What does it take to be an Inspector in 1950s Paris? Georges Simenon answers in his novels.

33542757To start this review, I have to say that I, personally, enjoy reading detectives at summer. The thing is, I feel that vacation read requires to be both thrilling and not emotionally heavy. And “Maigret And The Tall Woman” turned out to be just the book of that kind – so I’m very thankful to Penguin Books for sending it to me.

Actually, I was excited to read it as I’ve already been introduced to a few of Maigret detectives and all of them appeared to be full of plot twists and aperitif. And clearly, “Maigret And The Tall Woman” is no exception.

Putting the plot summary short: Maigret is visited by a tall woman he had arrested decades ago. She reports that her husband – a professional safecracker – is hiding, frightened, after coming across a murdered body of middle-aged woman during another break-in. She gives Maigret the address and  insists on investigation. Maigret calls to Brasserie Dauphine and asks for two Pernods to be delivered to his office. – Yes I have to add that upon finishing this detective you’ll be well aware of, what feels like, all the brasseries offering alcohol drinks in 1950s Paris.- Then he sets off to the house ,where , presumably, a murder has been comitted. However, to Maigret’s surprise, he finds that no murder has been reported although something about the atmosphere in the house gets him suspicious so in order to think carefully about what the case may be he decides to visit a brasserie across the street and drink some wine.

I suggest you to pick up this detective of Georges Simenon’s if you’re in for a fast-paced read filled with intrigues. It’s like, the more you read, the more does the fogg of suspense thicken.

Please, share your thoughts about your favorite Maigret detectives in comments!

 

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare Read-a-long

19932363_1927007274218815_2115394869294792704_nMy read alongs with @ginaphx are turning into a very fun summer tradition. Like, last year we both read Cecelia Ahern’s newest dystopia novel and this year we’ve decided we need some challenge so Gina offered we read “Hamlet” in English. And that got me so thrilled because Shakespeare in English promised to be a mind teaser hahaaha.
However, Shakespeare’s florid writing proved itself to be rather enjoyable even though sometimes the monologues got so complicated that I just had to open my Russian edition to make sure I got it all correctly.

Upon finishing “Hamlet” I concluded that Shakespeare was a serial fictional characters killer. Really, what a crazy ending! Gives much to think about. So I immediately wrote to my friend and co-reader Gina @ginaphx and we had our discussion in which it turned out that we share each other’s opinions on most of the themes this play tackles.

One of my favourite scenes has been where Polonius gives his precepts to Laertes – sharing one of them here:
“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:                                                                         
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement”.

Morerover, what astonishes is that “Hamlet” ,being written back in 1600s, rises up problems which are still actual nowadays. Though, I guess, that’s what classics are for. So why not read Shakespeare and learn from represented persons’ mistakes?

I’m curious to hear your opinion if you have read “Hamlet”. Please share your thoughts or favorite quotes in comments!

 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

330px-metamorphosisLet me introduce you one of the weirdest books I have ever read: “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. With the weirdest opening line:

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.”

No explanation of how did he turn to this horrible creature; actually, almost no explanation to anything haha. As I have later read in Wikipedia, this is Franz Kafka’s style – not explaining much.

When I just finished reading this book two weeks ago, I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not – I had so many questions left unanswered! However, after thinking rethinking overthinking about the plot I understood that I liked it. The beauty of this short story lies in all those questions you first start asking the writer, – and when you understand that he is not going to answer, – yourself. Like, why did his sister do that? Why had not she at least tried to talk to him, to understand him, TO GATHER UP HER STRENGTHS AND LOOK AT HIM? And his mother? His father, who almost killed him? Why why did they all do this? All his life Gregor Samsa has been working hard to help and to satisfy the needs of his parents and sister, BUT as soon as he turned to an insect-like horrible creature they just pretended he did not exist. HEEEY gruesome Samsa family, even if he couldn’t work anymore, or had lost his human appearance, he was still Gregor, their loving son and brother.

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

Nevertheless, do not get me wrong, this book didn’t leave me that angry, no. “Metamorphosis” left me astounded because while this book had several fantastic elements, it was also real and true. To be honest, I expected this book would be shocking and unusual, because just before I started to read it, I came across one of Franz Kafka quotes, which says:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

“Metamorphosis” is just the kind of book that wounds and stabs.

Now I see that I’m going to change my goodreads rating of “Metamorphosis” from 4 stars to 5. Because the more I think about it, the more truths I uncover for myself and the more I like it.

Thank you, Franz Kafka.

