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Search tags: michreads-literary-exploration-insane-challenge-20
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review 2014-02-13 03:39
ABC to the zzzzZZZZ....
The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie

The ABC Murder appeared to be one of Christie’s most popular and highly rated works, which made I dove into it with such a high expectation. It turned out to be a BIG disappointment.

Hasting, recently returned from South America to handle some business narrated the story. It was nice to see them paired up again. Anyway, Poirot had received an anonymous letter warning him of a crime. Soon, a series of murders begun to occur and the authority was nowhere close to discern the murderer’s identity. The victims were also completely differ from each other and just randomly chosen, or so it seemed. The only common factors were Poirot receiving a letter prior to each murder; the victim’s name and the city they murdered in corresponded to the next letter of the alphabet; and an ABC was left at the scene of each crime.

Despite that Poirot was assisted by the victims’ family members in his investigation, there wasn’t much that they did contribute. In my opinion, it was completely unnecessary to include that aspect. It also didn’t help that I were not invested in any of the characters. The whole thing felt lack of substances. The only reason I read on was because I had inkling as to the true motive behind the crimes. I was proven right which was disappointing. I kinda wish for a different resolution. Christie literally ripped out the murderer from A Pocket Full of Rye and put him here.

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review 2014-02-07 07:54
Let's be a ferryman and watch a river 24/7 to be happy
Siddhartha: An Indian Poem - Hermann Hesse,Susan Bernofsky,Tom Robbins
“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”
I read the Modern Library edition, translated by Susan Bernofsky with an introduction by Tom Robbins. I liked this translation and it was easy to understand, comprehensible. I’ve compared it with the free ebook provided by Goodreads and I did not like that translation much. The introduction by Tom Robbins was well crafted. It was succint and to the point. Thanks to the introduction, I understood more of the story. He used references that was not unfamiliar to me so those helped too.
The reasons I read it was one, because of the seemingly short length and two, I was intrigued to read the author’s work. I won’t pretend to understand Siddartha, his journey towards self discovery, this book or whatever else that entailed. I am a simple person, and besides, in Siddharta’s words:
“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
I applauded Hesse’s effort in writing this and his talent in communicating a thought provoking work. However, I did not feel as if I’ve changed much. Sure, it made me think and wonder for a while but in the end, the charm was broken once I separated from this book. I stopped to care about the philosophy. Maybe, one day, I’ll come to understand Siddharta more. If or when I’ve lived more and went through more trials...maybe...
“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
I end my review with my favorite phrase from the book.
“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
3 stars!
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review 2014-02-07 07:50
Once science has spoken, one should remain silent.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Trade Paperback) - Jules Verne,Ursula K. Heise,Frederick Amadeus Malleson,Rachel Perkins
“Science, my boy, is built on errors, but errors which it’s good to commit because they gradually lead to the truth.”

A novel that contained a lot of scientific details (albeit outdated not to mention some were completely off the marks) and geological terms. Being on familiar ground with those terms did not endear this story to me though. I was thorougly bored for the most part of the story. Thankfully, it picked up once the trio were deep under the mountain.

However, it kinda weird for the supposed “scientists” / “researchers” a.k.a. Axel and Professor Liedenbrock did not spend much time exploring and studying the plants, rocks and other stuff they saw and found throughout their journey. Instead, the professor was blinded by his one goal—to get to the center of the earth. That did not at all fit as behaviour of a scholar, in my humble opinion. Who went into the center of the earth, encountered living creatures that were supposedly extinct million of years ago and possible early ancestors of human yet did not spend time to study them?! That being said, Professor Liedenbrock was not at all bad. Despite being exhibit A for ‘mad scientist’, the professor softened my view of him when he became more like of an uncle to Axel during some of the most stressing times they suffered through during the adventure. i.e. He saved the last drop of water for Axel in his bottle and refrained himself from drinking it for Axel’s sake. Axel, on the other hand, appeared as nothing more than a brat throughout the novel. He either whined, fainted, complaint, or lamented his supposedly inevitable doom. He did have his moment though when he made witty, dry comments and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Well, as a devoted nephew I considered it my duty to eat for him as well as for myself. That I did conscientiously.”
“Very good! I thought, just the place where we should spend the rest of our days! And large though it is, that asylum is not big enough to contain all Professor Lidenbrock’s madness.”

Furthermore, his behaviour was quite forgiveable considering that the guy did not enter into the journey willingly, but still! I’d expected more courage and bravery from him. Instead, it was from Hans the guide that I got to see those virtues, which was why he was my favorite character.

1.5 stars!

