Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

Hi all!

It’s been a while, yet again, since I’ve posted anything, but this is definitely going to change in the future. I’ve finished my exams and finally finished my thesis also (which I still have to sustain, but at least the hard part is over :) ), so in a few more days my summer vacation will also start :D

I have a lot of plans, including catching up on my reading, which I have neglected the past few months. Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” I think is a good start.

This was definitely perfect the book to read right now. With all the stress that was laid on me the past few weeks, I ended up feeling pretty lost, but I think the book got me back on track.

I’ve looked over some reviews of the book after I’ve finished reading it, and it lead me to believe that this is one of those books that you either love or hate. And I personally loved it.

The book presents the story of a young Spanish shepherd named Santiago. His life changing adventure begins when he realizes he had had the same dream twice and talks about it with an old man, who calls himself the king of Salem.

Inspired by the words of the king, Santiago decides to pursue his dream to find the treasure by the Egyptian pyramids. His road is full of turns, as he ends up many times in places he would never before imagine, but all contribute in him finding his path.

The book is a greatly philosophical one, and I think that is why I liked it so much. It covers the theme of destiny, of the importance of following ones dreams and the unity of the universe. The presented thoughts have a magical and mysterious intonation, as the role of each thing on Earth is explained, with the steps one has to take in order to become one with the world surrounding us.

The role of an alchemist is also described and it is quite different from the one we normally tend to think of. It is pretty awesome nonetheless and I don’t think I would mind being the apprentice of one :D

I loved this book because I really wanted it to be real. I want to believe that there is more to life than want I can see around me. Because sometimes it can be rather depressing, and I love books that restore my hope in the beauty of the world and make me want to live life to the fullest, and not just settle for the ordinary.

I think it is worth reading, but I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tee. So if you do want to read it, here’s where you can find it online: The Alchemist

This is all for now, and next time (hopefully soon) I’ll be presenting Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo

Hi all!

It has been a long time since I’ve been here and I can’t even imagine it myself that it took this long to finish “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It is indeed a long book, and I knew that when I started it, but I also knew it would be great. And it was. I have to admit, this was one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. But definitely, this was the worst time to read it, and I guess that is one of the reasons why I finished it so late.

I have a lot on my plate nowadays, balancing work, exams and preparing for my Bachelor’s Degree certification, so all I needed was a good book to keep me focused :D

The weird part is that I don’t think I’ve fully understood that it’s over. I keep thinking about reading another chapter in my spare time, but then I remember, there’s no more chapters left. I guess I really got used to the characters, with all the time I’ve spent on them. And I miss them, because each one was a very interesting person, be it in vices and faults, or decency and good will. And the plot itself is very captivating and complex, with turns you don’t anticipate and many threads to present the lives of the many characters, that somehow are still woven together.

The book is actually the story of a young man named Edmond Dantes, who although very young, would soon become captain of a ship and also marry the love of his life, Mercedes. But this perfect future is soon destroyed, as Edmond is accused by Danglars, a fellow official on the ship, and Fernand, a man in love with Mercedes, to be a conspirator. Although innocent, Edmond is still imprisoned, as the king’s attorney tries to save the life of his father.

He stays in prison for fourteen years, during which he befriends the Abbe Faria, who becomes his teacher and father in their despair. When this beloved guardian dies of an unfortunate illness, Edmond finds that he was given once again a chance at freedom, and even wealth.

He returns to his home town, but the life that he left behind was nowhere to be found. The good people he remembered were all driven to misery, while the ones who plotted against him were successful and rich. And so, the plan to avenge himself stirs in the mind of Edmond, naming himself from then on the Count of Monte Cristo. He gradually enters the lives of his former “acquaintances” and by manipulating the threads of destiny, he tries to undo the wrong and bring ease to his years of pain, by punishing those that punished him with the undeserved sufferings at the Chateau d’If .

