Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Quotes | The Book of Lies - Twins Trilogy by Agota Kristof

[originaly published at Halcja's Place, February 02, 2017]

I was going through some old blog entries from the times when I was blogging in my native language and came across a collection of quotes from one of my favorite books The Notebook by Agota Kristof. It's actually a trilogy but for some reason, the Russian translation which I was reading goes by the name of the first book from The Book of Lies - Twins Trilogy.

I read this book in the summer of 2012. The Twins Trilogy was hands down one of the weirdest books I've ever read. The plot kept on twisting and turning and by the end I wasn't sure what to believe. It's probably high time to re-read this book and see if I now have a different perception of it.

It is a story of two twin boys during the Second World War. Or at least that's what's on the surface. I dare you to read this book and discover its mysteries for yourself!

Here are some of the quotes from the book that I would like to share with you today. I couldn't find these particular quotes in English so all this is my own attempt at translating them.
At dinner time Grandmother says:
"You understood. You have to work for shelter and food."
We say:
"It's not about that. Working is hard but what's even harder is to do nothing and watch someone else work. Especially if it's an elderly person."
Grandmother smirks:
"Sons of a bitch! So you felt sorry for me?"
"No, Grandmother. We just felt ashamed."

Friday, 13 January 2017

Coming back?

I talked to my therapist today and I was complaining as usual about how many of my attempts at blogging go unnoticed because no one else is interested in the things I write about. Either this or I suck at writing. And she offered me a solution. She asked why won't I write about it in English. And I started thinking about it.

I have this need to express my thoughts and opinions. And what makes it even worse, I think that my thoughts are important. Unfortunately none of the people I know IRL (not counting my mom) are interested in the stuff that sends my pulse racing. So I figured that blogging would be the answer. Putting my thoughts out there on the internet for like minded people to find and appreciate. I won't say it was my only aspiration, but having a little feedback wouldn't hurt now, won't it?

But the more I post to my main blog, the more disappointing it gets. I feel like the town's crazy lady. People are watching but don't want to have anything to do with me. Or at least that's the kind of picture my imagination is painting when time after time I don't get a reaction, or get a few encouraging comments when now and then I spit out a post "that's it! I'm quitting!". Those seem like pity comments. And if that's all I'll get, then I don't see any reason to continue...

It's not working. I'll stop beating the dead horse.

And that's when this blog comes into play. At first I thought about starting a new blog. Mostly because things I want to write about are not only books and cake recipes. I'm still thinking about it... I'm not quite sure what to do next. But just for now I've decided to write a few words and update this blog. Just to get the thought out of my head.

Either way I just needed to vent a little bit, so thanks for bearing with me.

Stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

May 2016 | Life update

Hi guys! I can't believe it's been months since I've last updated my blog. I don't want to make excuses, I'm just back.

I have this problem when I try to juggle too many things all at once. I want to write a book, draw illustrations, make video lessons and manage a zombie themed website. One day I'm learning Japanese and Italian, the next I'm trying to teach myself programming. I even have two blogs and just can't decide if it's more important for me to write in my own language or in English. And I want to blog about books, cooking, art and give life changing advices all at the same time. I can't focus. I scatter my attention too much.

But the last year has been different. I've strained myself to the point of breaking and had to suddenly take it slow. I had to pick myself up from pieces.

For a while I was not able to do anything but function. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to think about anything. Is this what depression is like? I'm not sure. When I feel worse, I'm almost certain. But then it gets a little better, and I somehow feel ashamed for thinking that I might be depressed. Why is it that I'm always having such a hard time admitting that I have problems? And that those problems are valid?

Right now I feel like I'm gradually starting to get back to normal. I still need time to heal, but at least it's not as bad as it was last year or even two months ago.

It's been a few months since I've said goodbye to my last student. It didn't end on good terms. I was too delusional about this student, and I feel really sorry that she didn't care to make an effort and accept all the knowledge I was willing to give her. For a while it made me feel like a bad teacher, but now I've come to terms with the fact that in my country money and slyness is valued more than good brains and diligence.

