Mar 30, 2007

From Past to Future

Read: Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell
It`s said to be the best biography of Charlotte Bronte and her family written by her friend. Maybe it`s true, but it`s definitely not the best of biographies. Book seemed flat. I suppose its advantage is disadvantage at the same time. Elizabeth knew Charlotte and was able to get letters from other Charlotte`s friends and talk with people who had met her, but at the same time Elizabeth couldn`t or didn`t want to tell more things about Bronte family`s life `cause many people where still alive and couldn`t like what she could write.
You can get eBook from Gutenberg: Volume 1 and Volume 2

Start reading: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
It`s said to be very good non-fiction book.

Mar 27, 2007

Blogger`s list of 10 childhood books I can`t forget

Inspired by Stephanie`s "Blogger`s list of 10 books I can`t live without" I have created list of 10 of my favourite childhood books I can`t forget.

1. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne - simply love that little bear and his friends
2. Blue castle by L.M. Montgomery - taught me something about love...
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by A. Dumas - it is NOT a children`s book, I know, but I read first it at age 10 and fell in love with it
4. Anne of Green Gables (all books) by L.M. Montgomery - liked these books more than about other girls :)
5. The Wonderful adventures of Nils by S. Lagerlof - Swedish writer`s most popular children`s book, I liked its story.
6. The Mysterious Island by J. Verne - Oh, I was so excited about this book!
7. Captain Grant`s Children or In Search of the Castaways by J. Verne
8. Karlsson on the roof (and other books about this nasty guy) by A. Lindgren
9. Forest Newspaper by V.V. Bianki - great Russian children`s writer tells about life in forest, great source of information.
10. The Sherlock Holmes stories by A.K. Doyle - I started my journey into detectives with Holmes...

Of course, there are many more books, but these ones are best kept in my memory and I`m even willing to re-read them.

Mar 26, 2007

Peter the First by Aleksey Tolstoy

Great novel! I enjoyed every single page of it. It`s so sad that Tolstoy died before finishing it. Anyway it`s very good source of information of 17th -18th Century Russia and its Tsar.
People read about Hitler and Stalin, but they are just egoistic sick men compared with Peter the First. Some politicians could learn a lot from him - how to boost countries` economy and how to make an empire out of sleepy villages:
The boyars and landed nobles, the clergy and the streltsi feared changes which meant new undertakings and new people; they hated the rapidity and harshness of the innovations. "It's no longer a decent world, it's a tavern; they smash everything, they disturb every- one. Low-born little merchants snatch at power. They don't live; they just hurry. The Tsar has delivered the country into the hands of corrupt lechers who have lost the fear of God. We are heading for the abyss."
But those others -- the low-born, efficient men who wanted change, who stretched out their hands, entranced, towards Europe, to grasp even a grain of the golden dust that shrouded the lands of the Occident -- those said that
they had not been mistaken in the young Tsar: he had proved himself just the man they had expected. The disaster and humiliation of Azov had, at one stroke, made
a man of the reveller of the Foreign Quarter; failure had curbed him with a violent bridle. Even his relatives did not recognise him; he was a changed man: fierce, obstinate and businesslike [chapter 7, book 1].
Here what`s said about Tolstoy and his last novel:

Peter the First (1929-45, book 1-2) was a historical novel, which made a strong comeback in the 1930s. It followed the myth of Peter the Great as a progressive ruler who made Russia strong, while also having a heart for the people. Tolstoi did not try to interpret history in a new way but used traditional material. Among his sources were works by the novelist Dmitry Merezhkovasky (1865-1941) and Daniil Mordovtsev, and the historians Vasily Klyuchevsky and Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900). Peter the First was hailed as the best Soviet historical novel ever written - also in West perhaps due to its apolitical views. However, Tolstoi never managed to finish the third part of the book before his death.

It`s hard to tell where is historical facts and where starts author`s imaginery, so if You want to know more about great Tsar, I advice You to read some other books about him as well:

Massie, Robert K. Peter the Great: His Life and World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980 (hardcover, ISBN 0-394-50032-6); New York: Ballantine Books, 1981 (paperback, ISBN 0-345-29806-3); 1986 (paperback, ISBN 0-345-33619-4); New York: Wings Books, 1991 (hardcover, ISBN 0-517-06483-9); London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001 (paperback, ISBN 1-84212-116-2). Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Peter I.

Hughes, Lindsey. Russia in the Age of Peter the Great. New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 1998 (hardcover, ISBN 0-300-07539-1; paperback, ISBN 0-300-08266-5)

Hughes, Lindsey. Peter the Great: A Biography. New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2002 (hardcover, ISBN 0-300-09426-4); 2004 (paperback, ISBN 0-300-10300-X).

Peter the Great and the West: New Perspectives (Studies in Russian and Eastern European History), edited by Lindsey Hughes. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001 (hardcover, ISBN 0-333-92009-0).

Troyat, Henri. Peter the Great. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987 (hardcover, ISBN 0-525-24547-2).

There are more books in Russian.
This was my third book from TBR challenge list.

Mar 23, 2007

Present to the Millennium

Present to the Millennium (2000.)

This sculpture was Valmiera`s (city in Northern Latvia) symbol for almost 7 years. Not everyone likes this sculpture, some call it "Helicopter lady". Sculpture can be seen driving to the city centre by main street in little square. Interesting for photographers, `cause it changes as light changes.

