Tag Archives: 1920’s

Book Review: “The Seven Conundrums,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Genre: mystery; intrigue; classic vintage


Plot Summary: A trio of entertainers are down on their luck when a mysterious man emerges out of the night to make them an offer of a lifetime.  Desperate, they agree to do anything he asks of them in exchange for a guarantee of work lineup.  Soon, they are rolling in it and living the highlife while touring England and abroad.  But exactly who’s side are they on—the side of the just or the side of evil?

My Book Review: Although Oppenheim’s most famous novel (The Great Impersonation) had me an instant fan as a kid, I’ve sort of become less enthused about some of his other works since then.  I was hoping this novel would draw me back in, or else I was seriously going to rethink whether I wanted to continue with his canon.

I was pleased to find myself enjoying this very much, especially for the book’s atmosphere.  The seven mysteries, the intrigue, wild characters, and the some of the exotic European locales had my interest.  Although it still did not have TGI beat, I’ve decided to continue on with more Oppenheim novels next year!

I also recommend…

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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Book Reviews


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Movie Review: “The Aviator”

Based on the book by Ernest K. Gann.

Version: 1985; starring Christopher Reeve; Tyne Daly

Genre: adventure; classic

Plot Summary: A physically and emotionally scarred US mail pilot is commissioned to escort a young teenager over the lonely Rocky Mountain wilderness during the 1920’s.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that work.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book. 

When I first came across this streaming for free online, I thought it was an early version of The Aviator that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett.  I thought it might be about Howard Hughes.  The story turned out to be quite different than I expected and was a pleasant surprise.

Though this movie may be lacking a lot of the frills and fancies of today’s world, the story was still interesting because of the well-developed characters.  Reeve plays a good pilot that is still suffering from a war incident and lives in isolation from those around him.  Tillie is a young teenage girl that on the surface seems spoiled and immature, but when put to the test proves she has courage to survive hardships.

Some beautiful cinematography from the air and accompanying filmscore is lovely.  Acting may not be A1, but there aren’t any scenes you wouldn’t want your parents to watch.  I believe there were a few ‘d’ words sprinkled throughout.  Tillie does confess that she was ‘banged up’ by a boy prior to her plane trip and declares that it ‘certainly wasn’t love.’  She begins to develop a bit of a crush on Edgar, but nothing inappropriate comes of it.  Rather, it was sweet and humorous and Edgar comes to realize that there may be something in him the right woman could love about him.

I believe that the character Tillie was made older in the movie than she was in the book, but I think this was actually in the story’s favor.  If you’re looking for something a little different, I believe you would enjoy this for entertainment.

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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Movie Reviews


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BBC Audiobook: Winnie-the-Pooh

3c22fde7610bf01818b37bc9de298973What do heffalumps, woozles, birthday parties, and very tight places all have in common?  Why Winnie-the-Pooh of course!  And autumn is the perfect time to settle in for the evening with some classic Pooh-bear stories read by Alan Bennett.  So grab your children, grandma and grandpa, too and get ready to go on an expotition!  Only available for a limited time.


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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas


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Book Review: “The Murder on the Links,” by Agatha Christie

74829Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: When Hercule Poirot receives an intriguing letter from a foreign millionaire, he sets out right away for the French countryside.  But before he and Captain Hastings arrive the Monsieur Renauld is found dead on a golf course, stabbed in the back.  Who could have done such a thing?  Was it his son, who thought he stood to inherit millions?  The neighbor woman thought to be his mistress?  Or could it be the mysterious girl on the train who calls herself Cinderella?  Soon another body is found dead in a similar manner, and everyone’s theories are thrown out the window…

My Book Review:  Continuing my way through the Poirot series… 🙂

After finishing Agatha Christie’s first Poirot novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles), I had a bit of a letdown.  I was hoping the second installment in the series would be much more to my liking, and happily I got the suspense I was looking for!  One of the things that really helped me to like this story better was the setting.  A millionaire’s villa set in the French countryside really set the atmosphere and it was fun practicing my French accents!

I felt the plot was cleverly laid out and the details came together and made sense.  What a marked improvement from The MA@S!  There was a point nearing the end when I was afraid the story would end flat, but then came a plot twist that I didn’t foresee and Agatha proves she is the queen of mystery novels.

There are some elements within this book that I love about A.G.’s stories.  One is her huge use of colorful dialogue and different characters.  Another is of there being a backstory that happened years before the book starts, and you have to figure out which of the current characters are the same people under assumed names.

The only thing I didn’t like is that in this particular story, Poirot comes across as very conceited and arrogant.  Sometimes his mood varies from book to book, but in this one he was not as likeable.

I’ve read a few Poirot mysteries, but plot-wise this was my favorite I’ve read so far.  Not my favorite Christie mystery (that honor belongs for Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), but it makes up for the letdown after The MA@S.

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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Book Reviews


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Book Review: “Love Comes Calling,” by Siri Mitchell

18008073Genre: romance, historical fiction, Inspirational, 1920’s, humor

Plot Summary: Ellis Eaton is bombing out in her classes at college.  She just can’t seem to apply herself!  What’s more, she feels like she keeps failing everybody she knows and loves– including Griffin Phillips, the boy-next-door.  The only solution seems to escape and go to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming a movie star.  The only problem is to save up enough to get there.  When a lookalike friend suggests Ellis fills in for her as a ‘hello girl’ telephone operator, Ellis agrees.  But then she accidentally overhears a mysterious conversation implying danger toward Griffin.  What will this mean for him and for her future plans?

My Book Review:  I’ve been interested in trying some of Siri Mitchell’s novels and this is the first one I’ve tried.  I had a lot of fun reading it!  The main character, Ellis, is a lively heroine who keeps getting into scrapes and she reminded me a lot of Anne Shirley.  It didn’t take me long to wonder if Ellis might have had some sort of attention deficit disorder.  Her rambling first person narrative (which I loved) would stop and change on a dime from one topic to another.  Unfortunately for her she is often misunderstood because of this, especially by her mother.  At the end of the book, the author explains that she did purposefully create Ellis with ADHD, but that society would not have recognized or correctly diagnosed it back during the Prohibition era.  I thought this was an interesting angle to the story.

b1882cf3f70040d799b56130233ba331One of Siri Mitchell’s signatures is filling her novels with interesting history so that you’re not only entertained, but educated.  This particular book centered on the Prohibition era of the 1920’s (a decade that’s really popular right now thanks to Downton Abbey!).  We get to see the introduction of crossword puzzles, and references to fashion trends, popular songs, films, movie stars, and other pop culture of the times.  I loved the descriptions!

I didn’t find the book to be a painful, fluffy novel and enjoyed it.  However, there came a time where I felt the plot felt stuck in a rut like it was not going anywhere.  The biggest hitch was repetition.  Ellis was continually reminding us of her goal in trying to protect Griffin, but it became tedious.  Griffin tries to pursue her romantically but can never seem to find a time and place alone with her.  This doesn’t happen once, twice, or three times but many many times during the course of the story.  Instead of creating suspense, this technique caused me to feel the story had nothing more to offer than filler scenes.  I really dislike repetition!

It also became a little confusing as to what Ellis was thinking, –but then I think she was confused herself!  First she says that she disappoints others when she is herself, so she finds it best to pretend to be a different character.  Then she says she can’t be what everyone else wants her to be because it’s not who she is.  ?

This was a fun story that didn’t center so much on romance as it was a coming-of-age story with a heroine who is in a journey of self-discovery.  You don’t have to worry about it getting steamy.  I could easily let my teenage daughters read it (if I had any teenage daughters).  I want to try at least one more book by Siri Mitchell.  Don’t get me wrong, –I liked this book but I have a hunch I’ll like some other of her books better once I get to them.

This book is #7 in the “Against All Expectations” Series, but I think these books are all stand alone.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?  Share your thoughts below!

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Posted by on June 18, 2016 in Book Reviews


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Dear Masterpiece

SPOILER ALERT!: The following public letter to Masterpiece reveals some spoilers from the tv series, “Downton Abbey,” but contains nothing from the current Season 6.  No offense is intended for those who find redeeming, personal enjoyment from said miniseries.  These are completely my own opinions, based on my own reactions from the show.

Dear Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre),

MV5BMTg2ODI2NTUwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTMwMzU0MjE@__V1_UY268_CR31,0,182,268_AL_Like a lot of period drama lovers out there, I love certain aspects of Downton Abbey. The music, the costumes, the drama, the romance, the props, the elegance of the time era…!  It makes this romantic-at-heart swoon.  Truth be told, I was hesitant about watching it when it first came out, because I had my suspicions about it.  I had heard about certain plot elements that went against my spiritual convictions.

However, I decided to give it a try and took the plunge into Season 1. I was able to gloss over some of the parts I winced at (Thomas’ love affair with another man; Lady Mary’s tryst with Mr. Pamuk).  I told myself that Thomas’ story didn’t last long, and Lady Mary’s actions were not celebrated.  So I concentrated on all the lovely details of the episodes.

I determined not to watch Season 2 when I saw the trailers. It seemed to contain a lot of sleeping around and I didn’t feel I could watch the new series with any real pleasure.  But then I changed my mind and decided to flip the channel during sex scenes.  I was glued to the dramatic storyline.