As I said, the story is a rather complex one, and also presents some very interesting ideas about destiny, about hope and about happiness. Each character is beautifully displayed, and we can almost see into the recesses of their hearts. Every pang of pain, every glitter of joy can be felt by the reader also. And I think one of the saddest episodes of the book was when the count revisited his dungeon and listened to his own story told by the guide. I’m not afraid to confess, it did indeed bring tears to my eyes. And I love when a book can achieve that, because that basically means that I bow before the author for being able to write this. And in case of this book, the bow isn’t only for that particular scene, but for the whole book. It is a masterpiece, no doubt about it.

I guess this is all I’m going to say about it for now, because I feel I could go on and on, but it’s not the time for that :D

Anyway, if you would like to read it online, you can find it here: The Count of Monte Cristo.

So, I guess that’s all for now. I’m not really sure when I’ll be back with the next book, probably not that soon, due to causes I’ve already listed. But when I do return, I’ll be reviewing Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read!

Rejtő Jenő – The 14-carat Roadster

Hi all!

As promised, I’m back with Rejtő Jenő’s “The 14-carat Roadster” (“A tizennégy karátos autó”) and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. I admit, I have heard from a lot of people that it is a great book and it even got on the list of the 100 best Hungarian books that are totally worth reading, but still, when I checked what it was about, I wasn’t at all impressed. And I only started reading it because it was on my to-read list (due to the previously mentioned best books list) and, frankly, I didn’t have anything else to read on the train :D

But like I said, I was pleasantly surprised and I really enjoyed it, even from page one. It’s got a great style that makes it perfect for when you are looking for a light read. It kind of reminded me of Agatha Christie’s books, only instead of mystery and puzzles, we have funny characters and wild adventures :)

The story presents the adventures of one Gorcsev Iván, a young man who has a very interesting way of being, doing things at an impulse, without thinking of the consequences. He falls in love with Anette Laboux, the daughter of a minister and somehow gets involved in the greatly complicated story of the Alfa-Romeo with parts made out of 14 carat gold.

The story is filled with twists and turns as the car gets stolen, then retrieved, then stolen again, and of course there is the thing with how Gorcsev joined the army, but sent his secretary instead with the promise that they will change places, but something always comes up and the secretary is left to make the lives of the generals miserable :D

The book is a real page turner, because it never gets boring not having the time to get boring. One thing happens after the other, and these things along with the characters are hilarious :D

I would definitely recommend this book and I think in the end it was the perfect choice after “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. If you would like to read it online, you can find the English version here: The 14-carat Roadster, and the Hungarian version (if anyone is interested) here: A Tizennégy karátos autó.

That’s all for now, and next time I’ll be talking about something a little more edgy: Marquis de Sade’s “The 120 Days of Sodom”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Meg Cabot – Code Name Cassandra (1-800-Where-R-You #2)

Hi all!

I’m back with book 2 of the 1-800-Where-R-You series, “Code Name Cassandra”, and, just like with the first one, I managed to finish it in only 2 days. I liked it better, though, than the first one, but it’s almost always like this with series. I guess the first books are a kind of warm up for what comes next. But even so, I wasn’t all that crazy about this one either. But I already explained why that is in my previous post :)

The book continues the story of Jess Mastriani, who finds a job as a counselor at the Wawasee camp, organized for children who are gifted musicians.

She is not recognized at first as the famous Lightning Girl, but she can’t hide it for long. Still, she tries to sustain her story that her power went away, but when a desperate father shows up seeking her help, she feels the need to give a hand. But not before she investigates the case herself. This, of course, leads only to trouble.

And let’s not forget that the FBI is constantly monitoring Jess (who has the code name Cassandra, as you could guess from the title :P ), who has not only a handful of children to look after, but also gets closer to the guy of her dreams, Rob. And that’s a lot to handle for a 16 year old. Oh, and did I mention the raging murderer who is after her? :P

So yeah, the story is interesting and I would recommend it. If you would like to read it online, you can find it here: Code Name Cassandra.

I guess that’s all for now, next time I’ll be talking about the third book: “Safe House”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Meg Cabot – When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You #1)

Hi all!

