Book Review || Murder on the Orient Express

Hello all! ūüėõ

Hope your March is going well so far. Isn’t it funny that it’s already March and yet it’s also only just March? (Does that make any sense whatsoever? No? Alright, moving on.) I mentioned in my last post that I read Murder on the Orient Express and promised you all a review. Well, here it is! Hope you enjoy my review as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Book Review Logo

Author: Agatha Christie

Publishing Company: HarperCollins Publishers (William Marrow)

Release Year: 1934

Genre(s): Historical fiction, mystery, murder mystery

Series: The Hercule Poirot Mysteries

My Synopsis

The year is 1930-something. Hercule Poirot, the brilliant Belgian sleuth is travelling in the winter through Stamboul and across Europe. It should be a fairly simple journey, but where Monsieur Poirot goes, mystery–and murder–follows. What proceeds is a first class passenger found dead in his train cabin; stabbed fifteen times, no less! Monsieur Poirot, along with his acquaintances, the French Monsieur Bouc and Greek Dr. Constantine, takes it upon himself to investigate. But this seems to be a case like no other; there are too many clues and too many suspects. Who does the pipe found at the scene of the murder belong to? Who is this mysterious lady in a red kimono some of the passengers recall seeing? Why¬†was the train conductor’s button in the victim, Mr. Ratchett’s,¬†room if the conductor never lost his button? agatha christie.jpgAnd, more importantly, is the killer on the loose¬† in snowy Yugoslavia or still in the train?

A whirlwind of questioning, confusion, and alibi after alibi follows. A diverse cast of travellers, from the chatty American lady Mrs. Hubbard to the elegant Princess Dragomiroff to the terse British Colonel Arbuthnot, explain their point of view to the sleuth, each with their own stories and observances that, impossibly, seem to match up and yet contradict each other at the same time. As Poirot, Bouc, and Constantine question each passenger, the situation becomes even more absurd. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And how on earth will this mystery be solved?

My Thoughts

I should probably start off my saying this is my first Agatha Christie novel, and I am super eager to reading her other books! Murder on the Orient Express was honestly the best whodunit I’ve read–then again, it was written by the “The Queen of Murder” herself. ūüėČ

The writing is great. It’s very colorful and descriptive and all the characters are so, so well developed; each of them have their own habits and ways of speaking that will have you looking at them with suspicion or fondness. Don’t expect the writing to be overly florid, and make no mistake, every sentence adds something to the plot; there isn’t a single word that is there simply as filler. Dame Christie’s ironic sense of humour also had me smiling quite often.¬†Hercule Poirot’s¬†companions, M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine, while clueless in the art of sleuthing, are endearing, and the detective himself¬†is truly a great protagonist; all quick-wit and intuition and asking the right things in the right ways to get the answers he wants.

Another point that really struck me: the entire novel takes place on a stationary Orient Express that has been snowed in in the mountains of Yugoslavia–a classic “locked room mystery.” And yet, neither does the setting get old, nor do the characters; most likely because the situation changes every chapter.

murder on the orient express.jpgNow, it’s rather difficult to do this book justice without explaining the entire situation in great detail, but I will say this: every new page brought a new twist in the mystery. Just when I thought that everything had gotten too absurd to solve and gave up on trying to figure out the murderer, the great Poirot’s fine-tuned mind put all the discrepancies together and produced an outcome I could never have even considered. Agatha Christie took a murder and then wove a tangled web of clues and characters that led to an incredible ending. ūüôā

In short: Looking for a quick, well-written, crazy good mystery novel that will have you turning pages eagerly? Look no further and pick this one up!

(Update: Fun fact from a commenter below–Agatha Christie allegedly stayed in Room 41 at the “Pera Palace Hotel” in Istanbul while writing this novel. Has anyone ever been there? I sure would like to! ūüėÄ J.K. Rowling’s hotel room is quite famous now as well; in fact, the room Rowling stayed in at the Balmoral Hotel has been named the “J.K. Rowling Suite”!)

‚̧ Yasimone

Book Review || What the Moon Saw

Author: Laura Resau

Publishers: Delacorte Press

Release Year: 2006

My Summary

Clara Luna’s name means “Clear Moon” in Spanish, but lately her thoughts have been anything but clear. Questions are taking over her mind like tangled weeds— Who is she, really? Where does she come from? After all, Clara doesn’t know much about her father’s side: he¬†had run away from his native home in rural Mexico to cross the border into America as a teenager.¬†Just as Clara is restlessly wondering about her roots and her life, a letter comes in the mail.

Querida Clara:

La invitamos a nuestra casa por el verano. Vamos a esperarla el d√ća de la luna llena, en junio, en el aeropuerto de Oaxaca.

Con cari√Īo,

Sus abuelos

Dear Clara,
We invite you to our home for the summer. We will wait for you on the day of the full moon, in June, at the Oaxaca airport.
your grandparents

Now Clara is even more puzzled. Should she go? What are her grandparents like? She’s never met them. Her father is lost in the land of memories, her mother is super-enthusiastic, urging her to discover her history, and Clara is balanced on the edge of a cliff, peering over. She decides to go. And so begins the journey of a lifetime.

Clara’s grandparents await her at the Oaxaca airport— calm, knowing Abuelita and cheerful, good-natured Abuelo. yucuyoo.jpgThey board a bus that will take them to the village of Yucuyoo, and when they finally arrive, it’s not as Clara expected at all. Though at first Clara is apprehensive, she soon grows used to the wooden little home with the tin roof they live in, the fact that they have no technology at all, the sounds of the jungle nearby, and the delicious food Abuelita prepares fresh everyday. Clara looks and listens and learns. Listens to Pedro, the goat boy’s, beautiful voice and song. To the sound of the mystery spirit waterfall, which is heard but never seen. To Abuelita’s stories of her childhood and learning to be a healer. Slowly but surely, Clara realizes the magic within Yucuyoo, the Hill of the Moon, within her grandparents, and even¬†within herself.

My Thoughts

This debut novel from Laura Resau¬†is an enchanting, lyrical book that I absolutely LOVED. Thought-provoking and moving, What the Moon Saw explores the themes of finding one’s self and culture, reconnecting with family, and learning that living simply opens your mind and heart to the magic and beauty of the world. The writing almost takes you to another dimension and paints an intricate and detailed scene of life in rural Mexico, and the characters are all so solid and real. Clara is just an average girl who lives a privileged life in America, and the contrast between Pedro, who grew up in Yucuyoo,¬†and Clara’s lifestyles¬†made for¬†interesting interactions between them. Clara at times has to explain simple technology to her grandparents, and their amazement at the habits of ¬†those who have access to modern-day gadgets truly opened my eyes.

Guys, so many people around the world don’t have these things— they don’t have phones, computers, washing machines, cars, refrigerators; things that many of us take for granted. But guess what? You don’t need these to be happy. Clara’s grandparents are perfectly content to live in their village, talk to their neighbours, farm their land. Those of us who do own this technology should use it to make other happy too, don’t you think?

All in all, I thought that this was a beautiful novel. The two narrators, Clara Luna and Abuelita telling the tales of her past, will truly inspire you, and leave you will a heartful of spirit waterfalls, beautiful, wild nature, stories of healing, and hope for all. Definitely a must read.

(On a side note, I am back from my mini-hiatus! Isn’t it funny how you can be¬†so busy when you least expect it?)

‚̧ Yasimone

Book Review || Heidi

Author: Johanna Spyri

Publishers: Currently being published by many companies, one of the most well-known being Puffin Classics

Release Year: 1880

My Summary

Heidi is an orphaned little girl, living with her aunt in Switzerland. Aunt Dete decides that she no longer wishes to take care of the child, and brings her to the Swiss Alps to live with her reclusive grandfather, Alm-Uncle, who lives up on the mountain by himself. Although Alm-Uncle is not very pleased to have a little 5-year-old to take care of, Heidi’s cheerfulness and bubbly personality soon earn his true affection for her. Heidi is eager to explore her new home and befriends all that she meets— the shepherd boy Peter, Peter’s blind grandmother, and all of the goats that Peter herds. She is amazed by the beauty of the mountains and loves her grandfather with all her heart. However, after a few years, Dete returns and takes Heidi away from Alm-Uncle to be a hired companion of sorts for a wealthy, handicapped girl named Clara Sessemen in Frankfurt. Heidi agrees to go if only she can bring back some white bread for Peter’s grandmother. Once in Frankfurt, Clara and Heidi become fast friends. Clara is very entertained by Heidi’s antics as she tries to get used to the dreary, busy city life of Frankfurt, but the house-keeper, Fr√§ulein Rottenmeier is disapproves very much. Slowly but surely, homesickness and loneliness sets in and Heidi wastes away. Can she ever get back home?

My Thoughts

Ah, Heidi. The little girl has found the way to my heart. ‚̧

It’s no secret that I adore classics, but Heidi is something else. It literally transports you to the Alps, where the air is pure, where you can eat as much fresh goat cheese and bread as you want to, where the sun says goodbye to the mountains at dusk, where gruff grandfathers learn to love again, where disabled children are cured by the sheer beauty of it all, and where you want to stay forever and never leave.

An illustration from my copy of Heidi.
An illustration from my copy of Heidi.

Such vivid, lively writing. I tear up so much whenever I read it. Behind those lovely, sentimental words, however, lies an important lesson to stay with you all your life: If you love, if you forgive, if you believe, if you let go, if you ask, and if you apologize, then you will be truly happy.

And the characters, oh, the characters! Heidi, a young girl who brings joy into the hearts of all she meets. Alm-Uncle, a tenderhearted yet brusque old man. Peter, a fiercely devoted friend who loathes to share Heidi with Clara. The Doctor, who decides that Heidi must return to her home with Alm-Uncle. Clara, who delights in drinking goat milk and leaving behind her wheelchair. Clara’s Grandmamma, who teaches Heidi that even in the darkest of times, you must ask and hope. And Peter’s Grandmother, who although blind, who loves Heidi as¬†her own. What a wonderful cast.

Once you’ve read this book, though, there’s no going back. You will forever long to go to the Alps and live in a cabin on top of the mountain, sharing a simple meal of bread, cheese, and goat’s milk with Heidi and her grandfather. Someday I hope to visit Switzerland, but until then, those beautiful mountains will remain safe in my heart.

I hope you liked that! It’s¬†the first book review that I’ve done by request, and it’s a book I really, really love. Happy May, everybody!

‚̧ Yasimone