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Moonlight Reader

Welcome to 2019! 

Currently reading

Crooked House
Agatha Christie
Progress: 11/242 pages
An Artless Demise
Anna Lee Huber
Patricia Wentworth
Bleak House
Charles Dickens, Hablot Knight Browne, Nicola Bradbury
Progress: 54 %

April/May Buddy Reads

Reading progress update: I've read 11 out of 242 pages.

Crooked House - Agatha Christie

“But the police are very efficient. And of course there was the telegram I sent you. Well—never mind—we’re here—together … But from now on, we’ve both got to play a lone hand.”


I have noticed that Agatha Christie uses the expression about playing "a lone hand" a lot.


All right, I'm into the Crooked House reread and becoming reacquainted with Sophia Leonides and Charles Hayward...

Calling all Agathytes - tomorrow!

I am so excited for the reread/buddy read of Crooked House by Agatha Christie!



Crooked House was published in 1949, and was the 38th full-length mystery that Christie published. It is a true stand-alone, with no characters recurring from other mysteries. In 1972, Dame Agatha identified it as one of her own favorite mysteries, saying about it:


"I found a study of a certain family interesting to explore."


If you are interested in her other 9 named favorites, page here. She was a perceptive reader who had a knack for seeing the strengths in her own work - I am not as fond of The Moving Finger as she was, but I whole-heartedly agree with the other 9.


This is a favorite of mine, and I think that those of you who join us on the buddy read have a treat coming! 




“I've never met a murderer who wasn't vain... It's their vanity that leads to their undoing, nine times out of ten.They may be frightened of being caught, but they can't help strutting and boasting and usually they're sure they've been far too clever to be caught.”


I look forward to all of the updates - let me know below if you are joining the read. And, since there will be readers on varying schedules, be careful with spoilers in your updates! This book should be experienced without spoiling!


Use tag: crooked house buddy read for your updates & posts, please!


Something out of the common way

Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

This was my first romance by Beverly Jenkins. Set during the immediately pre-civil war era in Michigan, the romance centers around Hester Wyatt, a freed slave, and Galen Vachon, a free man of color from an extremely wealthy New Orleans family. Hester is active on the Underground Railroad, which assists in the escape of enslaved black men, women and families from the southern slave states north to Canada.


Jenkins did a fantastic job developing her characters. Hester is a heroine well worth rooting for, and Galen is the sort of handsome, wealthy playboy that will become the billionaires of contemporary romance about a decade later (this book was originally published in 1996). There is nary a Duke to be seen in this refreshing romance.


The history in this historical romance was heartbreaking. It is not for Ms. Jenkins to pull her punches on the misery that slavery produced, and she does a great job reminding the reader of the horrors that it caused - family separation; rape; abuse; emotional abuse; child abuse, just imagine any kind of abuse and it was present - in a way that adds to the story. She does not romanticize the culture that produced slavery (and nor should she), nor does she romanticize the heart-stopping terror that results from fighting slavery, even while she does provide a satisfying romance and believable HEA between her hero and heroine.


I found myself completely immersed with this small band of people, quietly doing the work of heroes at great personal risk and with great humility. If you are a romance reader at all, I highly recommend reading this book.

Reading progress update: I've read 181 out of 393 pages.

Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I will likely finish this tonight, after I get home!


Hester is a fantastic character. I also really like Galen's aunt, Racine, although we haven't really gotten to know her much.


Galen seems a bit shallow, but I think that's the point - his love for Hester will add depth to his character. I love the Underground Railroad connection, and the Michigan community where the abolition work is being done is absorbing.

Reading progress update: I've read 53 out of 393 pages.

Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

The relationship between Hester and Galen is developing convincingly, and the book's premise is very intriguing. Who could the traitor be?


Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

You guys!


Things are crazy at Chez Moonlight Reader - I'm sick and my job blew up yesterday - so I completely forgot that yesterday was the planned buddy read for this romance novel!


Anyway, better a day late than a dollar short, as they say. Shall we read?


I should be able to make some headway over lunch, so expect a few updates then, and more this evening! I am really looking forward to this book - I've heard wonderful things about it.

The collective nouns are so much fun

We're having a little discussion about collective nouns on my Death on the Nile post, which impelled me to google for a list of them. Some of the collective nouns are just so delightful.


