Miss Marple, you say?! I have been planning to do this particular book tag for a long while now, but…well, things got busy. But here I am at last, and better late than never. I just had to do it − again, I say, it’s Miss Marple!


The original tag was created by James Holder, on his Youtube channel, which you can find here. I’m picking up the broad “consider yourself tagged” by Rosie Cockshutt, whose Booktube channel can be found here. Also, I’m considering myself tagged from Jeremy Fee’s video, which you can find here


For the fun of it, I’m going to answer all of these without using other Agatha Christie novels for my answers!


  1. The Murder at the Vicarage: A book about, or set in, a small town or village?

I will choose Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery, because it is a really interesting case for this prompt. The story takes place during World War I and closely follows along with the major events of the war, from the perspective of the Canadian women and the people left behind. Yet the story never leaves its small town setting, never travels outside of Four Winds, P.E.I. It’s fascinating to focus on the impact upon these people who are so far away from the war itself, and yet so intimately connected to it at the same time.


  1. The Body in the Library: A book with a pivotal scene set in a library?

It took me an embarrassingly long time to find a good answer for this prompt, especially since I made the executive decision not to promote Harry Potter just now. Instead, I settled on Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright. This book is about Garnet Linden, a young farmer girl who gets into a series of wacky scrapes in the American Midwest, during the 1930s. In one such adventure, Garnet and her friend Citronella accidentally get locked into the library at closing time, and have to spend the night there. (Which kind of sounds like the dream, amiright??)


  1. The Moving Finger: A book in which the protagonist is trolled, harassed, subject to a rumo[u]r campaign, or falsely accused?

There are actually quite a few stories I could use here, but I will go with Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, which you may remember seeing all over the Internet in 2020. The main characters are the son of the American President, and the grandson of the British Queen, and are thus subject to all kinds of harassment, rumour campaigns, and tabloid stories. Without going into spoilers, the final act of the book focuses heavily on rumour campaigns and tabloid harassment.


  1. A Murder is Announced: A book in which there is a sympathetic depiction of a Marxist, or equivalent?

I will go with the Will Darling adventures by K. J. Charles, the first book of which is Slippery Creatures. One of the main characters, Kim Secretan, is an aristocrat with strong Bolshevik leanings for which he gets into some legal trouble. Although Kim later distances himself from the political views of the actual Bolshevik leaders, he more or less keeps his belief in the importance of a more egalitarian society.


  1. They Do It With Mirrors: A book in which performance plays a major role?

I really have a nice array of choices from Noel Streatfeild’s books, but I will select Ballet Shoes as one book where the reader actually gets to see a lot of the performances. The three young girls are enrolled in a prestigious ballet school, and as the book progresses, each girl must decide what she wants to make of her future.


  1. A Pocket Full of Rye: A book based upon or inspired by a nursery rhyme, fairy tale, myth, or other work of fiction?

Wow, we really went broad with that last addition on the list! I’ll go with Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, which is a beautiful retelling of the Rumplestiltskin fairytale. It also draws upon Russian folklore about Chernybog and Balbog, as well as Jewish religious traditions.


  1. 4.50 From Paddington: A book in which more than two suitors pursue the main protagonist?

That’s the main takeaway we’re getting from this book?? Okay, then! I will recommend the novel Arabella, by Georgette Heyer. It has a fantastic, screwball-type premise: our intrepid heroine pretends that she has a massive fortune, just to teach an arrogant jerk a lesson…and then, of course, the lie gets out. Poor Arabella finds herself being pursued by half the fortune-hunters of Regency-era London! It is a very funny, and wild, madcap ride.


  1. The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side: A book about a changing world?

My choice is The Lions of Al-Rassan, by Guy Gavriel Kay. While the book takes place in a parallel universe, it closely follows the Reconquista in which Christian Spain invaded and took over Al-Andalus, aka Muslim Spain. The story focuses on the major players as they make choices and take actions that drastically alter the shape of their world.


I have a second recommendation for this category as well: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. We actually read this book for one of our monthly buddy reads, and you can find our review here. For the purposes of this prompt, I’ll just say that the book is set in a dystopian near-future in which the Indigenous protagonists are on the run from the Canadian government.


  1. A Caribbean Mystery: A book about, or set in, the Caribbean?

Honestly, I haven’t read a ton of books set in the Caribbean, and I really wouldn’t recommend some of the ones I have read. I’m going to rectify that at some point, but meanwhile, I will go with Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood. The story is set mainly in Jamaica and on the Caribbean seas. It follows a group of morally righteous pirates who revolt from a plantation owner, commandeer a ship, and proceed to prowl and loot all over the high seas.


