The Master and Margarita: This Is the End

We've come to the end of this crazy journey. What is left for Woland to do?

Flames! Flames on the side of my face!

The Moscow police are searching for the cause of the apparent mass hypnosis that overtook the city. All signs point to Flat 50. They surround the apartment and while at times the place seems bustling with life, when they investigate no one is at home. Finally, they break into the room and find nothing, except for a talking cat. Instead of saying, "Whoa! A talking cat!" they assume it's part of the hypnosis and start... shooting at it? This makes as much sense as you would imagine. I mean, if it's a hallucination then it's not real or it's a regular cat that they are shooting at for no reason.

Behemoth pulls out his gun and fires back. Somehow no one is injured, but he sets the place on fire before jumping out the window. He meets up with Koroviev and they set a shop and the writers' club on fire just for fun, before heading out to meet with Woland.

Good times

A Basement Apartment in the Sk-y-y-y

Margarita and the master are hanging out at the old basement apartment. The master gloomily thinks of the future. The devil isn't done with them yet. Matthew, you know, from the bible, tells Woland that Jesus wants the master "to find peace." The equivalent of your parents taking the family pet to go "live on a farm."

No one can leave the lovers alone. 

Azazello goes to collect them. First, he gives them poisoned wine and they die. Then things get confusing. Their clones or doubles or selves in another dimension die in Margarita's bedroom and the master's room at the hospital. Azazello revives the couple at the basement apartment and takes them to Woland.

They all fly away on magical flying horses, but not before the master says goodbye to Ivan. He tells Ivan to write the sequel to his Pilate book. I don't know what that would be, Pilate 2: Pilate Harder?

Ivan, probably

And it all makes sense...just kidding

Anyway they all fly to heaven, I guess, and Woland's gang (minus Hella? what gives?) turn into handsome men. Pilate is waiting for the master to finish the book (for 2000 years?). The master yells "you are free!" So, Pilate's fate all hinges on what the master says. huh. Pilate and his dog finally get to take long walks with Jesus.

Then there's some stuff about people being jerks to black cats, which I highly disapprove of.

So yeah, pretty weird. It's like a fever dream. I feel like Bulgakov was just tossing stuff into this book. I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm not a religious person, so I think I missed a lot. It's interesting that the devil here is a hero of sorts. He participates in giving the master his reward. It's not the devil of The Exorcist that's for sure. The book is ridiculous and I think maybe we're not meant to understand most of it. Did I like it? I don't know.

Thanks to Alice for hosting the readalong! I never would have finished this otherwise.

Quote the Raven Girl, Give Me Wings!

A postman delivers a letter to some ravens and finds a young raven has fallen out of the nest. He takes her home and raises her, even teaches her to fly. They fall in love. Together they make an egg. Let's not think too hard about the logistics of this. The egg grows and out pops a girl.

The girl is not like other girls though (no, really). She can't speak, and only makes cawing sounds. She wants more than anything to fly. When she grows up, she goes to university and discovers that she may be able to accomplish this impossible dream.

Raven Girl is a little bit fairy tale, a little bit science fiction. It's a lot weird.

Raven Girl an adult graphic novel. The illustrations are amazing. The text and drawings are creations of Audrey Niffenegger. There's a lot of subtext in this short book about identity, and body modification. Raven Girl's outer appearance doesn't match what she feels inside. She is willing to make major changes to her body to make the outside look more like the being she wants to be. While she has supporters, she has detractors as well. Someone who doesn't understand Raven Girl's struggles.

Since this is a fairy tale, it may or may not have a happy ending. You'll have to read it to find out.

The book was written to be made into a ballet. It looks pretty cool.

As it's a few days before Halloween, a Raven Girl costume would be a good choice. Caw-caw!

Raven Girl

The Master and Margarita Readalong: Wasn't That a Party

We're almost there! Next week is the last installment of The Master and Margarita Readalong hosted by Alice, but for now let's go to a party.

Ain't No Party Like a Satan Party

After agreeing to be hostess, Margarita gets the spa treatment in preparation for her duties. She's also given some advice: greet everyone equally and pleasantly. Considering how much emphasis Koroviev puts on this, you know it has to be a bad sign.


The guests arrive- corpses in coffins. They transform into their previous non-decayed selves and are introduced to a shocked Margarita. Guest after guest arrive: murderers, suicides, seducers, all kinds. All through the night Margarita plays hostess to the damned, while they swim in pools of wine and listen to animals playing in a band.

Sort of like this

Just as Margarita is about to collapse, Woland appears. He drinks the blood of a spy he has murdered in a goblet that is actually the missing head of the editor.

Drink up!

Margarita is forced to drink from the goblet, and as she does the party disappears.

When you wish upon a Satan

Margarita finds herself back in Woland's bedroom with his gang. She feels disappointed that she hasn't been offered any reward for going along with all this craziness. Just as she is about to leave, Woland tells her to stay and asks her what she wants, what she really, really wants.

Although she has the chance to ask for the master's return, she asks for a sad, damned girl from the party to cease being tortured for her crime. The girl murdered the baby she bore after her boss raped her. (Pretty dark stuff.) The entourage gives her a hard time for her request, but Woland tells her she has the power to free the girl. And she does, because she's still a good person.

Then she asks for the master and, voila!, he appears before her in his pajamas. Margarita is happy, and wants to go back to their little basement apartment and live as they had before.

What the master says

There is some more nonsense about the housing crisis- the man who lives in their apartment now lodged a complaint against the master for owning illegal literature so he could get the apartment. Woland tosses him out.

Woland returns the terrible Pilate manuscript to the master and sends them on their way.

That damn book again

And, ugh, we get two more chapters of the Pilate book. I do not understand why everyone is so gaga over this book. It's Pilate fan fiction where the master ships Pilate and Jesus. Anyway, all it's about is Pilate telling his head of security that he has to *WINK* protect Judas from a murder that's going to happen that night. So of course Judas is murdered by this guy's men. Then some stuff about Matthew who cares.

I guess the master and Margarita don't have their heads removed or forced to sing because they are so special for believing in something. Margarita believes in the master and the master believes in his Jesus book. And why does Satan care exactly?

Bye Bye?
You would think this is the end of the master and Margarita's story but it's not. You'll just have to hold on for one more week to find out the conclusion of their drama.

October 2016 #Readathon Update Post

I'm up on this dreary day and ready to read. I'm going to put the coffee on, but first let's do the pre-Readathon meme.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? As always, gray Nova Scotia. 2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Since this was last minute, I haven't had time to contemplate it. I have The Raven Girl for later and that looks good!3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I bought M&M Chocolate Chip cookies. 4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Always a hard question. Well, I have two cats and a dog that will keep me company. The husband and the teen are own their own today. 5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I'm done so many of these that I can't think of anything I'd do different. I always say that I'm just going to try and have fun!

I probably will be doing most of my updates on Twitter and also on Litsy. I'm Chrisbookarama on both if you'd like to follow me. Hope to see you there!

Hour 12: 

I figured I'd make at least one update.

The Readathon has been going well. I'm pretty chill about it.

I've finished:
The Master and Margarita
The Arrangements by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I'm currently reading:
Witches: Wicked, Wild and Wonderful edited by Paula Guran

Up next:
The Raven Girl

Surprise! I'm going to #Readathon!

Oh hey! My weekend plans fell through. Now I can read on Saturday! It's Readathon time!

We're supposed to get bad weather this weekend. You might not know this, but a couple of weeks ago we had some severe weather in my area. There was flooding and high winds. Some people lost their homes. Many had flooded basements or lost power for days. I was lucky and didn't even lose power. I knock on all the wood that this doesn't happen again, but people around here are real nervous. So, we're staying close to home.

I plan on staying in my PJs and reading through it all. My reading plan? Well, I hope to finish the books I'm currently reading: The Master and Margarita, and Witches of New York. I have some audiobooks for when I can't sit on my couch. It's not much of a plan, but I didn't expect to be able to join at all.

If you are Readathoning, I hope to see you around Twitter or wherever you plan on updating your progress. See you then!

A Witch!: Master and Margarita Readalong

This third week for The Master and the Margarita Readalong hosted by Alice, we're reading through Chapter 22, By Candlelight. Here we go.

Moscow Mayhem

More mayhem continues in this week's reading. The money given away at the magic show turns into paper, causing problems for taxi drivers all over Moscow. It also leads to the arrest of the theatre's accountant. Women are left in their underwear when the clothes they picked out at the show disappear. Busloads of office workers are driven to the mental hospital, when they can't stop singing Soviet working songs.

