This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

VivienneR in Christie's Footsteps - Part 3

This is a continuation of the topic VivienneR in Christie's Footsteps - Part 2.

2019 Category Challenge

Join LibraryThing to post.

Edited: Jul 2, 1:07pm Top

Ashfield, Christie's birthplace & Greenway, a later home used in Five Little Pigs, Towards Zero, and Dead Man’s Folly

I've been a fan of Agatha Christie since I was in my pre-teen years and I've always been fascinated by her travels.

Christie never fell into the trap of setting too many murders in one location, thus avoiding potshots from critics about the spot being a very dangerous place to live. Instead, she used her fondness for large country homes and typical English villages, as well as personal travel experiences to provide backdrops for her stories.

No targets, I'll be reading whatever jumps off the shelf - and probably a few shiny new books. I plan to include as many CATs as possible, and Bingo of course.

I can also be found over at the Club Read group

Edited: Jul 27, 1:15am Top

Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries

Chipping Cleghorn in A Murder is Announced, King’s Abbott in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and an artist's idea of Miss Marple's cottage at St Mary Mead

  • Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
  • The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
  • A Likely Story by Jenn McKinley
  • The golden tresses of the dead by Alan Bradley
  • Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton
  • 9VivienneR
    Edited: Sep 11, 12:49pm Top


    Andover, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Churston from The ABC Murders

    January: Q & A: Queenpin by Megan Abbott
    February: K & O: On writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King
    March: U & L: Into the beautiful north by Luis A. Urrea
    April: B & M: Milkman by Anna Burns
    May: H & V: Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton
                    Hamlet by Shakespeare
    June: J & D: Death of an expert witness by P.D. James
    July: C & P: The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri
    August: N & I: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
                    Dr. No by Ian Fleming
    September: F & W: The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters
    October: G & T
    November: S & Y
    December: E & R
    Year-long X & Z

    Edited: Today, 12:54am Top


    Meadowbank School for Girls from Cat Among the Pigeons

    I may not read in all of the CATegories every month. These titles are included in my categories above.

    January 26th, Burns Night: The Black Book by Ian Rankin
    January 1st, Polar Bear Swim Day: The Healer by Antti Tuomainen
    February 5th, Chinese New Year: Flower net by Lisa See
    February: 10th & 14th: (Grammy Awards & Valentine's Day): I think I love you by Allison Pearson
    March 8, International Women's Day: Best of Women's Short Stories 3
    March 17th, St Patrick's Day: The Secret Place by Tana French
    March 27th, Joe Day (Joe Sandilands series): The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
    April: Ordeal by innocence by Agatha Christie
    April 26th, Hug an Australian Day: Thirty-three teeth by Colin Cotterill
    May 25th, Jazz Day: Solo Hand by Bill Moody
    June: The Blackwater lightship by Colm Tóibín
    July: Canada Day: Starlight by Richard Wagamese
    July: US Independence Day: The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (4th of July)
    August 17: V.S. Naipaul birthday: The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul
    August 19, Aviation Day: Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg
    September: International Peace Day 21st: Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

    January - In translation: Rounding the mark by Andrea Camilleri
    March - Favourite author: Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson
    June - Series complete: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    August - Set where you do not live: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

    January - Last in, first out: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
    February - Borrowed: A room full of bones by Elly Griffiths
    June - Bullet: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
    July - Multiple by author owned: Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante
    August - Somehow still on the tbr list: Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
    September - Classics: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

    January - Your name in print: Vivienne - Gently Where She Lay by Alan Hunter
    February - We need a break: Paris for one and other stories by JoJo Moyes
    March - Brexit: This was a Man by Jeffery Archer
    April - Tournament of Books: Circe by Madeline Miller
    May - I could have danced all night: High Plains Tango by Robert James Waller
    June - Pick a card: Priest by Ken Bruen
    July - Bird connection: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
    August - Back to school: Slam by Nick Hornby
    September - Equinox: Days by Moonlight by André Alexis

    Edited: Jul 2, 2:17pm Top

    Welcome! New thread is open for business.

    Jul 2, 2:25pm Top

    Happy new thread! I love seeing all those houses.

    Jul 2, 2:55pm Top

    Thank you, It's good to see you drop in!

    Jul 2, 2:57pm Top

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★

    Late evening after dinner, three middle-aged men remember their first love. For two of them the experience had no noteworthy aspects, but the third gave an account of his passion for an "older" woman when he was sixteen. As the daughter of a coarse, impoverished princess she had several admirers when mother and daughter moved next door to Petrovich. He was immediately smitten. Nothing has changed for lovelorn teenagers in the almost two hundred years since this story was written, they are still beyond help or advice, with no choice but to wait and see what happens. Beautifully written with an excellent translation by Isaiah Berlin, this slim book is well worth reading.

    Jul 2, 5:34pm Top

    Happy new thread, Vivienne. I am such a sucker for the "British Cottage" - I'm ready to move in to the artist version of Miss Marple's cottage.

    Jul 2, 6:34pm Top

    Have new thread, Vivienne!

    Jul 2, 6:37pm Top

    >16 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy. I'll move in to the cottage next door to yours!

    >17 mstrust: Thank you, Jennifer.

    Jul 2, 10:23pm Top

    Happy new thread! I enjoyed seeing all the category toppers again. And now I want to re-read The Mysterious Affair at Styles...

    Jul 3, 12:20am Top

    Thank you, RP! I've read that one a few times since the first time when I was about twelve years old. I think my next Christie will be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for the "mentioned in another book" for BingoDOG. It was mentioned in The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (which would be a good one for RandomCAT).

    Jul 3, 7:44am Top

    Happy New Thread! I wanted to let you know that I finally got The Silent Patient from the library after a 3-month wait and devoured it in 2 days. It was as good as you said.

    Jul 3, 9:08am Top

    Happy New Thread! I do like seeing the lists fill up in each category.

    Jul 3, 11:30am Top

    Happy new thread! It was nice to see all the Christie locales again and remember some of my favorites of her novels.

    Jul 3, 11:43am Top

    >21 dudes22: Thank you! I'm glad my recommendation worked well. I hope Alex Michaelides writes more soon.

    >22 Helenliz: Thank you, Helen. I like to see them fill up too. It seemed so slow at the beginning of the year.

    >23 christina_reads: Thank you. I haven't got tired of looking at them as I usually do after six months.

    Jul 3, 2:13pm Top

    Happy new thread! It looks like you've had a good reading year so far.

    Jul 3, 5:10pm Top

    Happy new thread! I hope you enjoy your future reading.

    Jul 3, 6:16pm Top

    >25 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie. Yes, a lot of good reading with just an occasional dud.

    >26 tess_schoolmarm: Thank you, Tess. I hope so too, keep those bullets coming my way!

    Jul 4, 3:19am Top

    Happy birthday!

    Jul 4, 9:33am Top

    Happy birthday, Vivienne!

    Jul 4, 6:53pm Top

    Happiest of birthdays! :D

    Jul 5, 3:34pm Top

    >28 MissWatson: & >29 Jackie_K: & >30 rabbitprincess: Thank you all, I had a great day. No reading, though. :)

    Jul 6, 3:08pm Top

    BingoDog - artistic character

    The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★

    A new-to-me author, this odd little book surprisingly held my interest. Its bizarre characters tell an even more bizarre story of a woman who killed the father of her unborn child because he wanted to give the baby a boring name (Joëlle). As soon as the baptism takes place, naming the child Plectrude, mother commits suicide. And that's just the beginning!

    Plectrude doesn't do well at school but is accepted by école des rats to study ballet - not that ballet worked out any better. Nevertheless, Nothomb touches on some profound topics. The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

    Anyone who enjoys absurd humour might appreciate this book.

    CalendarCAT - July 1st, Canada Day

    Starlight by Richard Wagamese (Canada Day) 4.5★

    Wagamese's gentle nature and love of the land radiates from this tenderhearted story. Sadly, he died before Starlight was finished, and it was published as he left it. The publisher provided information from the author's notes as to how he intended to end the story.

    Somehow I mistakenly had the idea that this preceded Medicine Walk but that means I can still look forward to the earlier book.

    Jul 6, 8:05pm Top

    I loved Indian Horse when I read it last year and I am looking forward to both Starlight and Medicine Walk. Hopefully I will get one of those in before the year ends.

    Jul 7, 1:53am Top

    I'll read Indian Horse and Medicine Walk as soon as I can. I loved the way Wagamese wrote.

    Jul 7, 11:08am Top

    >33 DeltaQueen50: >34 VivienneR: I have Medicine Walk as well and would love to share a read with you! Let me know when you plan to get around to it and I'll squeeze it in.

    Jul 7, 3:28pm Top

    >35 rabbitprincess: That would be fun! I plan to borrow Medicine Walk from the library. It's out right now, due back near the end of the month, and has one hold, so it will be late August or September before I get my hands on it. The ebook has oodles of holds and won't be available for several months.

    Jul 7, 4:10pm Top

    >36 VivienneR: Excellent! I'll pencil that in on my reading calendar :)

    Jul 7, 7:29pm Top

    I hope you had a happy birthday, Viv!

    Jul 7, 11:17pm Top

    Excellent! I'll pencil Medicine Walk in for late August/September as well. Looking forward to it.

    Jul 8, 1:36am Top

    >38 mstrust: Thank you, Jennifer. It was a great day and the rain stayed away (mostly).

    Jul 8, 1:40am Top

    >39 DeltaQueen50: Wonderful. I'm looking forward to it.

    Jul 8, 1:41am Top


    The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (4th of July)

    A fun, hard-boiled mystery where Toby Peters takes on an investigation to find President Roosevelt's dog, Fala. Mrs Roosevelt is convinced the pooch has been replaced with an imposter and that a shady vet has taken off with Fala to unnerve the president. Kaminsky has a flair for creating entertaining characters including some from real-life. As well as Eleanor Roosevelt, this tale has some fine action by Buster Keaton. My favourite personality has to be his hard-of-hearing landlady. The 1942 tough-guy language is hilarious, although Kaminsky has an odd penchant for the word "emotionlessly" that stopped me in my tracks each time he used it.

    Jul 9, 10:47pm Top

    AlphaKit - C & P

    The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★

    Every time I read one of Camilleri's books I wonder why on earth Montalbano has anything to do with Livia. One of these days her bad cooking or bad attitude will have her sent packing. Apart from the annoying Livia I really enjoy these Italian mystery novels. The translation by Stephen Sartarelli is excellent.

    Jul 10, 6:41am Top

    >43 VivienneR: I could live without Livia too.

    Jul 10, 12:33pm Top

    >42 VivienneR: I am enjoying the Toby Peter's mysteries as well. I love that 1940's Hollywood vibe!

    Jul 10, 2:42pm Top

    >44 thornton37814: It seems to me her role is to make the reader more sympathetic to Montalbano. Job done, let her go.

    >45 DeltaQueen50: I believe it was you who sent the first bullet my way. Thank you.

    Jul 10, 9:08pm Top

    >46 VivienneR: Always glad to add to the fun!

    Jul 13, 12:46am Top

    Category - Mysteries

    The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

    There was less archaeology in this one, the 6th in the series, but the characters and their relationships were filled out more, which made up for it. This is one of my favourite series.

    Jul 13, 3:21am Top

    >48 VivienneR: thank you for the reminder. I'm earlier in the series, but it's nice to see people enjoying lots of these. Book 3 on order at the library.

    Jul 13, 1:05pm Top

    >49 Helenliz: I'm trying to match my reading with the anticipated dates my library holds will arrive, which is not working out as well as I planned. I love the location of Griffiths' books as much as the historical angle.

    Jul 14, 1:59am Top

    TBR-CAT - multiple by author owned

    Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★

    A gritty police procedural by the author of the Prime Suspect series with Jane Tennison. This series features young detective Anna Travis who is investigating the murder of an up-and-coming actress. It was longer than necessary because there was so much interpersonal detail about Travis and her ex-lover who is also her superior officer. It was OK, but La Plante's writing has become formulaic. I'll read more of the series sometime and hope she changes the tune.

    Jul 14, 10:13pm Top

    I've been reading that series as well but I am a couple of books behind you. My next one will be Clean Cut, I have enjoyed her writing so I, too, hope she doesn't start writing by formula.

    Jul 15, 1:31am Top

    >52 DeltaQueen50: I'm not planning to read all of them, just the few that the library owns. I guess I've missed Clean Cut. As far as I remember the author had something to do with the production of Prime Suspect. It would account for her familiarity with the acting business.

    Jul 17, 2:07pm Top

    Sad to hear of the death of Andrea Camilleri today. Good reason to read another Montalbano tale.


    Jul 17, 4:07pm Top

    >54 VivienneR: RIP to an excellent author. It's a wonderful thing that he was such a prolific writer since he didn't start his Montalbano series until he was 68! Luckily I've only read 5 so far so I think I have 20 more to go.

    Jul 17, 9:50pm Top

    >54 VivienneR: Love Montalbano! Sad to hear of Camilleri's death.

    Jul 18, 8:23am Top

    I heard the news on the radio, and thought of this group straight away. I've never read any of the Montalbano books, but so many people have in this group, and loved them, that it is a series I hope to get to eventually.

    The news clip featured an interview with Andrea Camilleri, he had the most glorious deep and sonorous voice.

    Jul 18, 12:36pm Top

    >57 Jackie_K: His writing style was unlike any other. I read that he used his own mixture of Italian and Sicilian so his translator deserves a pat on the back too. Your description of his voice is fitting for the creator of Montalbano.

    Jul 18, 1:03pm Top

    BingoDog title with 6 or more words

    The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★

    Noor's family in Iran have have run a restaurant for generations although Noor has lived in the US for thirty years and has a teenage daughter, Lily. Recently divorced, she took Lily, with her ex-husband's permission, for a vacation in Iran and then decided to stay. It is understandable that an expat will want to return to her homeland to care for aging parents but this story is more like child abduction - and to a country that has few basic freedoms for women. I'm attributing this poor decision to the emotional devastation Noor experienced after the divorce. The book was disappointing, the writing immature, missing something that I thought might have been lost in a poor translation. This was not the case for the book was written in English. My version was an audiobook that was not narrated well.

    Jul 22, 9:44pm Top

    BingoDog - part of a series

    Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★

    Atkinson has done it again! She has woven multiple plotlines with terrific characters and created a book I just couldn't put down. I hope she continues with the Jackson Brodie series. Brodie, Crystal Holroyd, her stepson Harry, and drag queen Bunny were outstanding.

    Jul 24, 1:56pm Top

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★

    Dinah Van Der Lyn stumbles on an international intrigue while on a trip to the Holy Land. A good storyline but I found it slow and ponderous and it just didn't capture my interest. Not one of Peters' best.

    Edited: Jul 25, 9:04pm Top

    RandomCAT - bird connection

    A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★

    When a gossipy, revealing book is stolen on the way to the publisher and the author disappears, it can only mean one thing. The story becomes more complicated with rumours of money-laundering. Flanders amusing story started off well but then got bogged down in unconvincing details.

    Jul 27, 1:16am Top

    Category - Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries

    Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton

    This was an audiobook narrated by Australian Shaun Grindell. His attempt at a Scottish accent was hard to bear.

    Jul 27, 4:30am Top

    >63 VivienneR: I think that the Scottish accent* is the one that everybody thinks they can do, but really can't. I've lived here nearly 14 years, and I wouldn't attempt it!

    * What is a Scottish accent anyway? The Glasgow, Highland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Shetland, etc accents are all so different! It's like assuming that all Americans sound the same whether they come from Louisiana or New York.

    Jul 27, 11:41am Top

    >64 Jackie_K: "Irish accents" are always the one that make me grimace when people attempt them, or rather when my BF does. He ends up sounding Australian! :P

    Jul 27, 10:31pm Top

    >64 Jackie_K: Shaun Grindell should never have attempted it either. :)

    Canadians think they all sound the same but … on second thoughts, apart from Newfoundlanders, maybe they do.

    >65 rabbitprincess: There must be a connection because there were times when Grindell was achieving something closer to Belfast than Australia OR Scotland.

    Jul 28, 1:32am Top

    Category - Mysteries

    Sanctuary by Ken Bruen

    A sleepless night was filled with this Jack Taylor episode, although the frequent beatings he suffered meant it was less pleasant for him. Taylor just never gets credit for what he does right, only what he does wrong. There is nothing this guy could do that would make me despise him as his one-time boss Clancy, or his mother's priest, Father Malachy does. Written in the first person we get to see what is happening inside Jack's head, which isn't as bad as some believe, and it allows his black humour to shine. Although I know Taylor isn't to everyone's taste I believe this to be the best of Emerald Noir and one of my favourite series.

    Jul 28, 9:45am Top

    >67 VivienneR: I didn't like that one quite as much as most of the others in the series. It's still a Jack Taylor book but didn't quite reach the dizzy heights we know Bruen is capable of in my opinion.

    Jul 28, 6:05pm Top

    >68 AHS-Wolfy: I went back and forward in my rating because, like you, I didn't like it as much as others I've read. In the end I decided it was just as worthy even if more unpleasant. But you are right, when we know Bruen is capable of so much we are more critical.

    Edited: Sep 8, 1:25am Top

    Category - Off the beaten track

    The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

    Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★

    Both of these books were borrowed from my son in an attempt to improve my game. I don't know if I benefited from them but Amy Lo's book was most helpful whle Ann Israel's gorgeous book is perfect for browsing.

    Jul 29, 9:12pm Top

    Category - Off the beaten track

    Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

    This is a series of four lectures Atwood delivered at Oxford in 1991. She talks about the draw of the Canadian North and its myths and legends. The very place that fascinated me too, when, as a child I recited Robert Service poems. Later in life, my interest in the North just as strong, I worked in an Arctic research library, so I have a personal interest in these stories. Written in Atwood's inimitable style, I could hear her voice as I read the words.

    Thanks go to rabbitprincess for leading me to this gem.

    Edited: Jul 31, 1:24pm Top

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    My latest Early Reviewer snag is set in wintery northern Ontario.

    The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★

    Wynne-Jones' book The Maestro, published in 1995 featured Burl Crow and his father Cal. In this book, Burl is now the father of sixteen-year-old Nate, forming an intergenerational sequel, although it is not necessary to have read the first book. Nate's plan for a solo visit to the family's lakeside camp in northern Ontario is disrupted when he finds escaped convicts there. I can recommend this as a fine example of a winter survival thriller that many teens would enjoy.

    Aug 1, 8:27am Top

    >71 VivienneR: That looks interesting.

    Aug 1, 1:59pm Top

    >73 thornton37814: And delivered with Margaret Atwood's charming sense of humour.

    Edited: Aug 1, 9:41pm Top

    BingoDog - prize-winning book

    The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

    A complex story with great characters, rich Dublin dialogue, and surprising plot twists. While there are long interrogation scenes, the details learned during those scenes help in relating the facts of what appears at first sight to be a simple "domestic". The reader is allowed to share what Conroy and Moran are planning and the direction the investigation is taking. Highly recommended.

    I'm glad I don't have to wait for the next Tana French book because I still have the first one in the series unread.

    Edited: Sep 8, 1:26am Top

    July Summary
    Read in July: 18
    Year to Date: 101

    Category - Mysteries
    Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★
    The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

    Category - Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries
    Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton 3★

    Faraway places, Canada, translations
    First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★
    Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★
    The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★

    Category - Off the beaten track
    Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★
    Mah Jongg: the art of the game by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★ ❤️
    The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

    AlphaKit - C & P
    The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★

    Starlight by Richard Wagamese (Canada Day) 4.5★
    The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (US Independence Day) 3.5★

    RandomCAT - bird connection
    A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★

    TBR-CAT - multiple by author owned
    Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★

    artistic character The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★
    6 or more words The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★
    part of a series: Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★ ❤️
    prize-winning: The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

    Edited: Aug 2, 4:29pm Top

    >75 VivienneR: Glad you enjoy Tana French. I've tried two: The Witch Elm and In the Woods and I didn't care for either.

    Aug 2, 7:41pm Top

    >77 tess_schoolmarm: I haven't read either of those titles (yet) but I can understand that French's gritty Dublin style doesn't appeal to everyone.

    Edited: Aug 8, 8:13pm Top

    I've been out enjoying summer and can't believe we are a week into August and I've only just finished one book!

    AlphaKit - N & I

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★

    Dystopia, science fiction and the like are not my cup of tea but this is one story from the genre that I loved. The story is believable in a scary way, the characters superb, and the writing is fabulous. I read Brave New World about a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long but it seems like it) and often think about Huxley's story, but I found this thought-provoking book to be far superior.

    Aug 8, 3:00pm Top

    >79 VivienneR: Such an enticing review! This one's been on my shelves for a while and I've heard nothing but good things. And I liked Brave New World a lot, so the comparison is even more intriguing!

    Aug 8, 8:12pm Top

    >80 christina_reads: Brave New World was more complex, but the similarity is there. I hope you are able to get around to Never Let Me Go soon. It's the kind of book that deserves a much more thoughtful review than mine.

    Aug 8, 11:25pm Top

    >79 VivienneR: I both loved and hated Never Let Me Go. My only question was 'why'?

    Aug 9, 12:26am Top

    >82 tess_schoolmarm: For replaceable parts?

    Aug 9, 12:27am Top

    TBR-CAT - somehow still on tbr

    Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

    One of those books whose reputation precedes it by way of the silver screen. Even though I haven't seen any Frankenstein movies I still know the basic storyline, picked up from references in other reading. Walton, an arctic explore relates Frankenstein's story, and incredible though it is, I enjoyed the flowery, dramatic 19th century prose. Worth reading if only to experience the story that became so famous.

    Edited: Aug 13, 1:27am Top

    BingoDog - bullet

    The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★

    The story begins with an ambush in Iraq leaving sole survivor Lieutenant Charles Acland with half his face gone. Post-recovery aggression, with some graphic information from his ex, brings him to the attention of the police who are investigating multiple murders. He seems to have no interest in helping himself but a weightlifting lesbian doctor offers help. With excellent characters and plot, it's a page turner right to the end.

    Bullet from devenish, who is in another group.

    Aug 13, 9:32am Top

    >85 VivienneR: a BB for me!

    Aug 13, 2:06pm Top

    >86 tess_schoolmarm: A ricochet! I hope you enjoy it, Tess.

    Aug 13, 7:42pm Top

    CalendarCAT August: V.S. Naipaul Birthday August 17, 1932

    The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

    More than a travel narrative, Naipaul examines religion and mythology in six African countries and compares present practices with those of his last visit in the sixties, and in the time before colonization. His writing is down-earth with short, sometimes acerbic sentences, that might be considered blunt if they were not tinged with humour or describing risible situations, which happen surprisingly often. But Naipaul has a way with words: even a brief description of a dog in the street conjures up a vivid image of the event. Impressively parsimonious, he negotiates keenly with guides, witch doctors, drivers and so on, often backing out of a trip that he thinks might cost more than he has been quoted. Writers who know Africa have strong opinions of this work that has been described as "cliched" and even "toxic". While much of the information is unverified or of mythical origin, it was provided by those who might just be enjoying themselves by recounting an amusing or shocking anecdote. But then, a renowned sceptic himself, Naipaul may have been just along for the yarns too. Recommended for the armchair traveller.

    A favourite quotation: "Directly, with no beating about the bush, he {the soothsayer} asked our business. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say I had come only to have a look."

    Edited: Aug 15, 10:21pm Top

    CalendarCAT - Aviation Day August 19th

    Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★

    It must have been so much fun to just jump in a little plane and take off for a day in France and probably with less trouble than driving to the shopping centre nowadays. This book, a British Library Crime Classic, was originally published in 1934. I was delighted by all the buzzing around and aerobatics by the members of an aviation club. An Australian bishop arrived to take flying lessons and at first it appeared that he might become the sleuth and discover who murdered a pilot but police investigations took over. The beautiful cover lived up to its promise and I loved all the aeronautic details, although the solution was less than stellar.

    RandomCAT - Back to school

    Slam by Nick Hornby 4★

    Two teenagers still in school become parents. The way Hornby tells it is full of humour and at the same time poignant. Sam is a keen skateboarder and young enough to be asking a poster of professional skater Tony Hawk for advice. An excellent story intended for an audience of teenage boys, but girls will enjoy it too.

    Edited: Aug 19, 5:45pm Top

    BingoDog - Homophone (lie/lye)

    Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

    If there was a competition for the most twists and turns packed into a suspense story, this book would win. It was a real dog's dinner of lies, too many to keep my interest. And in the end I didn't care what happened to the unreliable narrator. The multiple timeline formula was annoying too, a good writer should be able to tell a complex story without jumping back and forward in time in time every few pages.

