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Review: "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" by Agatha Christie


In this first novel by Agatha Christie, published in 1920, she introduces the inimitable Poirot, who would go on to appear in 33 Christie novels and 54 short stories. The plot of The Mysterious Affair at Styles deals with a straightforward case of an old woman poisoned with strychnine for the obvious reason: her money. The way Christie handles a plot, however, nothing is ever straightforward. The story spirals round and round, leading the reader in one direction, then another, convincing the reader that first one character, then another is the guilty party. Continue reading .

Review: "Rutledge" by Miriam Coles Harris


First published anonymously in 1860, the narrator of this novel (who remains unnamed) is an orphan who is sent to live with her aunt. During the journey, the narrator and her companion, Mr. Rutledge, are injured in a train wreck and are thus moved to a nearby parsonage to recuperate before continuing the journey. At the parsonage, part of a large estate called Rutledge, the narrator enjoys the kindness and caring of Mr. Rutledge and the parsonage’s occupants. When the narrator finally makes it to her aunt’s house, she is caught in the flippant social whirl and to a certain degree comes to enjoy it. Drama and tragedy ensue before our narrator determines where her place place of real joy and love should be. Continue reading .

Review: "Heidi" by Johanna Spyri


Written in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, Heidi focuses on events in the life of a young orphan who is pawned off on her hermit grandfather at a young age. Heidi’s innate goodness and loving attitude has a deep effect on those around her, including grumpy gramps, helping them to realize the error of their ways and changing their lives for the better. Heidi–as all the best literature, young adult or not–has something for readers of all ages and beliefs. Continue reading .

Review: "The Butterfly Dress" by Miranda Koerner


The Butterfly Dress is a Cinderella tale retold in modern times. When not in design class, Flora Oak works as a seamstress for a mother who closely approximates Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Flora works hard, eats large, and is so accustomed to her superiors calling her a failure that she accepts those opinions without question. One day, she is asked to create a gown for Eleanor Nottingham, the duchess of local society. Mrs. Nottingham sends a horse-driven carriage to take her to the Nottingham estate where Flora meets a possible Prince Charming, but complications abound before she can reach her happy ending. The story’s conclusion drifts more toward Fractured Fairy Tales than the Brothers Grimm, and more power to it! Continue reading .

Review: "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather

Published in 1913, O Pioneers! was Willa Cather’s second novel. It centers on a family of Swedish immigrants in rural Nebraska. The main character, Alexandra Bergson, inherits the family farmland when her father dies, and she devotes her life to making the farm a viable enterprise at a time when other immigrant families are giving up and leaving the prairie. Continue reading .

Smashwords Summer/Winter Promotion 2012

The Smashwords Summer/Winter Promotion is still going strong all month of July. Take a look at all our publications involved in the promotion and the links to their purchase pages on Smashwords. These FREE and heavy discounts that won’t last much longer! Continue reading .

Review: "The Happy Medium Book Two" by Janice Tarver


Although she has sometimes been referred to as a clairvoyant, author Janice Tarver prefers to describe her abilities as those of a medium. In the continuation of her first book, The Happy Medium, Book Two: Memorable Readings focuses more on client readings about loss and grieving. Janice describes how messages come to her during a reading and how she handles those messages and passes them on to her clients. She also addresses the question of whether pets have souls, and whether houses can indeed be haunted. Continue reading .

Review: "A Humble Romance and Other Stories" by Mary E Wilkins Freeman


A Humble Romance, first published in 1887 to wide popularity, tells various stories of rural New England folks, mostly women. This collection catches you from its “humble” beginning. Each story is engrossing, yet surprising in its simplicity of characters and plot. Far from beautiful heiresses or men on panting steeds, the main characters are mostly old spinsters and sometimes a plain niece or two. The plot rarely goes beyond a long held grudge or–at the extreme–a woman left at the altar. But the stories pull you in from the start, as if you had known the characters all your life and are unavoidably invested in their fates. Continue reading .

Review: "The Solitary Summer" by Elizabeth von Arnim


First published in 1899, The Solitary Summer picks up where Elizabeth and Her German Garden left off. Instead of a year’s diary of the previous book, this sequel relates a summer in the life of Elizabeth in her patterings about the garden, care of her “babies” and various escapades with servants and towns-folk. The book starts with a premise–Elizabeth is to have a summer free of guests, all to herself and her family and her beloved garden. Elizabeth’s love of nature and solitude wins in the end, and anyone with a love of the same will love this book in turn. Continue reading .

Review: "The Country of the Pointed Firs" by Sarah Orne Jewett


Written in 1896, The Country of Pointed Firs is set in a small village on the coast of Maine, the story is told through the eyes of a female writer and visitor to the town. The novel’s appeal emerges through the colorful description of characters and unique way of life that was rapidly disappearing at the time and by now is long gone. Continue reading .

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