"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finally, it's Here!! The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (book review)

Monogram Murders
Author:  Sophie Hannah
Published:  September 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages:  320
Edition:  Hardcover
Genre:  Mystery
ISBN: 9780062297211
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided with thanks to the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Since the publication of her first book in 1920, Agatha Christie wrote 33 novels, two plays and more than 50 short stories featuring Hercule Poirot. Now, for the first time ever, the Agatha Christie Estate has approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha's most beloved creation.
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a cuff link has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…
In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie HannahPoirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
Published worldwide in September 2014.

My thoughts:

I've been an Agatha Christie fan for a few decades so when I heard Sophie Hannah was going to write a Hercule Poirot novel I was excited. Though Poirot was written out in Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, it didn't deter me from my desire to read The Monogram Murders despite it being written by another author, Sophie Hannah.  

The novel is set in 1920's London, around the period of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.  Hercules Poirot is retired and all he desires is to relax with a cup of coffee in a local coffee house when in comes a distraught woman with murder on her mind... her own!

Shortly after meeting this woman, Jennie; Poirot and his friend of short acquaintance (a mere six weeks previous to the meeting of Poirot and Jennie), Edward Catchpool from Scotland Yard, find themselves at Bloxham Hotel investigating three murders that had taken place in one evening at the famous hotel.  

As Christie wrote Poirot, an intelligent Belgian man of style and sharp mind; Hannah's Poirot is virtually identical; an impeccable likeness of the great sleuth. Hannah kept him true to character, paying a great homage to Dame Agatha Christie.  As in this example from page 207:
"Au contraire, mademoiselle.  In due course you will have your turn to speak, you may rest assured, but first I have another question for you.  You said to me, "Oh please let no one open their mouths!".....And - pardon me! - one final observation, mademoiselle....." (Hercule Poirot, The Monogram Murders)
Just as Christie would have done, Hannah wrote in several twists in the plot so the reader, much like poor Catchpool, cannot quite keep up with Poirot who, himself, throws in a few false leads to keep Catchpool's grey cells working and, quite frankly, the reader's too. 

At first one may be able to determine this is not Christie writing this Hercule Poirot mystery as Hannah's writing style is similar but not identical, but Hannah does a fine job of capturing the attention of the reader by writing a twisted plot the likes of Christie that we soon forget whom we are reading and just sit back and enjoy another visit with the incredible Poirot.  Does Hannah pull it off?  Yes, she does.  Her obvious love for Agatha Christie's writing and for Poirot is tangible in this new tribute to a woman who is outsold only by the bible and Shakespeare.  It was wonderful to be in the presence of the great Belgian sleuth again.

“Sophie Hannah’s idea for a plot line was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother’s work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written.” (Mathew Prichard, grandson of Agatha Christie)

About Agatha Christie:
Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.
Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.

Meet the Author:
Internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah breathes new life into the incomparable detective. In this thrilling tale, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London—a diabolically clever puzzle that will test his brilliant skills and baffle and delight longtime Christie fans and new generations of readers discovering him for the first time. Authorized by Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this instant Christie classic is sure to be celebrated by mystery lovers the world over.
Connect with Sophie Hannah through her website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

7 Days and Counting Until the Release of John Grisham's Gray Mountain!!!!

Grisham's books are my favourite for a good legal thriller.  I am really looking forward to this one, starring a female protagonist.  I think that's a big deal for a Grisham novel.  Do you?

#JohnGrisham   #GrayMountain  #legalthriller

Monday, October 6, 2014

Giller Prize Short List Announced

Congratulations to the six authors and their publishers on making the Giller Prize short list:

The Scotiabank Giller Prize will air live on CBC Television November 10 at 9 p.m (I think that's Eastern Standard Time), hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Other Voices, Other Rooms may offer more of himself than Capote intended.-

Other Voices, Other Rooms
Author:  Truman Capote
Published:  1948
Publisher:  Random House
Pages:  231
Genre:  Southern Gothic, fiction
Source:  borrowed

Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks.

Fueled by a world-weariness that belied Capote’s tender age, this novel tempers its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence with an appreciation for small pleasures and the colorful language of its time and place.

My thoughts:
A young Truman Capote could be the very same boy in the novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.  In fact, it's been said this novel is the closest thing to being autobiographical.   Though situations may differ, there is a parallel between Joel and Truman as young teenage boys growing up in the south.  His desire for family and inclusiveness shows especially in this debut novel.

Capote has a gift with the written word that is at once visual and emotional.  You, as the reader, can feel the emotions, enjoy the lyricism, and ponder the sometimes disjointed imaginings that are one thing but then another.  

I found Other Voices, Other Rooms a fascinating read.   I began reading knowing this first novel of Capote's was considered somewhat semi-autobiographical.  Capote takes the reader back to a time and place where leisurely summer days can take the imagination to places far away and yet near.  The shade from the hot sun, a cool drink, and good friends are excellent companions for Joel and are we any different?  Other Voices, Other Rooms is relatable, imaginative and a superb example of the gift Capote had with the written word.

This photo of Capote graced the back cover of Other Voices, Other Rooms.  Photo taken by Harold Halma.

Truman Capote was a native of New Orleans, where he was born on September 30, 1924.  His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was an international literary success when first published in 1948, and accorded the author a prominent place among the writers of America's post-war generation.  He sustained this position subsequently with short-story collections (A Tree of Night, among others), novels and novellas (The Grass Harp and Breakfast at Tiffany's), some of the best travel writing of our time (Local Color), profiles and reportage that appeared originally in The New Yorker (The Duke in His Domain and The Muses Are Heard), a true crime masterpiece (In Cold Blood), several short memoirs about his childhood in the South (A Christmas MemoryThe Thanksgiving Visitor, and One Christmas), two plays (The Grass Harp and House of Flowers) and two films (Beat the Devil and The Innocents).

Mr. Capote twice won the O. Henry Memorial Short Story Prize and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  He died in August 1984, shortly before his sixtieth birthday.  (biography from Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's
(also includes House of Flowers, Diamond Guitar, A Christmas Memory)
Author:  Truman Capote
Published: 1958 (original publication date) 
Original Publisher:  Random House, Inc.
Publication this edition:  July 2012
Publisher:  Vintage (a division of Random House)
Format:  Trade paperback
Edition:  50th Anniversary Edition
Pages: 148
Source:  borrowed

In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm.

This volume also includes three of Capote's best-known stories, “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar,” and “A Christmas Memory,” which the Saturday Review called “one of the most moving stories in our language.” It is a tale of two innocents—a small boy and the old woman who is his best friend—whose sweetness contains a hard, sharp kernel of truth.  (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Truman Capote's Holly Golightly is as confusing as she is confused, or at least she ought to be the way she lives but you cannot help but enjoy reading about this vivacious young woman who hides from her past, loves Tiffany's and fashion, constantly locks herself out and whom all the men love.  She's a bit of an enigma, witty, charming and beautiful and involved with the wrong men.  She's a bit of a wild thing that cannot be captured.

Breakfast at Tiffany's is a rich character study of a narrator, who is in love with a wild and unobtainable Holly Golightly, and especially of this young woman who is naive, beautiful and desired by men who uses all of the aforementioned to her financial advantage.  Her complexity of character makes her an interesting personality to get to know through the creative imaginings of a gifted writer.  Nothing in literature at the time this was written is remotely similar, though The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald has been compared to this novelette.

The movie adaptation of the novel Breakfast at Tiffany's starring Audrey Hepburn is an incredible likeness of the book and once you've seen Hepburn as Holly, you won't be able to imagine her otherwise.  Hepburn is phenomenal in the role.

My favourite among the short stories included in this volume following Breakfast at Tiffany's is A Christmas Memory which is a story of a young child growing up in a poverty-stricken household and the simple joys that can be gathered by the work of one's own hand.

Capote's writing is eloquent while being creative and even lyrical.  I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, reading the stories or reading the writing.  

About Truman Capote:
photo on book cover
Truman Capote was a native of New Orleans, where he was born on September 30, 1924.  His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was an international literary success when first published in 1948, and accorded the author a prominent place among the writers of America's post-war generation.  He sustained this position subsequently with short-story collections (A Tree of Night, among others), novels and novellas (The Grass Harp and Breakfast at Tiffany's), some of the best travel writing of our time (Local Color), profiles and reportage that appeared originally in The New Yorker (The Duke in His Domain and The Muses Are Heard), a true crime masterpiece (In Cold Blood), several short memoirs about his childhood in the South (A Christmas Memory, The Thanksgiving Visitor, and One Christmas), two plays (The Grass Harp and House of Flowers) and two films (Beat the Devil and The Innocents).

Mr. Capote twice won the O. Henry Memorial Short Story Prize and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  He died in August 1984, shortly before his sixtieth birthday.  (biography as portrayed in this copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Debut Mystery Release: Killer WASPs

Killer WASPs
A Killer WASPs Mystery
Amy Korman
Crime really stings in Killer WASPs (Witness Impulse e-book, on sale 9/16/2014, $1.99), a Witness Original from debut author Amy Korman. If you love cocktails, antiquing, parties, shopping and the occasional crime-lite thrown in amid vodka tonics and tennis matches at the club, then you’ll love Killer WASPs. The first installment in this modern and cozy series features crime, romance, and fun amid the classic estates of Philadelphia’s Main Line.
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, is a haven for East Coast WASPs, where tennis tournaments and cocktails at the club are revered traditions. Little happens in the sleepy suburb, and that is the way the Lilly Pulitzer–clad residents prefer it. So when antiques store owner Kristin Clark and her portly basset hound stumble upon the area's newest real estate developer lying unconscious beneath the hydrangea bushes lining the driveway of one of Bryn Mawr's most distinguished estates, the entire town is abuzz with gossip and intrigue.
When the attacker strikes again just days later, Kristin and her three best friends—Holly, a glamorous chicken nugget heiress with a penchant for high fashion; Joe, a decorator who's determined to land his own HGTV show; and Bootsie, a preppy but nosy newspaper reporter—join forces to solve the crime. While their investigation takes them to cocktail parties, flea markets, and the country club, they must unravel the mystery before the assailant claims another victim.
Fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will enjoy shaking up the Philadelphia Main Line. To learn more, check out the Killer WASPs Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/killerWASPsseries.

About the Author: Amy Korman is a former senior editor and staff writer for Philadelphia Magazine, and author of Frommer’s Guide to Philadelphia. She has written for Town & Country, House Beautiful, Men’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. Killer WASPs is her first novel.
Purchase your copy here:  HarperCollinsBarnes & NobleAmazoniBooks

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autobiography of Neil Patrick Harris Book Trailer

A Cry in the Night by Carolyn Hart (book review)

A Cry in the Night
Author:  Carolyn Hart
Published:  December 2013 (in paperback)
Publisher:  The Berkley Publishing Group
Pages:  246
ISBN 9780425269909
Format:  Mass Market Paperback
Genre:  mystery/romantic mystery
Source:  I own it.

From the national bestselling author of  Dead, White, and Blue and Ghost Gone Wild  comes a mystery of intrigue and danger in the world of international art theft.  Egyptologist Sheila Ramsay develops a newfound interest in MesoAmerican affairs after meeting an outspoken—and attractive—Mexico City curator, a harsh critic of museums that deal in stolen art. And her own museum gives her the perfect opportunity to see him again: a valuable Aztec manuscript needs to be returned to its rightful owners, the wealthy Ortega family.  

But things don’t go as planned for Sheila south of the border. An anonymous note threatens her with death if she remains in Mexico City. The curator she longed to see treats her with contempt. And the Ortegas are as mysterious as they are charming. What Sheila has stumbled into is much bigger—and more deadly—than she ever dreamed. And amid the splendor of Mexico’s ancient ruins and treacherous hillsides, Sheila will realize that there’s no one she can trust.

My Thoughts

"The first time I saw him, he was furious." 

A group comprised of museum staff had gathered for a lecture Museum Responsibility in the Art Trade given by Jeremiah Elliot, a visiting curator from Mexico City.  His anger is evident as he lectures and admonishes about procuring artifacts with dubious backgrounds.  The tension was palpable in the room, to say the least.

Following the lecture, though, Sheila and Jeremiah seem to hit it off and decide to do some sightseeing on the spur of the moment. Sheila finds herself attracted to him and is taken in by his change in demeanour.  So when the opportunity to travel to Mexico to return an artifact to a family in Mexico City is posted at the museum, Sheila volunteers, hoping she will find Jeremiah again.

Upon arrival in Mexico City, Sheila's senses are heightened when she spots a man watching her.  A letter of warning to return home, a scream in the night, and shots aimed at her should have sent her home but she is apparently very stubborn and determined. That's the makings of a good sleuth, right?  Sheila sets out to discover why someone wants her dead and what secrets the Ortega family is hiding.

Carolyn Hart is one of my absolute favourite mystery writers and I adore her Death on Demand series.  Cry in the Night is one of Ms Hart's stand alone novels that could be classified as romantic suspense or romantic mystery considering the plot has a strong thread of romance strung throughout the mystery.  Well written and designed, Cry in the Night is a fast clean read with an ending that will appeal to the romantics out there. While I really enjoyed this foyer into Hart's works that lie beyond her addictive series of Death on Demand and Henrie O, I rather prefer them to this novel.  Perhaps because I know the characters, but I thinks it's more like Hart invested more of herself in the series.  Cry in the Night is a good read nonetheless, especially if you enjoy travelling, archeology, art, mystery and a love story to boot.

Meet the Author

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of fifty novels of mystery and suspense.  Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards.  One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma City where she enjoys mysteries, walking in the park, and cats.  She and her husband Phil serve as staff - cat owners will understand - to an orange tabby and brother and sister tables.  Visit her website at carolynhart.com.


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