The Secrets Of The Chimneys : Review

Book :    The Secret Of The Chimneys
Author :  Agatha Christie

Genre` :  Crime Fiction
Year :     1925
My Ratings : 4.5/5

The majestic abode of Lord Caterham finds itself deep in murder, blackmail, gem heist, Royals in disguise,codes cracking,symbols, thefts ,deceit and home to many unwelcoming subjects and matters of International importance!

Lord Caterham, the simple and noble aristocrat becomes a reluctant host to a party,finds his mansion as a place of murder and deceit. He instantly warms up to the friendship of a complete stranger Anthony Cade. Along with Chief Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard and many other characters Chimneys becomes the grounds of double crossings, murder and blackmails with a sensitive International sitaution.The young,rich widow and dangerously beautiful Virginia Revel assists all situations along with Bundle,Lord Caterham's daughter.Finally the day is saved,but only after a second murder and much much mystery.

Unlike the works of the organised Poirot or the simple ways of the seemingly haphazard Miss Marple, its more like an adventurous rom-com of today's era written earlier.
First edition Cover

Such is  the adventure dose and thrill level of the book!
Even if you recognize the culprit mid-way, it does not lessen the adrenaline by an ounce! Explosions and flying cars, Revolution of Herzoslovakia, a diamond heist ..... and all this I get from a book of 1925!

It is almost a parlour mystery.
The book is pleasant to start with but somewhere just prior to the middle. I correctly guessed the culprit! Too bad! 
Because from there on, everything they did, every question they asked it was like 'Why are they not working on this thread which was so apparent ?" Here it becomes the 'living' example of skill of writing . That I still enjoyed reading it even if I could see through every trap and confusion Christie was throwing my way, calls for an applause. 
That's why I call her a Master story teller.


I like the lead characters for their layered nature and rich (in every sense of the word) personalities.

There is the ruggedly attractive Anthony Cade effusing the adventurous charm and quick brains with sufficient brawn!
And the elusive King Victor ..
There are doubts about the hero we trust him, now we don't. It's almost like he loves me , he loves me not. Keeps us on tenterhooks

The beautiful and ravishing Virginia Revel,widow of a former British ambassador to Herzoslovakia. She has charm, intelligence, wit, adventurous heart and yet a simplicity. Too dangerous a combination.

Then the sporty and peppy Bundle Brent destined to be the heroine in  a later book! she makes her first appearance here.She later blooms as an amateur detective in 'The Seven Dials Mystery' .She is described here as a 'very charming young Lady' and we can easily perceive her rash driving and the pluck of her persona in the brief conversation she had with Cade.

Another cover which
I liked it 
The darling and my favourite character hapless widower Lord Caterham.  Repulsively rich and careless ,a simpleton and a private person,he hates politicians,their meetings and is fully dependent on his butler Tredwell and Bundle ,his over-zealous daughter.
The book was a pleasant change from Poirot and Miss Marple as the protagonist not only uses her/his grey cells and imagination but is also active.
After reading it, I felt as if I have been through the Chimneys without moving out of my quilt .


Its the  unexpected  romance I got in the last pages and I am glad of it. Throughout the story, the romance was true to the Christie style, subtle and delicate but with a brawny 'princely' hero and a Taylor-ish heroine, this time its a bit seething royal. Loved it.
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#Day 23

There is some discord brewing between the reigning elements of our heavenly abode.... its looking serious. Trying my best to sort it out but you know that how discussions have this great tendency to become arguments. Avoiding all the chaos I am posting not exactly for a Happy Day but about those, little things which help me in being positive, hopeful and still loving that Man! Grrr..
One is the morning MUMMMAA of my kids...waking up one by one both will erupt into 'Mumma!fisrt me ,first me'.
Second : Then the hugs Pihu showers on me, clinging like a monkey baby, arms around my shoulders,legs around my waist and her face nestled in my neck, smelling of almond oil from her hair.Anindy has to manage with remaining portions of my abdomen and legs to where he hugs like a big bear hugging the tree trunk! Sweet little nothings of 'my honey,my sugar plum' and the more Hindustani 'meri chanda, mera suraj, meri penguin and mera nanha lal murga (of Soviet books fame) have to be mentioned before both are ready for the morning rush. From here the charge is swiftly transferred to Papa dear, lovingly called by them as 'Chinnu Apotex' !( Chinnu , I guess is Tamil for little/sweet and Apotex is the firm where my husband works so they have re-christened their Dad).
Fourth : Despite the cold war, we both brave the morning rush with calm and store our powers for the late night thunder and storm. And due to a previously agreed 'No-Old-Sins-Treaty' we Never mention the old mistakes (though I'll be dying to do so ,to remind him how each n every time I was in the right :) ) It results in somewhat lack-lustre performance on the war front.
 You see, one point at a time, keeping to the topic only, not being sarcastic about each-others families, not digging out old skeletons, not comparing to Sharmas and Vermas ... such rules rarely allow a good fight. Still, we manage to argue, to raise our voices only to remind the other to keep the voice down as kids are sleeping! and vent out the anger.Whew! But today, as I'v written it out I wonder how I'll manage my front? Any suggestions?

