Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, July 16, 2018

A luxury library haul with a surprise twist of mirthful mystery

Some people make summer plans that involve going to the beach, visiting theme parks or just heading out to the coolest spot they can find. Me, I make library plans,picking up(as well as renewing) some sweet reads to sip slowly in the shade.

My recent library visit lead me to select a pair of novels that feature the love of reading and writing,which I was definitely in the mood for after completing Veronica Henry's How to Find Love in a Bookshop(which was truly a stay up all night book for me!).

First up was a new release; The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers(and their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino. Set in the year 1999, the title establishment was created by a pair of infamous authors setting up a future place for themselves along with their literary contemporaries to live out the remainder of their days in comfort.

One of those writers, Alfonse Carducci, has now arrived to take up residence,due to ill health which doesn't trouble him as much as the case of writer's block that is currently plaguing him. In addition to meeting old friends and rivals such as the still fiery Olivia Peppernell and Raymond Switcher, Alfonse also strikes up a new relationship with one of the staff, a young woman with a scarred face and powerful love for his work.

Cecibel Bringer has been an orderly at the Bar Harbor Home for several years, taking comfort in her work yet unable to fully recover from the accident that left more than one mark on her life. Her growing bond with Alfonse may help to break Cecibel out of her self imposed shell but will this connection ultimately be good for the both of them?

I've already started reading this and so far, it's very good indeed. The writing is crisp and keen, like biting into a freshly picked fall apple. DeFino's depiction of this aging group of artists is quite charming without being cloying and I look forward to becoming better acquainted with them all:

Along with that debut, I added Gabrielle Zeven's The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry to my library loan list. Having read Young Jane Young, I was curious to see what this particular novel of hers is like,given the great word of mouth that it has gotten over the years.

A.J. is a widowed bookseller, whose loneliness leads to excessive drinking and the slow financial ruin of his business. That sad decline of his is fortunately interrupted by a bizarre exchange as a valuable manuscript disappears from the shop while a young girl is left by chance to Fikry's care.

Given a new chance at life(plus a possible new romance with a book rep), Fikry regains his sense of purpose and revives the spirits of those around him. This plot line does remind me of George Eliot's Silas Marner, a book that I did enjoy(and no, it wasn't a school assigned read) and seeing someone take a modern day approach to this classic work sounds good to me:

Meanwhile, I wound up renewing Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray, a novel that I am in the midst of at the moment. We have a pair of heroines divided by time, starting with Ondine, who as a sixteen year old girl in 1936 is surprised to find herself as  the private chef to Pablo Picasso.

Picasso is staying at a house near the cafe that Ondine's family runs and she is charged with bringing the great artist his lunch on a daily basis. She's also sworn to secrecy about reveling his presence in their remote seaside town as he's avoiding both his angry wife and current mistress in Paris.

Ondine is getting over a heartbreak as well yet can not resist the persistent charms of Picasso, who wants her to cook for him more often and to have her as a model for a painting as well. Decades late, Ondine's granddaughter Celine learns of the painting from her much put upon mother and determined to free her parent from the control of a pair of step siblings, searches for that lost art in order to reclaim an inheritance more valuable than money.

The book has a slow and steady pace that lulls you into reading more and more but not too quickly. The word portraits that Aubray has painted on the pages are the type that bear close scrutiny , a true leisurely excursion of entertainment. By giving myself a reading extension here, my voyage with the rest of this simmering stew of a story should be a fulfilling one indeed.

Just before my library visit, I received a welcome surprise in the mail(of course, a book) and it happens to be a wedding themed mystery with a touch of spy fare and a twist of historical fiction to boot.

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding is the twelfth novel in author Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness series that has a lively heroine with regal connections yet little fortune. Granted, I haven't read the earlier books but this seems to be the kind of story that allows you to catch up to the important details of the characters while enjoying the unraveling plot points.

Lady Georgianna Rannoch is the 35th in line for the British throne, a place she is happy to give up in order to marry her beloved Darcy O'Mara, an Irish man with a government position that often allows Georgie to use her detective skills to help save the day. Being offered the use of her godfather's estate for the wedding, she is delighted to accept, having pleasant memories of the place and staff.

Once Georgie arrives, however, it appears that the affection is not mutual. The new members of the staff are less than impressed with her and after a couple of near deadly incidents, it looks as if something sinister is afoot and that Georgie may have more to worry about than getting her bridal gown ready on time. This sounds like good old fashioned fun and I'm happy to see what trouble this delightfully spirited lady sleuth is going to get into:

A pile of books may not seem like much of a vacation but when you think about it, it's almost perfect. You don't have to worry about packing up your things, hitting the road on time or dealing with unexpected delays. A good book doesn't require you to buy a new bathing suit, sandals or even to get dressed for the occasion(you probably should get dressed,anyway, as a general rule).

