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Showing posts from 2015

Christmas reading

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Christmas is over for this year. We had a quite Christmas here in Mallorca. Beautiful Christmas mass in the Cathedral of Palma to get a little bit of tradition to an otherwise rather untraditional Christmas. At least for a Swede. No snow here, just lovely sunshine, blue sky and around 20 degrees C. As you see from my December reading I have managed quite a few books this month. I also got two books for Christmas; Blå stjärnan by Jan Guillou - the fifth instalment in Guillou's family saga of the 20th century and from my geology studying son, Fossiljägarna  (The Fossil Hunters) by Björn Hagberg and Martin Widman. One of the big mysteries of evolution when and how 'the fish went ashore'. I love these kind of books and have already started reading it. Have a look at the wonderful book marks, also a present from my son. I see many of you have already done a summary of your 2015 reading. Since I expect to read at least one more book before the end of the year, I will p

The Brontës: A Biography by Brian Wilks

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Having just read Brian Wilks book about Jane Austen , it was with great pleasure that I opened his book about the Brontës. Being part of the Brussels Brontë Group and, as such, a fan of the Brontës, I have read quite a few biographies about them. However, as with the Jane Austen biography, I like the way Brian Wilks approach his subjects. He manages to extract the most important things on the lives he is writing about. It does not mean that you feel that he has left anything out. Not at all. It is all in there, and all verified by his own interpretation of actions and happenings. I actually felt that I have learned more about the Brontës, although I thought I knew it all, by reading Wilks’ biography and his way of making us acquainted with the Brontës.  Being such a unique family they have managed to keep us spellbound almost 200 years later. They were a tightly knit group of people all sharing exceptional gifts, interests and ambitions. As Charlotte tells us:   My home is humble

Jane Austen by Brian Wilks

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Yet, another biography of Jane Austen. This time published as an e-book by Endeavour Press . The book was originally published in 1978, but still feels very fresh. I have recently read three books about Austen, related to food and names in; Jane Austen and Food , Jane Austen and Names by Maggie Lane, as well as Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen by Jane Aiken Hodge. Although, after reading the books above and thinking I know Jane Austen by now, I was quite captivated by Brian Wilks version of her life. It does not go into too much details, but keeps it on a track which can be compared to a novel in itself. Beautifully written and approaching Jane Austen with a wonderful insight into the person she might have been. It is a personal story of her life and deeds. Like Brian Wilks says in the Foreword: "’It is a truth universally acknowledged that,’ writers are congenitally wired for communication. The evidence in Austen’s novels of her use of gossip, malicious and othe

Allison Brennan continuing...

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End of the year and I have treated myself to some very easy going reading. Allison Brennan is really a little bit addictive! Finishing Best Laid Plans  and continuing with the latest in the Lucy Kincaid series No Good Deed, I realised that there will not be another one for at least half a year. I therefore looked into her Max Revere series and hit another interesting series, of which there is a novella and two novels already out. Next one in the series will be out in April next year. No Good Deed is the ending of the story starting in Best Laid Plans. There is suspense on every page, and when you think there can't be any more...she speeds up the action to another level before the end of the affair. It is really amazing. You just can't let the book down until you have finished. At least me. Her stories are so complex, with many characters, but she manages to keep it all together until the very end. Starting on the Max Revere series was another hit. The first one is a novella

Best Laid Plans by Allison Brennan

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Add caption Just found book #9 in the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan series, which I just love. When checking which number in the series it is,  I just realise that there is already a #10. Aren't we lucky! Allison Brennan has written books about other characters as well, and I like them too, but this series is special. There is always a very interesting, quite intricate  story and the suspense is great, sometimes almost too much. Lucy is a FBI agent and her boyfriend Sean is a private consultant in computer technology. The system that he cannot hack into does not exist. They often work together on Lucy's assignments. Both of them have a lot of siblings and they all seem to work in the same business. A family affair one could say. In this story Lucy and her FBI partner Barry work on a case where the husband of a congress woman is found dead in a hotel room, in a town he supposedly should not be in. He is naked and it looks like he has been with a prostitute. Not everything is w

Hidden Lives by Margaret Forster

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I first came into contact with Margaret Forster reading her biography of Daphne du Maurier . So when I ran into this book, which is a story about her own family secrets, I was thrilled. And she does not disappoint. When Margaret Forster’s grandmother died in 1936, she took secrets with her to her grave. Just before she died there was a mysterious woman in black who visited her. She never revealed to her daughters what it was all about. At her funeral, when the daughters gather and discuss this mysterious event there is another knock on the door. Outside is an unknown woman claiming to be her daughter and asking if she left anything for her. After Margaret Forster’s mother died in 1981, she started to look into the history of her family. She discovered that her grandmother was born out of wedlock. But what was disturbing was the fact that she found her birth certificate and then there are no traces of her life until she reappears in the official records at the age of twenty-three!

First of advent and book launch

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Yesterday was first of advent. We don't have a candle stick with four candles this year, which is customary in Sweden. In stead we settled for a 'christmas tree' candle that we received from Sally. In the afternoon we ignored the grey weather and headed down town to Waterstone to attend my friend Helen's book launch. Helen MacEwan is the founder of the Brussels Brontë Group  and has written two earlier books about the Brontës; Down the Belliard Steps - Discovering the Brontës in Brussels , a book about how the group came together. Her second book is The Brontës in Brussels , a complete guide to Charlotte's and Emily's stay in Brussels and the places they visited. Her third book was inspired by her earlier books. While researching them she came upon the first biographer of the Brontës after Elizabeth Gaskell, Winifred Gérin. She is actually the only one who has written one book for each of the siblings, four altogether. Helen discovered that, not only w

'Bonjour Tristesse' and 'A Certain Smile' by Francoise Sagan

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Two short books by famous French author Francoise Sagan. Bonjour Tristesse was her first book, written when she was only 18 years old. It is also her most famous book. Both books are about young love and complications. However banal that may sound, it is not banal at all. I was quite overtaken by both stories, they are very well written and you turn the page to see how the love stories will end. Bonjour Tristesse is about 17 year old Cécile who lives with her father, the mother is dead. The father, Raymond, is a seductive, amorous man, with a string of mistresses coming and going. This story is mostly set in the south of France during some summer months. Elsa, the latest of the young mistresses, come to live with them in a rented villa. All is well. Cécile meets Cyril a neighbouring young man, and they fall in love with each other. In comes Anne Larsen, a woman the same age as Raymond, independent, self assured, intelligent and successful. Totally different from the usual women tha

The Human Factor by Graham Greene

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I am almost ashamed to say that this is my first book by Graham Greene. A classic spy thriller in the same fashion as John Le Carré. The set-up is classic:  a small unit in MI6, a leak and a search for the traitor. Our man, Maurice Castle, is close to retirement. His only post abroad was in South Africa some years back.  Now he is back in London. During his years in South Africa, a local girl was working as one of his sources. He fell in love and he managed, with some difficulty, to get her and her son out of there. They married and are living a quiet life in a suburb to London. Living exactly like everybody else in the street, not to stick out, always to hide their real business. Their whole life is an artificial one, but at least they have each other. The leak has been connected to the African section where Castle works. He jokes about it with his colleague Davis, and they don't take it too seriously to start with.  Things are moving very slowly forwards. In parallel we follo

Have Mercy On Us All (Pars vite et reviens tard) by Fred Vargas

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The first book I read by Fred Vargas was ’ The Chalk Circle Man ’. A different kind of ”inspector solves murder” kind of book. So happy when someone in the book club suggested another title of hers, Have Mercy On Us All . Fred Vargas is a pseudonym for Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, a French historian, archaeologist and writer. Fred is the diminutive of Frédérique, but Vargas comes from Ava Gardner’s character of a fictional Spanish sex symbol Maria Vargas in the film The Barefoot Contessa. I think that her profession as a historian and archaeologist, is the base for the fantastic stories she tells. Her novels are not just any murder mystery; there is a complicated, intricate story behind. It is not for every inspector to solve these kind of murders, but inspector Adamsberg is not anyone. I doubt he would ever have a chance to go up the ranks in real life. But here he certainly is allowed to use his unorthodox methods of murder solving. In this book it seems that the plague is back in Pa

2016 Challenge - What's in a Name?

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I will not participate in too many challenges in 2016. I have noticed that the biggest challenge I have is on my own TBR shelves, so will continue with them. I have managed to read quite a few in 2015, so I am happy about that. The "What's in a Name" challenge, hosted by The Worm Hole  seems to be something that I could manage and it is a challenge that tickle my curiosity. The basic rules are simple enough. The basics
   The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets – I’ve included some from other languages, and translations most definitely count!): A country (try not to use ‘Africa’!) Suggestions: Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Xiaolu Guo’s I Am China, Martin Wagner’s Deutschland) An item of clothing (Su Dharmapala’s Saree, Ann Brashare’s The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Javier Moro’s El Sari Rojo; Pierre Lemaitre’

