Book Review: Unlocking Worlds by Sally Allen

Unlocking Worlds

Genre: Non Fiction
Published: 2015
Country: USA
Format: PDF
About the Book: iRead Book Tours | Goodreads

I think that we can all unanimously agree that reading is no longer only a solitary past time for stereotypical ‘book worms’ as it used to be labelled years ago. It has become a community activity thanks to literary websites and book blogs. Not only do books enrich us and become a part of our lives but book readers all over the world are able to connect with each other and develop a meaningful relationship based on shared literary experiences. That is the real power of literature – to bring people together and add rainbow colours to our lives through a series of words written in black on white.

Unlocking Worlds is a book about books – written by a book-lover, for a book-lover. I am always looking for good book recommendations and this one really gave me some very interesting ones.

The author has written a whole chapter in the beginning on how to let a book change you. In it, she explains that it is not imperative that a reader necessarily has to connect with a good book but it is totally okay to be able to relate to a book that is usually not considered such a literary masterpiece. Reading is very personal and subjective. The books she personally considers good in this manuscript have been classified more or less on the basis of five qualities – a compelling narrative, purposeful shaping of words, purposeful ambiguity, emotional truth and wholeness. I found it interesting because I usually tend to read a book in its entirety using only the basic elements of plot, characters, setting, conflict and resolution without delving much into nitty-gritty details and this has caused me to think more carefully about reading and reviewing.

The rest of the book is divided into several chapters that follow themes and genres – of family, time travel, war, tragedy, children’s fiction, memoirs and epistolary novels and many others. It is a well structured book where each chapter begins with a personal anecdote, usually from Allen’s childhood, and contains 10 book recommendations that not only give a brief description but also the author’s personal insight into why she was personally able to connect with them. Here, Allen’s writing, English literature and communication background has helped her to delve deeper into the meaning of each story and find the reasons why these books have moved her. She has beautifully been able to extract the essence of each book and her words have made me want to explore many books that I might not even have considered before.

I found the watercolor painted cover, the most attractive feature of this book. I honestly loved the simplicity as well as the colors used that brought out an old world charm that is sometimes missing in even the most brilliantly graphically designed books today. The little illustrations with the quotes at the beginning of each chapter were cute too.

I was able to connect with Sally Allen’s book-related experiences in many ways that a reader is able to relate to another. Books were always such a huge part of my childhood and like Allen, I often read (and re-read!) deep into the night by flashlight under the blanket after everyone had gone to bed. As the author relates in one of the latter chapters which is aptly titled ‘Books for Book Lovers’, books have sometimes played the role of ice breakers and for developing an instant connection between two individuals who might have never met before. This has personally happened to me twice on the metro as well where I was reading two different books on separate occasions and a couple of fellow commuters asked me about them. In those moments, I was completely able to relate to a stranger even if I shared only a couple of sentences with them. I have certainly not found this connection possible with any other material possession.

I think Allen has really hit the nail on the head in one of the last few chapters where she has expressed how difficult and overwhelming it can get for a reader nowadays to keep up with all the books that come out by the hundreds and thousands. I can completely relate to that feeling. It’s like a rat race that I feel I must keep up, only to realise that really reading is ultimately for my pleasure and enrichment and not for any other reason. So it’s best to really choose the books that you can personally connect to or learn from.

I would consider Unlocking Worlds to be the perfect holiday gift for a book lover who loves reading a variety of genres and you aren’t sure what book to gift them. It’s also the perfect compilation of recommendations to keep on one’s bookshelf for the next time you’re just not sure what to read next.

Book Rating : 4.5 stars out of 5

Note: I received a copy of this book through iRead Book Tours. However, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. If you would like to read more author interviews, guest posts and book reviews of Unlocking Worlds, please have a look at the book tour schedule here.


Sally Allen

Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.

Connect with the author:  Website  | Twitter


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

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Author Interview : Unlocking Worlds by Sally Allen

Unlocking Worlds


Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own.

In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately—and compassionately—can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection. Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.


Here’s a quick Q&A session with the author Sally Allen:

What genre do you write and why?

I write nonfiction about books. When I was younger, I enjoyed writing fiction. During and after college, I’ve written essays and done reporting and other journalistic writing. In recent years, I find my favorite subject to write about revolves around my favorite pastime, which is reading. Books give me so much to think about, and writing helps me work out what I’ve learned and valued from my reading experience.

Where do you write?

I do a lot of my writing in my walk-in closet, which doubles as my home office. I live in an old home, and my closet, which probably wasn’t a closet when the house was built, has a large, lovely window. I put a small desk under it, and it’s a surprisingly cozy spot where I can sneak away when I want to write without being interrupted.

As a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

The biggest thing I had to learn is how to write productively in small bursts. Before I became a mom, I assumed I needed long, uninterrupted stretches of time to write. After I became a mom, I realized this was no longer possible. So I had to retrain myself to take whatever time I could carve out, even if it was just fifteen minutes, and make those minutes count.

What is a book that inspired you to be a writer?

One of my favorite books growing up was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Claudia and her brother, Jamie, run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place I’d spent a lot of time in growing up in New York. Reading that book inspired me to write my own Claudia-and-Jamie-style adventure, though mine was set in Williamsburg, Virginia, where my family had recently gone on vacation. Though I don’t write fiction anymore, that is definitely the first book that inspired me to write.

Name a quirky thing you like to do.

My absolute favorite place to read is on airplanes, especially on evening flights. Anytime I’m booking a flight, I’ll opt for an evening one if at all possible. Something about being 30,000 feet above the earth’s surface in the dark facilitates getting lost in another world. My secret fantasy is to be given an airplane ticket around the world so I can finally make a serious dent in my massive to-be-read list.

If you would like to read more author interviews, guest posts and book reviews of Unlocking Worlds, please have a look at the book tour schedule here.


Sally Allen

Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.

Connect with the author:  Website  | Twitter


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

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Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Bookish Commandments

TOP TEN TUESDAY

**Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is centered on Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit (aka ten book series I think I’m going to abandon, ten bookish habits I want to quit, ten authors I quit reading, ten types of books I’m quitting, ten tropes I want to stop reading about, ten books I marked as DNF (did not finish) recently, etc**

Since I started the 2015 Reading Challenge to explore different genres and authors, I developed some reading habits that I would like to forever abandon. Based on these bad habits, here are ten bookish commandments I have drafted mainly as a reminder to myself:

  1. Thou shalt not waste time reading bad books for life is too short! Don’t try to finish a book when you know it’s getting really boring. For example, The Five Red Herrings
  2. Thou shalt not abandon a book too early. Give a book a chance to prove itself at least by reading the first 100 pages.
  3. Thou shalt read everyday and at the same time. As any good habit, stick to reading at the same time everyday.
  4. Thou shalt not wallow in reading slumps. Reminding yourself of the reason you started reading and reviewing books in the first place is one good way to come out of the slump.
  5. Thou shalt not acquire  too many books. Try to curb your enthusiasm while buying or downloading books one after the other. Instead, spend more time reading the ones you already have in your TBR.
  6. Thou shalt not multi-task reading material. The biggest disadvantage of having too many books on your smartphone (or tablet/e-book reader) is suffering from a lack of focus and/or indecisiveness. Try not to start more than one book at a time. Decide and set your priorities.
  7. Thou shalt enjoy the reading journey at your own pace. Reading is meant to be savored just like a piece of chocolate. Try not to be in too much of a hurry to finish too many books.
  8. Thou shalt not ever give up! Giving up reading is the biggest sin you shall ever commit!
  9. Thou shalt not read indulge in too many trashy books. Reading a guilty pleasure or two is fine. Just don’t go down too far on that road again.
  10. Thou shalt read and absorb inspirational books everyday. Reading fiction is obviously great but reading a book which can empower and lift you higher is the best! Try to learn something everyday.

Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, I always value your encouragement and support! If you liked this blog post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Thank you!

If you’d like to contact me for enquiries or just to say hello, you can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com or even connect with me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

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Writing 101 – Day 15 – Take a Cue From Your Readers

Books and Sleep

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
— Marcus Tullius Cicero

As a book lover, I cannot imagine a room, a house, a journey or even a phone/tablet without books. It’s the first thing I look forward to packing in my handbag and/or storing on my phone when I am going on a journey. It’s the only thing that gives me solace and a homely feeling when I am in a new place. Even if it’s just a magazine, a borrowed book or an old re-read, I need to have something to read. Continue reading

2015 Reading Challenge – Book #17 – Lavender and Old Lace

Book #17 – A classic romance – Lavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed
Genre: Classic Romance
Published: 1902
Country: USA
Book to Movie/TV Adaptation: Adapted for film in 1921

Source: Etsy (I do not own this image)

Ruth Thorne, an independent, city girl of twenty-five years and nearly-exhausted due to her stressful job at the city newspaper, jumps at the chance to look after her eccentric aunt’s house on top of a hill in a small seaside village while her aunt is away. When she arrives, her aunt whom she has never met before, has already left for Europe for six months, leaving Ruth only a letter handed to her by young housekeeper Hepsey. The letter has some instructions (but no explanations) including a strange request to light the lamp in the attic every night before bed. Ruth’s reporter instincts immediately come alive – why does her aunt light the lamp every night? Who lives in the house at the foot of the hill where there is a similar lamp burning? Who was Mr. Charles Winfield? While searching for answers to the many questions that keep popping up, Ruth also finds true love on the way.

There’s only one word I will use to describe this book – charming. No, make that three – very very charming. There’s not much I didn’t like about this book. I think the only other classic romance I have really loved is Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster and this follows right after.

This Victorian romance is truly timeless and each and every character is lovingly written – from the strong, independent career girl that is Ruth, Hepsey, the very curious housekeeper,  Miss Ainslie, a lady with an almost divine and ethereal presence to Mr. Carl Winfield, a young man of about thirty with a mischievous and endearing charm that quietly steals Ruth’s heart. The other characters which reveal themselves towards the latter half of the story were very nicely sketched too.

Despite being a classic romance, the book’s element of mystery created the main crux of the story. Even though Ruth’s wild imagination makes her cook up different stories about her aunt’s past, she finds herself utterly bored within the first few weeks of her arrival for lack of anything productive to do. Eventually she finds great friendship in her aunt’s old friend Miss Ainslie’s calming presence and later in Carl, who is also from the city and on vacation for six months to heal his tired eyes. Carl, who is her future colleague at the same newspaper, annoys and aggravates her but slowly proves to be her dearest friend and constant companion and gradually, the love of her life. I loved how Carl and Ruth were total opposites of each other but Ruth’s feisty nature attracted Carl and his boyish but caring nature won over Ruth. Their cute, teasing and witty banters were the highlights of their friendship although I didn’t like it much when Ruth slowly changes from being a strong feminist woman, to turn into a much docile version of herself. That was the biggest moot point for me that I didn’t care for.

Towards the end when the mysteries of the past unfold themselves, the book’s tone changes from being light and humourous to a bittersweet one leaving you with a heavy feeling in your heart and a sense of melancholy.

Myrtle Reed’s writing is beautiful – descriptive but simple and not at all over-pretentious. She shares some lovely life wisdom about happiness through Miss  Ainslie’s enlightened self. It is ironic however, because Reed tragically committed suicide in real life at the young age of 36. Still, her legacy lives on in her wonderfully penned words and this book is a priceless gem which I would recommend to any lover of classics.

Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #14 – No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom For Life

Book #14 – A non-fiction book – No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom For Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
Genre: Non-Fiction/Spiritual
Published: 2002
Country: USA

No Death, No Fear
I came across this book at my aunt’s place many months ago and opened it up to a random page in casual interest to find words that made a lot of sense to me. Intrigued, I downloaded this and many other books by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to read “later” (How many of you can relate with me? I download hundreds of interesting books to read “later” and never end up reading them!)

We all go through personal loss, fear of death and grief at one point of our lives or another. Everyone rejoices at the birth of a new being but none of our emotional faculties can really ever prepare us for death, no matter how sudden or impending it may have been. Buddhism has a very profound yet scientific explanation regarding birth and death, one which is logical at the same time comforting.

No matter how open-minded we may be, some of the notions, concepts, beliefs, prejudices and biases that we have been brought up with always form the basis for many of our decisions and judgements. The Buddha observed that the ultimate goal of life is to achieve nirvana which can only be achieved by breaking the bondage of all concepts and notions in our minds that cause us much distress and keep us from our true reality of complete happiness and freedom. One of these is the concept of birth and death.

The Buddha said the nature of your reality is the nature of no birth and no death; no coming, no going, no being, no non-being, no same, no different. The teaching sounds as though it contradicts the teaching that everything that is born must die, the teaching that we cannot escape death, sickness and old age. Practice looking deeply. You will realize that birth is a notion, death is a notion, coming is a notion, going is a notion, being is a notion and non-being is a notion. We have to remove all notions concerning reality. Then we touch the ultimate reality, or suchness. 

Nothing is created, there’s only a transfer of energy from one form to the other. This is something we’ve studied in physics at school but maybe never thought about it carefully in life. Buddhism talks about applying this scientific fact and calls it manifestation. The book mentions several examples one of which is that of a cloud that changes its form into rain that subsequently gets transferred into our body in the form of food and water and repeats its cycle. Similarly, so does the manifestation of life.

Nothing has a separate self, and nothing exists by itself. If we examine things carefully, we will see that all phenomena, including ourselves, are composites. We are made up of other parts. We are made up of our mother and father, our grandmothers and grandfathers, our body, our feelings, our perceptions, our mental formations, the earth, the sun and innumerable non-self elements. All these parts depend on causes and conditions. We see that all that has existed, exists or will exist is interconnected and interdependent. All that we see has only manifested because it is a part of something else, of other conditions that make it possible to manifest. All phenomena are neither produced nor destroyed, because they are in a constant process of manifesting.

We are also guided to open our eyes and see that our historical dimension (or the reality that we have been led to believe) is different from our ultimate dimension (the reality that is our true nature). There are detailed examples that help us think outside the box and remove many mental barriers regarding everything in life. The book talks about simple ways of Buddhist meditation and practicing looking deeply in our daily lives and being aware to really awaken ourselves. Although these new and alternative thoughts are not easy to comprehend, practicing mindfulness can slowly help us rewire some of our preconceived notions.

I found myself asking several questions regarding pain and suffering. How can we justify suffering if there is no death, no fear, no coming, no going? There is an answer to that in the book as well. Your actions cause ripple effects around everything else. What you do or don’t do decides the course for others. Although the examples made sense, the justifications were still a bit difficult to take in.

How can I be happy? It’s simple, the Buddha says. Live in the present moment. In other words, be thankful of what you already have in your life.

Please take a pen and a sheet of paper. Go to the foot of a tree or to your writing desk, and make a list of all the things that can make you happy right now: the clouds in the sky, the flowers in the garden, the children playing, the fact that you have met the practice of mindfulness, your beloved ones sitting in the next room, your two eyes in good condition. The list is endless. You have enough already to be happy now. You have enough to be free from coming and going, up and down, birth and death. Nourish yourself every day with the wonderful things that life has to offer you. Nourish yourself in the present moment. Walk in the kingdom of God.

Finally, your own experience is the best teacher. This is what Buddhism is all about.

The Buddha has advised us that we should not accept any teachings as true just because a famous master teaches them or because they are found in holy books. This also includes the Buddhist canon. We can only accept teachings that we have put into practice with our own awakened understanding and that we can see with our own experience to be true.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a huge eye-opener. The philosophies are practical and the spiritual teachings of Buddhism are simple ways of life, the basics of which anyone can practice in their daily lives no matter what faith they follow or even if they don’t follow a faith at all. It’s all about the mind, soul and awareness of the self and waking up to the ultimate reality.

Book Rating: 4 stars out of 5

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #13 – Too Perfect

Book #13 – A trilogy – Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon (Perfect Trilogy #3)
Preceded by: Almost Perfect and Just Perfect
Genre: Romance/Chick Lit
Published: 2005
Country: USA

Too Perfect - Julie Ortolon
I was more interested in reading this last installment of the trilogy than the previous two. In fact, the first one was nothing great at all and I completely skipped the second book. Luckily, these can be read as stand alone books too so this was not a problem.

The premise of this trilogy is as such: Three best friends – Maddy, Christine and Amy – in their early thirties, get very miffed when they find out that their very successful old college flat mate has used them as examples in her best-selling book How to Have a Perfect Life of people who did not face their fears and settled for less. The three make a pact amongst themselves that they would prove their friend wrong by doing the very things that scare them and complete them in a year’s time.

This third installment tells the story of sensible and cautious Amy who has a fear of travelling and getting lost due to her complete lack of sense of direction. To overcome her fear, she takes a job as a travelling nanny on a cruise for two weeks, only she gets fired from her job and stranded on the island of St.Barts with practically no money and no spare clothes. Desperation drives her to take up a job as a housekeeper in an old fort on a hill for four weeks – two extra weeks than her original intended duration.

At the fort, she meets a drop-dead handsome, charming and flamboyant Frenchman Lance Beaufort, who introduces himself as the personal assistant of the recent owner of the fort Guy Gaspar. Lance tells Amy that Gaspar is a recluse who prefers not to mingle with anybody and is known as La Bête or The Beast by locals. The only rule that Amy has to follow is to stay away from Gaspar’s quarters on top of the tower.

While Lance’s sunny personality provides Amy with friendship and companionship, it is Gaspar’s mysterious presence, only in the form of a voice that piques Amy’s interest. She strikes up a friendship with Gaspar via email and an intercom system set up in Lance’s office where they discuss everything from movies to books to self-esteem issues. Amy finds in Gaspar a kindred spirit who she believes is hiding from the world due to his disfigured or less than perfect face.

However, unbeknownst to Amy and everyone else in the world, Lance and Gaspar are the alter egos of the same man – Hollywood billionaire Byron Parks who is hiding from his artificial life under a suitable disguise as Lance in order to step away from the limelight and figure out who he is and what he really stands for.

