Friday, June 14, 2024

Blitzcat (1989) by Robert Westall #ReadingtheMeow2024 #20booksofsummer24




๐Ÿˆ Lord Gort is not the ordinary sort of a lord. In fact he's not even a human being. Lord Gort is a black ordinary pet cat, and he's actually a 'she'. At the start of WW2, her beloved human, a British wing-commander in the RAF left home to fight the Germans. Unable to cope with her mistress (whom she don't really like)and the noisy new baby at home, Lord Gort set out on a journey to track down her human.

๐Ÿˆ Of course Lord Gort didn't really know where Geoffrey Wensley, her human, really was. She only used her instinct. She felt that he was moving away to the north, fir instance, then she would direct her way there. Her human kept moving to different directions all the time, and she'd always turn diligently the same way. Along the way, she met with many adventures, touched many people's lives, and experienced many degrees of the war. In short, through her eyes, we are brought to witness people's struggles as well as resilience against the war.

๐Ÿˆ Lord Gort, by the way, was named after a British commander whose troops were trapped in Dunkirk, when she's a kitten. Her humans foolishly thought she's a tomcat. Her name caused a funny incident that opens the story nicely, a clever way to plunge us into the middle of war in a lighter way than it could have been.

๐Ÿˆ As a domestic cat, Lord Gort depended on kind people to get food and shelter. So, for a time, she would stay with someone who cared for her. But when she sensed that her human was moving further away, she would just leave her current temporary person, to continue her journey. Unintentionally, the cat often brought luck or salvation to the people she had stayed with. Her acute sense of danger saved one woman from bombing, and inadvertently forced the other to get up from her fear.

๐Ÿˆ When Lord Gort was staying with a rear-gunner in the RAF station, the gunner named Tommy believed that the black cat brought him luck, so that he always brought her whenever they flew away to shoot any German's airplane. I found it quite funny at first, because here in Indonesia, especially in Java island where I live, black cat is superstitiously believed to bring bad luck. I didn't realized that in some other Western countries, it's the opposite. Superstitious aside, I think Lord Gort the black cat is just an ordinary cat. She just happened to be at the right place at the right time when people need hope and distraction during the darkest times of war. I loved her nonchalant way of just leaving behind her temporary persons, and focusing to her one and only purpose.

๐Ÿˆ On the whole, it's a wholesome read for me. It's not too bleak for a war story, as it's sprinkled with chuckle-worthy scenes here and there. And it's not overly sappy for a cat-themed story, for there's deeper emotion of human struggles and triumphs in it too. It's just the kind of cat story that I love and enjoy very much!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri




20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books






Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Strange Case of Sir Arthur Carmichael by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24 #ReadingTheMeow2024




๐Ÿˆ First of all, I don't know why I had thought this was an Hercule Poirot story, while it's not. It's another of the "no detective stories", but what a story it had been! It has an element of cat, so I included this to my #ReadingTheMeow2024.

๐Ÿˆ Sir Arthur Carmichael is a twenty-three year old young man, an heir of his father's estate, who hasn't been well these last two weeks. In fact, his case so perplexed his doctor, that he invited his colleague Doctor Carstairs, a renown psychologist, to give his opinion. What the problem was, the doctor didn't tell his friend so that he would form his own impression after seeing the patient by himself.

๐Ÿˆ Arriving to the estate, Carstairs saw a young girl, Arthur's fiancรฉe in fact, with a grey Persian cat walking by her legs. But why did his friend grew pale when he mentioned the cat? And not just the doctor, the others at the house were automatically silent when he mentioned the grey cat, which he continually heard at night meowing or scratching at his door, but there's no one around when he opened it. And no one saw it either - or rather, there had been a grey cat in the house belonged to Arthur's step mother, but it's been dead two weeks ago!

๐Ÿˆ But the doctor put it aside for the time being, and he soon got to the mysterious condition of the patient. The young man wasn't himself, and Carstairs noticed that his manner had become so similar to.... a cat! He behaves exactly like cat, even pounding over a mouse! So, there's a cat that no one but Carstairs saw, and there's a healthy young man who turned into cat. What mystery lies beneath it all

๐Ÿˆ It's actually quite an interesting read, though not surprising, considering the era's fascination over occultism and superstition. Agatha Christie herself had elaborated these themes with the Mr. Quin stories. I quite enjoyed it, the solution of the "murder" might be unusual, but on the whole, it's quite entertaining.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri



Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency (2014) by Mandy Morton #ReadingtheMeow2024




๐Ÿˆ I have read quite a lot of cozy mysteries with a variety of partnering amateur sleuths, from teenagers to septuagenarians, from human couples to human-animal ones, but never of... cats. This is a story about cats in a world where cats live and think like human beings.

