Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha ChristieBlurb

The Orient Express was unusually full for the time of year. Hercule Poirot sat in the elegant restaurant-car and amused himself by observing his fellow passengers: a Russian princess of great ugliness, a haughty English colonel, an American with a strange glint in his eye . . . and many more. The food and company were most congenial and the little Belgian detective was looking forward to a pleasant journey.

But it was not to be. After a restless night, Poirot awoke to find that tragedy had struck. First, the train had been brought to a standstill by a huge snowdrift. Secondly, a passenger lay dead in his berth – murdered.

My Perspective

Awhile ago I was able to sift through a few boxes of books that my mother-in-law was giving away. One of the books was this one, and even though I’ve read it before, I can’t say no to owning and rereading any Agatha Christie novel!

Murder On The Orient Express is the story of how Hercule Poirot becomes the investigator of a murder that takes place on the train he is travelling on and how he solves it.

I vaguely remembered the story and the ending so things weren’t a huge mystery for me however I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Agatha Christie is a superb author so obviously it was well written with great character development and a clever storyline. I don’t think you can really fault her and to me a review on one of her books is a bit pointless!

Basically it was a fantastic read that I would highly recommend if you like murder mysteries. A classic whodunnit novel.

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Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody by Geoffrey McSkimming

Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

While on a stopover in the mysterious African country of Zarundi, Jocelyn Osgood – that well-known Valkyrian Airways Flight Attendant and ‘good friend’ of Cairo Jim – becomes unwittingly embroiled in the theft of a priceless royal tiara.

She and her companions find themselves thrown into a world of subtle chaos, which carries them across an intriguing and colourful landscape as they try desperately to locate the stolen regalia and two renegade Tropical Xylophonists…

My Perspective

Xylophones Above Zarundi: A Chaotic Tale of Melody follows Jocelyn Osgood and Joan Twilight as they become mixed up in the theft of the royal tiara while on stopover in Zarundi. In order to get it back, they find themselves on the trail of the two xylophonists who went missing at the same time as the tiara…

As much as I love the Cairo Jim novels, I LOVE the Jocelyn Osgood novels even more. I’m not sure why, there isn’t a specific thing that I can pinpoint, they are just a really great read.

In saying that, this story was probably my least favourite of the Jocelyn Osgood novels as I found the mystery and adventure of the other books far more fascinating because they had a lot more history involved. This was still good, it just lacked that extra oomph.

Jocelyn is extremely easy to like and is a fantastic female lead. She’s strong, capable, smart, and kind as well as still having real emotions and moments of self doubt. Joan is hilarious and one finds it hard not to like her despite her obvious “blonde” personality. They make a great team and bounce off one another well. The other characters were in usual Cairo Jim form – extremely quirky and unusual and slightly silly. The villain in this story was EXTREMELY unlikable.

The story was interesting, well written and held mystery for the reader. It had me guessing right up until the very end.

I would definitely recommend this book however it’s probably better to start with the first Jocelyn Osgood novel, After The Puce Empress, so you can read how Jocelyn and Joan first met.

A Punctual Paymaster by Dan Groat

A Punctual Paymaster by Dan GroatBlurb

A TOWN DIVIDED BY RACE IS HIDING A MIRACLE AMONG ITS SECRETS

Travel seventy years through the secrets of the white Thanos family and the black Taylor family, twisted like strands of yarn woven together on a loom. The wealthy, powerful Nikkos Thanos owns a woolen mill and almost everything else on the north side of Delphi, Missouri, and is the overseer of a fractured society. The brave, judicious Thaddeus “Cousin” Taylor owns a grocery store and a tavern on the south side and carries a past hauntingly shrouded in tragedy. Each man tries to shepherd his part of town through the turmoil of racism, the depression, and war. With the passage of time, those caretaker roles are filled by Evangelina, Nikkos’ beautiful and strong-willed daughter, and T.J., the grandson who worshipped Cousin. Forty-five years after high school, two friends, Ab and Grady, return for the funeral of their mentor, T.J., and walk into the middle of a mystery. They unweave the black and white threads that are the town’s concealed, troubled past, revealing an extraordinary tapestry of life and death, revenge and triumph.

My Perspective

I downloaded this eBook for free on Amazon awhile back.

The story follows the history of two families, the Thanos family and the Taylor family. The Thanos family are white and live on the north side of town, a town that has basically been built by Nikkos, the father of the Thanos family. The Taylor family are black and live on the south side of town and Cousin, the father of the Taylor family, is basically the unofficial leader of the south side. The story is set from 1939 through to 2010 and spans around three generations of the families. It deeply explores the racial tension between whites and blacks in America through a story filled with mystery, intrigue, sadness and redemption.

I had really high hopes for this book because the premise sounded so interesting however i felt it fell a bit flat. It started out really strong and then got a bit lost on the way.

