Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Days at the Morisaki Bookstore (2010) by Satoshi Yagisawa #JapaneseLitChallenge17

πŸ“š Jimbocho district in Tokyo is probably every booklover's dream. I googled it, and found that it is indeed daubed as a book town. As of 2021 it has 176 used bookstores. Imagine being lost there! The Morisaki Bookstore in this story is one of these used bookstores, which belongs to three generations. Its current owner is Satoru, uncle of the heroine, a twenty-five-year girl called Takako.

πŸ“š After a bad breakup with her boyfriend, who married another girl, Takako was total wreck a d jobless. She accepted her uncle's invitation to stay rent-free in a room above the store. She isn't a reader, and at first felt suffocated sleeping with piles of books around her room. But little by little, she regained calmness, with the help of her caring uncle (whom she felt more connected with), and of course, the healing power of books. She even gets to know a bookish young man at her favorite coffee shop.

πŸ“š If only that story was elaborated more, this book would be my favorite. But no, after she's feeling better, Takako decided to look for new job, and it means that she must move out of Morisaki Bookstore. Then the story began to shift to a totally different direction.

πŸ“š Satoru leaves alone at the bookstore after his wife Momoko left him five years ago. She left just like that one day without ever contact him, and so he lost hope of ever seeing her again. Then one day, several months after Takako left, Momoko returned. She just came without explanation, as if she never left. Satoru asked Takako's help to solve the mystery around her uncle and aunt's past dark secrets.

πŸ“š This second part of the story didn't even centered in the bookstore. The revelation and the secret itself took place at another village. Why titled a book "Days at The Morisaki Bookstore" if half the story wasn't connected to either the bookstore or books at all? And I hate Momoko's character - a coward with fake personality and a selfish woman. She disappeared for five years, and then suddenly came back like nothing happen! Are we readers supposed to sympathize with her and her struggles? No! Her conducts are inexcusable. I felt really sorry for Satoru, he didn't deserve Momoko - but then, love is often blind, so...

πŸ“š In short, this story is too disintegrated and quirky for my taste. The first part is quite lovely, I loved Satoru and the bookstore, but hated everything in the second part.

Rating: ⭐⭐1/2

I read this for:

Japanese Literature Challenge 17
hosted by Dolce Bellezza

Monday, January 29, 2024

The Secret Guests (2019) by John Banville (Benjamin Black) #JohnBanville2024

πŸ‘­ First of all, I didn't know that Banville writes crime fiction, lest of all that he writes this genre under a pen name of Benjamin Black. As I'm a fan of mystery, I chose The Secret Guests to be my first #JohnBanville2024, hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books and Kim @ Reading Matters.

πŸ‘­ As you can see from the cover, the secret guests are two teenage girls - the elder is fourteen, the younger ten. The story opens during German Blitz in World War II, and the girls' parents - like many other parents at that time - are arranging to send their children away. At first I didn't realize the girls' identity. Margaret, the younger, is watching night bombing from the window. The mother calls the elder as Lilibeth. Then I thought, oh she's nicknamed just like Queen Elizabeth II. Silly of me of course, because the girls I'm reading are indeed the two royal princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. This is a historical fiction!

πŸ‘­ The British Royal family evacuated the princesses, not to the countryside, like others, but to the neutral Ireland. They're about to stay at Duke Edenmore's estate, Clonmillis Hall, chaperoned by an English secret agent, Celia Nashe, and accompanied by an Irish detective, St. John Strafford (with an "R"). They were escorted to Clonmillis Hall by a diplomat.

πŸ‘­ First half of the story unfolded at very leisurely pace. We follow the two girls, disguised as Ellen (Elizabeth) and Mary (Margareth), settle into the boredom of rural household - Ellen with her primness indifference, while Mary is in her precocious and inquisitive nature. Celia Nashe and Strafford, on the other hand, started their impromptu cooperation not in a conducive manner.

πŸ‘­ The plot itself doesn't appear until about the second half through. Someone found picture of the royal family in old newspaper, and was able put two and two together. And so, the princesses are now in danger. Could their two rather questionable guards protect them from imminent danger?

πŸ‘­ I was slightly disappointed by the detective and the secret agent. Celia Nashe with the insecurities of a female agent among the male dominant field of job, and Strafford with his bad health - a hindrance against, otherwise, an abled detective - in every critical moment. The fast-paced actions in the last chapters are quite entertaining, though I was a bit daunted by too much murders near the end, especially the last cold-blooded one - is it needed, though?

πŸ‘­ My little disappointment, however, was compensated by Banville's beautiful narration, narrated in equal eloquence by Barrie Kreinik in this audiobook I listened too. It is the writing style rather than the plot that convinced me to read more of St. Strafford series (this book is the first). Hopefully he's getting better next time!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read this book for:

hosted by Cathy @ 769 Books & Kim @ Reading Matters

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Six Books Saturday #7: Exciting Reading Events in 2024

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 bookish things 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.

During last Christmas holiday (how long ago it seems now!) I've actually started preparing a sort of 2024 reading plan post, but somehow it never really came off. So, I think I will do that for this month's Six Saturday.


A Year with John Banville 
hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books & Kim @ Reading Matters
Details of the event

After Mrs. Osmond last year and The Sea from pre-blog era, I've been meaning to read more of John Banville, but didn't know where to start. So, when I found out that Cathy & Kim's choice for A Year with a writer this year was John Banville, I couldn't resist to join. My plan is to read at least three books, but judging from how much I'm currently enjoying The Secret Guests, don't be surprised if I ended up reading more..

We ❤ Sibling Stories Week
hosted by Hamlette's Soliloquy
Details of the event

I have joined Hamlette's We ❤ L.M. Montgomery Week last year; it was a tremendously fun event, and I enjoyed it very much. This year she will be hosting another equally interesting reading event, and of course I've joined it without thinking! I have The Penderwicks at Gardam Street on my TBR - I'd love to read it for this event. And, if I still have time, I'd read Cigarette Girl too. It's an Indonesian historical fiction I've been meaning to re-read since last year.

Zoladdiction 2024
hosted by me

Of course, Zoladdiction - the event of reading Emile Zola - will return this April! This time it will be pure reading, no game, meme, or anything like that. I don't think I'll have enough energy to do more than just reading together. This year I'm thinking of re-reading my all-time favorite novel (not just from Zola): Germinal. This will be my 3rd read, and I'm going to listen to the audiobook. I might also read a few short stories, but let's just see. I'm going to post the official announcement around March, so... wait for it!

The 1937 Club
hosted by Simon @ Stuck in a Book & Karen @ Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

The club runs every April and October, and for this coming April we're tackling books published in 1937, which is exciting! I have searched for some interesting ones I'd like to read, but as usual, my final choices might be totally different from initial plan, so I'm not going to reveal the books in mins for now... let it be a surprise when the time come! :P

Paris in July
hosted by Emma @ Words and Peace 

The Francophile in me is always looking forward to this event, where I can transport myself to France through books, music, and everything we usually do in Paris in July!

Dean Street December

I know I have just left December behind less than a month, but I'm always excited to read through Dean Street Press' books, especially the Furrowed Middle Brows' ones. It usually provides calmness amidst the chaotic end of year.

Some more honorable mentions of events I can't wait also to participate this year:
* Reading the Meow by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri (fingers crossing that she will host again this year!)
* Moomin Week by Mallika & Chris @ Calmgrove
* #WitchWeek24 (reading Joan Aiken) by Chris & Lizzy @ Lizzy Ross Writer
* Novellas in November 2024 (had fun last year, and can't wait to do it again)
* Non Fictions in November 2024 (would be my first participation)

Do you plan to join those events? Any other fun event I'm missing?

Next Six Books Saturday: 24th February 2024.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Cat Who Saved Books (2017) by Sosuke Natsukawa #JapaneseLitChallenge17

🐈 My first read for #JapaneseLitChallenge17 hosted by Dolce Bellezza is a bookish magical realism story translated by Louise Heal Kawai, about the power of books, and how books give you in return, courage and empathy. Rintaro Natsuki is an orphan who was brought up by his grandfather, the owner of a small second-hand bookshop. Now that the old man is dead, Rintaro is alone and devastated because he would soon have to close the shop and live with another relative. The day after the funeral, however, a tabby cat suddenly appears in the bookshop, and starts talking to him!

🐈 The talking cat - his name is Tiger, asks Rintaro to help him saving books - well, force him to do it is more likely, because Rintaro doesn't have more choice than to comply, albeit grudgingly at first. And so, the unlikely partner will go on several magical adventures to save books. They are accompanied by Rintaro's school friend on their two last adventures.

🐈 Why and from whom or what do the books need saving, you might ask? It is from people who have mistreated books, despite of doing it out of good intention. Like in their first adventure, they are dealing with a man who hoards books. He collect tons of books, put them into cages, and read them as fast as he can. In a way, he do read the books, but not as what the books are intended to be.

🐈 Then there's also mutilator of books; a man who thinks that as people run out of time to read, he cut out books to show only the essence of it, and throws away the rest. In a way, people could read more books, but not really reading them.

🐈 This book is a hardcore bookish book, and could only be appreciated by people who love books or book readers to be. The story is short and straightforward, and for me personally, it lacks a charm to make you want it not to end soon. I didn't quite feel absorbed into the story, and instead felt I'm reading a story. In short, it's a book about the power of reading, but it lacks the power in itself. Quite an entertaining bookish book, but that's just it.

Two of my favorite quotes:

"A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper. Unless it is opened, a book possessing great power or an epic story is mere scraps of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts, had been endowed with a soul.
"Books have souls. A cherished book will always have a soul. It will come to its reader's aid in times of crisis."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

My first read for:

Japanese Literature Challenge 17
hosted by: Dolce Bellezza

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Man Who Died Twice (2021) by Richard Osman

πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ‘΄πŸ» My first acquaintance of The Thursday Murder Club was a few years ago, and the second book was long overdue. Is it as good as the first? Some writers only fascinated me with their first, while the rest was usually a flop. But not Richard Osman. This second installment is as good as, if not better than, the first. Reading it felt like reunited with old friends you're fond of. Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim, and Ron are who they are as I always remember them. Elizabeth are her old spy self, but the others are now more adept to Elizabeth's way, and to murder investigation business. Both Joyce and Ron, in particular, had bigger contributions in this story than before.

πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ‘΄πŸ» The story begins with two things. First, Elizabeth has a blast from the past when a letter from a man whose death years ago she had witnessed during her M15 days - the titular man who died twice - arrived. Of course, a man can't possibly be dead twice; it was a fake death that Elizabeth had witnessed. Now the man is back, and wants Elizabeth's help. That part wasn't a surprise, we've read similar situation in crime novels before. The surprise in this one is the identity of the man - he turned out to be Elizabeth's ex-husband! Douglas Middlemis is an old member of M15, who is being chased by a Mafia leader for stealing his diamonds, and is now hiding in Cooper's Chase with another fellow M15, a girl called Poppy.

πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ‘΄πŸ» The second big thing is much bleaker. Ibrahim is severely mugged! When you are eighty, being mugged could be a life or death situation - both physically and, maybe more importantly, psychologically. Of course the three friends couldn't let the matter go. The teenager who had mercilessly attacked their beloved friend must pay for it, one way or another!

πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ‘΄πŸ» Then several murders are committed, and our four elderly amateur sleuth are back in action - this time more adventurous and dangerous. And even when the three of them are in the midst of solving murder mystery and hunting stolen diamonds, they still have time to arrange a sweet revenge for Ibrahim's mugger.

πŸ‘΅πŸ»πŸ‘΄πŸ» Just like the predecessor, The Man Who Died Twice is sweet, hilarious, and full of action. The plot is plausible and cleverly woven. Like the first book, my favorite parts are of Joyce's diaries. She has an uncanny way of telling a story. Joyce is, and always will be, my favorite character from the series. She's funny and always unexpected! In this one, she's twice solved a few of tricky mysteries - outperforming Elizabeth for a change! Now I can't wait to read the 3rd (and 4th) book!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman: A Short Story #AgathaChristieSS24

πŸ”Ί️ Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings are in the middle of conversation with their guest, a Dr. Hawker, when the latter's housekeeper tells him about a terrible phone call she's received from a Count Foscatini in Regent's Court, exclaiming that he's been murdered! Naturally, Poirot and Hastings follows the doctor to the count's flat.

πŸ”Ί️ Jane @ Howling Frog Books has pointed out in her post, the fascinating idea behind the, then, modern flats which provided dinner-service. Indeed, it is a fascinating idea, I didn't know that was a thing back then! The system is providing dinner service for the residents by phone order. The kitchen, located at the top of the building, would then send down one course at a time, via a service lift. A very convenient arrangement for well-to-do bachelor gentlemen, indeed!

πŸ”Ί️ When the three men arrive at the flat, the count is at the dining room, dead. The weapon, a marble statue, is there, as well as the remaining of dinner for three. The lift boy has told them that the count has entertained two guests that night, while Mr. Graves, Foscatini's manservant, was out. The dinner service would prove an important key in this murder case, as well as the untouched dessert of rice soufflΓ©. At least, it is important for Hercule Poirot. Hastings, as usual, failed to see something amiss, as are perhaps, most of us.

πŸ”Ί️ Short the story is perhaps, it is entertaining and delightful nonetheless. And another neat deduction process from Monsieur Poirot! Now, a light topic for discussion for #AgathaChristieSS24:

If you could afford it, would you buy/rent a modern flat with dinner service?

I will! I think it's a brilliant idea for working people living in apartments like me. Preparing meals and washing dishes really take time. All I want to do after work is just having a good shower, eating a satisfying dinner, and relaxed a bit until bedtime. I would be more than happy if those meal prep and washing dishes could be get off of me, not mentioning the menu planning and grocery shopping! Also, it's amusing to be served random dishes I don't know beforehand. Meal times would be rather adventurous.

What about you, what do you think?

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Wintringham Mystery (1927) aka Cicely Disappears by Anthony Berkeley

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ To me, our hero Stephen Munro, with his batman-turned-manservant Bridger, is a cross between Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey with his butler Bunter and Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster with his Jeeves. Steven Munro is as intelligent as Peter Wimsey, though much poorer. And the dynamic relationship between master and servant, is not unlike that of Wooster-Jeeves, though less comical.

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ The story begins when Steven Munro found himself without a penny. But for the amount of Bridger wages for the month, his wealth had exhausted to nothing - a situation which forced him to accept a job as footmen at Wintringham Hall, where his younger self used to be invited as guest. Surprisingly, he faced this calamity stoically, and was even a bit excited with the new adventure. Bridger, who had anticipated his master's new situation, has also secured a job as under gardener at the same house.

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ A dinner party is held that night, and we were introduced to the curmudgeonly Lady Susan, the proprietor of Wintringham Hall; her nephew, Freddie (also Munro's childhood friend); her distant relative Cecily, and companion Millicent; as well as some invited guests. Freddie insisted in having a kind of ritual or seance, where one of them would disappear, He also insisted upon Munro joining them to cite the rites. Cicely volunteered to be the one to disappear.

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ The silly fun soon turned to disaster when strange voices and even a scream was heard in the dark. And Cicely was nowhere to be found! At first they thought Cicely had cleverly pranked them, and she's hidden somewhere laughing at their ignorance. But few days had gone, and still, no Cicely. Now they were terrified. Something had gone wrong, terribly wrong.

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ Steven Munro hadn't been a footman for long. The oily butler didn't like him, and got him sacked. Only to be "invited" later on as guest by Lady Susan, as she realized his true quality. Good for her and the household, because at the end of the day, he helped investigating the mystery, together with Pauline, his longtime sweetheart but now engaged with a hideous man.

πŸ•΅️‍♂️ This book a is the perfect old school Golden Age detective story. Interestingly, Berkeley first published it under his pen name: A. Monmouth Platts, as a serial in The Daily Mirror, along with a competition with prizes for those who could solve the mystery. Even Agatha Christie couldn't refrain from competing, and eventually won the second prizes. The mystery is puzzling, a combination of a missing person, stolen jewelry, double identity, superstitious, and of course... murder. Quite a jolly read for this rainy season!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The Coming of Mr. Quin: A Short Story for #AgathaChristieSS24, with a topic of discussion!

♣️ This is the beginning of the beginning. Agatha Christie published her first short story in 1924, this story. And after that, she quite regularly published no less than 166 others, besides her novels, in the span of more than forty years.

♣️ The Coming of Mr. Quin is also the beginning of our acquaintance with the charismatic but elusive Harley Quin. He was Christie's most favorite character, inspired by her fascination of theater and performance - in particular - the Italian Commedia dell'arte, as well as the supernatural. It is also the first appearance of old Mr. Satterthwaite, the connoisseur of human nature.

♣️ It's New Year's Eve, and Mr. Satterthwaite is guest in a dinner party at Royston Hall. The night is dark and cold. Near midnight there's a knock on the door. A tall and dark stranger by the name of Mr. Harley Quin enters. His car has caught a problem, and while his chauffeur's repairing it, he invites himself to the warmth of a glass of drink and the blazing fire.

♣️ The conversation soon drifts into the death of Royston Hall's previous owner some years ago. Derek Capel had committed suicide, seemingly without reasonable cause. He had even got engaged to a mysterious woman whose identity he never revealed. Mr. Quin unwittingly guides the other guests to review the sequence of events around the suicide (all the guests and the host were present on that fatal night). While Mr. Satterthwaite, with his deep understanding of human nature, and with the help of Mr. Quin's hints, solves the mystery.

♣️ As usual, it's a simple solution. The key to get to the answer is just connecting the (seemingly) uneventful events as pieces of a puzzle. Once you put them into place, then voila... you get the solution. After years of reading Christie, I know that she won't put something, no matter trivial it is, if it's not important to the case; every detail counts.

What an appropriate story to kick off our fun #AgathaChristieSS24! Now, I have a topic for discussion for this one:

We know what Mr. Quin meant for Agatha Christie, but I'm curious... 

What do you think is Mr. Quin's role in this story?
(and in more stories to come)
Be creative, imaginative, think out of the box, and all that.

I personally like to think Mr. Quin as the embodiment of chronological and analytical thinking - a quality which great detectives should own. Mr. Satterthwaite has a quality of being good detective. His understanding of psychology and attention to details are great. He also has the ability to detach himself from the scene, and view it from outsider's perspective. Unfortunately, Mr. Satterthwaite is too imaginative, and lacks of chronological thinking. Hence, with a little prompt from Mr. Quin, he'd eventually see the truth. In a way, the combination of both men would result in the character of Hercule Poirot.

And you, what do YOU think? You can slip the answer in your post(s), if you hadn't done any, or just leave your thoughts on the comment box below. :)

You just found out about #AgathaChristieSS24 and would have wanted to join in? There's still plenty of time for you to read and post the January stories! Or, if this month would be too hectic for you to read one or two short stories, you can always join in anytime of the year - no strings attach, and just have fun!

This is the initial post, if you want to know more about this event, and this is the January post where you can leave link to your post(s) for this month.

Monday, January 8, 2024

#MurderEveryMonday: Covers with a Car (or more)

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:

Cover with a car on

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:

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation, from Tomorrow... to The Murder on the Links

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. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

"In this exhilarating novel, two friends--often in love, but never lovers--come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality." -- Goodreads

It's about a reunion between a young man and woman, who were childhood friends, and now joined forces in a project. This trope instantly reminded me of a book from Agatha Christie. Then, something clicked inside my head. Haven't I said before that I would love someday to create a chain of only books from Christie? I think this is the perfect time to do it. So, here it is...

The first link, with the same childhood friends reunited to work together, is:

1. Why didn't they ask Evans?

Bobby Jones and Lady Frances "Frankie" Derwent investigate the murder of a golfer, whose last sentence before his last breath was: "why didn't they ask Evans"? Here's my complete review.

Another book with detective partner and also a question in the title is:

2. N or M?

Excerpt from my review:
"A British secret agent approached Tommy, asked him to go undercover to a hotel in the seaside Leahampton called Sans Souci, which was believed to be the camp of German spies and fifth columnists. They were male and female, whose initial were N and M." Here's my complete review.

As usual, Tuppence (the brightest of the couple) is the one who solved the mystery. The important clue was from an unexpected minor character. And so does the one in the next chain:

3. Dumb Witness

Excerpt from my review:
"I loved it mostly because of one character: Bob, the dog. Yes, he is the fox terrier you usually see on the cover [...]. Does it mean Bob IS the dumb witness in this story? I wish!! [...] But unfortunately, no. Bob just lends his careless habit of putting his toy ball on the top stair to inspire an accident." Here's the complete review.

The accident that befell Emily Arundell was a murder attempt, which was soon followed by the actual murder. Christie had also used the same trope for another book (with a little alteration):

4. Peril at End House

Short excerpt from my review
"...One of the best plot twists from Agatha Christie, after the one in The Murder of Roger of Ackroyd." Here's the complete review.

Obviously my next link would be:

5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

My review (with a huge spoiler)

Roger Ackroyd was stabbed from behind his neck. My last chain would be another story with death by stabbing.

6. The Murder on the Links

My review

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

Friday, January 5, 2024

Eleven Huskies (A Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery #3) by Philipp Schott

Thanks to ECW Press and NetGalley for providing me review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

πŸ• Dr. Peter Bannerman, the vet-turned-sleuth, is back in this third mystery of the series. Peter received a call to attend the sick sled team of huskies (eleven of them) belong to a fishing lodge in northern Manitoba, where Peter and his family planned to spend summer holiday on a canoeing trip. It turns out to be a poisoning case. Who would do that, and why? Was there a connection between the dog poisoning with the plane crash which had happened at the same time?

πŸ• Three people were dead from the plane crash. It was caused by a shot aimed originally to the pilot. As usual, Peter is involuntarily wondering what is the motive? But, of course, his main attention right now is in the huskies. That, and the upcoming canoeing trip with Laura (his wife), Kevin (his brother in the police force), and Stuart (Kevin's boyfriend). Last but certainly not least, Pippin the dog, Peter's great sniffer who has helped him in previous cases, will accompany Peter in this trip, which would be one they'll never forget!

πŸ• It's refreshing to see Peter and Pippin out from New Selfoss, their home village, on this adventure. Following their canoeing trip in the forest and on the lake felt like having the trip myself. Moreover, Schott described the landscape beautifully, it added a nice experience in the reading. It's also packed with suspenseful actions involving huge wildfire, where Pippin appeared to be the hero again.

πŸ• All in all, it's an entertaining cozy mystery. The murder mystery itself isn't too intriguing. Something the murderer had said several chapters before last instantly told me who the murderer most probably be, and I wasn't wrong. In fact, we didn't get to know the suspects very well to be able to guess, and but for that "revelation" I wouldn't have any clue. But it's a cozy anyway, and I guess I'm more interested to know whether the lead dog of the eleven huskies would make it at the end or not, then who the real murderer was.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

**Eleven Huskies will be published in 14th May 2024**

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Holiday Reads: A Children Classic and A Golden Age Mystery

My last Christmas holiday reads consisted of two books, one was a readalong with my mother, and the other was a book I've intended to read for #DeanStreetDecember, but I ran out of time to review it. So, here they are...

A mother-daughter semi-readalong of
Little House on the Prairie (1935) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Watching Little House on the Prairie on TV was a family tradition in my childhood. I remember how we (my parents and me) sat in front of our black and white television after Sunday lunch, patiently waiting for the series to play. My mother and I, especially, keep the happy memories to this day.

