Agatha Christie · challenge

Read Christie 2022 – March reviews

March was all about Poirot


First up, I read The Mystery of the Blue Train

Aboard the luxurious Blue Train running from London to the Riviera, pampered millionaire’s daughter Ruth Kettering is murdered, her expensive jewels stolen. But Poirot is at hand to solve the case.

My thoughts: Hercule Poirot is travelling alone on The Blue Train but, as always, becomes the focus of attention of his fellow passengers. When the daughter of an American millionaire is brutally killed, what else can he do but investigate? Of course, there are motives aplenty. alibis galore and a shedload of secrets. The characters’ backstories are intriguing and help to stir the pot, nonetheless I fathomed out who the killer was midway through the story. I’ve seen it said that Agatha Christie herself considered this to be one of her lesser works, and maybe it was a bit too easy to solve … or maybe Monsieur Poirot’s investigation made it that way for all of us. Regardless, Poirot is still my favourite detective from the Christie playbook.

Then I moved on to … Cat Among the Pigeons

Unpleasant things are going on in an exclusive school for girls – things like murder… Late one night, two teachers investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress – shot through the heart from point blank range. The school is thrown into chaos when the ‘cat’ strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim…

My thoughts: For a long time, the story focuses on the behaviour of students and teachers at a girls’ boarding school and seemed to have little to do with the opening scenes of the revolution in Ramat (a fictional Middle Eastern country) … Until a bloody murder occurs at the school where the “princess” of Ramat is now boarding. Is there a connection? Poirot will know!
Poirot, however, is almost outshone by one of the students who manages to identify and connect the dots to a large extent without his involvement.
The detailed descriptions, the sublime turns of phrase that are so very of their time, and the way in which the many subplots are connected to finally make a cohesive whole make it a mystery worth reading, albeit not one where Poirot’s deductive abilities are hugely tested.

To be honest, neither of these were favourites of mine which is why I didn’t go on to read After The Funeral as I intended. Still, you can’t like them all.

April’s official choice is Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

This month’s theme is ‘A story featuring adventure’, and we have chosen to reinvestigate Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? in anticipation of Hugh Laurie’s masterful adaptation hitting BritBox (12th in USA & Canada, 14th in the UK, international TBA). Featuring two young spirited adventurers, it is such a brilliant story which we can’t wait to explore in more detail. Click here to find out more about the TV show.

What’s it about?

Bobby Jones, the vicar’s son, has recently returned from the navy. He’s trying to keep himself occupied and weighing up his options for the future when he stumbles across an unfortunate man at the base of a Welsh cliff. The man looks to have fallen owing to fog, and with his dying breath utters the famous words from the title “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” Bobby doesn’t have a hope of finding out what this means… Unless, that is, his childhood friend Lady Frances “Frankie” Derwent weren’t so keen to find out. What follows is an exciting trip into terrains unknown, and the introduction of some eccentric new acquaintances – the Bassington-ffrench family.

Bobby knelt down beside him, but there was no doubt. The man was dead. A last moment of consciousness, that sudden question, and then—the end.

Agatha Christie, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

I’m not sure this one is for me, so I’ll more than likely check out one of the alternative reads. This month, the suggestions are Poirot in The Big Four, Miss Marple in the 4.50 from Paddington, or one I’ve never read before The Seven Dials Mystery. I’m leaning towards the latter as I’m familiar with the other two.

A practical joke goes chillingly, murderously wrong in Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie’s classic detective story, The Seven Dials Mystery.

Gerry Wade had proved himself to be a champion sleeper, so the other houseguests decided to play a practical joke on him. Eight alarm clocks were set to go off, one after the other, starting at 6:30 a.m. But when morning arrived, one clock was missing and the prank then backfired, with tragic consequences.

For Jimmy Thesiger in particular, the words “Seven Dials” were to take on a new and chilling significance…

Happy reading!

Agatha Christie · challenge

Read Christie 2022 – from Tommy & Tuppence to Poirot

February’s read (for me) was The Secret Adversary.

Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, embark on a daring business scheme – Young Adventurers Ltd.

Their advertisement says they are ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’. But their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined.

My thoughts

In dire financial straits, two young friends, Tommy Beresford and Prudence Cowley decide over a pot of tea and buns to to hire themselves out as “young adventurers”.
Their first challenge comes from an unlikely source – a stranger – who wants them to find a young woman named Jane Finn, a Lusitania survivor. Their efforts – comical, naive and utterly charming – suggest they are out of their depths, especially when the British government gets involved.

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are a fun couple but, for me, despite their best intentions to solve mysteries, they simply don’t have the gravitas or eloquence of Poirot or the sublime straightforwardness of Miss Marple. Their “methods” invite more chaos than calm deduction to the mix; their endeavours adhere more to the cosy side of mystery solving but are enjoyable nonetheless.

March choice

March – I’m delighted to say – is all about Hercule Poirot, a character I’m much more familiar with from the Christie playbook. I means who hasn’t been captivated by both the books and the TV series with the amazing David Suchet who has encapsulated the essence of the Belgian detective for a generation or more?

After the Funeral is the “official” March read, but in all honesty, I couldn’t turn down a couple of the alternatives either. So, my first read for March will be The Mystery of the Blue Train, followed by the TV adaptation of Cat Among the Pigeons and then I’ll try to squeeze in the audiobook version of After the Funeral as well.


The Mystery of the Blue Train

What’s it all about?

Aboard the luxurious Blue Train running from London to the Riviera, pampered millionaire’s daughter Ruth Kettering is murdered, her expensive jewels stolen. But Poirot is at hand to solve the case.

 Cat Among the Pigeons

Unpleasant things are going on in an exclusive school for girls – things like murder… Late one night, two teachers investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress – shot through the heart from point blank range. The school is thrown into chaos when the ‘cat’ strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim…

After the Funeral

The story begins with a family tree of the recently deceased Richard Abernethie and his relations, who are gathered for the eponymous funeral. Richard, a wealthy man with no direct living heir, was blessed with plenty of extended family – few of which seem overtly troubled by his death. Just one of his siblings is at the event, his sister Cora, a few nieces/nephews (with their married partners), and one of his brother’s widows are there for the send-off, and of course to hear the terms of his will from solicitor Mr Entwhistle. Cora adds to the uncomfortable atmosphere created by the unexpected will, by suggesting that her brother was murdered. Mr Entwhistle, unable to shake off a sense of dread, vows to get the bottom of the woman’s bizarre statement, but alas Cora is murdered the very next day. Can the solicitor’s friend, Hercule Poirot, help to uncover the truth of this series of shocking events?

‘It’s all very odd, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘There was Cora, after the funeral, suddenly coming out with “He was murdered!” and then, the very next day, she goes and gets herself murdered?’

Agatha Christie, After the funeral

See you next month with an update and the next story in the challenge.

Agatha Christie · challenge

Read Christie 2022 – An update and this month’s choice.

In January, I read The Man in the Brown Suit, a new-to-me story from the vast Christie collection. Of course, it’s definitely of its time with themes of racism and sexism, nonetheless I devoured it quickly. More a thriller than the usual Agatha Christie whodunit, it’s cleverly written, as ever, with a satisfactory ending.

“Pretty, young Anne came to London for adventure. She found it immediately—on the platform of Hyde Park Corner tube station, where a thin man, reeking of mothballs, lost his balance and was electrocuted on the rails. The Scotland Yard verdict was accidental death. But Anne was not satisfied. After all, who was the man in a brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race of, leaving a cryptic message behind: ’17-122 Kilmorden Castle’?”

Purchase Link: Amazon UK

February choice

Death on the Nile

Considered by Christie as one of her best travel mysteries, this beloved book offers guaranteed escapism, excitement and suspense. Read it before you see it! Visit the film hub

What’s it about?