Since then I've chosen a new route for myself, or should I say picked up an old one. But I won't tell about it just yet. I'll just say that it's more of my thing than teaching.

And how are you guys doing?

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Book Review | If Death Ever Slept. Rex Stout

If Death Ever Slept by Rex Stout
(on Goodreads)
My rating ★★★★☆

If Death Ever Slept is a classic detective novel I've read for the Back to the Classics reading challenge. It's one of many books in the Nero Wolfe series. Nero Wolfe is a brilliant detective, who prefers to solve the mysteries from his home, while his assistant Archie Goodwin does all the investigations and reports to him. Nero Wolfe is very moody and has his own little habits and rules, which he doesn't like to be broken. And he has a greenhouse where he grows all sorts of beautiful orchids.

In this novel the great detective has to work for a millionaire Otis Jarrell, who wants him to find enough proof to discredit his daughter-in-law so that his son would eventually divorce her. Otis hates his daughter-in-law and calls her a snake. He is sure that because of her one of his friends snatched a deal right from under his nose earning a lot of money.

Nero doesn't want to get into marital issues, but he still wants the money Otis is offering him, so he makes it Archie's responsibility to look into the case. Archie goes into the Jarrell household pretending to be Otis's new secretary and starts looking around. And then, when you least expect it, someone gets murdered.

Archie and Nero are two very likable characters. They joke around and argue all the time, but still get the work done brilliantly. It was funny to see Nero Wolfe trying to get rid of the case all throughout the book, but still solving the mystery in the end. Their interaction with the cops was also fun to read.

Till the end of the book I wasn't able to identify the murderer, so the ending was a bit of a surprise.

All in all I liked the novel with it's moderate pace and clever jokes. I'm looking forward to picking up some other stories about Nero Wolfe.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Book Review | Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(on Goodreads)
My rating ★★★★★

The novel is set in the American South and portrays the life of Scarlett O'Hara, a daughter of a wealthy landowner, as her world falls apart in the events of the Civil war.

Scarlett is very young and naive, when we first meet her. She is desperately in love with Ashley Wilkes, and marrying him is all she can think of. She won't give up on him even when he marries someone else, and clings to her childish feelings for the better part of the story.

But as time passes Scarlett has to learn how to adapt in the new reality of the war. She makes a lot of hasty decisions and barely regrets them, chasing away all the bad thoughts. She's afraid that she might break under the pressure, so she's always telling herself to think of her troubles and worry tomorrow. But never today, today she is not strong enough. This personal philosophy is what helps Scarlett stand firm on her feet, even though the world around her is crumbling to pieces.

Of course Scarlett had her moments of weakness, but she was always able to stand up again and do what she had to do. All her troubles and a lack of guidance made her somewhat cold and calculating. At the same time there were many moments when you could see that she is still a child, a spoilt little girl that wants everything to be her way.

I think it won't count as a spoiler if I say that Scarlett's true love is supposed to be Rhett Butler. The book doesn't really say that, but it is suggested. The reader is anticipating this relationship to sprout. At times I was confused, because I knew that Rhett is supposed to love Scarlett, but it didn't seem like it at all. And then there was Scarlett, who could only think about Ashley. And even though closer to the end of the story I could tell that Scarlett's feelings for Ashley were now different, I still couldn't understand how and when would she realise this herself. All in all this book is full of very complicated character relationships. Scarlett's friendships are just as confusing as her love interests.

Gone with the Wind is not your usual love story. It's more like a story of a strong woman, who competes with men and the whole world, trying to overcome the hardships that came with the war and later after the war ended. It's the story of her never ending battle with her greatest fear of hunger and poverty. She just doesn't have time for love.

This book is also interesting in the way it portrays the Civil war from the viewpoint of the southerners. It made me rethink everything that I thought I knew about the American history. I should probably read a few historical books, maybe even non-fiction, to get a better picture of this time period. But what I liked about this novel is that it reminded me that there are always two sides to every story.