Mama is 82 now, and her eyesight is declining with every year. For years she can't read or watch movies anymore, and even performing daily tasks is becoming more difficult these days. Early this year, I have read (listened to) Little House in the Big Woods, and casually told the story to Mama, which, surprisingly made her so happy. So, this holiday I have prepared to do what I called a "semi" readalong of Little House on the Prairie.

Everyday I listened to the audiobook (narrated charmingly by Cherry Jones), for 45 minutes, each session covering a chapter or two. I took notes of some important events, and some little details which I know my mother would love to hear. It's usually the household chores details, or of the meals. Then, during our mother-daughter-time each afternoon, I told it to my mother. Though I'm not a good storyteller, Mama cherished each second of these moments, which made me so happy. I know that one day I would be much grateful that I had made the efforts!

For me personally, it's a reread. Here's my review of the 1st read. Listening to audiobook made a different impression of the story. It feels like I'm living the same life of a settler with the Ingallses. My favorite moments would be the one when Charles was encircled by a pack of wolves while riding a horse. That's a horrifying scene! Then, of course, there's the Christmas story where Mr. Edwards (their bachelor neighbour) took mighty efforts to cross a roaring creek to bring presents for Laura and Mary - who were afraid Santa Claus won't come - pretended that he acted as Santa Claus' courier. It's heartwarming and very wholesome to read!

The Murders near Mapleton (1929) by Bryan Flynn

I have originally read this for #DeanStreetDecember - an event hosted by Liz @ Adventures in reading, running and working from home, of reading books published by Dean Street Press. I have actually finished it around Christmas, but with one thing or others, I couldn't write the review until after New Year.

It's my first Bryan Flynn, and I was pretty impressed by the intricate plot. The story is set in a usual English countryside, on Christmas Eve dinner, hosted by Sir Eustace Vernon, and attended by his niece, as well as several of his friends. After dinner he went away after receiving a very bad news, and never came back. His body was later found near train station by Anthony Bathurst - the amateur sleuth who would investigate the case. A red bon bon was found on Sir Eustace's clutched hand. The same was also found on his butler's dead body, which was proved surprisingly to be a woman!

It's a proper Golden Age murder mystery with intricate plot red herrings, one-on-one interview with each suspect, and all that. Quite the perfect read for the season.

How's your holiday been, reading wise? What kind of books you usually enjoy during holiday?

Monday, January 1, 2024

Agatha Christie Short Stories 2024 - January #AgathaChristieSS24

Here's to kick-off our year of reading Agatha Christie's short stories, #AgathaChristieSS24! More details about this event/project, you can get from this post, as well as list of titles we're going to read along.

In January we will read two stories, starting from the very first story Christie published in 1924, a century ago!


The story was first published in 1924, in The Grand Magazine, as The Passing of Mr Quin. It was later included in the collection The Mysterious Mr Quin, published by Collins in 1930, and also Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery, published by Harper Collins in 2020. The collection was dedicated to its eponymous hero and is the only book of Agatha Christie's to be dedicated to a fictional character. Agatha Christie considered Mr Harley Quin her favourite creation, always associated with love and death.

The inspiration for Mr Quin came from a set of Dresden figures on Christie's mother's mantelpiece, which fascinated her as a child. They represented the Italian commedia dell'arte, a form of theatre characterised by masked types, and one of these characters was Harlequin. In Mr Quin stories Agatha Christie indulges in her fascination with the supernatural as well as her love of theatre and performance.

If you don't have copy of the collection but are subscribed to Everand (formerly Scribd), you can listen to the audiobook here , or here  if you prefer Audible.


A perfect locked room mystery for Hercule Poirot: a dead man, alone in a locked apartment, beside an eaten dinner laid for three.

The story was first published as a book in the collection Poirot Investigates, 1924, by Bodley Head. The story was adapted for the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot in 1990, starring David Suchet.

You can read the e-book (free) here , as well as from Gutenberg. Or here  if you're subscribed to Everand.

Don't forget to comment below if you have read them, or leave your post's URL if you also reviewed them on your blog or social media. You can also tag me on Twitter. Check also my review post, as I might include a discussion topic or two about the stories. Happy reading!