Posts Tagged ‘series’


Molly Brown 2/3

June 24, 2013

I’ve now read books five and six of the Molly Brown series — Molly Brown’s Post-Graduate Days and Molly Brown’s Orchard Home. And I think I’m taking a break for a bit. I don’t like anyone anymore. Or care about what happens to Molly.

Here’s what happens in the first two post-college Molly Brown books:

A bunch of people fall in love with each other. Everyone is super jealous of everyone else. Molly and Professor Green are much less entertaining than they were before. Molly’s aunt, for whatever reason, is evil. So is the mother of a girl they meet on their way to France in book six. The kind of people who were redeemable in the earlier books aren’t anymore. The humor is meaner. The friendships are less convincing.

I’m sure part of the way I feel about these two books is about my having run out of patience, but not all of it. So, I hope to come back to Molly Brown at some point and finish the series, but for now I am done.


Molly Brown, 1/2 — or maybe 3

June 23, 2013

People have been bugging me about reading Nell Speed for a long time. LadyMem on Twitter, in particular, reminds me every so often that this is something I have to do. And since it seemed like last week was coming late to the party week for me, I have finally started reading the Molly Brown series. This post deals with the first half of the series — Molly Brown’s Freshman Days through Molly Brown’s Senior Days.

And yeah, they’re fun. Really, really fun.

This is actually the first college girl series I’ve read in years that hasn’t made me feel like a lousy person for not liking college. I don’t know if that’s because they’re less intent on preaching the gospel of their fictional college, or just that I’ve moved past that. I think it might be a little of both. Read the rest of this entry ?


Short story series #2: We’ve been here before

June 20, 2013

Check out the previous post in the series for stuff about short story series you’ve almost certainly heard of, and for my philosophy of short stories, which pretty much boils down to “they’re better when they come by the bookful and are all about the same character.”

These are the stories that I’ve written about here before. They’re in order from least to most awesome, which is not to say that the Our Square stories aren’t pretty good, or that Torchy isn’t a little higher on my list of favorite things ever than Emma McChesney. I mean, I put them in worst-to-best order by accident, and thought I might as well make a note of it. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Prisoner in the Opal

September 13, 2011

Some authors have only one great book in them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t also write a lot of other books. I think of A.E.W. Mason as one of those. The Four Feathers is a masterpiece. It’s the only proper adventure novel I can think of that is also successfully introspective and, you know, intelligent, and…”if you want any whiskey, stamp twice on the floor with your foot; the servants understand.”

But anyway. I adore The Four Feathers, but I’m never quite sure whether it’s my favorite A.E.W. Mason book, because there’s also The Prisoner in the Opal. And The Prisoner in the Opal is indisputably one of the ‘other books,’ but I love it.

I think Mason’s detective, Inspector Hanaud of the Surete, is as direct a predecessor of Hercule Poirot as you’re going to find anywhere — he’s tremendously full of himself, he uses psychology to solve crimes, and his behavior seems calculated to offend the English people with whom he comes into contact. He first appears in At the Villa Rose, in 1910. It’s not so great. I haven’t read any of the other Hanaud books, but I have high hopes for the one titled They Wouldn’t be Chessmen. Read the rest of this entry ?


Reviews at EP: The Clue

July 10, 2011

Several weeks ago, I followed up my reread of Vicky Van with my first ever reading of The Clue, Carolyn Wells’ first mystery novel. It’s possible that it’s also her best mystery novel, although I also kind of think it’s her worst ever use of Fleming Stone.


Unrelatedly, I’m so fond of recieving recommendations from readers that I’ve put up a page specifically for that purpose. You can find it here or in the sidebar.


The Girl at Central, etc.

May 16, 2011

You know those mystery novels that are preoccupied with time and alibis and maps, where you’re constantly being asked whether a suspect could have made it from one place to another in however much time? And how it’s more like a word problem in a high school math textbook than a story, and you keep having to flip back to the map in the front of the book, and every time you do that you lose the thread of what’s going on, and the characters are like puzzle pieces, and it just never really works, even when Dorothy Sayers does it?

I’m exaggerating, but I do get really irritated when mystery novels give too much space to maps and alibis and such, because so often authors focus on those things to the exclusion of the characters. I’m okay with train schedules and clocks, I just want the people in the book to be the most important thing about the book. I get that that’s hard, but one cannot live by plot alone.

Geraldine Bonner, however, doesn’t seem to have a problem keeping her people and her plots balanced. I’m very much indebted to Cathlin for recommending her, because this is the first time a mystery author has made me like flipping back to the map in front of the book (and by flipping back to the map in the front of the book, I mean saving the image of the map from the ebook and having it open in a different window). Also, the narrator reminded me of Nancy from In the Bishop’s Carriage, and that’s always a plus. Read the rest of this entry ?


Max Carrados

January 9, 2011

I recently acquainted myself with Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah’s blind detective. The Carrados stories were first published in the Strand Magazine, alongside the Sherlock Holmes stories, and were apparently just as popular. And actually, they’re pretty good. They’re a little too fantastical, probably, but in such an entertaining way that I hesitate to call that a complaint. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Pollyooly books

October 21, 2010

So, I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to figure out what’s what in the world of Pollyooly.

First, there’s Pollyooly. Or, to be more specific, Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them. Then there’s Happy Pollyooly,  the rich little poor girl(The American title — in the UK it was The Second Pollyooly Book). That appears to follow directly on the first book. In it, Pollyooly is still twelve, and the Lump is three. A third book, Pollyooly Dances, takes place rather later, during World War I, when Pollyooly is 19, and it seems like there ought to be other stories in between. There are things that need explanations — the absence of the Lump, the absence of Lord Ronald Ricksborough, the presence of other characters who appear to have some history with Pollyooly and the Honorable John Ruffin, and any number of other things. But I can’t find that there was ever any other Pollyooly book.

