Vlogs

A Week of Reading

Don’t be deceived, Aberdeen is rarely this bright

Im trying something different today and made an actual vlog. This gives the illusion that a. I go outside a lot and b. That Aberdeen is sunny and bright. Don’t be fooled, it was just that one weekend and now Aberdeen is back to being grey and drizzly.

I don’t mean to boast but I really did have a productive Bank Holiday weekend last weekend. So many lovely nature walks and so many amazing books!

I decided to treat myself to 4 days of reading. What a treat!

I read, and finished, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, Other Peoples’ Clothes by Calla Henkel, and A Silent Voice Speaks by Trishna Singh. I also started Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie.

Plus steam cleaning my entire house because I have a new cleaner, I didn’t vlog that though.

Reviews

Murder on the Links

When Hercule Poirot and his associate Arthur Hastings arrive in the French village of Merlinville-sur-Mer to meet their client Paul Renauld, they learn from the police that he has been found that morning stabbed in the back with a letter opener and left in a newly-dug grave adjacent to a local golf course.

Among the plausible suspects are Renauld’s wife Eloise, his son Jack, Renauld’s immediate neighbor Madame Daubreuil, the mysterious “Cinderella” of Hasting’s recent acquaintance, and some unknown visitor of the previous day–all of whom Poirot has reason to suspect. Poirot’s powers of investigation ultimately triumph over the wiles of an assailant whose misdirection and motives are nearly–but not quite–impossible to spot.

The May theme for the Read Christie 2022 Challenge was: a book set in Europe. There were so many books to choose from and I went with the official pick of Murder on the Links which took place in France. I really enjoyed this book and it was a five star read.

I am a huge fan of Poirot and just loved joining him on another mystery. This was the second Poirot novel so it was really exciting getting to read one of the early ones. Poirot was just as clever and amazing as always. It was entertaining reading about him playing the matchmaker in this story. He seemed to be very playful.

Despite Poirot being in his usual top form, early Hastings was less impressive a sleuth. Hastings is so hilarious in this book. He’s just a lovesick little puppy and I can see how that could be annoying to some people but I found it to be amusing. I loved how easily distracted he was by every pretty young woman. He even took a mysterious new friend to the see the evidence of a crime! All because he thought she was beautiful. Silly Hastings.

In addition to Poirot being on the case, there was another special investigator from Paris who was involved. It was so good having Poirot competing with another excellent investigator and having them have conflicting theories. I think it really helped to show just how clever Poirot was.

Throughout the book it felt like there were multiple mysteries to be solved. Only during the last third did all the pieces start to come together. I really liked the way that Poirot started to explain something and would then stop, go away, then return with whole armfuls of evidence. He made it look so simple!

This book was jam packed with twists and turns. I have read this before but it had been a while, I just did not see them coming. There were red herrings galore, it was so fun trying to work out whodunnit (despite knowing, I still convinced myself that maybe I didn’t remember). This is what I love about Agatha Christie, the books are so excellent that I can reread them and it doesn’t matter whether I remember what happened or not because it’s such a fun ride.

I’m absolutely loving taking part in my Agatha Christie monthly readalongs. It’s nice to have something consistent in Agatha Christie books.

Reviews

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

Was it a misstep that sent a handsome stranger plummeting to his death from a cliff? Or something more sinister? Fun-loving adventurers Bobby Jones and Frances Derwent’s suspicions are certainly roused–espeically since the man’s dying words were so peculiar: Why didn’t they ask Evans? Bobby and Frances would love to know. Unfortunately, asking the wrong people has sent the amateur sleuths running for their lives–on a wild and deadly pursuit to discover who Evans is, what it was he wasn’t asked, and why the mysterious inquiry has put their own lives in mortal danger…

This was the April selection for Read Christie 2022. The theme was A Story Featuring Adventure and I think that this was the perfect choice! I gave this book 4 stars but it was one of those times when I wish that Goodreads had half stars. This was definitely more of a 4.5 than a 4. I feel that 4 seems too low but it wasn’t quite a 5, if that makes sense?

The story started with Bobby just enjoying a game of golf and then suddenly finds a man who has ‘fallen’ off of a cliff. It was a foggy day so perhaps this stranger mis-stepped. Bobby remained with the stranger as their friend ran off to get help, the stranger murders their last words of ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’. Bobby then embarked on a series of adventures with his friend Frances and it really was thrilling.

I really enjoyed the main characters. Bobby was sweet, a little bit lost, and filled with fears of being inadequate. Frances, Lady Frances was so carefree and bold and confident. I really enjoyed this pairing and felt that they complimented each other perfectly. The additional characters were also very exciting and interesting. I enjoyed reading about the grand house and the medical centre.