Four Shades of Brown Book Covers

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I have read a few books recently without writing a review of them. Partly because I have been very busy, and partly because of some lack of inspiration. When I took photos of some of the books I have read, I realised that they all had different kind of brown covers. Brown is not my favourite colour, it is not very common on book covers, so I was quite surprised to find four of them on my last reads. Here they are with a short summary of the books. Opening Pandora's Box by Ferdie Addis A book in the same series as The Classical Education; the Stuff you Wish You'd Been Taught at School , this time about phrases borrowed from the Classics, and the stories behind them. Many of these phrases we use today, often maybe, without knowing where they came from. Like the opening of Pandora's box, which today means ' to unleash a stream of unforeseen problems; to open a can of worms' .  The original being... According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Pandora was the world

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: my 100th book in 2015

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I have reached my 100th read books this year. This is the goal I set on Goodreads. However, it seems that not all the books I have read is available on Goodreads so I have to go on for another couple of books. That is no problem at all. A Study in Scarlet  was read for the 'Brontë Reading Group' and we will meet next week to discuss it. I have only read the occasional Sherlock Holmes book, but seen films and TV-series. This is the very first book about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and we get to know how they met in the first place. Very soon after their first meeting they decide to share accommodations on 221B Baker Street! Very soon after that their on to their first murder mystery. The inspectors Gregson and Lestrade are contacting Holmes to get his opinion on a mysterious murder, taking place in an abandon house, no sign of violent entry and the murderer has written the word RACHE (meaning 'revenge' in German) on the wall with blood. Sherlock with his sharp e

Broken Harbour by Tana French

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Ever since I read Tana French’s debut novel In the Woods some years ago, I wanted to read something else from her. I really loved the book, although, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Maybe because I felt that part of the story did not get an explanation. On the other hand, it leaves you with an option to make your own ending and interpretation. We had a great discussion on it in our reading group. It is open for a lot of different interpretations. I recently bought her fourth book, and it was with great anticipation I started it. Like with the other book you are directly thrown into a murder case. And not just any murder; it is a murder case with a twist.  The text from the back cover says it all in a few words: Sometimes there is no safe place.   Nothing about the way this family lived shows why they deserved to die.   But here's the thing about murder: ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it doesn't break into people's life.   It gets there because

An ’outdoor’ challenge came my way!

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Last week I heard about a company named  Cotopaxi  and they had a challenge that tickled my curiosity. So, here I am, inspired to participate in a Cotopaxi project, to write a post about my favourite adventure book. Apart from Mount Sinai, this might be the highest climb I ever did! From Mallorca, Spain Since I was not familiar with Cotopaxi, I did a little bit of research on the web. The first thing I learn is that Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, looks fabulous  in the pictures, and yes, I would like to visit! Scrolling further down I found the relevant Cotopaxi who is making outdoor clothing and accessories. They presents themselves as ”an outdoor gear company with a social mission”. That sounds like something I can agree too. Furthermore, and here is where she wanted my contribution; they have a section of their blog called " 5 road trips inspired by adventure books ". The books already there are: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer The Adv

Sunday bliss!

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As usual on the weekend we try to take a walk in the forest, close to us. Yesterday, we made a little bit of a shopping round instead. Walking, in stead of taking the car as usual, we went to various shops along the main road. Imaging what you see when you walk, rather than taking the car. We discovered new shops and managed to buy a birthday present for a friend's 60th birthday next week. Today we made it to the woods. It must have been a special day, because I have never seen so many people here. This is a popular spot for people living in Brussels. They come out here to walk in the woods and then to go for one of the many restaurants that are covering the area close to the woods. Not entirely matured blackberries! The wood, or more like it a forest, is so huge so, once your inside and choose your own paths, you are quite on your own. A lovely day, 19 degrees C, and the autumn colours of red and yellow fight with the still green plants and trees. There were leave

Reading habits?

