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 · Jottings

Summer Holidays

In a bid to work my way through a number of books languishing on my kindle thanks to the wonder that is netgalley and also the ones residing on my shelves I thought I would set myself a little task and that was to go on a summer holiday via the medium of books.

So allow this post to take you to lots of different places, to stay in some rather interesting accommodation and perhaps have a summer holiday vicariously. Hopefully some of the links are not too tenuous!

So browse this brochure and tell me perhaps where you fancy going?

The Place – Elba, an island in Tuscany, Italy.

The Book – The Thousand Lights Hotel – Emylia Hall

……I was transported to Elba, to the beautiful hotel, the intense heat and warmth of the sun. The sea as it was calm in the morning as Kit went to break the surface, to wake herself up, to find what she was looking for. Even down to food and the welcome that hotel gives…….

The Place – A fictional island, Greece

The Book – The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach – Kat French

…..A distillery is hidden beneath the Villa and part of the deal is to keep producing the islands famous spirit – gin and to make sure that the island and the islanders never run out. For if it did, the consequences could be catastrophic……

The Place – Loire Valley, France

The Book – Summer at the Little French Guesthouse – Helen Pollard

…..drip the sunshine into the pages and the rolling hillsides, even the delicious food prepared in the guesthouse has you salivating as you can almost taste the chilled white wine, easing away your troubles……..

The Place – Dorset, UK

The Book – The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse – Cressida McLaughlin

….. immediately checked into the guest house, can smell the bacon cooking as you wait for your breakfast and relax into each specially selected room after the exciting day you may have experienced…..

The Place – Cornwall, UK

The Book – Summer at Seafall Cottage – Lily Graham

…..find my own cottage and just experience the simple view, ever-changing through the windows that look out across the sea. I want to be able to read in comfort a book such as this as the weather does its worst. Knowing that tomorrow is a new day and something else may be discovered…….

The Place – A Fictional Island, Caribbean

The Book – Death Knocks Twice – Robert Thorogood

….taking you away to where the sun shines, the water is warm and the chance of death could be quite high!…..

The Place – Fictional Seaside Town, North West Coast, UK

The Book – The Little Bed and Breakfast by the Sea – Jennifer Joyce

….A pier…arcade machines…A fish and chip shop…devour the salty chips…ice cream van which specialises in different flavours…A beach, cliffs, coves and breathtaking views of the sea and the landscape.

The Place – Fictional Island, Scilly Isles, UK

The Book – Spring at Blueberry Bay – Holly Martin

…The book completely took me away to Hope Island, and its scenery and residents, and the wonder that is Holly Martin’s writing….

The Book – Summer at Buttercup Beach – Holly Martin

…A book for the perfect escape, along with the wonderful setting and the beauty that can be seen not just in love but also in the surroundings and the art that can be created through the medium of glass……

The Place – Devon Coastline, UK

The Book – Summer at Coastguard Cottages – Jennifer Bohnet

….where you can enjoy coming together with a community who do not judge your choice, your life and you can enjoy a glass of something chilled and toast the day as the flag shifts and the sun sets over the sea……

Thank you for stepping into the pages of my brochure and as for my real summer holiday, it is now over and I am back at work, counting the days to my next break.

Books

Summer at Buttercup Beach – Holly Martin

Back at Hope Island, which I first visited in Spring at Blueberry Bay, we are now familiar with the surroundings and some of the characters.

This time the story focuses on Rome Lancaster – having lost what he thought was his true love at an early age, grief is still running through his veins and he throws himself into his work and women.

Freya Greene found solace in Hope Island when she escaped from an unhappy relationship. Finding that Hope Island was the place she wanted to be, she became friends with Eden and her brother Rome, as well as Bella and Isaac the principal characters from the first novel.

Rome even offers her work at his workshop and the flat above as well. It seems that Freya has found a base at last, there is only one problem – she is in love with Rome.

Working together and laughing together are not enough for Freya, she wants more. And as Rome’s behaviour changes towards her, is she perhaps reading far too much into innocent remarks, touches and looks?

Only Rome knows the truth and when he wants to resolve one problem between them, he seems to open up another lot of problems that they have to somehow solve.

Freya has the answer – leave the island and hope that her heart can forget Rome.

Rome has other ideas.

I thoroughly enjoyed going back to Hope Island and seeing how the relationship was forming between these two characters. I had my doubts, thinking it would simply be a carbon copy of the first book. Whilst of course, two people coming together and the setting is the same – the way they get there provided me with heart stopping moments, tears of joy and a lot of laughter too.

A book for the perfect escape, along with the wonderful setting and the beauty that can be seen not just in love but also in the surroundings and the art that can be created through the medium of glass. What a simple idea but sometimes I am sure the heat that is created in the book – could have melted more than just glass!

I look forward to the third novel and finding out all about Eden and Dougie and of course revisiting Hope Island at a very different time of year.

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

The Summer at Buttercup Beach is out now. 

 

 

Books

Spring at Blueberry Bay – Holly Martin

I am relatively new to Holly Martin’s novels as I only discovered her towards the end of last year. And I am pleased to be back with her and the characters she writes about and the places she sets her novels.

Novels often can be described as transporting you to another place, Holly Martin’s novels should be at the very top of this category.

Bella lives on Hope Island, an island which is part of the Scilly Isles and it is a place where everyone knows your business, whether you try to hide it or not. In the case of Bella, everyone knows she lived with her aunt and uncle because her mother abandoned her and she was unintentionally caught up in a fraud case in her previous work.

Bella trusts few people despite her seemingly happy outgoing look on life. She really is only close to the family that she grew up with, including Rome and Eden her brother and sister. She cannot let anyone in.

Down on her luck and having to live on porridge, she still finds time to help a homeless man, she finds on her doorstep. Blunt with him as she literally has no money, she offers the next best thing, a bowl of porridge and her sofa for the night. Trouble is Isaac is not who he says he is and it turns out that helping someone can lead to all sorts of problems and some rather interesting situations.

Isaac is back home, he wants to come back to where people like him for who he is and not because he has money and can perhaps help them further their careers. Bella does not know who he is now and they clearly have some sort of chemistry growing between them but Isaac needs to tell her the truth before she make a complete fool of herself.

Something that Bella does a lot as the book goes on, but actually it is not making a fool of herself, it is so sweetly endearing and lovely that you cannot help but smile, because somehow she picks herself up and turns the whole situation around. Not to say that I didn’t smile to myself as our feisty Bella sitting in a job interview in a green bridesmaid dress with her assets on show!

Bella manages to pick Isaac up when tragedy strikes and she shows him that you perhaps need very little in life to survive. Isaac shows her what love can and should be like. Bella is trying to resist but misunderstandings continue through the novel and you wonder if perhaps Isaac just hasn’t got the strength to fight against Bella’s determination not to fall in love and break down the walls.

This book has everything in equal measure and plenty more. I laughed, I cried and I even confess to dreaming about my own Isaac, sweeping me off my feet. The book completely took me away to Hope Island, and its scenery and residents, and the wonder that is Holly Martin’s writing.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel. I apologise profusely for taking so long to get to it, so much so that I have read this and moved straight onto the next one in the series Summer at Buttercup Beach. 

How wonderful it is to keep reading about the same characters in the same place. Utter joy.

Spring at Blueberry Bay and Summer at Buttercup Beach are both out now.  

 

Books · Jottings

Six in Six – The Sixth Roundup!

First of all a very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined in. We might be a select bunch but I hope those that have just read our posts are inspired some more in their reading, to all the new blog followers, watchers and readers it has been great to discover your little piece of the internet.

We have lots of lovely new categories for next year and I hope that we have also discovered lots of new blogs as well. Here is a list of everyone that joined in this year. If I have missed you off or you know someone who took part but failed to link back to me, then let me know and I can add.

Happy reading and discovering folks!

A Darn Good Read

Books Please

She Reads Novels

Beyond Eden Rock

Whatmeread

The Bookworm Chronicles 

Cleopatra Loves Books

Secret Library

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Cosy Books Blog

See you in 2018!

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

First of all I must say thank you to the select few people who kindly joined in my meme Six in Six. There will be a roundup post following in the coming days and I hope I have captured everyone that has taken part.

As for my reading, well it has been varied and thoroughly enjoyable in July. Plenty of books that if I had read them in the first 6 months of the year would have featured on one of my lists!

Looking back July’s reading has been a way of making a dent in the many lists of books to be read. Mainly from my netgalley shelves as well as my venture into reading more Christie.

Annie Lyons – The Choir on Hope Street a pleasant read that passed the time, but not one I would say you HAD to go and read. Not like Kat French – The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach, her books keep getting better and better and this is her latest and well worth the read.

Summer being a theme (and there is a post coming up about that as well at some point) I also decamped to France to finish the trilogy (of which I am disappointed there will not be any more) of Helen Pollard – Summer at the Little French Guesthouse. I look forward to seeing what Helen Pollard will write next if it is as good as these books have been.

I caught up with another book which was previously released as parts Cressida McLaughlin – The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse, this was a book worth waiting to read as a whole.

I have read few thriller type novels this year, mainly because I think my brain has not wanted to cope with such things but I did pick up Jane Harper – The Dry. Debut novelist who has created an interesting detective and set him in a barren landscape.

Kathleen McGurl – The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, this book had been languishing on my kindle for a while and I wanted to make a dent in some of those books too, I chose this one to read. A dual narrative novel, which I do enjoy and was an interesting read which drew away from the sunnier books I had been reading!

Finally the month was complete with Agatha Christie – The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The first Christie Novel, the first Hercule Poirot. As part of my aim to have read all of her books by some point – I went to this one next. The edition I read (as pictured) had an introduction by John Curran and contained information regarding a rewritten chapter which in some ways set in stone the denouement of many murder stories for years to come.

I am back experiencing a new author as the month closes and I have also gone back to one of my favourite authors to immerse myself in one of her novels.

Here is to more lovely reading in August.