Friday, July 19, 2024

A Powerful French Movie for #ParisInJuly2024

๐Ÿคซ Le Silence de la Mer  is a 2004 French movie directed by Pierre Boutron. Based on a novel by Jean Bruller with the same title (I would love to read it if it's translated). It is a compelling love story between a French girl and a German captain during the 1941 German occupation of France in WW2.

๐Ÿคซ Jeanne Larosiรจre, a piano teacher, is a young orphaned woman living with her grandfather. She preserves the memory of her parents (probably died during the war) by keeping their bedroom pristine, with fresh flowers every day. But then the Germans forced Jeanne to vacate the room, as their captain will occupy it while lodging with them.

๐Ÿคซ Werner von Ebrennac turns out surprisingly to be a young, handsome, kindhearted, and polite gentleman. He's a composer - hence appreciates Jeanne's playing the piano - and a connoisseur of French culture. Jeanne and her grandfather treat their guests with fierce silence and indifference, to show hostility against their enemy. Nevertheless, Werner politely invites himself to the living room every evening to share with his hosts, his ideals and passion. Throughout these monologues, Jeanne is slowly infatuated with him. It is now the question of loyalty to one's nation or... to one's own heart.

๐Ÿคซ It's been a long time since I've seen such a powerful romantic movie. There's no romantic scene at all, not a single kiss or touch, no romantic dialogs - there's hardly any dialog between them. But the emotional tension is so electrifying, and Jeanne's inability to express it is so heart-wrenching. The actress, Julie Delarme, played Jeanne's part so well that she was awarded Best Actress award in 2004 Saint-Tropez Fiction TV Festival. It's just another example that powerful romantic movies are often the ones without any romantic scenes.

Rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Watched for:

hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace

Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Classics Club Spin #38 #CCSpin

It’s time for another #CCSpin! I have been slacking a bit in my classics reading, and have just thought the other day that I’ve got to read one classic this or next month. So, #CCSpin comes nicely at the right time.

What is Classics Spin?
It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 21st July 2024 create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period. On 21st July, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the 22nd September 2024.

My list
  1. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym)
  2. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (Barbara Comyns)
  3. Miss Buncle's Book (D.E. Stevenson)
  4. Cranford (Elizabeth Gaskell)
  5. Miss Plum and Miss Penny (Dorothy Evelyn Smith)
  6. Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome)
  7. A Far Cry from Kensington (Muriel Spark)
  8. Cider with Rosie (Laurie Lee)
  9. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
  10. Something New: Blandings Castle #1 (P.G. Wodehouse)
  11. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym)
  12. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (Barbara Comyns)
  13. Miss Buncle's Book (D.E. Stevenson)
  14. Cranford (Elizabeth Gaskell)
  15. Miss Plum and Miss Penny (Dorothy Evelyn Smith)
  16. Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome)
  17. A Far Cry from Kensington (Muriel Spark)
  18. Cider with Rosie (Laurie Lee)
  19. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
  20. Something New: Blandings Castle #1 (P.G. Wodehouse)

As you can see for yourself, there are only ten on the list, which I doubled up to make it twenty. I’m just being lazy, and don’t have time to think of ten more. And I’ve just realized that eight of the ten are by women writers, and six of ten are new writers for me - splendid! I have just found an audio version of Barbara Comyns’ Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, and would love that to be picked, but I’ll be delighted to read any one of them anyway.

Have you read any on my list? Any favorites? And if you’re a Classics-Clubber, would you join #CCSpin too?

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24

๐Ÿ—ž It's another Tommy and Tuppence story. This time, a murder case, where Tommy and Tuppence were happened to be on the crime scene. A lady has been stabbed at a costume show, and her last words were accusing her lover.

๐Ÿ—ž Inspector Marriot brings the victim's husband, Sir Arthur Merivale, to meet Tommy and Tuppence the next day. Despite the strong evidence which pointed to Bingo Hale - lover to the lady and best friend of Sir Arthur, he doesn't believe him guilty. Besides the lady's last words, the weighing evidence is the piece of torn newspaper in the lady's hand. It was torn from the accused newspaper costume he wore at the show.

