Miss Marple and Jane Austen: You Can See Human Nature From Anywhere in a Small Village

So today marks the birthday of a very important writer:

I first was introduced to Agatha Christie when my nana noticed me reading Sherlock Holmes. As she was a lover of mysteries herself, she gave me a few Agatha Christie novels and then that was it, I was an utter fangirl.

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters. Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

This year I have been honoring her and her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, turning 100-by reviewing a mystery every month. But as I was rereading The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems and it got me thinking about some similarities to Jane Austen.

What??

I know you are probably confused, but hear me out.

Mystery, you say?

So one of Agatha Christie’s detectives is Miss Marple. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster aunt, always watching and observing. People overlook her because of her age, her inexperience (she has lived in a small village), but she is extremely intelligent and has amazing powers of deductions.

When asked how she knows and can figure these things out, she always remarks it is because of her village life. She shares that being in the village she has learned a lot about human nature, and as people are alike all over there is always someone from “back home” that reminds her of others and the clue that reveals the ending-the solution.

In a lot of her books, not just Miss Marple, we see how the characters, their motives, their reasons for why they do what they do are relatable-often many characters you find yourself sympathetic. Agatha Christie knew how to write people so that you connect to them.

Reading that made me think of Jane Austen immediately. Here is a woman who spent a majority of her life in a small village, but yet with what most people would say are limited experiences and a lack of human knowledge-she was still able to write characters that are relatable to people all over the world, 200 years later.

I mean that is one thing I love about her books, how the stories and characters transcend Regency England so that the motifs, personalities, and points raised in her books are still relevant today. Who hasn’t meet a social climber like Caroline Bingley? A schemer like Lucy Steele?  Manipulators like Isabella and John Thorpe? Had a regret like Anne Elliot? Met a flirt like Henry Crawford? Known a person who wanted so badly to have a friend they did whatever someone asked of them like Harriet Smith? Haven’t we all been accused of being an ice queen like Elinor Dashwood? Let our heart rule our actions like Marianne Dashwood? Misjudged someone and actively disliked a person when they insulted you like Elizabeth Bennet? Had to make a choice whether to stick to what we believe in, even if it meant losing something you hold dear like Fanny Price? Disliked someone because they were better than you at some things like Emma Woodhouse? Let our imagination run away with us like Catherine Morland? Lost someone we love like Anne Elliot?

I mean it is just so easy to connect to her work.

If you haven’t read Agatha Christie, I definitely recommend checking her works out, and of course:

For more Agatha Christie, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more Jane Austen, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more comparison posts, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the first package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road. The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him. The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness. He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Then in the second package, the house is sold to Dr. Elliot, a physician who likes to experiment on himself with his tinctures.

He has a strange patient, Beth Siggers (could it be ElizaBeth Griggs?) who acts off in his home. He also starts seeing something in his mirror. He died from overdose…or murder?

Hmm…

Then the house was bought by magician’s assistant, Héléne Ashworth and her magician husband The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear. They found out about it from her friend, Lilibeth. Helene loves the house, espechially the conservatory as she can grow all her plants. But then strange things happen-other plants are being planted, she starts having trouble remembering, she feels a presence in the house, and she thinks she sees something. She starts searching and dies of fright…or was she murdered?

Hmm…

So now for the third package.

This didn’t come with too many things:

  • A wooden box that says Elise Face Cosmetiques (the company Héléne Ashworth ordered her stage makeup from)
  • A demon mask
  • An article “Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horror!” from Grime News
  • A letter from Elizabeth Griggs
  • A “bloody” hatpin
  • Three photographs
  • The blueprints to Griggs’ Estate

So when I got this package the first thing I had to look at was what was in the box-the big thing under the letter and photographs. It was this big, creepy, demon mask thing.

Since then I have put it back in its box as I have no clue what to do with it. It is teriffying.

SUPER creeped

Like 1/4 of me wanted to put it on, but the other 3/4 was terrified that if I did my face would change like in that one Twilight Zone episode, “The Masks”.

So creepy. Put it back in the box!

The letter is from Elizabeth Griggs written to her dead father July 29, 1897

Elizabeth Griggs has finally come into her inheritance and has purchased the one thing she has always wanted, the Griggs Estate. It turns out my suspicions were right! She admits that she created these other personas-Beth Spriggs, Lilibet, the “psychic” Mrs. Alizbeta Divak to protect herself. Now Elizabeth is finally herself and has her home.

Elizabeth shares that she was the one who saw the goblin first and received a letter from it, but her father figured out the clues to decoding it. (So the thing must have already been there-the thing that possessed her father.)

Elizabeth loves being in the house although there were a ton of changes made to it after she was sent to the orphanage and she enjoys every minute of rediscovering “her old friend”.

Haunted house!

The newspaper is an article about another murder in the Griggs estate. It was published September 13, 1987.

Last month London was scandalized by two mysterious and bloody deaths, Miss Elizabeth Griggs (24) was putting on her evening dress when a hideous man in a devilish mask and tattered nightshirt came crashing through the mirror.

Elizabeth had been in the middle of setting her hat and instinctively took the hatpin (that’s where the hatpin comes from!!!) and stabbed him in the throat, but even though she attacked him his body falling forward caused her to crash into the fireplace mantle and she died.

As Henry Griggs lay dying he croaked out “Lizzy! It is you!” (So I Was right, he was hiding in the house all along.)

But even though the two are dead and gone there are still some strange noises, banging, ghastly cries, etc. (It lives!)

Ghosts? Demons?

The blueprints are fascinating as the estate is huge with all kinds of secret hatches and passageways, and the secret language I need to decode.

Wow!

The first photograph is of a man in the mask I now own-Henry Griggs. With more secret writing on the back.

Hmm…what does it say?

The second is of a man dead in a car-the doctor, Dr Elliot! On the back it says:

“His last dose

Friday, February, 12 1892”

The third photograph is of a woman on the bed and a figure in the mirror. But if Griggs is taking the photograph-who’s in the mirror?

On the back it says:
She’ll snoop no more

Monday, January 18, 1897″

It’s Héléne, oh poor Héléne.

Okay, so at this point it is time to decode these messages. I must know the truth!

Mystery, you say?

I just spent three hours decoding this when I realize I did’t read all of Elizabeth’s letter. She has the decoder on the back! Ugh.

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!

I feel so dumb-no I feel like Julie when she didn’t read all the instructions in Jumanji. 