The headless editor's uncle starts thinking that the Moscow apartment is his, as an heir I guess, and travels from the apparently terrible Kiev to lay claim to it. Uncle Maximilian is told by Behemoth, the cat, that he better scram. He books it out of there, but pauses to see what's about to happen to a man also looking for No. 50. This poor old barman, cheated by the fake money taken as payment for booze, is hoping Woland will straighten out his financial situation. A naked woman in an apron opens the door, which gives him a start. Woland and the rest of his entourage then spook the old guy when they inform him he will die in 9 months from liver cancer so he better not worry about it.

The devil's followers are the best part of this book so far. The inhabitants of No. 50 remind me of the people living in Dr Frank-n-furter's castle in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

And like when I watch The Rocky Horror I have no idea what is going on. (Why is Meatloaf even there?) It's still a pretty good time though.

Finally, a Margarita

Margarita arrives on the scene. She's been moping around her big house, worrying her maid, but this day she has "a feeling." She takes a walk to Alexander Gardens and is distracted by the funeral parade of the editor. Rumour has it that his head went missing. Woland's man Azazello appears and tells her "a foreign gentleman" wants to meet her. She's offended, as she thinks this is a come on, but gets excited when he tells what's she's been thinking, of her lover of course, and that he has news of the Master.

Before she can meet the man himself, she has to wait until 8:30 and then slather herself with special cream given to her by Azazello. The time comes and the cream, just like the ads say, take ten years off her haggard 30 year old face.

And then you might as well be dead
It also gives her new vim and vigor. Oh and also she can fly on a broom now. She has a great time flying around Moscow- naked and invisible. She stops to completely destroy, with a sledgehammer, the apartment of the publisher that ruined the Master's life. Very Revenge of her!

Peace out, Moscow!
She hops back on her broom and there beside her is her maid Natasha riding a pig, who used to be her neighbour. She's a witch now. And it turns out Margarita is the Queen of the Witches. She finds this out at the Burning Man festival happening in the woods attended by all the witches. When the party wraps up, she's taken to Woland's apartment by a crow driving a flying car. You know, normal not-mushroom induced stuff.

Margarita meets Woland while he's lying in bed. He asks her to host a special ball he is throwing. He throws it every year and the hostess must always be a Margarita and a native of the place. How convenient. Margarita agrees. I'm not sure how this will involve the Master, but it guess it will somehow.

I hope there will be dancing
So. Margarita arrived. No Jesus this week. Margarita has really taken to being Queen of the Witches. It's nice to see her out of the house and doing her own thing. I think I into the groove of this novel now.

Angry Ghost: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St James

Mousy Sarah Piper, a temp for an agency, gets an offer for an intriguing assignment. Ghost hunter, Allistair Gellis, needs a woman to make contact with a misandrous ghost.

Not you, boys.
Maddy Clare was a maid who hung herself in her employer's barn and now noisily haunts the premises. She distrusted men in life, and the feeling hasn't abated in death. The lady of the house is at her wits end and asks for Alastair's help. Sarah reluctantly agrees to the job. It's not typing or dictation, her usual assignments, but she needs the cash. For Alistair, documenting this haunting will make him a Big Deal in the ghost hunting biz.

Sarah and Alastair head off to an English backwater, where all the locals eye them suspiciously. The pair seem like a couple of charlatans out to steal Lady Clare's money. During the investigation, Sarah and Alastair learn more about the mysterious Maddy. She's a girl with no past, having shown up on the Clare's doorstep seven years earlier, beaten and bloody, with no memory of what happened to her. She lived with the Clares for years, until the afternoon when she ended her life. Whatever demons Maddy kept inside herself, they were let loose after her death.

After an harrowing first meeting with Maddy, Sarah is shaken. She's introduced to Alastair's other assistant, and is shaken in another way- if you know what I mean. He's hunky Matthew Ryder, an old friend of Alastair's from the war. He's got demons of his own. But that and Maddy's relentless haunting, doesn't stop Sarah and Matthew from rattling their own chains- if you catch my drift.

Things get out of hand when Maddy goes rogue, threatening to destroy all that Sarah cares about. Can Sarah find Maddy peace before it's too late?

