Friday, December 26, 2014

Dame Agatha V

The Hollow: M. Poirot

★ ★

Also titled: Murder After Hours

Romance, triangles, jealousy, family, secrets from the past, & murder.....

For some reason I am always surprised when there is romance in Christie's mysteries, not so much as a basis for murder, but when people actually get together & have a life after murder..... In this book there were several romances: past, present, and future.  There was also two interlocked triangles and unrequited love, which in part were the basis for the murder.

M. Poirot is invited to lunch during a family gathering at a neighboring home. When he arrives he finds a dying man, John Christow, laying next to the pool, his wife, Gerta, w/ a gun in her hands. The dying man's last words in the tone of a plea/question (calling the name of his mistress who is standing there)... "Henrietta".

Henrietta comes to Gerta to comfort her & takes the gun out of her hand, then quite "accidentally" drops the gun in the pool, thus obliterating all fingerprints. As the story moves forward we are privy to the fact that the gun that was dropped in the pool was not the gun that killed John.

It seems as everyone in the house knows who killed John and is intent on protecting the person....  It take M. Poirot quite awhile before he is able to come to the correct murderer.

There was only one racial reference (rolling my eyes here), but I didn't like the book. It seemed to be missing something and the characters seemed flat and boring....

Five Little Pigs: M. Poirot

★ ★

Well known & egotistical artist is in the midst of painting a most fantastic portrait of an equally (if not more so) egotistical young woman.....  Hence a triangle of love?  Which of course leads to his murder..... Very cold blooded....

However there are men who love the artist's wife w/ devotion & hate....... two more triangles.  The wife, is heard to say: "You & your women.....One day I'll kill you."  Evidence enough to convict her of murder?

The wife does nothing, says nothing to defend herself..... a price/debt to pay?  Her daughter, receiving a letter from her mother stating her innocence, hires M. Poirot to clear her mother's name......

Is it possible? Who really "done it"? I figured it out......  But it was a dull story told in first person narration verbally then in letters by the witnesses...... People who were basically detestable....
Miss Marple: Complete Short Stories

★ ★ 1/2

The collection is made up of: Tuesday Club Murders (13 Problems), The Regatta Mystery, Three Blind Mice and Other Stories, and Double Sin and Other Stories.

In all I believe there were 20 stories ALL Featuring Miss Marple..... I was never fond of Jane Marple to being with, the falsely humble old lady who knits and pretends to be a simple minded old maid. 

The Tuesday Club Murders bored me to tears; In the first six stories a group of six people gathered at Miss Marple's home each posing a mystery for the others to deduce the outcome.... In the second six stories everyone gathered at Gossington Hall the Bantrys' home (you remember them from "Body in the Library" & "The Mirror Crack'd"). The original six are: Raymond West (Marple's nephew); Former Yard Commissioner, Sir Henry Clithering; Raymond's friend Joyce Lempriere; clergyman Dr. Pender; solicitor Mr. Petherick; & Miss Marple. Odd (annoying) how no one could figure anything out, only Miss Marple because after all she knows "human nature" based on all the not nice (evil) people she has known in her quaint little village of St. Mary Mead.

Stories included: The Tuesday Night Club, Ingots of Gold, The Blood Stained Pavement, The Idol House of Astarte, Motive v. Opportunity, The Thumb Mark of St. Peter, The Blue Geranium, The Companion, the Four Suspects, A Christmas Tragedy, The Herb of Death, The Affair at the Bungalow, & Death by Drowning.

The Regatta Mystery was actually "Miss Marple Tells a Story" of how she solved a murder while at home sitting in her armchair.

Strange Jest, The Tape Measure Murder, Case of the Perfect Maid, The Caretaker, Greenshaw's Folly, & Sanctuary or The Man on the Chancel Steps (featuring Bunch Harmon Miss Marple's Niece) I found to be more interesting as they involved the people involved and were not stories told about others.

Appointment With Death: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A tormented family goes on holiday to the Middle East......  Monster Dearest was previously a Prison Wardess and now has her family (children/step-children) as her prisoners.....

An English (Psych) female doctor & a well known French psychotherapist come across the family and attempt to intervene....... add to the mix a good friend of the family, a well known member of Parliament (who is anti-oppression), and a mousey spinister....

M. Poirot is in town and is asked to find the "truth", even though there will not be enough hard proof to bring a murderer to trial.

I really liked this book. I liked most of the characters and the psych. study. Almost everyone had opportunity as well as a motive and the family & both doctors all thought to protect each other....

Very interesting
The Big Four: M. Poirot 
- ★

Four unknown powerful people: A Chinese, a Frenchwoman, an American businessman, & an Assassin are bent on taking over the world....

As Hastings arrives on a surprise visit to his "bon ami" M. Poirot, he finds M. Poirot on his way to South America on "business". It all turns out to be a wild goose chase in order to get M. Poirot out of the way so that the BIG 4 may put a plan of diabolical intelligence into play.  An unknown man is in one of M. Poirot's rooms and is ranting about,Li Chang Yan, Chinese man of great power who is about unleash a diabolical plan..... M. Poirot & Hastings depart in order to learn more about Li Chang Yan from a well known Chinese antiquities scholar, leaving the man resting safely... 

Upon returning to Poirot's home, they find the man poisoned and an attendant of the local asylum knocking on the door  asking about the dead man (an escapee)....  Upon further investigation the "escapee" turns out to be Mayerling from the CID who has gone missing years before and the "attendant" #4, the assassin.

The book continues, ad nauseum, in this vein.... One mysterious death, kidnapping, attempt on M. Poirot's life after another.... Bad enough that Hastings is always such a proficient bumbler, but that M. Poirot should be too?

The dang book, just went on too long and it seemed to be more of a com├ędie noire, than a serious mystery.....  Just a plain waste of time and an annoyance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dame Agatha IV

The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side: Miss Marple  
★ ★ ★ ★

This was published as a book and in an anthology..... The story takes place in the same house as "The Body in the Library", but for some reason in the anthology this story is first....

Marina Gregg (manic-depressive movie star) and her husband Jason "Jinks" Rudd (famous director) purchase the old Victorian manor Gossington Hall from Dolly Bantry.  On the other side of St. Mary Mead is a new "development" where lives Heather Badcock who once many years ago had snuck out of her sick bed to meet Marina Gregg and obtain Marina's autograph.....

Heather is beside herself w/ happiness when she finds out that Marina has moved back into town and is having an open house fete to meet & greet her new neighbors....   While Marina is greeting Heather, Heather recounts her story of the day she first met Marina... Marina freezes and we are told repeatedly she resembles Tennyson's Lady Shalott: 

"Out flew the web and floated wide—
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me", cried
The Lady of Shalott."

During the reception Marina & Heather are drinking daiquiris when Heather's drink is spilled... Marina kindly offers her drink to Heather and Heather succumbs to a poison that was in Marina's drink. 

In the meantime Marina is besieged by threats and another attempt of poisoning.....  There are two other murders, Marina's secretary & the Butler (who did not do it), and the disappearance of a young woman who was working the fete and saw what really happened.

