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The Complete Novels of George Orwell
George Orwell
Ein perfekter Freund: Roman
Martin Suter
The Brothers Karamazov
Konstantin Mochulski, Andrew R. MacAndrew, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
Steve Coll

Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot, #23)

Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot, #23) - Agatha Christie My least favourite Christie/Poirot in the series thus far. Perhaps because I read it in between two instalments of the Game of Thrones series. :-)

At the end of the book, when Poirot unfolds his findings and points out the murderer, I was of course surprised at the ingenuity of Christie (as always), but didn't feel excited or anything else about the story. The book reads more like a dry listing of facts for the detective to use in the last chapter than as a compelling narrative.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid What an amazing, short story this was. First, let me comment on the way of writing: the perspective of a 200-page monologue, or rather one-sided dialogue was entirely new to me. It worked, however. It really did, and is perhaps the best suited way to narrate this story about love, confusion and beliefs.

Second, as a European doing business in Pakistan for more than six years, I feel I can kind of relate to the main character's motivations and actions. What I love about this tale is that rather early on you know exactly what is going to happen, yet you get lulled by the narrator all the time into believing that it might turn out differently after all. Just like I know a Pakistani would! :-)

I would have given it four stars only, but for the fact that I very much like the Pakistani nation and supposedly could relate to the story in a far greater extent than most of its Western readers.

Brilliant piece of work.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories - Tim Burton Haha, what can I say about this book(let)? I knew before I was a fan of Burton's work, and The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy has only confirmed this.

Not at all what I thought it would be when I picked up this book, but it turned out to be a real treat. Something to read over and over again in the years to come, I'm sure!

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin Rarely have I hated an author so much for what he does to my favourite character(s) as I did Martin in A Storm of Swords. I absolutely devoured the third book of the magnificent Game of Thrones series and find it the best one till now.

Nearly every character plot is worthy of a book of its own. It really feels like you're reading five (great) books in parallel. I'm glad however I found the time to finish this book in a relatively short span of time. I don't think I would be able to capture the whole story line if I read it in chunks and bits. From time to time it was tough to remember what was going on where and who knew about what.

George Martin made me love hated characters and despise loved ones even more than Ken Follet has. I admire that in an author.

Anyhow, I found myself hoping the book would never end and sat staring at the wall for a few minutes after it did. Too bad I don't have the fourth one with me here. I'll have to wait for almost a week before I can start tearing it apart! :-(
SPOILER ALERT!

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin A Clash of Kings is a great sequel to A Game of Thrones, but I cannot give it 5 stars like its predecessor however. It's very well written and the shifting perspectives and decent chronology aspects never get to bore you as a reader. Nevertheless, halfway the book, I found that most stories and subplots had come to a standstill when literally all kings contending for the realm decided that waiting for the others to attack each other first would be the best strategy. Shortly after Martin took me back in his typical roller coaster and all was well again.

Another mentionable point is that the chapters always end on a very well chosen moment. There are cliffhangers, moral points to decide on and nicely rounded up subplots. This keeps the 1000+ pages a treat to read.

I already started in the third book (A Storm of Swords) and really look forward to the remainder of the story!

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin It's been a while since I read a book which was so much vamped up in the popular media. Well, perhaps the book wasn't, but the story was, thanks to the television series.

Nevertheless, in his first book of the Ice and Fire series, Martin completely and utterly lived up to the high expectations I had set. Wow, what a great book.

Wonderful story, very quick pace, intense characters and interesting way of telling the story, quickly shifting from POV in each chapter. He's not afraid to let good things happen to bad people and bad things to good people.

I mean, main and really important characters even get to die in his story. I find this an incredibly courageous thing to do as an author.

Bottom line: an amazing story and a great book. I already started in A Clash of Kings. :-)

The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13)

The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13) - Agatha Christie The ABC Murders again contain a truly original plot idea from Agatha Christie. The twist at the end is unexpected. Perhaps too unexpected. For the first time in the Poitor series, I wasn't even looking for a particular murderer, since he is so clearly introduced to the reader from the very beginning. It therefore didn't read like a detective's narrative, but rather like a police/crime story.

Amazing to see how Christie keeps on managing to find truly original plot layouts in this amazing Poitor series.

Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot, #15)

Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot, #15) - Agatha Christie A very refreshing Christie, if I may say so. And I may, since she tells you so herself in the foreword: only four suspects, all known upfront and all equally likely to have committed the investigated murder.

Needless to say, in a purely psychological investigation, Poirot is at his best. Or should I say: Christie is at her best? I loved Poirot's stubbornness and the many twists at the end of the book. Also, the (presumably) autobiographic anecdotes disguised as being Mrs Olivers ensured lovely interludes in the story. Finally, I also liked the fact that this Poirot story was not written from the first-person but from the third-person perspective. Very refreshing.

One of the best Poirot novels, if you ask me!

Murder in Mesopotamia

Murder in Mesopotamia - Agatha Christie As good a Poirot-mystery as ever. I found a cast of over 10 characters in a 300 page book a little overwhelming however. The setting in early 20th century Mesopotamia was nicely done. I almost discovered the murderer this time! :-)

Mogelijke memoires

Mogelijke memoires - Herman Brusselmans Dit was mijn eerste Brusselmans, dus misschien ben ik niet helemaal mee. De eerste dertien hoofdstukken kon ik nog wel smaken. Ik had door dat ik onzin aan het lezen was, maar het las lekker vlot en was best nog wel grappig.