Sincerely,

Fatima Djalalova.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

233858“What a sad story, I thought for so long. Not that I now think it was happy. But I think it is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever.”

It’s been 17 days since I’ve finished reading the book and 15 days since I’ve watched the movie and my thoughts still keep returning to this story, analyzing it over and over again and discovering new truths for myself.

First, I thought I would start this review by retelling you the plot, but when I started writing this short plot summary I felt like I was revealing so much about the story already, and it’s just one of those stories, which are the best to read without knowing a thing about them. Okay, may be just to know whether you want to read it you must know that it’s about a 15-year old Michael Berg falling in love with 36-year-old Hanna Schmitz, their romance, how she suddenly disappears without letting him know, Michael meeting Hanna 9 years later in the court, Frankfurt process, concentration camps, Germany after World War II. And the most important, the mystery behind Hanna’s requests to 15-year-old Michael to read out loud to her. This book also states several interesting (almost philosophical) questions, which I’m still thinking about.

I must add that the novel consists of three parts. The first one focuses on their unusual romance. The second part concentrates on the trial. And the last one tells us about after-the-trial events.

Speaking of The Reader movie, – great actors, good music and, most of all, almost no changes of the original plot. I loved it. If you want to ‘feel’ this book, just listen to one of the movie soundtracks – Ludovico Einaudi’s “Primavera”.

This story is very unusual, very beautiful and touching! And the ending..it just surprised me! I’ve got so many scenarios of how it would end in my mind, but not one like this.

There is so much I want to tell about the book, but at the same time, I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you’ve read it, please write me in comments and we will talk about it!

Thank you so much, Bernhard Schlink for writing this great book! I love it!

Several quotes from The Reader, I’d like to share with you:

“Through the long hours of the night you have the Church clock for company and the rumble of the occasional passing car that throws it’s headlights across the walls and ceilings. These are hours without sleep, which is not to say they’re sleepless, because on the contrary, they’re not about lack of anything, they are rich and full. Desires, memories, fears, passions form labyrinths in which we lose and find then lose ourselves again. They are hours where anything is possible, good or bad.”

 

“Now escape involves not just running away, but arriving somewhere.”

 

 “I wanted simultaneously to understand Hanna’s crime and to condemn it. But it was too terrible for that. When I tried to understand it, I had the feeling I was failing to condemn it as it must be condemned. When I condemned it as it must be condemned, there was no room for understanding. But even as I wanted to understand Hanna, failing to understand her meant betraying her all over again. I could not resolve this. I wanted to pose myself both tasks-understanding and condemnation. But it was impossible to do both.”

 

“The tectonic layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive.”

 

 

 

 

Breakfast At Tifanny’s by Truman Capote

 Breakfast At Tifanny’s by Truman Capote

5/5 

Light, funny and thought provoking at the same time. That is how I’d have described it in one sentence. Even though I’ve finished reading it two weeks ago my thoughts still keep wandering to it, may be because there was an open end and I can make up different scenarios of Holly’s life myself.

Our main character – Holliday Golightly – is a grown up version of Pippi Longstocking, she gets the most of the moment, is  absolutely careless, ties herself to nobody and doesn’t pretend to be someone else, she is always herself, always honest with herself.

“It may be normal, darling; but I’d rather be natural.”

or

“The answer is good things only happen to you if you’re good. Good? Honest is more what I mean… Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore.”

She lives in the moment, doesn’t care about her past or her future – just like Holden from The Catcher In The Rye.

But it is not only the Holliday Golightly I liked so much, it is also the narrator, our young writer Fred (the story is told from his point of view), who had a pleasure of being Holly’s dear friend for a little bit over the year (Actually, I think that Truman Capote saw himself in Fred, otherwise the story wouldn’t have been so raw and emotional). You know, the prose – it’s just so very very beautiful, this book has this thing people often call ‘atmosphere’ and the words, the words just penetrated deep into my soul and everything Fred felt – I started feeling myself, just like I was living in this story.

Can’t wait to see its movie adaption with Audrey Hepburn!

I’ll definitely be reading more of Truman Capote’s.

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Dear John Steinbeck, I wish you were alive so I could write you a letter or call you to tell how much  I loved your novel and thank you for all the inspiration.

I adore you!

 

 

I’ve finished reading “The Grapes Of Wrath” on the night of “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child”release, so it’s been like 4 days and I’m still overwhelmed with emotions. Usually I’m not a fan of open endings, but in the “The Grapes Of Wrath”it just felt good; I closed the book with a smile on my face and it was hard to fall asleep that night as MY THOUGHTS KEPT RACING. John Steinbeck managed to transmit all this terror and insanity of The Great Depression with the mere words and through the very same words he took you back in time to California and made you cry and smile and most of all – change with the heroes. Really, it was interesting to see how much Jouds changed throughout the novel if you compared the people they were in the beginning to the people they became in end. (let’s also note most of them changed in a good way, which proves that difficulties make us stronger, but of course it’s easy to say).