A modern retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, I found this book to be quite charming and well-written. The characterizations of both Byron and Amy were nicely sketched. Amy, who has grown up believing that she is a fat, frumpy woman, hides behind loose garments that don’t do her beauty any justice and Byron who has grown up in the superficial world of Hollywood his whole life, has been left emotionless because of his public image. Byron (or Gaspar) helps Amy with feeling good about her body image while Amy’s shy, sweet nature helps him feel something again. As much as Amy tries to convince Gaspar to reveal the face behind the voice, Byron fears he can never show himself to her without hurting her with his deception.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was different conceptually from the usual clichéd romance novels and I liked the author’s spin on the classic fairytale. It was fun to imagine three different characterizations of the same person and the role each character played in Amy’s life. Lance who was fun-loving and charismatic, Gaspar who was generous and kind, and Byron who couldn’t figure out which one of the two he really was or if he was someone completely different.

I did have a few “Seriously, are you kidding me?” moments in the book though. The part where Amy and Gaspar decide to act on their physical attraction for one another in complete darkness (at Gaspar’s request) apparently carries on for two or three weeks straight! Although she tries hard to get him to come out of his shell and reveal himself to her, I found this little scenario a very strange situation indeed. How was she not able to feel even the slightest bit suspicious the whole time?

Despite a couple of these oddities, it was all in all an enjoyable read. I will definitely give it a thumbs-up.

Book Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #7 – The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Book #7 – A popular author’s first book – The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Genre: Murder Mystery/Crime
Published: 1920
Country: United Kingdom
Book to TV/Movie Adaptation: Adapted for TV in 1990 and subsequently for BBC Radio as well as several touring plays.

christie-mysterious-affair-at-styles-bookcover

What do I say about the Queen of Mystery and Crime? She has set the bar so high for me, that I have yet to read a mystery that can match her level of ingenuity and simplicity. Her characterizations, settings and plots are so deceptively simple yet so clever in their detailing, it is impossible to not be able to imagine them in your mind’s eye. The picture she portrays is crystal clear.

This is her first novel and set in the middle of the First World War. We are introduced to Arthur Hastings, a young man of about thirty years who has been given a month’s leave from the Army to fully recover from an injury he sustained a few months ago. Having no close relations, he is unsure of where to go when he runs into an old friend John Cavendish. John invites Hastings to spend his leave at his home in the village of Styles St. Mary in Essex county, an invitation which Hastings accepts. On the way, John tells Hastings about his old stepmother’s recent remarriage to a much younger man who is disliked by everyone in the house. Hastings senses the hostility towards Mr. Alfred Inglethorp, Mrs. Emily Inglethorp’s younger husband and within a fortnight of his stay, witnesses several arguments in the household. A tragedy occurs when Mrs. Inglethorp is violently killed a few days later by way of strychnine poisoning.

The local police and Hastings unofficially employ the help of trusted friend Monsieur Hercule Poirot, a very famous Belgian detective now seeking refuge in Styles in his old age. Poirot loves a good mystery to exercise his little ‘gray cells’ and is a neat freak who likes order in his surroundings and thought. Despite several odd eccentricities that he is prone to display, Poirot is a very clever man who lets no small detail or information escape his mind.

Hastings is a man with much emotion yet little imagination. He is often baffled at the way Poirot’s overactive mind sees details that no one can see.  Poirot is a man with a method to his madness that only he can understand. Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery that has even got Scotland Yard involved.

The pairing of Poirot and Hastings is akin to Holmes and Watson, indeed the inspiration for the two has been derived from Doyle’s novels, but Christie’s writing style is her own. Her language is uncomplicated and timeless and her insight into human psychology makes for very interesting characterizations, each possessing their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. In fact, body language and expression play a very strong role in her novels.

What I love about Agatha Christie’s writing is her ability to keep the mystery alive till the very end. All the facts of the case are straightforward and laid bare on the table, making you think deeply along with the characters in the book. However, there is a purposeful enjoyment she derives in leading her readers astray. You think you have figured it out but the ending completely shocks you and you realise how far you had been thrown off track. This is a charming characteristic I have not seen in most mystery writing.

Despite my amateur attempts at sleuthing, I definitely did not guess the mystery right as expected, but I also wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending of this one. I have absolutely enjoyed her subsequent novels more than this first attempt. Having said that, I will definitely recommend anyone to read this book, just to get acquainted with Poirot and Hastings and see if they can solve the mystery.

Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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