Anyway, what I have found, with the assistance of Google Books, is three additional stories published in Pearson’s Magazine. They’re consecutive, and appear to follow directly on Happy Pollyooly.

This is everything I’ve found, in order.

Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them

Happy Pollyooly,  the rich little poor girl

“Pollyooly and the Red Deepings”

“Pollyooly and the Lump” (This story has no other title, which is odd, since it’s mostly about the Honorable John Ruffin.)

“The Course of True Love”

Pollyooly Dances


Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them

October 19, 2010

For the past couple of days I’ve had the name “Pollyooly” stuck in my head. Hopefully now that I’ve finished the book, it will go away. Even if it doesn’t, though, it might have been worth it.

I’m theorizing, on pretty much no basis, that there are three kind of people who write about children: those who think they understand kids, those who understand kids a little bit, and those who know that they don’t understand them at all. The second kind is the best, in general, and the first is usually pretty bad. But there’s something to be said for the people who know that they don’t know, and that’s the category that Edgar Jepson falls into.

Not that Pollyooly is a children’s book, really. But it does center around a child, and Pollyooly, age 12, is a lovely kind of fictional child, smart and serious and essentially unfathomable, but not above making funny faces at people when the situation calls for it. Read the rest of this entry ?


Seven Keys to Baldpate, Fantômas, Mapp and Lucia

October 4, 2010

This was supposed to be a post on Seven Keys to Baldpate, but Seven Keys to Baldpate started out as possibly the best thing ever, and ended up being kind of disappointing, and I can’t think of anything else to say about it. A brief synopsis: first it was a kind of metacommentary on storytelling. Then it was not.

Other books that I don’t, at the moment, have a whole lot to say about: Read the rest of this entry ?


The House Without a Key

September 29, 2010

So, you can thank Earl Derr Biggers for my meditations on racism yesterday. Reading up on Charlie Chan before I started The House Without a Key, I found an incredibly wide range of opinions on whether or not the depiction of Chan was racist, from “of course it isn’t; he’s a good guy,” to “the broken English and the servility are both kind of massively offensive.” So of course I read the book with the intention of forming my own opinion. And I did. I formed two, actually. One is that any depiction of a Chinese-American as a main character and a good person in the mid-1920s is a really good thing. The other is that consistently having the point-of-view characters be shocked and skeptical that a Chinese man could be a detective is kind of upsetting — and kept interrupting the flow of the story for me. Also I have issues with the way Biggers has the central character duplicate all of Chan’s work.

That said, I’m really enjoying Biggers’ books. I like his plots. I like his atmosphere. I like his characters, even when they think thoughts along the lines of “I seem to be involved with three different women. Huh.” Read the rest of this entry ?


The Boy with the U.S. Census

June 4, 2010

I thought The Boy with the U.S. Census, by Francis Rolt-Wheeler, was going to be kind of boring, but there’s so much going on with it that I’m not sure where to start.

I guess we can begin with Mr. Rolt-Wheeler himself. Back when I thought the book was going to be boring, I thought this post was going to be all about him. According to French Wikipedia, he was born in England and left home at the age of twelve, earning his passage to America as a deckhand on a sailing ship. He then became an Anglican minister (although the New York Times says he was Episcopalian) and also an expert on astrology and the occult.

Sadly, French Wikipedia has nothing to offer on what seems to have been the most sensational part of Rolt-Wheeler’s history. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Silent Witness

May 31, 2010

I like R. Austin Freeman. Really. He’s cool, Doctor Thorndyke is cool, The Eye of Osiris is extremely cool, etc.

The Silent Witness is ridiculous. Read the rest of this entry ?


Torchy Again

May 13, 2010

I have now read all of the Torchy books, and realized two things:

1. The bibliography I was looking at is wrong, and The House of Torchy comes between Wilt Thou Torchy and Torchy and Vee, not after Torchy as a Pa. It’s important to know that, too, because if you skip it you go straight from Torchy getting married yo Vee to Torchy living on Long Island with Vee and an infant son and a French cook/gardener, and doing his work for the Corrugated Trust under the auspices of the US Army.

I kind of love it when authors deal with wars by having their series characters reassigned to their usual jobs by the Army.

2. Torchy and Vee are the best early 20th century fictional couple ever. It’s not just that they talk to each other about all sorts of things, that they laugh together, that they like each other as much as they love each other but done always understand each other. It’s also that Vee, the beautiful heiress, wasn’t even the tiniest bit reserved or distant from the beginning. And that Torchy kisses her pretty early on in their friendship (and frequently thereafter), and she doesn’t really get upset. And that they’re always touching each other–they hug, and hold hands, and Vee rumples Torchy’s hair–and it’s almost shocking, because I’ve never before come across fictional characters from this era who were so casually affectionate. It’s kind of great.



May 7, 2010

After I finished The Circular Staircase and The House of a Thousand Candles, I thought I’d continue on a Mary Roberts Rinehart kick. And I liked Tish, one of her books of stories about an eccentric spinster and her friends, but it didn’t make me want to read more Tish books. It made me want to reread Torchy.

Torchy is, like Tish, a character in a long-running series of short stories. But his are better than hers. I meant just to reread Torchy, but once I was done with that, I read Trying Out Torchy, On With Torchy, Torchy, Private Sec., and Wilt Thou Torchy and now I’m in the middle of Torchy and Vee. Read the rest of this entry ?


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