๐Ÿ—ž So exact the evidence are, and yet, Inspector Marriot isn't confident - hence his bringing the case to Tommy and Tuppence. It's rather interesting to see how our beloved sleuth-couple - or rather, Tuppence - could reveal the true solution to this murder case.

๐Ÿ—ž It's a simple murder case - I guessed whodunnit correctly - and a short one. Too short, I think. It's hoped Christie would have elaborate it a little further. But on the whole, it's quite fun.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Monday, July 15, 2024

Vintage 1954 (2018) by Antoine Laurain #ParisinJuly2024

๐Ÿพ The year 1954, wine and UFO. These are three elements that Antoine Laurain had woven into a fantastic time-travelling story set in Paris.

๐Ÿพ 1954 was historically the year of UFO sightings wave in France. Almost every day there were news of strange phenomenon in their newspapers. In this particular story, a winegrower called Pierre Chaveau was walking across a vineyard in Beaujolais when he experienced a UFO sighting. Fast forward to 1978. The old Pierre Chaveau was having a family dinner at home. He unwittingly drank a vintage wine produced from the very place and time of his UFO sighting - Beaujolais, 1954. His dog also tasted the wine that night. The following morning he left the house for a walk with his dog, and mysteriously disappeared.

๐Ÿพ Fast forward again to 2017 in an apartment building in Paris. Monsieur Hubert Larnaudie, the property owner/manager; Julien and Magalie, residents; and an American Airbnb tenant Bob, founnd themselves in an awkward moment one day, which would cement their friendship. To celebrate a triumph over a previous apartment struggle, Hubert opened a bottle of vintage wine he found on his cellar, and shared it with his new friends. The wine was 1954 Beaujolais! The next morning, the four friends discovered themselves transported back in time, to the Paris of 1954.

๐Ÿพ What follows are highly entertaining piece in three stages. The shocking moment when they realized their predicaments are quite hilarious. Their euro coins received with suspicion, public transportation changed to vintage systems. They were naturally shocked at first, but then came the determination to seek a way to return to 2017. But in the process, they also had a lot of fun while exploring the 1954 of Paris. There's Les Halles, which was still existed, where they could explore the Belly of Paris in Zola's universe. And there's the personages they encountered - and for some, hung up with - Salvador Dalรญ, Jean Gabin, ร‰dith Piaf. That was a glorious time for our four friends.

๐Ÿพ But the main business remained. They must go back to their own time. Could they do it properly? What surprises awaited them? And if they do come back, what will happen then? Two things for sure, their perspectives of life changed for good, and in the end they have forged a friendship that would last a lifetime.

๐Ÿพ Laurain did it again! This is a wholesome read, very entertaining, fast-paced, and memorable. The atmospheric of 1954 Paris is the main highlight for me.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Read for:

hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace

Friday, July 12, 2024

The Daily Francophile Playlist #ParisInJuly2024

Besides reading French or French-themed books for #ParisinJuly, I have a habit of compiling French music playlist to listen to during the month. This list is growing from year by year, and for this year, I am compiling a special playlist from the master list, which I call my Daily Francophile Playlist. It consists of cheerful or comforting and uplifting songs that I can play from morning to evening, depends on my mood. Not continually, of course, but from time to time. Here they are:

Dave Coz: Together Again (1999) from album: The Dance

I know this is neither a French song nor written/played by a French musician, but it always reminds me of Paris. 24 years ago I went to Paris with a friend. But we arrived separately; I was one day earlier. 24 hours in Paris, I felt homesick and lonely. I haven't spoken to anyone, except for asking direction or ordering food. I had had dinner in a little bistro the night before and the other dinners asked me where I came from, where is Indonesia, etc. Apart from that, I was alone all day. That afternoon, while spending time before picking up my friend from the metro station, I had a walk. Suddenly from a fashion boutique came a familiar sound - it's Dave Koz' Together Again! That song was my favorite at that time, I used to play it all the time at home. Hearing it far away in Paris, was really comforting. I didn't feel alone anymore. Since then, I always associate Together Again to my wonderful moments in Paris. It's a song I would listen to whenever I feel wretched, and it never fails to uplift my spirit. That's why it has to be included in my Francophile playlist. It's playful tune fits with Paris vibes too, don't you think?