Well at least I feel like an awesome decoder person.

DECODING

So I put the quote of what came before the secret message, and then under in bold the decoded message.

PACKAGE ONE

Forfeiture Notice

“This property was transferred to City Bank, Threadneedle Street, Corner of Finch Lane to be liquidated forthwith.”

YOU CANNOT TAKE ONE AND NOT THE OTHER

Orphanage Records

NO. 324   Surname: Griggs   Christian Name: Elizabeth  Age: 7

School Attendeance: Yes

Pecuniary Circumstances: Inheiritance  £250 donated as Fees

Date of Admittance: May 1881 Remarks: Trunk, Impertinent

SHE IS SAFE NOW IT CANNOT GET HER

Photograph of Elizabeth and her Father

“Last Day Together”

LAST DAY FOR THIS FACE (That must be referring to Mr. Griggs as he must have started wearing the mask after this.)

PACKAGE TWO

Deed of Land

“Received in full satisfaction by John W. Peterborough, City Bank Partner from Dr. W. Elliot Fifth day of November in the year of our Lord 1888 does give, grant, bargain, sell, and confirm the property of house, gardens, and environs of the entity of Lot 27 East Heath Road, Hampstead Heath, London, United Kingdom—unto the said Dr. Elliot.”

MY HOUSE, NONE OTHER WILL KEEP IT LONG (Uh, oh-that is not good.)

Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide

Extreme Desespoir Eufferfte Verzweifftung

HAVE I SEEN THIS FACE IN THE MIRROR?

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

I SEE MYSELF EVERYWHERE

Dr. Elliot’s Tincture

You’ve got the right bottle, Doctor.

SWITCHED THEMS (Oh, no! That’s how the doctor died!)

Arsenic Poison

Are You Sure?

DONE

Elise Cosmetiques Label

You think to hide yourself from me?

THEIR LAST PERFORMANCE WILL BE MY GREATEST WORK (He must be talking about when he storms in their psychic reading and scares everyone.)

PACKAGE THREE

Griggs’ Estate Blueprints

There are a huge message and then a bunch of little ones. The big message:

THIS HOUSE TOOK MY WIFE, IT TOOK MY DAUGHTER, IT ENTRAPPED MY SOUL. WILL IT EVER LET ME REST?

Now to start with the rooms

Conservatory

PLUCK THEM OUT. POISON 

Kitchen

THEY ECROACH LIKE WEEDS

Dining

INTERLOPERS

Bed room

I AM WATCHING

Hallway/stairs

MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE 

Secret Room in Library

WHO IS THE ARCHITECT OF THIS MADNESS

Bedroom

NO ROOM

Bedroom

IN THE WALLS, UNDER THE FLOOR, IN THE BETWEEN, BETWEEN THE SOUL AND THE STAIRCASE

Sunroom

THEY MUST NEVER FIND

Another Secret Room

SANCTUARY

Reading Room

DRIVE THEM OUT 

The photograph of Henry Griggs

WHY DO THEY COME

You must act, again

I’VE WATCHED THEM ALL COME AND MADE THEM ALL GO

You have done well.

AM I A GHOST

Only you know what you are

I HAVE MADE MY OWN FACE

You are what you have become

AM I DANGEROUS

Dangerous? Oh Yes

I AM GRIGGS THE GRINNING GOBLIN THE LOATHSOME FIEND THE GRUESOME PHANTOM YOU AND I ARE ONE

Always

THE ONE WHO COMES AND GOES IS IT MY DAUGHTER

She is the last

IF HER FACE LIES SHE WILL DIE LIKE THE REST

One way or the other, I will be free

And it is time to bring out the Demon mask again, *shudders*.

THEY SEE ME THROUGH YOU

If I was a Winchester I know what I would do with all this stuff:

Salt and burn it

But I on the hand will keep everything, because they are cool. Except for the demon mask, I need to find a new home for it.

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more haunted houses, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

 

An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

Ready for any case

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the last package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road

Haunted house!

The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him.

The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

This package contained a lot of items and goes on a bit:

  • 1 Deed
  • 1 Letter from Dr. Jack S. Aigner
  • 4 Small Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Arsenic Druggist Note
  • A Page from Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide
  • 1 Large Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Dr. Elliott’s Tincture Receipt
  • 1 Poster for The Great Goodyear
  • 1 Great Goodyear flip book that showcases two of his illusions
  • Garden Diary of Héléne Ashworth
  • Elise Face Cosmetiques Label
  • Newspaper Clipping
  • A page from Charles Dickens’ The Chimes

So first of all, I saw Dr. Walter Elliott on the letters:

And as a Jane Austen fan my mind went:

This is 1888, I am going to believe this is Mr. Elliot’s great or great-great grandson, named after Sir Walter. I mean I don’t know if he married Mrs. Clay, but I do know that eventually he would have to secure his family line and inheritance.

So Dr. Walter Elliot, descendent of Mr. Elliot, has purchased 27 East Heath Road and everything inside the building for £420 sterling. I think he will regret this…

So Dr. Elliot has a conservatory and grows herbs but according to his former instructor Dr. Jack S. Aigner, Dr. Elliot is sensitive, insecure of whether or not he is a good doctor, creates different tonics and medicines; AND medicates/tests himself. Uh, oh. Oh no, that does not sound good.

Dr. Aiger mentions the room he is using to treat patients and that it holds a mirror, but it is placed strange on the wrong wall. It should be behind the patient, not in front, but it will be good if he wants to try self-hypnosis. There is a young girl he is trying to help that is an interesting case. Hmm…could it be Elizabeth Griggs?

Then we have Dr. Elliot’s notes on the patient, although not all of them. He mysteriously chose to remove the notes in his patient from September 1889-October 1891, us picking it up in October 1891.

His patient is interesting…she wants to be in the room alone and when he stepped out as she said she heard footfalls in hallway, she moved the flowers in the office, why?

She likes the tincture he gave her, which pleases him as he is really getting the use out of his conservatory.

The next notes are from February 1889, and we are given that the name is on Beth Siggers 15 years old. The DOB is inked out, but we know it is 1874. Could this be Elizabeth Griggs? Just her name changed so the Doctor doesn’t connect it to the architect if the house?

Hmm…

Beth comes to see Dr. Elliot because she is suffering headaches and shortness of breath, but when she came in she would not sit, instead touching and knocking into everything-walls, tables, the mirror, etc. Searching…but for what? He thinks she faked the illness but why? He gives her some tincture and she leaves.