The basis of this story is taken from a real life event: "Christie's inspiration for the motive likely came from an incident in the real-life of American film star Gene Tierney. In June 1943, while pregnant with her first daughter, Tierney contracted German measles during her only appearance at the Hollywood Canteen. Due to Tierney's illness, her daughter was born deaf, partially blind with cataracts, and severely developmentally disabled. Some time after the tragedy surrounding her daughter's birth, the actress learned from a fan who approached her for an autograph at a tennis party that the woman (who was then a member of the women's branch of the Marine Corps) had sneaked out of quarantine while sick with German measles to meet Tierney at her only Hollywood Canteen appearance. In her autobiography, Tierney related that after the woman had recounted her story, she just stared at her silently, then turned and walked away. She wrote, "After that I didn't care whether ever again I was anyone's favourite actress."[citation needed]"'d


Nemesis: Miss Marple
★ ★ ★ ★

In a sequel to "The Caribbean Mystery"; Miss Marple receives a letter from Mr Rafiel (now deceased) asking her to accept a quest for justice, but does not tell her what she will be doing nor does he give her any clues, but assuring her that there will be at least one Guardian Angel about looking after her safety.

His subsequent letter sends her on a Historic Home & Garden tour where she meets a former headmistress of an acclaimed all girls school who is on a pilgrimage to make peace with the murder of a former student....  Mr. Rafiel also has arranged for Miss Marple to stay with "Three Weird Sisters" in a decaying manor, whom were friends w/ Mr. Rafiel and the guardians of the young murdered woman.

The young murdered woman was to marry via elopment Mr Rafiel's troubled (bad seed) son, but she never showed up and the young man was put away in a mental prison for the murder of the young woman....

At the same time of the first murder another young woman goes missing... and as Miss Marple investigates the Headmistress is crushed while hiking by a boulder....  On her deathbed, the Headmistress talks to Miss Marple and gives her more clues...

I liked the mystery just fine, I figured out the killer & the details of the victims....  I did not care for the 2nd to last chapter which consisted of Miss Marple's overly long & detailed explanation of the murder, who did it, why, and how she figured it all out. In fact I skipped most of it!

What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw: Miss Marple

Or: "The 4:50 From Paddington"
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

While the train that is taking her to visit her friend Miss Marple slows & stops at a curve.... another train in passing also slows & stops at the same curve... Mrs McGillicuddy looks out and sees a man strangling a woman.....  Although she reports it to the porter & train station, no one believes her.  Miss Marple believes her and reports it to the police.... but not only is there no report of a missing/murdered woman... one can find a body.

Her insatiable curiosity aroused, Miss Marple makes discreet inquiries... maps of the train lines, train timetables, what is on that piece of land, etc.  Then Miss Marple hires Miss Lucy (a most efficient & sought after) to work at the manor (snoop around the grounds) where the train lines curve.

Lucy is happily ensconced working for the Crackenthorp family: Luther (patriarch & tightwad); Emma (his devoted daughter); Brian Easterly (son-in-law & widower); sons Harold (bad business deals), Alfred (shady character), & Cedric (laid back artist); and a good-natured grand-son & his school chum Stoddart-West (help Lucy search for clues).  The good Doctor has eyes for Emma...

The murdered woman, soon found by Lucy, is hidden away in an old sarcophagus in the now disused long barn and is believed to be Martine, a French woman who may or may have not been married to the Crackenthorp eldest son (killed in WWII)....

All along during family gatherings there have been instances of poisonings and now both Alfred & Harold succumb....... While the real Martine (now Stoddart-West) shows up to clear her name......

Very well thought out plot, good red herrings, a fine (but understated) romance, and strong likable women characters.

The Labours of Hercules: M. Poirot
★ ★ ★

M. Hercule Poirot is sitting in conversation w/ Dr. Burton and they are discussing names. Dr. Burton mentions that M. Poirot does not seem to "fit" his name but M. Poirot assures the Dr. that he, Hercule Poirot, is indeed of great mental & detecting strenght. In order to prove that he is indeed capable of living up to his name, M. Poirot takes on twelve feats of detective work that correspond to the twelve labors of Hercules:

The Nemean Lion: There is a series of dognappings, in the form of Pekingese of rich idle women. The women pay the ransom without telling their husbands for fear the dogs will be harmed/killed.

The Lernean Hydra: The wife of a chemist has died and someone is spreading rumors that she was poisoned.... M. Poirot goes about the task of not only stopping the rumors but uncovering the actual murderer as well.

The Arcadian Deer: A young man falls in love, only to have his new love disappear without a trace....  People are not whom they seem and M. Poirot is enlisted to find the missing love.

The Erymanthian Boar: On a short holiday in Switzerland, M. Poirot boards a funicular to the top of a mountain... He is entreated to stay and help the police capture an infamous gangster

The Augean Stables: A seemingly upright member of Parliament is about to be exposed for dirty politics & dealings. M. Poirot is hired to clean up the mess by dealing w/ the scandal mongering paper that plans on exposing the dirt.

The Stymphalian Birds: While on holiday M. Poirot becomes involved with helping Harold Waring to untangle a fatality.... Two ugly sisters whom are thought to bring doom are staying at the hotel and seem to cross Harold's path too often for his comfort....  A young woman & her jealous husband fight and he dies..... or does he?

The Cretan Bull: A young man is about to marry a young woman he grew up with, but he then begins to wake up in the mornings covered w/ blood, bloody knives, and dead animals being found throughout the village & estate.  He is sure that he suffers from a hereditary madness and has broken off his engagement....  M. Poirot is called upon by the fiancee of the young man in order to get to the bottom of the madness.

The Horse of Diomedes: After an all night party, a young man comes across a young woman (one of 4 daughters of a General living out in the country) in drugged distress and wants to help her before she becomes addicted. M. Poirot goes out to the country in order to find who is supplying the young people w/ cocaine & inducing their addiction.... 

The Girdle of Hyppolita: M. Poirot is called upon to find a missing Rubens, stolen in broad daylight from a museum. A schoolgirl on a train vanishes in mid-travel to a well known Girls' art academy and then reappears. A rather ugly painting arrives as a gift to the Headmistress in the girl's luggage... M. Poirot is the one to untangle the mystery.

The Flock of Geryon: A religious cult has ensnared older women who are all well off.... When they die (far from the cult in their own homes) no one thinks it odd, but their estates are left to the cult.  A woman seeking to help her ensnared friend goes undercover w/ the help & guidance of M. Poirot.

The Apple of Hesperides: A valuable gold chalice once belonging to the Borgia family has seemingly disappeared in a burglary after being sold (but not delivered). The new owner will not file a claim, as once he is paid by the insurance company,the chalice then is no longer his property. M. Poirot is entrusted to locate the missing chalice and return it.   

The Capture of Cerberus: A famous & beautiful jewel thief (Russian Countess Vera Rossakoff) with whom M. Poirot had previously become enchanted crosses his path on the stairs of the subway....  She invites him to visit her in "Hell".....  Hell, being a new nightclub based on legends & lore w/ a huge black dog named Cerberus guarding the door....   Again there are jewels involved, being swapped out for paste and drugs.....