This book felt like there could either be multiple storylines happening concurrently or, one giant elaborate event. I really enjoyed not being sure (until the end when all was revealed). This very much felt like an exciting ride of a book with so many twists and turns.

I don’t remember if I have read this before, I know I have at least watched the Miss Marple TV adaptation (which was very far from the book). I found myself struggling to guess who did it and why. That’s something that I look for in a murder mystery!

I really enjoyed the side plots with Bobby’s friend and with the ‘interesting’ people in the grand house. It did feel very connected.

The ending of this book was just wild! I didn’t see it coming and found it so exciting to read. I didn’t have any idea what was about to happen. This was such a fast-paced read and I didn’t want to put it down. I will definitely be reading it again but will wait until I’ve forgotten what happens first.

As always with Agatha Christie, I highly recommend this book. It’s a standalone so nice and easy to just hop into.

Reviews

After the Funeral

The master of a Victorian mansion dies suddenly – and his sister is convinced it was murder…. When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say: ‘It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?’ In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.

This was my pick for March Read Christie 2022, the theme was a book that Agatha wrote abroad. Google tells me that this book was written in the US but it is set in the UK. According to Goodreads I read this book back in 2018 but as that was hundreds of books ago. I’d forgotten what happened which was good because I got to enjoy the book without knowing the twist. This was a very fun and rather short Murder mystery and I gave it 3 stars, like a 3.5.

I do love a murder mystery that takes place in a grand home. This book took place both in a Victorian manor house, in another grand home, a quaint village, and also in London. The majority of the story took place in the grand houses but I don’t think that they played an integral part of the plot.

There were a lot of characters in this book and some had quite similar names. At one point I got a bit confused between one of the suspects and Poirot’s valet (Georges and George). Of the multiple characters, only about half of them played key roles in the book with the rest being more background characters that were pretty one dimensional.

My favourite character was, of course, Hercule Poirot. I absolutely love Poirot as a character l, he’s just so interesting and intelligent with just the right amount of sneakiness. Poirot didn’t feature in the book anywhere near as much as I’d have liked despite him playing a key role in the solving of the mystery. I think that the lack of Poirot may be the reason that I gave this book three stars as opposed to four.

I enjoyed the mystery of this book. My favourite part of a murder mystery is the mystery and I was kept guessing right up until the end. The book was so much more than the initial murder so it was really enjoyable having extra crimes and events show up. I liked trying to work out whether they were all related or if there were red herrings. As I’d forgotten the twist, I was surprised as I was convinced that it was somebody else. Perhaps I was getting my Agatha Christie plots confused. I do think that the twist in this book was excellent as I found it to be so I expected.

I did like this book, it’s not one of my favourite Agatha Christie books but it is still a very enjoyable read. I’m very much enjoying reading an Agatha Christie book every month and while I’ve no idea what the next pick is, I’m already excited about reading it.

Reviews, Vlogs

Death on the Nile

The tranquility of a lovely cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life.

Who’s also on board? Christie’s great detective Hercule Poirot. He recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Despite the exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

This was the February pick for the Read Christie 2022 Challenge due to the new adaptation being released in February. I have read this book before and it was and remains one of my favourite Agatha Christie books. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to know that I gave it 5 stars.

This book started off with an introduction to a whole gaggle of characters. The main characters being Poirot (of course), Linnet Ridgeway, Jacqueline De Belfort, and Simon Doyle. Linnet was introduced as a spoiled heiress with little regard for other people. Her childhood best friend, Jaqueline had fallen in love and intended to be married. The only issue was that her fiancé, Simon Doyle, was a penniless younger son of a Lord, she asked her best friend to hire him and she obliged. Various other characters were introduced and the introduction ended with the announcement that Linnet Ridgeway had married Simon Doyle.

The second part of the book took place in Egypt with Linnet and Simon on their honeymoon and who should appear but Jacqueline. She had been following the new couple who had met and married within only a couple of months. Jaqueline was justifiably very upset and angry.

Poirot was just having a lovely little holiday when he was approached by Linnet to force Jacqueline to leave the couple alone. He pointed out that no laws had been broken causing Linnet to be a bit miffed at having to face the consequences of her actions.

All of the characters then went on a delightful cruise down the Nile. Delightful until a murder happened, then additional murders happened. Poirot has never been able to have a holiday as whenever he travels, he is brought in to investigate a crime.

It turned out that it wasn’t just Jacqueline who had motive to harm Linnet. The boat was filled with people who had very strong motives for wishing to do away with the heiress. I absolutely loved the sheer volume of suspects as there was so much for Poirot to investigate and he really got a chance to shine! This book really let Poirot display his skills.

This was sort of a locked room Murder mystery since the culprit was someone who was and remained on the boat. I absolutely love mysteries like this, my preferred is usually a grand home but I’ll take a boat!

