Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. A BBC Radio 4 Full Cast Dramatization

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Two weeks ago, My Mom and I went on a road trip to Buffalo, NY so I could defend my dissertation and clean out my storage unit and officially move back to Iowa. Fun times. This meant that we had a lot of time together on the road and in hotel rooms, so we got a lot of audiobooks listened to. When we were planning this road trip, we decided we wanted to do some Agatha Christie. I didn’t realize, though, when we checked this out from the library, that this was a dramatization. That ended up being a pleasant surprise. The cast did an excellent job of portraying the fear and the mystery of the novel. It was really enjoyable. Fellow blogger Jack suggested we look for the James Bond dramatizations. The library doesn’t have them, but I might see if they’ll get them in for us because listening to this was fun.

Review: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

img_4946This book was really cute. It is the story of Sara, who comes to America, specifically to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal only to find out that her pen pal has died. Sara and her pen pal Amy exchanged books and bonded over their mutual love of reading. Sara had worked for a bookstore in her home country of Sweden, but it has permanently closed its doors. So, she has the time to vacation and to decide what is next in her life.

Since Amy isn’t there to meet her, the town steps in. They set her up in Amy’s house (as Amy would have wanted) and get someone to drive her around (a couple of someones, actually, both of whom have their own little subplots). Everyone is so kind and generous to her that she decides she needs to find a way to pay everyone back. She finally lands on opening a bookstore in a store front conveniently owned by Amy and using Amy’s books. This, of course, changes the lives of many people in town. The book is quite long, but it has at least 4 sub-plots that are all resolved in the narrative and that takes time.

 

When I posted about this being my current listen, I said that I picked this book because it is set in Iowa and I was pretty sure it was written by someone not-from-Iowa. I thought that was a wonderful novelty. Having lived in Iowa many years, I’m always interested in hearing what people who haven’t had that experience think about the state. And, I have to say, I found it a little confusing.  First, I was pretty sure that the town was supposed to be in Southern Iowa, but then it mentioned that it could be a bedroom community for Cedar Rapids, which is not in Southern Iowa. (And, is the next town over from where I went to high school). Second, there’s a gay kid who comes to town to investigate the bookstore and then make friends with the gay guys that run the local tavern because he has no other outlet for meeting gay people. But…he has a car and lives near-ish to Cedar Rapids and can’t make it to Iowa City which isn’t that far beyond Cedar Rapids and has an actual gay bar (not just a bar owned and operated by a gay couple) and has had a gay bar since the ’90s? Also, while we’re talking about the bar owned and operated by a gay couple, this book was set around 2011 and there was at least one comment about that couple and marriage, but gay couples could get married in Iowa in 2011. That bothered me a little. I was also a little bothered by some of the representations of Iowans. Like, I love the Iowans I know, but we’re super nosy and will tell people what we think, so I don’t know how its possible that no one knew Sara was coming and that no one made it clear to Amy beforehand that she had to A. tell Sara she was dying and B. make specific arrangements for Sara, should she be dead by the time of her arrival. (I admit it. I am often that person telling someone exactly what I think after I’ve nosed around a little.)

The audio book is read by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King and it had me wondering the entire way through, do people outside the US have an understanding that American accents fall into two categories: typical American and Southern? Do people outside the US think that everyone in rural American speaks with a Southern accent? Because, that is not true. There are features of Iowa English that make it unique (as is true of every regional area) but those features don’t really overlap with Southern English. They’re probably closer to Minnesota English (and Canadian English), Wisconsin English, and Indiana, Illinois and Northern Ohio than the South. You’re more likely to hear someone say the word “milk” and have it sound like “melk” then you are to hear someone say “pin” and “pen” the same way.  Also, Iowans have all the r’s. This is something that interests me to no end and I may do a series on accents, language and representation in the things we’ve read here on this blog.

Anyway, it was cute. So, if you’re willing to go on a meandering little walk through a small town that’s allegedly Iowa (but that actual Iowans wouldn’t believe was Iowa) and you don’t mind a bunch of little divergences, then I recommend this. If that sounds irritating to you, then give this a pass.

 

 

Quick Review: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

the burning maze

**Minor Spoilers**

I have to say this is best of the Trials of Apollo series so far.  We’ve settle in nicely into Apollo/Lester’s to rescue the oracles from the Triumvirate and earn his place back on Olympus but the stacks are much higher than ever before.  If I had one issue with Rick’s works is the lack of consequences for the main characters.  The life of demigods are often faced with many deadly trials but somehow always managed to live.  After a while, the near death experiences lose their impact when the reader knows the character is going to live because they are after all the hero.  True as readers we want them to live and have their happy endings but you can’t keep stating how dangerous demigods lives are if they never truly see the consequences but I digress.  Apollo and Meg explore the Burning Maze with the help of Grover. This leads them to California where the west has been dealing with unprecedented wildfires.  Either Rick knew that California would dealing with wildfires in real life or just coincidence.  It would be nice if a few demigods could go in a maze, defeat an enchantress and stop the wildfires but alas it doesn’t work that way.  The maze brings them to Meg’s former home and the help of Piper and Jason.  Our heroes face the third Emperor who is by far the most dangerous.  More than anything, we are seeing the most growth in Apollo is this one.  He’s still Apollo so the ego is still big but it has had some bruising.  He’s starting to understand his own humanity as he’s understanding that he is no longer immortal and is truly vulnerable.  Apollo is slowly embracing his humanity and with that comes all the joys and the pain that comes with it.  More than anything, if he is going to complete his quest he is going to have to become more human and depend on his friends to do it.  The stacks are much higher than they have ever been in one of Rick’s series and making of powerful series.

Quick Review: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

a reaper at the gates ***Minor Spoilers***

We finally made it to the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series and things are getting real.  Laia, Elias and Helena are basically on their own as they deal with the many crisis’ going on in the Empire.  Laia is focused on one two things, bringing down the Nightbringer and saving her people.  Elias is the new Soul Catcher but having trouble in his new role.  Helena is the Blood Shrike, trying to defend the Empire and the Emperor who she doesn’t like and defending what is left of their family.  As they go about their business, they have no idea that they are doing exactly what the Nightbringer wants them to do.  It frustrating as it is interesting to read as the reader knows that the characters are playing into their enemies hands but are unsure as to how exactly and horrified that they is nothing they can do about it.  I spent a fair amount of my time reading wanting to scream at Laia, Elias and Helena to STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  YOU ARE MAKING A DUMB MISTAKE!  Especially, Helena who was supposed to be one of the smartest in her class at the Blackcliff but time and time again was easily out maneuvered by The Commandant or the Nightbringer.  He biggest mistake is that she assumes that everyone loves the Empire as much as she does and will play fair and is shocked to find that’s not the case and even though she is told this many times she continues to make this mistake.  (I think a certain political party is the same way and is why it keeps losing)  Her unwillingness to believe or play that game keeps costing her and is even more frustrating because the one time she does, she won.  Anyway, this was a great set up to the final book that will definitely feature more pain.  Let’s hope our characters learn from their mistakes in this book.