Tuesday, August 31, 2010


by Charles Dickens

The story is about a boy, named Pip, who is raised by his evil sister and Joe her kindhearted husband. They lived in poverty. So when Miss Havisham a rich eccentric woman asks Pip to come to her house just to see him playing and offers some money for it, his family is more than willing to fulfill Miss Havisham’s wish. She is disillusioned in love; her beautiful stepdaughter, who was raised to break men’s hearts, is selfish and unable to love anyone. She is a cold-hearted master manipulator. So when Pip sees the girl for the first time he falls in love with her. He doesn’t hope that she will love him back because he is poor and uneducated, he doesn’t think he is good enough for her. About the same time there were two escaped convicts from the jail and Pip happens to meet one of them named Magwitch. Pip was frightened after such a meeting and was forced into helping Magwitch to get some food. After Pip helps him, a few days later he finds out that Magwitch is back in jail again. Years later after trying to forget this encounter, an attorney appears at his family’s house. He introduces himself as the legal representative of a wealthy person who wants to remain anonymous. That person wants to make a gentleman out of Pip, by educate him and leaving him a fortune. Everyone in Pip’s family is thankful and excited, but wondering who that person could be. The only person they can think of is Miss Havisham, but what a shock when they discover who that person is…

This is quite a thick book, so I needed some time to get the courage to start reading it. I had heard it could be long and boring, but was happy to find it enjoyable and easy to read. I know many people might disagree with me on that, but I think Dickens lovers will appreciate this great novel.


by George Orwell
This is a frightening and depressing vision of the world with no freedom to do what you like or speak about any subject with anyone you wish, not even the freedom to think…

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

That was the slogan of the Party.

Winston Smith is a man, living in Oceania a totalitarian country. The Party has incredible power on the people living there. They are like robots that do whatever the Party and Big Brother wants them to do. No one dares to disagree with the Party. They are watched by the police day and night who control their every thought; they are betrayed by their families and loved ones. They are forced to believe, agree and obey, and love their leader - Big Brother. Winston Smith is watching all this nonsense around him. The past can be changed and no one would notice it, he feels like he is the only one person who can see the reality. He wishes he could find other like minded people to join against the Party. He meets Julia, a girl at work who hates the Party as much as he does. So both of them join a group of people, whose leader is Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of Big Brother. After seven years in that group, Winston and Julia are betrayed by O’Brien, the man they trusted and believed was against the Party as well. O’Brien’s men arrest them and torture them in the most horrific ways. It’s all because the Party doesn’t just kill their enemies, they change them…

I loved “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, so I couldn’t wait to read 1984. I must say this is one of the scariest and most powerful books I have ever read. There was many times I wanted to stop, it was so negative and depressing, especially all those descriptions of O’Brien torturing Winston. I couldn’t imagine there could be so much cruelty in one book… This book will stay on your mind all the time you are reading it and will change the way you think. It really makes you appreciate the world we are living in. This is not a book for everyone.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Cider House Rules

by John Irving

Dr. Wilbur Larch is the founder and director of an orphanage in the town of St. Cloud. Orphanage is not only a place where all abandoned kids live; it’s a place in Maine, where women from all over the state are coming to deliver babies or to get an abortion, that was illegal at the time. Dr. Larch has dedicated all of his life to make this choice possible – to deliver the baby or to perform an abortion. Homer Wells is Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan, who was never adopted. Well actually he was adopted several times, but they always brought him back to an orphanage. So at one point he was too old to be adopted; nobody would want to adopt a 10 years old boy. They prefer babies, so Homer grows up spending most of his time at the hospital with Dr. Larch helping him. So after a while Dr. Larch discovers Homer’s talent in medicine and dreams that the boy would stay on at the orphanage after he retired. One day a young beautiful couple in a nice car stops by an orphanage. All the children hope they are here to adopt one of them and they are very disappointed when they find out that the young woman is only here to have an abortion. They are even more disappointed when the couple becomes close friends with Homer and decide to take him home with them. They didn’t adopt him because he was the same age as them. They just brought him to work for the summer at the apple farm. This was the first time for Homer to have some real friends, traveling so far from home even seeing the ocean… On that day when he leaves it’s obvious to Dr. Wilbur Larch that Homer will not be coming back…

This is a thick book; a little over a 1000 pages, but don’t worry about the amount of pages, it is well worth the time. When I was reading it, I felt like I really knew the characters. John Irving is a great author who makes his characters alive and the book unforgettable.

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

It is a beautiful love story of Jane, an unattractive governess, and Edward Rochester, the man who owns the house Jane is working in. Jane is an orphan, growing up in her aunt’s house, who dislikes her. Once Jane was old enough, she was sent to a school, far away from home, where she studied and later worked as a teacher. She was comfortable, but she didn’t feel like this was how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. So she found a job as a governess for a little French girl. Finally Jane was truly happy, she enjoyed every day at her new job. She loved her work and all the people in the house were so nice even Mr. Rochester loved to spend time with her. So after a while they became very good friends. Everything was so good, that Jane couldn’t imagine leaving his house any time soon. So when sometimes during the night weird things would happen in the house… One night she had heard the sound of a woman screaming with a devils voice… Another night she even saved Mr. Rochester’s life from burning alive in his own bed. Jane was more than sure that the woman who had started the fire. So Jane was very surprised when Mr. Rochester told her not to talk to anyone about her suspicions… As the time passed Jane and Edward became closer and closer. Even if there were many misunderstandings and tears, one day Edward proposed to Jane. She couldn’t imagine being any happier. So when the wedding day came Jane and Mr. Rochester were in the church when something unexpected and shocking happened…

This is one of my favorite books that I found thanks to another great book - “The Cider House rules”. In that book a boy in an orphan house was reading “Jane Eyre” and “David Copperfield” to the other children. He thought “Jane Eyre” was one of the greatest novels ever written even though he had read only two books in his life. I was curious to see if he was right and that “Jane Eyre” was really that good… so as soon as I finished “The Cider House rules” I started “Jane Eyre” and YES, it really was THAT good! There is such a wide spectrum of emotions in this book. Jane seems to be so strong and yet so fragile in the same time. Edward Rochester was an arrogant, rude almost cruel, yet so touching, sweet and loving with Jane. I think this is a book that everyone would enjoy. Anyone who appreciates the classics, love stories or simply well written books will simple love this book, it’s excellent!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

One night all animals at the farm had a meeting. That night a vision about new better living is given to the animals by a pig named Major. They were being mistreated by Mr. Jones, working hard and badly fed. All the animals would be equal, not working too hard; they would have a day off and a better food. Everyone saw it like a great idea and so the animals overtook the farm. Their leaders were two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. For some time all was well, every animal was content with the changes, but then, after a while they noticed that they were working as hard as before, food was not enough except for the pigs. So when the animals spoke up, they got the answer from the pigs that it’s all right and most likely your memory is bad. ..

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but it is funny, sad and rich with allegories, a truly brilliant fairy tale for adults. It is a short read; you can read it in a couple of hours. Classics, that everyone should read!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stories of Anton Chekhov

I read this book in Latvian; it seems there must be a little different selection of stories in the English version. My book had 15 short stories. Here are my favorite ones:

“A Boring story”

A story of a dying professor’s self analysis. Chekhov doesn’t waist words in any of his stories, but still the characters in this book are so vivid and realistic. In this story the professor spends his days thinking about his famous name, which doesn’t help him any more now that he is slowly dying. The author shows the relationship between the professor, his family and his step-daughter Katia. The people who used to be his closest are now changed. He didn’t even notice when it happened, it’s like living with strangers. He shares a house with them, but is still lonely. A sad, but beautiful story.

“The Man in a Case”

Belikov is a teacher of Greek. He is hiding himself in heavy, thick clothes and wearing rubber galoshes even on the hottest days of summer. Everyone in the school, including his colleges, is afraid of him. He strictly follows all of the rules and in his opinion – what’s not allowed is strictly prohibited. He is hiding his thoughts behind a wall of never ending rules. He is like a shadow that everyone tries to avoid. The day of his funeral is considered a good day for all of his coworkers and students. They all feel relieved that no one is watching them anymore.

“The Lady with the little dog”

Gurov is a married man who loves to spend his time with other women. As fast as he gets excited and passionate about every new encounter he gets bored just as fast. He has never been in love. Then he meets Ann, the lady with the little dog. The story between them begins as usual for him and looks like it will end like that as well. Ann is also married, but she is shy and an old-fashion woman. She falls in love with Gurov, and so does he, though he doesn’t realize it at the time.

This is the most famous story of Anton Chekhov. A heartbreaking story about impossible love.

I enjoyed the book from the very first pages till the end. The author paints a perfect picture of 19th century Russia. Chekhov is one of my new favorite authors now and I will look forward to read more of his stories and plays. I can recommend this author to all those who enjoyed works of Dostoyevsky or Bulgakov.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

Mariam is just five years old when she hears the word harami for the first time. She is harami an illegitimate child. She lived in poverty with her mother while her father a wealthy man, lived with his wife and kids in a big house. He was visiting Mariam and she adored her father and was always happiest when they were together. The only thing she dreamed about was to be with him always. So one day she decides to visit her father in his house. From there all the tragic things start in her life. Because she has gone to see her father, her mother kills herself. Now Mariam has no place to stay, so Jalil, her father, takes her to his house. She was only fifteen when Jalil told her that she was going to marry Rasheed – an older man from Kabul. They got married and all is well until they discover that Mariam can’t have children, from that day Rasheed changes, he is unhappy about everything she does, he ignores her, doesn’t talk to her, if he does he yells at her and beats her. Mariam has come to accept it, but then Rasheed brings home an orphan named Laila, a young beautiful girl, who was hurt when a bomb hit her house. Rasheed and Mariam are taking care of her until she recovers. When she finally gets well, Rasheed asks her to marry him. He adores her and is always sweet to her so when Laila gets pregnant, he’s happier than he ever. Now Mariam is suffering even more as he gets more and more rude with her. In his mind he is fair to both of them and explains it like this: “if Mariam was a car she would be a Volga, but Laila would be a Benz. A brand-new, first class, shiny Benz”. A Few days later everything changes in Laila’s life forever…

This is my first book by Khaled Hosseini, but it won’t be my last. The author himself is from Afghanistan and all the things he writes about were really shocking to me, especially about all the women in Afghanistan. How abused and submissive they are, I couldn’t stop feeling their pain. The story was deeply moving, with unexpected twists, surprises and heartbreaking. An unforgettable book.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Memoirs of a Geisha

by Arthur Golden

The story starts out in 20th century Japan, where a young girl named Sayuri, who’s only 9 years old, is sold by her father to a geisha house. As her childhood passes away she works hard to pay back her purchase price. She learns all the things that a geisha should know. The author shows both sides of a geisha’s life – the good one and the sad one. She is an idol and a slave at the same time.

The story is so absorbing that at times it seems so true and realistic. You almost forget that it’s fiction, it’s so well written. An absolutely amazing book! Everyone who enjoys historical fiction will love this one as well.

The remains of the day

by Kazuo Ishiguro

The book is about Stevens a butler in Lord Darlington’s house. When Mr. Darlington dies, the house is sold to an American gentleman who spends most of his time in America. He suggests to Stevens that he should take a few days off. Stevens decides to travel around England for 6 days. During this journey he spends most of his time to remember the good old days.

As I started reading this book I thought it might be a boring one, instead it turned out to be an emotional and heartbreaking journey for me as well. You will not find a lot of action in this book. I would say it’s a sad story of what didn’t happened. What really makes this book a great read is how well detailed Steven’s personality, emotions and thoughts are described. Every sentence is simply perfect. Definitely must read for those who don’t mind a slower pace.

The five people you meet in heaven

by Mitch Albom

The book begins with the end of Eddie’s life. He was a grumpy old man, who lived, but didn’t see the sense of his own life, he felt like it was a waist. Eddie dies trying to save a little girl’s life. When he “wakes up” he finds himself in heaven where he meets 5 different people who were important in his life. Not all of them he knew, but each of them had affected his life and he had changed their destinies without even knowing it.

It’s an unusual explanation about the afterlife, sweet and moving, it will make you think and cry. A fairy tale you want to believe in.


by Colleen McCullough

This is a beautiful story of unconditional love.

Tim is an incredibly attractive 25 year old man with the mind of a child. From the very first pages the author makes you fall in love with Tim because of his warm heart and simply outspoken personality. Mary Horton is a woman in her 40ies, living a secluded life and spending most of her time at work. Every day is the same for her until the day she meets Tim. He lightens her up and changes her life completely. It’s exciting to follow how the relationship develops between them, from a simple friendship and Mary’s wish to help him into true love. They are so different that many people (even Tim’s sister) disapprove and are unable to understand their love. Even the author says: They are the world’s most unique couple.

There are so many beautiful romantic love stories written, but this one is very special and deserves to be read.

Eat, Pray, Love

by Elizabeth Gilbert

In this book Elizabeth Gilbert tells a true story about finding herself. After a difficult divorce, she decides to take a year off from everything: her life, her work, her ex-husband and her boyfriend. She just wanted some time only for herself. Time to do what she always wanted to do but didn’t for one reason or another. She travels to three countries: Italy, to learn Italian, enjoy good food and the simple pleasure of doing nothing at all. Next on to India, to spend 3 month in her guru ashram learning to calm down her mind and heal her soul. Then off to Bali, where she finds balance and true love.

I had an on again off again relationship with this book. At first I wasn’t very impressed, yet by the time I finished the book I could honestly say it was worth the read.

The Pigeon

by Patrick Suskind

Jonathan Noel is just an ordinary man living in Paris, working as a security guard at a local bank. His only goal in life is to be invisible, where nothing really happens; nothing disturbs the monotony of his life. For many long years he lived just like that… till one morning when the pigeon alters his life forever.

When I started to read “The Pigeon” I had already read “Perfume” which I found to be an exquisitely written book, so I was a little let down at first, but in the end I still enjoyed it.

Perfume: the story of a murder

by Patrick Suskind

The story takes place in 18th century France, where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born lacking any personal odour at all. After a difficult childhood where nobody really wanted him, he was finally traded to a perfumer, where he learned to refine his incredible gift of smell. One day while walking the streets of Paris he discovers the scent of a beautiful young girl; it was unlike anything he had ever smelled before. He became so obsessed with the smell and the idea of creating the perfect perfume, one that no one could resist. After that day Jean-Baptiste embarks on a series of horrifying murders.

“Perfume” is one of my favorite books. The scents are so detailed and vividly described I could almost smell them myself. The language in this novel is so rich and enjoyable that even if the story was less appealing it would still make a great book, one that you have to read.