Weird…

March 1889

Beth continues to return to the Doctor’s office, but every time she has a different ailment. Obviously she is suffering from a mental issue rather than a physical ones, but what and why?

She returns another time and says she left her bag behind, but when he finds her he sees she isn’t in the reception area but on the main staircase as she got “turned around”. Strange behavior, the doctor prescribes tonic.

Hmmm…

April 1889

She seems much better, although she is fixated on the mirror. The doctor looked at it and thought he saw a face in it, but that is just nonsense. He gives her 1/2 bottle of tonic.

She returns later complaining the tonic is too strong, and Dr. Elliot watered it down and 1/2 the dose-1/4 tonic. It’s strange, he notices the hallway door is ajar. That keeps happening every time Beth comes to his office.

Spooky…

May 1889

Beth returns, upset and acting strange: pulse elevated and pupils dilated. Dr. Elliot thinks it is just “spring fever” and gives previous mixture and dosage.

Hmm…strange

June 1889

Beth has been by again and Dr. Eliot thinks he saw a figure in the mirror, again. He has always hated the way the mirror was fixed in the wall. He searches, but there is nothing there. Dr. Elliot begins to worry that maybe the tincture he took and tested on himself might be giving him hallucinations.

July 1889

Dr. Elliot has decided to no longer see Beth. He tells her and later that evening he discovers she has hid in the parlour…weird why? She begs him to let her come back and he agrees for one more time.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Something is wrong with this girl-you need to get way from her.

January 1892

Dr. Elliot feels watched and puzzles over the patient. Maybe he should stop seeing her, nothing seems to be changing.

YES!!! STOP SEEING HER SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT!! But of course he won’t listen. He will continue and things are going to go wrong.

February 1892

Things are getting worse. After Beth comes poking on walls, knocking here and there, looking in corners, seeing things that aren’t there, Dr. Elliot too starts to feel as if there are spirits, ghosts, or something in the house. He tries to talk himself out of it but wonders.

He continues his experiments and taking the tincture. Oh no Dr. Elliot, don’t test on yourself!

In another set of letters from February 1892 to Jack, Dr. Elliot mentions a page with ciphers from Baldwin’s Physcian’s Guide. The page is included with these lines underlined:

“…what can be gained from inclusive speculation on the subject?”

“…physiognomy is mere judgement, assumption, and, in some cases, coincidence.”

On the back is an image that looks out of the Grimm texts and has some strange ciphers on it.

In his letter he has figured out what two of the symbols mean, an E & R.

Meanwhile, Griggs’ daughter, Beth, continues to see the doctor and every visit something odd happens. The flowers espechially always seem to be moved.

Beth keeps talking about something she sees under hypnosis so Dr. Elliot decides to test it and takes extra tincture.

Don’t Do it!!! Stop!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

There is a receipt for his tincture and on the back it says:

“You’ve got the right bottle, doctor.” With a bunch of symbols.

DON’T DO IT!!!!!

Dr. Elliot gets some cramps but about 30 mins in, he sees a figure in the mirror, or looking to come out of the mirror…

He leans toward the mirror and the figure was gone. He searched the house for it and found the dispensary unlocked, even though he always locks it.

He decides to increase the dose and do it again, adding to his letter later-he does and it says:

“I see it! It comes…”

And that is the end of Dr. Elliot. I’m assuming he died. Poor guy, you shouldn’t have tested on yourself-you shouldn’t have delved into the unknown, espechially on your own.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

There is no more correspondence, we then switch to the second half of the package.

Time to get on the case!

The next item in the package is the garden diary of Héléne Ashworth.

June 1892

The house has been sold to the Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, and his muse, assistant, and wife Héléne Ashworth. The name sounds familiar, but I’m not sure why.

Where have I read or seen that name before?

Their friend, Lilibeth, let them know about 27 East Heath Road becoming available after the doctor died. It seems he accidentally took too much of his medicine, although some whisper it was a suicide.

Claude loves the room with the mirror in it, as it can help him to practice his tricks and Héléne loves having the conservatory as she is a gardener. She has taken inventory about the plants and discovered hemlock. Hemlock? Why would a doctor need that?

Strange…

Claude jokes about ghosts in the walls as the house does make noise, but Héléne is not afraid. She loves her new house.

Ghosts?

July 1893

Héléne’s garden is doing well except for the calla lilies and forget-me-nots she planted. Instead the hyacinth, lavender, and dragonwort are doing extremely well-even though she did not plant them. There is no way Claude did so where did they come from?

At 27 East Heath Road.

Héléne believes in the language of flowers and these ones that mysteriously appeared mean constancy, devotion, and twice twisted. Hmm…maybe it means something twice twisted in the house? Devoted to it?

Hmm…

Let’s see-hemlock was poisonous, are these too? Let me look…yes, hyacinth bulbs are poisonous and touching them causes skin irritation. So lavender is used in food and perfumes so it is okay to take, but it can cause constipation, headache, and skin irritation in some people. Dragonwort is used to stop bleeding. So again, doesn’t seem too bad.

Hmmm…

There are a lot of strange herbs Héléne doesn’t know growing as well. She also discovers two more letters of the cipher-M & Y.

Another entry:

Claude is doing extremely well and even gets to perform at the famous Egyptian Hall. Héléne is so excited to perform, but Claude wants her to quit now that they are married. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, Héléne feels watched in the house. She wants to mention it to her husband, but decides not to worry him before a big show. On a sad note all the Calla lilies died, just like their hopes for a baby.

May 1895

Héléne is no longer allowed to perform, Claude thinking that is what caused them to have a miscarriage. Try as she might the yellow hyacinth (jealousy) keeps growing, and Héléne is convinced there is a curse on this house-a curse keeping a cild from being born, her nice and kind flowers from growing, and the hyacinth strong.

Later entry:

Héléne finds more and more deadly plants-nightshade and monkshood. She also sees the gruesome figure from her nightmares. She tries to tell her husband but he doesn’t listen, saying the illusions have turned her head.

June 1895

Claude has refused two engagements and is very upset. He is convinced spies are coming into the halls and watching/copying his ideas. He continues to practice in the room with the mirror and won’t let anyone into it, not even Héléne.

Héléne is very hurt and upset as she and Claude grow farther and farther apart. Sometimes Héléne pus on the old costumes and performs in front of the plants-wishing she could still be on the stage.

