Book Review : They Do It With Mirrors – Agatha Christie

This particular Agatha pick was not really a treat-read for me. It is not bad either. I suggest you pick this if you are looking for a quick read (say when you’re travelling). For once, this is my first Miss Marple mystery (I’ve always favoured Hercule Poirot’s adventures better). Although I’m a huge Agatha fan, I’ll just be straight honest with this review.

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1. The Plot

For the shared concern of a mutual friend, Mrs.Van Rodryck asks her dear friend- clever old Miss Marple for a favour to which she obliges. When Miss Marple reaches Stoneygates- a rehabilitation centre for delinquents, she instantly senses danger in the air. Two bullet shots, perfectly timed, are fired simultaneously under the same roof, killing an unexpected guest. This risks the life of her friend Carrie Louise further more as she is the most anticipated victim (being the heiress of a vast fortune). With confusing, bitter-sweet family ties and multiple suspects-each more or less a part of the family with justifiable motives of their own, the case gets complicated. How Miss Marple helps the police in revealing the actual murderer makes for an interesting read.

2. The Plus Points

  • The pace of the book is steady. Nothing is rushed into or taken too long to unfold.
  • The various characters introduced are realistic in their sketches.
  • The setting in and around which the crime takes place, is well described and easy to imagine.
  • Little relevant details are not left out. Instead, they are mentioned to the point.
  • Multiple suspects and their motives initially confuse you since every suspect seems to be a potential murderer – which is an excellent thing.
  • The victim is kind of unexpected which took me by surprise a little but that hardly matters.

3. The Pits And The Falls

  • I was not very impressed with how the plot unfolded. Basic and predictable.
  • The identity of the criminal did not come as a surprise to me. So many characters and yet your first guess hits bull’s eye?! Mysterious much? Not!
  • Some characters are pretty abrupt.
  • I found it a little boring to be honest. It was not one of those mysteries which tend to linger in your thoughts for a while and leave you wanting for more from the author. 

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui

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Whirlpool Of The Web

Greetings to you!

Today is an exceptionally hot, drabby day. I did make some plans but well, Mr. Sun with his super hot rays managed to deter my spirits. So I ended up canceling them. Instead I rejoined Twitter (had made the account ages ago) and literally felt like a noob. A good15 minutes went by screening the settings and figuring out how it worked. Almost considered deleting the Twitter handle because I’m seriously not very regular with my social activities. But then, I let it be.

Now who doesn’t want to know what film Shahrukh Khan is filming for currently or which part of the world is Narendra Modi tourist-ing right now ( 😉 ) or which new person KRK has managed to piss off or what the celebrities are wearing at the Cannes or how the Royal princess looks like or what worthy serious, practical news the tabloids have to offer?!  

Despite a time-craving career to focus on (because apparently doctors are supposed to study all day and all night) you’ll find me browsing on various platforms (Google, Wiki, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube et al #entertainment #selfawareness) and shockingly losing track of time. And I’m sure most of you relate to me. Since everyone is a cool Mr/Miss know it all these days, the least we can do is, keep up with them right?! :P.  

On a serious note, the advent of the Internet has had mortifying effects on us and the society we live in. What started off as a luxury has now become a utility,just a few steps short of becoming a necessity coupled with new-age smart-phones- a tool you cannot do without. It is easily accessible these days. Don’t be surprised when you see your 5 year old nephew deriving entertainment,information,knowledge out of an Ipad or Iphone next time round. At that age I was probably learning how to form sentences, write and speak proper English. 

On the plus side, life has become easier in the sense that everything is available at a click or a swipe. The Internet has made life a tad too easy when I compare it to how it was as I was growing up. I barely had access to the Internet till I was in 5th grade and I was in 7th or 8th grade by the time I had learned how to use it properly for my purposes. I certainly don’t need to tell you how the scene is today.

Though it is an EXCELLENT medium transcending communication,cultural and regional/national boundaries and barriers; by providing an infinite source of vast information,learning and awareness and all sorts of entertainment one can possibly fathom, you cannot turn a blind-eye to the collateral damage it has done.

The more we’ve connected to the web the more we have disconnected from our real lives to the point of becoming dependent on it which is not that good an idea. Some of us have completely got lost in this whirlpool while some of us have succumbed to it in one or the other way. The ones who have learned to strike a balance between the virtuality and reality are the wise owls here.

Like everything, even the Web has its pros and cons.Neither requires mention as we are all well aware of it. As much as it has helped us to reach out to the world, it has equally distanced us from ourselves if we look keenly. Just remember that anything in excess is bad. And once something is on the Internet it stays on the net. Excercise caution especially when you are social networking. It is in your hands how you make use of this wonder web. If it’s a blessing or a curse, boon or bane,

You determine. You decide.

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui

My Summer So Far!

Amidst a scorching summer and a much awaited-cum-delayed vacation ( by a good ten days :/ ), I finally pushed myself to get up here. The soaring temperatures are messing up big time with my holiday (and blogging) plans. I just do not feel like doing anything but slumbering all day hoping that one fine morning, the clouds will greet me with fresh showers, triggering the monsoon. With it being only mid-May so far, I think I’m pushing my expectations a bit too much.

Well, I have no idea whatsoever where I’m headed towards with this as 7 pm is usually not my ideal time to flex fingers and also, I have not given a thought to the title of this post yet. I continue to stare at the screen in desperation as I type this. Think I’ve officially hit a thought block! Sigh!

After a delicious biryani break for dinner, I thought I’d make this time’s post ridiculously personal about how my summer has been of late. I’m pretty much aware that I’ve got a few pending tasks on the blog like reviewing my February (damn! too late!) reads and a few others recommended by friends and other bloggers. I sincerely promise that I’m going to do all of those by the end of this month. Right now, I intend on proceeding with my Summer So Far.

So here’s what happened so far:

  1. My summer kick-started officially the day my Final MBBS – Part 1 results came out in the positive. All the hard work, anxiety and paranoia paid off well. Also, I saw improvement in my academic performance which relieved my folks .
  2. My birthday co-incidentally fell on the same day the results were announced, resulting in a double celebration.
  3. My childhood friend got happily married. She was one beautiful bride brimming with joy. Plus her wedding day seconded as a school re-union of sorts. I honestly didn’t meet so many people even at the Alumni Meet. It was one memorable night.
  4. I’m a chronic binge-watcher. I managed to catch up on the latest seasons of TV shows like Castle, The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, The Flash, New Girl, of course THE Game of Thrones and re-runs of Friends.Yes, I’m THAT free but frankly I lack quick productivity. 😛 .
  5. My shopping expeditions. I cannot tell you how much of a de-stressing chore shopping has been to me, especially this time round.
  6. And back to the professional front. Apart from fun-tastic days so far, I started spending a decent amount of time in college attending lectures and clinical postings as holidays finally became a distant dream come true. Whew!

That’s the gist so far. I’d tell you of my further plans lined up for the rest of this hot season but I’m afraid you’d yawn away to sleep. 😛 Today’s post wasn’t any bit philosophical or preachy or inspiring or interesting as such and pretty much pointless I know. But hey, sultry summer does that to me okay?! So I guess I’ll catch you people next time with something more relevant and meaningful. 

Wrapping up by wishing a sunny, exciting summer for you. 🙂

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui.

Book Haul (February)

There’s always one habit I will never out-grow, whether it was back when I was a ten year old or today or even some forty years later when I’d be rocking in my chair, graying – reading. Over the years I have read a lot of fiction ,non-fiction, the junk of the Book World( the comics of course!) and my academic books which I am certainly not referring to in today’s post.

Doubtlessly, the library was one of my favorite places at school. Sifting through the colorful, endless rows of books, each waiting to be taken off the shelf, waiting to be flipped through, to unfold their story, was in mere three alphabets- joy. I have lost count of the number of books I had borrowed and I recall right now how I never wanted to return a good book (but I did of course 😦 ). Why part with a character who became your friend, engaged you so deeply, made you laugh and cry with him/her when you can go back to them, right? Maybe that is how I turned into a chronic (and proud) bibliophile.

I guess all you book-worms (apologies for the stereotyping) can understand what I’m trying to say. Oh I must admit how much I admire people who read. Just a lot more than the usual crowd. Nup. It does not make you look “nerdy” – it makes you so much more attractive! 😉

So today I’ve decided to make another addition to my blog – Book hauls and reviews. In other words, a list of books I intend to read over a month or so and as and when I finish it, I’d review it up here. I’d love to share my experiences with others out there looking for a good read.

Here’s a list of my books to be read (TBR) for the month of February:

1) Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon – He is one of my MOST FAVORITE writers. This was on my TBR list for a long long time.

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2) They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie – A book haul is incomplete without an Agatha pick, right? Right.

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3) Gone Girl by Gilian Fynn – Just had to give in to the hype and find out what was so different about this one.

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4) Paths Of Glory by Jefferey Archer – I read this one long ago and just felt like reading it again, so that’s why it features on my list.

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5) The Associate by John Grisham – This AUTHOR was on my TBR from a long time so yeah!

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The reviews to the books mentioned above will be uploaded as and when possible. Hopefully, soon.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
Ernest Hemingway

P.S- You can leave a list of your favorite books in the comments section. 🙂

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui.

Short Story #1 – The Assassin

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Ten short quick steps brought him to the other side of the room. There was a sound of breaking glass. In a moment he had jumped out of the window. The window, Clarke realized, opened into an empty street. Another bullet missed his right ear by a mere inch. He got on his feet, brushed his dark suit , glanced at the mafia men over his shoulders insanely firing at him from the window above and dodging the rain of bullets, he disappeared round a corner. He would now scurry to the docks where his ferry awaited him.

The life of Clarke Davies, better known by the code name – Agent 21, was a journey that imperiled his own life and seemingly of those associated with him. Once an assassin is deemed habituated to killing, there are not many options- how could his existence be facile?! The way he mercilessly butchered this man an hour ago, was in his estimation the most vicious murder he had ever committed. Clarke undertook all his gruesome missions under the cloak-name Agent Twenty One. Back in London, his remaining family was blissfully unaware that their man of the house  who they unconditionally loved, was in all truth, a brutal, ruthless murderer (a.k.a- a hit-man).

Davies provided services to a secret agency of the underworld, for wages enough for an entire generation of his family to lead a fine life of luxury and benefits- but the monetary gains never seemed to make any difference to him. The Agency was headed by a very powerful man, Clarke had heard but even after working for him since five long years, he was not faintly acquainted with his boss. He received details of his gory adventures in mysterious packages delivered at his home at odd hours after nightfall, and he had to set off on his enterprise on the fixed date and hour leading him to prevaricate to his unsuspecting hemiplegic father and a widowed sister.

Clarke wasn’t in the least bit like this before- he had been a happy chap, living a normal and a free life but a heart-rending, soul- wrenching event changed him, inducing in him the spirits of hatred and vengeance for all those who were responsible for the anguish he had undergone. His thirst for revenge brought on his record, five appalling murders. Taking advantage of this vulnerable and vengeance-driven indomitable man, the Agency Head compelled him to sign the contract and in return promised to provide him ‘safety’ from the Law. Signing the contract was inevitable those five years back since there was another underlying threat to his family posed by none other than his boss. Hoping that his new job might guarantee the safety of his family, he decided to never look back.

Hence, five years into the future, everyone in the underworld  identified him as Agent 21- an accomplished rifle shooter, effortless with ballers and a fearless Assassin. 

Clarke reflected on his life in the past five years, as he kept running ahead of and dodging the mafia men who were following him like mad bulls. He was suddenly tired of this life- he felt sick on seeing his blood-stained hands which had mercilessly taken dozens of lives- some innocent, some cruel. The men chasing him worked for a mafia don who he had recently put to permanent sleep. The murder scene refused to fade away from his memory. He had axed the head of the man before his family- the helpless innocent faces for the first time in five years melted his frozen heart. The weeping frightened eyes of the Don’s youngest daughter reminded him of his own son who was slain years ago by men akin to Clarke in their actions. He realized the malice of his deed as he turned a corner and reached the docks where his ferry waited for him. Two short jumps and he would be in his ferry and make his escape from the mafia men.

To the astonishment of the man waiting for him in the ferry, he suddenly stopped running. He came to terms with the fact that the life as an assassin never brought him peace, that it made him less of a human every passing day, that revenge was not sweet and murders could never be justified- neither his wife and son’s murders five years ago nor the murder of that little girl’s father this very evening. As he opened his eyes now filled with tears, the boatman of the ferry signaled him to jump in. He breathed a heavy breath, nodded his head side ways, turned to face the mafia men (now advancing towards him even more quickly), raised his left hand back so as to signal the ferry to be off. When the motor inside the ferry began to throb, it faintly disguised the sound of a dozen bullet shots that pierced the body of Clarke Davies.

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The End.

P.S. – This was written way back in 10th standard by me but i have altered a few details.The main lead of this story is roughly inspired from a character in a video game I used to enjoy playing a lot when young. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Appreciation or criticism is welcome in the comments sections. (:

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui