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Title: Murder on the Orient Express 

Author:   Agatha Christie

Publisher:   Harper Collins

Call No.:  F/CHR             

Sources:  School Library

It is a book you can't put down.

       After solving a case, Poirot, a private detective, takes the Orient Express home.  On board are Ratchett, a millionaire and his secretary Hector McQueen and butler Beddoes.  Also there is a Count and Countess, a Colonel, a bossy American woman, an Italian, a Princess and her nurse and Pierre, the conductor.  Ratchett approaches Poirot and asks if he will work for him.  Ratchett tells Poirot he has been receiving threatening letters and that someone is trying to kill him.  Poirot refuses the case.  While the train gets stuck in the snow and during the night, Ratchett is murdered.  He was stabbed many times.  Poirot investigates and discovers that Ratchett and the rest of the passengers are involved in the "Daisy Armstrong" case in which a child was taken for ransom and then horribly killed.

       Poirot knows that the killer is still on the train.  He begins interviewing the passengers.  Each has an alibi and seems unlikely to have committed the crime.    However, with Poirot's proficient ability, there is a surprising conclusion.

       After interviewing all of the passengers, Poirot gathers them into the dining car and propounds two possible solutions.  The first solution is that a stranger entered the train at Vincovci and killed Ratchett.  The second solution is that all of the passengers aboard the Orient Express are involved with the murder.  He argues that twelve of the thirteen passengers, all close to the Armstrong case, killed Ratchett to avenge the murder of Daisy Armstrong. 

      Finally, Mrs. Hubbard, revealed as Linda Arden, admits that the second solution is correct while Poirot suggests that the first solution should be given to the police to protect the family.   

Murder, mystery, suspense, excitement.  You can find all the elements in this intricate story.  Once you pick up the book, you would be eager to find out the conclusion.  Don't read it too quickly.  You can study each new clue and suspicious character and try to determine who the killer is.  When you finish the book, you would understand why Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime.

Title:  Animal Far

Author: George Orwell

Publisher: Penguin

Call No.: F/ORW              

Sources: School Library

The story is a satire and a fable. It outlines the dangers of tyranny and the corruption of ideals. The author uses the Communist revolution as a template. He points out how, in the end, 'some animals are more equal than others' that is, the essential greediness of us all. It also suggests that we are, in essence, animals ourselves we cannot escape our dark nature and we need to always be aware and vigilant of this. It's a chilling, sad, illuminating and very effective masterpiece.

The basic plot is essentially about some farm animals that have a revolution, throw out the owner, and then run the farm themselves in a mini Utopian socialist state. In Animal Farm the Utopian system is corrupted by a group of pigs that have goals for more power and material wealth at the expense of the other animals. It is a simple case study in human greed for power and wealth. Here the pigs attempt to change the rules as they go along to justify their actions and impose their will on the other animals such as horses, sheep, various birds, dogs, etc, i.e.: all animals are equal but some more than others. The pigs try to get more than a simple share.

The animal farm revolution starts out with much happiness and cooperation among the animals, but eventually there is too much abuse by one group of animals, i.e.: the pigs, who seize control. Like other socialists’ states where a Stalin or Mao or Castro emerges as a totalitarian ruler. Then there are arbitrary decisions by the pigs that have seized power. Like the socialist states gone wrong there is one set of laws for the rulers and a much harsher set of laws for the masses. Like a socialist state gone wrong the leaders have behind the scenes corrupt business deals while the masses starve. Like a socialist state gone wrong there are transparent propaganda and public works projects that are little more than monuments to the rulers. Eventually this triggers a counter-revolution and the animal farm revolution collapses.

In short, the story is entertaining about how a society can take a wrong turn and how leaders are corrupted by absolute power.

Title:   The Diary of a Young Girl 

Author:   Anne Frank 

Publisher:  Anchor

Call No.:  F  FRA          

Sources: School Library

This diary was written by a Jewish teenage girl called Anne Frank. She kept it from June 12, 1942, to August 1, 1944 while she and seven other people were hiding in the Secret Annex. They were arrested on August 4, 1944. Her body was probably dumped in Bergen-Belson’s mass graves. The camp was liberated by British troops on April 12, 1945.  

Anne Frank was born in 1929. She began to write this diary when she was 13 years old. She was just a usual girl, flirting with boys and being impudent to her parents. When at last the time came for the Franks to go into hiding (Margot Frank, Anne's sister, had been issued an order for her removal) they did so with another family, the Van Daans. They hid in a small floor hidden above Otto Frank's old workplace. The two families were aided by faithful friends and employees.