Lord Edgware Dies: M. Poirot
★ ★

Or: "Thirteen at Dinner"

American actress Jane Wilkinson (Lady Edgware) is at the theater, M.Poirot is sitting in front of her, watching a young actress, Carlotta Adams, imitate her, as soon as the actress is finished, Jane gives her an excellent round of applause.....

Later at dinner Jane loudly announces to the room of diners (M. Poirot being one of them) that she will kill her husband, Lord Edgware, and she proceeds to tell everyone in which manner....  Upon espying M. Poirot, Lady Edgware, leaves her dinner companions & invites M. Poirot up to her room.  Once there she begs M. Poirot to take on her case, entreating Lord Edgware to agree to a divorce so that she may marry again.

Originally, Jane had planned to marry her co-star Bryan Martin, but now she is planning on marrying Duke Merton....

Upon discreetly visiting Lord Edgware, M. Poirot is informed that his errand was for naught, as Lord Edgware had indeed agreed to the divorce 6 months previously and what is more notified his wife Jane of his decision via post.

A dinner party for those on the rise and in need of being in favor with the right people is given.... Originally Jane had opted out of attending, but at the last minute changed her mind. Her dinner partner, not knowing did not attend and there were 13 in attendance at dinner.

During the dinner Jane receives a mysterious phone call..... but is simultaneously seen in Lord Edgware's home, going into his study by both the butler & Lord Edgware's secretary.....

In the course of M. Poirot's investigation of the murder, two other people are murdered.....

Meh... I didn't like the characters and the story seemed to be lacking something.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dame Agatha III

Hercule Poirot's Christmas: M. Poirot
AKA: Murder for Christmas A Holiday for Murder

★ ★ ★

Oh boy, another "Locked Door" murder featuring a mean old man whose family hates him, all with motives for murder....... I think I'm getting smarter, I figured this one out immediately........

So let's see this mean old man (mom) invites his entire family home for Christmas; including his prodigal son and granddaughter. A son of the mom's friend from good-old-days-gone-by also turns up..... There is a whole lot of family tension & angst going around not only from past family rifts, but the mom has called in his lawyer in order to change his will.....

Not everyone is whom they appear to be....  Shortly after christmas eve dinner there is a huge crash and a blood curdling scream....  Everyone rushes up to the mom's room, only to find it locked. When the door is broken down the mom is lying in "an awful lot" of blood w/ his throat cut and most all of the furniture toppled over as if there was a fight.

The characters were not particularly likeable....  The mom had a very interesting attitude..... mainly he just wanted his family to stand up for themselves, especially against his bullying ways and resented that most of his offspring preferred to cower before him.

And Then There Were None (No Detective)

AKA: "Ten Little Indians" & "Ten Little Niggers"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Ten people are invited to Soldier Island by Una, U.N. Owen....  All have been guilty of some form of murder but in one manner or another have escaped punishment by the law.  

Each has this little poem in their bedrooms:
"Ten Little Soldier Boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine  Little Soldier Boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight  Little Soldier Boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven Little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six  Little Soldier Boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five Little Soldier Boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were four.

Four Little Soldier Boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three Little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two Little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun; One got Frizzled up and then there was One.

One  Little Soldier Boys left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none."

One by one they begin to die, and as they do; one by one the 10 toy soldiers in the table's centerpiece begin to disappear......

There are two major clues as to "who-done-it"...... but to tell you the clues would also tell you who the murderer was.....

The murderers were not particularly likeable people... so I'd say they all ended up w/ their just desserts....
Mystery of the Blue Train: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

Katherine Grey, the enigmatic young woman of the memorable eyes, has left her post of caregiver (the old woman died leaving Katherine well off) in St. Mary Mead (No Marple) and is bound for Nice on The Blue Train to visit her money hungry cousin.....

Lady Ruth Kettering (an American Heiress) is about to divorce her husband (at the behest of her father) and meet her gigolo of a lover in Nice, she too is aboard the Blue Train.....  Lady Ruth is carrying the Former Tsarina's rubies and many people are very aware of that fact.  In a moment of blue funk, Ruth befriends Katherine and unburdens herself.....

Ruth's gigolo, her husband, her husband's discarded mistress are also on the train.......  All want Ruth's money and or the rubies....  Just outside Gare de Lyon, Ruth is found in her compartment strangled to death with a bashed in face.... 

There is no lack of suspects...... and there are the mysterious shadowers of the rubies......

Between a thoughtful & astute Miss Grey and Monsieur Poirot Ruth's murderer is caught and the rubies discretely go on to their  next owner.
Cat Among the Pigeons: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

A Crown Prince who has brought Democracy to his country & his pilot (a chum from school days) are forced to flee the country....  Their plane is found downed in the mountains and a thorough search is made for the sparkling "insurance"..... but the pilot was seen hiding them in order to get them out of the country lest they fall into the wrong hands.......

At an elite girls school in England the term has just begun and there is a new sports mistress, French mistress, school secretary, & gardner.....  Dropping her daughter off at school a former employee of the CID sees someone from the past and as she tells the Headmistress (who is about to retire & name her successor), who the person from her espionage days is, they are interrupted by another mother in midst of a binge seeking to bring her daughters home.

Then the sports mistress is murdered in the new sports pavillion, as is the French mistress, and the to be successor.....  Homes are ransacked, the cousin of the Prince is kidnapped, and a frightened little girl runs to M. Hercule Poirot.

Very interesting, I would have liked it to be a bit longer, even though in some places it was difficult for me to tell who was speaking to whom...

And once again, Dame Agatha showed her unending prejudice; this time it was of the two Italian school girls, whom she dedicated a paragraph to in order to refer to them as "Eye-Ties", and then there was nothing more in the book about them... otherwise it was a very enjoyable story.
Murder on the Orient Express: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

AKA: "Murder in the Calais Coach"

Although I remembered "who done it"......  I still enjoyed reading this story again, mostly because I didn't remember much of anything else.  

A man on the train to France asks Poirot for his help. He has received a threatening letter and is much afraid for his life.... Although the man is impeccable in speech, manner, & presentation, he has evil in his eyes and there is something deep reflected that causes M. Poirot to turn him down. 

Although is is late in the season, for some reason the train is unusually full (even the stand-by compartment saved for the railway company) and for the first few stops M. Poirot has to share a berth.....  When another coach has been added, M. Poirot is moved to the number 1 compartment, directly next to the man who had unsuccessfully solicited M. Poirot's help.

Along in the third night, M. Poirot hears voices, sees a mysterious woman, hears much commotion.... and finds that the man with the evil in his eyes has been murdered... Stabbed 12 times... with several of the wounds not made by the same hand.

Everyone has an alibi, no one seems to have a motive.... until M. Poirot ascertains the murdered man's true identity.....

Oh good old Bigoted Agatha.... she sure hated Italians.... and once again goes off on a rant about them....  Amazing, really; and for this reason, I cut off a star!
By the Pricking of My Thumbs: Tommy & Tuppence

★ ★ ★

"By the pricking of my thumbs...... Something wicked this way comes"

Well now that's odd, because the book does not have Miss Marple in it, but the movie does......  Sigh.

Tommy & Tuppence are a modern couple who have grown older and are retired.....   Tommy worked for the spy network" and Tuppence would always insert herself into his business (nosy Parker).

