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Sunday Funday: Beat The Backlist 2019 - Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

Happy Sunday everyone!  Last year I participated in Novel Knight's Beat The Backlist 2019 challenge which was all about reading backlist books (so published in 2018 or earlier).  I completed all 36 books on my tbr (all of which were published before 1999) and you can see my earlier update here.  So far I've read 8 of the 36 on my tbr.  Keep reading to see my thoughts on the books I've read since my first (and unfortunately only previous update from April).  Here we go in the order I completed them:

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That was cool. Why did I sit on this novel for so long? I need to read more of Meyer's Sherlock Holmes!

I read The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer from April 10 - 18, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr is collection of Holmesian short stories that felt incredibly authentic.  I guess that makes sense with Adrian Conan Doyle on the job since he's the youngest son of Arthur Conan Doyle and everything.  I loved their take on the untold adventures - you know, the ones that are only just referenced in the original stories.  I would love to read more from Adrian Conan Doyle in the future.

I read The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr from May 18 - 22, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Sherlock Holmes: My Life and Crimes by Michael Hardwick is a really cool Sherlock Holmes tale that actually feels totally authentic.  It starts off as Sherlock's autobiography/ memoir featuring photos and illustrations, but then it begins to tell its own story.  It presents an intriguing alternative to what you think you know about "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House".  If you're a fan of the character you will definitely need to try this.

I read this from May 22 - 24, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I had the movie adaptation of this in the back of my mind while reading The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.  I was expecting to prefer the book (like usual), but somehow the movie comes out on top this round.  Not to say that the novel wasn't great, but it just didn't quite manage to meet my sky high expectations.  One thing that I wish the novel had though: quotation marks for dialogue.  Anyway, long story short but you need to see the iconic movie starring Robert Mitchum and read the novel that it's based on.

I read this from May 30 - 31, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Not my favorite Ellery Queen book and a little too long, but still a decent mystery. I did like getting to know the eccentric Drury Lane here in The Tragedy of X. I may have to continue the series.

I read this on June 19, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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To be honest, my two favorite short stories included here are The Adventure of the Devil's Foot and The Adventure of the Creeping Man. Both are Sherlock Holmes stories that I was already familiar with as they were featured in His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. I also quite liked the two Professor Challenger stories, The Disintegration Machine and When the World Screamed. They helped remind me that I need to read The Lost World and its sequel.

I read The Best Science Fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle from July 10 - 11, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I didn't quite know what to expect from Annals of the Time Patrol (Time Patrol #1 - 2 Omnibus) by Poul Anderson, but that was actually pretty cool and imaginative.  Of course, it is fairly episodic in nature (the two books included in this collection are actually put together from several short stories the author had written between the 1950s and the 1970s), but I enjoyed reading Anderson's take on time travel.  If you're interested in scholarly time travel where it's clear that the author has done their research, Doctor Who, and The Time Tunnel (a totally underrated 1960s sci-fi show), I have a feeling this series could be for you.

I read this on July 17, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.


What the heck kind of ending was that?! Did Helprin just give up or what? You know wht made this marginally more interesting? Skimming it while listening to the Avengers: Endgame soundtrack.

I read Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin from August 1 - 2, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett is quite a bit different than any of the other Discworld books I've read of the years.  Honestly, though, I'm glad I didn't start off with it because it's a lot to take in.  I've heard that you should just totally skip the first three books in the series, but I'm going to say you should tackle them a bit later after you already have a sense for the world and some of the characters.  That said, it was fun to see characters that I've already met in their first outing.

I read this on August 3, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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It might sound strange to say but Death is awesome. Reaper Man has become an all new favorite of the Discworld novels for me.

I read Reaper Man (Discworld #11) by Terry Pratchett from September 23 - 26, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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It's always good to see Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Agnes/ Perdita.  I have to admit though I totally had soft spot for Igor.

I read Carpe Jugulum (Discworld #23) by Terry Pratchett on September 26, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I love this series so much and it was great to see the City Watch and Sam Vines in action here.  Anyone else laugh out loud at the introduction to Silas Cumberbatch who used to be the town crier?

I read Men at Arms (Discworld #15) by Terry Pratchett from September 26 - 27, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love reading the footnotes in the Discworld books?

I read Wyrd Sisters (Discworld #6) by Terry Pratchett on September 27, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I'm lucky to have found this reprinted copy of this 1828 novel from Eliza Lanesford Cushing at a library book sale.  It's not my regular sort of historical read, but it is certainly worth it for all of the historical details.

I read Yorktown: An Historical Romance by Eliza Lanesford Cushing from December 15 - 18, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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The Flapper Wife by Beatrice Burton was brand new in 1925, the same year my 94 year old grandmother was born.  I couldn't look away even though Gloria, our narrator, is one of the most selfish, worthless, and brain dead characters I've ever met.  I can't say I've ever read a character who lacks any kind of self awareness quite as much as Gloria. Based on how we're told she grew up, it's totally inexplicable how she turned out. It's also inexplicable why her husband fell in love with her - I mean, she's supposed to be physically beautiful but there's no way that could be all there was to it because she's awful otherwise. That's not to say that the author doesn't make a few interesting point about women's lot in life and society compared to men, but all of that's backtracked once we make it to the end of the story. If this 94 year old book weren't quit so fragile I would have thrown it at the wall. Otherwise, I did enjoy learning some authentic Roaring '20s lingo and reading descriptions on fashion and prices.

I read this from November 15 - 23, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

DNF'd @ page 20

This just wasn't for me.

I tried to read East of the Mountains by David Guterson on November 28, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Eleanor of Aquitane is a fascinating figure and this is an incredibly well researched piece pf nonfiction on her life.  Anyone interested in her needs to pick this up. It's an oldie but a goodie.

I read Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Kelly on November 28, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Lady of Avalon (Avalon #3) by Marion Zimmer Bradley is an excellent prequel to The Mists of Avalon. I'm a sucker for anything at all related to King Arthur.

I read this novel from November 28 - 30, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I've always been interested in Ancient Egypt, but unfortunately Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge just didn't hold my attention quite as much as I was hoping for.  I mean, it's not a bad read but I was expecting more of it.

I read this novel from November 30 - December 1, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I love reading books that are based on historical fact that are set this long ago. It feels like she's done a great job researching and recreating their world and life. I definitely recommend picking this up if you're interested in Medieval history and Arthurian stories.

I read Avalon by Anya Seton from December 5 - 8, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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It's been ages since I've seen the movie adaptation, but from what I can remember I prefer it to the book. It's tough to go wrong with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price.

I read Dragonwyck by Anya Seton from December 8 - 10, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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This is officially the first time I've ever read a full length non- Sherlock Holmes novel from Arthur Conan Doyle. Luckily I enjoyed this adventure even though it's so different.  It's a good experience following this company of characters. If you're interested in The Three Musketeers, this is definitely for you.

I read The White Company by A. Conan Doyle from December 10 - 13, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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John Floyd, one of the original owners of my 1935 copy of this book, wrote on page 93 at the beginning of part two "This is no good at all." He also wrote "This book is no good" on the last page. I hate to say it but I'm inclined to agree with him. The Man Who Had Everything was so mind bogglingly dull and not much happens.  I only kept reading to see if I ended up agreeing with Mr. Floyd.

I read The Man Who Had Everything by Louis Bromfield on December 13, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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If you are at all interested in Nancy Drew, you're going to have to meet Barbara Hunt. This is a solid gem and so much happens I'm going to have to read more of this Adventure and Mystery Series for Girls.

I read The Black Box by Thelma Lientz from December 13 - 15, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I honestly don't half know what to make of this sort of defense of parapsychology and spiritualism.  Sure, it's a fun little mystery set in Edwardian England, but I'm not entirely sure what the author's goal was in writing it when it comes to the mystical stuff.  Anyway, one of the characters in this is called Mr. Saton and I totally pictured Tom Ellis in that role.  Can you blame me with a name like that?  I will say though that my favorite part of this was looking over all of the inscriptions in the front and back. It looks like it stayed in the same family for at least 71 years from 1911 when it was new to 1982.  My favorite/ most unexpected inscription is from Forrest and Lester Hamrick from back when the book was new: "The Pope, the Pope/ His only hope/ is to Ring the Bell/ and go to H - - -".  Seriously.

I read The Moving Finger by E. Phillips Oppenheim from December 15 - 20, 2019 and my review is on Goodreads.

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Leave Her to Heaven is one of my favorites and I was hoping this epic, The Strange Woman by Ben Ames Williams, would become a new favorite. It's pretty great especially if you're into long, highly detailed stories that focus on the setting just as much as its cast. For some reason this just never quite hit the right notes for me, but I still have a feeling that Ellen Berent and Jenny Hager could have taken notes from each other's books.

I read this from December 15 - 20, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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It's fascinating to read about the forensic pathologist who was considered a real life Sherlock Holmes and the cases he was a part. He was helped create the modern day CSI forensic kit.  In real life, he committed suicide in 1947 using the gas from the Bunsen burners in his lab due to the recent deaths of his sons and his own declining health. This 1952 account of his life makes it sound like it was a total accident and that he had a very poor sense of smell.  That makes me wonder just how accurate the rest of the book was honestly.

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I've had The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan on my tbr for ages, but I'm so glad I finally picked it up.  I honestly don't know why I put this epic off for so long because it's absolutely outstanding.  The world-building here is phenomenal.  My only small gripe with the story is simply all of the characters and places to keep track of.  I can't wait to continue on with The Wheel of Time series and I'm excited to see what happens with the upcoming adaptation.  

I read The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan from December 20 - 25, 2019 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Whew!  Congrats if you've made it this far!  Did you tackle the 2019 Beat The Backlist Challenge?  Have you read any of the books I took on?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!


  1. Wow, this is impressive. Congrats on completing this challenge😁

  2. So many book, congrats!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    1. It was great to be able to cross them off my mountain. :)


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