Lilibet has grown worried about Héléne and has taken up spiritualism and becoming a very famous medium. Lilibet and Héléne have known each other since girlhood and Héléne decides to throw a get together and help Lilibet. I’m starting to think Lilibet is Elizabeth “Beth” Griggs. Maybe Héléne was in the orphanage? I’ll check. The records say she is, ah “…the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is Elizabeth Griggs.

And it is “…our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Mystery, you say?

September 1895

Liliibet otherwise known as Mrs. Alizbeta Divak has asked Hélene to join in. Helene has created the character Madame Solandra, wears black bombazine, and pale makeup that comes from the Elise makeup company. There is a label from Elise Cosmetiques and it has a message on the back:

“YOU THINK TO HIDE YOURSELF FROM ME?”

Followed by the ciphers.

Claude does not approve of spiritualism, Helene has to hide it from him.

November 1896

They held the seance but things did not go as planned, A real spirit came from the mirror shouting at them “interlopers! Be gone!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

When Héléne did the automatic writing it was if someone else was controlling her. Helene faints and when she awakens, it is Lilibet giving her smelling salts.

Oh no, the smelling salts were poisoned with the Doctor’s medicine.

Nooo

Lilibet preetends it didn’t happen, but Héléne knows it was real. She however feels very sick.

December 1896

Helene is still sick and supposed to be in bed, but has found a strange hidden doorway and secret hidden rooms in the house  But is it real? She is fading in and out and unsure.

But no! She found it! She has found a secret door in the conservatory, as soon as she is stronger she will investigate it!

Time to get on the case!

January 1897

Helene’s passage is a strange one. She believes the phantom is walking the house and Claude has all but disappeared. Is there a spirit in her home? A man? Or is her husband gaslighting her?

Gaslight (1944)

And all her flowers were ripped up? Why would the phantom want to do that?Why put dirt on her hands after?

Claude is yelling and locking Helene in her room refusing Lilibet to come in. But she has found a way out. She will follow the wallpaper and escape that way…

That is the last entry in the journal.

This felt a lot like The Yellow Wallpaper, the short story where the lady goes mad and her husband locks her up (or did her husband lock her up and then she went mad?)

Hmmm…is there a phantom or just an evil husband?

Gaslight (1944)

Next we have a newspaper clipping “Murder at the Mad Magician’s Mansion”. 

The wife of The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, has been found dead in her home, found by her husband when he returned from performing.

Héléne’s face was frozen in terror and the inquest found that she had been poisoned-even though she was alone in the house and it was locked up tight. But by who? And how?

Of course authorities looked at the husband first, but it was impossible for him to slip away as he was performing and his every moment had witnesses.

Hmmm…

Her body was strangely found, it looked as if she was trying to crawl out of a small under-stairs cupboard with her face frozen, and hair turned white.

It appears Claude has lost his mind at his wife’s death. He warns people of a gruesome phantom moving in his house, warning people to stay far away.

After two incidents, one of him claiming a police constable to be a monster, he was relocated to the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Aw, that’s sad.

And last a page ripped out of Charles Dicken’s The Chimes with the following words underlined:

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

There are more marks of the secret language written in the margin.

Hmmm…

I have been working on decoding it, and I think I’ve figures out a few letters based on what they gave me and just common sense of filling in the blanks, but there are some I am just not sure of.

Hmm…

So I am getting a Phantom of the Opera vibe from this (I love The Phantom of the Opera)

So in the original story of The Phantom of the Opera, one of Erik’s (the phantom’s) many talents was architecture and he builds the opera house-creating his secret home and all the passages, using the mirror as a door to bring Christine to his lair.

I think Henry Griggs is alive! And living in the house he built, probably a secret passage in the mirror. I’m just not sure if he is killing people because he us possessed by something or because he thinks if he does he will have his house back. I’ll have to wait and see.

Hmmm…

A lot of stuff came in this package and I did my best to try and put it all in one picture:

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to A Goblin in My Mailbox

For more insane doctors, go to Mr. Hyde Versus the Werewolf: Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf (1972)

For more Persuasion, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more ghosts, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

Scottish Oat Scones

So at the end of last month, my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

And eat scones!

We had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

Today’s scone recipe I found on pinterest, but originally comes from Lisa’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Cups of Rolled or Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/3 Cup of Milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and grease or line a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  4. In small bowl, beat the egg until frothy.
  5. Now add butter and milk to egg, and whisk to combine.
  6. Pour into dry ingredients and mix together until you have a soft dough.
  7. Shape and pat the dough into two 6-7 inch circles.
  8. Cut into 6-8 pie shaped wedges and bake 10-15 mins, or until golden brown.
  9. Let cool for a few minutes.
  10. Serve with butter and/or jam.

This were very good, but the dough was a little dry which made it hard to stick together, ad after they baked they crumbled. I think if I was to make them again I would add a little more milk.

Otherwise these were delicious! I could see making them again and again and enjoy them.

Or scones!

For more scone recipes, go to Irish Blueberry Scones

For more recipes, go to Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

For more tea parties, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

For more pinterest recipes, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

So the last week my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

In the book, The Secret Adversary, the two main characters go to tea a few times at Lyons Tea Cafe. I originally wanted to try to make something like the tea shop would have, but then my coworker gave me a whole box of Meyer’s Lemons.

What am I going to do with all these?

So instead we had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

And eat cookies!

This recipe comes from Pineapple & Coconut

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 2 Cups + 2 Tbsps of Flour
  • 1.5 Tsp of Ground Ginger
  • 1.5 Tsp of Cardamom
  • 2 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Zest
  • 10 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs, Room Temperature
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Juice

Topping:

  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cardamom, ginger, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest between your fingers until it is fully mixed in with the sugar.
  3. Cream butter and sugar-zest mixture together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add eggs in one at a tim, mixing well.
  5. Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice, and mix again.
  6. Add flour and mix slowly until combined, do not over mix.
  7. Chill dough 3-4 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.
  9. Place the sugar in one bowl and powdered sugar in the other.
  10. Take the chilled dough and roll into 1.5 Tbsp sized balls.
  11. Roll in sugar first, then roll in powdered sugar-making sure it is completely covered.
  12. Place dough on prepared sheets about two inches apart.
  13. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden.

These cookies were delicious!

I could not stop eating them!

No, stop! Alright.

If you like lemon and cookies, you should defintely make these!

And proper quarantine masks.