    Aug 22, 4:17pm Top

    Category - Mysteries

    Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★

    If a fault exists in Penny's writing it is that the exemplary Gamache is just too good. But what she accomplishes to perfection is an ability to portray offbeat, weird characters with astonishing reality. And she's spot-on when describing a Canadian winter. This is a highly recommended series for good reason.

    Aug 23, 3:29pm Top

    AlphaKit - N & I

    Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★

    I haven't read this since I was a teenager so this month's AlphaCAT was a good excuse to resurrect it. As expected, there are some dated sections and language, and lots of silliness, but still it was an entertaining afternoon's read, although funny more than exciting (I remember the movie with Ursula Andress where there was an audible chuckle from the audience every time Bond used Honey's name). Because of our familiarity with Bond and the knowledge that he survives all challenges, the suspense has evaporated in the intervening decades.

    Aug 24, 7:23pm Top

    Category - Fiction

    Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

    This is a progression of stories that form what is essentially a novel about four First Nations young people who are leaving the reservation for the first time. They discover how difficult life is for aboriginal youth as they attempt to get an education and earn a living in a world of white people. These stories could only be told by someone who has been in the position and faced the same cultural difficulties. Although their histories are marked by racism, alcohol, assault, and crime, the four share the same worries as any other young person concerned about looking their best, getting good marks, making friends, yet at no time do we forget that their fears come from a different place, a different culture. But these stories are not about being indigenous, but about four young people becoming adults, albeit in a world where they are in a minority group. Dumont's tempting book spans a couple of decades around the turn of the century. Enlightening and thought-provoking.

    The author is a Plains Cree writer for newspapers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, for CBC radio, as well as working as a stand-up comedian across North America.

    Aug 27, 10:22pm Top

    SeriesCAT - set where you do not live

    The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

    Ruth Galloway is excavating what appears to be a bronze age site while a nearby construction worker uncovers a WWII plane with a body inside. The relationships and families of Ruth and friends continue to be a feature of Griffiths' very enjoyable series. The "Ghost Fields" were mock airfields formed to fool the enemy during WWII. They, as well as the harsh Norfolk weather events described were created from fact, which make the story even more interesting.

    Aug 28, 1:23pm Top

    >94 VivienneR: definitely a BB for me!

    Aug 28, 1:25pm Top

    >94 VivienneR: I've already been got with that series, so you can't claim another victim. It is the landscape descriptions that I enjoy the most, expecially on the not bright & sunny days.

    Edited: Aug 31, 8:18pm Top

    >95 tess_schoolmarm: It's a great series, Tess. I hope you enjoy. Like you, Ruth Galloway is a university professor.

    >96 Helenliz: I've only been in Norfolk on sunny days so can only imagine what it can be like at other times. In Canada we are inclined to claim "worst winter weather" title, but other places have a fair share too.

    Aug 28, 4:55pm Top

    >97 VivienneR: I work in King's Lynn, so have a fun time trying to work out where she's just put the made-up university (nope still not sure) versus the actual places. That part of Norfolk is quite flat, so when it is nice you have a glorious blue bowl of sky, but when it is bad, you can see the storm comming from some distance away and it can be really threatenening watching it come glowering towards you. You still have this huge sky, but somehow instead of being a bowl of light, it is a low ceiling of cloud. The fens in bad weather are impressive, but not necessesarily very nice.

    Aug 28, 9:55pm Top

    >98 Helenliz: What a lovely place to work! Griffiths admits playing with the geography of the area so I'm not surprised that it's hard to place the action. I had friends who lived in Ipswich and I visited often. I was told it didn't rain as much on the eastern side of the Pennines as on the west, but according to Griffiths that weather law can be broken.

    Aug 28, 9:59pm Top

    Category - Mysteries

    The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★

    I didn't care much for this creepy psychological mystery. Although I sympathized with the teacher who was getting harassed by the police when a girl was found hanging from a tree in his yard, I kept wanting to tell him to speak out instead of humming and hawing. Character development was good, but most of the characters created were nasty.

    Aug 29, 8:37pm Top

    Category - History & historical

    Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

    McKinley was awarded a Fulbright grant to research indigo, the source of the exceptional "bluest of blues" dye, in Ghana. This is a personal story of her journey in search of indigo-dyed cloth in several African countries. It is not apparent if she accomplished what she set out to do. As a travel memoir the book succeeds, as the story of indigo, not so much.

    Aug 31, 2:04pm Top

    >101 VivienneR: A beautiful title! Too bad the book didn't live up to it!

    Edited: Sep 2, 1:43am Top

    August Summary
    Read in August: 14
    Year to Date: 115

    Category - Mysteries
    Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★
    The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★

    Category - Fiction
    Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

    Category - History & historical
    Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

    AlphaKit - N & I
    Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★ ❤️

    Aviation Day August 19th: Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★
    Naipaul's birth month: The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

    RandomCAT - Back to school
    Slam by Nick Hornby 4★
    Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton 4★

    SeriesCAT - set where you do not live
    The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

    TBR-CAT - somehow still on tbr
    Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

    bullet The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★
    homophone Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

    Edited: Sep 2, 2:08pm Top


    Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson 4★

    For International Peace Day on September 21st

    I was a little anxious because it was obvious from the cover that there was some romantic content in Robson's book, which is not my choice of reading material. I shouldn't have worried, the story was about a young woman in a male-dominated business (weren't they all?) in London during the war. Robson was inspired by her grandmother's experience to create Ruby Sutton, a young American journalist working for a news magazine in wartime London. The story was well-researched and the descriptions of London during the blitz were realistic and very well written. I enjoyed this one a lot.