From Paris in July 2023 I've been falling in love with Tatiana Eva-Marie & Avalon Jazz Band's music. Here are some of them that I enjoy the most. One is Cole Porter's song, the rests are mostly from Charles Trenet - I love their cheerful tone!

๐Ÿ’ I Love Paris (Cole Porter)
๐Ÿ’ Fleur Bleu (Charles Trenet)
๐Ÿ’ Un Rien Me Fait Chanter (Charles Trenet)
๐Ÿ’J'ai ta main (Charles Trenet)
๐Ÿ’ Mรฉnilmontant (Charles Trenet)
๐Ÿ’ Qu'est ce qu'on attend pour รชtre heureux (Paul Misraki & Andrรฉ Hornez)

These two are from their album Je suis Swing:

๐Ÿ’ La complainte de la Butte
๐Ÿ’ Coquette

Here are my two latest finds from YouTube:

From Flonflon Rรฉvolution/Flonflon Syndicate:
๐Ÿ’ Gitan Swing
๐Ÿ’ Nostalgie d'Amour
๐Ÿ’ Swing Valse

This one is for my after work relaxation, to be played while having dinner, perhaps...

From Flonflon Syndicate
๐Ÿ’ La Folle Complainte

And finally to close the day, here are mini concerts that I love:

Sรฉbastian Giniaux Quartet
YouTube Channel: Auberge Des Vergers

Are you familiar with these songs? Do you have a special #ParisinJuly playlist?

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Manx Gold by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cousins, as well as lovers/fiancรฉes, Fenella and Juan, gets a surprise from their deceased uncle. He bequeathed his gold to his next of kin, but in competition. He had hidden the gold in four locations, and whoever of the four candidates (Fenella and Juan counted as one, and there are two others) can find them, the treasures will be theirs.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Fenella and Juan get 24 hours advanced start because their Uncle knew the others are cunning and unscrupulous. He was right. Just after first treasure was found, one of the two was murdered. So now, the treasure hunt turned to a dangerous game.

๐Ÿ’ฐ To be honest, this is a disappointment for me. Judging from the synopsis, I thought it would be a proper, albeit short, treasure hunt with a murder. In reality, there was a hunt, but the readers didn't know what's going on most of the time. After getting a clue in rhyme, for instance, it would run like this: "I think it's located at (...). Then they went to the spot, searching for a while, and then "I found it! Let's go to the next clue". Just like that, and the readers were not involved in the searching at all. It read like a news about a treasure hunt, not a story. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Monday, July 8, 2024

The Girl Who Reads on the Mรฉtro (2017) by Christine Fรฉret-Fleury #ParisInJuly2024 #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿ’› Juliette doesn't love her 9-5 job at the real estate agent, but she loves her metro journey to the office every day. Juliette lives a melancholic life as an ordinary young woman, a life ruled by monotony, devoid of either purpose or passion. Her sole entertainment are two things: books and imagination.

๐Ÿ’› Besides her love for reading, she loves to imagine the lives of her fellow metro passengers, through books they read every day. There's a woman who always cries when she gets to page 247 of the same book she always read on the Metro. Then, an ornithologist who loves reading book about insects, and a lady with her cook book. Juliette's imagination brings colors to her otherwise bleak existence.

๐Ÿ’› Her life changes when Juliette passes a different road to office, and notices a curious little bookstore with a book wedged on its gate. Intuitively she enters the tranquil courtyard which feels like another world from the hustle bustle of Paris. There she becomes acquainted to Soliman, the bookshop owner, and his daughter Zaide, and without realizes what's happening, Juliette agrees to be a passeur.

๐Ÿ’› Soliman's bookshop isn't an ordinary one. He hired passeurs who match books with people they see - books that they would need or books that match their personalities. The kind of occupation that suits Juliette perfectly and correlated to what she's been doing lately on the Metro. But her biggest life change didn't happen until Soliman asked her to move into his house to take care of little Zaide while he's away.

