books

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

I’ve now read three Liane Moriarty books and enjoyed them all, including this latest novel which is probably the funniest so far, and a perfect summer read to take to the beach. Most of the times I take a book or magazine with me to the beach I actually don’t end up reading it, but I was glued to this one.

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The Big Four by Agatha Christie – Book Review

Picking this Poirot novel as my next Christie re-read was a purely strategic choice. Since I’ve committed to a full Christie marathon, it meant revisiting occasional stinkers as well as masterpieces; not everything Dame Agatha touched turned to gold. If I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of duds to read through gritted teeth, I’d better start sprinkling them in along the way. I remember being underwhelmed with a few Christie novels, but I’d be surprised if I come across a worse book than The Big Four. It’s a relief to get this travesty out of the way.

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The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin – Book Review

I’ve heard a lot of good things about N. K. Jemisin and I was impressed with this imaginative science fantasy novel, the first in her Broken Earth trilogy, even if I felt that it succeeds on a world-building level far better than characterisation.

The story takes place in a land called the Stillness, a bitterly ironic name for the world that’s plagued by constant seismic activity, and regularly experiences near-extinction apocalypses that are referred to by its inhabitants as the Fifth Seasons. Any settlement (or comm as they’re referred to in the book) can be certain that, sooner or later, it will be destroyed by earthquake, tsunami, volcanic activity or extreme climate change. In people’s imagination, Father Earth hates their very existence and does everything to wipe them off its face for good, but so far the human race has managed to pull through every cataclysm, even when the entire individual civilisations perish.

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Peril at End House by Agatha Christie – Book Review

I’ve now plowed through about one third of Agatha Christie’s detective oeuvre (only three more years to go before I finish them all, going by the current pace… wheee), but I’ve only now stumbled on a novel that features and is narrated by Hercule Poirot’s own faithful Watson, Arthur Hastings. I say stumbled because, while the details of the story gradually floated back into my memory the longer I read, especially the undeniably clever ending, this novel had kinda faded from my brain. Though maybe not the most memorable Poirot mystery ever, it’s not without its charms, not the least of which is the friendship between Poirot and Hastings. Everyone likes a bickering couple!

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Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie – Book Review

A classic locked room mystery from the Queen of Crime, with the murder committed in the ultimate locked room – an aircraft cabin a few thousand feet up in the air.

Hercule Poirot takes a midday flight from Paris to London, but thanks to acute motion sickness, can’t take time to observe the ten fellow passengers in his section of the plane. The diverse bunch includes a crime novel writer, a countess with a secret cocaine habit, father and son archaeologists, a Harley Street doctor, a young hairdresser back from a holiday and an attractive dentist in the opposite seat who she’s crushing on. As the plane nears its destination, the stewards make a shocking discovery: one of the passengers, an elderly French lady, is found slumped and dead in her seat.

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The Terror by Dan Simmons – Book Review

A peculiar blend of historical fiction and supernatural horror, The Terror is a chilling speculation on the fate of the doomed 19th-century polar expedition led by Sir John Franklin. I read almost half of it in a long marathon session while sick in bed, and by the evening I could almost hear the groaning of the ice and the howling arctic wind. Though it’s not an easy breezy read at over 900 pages long, it’s a meticulously researched, deeply absorbing and deeply nightmarish tour de force.

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Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie – Book Review

This stand-alone mystery was one of the first Christie novels I’ve ever read, and for that reason I’ve always had a soft spot for it even though the best compliment I can give the book is “solid”. Many other Christie novels have more memorable settings and ingenious twists, this one simply has classic crime ingredients – a small group of suspects, poison and red herrings galore – that come together for a cracking good read.

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