2016 Reading Challenge: Read a book published before you were born

Buckle up, folks, this is a long one! But I figured you would appreciate one long post rather than me posting these bad boys one at a time over a long period of time. Because there are a bunch and I've accepted the challenge. So, here we are. I started off with the first Miss Marple book as part of 2016 Reading Challenge, "read a book published before you were born", and by George, I think I've done it.

There are 13 books in the Miss Marple series, and I've briefly reviewed all 13 books here. Whew, you must be thinking, right?? Well, I read the first one to satisfy the "read a book published before you were born", and I just got roped in to be completely honest!! I did obviously had a few favorites! So if you're thinking, "no way, no how" you can just read the highlights: books 1, 4, 8, 13 

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars.


Murder at the Vicarage (#1)

Published Year: 
Genre: Mystery

Miss Marple #1, and I must say I had no idea what I was signing myself up for. I was also incredibly confused initially. The entire book is told from the perspective of the Vicar! I was definitely expecting Miss Marple (I mean naturally, right? Who else would I expect?), but nope I got the Vicar. But I wanted Miss Marple (who, btw, wasn't even introduced until about 60%!) because she just knows everything! But I'm intrigued by this writing style and of course the mystery (which I definitely did not predict, as in the vein of And Then There None, Agatha Christie is just too darn clever for me), but I will definitely be sticking with Miss Marple! She's the one I want on my side if something fishy is going on.

The Thirteen Problems (#2)

Published Year: 1832
Genre: Mystery

And... This is where I got roped in. Miss Marple was like the Dark Horse in this one. She is at a dinner party with her companions and they decide to have a competition of sorts. Each and everyone of her companions underestimate her every time. I love it. I was hooked. Miss Marple has my vote. Sign me up for the rest of these!

The Body in the Library (#3)

Published Year: 1942
Genre: Mystery

This one was really intriguing, I'll be honest. There was a lot for Miss Marple to unravel (there was absolutely no hope for me, though I keep hoping I'll improve after I read more novels). Again though, she's missing from most of the novel! Miss Marple loves to compare things (when she does arrive on the scene that is). She has a habit of comparing so and so to someone she knew once upon a time and that's how she knows what they've done or are like to do something. It's very interesting theory about personalities (reminiscent of Myers-Briggs and things like that, there are only a certain, fixed number of personalities in the world!), but I liked Miss Marple's way of putting it. This one kept me on my toes, because I had no idea who did what throughout the whole thing! 

The Moving Finger (#4)

Published Year: 1942
Genre: Mystery

I really like this one! Miss Marple has left her town of St. Mary Mead to visit a friend and of course, we are getting the mystery and story from someone else (as always). Maybe one day we will get the mystery from Miss Marple! This mystery is in the form of vicious anonymous letters and who else but Miss Marple to get to the bottom of them, especially when it results in a suicide? I think I liked this one so much because the secondary characters (secondary characters meaning not Miss Marple, that's misleading because technically she is a secondary character, but just go with me here) aren't so useless. Mr. Burton and his sister Joanna have great plot lines that I really enjoyed!  

A Murder is Announced (#5)

Published Year: 1950
Genre: Mystery

From the reading the description on this one, I was not at all surprised where/when/what the murder would be! However, I didn't know how/when/where Miss Marple would show up because surprise! it's not from her point of view! Although, Agatha Christie is a master at work because I still cannot predict a single solitary thing about her mysteries even though as soon as Miss Marple lays it all out for you, you realize that all the clues were there, if you could have only just put them together in the correct way! I tell you by the end of this series, either Agatha Christie will have made the murders easier to solve or I will have figured out how to think like her. I don't much care which as long as I can predict whodunnit, dang it!

They Do It With Mirrors (#6)

Published Year: 1952
Genre: Mystery

Well, Miss Marple is called in before the murder happens in this one, which is quite new! I think I liked this one more because I at least had my suspects narrowed down before she began telling me everything! But I still wasn't completely right, so I'm not giving myself credit, maybe you would have gotten it! Anyway, Miss Marple is on the job again (really though, this lady knows everyone and she has certainly gotten a reputation for solving mysteries!) and she does it well! 

A Pocketful of Rye (#7)

Published Year: 1953
Genre: Mystery

Called in on another case! Miss Marple is looking at murder times three based on a nursery rhyme -- is there a greater purpose or is it a madman at work? Only Miss Marple can tell me... Because cheese and crackers, I had no idea! I had just ruled out my last suspect when she comes in with her full blown explanation and I swear if anyone had been around to see me, they would have witnessed me gaping at my Kindle. Darn Miss Marple, darn Agatha Christie. I need to be more devious. This was a good one though, I'm going to blame it on my lack of knowledge of the nursery rhyme the murders were based on (this is just me soothing my pride).

