Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

Books, books and more books

Books, books and more books!

One can never have enough books, even if they are running out of shelving space. I must admit, it is a pain in the ass to clean up the bookcase, considering the amount of dust and animal hair that goes around in this house. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reading books on my Kindle

I am going for two things this year: pay off my debt (4 months to go) and completing my reading challenge (50 books). So far, I am on track with both of them. If all goes well, at the end of the year I will be able to say “I am debt free“, and also that I have cultivated my mind and soul.

While I do own a Kindle, I also listen to audio books and I also love reading the good all fashion way.

I am not prejudiced to any method of devouring the content of a good book. For a while audio books have been the obvious choice for me. Given the amount of work I put in, at my actual workplace and at home. Audio books free up my hands! I can do other things, like cleaning, cooking or even stitching.

Kindle helps me be a hoarder on my laptop, without killing my budget or filling up the house. It saves space, and I never liked a cluttered house.

But there are some books that I would rather own. Not many, but some I just love seeing in my bookcase.

~~~~~~

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie. If I ever get to visit U.K., most likely I will visit all the places that have connection with her and with Hercule Poirot. It is also my dream to have a book signed by David Suchet. He is the one and only Hercule Poirot! Following this logic, it was only natural for me to freak out when I saw this jewel in Carturesti Carusel:

David Suchet: Poirot and me
David Suchet: Poirot and me

I did try to get the English version, but they didn’t have it. I won’t complain, since it was such an unexpected find. I didn’t have the heart to remove the plastic cover. I think that will be done when I start reading it. I am keeping it for our August vacation.

In fact, in the last two months I managed to get my hands on a few volumes that are certainly interesting.

Book stash

There are more actually, is just they aren’t in the house at the moment. At work, we do borrow from others, but we also lent others our books. This is one of the things that I love about work.

M. R. Carey The girl with all the giftsDebra Driza Mila 2.0 Penguin Pocket BooksAndrzej Sapkowski

I did read “The girl with all the gifts”. It is the only one I got the chance to finish. In fact it was hard not to finish, since it captivated me so much. It took me just one Saturday. It was a well spent Saturday. I have no regrets about it.

In fact, I am thinking that once I do finish paying off my debt, I could invest in a new bookcase. The one I got from Ikea many years ago is still fine and can hold quite a few volumes of different sizes and shapes. My only problem is that there is no more room in our bedroom, so I will have to set it up in the living room. And yet, I can’t just have one bookcase there. It’s not symmetric enough. So, I will have to settle for two.

I can also use them as storage space, so that’s a win – win situation.

And yes, I am bragging with my lovely collection!

Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot Books (Part I)

I believe this year will be Hercule Poirot year, in terms of books. I’ve been reading  Agatha Christie’s books like there’s no tomorrow.

I must admit that stitching and audio books go hand in hand with me. I cannot stay still and listen to a story without doing something with my hands.

And yet, I am afraid that very soon I’ll finish all the Hercule Poirot books and I will have to satisfy myself with Miss Marple stories (which aren’t as addictive as the ones with the little Belgian detective).

tumblr_mjgvjkpTqW1rzxkt3o1_500

Books are really addictive, detective books I mean. But not all of them, I tried to see if other detectives will have the same charisma as Hercule Poirot but I was disappointed.

For example, I read “The two cases of Danwel Strong” by Juan Angel Cardi and I barely made it to the end. It took me a month or so to finish a book that, in normal conditions, would’ve taken me a day or two.

Then, there were the Maigret books which are a step or two above normal detective books. But even the Maigret books don’t come close to Agatha’s Christie little Belgian.

In no particular order:

The Mystery of the Blue Train

3030242765_f2804be9c3

This book was first published in 1928; that’s 85 years ago. The story resolves around the death of Ruth Kettering, an American heiress that gets murdered on the Blue Train (Le Train Bleu).

After the murder, it is also discovered that the famous “Heart of Fire” diamond also is missing from the possession of the late Mrs. Kettering.

