Tag: UK

Agatha Christie – Surprise! Surprise! | Review

Title: Surprise! Surprise!

Author: Agatha Christie

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 224

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is something of an oddity, and in fact I hadn’t even heard of it until I spotted it going as part of an Agatha Christie job lot on eBay. Essentially, because different publishers released different books in different regions, there are some unique USA titles that never came out in the UK, and vice versa.

That mostly applies to short story collections, of which this is the perfect example. In fact, to say that I read this is almost cheating because I only bothered to read the stories that I hadn’t read before, and so there were only four of the twelve or thirteen in here that I actually read. I remember the ones that I skipped, though.

In fact, this is actually a pretty decent little read, if only because it features a bunch of Christie’s most well-known characters, from Parker Pyne to Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. It also includes the title story of The Witness for the Prosecution, which I’ve seen performed as a play before. I think the play was a little better than the short story, but both of them are very much worth consuming. All in all then, I’d have to say that this one is worth reading.

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Bill Bryson – The Road to Little Dribbling | Review

Title: The Road to Little Dribbling

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 390

Rating: 4/5

This book is subtitled More Notes from a Small Island, and so as you can expect, it’s pretty much the natural and spiritual sequel to Notes from a Small Island. Arguably Bryson’s most successful book, that one charted his experiences as an American who’d moved to the United Kingdom and then spent a bunch of time travelling around it.

Since then, he’d moved to America and then presumably back to the UK again. It’s kind of hard to tell with Bryson sometimes because I don’t necessarily read his books in publication order and it’s my understanding that he’s headed backwards and forwards here and there. The good news is that I enjoy him most when he’s writing about the UK, possibly only because I live there and so it’s easy for me to picture the things that he’s writing about.

I also think that Bryson has continued to mature as a writer over the years. It’s not that his style has changed, but he has tightened it up a little bit and I think this book benefits because of it. He’s perfected the art of narrative non-fiction and has the knack of writing super engaging informational books on pretty much any topic he tries his hand at.

I will admit that from time to time I’ve found that Bryson’s humour can grate on me, but that’s okay because it wasn’t a problem here. I think it really depends upon his headspace at the time, because when he came across as petty and vindictive, he was having a pretty tough time of things while travelling across Europe.

Overall then, I enjoyed reading this one and would definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of Bryson’s travel writing and stuff. If you’re new to him, though, I’d probably go for Notes from a Small Island to begin with, although this wouldn’t be a bad place to turn to second. And so all in all, it’s a cracking book and I enjoyed it a lot, despite it being my second Bill Bryson book in as many weeks. He hasn’t started to get old yet, at least if we’re talking about my opinion of his books. Looking forward to more!

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