๐Ÿˆ Hettie Bagshot has buried her past as rock and roll musician (the story is set around the 1960s), and, now being broke, tries to build her future by founding a detective agency: The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency, with her friend Tilly Jenkins. Their first case came from Furcross, an institutional home for slightly older cats. Three of the residents' dead body were stolen from their graves.

๐Ÿˆ If you're hoping that this book is a sweet funny murder mystery, you'd be disappointed. There are some funny elements in it, like naming the characters from some famous personages in the 1960s like Coco Channel and Elizabeth Taylor. There are also endearing moments in the lives of Hettie and Tilly, like their daily routines in their home and office, how they manage the household in a rented upstairs room of a bakery, where they used coupons to procure meals, and how they count upon free lunches or dinners from their client. Tilly's love of cardigans and dream of possessing television set is also sweet. But the mystery involved some macabre facts which gave the story a contrast vibe.

๐Ÿˆ The mystery itself is rather confusing and also unsettling, and the investigation runs halfheartedly, as what Hettie thinks most of the time is just how to get free meals. But maybe it's just as well, since the detectives are cats? Anyway, the plot twist in the end seems unnecessary. And it seems weird that there are no law institutions in the cats' world, so everyone seems to just do whatever they want. Moreover, the cats think like humans, but physically they are still cats, need grooming and all. But through the book I kept thinking, how they could button their shirts or cardigans with their paws? I know this is an anthropomorphic book, but I just couldn't really relate much with the characters. My only consolation from is just the mouthwatering foods often mentioned throughout the story. Furcoat's Jamaican cook is becoming Hettie and Tilly's friend, and she's a wonderful cook.

๐Ÿˆ All in all, it's a weird story, that I could have managed to finish it at all was because I wanted to see Tilly gets a happy ending she really deserves. Other than that, this is a series I would definitely NOT read further.

Rating: ⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri




20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books



Monday, June 10, 2024

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966) by Lilian Jackson Braun #ReadingtheMeow2024 #20booksofsummer24




๐Ÿˆ Jim Qwilleran, an award-winning crime reporter, started his new job as feature writer for the Daily Fluxion, specializing at artists profile, though he knew very little about art. Desperate to move out from his current uncomfortable flat, he grabs the offer from the paper's infamous art critic George Bonifield Montclemens, to rent a small apartment in his building.

๐Ÿˆ Qwilleran's landlord is well known for his ruthless critics of modern artists, making him a hateful character amongst the art people. But Qwilleran begins to be warm towards his quirky landlord, as besides a comfortable though tiny living quarter, he also enjoys, occasionally, Montclemens' delicious cooking of fine-dining quality of foods, and the company of his extraordinary Siamese male cat called Kao K'o-Kung - or Koko to Qwilleran.

๐Ÿˆ Indeed, Koko is no ordinary cat. Apart from his elegant regal demeanor, his hobby is reading newspaper - yes, reading! - but backwards. Koko has a delicate taste in food, and his favorite game is a mouse toy. When his master's busy or not at home, he even lets Qwill to have him as company.

๐Ÿˆ At this point you might start wondering whether this is a murder mystery after all as we don't see one yet? It is! An art gallery owner was murdered in his office, while some paintings at the gallery were destroyed. But Qwill noticed something else that only few people could have known. A painting of ballerina that used to hang in the office is missing. Has the murderer stolen it?

๐Ÿˆ As Qwilleran has been warming his way through the art world, he has the most advantage and enough inside knowledge to solve the mystery. Then, when Montclemens is also murdered, Koko joins paws with Qwill to reveal the truth around the murders. Koko led him to find some clues, not purr-posely of course, but unintentionally. Like when Koko takes Qwill to where his favorite toy - Minty Mouse - was last put, Qwill found interesting facts that helped him in his investigation.

๐Ÿˆ All in all, it's a highly entertaining cozy mystery with interesting premise - the art world. I loved Koko-Qwilleran's budding chemistry in this book, and hope to see them together in further cases. I also loved them each as character. The whole story has a humorous and intelligent vibes with plausible and proportionate interactions between cat and human, while the mystery has an interesting plot. No need to say, it's a wonderful beginning of a series, which I would definitely continue to read!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri




20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books



Friday, June 7, 2024

War Horse (1982) by Michael Morpurgo #20Booksofsummer24




๐Ÿด I remember watching the movie War Horse years ago, but I might not have been interested in reading the book if I hadn't stumbled upon this audiobook! It's performed by Dan Stevens, and I've been wanting to listen to him narrating a book I haven't read yet. So, I picked this up instantly, and it's proved to be very satisfying. It's marked as an abridged version, though. I wonder, is the unabridged very long, then?

๐Ÿด War Horse is about Joey, a rather remarkable beauty of a horse with chestnut color, four perfectly equal white socks, and a white cross on its forehead. He was procured by a drunken farmer who was supposed to buy a ploughing horse. But his son Albert loved the horse, and the two bound a deep, affectionate friendship that lasted through the war - the WW2.