The book was filled with red herrings which added an extra element of enjoyment in trying to work out what was relevant to the murder and what was rated to a different crime.

The twist in this book was one of my favourites. I knew it was coming because I’ve enjoyed this book before. Yet while rereading this book, I never see any hints or signs that it’s coming and I think that Agatha Christie was just so clever with this book.

I absolutely adored this book and I will always recommend it. The beauty of Agatha Christie is that the books all work wonderfully as standalone books, this is one of the books that I always recommend to people wanting to start reading Agatha Christie but unsure where to start.

After reading the book for the…I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book. A lot. Anyway, I decided to go to see the new adaptation despite having a few concerns after viewing the trailers. I had a lot of feelings which are in the blog below, where I chat about the book and the film (the description on YouTube has the time to skip to if you only want to hear about the film. Spoiler free of course)

I had so many feelings about the book and the new film adaptation that I needed a champagne (jokes it was elderflower pressé)
Reviews

The Man in the Brown Suit

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’….

This was my January selection for the Read Christie 2022 Challenge. The theme for this month was ‘A story inspired by Agatha’s travels’ so this book seemed like the perfect choice as the majority of the story took place on a ship travelling to South Africa. This was a story that I had been aware of but hadn’t read and was never super sure of the plot so I was very much looking forward to reading it and it did not disappoint. I ended up giving this book 4 stars which was a great start to my Read Christie 2022 Challenge!

The main character in this book, Anne, was such a good main character. She was independent, intelligent, and absolutely fearless! While reading this book I wondered if Anne was based a little on Agatha Christie. Anne witnesses a death and decides to investigate it which led her to using her entire income on a ticket to South Africa in order to follow her hunch.

I found the plot of this book to be very exciting and interesting. Anne, along with her new friends, managed to unfurl more of the mystery which led to her being put in danger. Not one to be put off, this only encouraged her which I appreciated in a main character.

I thought that this book made some good nods towards the attitudes towards women as Anne was not believed by anyone until she confided in another woman. She had to push to be listened to.

As this was an Agatha Christie book, there was a little romance. I must admit that I didn’t see it coming and had assumed that a different pairing was going to take place. I did enjoy the romance as it felt realistic and rather romantic given the participants.

This book was a very exciting read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would definitely read it again and look forward to what more delights will come this year.

I do want to note that this book was published in 1924 and there are parts of this book that are definitely not acceptable especially the attitudes and descriptions of people of colour, especially the people in South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as on the liner itself. There are also some very dated attitudes towards romance so please be aware of these notes.

Vlogs, Wrap Ups

Reading Christie 2021

This year I took part in the Read Christie 2021 challenge and what fun I had. I am such a huge fan of Agatha Christie and really enjoyed having a monthly theme!

Just hanging out with my Read Christie stack

Of the 12 dedicated reads of 2021, I had 4 Four Star Reads and 8 Five Star reads!

My reading also included two of my top five favourite Agatha Christie books! Since I had so many high rated reads during this challenge, I decided to rank them from least favourite (which was still a 4 star read!) to favourite and here’s the video to prove it! The reason for this? Absolutely no reason, I just thought it would be fun.

One day I will rank all of the Agatha Christie books but that’s a task for me of the future and not me of the present.

Happy viewing!

Ranking my Read Christie 2021 reads
Blog

Christmas Rereading

‘Tis the season to do rereads
Fa la la la la
La la la la

I am a fan of rereading books that I have previously enjoyed but in December I really am all about the rereads. Are you a fan of rereading books that you’ve already adored?

I have some festive favourites that I like to read every December. In the most recent years, I have enjoyed 3 festive rereads- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Adventures of the Christmas Pudding both by Agatha Christie.

For me, it doesn’t feel like December until I’ve read at least one of these three beauties. My favourite way to enjoy these comforting rereads is to read the physical book while listening to them on audiobook. Like a book on tape!

A Christmas Carol is just the perfect read for Christmas! Part ghost story, part cautionary tale and ultimately heartwarming. I love Tiny Tim! I’m actually going to be reading the parallel text version of A Christmas Carol this year, I’m practicing my French reading skills (which are mediocre at best but I try). Also, this book is the reason why we have A Muppet Christmas Carol which pleases my soul.

It wouldn’t be a festive season without an Agatha Christie! I did toy with the idea of buying the Midwinter Murder short story collection but my mum had previously asked whether it was something I’d enjoy as a gift so I didn’t by it just in case. So I’m rereading the two most Christmassy Agatha Christie books; The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas.

I always tell myself that I don’t enjoy short story collections but The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding is one of the exceptions to this rule (there’s an ever growing list of exceptions to this rule!). This is such a quick read and I find it perfect for December bedtime reading. There are only 5 stories and they’re all pretty short, yet most excellent.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is one of my favourite ever Agatha Christie books, it’s definitely in my top 5. This book is just so full of wintery vibes and really makes me feel festive, despite this book being about murder… there’s still some warm bits about family plus Poirot hating the cold is always amusing.

My December reading is all about the festive rereads but I also favour a heartwarming winter read. This year I have a lot of winter reads, so many that I wonder if I will get through them all. If I run out of time, I will just move them to my TBR pile for December 2022 and feel accomplished at planning so far ahead.

This year I found a new book that I’d like to add to future Yuletide rereading. This year I read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik which I found to be a really lovely winter wonderland of a novel. I read it in August which was poor planning on my part but does mean that I really don’t fancy a reread of it so soon.

Do you have a favourite Christmas read?

Reviews

Crooked House

In the sprawling, half-timbered mansion in the affluent suburb of Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides lies dead from barbiturate poisoning. An accident? Not likely. In fact, suspicion has already fallen on his luscious widow, a cunning beauty fifty years his junior, set to inherit a sizeable fortune, and rumored to be carrying on with a strapping young tutor comfortably ensconced in the family estate. But criminologist Charles Hayward is casting his own doubts on the innocence of the entire Leonides brood. He knows them intimately. And he’s certain that in a crooked house such as Three Gables, no one’s on the level…

This is one of my absolute favourite Agatha Christie books. I know I say this about most of the Agatha Christie books I read but this one is definitely in my top 10 and possibly top 5…although that would require a lot of consideration. I don’t think that it will be a surprise to know that I gave this book 5 stars. Despite my attempt to savour this book, I finished it less than a day because I just wanted to consume it

This is a standalone novel and doesn’t feature Jane Marple or Hercule Poirot but there are enough strong characters in this book that it may have been too much to add another personality. Crooked House is always the Agatha Christie book that I recommend to friends who are wanting to know a good place to start because it is an excellent novel and taste of Christie but you can easily read it with no prior knowledge of the Christie-verse (is that a thing? Let’s pretend it is)

The book took place in a large family home after the murder of the head of the family and everyone was a suspect. There were a lot of characters in this book but the majority of the family took more of a supporting role and were so different that it was easy to keep track of who was who. The setting of this book was utter perfection! Is there a better setting for a murder mystery than a large, remote family home?

I loved the dual investigation of the police and Charles and the different information that they discovered. The differing attitudes to each felt really realistic for the time. I really enjoyed Charles as an investigator, he was no super sleuth but I think that really worked in this novel as it may not have worked quite so well with an expert investigator.

This book built the tension right from the start. As a reader, I was kept on my toes and it felt like anything could happen next. Like all Agatha Christie books, this had a twist and a half which I did not see coming!

This was my November pick for the Read Christie 2021 challenge, each of the reads have been so enjoyable.

I love this book and will recommend this whenever asked, I will be rereading it again.

Uncategorized

Death in the Clouds

From seat No. 9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers. Over to his right, a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite; ahead, in seat No. 13, sat a Countess with a poorly-concealed concealed cocaine habit; across the gangway in seat No. 8, a detective writer was being troubled by an aggressive wasp.
What Poirot did not yet realise was that behind him, in seat No.2, sat the slumped, lifeless body of a woman

I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie. I am currently taking part in a Read Christie Challenge organised by the Official Agatha Christie website and this was the October pick. I had read this book before, however I read so many Agatha Christie books and other murder mysteries that I never remember the twist so this was just as enjoyable the second time. I gave this book 5 stars and I feel justified in this. I loved it so much and am not looking forward to ranking my favourite Christie reads of the year as they’ve all been such gems!

Poirot is on a fairly routine flight from Paris to London and is trying to sleep because he does not enjoy flying. Poirot on a plane was hilarious and I enjoyed this element of humour in the book. During the flight, the flight attendant notices that a death has taken place. Nobody on the plane was expecting Poirot to have been present on the plane and he was poised and ready to start his investigation.

This book had quite a few characters but it was easy to remember who was who because they were all pretty different. Each suspect had enough character building to make for a really interesting story.

This book took place in both Paris and London (and the airspace between) so we got Inspector Japp and the Parisian police. I really enjoyed the investigation taking part in two locations, it added to the excitement of the book! Also, in these current times, I’m not travelling anywhere so a book with a plan journey and jaunt to Paris was just what I needed.

I did not see any of the twists coming, I never do. They were so well written that once they were announced I felt so silly for not noticing the super subtle nods that had been hidden among the red herrings.

I will forever recommend any and all Agatha Christie books to anyone who is looking for a murder mystery! I will be doing a wrap up at the end of the year of my favourite Agatha Christie reads of 2021 and this is a contender for a podium position…but that is going to require a lot of thought and consideration and maybe a chart