I’m finally feeling back on track after the weeks of reading nothing and I feel highly ambitious about reading as many books I can get my hands on :)

After I’ve started reading this book, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea, because it is part of a series and I usually read series books one after the other, so I won’t forget what’s going on and stuff. But I finished the first one really fast, in about two days, and I guess it’ll be the same with the rest because it’s the type of book you can get through very fast.

It falls in the category of teen fiction, and I guess that’s why I didn’t like it all that much. I’m not saying it was bad. I found it interesting and I did kind of like it, but I felt like something was missing. I guess this is the sort of book that when you’re at that age (around 16-17), you find it great, but I’m not a teen anymore (sadly :P ) and so I guess I’ve kind of grown out of it. But of course, this is only my opinion :D

Anyway, as you can probably see on the cover picture, it wasn’t originally published under the name Meg Cabot, but Jenny Carroll.

The book presents the story of Jessica Mastriani, a 16 year old girl, who gets hit by lightning and thus receives an amazing gift: she becomes psychic. This new ability helps her to find missing children, and she shares her knowledge through a hot-line dedicated just for this: 1-800-Where-R-You.

She soon becomes a sort of national hero and the government starts to have interest in her. For the sake of her family, she accepts to go to Crane Military Base for tests, but things start to get complicated as she hears that the case of one of the children she’s found didn’t turn out for the best.

The story, as I said, is interesting and if you’re looking for something you can go through quick and easy, then this is the book for you :)

If you want to read it online, you can do it here: When Lightning Strikes. You can also download it from there if you prefer to read it offline.

So, that’s all for now and next time I’ll be talking about book 2 of the series: “Code Name Cassandra”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Stephen King – The Eyes of the Dragon

Hi all!

As promised, I’m back with Stephen King’s “The Eyes of the Dragon” and I have to say, this story was quite a surprise for me.

When I think of Stephen King (and I’m sure it’s not just me), I think of horror stories. So you can imagine my surprise, when I read what this story was about. But it sounded interesting nonetheless and it did turn out quite captivating.

When I was small, I always enjoyed stories with kings and queens, dragons and wizards, and I had a kind of nostalgic feeling when I started reading this story. But as it turns out, it’s a bit more than just your ordinary fairytale.

The story presents the kingdom of Delain, ruled by king Roland, along with his right hand man, the wizard Flagg. But Flagg’s concern isn’t to help the kingdom, but rather to destroy it. And of course, the king doesn’t have a clue.

Roland, at a very late age, finally gets married and has two sons, Peter and Thomas, who grow up to be very different personalities. Peter is talented in everything he does and loved by the people of Delain. And Thomas… Well, you can imagine how he turns out, living in Peter’s shadow.

The story gets more interesting when Flagg discovers that if Peter will be king (and he eventually will), there will be no place for his evil doings in Delain. So he comes up with an evil plan to get rid of not only the old Roland, but also the young heir. His plan succeeds, but sadly for him, this isn’t the last he will hear of Peter.

The plot of the story is, as I said before, really captivating and the author pays much attention to detail, not only in the actions, but also in the psychological presentation of the characters. And considering this, I have to say that this story seems rather complex.

I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it, even for nostalgia’s sake :P And now that I’m finished with it, I kinda feel sad because it’s over. But I guess it’s always like this when I finish a good book :)

I don’t really know where you can read this one online, but if you want to download the ebook, you can do it here: The Eyes of the Dragon

I guess that’s all for now, and next time I’ll be talking about something a bit different: Meg Cabot’s first book from the 1-800-Where-R-You series, “When Lightning Strikes”.

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part XI

Hi all!

I know I haven’t been really active these past few weeks, but I have good reasons, I promise :D

I had to work overtime a bit, because last week I wanted to take a vacation, which I did. And it was great :) It felt good to travel a bit, see some new places. And, of course, some already familiar places, that are close to my heart :)

But time is passing, March is almost over, and I’m still not done with the Poe series. To be honest, I’m done with the reading part, the reviewing part is all that’s left. So let’s get to it :)

This time, I’ll be presenting 6 stories, just to get through them more quickly, because as I said in a previous post, I have other interesting books waiting to be read/reviewed :)

As usual, the titles are links to where you can read them online.

