Writing & Reading . . . Well, Mostly Writing

It’s been about a month since my last post and probably one of the longest periods I’ve been away from this blog. As a freelance writer, the tide of work ebbs and flows. When it’s ebbing, I find myself spending as much time chasing the work as I do completing the work. Clients come and go, that’s just the way it is and I much prefer this as a day job than other options.

Freelancing as a content creator allows me the flexibility to pursue the completion of my first book and prep for NaNo, which I’ll discuss in just a moment. After several drafts, professional editing, revisions, more editing, more revisions, rounds with beta readers and CPs, and more revisions, it’s reallllllllly close to query time. And while that’s slightly terrifying, I’m ready. Actually mentally ready. I’ve done my best and it’s time to see if I can convince an agent that they should take a chance on it and me. And really, they should because the book’s awesome and so am I, right? Right? Anyhoo . . .

So I’ve been writing during this time I’ve been away from sharing book reviews here on the blog. From many, many freelance words to additions/revisions on the book, and prep work for my NaNo project. Which is:   drum roll please!    YA Mystery!

I’m really looking forward to this project and can’t wait to dive in!

nano-2017-participant-badge

If you’re considering NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) head over to their site HERE. Be sure to click over to THIS PAGE to find out how it works. It’s super easy, free, and trust me, you’ll have a blast. It’s a great way to meet other writers, get in the habit of writing daily with no excuses, and crank out a first draft in 30 days.

Now about the time I’ve spent reading. old booksLong before I was a writer, I was a reader. I can’t ever remember NOT being a reader. I only post a few of the books I read here, so even when I’m not posting book reviews, I am still reading several books. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been rereading Michael Grant’s GONE series in anticipation of his new book MONSTER that releases October 17. As this is one of my all-time favorite young adult series, I’m really looking forward to reading it! Keep your eyes out, I promise I will post a full review as soon as I can.

I’ve also been rereading “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and YES, I do plan to go see the new movie in November. I own the 1974 version, and while I don’t favor it as much as “And Then There Were None” and “Death on the Nile” it does have its merits.

I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and share with me and other readers the new book releases you’re anxiously awaiting. I’m always looking to add to by TBR pile. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan like me, are you planning to see the new “Murder on the Orient Express” movie? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

Book Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

“The words, they are here and there! He does not recognize the illogic! To what dos one listen if not the words? If one matters, then so must the other!”

Hercule Poirot, CLOSED CASKET by Sophie Hannah

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah is the second in the new Hercule Poirot mysteries based on the infamous sleuth created by the legendary Agatha Christie. As readers of my book reviews know, I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie and rate her as my all-time favorite author. And I always enjoy a good mystery. While there are definite differences in Ms. Hannah’s writing style as compared to Christie, I nevertheless found Closed Casket enjoyable and good read.

Closed Casket

Two of the main reasons I liked Closed Casket was its setting and the type of mystery — a murder mystery during an estate house party, complete with family drama, last-minute will/beneficiary changes, and the presence of the one and only Hercule Poirot.

The little Belgian detective and his friend Inspector Edward Catchpool have been invited by Lady Athelinda Playford to her mansion. At dinner on the evening of their arrival, Lady Playford makes the dramatic announcement that she’s changed her will, cutting off her children and instead leaving her fortune to her dying secretary Joseph Scotcher.

Before the end of the evening, Scotcher is dead, bludgeoned brutally and there’s even a witness. Alas, like any good Poirot mystery, things are seldom what they seem and author Sophie Hannah weaves a tale that kept me interested and even guessing to the end — I do love a good red herring or two.

Closed Casket was an enjoyable read and interesting mystery. I do recommend the book, and be sure to visit Sophie Hannah’s site to see her other novels.

Book Review: Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie has been in by TBR pile for a while, one of the few books by my favorite author that I had not read. Unfortunately, I found this to be a tedious read and not much mystery at all. When I read a Christie, I want a good, juicy mystery that keeps me guessing or at least keeps me engaged. This did not do it for me.

Passenger to Frankfurt

This is one of Christie’s books that does not feature one of her famous detectives. Personally, my favorites star Hercule Poirot, although there are several Miss Marple mysteries I enjoy as well. However, Passenger to Frankfurt fell flat for my tastes. It was repetitive and while I liked the main character Stafford Nye, after a while, I just didn’t care if he actually discovered why he was entangled in an international issue.

The story started just fine, Nye meets a mysterious woman during an airport layover and allows  himself to be convinced to give her his identity because she says her life is in danger. Upon returning home to England he reconnects with the mysterious passenger to Frankfurt — is she spy or what? And quickly, Nye is now involved with a global plot that includes Hitler-influenced youth, wealthy matriarchs, and even his great-aunt Matilda, who was one character I genuinely adored.

No regrets reading the Passenger to Frankfort, but definitely not a book I’ll pick up again. There are many really wonderful Agatha Christie mysteries out there to read. Back in November, I reviewed the Five Little Pigs and gave it 4 of 5 stars on Goodreads. You can check out my review here — definitely enjoyed it more than Passenger to Frankfort.

Other Christie favorites of mine include:

  • Death on the Nile (my number one favorite!)
  • Halloween Party
  • And Then There Were None
  • A Caribbean Mystery
  • Evil Under the Sun
  • Dead Man’s Folly
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • The Seven Dials Mystery
  • Death in the Clouds

I do recommend heading over to the official Agatha Christie website for everything about the author and her books. You can check out news about the latest adaptations of her work, including the anticipated new movie of Murder on the Orient Express. Plus I highly recommend printing out the complete list of her novels (by publication year) if you’re like me and trying to complete your collection.

