the shelves out of the way, I may see more!

Bingo Call: 10/13/18

The Winner!
The Brooding Lake - Dorothy Eden

Although The White Fog had some late speed, this one ended up hanging on to win!

3.5 Stars
What the hell did I just read?
The Devil at Saxon Wall - Gladys Mitchell

This was my second Mrs. Bradley mystery, after The Saltmarsh Mystery, and I think that I can say at this point that Mrs. Bradley is quite unlike any of the other golden age mystery series that I’ve read so far. The book begins with a long preliminary tale about the ill-fated Constance who marries the enigmatic, possibly psychotic, Hanley Middleton.


The first section of the book is identified as “First Manifestation: Domestic Interior,” which describes the abusive marriage of Constance and Hanley, and the ultimate death of Constance in child birth after she returns to her home in Saxon Wall, having previously fled back to her parents. Hanley follows Constance in death a short time later.


The second section of the book is titled “Second Manifestation: Conversation Piece“. I have no idea why it’s called this, actually, because there is precious little intelligent conversation in this book, and a whole lot of garbled confusion. At the beginning of the section, we are introduced to the main character of the book, one Hannibal Jones, described thus:


Hannibal Jones had earned a dishonest livelihood for seventeen years by writing sentimental novels. It was the less excusable in Jones to get his living this way in that he knew—none better, since he had lectured in Abnormal Psychology for a year or two in an American university before taking up his rather more nefarious career as author—that such novels as he wrote tended to encourage morbid daydreaming on the part of their readers, and that cooks and dressmakers, mothers of families, spinsters in all walks of life—even his own female relatives—were developing, because of him and his works, a Cinderella-complex of the most devitalising, time-consuming type.


Hannibal, who is quite rich as a result of his success as a writer, has some sort of a nervous breakdown when he accepts a large publishers advance for a book he doesn’t really want to write. He consults Mrs. Bradley, and she gives him advice to “get out your third-best car and travel until you find a sufficiently interesting and secluded village. Make yourself part of it. Study the people, but resolve never to write about them in a novel. Love them. Quarrel with them. Begin a lawsuit. Play village cricket.”


Somehow, he has the misfortune to end up in Saxon Wall, which must be the most terrible place in all of England, full of villagers who are downright creepy, baby-switchers, a psychotic vicar, and a drought which means that they are all, apparently, going to die of dehydration. Jones realizes that he is in the middle of some kind of devilish psychodrama and invites Mrs. Bradley in to help him solve the crimes, of which there are many.


The plot of this book made almost no sense. It was so convoluted that I couldn’t follow the thread at all, much less unravel it. Saxon Wall is a singularly horrible place, and the denizens of Saxon Wall are singularly horrible people. There wasn’t a single non-horrible person living there. Jones himself was confounding – why he didn’t just get in his car and drive the hell out of that place I cannot begin to imagine. Mitchell brings in witchcraft, folklore, and beer to add to the altogether strange tale. Mrs. Bradley shows up at about the 50% mark to untangle the skeins of the mystery, but even at the end I was left somewhat puzzled by everyone’s behavior.


“The temperament,” repeated Mrs. Bradley. “Yes, child. As good psychologists, we ought not to lose sight of that important item. The temperament for murder—an inexhaustibly interesting subject. I have it, you have it, the vicar has it. Mrs. Tebbutt has it, Doctor Mortmain has it. To how many other people in Saxon Wall would you say it has been vouchsafed?”


Everyone, dear reader. Everyone.


The third section contains some brief End Notes, which try to explain the book. They clear up a few things. But only a few things.


One of the most curious and interesting features of the general mentality, if such a term is permissible, of the inhabitants of Saxon Wall, was a noticeable inability to distinguish between essential good and essential evil.


I can’t say that I really enjoyed this book, but it did keep me interested, even if it was totally bananas.

Pick my next book

All right, peeps, which should I read over the weekend?



Which of my haul of vintage mysteries/gothics should I read next?
The White Fog by Angela Grey
The Case of Jennie Brice by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Vanishing Point by Patricia Wentworth
The Brooding Lake by Dorothy Eden
Created with Poll Maker


You can see the covers in my last two posts!

And, more book haul

So, my book regrets got the better of me, and I went back to the UBS for the Rinehart books, and I am so glad I did! There were actually 4 of them, not 3, and they are original Dell paperbacks which have amazing covers.



My photography isn't the best - there was glare from my office overhead light, but you get the picture.


Descriptions from the back of the books:


The Bat: Like a bat he struck and vanished, pouncing noiselessly at night. Like a bat he never showed himself to the face of day. Like a bat he always flew alone ... He had to be stopped. Somehow. But how.


The Case of Jennie Brice: The Dark Waters of Doom. Lithe, fair haired Jennie Brice had played many roles in her acting career, but none frightened her as much as her role in reality -- wife to a cold, mysteriously withdrawn playwright whom she did not understand and from whom she dared not escape. 


With each passing day in the strange mansion to which they had come, her fears mounted. And her nightmare began...


Alibi for Isabel: Darkening Menace. Dreams of love become nightmarish terrors, innocent flirtations lead to dangerous intrigues and wedding bells herald a clarion of doom.


This Strange Adventure: Wedded To Terror: Young and beautiful Missie Colfax was willing to keep her bargain with Wesley Dexter when she married this worldly older man and came to live in his magnificent mansion. She would do anything to escape the poverty and want of her youth, even be the wife to a man she barely knew.


Missie could not suspect the twisted torment behind the icy arrogance of her bridegroom...nor realize until too late the horror that awaited her in the hands of a man bent on making her the victim of a strange and terrible vengeance. 


Don't those sound just so freaking fun? Plus, what you can't tell from the photos is that the page ends are dyed teal!


Pics or it didn't happen

All right, I've got the pics of my paperback mystery/gothic haul. 


First, the mysteries - only three:



I had actually forgotten that I grabbed that Carr Dickson - which is a nom de plum for John Dickson Carr, which is why I grabbed out.


Now, brace yourself for these awesome covers!






 The total cost of the haul was $6.00!

Book wave ahead!

I've been clearing my bookshelves and took a huge bag of books into my local UBS today, planning to drop the ones that they don't want at the Friends of the Library for sale.


Of course, it just so happens that someone had recently been in and dropped off a whole bunch of old gothics - they hadn't even made it onto shelves yet. I was eyeing them as I dropped my bag on the counter, went and browsed and then came back with the two Patricia Wentworth mysteries that she had in stock.


I decided to just ask her what her plans were for the books that were stacked behind the counter, and mentioned that I collect old gothics. Aside from clearly thinking that I'm insane, she told me that I could have them at 3 for a buck, but that she wouldn't take them back.


So, I spent $4.00 and bought 12 books (14, with the two Wentworths), which is actually more than she bought back from me. I still have some to go to Friends of the Library. There were 3 Mary Robert Rineharts that I am sort of wishing I had grabbed while I was there.


So, I'm not sure that this didn't completely defeat the purpose of my attempt to declutter, although I will say that the books I left with are physically quite a bit smaller than the books I got rid of! I can't wait to show you all pictures of these covers, though. They are the absolute bomb!



TBR Thursday: 10/11/18

I've got a lot of reading plans for the week ahead! I went hog-wild with my library holds, so I have nine books waiting in the holds section for me to pick up, I still have 3 checked out to finish, and I am going to try to participate in the 1944 club on my wordpress blog, All The Vintage Ladies.


I have 3 British Library Crime Classics on hold.


Death of a Busybody - George Bellairs   Death Makes a Prophet - John Bude   Blood on the Tracks - Martin Edwards,Various Authors  


I am especially excited about the Blood on the Tracks anthology, since I love train mysteries. I've been looking forward to that one since I saw that it was scheduled for release.


The other books I have on hold are:


Sadie - Courtney Summers  Force of Nature: A Novel - Jane Harper   Cover Her Face - P.D. James 


I enjoyed Jane Harper's first book, The Dry, so I'm looking forward to Force of Nature. P.D. James is an old friend, and I've been meaning to dip back into her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries- Cover Her Face is the first in the series. Sadie has a very interesting plot summary, and I've licked at least one of the author's other books.


Finally, I have some non-fiction waiting for me.


Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America - Beth Macy   Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America - Alissa Quart  


Both of which will probably be depressing, but also interesting.


I'm also participating in the #1944 club on my wordpress blog, which entails reading a book published in 1944. I have a few options ready for that challenge!


Sparkling Cyanide - Agatha Christie The Clock Strikes Twelve (Miss Silver Mystery) - Patricia Wentworth  


Sparkling Cyanide is a reread, of course, but all three of the other options are new to me. Of the four, The Clock Strikes Twelve is the most appealing to me. 


This is a good time to remind everyone that we are 9 days away from the fall readathon! 



Reading progress update: I've read 12%.
The Devil at Saxon Wall - Gladys Mitchell

This is a really freaking bizarre book. 

Bingo Call: 10/9/18

4 Stars
Katherine Wentworth by D.E. Stevenson
Katherine Wentworth (Katherine, #1) - D.E. Stevenson

I’ve had Dorothy Emily Stevenson on my list of authors to try for at least five years. I already own two of her books: Miss Buncles Book on kindle, and Mrs. Tim of the Regiment in paperback. I can’t really say what made me finally read this Kindle Unlimited offering – probably just because I will be cancelling the service in November, and I figured I might as well get as much out of it as it can before it goes. At this point, I have identified four D.E. Stevenson books that are available in the KU library: this one, the sequel called Katherine’s MarriageAmberwell, and Anna and her Daughters. I have already downloaded Katherine’s Marriage, because I must know what happens next for Katherine, Simon, Den and Daisy, and Alec.


Katherine Wentworth, both the book and the character, are simply charming. This is a book where little happens, but it is still such a satisfying read. Katherine is a young widow, raising her stepson, Simon, who is 16 during most of the book, and her 7 year old twins, Denis and Marguerite (Den and Daisy). At the beginning of the book, she runs into an old school friend, Zilla, while having a day on her own, which really starts the book in it’s romantic trajectory.


Katherine is neither perfect nor smug – she is a simply wonderful character. She’s sensible, loving, kind, and cheerfully makes do with what must be quite a small income. Her husband, Gerald, died very unexpectedly, leaving her both grief-stricken and impoverished in a genteel fashion. During the course of the book, they discover that Simon has become the heir to the large estate, that Gerald fled from as a youth. Simon is enticed there, where the family attempts to buy his acquiescence with offers of affluence.


One of the things I liked about this book is that the main characters are just genuinely nice. Simon is a nice kid – flawed, of course, as boys of 16 are, taken with the trappings of wealth, but his step-mother, Katherine, who is probably only 10 years his elder, is just such a generous and sensible person, and she has done such a fine job caring for him after his father died, that his ethics and integrity are well-grounded enough to withstand the pressure. The love interest, Alec (spoiler alert) is also a lovely man, a wealthy Scottish lawyer, not bothering to be jealous over Katherine’s past and the fact that she loved her husband. His proposal to her is simply touching.


‘Oh dear, I’d forgotten you were so rich! Everyone will say I’m marrying you for your money. All your friends will be sorry for you—have you thought of that, Alec?—they’ll say you’ve been caught by a designing widow with three——’


‘Let them say! I don’t care a tinker’s curse what anybody says—besides we’ll be married before “they” know anything at all about it. You don’t mind what people say, do you?’


‘I think I do—a little.’


‘Silly,’ said Alec, giving me a gentle squeeze.


‘Not silly,’ I told him. ‘I wish I had a little more money of my own. You’re marrying a beggar-woman, Alec.’


‘When we’re married I shall endow you “with all my worldly goods,” so you’ll be reasonably well off.’


‘I wish I had money of my own—now. For one thing I should like to be able to give you a really nice wedding present.’


‘You can,’ said Alec. ‘I want a half share in the children.’


There were tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I couldn’t speak.


‘I hope they’ll be pleased,’ continued Alec in doubtful tones. ‘It’s bound to be a bit of a shock to them—we must be prepared for that. You’ll have to watch them carefully; don’t let them brood about it and get all sorts of wrong ideas into their heads. Daisy and Denis will get used to it, if we give them plenty of time, but I’m worried about Simon.’


I’m pretty sure that this isn’t one of Stevenson’s better known offerings. It’s a small book, full of small moments, but it was a lovely thing to read on a quiet Saturday in October.

4 Stars
Katherine Wentworth by D.E. Stevenson
Katherine Wentworth (Katherine, #1) - D.E. Stevenson

This was the first book by D.E. Stevenson that I've read and it was charming. Full review later.

Bingo Call: 10/5/18

currently reading

Progress: 53/224pages
The Clockmaker’s Daughter - Kate Morton