Six degrees of separation: from Hamlet to Hercule Poirot

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from Hamlet to Hercule Poirot

Ah ah, could giving us a one unusual word title be too tough for my way of playing this game? Ok I had to change a bit my own rule, but it worked, by using the same first name of author to start with!!

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

  Hamnet  Writing the icon

The English Grammar Workbook for Adult  The Professor and the Madman

Housekeeper And The Professor  Peril at End House

1. Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
A popular book, and I love Hamlet by Shakespeare, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet for this book.
“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.”

2. Writing the Icon of the Heart: In Silence Beholding
She quotes a lot St Isaac the Syrian, and it is always refreshing to see a Father from the Christian East quoted by a Christian from the Western world. Going back to our common roots…
“The subtitle of Maggie Ross’s new book captures its essence, for it is about silence and our need to behold God. Beholding is a notion that we are in danger of losing. It is often lost in translation, even by the NRSV and the Jerusalem Bible. Beholding needs to be recovered both in theology and practice.”

3. The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing
VERDICT: The perfect tool both for ESL and EFL students, from basic grammatical rules to practical and even creative writing.

4. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

I haven’t posted any review, but I really enjoyed it, like any book by Simon Winchester anyway.
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary — and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.”

5. The Housekeeper and the Professor
VERDICT:  The Housekeeper And The Professor is  a difficult book to review; the novel is more about the ambiance than the plot itself. You may even end up loving maths at the end!

6. Peril at End House
OK, slightly cheating again, by using only half of the first word…
I haven’t written anything about this one either, but it definitely was a great plot.
“Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckly. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo.
Poirot has taken a particular interest in the young woman who has recently narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck. It seems all too clear to him that someone is trying to do away with poor Nick, but who? And, what is the motive? In his quest for answers, Poirot must delve into the dark history of End House. The deeper he gets into his investigation, the more certain he is that the killer will soon strike again. And, this time, Nick may not escape with her life.”

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Six degrees of separation: from God to Christmas

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from God to Christmas

Starting with God, and ending with Christmas, AND for this December chain, obviously I’m very happy how it turned out.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

  Are You There God   All the Devils Are Here

  The Devil's Door   The Doors of the Sea     atlantic   Very French Christmas Cover

1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
A Children classic, which I don’t think I have ever read.
“Margaret was a bit confused about religion. When she moved from the city to her new home, she didn’t know whether to join the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What made matters worse was that, going on twelve, she had plenty to talk over with God. She had a bra but needed to grow a bit to put something in it. Nancy and Gretchen had already had their period. What was taking her so long? Sometimes she got so frustrated she ignored Him-until the next time she really needed someone to listen.”

2. All the Devils Are Here
This is the latest book by Louise Penny. I love this series. This could be the best of the series, it is set in Paris. Alas, I have not written a review for it!
“On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.
When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.”

3. The Devil’s Door
I haven’t reviewed it, but loved this Medieval historical novel. You can check my review of the previous book in the series.
“A wealthy countess lies dying at the Convent of the Paraclete, brutally beaten by unknown assailants. Despite entreaties, she is unwilling to name her killer. Beautiful Catherine LeVendeur, the Paraclete’s most learned young novice-scholar, vows to find out the identity of the woman’s attacker.”

4. The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?
Great Orthodox and philosophical reflection on the tsunami:
“As news reports of the horrific tsunami in Asia reached the rest of the world, commentators were quick to seize upon the disaster as proof of either God’s power or God’s nonexistence. Expanding on his Wall Street Journal piece, Tremors of Doubt, published the last day of 2004, David Bentley Hart here returns to this pressing question: How can the existence of a good and loving God be reconciled with such suffering? Hart clarifies the biblical account of God’s goodness, the nature of evil, and the shape of redemption, incisively revealing where both Christianity’s champions and its critics misrepresent what is most essential to Christian belief. Though he responds to those skeptical of Christian faith, Hart is at his most perceptive and provocative as he examines Christian attempts to rationalize the tsunami disaster. Many people want a divine plan that will make sense of evil. Hart contends, however, that the history of suffering and death is not willed by God. Rather than appealing to a divine calculus that can account for every instance of suffering, Christians must recognize the ongoing struggle between the rebellious powers that enslave the world and the God who loves it. This meditation by a brilliant young theologian will deeply challenge serious readers grappling with God’s ways in a suffering world.”

 

5. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
VERDICT (in 2011): This is the most thorough “biography” I have ever read, and the most entertaining as well.
“Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean. A gifted storyteller and consummate historian, Winchester sets the great blue sea’s epic narrative against the backdrop of mankind’s intellectual evolution, telling not only the story of an ocean, but the story of civilization.”

6. A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time
VERDICT: Experience Christmas as you have never before, with this unique, very French short story collection.

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Six degrees of separation: from truth to a notebook

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from truth to a notebook

This month, we are supposed to start with the last book on our last chain, so for me, that was this awesome nonfiction on Conan Doyle – which is kind of neat, as I’m also participating in Nonfiction November.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

See where it led me, on the other side of the pond!

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

   Conan Doyle for the Defense  Aleppo Codex

  99 ways to tell a story   Ninety-three  

  Black Coffee    the-black-notebook

1. Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
VERDICT: A must read for all Sherlock Holmes’ fan. A well researched piece of literary critique.

2. The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession Faith and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
Do you like a good mystery? Do you like “serious” books about things that actually happened? Do you have lots of commuting time? Well, these are three reasons you have to listen to this book!

3. 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style
 Raymond Queneau and his famous Exercices de Style (Exercises in Style) is a great representative of the Oulipo movement: he takes one short and simple event, and then retells that same thing in 99 different styles.
Matt Madden does a fantastic job by doing the exact same thing, but this time all in different variations with graphics and comics. Loved it! 

4. [ok, I kind of cheated, I went from ninety-9 to ninety-3)
Ninety-Three
Most people read Les Misérables (at best), but have you also red Ninety-Three?
The last of Victor Hugo’s novels, it is regarded by many including as his greatest work. I recently revisited it to study with one of my students. Really good!

5. Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot #7)

I actually just finished reading this one!
As you may know, I’m into a project of listening to all of Hercule Poirot’s stories and novels, for The Classics Club. I hit an obstacle when I got to #7:  it is listed as a play, and I could see it was indeed played during Agatha Christie’s lifetime, but I could find no audio recording, nor even any play on videos. I would end up each time on a novel adaptation of this play, by another author! Even though this adaptation is famous, I still wanted to read the original play. As usual, my public library managed to find the precious book!
I wonder why no one seems to play this any more, it was a lot of fun. It was neat to see Hercule Poirot in a play setting. The mystery was very satisfying, with obviously lots of red herrings and a good amount of potential guilty parties.
“The story concerns a physicist named Sir Claude Amory who has come up with a formula for an atom bomb (Black Coffee was written in 1934!). In the first act, Sir Claude is poisoned (in his coffee, naturally) and Hercule Poirot is called in to solve the case. He does so after many wonderful twists and turns in true Christie tradition.”

 

6. The Black Notebook

VERDICT: Great typical book by Modiano. The excellent translation lets you plunge in Modiano’s hazy labyrinth between past and present.

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