For a book about ghost hunters, you'd think this would be a lot more fun. Everyone in The Haunting of Maddy Clare has Issues. The men have PTSD from the Great War, and Sarah has self-esteem issues. I don't think I've ever read a heroine so hard on herself. She's got a bad case of the "I'm too ugly to love" blues. There are three scenes where she looks in a mirror and goes over why she's so unattractive. "Ugh, my boobs are so big! And my curvy bottom is so unfashionable! Men hate that!" For real? I know it's the 1920s but when has a hetero man said no to boobs? There is no explanation to why she feels this way. In fact, she's had lovers before, obviously someone found her attractive, so why the self-loathing?

Maddy's ghost was more appealing to me. Maddy was unable to channel her rage in life, but once she is dead- look out! She will have her vengeance! There was no justice for Maddy while she was alive. When her plan for those that did her wrong is revealed, I wished Sarah could have been a lot more supportive. Hoes before bros!

Should have been her reaction, really.

If Sarah wasn't such a drag, The Haunting of Maddy Clare could have been a much more entertaining book. I liked that the ghost was real, and there wasn't some Scooby-Doo ending (it was the housekeeper all along! nonsense). Matthew seemed real sexy, but their romance was too dark and tortured for me. Everyone was bumming me out.

So, a mixed review: Maddy's plot: good, Sarah: boo.

Please note: The plot revolves around the sexual assault of a young person. It's not graphic, but it's pretty dark.

About the Audio: Pamela Garelick is the narrator. I wasn't a fan of her Matthew voice. Granted, it's hard for a lady to do gruff and sexy bearded dude.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Master and Margarita Readalong, Part Two: Magic and Mayhem

This post is my thoughts on the second scheduled part of The Master and Margarita Readalong hosted by Alice. Things will be spoiled!

Well, He's no David Blaine But...

The devil (yes, this week someone finally says it- the stranger is Satan) and his cohorts having dispatched Stepa, the roommate, to Yalta and beheaded the editor, decide to occupy the empty apartment, even though apartments are in hot demand in Moscow. They bribe the landlord, Nikanor, and immediately call the cops on him for accepting the bribe. So rude!

Meanwhile, Stepa sends his boss, the house manager of the theatre, Varenukha, a telegraph from Yalta. He and the treasurer, Rimsky, are like, "That's impossible! We just talked to him fifteen minutes ago!" Varenukha sets out to get to the bottom of things and is beaten by the devil's entourage. He's dragged off by a naked glowing girl only to return to Rimsky later without a shadow. Poor Rimsky himself is nearly dragged to hell by a zombie but the rising sun saves him. (These are things that happened.)

But before Rimsky is traumatized, there is a variety show at the theatre. Everything starts out like an X Factor episode with girls on unicycles and such, when the devil gets on stage. He's introduced as a magician but first he sits in a chair and complains about the Russians. When the audience gets restless, he makes money appear from the sky, removes a man's head, and gives women new outfits. He's not much of a showman about it and the audience is confused.

Someone stands up and demands to know how the tricks were done. To be fair, the host said all would be revealed, but I got to wonder, has anyone in Russia even seen a magic show before? You don't ask how it's done, you just go along with it. No one asks David Blaine how he levitates. You just say, "Wow! That's amazing!" Act appropriately, Russians. The only reveal that happens is to the audience member's wife, who finds out he's having an affair. Shows over, folks!

The Devil, You Say!

While the theatre breaks into pandemonium, all is quiet at the mental hospital. Ivan is taking it easy. He's about to have nap, when a man sneaks into his room. The man asks how he came to be there and Ivan explains his situation once again. The man believes him and tells him the stranger he met was the devil.
Usually you know it's the devil because he's playing the fiddle

This is the Master, finally. He goes into a long story about how writing a book about Pontius Pilate and trying to get it published drove him suicidal. Of course, the story involves Margarita.

First, I want to note that every man in this book who is married hates his wife and is having an affair. The Master is no exception. Margarita is his mistress. When he first sees her, she's carrying daffodils and after he tells her he hates them, she throws them away. (She doesn't tell him to FO like I would have.) Also, she was going to kill herself, but then she falls in love with him at that VERY moment. She devotes herself to him, cooking for him, telling him he's a genius. Blah, blah, blah. Is this supposed to be romantic? This sounds like pure male fantasy. A young, hot girl to wait on you and tell you you're a genius? Please.

My reaction
I'm not a romantic, okay!

Anyway, when he decides to kill himself, she says she will too. (Of course!) But to save her, he runs to the mental hospital instead.