On the same train there are Mrs. Katherine Grey (a 30 year of companion that comes in a large sum of money and decides to visit the French Riviera), Derek Kettering (which is following his wife, trying to reconcile with her and save the marriage for financial reasons more than for the sake of love), the dancer Mirelle (Derek ex-lover, who is after the Heart of Fire diamond rather than Derek), Ruth Kettering maid, Ada,  and of course Hercule Poirot.

Rufus Van Aldin, Ruth Kettering father, employs Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery of his daughter’s death. At first, all the suspicions are directed towards  The Comte of Roche and Derek Kettering. The Comte of Roche is well known for approaching married women’s and making their precious diamonds disappear and Derek Kettering is known for having financial difficulties.

After many twists and turn and a little help from Mrs. Katherine Grey, Hercule Poirot resolves the case and the famous Marquis (a famous burglar) and his accomplice is found guilty for the murder of Mrs. Ruth Kettering. As for the Heart of Fire diamond, well it is believed lost … but there is a certain dancer that is very proud in her new necklace.

Time of reading: 1 day. Stitching while reading interesting books is bad for one’s  needlework.I believe I made some mistakes since I was wrapped up in the story so much, but it was worth it nonetheless.

Dumb Witness

Dumb_Witness_First_Edition_Cover_1937

This was a very well played plot by Agatha Christie. Basically you go through all the characters and believe at some point or another that they must be the murderer.

And in the end, the murder is the the last person you would think of. I won’t give any details of this book, because its more fun this way than having an idea of what you are getting yourself in.

This is a classic when it comes to detective books. Well played Christie, well played.

Time of reading: around 2 days. I have to take breaks from time to time and works comes into as well.

Appointment with Death

Appointment_jpg_235x600_q95

I’ve noticed in most of Agatha Christie’s books that there are some characters that just deserve to slapped silly. And in this book there is one character that is so annoying that you are just happy to see her die.

The action takes place abroad, Hercule Poirot tries to take a vacation from death, but death just has a different agenda.

Mrs. Boynton is the annoying character that I was speaking about, the step mother of a large family who just enjoys keeping her children in line and basically bullies them into submission. And this “lovely” lady finds a tragic end on what should’ve been a “vacation” with her family.

All of her children are suspected of murder, and the question is: did they all act together or was just one of them that decided that enough is enough?

Well, it was fun to read and the ending was very satisfying.

Good morning

Good morning!

It is a good morning, I finished a good book while enjoying a good coffee. I am on the afternoon shift so I have plenty of time in the morning to relax. I missed these days. I am enjoying the peace and quiet of an empty house.

Well, I can’t say that it is peace and quiet since I can still hear the workers outside the windows. But it’s not as noisy as before.

I just finished reading “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie. This is actually the first novel in which Hercule Poirot appears. It was a fun reading since you get to know about the first impressions Captain Hastings had on the little Belgian man.

Believe or not I actually read the small autobiography before reading the novel and I was shocked to find out that my favorite detective will die eventually. Yes, Agatha Christie killed Hercule Poirot in the last novel. I am disappointed.

I always liked to think that Hercule Poirot had a nice retirement and took some small cases from time to time to keep himself busy. But apparently he dies. I actually looked up the name of the novel just to be sure that it will be the last novel from the Hercule Poirot collection that I will read.

It will be a sad thing when I will reach that novel.

Still, I still have a long way to go before reading all the novels with Hercule Poirot. I could actually read them all before the end of the year, but what fun would that be.

Oh well, back to picking audiobooks for my mp3 player. The poor little mp3 player, he gets new files every two weeks or so and yet he never lets me down..

Three more novels by Agatha Christie

I recently wondering why I cannot pick anything else to read besides novels with Hercule Poirot. And then it struck me that the novels (even if they are read in random order) are like watching a detective series. Yes, I am aware that there is a series out there, but there is one thing to watch the TV and another to have your imagination run wild.

Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective has become very dear to me.

With every novel that I read I start to notice more details, traits and little quirks that define Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings (and dare I say even Inspector Japp). It is really nice to see how these three very different individuals come together and actually get along.