Moreover, while reading I highlighted many lines– some of them were thought provoking, another were reflections of my own thoughts and the rest were just beautifully BEAUTIFULLY written. I must add that “The Grapes Of Wrath” not only shows you the results of The Great Depression, it also explains the reasons and although it was written 77 years ago, it IS actual nowadays as it describes the events similar to current refugee crisis. I think it’s a must read for everyone.

Also, I’ve just read some “The Grapes Of Wrath” reviews on goodreads and people kept writing “this book is for people over 30/ only adults will like it”, I disagree – I’m 15 and I found this book GREAT – and I’m sure that “The Grapes Of Wrath” will be a good read at any age. Well, I understand, “The Grapes Of Wrath” is hard to read at times – for instance, I was reading it for a whole month as two chapters a day were more than enough for me – , John Steinbeck said  himself: “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags, I don’t want him satisfied” , but after finishing “The Grapes Of Wrath”  you’ll just look at several things DIFFERENTLY and I think you can only refer to a book as GREAT if it has changed you and made you ask yourself questions you never asked before.

So please read it and let me know your thoughts then and if you’ve read it already I’d like to discuss it with you! By the way, my favorite “The Grapes Of Wrath” characters are Tom Joud, Ma Joud and of course Jim Casy!

Let me finish this review with my favorite “The Grapes Of Wrath” quotes:

“Maybe,’ I figgered, ‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love; maybe that’s the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’ Now I sat there thinkin’ it, an’ all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it.”

“Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create – this is man.”

“If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he’s poor in hisself, there ain’t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an’ maybe he’s disappointed that nothin’ he can do ‘ll make him feel rich.”  

“Anybody can break down. It takes a [real] man not to.”

 

 “Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there . . . . I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’-I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there.”

Popular Series I Haven’t Read.

Sooooo… 13513038.jpg“The Lord Of Rings” by J.R.R.Tolkien goes first. Confession: I’ve not read/watched it yet, but I want to start it soon as I’ve heard SO many good things about it!

Have you read/watched it? Did you like it?

 

 

 

 

11127.jpgThe next on the list is “The Chronicles Of Narnia” by C.S.Lewis, the same story here: I’ve neither read it nor haven’t I watched it yet :// But it’s on my Summer “To-Read” list :))

What is your favorite book in this series?

 

 

 

 

41865With the Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight”  the story is a bit different: I started reading it last year, but stopped after a couple of pages as the story didn’t pull me in. As for the movie, I haven’t watched it yet haha. The look of surprise on people’s faces when I tell them about it is worth not watching it for another decade lol. OK, kidding, I’m gonna watch it soon :))

 

 

 

6676603.jpgI’m debating whether to read Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson And The Olympian” novels or just watch the Percy Jackson movies :/ What do you think? Did you like this series?

 

 

 

 

 

11831028And now is big confession time (+I’d like to see the look on your face when you read it haha) — I haven’t read, neither have I watched Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”. BUT, it IS on my “To-Read” list, so I think I’ll both read and watch it pretty soon!

 

 

 

 

 

What are some of the popular series you haven’t read?

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

23438288Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

My rating: 5/5

GoodReads plot summary: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

My review: In my opinion, GoodReads plot summary says everything you need to know in order to decide whether you’d like to read it or not;     but still– I’m going to write spoiler-free review because I just need to share my thoughts and feeling and this overflowing excitement for the “Perfect” which comes out next year!

First of all, let me say that the first 50 pages of “Flawed” got me really pulled in the story, so I just wanted to read and read more (Cecelia Ahern’s magic skill, I guess). I must tell that “Flawed” is her debut Young Adult novel with a mix of dystopia. It introduces you to the society of moralists / “perfect” people and if you make bad decisions/lie/are disloyal to the society/step out of line with society you get branded with “F” mark which means that you’re “flawed” and people treat “flawed” with disgust and at the same time are very afraid to be found “flawed” by the society, which I don’t get because WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? Being a killer is far worse than being “flawed”. The book would be more entertaining if Cecelia Ahern came up with a better dystopia society idea.

Okay, that was my first impression.

After I read 50 more pages, the book got me SO thrilled and I started to really like it because one of the messages this book carries is “always tell the truth, no matter how hard it can be”. Yet, I didn’t get this machine-like behavior of people.