With the excessive hot weather, not to mention excessive stress from the news just about every day, taking a mental break is vitally important. Yes, going out into the real world, if you can, is good as well but if your resources are limited, your reading doesn't have to be:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pamper yourself with paperbacks to beat the summer heat

Summer time these days is a tricky thing,as we go from one heat wave to another with the most viable cool spot around is right in front of whatever source of a/c is available to you.

Since a spot ought to be reserved for some good reading and I've always found that paperbacks do well for warm weather relaxation, there's a trio of softcover books that should keep my spirits quite refreshed this season.

At the moment, I'm in the midst of Veronica Henry's How to Find Love in a Bookshop, a story that's giving me wonderful Maeve Binchy vibes indeed. The bookshop of the title is called Nightingale Books, located in the small English village of Peasebrook and run by single father Julius to one day hand over to his beloved daughter Emilia.

Sadly, Julius has passed away sooner than expected and Emilia does want to keep the store going but she may need some help. Her father wasn't the best business man and already making an offer for the place is Ian Mendrip, a slimey real estate owner determined to buy the shop by any means necessary.

However, Emilia is determined to honor her father's memory as well as maintain the love of books that has been the hallmark of the shop. Plenty of folks are more than willing to assist her even as a few sneaky characters are lurking about,including a fella sent by Ian to influence Emilia any way he can:

Nightingale Books,as it turns out, has other stories to tell with customers such as Henrietta, a shy cooking teacher who is learning to find her voice and perhaps love, Sarah, the local lady of the manor who had a more intimate relationship with Julius than anyone else knew and Bea, a bored wife and mother who may find purpose in helping the shop survive.

The writing is both compelling and lulling, with a sure steady hand at the storytelling wheel. This is Veronica Henry's US debut(she has a good number of novels in the UK) and she makes a very good impression and then some here.

I love how Henry brings her characters to vivid life, from young people working out their life and love situations to older folks reflecting on their affairs of the heart. Nightingale Books is a vital character as well, serving as the emotional nexus point of Peasebrook as well as the ideal bookstore you'd love to get lost in for a few hours. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is great all year round reading but for the summer, it's a sweet treat that you want to last as long as possible:

Once I do finish that, I plan to engage in a little risky reading at The Dirty Book Club. When M.J. Stark moves to Pearl Beach upon the disappointment of missing out on a promotion at the New York magazine she worked at, the last thing she expected to do was join a book club with her new neighbor Gloria Golden.

Turns out that M.J. is meant to take Gloria's place, along with a trio of other ladies who were chosen by the original members of the reading club. While the feisty founders go off to Paris, M.J. and her new set of book buddies learn to bond over risque literature, not to mention a few shared life experiences.

I'm not familiar with Lisi Harrison's writing style(she's best known for her YA novels) but I do like the concept of a multi-generational book club with a specialized taste in reading material. Should be good fun with maybe a couple of book recommendations to boot.

Speaking of book recommendations, I was inspired to get this novel for my TBR due to Food Network Star. One of this season's culinary contenders is Jessica Tom, who wrote Food Whore, which is subtitled "a novel of dining and deceit."

Our leading lady is Tia, a recent culinary school graduate looking for a prime opportunity on the New York food scene. When approached by top restaurant critic Mark Saltz to be his ghost eater(he's lost his sense of taste) and writer, she takes him up on it,especially when one of the perks allows her to update her wardrobe with style.

However, the pressure of keeping this secret and the other complications that arise from this dubious gig causes Tia to lose her appetite for the foodie life. The vibe of this book sounds like The Devil Wears Prada While Going to Dinner and that sounds like a great recipe for a tasty read to me:

Summer reading ought to fun, first and foremost and I think this set of three should do just that. With all of the extra stress out there right now, it would be nice to have not getting ice cream on my current read be the biggest concern in my life. Yet, I still feel that you can have your summer book fun and eat ice cream safely,too(just maybe not a cone):

Monday, July 09, 2018

Resetting my Series-ous Reading 2.0

I started this new year of reading with a rather ambitious literary plan; to read Stephen King's entire Dark Tower series(except for the prequel The Wind in the Keyhole) and another Outlander book to boot. After my prior successful year of Series-ous Reading, where I caught up on a couple of book series that had been languishing on my TBR piles, my confidence level was quite high.