Hoofdstuk 14 (dat op zichzelf de helft van het boek beslaat) ging me echter toch wat te ver. De onzin overtrof de vlotte schrijfstijl en de humor. Toen de auteur ook nog begon te hinten dat de lezer van deze willekeurige woordvolgorde zijn tijd aan het verdoen was, besloot ik hem gelijk te geven en het boek alsnog uit te lezen na eerst ongeveer 150 pagina's over te slaan.

Blij dat ik dat gedaan heb, want het maakte inderdaad echt niks uit om zo'n brok te missen. Verhaal was er toch niet.

Ik ga me niet meteen nog een Brusselmans aanschaffen, maar kan wel inzien dat sommigen hier fan van kunnen zijn. Het is in ieder geval een heel apart genre. :-)
SPOILER ALERT!

The Fate of the Dwarves. Markus Heitz

The Fate of the Dwarves. Markus Heitz - Markus Heitz Fourth, largest and by far the best book of the Dwarves series by Marcus Heitz. While the first three books got steady three-star ratings, this one overly deserves four.

This final story about Tungdil Goldhand is much darker than the first three, with many scenes described in true horror-style. The doubt about the identity of the hero of the story keeps you very alert as a reader.

The dwarves-series was slowly beginning to bore me after the third book. Am I happy I did give this fourth and final one a go. Apart from the rather silly death of Tungdil at the end I absolutely loved this last tale. I would almost advise people to go through the first three books, just for being able to enjoy this last, largest and most epic one.

Loved it!

The Twelve

The Twelve - Justin Cronin Full 4 star-story. Just no 5 stars (like The Passage got from me), since it doesn't wholly match its predecessor. It's simply less epic, less horror, ...

Nevertheless, the storyline as it unfolded had me completely in its grip. You constantly feel you want to keep on reading and learning about the characters' (there's SO many of them!) futures, without really knowing what to expect next.

In the beginning I was a bit confused to be reading about year Zero again after which the book jumped 79 years and then 97 years in the future, where The Passage ended in year 92 (I think) of the new era.

Yet again however, Cronin manages to paint wonderful stories and emotions in just a few beautiful sentences. It's absolutely amazing how lively the images he describes get in your mind while going through this book. Smells, thoughts, visuals, sounds, ... he leaves nothing untouched.

When I started with the last chapter, I couldn't help myself hoping ferociously that it wouldn't end with such a crazy cliffhanger as the first book, even though I know now that there's a third book to follow. I'm happy that it didn't. There's a clear path set for the final book in this series, but at least this time I can wait in peace until it it published. :-)

Death in the Clouds

Death in the Clouds - Agatha Christie Enjoyed the story as such, but at the end when the identity of the murderer is revealed to the reader by Poirot, I felt quite disappointed, since I believe there was no way I as a reader could have found it out myself with the given information. Usually, Christie does manage to give all clues to the reader in her stories.

That's why it's only a 3 from me, and no 4 this time.

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies - Chet Holmes, Michael Gerber, Jay Conrad Levinson, Michael E. Gerber Okay, it's another American book on business and this one is perhaps even more `American' than all the others. Everything is repeated, data is served in very small chunks, the author is shamelessly self-promoting on every single page, etc...

BUT

I do believe the content of this book and the learnings you get from it are extremely useful to increase your companies sales productivity. I also liked the link the author makes between business and life. Success in either one basically requires a very similar set of skills.

The Ultimate Sales Machine is a very practical book with exercises, examples, simply laid out strategies and tactics. The key learning, which I love, however, is the do-this-and-do-that but that `pigheaded discipline and determination' will bring you everywhere you want. And that's a great thought for (business) people to understand.

Three Act Tragedy (Hercule Poirot, #11)

Three Act Tragedy (Hercule Poirot, #11) - Agatha Christie Almost a four-star rating for this 11th Poirot mystery from Agatha Christie. The story was very refreshing and unlike most of the other Poirot's not written from Hasting's first person. It's funny to see how Christie mocks the whole detective genre in this book and I was very surprised by the confindings of Poirot in one of the characters in the very last page about his methods and character.

I did find the beginning very confusing however, due to the great number of characters introduced and their rather difficult names. I took me a while to start enjoying the book. That's why it's only a three-star rating from me.

The Warrior

The Warrior - Kinley MacGregor For a long time I thought this would be a four-star story. However, about half-way through the story structure became a little too apparent for me to enjoy thoroughly: boy meets girl, hate each other, get into trouble, one rescues the other, like each other, get into trouble, one rescues the other, become attracted to each other, get into trouble, one rescues the other, fall in love with each other but don't admit it, get into trouble, one rescues the other, admit their love, get into trouble, one rescues the other, marry. the end.

I wasn't expecting the semi-explicit sexual scenes into a book like The Warrior, but then again, the author is of course known for erotic literature as well.

The setting in medieval Europe (Scotland, England and France) is nice and the written dialects make it appealing to read. It was a long time ago I read a book written from the third-know-it-all-person and I'm happy I encountered it again as it allows for interesting perspectives as a reader.

Not sure if I'll read other `Brotherhood of the Sword' or `MacAllister' books. Perhaps if someone can recommend them?