In this story they are off to visit Tommy's acerbic Aunt Ada who is staying in a home for elderly women....   Aunt Ada can not stand Tuppence so Tuppence goes off to sit in the "lounge" where she meets elderly Mrs. Lancaster who asks Tuppence: "Was it your child?"

A few weeks pass and Aunt Ada has died as has another older woman, neither of whom were "sick" or predisposed.  In Aunt Ada's room Tuppence comes upon a painting that hadn't been there before, which was given to Aunt Ada by Mrs. Lancaster. It is view of a house by a canal w/ a humpback bridge (the house which Tuppence has seen before) and Tuppence wants to give it back to Mrs. Lancaster......

Unfortunately Mrs. Lancaster is no longer in the home, she has been moved away......  Thus begins the mystery of the: painting; house by the canal; dead elderly women; murdered child; criminal ring......

All in all this was quite a good story, what I didn't like was Tuppence's endless blathering chatter.....  For someone as keen as a "terrier" she comes off quite often as rather mindless. Minus 1 star.
The Body in the Library: Miss Marple 

★ ★ 

Ok; another slur against Italians.....  makes me wonder if her books sold well in Italy!

Let's see Mrs. Colonel Bantry are woken up by a hysterical maid...  something about there being "A Body in the Library".... When Dolly Bantry goes down to the library to check on the hysterics, yes indeed there is the body of a strangled young woman in a white spangled evening dress in the library.....

Miss Marple,a close friend of Mrs. Bantry, is called in immediately to nose around (investigate)......  

They find out from the police that the body seems to be that of Ruby Keene, a dancer at the local hotel; and the soon to be adopted ward of Mr. Conway Jefferson, and invalid whose family perished in an accident, and who is being taken care of by his son-in-law & daughter-in-law.

Not much afterwards a Girl Guide come up missing and it seems as if it her her that is found in the charred remains of a local's car.

Almost 1/2 way through Miss Marple announces to Dolly Bantry that she knows who did it.....  But she isn't going to tell, as there are other loose ends to tie up & need for proof positive.

I found this to be a rather benign story with flat characters, none of whom I cared about......  This could have been so much more appealing & interesting, but it seems as if Christie was writing just to be writing.

Dame Agatha II

Dead Man's Folly: M. Poirot  
★ ★ 

The book began w/ Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, the famous crime novelist, who is throwing a "Murder Fete" in which the original "victim" has been changed by circuitous request of an unknown person, calling M. Poirot asking for his help in preventing a murder....  Her intuition has told her that there will be a murder at the Fete she has planned, but she can't say whom or when or why.

A young girl (who is playing the victim at the fete) is really murdered it is found that she knew something she should not have... there are in succession the disappearance of the estate owner's wife and the murder of the ferryman (who also knew too much).

The former owner of the estate (who now lives in the front lodge), knows exactly what is going on, but feigns ignorance......

Let's see..... I didn't like the characters, they were flat & uninteresting, one never got to know most of them.... I didn't/couldn't really follow the clues... but I did know immediately where the body was buried, although I didn't know whose body it was. 

I also didn't like was all the self-talk & supposition of theories by M. Poirot & the police, I found it (to use one of Christie's favorite words) dull, dry, and most assuredly boring.
Death in the Clouds: M. Poirot  

★ ★ ★ ★

Also titled: Death in the Air

Imaging Hercule sleeping through a murder! Suffering from air-sickness, indeed he did.... 

Upon landing in London on a trip back from France, Madame Giselle, a famous & highly reputable Parisienne money lender is found to be dead in her seat of an apparent wasp sting, but what M. Poirot finds is a poisoned thorn w/ wasp colored fluff on the end.....

There were less than a dozen people on the flight, several of whom had dealings with Mdme. Giselle, and with that group a few who did not want to pay her back.  Mdme Giselle had her ways, as collateral she collected "information" on her clients, information that they would loathe to be known.  

Unfortunately upon her death, Le Surete was loathe to find that Mdme. Giselle's maid (per previous instructions) burned all of Mdme. Giselle's moneylending records and was not able to provide any information regarding possible enemies. However, left behind (quite by accident) was Mdme. Giselle's daily black book which contained appointments in code, this the maid handed over to M. Poirot....

I was not able to decipher the clues, so I was unable to figure out who murdered Mdme. Giselle. But there were many with motive and few if any had opportunity.... Afterall it was in a small enclosed space, with the weapon of choice a blowpipe thorn.

Yes, there was one mention of prejudice, a few Red Herrings, an overlooked passenger, and even a romance (that M. Poirot helped along).  But what I found unbelievable was the type of poison used.... Boomslang venom, really? That particular venom is not only very uncommon, but up until the very end, not one of the suspects seemed to have had access to it.
Evil Under the Sun: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

From the inside flap: "Young actress Arlena Stuart Marshall is brutally strangled on the cliffs (beach) of a seaside resort. Each of the guests at the Jolly Roger Hotel has a compelling motive, including Arlena's brand new husband (Kenneth Marshall), who seems to be the only man on the island not utterly distracted by her beauty. It is obvious to all that Patrick Redfern was violently smitten, much to the the distress of his own wife (Christine). And the women hotel guests saw the frivolous and flirtatious starlet in a rather different light. Only Hercule Poirot, who has come to the Jolly Roger for some much needed relaxation can sift through the murderous secrets and macabre clues to unravel the mystery at this secluded playground by the sea."

Included in the cast of characters are; Arlena's step-daughter Linda (whom she treats poorly & in return much hated), Rosamund Darnley (Arlena's husband's childhood friend whom still cares for him), Mr. & Mrs Gardner (American tourists), Major Barry (retired & gossip), Miss Emily Brewster (a curious but athletic spinster), Reverend Lane (an over zealous preacher, very much concerned with evil & women), and Horace Blatt (a self made man of dubious character).

One fated morning Arlena takes off alone (asking M. Poirot to not tell anyone where she has gone...but he knows she is set to meet someone), Christine and Linda go off to sit on the beach & sketch..... Patrick sets off w/ Miss Brewster for a row about the island and they come across the strangled Arlena.

Not only is there the murder down on the cove at the Jolly Roger (named for Captain Roger Angmering), there is blackmail, a boat w/ suspicious red sails, the smuggling of drugs, and the murder of a young woman a year previous.....

All this ties up quite neatly at the end, as at the end is when most of the clues & red herrings are revealed.
Dumb Witness: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

Also known as "Poirot Loses a Client".

You know, I just realised that many of Christie's are remarkably the same from book to book, as are the settings & circumstances..... as well as her prejudices. This time it was Greeks, Turks, & Argentines, which was mentioned more than once....  So I knocked off a star.

Aside from my little rant, I enjoyed the story. Aunt Emily is in her 70's and is not so well of health but is still as sharp as a tack and nobody's fool. She is the survivor of 3 sisters and a brother, all who lived well under their means, as does Aunt Emily.

Aunt Emily's two nieces, their husband & fiancee, and nephew come to visit, all looking for a handout.  Emily knowing that they should all still have money from their previous inheritance denies them all.

Aunt Emily's dog, Bob, is a very intelligent terrier and is very good at playing ball. He likes to take his ball to the top of the stairs and push it down to whomever is at the bottom... when they toss it back up to Bab, he catches it and tosses it back down.  

One evening close to Easter, Bob leaves his ball at the top of the stairs and Aunt Emily takes a tumble head first..... It is at this point she changes her will and writes to M. Poirot intimating she is in danger and requests his help......  It is several months later after Aunt Emily's family has once again visited (asking for money) and she falls ill and dies that M. Poirot receives her letter.

Suspects include: Nephew Charles (a bounder & a cad), Niece Natalie (a fast & loose woman who loves the finer things in life), Niece Bella (a dull woman & good mother married to the "Greek"), the Greek (a doctor of a charming & jovial nature), and Minnie (the most current of a long line of "spinster" companions).

Captain Hastings is along to help M. Poirot, but honestly, he is a right old ass and as obtuse as ever.  

I liked the story, I especially like Bob, and I "got" the clue as to who done it.
N or M: Tommy & Tuppence

★ ★ ★

WW II, Tommy &; Tuppence are older & retired.... bored at home, wanting something to work on when a mystery from the home office turns up.....  The man in charge wants to exclude Tuppence, so she "conveniently leaves" to visit a friend who has just rang-her-up.   In her absence Tommy is asked to help decipher a cryptic message that a dying agent passed on to them......  "N or M...  Sans Souci".  Upon discussion it is surmised that there is a German agent; either the infamous N or M in San Souci and so Tommy is sent to uncover and bring down the spy.

In San Souci... Tommy comes to stay in a respectable guest house and makes a fast acquaintance w/ Mrs. Blenkinsop (turns out to be Tuppence) and together they unravel the mystery of N or M.

The clues are there and I must say that I am delighted that more & more often I am able to figure out "who done it", as I have never been able to unravel a Christie until now.   Yes there was her blatant bigotry, right at the beginning about "Red Indians; The only good Indian is a.... Indian", but at least she didn't go on & on about that.....

This was easy to read and a bit of a drag...... not much action or murder until towards the end.....  Mostly supposition & snooping around....
At Bertram's Hotel: Miss Marple

★ ★ ★ ★

Bertram's Hotel is the paragon of good taste times gone by. At Bertram's Hotel all is "perfect" and the clientele is of the most upper class. At Bertram's Hotel one can satisfy their memories and their need for nostalgia. At Bertram's Hotel many people are recognized as friends from days past, but may not actually be.  At Bertram's Hotel all is not what it seems.........

Miss Marple is sent on a vacation by her niece.... a fortnight at Bertram's Hotel.  Sitting with Lady Selina Hazey, a friend from days gone by, it is innocently pointed out to Miss Marple that many people whom appear to be acquaintances from days past are not whom they appear to be and marked as as aging mind.

Other guests of the hotel include: Beth Sedwick (a famous adventuress), Elvira Blake (Bess's daughter, whom Bess gave up 2 weeks after her birth), Colonel Luscombe (Elvira's legal guardian), and Canon Pennyfather (who suffers from frequent memory lapses).  Then there are: Hotel Commissionaire Michael "Mickey" Gorman (Bess's first husband/Elvira's "unknown" father), Ladislaus Malinowski (a famous race car driver, Bess's former lover & Elvira's secret fiancee), Henree (the concierge who makes everyone's stay perfect to the last detail), and Chief Inspector "Father" Davy (who happens to believe everything is not quite as it seems at Bertram's Hotel).

Everything is going smoothly until the disappearance of Canon Pennyfather who never showed up to the conference in Lucerne that he was scheduled to attend and the murder of Mickey Gorman......

This was a very interesting plot and it was well written.....
A Caribbean Mystery: Miss Marple

★ ★ ★ ★

I liked this, actually.... The clues were right there in the open, with a few Red Herrings, one of a second murderer on the island.

Tim & Molly have recently purchased an island retreat from an older well liked & respected couple.....  Miss Marple is there on vacation, a gift from her nephew.....  She is listening to the old braggart Major Palgrave, reliving his past heroics & telling Miss Marple in a quite loud voice of a murderer he has come cross.....  As he begins to show Miss Marple  the photo, he suddenly startles and blanches....

Later Major Palgrave is found murdered by overdose of blood pressure medicine....  But the Major did not suffer from any type of illness, so Miss Marple begins to investigate....

Meanwhile, Molly seems to be having blackouts & sever depression, leading to an attempt of suicide.......  Then another murder takes place, a woman who looks very much Like Molly....

Interesting, the characters were interesting, especially the rich old man who takes a keen interest in Miss Marple when he learns how deceiving her looks are....

No slurs against Italians only Black people!  My, my, my aren't we progressive......

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dame Agatha I

Crooked House  

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

"Writing 'Crooked House' was pure pleasure and I feel justified in my belief that this is one of my best." Agatha Christie.

Definitely my favorite as well......

Aristide Leonides is dead of poisoning.... He wasn't a very nice man, yet he was a very rich man who took care of his family. Fully aware of his familys' shortcomings, he spoke the truth as he saw it, no matter whom he upset......

Living with him in the old mansion were: his two sons & their wives, his three grandchildren, his first wife's sister, his young and beautiful second wife, and his grandchildren's tutor.  All had alibis as well as the opportunity and motive for wanting the mean old man dead.

Charles Hayward (the son of a Scotland Yard detective) is engaged to marry aristide's granddaughter, Sophia Leonides. At Sophia's behest, Charles is the one to investigate and solve the murder; for until he accomplishes the task, Sophia will not marry Charles.

This was such a surprise ending....  I certainly never saw it coming nor did I ever see the clues for what they were.
Sad Cypress: Hercule Poirot 

★ ★ ★ 

I really enjoyed the differences in this book, as Poirot was blessedly absent for the most part. No matter how much I enjoy the mystery, sometimes I get tired of his pomposity...

Elinor Carlisle stands accused of poisoning, Mary, a younger woman she had every reason to hate & be jealous of.....  Mary, a working class girl, had been sent to Germany to be educated by  Elinor's Aunt Laura.  As Aunt Laura has had a stroke, Elinor receives an anonymous letter saying that Mary is buttering up Aunt Laura in hopes of gleaning her estate.

Elinor & her fiance, Roddy Welman (Elinor's distant cousin) immediately visit Aunt Laura....  When Roddy sets eyes upon Mary, he is smitten and Elinor promptly calls off the engagement....

Aunt Laura suffers a second stroke & begs Elinor to call for her solicitor so that she may make a will.....  At this point: Elinor promises her Aunt that Mary shall be taken care of; a vial of Morphine goes missing; and Aunt Laura dies in her sleep intestate....

Later, as Elinor cleans out her Aunt's mansion in preparation to sell it, she invites Mary (whom she has promised a goodly sum of 2,000 GBP) & Nurse Hopkins (Aunt Laura's nurse & Mary's mentor) to lunch.....  While Elinor & Nurse are out of the room Mary succumbs to a deadly dose of morphine.....

Elinor is arrested (as she was the one who made lunch), Aunt Laura is exhumed, and the good doctor Peter Lord (which I kept reading as "Lord Peter") call on M. Poirot to prove Elinor's innocence.