However, this time out, the Dark Tower titles have become more of a chore than a challenge and the one thing about my reading goals that I've always tried to hold true to is that it should be both fun and fulfilling. Halfway through the third book (The Wastelands), it became clear to me that I needed to make a new game plan.

This isn't the fault of the book themselves, it's more like the timing for this particular bookish mountain climb is not right. I do have other options here and with the rest of the reading year now in reset, pages should start turning in a more agreeable direction:

POLDARK: While I also put aside Voyager(just too late in the year to tackle that), I felt that the Poldark saga was well within my reach and have already begun with Warleggan, which highlights that dreadful nemesis of Ross Poldark and his various schemes.

After I get though with that, The Black Moon is next and with any luck, both books will be finished by the time the next season of the show premieres on PBS this fall. Perhaps I might save TBM for that time frame, we shall see.

I did enjoy reading Jeremy Poldark earlier this year and happy to head back to Cornwall,where plots may be a-brewing but those who stand against them stay right on course:

MURDER MOST FOODIE: A new interest of mine lately is food themed mysteries and since many of them turn into series, why not fully embrace that?

As a tasting sample, Ellie Alexander's Meet Your Baker is now on the Series-ous Reading list as it is the first of her Bakeshop Mystery books. Our leading lady detective is Juliet Capshaw, who returns to her small Oregon town to help her mother out at their family bakery known as Torte.

At the local Shakespeare festival, a  new board member is found dead under unusual circumstances and Juliet's high school flame Thomas is the lead investigator on the case. Not only is this a chance to use her bakery brain power, Juliet also has a fair shot at rekindling an old love. There's plenty of literary riffs to be expected here, which should make this introductory read extra entertaining indeed.

One foodie mystery series that I've developed an appetite for is Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen books, having devoured the first two(as well as skipped ahead to a Christmas themed tale) murderous morsels with true delight.

I plan to continue with the third(Blueberry Muffin Murder) and on to the fourth(Lemon Meringue Pie Murder). I do have the next couple of books after that but don't want to gobble down something this sweetly amusing right away.

There's just something about Hannah and her small town bakery called The Cookie Jar, along with her quirky family and friends(not to mention two almost boyfriends!) that relax my spirits as well as spark my inquisitive imagination. Fluke does have a flair for sinister sweetness with a warm from the oven goodness that's hard to resist:

THE SPYING GAME: If I have any time left before the end of the year for this challenge, I hope to squeeze another of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation books.

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine is the fifth title in the series,which I skipped over last year and really should make proper amends for. The Regency era heroine of this tale is Lady Charlotte, a young women who is more comfortable reading her favorite thrillers than looking for a potential husband in a ballroom.

Her cousin, Robert, the Duke of Dovedale, is home from India and while her own formidable grandmother is making marriage plans for him, Charlotte still has a crush on him yet based on her reading material, is wondering if Robert is a member of the infamous spy ring in their midst. With my rereading of Northanger Abbey these days, my appreciation for young ladies dealing with the influence of a literary inspired imagination is rather keen:

So, that is my new set of plans for Series-ous Reading for the rest of 2018. While I have some regrets about abandoning my original goals, I think that it's for the best to do this. Why persist in reading something that is not keeping me engaged? It's unfair to myself and the books in question, if you think about it.

Perhaps in the future, I can walk down that Dark Tower road again and continue to it's conclusion. Time will tell and anyway, the books will be ready for me when I am for them. In the meanwhile, it's good to forge on ahead with new reads instead of constantly looking back.

Don't get me wrong, folks, rereading earlier books in a series can be fun and useful to update yourself for the next installment. With this reset,however, I have some ground to regain here, so onward I go!:

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Some songs to reflect our current feelings of Independence

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, when we traditionally celebrate the birth of our nation and while I am proud to be an American, it pains me to admit that those feelings have been harder to maintain for awhile now.

Don't worry, I'm not about to go off on a big political rant here. However, I try to be a pop culture observer and for this particular moment in time, I feel that the best way to express my inner angst about the state of things is through that spectrum.

