Wish-List 5: Agatha Christie

Steph Pic retakeYesterday I intended to have second post to post that day and time got away from me and my daughter and I went to a late movie. The film we went to see was Birth of a Dragon and it was suburb! My daughter asked me why they don’t make more film like this. I told her Hollywood used to make in the day. We both agreed that we want to see more films with this quality. Anyhow, I am getting off track here. When we got home I was exhausted and decided to post my wish-list in the morning. It’s a good way to start off the weekend, don’t you think?

August 18th, I posted my review for The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford and it got me thinking I want to learn more about Agatha Christie. She was an extraordinary writer and woman as many know. Her works today this day still influence many writers and readers. Her mystery stories will never fade and she will continue to inspire many new writers. So, began my search on Amazon for books about her life and her journey of writing mystery. I hope you enjoy this list and please be sure to review my review of The Woman on the Orient Express.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Agatha Christie An AutobiographyAgatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie

Hardcover, 532 pages

When Agatha Christie died on 12 January 1976, she was known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime, unrivalled as the best-selling novelist of all time with two billion books sold in more than 100 languages. Though she kept her private life a mystery, for some years Agatha had secretly written her autobiography, and when it was published after her death, millions of her fans agreed – this was her best story!

From early childhood at the end of the 19th century, through two marriages and two World Wars, and her experiences both as a writer and on archaeological expeditions with her second husband, Max Mallowan, this book reveals the true genius of her legendary success with real passion and openness.

The Grand TourThe Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie

Paperback: 384 pages

Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Now, in this fascinating travelogue of the prolific author’s yearlong trip around the British Empire in 1922, Christie provides the clues to the origins of the plots and locales of some of her bestselling mystery novels. Containing never-before-published letters and photos from her travels, and filled with intriguing details about the exotic locations she visited, The Grand Tour is an important book for Agatha Christie fans, revealing an unexpected side to the world’s most renowned mystery writer.

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John CurranAgatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran

Paperback: 496 pages

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks is the fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie’s long hidden notebooks, including illustrations, analyses, and two previously unpublished Hercule Poirot short stories. Not only will Christie’s legions of ardent fans find a treasure chest of new material from the author of such classics as And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, but Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks is also a must-read tutorial for writers who want to learn the intricacies of constructing crime novels.

Come, Tell Me How You Live An Archaeological Memoir by Agatha Christie MallowanCome, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir by Agatha Christie Mallowan

Paperback: 205 pages

Over the course of her long, prolific career, Agatha Christie gave the world a wealth of ingenious whodunits and page-turning locked-room mysteries featuring Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and a host of other unforgettable characters. She also gave us Come, Tell Me How You Live, a charming, fascinating, and wonderfully witty nonfiction account of her days on an archaeological dig in Syria with her husband, renowned archeologist Max Mallowan. Something completely different from arguably the best-selling author of all time, Come, Tell Me How You Live is an evocative journey to the fascinating Middle East of the 1930s that is sure to delight Dame Agatha’s millions of fans, as well as aficionados of Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody mysteries and eager armchair travelers everywhere.

Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary MacaskillAgatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill

Paperback: 144 pages

Agatha Christie was the author of over eighty novels and over a dozen plays, including The Mousetrap, the longest continuously running play in theatrical history. Her books have been translated into more languages than the works of Shakespeare.

Agatha Christie’s first home was at Ashfield in Torquay, a house that she retained for nearly half a century, until she sold it in 1938 in order to buy Greenway, her `dream house’ on the River Dart. She spent all her summers there till she died in 1976. It was, she wrote: `the loveliest house in the world.’ Now owned by the National Trust, Greenway was opened to the public in 2009.

Both Devon homes, which featured in several of her novels and stories, were central to Agatha’s life, but she also loved the process of acquiring and planning houses in other places – from Sunningdale to Baghdad: at one time, before the Second World War, she owned eight properties in London. Her enthusiasm for buying, restoring and decorating houses is one of the lesser-known aspects of her life, but one that was very important to her. Agatha Christie at Home – illustrated with photos of her life, her homes and of the Devon she loved – recounts this side of her life, and its author, Hilary Macaskill, writes about some of the houses Agatha Christie lived in, her relationship with the staff who ran them, and her love of domesticity.

Illustrated with rarely-seen archive images and evocative photographs of Greenway and the surrounding countryside, Agatha Christie at Home provides an insight into the life and work of a much-loved author.

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Brief Bio of Agatha from Amazon:

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

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Be sure to check out my wish-list from last month HERE -Alexander Pushkin to the Romanovs

Here are the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation-Coming soon!

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired

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Book Review: The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

The Woman on the Orient Express IIThe Woman on the Orient Express

by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Published September 20th 2016 by Lake Union Publishing

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets.

My thoughts:

Agatha Christie is an iconic author of writing mystery and her works still influence many writers and readers today. She is famous for her characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. The story she wrote that has left an impression on me is, Murder on the Orient Express. When I came across The Woman on the Orient Express, I was immediately intrigued and knew that I must read this story soon. Alas, the book has been sitting on my shelf for some time calling out my name in dire neglect!

Here is a book blurb of Murder on the Orient Express:

“The murderer is with us – on the train now…”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…”

Lindsay Jayne Ashford story has Agatha Christie boarding the Orient Express making her way to the middle east. I had no idea that Christie in real life traveled to those places and that really captured my attention even more. I wanted to read what it was like before terrorism exploded in the middle east (Baghdad and Mesopotamia) and being seen through an Engish woman was a nice touch. Christie was an extraordinary woman to say the least and The Woman on the Orient Express shows this.

Her relationships with Katherine Keeling and Nancy Nelson was inspiring to read about. All three of them were unique woman who had secrets about their lives they were afraid to reveal. As they were brought together by the train, they found themselves needing each other more than they would have thought. Another aspect of the story that stuck out to me was the authors description of the middle east and the people that lives there.

This story was beautiful told and the pace of the story was perfect for the era the story takes place in. The author even weaves fiction with fact perfectly and her character development was strong.

I have rated this book four stars and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Book Review: Smoke and Mirrors by Casey Daniels

Smoke and Mirrors IIAbout the book:

Expected publication: November 1st 2017 by Severn House Publishers

Evie Barnum is in charge of her brother’s museum, a place teeming with scientific specimens and “human prodigies” including a bearded woman and the lizard man. In this weird and whacky workplace, Evie hopes she can bury her secrets.

But when an old friend shows up and begs for her help, she does all she can to stay away. The next time she sees him, he is dead in front of the exhibit of the Feejee Mermaid. Suspicion for the murder falls on Jeffrey, known as the Lizard Man, but Evie knows it isn’t possible.

When Jeffrey also goes missing, Evie becomes determined to solve the mystery of her friend’s murder, even if it brings her face to face with her past…

My thoughts:

A few years ago, my daughter and I were visiting relatives in Florida and we went to a museum of Oddities. Certain aspects of it held my fascination and some I found to be downright creepy. In Smoke and Mirrors, Evie’s brother Phin features human prodigies. This story-line captured my attention immediately and I knew I had to read this book! Of course, it did help that this story is a murder mystery in 19th Century New York. What’s not to love?

Evie and Phin are interesting characters and their intellect and intriguing fascination for what many consider “strange and unusual”-if you will, gives depth and meaning to the story. Not in a negative way, mind you- but in a positive light. I am hoping we will see more of this subject in future stories from the author.

The mystery surrounding Evie’s friend being murdered and how Daniels weaves the tale of Evie’s determination to uncover the horrendous crime is intriguing and had me reading long into the evening and kept me guessing who it was, though I had my suspicions’. Did I guess who? I’m not telling.

Time and place is important when writing a period piece and I did not feel pulled into the era quite so fully. Another thing that sort of bothered me was there are a few loose ends about a few of the character’s and that had me thinking there was a book before this one about their back stories and relationships. After I finished reading the book, I went on-line to check and was quite surprised I was wrong and that this book is the first in the Miss Evie Barnum Mysteries Series. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will be on the lookout for more of Evie’s mysteries and hope to see more back story revealed!

I obtained an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) from NetGalley and Severn House for my honest opinion.

I rated this book three and a half stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: Murderous Mistral by Cay Rademacher

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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Murderous MistralMurderous Mistral (A Provence Mystery) by Cay Rademacher

St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books/Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 19 Sep 2017

Description:

International Dagger Award shortlisted author of The Murderer in Ruins, Cay Rademacher, delivers a beautifully atmospheric new story with a captivating main character in Murderous Mistral: A Provence Mystery.

Capitaine Roger Blanc, an investigator with the anti-corruption-unit of the French Gendarmerie, was a bit too succesfull in his investigations. He finds himself removed from Paris to the south of France, far away from political power. Or so it would seem.

The stress is too much for his marriage, and he attempts to manage the break up while trying to settle into his new life in Provence in a 200-year-old, half-ruined house. At the same time, Blanc is tasked with his first murder case: A man with no friends and a lot of enemies, an outsider, was found shot and burned. When a second man dies under suspicious circumstances in the quaint French countryside, the Capitaine from Paris has to dig deep into the hidden, dark undersides of the Provence he never expected to see.

My thoughts:

I love the colors and the overall layout of this cover. I have not read any stories by this author and look forward to reading this one. I enjoy a murder mystery!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest cover crush HERE.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: -Coming Soon!

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

Stay calm and support book bloggers

 

Cover Crush: The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

The Woman in the WaterLondon, 1850: A young Charles Lenox struggles to make a name for himself as a detective…without a single case. Scotland Yard refuses to take him seriously and his friends deride him for attempting a profession at all. But when an anonymous writer sends a letter to the paper claiming to have committed the perfect crime―and promising to kill again―Lenox is convinced that this is his chance to prove himself.

The writer’s first victim is a young woman whose body is found in a naval trunk, caught up in the rushes of a small islets in the middle of the Thames. With few clues to go on, Lenox endeavors to solve the crime before another innocent life is lost. When the killer’s sights are turned toward those whom Lenox holds most dear, the stakes are raised and Lenox is trapped in a desperate game of cat and mouse.

In the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, this newest mystery in the Charles Lenox series pits the young detective against a maniacal murderer who would give Professor Moriarty a run for his money.

Charles Finch Facebook Page

My Thoughts:

I do have a couple of Charles Finch’s novels on my bookshelf but have yet to read them. I came across The Woman in the Water on Facebook and I was drawn to the cover and the cover and premise has tempted me to start reading his novels.  I do love a good detective story and one that takes place in the mid-19th century at that. Detective stories such as Sherlock Holmes and Charles Todd are what I love the most and I believe Finch’s Charles Lenox Mysteries will fit nicely among my favorites.

The cover is atmospheric and true to its setting and period. One can only imagine how frigid the water is and the woman whose body is found there must have experienced such a horrific death.  

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest cover crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

Book Review: Ruler of The Night by David Morrell

ruler-of-the-night1885. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

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My Thoughts:

When I have presented Morrell’s De Quincey novels to various readers and friends-they had never heard of him. Thomas de Quincey was an English 19th century writer. At a young age he ran away from home and became addicted to opium. In the mid Victorian era in England, one was able to walk into a chemist’s shop and purchase the drug without a prescription from doctors. These types of dangerous drugs were used for making home remedies… de Quincey wrote a story called, Confessions of an Opium-Eater where Morrell draws a lot of his inspiration for his trilogy. Ruler of the Night is his third and final installment and is a fine ending to what is an outstanding Victorian mystery story.

The English Railroad during this era was a popular means of travel and the brutal murder that occurs on a train in the beginning of the story sets the tone for another intriguing mystery.

It was a true delight to read about Thomas de Quincey, his Daughter-Emily, Ryan and Becker-who are two detectives- and their dangerous adventures in finding a murderer. Their process of solving murder crimes is extraordinary and entertaining.

Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas de Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

I have rated this story four stars and obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Interview with Award Winning Author Lisa Brunette

me-iiI’d like to welcome back two time B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lisa Brunette today to talk about her award winning book, Framed and Burning. Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell. 

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…

Hi, Lisa! Thank you for chatting with me today. First, I HAVE to ask you how you came up with the name “Dreamslippers” for your series.

lisa-brunette-ii-bragThat’s a great question. Before I published the first book in the series, Cat in the Flock, I’d been mulling over what to call the psychic dreaming gift that my characters possess. I had used the phrase “slip into your dreams,” and one of my BETA readers, Chrysanne Westin, suggested I call it “dreamslipping.” When I released the first book with the old cover (which my husband and I designed) in July of 2014, it ran under the series title “McCormick Files,” after protagonist Cat’s last name. But when I updated with a professional cover, I decided at that point to call it the Dreamslippers Series. It’s perfect for a family of sleuths with the unique but limited ability to slip into other people’s dreams.

Tell me about Framed and Burning. By the way, I love the title.

Thank you. I agonized over the title for quite some time, testing a few with BETA readers. I settled on Framed and Burning because, like the title for book one, it contains a double entendre. Someone gets framed in the book, and there’s a lot of different kinds of burning in the book, that of the fire in the first scene but also burning ambition, passion, truth… The story opens with a fire in Mick’s studio, killing his assistant, Donnie Hines. The evidence shows its arson, and the police suspect Mick. His sister and grand-niece are PIs, and they work to clear his name.

By the way, it used to be part of my job description to name mystery games at Big Fish; I’ve named hundreds of games. It’s never easy, but it can be fun!

Will you give me a little background on Mick Travers?

Sure! He’s often the only dude in the room, since my series is very female-centric. Mick is a fellow dreamslipper, but he uses the images he picks up from other people’s dreams as inspiration for his art. His older sister, Amazing Grace, and his grand-niece, Cat McCormick, use it to solve crimes.

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How is your character(s) influenced by their setting?

Mick is very jaded after living most of his life in Miami, which can be a plastic-y, materialistic place. Grace is a dyed-in-the-wool Seattleite: politically liberal, spiritually open, self-directed, and very DIY. Cat is like a lot of people from the Midwest: practical, skeptical, grounded. But she’s also adventurous and curious, which draws her to the other two locations.

What are the habits of your protagonist?

Grace’s habits form the basis for much of Cat’s apprenticeship. Grace is a lifelong yoga devotee, a practitioner of several different spiritual paths, including Buddhism and New Thought, and she regularly meditates. In book three, she takes up a holistic, barefoot dance practice called Nia. And she does all of this in her 70s! You can tell I have a lot of fun with her. Cat is a Millennial who’s tied to her tech, never without her cell phone and adept at online research. But she allows her grandmother to take her under her wing, learning the value of yogic breathing, for example, and using it.

How long did it take to write your story, and what was your process? Did your process for this book change from Cat and the Flock?

Framed and Burning came out in a rush over two months. But that was just the first draft. I spent another six months polishing it. My process for Cat in the Flock was much different, as I took two years to craft the story, but I was working 50-70-hour weeks at my day job during that time and couldn’t concentrate on it as much as I did with Framed and Burning.

Tell me a little about the quirky Miami art world in your story. What does art mean to you, personally?

I didn’t grow up around art or museums, but as soon as I left home and was free to explore on my own, I made art discovery a priority, visiting museums in every city I went to and covering my walls with inexpensive art poster prints. In college, I made it part of my curriculum in American Studies, and I worked for a time at the St. Louis Art Museum (selling memberships), where I spent hours staring at paintings, especially in the modern and contemporary galleries, coming to think of them as my friends. My first husband was an artist who worked out of our home, so I was surrounded by paint and canvases for eleven years, with artists of all types traipsing in and out, and I acquired numerous pieces of my own through that experience.

That doesn’t really answer your question, though, does it? I guess you could say I fell in love with art on my own first—and then I fell for an artist. Even though the ex and I have been apart now for seven years, the art is very much still with me.

Who designed your book cover?

I work with Monika Younger, a super pro with more than a decade of experience designing covers for Harlequin (both their romance and mystery lines). I highly recommend her.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just launched the third book in the series, Bound to the Truth. It’s about the murder of a brilliant Seattle architect. Her widow hires Cat and Grace to investigate a man she suspects as the killer, a well-known conservative radio talk show host.

Thank you, Lisa! It was a pleasure chatting with you!

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lisa Brunette who is the author of, Framed and Burning, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Framed and Burning, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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