Mystification

This story is a shorter one, with not much of a plot, and frankly, not my favorite.

It presents the Baron Ritzner von Jung, who attends the same university as the narrator and they are close friends. On one occasion, the Baron is insulted an proposes an unusual method of settling the score. The story is actually about the outcome of the “duel”.

Loss of Breath

This is a story I read previously during an English class in highscool and it’s pretty funny.

It presents the narrator, who, arguing with his wife, literally loses his breath. He then feels that he has to leave his old life behind, and he does. His journey is quite eventful, one episode more amusing than the other, and in the end, he does find his breath again, but in the most unexpected place :D

The Man That Was Used Up

This story is an interesting one, with no great plot, but pretty amusing nonetheless. And in amusing I don’t actually mean funny, because although it has a funny side to it, it has a pinch of sadness.

The story presents the narrator, who is introduced to Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith, an interesting and very good looking man. The narrator is quite intrigued by his story and questions all his acquaintances about him, but they are always interrupted before they can actually reveal anything important. As a last resort, he goes to the general himself and is quite surprised by what he finds.

Mellonta Tauta

This story is a longer one, but quite interesting. Actually, not much happens, but it’s the ideas portrayed that really catch your eye.

The story is actually a sequence of letters, whose author is on a balloon ride in the year 2848. I really got interested when I saw the date, because I knew this meant that we will have a glimpse in the future as Poe sees it :)

It has interesting ideas, for instance that instead of the individual, the mass will be important. The narrator also talks about the “old” days, about the philosophies and science of actually the present. I really liked this story, and I would recommend it, because it is always interesting to see how a man from the past sees the future :)

The Thousand-And-Second Tale of Scheherazade

This story is a really interesting one, with bits of humor and satire here and there.

Basically, it presents the not well known last story of Scheherazade, which is a later adventure of Sinbad. This  adventure consists of a journey around the world, during which Sinbad witnesses a lot of things he never thought possible to exist. As we see from the footnotes, these are all real occurrences in an imaginary form, but the king, Scheherazade’s husband, thinks that it is nonsense. And this, of course, leads to a unexpected ending.

X-Ing A Paragrab

This is another shorter story, with a not really elaborate plot.

It presents Mr. Touch-and-go Bullet-head who moves to a new town and starts a magazine. To his disappointment, he finds out that there already is a magazine issuing there and the story basically presents the rivalry between the two.

Their confrontation is pretty amusing, and so is the end, when we find out what exactly the title means :)

Well, that’s all I got for today, but I’ll be back shortly with the next part :)

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part IV

Hi all :)

I’m back with Part 4 of the Poe series, again with 4 short-stories. As I said before, sometimes I found Poe’s language and use of expressions a bit difficult to follow, because English is not my native language, but as I read more and more of his stories, it doesn’t seem all that difficult anymore :) I am definitely enlarging my vocabulary, which is always a good thing :)

Anyway, enough about me, lets get to those stories :P As usual, the titles are links to where you can read them online :)

The Island of the Fay

This is a really beautiful story that I really loved. I love Poe, but I think this is the first time that he actually inspired me. I like to write, but I sometimes (actually, almost every time :P ) get sidetracked and don’t finish what I started to write. In these cases I need a little push or something that makes me want to write and finish what I started. And this story really made me feel like I want to finish one of my stories.

In this story (which actually is more of a contemplation than a story with a plot) the narrator talks about music, about God and the universe as he perceives it. In the second part, he describes an island, with the western half flourishing and beautiful, and the eastern half, having a more dark and melancholic image.

He contemplates upon the idea of life and death, as he follows the path of a fay circling the island. The setting sun adds to the atmosphere, and the whole seems really beautiful and sad at the same time.

Ligeia

This is another horror-ish story and I liked it, but still, not my favorite. I’m saying horror-ish, because it’s not so much scary, as in a bit disturbing and weird.

The story is about the beloved wife of the narrator, Ligeia, who is greatly admired and cherished. Her beauty is described in great detail, as well as her other admirable traits.