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A book well read? Bended spine and a lady's fan? There are many different kinds of reading habits. What we most commonly talk about is probably; “Where do you like to read?” Another one is if you mark the page where you are by folding the corner (“dog ear” we call it in Swedish and I am not able to remember the English word for it. Maybe someone can enlighten me?) Another one is how you read your books and this is the topic of today’s post. My husband gets very irritated with me when he, from time to time, spots the books I have read (I am talking about pocket books here, hard cover is something else). He says I ‘destroy’ the books! Hm, thanks.  In my case it means, that some way inside the book, I fold the spine ‘inside-out’ to be able to read properly. In most books, but not all, after a certain number of pages you cannot read the text closest to the spine. Do you know what I mean? You have to move the book left/right to be able to read properly. I admit that when the book

Thackeray - A Writer’s Life by Catherine Peters

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Recently I read Pendennis by William Thackeray. Someone told me that it was, in certain parts, based on experiences from his own life, so I made a mental note to read a biography of him. I have just been to Mallorca for two weeks, and stepping into the flat I was astonished when the first book I see on the shelf is a biography of Thackeray! Just shows the overview I have of my TBR shelves, especially in Mallorca. This is a biography by Catherine Peters from 1987. Got raving views at the time and it is very well written. Ms Peters chooses to analyse his books in the back drop of his own life, which makes an interesting angle. She points out influences from his life and how they made it into his writing. His childhood was not happy and his school years disastrous and remained with him all his life. We Indian children were consigned to a school of which our deluded parents had heard a favourable report, but which was governed by a horrible little tyrant, who made our young lives

Still Life With Murder (Nell Sweeney Mysteries) by P.B. Ryan

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Being in Mallorca my reading habits is slightly different. More like; you take what you have. I do have a small library here, but most of the books I have already read, but there are of course still some. It would not be me if there wasn’t a TBR shelf or two! Then there is the iPad where I save books for a day when no actual paper books are appealing. Being on a holiday it is nice with some easy going novels to spend the days in the sun. I subscribe to some newsletters who offers free or very cheap books. Most of the time they are not appealing to me, but from time to time there is a gem. Like this one! I hadn’t heard of neither the book of the author, but the summary sounded interesting. A detective story set in Boston in the latter half of the 19th century. With a bold and intelligent woman as the heorine and the black sheep of one of the old families as the hero, and, taking place in a historical setting… was too much for me to resist. And what a wonderful, very thrilling story,

The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

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This book was read by many during the Paris in July 2015 challenge, and with raving reviews. I had put it on my to-read list and was therefore happy when I found it recently at the  Book festival in Brussels. On Tuesday, on my way to Mallorca, I finished it during the two hour flight. An easy read and very entertaining. Wonderful story of the president’s hat, that is President Francois Mitterand. He forgets his hat in a brasserie in Paris, and Daniel Mercier, who dines at the table next to the President, finds it and takes it with him. Very soon he notices that the hat seems to have hidden powers. He acts totally out of character and achieves things he only dreamed of before. He realises it is the hat that makes him make decisions that changes his life in a positive way. One day he forgets the hat on the train and is devastated. The hat is taken by someone else and her life is also changed. And so it goes…the hat makes stop overs with persons who are at cross roads in their life.

Frankfurt Book Fair, 2015

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Just back from two days at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It was amazing! Imaging going around a huge area with books everywhere. Well, we were not the only ones, and from time to time you really had to squeeze through people. That was, naturally, where the German speaking books were. When you entered into the international areas it was more space to move around. We covered most of what we wanted to see on Saturday and the rest we looked at today. I will write a few more posts about some of the interesting features, but here a small summary. On Saturday we were early! Not so many people at this time Lots of Halls - 1 - 11, we only visited some of them! We started out at Hall no 3 where the German speaking books were. The Hall held a variety of fiction, and being Germany a lot, and I mean a lot of thrillers. They seem to be very popular. Other fiction both German and translations, books about travels, nature, cooking, gardening and much more. A German stand There were several

Book festival in Brussels

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From today and until Sunday, the annual book festival takes place in the exhibition area, north of Brussels. I went there today to have a look at what they are offering this year. I spent two and a half hours there, and managed to buy 14 books and a lot of scrapbooking material. I really tried to control myself as regards the number of books. In reality I bough nine books to read. The other five goes under the category "junk journals". Yes, this is my latest obsession. By chance I came into some videos on Youtube and once having looked at some of them, and the tutorials, I am stuck. So, five of the books will be made into journaling books. Here is a list of the books I bought (for reading) with a summary.  Quite wonderful book and I am excited to have found them. Four of them are non-fiction: The Disinherited - The Exiles Who Created Spanish Culture  by Henry Kamen: Henry Kamen's The Disinherited  is the most significant and enjoyable book on Spain to appear for m