Animal Collective Nouns
Antelope Herd
Apes Shrewdness
Asses Pace, Herd, Drove
Baboons Troop, Flange
Badgers Cete
Bats Colony, Cloud
Bears Sloth, Sleuth, Litter (young)
Beavers Colony, Family
Bison Herd
Buffalo Gang, Obstinacy
Camels Caravan, Flock, Train
Caribou Herd
Cats Clowder, Pounce; (Kittens: Kindle, Litter, Intrigue), Destruction (wild cats)
Cattle Drove, Herd
Cheetah Coalition
Chinchilla Colony
Cows Herd, Kine
Coyotes Band
Deer Herd, Bevy (only for roe deer)
Dogs Litter (puppies), Pack (if wild), Cowardice (curs), Leash(Greyhounds). For hounds: Cry, Mute, Pack, Kennel
Dolphins Pod
Donkeys Drove, Herd, Pace
Elephants Herd, Memory
Elk Gang
Ferrets Business, Cast, Fesnying
Fox Leash, Skulk, Earth, Lead, Troop
Giraffes Tower
Goats Tribe, Trip
Gorillas Band, Troop
Hedgehogs Array
Hippopotamuses Bloat
Horses Team, Harras, Rag (colts), Stud (a group of horses owned by one person), String (for ponies)
Hyenas Cackle, Clan
Impalas Herd
Kangaroos Mob, Troop
Leopards Leap
Lions Pride, Sault, Troop
Martens Richness
Mice Mischief
Moles Labor
Monkeys Troop, Barrel
Moose Herd
Mules Pack, Span, Barren, rake
Otters Bevy, Family, Raft, Romp
Oxen Team, Yoke
Pigs Drift, Drove, Litter (piglets), Sounder (swine only), Team, Passel (hogs only), Singular (for boars)
Polecats Chine
Porcupines Prickle
Porpoises  Crowd, Herd, Pod, School, Shoal
Rabbits Colony, Warren, Nest, Herd (domesticated only), Litter (young rabbits), Down (hares), husk (hares)
Raccoons Gaze
Rats Colony, Pack, Plague, Swarm
Reindeer Herd
Rhinoceroses Crash
Roebucks Bevy
Seals Bob, Harem, Herd, Pod, Rookery
Sheep Drove, Flock, Herd
Springbok Herd
Squirrels Dray, Scurry
Stoats Pack, Trip
Tigers Ambush, Streak
Walruses Herd, Pod
Weasles Gang, Colony, Pack
Whales Pod, Gam, Herd, School
Wolves Pack, Rout, Route (when moving)
Wombats Wisdom
Zebras Zeal, Crossing, Dazzle, Cohorts, Herd


Collective nouns for birds

Animal Collective Nouns
Birds in general Brace (for a couple of birds that have been killed when hunted), Flight (when flying), Flock (when on the ground), Volary
Albatross Rookery
Bitterns Sedge
Bullfinches Bellowing
Buzzards Wake
Bobolinks Chain
Capons Mews
Chickens Brood, Peep, Young chickens: Chattering, Clutch
Chicks (Various birds) Brood; Clutch
Coots Cover
Cormorants Gulp
Cranes Sedge, Seige
Crows Horde, Murder
Dotterel Trip
Doves Dule, Pitying (Turtle doves only)
Ducks Balding, Brace (a couple of hunted and killed ducks), Flock (flying), Paddling (on water), Raft (on water), Team
Dunlins Fling
Eagles Convocation
Emus Mob
Finches Charm
Falcons Cast
Flamingos Stand
Geese Flock, Gaggle (grounded), Skein (flying)
Goshawks Flight
Grouse Pack (later in the hunting season)
Guillemots Bazaar
Guinea Fowl Confusion
Gulls Colony
Hawks Boil (when spiraling in flight), Cast, Kettle (large amount of flying hawks)
Herons Sedge, Siege
Hummingbirds Charm
Jays Party, Scold
Lapwings Deceit
Larks Exaltation
Mallards Sord (flying), Brace (two that havce been hunted and killed)
Magpies Charm, Gulp, Murder, Tiding
Nightingales Watch
Owls Parliament
Parrots Company, Pandemonium
Partridge Covey
Peacocks Muster, Ostentation
Pelicans Pod
Penguins Colony
Pheasant Bouquet, Brace (couple hunted and killed), Nest, Nide, Nye,
Flight, Flock, Kit
Plovers Congregation, Wing (flying)
Ptarmigans Covey
Rooks Building, Clamor, Parliament
Ruffs Hill
Quail Bevy, Covey
Ravens Storytelling, Unkindness
Seabirds Wreck
Sheldrakes Doading
Skylarks Exultation
Snipe Walk, Wisp
Sparrows Host
Starlings Murmuration
Storks Mustering
Swallows Flight
Swans Bevy, Wedge (flying)
Swifts Flock
Teal Spring
Thrush Mutation
Turkeys Gang, Rafter
Turtle Doves Pitying, Dule
Vultures Kettle (flying), Venue
Waterfowls Knob, Plump
Widgeons Company
Wildfowl Plump
Woodcocks Fall
Woodpeckers Descent
Wrens Herd

