Bridget Jones’s Diary

Yeah, I got nothing. No idea how to describe this book. It’s a diary by Bridget Jones (obviously). It’s somewhat similar to the film starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Here is the description on the back cover if you want to know what it is really about.

 

The book is written in diary format.

One thing I’d like to know, how much of it is exaggerated? I know it is a work of fiction, but if we (the readers) are to truly believe it is a diary then how and when did the character write about her day: as it was happening or afterwards? Because I don’t know about you, but a lot of what is written afterwards can be exaggerated. I often did that with my diaries – if I couldn’t remember something exactly I would just exaggerate it. Not that anyone’s going to read my diaries. For one, it’s not fiction.

Or maybe I’m just overthinking this.

First published: 1996

Rating: 4/5

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One, two, buckle my shoe

one two buckle my shoe

Hercule Poirot is dreading a visit to the dentist… While there, he encounters a bunch of people. Later, he is informed that the dentist has been murdered.

Using the nursery rhyme “One, two, buckle my shoe” the detective must solve this mystery.

What I liked about the story: Just like with Crooked House, Agatha Christie takes a rhyme and bases a story on it. Each line from the poem brings us closer to the answer.

One, two,
Buckle my shoe;
Three, four,
Knock at the door;
Five, six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight:
Nine, ten,
A big fat hen;
Eleven, twelve,
Dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen,
Maids a-courting;
Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen,
Maids a-waiting
Nineteen, twenty,
My plate’s empty

I also liked the fact that Hercule Poirot also hates going to the dentist. I can relate to that.

First published: 1941

Rating: 5/5

 

 

Two more novels by Agatha Christie

crookedhouse

Imagine you are madly in love with a woman called Sophia, but the only way you can be together is to solve the mystery of how her grandfather died. The whole family lives in a mansion and each one has a certain trait of ruthlessness. Everyone is a suspect.

It seems Christie likes to take nursery rhymes to base her stories on. This time she takes the rhyme about the crooked man who lives in a crooked house.

First published: 1949

Rating: 5/5

 

evil sun

Hercule Poirot is on holiday. The peace is disturbed when a woman is murdered and he must help solve the mystery. This woman has a reputation for being a harlot and it is confirmed that her killer was a man. But it’s not that easy, because both the husband and lover have a tight alibi. Who did it?

First published: 1941

Rating: 5/5

 

The Best Thriller Ever Written

And_Then_There_Were_None_US_First_Edition_Cover_1940

 

Ten people are lured to a remote island on false pretenses. There they find a rhyme of ten Indian boys and 10 ceramic figurines on the table. One by one someone dies according to the rhyme. The question is: who is the killer?

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were Nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were Eight.

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got into Chancery and then there were Four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.

Two little Indian boys were out in the sun;
One got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. I felt cheated. Christie didn’t have to spell out who the killer was. She could have just ended it with that question.

First published: 1939

Rating: 5/5

Interesting fact: The original title was Ten Little Niggers based on a blackface minstrel show.

 

 

The Story of Thuli Madonsela

No longer whispering to power by Thandeka Gqubule

madonsela

Back cover:
Thuli Madonsela  achieved in seven years as Public Protector what few accomplish in a lifetime; her legacy and contribution cannot be overstated. In her final days in office she compiled the explosive State of Capture report and, two years before that, Secure in Comfort, the report on (then) President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence. Praised and vilified in equal measure, Madonsela frequently found herself on centre stage in the increasingly fractious South African political scene.

Yet despite the intense media scrutiny, Madonsela remains something of an enigma. Who is the soft-spoken woman who stood up to state corruption? Where did she develop her views and resolve? Thandeka Gqubule, journalist and one of the SABC 8 fired and rehired by the broadcaster, attempts to answer these questions, and others, by exploring aspects of Madonsela’s life: her childhood years and family, her involvement in student politics, her time in prison, her contribution to the Constitution, and her life in law.

Madonsela once described her role as Public Protector as being akin to that of the traditional Venda spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the ruler. When the sounds of the exchanges between the ruler and the Makhadzi grow loud, Madonsela said, that is when the whispering has failed.

Rating: 3/5

First published: 2017

While I read the story of Madonsela something kept bothering me. Perhaps it was the author’s choice of words. One thing I hate about the news is that they (politicians and journalists) always use particular words over and over again: not because it’s particularly necessary but maybe because politicians think that’s what their followers want to hear. Words like “community”, “issues”, “institutions”, etc. I could just gag from all the political speak.