๐Ÿ’› This is the kind of book without much of a plot. Its strength lays on the beautiful writing and its deep understanding of human struggles and the power of books to heal or guide human lives. I would love it better if it tells us more about the bookshop and the passeur concept. Are the secondhand books passed on to people freely, or should they pay for them? Because Juliette only passes them on to people, there are never any transaction. And if they are free, then how the bookshop keep itself running? If the books are sold from the shop, but some of it are passed on to readers, there are no hints of business along the story. These aspects made the story less relatable to me, though I love the bookshop itself - the tranquil hushed-up atmosphere which seemed to transport me to a secret alley in Paris which is hidden from tourists.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Read for:

hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace

20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation, from Kairos to The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Six Degrees of Separation
is a monthly meme, now hosted by Kate @ books are my favorite and best.

On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

This month we start from yet another book I haven't read:

0. Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck

"An unforgettably compelling masterpiece—tells the story of the romance begun in East Berlin at the end of the 1980s when nineteen-year-old Katharina meets by chance a married writer in his fifties named Hans. Their passionate yet difficult long-running affair takes place against the background of the declining GDR, through the upheavals wrought by its dissolution in 1989 and then what comes after. In her unmistakable style and with enormous sweep, Erpenbeck describes the path of two lovers, as Katharina grows up and tries to come to terms with a not always ideal romance, even as a whole world with its own ideology disappears." ~ Goodreads

I feel a bit lazy today, so I'm going to do this in easiest possible way. My first chain would be a classic by another German author:

1. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman

A Christmas classic I've read for the first time last year. I have never seen the ballet, but suspect that it would be much more beautiful than the book.

Another book with boy and girl siblings secondary characters but with no less importance to the story is...

2. Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy

It was my first Binchy, but loved it very much, I'll definitely read more of her. I read this for the last Ireland Month.

I would link this to another book with the word "scarlet" in the title:

3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

It was called a classic for a reason. I found layer upon layer of depth beneath the story that I produced a lot of posts around it.

Still linking words in title, here's a book with "letter" in the title:

4. Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection by Janice MacLeod

I learned so much more about Paris from this collection of illustrated letters than from any other sources before. What a joyful book to read!

Another play with the same words in the title, my next chain shares the word Paris :

5. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

A British charwoman won a lottery to buy her dream Dior dress in Paris was the most delightful read you'd come across!

For the last chain, here's another book with "Mrs" in the title, which shares similar elderly women who still have some spirits left in them for another life-changing adventures:

6. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

A charming, funny, and sweet story to enjoy, with spy-adventures - rather than thriller. It's also a good way of learning a little about the Cold War and Albanian culture in the 1950s.

Have you read those books? If you do #sixdegree, how it worked out for you this time?

Friday, July 5, 2024

Madam, Will You Talk? (1955) by Mary Stewart #ParisInJuly2024 #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿš˜ Set in the 1950s (about ten years after WWII), a British widow named Charity Selborne is on holiday in Provence with her friend Louise. At the hotel she gets acquainted with a 13-year-old boy and his dog who introduced himself (the boy, not the dog) as David Shelley. Now, Mrs. Selborne was formerly a teacher and is very fond of poems. The boy's name Shelley naturally amused her, and the fact that the boy himself knows of the poet David Shelley. So casually she's jokingly mentioning David Byron, at which, surprisingly, she noticed David turned pale.

๐Ÿš˜ That incident later on became a significant clue to the forthcoming events that will completely change Charity's life. Another important clue related to poets or poems is that another guest of the hotel who was reading T.S. Eliot at breakfast. There's yet another poet-related fact to this story - Charity learned from other guest that David is actually the son of Richard Byron, an antique dealer who had been accused of murder. Mrs. Bristol, who's travelling with David, is Byron's second wife, and David stepmother.