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review 2014-01-24 18:06
Getting in trouble here isn’t like getting in trouble at home.
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls - Claire Legrand, Sarah Watts (Illustrator)
“Victoria Wright had only one friend, and he wasn’t even a real friend; he was a project, someone to fix and whip into shape.”

So, when Lawrence disappeared one day, Victoria missed him terribly much although she refused to admit it – at first. Also, she started questioning things when no one seemed to bother with Lawrence’s disappearance. In fact, they didn’t seem to remember him. Her investigation led her to Nine Silldie Place or what was known as The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls where she met Mrs. Cavendish and her gardener, Mr. Alice. Plot began to thicken up once Victoria talked to Mr. Tilbat, whose friend, Vivian Goodfellow never returned from the Home after she went inside to investigate. Vivian’s final fate was revealed in the end and it was not pleasant at all. I really liked her character from the little that I’ve seen of her.

Anyway, Victoria too ended up being taken by Mrs. Cavendish after the woman deemed Victoria as being too nosy. At the home, Victoria was reunited with Lawrence and some of the other missing children. She also met gobers, some kind of helpers for Mrs. Cavendish. Mrs. Cavendish hated the gobers and the reason was revealed together with the origin of the gobers. It was horrible and macabre. I think it was the sickest part of the story. The children, besides being submitted to rigid rules and severe punishments, were also made to attend pointless lessons and recited sentences like below.

“Children, whether they are boys or girls, educated or ignorant, must be as silent as possible as much as possible. Children are neither clever nor experienced enough to judge for themselves what is and what is not to be said. They must therefore and at all times defer to the wisdom of their elders. They must never speak out of turn. They must never be contrary. They must be extraordinary without being out of the ordinary.”

Victoria sometimes annoyed me but she was also charming and I can’t help but smile at some of her behaviors. Her bossy attitude was also not unlike mine so yeah… She said things like “I swear on my academic reports.” and actually being serious about it too! Her interaction with Lawrence was sweet, funny and endearing. It was amazing too the length she would go to find Lawrence considering that she was no rule breaker and always strove to be the perfect daughter as well as student. She took her name very seriously and used it as a motivation to be the top in everything along with her wishes to make her parents proud of her.

Overall, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls was a creepy book. The ending particularly crept me and I shuddered to think of the fate of the children in Belleville especially with Victoria, Lawrence and the rest of the children who remember the Home were grown up and already gone from the town.


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review 2014-01-24 18:03
How easy it was to lie when one had to lie!
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith
“Let not the young souls be smothered out before,
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they starve, but starve so dreamlessly,
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap,
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve,
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.”
- The Leaden-Eyed by Vachel Lindsay

On his way home on a train, Guy Haines met Charles Bruno. Despite him trying not to be bothered with the latter, Guy found himself end up telling Bruno about his wife infidelity and him wanting a divorce after listening to Bruno’s hatred of his father. Bruno then proceeded to come up with a “perfect murder” plan where Guy would kill Bruno’s father while Bruno would kill Guy’s wife, Miriam. This way they both would establish perfect alibis at the time of the murders without the police making connection of the murders. Guy rejected the proposal, dismissing it more as Bruno being crazy. However, Bruno actually continued with his crazy plan and murdered Miriam. Then, he started bothering Guy to keep his part of the bargain, even resorting to threat when Guy ignored him. 

Now, it was here that the story really made me roll my eyes. Having watched the movie, Guy disappointed me with him making stupid decision after stupid decision. It was almost like the man suffered from lack of brain or lack of will or both. His stupidity was further proven by the way he met his end by the end of the book. He and his big mouth, I just cannot believe it. Anyway, I did think he was more of mentally imbalanced towards the end. He and Bruno were really, really bad for each other especially with Bruno literally stalking Guy’s every move and following him around.

What I enjoyed was any scene where Detective Gerards was in. He was the detective Bruno’s father hired in order to find out should anything happened to him. The old man was suspecting that his own son was ill and would try to kill him. I also had a satisfying HA! moment when it finally hit Guy’s thick head that Gerards was the only person who can help him out of the mess despite Bruno’s threat because Gerards knew Bruno, and therefore unlikely to be deceived by his twisted story. But of course it was too late for Guy when he did realize that. Alas!

honest, I like Hitchcock’s plot much, much better. I guess I am a straightforward person and I prefer the usual evil (Bruno) vs. good (Guy) storyline. The movie also seemed to make more sense than the book which was unnecessarily wordy and filled with stupid thoughts and decisions courtesy of Guy Haines.

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