Since music is a major part of the Independence Day holiday, I found a few songs that I think best capture the turmoil that we're all experiencing these days that also encourage us to hold fast amidst the various storms being sent our way:

HAMILTON MEDLEY: Who better than one of our original Founding Fathers to give us inspiration at a time like this? Lin-Manuel Miranda's brilliant historical musical teaches us many things about the beginnings of our country and of the follies of human nature as well. This reenactment of two songs from that award winning show reminds everyone to not just sit back and to not give away our best shot at making things right:

MORE HAMILTON THOUGHTS: This musical has inspired many to read,think and challenge the status quo and that includes the Hamilton Mixtape, where one of the best songs points out how foolish it is to discount our immigrant population and heartlessly cruel to persecute them as we have been lately:

EVERYBODY GOES TO RICK'S: There's a classic musical stand-off in the film Casablanca, where the local German forces are loudly singing their anthem at the nightclub, much to the chagrin of the crowd, many of whom had to flee their homelands due to the invading Nazi regime.

With a quiet nod of approval from Rick and an open show of defiance from rebel leader Victor Lazlo, the house band strikes up a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise that gets the oppressed audience up on their feet. For those who insist that confronting evil in public is not "nice", this shows how that can be done with true elegance and sincere belief that negates their sad stance:

 HEAR THE PEOPLE SING: I have to tell you that with all of the news getting worse and worse these days, songs from the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Les Miserables have been on my playlist quite a bit lately.

Yes, it's French but France has always been a good ally to America, from our own Revolutionary War to WWII and beyond. Granted, I'm more into English literature but I did read the Victor Hugo novel and can appreciate the contributions that France has given to the world in the terms of promoting freedom.

Not to mention that this story has lasted for nearly two hundred years for good reason and some of those life and history lessons in song are well worth listening to,especially today:

I hope that by this time next year, the country is in a way better place, emotionally and politically, than we are right now. We can all do our part to make that happen, even if it's just signing a petition or getting out to vote this November.

What I sincerely believe that everyone wants, regardless of what side you're on, is to have that wonderful spirit of unity back again, the one that gave us comfort and strength during the other hard times that have confronted us over the years. Also, we need to regain that welcoming spirit for those wanting to make a better life in America,which is the core of our country. Let's make people happy to be part of this country again with a song in our hearts,people:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Going to the movies with Queen

It may be summer movie season but we're still getting some hints of fall film offerings and one of the newest trailers is for Bohemian Rhapsody, a bio-pic of the band Queen and their iconic lead singer Freddie Mercury.

The movie is set for November and honestly, I'm surprised that it took this long to make a Queen movie, especially since their music is incredibly cinematic. Let me give you a neat quartet of fine film examples of that:

FLASH GORDON: Queen created the soundtrack for this now camp classic from 1980, with the theme song "Flash" becoming an international hit on the music charts. The music is what instantly comes to mind when anyone brings up this movie and for good reason; it was well tuned to the overall goofy nature of the film yet enjoyably epic in it's own right:

HIGHLANDER: The band contributed several songs to the 1986 soundtrack for yet another cult favorite,although this one launched a good number of sequels and a TV series.

The songs wound up becoming a separate album for Queen entitled  "A Kind of Magic" and one of them "Princes of the Universe" was not only the theme song for the original film(not to mention the original title!), it was also used for the TV show theme as well.

Granted, I have not seen Highlander(need to do that at some point in the future) but these songs are rather well known to me and countless others. There's just something about Queen that easily lends itself to fantasy and science fiction, a gorgeous operatic vibe that they fully embraced:

SHAUN OF THE DEAD: Appreciating the music of Queen does allow for a sense of humor,thankfully, which is why one of the best sequences in this 2004 "zom-rom-com" is set to one of their songs.

 It helps to have a jukebox set on random in the bar where our human heroes are holed up from the awaiting zombie hoards in order to naturally introduce the song.

 The choice of song was clearly not random as the action in this scene is perfectly timed to "Don't Stop Me Now" from the flickering lights outside to the trio of friends whaling on the now undead owner of the place.

Getting the rights for a song can be tricky,especially for a small movie like this but it was well worth it indeed. There are plenty of great moments in this film but this one is most memorably funny and fun:

WAYNE'S WORLD: There's no way I could do a proper Queen filmography without highlighting this 1992 SNL skit based comedy. Leading man Mike Meyers was bound and determined to use "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the opening credits sequence, to the point of threatening to quit the project.

Fortunately, Freddie Mercury himself was able,despite ill health, to see that scene and give his approval for the song's use. Mercury passed away before the movie's release and that combined with the popularity of the film brought the song back to the record charts, reaching number two in the US alone.