๐Ÿš˜ David and Mrs. Bristol are clearly scared and worried, but of what it who? Charity got the answer when she took David to a local trip, where a man called Richard Coleridge chatted with her - yet another poet! His reaction when she let slip that she knew David, md his persistent question of David's whereabouts made her realize that the man was none other that Richard Byron - David's father, the murderer. Thanks to Charity's quick thinking, she and David had time to flee from Byron's clutch. But how long will it take for him to trace them?

๐Ÿš˜ From the queen of romantic mystery genre, this is more of a gripping thriller with high-speed car chase scenes from Provence to Marseilles, than a mystery. Charity turned out to be a terrific driver and quite a resourceful heroine with iron nerves, though not of the same quality as a sleuth. The romance is clichรฉ, and I think I prefer a proper mystery with a sprinkle of romance than an equal portion of romance and mystery. The romance here feels a bit rushed to be plausible, but too much for just a sprinkle to spice up the thriller. All in all, it's an entertaining page-turner book, where you could explore the roads of Provence and Marseilles in the 1950s.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Read for:

hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace

20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Perestroika in Paris (2020) by Jane Smiley #ParisInJuly2024 #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿด Perestroika, or Paras for short, is a racehorse. But as much as she loves racing - the adrenaline rush when flying to the finish line - Paras is, by nature, a curious filly. One day her caretaker forgot to lock her stall door, and Paras found her first freedom. She didn't run away, just tasting the fresh grass outside, here and there (grass tastes differently in different place, you know). Further and further she wandered, until she's near Place du Trocadero, where she met Frida.

๐Ÿด Frida is not a stray dog. She used to belong to a street performer who loved to wander along Paris. But after he died, Frida has been living by herself, remembering that she must not act like a stray, or else the gendarmerie would take her to "prison". And Frida hates confinement. When she first met Paras, Frida was more interested in the thing that Paras brought - the caretaker's purse - than of the horse itself. From her living with her late owner, Frida knows the value of money. She goes shopping for them all every day, taking one bank note at a time. The kind grocer thinks Frida shops for her humans, and pretty amused with this canine customer.

๐Ÿด Soon Paras and Frida were joined by an old raven, and the three live quite harmoniously within the garden of Champ de Mars. A dog and a raven are common sights in Paris, but what about a horse? Well, people nowadays are more interested in their own businesses or smartphones, no one would have seen unusual things about the garden. Moreover, Paras takes her nap during the day and starts wandering around after dark.

๐Ÿด But is Paras really unnoticed by any human being? The gardener found horse manure around some corners, so he knew there's a horse, but never actually saw it. During one of Paras' evening excursion, she found a young woman called Anaรญs who works at night for a patisserie. She often feeds Paras, so Anaรญs too knows about a horse loitering in Paris.

๐Ÿด Finally there's an orphan little boy of about eight, who lives with his great grandmama. He "could" see Paras, and the two became inseparable best friends. I think moral of this story is that modern people have mostly lost the ability of being humane. They stick to their smartphones, tablets, social media, and forget what's more important of being human - love, friendship, and caring for others. The fact that none of these Parisians see a horse who share probably their daily jogging track is rather worrying. They most probably don't care either for their neighbors, friends, and so on. Some who do know about the three unlikely friends, and concern about them, are the happiest of all. They have a wholesome life as human being.

๐Ÿด This is a book about Paris, but also about freedom, choices, and friendship. Jane Smiley did a great job to make me transported to Paris and vibes I had experienced more than twenty years ago (but I still remember very clearly to this day). I loved especially the animals interaction, with other animals and also with humans. It's a heartwarming story and the perfect book to start Paris in July this year!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Read for:

hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace

20 Books of Summer 2024
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Monday, July 1, 2024

Agatha Christie Short Stories 2024 JULY #AgathaChristieSS24

Halfway through our #AgathaChristieSS24, we are going to have double fun: a treasure hunt and a party. Yeah baby, bring it on! ๐Ÿฅณ


Two cousins eagerly return to the Isle of Man for the reading of their uncle's will. Having grown up hearing tales of buried treasure on the island they are excited when the will reveals their uncle had found it. But where?

