September 2015 Favourites : Books, Audiobooks, Bookish Blogposts, Movies, Library Hauls and Much More.


September 2015 was a slow but good month for new books, audiobooks and movies. It took a little time getting into our normal routine after our month long trip to India. Here is a round up of my September (and a little bit of August) favourites …

In the month of August the only two books I had read from my Holiday Reading List were coincidentally Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (a fantastic read) and Tempestuous April by Betty Neels.  Both of them contained April in the title but here the similarity end. I will leave you to arrive at your own conclusions…

Enchanted April is the perfect read for a summer vacation and found it into my September blogpost that lists Eight Books that Remind Me of Summer. Set in Portofino, Italy, Enchanted April tells of a sort of ‘re-birth’ of four different women who travel to Italy to spend time in a rented medieval castle, to find solace in the beautiful surroundings.

In September we frequently visited our library.

Little M and I are continuing to read from the Time Magazine’s list of Top 100 Children’s Books. Two books on this list are Tuesday by David Wiesner and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.

Tuesday is more of a picture book with terrific illustrations. It tells the tale of a series of animal invasions that strike at a particular time and place, namely Tuesday evening at around eight o’clock in a small suburb. Frogs invade the skies in hundreds of thousands, flying along on lilypad aircraft. They invade backyards, dark sitting rooms where people are dozing off in front of the television. Neither the press nor the police know what to make of it the day after, when the town is strewn with abandoned lilypads. All is well until next Tuesday at the same time… when a shadow of a flying pig is seen eerily set against a barn door…

Owl Moon is another wonderfully atmospheric book. It tells the story of a young child setting out on her very first owling expedition with her father. The night sky glows with the golden glow of a full moon- the best time to view an owl in the deep, snow laden woods. It is a tale of patience and forbearance, excitement and anticipation.

We are really enjoying all the books on the Time Magazine’s list of Top 100 Children’s Books. I cannot recommend them enough. Not on the list but of great entertainment value to Little M, is another installment of the Sofia the First entertainment series (she missed her a great deal whilst in India).

My reading in September was slow. I’ve started The Land Where Lemons Grow  by Helena Attlee which is a history of the introduction of citrus fruit in Italy. In great detail it researches how this fruit  has invaded the Italian imagination, from Calabria’s Diamante citrons, the blood oranges of Sicily, to the bergamot thriving on narrow strips of coastline. There is a bit of everything in this part history, part horticulture, sociopolitical culinary book offering.

I finished the latest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh series featuring philosopher Isabel Dalhousie called ‘The Novel Habits of Happiness’. As usual the book has a little bit of everything that I love, scenes from a Scottish city, romance, a light mystery, memorable characters and very large doses of reflection. It is the first book I reach for when I come back from our holiday.

Another book that I have started is a ‘cozy’ post-WW1 mystery set in Leeds called ‘Dying in the Wool‘ by Frances Brody. Speaking of mysteries, September marked the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dame Agatha Christie which I celebrated with my blogpost ‘An Ode to Agatha Christie: Celebrating Her 125th Birth Anniversary with Eight Memorable Books’.

I bought an audiobook from Audible in September called ‘In and Out of the Kitchen’ by Miles Jupp and cannot recommend it enough. It is a BBC 4 radio drama about a ‘cookery writer’ Damien Trench and his writing and domestic struggles.The writing is so very funny in a wry sort of way… really enjoying it.

As the mother of a 3 year old I find it impossible to visit the cinema nowadays and watch ‘non-princess themed’ movies. One of the bonuses of the Emirates flights to and from India was the excellent selection of current movies . On the way to India I watched ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ which I loved and has inspired me to give this favourite Hardy a re-read. On the way back to the US, I was lucky enough to watch the dramatized version of Vera Brittain’s poignant WW1 memoir ‘Testament of Youth’ which was epic. I cannot recommend these two movies enough.

Lastly, the whole family watched not one but two dramatized versions of C.S. Lewis’s classic -The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe… and Aslan made it into my art journal.


Hope you had a wonderful September. See you in October xxx.

An Ode to Agatha Christie: Celebrating Her 125th Birth Anniversary with Eight Memorable Books

If you love to read crime fiction novels, chances are you will most definitely have read an Agatha Christie novel. Growing up, my group of school friends loved to read and share different books together. Agatha Christie was a great favorite. A quick and guaranteed good read. Someone you could rely on to divert you away from all those fat textbooks and the required English reading list.

Agatha Christie was definitely the writer who developed my love for vintage crime fiction. She was someone I read before venturing to read the works of Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Nicholas Blake and Edmund Crispin.

To celebrate Christie’s 125th birth anniversary I have chosen some of our best-loved childhood reads that we read many years ago and continue to read today. As one friend recently remarked, “I still read a lot of Christie. It’s my comfort reading when I’m miserable…”

Here in no particular order are some of our most memorable Christie novels.


1)And Then There Were None- this along with the ‘Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ has to be one of the best loved Christie novels. It has a unique plot: ten guests with seemingly little in common, are invited to a millionaire’s house on a private island, off the coast of Devon. One by one, quite systematically, all the guests are killed until nobody is left…


2)Murder on the Orient Express- the luxurious backdrop of the Orient Express forms the setting of this spinechiller. In the dead of the night, a traveller on the Orient Express is brutally murdered in a locked compartment and further investigation reveals that he has been stabbed many many times. Enter Poirot to the rescue.


3)The Pale Horse- this is a nice stand alone novel. It doesn’t feature either Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple but instead showcases Ariadne Oliver as the detective in charge. This book has a hint of the supernatural and the occult, has references to witchcraft and is nice to read during Halloween (another book that comes to mind for this season is Halloween Party). A dying woman bequeaths a list of names to Father Gorman and shortly after receiving the list he is killed. Mark Easterbrook along with Ariadne Oliver try to decipher the clues locked inside the list- a thankless task, because the people have nothing in common, except for the fact that they are being serially marked for murder.


4)4.50 From Paddington- this is another Agatha Christie featuring a murder associated with trains but this time Miss Marple comes to the rescue. It seems Miss Marple’s character was based on Christie’s grandmother. Miss Marple definitely reminds me in certain ways of Patricia Wentworth’s elderly sleuth- Miss Silver. I love the storyline of this particular mystery: two trains traveling in opposite directions pass one another in the evening. The occupant of one train, an elderly lady called Mrs. McGillicuddy, sleepily observes something quite sinister occurring on the opposite train, a man strangling a woman. When she reports the incidence to her friend, Miss Marple, they are unable to uncover a missing body but further sleuthing proves that what Mrs. McGillicuddy saw, might have been correct.


5)The Murder of Roger Ackroyd- this supposedly is the mystery that launched Christie’s career as the ‘Queen of Mystery’ and brought her great popularity. A young widow commits suicide in a small village and her death sparks rumours of her having been blackmailed regarding her affair with wealthy Roger Ackroyd- another inhabitant of the village. Very soon, Roger Ackroyd is found dead in his locked study after having discovered the identity of the unknown blackmailer. The identity of the blackmailer/killer is called into question by village inhabitant Hercule Poirot. What makes this mystery stand apart from all other Christies is the ingenious plot and very surprising identity of the killer.


6)Hercule Poirot’s Christmas- I usually reach for this one during the festive season even though the book is completely lacking in ‘christmas spirit’. Simeon Lee gathers his large family to his large country house during the holidays, only to be brutally murdered in a classic locked room mystery. I also enjoy watching the dramatized version of this book featuring the inimitable David Suchet as Poirot.


7)Murder in Mesopotamia- This has always been one of my favorites. I love the Christie mysteries set in Egypt and the East. The have a distinctive flavor and resonate with Christie’s own experiences on archaeological digs with her second husband- Max Mallowan- a renowned archaeologist. This book has a surprising solution to a clever plot.


8)Endless Night- This is a book I actually read recently and was struck by its very mature and spine-chilling narrative. It has a dark, pent-up psychological tension that is similar to that found in a Hitchcock thriller. Do read this book if you are interested in reading a Christie with a difference.

Which Agatha Christie novels are your favorites?

Poirot or Marple?

Hats off to Agatha Christie for creating two such original, memorable detectives along with a host of other characters.

Eight Books that Remind Me of Summer

Summer is receding into Autumn here in the north east corner of North America. Soon summer will be a warm fuzzy memory that one can wistfully think about when there is five feet of snow piled high on the ground. There are certain books that remind me of summer. They are not always set in the height of that particular season but they are often easy to read stories that make me relax, feel good and smile in equal measure. For me, summer is not only a season, it’s a state of mind…

Here in no particular order are eight books that remind me of summer.


1) My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell- This is the sun-drenched account of a young boy’s encounters with the natural life of the Greek Isle of Corfu. What makes these memoirs eminently readable are the hilarious descriptions of Durrell’s family. Be prepared to laugh aloud with every turned page.


2) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome- written in a time when young English children returned from boarding school to spend summer holidays sailing around the serene water bodies of the English Lake District. There is a charm and innocence and way of living captured in these children’s books which is magically locked in time.


3) A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle- alright, technically this is not a summer specific book. However, the location plays the most important part in this ‘year in the life’ narrative and when I think of Provence I immediately think of sunshine, good wine and summer markets. The language is lovely, descriptive and yet easy to read. After you’ve read the book you feel as if you have taken a good long holiday without having moved a physical step.


4) Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie- this is not the kind of book that will give you a warm fuzzy feeling, being interlaced with murders, but it does have all the ingredients for a tremendous beach read. Set in a English seaside resort in Southern England the plot is brilliant and you have none other than the esteemable Hercule Poirot to help you along with your sleuthing.


5)An Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim- Four English women, due to their own individual reasons, escape their dreary life in London to spend a month in a rented Italian castle. The warmth and beauty of the location strikes a change in each of these women. They find themselves embracing circumstances and causes they had long given up on…


6)Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons- this is a feel good Cinderella-esque love story set in 1930s rural Essex. What sets it apart from any other frothy romance is Gibbon’s exceptionally witty writing style, her simultaneous interweaving of several plots and her sometimes very profound observations about life.


7)The Darling Buds of May by HE Bates- this book is just ‘perfick’ to read in the summer if you should choose to use Pop Larkin’s (the protagonist of the book) favorite adjective. A young tax collector comes to Pop Larkin’s Essex farm for an audit only to find himself totally carried away by the love, laughter and excesses of the Larkin family. He falls in love with Mariette, the eldest Larkin daughter, Ma Larkin’s cooking and also Pop Larkin’s philosophy of living life to the lees. The descriptions of nature, summer and especially food make this an exceptional book.


8) Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse- to end our summer feast of stories we have some of the eccentricities of Blanding’s Castle for you. The absurdities of the English aristocracy, unlikely situations, unusual characters like Lord Emsworth and his large household and the series of misadventures that assault you will have you alternatively laughing and cringing. Wodehouse as always is at his ascerbic best.