PS : somehow it still feels a Happy Day :) despite having no pics to post for the morning MUMMA and our 'decent fights'!!


Murder Is Easy : Book Review

Book : Murder is easy
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre` : Crime Fiction
My Ratings : 4.9/5

The Queen of Crime strike once again and the shot is- Purrr...fect ala Madhuri Dixit Nene style in a reality show.
The book has become one of my all time favourite Christie books.
Retired middle aged  Colonel Luke Fitzwilliam returns home to England after a long stint in Tropics and is quite clueless about his future profession. In between his musings and the Derby race results he, missed his train and have to board the London train where he met the co passenger spinster Lavinia Pinkerton .
Later, Luke was extremely ruffled by the fact that Ms Lavinia had died on the same day in a car accident. The lady had shared with him some of her doubts about having a killer in her village Wychwood-under-Ashe. 
Luke got the feeling that the old Dame was right and her accident was just another murder in disguise.He reached Wychwood .The picturesque, quaint hamlet is beautiful and the  quietude and scenic beauty of the place takes him in to a surreal book like world and he finds it hard to believe that a murderer is lurking behind this pure environment. 
After meeting Bridget, Ellesworthy, Dr. Thomas and many more he notices the menace in the air and finally solves the chilling mystery with not that much ease with what it was woven by the murderer.
 Excellent . The story, the setting and the characters are simple country folks with a dream like existence which make the concept of so many murders downright chilly. It scores 4.9/5 on my ratings as its perfect
CHARACTERS - which Ms Christie had constructed are remarkable. They are pretty normal village folks living honestly, working hard and enjoying the solitude and quietude of the place they live in.Almost every character at one or other point tells about how he/she finds it pleasant to live here. And with every declaration there lurks the doubt of a sinister motive in their liking the place.
This idea of creating purity and then by a psychological approach nailing in reader's mind,the doubt and fear for all except the culprit is tried by many but achieved by few. Here its achieved effortlessly.

1)   Its an ideal book on how to introduce beautiful heroines in a story without actually describing her beauty and giving it away on the first page that she is beyond doubt.
2)   Like many others by Agatha Christie, this one also tells about how not to waste precious space, words and ink in wording the emotions between hero and heroine.
Thus avoiding their  relation sounding artificial, forced and clichéd.
Par Excellence with herself. AH! An Experience.

Balancing Act!

Me balancing the whirl wind act : Books and work
Books are as integral to my life as breathing. I am never to be found without one at-least. They are scattered all around the house, ready to be read at different times and conditions accordingly study tables. at headrest of beds, under centre table in the drawing-room, near the TV,even in the kitchen! With a job(on/off), a husband and two school going kids, cooking, cleaning.... without any outside help , is hectic at times but no complains.I am blessed with an 'early to bed early to rise' hubby so, the late night hours are mine. I love my life this way. The way it is....juggling many things and  at the same time, trying to strike a balance among all- my roles, duties, wishes and pure me! May God give me strength for everything . Happy Me,Happy Day. #22


#Day 21

Loads of daily chores and a cold bleak day go hand in hand.While completing the chores bleakness is forgotten and by the time you are done, sun shines and weather smiles It is not always so but today is one of such day. Now by 4:00PM its sunny and bright with all things done. Enough to be a Happy Day. Isn't it?


''Sorting Out Sid - Beer and Blogger Contest''

'Sorting Out Sid '
Meet Sid, a master at the art of denial, in this hilarious, insightful tale of modern-day living and relationships.

Book Description-
Siddharth Agarwal a.k.a. Sid has it all – a fifteen-year-long marriage, a bunch of devoted friends, and the chance to be the company’s youngest-ever VP, all at the age of thirty-six.