She soon falls ill and passes away, which leaves the narrator heartbroken. But, after some time, he does remarry, although his new wife, Lady Rowena doesn’t bring him as much joy as Ligeia did.

Weird things start to happen around them, accentuating more as Lady Rowena falls ill with no hope of her survival. And, as expected, there’s an interesting twist at the end :)

The Man of the Crowd

This is an interesting story, but not because of the plot. It presents the narrator, sitting in a coffee house and watching the crowd of people who pass by.

And the interesting thing is actually the way he really sees people. First, he looks for categories of people, identifying them by specific traits. Then he watches the faces, that quickly move by. And that’s when an old man catches his attention.

He starts to follow the old man, trying to figure him out. This goes on for more than a day, until he finally understands it. And it isn’t some intriguing secret that makes the old man so special. And if you think about it, he’s not all that different :)

Manuscript Found in a Bottle

This story is again an interesting one because of its theme. And maybe it’s just me, but when I saw the title, I was expecting a certain plot, but it wasn’t what I expected. And I kinda like this in a story/book when it’s not what it seems :)

The story presents the narrator at sea on a sailing ship. They, then, get into a storm and almost all of the people on board die. But the ship travels on and they soon encounter another ship. And that ship isn’t an ordinary one.

Somehow the narrator gets on board of the other ship and tells us about the crew. And the crew isn’t ordinary either.

By the end, we find out that we are actually reading the manuscript of the narrator, which could only mean one thing. And I won’t tell you what :P I think it’s an interesting story, so read it and find out :)

So, I guess that’s all for now and I’ll be back soon with Part V :D

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part III

Hi all :)

I as mentioned a couple of times, I really like Poe :P But as I read more of his stories, I seem to like him more and more, because as it turns out, he doesn’t have a great talent only to write horror stories and such. In fact, he touches a larger variety of themes, and it’s really nice to see when someone has this wide range of knowledge. So this is another good point in the ever growing list of “why I like Poe” :)

Anyway, this time I’ll be talking about 4 works again, and as before, you can read them by clicking on the title :) So here they are:

The Fall of the House of Usher

I have heard of this story from a friend, who said it was really interesting and really Poe-ish :) And she was right :) This is again a great example of Poe’s talent in describing scenes.

The story is about a childhood friend of the narrator, whom the narrator visits because of a letter. The house and its surroundings speak of desolation and of a certain melancholic decay. And, as expected, the image of the inhabitants of the house, a Mr. Roderick Usher and his sister, Madeline, mirror their surroundings. Roderick is as thin as a skeleton, not to mention his mental illness, and Madeline is soon found dead.

The story gets really creepy by the end and only in the last paragraph do we find the meaning of the title. But of course, we can view the title in more figurative ways also :)

This story reminded me of a little movie that I once saw, called “Vincent”. Actually the movie contains more references to Poe and it’s really very interesting. So if you want to see it, you can find it here (it’s only a few minutes long): Vincent.

The Gold Bug

I really loved this story, because it is really different from anything I’ve read of Poe so far. And it seems he never ceases to amaze me :)

In this story, we go on a treasure hunt with the narrator, his friend, William Legrand and Legrand’s servant, Jupiter. But of course, we don’t realize that it is in fact a treasure hunt at the beginning. What we do see is Legrand, acting very strange on finding an interesting bug and drawing a picture of it on a piece of paper.

Later we find out that it is no ordinary paper, but a parchment once belonging to Captain Kidd, containing an encrypted message. So the hunt begins and the hunters eventually stumble upon something unexpected and intriguing.

I liked this story for more reasons, the main one probably being my nerdy love for cryptography :P But it is also very well written, and despite being quite longer than the ones I’ve read so far, it keeps the reader interested in what’s going to happen next :)

Hop-Frog

This is another interesting and slightly different story about a court jester who takes revenge upon the king and his counselors for their malice.