So, that's his story.

What Else...

Nikanor is in the mental hospital after being interrogated about the money. He dreams that he's in an auditorium full of men being shamed into giving up their "foreign money." I'm sure this is a dig at Russian authorities and is real hilarious.

The guy who had his head removed at the theatre is also in the hospital raving about his head.

Rimsky's hair turned white after the zombie incident.

More Jesus story.

What will Jesus do?

What will happen next? I guess we'll meet Margarita. More married men will hate their wives and get hot mistresses, probably.

Gobble! Gobble!

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada! I'm looking forward to my turkey and pumpkin pie. We've had perfect fall weather this year. Not too cold, not too windy. I've been able to take lots of fall photos of trees in full fall colour. I've gone on lots of walks and fully soaked in the autumnness that I hope will hold me over through the winter to come.

Since this is my weekend for relaxing and enjoying my family time, I think I'm going to stay off of social media for the rest of it. It's bonkers there right now. Twitter used to be full of book talk, but now it's mostly the US election. I try to stay out of other countries' politics, but...ick. That's all that needs to be said about that. I think I'll stick to Pinterest, Instagram, and do some crafting.

I'm reading The Master and Margarita for the readalong. Such a weird book. I read The Haunting of Maddy Clare this week. It was okay. I had some issues with it. I'll have a review up soon. I'm going to try to watch Ghostbusters tonight. I can't seem to stay awake past nine anymore.

Since I started working, my back is killing me. I think it's a combination of not getting enough exercise and sitting all day. I'm not used to it. If anyone has suggestions for easing the pain, I'll take them!

I keep thinking of things to blog about, but by the time I sit down to write I lose the will to blog. So, this is just a quick hello. Hello! And now goodbye. I'll see you all on the internet somewhere later.

The Master and Margarita Readalong, Part One: What Is Going On Here?

Alice is hosting The Master and Margarita Readalong. This is Part One, Chapters 1-8.

Let's just start this off with a gif.

Me during this week's reading
Never Talk to Strangers Who Claim to Have Met Jesus

It all starts with two men, an editor and a poet, talking about Jesus. For some reason, this gets the attention of a stranger who appears out of thin air. Although he is delighted that they are atheists, he launches into a long story about Jesus and Pontius Pilate which he claims is true. Jesus seems kind of hapless and Pilate has a headache. This is a true story because he was there!

The two men decide this guy is crazy... or a German spy. The editor runs to get the police but slips in oil and is decapitated by a trolley. The poet, overhearing some women speaking about the accident, recalls something the stranger said and believes he set up the events leading up to the accident. He tries to confront the stranger but he runs away with a bespectacled man and a giant black cat.

The poet runs around Moscow looking for the stranger, breaking into people's houses and swimming around the river with no pants on. He finds himself at the house of his literary club. He causes a scene and is hauled off to an asylum. Another poet accompanies him, but gets depressed after the first poet insults him.

What these people don't know is that the stranger is among them, as a member of the club (aka the pirate) and the doctor at the hospital. Everywhere the stranger goes chaos ensues. He even shows up in the apartment of the dead editor (with his giant talking cat) where his roommate is nursing a hangover. And bam! the roommate wakes up in another town.

I haven't mentioned any names because these Russians go by several. They have aliases and nicknames, and really similar names to each other. In the sixth chapter, Bezdomny (the poet) is referred to as Ivan and for a second I didn't know who he was. Also, who is important here? Neither the Master nor Margarita have shown up yet. So, should I even try to remember these other guys' names?

Unlike most of our Readalongs which are unintentionally silly, M&M is meant to be absurdist and funny. Satires are also supposed to be subversive. I feel like a lot of this is going over my head, probably because I am not living in the Soviet Union. Even though I grew up in the 80s and all anyone could ever talk about were the Russians, I don't think I had a good handle it, other than through movies, and Elton John's song Nikita. This is an interesting look at the USSR. I've read that it was censored (12%) when it was first published in 1966. It seems like that would be a hard job. What is serious and what is silly? I think you could read a lot into some parts, and not get anything out of others.

Anyway, in the seventh chapter we finally learn that the stranger is named Woland and he is a professor of black magic.

I am liking it so far. It's not a difficult read, like Crime and Punishment. It is weird though. I want to know more about that talking cat. Hopefully, I can get the names right by next week.

Number of margaritas so far: 0