    Sep 3, 3:59pm Top

    >101 VivienneR:

    The premise of the book about indigo sounded really good. Too bad it didn't work.

    Sep 3, 6:56pm Top

    >105 hailelib: Yes, I found the title just as enticing as the colour. The first half of the book would be more accurately titled "Nice people I met in Africa."

    Sep 4, 1:30am Top

    >105 hailelib: I agree.
    If something of that nature does appeal, I could suggest Mauve the story of the invention of the first synthetic dye.

    Sep 4, 3:34pm Top

    >107 Helenliz: Thanks for the recommendation, Helen. I'll check it out, it sounds very interesting. Garfield probably explains why that colour was so popular in Victorian times.

    Sep 4, 3:41pm Top

    >107 Helenliz: >108 VivienneR: I'll second Mauve, it was very interesting (and totally ticked all my nerd boxes).

    Sep 4, 9:22pm Top

    >107 Helenliz: Oh good! I love books like that. My Dad used to work with textiles and dyes. He found fabrics dyed with red or black were not as soft as those dyed with other colours.

    Edited: Sep 4, 9:34pm Top

    >107 Helenliz: and >109 Jackie_K: Good to hear. My Dad worked with textiles and dyes. He found fabric dyed with red or black was not as soft as that of other colours. I don't notice it anymore though, so dyes have probably changed over the years.

    None of Garfield's books are at any of the libraries where I can borrow but I found a used copy of Mauve and Our Hidden Lives.

    Sep 4, 9:56pm Top

    >100 VivienneR: I too found some of the characters unpleasant and the book a very creepy read. However, I did like Nicole Lundrigan's writing enough that I might try another book of hers.

    Sep 5, 12:18am Top

    >112 mathgirl40: I agree. If I come across another book by Lundrigan I would definitely pick it up because her writing is worthwhile.

    Sep 7, 1:45pm Top

    >104 VivienneR: reading a lot about the blitz, so on my wishlist it goes!

    Sep 7, 2:56pm Top

    >114 tess_schoolmarm: I found it of interest because it was inspired by Robson's grandmother so there was a certain amount of truth. But also because the main character, who was American, experienced first hand what the UK was suffering. And although she knew about the blitz before arriving in London, was still shocked.

    Sep 7, 3:05pm Top

    BingoDog - mentioned in another book

    This one was mentioned by Anthony Horowitz in Magpie Murders.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

    I read this many years ago and have always claimed it to be one of my favourite Christies. I enjoyed the story once again even though I knew the murderer's identity. Christie was outstanding in her ability to create a simple whodunnit and far ahead of her time. Written in 1926, this is one of the best Golden Age mysteries. For the half dozen people who haven't yet read it - do so now!

    Sep 7, 5:47pm Top

    >116 VivienneR: - Definitely one of my favorites of hers!

    Sep 8, 1:24am Top

    >117 LittleTaiko: It sure is a special one.

    Sep 8, 5:48am Top

    >116 VivienneR: not really a mystery fan (except psychological), have read a couple of Christie's and meh (A Pocketful of Rye and And Then There Were None); but I will try this one!

    Sep 8, 7:46pm Top

    >119 tess_schoolmarm: Glad you are going to give it a try. It was written in 1926 and the story reflects that, but it is a lot better than others written around the same time.

    Sep 8, 7:48pm Top

    TBR-CAT - classic

    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★

    I have to admit my progress during the first part of this book was slow and then suddenly my attention was captured. It was as if I was reading about real people, neighbours maybe. Atwood deserves her stellar reputation, she is a superb storyteller.

    Sep 9, 10:10am Top

    I really liked The Blind Assassin when I read it as a group read here several years ago, and I think The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Christie's best. You're on a roll.

    Edited: Sep 9, 2:53pm Top

    >122 mstrust: A group read might be the best way to read The Blind Assassin, with a little discussion to help things along. To be honest, I'm not sure if it was worth the time spent. It's such a long book.

    You must be on a roll too. Every time I look at your thread it has grown by another forty or fifty posts!

    Sep 9, 4:41pm Top

    BingoDog - In translation

    Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman 4.5★

    With so much news about refugees and displaced peoples, this novel, written in 2016, reminds us of what many go through to find a home and what they can bring to their new country. In Thùy's case, a brilliant career as a writer in Canada. In Vi she gives readers a before and after view of Vietnam where we can imagine the scent of frangipani flowers and exotic food more than Agent Orange. Her writing is poetic and exquisitely brief without ever missing the crux of the story. Highly recommended.

