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there is no place I cannot go
09 May 2012 @ 10:02 pm

So, a little index can be of use, I guess. It refers to the challenge issued on jdbracknell journal. It's all about the books I've read and liked/loved ever since I've been able to read.

  1. Daddy Long Legs, Jean Webster
  2. The Wire in the Blood, Val McDermid
  3. The Peloponnesian War, Donald Kagan
  4. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
  5. My secret garden, Frances H Burnett
  6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Alborn
  7. Tistou les pouces verts, Maurice Druon

Books to be talked about at some point :

Belle du Seigneur (Albert Cohen)
Pythagore je t'adore (Patrick Cauvin)
Bitten (Kelley Armstrong)
Tales of the City (Armistead Maupin) 
Deux pour une  (Eric Kastner)
Michael Tolliver lives (Armistead Maupin)
Le Lion (Joseph Kessel)
Le vieil homme et la mer (Ernest Hemingway)
Le petit Prince (St Exupéry)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
Lettres d'amour de 0 à 10 (Susie Morgenstern)
The Hours (Michael Cunningham)
Maurice (E.M Forster)
A home at the end of the universe (Michael Cunningham)
Gods Behaving Badly (Marie Phillips)
Babylon AD (Maurice G Dantec)
How cooking made us human (Richard Wrangham)
Grass (Sheri S Tepper)
The Jason Bourne Trilogy (Robert Ludlum)
Vent d'Est Vent d'Ouest (Pearl Buck)
Comment on né / Comment on meurt (Emile Zola)
Persuasion (Jane Austen)
Le faucheur (Terry Pratchett)
Moby Dick (Hermann Melville)
Histoires comme ça (Rudyard Kipling)
Georges Bouton, Explomigrateur (Gerard Moncomble)
Lettres de mon moulin (Alphonse Daudet)
Les petites filles modéles (Comtesse de Ségur)
Le Magasin des enfants (Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont)
Bleu sur la peau (Gilles del Pappas)
Avec vu sur l'Arno (E.M. Forster)
D'etranges visiteurs (Short stories)
This Book Will Save Your Life (A M Homes)
A la poursuite d'Olympe (Annie Jay)

Current Location: Angers
there is no place I cannot go
14 July 2012 @ 11:14 pm
It's been a while since I've done this, but I'm back with my very first foray into science-fiction.

It's a YA book and I can't recall whereas it was a book we had to read for class or if I ended up buying it on my own.

It's the story of Charley who discovers, on his birthday that he really is CHARLEy, an experiment created to test the ability of human under duress. So he runs from the Factory, the only house he has ever known. He runs into a container and soon enough, he wakes up on Vulcain, the garbage planet. There, on the soft dusty cushion around one of the volcan that exist on the planet, he meets the girl collecting recyclables in the bin he arrived in.

She introduces him to the society of the planet, divided between rich people living on a island far from where the containers are unloaded, and the others, who are making a living by going up the volcanoes hills to get every scrap they can get from the containers.

There's the hero's girlfriend getting an uncurable malignant disease, there's the hero being chased by his owners, there's the hero giving them the finger and meeting the son of the top guy of the island, and there are some blackmail and selfless sacrifice. And the fluffiest, cutest piece of bio engineering.

It's a very environmentally driven piece of scifi, and a good way to introduce sceptic readers of the genre, like me, into the world of soft scifi.

Also, the drawings are really good.

there is no place I cannot go
13 May 2012 @ 11:02 pm
7. Tistou les pouces verts

Do you recall the book that made you fall in love with books? The book that you read and suddenly you discovered that there was something behind kiddy books, big letters and flashy drawings. The book that made you realise that there were authors that took kids for intelligent beings. The book that opened wide a door you had only seen from afar?

My book was Tistou Les Pouces-Verts.

Maurice Druon was a member of the Académie Française, the highest french temple of french litterature whose member are elected by the current residents, who are called The Immortals. To get out of L'Academie, you have to die. Only then are you replaced. And to get the seat, you need to be voted in by The Immortals. Not always an easy task, as the current candidates can attest.

So not only could Maurice Druon write but he tended to write historical stories, for a mature, adult and educated audience. Not always the kind of author you expect a children book from.

A yet he wrote this classic children tale, a poetic take on the life of a little boy whose dad is an arm dealer. A child who, as it turns out, has green thumbs. He can make flowers grow everywhere. He makes roses grow in the hospital, some other flowers grow over the jailhouse and so what can happen, when Tistou decides to see what happens if he touches Daddy dearest tanks?

It's a book about children who decides that adults who don't know better should be shown better by children. It's about a child that threaten the adults with his decision, it's a child that is loved by his parents and who has them re-evaluate some things by seeing their son being himself. It's a book about a child who decides to walk all the ways to the stars.

Maurice Druon died in 2009. He was like my childhood hero, the man who opened a door for me, who gave me a gift that keeps on giving.
there is no place I cannot go
10 May 2012 @ 10:36 am
6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I was quite reluctant about reading that one. My friend Rebekka raved about it and everytime we where into an Indigo bookstore, she'd try to get me to read it.

The thing is, I'm not always a big fan of books that have high religious undertone in their title or story, mostly because half the time the story tries to get me to choke on the religious views of the writer.

But here I was, in Ottawa's airport, without a book to read on my way to Toronto and as I browsed thru the bookstore in the departure lounge, I came to see the title proeminently displayed and remembered Rebekka's raving.

It was a quick read, and I liked it enough to thank Rebekka for the recommendation.

The story is the one of Eddie, a maintenance man who works at Ruby Pier. In the course of his day, he goes on to save the life of a little girl, and dies while doing so. Eddie then goes on to meet five persons whose lifes has affected him and has been affected by him.

What I liked is that even though it is heavily christian orientated, we after all, talk about Heaven here, it is written in such an intelligent way that it is easy to get into the story and let the author takes you by the hand to make you walk into the world he has created.

It's a story that can be read in an afternoon, with a mug of tea, and once you're finished, it's a story you give to your friends, for them to spend a nice afternoon, with a mug of tea.
Current Location: Angers
there is no place I cannot go
08 May 2012 @ 01:30 pm
5. My secret garden

I saw the movie in 1993, during the journey from Paris to Chicago. I think it was my second journey to the states, but then again, my memories of dates are a bit fuzzy. Anyway, saw this movie, at the time when one had no choice of the movie seen on the multiple screens and for once it was a movie for kids (seriously, saw Nell on another transatlantic journey, was traumatized for years after that).

As soon as we landed back in France, I begged mum to buy me the book, because I had adored the movie. It had everything. Strange places (India and Yorkshire), old places, secrets, friendships, forbidden places, grumpy old people ... It was about kids my age, which is also a good thing to get one into the story. The story was about a little girl and it was sooo easy to imagine it was me, in India, me in the old manor.

It's the story of Mary, sole survivor of an epidemy of cholera in her indian village, who is shipped back to England, to an uncle she has never seen and don't care much about. Mary is a spoiled child, has always been dependent of her indian nannies and lived in the shadow of her mother. She never knew how to love and how to smile. Mary doesn't play well with others and I remember thinking more than once that had I replied as such to my parents, I would have received a nice slap on my bottom.

So Mary arrives in the stuffy manor, her uncle is nowhere to be seen, the governor is not used to spoiled girls and Mary really really hates it all, including her maid. But this maid is going to be her salvation, along with the kilometers of untouched corridors, the closed rooms and the untold secret she has yet to discover.

One day, in the garden, she stumbles accross a key and soon discover that behind a closed door, an unkept garden. Soon enough, it becomes her secret place, shared only with a bird. One day, she hears the sound of the flute and comes into knowing Dickon, the brother of Mary's maid, who helps in the gardens. Mary ends up showing him her garden and together they work into giving the garden its beauty.

But the garden is not the only secret that is held in the Manor. And soon Mary is going to meet Colin, her cousin. His mother died giving birth to him and since then, he has been kept inside, on his bed. He is a frail child and no one speaks of him.

The story is about a little girl who learns to be a little girl, who learns to smile and play with others. It's the story of a boy who hates everything and can't walk, who will learn to like people and to maybe, put one foot in front of the other. It's the story of an old man, who feels like dead on the inside and who will smile again, thanks to a group of kid.

I loved this book and even now, I still enjoy it very much.
there is no place I cannot go
07 May 2012 @ 07:52 pm
Just a quick hello to all of you I've added today following the 100 things masterlist from jdbracknell. I'm not stalking, I promise ;)

My list is all about books I've liked and loved since I've been able to read. It's not locked and open to anyone for comments and sharing of thoughts or memories about the titles.
there is no place I cannot go
04 May 2012 @ 09:05 pm
4. Middlesex

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

“Children learn to speak Male or Female the way they learn to speak English or French.”

Where do I begin with this book? This title is part of my top3 of my favorite books ever.

I remember browsing the shelves at my Virgin Megastore wondering what the heck I could read next. Please note that at that time, I wasn't fan of buying online and was then limited to the 6 racks of the lone shelf dedicated to english lit. So when you visit your bookstore on a weekly basis, at some point, there is nothing new to browse. And that's when the "Pulitzer Prize" sticker came into play and the "By the author of" too.

The cover did help too. This actually is my favorite cover, because it kind of sums of the book in a simple way.

The story of Middlesex is the story of Calliope. Well, it's the story of Calliope's family, and of how from Greece to the USA, from Smyrna to Grosse Pointe, history shaped Calliope. The history of her family, the history of her genes, the history of the world and the events of her generation.

Everything starts in 1922, when Lefty, Cal's grandfather, makes a living by selling silkworm that he harvest and sell with his sister Desdemona. They are living through the war between Greece and Turkey and after the great fire that decimate Smyrna, flee for the US. The thing, is that Lefty and Desdemona, they are more than brother and sister, they are also lover. And on the boat, amidst people they don't know and who don't know them, create a romance that ends in them being wed by the ship captain.

Once arriving in the USA, they go on to live with their cousin, Lina, a closeted lesbian who know about their secret. From there, they move to Detroit and soon are graced by a son, Milton and after that Zoe arrives. Lina, married to Jimmy, gives birth to Tessie.

Later on, Tessie and Milton get married. Chapter Eleven and Calliope. A boy and a girl. Wait, no, you mean, Desdemona and her spoon on Tessie's belly was wrong? The new baby is a girl? Not a boy?

Well ... as you can guess, it's a bit more complicated than that.

Generation of incest and interbredding in the family ended up in Calliope being born with a 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. So Calliope is a boy, born with female characteristics. Calliope is intersex. But that, no-one will now it until one day a doctor realise that young Calliope is a bit more than meet the eyes.

Her parents then choose to reasign Calliope her rightful sex. After all, she was raised a girl, a girl she'll be. After test and examinations, Calliope runs away, having discovered her parents plan. And assumes the fact that she is now Cal, a man. Hitchhiking the country and ending up joining a burlesque show, Cal tries to find out who he is amidst other 'freaks'. During a police raid, Cal is arrested and goes back home.

It's only after that coming back home, during a talk with Desdemona, that Cal discovers that his grandparents are siblings. And Desdomona, amidst the emotion, remarks that all those years before, she was right. The second child of Milton and Tessie is a boy.

Years later, Cal, now a diplomat in Berlin, meets Julie Kikuchi.

The author ends the epic story of Cal, with him opening up to someone that he likes and that doesn't seem to mind, that Cal is Cal, with all that it entails.

The power of this book is that it's a great book. With such a story to tell, it could have been an awful book to read, it could have really bad. But the author manages to do something great, he manages to walk the line and never falls. Ever. Even during the time when Cal runs away and enters the burlesque show, the author manages to keep everything on the line.

I've read this book so many time, I've recced this book so many time, I bought it three time 'cos I kept giving my copy away. It's that good.

“Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you’re only trying to do what’s best for me, but I don’t think anyone knows for sure what’s best. I love you and don’t want to be a problem, so I’ve decided to go away. I know you’ll say I’m not a problem, but I know I am. If you want to know why I’m doing this, you should ask Dr. Luce, who is a big liar! I am not a girl. I’m a boy. That’s what I found out today. So I’m going where no one knows me. Everyone in Grosse Pointe will talk when they find out.
Sorry I took your money, Dad, but I promise to pay you back someday, with interest.
Please don’t worry about me. I will be ALL RIGHT!
Despite it’s contents, I signed this declaration to my parents: “Callie.”
It was the last time I was ever their daughter.”

there is no place I cannot go
01 May 2012 @ 01:51 pm
3. The Peloponnesian War

This book helped me get into my Business School. No, seriously. I was reading it while doing my French tour of Business School, going from one interview to the next. And the interview topic I was given in the school I ended up going to was (and this is a loose translation) : "During a speech, the unspoken is more potent than the spoken".
And so I used Pericles, Hitler and Sarkozy as examples. Given that I was right in the middle of Pericles speeches to Athenians, I had loads of fresh data to give to the interviewers. It also helped me in getting an A+ to the interview. Which, you know, is always a good thing.

I had bought a massive amount of books following my watching of 300. This is the best of the lot (unless you don't mind reading Xerxes invades Greece by Herodotus with pages and pages of description of what every column was wearing in the battle). My friend James, an historian geek, also assured me that it was the best book for non-historian to dvelve into the long feud of Athens vs Sparta.

Besides being very easy to read and full of data that are not hard to grasp if your history is at highschool level, this book has maps. Lots of them. And not the kind that are at the beginning or at the middle of the book. No. This one has maps that are following the story. At worst, the maps that you need is on the next pages or the one before. And this is what I totally adore here. Because you can't be fluent in greek geography, unless, you know, it's your specialty. And that way you don't spend most of your time going back and forth the centerfold to see where the action is taking place.

The war depicted here is the bloodiest in Antiquity. It's the war that set a new standard for warfare. Before that war, battles were held on a large piece of land and the winner of the war was the side that was still standing at the end of the day. The Peloponnesian War was different and meant that cities were invaded at night, people killed in the streets, cities were held hostages, plagues were spreading, fields were burnt ... It changed forever the ancient world and led to a new kind of civilization.

And the author really takes you thru all the steps, all the hoops and all the destruction without making you feel like you need to take extra classes.

So, if you have one book to read about Ancient Greece warfare, read this book. Being a child of the 20th century, it'll also make you realise that, nothing much has changed. Which is kind of sad, really.
there is no place I cannot go
30 April 2012 @ 09:30 pm

I didn't think about talking so soon about this book, but I just finished reading the paperback for the 3rd or 4th time (in preparation of reading The Retribution) and I think that its the perfect time to bring to you an awesome thriller.

The author, Val McDermid is a kickass author with a twisted mind. Every single book I have read of hers bring another awfully mad and twisted way to kill people.

If you like Criminal Minds, please note that Val McDermid is taking profiling to another level. You think some of the killers the BAU is tracking are sick? Try some of McDermid killers.

The Wire in the Blood is the second installment in the serie revolving around Tony Hill and Carol Jordan.

I'd be tempted to say that you need to read The Mermaid Singing before The Wire in the Blood, but having started the serie by this one I can say that you can safely try without feeling lost. There is enough material in the pages to give you a good feel of the relationship between Tony and Carol as well as of the after-effect of the case they worked in The Mermaid Singing.

The Wire in the Blood is a page turner. I read it between Liverpool and Paris and as soon as I finished it, moved on to The Last Temptation and so on and so on. Yes, be aware, once you start a book in the Tony Hill serie, you might not be able to stop until, like the Pokemon, you catch read them all.

Now this is all said, lets move to the plot.

The story takes place in the mid 90s, so one may have trouble with the fact that technologies were not what they are now. I know some people have trouble with that. I don't. But, you know, just saying.

All around the UK, young girls, teenagers, are disapearing. They leave home in the morning with their best clothes hidden in their backpack, never make it to school, and vanish.

And it is not until Chaz, hired to be part of the new National Profiling Task Force headed by Tony Hill, stumbled upon a cluster and create a theory with such implication that no one believes in, that their disappearances start to be connected.

