Friday, 30 May 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"There's the story, then there's the real story, then there's the story of how the story came to be told. Then there's what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too." Margaret Atwood

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." G.K. Chesterton

"I have consistently loved books that I’ve read when I’ve been sick in bed." Tracy Chevalier

"Books don't change the world. People are who change this. Books only change people" Caio Graco

"Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it's a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself." Rebecca Mead

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch"

Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch" - 2013

I haven't read any of Donna Tartt's books before even though her name was known to me and her books turned up on different lists that I liked. So many books, so little time, that is my only excuse.

So, I was happy when my online Pulitzer Prize book club decided to read the latest award winner, this one, "The Goldfinch".

Apparently, it took the author seven years to write this enormous book, stretching over 770 pages in the hardcover and 880 in the paperback edition. For someone like me, who loves a chunky book, that is just the right size. It spans over two continents and more than a decade and describes the trials and tribulations of a boy who grows up under extraordinary conditions. The protagonist of this book is not just thirteen year old Theo Decker but also a painting by Carel Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt and teacher of Vermeer, quite a biography. This also makes it a great book about art and how to understand it but that is just a side effect. One of many.

The book is a wonderful account of friendship and endurance. But it isn't a "happy" book, lots of difficulties occur in Theo's life. It is as much a dark book as an uplifting one. As usual, I try not to give away too much about the contents of the novel but would like to encourage everyone to pick up this book and read it. It's worth it.

It is beautifully written, I really liked the language, it's a brilliant story with memorable characters, each and every one of them could have been the hero of the story and each and every one of them has quite an influence on Theo.

We also have almost every topic in this novel, family, friendship, love, hate, life, death, feelings, remorse, guilt, redemption, you name it, it's probably in it. What I especially liked was the philosophical side, the pondering about the meaning of life. I think that is what impressed me most.

Quotes from the book:
"But depression wasn't the word. This was a plunge encompassing sorrow and revulsion far beyond the personal: a sick, drenching nausea at all humanity and human endeavor from the dawn of time. The writhing loathsomeness of the biological order. Old age, sickness, death. No escape for anyone. Even the beautiful ones were like soft fruit about to spoil. And yet somehow people still kept fucking and breeding and popping out new fodder for the grave, producing more and more new beings to suffer like this was some kind of redemptive, or good, or even somehow morally admirable thing: dragging more innocent creatures into the lose-lose game. Squirming babies and plodding, complacent, hormone-drugged moms. Oh, isn’t he cute? Awww. Kids shouting and skidding in the playground with no idea what future Hells awaited them: boring jobs and ruinous mortgages and bad marriages and hair loss and hip replacements and lonely cups of coffee in an empty house and a colostomy bag at the hospital. Most people seemed satisfied with the thin decorative glaze and the artful stage lighting that, sometimes, made the bedrock atrocity of the human predicament look somewhat more mysterious or less abhorrent …"
and
"... I don't care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here's the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence - of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do - is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous 'Our Town' nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me -- and I'll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no 'do-overs' to employ a favored phrase of Xandra's, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death. ..."

From the back cover: "Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld.
As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate."

Donna Tartt received the Pulitzer Prize for "The Goldfinch" in 2014.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Fowles, John "The French Lieutenant’s Woman"

Fowles, John "The French Lieutenant’s Woman" - 1969

A lovely story. A love story in the Victorian era between a man and a married woman. Quite a lot to talk about.

And talking it is. The author. Never have I been that much annoyed by an author in a story. Shall I describe it this way? Or maybe better that way? Or maybe I won't bore you with this, you are far too clever for this ... You know the type. John Fowles tries hard to write a book in the style of Austen, Brontë, even Dickens. Does he achieve it? He might have if we wouldn't have had to read his own voice that much.

I still liked the book. But, this is one of the rare occasions where I liked the movie better, maybe because of its great actors, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, or probably because the story is the main attraction in the film and not the author's ego.

From the back cover: "In this contemporary, Victorian-style novel Charles Smithson, a nineteenth-century gentleman with glimmerings of twentieth-century perceptions, falls in love with enigmatic Sarah Woodruff, who has been jilted by a French lover.
Of all John Fowles' novels The French Lieutenant's Woman received the most universal acclaim and today holds a very special place in the canon of post-war English literature. From the god-like stance of the nineteenth-century novelist that he both assumes and gently mocks, to the last detail of dress, idiom and manners, his book is an immaculate recreation of Victorian England.
Not only is it the epic love story of two people of insight and imagination seeking escape from the cant and tyranny of their age, 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' is also a brilliantly sustained allegory of the decline of the twentieth-century passion for freedom."

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"One must be a wise reader to quote wisely and well." Amos Bronson Alcott

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read." James Baldwin

"I love bookstores. I love the energy in a bookstore and the smell of the paper." Chris Colfer

"Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Writing is not lying, nor is it theft. It is a journey and search for transparency between one's words and one's soul." Richard Flanagan

"I'm a word freak. I like words. I’ve always compared writing to music. That’s the way I feel about good paragraphs. When it really works, it’s like music." Hunter S. Thompson

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Nafisi, Azar "Reading Lolita in Tehran"

Nafisi, Azar "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" - 2003 

A beautifully written memoir about a dark time. It is not just a book about different books and a class discussing them, it is a precise account of a country turning from modern times into the past, taking away the human rights of half of their population, something that happens all over this world.

We can learn about Azar Nafisi's life as a professor/teacher before the revolution, her life during the Iran/Iraq war and also about the different cultures of the East and the West.

We also get to know all the students, she introduces them to us, their character and their troubles. I would have like to meet all of them.

I have not read even half of the books she discussed with her students but I can say about those that I have read that she did a great job with her descriptions and the discussions they brought in that country far away both in time and distance from the classic books. I will certainly put quite a few of those listed on my wish list.

From the back cover: "In Iran in the late 90s, Azar Nafisi and seven young women – her former students – gathered at her house every Thursday to discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Shy and uncomfortable at first, they soon began to open up, not only about the novels they were reading but also about their own dreams and disappointments. Their personal stories intertwine with those they are reading – Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and Lolita – in this rare glimpse of women's lives in revolutionary Iran. A work of great passion and beauty, it is an uplifting account of quiet resistance in the face of repression."

And here is a list of all the books the author discussed with her students:

al-Radi, Nuha "Baghdad Diaries"
Atwood, Margaret "The Blind Assassin"
Austen, Jane "Emma", "Mansfield Park", "Pride and Prejudice
Bellow, Soul "The Dean's December" and "More Die of Heartbreak"
Brontë, Emily "Wuthering Heights"
Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Conrad, Joseph "Under Western Eyes"
Fielding, Henry "Shamela" and "Tom Jones"
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave "Madame Bovary"
Frank, Anne "The Diary of Anne Frank
James, Henry "The Ambassadors, "Daisy Miller" and "Washington Square
Kafka, Franz "In the Penal Colony" and "The Trial"
Melville, Herman "The Confidence-Man"
Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita", "Invitation to a Beheading" and "Pnin" 
Orne Jewett, Sarah "The Country of the Pointed Firs"
Pezeshkzad, Iraj "My Uncle Napoleon"
Ravitch, Diane "The Language Police"
Salamon, Julie "The Net of Dreams"
Satrapi, Marjae "Persepolis"
Scheherazade "A Thousand and One Nights"
Sebald, W.G. "The Emigrants"
Shields, Carol "The Stone Diaries"
Skvorecky, Josef "The Engineer of Human Souls"
Spark, Muriel "Loitering with Intent" and "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"
Svevo, Italo "Confessions"
Taylor, Katherine Kressman "Address Unknown"
Taylor, Peter "A Summons to Memphis"
Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
Tyler, Anne "Back When We Were Grownups" and "St. Maybe"
Vargas Llosa, Mario "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books About Friendship

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

May 20: Ten Books About Friendship

So many books to choose from. I could have easily mentioned double or three times as many but in the end, I decided for these books that I read in the last couple of years. They all show a different kind of friendship during all kinds of times and hardships. Hope you enjoy a couple of them.

Cather, Willa "My Ántonia"
Chevalier, Tracy "Falling Angels"
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment"
Hamill, Pete "Snow in August"
Hornby, Nick "About a boy"
Hosseini, Khaled "A Thousand Splendid Suns"
Mistry, Rohinton "A Fine Balance"
Palacio, R.J. "Wonder"
Pamuk, Orhan "The White Castle"
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Midnight Palace"

Monday, 19 May 2014

Lindgren, Astrid "Seacrow Island"


Lindgren, Astrid "Seacrow Island" (Vi på Saltkråkan) - 1964 

One of my favourite stories by Astrid Lindgren besides "The Six Bullerby Children". Similar as in that story, there are a couple of families in Sweden with children of the same age. This time there is the Melkerson family who goes on holiday on a skerry, a little rocky island in Sweden. Here is son Pelle meets Tjorven, the daughter of the local greengrocer and her St. Bernard dog Båtsman (Boatsman). Together with Stiina from Stockholm, they have the most fabulous holidays. Pelle's brothers Johann and Niklas have their own adventures with Tjorven's sisters Teddy and Freddy. And Malin, the older daughter, who looks after their father, has the opportunity to fall in love. Overall, the best holidays ever.

This is a lovely children's story that surely applies to younger children even today, fifty years after it has been written. It surely is a nice memory of my youth. Even though I am not from Sweden, we had similar adventures with neighbour children and friends. I love Astrid Lindgren and like to reread her books from time to time.

From the back cover: "The four Melkerson children were a little bit worried the day they arrived on Seacrow Island. After all, their impractical father had rented the cottage for the whole summer without ever setting eyes on it. And a man on the boat had told Pelle, the youngest Melkerson, that the cottage had a leaky roof. And here they are getting off the steamer and it is pouring rain."

Astrid Lindgren received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 1978.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Book Quotes of the Week


"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Joseph Addison

"Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader than the first book that finds its way to his heart." Carlos Ruiz Zafón


"Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else." Mark Twain


"Give a kid a book and you change the world and, in a way, even the Universe." Neil de Grasse Tyson


"Reading is dreaming with open eyes." YoYo


Find more book quotes here.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Dallaire, Roméo "They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children"

Dallaire, Roméo "They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers" - 2010

Five years ago, I was introduced to this brilliant man in my book club. We read his work "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" which has left a lasting impression on me. I meant to read this book ages ago but, what can I say, so little time, so many books.

The same as in his first book, "They Fight Like Soldiers" has a powerful message and shows so much compassion with the victims of these terrible wars that rage through the whole world. Because victims they are, even if they look like fighters. According to Dallaire, child soldiers are "...any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking, or has taken a direct part in hostilities."

He started a fight against the abuse of children in any way, against pulling children into a war abusing their innocence and thereby destroying their lives. As a former member of the army who has seen them in combat, he contributes a lot of his knowledge, both civilian and military to the trials to abolish child soldiers.

A great piece of this book is not just his non-fictional description of the whole "operation", he also adds a few fictional stories of children who fight light soldiers and die like children. This way, it is easier to understand the recruitment and training of these children and how they end up becoming soldiers in the first place.

If you are interested in what is going on (mainly) in Africa and would like to know what can be done for a hopefully peaceful future, read this book. Roméo Dallaire fights a great fight and needs all the support he can get.

Another great quote from this book:
"The only impediment in this new era of global connectedness maybe be risk of being overwhelmed. As technological mega companies like Google advance the digitization of all materials that have been written and printed, from fiction to the most complex scientific matters, access to information is limitless. You also have access to online, real-time observation of any specific spot on Earth - you can even check out what the locals are drinking at the cantina. There are downsides to this, but there are also tremendous upsides: we are entering an era in which evil has no place to hide and there is no limit to how we can present the good." (page 259)

From the back cover: "As the leader of the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire came face-to-face with the horrifying reality of child soldiers during the genocide of 1994. Since then the incidence of child soldiers has proliferated in conflicts around the world: they are cheap, plentiful, expendable, with an incredible capacity, once drugged and brainwashed, for both loyalty and barbarism.

The dilemma of the adult soldier who faces them is poignantly expressed in this book's title: when children are shooting at you, they are soldiers, but as soon as they are wounded or killed, they are children once again. Believing that not one of us should tolerate a child being used in this fashion, Dallaire has made it his mission to end the use of child soldiers. Where Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone gave us wrenching testimony of the devastating experience of being a child soldier, Dallaire offers intellectually daring and enlightened approaches to the child soldier phenomenon, and insightful, empowering solutions to eradicate it."

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

May 13: Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

This prompt should be called "Bottom Ten" but since we're staying with the theme ...

I could have added at least another twenty to that list. If I choose a book for myself, I usually don't have a problem putting it down if I really don't like it, although that rarely happens. I know by now which book I might like and which one I won't.

But it's different when it's a book club book. I noticed after putting together the list that all of the books I really disliked and still finished were book club books. Why members have to choose chick lit to read with a book club is beyond me. I can understand if we have different opinions about a good book but most of the books on this list are just rubbish.

Fuller, Alexandra "Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight" - 2002
A British family lives in Africa in total misery and danger of their life. Why they don't return to their home country is beyond me.

Gibbons, Stella "Cold Comfort Farm" - 1932
This is supposed to be funny to hilarious but I found it rather boring.

Gruen, Sara "Water for Elephants" - 2006
Another totally boring story about the circus which doesn't interest me at all.

Krasnow, Iris "The Surrendering to Motherhood: Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul" - 1997
A spoiled brat tries to write about how great motherhood is, how every woman has a choice to work or not to work. As if!

Landvik, Lorna "Welcome to The Great Mysterious" - 2000
Chick lit trying to disguise as a "problem novel".

McEwan, Ian "Atonement" - 2001
This novel bored me to death.

Niffenegger, Audrey "The Time Traveler’s Wife" - 2003
One of the most horrible books I have ever read, full of contradictions. Even if time travel was possible, the facts change from one page to the next.

Pearson, Allison "I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother" (Working Mum) - 2002
Another spoiled brat who just wants to start a war between "working" and "non-working" mothers.

Picoult, Jodi "My Sister’s Keeper" - 2004
Another chick lit trying to disguise as a "problem novel".

Wisner, Franz "How the World Makes Love: And What It Taught a Jilted Groom" - 2009
Not only is this guy completely self-absorbed (Me! Me! Meeee!), this book is also full of plagiarism. Totally annoying.

And yes, why did I finish them? Because they were book club books.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"Don’t make stuff because you want to make money - it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous - because you will never feel famous enough," John Green

"The most important asset of any library goes home at night - the library staff." Timothy Healy

"I leafed through the pages, inhaling the enchanted scent of promise that comes with all new books, and stopped to read the start of a sentence that caught my eye." Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"Keep anyone with whom you can read in silence." Lemony Snicket

"The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you."  W. Somerset Maugham

"Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style." R.L. Stine
 
Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ephraim Kishon - Humorist and Satirist



I have a long lasting love affair with Ephraim Kishon. It started in secondary school which is about the age of ten in Germany. I had a wonderful German teacher who is probably responsible for my love of languages, well, party. But the one thing I will always remember him for, he would always read us a couple of Kishon stories before the holidays. If we had German on the last day before we broke up, that's what we would get. I was always hoping to have German on that last day.

Because, our teacher would read us a story by his favourite author. Ephraim Kishon. Born 1924 in Budapest. Being Jewish, he was brought into several concentration camps during World War II but managed to escape during a transport and thus survived the Holocaust.

Despite his sad story, Ephraim Kishon became one of the most famous satirists, at least in Germany. People loved him. I have seen him in several interviews where he would always talk in his quiet way, in perfect German with a lovely slight Hungarian accent that made him even more lovable.

Over the years, I have read many of his books, they are usually short stories you can read in a couple of minutes but every single one of them is fabulous. They often include his family (Sara, "The Best Wife of All" and the children Rafi, Amir and Renana) but most of all he talks about the "little man" from the street, the guy next door, he makes fun of everyone but most of all of himself.

Some of his books have been turned into movies. "The Blaumilch Canal" (also known as "The Big Dig") received a Golden Globe.

I love his stories. Several of them are available in English. If you want a laugh, give him a chance. Here is a first example, one of his quotes: "When you start to look like your passport photo, you should go on holidays."

Sadly, Ephraim Kishon is no longer with us. He passed away in 2005 in Switzerland.

These are some of his books in English:
His reputation precedes him - 1953 (Play)
Thousand of Gadia and Gadia - 1954
Black on White - 1957 (Play)
Do not worry - 1957
It all depends - 1958
No word to Morgenstein - 1960 (Play)
He and She - 1963
Somersaults - 1964
Bone in the throat - 1966
So sorry we won! - 1967
Take the plug out - 1968 (Play)
For - 1970
Oh, winners - 1970
Department of Ephraim Kishon - 1972
Oh, oh, Juliet - 1972 (Play)
My Family Right or Wrong - 1977
Family Book - 1980
Seven Comedies - 1981
Satire book I - 1981
Satire book II - 1991
Satire book III - 1992
Hairy, hell - 1998
Book of Travels - 2003
Open for renovation - 2004 (Play)
Picasso's sweet revenge - 2004
The Policeman - 2009 (Play)






I just read "Kein Applaus für Podmanitzki. Satirisches" [No applause for Podmanitzki] - 1973

Monday, 5 May 2014

Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice"


Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice" (Der Tod in Venedig) - 1912

I have read two of Thomas Mann's major works, "Buddenbrooks" and "The Magic Mountain", and they were just fantastic. This is a smaller story, a novella. You cannot compare it to the larger novels but you can certainly find Thomas Mann in the story.

This book is about a dream and the hope of its fulfillment. It is a story of defeat but also of love. It is as actual as it was a hundred years ago when it was written. Maybe one of the most actual books written on the subject of homosexuality.

Thomas Mann manages to describe the obsession of an elderly man to a young boy without either of them ever talking to the other. But the author finds the right words. An excellent (but not an easy) read.

From the back cover: "Celebrated novella of a middle-aged German writer's tormented passion for a Polish youth met on holiday in Venice, and its tragic consequences. Powerful evocation of the mysterious forces of death and disintegration in the midst of existence, and the isolation of the artist in 20th-century life. This edition provides an excellent new translation and extensive commentary on many facets of the story.
Published on the eve of World War I, a decade after Buddenbrooks had established Thomas Mann as a literary celebrity, Death in Venice tells the story of Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but aging writer who follows his wanderlust to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment that instead leads to his erotic doom.
In the decaying city, besieged by an unnamed epidemic, he becomes obsessed with an exquisite Polish boy, Tadzio. 'It is the story of the voluptuousness of doom,' Mann wrote. 'But the problem I had especially in mind was that of the artist's dignity.'"

Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks', which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading is the ultimate adventure, books are the ultimate destination." Marc Douglas Ankerud

"In fact, while we read a novel, we are insane - bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren’t there, we hear their voices, we watch the battle of Borodino with them, we may even become Napoleon. Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed. Is it any wonder that no truly respectable society has ever trusted its artists?" Ursula K. Le Guin

"In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own." Anna Quindlen

"Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing." Philip Roth

"That book taught me that by reading, I could live more intensely. It could give me back the sight I had lost. For that reason alone, a book that didn’t matter to anyone changed my life." Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"Books crow-bar the world open for you." Katherine Rundell

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Christie, Agatha "Poirot Investigates"

Christie, Agatha "Poirot Investigates" (Hercule Poirot #3) - 1924 

Before I mention anything about the book, I am not a big fan of crime stories. In books, that is. I love them on screen. And Monsieur Poirot is one of my favourite characters in any crime series, past or present. The current actor, David Suchet, is the best of them all, he does a fantastic job, he IS Hercule Poirot.

That's why I decided it was about time to read one of Agatha Christie's books and found this little gem of stories.

I still will not add crime stories to my favourite genre, I don't think that will ever happen. But Agatha Christie was a fine writer. And having seen all of these stories on screen, I can hear "the Monsieur Poirot's" French accent every time he utters a word.

This is a nice read if you need something you don't want to concentrate on too much.

And these are the stories included in this book:
The Adventure of the Western Star
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat
The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge
The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
The Kidnapped Prime Minister
The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim
The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman
The Case of the Missing Will

From the back cover: "First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond ... then came the 'suicide' that was murder ... the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat ... a suspicious death in a locked gun-room ... a million dollar bond robbery ... the curse of a pharaoh's tomb ... a jewel robbery by the sea ... the abduction of a Prime Minister ... the disappearance of a banker ... a phone call from a dying man ... and, finally, the mystery of the missing will. What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!"