The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah @HarperCollinsUK #NetGalley #review

Today I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah. My thanks to the publisher Harper Collins for accepting my request to review this book.

Let’s see what it is all about…

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket—returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London.

Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.

Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…

Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

Hercule Poirot is accused by four different people of writing letters that accuse them of murder. The problem is that Poirot did not send the letters, he has no idea how sent them, but he does think that something more sinister and dangerous could be afoot…

I have not read the previous two books in this series and to be honest this one reads very well as a stand-alone. I think this mirrors the way Christie herself wrote, each of her books could be picked up and read in any order.

So did this mysterious tale feel right? Actually yes it did, there was a lot of misdirection, clues that only came clear at the end, a series of possible characters who could have dunnit and who had the motive and of course there is a body.

I enjoyed the slower pace of this mystery novel and felt that the author did a really good job of creating a story with the infamous Poirot. Various mannerisms, quirks, and phrases felt right.

The plot is one that I was happy to sit back and watch (so to speak) as it worked its way through to the grand unveiling of the guilty party and the reasons why.

I have read all of Agatha Christie’s books, though it was several years ago now, and I found there were some good similarities between Sophie Hannah’s Poirot and the original. It was an enjoyable read and ones that I think would appeal to fans of cosy mystery and also of Christie fans as well.

Sophie Hannah
Photo taken from the authors Goodreads Page.

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets. 

Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or sharing would be great 🙂 xx

My Top Reads of 2018…finally

I know, I know, this is a little late but better late than never as they say..

Before I get into my top reads of last year I just want to share some of my Goodreads stats with you. My original Goodreads 2018 Challenge was to read 200 books, I read 222 and one manuscript that I am sworn to secrecy about at the moment…

I read 59,747 pages across 222 books

I am breaking this down into genres, that I would recommend and then right at the end if you are still reading I will do a TOP 3 Reads.

So first off Contemporary/General Fiction… Recommended Reads

These were stories that really touched my heart, for various and different reasons. They each had a special something about them.

Next up is… Crime and Thriller Reads

Crime is probably one of the genres I read most. There are several authors here that have released more than one book and I would happily list them as well. I have decided to limit myself to one author.

Nest genre is Fantasy/ Dystopia I have put these together for my convenience 🙂 …

Again these are very different and yet still fall into my category. They give a glimpse into a different reality and all are fabulous reads, some are part of a series while others are stand alone reads.

Historical (Fiction/Non-Fiction) is my next category…

I say Historical because the books I have chosen here is because they have either a historic setting or are based in myth and legend, historical culture if you like. They are a mix of fact and fiction or based on real life.

Finally, I have Romance, Chick Lit, Rom-Com… whichever term floats your boat. They all have a romance aspect to them.

These are stories that worked for various reasons, nothing in love ever goes according to plan and these stories really made for great reading.

Now then…

Are you still here?

Helloooooooo, anyone still reading?

Do you think I have missed any?

Are there any books that you think I should have included?

Well maybe they made it into my TOP 5…

Yes I know I originally said TOP 3…

But as I was writing this post up…

I found that I was wrong in thinking I could narrow it down to a Top 3…

What on earth was I thinking…

Okay to my Top 5 book s that I read last year…

Right then…

The eagle eyed readers will have noticed that I have listed only 4 books so far…

wait for it…

There was one book that absolutely made me have goosebumps on a very hot summers day as I read it…

It made my fingernails go twitchy…

I felt claustrophobic and I was sat outside while reading…

It was fabulous read…

Have you guessed what it is yet?

It’s one I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you have not yet read it

Okay here it is…

And…

It was a brilliant book…

I would love to know what you think of my picks.