Linnet Ridgeway is an enviable society figure, with good looks, a country manor and plenty of money in the bank. She even has a handsome suitor! But her interest in matrimony is negligible, that is until she meets her old friend Jacqueline’s fiancé… Having secured Simon Doyle, the couple head off on a luxury honeymoon to Egypt. But Simon’s former partner is dogging their trip, and their fellow passenger on board the Nile cruise sense trouble. Hercule Poirot is, after all, quite insightful on matters of the heart.

She came ashore playing a role, even though she played it unconsciously. The rich, beautiful society bride on her honeymoon.

 Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

I have fond memories of watching this on TV, starring Peter Ustinov and more recently David Suchet in the role of Hercules Poirot, so I’ve decided on an alternative read for February. I’ve not read any of the Tommy and Tuppence stories, so this will be a first for me.

The Secret Adversary

Tommy Beresford and Prudence ‘Tuppence’ Cowley are young, in love… and flat broke. Just after Great War, there are few jobs available and the couple are desperately short of money. Restless for excitement, they decide to embark on a daring business scheme: Young Adventurers Ltd.—”willing to do anything, go anywhere.” Hiring themselves out proves to be a smart move for the couple. In their first assignment for the mysterious Mr. Whittington, all Tuppence has to do in their first job is take an all-expenses paid trip to Paris and pose as an American named Jane Finn. But with the assignment comes a bribe to keep quiet, a threat to her life, and the disappearance of her new employer. Now their newest job is playing detective.

Where is the real Jane Finn? The mere mention of her name produces a very strange reaction all over London. So strange, in fact, that they decided to find this mysterious missing lady. She has been missing for five years. And neither her body nor the secret documents she was carrying have ever been found. Now post-war England’s economic recovery depends on finding her and getting the papers back. It isn’t long before they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever could have imagined—a danger that could put an abrupt end to their business… and their lives.


See you next month with an update and the next story in the challenge.

Agatha Christie · challenge · reading · Reading for Fun

Read Christie 2022 – The Man in the Brown Suit (January)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/209194.The_Man_in_the_Brown_Suit

As part of the Read Christie Challenge, I’m diving into the January pick … The Man in the Brown Suit with gusto. It’s not one I’ve read before and, from the description alone, it promises to be a great read.

Description:

Newly-orphaned Anne Beddingfeld is a nice English girl looking for a bit of adventure in London. But she stumbles upon more than she bargained for! Anne is on the platform at Hyde Park Corner tube station when a man falls onto the live track, dying instantly. A doctor examines the man, pronounces him dead, and leaves, dropping a note on his way. Anne picks up the note, which reads “17.1 22 Kilmorden Castle”.

The next day the newspapers report that a beautiful ballet dancer has been found dead there– brutally strangled. A fabulous fortune in diamonds has vanished. And now, aboard the luxury liner Kilmorden Castle, mysterious strangers pillage her cabin and try to strangle her.

What are they looking for? Why should they want her dead? Lovely Anne is the last person on earth suited to solve this mystery… and the only one who can! Anne’s journey to unravel the mystery takes her as far afield as Africa and the tension mounts with every step… and Anne finds herself struggling to unmask a faceless killer known only as ‘The Colonel’

My thoughts … to come

I’ll be back later with my thoughts and news of the next story in the Challenge.

In the meantime, from the summary above, what categories do you think this one’ll fit into?

If you fancy taking part, you can sign up to the newsletter and challenge here.

As always,

amateur sleuth · challenge · interactive reading · Midsomer Murders · murder mystery

Interactive Reading! Will I survive Midsomer?

This is a first for me – an interactive mystery! I feel like a kid in a sweetshop (my next stop to stock up on supplies 😉 not kidding!)

So, what’s it all about? I have a feeling all mystery lovers will want to check this out. I’ll be donning my amateur sleuth hat this weekend …. I’ll let you know how it goes.


The task – should you choose to accept it:

All is not well in the beautiful county of Midsomer. On the eve of its first Villages In Bloom competition, a man lies dead, smelling of damson jam. Who could have done it?

