Did I ever mention that I managed to make some good friends at work?
If not, well I did. I actually found nice people, and not only that but I can actually call them friends.
And when my birthday came, I actually got a nice surprise.
It was nicely wrapped and heavy and I didn’t want to open it. You see, I don’t usually get presents (besides the ones from Johnny, who’s nice like that). So, I really felt like a small kid for Christmas. I really like surprises, especially nice ones.
After a few moments I decided to open it and voila: Edgar Allan Poe stories (English version).
Life is really nice at the moment, no matter how broke I am.
Speaking of being broke, I still managed to buy a book. I know I’m an idiot, but it was there, starring me in the face. I know that I cannot afford to buy the Harry Potter books, because 1) they are expensive, 2) they take up lots of space and 3) I already have/read the audio books. But I bought it, I bought a J.K. Rowling book.
Yup I bought “The Casual Vacancy” (Romanian version).
I am very happy with my two new books. But, I don’t want to start them right now. I’m waiting for that special moment and to finish the books that I am currently reading (about 5 of them).
Besides the two new books, I also managed to take a few more photo’s with my new camera. I’m starting to get used to it, even if not all the pictures turn out decent.
But, tulips are always a nice photography subject.
Especially for close ups (macro photography).
Hopefully, this year it will be a good year regarding my photography.
After reading so many books with Hercule Poirot my brain demanded a change. It requested something completely different, meaning anything but a detective book.
So, after much deliberation I picked “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks.
I knew I was picking a romance but I was hoping that it will be a romance with an uplifting ending that would cheer me up and make my day.
Boy, was I wrong!
This book was anything but cheerful. It was slow paced, nostalgic (for the good ol’ days of childhood), captivating and heartbreaking.
The funny part is that when I was reading this book I was actually thinking of those summer days of my childhood when I was always out with my best friends, doing stupid things.
It might seem weird, but those were probably the only times that I actually believed in true love. Maybe I believed in it because when I was young, we didn’t had that idea of self worth, we didn’t care much of how we looked and how people saw us. So, daydreaming about prince charming didn’t seem that far fetched, even to a tomboy like myself.
Fast forward to high school and the bubble burst. See, real life is a bitch, especially for awkward teenagers.
In “A Walk to Remember“, Jamie (the female protagonist) is shown as a plain girl, that always brings her Bible with her and only thinks about how she can help others. She is shown as someone with a beautiful heart and mind, but with a plain exterior. She is seen as a weird girl by her peers and only the adults actually appreciate her and her hard work.
By the second half of the book she goes from the plain religious girl to the beautiful misunderstood girl who is hit by a horrible fate, she has leukemia and she will die by the end of her senior year.
Landon Carter (the male protagonist) is the cool, rich kid that hangs around all the cool crowds. He goes from disliking being in Jamie’s presence to being infatuated by her, by her beauty. He notices her when her breasts start growing, he is relieved when Jamie starts wearing her hair down rather than in an uptight bun.
This was something that annoyed me. Couldn’t Landon just love the plain Jamie? Why did she have to transform from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan? I’m not saying that Landon is a bad guy, he actually did a lot of good things to help Jamie, even before she told him about her condition. But still, why? Can’t ugly ducklings have their true love?
The way I see things in life is that people don’t actually grow out of their skin, nor do they transform over night (even with plastic surgery). Usually ugly ducklings stay as ugly ducklings.
If someone likes/loves you, they don’t see you differently. They don’t see you as the most beautiful, fairest of them all. No. They see you as you are, with defects and all, but they like/love/care for that person that you are, ugly duckling or not. And that’s why I think real life beats fiction.
I liked the book, I did. It was beautiful! But it didn’t fit with my idea of a good love story.
I believe this year will be Hercule Poirot year, in terms of books. I’ve been reading Agatha Christie’s books like there’s no tomorrow.
I must admit that stitching and audio books go hand in hand with me. I cannot stay still and listen to a story without doing something with my hands.
And yet, I am afraid that very soon I’ll finish all the Hercule Poirot books and I will have to satisfy myself with Miss Marple stories (which aren’t as addictive as the ones with the little Belgian detective).