4:50 from Paddington (#8)

Published Year: 1957
Genre: Mystery

Probably my favorite to date. Mrs. McGillicuddy saw a woman murdered on a passing train, but no one believe her. Except of course her friend Miss Marple. But there's no body, so Miss Marple and her young friend Lucy set off on a course to find the mystery for themselves. Oh, yes, I liked this one! Miss Marple had to find the mystery, solve the mystery, and then prove it. It was just wonderful (well you know what I mean). I also really liked Lucy's character and was very invested in her story as well! As I mentioned a few books ago, the characters that aren't Miss Marple, are usually just tossaways, and there are only a few exceptions. Lucy is one! The family that the mystery/murder enshrouds was also interesting -- this is probably because of Lucy's involvement, but I wasn't just invested in them to find the suspect, solve the murder. I actually wanted to know more about them! Clearly, I really, really enjoyed this one!

Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (#9)

Published Year: 1962
Genre: Mystery

This one may have been my least favorite! Miss Marple has gotten old and Agatha Christie is not afraid to put the facts in front of you. I didn't like it, not one bit. I don't want to face the facts that Miss Marple can't be around forever. Why can't she live forever in fiction, AC, why can't she?? This isn't the only reason I didn't like this book! Yes, we get the answer for who committed the murder, but as is usually the case, where there's one murder, there is usually another. In this case, there were four deaths. We get explanations for two of them, and this left me feeling a little dissatisfied. Sure, Miss Marple explains way more than I was expecting her to explain, but less in this regard than I wanted. 

A Caribbean Mystery (#10)

Published Year: 1964
Genre: Mystery

Miss Marple takes a vacation! She's out of her comfort zone and off to the West Indies. I quite liked to see her out of St. Mary Mead (although she didn't quite like it, I'll tell you that). She was extremely bored without her regular gossip mill to listen to and ruminate on. That is, until a murder comes along! Miss Marple wasn't even sure it was a murder at first, she thought she was just bored and looking for a murder. It was such fun to watch her (none of that wishy-washy, I'm too old stuff from book 9, I was quite glad to leave that behind!). There was one single line about a moment from her past that had my curiosity perking up and going Wait, what? Miss Marple was young? Tell me more! I want to know more! It was the phenomenon when your grandparents tell a story about their lives before you were born and you have the horrible realization that life went on grandly before you existed. Miss Marple had a grand ole life before she got into the murder business, and this is the first we're hearing about it! (Literally there was a single line about this, and you can see how much I'm dwelling on it!). But I enjoyed the mystery itself, although I quite thought it was going a different direction (as always) but I wasn't disappointed this time for some reason!

At Bertram's Hotel (#11)

Published Year: 1965
Genre: Mystery

Miss Marple is back in the UK and feeling old again. She's visiting a hotel that she remembers from her youth and I didn't like it. I don't like the ones where she gets all morbid. I like the ones where she's a pink fluffy old lady. Call me what you like, but I don't like these! Anyway, the mystery wasn't my favorite either. I actually like the secondhand crime more so than the murder itself -- the motivation for the murder was just so crass. No crime of passion here, just stone cold. Either way though, Miss Marple will find you out.


Nemesis (#12)

Published Year: 1971
Genre: Mystery

Miss Marple is on the job... from beyond the grave. No, it's not a haunting (too bad though). Just that a dying man put in a request, and Miss Marple is on the case. This one ties in a bit to A Caribbean Mystery, but you don't have to have had read that one, though it is certainly helpful. I did like this one, but it made me sad! I liked the character from a Caribbean Mystery, so the tie into this book didn't make me happy here. Of course, I quite enjoyed seeing Miss Marple's sass come through (and it did). 

Sleeping Murder (#13)

Published Year: 1976
Genre: Mystery

Miss Marple is on the cold case! Investigating, quite by chance really, a murder that happened over eighteen years ago, and no one is really quite sure actually happened. Oh, I liked this one. I liked Miss Marple in this one. I liked the secondary characters: Gwenda and her husband. And I finally, finally, finally reached my goal you guys. I PREDICTED THE MURDERER CORRECTLY. It only took me thirteen books and a cold case. But I got it RIGHT guys. If you could feel the happiness and smugness radiating from me right now, you would laugh. I should start my own PI company, you can just call me Veronica Mars.