Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Twenty-Four (Bookish) Things

I first saw this meme from Brona's; who has adapted an existing meme into this bookish one to highlight some of her forgotten TBR piles. It's fun, and really helpful, so I work one too.

Our family bookcase

*4 Books on My Desk*

The Bright Side of Life by Émile Zola
Because I just can’t wait till #Zoladdiction2019 in April! In my defense, I’m reading it very slowly, devouring everything while taking notes, that I think I will finish it on April anyway. 😁

Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
I have actually started this two weeks ago, but I was in no mood for another biography, after getting quite bored with The Black Count. I might take it back after Zoladdiction.

The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein
Another non-fiction; but I read this one to prepare for a post I plan to publish during Zoladdiction (if I have enough time to do it!)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
Have started this a few weeks ago too, but neither a biogrpahy nor a detective story could keep me from reading Zola (I’m a chronic Zoladdict!)

*4 Books on the Bottom of the Pile*

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
I can’t even remember how or where did I find this book. It must have been when I often shopped at the local second-hand book market, like a century ago. Should read this soon, maybe this year.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
This is actually the second copy I owned. I bought the first one (with movie-cover) from second-hand book market. Few years later someone sold her collections, and the Wordsworth Classic edition of this book was included. I bought it, and sold my own. However, until now I still can’t manage to read it, shame on me!

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
Similar to Nicholas Nickleby. In fact, this was perhaps one of the first books I bought when I seriously thought of investing in classic books. So sorry, Martin... I mean Dickens!

The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King
Talking about TBR Pile, I also have a digital pile in my phone! This book is among the first I acquired last year. Now that I’m in for Agatha Christie Perpetual Reading Challenge, this one might have to wait a little much longer!

*4 Books New to the TBR*

The Divine Comedy by Dante (John Ciardy’s translation)
Preparing this for Adam’s coming readalong of Dante’s Divine Comedy. After years of indecisive quest of THE translation I should read, I finally made up my mind on John Ciardi’s. Hopefully I made the right decision!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Have read a lot of good reviews on this, I’m excited to read it... hopefully very soon!

Under the Net by Irish Murdoch
This book has been on my wishlist for years, but I was still unsure about Irish Murdoch. Until Brona’s review convinced me to try.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
John Grisham is always one of my “autobuy” authors. Bad news is he produces books MORE regularly than my reading of his books (and it’s certainly not healthy for my cedit card!) Thus, I was deligthed when my secret santa gave me this last Christmas! Now... I must find time to read this before Grisham publishes another book. (Oh! He has!! {-_-})

*4 Books that Won Awards*

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I plan to read this for next Halloween. And this is one of the books I buy for its beautiful cover!

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
A winner of Pulitzer prize... must read this soon!

The Martian by Andy Weir
It’s actually an impulse buying, because I’m a fan of Matt Damon (whose face is on the cover!). But there are good reviews about the book (I quite loved the movie). It also won the Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Science Fiction in 2014 (and I rather trust Goodreads readers than a bunch of literary cristics anyway), so, why not?

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood by Frank McCourt
I bought this from a friend, having heard praises about it for years. And only today did I realized it has actually won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1997. Well, another biography to read!

*4 Books I’m Keen to Read ASAP*

His Excellency Eugene Rougon by Émile Zola
Only four books from the Rougon-Macquart series which I haven’t read yet. This is one of them, along with The Bright Side of Life. I have ordered a copy of The Dream (it’s still on the way to Indonesia), which left only Doctor Pascal (of which OUP has not yet published its latest translation) to complete my collection.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
This will be my first Gaskell, which makes me excited, but also intimidated by its length. But, to be honest, I’m rather craving for Victorian reads right now! Helena from @reading.the.classics is hosting #elizabethgaskell2019 readalongs in Instagram, and I will join in for North and South on May.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Besides two Christmas short stories which I read (and loved) last year, I haven’t yet read any Trollope. This year, Sir, I promise!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
As I wrote above, I WILL read this on Halloween!