For more cookie recipes, go to Crispy, Chewy, Matcha Green Tea Cookies

For more recipes, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

For more tea parties, go to Literary Tea Parties

I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a while back Cederberg Tea Company was doing a giveaway-you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I commented I wanted Chai tea (as my entry) and won this package of Classic Red, Green Rooibos, Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, Rooibos + Chai, and Rooibos + Ginger.

Now I didn’t pay close attention when I entered the giveaway and didn’t realize it contained Rooibos in it. I avoid Rooibos after I had the one by Tea Forté, and it did not agree with me. I resolved to not drink any again, until I saw that this was Rooibos.

That’s not good.

Well I won it and needed to review it, so I decided to stop wasting time and start drinking some tea.

I drank some…and loved it!

The other one I had must have had something wrong with it or something, because these were fantastic. I expected to like the Chai, but was just blown away by the Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla. I drank it and drank it, until I realized I only had one teabag left.

I mean you know how I feel about Earl Grey Tea:

But I was just drinking Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, at least until it was all gone.

The others were good too, but that one was the best!

Delicious!!!! I know I will definitely be ordering from them in the future.

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

And eat scones!

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I try out new teas. 🙂 As this is Chai teas and Rooibos, I tried to do my best to connect it with books that are set in Africa or India.

Tea #1: Classic Red

This Classic Red was a wonderful tea. It had everything you wanted in it and I enjoyed it so much I finished it before I realized it-picking up the cup to drink some more and finding it empty.

You can tell at first sip why it is a “classic”.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of my favorite books and an amazing classic. It is the story of mysterious, wealthy Phileas Fogg being bet to travel around the world in 80 days. It was to be an interesting challenge-made more so when he is mistaken to be a bank robber and followed by a detective; along with having some people try to sabotage him from winning. It has action, adventure, romance-everything you could want and more! It is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if Phileas is going to make it or not!

One of my favorite parts is when they go to India and the group rescue Aouda, an Indian princess, from her dead husband’s evil relatives trying to sacrifice her so they can inherit everything. This is a great scene because in it we see Phileas change from his “mechanical” way of being (everything planned and thought out) as he steps out to help, becoming a “classic” hero. I love him and Aouda together-you know me and biracial relationships. A great book and great tea.

For more on Around the World in 80 Days, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Tea #2: Green Rooibos

This tea was exactly how I expected green tea to taste, no surprises-but I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to have something and know you are going to get exactly what you want to get.

This tea made me think of Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile isn’t my favorite Agatha Christie novel as to me there wasn’t any big surprises or truly innovative or amazing characters (except Cornelia Ruth Robson). But like this tea, sometimes you want the predictable, to get exactly as you expect.

The story is of Linnet, a wealthy woman, who marries her best friend’s boyfriend, Simon Doyle. For their honeymoon they go on a trip through the Nile, and of course run into Hercule Poirot (he never gets a vacation). He sees the former best friend, Jacqueline, threaten them and they ask Poirot for help. He declines, but warns Jacqueline to stop or else she will open herself to evil. She refuses and follows the Doyles on their boat trip on the Nile, joined by 11 other interesting characters. Linnet is found dead (of course), and everything points to the two characters who could not have done it. Who could the murderer be? Poirot is on the case.

For more on Agatha Christie, go to Shame Book Tag

Tea #3: Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla

So I thought I would like this tea, as who doesn’t love vanilla? But OMGoodness I was not prepared for how amazing this tea was. It was so delicious I just drank it and drank it and before I knew it, I had drank it all up. It was sweet, wonderful, and smelled so good.

What I felt for the tea, I felt the same way about this book. When I saw the art deco style cover, I thought I would enjoy this mystery, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. The story is of Perveen Mistry, female Indian lawyer, in the 1920s. She is sent out to a small princely state to speak to the Dowager Maharani (grandmother) and Maharani (mother) about the young Maharaja’s schooling. She is the only one who can as the ladies are observing purdah (and cannot speak to any men not related to them). Preveen travels out there and finds things are not well in the palace. The Dowager Maharani and the Maharani are both fighting for control, the circumstances of the older brother’s death are very suspicious, and Perveen believes the young prince might be next-especially after a monkey eats her bread and dies. Will Perveen be able to figure out who is responsible in time to save the prince, or will she be next?

Not only is this an intriguing mystery, but Perveen has an interesting and heartbreaking backstory. It was fantastic and so easy to have your attention captured-and keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

Tea #4: Rooibos + Chai

This was absolutely delicious and just what I wanted in my chai tea-spicy but not too much, sweet but the right amount-i.e everything I wanted. It was so good that after I finished the bourbon one, the chai was gone just like that “snap”.

Like the tea, The Sign of the Four has everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You have a beautiful woman in need (Watson notes she is very attractive [he’s in love with her]), a disappeared father, jewels, a mysterious note, a secret treasure, a peculiar mansion, a villain with a wooden leg, a puzzling death, a bloodhound, and the sign of the four.

It is an amazing mystery, Holmes and Doyle at their finest, and like I said gives you everything your could want. It also is what I believe The Great Mouse Detective was based on, so if you love that movie-you’ll love this book.

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tea #5: Rooibos + Ginger

So I didn’t think I would like this tea as ginger tea is often too strong, but this was not overpowering but the right amount. It was enjoyable but still had a bit of a kick to it. It’s not something that I would drink all the time, but is perfect for every now and then or if I have a stomachache.

I felt this book was perfect to pair with it as it is a good story but the sam time has a “kick” to it that gets you thinking…I will actually discuss the book fully below.

So it has been over three months since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

 

I am 13 books behind…

I know, I know-stop looking at me like that. I just will have to try harder to catch up.

Hmmm…

Anyways…so quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club a few years ago, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time our member chose:

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken

So as I read this book 13 months ago, I was hoping to reread it as it had been a while and I wanted to make sure I got the timeline right. So I went to the book from the library…but it turns out the person who checked it out never returned it. Called (I work in the library) and sent notices but the book has not been returned.

Seriously??????!!!!!!!!!!!

I HATE when people do that!!!!!!

I then thought I would ask the other book club member, (one member had borrowed my library book) but she lent it to a friend who never gave it back.

So I’m doing this all based on what I remember from reading this 13 months ago, hopefully this go well. Right now I apologize for anything I write that is wrong.

So the first thing that struck me about this book, was the title. “Insanity of God”? What does that mean? Why did he choose that title?

The story starts off with Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) sharing how he came to know Christ. He was a kid that loved baseball, but God took a hold of his life and set him out on a new path.