I know that some of the genre grouping may look random to some, but for me they make sense. This has been such a hard post to write up as I could included so many more books than the…

just scrolls back to count how many books …

44… thats a nice number…oops

Hope you all have a great reading year and thank you all for sharing, posting and commenting on my posts. Hopefully 2019 Top Reads will actually be posted in 2019 🙂

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery #review

Todays review is for a childrens classic The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Synopsis:

When a pilot crash-lands in the Sahara Desert he meets a stranger – a little prince – who has arrived on Earth from an entirely different planet. By listening to the prince’s stories and his questions about the world, it becomes clear to the pilot that truths about life can reveal themselves in the most unlikely of places.

Translated into 180 languages and selling over 80 million copies, this beautiful and wise tale of childhood innocence will delight readers of all ages. This edition also includes Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s charming original illustrations.

My Thoughts:

This book is one that definitely shows its age. What I mean is how technology has advanced since its original publication in April 1943. This is something that is very obvious and actually adds something to the reading experience. It has an old charm and almost twee-ness to it.

The book has a few moralistic types of messages to it and while they may not always clear during the reading, by the end I think I  found them. What I thought was that things are not missed until they are gone. As the world has moved forward with advances in science, medicine, and technology it is the basic things in life that we do not realise are around. Another is how the world is perceived through the eyes of a child, being simple, basic and without all the noise of life getting in the way. Also the message of everyone being unique, yes we are part of a society of other people, but we all have our own special qualities that make us special to other people. I think different readers would probably get their own ideas of what this book was trying to tell, but these are my thoughts.

I found the story itself to be interesting as I followed The Little Prince from his home to other places before finally meeting a stranded pilot on earth. The pilot is the narrator of this story and recounts what the Prince tells him. At times I did feel a little bit confused as I felt I was missing some of the points that were being made, but as I started to get towards the end things started to become clear.

The story has quite a sombre feel to it as it explains how we do not see what is around us as we are so busy rushing around, jobs, shopping meetings all take time. I think this is something most of us can relate to.

I did enjoy this story and thought it was very thought provoking. It was easy to get caught up into as I followed the Prince on his travels. The end is open to the readers interpretation of what happened to The Little Prince, I have my own thoughts as to what happened to him in my mind and where I think he went, others may think differently. This possible difference in a readers own interpretation is something that makes this book special. I have read other reviews from other readers and while they do have some similarities, there are some differences.

Overall I would recommend this book as I did really enjoy it.

About the Author:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons on June 29, 1900. He flew for the first time at the age of twelve, at the Ambérieu airfield, and it was then that he became determined to be a pilot. He kept that ambition even after moving to a school in Switzerland and while spending summer vacations at the family’s château at Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, in eastern France. (The house at Saint-Maurice appears again and again in Saint-Exupéry’s writing.)

Later, in Paris, he failed the entrance exams for the French naval academy and, instead, enrolled at the prestigious art school l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1921 Saint-Exupéry began serving in the military, and was stationed in Strasbourg. There he learned to be a pilot, and his career path was forever settled. 

After leaving the service, in 1923, Saint-Exupéry worked in several professions, but in 1926 he went back to flying and signed on as a pilot for Aéropostale, a private airline that flew mail from Toulouse, France, to Dakar, Senegal. In 1927 Saint-Exupéry accepted the position of airfield chief for Cape Juby, in southern Morocco, and began writing his first book, a memoir called Southern Mail, which was published in 1929. He then moved briefly to Buenos Aires to oversee the establishment of an Argentinean mail service; when he returned to Paris in 1931, he published Night Flight, which won instant success and the prestigious Prix Femina. 

Always daring, Saint-Exupéry tried in 1935 to break the speed record for flying from Paris to Saigon. Unfortunately, his plane crashed in the Libyan desert, and he and his copilot had to trudge through the sand for three days to find help. In 1938 he was seriously injured in a second plane crash, this time as he tried to fly between New York City and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The crash resulted in a long convalescence in New York. 