At the beginning of the story we learn the sad fate of the jester Hop-Frog, who is a dwarf and a cripple, and his friend, Trippetta. Because of his appearance, Hop-Frog is frequently laughed at by the joke-loving king and his court. But Hop-Frog endures this somehow, wanting revenge only after the king humiliates Trippetta.

He disguises his grim plans of revenge as a practical joke the king and his eight counselors could play on the guests of the coming masquerade ball. And the unsuspecting king and his men fall right into his trap.

This story is interesting, but not really my favorite, but it’s worth reading as it touches themes like cruelty to the more unfortunate and the revenge of the oppressed.

The Imp of the Perverse

This story is again a bit different, as it ventures into analyzing human nature in one of its interesting features. This is, namely, the fact that many times we do things we shouldn’t, just because we aren’t supposed to.

In the first part of the story, the narrator contemplates upon this fact, and in the second part, we find out more about the narrator himself.

He has committed murder, thus inheriting a fortune. He lived happily for a while, knowing he won’t be caught, but at the end he is betrayed by this inexplicable feature of his nature.

I found it an interesting story because I really like reading stories/books on psychology or that touch the subject. So if you do to, then this story’s for you :)

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Stay tuned for Part IV of the series :)

And until then, have a nice day and a nice read :)

Edgar Allan Poe Shortstories Part II

Hi all :)

I’m back with part 2 of my Poe series and it seems this is going faster than I expected :D But that’s okay, because it means I’ll have time for all of the short-stories this month :) Any if I want to complete the challenge of reading 70 books this year then there’s no time to lose, so let’s get to it :D

I’ll be presenting 4 works as before and you can read them online by clicking the title :)

The Cask of Amontillado

In this story the narrator vows revenge, because a man named Fortunato insulted him. He devises a plan and using Fortunato’s ego against him, takes him down to his cellar to see if a cask of wine is indeed Amontillado.

Fortunato is really gullible and doesn’t want to give up on the trip, not even for the sake of his own health. And in the depths of the cellar, with no one to help him, the narrator takes his revenge on the unsuspecting and drunk Fortunato.

I didn’t find the story all that interesting, but it was okay nonetheless. But I think the way the narrator avenged himself was a bit twisted considering it was only an insult that caused it. But hey, since it’s a Poe story I guess the weird thing would be if it was logical :D

A Descent Into The Maelström

This story is again a bit different in theme, as it presents man against nature in a horrific battle. A fisherman from Norway tells the narrator about the most amazing and terrible experience of his life.

The story is about the fisherman and his two brothers who have to face a hurricane that drives them to the depths of the Maelström, a terrifying vortex swallowing everything in it’s path.

I liked the way the story was told, because I felt present, as if I were just witnessing all of it. And the story itself was actually kind of fascinating :)

Eleonora

This story is a really beautiful one, both in style and in content. I love the way Poe describes nature, because it always creates an atmosphere of grandeur or otherworldly beauty. And this story is the perfect example of that. Not to mention how he speaks of Eleonora, his cousin, who he loves.

The whole story has a melancholic atmosphere that makes it even more beautiful and it kind of reminds me of how we love, or at least should love, those things that are ephemeral.

The sweetness of it all gets you by the heart :) And as most of Poe’s stories, this one has an interesting ending which is open to contemplation.

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

This is another quite disturbing story, for more reasons. First of all, it is about keeping a dead man alive, so to speak, and talking with him. And second of all, the story contains really grotesque images. But it is interesting nonetheless :D

As I said before, the story is about the narrator who tries something quite peculiar: he hypnotizes one of his friends on the verge of dying, thus keeping him “alive”. But he is not actually alive, but is able to answer the questions of the narrator.

What I liked about this story is that it had a really interesting concept and also, it leaves room for discussion when they talk about awakening M. Valdemar from his trance. I find this an interesting thing to talk about, because it touches philosophy and ethics, with concern to death, the existence and role of the soul in this world and the next, the link between body and soul, and not to mention the right of someone to decide weather a man should live or die. I think that until now, this was the story that made me think and wonder the most :)

So that’s pretty much it for now and I’ll be back soon with Part III :)

Until then, have a nice day and a nice read! :)

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