My Finds

My wish list is long. It’s actually pretty long – it contains over 110 books! But what can I do about it? When I visit your book blogs, I always end up adding books to my wish list. I also find books on Library Thing and Goodreads. But it’s not my fault! There are just too many books out there that just sound amazing and I want to have them all (I know it’s not possible). I am always interested in finding new and engaging books, and yesterday, while I was browsing through Goodreads, I found some really great books! And I just thought I would share with you. Here are my finds: 

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn: I love novels about authors, and I am really interested in this one, as it deals with the life of such a talented poet! 

Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson: This is a powerful novel about the unusual and strong friendship between two women, set in Sweden. I liked the sound of this story and I have heard good things about this book! 

The Observations by Jane Harris: This is a novel about an Irish maid that arrives at a Scottish estate only to discover that the owners have many disturbing secrets and skeletons in the closet. I like a good story full of dark secrets and hidden pasts. 

Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer: I have never read any Georgette Heyer books, but this one just sounded great. The book is about an English country – house murder where the butler is the victim. 

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie: Finally, I have found this book while looking for Hercule Poirot mysteries. I haven’t read this one yet, so I really want to, because I just love Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels! 

I’m relatively new to Goodreads and I didn’t know about their swap program. I just found out about it and thus, I purchased some of the above-mentioned books. I can’t wait to read them! 

So what did you find this week?

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The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

The Manual of Detection is one of those books you’ll find hard to classify. It’s somehow a detective story, but it’s not a typical one. Jedediah Berry’s story is a very unusual one; at times, it seems very surreal and you ask yourself what is true and what is not. In The Manual of Detection, nothing is quite as it seems and the reader finds himself caught in a world between dreaming and wakefulness, trying to find his / her way out of this dazzling labyrinth. I haven’t read such books before, so this was a new reading experience for me. That doesn’t imply that I didn’t like the book; in fact, I must say that I really enjoyed it, precisely because it was so unusual and illusive. But now let’s have a look at the plot:

The story introduces us to Charles Unwin, a clerk who works at a detective agency in an unnamed rainy metropolis. After twenty years of clerical work, he finds out, to his amazement, that he has been promoted detective. But the protagonist isn’t really happy about his new position and he is determined to do what is asked of him so that he can return to his old satisfying clerk job as soon as possible. In order to do that, he has to find out what happened to Sivart, the detective he used to clerk for. Armed with the manual of detection, Unwin searches for clues and tries to find out the truth about Sivart’s mysterious disappearance. On his journey, he finds himself entangled in a strange world of somnambulists, criminals and femmes fatales who are deceitful and harmful. Unwin has to intrude into the dreams of a murdered man, but he needs to be careful, since danger awaits him everywhere. What is real and what is not; and whom can he really trust in this deceptive city? Unwin’s questions will soon be answered as the protagonist digs further into a gripping dream world full of surprises and dangers.

Jedediah Berry’s tale is very imaginative and creative and it will appeal to everyone who likes to read about surreal themes. The Manual of Detection is a bizarre book, but at the same time, it’s a fascinating work that I enjoyed very much!

 

Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie

Although I’ve always been a huge fan of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels, I must admit that I knew little about the author’s life. So when I heard of Richard Hack’s Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie, I knew that I had to get my hands on this book!

Thus, I was very happy when I received a copy from Phoenix Books and I just couldn’t wait to read it! After having read some positive reviews, I knew that this book would be delightful! I just couldn’t put it down and was sad when I finished it, since it is such a wonderful book!

Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie is different from other Agatha Christie biographies, since it is the first to draw “from over 5,000 unpublished notes, letters, and documents”. Therefore, it “provides the most complete and knowing portrait of this famed author to date” and it allows us to have the most intimate look at the private and literary life of Agatha Christie. Best-selling author Richard Hack has done an excellent job narrating Agatha Christie’s personal story, giving us an extraordinary glimpse into the author’s mysterious world.

It is no secret that Agatha Christie disliked the press; she wanted to keep her private life out of the public eye and thus, avoided interviews and parties. The famous author led a life full of isolation and secrecy; therefore, she remains a mystery even to her biggest fans. Nevertheless, Richard Hack has accomplished the impossible: he allows us readers to see behind the curtain and to gain an exceptional insight into the author’s personal and professional life. Hack has a unique way of telling Agatha Christie’s story and captives his readers by revealing the mysteries of a talented and fascinating woman, whose life was full of romance, betrayal, wealth, travel, and scandal!

This brilliantly written biography reveals interesting and intriguing facts about Agatha Christie’s life and the reader gets to know a charismatic and romantic woman, who despite her enormous success, has managed to remain true to herself! Agatha Christie is regarded as the most popular modern author in the world; she wrote 157 short stories and 95 books and managed to sell over two billion copies, translated into 105 languages. She is also remembered for her successful theatre plays, The Mousetrap being the longest-running stage play in history. Nonetheless, she never wanted to become a writer and regarded her work “as of no importance”. In fact, Agatha Christie has hoped for a musical career as a teenage girl and trained her voice in order to become an opera singer. However, when a friend with connections to the Metropolitan Opera in New York wasn’t too enthusiastic about her singing (“the songs you sang tell me nothing”), Agatha knew that she would never become a professional singer. After being denied her dream, she devoted herself to writing, simply because she needed distraction and because she felt the need to “produce something, anything”. When publishers rejected her first stories, Agatha was not disappointed, since she had never considered writing a career.

During World War I, Agatha Christie joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and worked as a nurse in order to help the war effort. She later worked at a pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, since it was during that time that Agatha Christie created her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. In 1920, she published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a detective story centred around poison. In this novel, the famous author has made perfect use of her pharmaceutical knowledge. Other mystery stories followed, but Agatha couldn’t rejoice in her professional success due to the fact that her personal life has taken an unexpected turn. After twelve years of marriage, her husband Archibald Christie revealed that he was in love with another woman and therefore, demanded a divorce. That’s when Agatha’s bizarre eleven-day disappearance took place. Despite a “massive manhunt”, Agatha could only be found after eleven days at a hotel in Yorkshire. While two doctors have diagnosed her with amnesia and others suggested that she has suffered a nervous breakdown (because of her mother’s death and her husband’s affair), the reasons for Agatha’s disappearance remained unclear. There were also speculations that Agatha was trying to make the police think that her husband murdered her as revenge for his infidelity. Whatever her reasons were, Agatha Christie gave no account of her disappearance.

Two years after her divorce, Agatha married archaeologist Max Mallowan. Her second marriage was a happy one; it was a marriage full of adventure, understanding and admiration. Agatha often accompanied her husband on his archaeological trips to the Middle East and hence, found inspiration for several of her novels.

The beloved mystery writer died at the age of eighty-five, from natural causes, and was buried in a private service at the Parish Church of St. Mary’s in Cholsey. She will always be remembered as the “Queen of Crime” and will always remain in the hearts of her fans.

With Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie, Richard Hack has created a work that will please and delight Agatha Christie fans all over the world. This skillfully written biography provides us with information about the secretive life of a gifted author and at the same time draws an intimate portrait of an extraordinary and fascinating woman!

I would like to thank Lindsay Murphy from Phoenix Books for giving me the opportunity to review such a remarkable and outstanding book!