The characters were really interesting however some of them could have been developed a lot more. Even though some of them had a lot of “air time”, i still felt like i barely knew them.

Most of the book was slow paced with a lot of content, the kind of book that doesn’t have you turning the pages as fast as you can, more the kind of book that you slowly digest and can even put down for awhile to process before picking it back up again. The pace wasn’t very consistent though, with big jumps in time and disconnect between chapters where you weren’t really sure what was going on.

I wasn’t sure whether the mystery of the story was meant to be obvious to the reader or not, because i found it was a bit predictable. If that was the intention of the author then it worked well because you wondered whether the characters would be able to figure it out or not and how the story would end – them living the rest of their lives never knowing or them being fully aware of their history and moving forward from it.

Overall it was a good story with a lot of depth and richness however I think it could have benefited from a lot more editing. I would probably still recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction, in particular novels about the racial tension in the USA.

Allure of the Gypsies (Legends of Windemere Book 3) by Charles E. Yallowitz

Cover by Jason PedersenBlurb

Reeling from broken trust and a battered spirit, Luke leads his surviving friends to the town of Haven where his past will catch up with him.

While Luke faces his family and the woman he abandoned at the altar, his enemies have recruited a deadly ally. Kalam the vampire marches on Haven with an army of undead that will leave a hero at death’s door. To revive the fallen warrior, Luke and Nyx must plunge into the mountain lair of Kalam and steal his spellbook. Exhausted and lost within enemy territory, the pair are going to need the help of a gypsy girl named Sari who may be more trouble than her new friends expected.

Against a strong and experienced adversary, what will Luke and Nyx need to claim victory on the charred battlefield?

My Perspective

Allure of the Gypsies follows Luke, Nyx and Aedyn as they make their way to Luke’s home town of Haven, which he left in disgrace a year earlier. However there is more waiting for him at home than he bargained for.

The story follows pretty much straight on from where it left off in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.

Apart from old favourites Luke, Nyx and Aedyn, we are introduced to a new character, Sari. I honestly found it extremely hard to like Sari. I found her to be a bit of an idiot however I’m not sure if that’s just an act so we will see. I really enjoyed the Lich and Trinity in this book and the banter between them.

I enjoyed the adventure and storyline of this book immensely however i felt that it was a bit all over the place. It didn’t flow as well as the previous two and sort of rambled a bit towards the end before ending very abruptly. I also felt there was a lot of unnecessary dialogue that could have been scrapped to make the book tighter and more interesting. I also found that there wasn’t a lot of mystery or twists and turns. Even though i enjoyed reading the book, i didn’t really keep me guessing or on my toes.

I really enjoyed the action scenes and even wished there was a bit more action – there seemed to be less in this book than the other two.

Overall this book was an enjoyable read however i felt it fell a bit flat and almost felt like simply a filler book to tie up some loose ends, introduce a crucial new character and get to the beginning of the next book. If you’re interested in an enjoyable fantasy series then i would definitely recommend Legends of Windemere however you really need to start with the first book in the series, Beginning Of A Hero.

These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach

These Foolish Things by Deborah MoggachBlurb

Enticed by advertisements for a luxury retirement home in India, a group of strangers leave England to begin a new life.

On arrival, however, they discover the palace is a shell of its former self, the staff are more than a little eccentric and the days of the Raj appear to be long gone.

But, as they soon discover, life and love can begin again, even in the most unexpected circumstances.

My Perspective

These Foolish Things is about a retirement home that is set up in India for those living in Britain. Instead of wiling away the rest of their years in some dreary place in the UK, instead they could be enjoying the best that has India has to offer – and for a fraction of the cost. The story follows a few different characters and their different perspectives on the place.

When i found out that the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was based on a book, i really wanted to read it. It only took me around five years!

I really enjoyed the story. It was well written, interesting and flowed at a nice, even pace. Although i had watched the movie and knew the basic premise, the book is quite different with more characters and different story lines. There were a few similarities however not enough that you knew the story or how it would end. I can see why they changed what they did for the movie (too many characters in a movie can make it hard to follow).

The characters were really well developed. They were diverse and you couldn’t help but love most of them even if they weren’t lovable! I love reading books where it’s written from the perspective of a few different characters as i find it really lends a depth to the story and makes it that much more interesting.

There wasn’t really any sex per se in the book however there were a few sexual references that were quite blunt and descriptive. I actually found some of it was a bit out of place and i didn’t really understand the relevance or need for it.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read that was fresh and different to a lot of what’s out there. I would definitely recommend it.

Rewrite Redemption by J.H. Walker

Rewrite Redemption by J.H. WalkerBlurb

She’s sixteen. He’s seventeen. They don’t know each other…at least not yet.