    Sep 11, 12:51pm Top

    AlphaKit - F & W

    The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★

    War correspondent Connie Burns suspects a mercenary of murdering women in Sierra Leone and now, by the same methods, in Iraq. After making her suspicions known, she is abducted and tortured for three days and then released without ever seeing her abductor. The story shifts to England where she hopes to recover under an assumed name in a quiet rural house where she encounters a local eccentric and the doctor. Despite her strict precautions, word of the location reaches the suspect who breaks into the house. The main part of the story shows her as an emotional wreck, not eating or sleeping. After the break-in where the culprit escapes she becomes confident, sure of herself and unconcerned about her torturer being at large. During the hideout, she uncovers unsettling information about her landlady providing an accompanying crime to investigate. Some of the dialogue is implausible, such as when she is interviewed by the police, or when she is questioning her landlady, or more accurately, interrogating her. A decent read but not one of Walters' best.

    Edited: Sep 11, 6:20pm Top

    >125 VivienneR: My mum has most of Minette Walters' books, and I've read a few, but wouldn't be able to read this one. Too scary!

    Her historical fiction set during the Black Death looks quite interesting, though.

    Sep 11, 6:48pm Top

    >126 rabbitprincess: I didn't find it scary. But the woman made a lot of mistakes when she was in hiding. And who rents a remote rural broken down house with no internet or mobile phone service when they are so scared?

    I'll look up some of her historical fiction. Your mum can't be wrong.

    Sep 12, 11:02pm Top

    BingoDog - cover has two or more figures

    The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★

    This is the story of Jean, a botanist and her husband Avery, an engineer who works on three major engineering projects including the Aswan Dam, the St Lawrence Seaway, and the rebuilding of Warsaw after the war. To build the Aswan Dam in Egypt great temples had to be dismantled and moved, adding complexity to displacing whole villages of people and their homes. By coincidence, I live near a community that was also moved to allow for a dam and flooding. And although the benefit from the dam has been great over the years, it was harrowing for everyone, including the residents of the cemetery.

    Winters is a poet first and foremost so naturally her writing is poetic and lyrical, not leaving much for the actual story or characters, so even with beautiful writing, this book was hard work. She is often compared to Michael Ondaatje but I don't see that at all - this reader hangs on every word of Ondaatje's. Adding to the difficulty was that my audiobook had a poor narrator although I believe it would have been a difficult job for anyone to narrate this book.

    The title is from the name of the storage vault for the dead in cold climates while waiting for a thaw to allow interment.

    Sep 13, 8:51pm Top

    I was almost going to take a book bullet for this reading the first paragraph. But then you said people compare her to Michael Ondaatje and I'm one of the people who is not a fan of his writing. So I think I'll give this a pass.

    Sep 14, 12:44am Top

    >129 dudes22: There is a similarity of tone, but I really like Ondaatje and find his stories compelling. This one didn't come close, which is surprising given the fascinating subject.

    Sep 15, 3:37pm Top

    Category - History & historical

    The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★

    I was intrigued by Parker's mysteries set in medieval Japan - a place where my reading has seldom taken me. Sugawara Akitada, a lowly government official was sent on an impossible mission because he was expendable. This had a good plot with lots of action, delightful characters, and unexpected humour.

    Sep 16, 7:15pm Top

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

    I read Starlight in July and was immediately drawn in by Wagamese's writing and the appealing character Frank Starlight, who was brought up as a son by "the old man". In this book, his real father, a hopeless alcoholic Frank has only met on a few unpleasant occasions in his life, has requested a visit before he dies. What follows is a pilgrimage of sorts in the mountains of British Columbia to where Eldon wants to die, on a specific mountain ridge, buried in the traditional way for a warrior. Frank is sceptical of Eldon's warrior status but out of loyalty goes along with his father's wishes. Eldon is placed on the horse, becoming sicker with each day of the journey, while Frank walks alongside, preparing a bed of spruce for his father each night and sheltering him with a spruce lean-to. He catches fish and collects berries and plants along the way - a medicine walk, like the old man has taught him, while Eldon recounts the cathartic story of his life and of Frank's birth of which Frank knew nothing. This is a beautiful, moving story of loyalty and of healing for both men. Highly recommended.

    I loved the bit where they came across a grizzly. Now I know what to do when I encounter a bear, although I doubt that I would be as brave as Frank. Fortunately I was already in my car when it happened a couple of weeks ago.

    Today, 12:55am Top

    RandomCAT - Equinox
    Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★
    Alfred Homer has been asked to accompany a family friend to search southern Ontario for a poet who has not been heard of for some time. They pass through towns with some bizarre customs. The result is a ribald, weird, darkly funny story of their travels. It's to be expected that an Ontarian odyssey featuring someone named Homer will form a highly imaginative work. Not only is Homer quirky but the people they meet are at the top end of the offbeat register.

    "Days by Moonlight is not a work of realism. It's not a work that uses the imagination to show the real, but one that uses the real to show the imagination." -- André Alexis

    Today, 2:14am Top

    Medicine walk sounds most intriguing. I love it when you find a new author and want to read everything they've written all at once.

    Group: 2019 Category Challenge

    130 members

    19,380 messages


    This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.




    About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 138,130,504 books! | Top bar: Always visible