Happy reading!

Book Review: Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

Five Little Pigs (Hercule Poirot, #24)Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Agatha Christie’s “Five Little Pigs” does not make into my Top 10 Hercule Poirot mysteries, although I’m still rating it here on Goodreads with 4 stars. Why? Because, for me, it’s still a classic Christie and Poirot doesn’t disappoint — he’s brilliant and I adore his sleuthing style even when he’s solving a murder in retrospect. “Murder in Retrospect” actually is the original title and personally, I prefer it. I think it fits better, despite the fact that Christie uses the children’s rhyme about the “little pigs” (…this one went to market, etc) throughout the book.

Poirot is taxed with the job of solving a murder mystery for a death that happened sixteen years ago. A famous painter was poisoned by his wife, who apparently was jealous of her husband’s infidelity. She was convicted of the crime, sent to prison, and eventually died there, but not before penning a letter to her only daughter professing her innocence. Now the daughter, a grown woman who was just child at the time of her father’s murder, wants to know the truth. Did her mother kill her father as the court declared or was her mother truly innocent? It’s up to Hercule Poirot to uncover the truth.

I did find this particular story to move a bit slow, primarily because it’s told in retrospect from the point of view of the different suspects. While it’s interesting to hear Poirot’s interviews with each and then read the letters detailing their movements on the day of the murder, this story does not have the same sort of pace of books like “Death on the Nile” or “Murder on the Orient Express” where we are thrown in to the action with Poirot while he’s tracking clues and employing his “little grey cells”.

For any Agatha Christie fan, I do recommend “Five Little Pigs”. The mystery is good, she delivers her signature red herrings and Poirot is a delight as always. However, I did feel that the story began to drag a bit in the middle, bogged down as she delivered the perspectives of each suspect. Overall, I liked it and most likely will read it again at a later date.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

I love a good mystery. I really love an Agatha Christie mystery, especially when it’s a Hercule Poirot mystery. “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” checked all the boxes for me:

  • Agatha Christie mystery featuring her one and only Belgian detective
  • Murder in a big old house
  • Locked room murder
  • Holiday murder — always more fun when it’s the holidays

z Hercule P's Christmas

The Plot

Ridiculously wealthy Simeon Lee has invited all his children, even those estranged, home for the holidays. Every family member has a secret and old Simeon has several secrets of his own as well. On Christmas Eve Simeon Lee is brutally murdered in his own bedroom and a fortune in uncut diamonds goes missing. Everyone has a motive.

Enter the infamous Hercule Poirot to solve not only the mystery of who murdered the elder Mr. Lee, but to unearth the location of the missing diamonds and unmask the suspects for who they really are. A case like this could only be solved by the meticulous Belgian detective and his “little grey cells.”

“The character of the victim always has something to do with his or her murder.”

This has to be one of my favorite Poirot quotes from this Christie novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” by Agatha Christie and recommend it to any lover of classic mysteries and/or the work of Agatha Christie.

Want to know more about Poirot? Discover his origins here at www.AgathaChristie.com.

Book Review: The Monogram Murders (a New Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Sophie Hannah

I’ve loved mysteries since I was a little girl. My mother introduced me to Agatha Christie books when I was about seven or eight years old — I was an instant fan. Throughout the years I’ve read and collected most of Christie’s mystery books. While I enjoy a story featuring Jane Marple or Tommy and Tuppence, it has been and always shall be the indomitable Hercule Poirot who is my favorite detective and favorite fictional character.

Yes, Hercule Poirot is my all-time favorite fictional character. “Curtain” broken my heart. I was a bit leery when I heard Poirot would be resurrected to appear in a new mystery. However, excitement about reading a new story with my favorite character won out over any trepidation and I anxiously awaited diving into “The Monogram Murders” starring the one and only Hercule Poirot and written by Sophie Hannah.

Monogram Murders

“The Monogram Murders” revives the golden age of Hercule Poirot. Set in 1929 London, Poirot is at his finest, employing his “little grey cells” to unravel the truth behind three murders that occur at the Bloxham Hotel. Three bodies have been found, seemingly murdered by the same person, in the same manner, and it’s up to Poirot to sort out the lies and misdirections from the truths and incontrovertible facts.

While Poirot’s longtime friend Hastings isn’t present for this story, author Sophie Hannah introduces readers to Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard — a good portion of the story is told via Catchpool. Hannah also gives us a Christie-mystery complete with false identities, conspiracies, red herrings, and even a traditional rural English village filled with unforgettable characters, secrets, and true evil.

For me, the real star was Hercule Poirot with his scrutinizing eyes, keen mind, and words of wisdom that include,

“When three murders are almost identical, the smallest divergent details are of the utmost importance.”

“Sometimes a gentle perambulation causes a new idea to rise to the surface of one’s thoughts.”

And when asked by Catchpool about what one does when one lacks confidence, Poirot’s response (classically Poirot) is:

“I do not know. It is not a problem that I suffer from, I do not worry that I will meet a problem for which I will be unable to find a solution.”

Well done Sophie Hannah for capturing the essence of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and giving readers a chance to once again enjoy the thrill of mystery solving with the unforgettable little Belgian. Author Hannah has written a wonderful story that won’t disappoint any Christie aficionado and that will enthrall every mystery lover.

“The Monogram Murders” by Sophie Hannah is a must-read for anyone who loves an intricately designed, classic mystery in the style of Agatha Christie

Sophie Hannah is a best-selling British novelist and you can  check out her site here.