At one moment I started thinking that all of the novels resemble each other in one way or another, but then I started reading “The Big Four“.

 

This novel is a very big change from what I’ve been reading so far. Hercule Poirot actually goes against people that are as intelligent as he is. He doesn’t go against one or two but against four different people: a Chinese man who is the brain (so the whole Asians are smart started a very long time ago), an American who is very rich and has a lot of influence, a French woman who is involved in science and an English man who is known only as “The Destroyer“.

These individuals formed an alliance of evil trying to destroy the world as we know it. And they go under the name of “The Big Four“.

In this novel I learnt a lot of things about Hercule Poirot:

  • he is a very patient person, that can handle failure without blinking an eye or even have his ego affected
  • he will do whatever he can to protect his friends
  • he will even shave his luxurious mustaches in order to save the day

I also learned that Captain Hastings, while being a very adorable character, he really is a dummy. But even if he lacks in the brain department, he really makes up with his courage and loyalty towards his friends and family.

“The Big Four” was a very entertaining novel, it was like watching a chess match but with a lot more drama and action, which is rarely found in Hercule Poirot novels. After all, Hercule Poirot is all about using the “little gray cells” rather then going around like a hound.

Another novel that I enjoyed these past few weeks was “Thirteen at Dinner“. This is the third novel that I’ve read in which Agatha Christie uses an actor as her criminal.

I don’t know why but I believe that actors these days would really fail miserably trying to carry out a murder in a smart way. Maybe the actors of that generation were more talented than the actors that we have now (I’m not saying that all actors suck, but 80% of them are horrible).

Still, the name “Thirteen at dinner” comes from a superstition. I’ve learned about a few superstitions from Agatha Christie books, but this one seems to be the most interesting. It is said that if 13 people gather at a dinner, the first one to leave will die.

And it’s quite nice how Agatha Christie plays this superstition in her novel. Really, she is a master in twists and turns, if you don’t pay attention you will get lost on the way.

And the last but not least, was “Cards on the Table“.

This novel has a lot of bridge in it, well  the name says it all. The plot if as follows:

There is a dinner party, where the host (a very eccentric man) invites 4 “sleuths” and 4 criminals (well 4 people that he suspects of being murderers). If you don’t know what “sleuths” means, well neither did I till I read this book, it basically means 4 people of the law, in this case Hercule Poirot the detective, an inspector of Scotland Yard, a writer of detective novels and an agent of the secret service.

Everything goes well, until the hosts gets killed in the room with the 4 “criminals” and yet nobody saw or heard anything and the big question is “Who did it?”

The 4 sleuths have the job of finding out who of the 4 suspected murderers did it and how. And the only way they can find out who is it is by digging up in their past and trying to find out why the eccentric host suspected them of being murderers.

It really is a case of human psychology. Very entertaining indeed, especially when one of the suspects saves the right girl.

Well if you want to know more, I do recommend you read the books. They are very captivating, entertaining and you can read them in one sitting. What else could I ask for, especially now when my free time has been reduced so drastically.

Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie

Again a novel without Captain Hastings. In fact the “Three Act Tragedy” barely features Hercule Poirot until the 5th chapter or so.

This is a novel where the victims take charge of the matters and try to find out for themselves who is the criminal. And lets say that the victims are not that slow on the uptake and manage to find more clues than the police.

When a clergyman dies at a dinner party thrown by stage actor Sir Charles Cartwright, it is thought by nearly everyone (Poirot included) to be an accidental death. Shortly afterwards, however, a second death in suspiciously similar circumstances and with many of the same people present puts both Poirot and a team of sleuths on the trail of a poisoner whose motive is not clear.

The novel starts with a party and ends with a broken heart from the lady that pushes to have the murders solved. It’s quite a sad story on many levels. For instance, I will never understand the fascination of women with older men. OK, I have favorite actors that are pretty old and yet still look amazing for their age; for example Hugh Jackman, Patrick Wilson, and my all time fav Keannu Reeves. But one thing is admiring from a distance and the other one is to marry them.

I always believed age is a big factor is someone happiness. And that what we see on the screen does not come even close to what happens in real life. I like my actors, they seem really nice but this is from a distance. But I’m sure that if I ever ran into them (I doubt that will ever happen) all the illusions of their personality will crumble.

Also this novel, presents the love of a 20 year old woman for a 55 year old actor like its something normal, actually more normal than marring the young and rich friend. I seriously cannot see this as a normal thing.

I don’t think I’m old in my thinking but old people are ..old. They have sagging skin, they do not have the energy that young people have and most of them have a very different mentality from the new generation. I know that I will get old as well and my mind will probably become a lot slower, but at least I’ll get old at the same time with someone dear to me. And we’ll both be on the same page.

This sounds really harsh, but it is the truth.

The other sad thing is that we only get to see the genius of Hercule Poirot in the last chapter and even then, everything is explained very simply and briefly.

I can’t say that I am disappointed by this novel, cause I’m not. It was interesting and fun to find out who did it, but it’s just sad to think that even then there were girls that instead of picking the right guy they end up with the worst possible man.

Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Yes I know, I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie lately. I know there are millions of books out there that are probably a lot more interesting then detective books, but at the moment I like to immerse myself in the life and adventures of Hercule Poirot.

While the audiobook may be narrated by Hugh Fraser, my beloved captain Hastings does not make an appearance in this novel.  It’s quite a shame because I do love this character very much.

Captain Hastings is the heart and Hercule Poirot is the brain. I do like Hercule Poirot and his methods, but it’s not the same thing if there isn’t a Captain Hastings there along side him. There aren’t anymore teasing from Hercule Poirot addressed to the very romantic Captain Hastings.

Its like a very important part of the novel is missing. And Agatha Christie could introduce many interesting/sweet characters but it will still not be the same without Captain Hastings.

Moving along, Death in the Clouds is a very interesting novel.

It’s interesting not only because of the strange death that happens in an airplane while everyone is pretty much alert (except Hercule Poirot who has stomach problems from the altitude) but interesting from many other points. As many people that actually read my blog may know (are there such people out there?) I love learning about the past and how people lived. Books are in general a good way to find out about the living conditions of old times. And Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors from that point of view because she isn’t one to leave out details.

This is the same reason why I also love the TV series “Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot”.

The story begins with a woman being murdered in a passenger aircraft over the English Channel. None of the other passengers (including Hercule Poirot) in the cabin witnesses the murder. In fact they swear no one came near the victim. Aha! The good old impossible crime!

The plot is excellent; the characters are satisfactory; and Miss Christie’s humor is delightful. This is a “fair play” mystery — all the clues are presented to the reader, and Poirot’s hints are right on the mark. Nevertheless, very few readers will spot the murdered before the final explanation.

And this short resume of the book is pretty much on the spot. The clues are presented, everything seems to point in one direction and then everything stops with the murderer being someone who is supposed to be completely innocent. And yet that person is proven to be the most horrible of them all.

I am starting to think that Agatha Christie likes dramatic endings. This is the third novel that ends with Poirot explaining all his methods and ideas at a dinner party with all the suspects around him, and of course Chief Inspector Japp.

It’s not a bad ending, but one could just go to the last chapters and find out the entire plot in just a few minutes. It’s not actually nice, but at least her books make your brain ponder “Who did it?“.

The A.B.C. Murders – Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie strikes again, and this time its “The A.B.C. Murders“.

Again a book narrated by the very handsome Hugh Fraser. I picked this book purely because of the name. It sounded interesting and exciting, after all good detective books always have a murder. But this title implies many murders.

So of course, I asked myself “If Hercule Poirot is on the job why so many murders?“. So I had to read it. The title implied that monsieur Poirot has found a murdered so smart that he got away with not just one but many murders.

And I was right, there were many murders and not many clues that would suggest the identity of the criminal.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.

Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans…

And as usual, Agatha Christie goes and makes a swift twist of plot at the end of the book and it ends.

I sometimes wonder if criminals that actually commit a murder read detective novels. I know this might sound gruesome but Agatha Christie murders seem so perfect.

