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 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.”

 

 

 

 

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.”

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”.

 

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.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Published September 10th 2013

young adult, romance, contemporary

My rating: 4/ 5

GR plot summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My review: I can actually describe this book in one word – cute.

So, Cath is the example of an introverted teen (at least in the beginning). Like, at first she gets annoyed why everyone in college is so friendly, then she complains why no one smiles/talks to her, so no logic here, you see? That’s why I didn’t like Cath for the first 200 pages haha. Then she changes (Thanks, Levi and Reagan!).

I liked seeing how Cath & Wren’s (they are twins) relationship progresses. I have a sister as well, and of course sometimes we fight. Through this book I got a better look at the situation.

However, it took me about 3 weeks to finish this book as for me it was boring at times and things were taking slow pace.

What I didn’t like: (some spoilers here)

  1. Nick suddenly became the bad guy. At first the reader gets introduced to nice, clever boy, and then…it feels like the author thought “oh, I don’t need him anymore in my story. Let’s get rid of him and make him the bad guy”. Of course I don’t respect what he did to Cath, BUT that came out of blue.
  2. Cath likes Nick, Cath likes Nick… AND THEN Cath likes Levi – the switch was so quick.
  3. There is no information about the progression of Cath & Laura’s (Laura is Cath’s mother) relationship. Or may be there wasn’t any progression at all. Though I wish there was.

Still, this coming of age novel deals with some family and college issues. If you have enjoyed reading other Rainbow Rowell’s books &/ in the mood for a light read, I recommend it to you.

Add it on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

“ He returned to the bridge over the Arno, where he gave an oath- perhaps oath differs from the rest in that it cannot be ignored, but in the certain time fulfilled. And that time has come.”

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier5604250

My Rating: 5/ 5

Goodreads plot summary:  

I threw the piece of paper on the fire. She saw it burn …Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet …might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?

 

My review: I liked this book SO much! The plot summary is intriguing itself, isn’t it?

“My Cousin Rachel” is written in gothic style, and the atmosphere of the book reminds me of “Jane Eyre” or “Rebecca”. Through, I have to tell you the first 100 pages got me a little bit bored, because I expected it’d be more action-packed, but it was not. However, after the first 100 pages the story has got me SO interested and intrigued!

You can see from the plot summary that before meeting Rachel, Philip is convinced she is the one responsible for Ambrose’s death, and he wants to make sure she gets punished. But in reality, she is nothing he imagined she would be; In reality, Rachel is smart, fragile woman, whose words and tears are so sincere, Philip feels sorry for her and asks her to stay in the estate for a while. They spend much time together talking, Philip starts wondering how could he think so low of her, as he is totally drawn to this mysterious woman. Let’s be precise, he falls in love – from this moment I constantly wanted to slap him on the cheek and tell: “Wake up, Philip. Don’t be so stupid! Get back to the normal, reasonable YOU! How can you believe this? Don’t be so naive, Philip, please!”. He crazily loves her, and nearly loses his mind!                           You have to read other for yourself and see.

I’m not a book re-reader, but I’ll definitely reread “My Cousin Rachel” when I grow up, as this book is VERY VERY GOOD and it teaches you a lot. Again, Daphne Du Maurier is the queen of suspense!

 

P.S. I still liked Philip because he is always honest. In the end he proved he is smart too.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

26154406“The Passenger” by Lisa Lutz

304 pages Published March 1st 2016 by Simon & Schuster
I was given an e-copy of this book by Simon & Schuster in exchange for a honest review.

 

My Rating: 1/ 5  ( Actually, I’ve never given a book one star before )

Goodreads Plot Summary: From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

My review: In the beginning the book was kind of thrilling, but then things got SO boring! I actually just scanned the last 220 pages.

What I didn’t like the most about the book – is the cruelness of main heroines. Moreover, the plot wasn’t thought over as every time the heroines were put into difficult situation, they magically got out of it immediately (felt like the author decided not to bother about making the story exciting).

After reading the synopsis I was thrilled to start it, but, really, the book synopsis is far more interesting than the book itself haha.

Lisa Lutz, I don’t want to get you offended.

 

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

13188676Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #3)

Published February 4th 2014 by HarperCollins

Young Adult Fantasy & Dystopia

My Rating: 3.5 /5

SPOILER ALERT

Goodreads Plot Summary: With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world.

 

My opinion: To begin with, I want to say that this book was disappointing — I expected more from Tahereh Mafi as the first two books in the “Shatter Me” series I read were absolutely wonderful, and this one… it contained many unnecessary details (I was skipping some pages as I got bored) + the whole book they were preparing for the war, then, we read the 20 pages description of how nervous they are and the war itself happens so fast and everything is so easy and goes just the way they planned. It was predictable; and I like unexpected revelations, plot twists and action.

Moving to the good sides of the book – I liked the change in Juliette’s character + learning more about Warner and his true self was good and I felt sorry for him. I also liked Kenji a lot as he was amazing and always stayed positive and encouraged everyone no matter how terrible the situation was. *Applauds to him*