But, behind the scenes, his life is slowly falling apart, what with his marriage on the rocks, parents who treat him like a delinquent child, and overly-interfering, backstabbing friends. And that’s not even counting the manipulative HR vixen and the obnoxious boss he must tackle in office.

So, when lovely, spunky single mom Neha materializes in his life, she brings into it a ray of hope. But will she cause the brewing storm to finally erupt?

Who said it would be easy sorting out Sid? For Book extract visit here.

I stumbled on Y's Blog today and quite unbelievably, today itself I am writing this post! Guess, I am much intrigued by Sid and her creator both and equally. I just cannot directly take part in the contest without writing about Y and don't ask Y? First I saw her pic with her son and he was like about to eat rather gulp her. Sweet .Then I saw this -

Welcome to Y's World

Vijay: The Harried, Married Man

Y: The Queen of the Castle

Peanut: The Princess, always trying to dethrone me

Pickle & Papad: Double the trouble, double the fun

...and other assorted characters we bump into, along the way...

I am bowled over by it. Efficient, hilarious, sweet and short. Just the way a writer should be.
This description of her world egged me to take up the contest. Unlikely but true. 

Now for the person who needs sorting. No, sorting part Y must have done in her book ... she is asking WHY  we are interested in his sorting  out ?

 Well, here is my reason 
I would like to read 'Sorting out Sid 'because Sid's world  seems so different from mine's. The marketing/corporate job which looks so heartless / corrupt to me, the fat pay cheque which is alien to me, the 'settled' life, wife, parents.... everything seems SO unlike the life which I had/am  experiencing personally or on the behalf of friends and relatives.
I want to get this different world feel as I know that - though with money, power and success life-style changes but the person who is living it , does not! Deep down the wishes , the longings even ambitions are same and eternal. Somewhat camouflaged, yet quiet similar....
If one person's ambition is to buy a car irrespective of brand and other's perhaps, an island in Caribbean, its the same if one only ask why? The answer will be something like - to see happiness and pride on our parent's faces, bliss on loved one's countenance and a carefree glow on kids , to have peace and privacy.... The objectives are same the paths differ. The problems are the same manipulative bosses, superficial relations, stressed out life and somewhere amidst all the urge to deliver your best, experience bliss, have stable relations, true friendship..... Its like asking for a calming adventure and a thrilling peace!
 So,I feel that if Sid needs to be sorted out no matter if its done amidst beer mugs or Lassi jugs, its gonna be interesting and hilarious and I am very curious to know his psyche` and his life. The entry of Neha.. how will he react ?Contest or no contest I am gonna read it from A-Z. And again please don't ask Y?
The book is available at Flipcart right here.

#Day 20

Two cocks ,one white and one red in locked horns no, locked crowns under the parked car, near the empty weeded ground were about to fell in the ditch when some kids shouted and distracted them from fight/play and they ran for shelter. It was a sight to see and rare for me- the urban dweller. Before the kids came ,beside locking their crowns, craning the small head other gestures were also portrayed for my benefit which to me looked like biting other's beak and pecking each other. Who said henpecked it can be cock-pecked also! Sorry for no image but I was happy looking at them. Happy Post.Happy Day


Chuck and Geck by Arkday Gaider

Author : Arkday Gaider
Genre` : Child Fiction
Publications : Progress Publishers
My Rating : 5/5

 Its one of those children's books which I read again and again. Right from my childhood, through my teens and growing up years ,through job and sometimes ,even today as a mum of two! With it time stands still, frozen just like the view offered by the Trans-Siberian Railway train Chuck and Geck had boarded.It's a wonderful story by Arkday Gaider , the Russian writer who wrote for young children . His books are full of motivation, courage and honesty for Russian kids. His 'Chuck and Geck' is full of innocent adventure for young minds.
Chuck and Geck are two little children living in Moscow with their mother while their father is away at the distant, cold , snow covered Taiga lands. They
receive a telegram from father stating he can not come home for Christmas. To celebrate Christmas and new year together, the mother decides to go to Taiga land instead. She went to station to book the tickets leaving both naughty brothers at home. The brothers received another telegram in mum's absence which was lost in their fight. By unspoken consent, they didn't tell Mother about the lost letter. Braving cold wind, snow and dark night in train, they reached the Taigas ...only to found the shacks empty! Father had left for Moscow. However in the end the family is united and celebrates New Year  together while listening on radio, the tinkle of  midnight bells from the great land that is -Moscow.
  train animationWhat else the verdict is but Excellent and a Must read. The story, the illustrations, the writing style ..everything is perfect for the innocence of the young imaginative minds and their tender hearts. The incident where one of the brother was lost and when on founding him the mother showered him with love, the feelings of the other were acutely written .

 "She was so nice to him that Chuck finally took offence and was sorry he hadn't thought of climbing into the trunk before."

The fir trees and the vast land of the Taiga, all quiet and blanketed by the snow, the night journey by  sledge with wild animals lurking behind the darkness of the forest , the empty desolate shacks made the story exciting.
  wolf  animation  wolf  animation Seemed as if I was the one inhaling the cold  wind, my cheeks dotted with snow flakes, face numb with chill and wild animals prowling nearby in the wilderness....
Mother and sons won over fear, anxiety, cold, hunger, tiredness, wilderness  and wild animals .So its a story of love, courage and family bonding with patriotism, brotherhood and Great city Moscow woven in between.
The tinkling of the bells was another part I carry with me-
  " Big and little bells were ringing a refrain like this:


Chuck and Geck looked at each other. They knew what that was.It was the golden Kremlin chimes pealing out beneath the red star of the Spassky Tower in faraway Moscow. And those chimes -- on the eve of New Year --were heard by people everywhere-- in town and hillside, in steppe and taiga, and on the blue seas."

The story opens and ends with lines about Moscow and Soviet Union which evoke in me love and respect for one's country.

" Each understood the meaning of happiness in his own way.But one and all knew and understood that they must live honourably, work hard, love and cherish  the vast ,happy land known as Soviet Union."

Its cherished as a book and childhood memories !

PS : For those who want to re-read it, Its available at
         along with others like 'Timur and his Squad' and 'The School"  by Arkday Gaider.

# Day 19

New sprouts are emerging from the Jasmine. My delight knows no bounds just by the sight of the green blades and to imagine to have beautiful white star like flowers in my balcony...Ah! Bliss. Happy Day.

# Day 17

The yellow bloom is still there in the neighbour's balcony. They have gone to their native- West Bengal. As I stood chatting with my brother in my balcony the bloom sways in the wind and seemed to tease me about my yesterday's gloomy thoughts.Inadvertently, I smiled. My brother ,a practical IT guy and younger to me by 7 years asked 'what?' I blushed without reason and said nothing.Moments like this make a Happy Day.

# Day 16

There are days when everything is gloomy and one has to brave through it all ... alone. The school, worksheets, projects and tests are still to be completed, food to be cooked and house to be taken care of. But isn't it days like this that are the most important,a test for us, for our endurence and courage. And once we came out unscathed then the calm, the confidence,belief in God is all restored :)
Yesterday was one of such days but as I survived it seemed good. The yellow bloom in the balcony of a neighbour gave me hope and somehow after the thunder clouds moved away the flower was still shining which made me feel as if it bloomed today specifically for me and telling me to be calm and radiant like it. Happy Moment, Happy Day (no pics of it though )


# Day 15

pink tree  animation
Bangalore is beautiful .Always . But now its like magic. blushing in fuchsia n pink glory of Ipes and majestic in lavender n purple robes of Jacarandas! One such Ipe tree is diagonal to our building and is a feast to eyes. Daily when me n kids wait for the school bus  there, it feels so good to stand near it. While Pihu wonders at the pink blooms, Ani is more interested in the nests and the thick trunk.I like the way its has bloomed at the top. When it catches the morning sun, it looks like the pink fluff over the sweet snow ball (barf ka gola) we use to eat in childhood. Blessed for a Happy Day.


# Day 14

Today I have prepared Besan ladoos and am going to make Gulabjamun.The raw material is ready and I am sipping my morning coffee while posting and taking a break. On Gulaabjamuns, I have tried my hand before but with ladoos it is the first time. 
Both of my children along with me like sweets but are particular and choosy about it. It should not be too sweet,
no added colours .. and all. So, home made sweets are best  for us. When we were at our native place, the grannys, chachis and mamis were there to satiate our sweet tooth with a variety of home made simple and delicious fare. But now I have to take up the responsibility .Well,the laddoos are looking round and perfect. And they taste heaven. Aroma of cardamom, taste of roasted besan (gram flour)and chunky bits of pistachio nuts... delicious. Ready for the syrupy soft, dark skinned gulab-e-jamun literally rose and black plums. Sweet Happy Day.(Image courtesy : Internet)

ग़ुलाब- The Rose

                 ग़ुलाब एक...                                    डॉयरी के पन्नों में,                                     कोयल ने फिर कुह...