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?

Saga: Book 1 - 4

One of my goals in 2016 is to read more. See other books I've read here
I added a new addition to this goal in June, which is to read at least one comic book trade paper back per month. 

Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples is probably my favorite comic to come out in recent years.  


Landfall and Wreath have been at war for what seems like forever. But they and the worlds they've out sourced the fighting to have forgotten what the war's about. Some fight blindly, but some are starting to see that war might not be the answer. When a feisty Landfall guard falls in love with a pacifist Wreath defector, all hell breaks loose.  

I had read the first two or three books of Saga back when they first came out. I've been wanting to pick the story up ever since. When I decided I wanted to be reading more comics this year, these were the first books I went for. I read more than my months worth and I'm glad I did. This isn't a beginner's comic, as it jumps in time and is narrated by a character that is only a baby. But the love story in the midst of struggle and strife is compelling, and the characters are really interesting, both good guys and bad guys. Sometimes you're not sure who you're rooting for. Plus there's a giant talking cat. Can't go wrong there. 
If you're a comic book fan, particularly a indie or super hero parody fan, you should be reading Saga. I would also recommend these books to people who like sci-fi love stories, wartime stories, and space adventures. If you're new to comics, it might take a little effort to get the hang of this book, but stick with it, the simple, colorful artwork, and heartfelt story are worth it!  

Neither Here Nor There

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

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson was a book that I had in my "not yet read" pile of books. 


My "not yet read" pile of books is actually about 20 wine boxes of not yet read books now housed in our basement. It's my goal to get thru at least some of them this year. Last year, I read A Walk in the Woods and really enjoyed it, so now when I see a Bill Bryson book, on a stoop, or thrift shop, I usually pick it up and add it to the pile. I can't recall where I picked this copy up, but I was pleased to note it too had traveled to Europe:

Neither Here Nor There sees Bryson retracing the steps of travels he took nearly 20 years before in Europe. Now a seasoned traveler, he wanders with relative ease and confidence, but the trip reminds him of a time when he was new to traveling and new to Europe. He remineces about his past trip, his memorable travel partner (the infamous Kats), and how times have changed as he explores a "new" Europe.   

Bill Bryson makes you want to be a better writer. His style is so easy, effortless and approachable, you start to think "Well, if he can do it, so can I!". For this I think I will enjoy all his books. In this book, he makes apt and interesting observations as he wanders rather aimlessly thru various countries. Even though this book was written some 30 years ago, and many things have changed, the pleasures, annoyances, victories and defeats of travel never do, and Bryson makes you feel as if you are right there with him. 
I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys travelogs, people who have traveled in Europe and those who wish to. 

Have you read this book? Have you traveled in Europe?

2015 Goal - Reading

In January, I wrote down some goals I have for the year. I only marked down my general goals. I didn't want to get overwhelmed! I think it would be good to expand on each of the main topics. There are very specific things I want to accomplish within each goal section. 
I'll be breaking down what I want to get done for each goal over the year and posting updates. See the first goal I tackled here.

The second goal I want to address is Reading. 

Here's what I originally wrote:
Read More - I can only remember reading three books last year. Pitiful. 

The three books I remember finishing are Sara Gran's Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead and Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway, and Mark Mills' House of the Hunted.  It's possible I read one or maaaaybe two more, but these are the only ones I remember reading. 

I love to read, I should be reading more. Reading should be a priority. So that's my goal this year. 

And I'm off to a good start. Or a start at least! Because I finished my first book in 2015:
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I started this book way back in September 2014. My mom was reading when we went on vacation to Cape May. She was almost done, but she forgot her copy at home. She decided to buy another bc she was eager to finish. I encouraged her to, so that I could have it when she was done. Two of my good friends had been recommending Bryson's books to me for a while so I was happy for the opportunity. As my mom was finishing it, reading at night or before a leisurely vacation nap, I would here her laughing to her self and I became even more interested. It's true that this book is funny, but it's also very informational, and somber in parts, too. 

A Walk in the Woods tells the real life tale of Bryson's attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail from beginning to end. Through the series of his misadventures, he skillfully weaves the interesting and sometimes bizarre history of one of America's longest and oldest trails, with the relevance it still holds today. He imparts facts and knowledge about the trail and about hiking in America as seen through his own, at times pessimistic, world view and humor.  

More and more as I grow older, I love books with facts. I love histories, especially about the American East Coast where I'm from. A Walk in the Woods was exactly the kind of book I've come to love. It's engaging and interesting, chock full of facts about the Appalachian Trail, it's history and geography, but moves along in an easy narrative. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, nature and hiking, or buddy stories. 

Have you read this book? Leave a comment!