There are several more lesser mysteries involved which come together nicely with the main story.....  For Once I Figured out who the murderer was!
Murder in Mesopotamia: Hercules Poirot  

★ ★ ★ 1/2

Nurse is called upon to write the murderous history of the archeological dig in Mesopotamia where the people are not whom they seem to be and the Leader of the dig's wife is murdered......

Archaeologist, Dr Lieder (who is devoted to his wife), has hired Nurse , to care for Mrs Leider, who has bouts of nervous terrors. Mrs Leider is not well liked as she does her best to dig at people causing them to hate her.......

Everyone has secrets & jealousies.......  However, it is Mrs. Leider with a well hidden past marriage and written death threats from her (assumed) dead husband who is being tormented the most and seems to have the most to hide.

When Mrs Leider is found dead in her room, with no one around to have "done it" and no witnesses, the fantastique Msr. Hercules Poirot (who just happens to be passing through) is called upon to help solve the murder.....  

Soon, another murder takes place..... one that silences the one who knows too much.  As Monsieur Poirot points out, everyone (including Nurse) is suspect and has reason to want Mrs Lieder dead......

The clues were actually there this time, I just couldn't put them all together......

Once again Dame Agatha had to get a racial slur in at the beginning of the book.... Honestly, I just can't see her reasoning by pointing out her own bigotry; as it isn't entertaining, pertinent to her story/plot, or enjoyable reading.
A.B.C. Murders (Poirot)  

★ ★ ★

I liked this book up until the end and we found out who "Really" done-it.

Col. Hastings is visiting from his Ranch in South America & visiting (a retired) Monsieur Poirot when a murder is announced (yes, that's another title from a different book) via letter to Monsieur Poirot, on such a date in Andover there will be a murder.  The victim's name begins w/ A.  The letter is signed A.B.C.

In a bit of time another letter arrives... taunting Poirot... On such a date in the town of B.....  A young waitress, Betty B, is found strangled on the beach.... she was stepping out on an extremely jealous fiance. Again the letter is signed A.B.C.

So-on & so-forth.... C; a well off man whose first &; last name begin w/ "C", collects china pieces and whose wife is ill w/ cancer and D towns as well...... 

Except in D-town the person murdered last name begins w/ "E"......

What ties them all together is the London Train A.B.C. maps and a man selling silk stockings......

In the interim, several of the relations of the victims come together w/ Poirot & Hastings and form a detecting group....

The ending, how does Christie come up w/ these things?  No one could really ever figure them out....  Yer Monsieur Poirot, just puts his little grey cells to it and "Voila"!

The book held my interest (I read & finished it in bed last night)....  There was one really glaring bit of racism: having an immovable face like that of a Red Indian........  Wow, really?

Also, there was a certain bit of psychology (about liars & schemers & psychopaths) that reminded me of the Troll that I worked with......

I am trying to read them all..... but obviously not in order, just by what is available @ the Library when I go in.
After the Funeral: Poirot  

★ ★ ★

Very interesting...Monsieur Poirot did not play a prominent part in this story. He came in towards the middle, listened to some inquiries he'd made and showed up again at the end....

Aunt Cora has always taken pleasure in blurting inconvenient truths... those which make people stop in their tracks. At reading of her brother Richard's will she purposely announces "But, he was murdered, wasn't he!" Which of course leads to her murder and an attempt on her "Lady's Companion" as well.....

Greedy, twisted, hypochondriacs...the lot of Rotters...all wanting more than their entitlement..... But Who Done It?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Woman in 1950's Saudi Arabia

At the Drop of a Veil, Marianne Alireza (signed copy)
★ ★ ★ ★
This has been on my TBR for at least 10 years... probably more...
The book spans the years of 1943-1957/58 and was written in 1971
Marianne meets Alireza in college and they marry.....  Not knowing that he would be called into service of Prince Faisal & the King of Saudi Arabia. Thus begins the story of Marianne as she becomes a member of the Harem that is the center of the Alireza family.
Marianne is welcomed into the family & everyone works to help her adjust.  Because she is the (well known) American wife of so high-ranking Arabian family she has many advantages that other women have not: she attends parties where men gather; at times she allowed to go without her veil; she is also allowed to travel the world w/ her husband & attend many diplomatic events.  
Life in Arabia was difficult in the 50's and up until the oil boom, their life of luxury was still one which we would consider harsh.  Multi-family & generation home, lack of running water & modern bathrooms, and abundance of flies, windows w/out glass, a kitchen w/out modern appliances (sinks, stoves, ovens).  Her voice is positive throughout most of the book; she did her best to fit in & did so admirably and she worked to make life easier not just for herself, but for the other women in the family as well.
It was very interesting to read & learn about life for an American woman in the 1950's Saudi Arabia. I found the book to be well written and compelling reading.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I know you've all been patiently awaiting these reviews, but I have been distracted w/ my retirement & new career as exhibit/show photographer......  also I have been less inclined to read/review any cookbook that I consider to be less than 3 stars!


Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes...., Rick Archbold

Oddly I am entranced with the subject of the Titanic.... not so much its sinking, rather the elegance and beauty of the ship and romance of the Edwardian era.

This book contains history, photos, menus, and recipes of the ship, its crew, and passengers. I was surprised that even the Second Class passengers had a generous dining menu, that was basically unheard of at the time.

Their April 12, 1912 "Hot" Luncheon menu consisted of: Pea Soup; Spaghetti au Gratin; Corned Beef; Vegetable Dumplings; Roast Mutton; and Baked Jacket Potatoes.

The "Cold" menu: Roast Mutton; Roast Beef; Sausage; Ox Tongue; Pickles; Salad; Tapioca Pudding; apple tart; Fresh Fruit; Cheese; Biscuits; and Coffee.
That sure is a whole lot of food for a 2nd class passage!

The First-Class Titanic Dinner was a "choreographed" affair with: Hand-written "formal" invitations (with advice on what to wear); a biography of the character your are asked to "portray"; flowers for the ladies; boutonniere for the men; and court music. 

Before dinner: Formal introductions; cocktails or lighter drinks (champagne); and hors d'oeuvres. 

Dinner: Dinner announcement w/ a gong; courses on silver salvers; a nine course dinner; and coffee, cigars, port or cordials.

A sample dinner menu w/ recipes:
First Course- Hors d'oeuvre: Oeufs de caille en aspic et caviar (Quail Eggs) w/ White Bordeaux or White Burgundy

Second Course- Potage: Potage Saint Germain (Spring Pea Soup) w/ Madeira or Sherry

Third Course- Poisson: Homard Thermidor (Lobster) w/ Dry Rhine or Moselle

Fourth Course- Entree: Tournedos aux morilles w/ Red Bordeaux

Fifth Course- Punch or Sorbet: Punch Rose

Sixth Course- Roti: Cailles aux cerises (Qualis w/ cherries) w/ Red Burgundy

Seventh Course- Legume: Asperges printanieres, sauce hollandaise (no wine?)

Eighth Course- Entrements: Macedoine de fruits; Oranges en surprise w/ Sweet dessert wines (Muscatel, Tokay, Madeira)

Ninth Course- Les desserts: assorted fresh fruits and cheeses w/ Sweet dessert wines, Champagne, or Sparkling wine

After Dinner: Coffee, cigars, Port or Cocktails

That is just one of the menus w/ recipes from one of the dining rooms..... Oh my.... The First-Class Dining Saloon had a menu w/ ELEVEN Courses.... and several of the courses, you had a choice of dishes.....

I'm surprised at all the liquor! Let's just call this an exercise in gluttony... but delicious gluttony and I for one, would have been happy to partake for just one night.

pies: delicious homemade pie recipes, Love Food Books

A very simply put together book by one of my favorite author/editor LOVE FOOD. This is a small book in size but not content...Each recipe has a corresponding beautiful color photo (OMG) and the recipes (if you are so inclined- which I am not, because I do not like to bake) are clear & simple to follow.... however some of the techniques are not so simple.....

The contents include: Introduction, 4 sections of recipes, and Index

Classic Pies: Traditional apple pie; Banoffee pie; Bakewell tart; Mississippi mud-pie; Queen of puddings; Custard pie, Key Lime pie; & Lemon Meringue pie

Sweet Snacks (many are minis) include: Maple pecan pies; Chocolate nut strudel; Paper-thin fruit pies; Apple strudel w/ cider sauce; Chocolate berry pies; and Lime w/ coconut meringue pies

Dessert Treats include: Pear pie; Apple lattice pie; Chocolate crumble pie; One roll fruit pie; Sweet potato pie; Forest fruit (berries) pie, Coconut cream pie (w/ mango on top); Peach almond pie; Tarte au citron; Chocolate almond pithiviers; and Peach cobbler

Special Occasions include: Pecan pie, Baked chocolate Alaska; Sweet pumpkin pie; Latticed cherry pie; Blackberry chocolate flan (really not a flan); and Boston chocolate pie

I'm tempted to keep this, but as I know I won't use it... I'll let it go back to the FOL Holiday book sale... someone is sure to score!


Indian Home Cooking...., Suvir Saran

If you like modernized Indian food and are not adverse to time-
consuming challenging recipes... you might like this cookbook.  Although the recipes sound tempting, making Lemon Rice that uses EIGHTEEN (18) ingredients is not for me, oh no it is not!

The book itself is heavy due to the slick paper it is printed on and there are only photos every-24 pages and not necessarily of the dishes that are given in the recipes.  The Recipe title is in large bold font, the explanation paragraph is a small grey bold font, the ingredients list in a medium black bold font, and the instruction are in a small plain black font, which I found amazingly easy to read.

Contents include: Foreword, Introduction,  13 sections of recipes, Glossary, Acknowledgements, Index, & Credits.

Recipe chapters include:

Soups include: Black pepper Rasam (Consomme) w/ tamarind; Pineapple Rasam w/ tamarind; Carrot & pea soup; Chilled yogurt soup w/ cucumber & mint; and My mother's tomato soup

Dals include: Simple lentil dal w/ cumin & dried red chilies; Empress dal; Simple Gujarati dal w/ three chilies; Yellow mung beans w/ spinach & Panchphoran; Sour chickpeas w/ garam masala & tomato cumin; Spicy squash,eggplant, & lentil stew; and Curried black-eyed peas

Vegetables include: Stir-fried green beans w/ coconut; Stir-friend carrots w/ cumin & lime; Cauliflower in a piquant tomato sauce; My sister's favorite corn curry; Smoked spiced eggplant; Crisp whole okra w/ fennel & coriander; Spicy peas w/ ginger; Plantains in curry; Crispy potatoes w/ cumin; Indian cheese in an herbed green sauce; sweet-sour butternut squash w/ ginger & chilies; and Stir-fried mushrooms w/ onions & tomatoes

Rice includes: Plain Basmati rice; Cumin-scented rice pilaf; Lemon rice (18 ingredients!); Sweet saffron pilaf w/ nuts & currants (This is what we serve at Armenian weddings); Chicken biryani w/ cream & garam masala; Coconut mint rice; Lamb biryani w/ orange & whole garam masala; and My grand-uncle's khitcheree

Poultry includes: Simple Lahori chicken curry w/ onion & tomato; Southern spiced Lahori chicken curry; Braised chicken in white sauce & garam masala; Butter chicken; Bombay chicken curry w/ coriander & coconut milk; Coconut chicken w/ cashews; Ground turkey w/ spinach & whole spices; and Tandoori roast Cornish game hens

Meats include: Simple lamb curry w/ coriander & garam masala; Parsi lamb curry; Pork vindaloo (the only pork dish); Lamb cooked Delhi style; Ground beef w/ spinach & fresh mint (the only beef dish); Ground lamb w/ almonds, cardamom, & coconut; and Mogul lamb 'filet' in a cream sauce w/ garam masala

Fish & Shellfish includes: Salmon curry; Halibut in a hot-sour sauce; Spicy friend salmon; Mangalore fried shrimp; and Tandoori prawns

Appetizers & Snacks include: Spinach, onion & potato pakoras; Puff pastry samosas w/ green peas; Ann's cheese toasts; Chickpea salad; Warm bread salad w/ mustard, cumin & tomatoes; and Papadum

Raitas (cold yogurt salads) include: Cucumber; Mint & onion; Pineapple; Eggplant; Grape; and Zucchini pachadi 

The recipe chapters continue w/ Flatbreads & Crackers; Pickles & Chutneys; Sweets (a wonderful sounding Orange Flan); and Drinks.

Unless I was an avid fan of Indian food, which I am not, I would not pay the $32.50 for this book......  But if you are, and you  are interested in this book, I'd first borrow it from the Library.

Cooking the Korean Way, Okwha Chun

I gave this 4 stars, not so much for quantity of content but for the easiness of the recipes, which include all of the Korean basics.....

Contents: Introduction (background of Korea); Before you begin; A Korean table; Korean basics; 4 sections of recipes; & Index.

Korean Basics: Egg pancake; Kimchi (wow so easy to make, I am on it); White rice; Noodles; Toasted sesame seeds; & Dipping sauce

Salads & Soups: bean sprout salad; Spinach salad (I this); Cold cucumber soup; and Potato soup

Chicken, Fish & Vegetarian Dishes: Mixed vegetables w/ (yam) noodles (another favorite); Glazed chicken wings; Fish patties; and Soy-sesame tofu

Beef Dishes: Barbecue beef (Bulkogi ); Simmered beef short ribs (Kalbi ); and Korean dumplings (Mandu )

Holiday & Festival Food: New Year's beef rice cake soup; Grilled beef & vegetable skewers; Five grain dish; Seaweed rice rolls; and Zucchini pancakes

Steamy Kitchen's healthy asian favorites, Jaden Hair

I like this book... it is a paperback format with very attractive photographs.  Most of the 100 recipes have less than six (6) ingredients which makes for fast & easy preparation.