Books are really addictive, detective books I mean. But not all of them, I tried to see if other detectives will have the same charisma as Hercule Poirot but I was disappointed.
For example, I read “The two cases of Danwel Strong” by Juan Angel Cardi and I barely made it to the end. It took me a month or so to finish a book that, in normal conditions, would’ve taken me a day or two.
Then, there were the Maigret books which are a step or two above normal detective books. But even the Maigret books don’t come close to Agatha’s Christie little Belgian.
In no particular order:
The Mystery of the Blue Train
This book was first published in 1928; that’s 85 years ago. The story resolves around the death of Ruth Kettering, an American heiress that gets murdered on the Blue Train (Le Train Bleu).
After the murder, it is also discovered that the famous “Heart of Fire” diamond also is missing from the possession of the late Mrs. Kettering.
On the same train there are Mrs. Katherine Grey (a 30 year of companion that comes in a large sum of money and decides to visit the French Riviera), Derek Kettering (which is following his wife, trying to reconcile with her and save the marriage for financial reasons more than for the sake of love), the dancer Mirelle (Derek ex-lover, who is after the Heart of Fire diamond rather than Derek), Ruth Kettering maid, Ada, and of course Hercule Poirot.
Rufus Van Aldin, Ruth Kettering father, employs Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery of his daughter’s death. At first, all the suspicions are directed towards The Comte of Roche and Derek Kettering. The Comte of Roche is well known for approaching married women’s and making their precious diamonds disappear and Derek Kettering is known for having financial difficulties.
After many twists and turn and a little help from Mrs. Katherine Grey, Hercule Poirot resolves the case and the famous Marquis (a famous burglar) and his accomplice is found guilty for the murder of Mrs. Ruth Kettering. As for the Heart of Fire diamond, well it is believed lost … but there is a certain dancer that is very proud in her new necklace.
Time of reading: 1 day. Stitching while reading interesting books is bad for one’s needlework.I believe I made some mistakes since I was wrapped up in the story so much, but it was worth it nonetheless.
This was a very well played plot by Agatha Christie. Basically you go through all the characters and believe at some point or another that they must be the murderer.
And in the end, the murder is the the last person you would think of. I won’t give any details of this book, because its more fun this way than having an idea of what you are getting yourself in.
This is a classic when it comes to detective books. Well played Christie, well played.
Time of reading: around 2 days. I have to take breaks from time to time and works comes into as well.
Appointment with Death
I’ve noticed in most of Agatha Christie’s books that there are some characters that just deserve to slapped silly. And in this book there is one character that is so annoying that you are just happy to see her die.
The action takes place abroad, Hercule Poirot tries to take a vacation from death, but death just has a different agenda.
Mrs. Boynton is the annoying character that I was speaking about, the step mother of a large family who just enjoys keeping her children in line and basically bullies them into submission. And this “lovely” lady finds a tragic end on what should’ve been a “vacation” with her family.
All of her children are suspected of murder, and the question is: did they all act together or was just one of them that decided that enough is enough?
Well, it was fun to read and the ending was very satisfying.
I believe I mentioned before that I borrow/buy books and just forget about them. Well, this year I decided to read as many books as I can from my bookcase. What I would do with them after I finish reading them, well I haven’t decided yet.
I don’t remember reading so many books in such a short period of time, not even in school.
But then again, I didn’t read huge novels that never end (The Fellowship of the Ring doesn’t count), I actually read detective books.
I still had 3 more books from the Jules Maigret series that I haven’t read and I was actually missing the French detective. The thing that I like most about Georges Simenon detective is that he isn’t a snob like you see in most detective books. So, in no particular order here are the three novels by Georges Simenon:
~~~Maigret Loses His Temper~~~
The plot: a nightclub owner is murdered and the police doesn’t have any suspects in the case. The owner of the nightclub is an Italian with a respectable family and who doesn’t have any enemies.
Basically, the owner vanishes one might and his family reports him as missing. Two days later his body is found in a cemetery. Maigret tries to find out if anyone from the other nightclubs might’ve had quarrels with him, but none hated him enough to kill him.