Mar 21, 2007

Joy of flowers

Flowers have always given me much pleasure. Especially if they are from someone special, like these tulips... In summers I buy field flowers in market from old ladies. These flowers aren`t as beautiful as selected flowers, but they remind me my childhood and it gives them added value.
I read somewhere that Latvians and some other ex-Soviet nationalities are the ones that buy flowers most often and not only on weddings or birthdays. Of course, Valentine`s Day, International Women`s Day, 1st September are the best days for flower magazines, but Latvians also buy flowers just because they like them.
I do love roses (which girl doesn`t?). Dark red, white, yellow, almost every colour. But now I think tulips (in dark red roses colour!) will be my second favourite flowers.
I like other flowers too, but, please, don`t give me pinks (carnations)! I hate pinks. Why? In Soviet times pinks were very popular, they were given by everyone on every occasion. Pinks were cheap and there wasn`t big variety of other flowers. That`s why I think if person gives me pinks, he/she simply haven`t thought about me, just brought cheap flowers, that`s all.

Mar 20, 2007

Third book finished!

I finished Peter the First by Aleksey Tolstoy. Review will follow soon. Great book, great man! I`m going to search for more books about Peter the First.

P.S. Picked up one additional book (unplaned): "The Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell. It`s said to be the best biography of this great writter and her family.

Mar 14, 2007

Investigation of old postcard

I found this lovely postcard while reading "Peter the First". It`s postcard for International Women`s Day from 1976. As I got the book in library`s give away book shelf, I have no idea about the people postcard was addressed to.

Sender is a man and receiver is two women. It means that those women were living together. Maybe mother and daughter, maybe two sisters? There isn`t an address in address field. Maybe postcard was put in an envelope?

I know that in those years it was common to give a postcard (or greeting card) with a present. So it could be possible that postcard was attached to "Peter the First" and this book was a present in International Women`s Day. Oh, people gave books as presents those days more often than now... But! Man and women weren`t living together, because sender has written: "I`m waiting for your letter". So my presumption is less possible, if only he sent a parcel.

What else is written on the postcard:

Z. and D.! Greetings in lady`s most splendid Day! Be always beautiful and joyful! A.L.

(Didn`t wrote the names, because it doesn`t matter.) Nice. He definitely kept warm feelings in his heart about them.

Such finding make me think about love and relationship and past as well.

Mar 12, 2007


I`m searching for time to read books. I`m searching for more interesting books. I`m searching for right way of living a life.... Too many interesting things I want to do and only 24 h per day is what has always disturbed me. How to find more time?
7:00 wake up
8:00 start my job
17:00 go home and walk my dog
18:00 what to eat for dinner?
19:00 either I`m eating or have already eaten and sit at computer, listen to music, do some housework or read
21:00 go to bed and read or watch TV
23:00 sleep
Computer is definitely what steals my time too much, I think.
And what about my loved ones. They wait for some loving touch and conversation too.
In such thoughtful mood I was watching TV and reading magazine at the same time one evening and dog came to me for evening caress (if dogs would have massage saloon, he would be most frequent client there :D). At first I wanted to ignore him, because I was busy with TV and reading, but then a thought came to my mind. We are so much into small, unimportant things, that don`t have time for things (like love, friendship, being together) that really matter until it`s too late. When Your loved one has passed away you wish you had spent more time with him/her, said "I love you" more often and so on. So I put my reading aside and gave my dog nice massage :) And I`m not sorry for that time I lost for reading.

Mar 7, 2007

How many of these books have You read?

100 books You should read goes around the blogosphere :) Apparently if you read this meme, you are automatically tagged! So, I guess that means if you are reading MY list, then you are tagged as well! (I was "tagged" by reading this over at Literary Cache blog who got it at Stephanie's Blog!)

Look at the list of books below: * Bold the ones you’ve read * Italicize the ones you want to read * Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in. If you are reading this (and haven't participated yet), tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) - TBR 2007
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel) - read half of it, didn`t like
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) - TBR 2007
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) - love it
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell) - TBR 2007
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible - have read Old Testament
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) - read some 5 or 6 times, love it
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

16 read till now.
Tell me if you suggest me reading a book from this list I haven`t Italicized (simply don`t know some of them).

Comfort of Strangers by Ian Mcewan

It`s Ian Mcewan`s second novel, written in 1981. Read this book in February as additional book to my TBR list. In one word - disgusting. It`s the first feeling after I closed this book. BUT! It doesn`t mean that I didn`t like Comfort of Strangers. There is something tempting in it. Maybe it`s slow and gentle atmosphere of Venice, maybe it`s that scary feeling (it`s too good to be true...) in the air almost till the end of the book, when Robert and his wife shows their real faces.

What I couldn`t understand in Mcewan`s novel, was those two families: two Americans, Colin and Mary, tired of themselves, searching for something and two Italians, Robert and Caroline, sadistic and sick persons. I coudn`t understand and still can`t, why Americans went to visit Robert and his wife for second time, if they knew, that there is something wrong with them. I woudn`t go. Robert and his wife I simply despise, but I can understand how they grew to become brutal, sadistic and masochistic.

Anyway, I told here only the surface of the novel. One needs to dig deeper to understand it clearly. For example, Colin and Mary are too close to each other as well as they become childish and it makes them more open to strangers who would interupt their intimacy, Colin is quite feminine and it makes him more suitable for a "victim" role.

5 points to Mcewan for showing dark side of normal everyday life. Not sure if I`ll read another novel of him. I`m afraid, I can imagine how his other novels end......