  1. At Bertram’s Hotel: A book about artifice?

The Ivy Tree, by Mary Stewart. On a visit to England, Mary Grey is hired by a stranger to impersonate Annabel Winslow, a woman who had mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Their plan is for Mary to manipulate Annabel’s grandfather into leaving his estate to Annabel’s cousin. But Mary also has secrets and an agenda of her own, as does every other person around her. I’m not going any further into it, because spoilers! I’ll just say that the mystery plot was full of some great twists and turns.


  1. Nemesis: A book featuring a quest?

Really, any of the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander would qualify, but it would be best to start at the beginning. The first of the series is The Book of Three, in which the protagonist Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, is on a quest to find his oracular pig Hen Wen, before the latter is captured by the dreaded Horned King. (Have I piqued your interest? It is a tremendously fun story!)


  1. Sleeping Murder: A book in which the past haunts the present?

For this, the final published Marple novel, I will recommend Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley. The story follows dual timelines, one contemporary and one during the Seven-Years-War between British Canada and French Canada. It is particularly well suited for this prompt: in each of the dual timelines, the characters are deeply affected by the events of their pasts. Oh, and did I mention the ghost? There is a literal ghost too.


Herein lies the end of official list of questions for the book tag.


HOLD ON, THOUGH. How can you have a Miss Marple book tag, and not have a thirteenth question based upon The Thirteen Problems? It was right there! Well, I’ll just have to rectify that.


  1. The Thirteen Problems: A book in which an overlooked elderly character kicks metaphorical butt?

I’ll use this opportunity to shout out my beloved Terry Pratchett and his Witches’ series, the first book of which is Wyrd Sisters. In said first book, the evil, Macbethian king underestimates Granny Weatherwax and her headology, which is a grave error on his part! And by the way, I’m sure Miss Marple would have loved to share a cup of tea and a cozy chat with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.

Title page for Rilla of Ingleside by L M Montgomery









Title page for Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright


Cover page of Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston









Cover page of Slippery Creatures, by K. J. Charles


Title page for Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild









Cover for Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik


Cover for Arabella by Georgette Heyer









Cover page for The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay


An Indigenous Canadian boy with a streak of white paint on his cheek against a dark blue background










Cover page for The Ivy Tree, by Mary Stewart









Cover page for The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander


Cover page for Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley










Cover page for Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett





And there it is, my answers for the Miss Marple Book Tag! I can’t believe it took me so long; this was tremendously fun. I actually didn’t make any changes to the questions, for once, so I guess they were well-drafted for my subconscious’s sake.


Lastly, I have some recommendations for anyone who is new to the awesomeness that is Miss Marple. To be clear, these are not necessarily my favourite Marple books, though there is definitely some overlap. Rather, these are my suggestions for good entry points to the wonderful world of Marple:


  • The Thirteen Problems: (aka The Tuesday Club Murders) Starting at the start is always a good idea! Also, since this is a collection of short stories, it might be easier to get into.
  • Murder at the Vicarage: Since this was Miss Marple’s first full-length novel, Agatha Christie kind of reintroduces the character for the masses.
  • The Body in the Library: A classic for a reason! It’s also a more active Marple story, and one in which we finally get to see our beloved Miss Marple’s thoughts.
  • A Murder is Announced: This one is a great showcase for Miss Marple. She gets to draw comparisons to village life, have poignant conversations, get snubbed by snobby police officers, and practice her ventriloquism.


Since I was tagged via an open-ended “consider yourself tagged”, I will pass it along here. If you’ve read this blog post and you would like to do this book tag, then consider yourself tagged! And if you do end up reading any of the Marple books mentioned above, let us know what you thought of it in the comments!



An Indigenous Canadian boy with a streak of white paint on his cheek against a dark blue background

Safiyya: In July, Hailey and I read Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, a dark, dystopian novel about a Canada which we are chillingly close to seeing in real life.


Content Warning: this review discusses the Indian residential schools, sexual violence, child abuse, and institutional racism.


The Marrow Thieves is set in Canada, about a hundred years in the future. Earth has been ravaged by diseases, earthquakes, rising sea levels, and wars for scarce resources. People have been experiencing a strange illness which affects their ability to dream, and eventually drives them to madness. Yet for some reason, this disease does not seem to affect people of Indigenous descent. As such, government officials in white vans have been taking Indigenous people away to “schools” and subjecting them to unspecified horrors, alleging it is for the good of humankind.