The theory of Chaz?
It's simple, the killer is Jacko Vance.
And who is Jacko you might say?
It's simple too. He is a top athlete who never made it to the Olympics following an accident and who is now the favorite television figure in the UK, married to another TV presenter. Jacko Vance is the man every woman dreams of when in bed with their husband. He is a playboy who is faithful to his wife.
But like everything in Jacko Vance life, there are many layers to everything.

And so no-one believe Chaz and well, Chaz is a hot-head-overachiever lady and you know what happen to those kind of ladies who are alone in their theorizations and want to prove to everyone they are right? Yeah. Yeah, they die. At the end of the killer they identified. Because they were right.

Meanwhile, Carol is looking for a serial-arsonist and Tony is hired to use her case as an exercise for his new taskforce.

The author knows how to spin you, to take you into the brain of the killer, of his entourage, of his victim and of course of Tony and Carol.

If you like thrillers, if you adore having chills and like when the horror is nicely written, then you better go dive into this serie. And if you don't stay for the murders, then you'll stay for Tony and Carol, the most non-functional couple of England.

Below, Wire in the Blood, season 1, episode 3. Based on The Wire in the Blood.

there is no place I cannot go
24 April 2012 @ 05:02 pm
1. Daddy Long Legs

Commençons par Papa Longues-Jambes.

I'm conflicted about which tongue to use to talk about this book. While I have seen the movie in english, I have only ever read the book in french. I listened to the audiobook in english though. Anyway.

I discovered this book thanks to Je Bouquine.
Any french that was into lit at some point in their youth was either subscribing to this magazine or read it at the school library. Every month, there was an original short story, from a more or less known french author. Then there was cultural tidbits, info and every other month some writing contests. There was also some comic-strip with "If I am fat it's because I have a big heart and need the body to hold it" Henriette or other more or less litgeeky characters. And there was a 10 page comicbook rendering of the first chapters of a classic book. Whether it was Emma Bovary or Anna Karenine, all the classics have been at some point drawn at the end of the magazine. And that's how I have discovered a lot of classics, including Daddy Long Legs.

The image I use is the cover of the version I bought then, and still own. I have read it if not a million time, at least 20 times. I adore the simple storyline, the penmanship of Judy, her way of seeing the world and her showing off that she has a spine and that one should just tell her what to do.

Judy is a strong woman, life has been a bitch toward her but she takes every opportunity to turn shit into something better. She knows how to make lemonade from lemons, even in small ways, even if she is damn unhappy in her orphanage. The arrival of Daddy Long Legs in her life is just the push she needed to blossom into something more, into the woman she had fantasy dreams about. Arriving at Uni, she knows that she isn't like the others, she knows that she looks sometimes stupid in class, asking silly questions, but she also knows that she can get better and she is not afraid to tackle life and its situations.

The thing between Judy and Jarvis, lets be clear here, I do suspect that it has a lot to do with my Daddy issues. As in sugar-daddy issues. I do believe Jerusha Abbott and Jarvis Pendleton have a lot to answer to regarding generations of girls who have read this book and have, later on in life, dreamt about an older man sweeping them off their feet.

Ultimately, this book is one I chrish and adore sharing with other people. Every kid I have tutored in french, have been given this book to read. Because I believe that Judy is a good example to give to a young girl. She is ressourceful, adores class, isn't found of maths at all but doesn't let that deter her, she has crushes and friends, she takes initiatives and does sport, and because the form is epistolary and the author manages to write perfectly a 1910s naive girl, the reader can easilly enter the story. And because of the drawings, either by the artist for the book or by the one from Judy, one can easily creates the face and situation in ones head.

Every girl I have given this book to read has told me that they adored it and some came upon the realisation of who was Daddy Long Legs before others.

In the end, I find this book great to start discussions with 10+ year old girls. But also with women of any age. I can go on hours about this book, about the movie they made with Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire. This book is so universal in its theme that there is even a Mollywood movie based on the story, and a South-Korean film too.

I love this book. Simple as that.