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Intrigue in Capri (Kindle Single) (An Amory Ames Mystery)

Amory Ames and her husband Milo are on holiday in Capri and enjoying some relaxation when Amory notices a woman arriving at their hotel who seems quite mysterious and she overhears her saying that she needs help.  Then an article in a newspaper, some missing pearls and a mysterious disappearance ignites Amory’s curiosity.  Milo is less curious but knows Amory cannot leave a mystery alone.

This is an entertaining short story which includes the opening chapter of the fourth book in this series which is published in September 2017. I have read and enjoyed the previous three books in this well written and entertaining mystery series and I’m sure I shall enjoy the fourth book.

A Little History of Philosophy

I have at various times in my life attempted to get to grips with philosophy with not altogether happy results.  This is the best book I’ve read/listened to on the subject.  Nigel Warburton makes some very complex ideas accessible and interesting in this book.

Starting with Socrates – who constantly questioned how we live and paid with his life for his questions – the author takes the reader through the history of philosophy up to the present day.  Each short chapter deals with an individual philosopher, their life and work.  He does this in a relatively light-hearted way which really brings the ideas and the peoples to life.

If you have struggled with philosophy as a subject then do try this book and you may find you are interested in reading more about the individuals discussed.  I found the book accessible and interesting as well as entertaining.

Pause: How to press pause before life does it for you

If you feel that you are running fast just to stand still then make time in your busy schedule to read this book. So many people use the description ‘busy’ as a badge of honour rather than treating it as a wake up call to examine their lives and cut down on the ‘busy’ work.

This book doesn’t contain all that much which is new in the self help arena but it is focussed on encouraging you to slow down, meditate and concentrate on what is important in your life. Do you really need to check your phone a hundred times a day? Will the world fall apart if you only read emails twice a day? There is a useful one page summary at the end of the book which will remind you of the things you can do to help you slow down.

If you are rushing around all the time and not achieving very much then do try this book as it could change your life for the better. It is a beautifully produced book with plenty of space on the page as well as lots of inspirational quotations to make you think. I particularly liked the section on micro pauses and will be using some of those in my daily life. Remember if you don’t slow down life may enforce a pause on you through physical or mental breakdown.

Jane Austen and Food

Maggie Lane how food is portrayed in Jane Austen’s novels and juvenilia in this fascinating book.  I hadn’t appreciated how much Emma revolves around food until I read this book.  Mr Woodhouse is so much concerned about his own health and the health of other people and that includes the food he eats and the food he gives to his guests.  Then gifts of food are frequently given to the Bateses because their relative poverty is a concern of all their neighbours.

I shall now read Emma with greater appreciation of the more subtle nuances of the writing.  In the other novels food is only described in connection with relatively minor characters and usually to show what the reader is meant to think of those characters.  In Mansfield Park Dr Grant is obsessed with his food and subjects his wife to tantrums if anything is not quite right with his meal.

In Pride and Prejudice Mr Hurst main pleasure in life is food apart from playing cards.  He likes fancy food rather than the plain food Elizabeth Bennett prefers.  The book deals with hospitality as well as greed and gender and how it is mainly the male characters who display greed.

If you enjoy Jane Austen’s novels and like reading about the more minor aspects of her writing then you may enjoy this book.  Maggie Lane writes in an easy conversational style and really brings her subject to life.  There is an index of the various foods mentioned in the novels as well as notes on the chapters and a bibliography.

Head of a Traveller: Nigel Strangeways, Book 9

Nigel Strangeways admires poet Robert Seaton whose reputation is declining so he is delighted when a friend introduces him Seaton.  But the poet himself seems eccentric and unpredictable and his household is strange to say the least.  When a headless body is found in a river close to the house the various members of the household comes under suspicion.  Strangeways is invited to investigate along with his friend Superintendent Blunt.

I found the attitudes expressed by the various members of the household left a lot to be desired.  They seemed far more concerned with their own convenience and comfort than with the fact that a man had been killed. As a result they were all disposed to lie to Nigel and to the police, thus confusing the investigation.  They all seemed to be a law unto themselves.

The ending is tense and to a certain extent unresolved which was a little disappointing to this reader. I didn’t altogether agree with Nigel’s actions either. Other readers may feel differently.  The book is well written but Blake has created a singularly dislikeable set of characters in this mystery.

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (Cambridge Companions to Literature)

This is an ideal book for the general reader and for anyone studying Jane Austen. There are fifteen essays on various aspects of the six novels as well as Austen’s letters and the Juvenilia.  There is an essay on class as well as one on the professional woman writer which goes into detail about how and when the six novels were published and how much money Austen earned from them in her lifetime.

I was particularly interested in the essays on money – which shows how people with particular incomes could be expected to live and in Jane Austen on screen.  This last is covered in much more depth in Paula Byrne’s book The Genius of Jane Austen. The Cambridge Companion is particularly useful for its comprehensive section on further reading which is excellent if you want to start reading more widely about Jane Austen.

Jane Austen’s novels can be read on so many levels that any book which sheds light on minor aspects of her writing can add more depth to the reading of the books themselves.  Even the Juvenilia take on new life when you read about them here as do the letters.  Recommended reading if you are at all interested in Jane Austen and her writing.

The Dreadful Hollow: Nigel Strangeways, Book 10

Nigel Strangeways is engaged by Arthur Blick – a singularly dislikeable financier – to investigate a spate of poison pen letter in a small village where his two sons are resident.  Nigel soon finds that there is something very sinister going on in the village including a religious zealot who seems to have many of the villagers under his thumb.

There are also two sisters whose father was ruined financially by Blick.  Could they have anything to do with the poison pen letters?  Sir Arthur Blick visits his sons and is found dead in the hollow of the book title.  There are plenty of suspects but Nigel is still trying to sort out the poison pen mystery and wondering whether the letters – which have already caused a suicide, a breakdown and an attempted suicide – have anything to do with the financier’s death.

I found this mystery quite unpleasantly sinister with a lot of singularly dislikeable characters. It is well written and the air of menace around the religious zealot is cleverly done.  Nigel Strangeways is more than normally serious in this story.  If you enjoy classic mysteries then this series is well worth reading – the books can be read in any order.