Collective nouns for fish

Animal Collective Nouns
Fish (general) Draft, Nest, School, Shoal (some academics argue that ‘School’ is incorrect, and that Shoal should be used instead). When caught: Catch, Drought, Haul
Barracudas Battery
Bass Shoal
Cod Lap
Eels Bed, Fry, Swarm
Goldfish Glint, Troubling
Herring Army
Sardines Family
Sharks Shiver
Stingrays Fever
Trout Hover

Collective nouns for reptiles and amphibians

Animal Collective Nouns
Alligators Congregation
Cobras Quiver
Crocodiles Bask, Float
Frogs Army, Colony
Lizards Lounge
Rattlesnakes Rhumba
Salamanders Congress
Toads Knab, Knot, Nest
Turtles Bale, Dole, Nest, Turn
Snakes, vipers Den, Generation, Knot, Nest, Pit

Collective nouns for invertebrates (including insects, molluscs etc.)

Animal Collective Nouns
Ants Army, Colony, Nest, Swarm (flying)
Bees Grist, Hive, Swarm
Caterpillars Army
Clams Bed
Cockroaches Intrusion
Crabs Cast
Flies Business, Cloud, Swarm
Gnats Cloud, Horde, Swarm
Grasshoppers Cloud
Hornets Bike, Nest
Insects (general) Horde, Nest, Plague, Rabble, Swarm
Jellyfish Brood, Smack
Lice Flock
Locusts Plague
Midges Bite
Mosquitoes Scourge
Oysters Bed
Scorpions Bed, Nest
Spiders Cluster, Clutter
Termites Brood, Colony, Nest, Swarm
Wasps Nest, Swarm
Worms Bed, Bunch, Clat, Clew

Collective nouns for single-celled organisms

Organism Collective Nouns





Which one is your favorite? I'm partial to a dazzle of zebras, although a convocation of eagles is also terrific.

Next Up!

Going Wrong - Ruth Rendell Spotlight - Patricia Wentworth An Artless Demise - Anna Lee Huber The Case of the Running Mouse (A Ludovic Travers Mystery) - Christopher Bush Through a Glass, Darkly - Helen McCloy

I will have to take a break for the Indigo buddy read next week, but for now, these are next up on my metaphorical reading pile.

Reading progress update: I've read 113 out of 134 pages.

The Yellow Dog - Georges Simenon, Linda Asher

I will finish this the first spare moment I get - I have an inkling of what is happening, but this book is so full of undercurrents that it's only an inkling and I may be completely wrong.

Reading progress update: I've read 88 out of 134 pages.

The Yellow Dog - Georges Simenon, Linda Asher

The atmosphere of the seaside Breton town is fantastic, but I must freely admit that I have no idea what is going on with the mystery.

Calling all Agathytes: Death on the Nile in May


Themis, BrokenTune & I are planning to revisit Death on the Nile next month, around May 18th!


Death on the Nile is a particularly delicious Christie puzzle mystery, with lots of delightful side plots, some romantic intrigue, a bit of espionage, and appearances both by Monsieur Poirot, our favorite Belgian, and the enigmatic Colonel Race, who is on the track of a nasty international criminal. 


There is also a pretty good Poirot adaptation from the Suchet series, starring Emily Blunt and J.J. Feild, pictured above, as Linnett and Simon Ridgeway. I'm also planning on tracking down and watching the 1978 Peter Ustinov adaptation to round out my Death on the Nile extravaganza. It looks hilariously campy, with Angela Lansbury as the ridiculous Salome Otterbourne, and Bette Davis as Mrs. Van Schuyler. Can't wait!


Join us on May 18!


Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 144 pages.

The Yellow Dog - Georges Simenon, Linda Asher

My copy of this book arrived yesterday. This is my first Maigret mystery, and is one of the new Penguin translations/reprints. Penguin classics is reissuing all 75 of Simenon's mysteries, at the pace of one per month. The first book, Pietr the Latvian, was released 11/7/2013. The project continues apace - you can read a bit more about the reissues here.


In terms of the quality of the book itself, it's a nice object. The covers of this series looked appealing on my computer, and are just as appealing in person. I assume that all of the books are the same size, and they will look really nice on my bookshelf.


I don't have much to say about the book itself right now because I'm really early in the mystery, and I usually reserve judgment on a long series until I've read a few and feel like I have a basis for drawing conclusions. Having said that, I'm really hopeful about this series, and will probably buy & read one or two of them a month until I tire of them.

