Where Are These Kids Parents?

Where Are These Kids Parents?The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Published by Harper Collins on April 12, 2005
Genres: Children's fiction
Pages: 128
Source: Borrowed: print book

Called one of America's favorite Christmas stories, and now a classic television movie, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" has been a favorite of young readers the world over since 1972. Funny, memorable, and outrageous, it is the story of a family of incorrigible children who discover the Christmas story for the first time and help everyoone else rediscover its true meaning.

I laughed throughout this hilarious story of the Herdmans consisting of Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys. My first thought is that I can see why the kids are terrible if their parents named them that.

This is honestly a short and sweet story about a clan of terrible kids who have their whole neighborhood and community in terror of what they are going to do next. I did laugh at one line that said that the Herdmans were the worst kids in the history of the world, they lied, stole, and played with matches.

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Yes, apparently playing with matches is equal to all of that.

The story takes a surprisingly sweet turn to the ending. The illustrations by Laura Cornell were great and really brought the Herdmans to life.

I read this for The (Mostly) Dead Writers Society 2016 Genre Fiction challenge. And with this final book/review I completed my challenge for the year.

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Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #4
Published by Harper Collins on 1926
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
Source: Purchased: print book

In the village of King's Abbot, a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study--but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow's blackmailer. King's Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd's wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim's home. It's now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King's Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd--a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard's ingenious sister, Caroline.

This is book 4 of Christie’s books featuring Hercule Poirot, and is the book that made her a household name.

I’ve read the first 23 Poirot books in the last few months. I’ve been holding off posting full reviews because I wanted to give the books a chance to percolate in my mind for a bit, and get to know Hercule a little bit better. Not that I hadn’t read any Poirot books before embarking on this project – I had. But I hadn’t read them in any sort of a systematic, consistent, or ordered fashion.

The quality of the series overall is pretty high, although they are some huge clunkers in the bunch. Roger Ackroyd, however, is not one of them. In fact, it remains one of the highlights of the series for me, and is a very unique entry into the Poirot canon. It is one of the only (if not THE only) Poirot books that is written in first person narrative by one of the characters, the village doctor, James Sheppard. Neither Inspector Japp nor Hastings make any appearance in this book, and Sheppard takes on the role of “sidekick”. Christie is experimenting with narrative styles in this book, early in her career, and she does it very successfully. The identity of the murder is shocking and the way that Christie reveals it is brilliantly clever, on par with the solution in And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express for sheer inventiveness.

It’s my general plan to finish the Poirot books this year, at which point I will rank them in my personal order of best to worst. I’ve read enough to know that Roger Ackroyd isn’t going to be number one on the list, but I’m surmising that it’ll easily make the top ten.

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha ChristieSparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
Published by Harper Collins on 1944
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
Source: Scribd

Six people reunite to remember beautiful Rosemary Barton, who died nearly a year before. The loving sister, the long-suffering husband, the devoted secretary, the lovers, the betrayed wife - none of them can forget Rosemary.

But did one of them murder her?

I listened to this one on audiobook – rather out of order, as it turns out, since this is the last of the Colonel Race books. I’ve not read Colonel Race 1 through 4, so, obviously, I didn’t read them in the right order.

But, that’s all right. Because Agatha wrote in the decades before the cliff hanger, and she didn’t really do multi-book narrative arcs. So, it’s all good.

My husband and I drove down to Eugene, Oregon today for the spring scrimmage. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm-ish, and Autzen stadium was full of Duck fans. It was really a great time. For our drive, I recapped him on what had happened so far in the book, and we queued it up. We didn’t quite finish it before we got home, so we muted the golf and finished it up in the comfort of our family room.

I honestly had paid little attention to the fact that Christie wrote more than Poirot/Marple books. I organized up a Christie reread project on my primary blog yesterday, and was stunned to learn that she had written a few more Inspector Battle books (I loved The Secret of Chimneys, after all), a short series with a pair of sleuths name Tommy and Tuppence (I’ve never read any of these), the Colonel Race books, as well as a few straight up stand-alones, and a whole bunch of short story collections.

Nary a Poirot or Marple to be found in Sparkling Cyanide.

I wouldn’t call this one of her best, but we both really enjoyed it. It was fun to listen with someone, because we were able to bounce solutions – the crazier the better – off of each other. The solution was clever (aren’t they always) but firmly guessable. I figured it out before the end, although not a lot before the end. There is both a mechanical puzzle to solve (how did the cyanide get into the champagne glass) and an identification puzzle (the whodunnit).

There’s even a bit of a romance thrown in, just for fun. It’s a Christie romance – not particularly developed, little focus, although it is important to the solution.

Nowhere near as brilliant as Murder on the Orient Express, not as charming as The Secret of Chimneys, and not as confounding as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But still a lot of fun.

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