I'm glad that Meyers held fast to having Bohemian Rhapsody for that sequence. It nicely ties into the humor of the characters and makes for a grand entrance for these silly cinematic shenanigans to follow:

As for Bohemian Rhapsody the movie, I'm really looking forward to it. The teaser trailer alone focuses on the music and particularly on their main man, with Rami Malek bearing a striking resemblance to the late great Freddie Mercury.

The musical legacy of Queen is important as this was a group of artists whose talents inspired many and helped to redefine cultural norms, especially for the LGBTQ community. It's rather ironic that many of the people who did(and probably still do) object to their music proudly sing "We Are The Champions" and "We Will Rock You" at sporting events. You know those are Queen songs, right?

Hopefully by the time this movie is in theaters, we'll be seeing a glimmer of hope on the cultural horizons for all. In the meantime, we do have this cinematic tribute to look forward to with infinite pleasure:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sitting in the shade with some cool reads for July/August

Yes, it's "officially" summer(according to the calendar) and we're close to another major holiday ,so now is the time to make those escape from the heat pop culture plans! July and August are always warm weather days, ideal for staying in the pool or under a shady umbrella there, if you ask me.

 I prefer indoor plans myself and the best way I know how to enjoy those lazy,hazy days in front of a good a/c is to have a nice pile of new books on hand. Hardcover, paperback, e version or audio, great summer reads come in all flavors and give your imagination plenty to savor:


Louise Miller follows up her charming debut novel, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, with a fresh slice of hometown fiction. The leading lady of The Late Bloomers' Club is Nora Huckleberry, whose life dreams were set aside to help raise her sister Kit and run the family diner.

Upon learning the news that a neighbor left the girls her property,which a large chain store wants to buy to build a new branch, Kit comes home from the big city with big ideas about how to spend her share of the profits.

Nora, however, isn't so sure about selling the land, especially when she finds out about other responsibilities attached to this inheritance. In addition, the town is divided over whether or not to let such a corporate entity set up shop in their midst.

Miller has a flair for heartfelt stories with a foodie flavor, plus a pinch of Gilmore Girls goodness which should make this story a sweet summer recipe to enjoy(July):

ONE WOMAN'S TIMELY TALE: In Clock Dance, Anne Tyler takes us through several points in the life of Willa Drake, a woman long used to making things easier for everyone else but herself.

At the age of 61, Willa gets an unexpected opportunity to shake up her status quo when Denise, the former girlfriend of her son, is injured and mistaken for Willa's granddaughter. Called on to help, Willa takes a plane to Baltimore, with her cranky husband Peter in tow, and winds up getting involved in the various dramas surrounding Denise and her neighbors.

Anne Tyler's works are seemingly low key affairs, with calm characters ready to display their inner moxie when needed. Clock Dance certainly sounds like one of her usual stories but no doubt, there will be a hidden surprise in store for readers and fictional folk alike(July):

DOWNLOADING A READING LESSON: One of the biggest changes and challenges to the world of books has been the digital age and in Reader,Come Home by Maryanne Wolf, these concerns are engagingly addressed.

Written as a series of open letters, Wolf talks about the difference between reading physical material vs. a computer screen and how that can affect the way the brain obtains information. Furthermore, she discusses the merits of deep reading, which adds greatly to the development of empathy and critical thinking.

This is certainly food for thought and then some. Whether you want to keep your wits sharpen over the summer vacation season or bolster an argument for the need to have tangible literature, Wolf is ready to welcome you in(August).


 Historical fiction meets spy thriller in Karen Brooks' The Locksmith's Daughter, set in the Elizabethan era. Mallory Bright was an apt pupil in learning the art of lock picking from her renowned father, not the most ladylike skill to possess.

However, once her reputation is ruined by a scandal, that talent is in demand from Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I. Mallory turns out to also have a knack for code breaking and other languages, all of which makes her a valuable asset to the royal spy ring.

Her loyalty is tested, however, when several actions occur that force Mallory to make moral choices as well as patriotic ones. This mix of history,mystery and adventure certainly sounds the ultimate tale of derring-do indeed(July):

A London policewoman in modern times also has to confront some unpleasant truths that hit close to home in Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear. Cat Kinsella is looking into the murder of Alice Lapaine, a young housewife who didn't get out much. Due to a mysterious phone tip, Alice's death is linked to a missing girl from eighteen years ago in Ireland, an event that Cat recalls all too well.

She and her family met that particular Irish girl while on vacation and it appears that her father has something to hide about that. Is he connected to Alice's death as well or is Cat about to open up some ugly wounds that may never heal?

Word of mouth has been grand for this UK debut and any smartly written story has international appeal,so this should be one to watch out for on US bookshelves near you(August).

In Christina Dalcher's futuristic tale, Vox, women are allowed to speak only a hundred words a day. To say anything more gives them an electric shock via wristband, a rule established by Reverend Carl, a presidential advisor who is clearly the power behind the Oval Office.

This stringent law is most painfully to Dr. Jean McCellan, once the top cognitive linguist in her field. She and other women are no longer are allowed to study science, hold jobs or control their own money. However, when the president's brother is in a serious accident that requires the language portion of his brain to be healed, Jean is demanded upon to offer her services.

At first, Jean uses her position to increase her own word count but it's not long before she has a chance to do more for the growing rebellion against Reverend Carl's reign. It is a risk to not just Jean but her children as well yet worth to reclaim true freedom for all. I have a feeling that this novel is going to prove to be rather timely, especially this year (August):

Summer reading is something to look forward and especially during tough times as we are facing right now. Keeping an eye on current events and speaking up is important but you do need to take a break from the constant chaos every now and then.

Reading is a good form of self care, not to mention a healthy way to lift your troubled spirits and find renewal and inspiration for what lies ahead. So, let a good book give you a literary song in your heart this season and let's all plan to make our real world as promising as our fictional ones:

Friday, June 22, 2018

My Great American Read: And Then There Were None

The Great American Read series on PBS,which offers readers the chance to vote for their favorite bit of fiction(so far, a million votes have been cast), has inspired me to tackle a few of the nominees for my personal TBR.

Out of that small selection, the first one that I've completed is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, a classic stand alone from her best known detective fare. It's gone through a few title changes(for good reason) and has been adapted for film,TV, the theater and even a video game!

What inspires so much interest in this sinister story? Well, the set-up is deceptively simple; a group of ten strangers all receive invitations to stay on a remote island off the English shore. Whether for work,play or hidden agenda, each one makes their way over and grows a bit acquainted with their new companions.

On first meeting, each person seems to be the average sort; a former governess, a retired general, a doctor, a judge, a glib rich boy. However, it's not long before you realized that all of them have one thing in common-they all have truly gotten away with murder. Nevertheless, everyone gets along rather well in the beginning:

The amiable mood shifts quickly once a phonograph record is played that announces all of their crimes and ends ominously with "Prisoners at the bar, what do you have to say in your defense?"

As each guest dies, one by one in accordance with an old nursery rhyme(my edition called it "ten little Indians" but I do believe later versions have it as "ten little soldiers.") that is posted in every bedroom and accented by a set of figurines upon the dining room table whose number grows smaller with each death, suspicions and accusations abound.

It's not too long before the remaining guests realize that the person behind all of this is in their very midst. Despite taking what precautions they can and making what alliances are available to them, the death count keeps ticking down and there is no outside help to rescue them:

Agatha Christie wrote in numerous formats but the stage was one of her great loves and that affect shows in the theatrical elements of the story.

From eating their meals together to locking themselves in their bedrooms at night, the closed room tension steadily builds for the dwindling set of characters performing for us on the page.

 One chapter begins by describing the few still there as various creatures in their state of fear; a nervous bird, a twitching tortoise, a wolf flashing his sharp teeth. It's not a question of rooting for someone to survive(all of them are terrible people,trust me) rather, it's more about who is doing this and for what reason? Not to mention how and is anyone else in on this death trap with the secret killer?

Christie really goes full dark on this story, something that for 1939 and a popular woman author was mostly unheard of. She relies on suspension and the careful layering of plot points/misleads to keep the reader following this deadly trail of bread crumbs to it's bitter end. You would think this sounds unbearably bleak yet it's coated with a good amount of intrigue that makes this a truly hard to put down book.

The influence of And Then There Were None can be seen across many genres, some of them satirical and others a light hearted homage. One thing is for certain-Christie certainly did pave the way for other mainstream artists to get as grim as they needed to be:

This is the first Agatha Christie that I've read that doesn't involve either Poirot or Miss Marple and it does inspire me to check out some of her plays as well. Her firm hand at the literary wheel is well established yet it takes being on such a finely tuned thrill ride as this for yourself to make you fully appreciate the art of her craft.

The next book on my GAR list to read is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, as part of the High Summer readathon that I'm joining in on this July. Looking forward to that and the rest of this particular TBR indeed, except for one that I've already seen the movie version of.

This has certainly been a scary start to my little literary adventure here but it's one that I, unlike the unlucky guests upon the island, made it through all the better for it(the following video is spoiler-ish for those who haven't read this book,you have been warned!):