She has a secret and her whole life revolves around keeping it. Every few months and with little warning, she simply disappears, pulled into the past for hours or even days. She’s terrified it will happen in front of someone, changing her life forever. So far, the only witnesses have been her parents, and that didn’t end well. She has no control over it and no idea why it happens to her.

She wants answers.

He has answers—at least he understands what’s going on. He has a secret, too. He’s part of an organization that goes back in time to rewrite reality. But he also has a problem. He broke the organization’s number-one rule by altering his own timeline. As punishment, he’s been blocked from time travel, which is most unfortunate. Because the changes he made to his timeline, accidentally resulted in disaster for his family. A disaster he’s now prevented from repairing. No one can travel beneath the organization’s radar except a Shadow. But they’re rare, so rare he’s never even met one.

Then he moves to her town.

My Perspective

This is the twentieth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Rewrite Redemption by J.H. Walker at Ramblings In The Skye. You can read their thoughts on the book here.

Rewrite Redemption is mainly about A.J., a sixteen year old girl who is able to travel back in time. However not by her own will, it happens randomly and not always at the best of times. Struggling to survive high school without her secret becoming known, A.J. hides behind dark glasses and a large hoodie, her only friends being Lex and iPod. However one day that all changes when a new boy moves into town, he too having her ability.

I really enjoyed this book. The premise of time travel has always interested me so i like to read books that explore it. This was a completely different take on it, which i appreciated it and it reminded me slightly of the ISOs in Tron: Legacy.

A.J. is easy to like and root for. My heart really went out to her because of what happened with her parents and you really want everything to work out for her. Lex and iPod were great best friends and you couldn’t help but like them too. Constantine on the other hand had me in two different minds. He was a great guy who was easy to like however he also annoyed me and i didn’t like everything about him and his attitude. However in a way it was good because it meant he wasn’t perfect.

Obviously as the premise of the book is time travel, you kind of get the obvious that everything is probably going to work out well because they can just go back in time and “fix” things. However the journey on how and what the end result will be was not what i expected. I had some inklings about things however didn’t know if the author was going to go there or not and I’m really glad that they did.

As it is a young adults book, there is teenage romance throughout, which didn’t have me rolling my eyes as much as i thought. It was very present however i enjoyed it more than i thought i would. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of eye rolling, corny moments – however the story was interesting enough that it was able to carry them without it losing my attention.

The explanations and science behind everything was a little far fetched however explained it quite well and was to some extent plausible. Obviously you have to suspend some belief when it comes to time travel however this was a good example of it not being ridiculously impossible.

I did find that some of the book may have been a bit unnecessary. I found that the story got a bit bogged down by the amount of inner dialogue. I felt it would have been a bit more interesting had some of that been trimmed down and that it would have flowed a bit faster.

Overall it was a really enjoyable book that i would definitely recommend if you like young adult science fiction.

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Planet of the Apes by Pierre BoulleBlurb

In the not-too-distant future, three astronauts land on what appears to be a planet just like Earth, with lush forests, a temperate climate, and breathable air. But while it appears to be a paradise, nothing is what it seems.

They soon discover the terrifying truth: On this world humans are savage beasts, and apes rule as their civilized masters. In an ironic novel of nonstop action and breathless intrigue, one man struggles to unlock the secret of a terrifying civilization, all the while wondering: Will he become the savior of the human race, or the final witness to its damnation? In a shocking climax that rivals that of the original movie, Boulle delivers the answer in a masterpiece of adventure, satire, and suspense.

My Perspective

This is the nineteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle from Bradley at The Recommenders. Unfortunately you can’t read his thoughts on the book as the post seems to have been deleted.

Planet of the Apes is the story of three astronauts who land on a far off habited planet. Much to their horror, it is a planet where the roles of apes and humans seem to have been reversed.

Oh my! What a horrifying read! Wonderfully horrifying! I couldn’t put it down.

I don’t know if i can say i enjoyed this book. It was SO interesting and fantastically written yet the thought of what had happened was so horrifying that enjoyment is not what i got out of it.

The main character, Ulysse, is easy to like and relate to. He is well learned with a lot of knowledge, which definitely helps him in his situation. He presents his story as very factual although he does express his thoughts and emotions, he just doesn’t let them get in the way of recounting his experience. It was easy to like Zira and her fiance, Cornelius, and of course Nova, however some of the other characters you couldn’t really warm to…

This book gives SO much thought to the way we treat apes and animal rights. It doesn’t preach to you at all, nor give a solid opinion on for or against. It simply gives you a way to think about it in such a tangible way. Almost too tangible.

I would have liked if there had been a lot more explanation on the history. It seemed a bit quick and skimmed over compared to the rest of the book.

Overall this book was a great read. It was well written, thought provoking, exciting, and horrifying. I almost screeched when i read the end. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a story outside the “norm”.