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

πŸ’™ 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.

πŸ’™ 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.

πŸ’™ 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."

πŸ’™ 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.

πŸ’™ 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

πŸš„ 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.

πŸš„ 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.

πŸš„ 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.

πŸš„ 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?

πŸš„ 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: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read for:

hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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

🐍 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.

🐍 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.

🐍 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?

🐍 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.

🐍 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

Read for:

hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Bookshop (1978) by Penelope Fitzgerald #20booksofsummer24

πŸ“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?

πŸ“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.

πŸ“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.

πŸ“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.

πŸ“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: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read for:

hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Friday, June 14, 2024

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

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read for:

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

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 Arriving to the estate, Carstairs saw a young girl, Arthur's fiancée 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!

🐈 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

🐈 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

Read also for:

hosted by Mallika @ Literary Potpourri

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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

Read for:

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

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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.

🐈 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?

🐈 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.

🐈 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

Read for:

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

🐴 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?

🐴 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.

🐴 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.

🐴 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?|

🐴 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

Read for:

hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Murder Most Unladylike (2014) by Robin Stevens

πŸ•΅️‍♀️πŸ•΅️‍♀️ 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!

πŸ•΅️‍♀️πŸ•΅️‍♀️ 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.

πŸ•΅️‍♀️πŸ•΅️‍♀️ The story begins with the two girls founding a Detective Society. Daisy as President (of course🀷🏻‍♀️), 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.

πŸ•΅️‍♀️πŸ•΅️‍♀️ 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.

πŸ•΅️‍♀️πŸ•΅️‍♀️ 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:


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? ;)


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?

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation, from Butter to Sophie's World

Six Degrees of Separation
is a monthly meme, now hosted by Kate @ books are my favorite and bestbooks 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. Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder by Asako Yuzuki

"Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Center convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking.

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, "The Konkatsu Killer," Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan." summary from Goodreads

My first link is another murder mystery where the chef is suspected to have committed the murder:

1. Murder on the Menu by Alex Coombs

Excerpt from my review:
"Chef Charlie Hunter arrived at Hampden Green, a little village in the Chiltern Hills, an idyllic English countryside, to open a new sheet to her life. She bought Old Forge cafe, and determined to transform it into a high quality restaurant with high quality foods she's capable to cook.

[...] Then there's the local builder, Dave Whitfield, who's known as a pompous bully - or knobhead, as Charlie's first staff Jess called him. He was found dead few days after Charlie punched him for bullying her. That's right, Charlie Hunter is a tough woman besides a good chef. Of course, this automatically made her a suspect
." My complete review

Linking this to another foodie book seems too easy, so my next one is another murder mystery where the victim's profession is related to building construction, which I've just read recently:

2. But Not For Me by Allison A. Davis

Excerpt from my review:
"This is a combination of a murder mystery and a poignant tale of racial injustice and prejudices, of women's struggles for freedom and recognition. Add the unique atmosphere and pop culture of the 1950s into it, and you'll be entertained as well as inspired." The complete review

I quite enjoyed the time setting of this book, which is in the 1950s. Another modern crime fiction set in the same era of the 1950s I have enjoyed last year is:

3. The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham

Excerpt from my review:
"After her aunt died, Flora Steel - an orphan who had lived with and adored her aunt - inherited a local bookshop in a quiet English village: Abbeymead. The year is 1955." The complete review

This is book one of a cozy mystery series I've been enjoying, where the main character and the amateur sleuth is a bookshop owner. Another book I read (but not enjoyed as much - unfortunately) with a bookshop owner as the main character is:

4. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

Excerpt from my review:
"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." The complete review

What I love from this book, apart from the bookshop setting, is the lovely relationship between the main character and her uncle. Another Japanese book with the same dynamic of relationship is...

5. How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino

Excerpt from my review:
"The story is about a fifteenth year-old boy called Honda Jun'ichi, but nicknamed Copper. It's an interesting story how Jun'ichi got this nickname. His father died two years before, and his last wish was that Copper would grow into a good human being. So, Copper's uncle begins to guide and advice him. They become very intimate and inseparable."  The complete review 

It's a kind of philosophical coming-of-age story intended for middle grade readers. Through the reading, this book reminded me to another philosophical novel for teenager, but from a Norwegian author, that I've read years before:

6. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Summary from Goodreads:
"One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning—but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined."

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