๐Ÿด When England entered the war, Albert's father sold Joey, much to Albert's dismay, to a Captain Nicholls. Albert wanted to join the army to not be separated with Joey, but he was one year too young. The Colonel, who was a kind man, promised Albert that he will take a very good care of Joey, which he delivered.

๐Ÿด Joey got a good companion during his short career in the cavalry service, a horse called Topthorn, who comforted and taught him to do his job. Much like his old friend Zoey, back in the farm taught him to plough. Yes, Joey was a sensitive horse, he needed to be treated with affection. But during war time, things could change swiftly, and often, drastically. So it was with Joey, he went through many struggles and sorrows, and sometimes, comfort too. And all those times, he remembered always his dear human, Albert. Could Joey get through the war alive and reunite with Albert again?|

๐Ÿด As you can imagine, this is an emotional, heartwarming story during the war, told from the perspective of Joey, the war horse. Dan Stevens did a great job of bringing it to life with his performance; it would have been different had I read it (instead of listening to it).

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Murder Most Unladylike (2014) by Robin Stevens




๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ I came upon this series accidentally when hunting for a fun Christmassy book to read in 2021 I picked up Mistletoe and Murder at that time (5th of the series), and loved the idea of two schoolgirls becoming amateur sleuth, that I decided to read through the series from the beginning. It pays off, because this first book is even better than the 5th!

๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are two students in a boarding school called Deepdean School for Girls, a British respectable school where many wealthy and prominent parents sent their daughters. Daisy, a bossy confident pretty blonde, is one of them. Hazel, on the contrary, is a Hong Kong girl sent by her ambitious father to get a good education he never had. Like most Asian girls, Hazel feels alone and inferior to find herself among these snobbish English girls. It's heartbreaking to see how further she could go just to be accepted into them. Lucky for her, Daisy, though rather selfish and overly confident, saw Hazel's intelligence, and brought her under her wings, so to speak.

๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ The story begins with the two girls founding a Detective Society. Daisy as President (of course๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍♀️), Hazel the Secretary. Hence, the book is written as a casebook, which made Hazel much like Watson to Holmes, or Hastings to Poirot. It was Hazel who first found, by accident, the corpse of their Science teacher, Miss Bell, in the gymnasium - apparently fallen from the balcony. However, when Hazel returned several minutes later with Daisy and their prefect, the corpse wasn't there! The prefect thought Hazel lied, but Daisy trusted her. When the next day the Headmistress or the other teachers said nothing about Miss Bell's absence, the two girls knew it's up to them to investigate the murder, because they're the only ones who knew that there was a murder.

๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ If you think that doing detective works inside a boarding school is almost impossible, think again! Daisy and Hazel have the biggest advantage because they are the only ones who knew that there's a murder (except the murderer, of course). What they need to do is to mingle with other students and... just listen to the gossips. Sooner rather than later, they got facts about where the teachers were at the time of murder and which had possibilities or alibis.

๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ However, when they were near the end of the case, things got more and more dangerous for them, that the murderer was more desperate. Solving a crime might not be so difficult for two intelligent schoolgirls, but how can they solve the case alone? In the end, this is such an unexpectedly brilliant murder mystery, cleverly written, with a well proportioned lines between school life lightness and dangerous action. And if a debut in the series is this promising, who could resist reading the rest? I couldn't!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Monday, June 3, 2024

Agatha Christie Short Stories 2024: JUNE #AgathaChristieSS24




We are almost through half of the year, and two stories we are going to read in June are pretty interesting:

THE STRANGE CASE OF SIR ARTHUR CARMICHAEL

First published in 1933, in this story we are back to Agatha Christie's classic country house mystery, except for the small fact that the gentlemen in question has not been murdered, but appears instead to have become a cat. A cat! 

When Sir Arthur Carmichael, the young and healthy heir to a large estate, starts behaving strangely, psychiatrist Edward Carstairs is summoned to assess the situation. Sir Arthur appears to be behaving like a cat—only days after his mother killed a grey Persian!

It's another Hercule Poirot mystery, and I'm dying to see how he would solve this mystery - it sounds like it would be a fun and little humorous one, but let's just see... If you are joining Mallika's Reading the Meow 2024 (10-16 June 2024), this one would fit purr-fectly, don't you think? ;)



THE BLUE GERANIUM

A woman was warned by a psychic of evil and danger in her house. On a full moon, she must watch for the signs: blue primrose means caution, blue hollyhock means danger, and blue geranium means death!

Now known in St Mary Mead for her canny powers of detection, Miss Marple is asked to solve the mystery of Mrs. Pritchard, a woman with a predilection for psychics who feared blue flowers before she suddenly died.

Sounds like another exciting mystery to read, right? This short story first published in December 1929 in The Christmas Story Teller. It featured in the 1932 collection The Thirteen Problems, Miss Marple's first short story collection.

What do you think of the two selections of this month? Are you as excited as me to read them?