Over the course of the diary we can watch and listen through Anne's eyes how the people in the attic were put through terrible deprivations and trials for two years. After hiding for 25 months, they were discovered. During that time, they were constantly scared of being found by the Nazi. Finally, they could not survive the horrors of the Holocaust.

In the later entries, Anne Frank revealed a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Do you remember what you were like at that age?  For students under 15, ‘Can you imagine what you would be like at 15?’ Would you want anyone to think of you as that old for as long as your name is remembered? Such is the fate of Anne Frank.

In her diary, she wrote, "I still believe that people are really good at heart". While reading sufferings of the Jews, Anne Frank herself and her family, we cannot help to say she was wrong. Some people are evil at heart!  

*** The Holocaust is organized killing of millions of Jews and other people by the German Nazi government during the Second World War.

Title of book: How to talk to anyone,   anytime, anywhere    – The secrets of good communication

Author of book: Larry King with Bill Gilbert

Publisher: Gramercy Books  New York

Call No.: 808.5/KIN

Sources: School Library

“Successful people are usually successful talkers.”  If you know that and you want to succeed in life, you have to learn the secrets of the most effective communicators.

One of the most effective communicators and who is willing to give you advice to learn how to talk well is Larry King.  Who is Larry King?  He is an extraordinarily gifted conversationalist.  He is the award-winning host of CNN’s “Larry King Live”. 

Larry King enjoys talking very much but he understands that many people feel uncomfortable with it.  People fear saying the wrong thing, or saying the right thing in the wrong way.  The book helps to take away the fear.

In the first chapter, he tells us the basics of successful conversation.  They are i. honestly, ii. the right attitude, iii. interest in the other person and iv. openness about yourself.

In Chapter 8, there are the eight things the best talkers have in common:

-         They look at things from a new angle, taking unexpected points of view on familiar subjects.

-         They have broad horizon.  They think about, and talk about, a wide range of issues and experiences beyond their own daily lives.

-         They are enthusiastic, displaying a passion for what they’re doing with their lives and an interest in what you’re saying to them at that moment.

-         They don’t talk about themselves all the time.

-         They are curious.  They ask “Why?”  They want to know more about what you’re telling them.

-         They empathize.  They try to put themselves in your place, to relate to what you’re saying.

-         They have a sense of humor.  And they don’t mind using it on themselves.  In fact, the best conversationalists frequently tell stories on themselves.

-         They have their own style of talking.

The book is really fun and easy to read.  Sit down and start reading.  You’ll be able to find very useful advice in it to help you succeed in life.  The next and really important part is put the advice into actions.

Title: My Left Foot

Author: Christy Brown

Publisher: Collins Educational

Call No.: ERS0090S/SF

Sources: English Room


       The book is an autobiography of the author Christy Brown.

        Christy Brown was born in 1932.   He had 21 brothers and sisters.  His father was a bricklayer.  He was born with cerebral palsy.  It was his mother who first noticed that there was something wrong with him.  Because of cerebral palsy, he had no control over his speech or movement, apart from his left foot.  It meant he could only use his left foot.  However, using his left foot he learned to paint and typed books.  He died in 1981.

The book has touched hearts of millions.  One girl named Emma Holian wrote about it:

   ‘This book tells us about living with the condition of cerebral palsy.  It tells us of the problems and struggles Christy had to face and how he learned to live with them.

   When Christy was young, he couldn’t talk or communicate with his family or friends.  This gave the impression that he was slow and lacking in intelligence.  Christy had to struggle to prove that this wasn’t true, that he actually had a brilliant mind, which he just could not express.  This caused him to feel very alone and trapped in his own private world. 

   This all changed when Christy started to write, using his left foot, which enabled him to communicate for the first time.  This was not the end of his troubles, as he spent his whole life trying to prove himself to people, but it gave him the opportunity to express his feelings.

This book is so sensitively written that Christy actually seems like a person you know.  You can find yourself laughing or crying with him.’

        I strongly recommend you to read the book.  We have more freedom and greater abilities than Christy.  There should not be any difficulties we cannot overcome.  Complain less and achieve more then.

   Cerebral palsy: a medical condition affecting someone’s control over their movement and speech, usually caused by damage to the brain before or during birth (Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2002)