It’s no wonder she’s been given the title “The Queen of Crime”.

Peril at End House – Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie has a very dear place in my heart. She gave me one of my favorite detectives and a most pleasant way of spending my free time.

You know, if you read detective books for quite a while you start to guess what will happen in the majority of them and they lose their charm. This fact does not apply to Agatha Christie books.

I picked “Peril at End House” for two reasons: 1. I could not sleep; 2. The audiobook is narrated by Hugh Fraser.

What better way to go to sleep than to listen to a beautiful voice telling a story. Well, the entire thing backfired on me, I was supposed to tire myself but I only grew more and more interested in this new mystery.  And so I stayed up till 3 in the morning listening to this audiobook, wanting to know who did it. Here’s a short description of “Peril at End House“:

Hercule Poirot’s relaxing holiday on the Cornish coast takes an unexpected turn when he meets young and beautiful Nick Buckley. Though Nick tries to shrug off the bullet that barely missed her as one more event in her recent chain of bad luck, Poirot is convinced she needs his protection. After a fatal attack, apparently aimed at Nick but gone awry, Poirot spirits her away to a nursing home for her protection. Yet even this doesn’t prevent another attempt on her life.

Just to make things clear Nick is the nickname of a young and pretty girl.

Ahh, Agatha Christie really got me with this one. The ending was so unexpected and so shocking that I just laughed like an idiot to myself. I could’ve sworn the murderer was someone completely different. This woman has such a talent of misleading others to the wrong conclusions.

Good books have surprises in them, especially good detective books. “Peril at End House” was captivating, interesting, shocking and full of twists and turns that even Hercule Poirot seems to lose his magic touch; his “gray cells” seem to have diminished in they ability to process the information in an orderly and precise fashion.

Rarely do I have time these days to read a book in one sitting. I should complain that my sleep pattern is already messed up but who cares. I had fun. Yes, it was fun!

I really do hope to get my hand on other books that were narrated by Hugh Fraser. This man is incredible handsome. Yes, he is a real man with a beautiful soothing voice. I really love the fact that he was cast for the role of Captain Hastings in the Hercule Poirot series and that he also narrates some of the books.

This role fits him so well that its hard to say what is his real personality like.

Good morning

I love my cat!

I woke up last night to find him sleeping like a baby, right next to me, half under the blankets and with tummy up. He was adorable I just sat there a couple of minutes and petted him. I would’ve taken a picture but I didn’t. It was really nice and warm under the blankets and I would’ve woken him up before I would’ve reached my camera.

Yesterday I wasn’t in any mood to do anything but I wasn’t tired so I decided my mp3 player would be a good source of entertainment. I had 4 audio books on it: “The woman in black” by Susan Hill,  “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt, a Sherlock Holmes novel and “Murder on the links” by Agatha Christie. A horror, a romance and two detective novels.

Since it was evening I wanted something easy but entertaining, so I picked “Murder on the links“.

Truthfully, I had no idea that this was a Poirot novel. I may be a fan of Agatha Christie but I still don’t know which books are with Miss Marple and which are with Hercule Poirot. And I don’t like looking up info on books, it takes the charm away. Yet I found this little website (I’m sure it’s one of many out there) that has a lot of info and reviews on Agatha Christie books. I’m going to keep that link just in case I get curious about her work or want to know what other books she wrote (thank God she was a prolific writer). 

Murder on the links” is full of twists and turns and once you pick it up you just have to know the ending. At some point I was wondering why the audio book was 80 minutes long because when I reached the 60 minutes mark I thought they already found the criminal. Oh, how wrong I was. 

The murderer is exposed right at the end of the book, and even then the action takes place so fast you will just devour the last pages (minutes of the audio book in my case).

It was a good pick, not only did my mood improved but I sleept good the rest of the night (except the part where I woke up to pet Marlanu’).

I have now added a few more books of Agatha Christie on my mp3 player, but I would like to read “The Princess Bride” or “The Woman in Black“. We’ll see in what mood I am these next few days.