However, when I thought better on this “Flawed” society, it occurred to me that by these “perfect” people Cecelia Ahern might have wanted to show us these guys who keep judging everyone.

But I still couldn’t understand this machine-like behavior, and with that, Nicholas Hoult helped me (lol): I was watching EuroNews and there was his interview about “Equals” movie (by the way, I watched it last week and it was just oK), he told something like: “Actually it’s interesting how popular are various therapies nowadays, which are aimed to teach people how to take control over different emotions and situations. It seems to me that that demonstrates more how unconfident they are rather than these expressions of fear or despair on their faces, which they try so hard to evade”. Don’t get me wrong, “Flawed” society doesn’t turn off their emotions, it’s just,- their feeling of disgust overcomes the feeling of compassion and most of them do not have such quality as benevolence.

Overall, it was a refreshing read, as I haven’t read a fast-paced novel for a while. Also, you know, when I saw the title “Flawed” it immediately associated with “Flawless” song [The Neighborhood] in my mind and actually, they go well together. I must add that when I started reading it, I didn’t know what to expect as it is my first Cecelia Ahern novel and I didn’t pay much attention to the synopsis and was glad that it turned out to be such a good read. Sometimes it reminded me of “Delirium” (which is one of my favorite series actually).

“Flawed” is simply amazing, both the writing style and the plot – I loved it! So thrilled about its sequel “Perfect” coming next year!

Let me finish this review with the line from the “Flawed”:

“Our flaws are our strenths”.

 

The Sound Of Us by Julie Hammerle

27779285The Sound Of Us by Julie Hammerle

 

My review: When I started this book I only knew that it was Young Adult Contemporary novel about music with nice cover and many positive reviews on goodreads. But no one mentioned in synopsis that it was about opera music. Well, I hold nothing against opera music, but there were so many unnecessary details connected with it.

Moreover, to be honest I was reading “The Grapes Of Wrath” and took a small break to read “The Sound Of Us” just because my review deadline was coming (as I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review). And you know, in “The Grapes Of Wrath” the farmers are driven from their homestead and are forced to travel West to the promised land of California, and the drive to California is exhausting as they’ve got little food, old car and 15 people in the car which fits 6 people only. And in “The Sound Of Us” the girl was nervous about her quarrel with a friend, about the german song that she couldn’t sing accurately and things like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to compare these novels, I just want to explain you why I stopped reading “The Sound Of Us” in the middle of chapter 2. I just couldn’t understand the purpose of this book. Then I read these positive reviews on it  and learned that there was no actual purpose at all. It’s just a light read; you know there are times when you don’t want to pick serious books, you need something light and funny with some highschool drama. So, if you feel like it, I recommend you to pick this novel.

To put the plot summary short: It’s about the opera singer Kiki, who was sent to music camp during the summer; Kiki is fond of twittering and not so good with real conversations.

In The Hope Of Memories by Olivia Rivers

29011221In The Hope Of Memories by Olivia Rivers

I received the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 1/5

Goodreads plot summary: Hope Jackson has lived her short life to the fullest, but her four closest friends are dangling on the brink of disaster. Right before dying of a rare heart condition, Hope sets up a scavenger hunt across New York City using her graffiti art. The directions she leaves her friends are simple: Solve the clues hidden in her art, and they’ll solve the problems haunting their lives.

Two days after her heart fails, Hope’s friends are thrown together:

Aiden, her best friend, whose plans to attend college have been scattered by his OCD.
Kali, her foster sister, whose last ties to sanity are as razor-thin as her anorexic waistline.
Erik, her high school crush, whose success as an athlete is based on a lie with no end in sight.
And Sam, her online pen-pal, whose perfect life exploded into chaos in the aftermath of a school bombing.

Together, the four teens take to the streets of New York to complete Hope’s scavenger hunt and fulfill her dying wishes. But in order to unravel the clues hidden in Hope’s graffiti, her friends will need to confront their personal demons head on.

My review: I must say that at first the book pulled me in as the writing style was nice (which surprised me). However the more I read, the more disappointed I got. Analyzing it now, I can say the novel hadn’t even a proper “start”, it felt like it began from the culmination.

The whole idea of the story was good, but you know, I just stopped reading it after 10  chapters as it got me so bored, I only read the last couple of pages just to learn how the story ended.

Moreover, the novel was overfilled with ordinary conversations and unfunny jokes, when instead of them there could have been nature and New York city descriptions.

Overall, my opinion is that the novel didn’t turn out as nice as its cover and synopsis.