Highgate Cemetery, East side

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The East side of the Cemetery is less pretentious, but not less beautiful. Since you are allowed to walk around by yourself, you can take your time, enjoy the greenery and the old grave stones and tombs, hear the birds sing and get into a contemplative mood! I had already looked out a few graves to visit, but we started just behind the entrance and walked south and then back up north again. I hope the photos will give you an idea of the peaceful surroundings. While checking the map I spotted two Austrians buried here (my husband is Austrian so it seemed a good idea, no Swedes there unfortunately) Carl Mayer, author, mostly known for co-writing the screen script to the 1920s classic, silent movie The Cabinet of   Dr Caligari's . According to Wikipedia:

Audrey Niffenegger and Highgate Cemetery

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Some years ago I read an interview with Audrey Niffenegger in connection with her latest book Her Fearful Symmetry   (all quotes below from the book).   The novel takes place in and around the Highgate Cemetery in London. Reading this book made me very curious on this burial ground, of which I was not aware of before. It was therefore high on my list during my last visit to London. And it does not disappoint. The entrance to the West Cemetery There were a lack of burial ground in and around London in the mid-19th century. Stephen Geary, architect and entrepreneur bought the land and established the cemetery in 1839. However, it is not one ordinary cemetery; he constructed tombs and buildings where people could buy burial grounds for their whole family. The area, today very lush and at places overtaken by vegetation, is a fantastic, wonderful place to walk around in. In 1854, the west side of the cemetery became too small so an eastern part was bought and added to it. To solve the

The Fourth King by Glen Petrie

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I have finished another book from my TBR shelves. It is from 1986, so has been there for some time! It is a mystery how some books stays so long on the shelves without being read. This one especially, since it is a historical novel, which I love. This novel tells the story of Alexander Pushkin, considered by many to be Russia's greatest poet (I actually have a book with his poems, so now seems the time to read them as well) and his marriage to one of the most beautiful women of the time, Nataliya Nikolaevna Goncharova. The novel starts with a Pushkin in exile. It seems he was at odds with the Tsar, Nicholas I, during most of his life. However, he is invited to come back to St Petersburg and meets for the first time Nataliya. She is only 13 years old, but he is fascinated and lost. They marry four years later. The novel mostly lingers on their married years. Pushkin is a man of the world, had many love interests and was a very experienced man. Nataliya is an innocent girl, having

43 Books You Won’t Be Able To Stop Talking About

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Over at BuzzFeed Books  they asked subscribers to their newsletter which books they could not stop talking about. The answers resulted in a list of 43 books, which really cover the whole range of genre books from Classics to modern YA fantasy. Head over to Buzz Feed Books (link above) to get a summary of each book. For us with a huge number of TBR books it is difficult to look at such a list, because it is so tempting to read all the books. I guess they have to go on the To Read list instead. A book that seems very popular, considering the many and raving reviews from other bloggers, have ended up as No. 1;   A Little Life  by Hanya Yanigahara. This is a must it seems. From the list I find four books that I have read; Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, 1984  by George Orwell,  The Secret History  by Donna Tartt and Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. L.P. Hartley's classic The Go-Between  is waiting on my TBR shelves. 1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara 2. Mystic River by

London revisited

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Me on the Cutty Sark I have been to London this weekend. It is always such a treat. Lucky with the weather for two days at least, blue sky and sunshine, you could even sit outside to eat. Monday came with grey skies but we managed more or less to avoid more than a drip of rain. My visits to London always comes with a well prepared list of things to see. My husband joined me this time and his wish was for Greenwich, which we visited on the grey Monday. We arrived Saturday afternoon, so just went for a walk down-town for some shopping. I wanted to buy the new iPhone, but alas, you had to order and wait for right one. That means I have to wait until it comes to Belgium, which will not be until around Christmas time. I managed to find a new calendar for my filofax and some stickers, and that was all. Walked back to our friend Richard's flat where we are luckily invited when in London. He lives in the Barbican, which is a terribly ugly building, today a protected one with very spe

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

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Just finished this amazing book which I bought during my last sejour in Sweden. When checking the original title I realised that the original book is in German. Jan-Philipp Sendker was a foreign correspondent for German magazine Stern in the nineties (from 95-99 in Asia). In 2002 he wrote this book entitled  Das Herzenhören. It such a beautifully written book about the most important thing in life, love. In our busy world we tend to forget that, and we are stressing through the 'squirrel wheel' to achieve more and more. If you want to stop for a moment and reflect, you just have to read this book. It is difficult to make a summary of the story without spoiling it for new readers.  It is developing in a way that surprises you all the time. Just a few hints of the story. Tin Win (originally from Burma) is a very successful Wall Street lawyer. One day, he is retired by this time, he leaves the flat in the morning not to return. Investigations show that he flew to Bangkok, but