Frenchie, aka Francis, a sixteen-year-old boy of Métis descent, is on the run from government Recruiters in this rundown version of Ontario. Alone after his brother Mitch sacrificed himself, Frenchie joins a ragtag group of survivors making their way north, including:

  • Miig, an older man and one of the group elders
  • Minerva, another senior member, a gentle and sweet-natured elderly lady
  • Chi-Boy, a seventeen-year-old boy
  • Tree and Zheegwon, twelve-year-old twin boys 
  • Slopper, a nine-year-old boy
  • Wab, an eighteen-year-old girl
  • Riri, a little girl somewhere between five and seven
  • Rose, a sixteen-year-old girl and the group’s newest addition

Together, these people create a foster family: protecting each other, passing on skills and knowledge, sharing stories, and holding true to their cultural heritage. Frenchie and his companions hope to escape the government’s reach in the far north, but they will first have to survive the wilderness, the government’s vicious Recruiters, their own past horrors, and betrayal.


Sometimes you risk everything for a life worth living, even if you’re not the one that’ll be alive to see it.

– Cherie Dimaline


As you might imagine, this book hit me like a gut punch. In our real world, we are dealing with cataclysmic effects of climate change, a widespread, mysterious disease that took out a huge portion of the global population, and the exposure of mass graves at the sites of former Indian residential schools. The Marrow Thieves was written in 2018, pre-pandemic, but it could not have been more prescient.


In our discussion of this book, Hailey pointed out that this book defies categorization. The story follows a teenage boy, but it does not follow the conventions of the YA category. It is a dystopia, but it draws on real, historical events as its background. It is incredibly accessible, a book that could be read by anyone of any age group or background, but it is also rich with symbolic meaning and layers of fascinating detail that could be analyzed for days.


I’m currently in the midst of an online class on Indigenous Canada, and I think that made a huge difference as far as being able to pick up on some of the deeper meanings and references that Dimaline wove into her story. For instance, here are some of the things that struck me on my first read-through:


  1. Oral Traditions: Dimaline very deliberately places a higher value on oral evidence over written words. For some context, certain Indigenous nations within Canada have a deep-rooted tradition of oral history and storytelling. This became a real challenge when various Indigenous peoples tried to establish their legal rights in court, because a hearsay story passed down through generations was considered less credible than a written document dating back several centuries. (Check out the Delgamuukw decision here and here for more information on that front.) But Dimaline flips the script in her novel. Oral narration is given a primacy and value through traditions like Story, whereas written words prove to be unreliable.
  2. The Role of Elders: Dimaline has no interest in restraining herself with YA conventions. The adult characters are as significant to the story as the teenagers, having just as much agency, value, and (without getting too spoilery) playing as central a role in the major plot events. Just as importantly, the teenage characters respect and admire their little group’s elders, valuing the well of knowledge and experience that they can provide.
  3. Real Traumas: Dimaline incorporates several past and current traumas faced by Indigenous people into her fictional world’s horrors. Residential schools, mass graves of children, resources stolen and stripped from Indigenous peoples, over-criminalization, gendered violence – each of these issues is reproduced within the world of the book. You cannot visit this world and then step back into our own, having had a nice feeling of escape; not when our own world has all the same horrors.


I could go on and on about The Marrow Thieves, but I will leave off with three more things for now. First, I alternated between reading a text version of the book and listening to the audiobook version. The latter experience was a fantastic way to really immerse myself into the oral storytelling tradition woven into the fabric of the story, so I would recommend that format for readers who’d enjoy that kind of experience. Second, Cherie Dimaline is releasing a sequel to the book later this year. If you are worried about starting an as-yet-incomplete series, in my opinion, the first book stands on its own well enough to satisfy the reader.


Finally, and this is a very important factor to consider — it was very difficult to read this book. In fact, there were a few times where I had to stop and set it aside before I could continue. Some people may find it too disturbing to read through The Marrow Thieves, and that is okay; you have to take care of your own mental health and comfort level. However, if you can handle it, you will find a brilliant, rewarding, rich text about family, and society, and the everyday dystopias that we do not question enough.



PS: As a disclaimer, neither of us are experts on Indigenous literature or on the Indigenous cultures of Canada. If you want a list of recommended Indigenous literature by more informed people, you can try here, or here , or here. I also highly recommend the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog, established by Dr. Debbie Reese, which provides detailed discussions on the representation of Indigenous peoples in children’s literature; you can find it here.


If you want to learn a bit about some of the Indigenous cultures and history of Canada, there is a free course online through the University of Alberta, which you can check out here . You can also see the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s reports on the residential schools and some of the horrors faced by Indigenous peoples in Canada here.