Another thing that bothered me as that the author is too subjective. I can’t recall that she ever gave a full character sketch of Madonsela: it’s always positive, the descriptions felt excessively sweet. Yes, she is a hero, but no one is perfect. I wouldn’t have minded to read about some of her flaws.

The Trial – Franz Kafka

This story didn’t really help me with my research. I assumed that because the story is called The Trial it would at least explain what happens during a trial.

The story did remind me a lot of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Just like the two characters waiting on a mysterious entity called Godot who never turns up, in The Trial we learn that “K.” is being arrested for a crime but we never learn what that is. The whole story revolves around the idea of going to trial, but that never happens. There is a lot of talk, but not a lot of action.

I especially liked the part where “K.” informs his lawyer that he will no longer be using his services and everyone else reacts like he is crazy.

First published: The Trial was published after Kafka’s death, in 1925 and against his dying wishes. He wanted The Trial and his other written works destroyed. His friend Max Brod decided not to.

Rating: 4/5

Interesting fact: The Trial was never finished.

An Acrostic Poem

I saw a neat acrostic poem using William Shakespeare and the names of his works the other day. I tried to do it with Agatha Christie and her stories.

  acrostic poem

 

                       

NaNoWriMo Week 4: The Last Chapter

This chapter was never finished.

I was seriously contemplating ending my story with this, because I just can’t think of an appropriate ending.

Until last night. I got a vague idea now. I just have to finish writing the trial scene to see if it plays out.

While I’m writing the trial and thinking of the ending, I started rewriting some of the other chapters.

NaNoWriMo Week 3

I did some more research on court cases just to get a general idea on how it works and I also started reading Kafka’s “The Trial”.

I’ve researched terms and/or sayings with the words “just” or “justice” in them:

  • just as well, just so, just a minute, just deserts, just for the hell of it, not just another pretty face, just for the record, just in case, just in time
  • justice day/Day of Judgement, bring them to justice, poetic justice, Lady Justice.

The symbolism of Lady Justice: a blindfolded woman with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. The scales is a symbol of balance, the blindfold = impartiality, sword = authority.

Order of a court case:

  • crime committed.
  • person is arrested
  • charge/accusation
  • Plead guilty or not guilty
  • settlement or
  • The Trial. Evidence is presented to determine if the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
  • sentencing: determined through jury and/or judge
  • accused can appeal

Other jargon: if person lays a false claim under oath, he or she can be charged with perjury; jury’s verdict, cross examination, hostile witness, the accused, affidavit, bail, insanity plea, juvenile/minor, double jeopardy (protection of defendant; can’t be charged with same crime twice).

 

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

In between trying to figure out my story this month, I also read and tried to understand Stephen Hawking’s book.

So, did I understand it? No, not really.

But I did learn some things. I learnt about space-time (4D space/events) and that black holes are formed when a star starts to shrink and the gravitational forces are so strong that not even light can escape it.

I always thought a black hole is this weird phenomena you usually find in cartoons where the cartoon can walk into another time dimension.

Now it turns out if you ever find yourself in space and come across a black hole (which you’ll probably only realize when it’s too late) you’re that joke in the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon says he’s screwed.

“A brief History of Time” is briefly about how scientists or theoretical psysicists (i.e. Stephen Hawking and Sheldon from the TV series) try to contemplate the universe through science and maths.

Just like how Sheldon tries to explain to Penny what Leonard does, Hawking starts at the very beginning (the Greeks and Aristotle) and works his way up to where they were when he wrote the book.

It’s very interesting to see how man’s thought processes developed through time and the different theories each one came up with.

Also, if it weren’t for Hawking’s brilliant examples, I wouldn’t even have understood this much (see above). And the joke on page 1 is hilarious.

Back cover: Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece [their words, not mine] which begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time.

First published: 1988

Rating: 3/5 (Mostly because I didn’t really understand what I was reading).

In an unrelated note, the thing which I found most surprising was this:

“In October 1981, I went to Moscow for a conference on quantum gravity… In the audience was a young Russian, Andrei Linde, from the Lebedev Institute in Moscow…” He came up with the idea of “the new inflationery model “A better model, called the chaotic inflationery model, was put forward by Linde in 1983.”

Now, for you it might seem like useless information, I mean who cares who this Linde guy is, but as a person who shares the same surname I find it fascinating that he knew Stephen Hawking and that Hawking actually mentions him in his book.

I would love to know his family history, because as far as I know is that our forefather Hans Jurgen Linder came to South Africa about 1753 and it was through the Dutch East Indian company (VOC) that our surname was changed to Linde without the letter ‘r’.

From what I gathered the inflationery model is a theory on how to explain how and why the universe is expanding.

briefhistorytime