This story is probably the most exciting we've read so far. Not only about the story itself, its background is no less interesting. So, in 1930 Christie accepted the grand sum of £60 to write this story. It came as a request from the people responsible for boosting tourism on the Isle of Man. The clues were written in a ‘treasure hunt’ format and were published by Manchester’s Daily Dispatch, and distributed in pamphlet form to hotels throughout the island. Imagine what an exiting moment it was for the visitors! But no worry, we would be able to have a little taste of the excitement by reading and review this story!


From a treasure hunt to a party. And we're going to it with Tommy and Tuppence, who discovered a secret invitation to a ball in the newspaper.

Tuppence was in boredom. She wants to go dancing and is reading the paper in search of a party. That is until she discovers a secret message in one of the articles. Just what does it mean to “finesse the king”? This story, which was published by Collins in the collection Partners in Crime, 1929, does sound like a jolly one to read, does it?

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Six Books Saturday #10: Memorable Horses in Books

#SixBooksSaturday is my personal monthly bookish meme, inspired by Six Words Saturday, which I've stumbled upon @ Travel with Intent. It's basically to list six books of random category, which I'd decided on the spot. Anything is possible according to my whim. I post Six Books Saturday on last Saturday of each month. If you're interested, you are, of course, welcomed to join me. There's no rule, really. You can post six anything about books.

I just realized that I have been reading more than a few books about horse lately. I always love horses - in books or movies I mean. I tend to love every book with horse that I've read so far, so why don't I feature the creature in this month's Six Books Saturday? Here they are...


Beauty in Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

My love for the equine was probably started when I read Black Beauty. Anna Sewell did a fantastic job in bringing the horse to life. A beautiful book about a beautiful creature!

Joey in War Horse (Michael Morpurgo)

Joey the War Horse is probably the most sensitive horse I've read so far. His personality made the book shone, more than his handsome appearance, with chestnut color, four equally white socks and a white Cross on his forehead.

Gabilan in Red Pony (John Steinbeck)

I think Gabilan's memorable feature for me is his color - red (he must look quite striking!) and his name. Poor Gabilan the red pony!

Paras in Perestroika in Paris (Jane Smiley)

(I have just finished reading the book for Paris in July, but the review would be up next week.)

Paras, short of Perestroika (what a name for a horse!), is a horse with the most interesting character I've ever read. She's so cheerful and inquisitive that her life as a racehorse didn't dampen her spirit at all. She's also kindhearted and amiable that her presence is always uplifting for others. I love her!

Battaile in Germinal (Emile Zola)

Okay, Germinal isn't about horse at all. Battaile is a minor character too, and there's little of him that we know of, apart from his being brought down to the coalmine from his early life. But his plight is so touching that makes him very memorable. The miners are able to go up again after work, but Battaile never see the sun again for the rest of his life, and that broke my heart more than the miners' sorrows!

Misty in Stormy, Misty's Foal (Marguerite Henry)

What I love most about Misty is... her name! Misty is such a gentle soul, that the name Misty matches her perfectly. |

Honorable mention:

Potato Chip in Aunts aren't Gentlemen (P.G. Wodehouse)

I have to mention this one, even though his (or her? I think it's a he) role isn't that important. But how can you forget a racehorse called Potato Chip in a Wodehouseian universe who won't prance unless his BFF of a cat is present. Cute, isn't it? 

Have you read any of them? Which one is your favorite?

Next Six Books Saturday: 27th July 2024.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Blue Geranium by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24

๐Ÿ’™ We meet once again with Miss Marple in this short story we are reading for June. And as usual, she only appears as a secondary character; like a shadow in the room that no one noticed at first, but then it shines for just a few seconds, to be faded into the background again.

๐Ÿ’™ Miss Marple was invited to a dinner party at the Bantrys only to even the number of the guests. It was first suggested by one of the guests, and even Mrs. Bantry was skeptical at first. But she was invited, attended the dinner, and solved the mystery that Colonel Bantry told the guests after dinner about his friend.

๐Ÿ’™ George Pritchard's late wife was an invalid with difficult character - you know the type - who always fuss about her health and prone to have tantrums. Many nurses had come and gone, and the last one was Nurse Copling. Mrs. Pritchard was also fascinated by fortunetellers. One calls Zarida warned her to avoid blue flowers: "Beware of the full moon. The blue Primrose means warning, the blue Hollyhock means danger, the blue Geranium means death."

๐Ÿ’™ Days later, during full moon, some primroses in the wallpaper pattern in Mrs. Pritchard's room turned blue over night. It made her afraid, though her husband thought it's just a childish joke. On the next full moon she went to sleep in her locked room in apprehension. The next day she found, as before, the Hollyhocks in the same wallpaper turned blue.

๐Ÿ’™ You know the rest. The next full moon, Mrs. Pritchard - who had been resigned to her faith by that time - was found dead inside a locked room, with a faint smell of gas and some Geraniums in the wallpaper turned blue. It was Miss Marple who eventually offered the solution. All in all, it's a fun mystery to read; light and simple - I guessed it quite right though not the details.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, June 24, 2024

#MurderEveryMonday: Cover with Name of Job in the Title

Murder Every Monday was created by Kate @ Crossexamining Crime and @ArmchairSleuth. Put simply, the plan is for readers to take a photo of a crime fiction book (novel or short story collection) which meets a given week’s theme criteria and to then share it online, using the hashtag #MurderEveryMonday.

This week's theme is probably one of the easiest ones I've been doing so far, these are seven I could think of:

Cover with the name of a job in the title

Have your read any of them? Which cover(s) do you like most?

If you want to participate, here's the list of the weekly theme:

Friday, June 21, 2024

The Wheel Spins (1936) by Ethel Lina White #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿš„ Iris Carr is a spoiled English girl who is on holiday with her friends in Croatia. They are the type of noisy and selfish tourists that annoyed others. When her friends left the country, Irish stayed behind. Now she'd had enough with this foreign country, and can't wait to go back alone to England by train. At the station, however, she's knocked down by something or other, and is unconscious. Fortunately she's revived just in time to catch the train anyway. We never know what had struck Iris down at the station, was it really sunstroke as she thought, or other more sinister cause? She didn't know, and we don't know either.

๐Ÿš„ Iris found herself sharing a compartment with a snobbish foreign lady - a baroness - and her compatriots. Fortunately there was another English lady, a plain looking spinster called Miss Froy, who had worked as governess in the baroness' house. She's the type that is chattering all the time. Irish found her irritating, but Miss Froy was very kind to her. As Iris' headache got worse, she took a pill and was asleep. When she woke up, Miss Froy was nowhere to be found - she's just vanished.

๐Ÿš„ Iris experienced a nightmare since then, since neither passengers nor crews acknowledged that a spinster governess had ever boarded the train. Was Miss Froy only Iris' imagination or hallucination, due to her sunstroke? For if she does exist, where would she's been hiding on board a running train that long? Suicide was impossible because Miss Froy was the most cheerful person you might imagine, plus she's been longing to come home to her lovely parents and dog whom she missed so much. But if not voluntarily, it means something sinister - a lot sinister - was happening here.

๐Ÿš„ Even the two English men Iris got acquainted with and were gentlemanly enough to try helping her, were at last skeptical too. Now it's up to Iris alone to solve the mystery and letting free Miss Froy from whoever's been capturing her and, no doubt, wanted to get rid of her. The question is, can Iris do that, what with her headache, self doubt, and psychological strain?

๐Ÿš„ This is a psychological thriller, rather than mystery. And thus, if you are focusing in the denouement, you might be a bit disappointed. For until the end, I'm still in the dark to what or who really struck Iris at the station. Is it sunstroke as Iris thought? And what crime did Miss Froy had inadvertently witnessed to cause her enemy to get rid of her? No, in term of solving a mystery, the ending isn't satisfying at all. But as a psychological thriller, it was superb! I also loved the little back story of the Froys, a simple, loving, and happy family of an old father and mother, and a faithful dog. They reminded me a little of my parents. That's how I imagined their excitement were whenever I went abroad (very rarely, but still).