Saint-Exupéry’s next novel, Wind, Sand and Stars, was published in 1939. A great success, the book won the Académie Française’s Grand Prix du Roman (Grand Prize for Novel Writing) and the National Book Award in the United States. At the beginning of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for France, but he went to New York to ask the United States for help when the Germans occupied his country. He drew on his wartime experiences to write Flight to Arras and Letter to a Hostage, both published in 1942. His classic The Little Prince appeared in 1943. Later in 1943 Saint-Exupéry rejoined his French air squadron in northern Africa. Despite being forbidden to fly (he was still suffering physically from his earlier plane crashes), Saint-Exupéry insisted on being given a mission. On July 31, 1944, he set out from Borgo, Corsica, to overfly occupied France. He never returned. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross @HodderBooks #NetGalley #BookReview

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Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross. This is a book aimed at a YA or Teen reader and is a retelling of the Beauty and The Beast Story. My thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for my eBook that I recieved via NetGalley. This book is avaliable in paperback, hardback and eBook format and available from AMAZON UK

I just love the cover of this book…..

Synopsis:

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.

My Thoughts:

Beauty and the Beast is a story many are aware of from film, musical and animation. Leife Shallcross has retold the story from the perspective of the Beast himself.

There are various things that remain a constant from the various versions of this classic children’s story. A man cursed to live his day as a beast until he finds someone who loves him for what is on the inside rather than what we see on the out. There are also the gardens, the magic and for all bibliophiles THE LIBRARY……….

While this is a very good read and sticks to my memories of the story I read as a child, I did find there where parts that did feel a little bit repetitive. Now as an adult it may be that I am being overly picky with a book aimed at younger readers, so I am now wondering if this is actually a way of showing a younger reader the time that the two characters spend together in each others company, building up a friendship and also the trust.

I did like this story and from the point of view of the Beast, it gave this character a chance to say his piece and express his feeling and thoughts as well as expressing the hope that Isabeau (Beauty) is the one to break the curse.

As well as the Beast and Isabeau’s story there is also the story of the family that Isabeau left behind while she stays with the Beast. I did really enjoy this section of the story as it went into how the family left behind had to deal with this change to the family, and adjustments to be made.

This is a book that I do think younger readers and also early Teens would enjoy. It is the perfect story for readers who like the traditional “once upon a time…happily ever after” fairy tale.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck #BookReview

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Today I have my thoughts on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It was a chance for me to take a dip into one of the classics, I had read quite a few of the classics a couple of years and never did quite get round to this one. I have read Grapes of Wrath and also Cannery Row and enjoyed them and gave me a chance to get a feel for the authors grim and gritty style. You can get a copy of Of Mice and Men from most good bookshops and online at Amazon UK, my copy is the Penguin Red Classics edition.

Synopsis:

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy – becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and giving a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men remains Steinbeck’s most popular work, achieving success as a novel, Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

My Thoughts:

Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie. They work various jobs and travel around looking for new work as one job runs out or they run out. The story begins as they head towards their next job. George has a dream to one day own his own plot of land and Lennie is happily caught up in this vision of the future. Lennie is a gentle giant of a man and is referred to as being not very bright but will work hard and do as he is told.

George looks out for Lennie and knows that many would not want a man like Lennie working for them, prejudice at this point in history is ripe so anyone being slightly different is not acceptable to many. Even though George is often frustrated by the simple nature of Lennie, he is a friend and will support him. They are each other has.

This is a simple tale of friendship between two men travelling for work. Rather than being loners as many travelling labourers are, they have a bond in their friendship, they are able to talk about their dreams for the future and it gives them hope. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble, but this is not always possible and  misunderstandings do happen.

This is a quick read at only 121 pages and is easy to read in one sitting. It’s style is one I like, a slow meandering yet descriptive and emotional one. It explores various inequalities and prejudices that were relevant at the time. A wonderful read that slowly rolls along until it picks up speed as a sense of tension begins to build.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy American Social History, Literary Fiction and  Classic Fiction.

About the Author:

41Hta3i6uDL._UX250_ John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Photo by Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx