Gravemaidens eARC Review

 

 

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)

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GoodReads:
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Book Information:
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pub Date: October 29, 2019
Formats: Hardback, Ebook, Audiobook
ISBN: 978-0-525-64782-9

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US

[The purchase links above are Affiliated links, if you should purchase this book using one of those links then I will receive a small bit of money, but, this will cost nothing to you]

 

My Review

I finished my buddy read way quicker than I expected, I blame the author Kelly Coon for this. I was able to read the first eight chapters and have some semblance of self-control but after that, it was like I was gorging myself on cakes from the faerie realm, I could not put the book down.

Kammani was a really endearing protagonist, she had her faults, her passions, and the love for her family with her love of healing. And like any good big sister, she can be somewhat annoying and overbearing on her younger sister and brother.

Kammani wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, but the problem with that is that her Father has been just as tragically affected as the rest of the family and it has changed him.

I love that the characters were so real and flawed, no one was above making mistakes. There were so many moments where I was just holding my breath though because this is not only a great work of YA fantasy, it’s also got a murder mystery, AND YOU ALL KNOW HOW I LOVE MURDER MYSTERIES!

WHODUNNIT?!

This is mostly the question I was screeching through the novel.

Nanaea reminded me of how infuriating it can be to have sisters and though Kammani doesn’t always make the right choices, she makes them all out of love for Nanaea and her family. I loved getting to know more about both Nanaea and Kammani and the political intrigue in the palace made my dark little heart so happy! Not to mention the relationships that Kammani develops, the new friendships, well, it’s great and you really cheer on most of the characters, and there are times you’re just not sure who Kammani should trust.

Again….WHODUNNIT?

The fact that we’re not done with these characters is brilliant, the ending certainly had me lamenting the fact that I’ll have to wait to see what happens next.

Coon delightfully colors this vibrant world the characters live in, Alu just seems to come to life and jump right off the pages. She also doesn’t get too focused on small details, driving the plot and characters forward. \she also made me constantly hungry…seriously, where’s a damn honeycake when you need it??

Dagan was also a cute little cinnamon roll that I just wanted to protect half the time,m but the fact that he was always respectful of Kammani’s boundaries really made him such a great character, even when he thinks he’s pushed himself too far across a line, he’s quick to apologize and make amends as best he can.

[Disclosure: Nasu was my favorite, no regrets.]

I preordered this book because I mean, why wouldn’t I with a title like ‘Gravemaidens?’ But I’m super glad I did because I’ll be rereading this closer to the time of the second book’s release.

SO on that note, four massive cups of coffee from me for this amazing debut novel. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion!

 

About the Author

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Kelly Coon is a young adult author represented by Kari Sutherland of Bradford Lit, an editor for Blue Ocean Brain, a member of the Washington Post Talent Network, a former high school English teacher, and the author of two test prep guides, ACT STRATEGY SMART and ACE THE ACT.
Kelly was the test prep expert for About.com for seven years, and has been published with both Scholastic and MSN in the education arena. In the parenting realm, Kelly has been published in The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, ParentMap, Folks, and others sites, regaling tales of life in the trenches with her three boys. She adores giving female characters the chance to flex their muscles and use their brains, and wishes every story got the happy ending she’s living near Tampa with her sons, brilliant husband, and a rescue pup who will steal your sandwich. Gravemaidens is her debut novel.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

The Silence of Severance – Blog Tour

 

 

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GoodReads:
Your wedding day should be the most unforgettable day of your life.

And this is one wedding that will never be forgotten.

When a police officer’s wedding day ends in brutality and chaos, DCI Michael Yorke is pulled away from his own wedding into the bloodiest chain of events Wiltshire has ever seen. As a heatwave tightens its grip on Salisbury, Yorke and his team face a race against time to find the most sinister and intelligent adversary they have ever faced. Christian Severance.

But as the team chase Severance into the shadows of a dark past, Yorke’s own history starts to drag itself into the present.

Can they stop Christian Severance before he achieves the unthinkable? And will Yorke survive the revelations that claw at him from the darkness?


The DCI Yorke Series:
#1 One Last Prayer for the Rays : bit.ly/OneLastPrayerfortheRays
#2 The Repenting Serpent: bit.ly/RepentingSerpent
#3 The Silence of Severance: bit.ly/SilenceofSeverance

My Review

Hey all, first off, this is the THIRD book in this series, I have reviewed the second one, here, and you don’t NEED to read the other two, but I would strongly recommend at least reading book two before diving into this one.

This book is put into the relatively near future, dealing with the emotional consequences from the terrifying actions and crimes from The Repenting Serpent as well as reflection of things and people from the first book.

Yorke’s finally hitched to Patricia, but before their honeymoon can start, darkness and terror interrupt Yorke’s plans once again.

This time the crimes involve people losing and cutting off tongues, murder, kidnapping, and the threat of his past and the unresolved trauma coming back to haunt him as well as others on Yorke’s team.

More heartache and loss and dark gritty crime. This book spoke to me on a spiritual level. My black little heart enjoyed it just as much, if not more than The Repenting Serpent and unlike the last book, this one finished on a more unresolved note. No tidy bows or complete resolution as the intensity remains until the last page and you’re left there waiting to know what will happen in book 4, what’s instore for Yorke and his team and how much more can they take?

Markin doesn’t cease to impress me with his way to keep you completely on edge for a whole book, it’s like a dark crime thriller gift he’s been bequeathed, or, I don’t know maybe he made a deal with the devil, half jk, but seriously, you’re just left reading this book in one sitting because you want to figure out how everything connects; Markin does not disappoint.

Also, the villains are not purely evil, they’re twisty and complex and some you feel bad for while others you feel the urge to throttle them yourself, or at least cuff them if you have better morals than me. The point though is that you get invested in these characters and stories which doesn’t always happen with thrillers.

I totally recommend this if you enjoy thrillers or if you’ve read and enjoyed any other books in this series.

Thanks to Caroline and Markin for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the blog tour.

 

About the Author

Wes Markin Author Image

Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre. 
Having finished the third instalment in the DCI Yorke series, ‘The Silence of Severance’, Wes is now working on the fourth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of ‘Defined,’ a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.
Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Author Links

Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon

 

The Rest of the Tour

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Favorite Thriller/Mystery Books: The First Half Of 2019

Okay so this is exactly the same as the Scifi and fantasy lists, but with Mystery and Thrilers lol, I know, I know, I’m a creative genius. So this only includes books that I’d read up until June, so some may have come out earlier but I didn’t read them cause I was lazy or whatever, who knows.

[Reminder: These are 2019 releases only. At the end of the year I’ll compile lists of my overall favorites, no matter the year of publication]

These aren’t in any particular order than rating, and sometimes I enjoy a book that has a lower rating, idk, my rating system is very complicated. [ie: I don’t really know what I’m doing]

Clicking on the headline will take you to my review, and I’ve included GoodReads links!

 

6. Black Water

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GoodReads:
I killed the boy…
Jig loves football and his dog, hates school, misses his granda and knows to lie low when his ma’s blitzed on the vodka and tablets.
He’s just an ordinary boy on the mean streets alongside Dublin’s Grand Canal. Streets that are ruled by Ghost and his crew. And now Ghost- inked, vicious, unprincipled- has a job for Jig.
A job that no one can afford to go wrong- not the gangs, the police, the locals, and least of all not Jig.

 

 

5. In Search Of A Witch’s Soul

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GoodReads:
Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.
When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.
As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.

 

 

4. The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

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GoodReads:
‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’
So begins Tikka Molloy’s recount of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.
Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.
Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think ‘The Virgin Suicides’ meets ‘Jasper Jones’ meets ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’

 

 

3. Without Out A Trace

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GoodReads:
Lily’s gone.
Someone took her.
Unless she was she never there…
A little girl has gone missing.
Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.
Has Nova’s abusive ex stolen his “little bunny” back for good?
At first, Officer Ellie James assumes this is a clear custody battle. Until she discovers that there are no pictures of the girl and her drawers are full of unused toys and brand new clothes that have never been worn…
Is Ellie searching for a missing child who doesn’t actually exist?

 

 

2. The Favorite Daughter

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GoodReads:
From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

 

 

1. Miracle Creek

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GoodReads:
The “gripping… page-turner” (Time) hitting all the best of summer reading lists, Miracle Creek is perfect for book clubs and fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng
How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.
A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
“A stunning debut about parents, children and the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost” (Washington Post), Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It’s “a quick-paced murder mystery that plumbs the power and perils of community” (O Magazine) as it carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more– Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.

 

[To be honest, Miracle Creek will probably be my ultimately favorite mystery/courtroom drama read of 2019, so, putting it at number one was no coincidence on this list lol.]

 

What are some of your mystery/thriller faves of 2019 so far? Anything you recommend?

 

The July Girls ARC Review


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Blurb:
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On th emorning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives.

Book Information:
Publication date: July 25, 2019
Format: Hardback, eBook and Audiobook also available
Price: £18.99
Publisher: Wildfire
Author: Phoebe Locke

My Review

I haven’t read Locke’s first book, The Tall Man, but after reading The July Girls you can bet I’m definitely interested in reading it now.

You all know how much I love a good thriller, and Lock did not disappoint. The premise was promising enough but it was Addie’s narrative voice that really made this book a gem for me. The story is told from her perspective from the age of 10 all the way to following after secondary school, divided into sections for a different time period each. The fact that this is told over a decade was a wise decision on Locke’s part. This is the sort of crime that needs time to mature, too often I read things where serial killers accomplish numbers in such a short time period that I’m left wondering how there’s anyone alive in their towns, but this is different, it’s careful and well thought out.

This, of course, makes it, as I love to say, deliciously creepy to read. Like any solid thriller, it’s not too easy to figure it out, you expect some misdirection but I have to say I was definitely pleased that though I knew I was being misdirected I still hadn’t fully grasped the whodunit part, at least not in its entirety and haha oh, she’s a clever one because I DID not see that twist coming.

It was great, and if you want to know what it was, well, you’ll have to read it, won’t you?

I definitely have to say this will be on my list of favorite thriller reads of 2019 and Addie has been one of the best narrators that I’ve read in a thriller to date.

She’s so honest and consistently stuck between a rock and a hard place that you can’t help but want the best for her while simultaneously reading as tragedy keeps surrounding her story.

Jessie was by far one of the most complex characters of the story. A big sister who loves her little sister more than the world and who has tried to protect her at any cost.

I also loved how their father was portrayed, he wasn’t a good father, but, there were times where Addie still felt love for him, just as many of us have felt with conflicted feelings when it comes to our own parents, no matter the aspect.

There’s such a varied cast of characters and I loved Lock’s vivid and bright writing style. I read this in one Saturday, unable to put it down.

 

About the Author

Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of the full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cabridgeshire. The July Girls follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller The Tall Man

 

**Thanks so much to Jen Harlow and Wildfire, an imprint of Headline Books for sending me an ARC to review. In return, I have published an honest review of The July Girls**

My Top 5 Mystery Picks

Another Monday! There will be a day of Mini Reviews this week, I finished a couple and didn’t feel like only having review posts so I’m shoving some eARCs together while Stardust will get its own review post. But for now….

TIME TO GET OUR MYSTERY ON

These are in no particular order, I love them all, I’m a mystery lover.

5. Loves Music, Loves to Dance


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This was the first ‘proper’ mystery [and kind of a thriller] that I read, stepping away from the loving childhood mysteries like Hank the Cowdog the crime sleuthing ranch dog. Anyway, this isn’t a literary masterpiece but it was absolutely entertaining and terrifying to read for me. I remember reading this and having to keep the light on afterwards, jumping at the sounds in the night [let me also let you all know that I’m a huge scaredy cat, I was convinced I was going to get brutally murdered because I watched too much Law and Order SVU too much in my teens so don’t use me as a gage on how scary something is]. There’s a serial killer targeting women through the personals in the newspapers, and his signature is always the same, but will our detective be able to solve the crime, or will she be another victim?

4. The Comforters


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So! This was a new author for me! I just read her first novel The Comforters, as all Scottish libraries have received new centenarian editions of her novels like the one pictured. I really want to read more of her, this one was so quirky and I loved it, it was a more modern sounding Agatha Christie though they were really almost contemporaries as their timelines did cross. She also doesn’t seem to make religious jibes which was pretty brave for a female author at the time, so, I ended up having quite a lot of respect for her. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan, you may like her, but they’re definitely two different authors!

3. The Hounds of Baskervilles


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I had to add some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the mix. I loved reading this book in English class in HS, and I’ve seen like ever variation of Sherlock Holmes that exists except for like 2, and that’s not for lack of trying! I really do believe that there is something great about Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, a man who isn’t weighed down by the certain aspects of humanity that usually make for a great protagonist, and instead of making the book ‘worse’ it’s one of the reasons most people love it. I also can’t help but love Dr. Watson, I would say this is also a good first Sherlock Holmes book for those looking to get into it, and I do know that some people can find it a bit wordy. Not difficult, just tedious perhaps.

2. Dead Man’s Blues


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I have recently gushed over this one and if you’re interested in it, I went ahead and linked my review to it. This had it all for me, jazz, Louis Armstrong, murder, historical fiction with a lot of good research about the Mafia in Chicago at the time (as well as just being ON point with the music history as well). The structure of the book even tries to replicate a jazz song. [For those curious, my grad work was all about jazz music in WWI and WWII in the U.K. and Paris, so, super fan girl] This was better than its predecessor The Axeman’s Jazz though I did really enjoy that too, and you don’t need to read it if you want to read this one, the characters are the same but any mention of the first book is explained so you’re not left scratching your head. Not to mention it doesn’t hurt that Ray Celestin is friendly and so helpful with answering questions!

1. Murder on the Orient Express


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Hahaha did you all think I wasn’t going to add her, or did you think it was going to be 5 Agatha Christie books? Oh, there’ll be a top 5 Agatha Christie books but not this post, and I actually wanted to put two but felt it was unfair as the other books on this list are great too. So, I’ve chosen Murder on the Orient Express for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of her most iconic books and I do absolutely love it. Secondly, this book is not at all like her others as far as the ending goes and so for those two reasons it beat out Death on the Nile for my pick for this list. She’s our Queen of Mystery and this was part of her Golden Age. I love Hercule Poirot the most out of her different series. Ms. Marple is definitely a badass but, I always enjoy the Poirot novels more. Christie also does some awesome short stories and standalone novels as well and you never have to read the other Poirots to pick up any of them which is great.

So there you all have, my top 5 mystery pics!! As you’re reading this, I’m probably at Captain Marvel, so…

Toodles!

Dead Man’s Blues


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First off! I was scared when I saw this book was longer than the first and I remembered the pacing issue I had with it at times.

Bottom line on pacing? I had nothing to worry about.

I also was a bit timid, wondering if this was going to be very formulaic in the end, and of course, there should be something consistent in mysteries/crime, but I pretty much had nothing to worry about. I would say this work was the perfecting of his first book in this quartet and I CANNOT wait to read the third one now.

I was on the edge of my seat the last 75 pages or so, and I was actually super mad and was going to give a piece of my mind over something that crushed my soul that happened in the book [no spoilers so you’ll have to read and guess what part it was] but he just did right by the readers and everything fell into place and instead of getting mad I was doing some odd jazz hands because I was too tired to let out a fangirl squeal.

Pros:
– Pacing is so much better, that the 475 pages did not feel sluggish or unnecessary
– We get to grow closer to Ida as readers, you really start rooting for her even more as the first novel was more like root for Michael (and Ida).
– Louis Armstrong returns though not as much, BUT, when he does appear it doesn’t feel like he was detracting from the story at all
– Al Capone is in this
– Cute scrappy Doggo
– Celestin has found his groove and this novel is better than Axeman’s Jazz not only in pacing but in the investigative bits, the first novel felt like maybe he was taking too long to set up, this time he hit the ground running and you weren’t waiting around for something to happen.
– The minor characters served a much greater purpose and tied in with the main characters brilliantly

Cons:
– If you don’t like the ‘gimmick’ of having Louis Armstrong or Al Capone in a book, you’ll hate this lol
– There’s less Michael and he seems to fade into the background a little
– It was intense at times
– He takes a few small liberties with history but he does correctly tell you the layout of events at the back of the book, which didn’t bother me, but could bother some (nothing crazily drastic mind you)
– He trips your heart out, stuffs it in a bag with some rocks and throws it over the Hoover Dam

I can’t really find too many faults with this one, I’ve given it five stars on GoodReads and added it to my favorites shelf, I thought he fixed every problem I had with The Axeman’s Jazz and I can’t wait until my library gets the third book of the City Blues Quartet; The Mobster’s Lament, coming out March 21 in the UK, it’s set in New York this time and we’ll be dealing with Castello and having Ida and Michael continue on as the two main protagonists. (The 3rd Skull in the featured image is the one that will be on the cover of The Mobster’s Lament)

My Love Affair with Agatha Christie

[I hope that picture terrifies you as much as it terrifies me]

Everyone has their niches of reading and mystery novels really attend to attract a crowd, and I am so very much a part of that crowd. The first mystery/crime novel I ever read was actually a Mary Higgins Clark book, Loves Music, Loves to Dance but that was only the beginning. Eventually, there was a kindle sale and I found myself buying Five Little Pigs, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

There’s something about getting lost in a novel where you’re kept on your toes and it’s a race to see if you can figure out ‘whodunit’ before it’s revealed by the Author. It’s like a battle of wits in a way, and one I admittedly am not great at, I get too lost in the story in the characters and I half forget what I was supposed to be doing the whole time besides thinking ‘it can’t be them, can it?! And what about the cousin, what will happen to them after this is all over?!’

This is the year I’ve decided to try and tackle as many of her books as possible, they’re the books I read while I waited in the car pick-up line for Mini-me, while I’m waiting in the doctor’s office and when I just don’t feel like tackling whatever large behemoth I checked out when left alone and unsupervised in the library. I’ve even joined a reading group on GoodReads who share the same goal as me.

What I love about Agatha Christie is that she became prolific and simply snubbed her nose at the fact that she was a woman writing, in her time, gritty mystery novels. She didn’t shy away from things that others might have, including the death of a child in her Hallowe’en Party. She was methodical and brilliant and oh sure I love Vanity Fair and I bleed Slytherin silver and green, but she’s always there at the top of my to-read shelf, my gateway drug to branching out and reading more mystery novels and being addicted to so many crime shows I daresay. It is also in thanks to Agatha Christie that I’ve discovered Muriel Sparks and her mystery novels are totally the bee’s knees too.

So, Happy Valentine’s to the best Valentine, Agatha Christie and all her mystery books! In fact, today I just finished reading another one of her books, so boom, screw chocolates, give me murder and whodunit.