The Mysterious Affair at Styles

One of my goals in 2019 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

When I went on my first audio book buying binge, I was certain to get a novel by mystery great, Agatha Christie. The Mysterious Affair at Style is the first novel in the famous Poirot series and was read by James Langton.


Poirot is another classic and famous detective that I have watched for many years, but I’ve never actually read any of his novels.

Hastings, freshly back to from the war is resting and recouperating but edging to boredom until he runs into his old friend John Cavendish who invites him to stay at Styles Manor for a while. Relaxation soon turns to tragedy when John’s step mother is poisoned and the household is sent in to disarray. Although Hastings earns to be a detective, this case might prove to be too much for an ameture. Hasting speculates that if only the odd, meticulous, but brilliant Inspector Poirot were available the case would be solved in no time. And whom should he meet unexpectedly in the village… Why Poirot himself!

This is another first mystery novel that betrays the newness of the author. Long and meadandering, with a lot of contasting clues and misdirections, The Affair at Styles can drag a little. Although not the most dynamic novel, it still has all the great elements that Agatha Christie is known for. Not the least of which is Poirot himself. Fastidious, exacting, Belgian, Poirot demands as much from his suspects and friends as he does for himself. This mystery kept me guessing until the end, and I would recommend it to those who enjoy murder mysteries, famous detectives, or novels about British aristocracy.

Do you have a favorite first novel? First work, first in a series?

Ready Player One

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. This kinda counts. See other books I've read here.   

I technically didn't read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, I listened to Wil Wheaton read it. My dad read this book a few years ago and really liked it, so he got me the book-on-tape.

I have a complex relationship with Wil Wheaton. I hated the actor back when he played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation but since have pretty much fallen in love with his later work. His you tube show, Table Top, and his guest appearances on The Guild, are recent favorites. Now Wheaton has a specific way of talking and reading so one really has to want to hear him if they listen to this book. a few years ago, I listened to every podcasts he did from 2005 to 2013 over a couple of months, and even I had trouble listening to this book for super long periods of time. But that reminds me, I need to catch up on Radio Free Burrito.   

Wade Watts lives in a dystopian future in a trailer park, so cramped that the vehicles are stacked on top of each other and under the thumb of his abusive aunt. His life sucks and his only respite is the MMO "game", The OASIS, that the world relies on for escape. In The OASIS, Wade can have a virtual life where he learns, makes friends, goes to school, and avoids the harsh reality of an impoverished, oil barren, dangerous "real world".  When the creator of The OASIS dies, he tells the world that he has hidden history's greatest easter egg in the game, and whoever finds it first will not only inherit his staggering wealth, but control of The OASIS, as well. From that moment on, Wade dedicates his life to finding The Egg. His search sends him in new, sometimes terrifying directions... And he isn't the only person looking for The Egg. 

In Ready Player One, the creator of The OASIS grew up in the 1980s, so just about every clue to find The Egg has to do with that time period. Everything 80s pop culture is the constant theme of the book. And everything geeky: video games, tv, movies, etc...

I had some troubles with this book. The writing style is stilted. Every action is painfully over described, making the book drag on and feel endless. I also felt that the constant over-detailed nostalgia bogged down the story in many areas, acted as needless filler, and/or talked down to anyone who had lived thru that era or knew well the source materials. The constant injection of 80s trivia seemed strangely calculated, as if it was included only for the film adaptation. And the movie has already been green-lighted. My last gripe was that the story was immensely straight forward with no unforeseen twists. Although the universe constructed is an interesting one, the tale proceeds exactly as one imagines. 

All that being said, I enjoyed this book OK. There's a sequel but I don't think I'd bother reading it. I will see the movie, which will be directed by Steven Spielberg. (My choice would have been McG or Edger Wright). Even though I didn't love this book, I would recommend this book to nerds and geeks, young adults and people who like video games. 

Right after I was given the audio tape of Ready Player One, I was lucky enough to find a paperback copy on a stoop (my favorite way to acquire books). I kept it bc I wasn't sure if I'd rather listen to the book, or read it. Now that I have listened to the book, I don't think I need the paper copy. So, I've decided to give it away on my instagram! Head there for all the details!