Contents include: Foreword; Introduction; 9 chapters of recipes; Ingredients; Acknowledgements; about the author; Measurement conversions; and Index

Soups: Mom's chicken stock; seafood stock; miso soup; dashi; Thai tom yum; Healing ginger chicken soup; & Tofu mushroom miso soup

Pickles & Sauces: Shrimp & cucumber sunomono; Gari; Vietnamese carrot & daikon pickle; Quick kimchi; Andrew's secret sauce; Scallion dipping sauce; Dumpling dipping sauce; Sweet plum dipping sauce; and My sriracha sauce

Salads & Dressings: Simple citrus dressing; Orange sesame dressing; Lemon soy dressing; Peanut dressing & dipping sauce; Asian slaw w/ wasabi soy dressing; Edamame noodle salad; Big salmon salad; Quinoa salad w/ avocado & pears; and Seared scallop salad w/ sesame ginger vinaigrette

Little Bites: Korean beef bites; Crispy rice patties; Seared ahi tuna; Thai chicken larb; Vietnamese style shrimp cocktail; & Shrimp & spinach dumplings

Share: Vietnamese summer rolls (2 kinds); Chinese hot pot party; Sushi temaki party; vegetarian Korean bbq; and Japanese hot pot

Vegetables, Tofu & Eggs (I liked this chapter): Steamed asparagus w/ miso ginger butter; Roasted kabocha squash; Baby bok choy w/ garlic & ginger; Cauliflower steaks w/ ginger soy sauce; Eggs w/ oyster sauce; Ten minute Thai vegetable curry; Roasted carrots w/ ginger honey mustard; and Spicy garlicky tofu & broccoli

Meat & Seafood: Stuffed miso eggplant; Thai squid w/ basil sweet/sour sauce; Cantonese style poached fish; Kung pao chicken; Lemon chicken; sake steamed mussels; Salmon honey teriyaki; and Sweet & sour pork

Noodles & Rice: Pineapple crab fried rice; Seafood fried rice; Vietnamese vermicelli bowl; Singapore rice noodles; Seafood curry noodle soup; & Japanese soba noodles

Sweets & Libations: Coconut green tea; Sweet goji tea; Mom's preserved kumquat & honey; Lemongrass, ginger, & Kaffir lime herbal infusion; Kiwi sorbet; Passionfruit mimosa; Stevia simple syrup; mango brulee; Cucumber mint water; orange mango smoothie; and Sparkling Vietnamese limeade

What a lovely book!

Brunch Louise Pickford

Such a sweet simple little book of 64 pages. Lovely colored photos, delightful recipes, printed on a white smooth paper. The main titles are large the "with: in in small bold print; the ingredients are in small but easily read font as are the instructions. The only hard to read item is the paragraph/sentence under the title with points out ingredient options.

Contents: Introduction; 5 chapters of recipes; and Index

Late Breakfast: Soft egg w/ asparagus; Cinnamon-soaked granola; Omelet w/ fine herbs; Panettone French toast w/ coco nut milk (YUM); and Fresh figs w/ ricotta & honeycomb

Classic Brunch: Bagles, lox & wasabi sour cream; Eggs Benedict; Mushrooms on toast; and Kedgeree

Early Lunch: Crab Caesar; BLT tortilla panini; Mushroom burgers; Frazzled eggs w/ smoked bacon; and Charred asparagus frittata

Sweet Things: Warm compote; Baby custard tarts w/ cardamon coffee; Pecan & chocolate muffins; and Sweet bruschetta w/ quince glazed figs

Drinks: Iced Bloody Mary; Iced coffee; Mocha affogato; 3 types of Champagne cocktails; and 2 types of smoothies.

Taverna: the Best of Casual Mediterranean Cooking Joyce Goldstein

As this is an older book "1996", I'm not going to whine about the photos not being as I like them..... The pages are glossy and the print for the is easy to read.....

Contents include: Introduction; Basic recipes; 5 chapters of non-basic recipes; Glossary; and Index

Basic Recipes: Garlic-potato sauce; Yogurt-cucumber sauce; Tomato-nut sauce; Chili pepper sauce; and marinated olives

Appetizers: Garlic shrimp; Stuffed grape leaves; Fried cheese; Fried mussels in nut sauce; Lamb pizza; and Cheese filled pastries

Soups and Vegetables: Bread soup w/ cilantro, garlic & poached eggs; "Green" soup w/ kale & potatoes; Meatball soup w/ egg & lemon; City style braised artichokes; and Spinach w/ raisins & pine nuts

Fish & Shellfish: Stewed clams w/ sausage, ham & tomatoes; shrimp w/ tomatoes, oregano, & feta; Gratin of sea cod & potatoes; and Stuffed squid

Poultry & Meat: Grilled chicken kebabs; Roast chicken w/ oregano & lemon; Sausage & green pepper ragout; braised pork w/ quinces; Lamb stew w/ artichokes; and Pork ragout w/ sweet red peppers & lemon

Desserts: Cream filled apricots; Rice pudding; Sweet cheese tarts from Santorini; Figs stuffed w/ chocolate & almonds; Baklava; and Caramelized orange custard

Wonderful food...... not so easy recipes but I'm sure worth the effort

Blissful Brownies, Love Food Book

If you really like brownies, then this might be the book for you...... I do not particularly care for brownies, so it is not for me..... It is a pretty book with wonderful mouth watering photos, easy to read print, and rather easy to follow instructions.

Contents include: Introduction (Baking Basics); 4 sections of recipes; & Index

The Classics: Chocolate brownies (w/ a frosting squiggle); Chocolate fudge brownies; Pecan brownies; white chocolate brownies; & Chocolate chip brownies w/ pistachios (yes!)

New Twists: Sour cream brownies; Walnut & cinnamon blondies; Upside-down toffee apple brownies; Rocky road brownies; rich apricot blondies; & Marbled choc cheesecake brownies

Made to Impress: Mint julep brownie cake; Black Russian brownies; Blonde brownie hearts w/ raspberry sauce; & Rich ginger brownies w/ port cream

Cookie sheet treats: Chocolate peanut butter bars; Almond bars; Chocolate marshmallow fingers (really gross looking); Macadamia nut caramel bars; & Fruity (oat) bars

Give or take 82 recipes in total...... Which gives a person who loves brownies many options. Most likely there is something for everyone.

I gave this 4 stars because whether I like brownies or not, this is a good cookbook.


Hosting Wedding Parties

There were 6 shower ideas w/ decor, favors, and menus:

Luau Reception: Some type of "refreshing" punch; Kalua pork kabobs; Chicken long rice; Lomi lomi salmon; Coconut sweet potatoes; and Coconut lime wedding cake

Bridesmaids' Tea Party: Green beans w/ thyme vermouth butter; Herbed chicken; Strawberry orange poppyseeds salad; and Mystic petit fours

Playful Rehearsal Dinner: Fondu; 6 dipping sauces; THE Original Toblerone fondue; and White chocolate raspberry fondue

Gourmet Dinner Shower: Portabella pita appetizers; grilled garlic steaks; Orange fennel salad; and Bittersweet chocolate pumpkin cake

Garden Shower: Artichoke Tortellini salad; Glazed berry cheesecake tart; Garden Gazpacho; and Old fashioned lemonade

Engagement Party: Goat cheese squares; Poached shrimp w/ olive oil & lemon juice; Turkey chili tortillas; and Mini mocha tarts

So there is a party-planning timetable; papers, decorations, ribbons, envelopes, folding napkins... etc.