Season 3 was by far my most favorite of all. The acting was superb, my emotions were engaged with every episode, I cared about the characters, and I didn’t have to worry about fast forwarding.  I was highly looking forward to Season 4!

I know many people were upset at the unfortunate turn of events centering around Anna. I, however, was not one of them, since bad things do happen to good people in this fallen world.  I’ve heard Joanne Froggatt’s acting was exceptional throughout this season.  But I decided not to view it, mainly due to the fact that I am very sensitive by nature and didn’t feel I could handle the heavy theme.  I kept up on what happened through the season though, by reading the descriptions of the episodes.  Suddenly having the drama stripped of all it’s heady “frills” and just reading about its descriptions made me realize something.  I could conceive no good that would come of me viewing the rest of Downton Abbey.  Tom has a dalliance with another woman after his being widowed, something that just doesn’t feel true to his character (even if he was drunk).  Viewers are to feel in favor of Mr. Gregson divorcing his mentally disabled wife and taking up with Edith; eventually they have an affair and she becomes pregnant.

0434044092ffbf757733ca74e19be183It didn’t stop there. Season 5 went on to have one character after another heading to the bedroom, without accurately portraying the hurt and pain these people have deep inside as a result of giving themselves away so flippantly.  I haven’t watched another Downton Abbey episode since then.  Will I change my mind about watching it?  We’ll see, but I highly doubt it.  I’m sure there are bits I’d still love about the show inter-sprinkled among all the offensive parts.  But by now, the sexual perverseness far outweighs the glorious costumes for me.  I’ve stuck through movies or tv shows before that weren’t completely clean, but either I was only committed for 2 hrs and could easily fast forward, or there were more redeeming elements than the occasional “oops! Close my eyes!”.  I cannot say that of Downton Abbey.  It really has become a glorified soap opera.  The heady glamor of the show made me feel sucked into rooting for the characters’ debauched behavior.  I’m not a prude.

Masterpiece, over the years I’ve highly enjoyed many films on PBS. But it has increasingly been leaving lots to be desired.  I don’t appreciate movie adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic novels adding in gay characters to make it more ‘modern’ or other period dramas becoming ‘edgier’ in order to push your liberal agenda.  It just is not true that people don’t want to watch bonnet dramas anymore.  If it is an excellent picture, with characters viewers can identify with, we will be with you.  Classic works of literature are classics for a reason, and they’ve done well enough for a hundred years or more without the graphic bedroom scenes.  I’m not a prude; I just don’t prefer to watch it.  I would look forward to seeing more Masterpiece films and miniseries featuring clean adaptions of classic novels (preferably ones that aren’t remakes of the remakes), instead of ones that are glitzy and glamorous but substantially hollow.

Please give us more wonderful content, and I will be a loyal viewer.



What do you think of Masterpiece’s recent films? Share your opinions below!

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Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Movie Reviews, Uncategorized


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Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie

816084Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: When Captain Hastings visits his friend John Cavendish at the family estate in Styles, he has no inkling of the tragic events that will soon follow.  Mrs. Inglethorpe, the family matriarch, is seized with a fit in the middle of the night and dies from an apparent case of strychnine poisoning.  Who had a motive for murdering her?  Was it one of her sons, hoping to benefit from the will?  Her second husband 20 years her junior?  Her daughter-in-law, Mary, who is obviously having an affair?  The mysterious foreigner, Dr. Bauerstein, who seems to turn up at odd moments?  This mystery is the first in the Hercule Poriot series, and the first by famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie (published 1920).

My Book Review:  The nice thing about Agatha Christie’s novels is that they are all pretty much standalone stories even if they belong to one of her detective-series.  I’ve read some of the Poirot mysteries before, but I thought it would be nice to go back and start reading them in order.

This wasn’t my favorite Christie mystery, to be honest.  It had a clever ending, but for much of the book I felt sort of bored.  It just lacked something, though I can’t put my finger on it.  I guess it just didn’t have the atmosphere that I enjoyed while reading Ngaio Marsh’s first mystery, A Man Lay Dead.  Actually the two mysteries sort of resembled each other in plot structure, which is interesting.  Although Marsh’s debut had it’s faults, I think I enjoyed reading that one much better than this one.  Then again, maybe if I hadn’t read the two back to back I might have a different impression, but there it is!

This book did include the usual cast of different characters and lots of dialogue, which I always love.  I think that if a person wanted to try out Agatha Christie for the first time, it might be better to start with a different book to really get an idea of Christie’s talent as a mystery writer.  (Personally I would recommend Why Didn’t They Ask Evans or Crooked House.)  But it was interesting to learn a little more about Poirot’s background (ie, what he’s doing in England instead off Belgium?), and if you’re a completist, you won’t want to skip this first in the series.

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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Book Reviews


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