Agathytes Buddy Read Reminder

If you haven't already acquired your copy of Crooked House, act now! Our Crooked House buddy read started in 9 days!


Faithful but ultimately lackluster

Murder on the Nile - Agatha Christie

Let me admit at the outset that I am not a play reader, although I do love to go to live theater, and it is a lifelong dream of mine to see The Mousetrap performed, preferably in London. It's also important to note that Death on the Nile is one of my favorite of Christie's mysteries - the setting is wonderful, the characters are well-drawn, and the solution is satisfying even if there are rather too many side-plots going on in the book.


I will talk further about all of those elements next month, because Themis, BrokenTune and I (and anyone else who would like to join us) are going to do an Agathytes buddy reread of this delightful mystery around the middle of May. 


For now, though, I will confine my remarks to this play. My edition was published by Samuel French, and was ordered from Amazon. Along with the script, it contains a character list, a stage schematic, a Furniture and Property Plot and a Lighting Plot. The Furniture and Property Plot was actually fairly interesting, and the Lighting Plot went right over my head.


I have never seen this play performed, although when I was googling about, I found information that a local theater actually performed it a couple of years ago, which left me quite bitter. If I had known it was being staged, I absolutely would've gotten tickets for it.


However, reading the script did make one of the primary complaints that I've read about this play quite clear to me. There is absolutely no real connection to the setting here. Egypt is mentioned, the Nile is referenced, but this is a play that occurs primarily in a single room - the observation saloon on a paddle steamer nominally travelling down the Nile. It could, however, have happened anywhere, including on the Thames. 


I honestly don't know how to stage this play to take advantage of the Egyptian setting, but, then again, I'm not a playwright. It certainly seems, as well, that Agatha Christie - who was the playwright - also didn't really know how to do this, as throwing in a couple of random beadsellers at the very beginning of the play, during what is meant to be the embarkation process, seems to be the extent of her efforts. Weak.


The stripped down nature of the play, as well, means that we don't really get a lot of character development. Because I've had the advantage of reading the original text, and having seen the Poirot adaptation, I attributed much of the character depth from other sources to these characters. Someone just seeing the play, I'm afraid, wouldn't have the benefit of that depth and would likely feel that the play itself left a lot to be desired in terms of character development. Kay, in particular, felt extremely thin. Perhaps actors who are also familiar with the source novel would be able to imbue the characters with the depth that they lack through their performances. I don't know.


Canon Pennefather takes the place of Poirot, which was actually fine for me. Poirot might have overwhelmed the production with his fussiness and his mannerisms anyway.


Notes for the Agathytes: As I've previously mentioned, Canon Pennefather "reappears" with a slight name change (Canon Pennyfather) in At Bertram's Hotel, approximately 20 years later. The characters are completely different in personality, however.


Kay is the name that Agatha Christie chose for Linnett Ridgeway in the play. I thought that was actually somewhat interesting, because Kay is also the name of the second wife, Kay Strange, in Towards Zero, a book that was published in 1944, which was also adapted as a play in 1956. The play was first performed that same year. There are some physical similarities between the two Kays. Agatha does like to recycle.


In terms of the endings, I'll talk about this more when we reread Death on the Nile, but there were some crucial differences between the ending of the play and the ending of the book.

Update; the April Buddy Reads

All right, everyone, open thread for April buddy reads/readalongs/etc.


What I know so far:


April 1:


Currently reading





Discworld is reading the 4th Discworld book, Mort, which is also the first in the "Death" subseries. The buddy read starts on April 1, and continues through the end of April, so you can jump in any time!


April 1: Done



BrokenTune, Lillelara and I are planning a buddy read of this collaborative novel by various authors of The Detection Club.


April 9:


Currently reading




Themis-Athena and I are going to read Murder on the Nile, which is the stageplay adaptation of Death on the Nile. The play does not feature Hercule Poirot, rather it includes Canon Pennefather, who also appears in At Bertram's Hotel, which is a Marple mystery.


April 15:


Indigo - Beverly Jenkins 


There are a few of us planning to read this multi-cultural historical romance by Beverly Jenkins this month. 


April 19:



The Agathytes are reading Crooked House


April 29:


The Flemish House (Inspector Maigret #14) - Georges Simenon, Shaun Whiteside (Translator) 


At the very end of the month, Tigus & I are going to read The Flemish Mystery by Georges Simenon. Chris' Fish Place had mentioned possibly joining us, and any other Maigret fans or new readers can feel free to jump in!