He ends up going to a Christian college and meets and marries a pastor’s daughter. After both graduate, they both feel the strong call of the mission field and when they ask to be sent out, they are asked for their qualifications. For Nik, he quotes the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That part made me laugh so hard.

As Nik hadn’t been raised in church he didn’t know what exactly was being asked. They want to know his education, spiritual journey, youth mission trips, background, etc-but Nik is confident in that the Great Commission tells you to go all throughout the world and he wants to answer the call.

If he was on his own he would have been denied, but his wife knows the lingo and what is being said so they are able to be sent out. They both have a heart for Africa and get sent to Somalia in 1992.

Nik and his wife aren’t able to have a “church” but are sent with an aid group, of which they try and preach to people but find it extremely difficult. Christianity is illegal and having a church is illegal, and anyone who becomes a Christian is often taken away and never seen again. Nik and his wife really struggle with questioning what they are they doing there, is it right being here? Are they helping people?

Things get more unsettled in the country, and the Somali Civil War breaks out. His charity group requests the UN to come take action, and when they do send help, he is one of the people that helps map out the unknown areas of Somalia. I remember him describing the villages and the horror-but one really sticks in my mind. There was a village that was full of kids and had no parents and one of parents with no children, so they went and took the kids to the adults.

Also it was really hard to get the people in need the supplies as the leaders and soldiers would steal them and sell them or use them, and the people would continue to go hungry and without. War is sad and hard.

Ripken’s father didn’t care for him becoming a minister, but when Black Hawk Down came out, he was suddenly proud of his son telling all his friends that Ripken made that happen-the military going in.

The first part of the book was on his mission trip and they later were moved out of Somalia into South Africa, but were moved again. A big milestone in their life and faith was when their son grew ill and because the conditions of their home they lived in aggravated it, their son died. After this, they became heartbroken and returned to the states.

They return to the United States and teach at a bible college to young adults going out into the missions but feel really mixed up. Did they help anyone? Going through trials and tribulations every day was hard and wore them out-how do they keep people going? How do they bloom, survive, and keep going when everything is bleak, when it would be easier to give up and go home?

Ripken then goes on a quest to get this information, to speak to people who have had to go to trials and survived still praising God.

There were two incidents in the quest that really struck me, and I can’t remember their names exactly-but I remember pieces.

The first one took place in Russia. This man was jailed during the communist reign, when Christianity was outlawed and the only religion allowed was the worship of the state. He was thrown in jail-often in isolation, but the thing that kept him going was writing down the word of God. He wrote verse after verse that he remembers, helping to lock it in his brain. The beatings, isolation, lack of food, cold, etc-it was all bearable when he could get a scrap and write something down. That is what got him through.

Ripken later goes to China and their he mets several secret churches, as the church is illegal there. These Christians actually delight in getting thrown in jail or having tribulations, as they feel that is a real marker of being a Christian and consider that is when they go to “school” and recieve their “theological education”. Before anyone can be a pastor they have to have been thrown in prison.

When Ripken leaves he asks what they need and all they want is bibles, a bible. He gives them his and they take the pieces apart and hand them off to different people so they have a book to memorize, and it reminded of how they memorized books in Fahrenheit 451.

It also makes me think of how lucky we are in the United States, how many bibles are available in my home, in my parent’s home, for free, online, in a phone app, etc-and here are people begging for a page.

Wow!

The rest of the book has different stories-and I enjoyed it. It defintely made you realize how lucky you are to be in the United States and how grateful we should be for everything we have, even in the midst of COVID-19.

At the end of the book, I concluded that the insanity was not in reference to God, him being insane, but how we feel as humans. We can only comprehend so much of what God’s plan is with our tiny human brain-it seems insane, but God has a plan for us-a bigger picture.

Hmmm…

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

For more Christian novels, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

For more nonfiction, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

A Goblin in My Mailbox

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow.

Mystery, you say?

So I had wanted to start the year off posting my review of the next Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery/ Jane Austen mystery, but didn’t get time to edit it.

My life motto right there…

I wasn’t sure what to do-when the problem was solved for me…with a mysterious package.

Ready for any case

I went to my mailbox and had a large envelope from a company I hadn’t heard of. I thought it was odd, but realized it might be a gift from a friend and they sent it from the company they purchased it from.

I opened the package and was freaked out!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck?????!!!!!!!!!

G is for goblin who lives in the mirror, when I am quiet it sneaks even nearer

I then screamed internally for like five minutes.

I then continued to open the package and relaxed. It is a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

I received a “notice” from a bank that they have been cleaning records and discovered a safe deposit box from a client that wants to remain anonymous. If they did not collect their items in a certain amount of time it was to be forwarded to me.

The items from 27 East Heath Road included:

  • 1 Set of Personal Notes
  • 1 Set of Letters
  • 1 Mourning Card
  • 1 Child’s Drawing and Poem
  • 1 Page from an Orphanage’s Records
  • 1 Notice of Foreclosure Upon a London House
  • 1 Photograph

The note also has a warning:

“When I was growing up in London, the property at 27 East Heath Road was known as ‘The House of Death’. No one was ever sure of exactly what happened there, but it was infamous as  dark and dangerous place.”

That house sounds like this one:

The story is set in 1873 where amazing architect Henry Griggs happily designs his dream house for him, his wife, and his family. But all did not go well…

Griggs starts building his dream home, but things are…strange. Unexplained things happen, items moved, a spooky feeling is over all the workers, his foreman leaves frightened, and even his wife is saying there is a evil spirit.

Laura Griggs passes away and Griggs starts to go off the deep end-his notes/memorandum gets crazier and harder to read.

Something is going wrong. The plans change from what Griggs wrote to someone else modifying them, but if not him-then who?

Hmm…

The house is almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

So he fires Coldfield, and sets up his daughter in an orphanage with a trust when she is of age. Coldfield is against this as he would like to take Lizzy if Griggs is unable, but alas he does not and Lizzy goes into the orphanage, (as shown on the list). Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

There are also some marks, like some kind of cipher. But I need more clues to figure it out.

I’m on the case!

Here is everything together.

For more wonderful mail, go to Northanger Soapworks Review

For more mysteries, go to The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

The Mysterious Affair at Jane Austen Runs My Life

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020, you know what that means! 1920s style is coming back!

So throw on your glad rags and let’s go putting on the ritz!