In the end I realized why the book was named “Maigret Loses His Temper“. The killer is actually the least expected person: the lawyer of the nightclub owner. The reason is actually simple: the lawyer used to pick his cases depending on the type of crime people committed. Then he used to ask “protection” money promising that the criminals wouldn’t be prosecuted and the police won’t be bothering them. But the money was never shared with the police. In reality, he was smart enough to know that the people won’t be indicted and would’ve gotten away even if they didn’t pay up. The nightclub owner was getting suspicious of the lawyer and his methods and that’s why he was killed.
In the end, the lawyer commits suicide in his cell being to afraid to face the harsh reality.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5.
Reason: it was interesting but not captivating enough.
~~~Maigret on the Riviera or Liberty Bar~~~
Plot: A murder takes place on the Riviera. Maigret is called in to investigate because the person murdered was actually a spy and the authorities want the case to be solved as soon as possible and without any complications.
The main suspects are the dead man’s lover and her mother who are caught in the act of fleeing the house their shared together.
The entire atmosphere of the book is that of a lazy vacation. Maigret cannot concentrate on the case, but in the end he finds the guilty person and guess what he lets that person go.
Basically his resolve of the case is that a stranger is guilty. Easy fix and with no complications. I won’t actually spoil this book because I really found it fascinating.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Reason: it was interesting, made me yearn for the summer days at the sea side and for good food.
~~~ The Friend of Madame Maigret~~~
Plot: Inspector Maigret attempts to prove that a murder has actually been committed without a corpse anywhere to be found. As the investigation becomes increasingly complex, seemingly unconnected characters are drawn into the case, and Maigret begins to wonder if his wife’s earlier strange encounter with a woman and her baby may be the missing link.
This is the first book where Maigret wife is actually shown as being more than a housewife. She actually helps Maigret with his investigation and puts him on the right track.
It’s actually funny when a taxi driver questioned by Maigret says he saw a fat lady looking after a small child, the “fat lady” in question being Maigret wife. Again, I shall not spoil the ending. It was funny, interesting and it showed that even without an body you can still prove that a murder was committed.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Reason: again it made me hungry, it was captivating, the Maigret family unites in solving a case.
Today I finished “The Fellowship of the Ring“, the first book of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
I’m actually happy that I finished this book because it has been on my reading list for a long time. The truth is that even till this date I have not seen “The Lord of the Rings’ movies because I wanted to read the books first.
I was really inspired to read “The Hobbit” before starting reading “The Lord of the Rings”. “The Hobbit” shows how the hobbit (Bilbo Baggins to be more precise) ends up with the ring, “the ring to rule them all“. The first book of “The Lord of the Rings” starts in the Shire (the land of the hobbits), 50 years later after Bilbo Baggins gets the ring from Gollum and leaves it as a heirloom to his nephew Frodo Baggins.
And in come Gandalf and the hobbits are off on an adventure of a lifetime.
What is really nice about “The Fellowship of the Ring” is how much the beginning of the book resembles “The Hobbit”. When Frodo & co where leaving from the Shire I was remembering about Bilbo first time out of the Shire along the dwarfs. In a weird way you get a nostalgic feeling and its hard not to compare Frodo with Bilbo.Then again, Bilbo was hired as a master thief, not knowing the perils that he might encounter (OK, he knew about the dragon), whereas Frodo is more or less aware of the power of the Ring and he knows he is in danger.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was the lack of dwarfs. Really now, one dwarf is not enough for an adventure.
What I would like to say from the start is that Tolkien is really awesome. And, I actually found one of the most awesome tributes made for him on Tumblr:
Basically, what J.R.R. Tolkien did was to create a new world and he didn’t create the world for others, he created the world for himself. Because of this, his creation is truly wonderful.
Tolkien describes everything to the smallest detail and its really hard not to let your imagination run wild. I actually lost track of time a couple of times reading “The Fellowship of the Ring” and twice I almost forgot to get ready for work. Good thing I’m by nature a lazy nature and getting ready to go to work takes 10 minutes.
I actually cannot imagine how many hours this man spent writing these books. What most intrigued me the most is the songs. Almost every chapter has a song or two, and some of them are in elvish.
I’m thinking of taking a small break before starting the second book. It took me a month a few weeks to finish one book and I would like to give my imagination some time to rest. That I don’t want to finish the series too soon. I just want to enjoy them as much as I can.