Books

By the Pricking of My Thumbs – Agatha Christie

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford visit an unpleasant aunt in a home. From this typically unlikely beginning, murder and all kinds of excitement develop, to the point when Mrs Beresford meets the mass killer in the secret room of the house.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes

Divided into four books we are back with Tommy and Tuppence who are drawn into a rather peculiar mystery. And if the cover of the edition I read is anything to go by, something quite frightening or perhaps something desperately wicked.

I knew the story, but not the actual story. My warped version came from a television adaptation (more on that later) so I had a rough idea of the story and knew whodunnit. Perhaps not the right way to tackle a book but I wanted to know what happened and how the conclusion was reached.

I have always found Tuppence Beresford a bit wishy-washy, and this book lived up to that, but actually I think this part of her character which is what enables her to go off on these hunches when she remembers houses from trains, that later reappear in pictures and what elderly old women say when incarcerated in rest homes. None of it seems relevant or useful to Tommy Beresford but when you have been married as long as he has to Tuppence he knows there is perhaps a grain of something in her thought process.

We have the facts early on, but despite me knowing the answer I could not see how it was all going to come together.  Is that the beauty of Christie? I just think it might be.

Tuppence gets into some scrapes, but she is on to something and it takes a bit of Tommy’s past skills to find out where she is when she fails to come home to him. Of course Tuppence’s task is a simple one, to return a picture to its rightful owner, Mrs Lancaster after she gifted it to Tommy’s Aunt. How can one picture cause such trouble?

This is only the second Tommy and Tuppence that I have read and I have to confess they are a funny pair and in this book, they have aged. The only characters of Christie to do so within real-time of the books being published I learn.

I got into Tommy and Tuppence when back in 2015, an adaptation of a couple of their novels was made by the BBC with David Walliams and Jessica Raine. I enjoyed them, but didn’t hit the mark with the critics and subsequently was not recommissioned. Shame because I liked it. However they did not pick this particular story to adapt, but it has been adapted by ITV within the Marple series.

Some things you need to know:

Miss Marple does not appear in the original story in any way shape or form. There might be some veiled references to the innocent observations of little old ladies but no Miss Marple.

The book is set much longer after the Second World War, and neither of them were still involved with the security services anymore.

Tuppence is not an alcoholic who feels she has missed out on life and been passed over, because she is a woman, a mother and now suffering badly with empty nest syndrome.

Additional storylines of American Air Force, turning village girls heads does not appear, film premieres with precocious children are not part of the plot either. And the names of the villages are very different.

I could go on, but I won’t. However for a Sunday night television drama and without causing much offence it is a reasonable programme and it has everything I suppose you need in such a thing.

However like a lot of things it cannot beat the book – this is the case with By The Pricking of My Thumbs. Although perhaps choose your choice of cover carefully, mine is creepy and the back cover has a picture of Christie herself, staring out at me from my bedside table. I am not sure that the cover conveys the right message. I do prefer something much less weird.

I read this book as part of the 1968 Club which is run by Simon and Karen. I have joined in nearly all of them and have found it a great way to make a dent in the back catalogue of Christie. She wrote so much!

 

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Books

October Roundup

So there goes October, a funny month. The weather cannot make its mind up, I have been full of cold and yet I am still swimming outside! And so begins the countdown to Christmas and the reading continues apace with it.

Lily Graham – Christmas at Hope Cottage is one of those magical Christmas stories that fill you with hope and food. There is some magic food happening on the tables of Hope Cottage.

Of course you need a drink with Christmas and it will depend on what your favourite tipple might be. I expect you can guess what mine is? Catherine Miller – Christmas at the Gin Shack sees us return to octogenarian Olive and her friends as they discover more about Gin and friendship in difficult times.

If you only have time for a few short stories then turn to Katie Fforde – The Christmas Stocking and other Stories, if you are a fan of this author you will recognise some but still read them because they are brilliantly written and capture the spirit of Christmas is just the right amount of pages. The new stories are just as capturing.

It cannot all be about Christmas in October, which is why I have gone back a bit to Summer and picked up a book that has been sitting on myself for an age. Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe, why I had not read this sooner when I enjoy the author I do not know. However I was transported away to the freedom of a Canal Boat and the wonderful Summer who is struggling to make a go of a very different lifestyle, especially when it seems many are against her. I am also thrilled to see that two short stories, Christmas themed of course are due out following on from this story so I read it just at the right time.

Another book which was a sort of serendipity to me was Poppy Dolan – The Woolly Hat Knitting Club. I love crafts and in the middle of doing quite a bit of knitting, for myself and for others. In particular the little babies born at my local hospital. If you are a fan of knitting then this book is a must and if you want to knit something yourself then get in contact and I can direct you to some great patterns. I am looking forward to seeing what Poppy writes about next.

I always enjoy getting into a saga and I have this year with Nancy Revell and the Shipyard Girls series. I have read books one and two and was thrilled to be able to get hold of book three. Nancy Revell – Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is a good read and it was lovely to be back amongst women that you have grown to know and admire as war still rages and loves still has to conquer all, no matter what stands in its way.

Sometimes with all these ‘nice’ reads as I call them, you need something which is a bit more meaty with the odd dead body or two. So I was intrigued by what is to be a new series of books by an author I have heard of but not read, publishing under a different name is how I came to get M.B.Shaw – Murder at the Mill. It sounded promising but for me did not really live up expectation. I think I have read too many Agatha Christie.

Which leads me to the 1968 club and my choice which was Agatha Christie – By The Pricking of My Thumbs. I try and participate when I can in these clubs as it is a useful way for me, to be able to make my way through Christie’s catalogue!

So that is it for October, my netgalley shelves are positively bowing with the weight of books that I have requested and I have more actual books wandering around my house looking forlorn by not being read. So time for more reading.

Books

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

I am back with the girls at the Sunderland Shipyard, welding their way through the Second World War. This is the third in the series of books and I recommend you read the previous two so you can understand the characters and background a lot more.

Rosie is still in charge of this eclectic mix of women, but she is having troubles of her own. She knows that some of her past is behind her but it is her present which is causing the problems. Especially when it means she can no longer see the man, Peter she was walking out with. Peter on the other hand is prepared to find out the truth.

Gloria, is back welding only a couple of weeks after giving birth to baby Hope. That takes some stamina and strength! But her life is not quite complete as her true love Jack is missing and Gloria may never know the real truth.

Dorothy and Angie are the life and soul of the group, always ready to party and with a quick wit about them especially when it comes to chatting up men. But secretly they want what some of the other girls have, a stable relationship, just like Bel. A man on their arm and someone to love.

Bel has finally decided to tie the knot with Joe. Although she feels the guilt of her dead husband, she knows that for herself and her little girl she must move forward and start living her life.

Of course there are lots of other secondary characters but just as rich which are interwoven into the story, we get to learn more about Kate and of course the arrival of Maisie with secrets of her own makes for a page turning story. Every character is important and plays some role within the pages and brings the story very much to life.

This saga keeps getting better and better, it deals with some important issues of the Second World War and how what was going on abroad affected those at home and how being at home also meant there were personal wars to be fought. I am looking forward to catching up with these women who feel like friends when the next book is released in 2018.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is out now. 

 

 

Books

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club – Poppy Dolan

Dee Blackthorn is ruthless when it comes to the corporate business world and she strives for one hundred percent success. She works hard and that is all she does, there is no stop, there is no pause. Dee lives for her work.

That is until one day she finds herself without a job and back living with her brother, JP. Suddenly working all the time is not the priority.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing because JP has managed to break both his wrists. JP becomes Dee’s priority but also in some ways her project as she wants to help him get on better. JP is not any normal brother though.

JP runs the local haberdashery and has found peace and pleasure in his knitting. He is popular online and regularly helps anyone that he can. But how can he now when he can’t even hold a knitting needle. Dee has to help him but there is a problem…..Dee cannot knit….

When she bumps into an old school friend, Becky in the supermarket who has just given birth to beautiful boy prematurely, she persuades JP that knitting little hats for premature babies would be a great way of just not helping Becky but lots of people in the same situation.

When Ben turns up looking for Dee, he becomes involved in the whole knitting furor and becomes friendly with JP. Trouble is Dee remembers what Ben was like to work with and thinks that there must be some ulterior motive. Ben becomes a surprise natural with the knitting, much to Dee’s irritation but he does embrace the whole idea of expanding the premature baby hat campaign.

Dee’s skills from her work life are in their element and what she can do is organise and make something small and successful, huge and mega successful. Is that what everyone and JP wants especially when it begins to hurt the people Dee loves. Dee cannot always see the real meaning sometimes of something so small and the pleasure that can be gained from a small number of people working for a bigger cause.

I loved this book, certainly one of my favourite of the year. Without a doubt because of the story but also because as a fellow knitter I can relate to all the yarn stories and the varieties of yarn, the difficulty in learning a new technique and being able to find someone to help you when needed.

This is a book which refocuses on the small little things in life because they are the most important and that sometimes having a big impact does not leave a lasting one. It is a great read and if you are a knitter as well, then this book is certainly a great read. Perhaps it might inspire you to pick up a pair of needles and knitting for someone.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is out now. 

As you may (or may not) know I am a knitter as one of the many crafts I like to try my hand at. I already knit for the premature babies at my local maternity hospital. My mum always did long before she had me and continues to do so, I have just simply followed tradition. So here are a couple of hats and a selection of the cardigans as well. 

 

 

Books

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: the Driftwood Inn – Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley is back with her new series of novels, and this time we have stepped a little bit away from Cornwall, to the Scilly Isles. Just across the water we discover new places, new problems and new characters. The islands in the novel are fictional but could quite easily exist as further islands away from the major five of the Scilly Isles.

Within a first few pages I am hooked as I find out about Maisie, returned to Gull Island to help her parents run the pub The Driftwood Inn. She has returned home to seek quiet sanctuary from what has happened to her in the previous few months.

But it is not going to be quiet on the island. Maisie is worried about her parents health and the fact that she is of an age where starting again might be difficult. After the temporary summer staff have all gone back to find jobs, Maisie still needs someone to help her. When Patrick walks in right at the moment she needs someone it seems that is her answer.

Trouble is her and Patrick shared a stolen kiss and she cannot get him out of her mind and now she has him in her place of work and a cottage out the back of the building. Tensions are bound to build in such close proximity.

Patrick was only meant to be on Gull Island to fulfill a dying wish to a friend now he has found some work his return to Australia is postponed but what was his real reason for being on Gull Island? As Christmas comes and the advent of a new year means new beginnings will Maisie finally be able to settle and will Patrick reveal the truth for his real reason for being interested in Gull Island.

I cannot wait to return and find out more about these Little Cornish Isles and their residents and of course I want to see how Maisie is getting on.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Books

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

It’s Christmas on Hope Island. Having spent Spring and Summer with Bella, Freya, Isaac and Rome this is a continuation of course of their story but this book focuses very much on Eden and Dougie.

Eden has been in love with Dougie since forever. But he broke her heart when he moved to America,

Trouble is Dougie did not know this at the time but he did know the one person that he was best friends with was the reason he kept returning to Hope Island.

Eden is settled in her Pottery Cafe and whilst she has dreams of making it bigger and doing more of what she loves, she is very content with Hope Island. Until Dougie returns.

Dougie is not just returning for a visit, for Christmas he is planning on staying a lot longer. How will Eden manage this unrequited love when he is going to be living right next door?

It all moves very fast for Eden, even left me in its wake. Romance and wishes are the way to her heart and it seems that Dougie has all the right answers. But it can it be too good to be true?

No of course not, it is simply the magic of love and the magical time of year. Christmas is bringing everyone together but can it keep them that way?

I loved this book, there was something so romantic about Dougie that I admit to shedding a tear or two and was probably secretly in love with him a little bit. That is the elegance of Holly Martin’s writing taking you straight into the heart of the novel and she has you hooked with her writing and her setting.

She can do humour just as well and I have to confess Lucy and Finn, Eden’s parents were hilariously embarrassing with an innocence about them which made me forgive there not so subtle comments or indiscretions.

Combine this with a lovely setting, the coldness of winter, the brightness of the stars, the warmth of the fire as Eden and Dougie find some common ground.

If you want snowmen, hot chocolate, roaring fires, lots of layers of clothing, romance, Christmas, weddings and bucket loads of romance, this is the book for you. It works as a standalone novel, but if you have the time get the whole Hope Island experience.

Another excellent novel from Holly Martin.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this via netgalley. 

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is out now. 

I look forward to seeing what Holly Martin writes next. In the meantime I still have her White Cliff bay series to catch up on, so plenty to keep me going. 

 

 

Books

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

I am back visiting Rosemary Lane and it has been just over a year since I have been here. I was there when Della set up her bookshop specialising in one type of books – cookery ones. I wanted to go back and see how she was getting on and so I do with this new novel from Ellen Berry.

Back on Rosemary Lane, we do see something of Della, her bookshop is expanding, her happiness clearly there for everyone to see but she still worries about her sister, Roxanne.

Roxanne becomes the main protagonist for this story as she escaped Rosemary Lane as soon as she could for the bright lights of London. From nothing she has worked her way into the fashion industry and is a Fashion Editor on a glossy magazine, the sort you flick through in a waiting room but would not necessarily buy!

She has everything she wanted but it seems that something is perhaps missing – when fate means her job is suddenly changed to something else and her rather reluctant boyfriend refuses to commit to anything.  Roxanne leaves London and returns to her sister in Rosemary Lane. But what is she going to do?

Roxanne discovers that there is very little to do. Della does not really need her help in the shop and it seems the only thing left her to do is to walk the dog. Trouble is her fashion knowledge and walking a dog on a wet Yorkshire dale are at odds with each other.

Whilst Roxanne learns that comfortable practical clothes are the way forward, no one is judging her and they take her at face value with no ulterior motive. Here she meets Michael who is just starting to find his feet in the new bakery on Rosemary Lane and when his daughter becomes friendly with Roxanne it seems that perhaps the bright lights of London have finally dulled. Of course it will not be that easy.

I enjoyed the interesting world of fashion and fashion photography. I certainly don’t want to be part of that world and the author I would guess has had some experience within it, to get it across the way she did. The bakery is perhaps not a strong feature in the book and others have commented on this, but this was a very character driven novel but it has its place in setting the scene of the village and the lane of shops.

The story of Rosemary Lane has not finished, there has got to me much more to come?  I am sure the pub that is featured in this book has a tale to tell and of course the bakery surely needs to expand? I can but dream and that is the sort of book this is. A lovely read.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity via netgalley to read this novel. 

The Bakery on Rosemary Lane is out now

The first book in the series was reviewed by me here