Love Me or Leave Me

So the past few years, I have done “theme” years. 2015 was Back to the Future, 2016 Star Trek: The Original Series, 2017 Star Wars: A New Hope, 2018 Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and 2019 Dystopian future with The Running Man and Blade Runner. This year I’m all about the 1920s, especially one particular thing that came out:

For those of you who don’t know, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first mystery that Agatha Christie wrote and introduced one of the greatest detectives: Hercule Poirot.

So that is where this post’s title comes from, I will be reviewing a Poirot or other Agatha Christie movie for Horrorfest IX, and will attempt to work in mysteries somehow and sometime throughout the year.

You know how I love mysteries!

Mystery, you say?

But enough of that. Let’s move on to the year in review!

Let’s get started!

The Views

 

This year I had over 74.700 views!

Wow!

The most viewed day of the year was August 12th with 752 views! That was the day I posted I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter

 

Although the number one post viewed that day was from Horrorfest VII Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

The Top Five Posts

Here are the top five most viewed posts of the year, although strangely none were posted this year-and amazingly my number one post for the past six years was knocked down to number 2. I know why too, the number one post is a confusing movie that I and my friend googled to figure it out-so I’m sure that’s what bumped the numbers.

5) A Real Man from 2014

4) Tea Time from 2015

 

3)Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949) from Horrorfest VII, 31 Days of Horror Films from Halloween 2018

I don’t know who to trust!

2) Fulfilling the List: A Walk to Remember (2002), from Romance is in the Air14 days of my favorite romantic moments (2013)

1)What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006)from Horrorfest VII, 31 Days of Horror Films from Halloween 2018

The Followers!

So this community has really grown in numbers and I can not describe how pleased I am about that. We have gone from 14 followers in 2012, to 439 in 2015, to 1021 in 2017, and now 1,647 in 2019.

Book Club Picks

My book club read:

I am actually 11 books behind, but I will catch up in this new year…at least I hope!

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So in 2018 I started a series on books to read after you have read all the Jane Austen novels and want elements of Jane Austen, but something fresher than another adaption or retelling. The following books I recommended for Austen fans last year are:

Dangerous to Know

So I was given the book Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd, in exchange for an honest review, and started reviewing it in 2018-but as I broke it up into multiple posts I didn’t finish it until 2019. We had:

Jane Austen

So of course there will be Jane Austen posts, that’s the name of the blog! I reviewed the following:

On Jane Austen & her works:

Sense and Sensibility:

 

Pride and Prejudice:

 

Mansfield Park:

 

Emma:

 

Northanger Abbey:

 

Persuasion:

 

Lady Susan:

Recipes

As C.S. Lewis says

Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.”

And sometimes you want something to nibble on when you read Jane Austen or watch the films. This year we had the following recipes:

Books, Books, Books!

I love books and reading:

Holiday, Celebrate, Holiday, Celebrate…

I LOVE holidays, and love to celebrate. Here are the holiday posts:

Tea Time

What goes better with Jane Austen than tea? I love tea and we have the following posts on it:

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans

So as I enjoyed doing the Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, that I decided to expand to another series- Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans. This has films that are not based on Jane Austen, but have elements we love from the films in a fresher source. I recommend Austen fans to watch:

Desire & Decorum 

So Jane Austen has entered the 21st Century with Pixelberry creating a video game based on Jane Austen’s works and set in the Regency time period. I started playing in 2018 year and continued last year:

Catherine Morland’s Reading List

Another series? Yes…I know, I just can’t help it. Yes, this series will be on gothic novels that Catherine Morland would totally love to read, if she existed:

Painted Portrayals of Christ

For Easter I discussed different artworks of Christ, (have to put that Art History degree to work). Last year I chose:

Jane Austen Stuff

Last year I reviewed a few companies’ Jane Austen stuff:

Austentatious (2015)

Last year I decided to review one episode from Austentatious (2015) every monthAfter I finish it, I’ll be picking another one to do this to. I really, really, really hate this show-so be prepared for the sarcasm and the hate.

Giveaways!

Last year I won five giveaways. The ones I have reviewed:

Rational Creatures

So like Dangerous to Know, this book was given to me by Christina Boyd in exchange for a honest review. Rational Creatures has stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams-all on the women of Jane Austen:

 

Horrorfest VIII

25 Films of Christmas

Christmas is hard to do posts on as it is so busy! However, in 2018 I watched a Christmas film every day and posted it on Instagram. Last year I decided to do it again (and ended up watching 29 films). Here are the 25:

The Thin Man (1934)

Somewhere in Dreamland (1936)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) (In my family it counts as a Christmas movie)

Jack Frost (1979)

Babes in Toyland (1986)

A Garfield Christmas (1987)

Die Hard (1988)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)

Die Hard II (1990)

Home Alone (1990) I watched it twice!

Batman Returns (1992) It was my Friday the 13th pick

Jumanji (1995)

Jingle All the Way (1996)

The Christmas Card (2006)

The Christmas Candle (2013) I watched it twice!

Christmas in the City (2013)

Dashing Through the Snow (2015)

The Mistletoe Promise (2016)

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle (2018) Recommended to me by martha.leith on instagram

Klaus (2019)

Other Posts:

Other posts that don’t fit a theme:

For 2018 in review, go to The Future is Bulletproof

For 2017 in review, go to Life Seems But a Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

For 2016 in review, go to A New Hope

For 2015 in review, go to To Boldy Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

For 2014 in review, go to Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

For 2013 in review, go to Looking at the Past, Focusing on the Future

For 2012 in review, go to Looking Back, Moving Forward

Shame Book Tag

So I was just checking out what dinged on my comments and I saw I was tagged in Audra’s Book Blabbing for the Shame Book Tag. Aw, thank you for tagging:

So I was tagged like a looong time ago but its taken me forever because this is actually really hard!

Uh oh

I don’t really get embarrassed or feel ashamed-so it took some time as I had to really think and come up with an answers to these!

1. A Book that Everyone Hates but You Love

The Secret of Chimneys (Superintendent Battle #1) by Agatha Christie

So I have talked about this book before-but I just can’t stop. I LOVE it, yet everyone else seems to just feel okay about it or they can’t stand it. Why? I don’t know.

Why, not?

It is very different from Agatha Christie’s other books as it is a mystery, spy story, thriller, adventure story, and more. It actually contains five plots-yes, FIVE-that all interconnect. Missing memoirs, blackmail, a game of thrones, missing jewels, and a murder. Plus we have characters who they are one thing but are secretly something else-such as one is a prince, one a thief, one a Pinkerton agent, and one is an actress.

Plus Virginia Revel is an amazing character! Widowed, independent woman who is up for adventure, investigations, and more. She is AWESOME! Believe me!

I think some people struggle with it being so different from her other works, but I love it and completely recommend it.

For more on The Secret of Chimneys, go to Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Murderer is Never the One You Initially Suspect: Crooked House (2017)

2. Unpopular Character You Love

Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

So Harry Potter, I’m sure you have heard of it. A boy finds out he is a Wizard and the Chosen One, and continues on a journey trying to learn magic, information on his family, and stop evil.

So I know a lot of people hate Draco Malfoy, but when I was reading it, he cracked me up. “Wait until my father hears about this!” “Potter!” I mean Harry was nice, but Draco was zesty! He’s just one of those you love to hate.

For more on Harry Potter, go to What Separates the Real Fans from the Fakes

3. A Book Boyfriend You Know You Shouldn’t Love

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I’ve talked about this many times, I love Wuthering Heights, it has always been one of my favorite books. The story is a man gets trapped at Wuthering Heights for the night and encounters a ghost of a woman, Catherine. He then is after the whole story and hears a tale of star crossed lovers, abuse, unhappiness, the moors, revenge, etc.

Heathcliff was one of my first book boyfriends, and even though I will always love him, I know he would be horrible in a relationship. I understand how Heathcliff feels-with no last name and known family-he is essentially without a social security card and has no way of really doing anything. However, because he is hurt, he then hurts others-and no matter what happened to him that behavior is never okay.

For more Wuthering Heights, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights

For more Heathcliff, go to One of Many

4. A Book You Know Is Bad But Still Love

Bittersweet (California Historical Series #2) by Cathy Marie Hake

So this was the hardest of all. THIS IS NOT A BAD BOOK!  Instead I chose a book that was predictable. 

Laney Harris is the daughter of a wealthy landowner. She has been in love with Galen O’Sullivan as soon as she returned from finishing school. The problem is that he sees her as nothing more than a child. She continues to do all she can, but Galen has enough on his mind with running the farm; taking care of his mother and three brothers, being in charge of the pony express horses; and a family of squatters (father and twins-brother and sister) residing on one of his acres. But one day Galen realizes that Laney is a woman and strives to win her, but before he can pop the question he is accused of impregnating the squatter’s daughter and forced to marry her. Now Laney has to live out being a Christian even when everything she wanted has been taken away. And Galen has to release the love of his life. Will the story end in happiness or only sorrow?

So this book isn’t bad, (although they talk a lot about how thin she is and pulling the stays tighter and tighter-that I consider bad) but it is predictable and some of characters are a little bland, like Laney’s sister-in-law and brother. But the story was really cute, even though you had a pretty good idea how it will end.

For more on Bittersweet, go to Top O’ the Morning: 7 More Irish Heroes

5. Underrated Author

Carrie Anne Noble

This was a really hard pick as I’m not sure which authors were in need of some serious love and was wondering who I should pick. I was looking through my books read list and I settled on Carrie Anne Noble.

I first was introduced to her with The Mermaid’s Sister, getting a free pre-release copy from Netgalley. I LOVED it and began following her on Instagram. She followed me back and let me just say her instagram is sooo cute!! 

Then she saw my Saint Patrick’s Day book display I did for library and she gifted us her book The Gold-Son. I know, how sweet and thoughtful! She didn’t ask us for anything, or to post about her, she just decided to send her book to us completely free. Of course, after she gave us the book I had to read that one too!

I think her work is fantastic and she is such a sweet person. You should check her and her books out!

6. A Book that You Don’t Want People to Know You’ve Read

Masquerade by Jenna Ryan

So years ago I was checking out a library book sale and I found this book and bought it as the synopsis sounded great. Gabrielle grew up with a street gang, robbing from people like Fagen’s kids in Oliver Twist. Gabrielle, now Rielle, and her best friend Luke left that all behind-she becoming a famous fashion designer while Luke moved up to white collar crime. The Phantom, a serial killer taking out actresses, goes after Luke, the only one who knows its true identity. When Luke vanishes, Rielle teams up with Adrian De La Costa, Brazillian race car driver and Luke’s cousin, and they head to a midsummer event in a mansion on the Yorkshire coast to discover what happened to him. There are a group of really imaginative characters, and any of them could be the killer.

I loved the gothic fiction, and how it referenced Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Charles Dickens, etc. I was telling my mom about it and when she saw the book she realized it was a Harlequin romance. That was embarrassing-but not really. I loved the book and there wasn’t really any sex or even kissing in the book-that’s why I didn’t catch it. I still love it and read it as it is a fun little novel.

I Tag:

Don’t forget to tag me back as I’d love to see what you choose!

For more books posts, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Did the Niece Poison Mrs. Harlowe?: The House of the Arrow (1953)

Did the niece poison Mrs. Harlowe?

So I have been wanting to watch this movie Gosford Park for a while and when I saw it was returned to the library-I was so excited! Unfortunately, it was dirty and would not play for me.

I didn’t have any other movie planned and decided to fill the place I would choose something that was on my Amazon Prime queue suggested list.

So this movie is based off a book and is the second remake, (3rd version of the story) filmed in and by a production crew in England.

On with the review!

The story takes place in France, the old stately Lady Harlowe, has just died. Her brother-in-law, Boris Waberski, thinks that he will inherit everything- he has even borrowed against his future gains-but to everyone’s surprise-the money is left to her adopted niece-Betty Harlowe!

Boris becomes so angry he accuses Betty of murdering his sister-in-law. They have the body exhumed and it turns out that she was poisoned.

Uh oh

Betty’s friend, Ann Upcott, is worried and sends to England for help. Jim Frobisher arrives to investigate, aiding the very intelligent and top french detective, Inspector Hanaud.

I found the story very boring

Meh.

And the inspector a complete rip off Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. You have the accented inspector-“the greatest mind in the world” and an old manor house with a “locked room mystery” and puzzles. Except Poirot was much better.

I think it was incredibly boring and that the characters were just too bland. Skip the film if I were you.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Did the Niece Poison Mrs. Harlowe?: The House of the Arrow (1953)

For more private investigators, go to The Murderer is Never the One You Initially Suspect: Crooked House (2017)

For more remakes, go to Welcome to a New World of Gods and Monsters: The Mummy (2017)