It is a brand new month and that means it is time for mini reviews AKA review shots. And this week am gonna bring in three books from one author, who is one of my all time favorites, Dame Agatha Christie. Don’t we all need some mystery thriller every month?
These are our monthly picks for the ClassicsNChristieClub and I thought I can club them up together for our review shots. So shall we get on with it?
The Murder on the Links
Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings have been invited to Merlinville-sur-Mer, France, to help Paul Renauld, a millionaire. Upon arriving to the Villa Genevieve, they find him dead. He is stabbed in the back with a letter opener and pushed into a newly dug grave near their golf club. His widow claims that two masked men tied her up around 2 AM and took her husband away.
As the duo proceeds to investigate the case, Poirot gets a competitor in the form of Monsieur Giraud from the French Sûreté who has a history with Poirot. Who murdered the millionaire and why forms the rest of The Murder on the Links.
I am not a big fan of Poirot – Hastings combo, but I couldn’t help rooting for them here. I couldn’t guess the culprit right until the end which makes the book a win for me. The only thing that didn’t work for me is the romance story for Hastings and making him a besotted fool till the end.
If you like the usual Poirot novels, you are in for a treat reading The Murder on the Links.
The Man in the Brown Suit
In The Man in the Brown Suit we have a new lead detective Anne Beddingfeld. Anne leaves the country in search of a new adventure after her famous father dies. Soon enough she witnesses an accidental death and she finds a clue that might have something to do with death. She throws caution to the wind and decides to chase the clues that may prove it was not just another accident.
Her journey takes her to Africa and further on the trail of the murderer. Anne forms new friends, saves a stranger and makes stronger enemies. But does she make friends with the right person? How far will her sense of adventure take? You need to read The Man in the Brown Suit to know if the murderer was caught and who was the mastermind behind it all.
Christie has a bunch of recurring detective characters but Anne Beddingfeld appears only in The Man in the Brown Suit. I didn’t like her at all, and I can say she was too naive and annoying for my taste. Of course others might find her lively and perky compared to Tommy and Tuppence or even Poirot.
I definitely didn’t solve the case, so that is a positive thing I guess. But it bored me during some parts and I was wishing it would end soon.
The Secret of Chimneys
The story begins when James McGrath gives a manuscript to Anthony Cade and asks him to hand it over to the publishers in London. Cade doesn’t realize it to be arduous task with men threatening for it and a political troop trying to steal it away from him. He is also requested to return a few personal letters to a lady he has only a name of.
There are quite a few characters who assemble to have a political and business agreement at the Chimneys, where Cade is also invited to discuss about the manuscript. Unfortunately that is where a murder takes place and Inspector Battle is called upon to investigate. Soon enough we are suspecting everyone present at Chimneys that night. Who committed the murder and what is the story behind it follows in The Secret of Chimneys.
Yes I am saved the best for the last. The Secret of Chimneys was our March BOTM and I should say I liked this the best among these three. I loved the array of characters especially Bundle and her father Lord Caterham provided the much needed comic relief.
Everytime I zeroed in on someone to be the blacksheep I was proved wrong, which made it all the more interesting. There is a bit of romance in this one too but it was not a hinder like in the other two.
The Secret of Chimneys is definitely worth a read, pick it right away.
Let us chat
Have you read any of these ones before? Do you usually read Agatha Christie’s? Which is your favorite among them all? Let us talk.
Once in a while we read a book that will make you excited and some might even make you cry. While The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society made me feel me both, the one feeling that I can associate with it more than the above is warm fuzzy.
I can remember the times that I just stopped reading the book just to hold those warm feeling to myself a little longer. Can we get on with the review shall we?
About The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Book Name: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Genre: Fiction – Drama, romance, Historical
Characters: Juliet Ashton, Dawsey Adams, Markham V. Reynolds, Jr., Susan Scott, Sidney Stark, Sophie Evans,, Elizabeth McKenna, Isola Pribby, Kit McKenna, Adelaide Addison, Eben Ramsey, Amelia Maugery
Setting: London and Guernsey, The United Kingdom
Plot Summary of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Set in the post World War II London, we meet Juliet Ashton, an aspiring author who receives a letter from Dawsey Adams. Dawsey a resident of Guernsey chances upon her address on a book by Charles Lamb, that she had previously owned and requests her help in securing more of Lamb’s books from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
As any bookworm should do for a fellow bookworm, Juliet helps him with those books and in return asks more about their book club’s odd name. Thus begins a series of correspondence between them and slowly she begins talking to and about the other residents of the little island. We also hear about Juliet’s past and her loyal friends Sidney and Sophie.
Juliet is looking for a story for her second book and fancies the idea of writing about the residents of Guernsey, a town that was German occupied during the war. But how would the residents react to her digging into their pasts that they are trying to move on from? Would all this heart ache for a book be worthy?
You will have to read on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to find out more.
Book review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written in the form of a letters deals with several heavy subjects like German occupation and their control over the residents, slavery and concentration camps, poverty and hunger. Despite these strong and depressive backdrops, the residents’ love for reading and for each other kept me hooked.
As I have repeatedly talked about in this blog, I love reading books with strong sub plots and interesting side characters and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society turned out to be a jackpot in this regard. I loved the quirky characters, even those who were not physically in Guernsey (hint: I adored her).
Bonus fact: The author Mary Ann Shaffer wrote about 80% of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until she was too ill with cancer to continue. She then enlisted her niece Annie Barrows to complete the project.
Things that worked for me
- I liked the well written sub plots and characters.
- The writing was easy and filled with many humorous situations.
- While romance is a part of the story, it did not end being the sole theme, which was positive for me.
Aside from all these reasons I felt I had a kinship with the characters who were readers, accidental or not, like us and I think there should be lot more books about bookworms. Don’t you agree?
Things that didn’t work for me
- The letter format worked mostly but it kinda didn’t do justice when it comes to romance.
- I wanted to read more about the relationship between Elizabeth and Christian.
- I felt the book was a tad bit long winded and it could have been reduced by at least 50 pages.
Bottom – line
Did I say I loved the movie version as well? If you are interested in a drama or historical fiction with the world war II as the main backdrop then The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society might be the one for you.
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Let us chat!
Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Do you read historical fiction? Have you watched the film? Let us talk more.
A real long time ago, I found Hester Browne out of nowhere and I could not get enough of her books. I read the Little Browne Agency and hunted down (after considerable difficulties) the rest of the books in the trilogy and completed all of them in less than a week’s time. So it was a no brainer when I saw The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne on the shelves that I made a grab for it ASAP.
Book Name: The Finishing Touches
Author: Hester Browne
Genre: Fiction – Romance
Characters: Betsy Phillimore, Lord Phelam and Lady Frances (Franny) Phillimore, Liv and Jamie O’Hare, Nancy, Kathleen
Setting: London, The UK
Returning home to attend her adoptive mother’s funeral, Betsy Phillimore learns that her mother’s beloved finishing school is on the brink of being shut down. Saving the Finishing touches means having to fight the unfriendly headmistress, indifferent students and a former nemesis who is interested in her recently widowed father.
While she attempts to reconstruct their archaic syllabus and teaching methods, she realizes she is closer to finding her biological mother than ever before. Does she even want to open that can of worms?
Betsy has taken it upon herself to make a financially responsible adult out of her rich and spoilt BFF, Liv when her father absconds from the scene. Enter Liv’s brother and Betsy’s long time crush Jamie, who seems smitten by Betsy as well. Does the boy get the girl? Or will the entry of another handsome bursar distract her? Read The Finishing Touches to find out more.
Hester Browne’s books are usually straight forward love story with a strong female lead and an interesting back story. She didn’t fail this time as well, the plot was new and interesting.
While I liked Betsy’s feisty and complicated self, I loved Liv and Jamie more. They were witty and charming. The younger students didn’t make a mark but the cook and the housekeeper, Nancy and Kathleen did. Though there were lots of adorable characters none of them had an interesting sub plot except maybe for Liv.
I love Hester Browne’s writing that ensured The Finishing Touches stayed as a feel good, light hearted chick-lit just like her other novels. Her witty dialogues and funny scenes had me entertained throughout. The pace slacked at times and there were times that I was kinda distracted, as the sub plots didn’t hold my interest.
If you are looking for a light hearted chick lit set in the UK, you might try The Finishing Touches. Though it is no way as good as the Little Browne Agency trilogy, The Finishing Touches is worth a read.
Have you read anything from this author? Are you curious like me about a school that teaches etiquette and manners? Or do you find it sexist? Let us chat.
I remember staying up all through the night reading the author’s earlier work (The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight) few years ago and I hoped The Geography of You and Me would help me repeat the experience. Did it fulfill the promise? Read on to know more.
Book Name: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lucy, Owen
Setting: New York, The USA, London, England, The UK
The story starts with Owen and Lucy stuck in an elevator when the whole city plunges into darkness. It is instant chemistry and once they are rescued they roam around the city and end up chatting for hours. They end up spending their night gazing at stars from their rooftop. As fate intervenes, they both leave New York City soon and part ways.
Owen and his father are trying to get over their loss of their mother and go on a road trip across America. Lucy joins her parents in London who are avid travelers and trots all over the globe. They keep in touch with each other through postcards and email. Do they get to meet each other? Or does the distance change them?
The Geography of You and Me opened with a great promise of an unusual set up but failed to sustain the interest. I am not a big fan of love at first sight (gasp) and the lead characters spent less than a day together to have had time to fall for each other.
I love reading the lovey dovey portion of any romance, as any person would. I was almost looking forward to it just to get out of the monotonous chapters that consisted of ‘he went there’ ‘she went there’. But The Geography of You and Me was a disappointment even on that front.
The story alternates between two POVs but the voice ended up being the same which didn’t work for me at all. I have heard so much of this book and opened it with great expectations and sadly The Geography of You and Me didn’t live upto it.
Is there any book that failed to live up to the hype? Or is it just me? Let us chat.
I read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal before it took the book world by a storm. Ok not the book world, at least the book blogger community loved and everyone who read it raved it. But how did it fare on my scale? Let us get on to the review!
About Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Book Name: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Drama
Characters: Nikki, Kulwinder, Jason, Mindi, Olive,
Setting: Southall, London, the UK
Plot Summary of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Meet Nikki, a law school dropout, is trying to make her try at being independent after she finally got out of her over-bearing immigrant mother’s house. She tries to distance herself from her Sikh community, that is too traditional and sexist for her liking. Impetuously, she signs up to teach a Creative English course for the widows of her Punjabi community to earn some quick bucks.
A gross miscommunication leads to her teaching basic English to the lonely widows and most of them turn out to be illiterates. During the classes Nikki realizes these women are much more interested in oral story telling, especially erotic ones.
While the traditional Sikh community considers this as a scandalous act, especially for widows to be involved in, the women (with Nikki’s help) continue their lessons. They try and keep it a secret from the ‘Brotherhood’, a self appointed moral police team, who take it upon themselves to protect the virtue of the woman in their clan.
There is another much more interesting sub plot involving another younger woman who had ‘committed suicide’ after disagreeing with her husband’s way of living and was generally ‘too modern’.
Did the Brotherhood have a hand in her death? Does Nikki’s attempt to bring in empowerment to these widows through erotica meet with the same hatred? You will have to read the Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows on your own to find the answers.
Book review of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is one of the most ‘un-put-down-able’ book I read so far this year. I read through it fast and still couldn’t get to the last page quick enough. I needed to know the answers right then and there. But sensibility prevailed and I didn’t peek into the last page to find the answers. The writing was crisp and fast paced.
Yes there are some ‘erotic stories in them but they are written tastefully (is that correct word here?) and not cringe worthy at all. But if you do not wish to read them, you can skip them and it will not hinder the flow of the novel at all.
It has been a while since I loved the side characters and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows has a bunch of well written and quirky characters.
While I didn’t like Nikki’s holier-than-thou attitude, I was able to relate to her at some point (or did I?) coming from a desi background and all. She reminded of the small sexist things that we do because our tradition demands it and how hapless women who can’t and won’t fight against them are.
Also I was reminded me of the BBC’s sitcom ‘Citizen Khan’ and I am definitely gonna watch them again in a bit.
What worked for me
- I loved the narrative pace and it kept me on my toes until the end. Truly un-put-downable!
- Kudos to the author in keeping the erotic stories in taste and yet interesting.
- I loved the well written and memorable characters.
What may have been better
- I felt Nikki was a bit annoying and judgmental, at least in the beginning.
If you are looking for something light and funny, or something that might make think about thoughtful or erotic, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows will fit your bill either way. The book is funny. It is fast paced. It talks about woman empowerment. It has it all. Read it already, I say.
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Let us talk!
Have you Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal? Do you like books that might hit a little close to your home? What was the most unputdownable book you read this year? Let me know. We should dish!