Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut, Family Drama, Relationship Stories

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

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Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. Over 100k eBooks have already been sold to date and the publication in paperback will bring this wonderful family saga to the hands of many more readers.

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

There is something rather wonderful about a good family saga. It pulls you in, makes you care and you follow through all the ups and downs, the heartache and the happiness because you want to see where it all ends. The Sewing Machine is one such story.

I was initially drawn in by the sewing machine. Using both image and name tempted me to pick up this engaging novel. My Nan used to own a singer sewing machine and so the brand itself holds memories of my own.

The Sewing Machine takes us through a period of time of over a hundred years, through various time points until the threads are all brilliantly brought together. Although at times heartbreaking, it was a comforting read, like a warm, hearty casserole on a winters day.

At the heart of the story is the sewing machine itself and how this item impacted on so many lives. I thought Natalie brought each of the characters together wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one. There was an awful lot of love amongst the pages of this book and it shows us that hope can be found in even the most difficult circumstances. My favourite character was Alf, such a warm, loving and generous human being. I also loved Fred and the issues he faced as he unravelled his past and the past of his family. A beautifully written debut, The Sewing Machine is simply unforgettable. I enjoyed reading this so very much.

Thank you Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for arranging my review copy.

About the Author

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Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business,
sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives
near Edinburgh.

www.nataliefergie.com
@NatalieSFergie

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction

Inborn by Thomas Enger

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for another gripping offering from Orenda Books. Inborn by Thomas Enger is a thrilling court room drama that had me hooked and reading into the night.

When a teenager is accused of a high-school murder, he finds himself subject to trial by social media … and in the dock.

A taut, moving and chilling thriller by one of Nordic Noir’s finest writers.

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

Oh my, this is one good read. A chilling prologue leads us into the story where we follow young Johannes, a bright young soul, as he walks into something he really wishes he hadn’t. What follows is a series of events that we begin to witness through the trial when 17 year old Even takes to the dock.

Twists and turns aplenty my suspicions changed on many occasions. Wonderfully told mostly through the voice of a 17 year old the story keeps the fear, frustration and despair right on the surface. It brilliantly showed the dangers of social media. How it can be easy to condemn and spread hate and mistrust. Chinese whispers for the 21st century and a super way to throw in those clues (or red herrings).

You can’t help but feel sorry for Even; he has a difficult life with a reclusive younger brother and a mother who still continues to drown her sorrows some years after the death of their father in a car crash. The only sense of parental support comes from their uncle Imo. And now Even’s recently ex-girlfriend has been murdered and he is under suspicion.

I love the way Enger has built the story around the trial, hearing what Even has to say but also returning to past events with flashbacks through Yngve Monk, the Chief Inspector who has recently lost his wife and is floundering somewhat. He is also a great character though and I felt his loss keenly. Enger expertly portraying the sense of bewilderment and sadness that follows the death of a loved one. Monk really cares about the case too, determined to get to the bottom of what happened on that awful night he puts his grief to one side and gets the job done – with a little bit of help of course. The picture gradually becoming clearer and clearer until the shocking conclusion is revealed.

Absolutely gripping, this is one that I would definitely recommend for young adults and older readers alike. It is also crying out for a tv adaptation. There are plenty of skeletons in the closet of the people in Fredheim and they’re about to come out in a most spectacular but deadly way.

Thoroughly recommended.

Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to her and Orenda Books for my eBook. As much as I prefer print copies I do LOVE the way I can read in the dark with an eBook. 🙂

About the author

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jorn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Adult Fiction, Bookish Post, Coming Soon, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

A Tales Before Bedtime Sunday Review

Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection.  You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds.  Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive.  It’s a truly wonderful feeling.  One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced.  Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.  

There were three things that sold this novel to me.  

The author. The publisher. The synopsis.  

Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too.  I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD.  And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.

The theme is secrets.  You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.  Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years.  She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago. 

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.

In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endless fears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.

Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.

Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.

Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.

Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…

‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.

Stella, this will tell you everything.

How did they know what I wanted to know?

What was everything?

I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.

“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.

Who was I trying to convince?

I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.

I did that night too.

But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.

It was two weeks before they found the girl there.

Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.

I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’

About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015.  the follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize.  Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed.  All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers.  Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.  Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.

Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.

Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.

 

 

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

Today, I’m delighted to say,  is my stop on the blog tour for The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden.  This is a wonderful novel and Oh Billy, you have broken my heart. There is something rather beautiful in this tale of lost love, mistakes and missed opportunities and it moved me to tears on more than one occasion.

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The Six Loves of Billy Binns is deeply moving, bittersweet century-spanning debut set in London against the backdrop of the changing 20th century.

At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what Love feels like one last time.

As he looks back at the relationships that have coloured his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.

This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.

Billy was born on the first day, on the first year of the 20th century. He is over a 100 years old and spending his final days in a care home. He has seen many residents come and go. Chairs filled and then left empty awaiting the next old soul. He knows he doesn’t have long but he has a need to remember the man he was and remember the times he knew love.

‘I want to remember what love feels like, one last time.  To remember each of the people I loved, to see them all clearly again.’

Surely he was a good man and he simply wants to be remembered for something other than the shrivelled old body he has become. Because once upon a time there was so much more.

According to author, Richard Lumsden, the idea for the novel began in 1992 when he was just twenty-seven and living in Shepherd’s Bush.

richard lumsden author picture‘Inspired by old photographs on the walls of the library (now the bush theatre) of trams on the Green, and an old white arch beside the central line station, I mapped out Billy’s story but became daunted by the amount of research required to detail all of the last century and turned to written TV & radio scripts instead.

In 2000, I discovered a series of booklets published by the Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society.  I phoned their secretary, Joan Blake, who invited me to their monthly meetings in the back of St Luke’s Church on the Uxbridge Road.  Over the next few months I listened to stories of growing up in W12 through the 20s, 30s & 40s, and watched slide shows featuring the exhibition palaces and canals at White City.  With the kind help of Joan and her friends I was finally able to get started.  It took me eighteen months to research and write part one of the novel.  Then, faced with more intensive bouts of historical research for parts two to five, I decided I wasn’t cut out to write novels and abandoned the idea.

By 2009, having already worked on a couple of plays for BBC Radio 4, I decided to write ‘The Six Loves of Billy Binns’ as a play too.  It still needed more research but a 45 minute radio script was less daunting than going back to the novel.  In 2009 Sir Tom Courtenay gave Billy his voice, and the radio play, of which I’m very proud, still gets repeated from time to time.  However, I knew I’d bottled out by not telling Billy’s story as originally intended.

In 2015 I turned fifty, and at a very different stage of life, twenty-three years after starting part one of the novel.  A supportive literary agent encouraged me to get it finished.  I went back to my Shepherd’s Bush Local History Society booklets and took another two years to complete a draft to send out to publishers.

It’s a story about love, disappointment, and the flaws that make us human.  Billy has a tendency to reinterpret his own history, but ultimately he’s an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life, and I hope the readers might take him to heart on his journey to remember what love feels like.’

So Billy’s journey has taken it’s time to come to us but the time is definitely right.  Life today moves incredibly fast  and this novel not only takes us through the history of the last century but reminds us that life is fleeting.  Yes, his story was at times incredibly sad and there were moments when I just wanted to shout ‘Billy NO!’ in frustration.  Yet there were also the most wonderful moments of tenderness, especially towards the end.  Moments that made me stop to take a breath.  Now that I’ve reached the end I feel that I have shared so much with Billy.  I have such affection for him and I wish that some things had worked out differently.  Yet every experience he went brought him to the place he was at the end.  It was beautifully done, beautifully worded and I really don’t think I will ever forget Billy Binns and the lessons he has taught me.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and sending me a copy of this wonderful novel.  Thank you also to Richard for bringing Billy to us.  This novel has quite obviously been a journey for you and I’m so glad you carried it through to the end.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden will be published by Tinder Press on the 24th of January.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Literary

Midland by James Flint

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for this incredible novel. Readers, may I introduce you to Midland by James Flint.

A tale of two families torn apart by the hidden debts of love, from the award-winning novelist James Flint

On his way back from a meeting one day, investment banker Alex Wold finds himself standing up to his waist in the Thames, trying to guide a lost bottlenose whale back out to the sea. Later, as he’s drying out his suit and shoes, the news comes through that Tony Nolan – his mother’s ex-husband – has died of a sudden heart attack. Alex wonders if the universe is urging him to resolve a long-running feud with his environmentalist brother Matthew, and with the Wolds and the Nolans all heading back to Warwickshire for Tony’s funeral he now has an opportunity to do just that. But he finds Matthew as angry as ever, unable to relinquish his obsession with Caitlin, Tony’s troubled daughter, whose actions force both families to take an uncomfortable journey into the past. 

In Midland, the acclaimed novelist James Flint carries out a devastating exploration of what binds families together, and what tears them apart.

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This is absolutely stunning.  It’s a novel to take your time over and immerse yourself in James’ beautiful writing.  From the very first chapter I was entranced.  To me this novel felt like a celebration of language and the power it has.  James has a unique voice, capturing moment, place and circumstance perfectly.  He freezes time; holds it still for us and allows us to look at it from all angles. Here is a tiny snippet from early on in the novel where we are introduced to Alex and the whale he is compelled to help.

It was a perfect January day.  The spokes of the London Eye shone with the glycerine light of the low winter sun.  Big Ben stood cold and proud above the traffic, rendered timeless by the refrigerated air.  News helicopters hovered at the old clock’s shoulders like winged familiars, their spinning rotors patiently processing the sky, almost but not quite achieving thought.  And the river shone beneath the Victorian arches of the bridges, slapping and sucking at the weedy brickwork as the tide went out, grinning and gurgling as it slowly slackened its grip.

In the midst of all this beauty the whale seemed like hope, like a conciliatory messenger sent upstream by the senate of the seas.  Here they were, the people of England, gathering to greet it, to embrace it, to send it back from whence it came with tidings of peace and love.  Festival was in the air.  People were happy and amazed.  People were good, the universe was good.  Today had become one of those rare days on which the laws of combat were suspended and, for a brief period, death was not the truth of things.

It was the image of a man and whale that drew me to the synopsis of this novel. It is an incredibly strong image and sums up the power of the story wonderfully. Secrets, homecomings and the complexities of family are woven in the landscape and James has created a novel that is both bold and memorable. It is one that I keep safe on my bookcase and will no doubt return to, it is so rich in detail that I feel I’ll always find something new amongst the pages.

The blog tour runs through until the end of the month so do check out what others are saying about Midland. I’m so thrilled to have discovered James Flint. I think he is an exciting talent and I look forward to reading more from him. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the author

james flint author pictureBorn in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, James Flint is the author of three novels and one book of short stories. In 1998 Time Out magazine called his first book, Habitus, “probably the best British fiction début of the last five years,” and when it was published in France it was judged one of the top five foreign novels of 2002. His second novel, 52 Ways to Magic America, claimed the Amazon.co.uk award for the year 2000, and his third, The Book of Ash, won an Arts Council Writers Award and was described by the Independent’s leading literary critic as “a bold British counterpart to DeLillo’s Underworld.”

In 2002 his short story The Nuclear Train was adapted for Channel 4 television; he has had a long involvement with Port Eliot Festival and curated the film tent there for several years; and his journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Sight & Sound, Time Out, The Times, The Independent, Arena, The Economist, Dazed & Confused and many others. From 2009-2012 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Telegraph Weekly World Edition, and he is currently the co-founder and CEO of the health communications start-up Hospify.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Thriller

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb and oh my, is it a cracking good read.  Published on January 10th this novel has quite literally started my new year off with a bang.  It was an absolute treat to read.  Fast paced, brutal and a total adrenaline ride, I consumed it in a weekend.  Every possible minute this beauty  was in my hands.  It was a deliciously guilty pleasure and I overindulged with glee.

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Yes, I know, my fluffy slippers and comfy pj’s don’t exactly say ‘girl kicking ass’ but in my head I was right there, living it. 🙂

Here’s the synopsis:

A price on her head.  A secret worth dying for.

Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead.  Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them.  If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed.  If she fails, they die.

With North due back in court in 48 hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family.  Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

In this race only the winner gets out alive…

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Deep Dirty Truth  is book three in the series and I have to be honest and say that this is my first encounter with Lori Anderson.  It didn’t hinder my reading in any way.  The story is so sharp, so well written that I felt like I’d been following all along.  The novel has been described as ‘Brimming with tension, high-voltage action & high-stakes jeopardy’ and I completely agree.  I just could not put it down.  I loved it.  It was a thrilling ride and I instantly fell in love with Lori.  Man, can she kick ass and yet there is something vulnerable about her, something that makes her incredibly likeable.  From the very outset I was invested in her and her feisty, courageous daughter, Dakota.

The story starts off with a perfectly normal school run but within pages the action hits as Lori is abducted right outside the school gates.  From that moment on it doesn’t let up and the death toll steadily rises as she fights against all odds to keep her family – and herself – alive.   We hear the story mostly through Lori’s voice so we can feel her fear, pain, courage, anger, and her sheer determination to find a way out of this seemingly hopeless situation.

Apparently film rights are under negotiation and that is nothing but a good thing.  Its just crying out for the big screen.  Thoroughly recommended.

More about the author

1-2Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego –
Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging
at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest
releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University
London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori
Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and
chickens.

Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

Thank you so much to the wonderful Anne Cater and superb publisher, Orenda Books for my review copy.  I shall definitely look to catch up on the previous two Lori Anderson novels and very much look forward to book four.

Find out more about author Steph Broadribb here.

Find out more about Orenda Books here.

For more reviews on this awesome novel check out #DeepDirtyTruth on Twitter and follow the #BlogTour

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Reading Challenge

Read Christie 2019 – The official Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

If you’ve visited my site recently you may well have guessed I’m rather fond of an Agatha Christie story. Growing up I enjoyed watching Hercule Poirot on television (both Peter Ustinov and David Suchet) and I still watch them to this day – I recently enjoyed a very lazy, relaxing afternoon watching back to back Death on the Nile and Evil Under The Sun. I also thoroughly enjoyed the recent BBC adaptation of The ABC Murders. I read my first actual Agatha Christie book about this time eleven years ago. I remember it vividly as I was newly pregnant and suffering from a heavy cold. I was ill enough to need a few days in bed and although my head pounded I just couldn’t stop reading until the book literally fell from my hands.

My delight and enjoyment of her stories has never ceased and although I have seen many adaptations on the screen I haven’t read as many as I would have liked. So I am going to rectify that by signing up for the Read Christie 2019 challenge on the official Agatha Christie website. I thoroughly look forward to discovering some old favourites along with some new tales from the Queen of murder mystery herself.

We begin with The ABC Murders. I know the BBC adaptation has received a mixed bag of responses but personally I really don’t mind how faithful an adaptation is to the original book – I like to see a story from a different perspective. I am intrigued to see the differences though and can’t wait to read the story as Agatha intended it. Already I’m thrilled to find Japp very much alive and Hastings providing the narration.

So my reading pile grows ever larger with new and now classic fiction. I look forward to sharing them with you. Have you read any Agatha Christie before? If so which would you recommend? Do answer in the comments and do let me know if you’re also taking part in the reading challenge.

Must go now… am itching to get reading.