*4 Books I’m Thinking of Discarding Unread*

Now this is, by far, the most useful segment! I live in an apartement, thus do not have much space for keeping my books; ‘only’ one family book case (my mom and dad’s is a quarter of it, and the rest is mine – I’m a bad child, I know!) which is now almost full. I need to discard books which do not ‘spark joy’ anymore, to get space for the new ones. I will definitley discard more than 4, but these ones are for sure:

Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough
It was a longtime-ago-birthday-gift from my bookish bestfriend: Melisa, who is familiar with my obsesion with Ancient Roman things. I would have been thrilled about this one, but after having browsed some pages, I found it uninteresting (I have failed McCullough’s The Thorn Birds long ago, and I’m not sure I want to read anymore from her for the time being). So.... sorry Mel!

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
It’s an on-and-off book for me, meaning that one time I’m keen on reading it, but next I’d be intimidated, then really braved myself to read it, but put it down again in the end. I WILL read it at any rate, but for now I’ll just discard my copy (Indonesian translation which is meh!), and will buy an e-book when I’m ready to take it!

The Turk and My Mother by Mary Helen Stefaniak
I kept wondering why I have (bought?) this one in the first place. Anyway, I must have thrown it away long ago....

Perempuan Bernama Arjuna by Remy Sylado
Remy Sylado is an Indonesian writer, and this book is supposed to be the Indonesian version of Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World – a novel from which you can learn about history of philosophy in a fun way. I was curious at that time, but it just does not spark joy anymore....! :)

How about your TBR pile? Are they under control? ;)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

The third published detective novel of Dame Agatha Christie brings us to Northern France, to a village called Merlinville-sur-Mer. Hercule Poirot has been enjoying a successful career of a private detective since his triumph in Styles case. He is now sharing a room in London with his companion-sidekick: Captain Arthur Hastings, who would take again his role as narrator for this story.

It all begins when Hastings met a French girl on the train to London. She's anything but a lady: bold, independent, temperamental; type of girl the old-fashioned Hastings dislikes. But he was somehow smitten by this girl, who gave her name as "Cinderella" before she left Hastings at the end of the journey. The next morning Poirot received a letter from a French millionaire Paul Renauld, urging Poirot to come to his residence Villa Genevieve, because he feels his life is in danger. Intrigued, Poirot and Hastings departed in no time, only to find out on their arrival, that Renauld has been murdered the night before.

Now, this story is the exact opposite of The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1). Styles is a very simple case; so simple that it looks—but in the eyes of Hercule Poirot—like a household accident. But The Murder on the Links is full of extravagant clues and evidences. First of all, the body was found in a newly dug grave on a golf course (hence the 'Links' on the title) behind Villa Genevieve. M. Renauld was stabbed in the back with a tailor-made letter opener knife, souvenir of war from Jack Renauld, his son. Madame Renauld was bound and gagged by two masked foreign men, who forced Paul to hand them a "secret". The day before, Jack Renauld and Paul's chauffer was sent away from the vicinity. Their neighbor, a mysterious lady who lives with her beautiful daughter, Madame Daubreuil, was known to have deposited a large amount of money into her bank account for the last months. There was also some mention about Santiago-South America, where Paul Renauld had had some business. Then a second corpse was found inside a shed, with an identical letter opener stabbed into his chest! The last piece of the riddle is a love letter inside Paul Renauld's coat pocket, which was signed by Bella Duveen, the search of whom led our detectives to a couple of acrobatic actresses: The Dulcibella Sisters, one of whom was none other than Hastings' love interest: Cinderella!

Can you imagine a fast paced investigation, with a handful of plot twist and deceit, and a romantic love story (in Hastings' part)? You guess correctly. Add a snob Sûreté detective, who mocked and insulted Poirot's style, and then on became Poirot’s nemesis into the scene, and you'll find a hugely entertaining novel!

Of Poirot-Hastings cases, I have always a soft spot for this one. I loved Poirot's fatherly feelings for Hastings, their relationship changed from mere detective-sidekick to a more affectionate term. I loved their bantering over Hastings' romantic-sentimental view on the case investigations (especially when involving young beautiful women, LOL!). But I loved specially how Hastings represents common people, aka the readers; who are often deceived by sentimentality and action in crime cases, and rarely using—as Poirot often stressed it—‘our little gray cells'; who, when falling in love, would recklessly commit foolish things, or even attack our master if we thought he would put danger to our beloved. Hercule Poirot is always a kind demi-god, almost supernatural human, but Hastings is... well... just one of us!

Last thing… Of the three books I have read so far, I perceived something which I have missed on my first reading, which is the shifting women role in the world after World War I. I first noticed this from Hastings' surprise that a decent girl (Cinderella) could have had interests in a gory murder scene; that, and Cinderella's raw language, and her boldness. Then I also remembered Tuppence in The Secret Adversary. There also seems to be a pattern here (Secret Adversary and Murder on the Links); old fashioned men attracted to modern women. Moreover the center figures of the three books are always women: Mrs. Ingelthorp and Evelyn Howard in Styles, Jane Finn and Tuppence in Secret Adversary, and most distinguished is Murder on the Links which are full of strong and brave women: Mrs. Renauld, Bella, Madame Dabreuil, and Marthe Dabreuil, even Cinderella; and Christie really made a significant contrast here between the men and the women.

Considering all this, 5 / 5 is a fair credit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Announcing Zoladdiction 2019 | #Zoladdiction2019 – Sign Up

Get ready, Zoladdicts!… coz Zoladdiction will be back in less than a month! For you who aren’t familiar with it, Zoladdiction is a yearly dedication to the French Naturalist writer: Émile Zola. For a month every April we will do Zola-ish things. Why April? Because it’s Zola’s birth month (he’s born on 2nd April 1840). The main object is to promote or (if you haven’t known him) to get to know Zola’s writing and works. And I can guarantee you, in the process you’ll have so much fun! ;) I have been hosting this for six years now, and am very much hoping that you’d join me this year!

What will we do? Let’s get down to it…

Signing up

  • To help spreading the words, this year I encourage you to post on your blog or social media your participation in Zoladdiction,. But it’s really up to you; you are free to participate silently too if you want.. :) Want to list books you plan to read? You’re welcome! We’ll be delighted to find a reading partner! (^_-)
  • Next, put link to your (blog or social media) post in the linky below, so we all know who we’re having fun with!
  • The linky will be closed in 30 days, but you’re free to join in anytime during April.
  • Share your posts on Twitter and/or Instagram, with hashtag #Zoladdiction2019.


  • Read anything Zola: books by him – you can look in here for inspiration, books about Zola (fiction or nonfiction), or Zola’s short stories, or just essays about Zola’s works. You can read only one work, or as many as you want.
  • Write a review for books you read, it can be on blog or just a few sentences on your Twitter or Instagram, then put the link in the linky below Master Post (will be published on 1st April). The linky will be up around the 15th or 20th, and will be there for a month, so you will have about two weeks to finish your review.
  • Share your posts on Twitter and/or Instagram, with hashtag #Zoladdiction2019


  • Not only reviews, you can post anything about Zola. You just found something interesting about Zola’s personal life, perhaps? Or you feel like writing an essay about his writing style? Just share it with us!
  • Don’t forget to link it up in the linky (same linky with the reviews).
  • For more fun…. I have provided some prompts to get you creative :) You may post on Instagram, Twitter, or blog, anyway suits you. Use hashtag #Zoladdiction2019 on Twitter and Instagram.
  • I can only think up to 11 prompts so far, so if you have ideas, please share, I’d be more than glad to use it!
  • You can post whenever you want during April, and you can repeat each prompt as many times as you can.
  • Only for number 2, let us post on April 2nd to celebrate Zola’s birthday! If you are too busy to post regularly, I’d be grateful if you can join us at least on this one only

Here are they:

My Zola stack – show off your stack for #Zoladdiction2019

02 (only on April 2nd)
My Zoladdiction – today is Zola’s birthday; how deep is your love for (or just knowledge about) Zola? Show us! (selfie or shelfie is allowed) (^_-)


1st lines – of the book you’re reading

I’m reading Zola – show us the proof! 😏

Zola Scholar – introduction or notes from editor (or author - if non-Zola) of book you’re reading

My Edition – book cover show-off time!

Chapter capture – capture 1st page of the chapter you’re in!

Gets Artsy! – painting or other arts related to the book you’re reading!

Zola the man – personal or family photos which intrigued you

Landscape – Zola was an Impressionist at heart, and novel was his canvas! Capture these from book you’re reading!

Lighting – Like a painter, lighting and angle was important for Zola in presenting his scenes. Capture these from book you’re reading!

I will make an e-poster of these prompts to be posted on IG and Twitter, for easy reminder. If you haven’t, please follow me on IG and/or Twitter: @fanda_a to get updates on #Zoladdicton2019.

And now, I’m sooo exciting to begin! Aren’t you? ;)