Well, that’s where you come in. Step into the shoes of Midsomer CID’s newest recruit, choose your own path and decide which way the story goes.

Will you get to the bottom of the mystery? Will you bring the perpetrator to justice? And perhaps most importantly of all, could you avoid an untimely, and possibly bizarre, death… will YOU survive Midsomer? Your task is to make the right choices, solve the case and – most tricky of all – stay alive!… Good luck.

An official Midsomer Murders Interactive novel set in ITV’s most celebrated and murderous county

Are you ready to play? Get your copy here.

Audiobook · book review · books · challenge

My Year in Books – 2019

I’m a list person – to do lists, to buy lists, to cook lists, to read lists … you name it, I’ll put it in a list. Which is why I absolutely love Goodreads and my “what I read” list for 2019.

I’ve been doing the Goodreads reading challenge for a few years, and each time I start off with a cautious but doable figure in mind. You might say it’s the easy option, and you’d be right … but I hate not meeting a challenge. Please, don’t mention NaNoWrimo this year! 😦 😦 😦

So, in January 2019 I set the challenge at 60 books, which I then extended to 75, then to 90 and finally to 100. Yep, I did write that with a smug grin on my face 😉

 

The results are now in …

Don’t you just love numbers, and stats? Okay, it’s just me, isn’t it? 😀

 

 

So, how did I rate them?

I gave 34% of the books I read a fabulous 5 stars

56% got 4 stars from me

5% got 3 stars

1% got 2 stars

and 4% got only 1 star – don’t judge me, I’m giving my honest opinions here. Not every book suits everyone, and I will admit to being drawn in by a book’s description only to wonder if I’d been reading the same book!

All in all, I don’t reckon those stats are too shabby. In fact, I’d say I had a fabulous year of reading, because it’s true.

Talking of fabulous, here they are in all their bookerlicious glory ….

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My fist review was …

My last was …

All in all, an eclectic mix. From cosy mysteries and doggy tales, to historical fiction and time-slips; from rom-coms to feel-good fiction; from tense thrillers to conspiracy theories, and from satire to sarcasm. I even renewed my interest in audiobooks too.

I probably wouldn’t have read quite so many if I hadn’t signed up to review books for some fabulous book tours. I’ve discovered so many new (to me) authors and have stretched my TBR list for 2020 to beyond stupid. But, a book lover’s got to do what a book lover’s got to do. And what better way to spend the year than lost in a wonderful book.

I have to thank Rachel @rararesources and Shannon @RRbooktours1 for providing so many excellent tours. I’ve recently joined the Partners In Crime tours (@partnersincr1me) and audiobook tours came from @AnAudiobookworm, both of which have been amazing already with their offerings. Of course, NetGalley (@NetGalley) needs a mention too, as does my good friend and author buddy, Felicia (@MsFelicia) . Together these have sent my TBR list into overdrive and my Kindle into a happy state of overflowingness!

Thanks to everyone who’s read, liked and commented on my reviews. It’s great to hear that someone has picked up a book based on what I’ve written about it. Hope you all enjoyed the stories as much as I did.

Here’s to a marvellous 2020 in the world of books, and to those amazing authors out there …keep writing!

PS, keep an eye out for my Top Ten books of 2019 too. Bet you can’t guess which ones here made the the cut 😉

As always,

challenge · write daily

Weeds are flowers too

With the best will in the world, today I could only summon up a few weeds of wisdom!

Today, I don’t feel like writing.
I’m not even sure I could
put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard
or even talk to an app.

Today, I don’t feel like writing.
But, I promised myself I would.
At the start of the year, I made a vow
Write daily, write something, even crap.

Today, I don’t feel like writing.
The words, well, they just aren’t there.
I checked on my blog and found nada, my notepad is empty too
there’s nothing on my voice recorder, I really don’t know what to do.

Today, I don’t feel like writing.
It’s grey and cold outside.
I’d rather sit by the fire,
with a book or three by my side.

But, I’m not the type to admit defeat
I can’t stand to break that vow.
So, I’ll type a little nonsense,
and get the words down somehow.

It doesn’t have to make sense
or be particularly clever.
A sentence or two will do
even if it’s just on the weather.

Today, I don’t feel like writing.
So, why have I massacred these lines?
Is it because I’m too old-school
and insist that a poem must rhyme?

Whatever the reason, I’m not fussed
for the task I was dreading is done.
The kettle is on, the biscuits are waiting
and I’m all set for some fun.

I didn’t feel like writing,
but I did it anyway,
it’s a piece of shite – we can all agree.
But it’s over  … and I’m done for today.

Thanks for reading 🙂

(you poor, unsuspecting fool – I’m sorry to have wasted your time, but needs must)

 

A to Z challenge · beta · challenge · Courting Danger · deadlines · editing · The End?

X is for … X-roads

Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma – when will my book be done?

I’m at the crossroads, trying to get my book in shape and ready for release, but there always seems to be ‘one more edit’ or ‘one last glitch to check’ or ‘one final proofread needed.’

I’ve got to the point where I know more about the plot and story line of my fictional characters than real life family and colleagues.

It’s a sure sign that it’s time to move on.

Just looking at the last few edits I made begs the question: Did I improve it, or did I just change it? If I’m not adding value at this point, or making it more interesting or richer or even more readable, then surely it’s time to stop. Am I simply delaying the inevitable? Quite possibly.

It’s time to put Courting Danger to the test, let the betas to have their say. I can put it aside for a while and come back to it in a couple of weeks. Armed with their feedback – good and bad – I can read it again with fresh(er) eyes.

The last thing I’ll do is to read it backwards. Yeah, that’s right – not word for word, but a chapter at a time.

Then I can do no more: Time’s up. There’s a deadline to be met.

Courting Danger will be ready in time. It will be. I made that promise to myself.

Farewell crossroads – I have a real path to follow.

100 days · Camp Nano · challenge · The Writer's Games

It’s challenge time.

Spring has sprung here and with it the need for new stories, or rather offshoots of current ones 🙂

Starting next Wednesday, March 15 the season of writing challenges begins.

First up – the 100 day Novel writing challenge – where the aim is to complete a first and second draft by June 23rd. 

I’m hoping to complete the first draft of a subplot “The Stolen Countess” by then. It’s the first case for the Blackleaf Agency girls and I’m outlining it right now. Yes … you read that right – I – as in me – am OUTLINING right now. That has to be some kind of first, right?

Then April sees the first Camp NanoWrimo of 2017

– where I’ll be working on the second subplot, “Finding Eva” which deals with the girls from Blackleaf helping out a friend in need. (I can’t say any more as this story begins in my next release – Courting Danger – and I don’t want to spoil the surprise)

 

The two stories will merge to form a complete novel, the working title being “Heirlooms & Heiresses”, which is likely to released around next Christmas / New Year.

On top of these, the Writer’s Games open for registration on March 15th too, and I expect to spend my weekends in May/June scribbling away for those.

All in all, a few hectic months of writing new stories, developing new plots and investigating new genres with the Games.

It’s going to be fun! (I think 🙂 )

 

challenge · Courting Danger · progress · reading · research · The Fifth Wheel · writing

Still hanging on in there

Better late than never, but I’m happy to report that progress in week two was even greater than expected.

week-2

  • Another 6k written on Courting Danger
  • Reached the 15 review milestone on Amazon for The Fifth Wheel
  • 3 books read and reviewed

But, best of all – i can see the end and I LOVE where this WIP is going.

The Blackleaf Agency Series is not far away now.

***

On a more sober note, the story I’m plotting – yes, plotting – for  the prompt series is taking me down one of my most favourite path:

The one labelled

researchRESEARCH

and so I’ve registered for a course to see how medical treatments are discovered, tested and evalua

ted. You could say I’m researching the researchers 🙂

Anyway, enough clues to the topic of the story!

Until next week.