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Death Comes As the End (1944) by Agatha Christie #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿ This was the only historical mystery story Agatha Christie had ever written. I remember from her autobiography, that she took her friend's challenge to write a mystery in Ancient Egypt (2000 BC), while the friend provided facts and knowledge of the daily household and cultural background. I have been wondering whether I could relate to it as much as her contemporary ones. But I am not disappointed, because this one could have just been any other Christie's mystery, except that the characters and setting are not of our time and background.

๐Ÿ Also, its premise and characters reminded me a lot of Hercule Poirot's Christmas. It follows a family of a Ka Priest (someone who had authority to perform funerial rites to the deaths) in Thebes. Imhotep is a bit tyrannical widowed father to four siblings. The eldest son, Yahmose, is Alfred in Hercule Poirot's Christmas, an always obedient son; while Sobek, the second son, is the rebellious Harry. Renisenb is the only daughter, the most intelligent and stable of the children, while Ipy is the youngest and most passionate son. Then Yahmose's and Sobek's wives and children, together with Imhotep's old mother, and a family retainer called Henet, completed the household.

๐Ÿ The family's rupture began with the arrival of Imhotep's young, proud, and very beautiful concubine, Nofret. Nofret is really the trigger, the seeds of dissatisfaction, and for one of them, silent evil, were already germinating there among themselves, unnoticed. Nofret's malice presence has just unleashed them. She was the first victim, of course, we know from the beginning it would come. Except for Imhotep, they all hated her. But then Yahmose's wife was murdered, and then somebody else. Someone within the family is a murderer, but which one?

๐Ÿ If you are familiar with Christie's books, you'll recognize this trope of bottled up pressure snapped into murder which she used pretty often. And that's what I always love about her, the psychological effect of a murder. By choosing a large household as the setting, Christie played beautifully with the characters' psychology, which was the central point of this mystery, rather than the plot.

๐Ÿ For me, this psychological element is the main attraction of this book. I couldn't relate very well with the setting, as it feels like it's just an unimportant accessories. The crime could have happened in the 20th century England all the same.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

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hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Bookshop (1978) by Penelope Fitzgerald #20booksofsummer24

๐Ÿ“š Florence Green is a middle-aged widow lived in a small English seaside town of Hardborough, in the 1959. Alone in the world, Florence was forced to do something she knew she's capable of, in order to have a comfortable life. She was aspired to open a bookshop, something that the secluded town didn't have. She had formerly worked in a bookshop, so she knew enough how the business work, so, why not?

๐Ÿ“š Her first step was buying the premise, an abandoned damp place called the Old House. She had a difficult task of convincing the patronizing bank manager for a loan, but in the end she persisted and won. But that wasn't her only problem. The most influential lady of the town, a Mrs. Gamart, tried to persuade her to change her mind, as she had her own plan to use the Old House as an art centre. We all know why Mrs. Gamart did that - etty jealousy! If she, indeed, wanted to have an art centre, she could have proposed to use any other building, right? Why must an old damp haunted house be her only choice? And why now? It's simply that she's afraid that Florence would have become a more important figure in town than herself.

๐Ÿ“š At last Florence got to open her dream bookshop. Amidst all the obstacles - namely the 'rapper' (poltergeist) and some slow furnishing process, Florence was on business. She hired a local girl as helper. Her first - and in the end proved to be the only one - is a recluse who admired her brave action, and even suggested of starting a library. Her enemy, though, hasn't ended her subtle yet relentless campaign to defame the bookshop.

๐Ÿ“š In the end, the presence of a new bookshop and library, which the town needed very much, was nothing compared to the cheap small town politics, just because an arrogant woman couldn't endure being outshone by another woman. Florence should have been wiser in treating the lioness - customer is, nevertheless, always the king - she should have remedied what her staff has done to Mrs. Gamart. Though, I believe, the lioness would have won her cause anyway, whatever Florence done.

๐Ÿ“š My only regret is that Florence's only benevolent supporter's heroic action had gone unnoticed, especially by Florence. It would have meant a lot to her. All in all, this novella is a sad and thought provoking satire of the power of small town politics.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

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