Friday, 14 June 2019

Book Quotes of the Week


"There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page 
Of prancing Poetry - 
This Traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of Toll - 
How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human Soul". Emily Dickinson

"Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper 'One more time' in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality" L.R. Knost

"Parents should leave books lying around marked 'forbidden' if they want their children to read." Doris Lessing

"To become smart you need to read just ten books, but to find those ten, you need to read thousands." N.N.

[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Ackroyd, Peter "Revolution"


Ackroyd, Peter "The History of England, Vol. 4 Revolution" - 2016

After having read the first three books in the series "The History of England" by Peter Ackroyd (Foundation, Tudors, Civil War), I couldn't wait to read the fourth one.

Was it as interesting as the first ones? It surely was though I would have loved more information about the kings of that period. However, I learned a lot about the industrial revolution and the people at the time. For example, the reason the British were quicker to industrialize their country because they didn't have all the little states like Germany, France, and Austria had at the time. Should maybe make them think about whether it's such a good idea to leave the European Union.

It certainly was just as exciting a time as the Tudors which are my favourite times in English history so far.

Same as in the previous books, I missed a list at the back about who became king when and who was the son of whom etc. But I guess that's not going to happen in this series.

From the back cover:

"The fourth volume of Peter Ackroyd's enthralling History of England begins in 1688 with a revolution and ends in 1815 with a famous victory.

In it, Ackroyd takes readers from William of Orange's accession following the Glorious Revolution to the Regency, when the flamboyant Prince of Wales ruled in the stead of his mad father, George III, and England was - again - at war with France, a war that would end with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

Late Stuart and Georgian England marked the creation of the great pillars of the English state. The Bank of England was founded, as was the stock exchange, the Church of England was fully established as the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation and parliament became the sovereign body of the nation with responsibilities and duties far beyond those of the monarch. It was a revolutionary era in English letters, too, a time in which newspapers first flourished and the English novel was born. It was an era in which coffee houses and playhouses boomed, gin flowed freely and in which shops, as we know them today, began to proliferate in our towns and villages. But it was also a time of extraordinary and unprecedented technological innovation, which saw England utterly and irrevocably transformed from a country of blue skies and farmland to one of soot and steel and coal."

I will certainly read the next edition of "The History of England", Vol.5 Dominion and other books by this great author.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Ahmad, Aeham "The Pianist from Syria"


Ahmad, Aeham "The Pianist from Syria" (aka The Pianist of Yarmouk) (German: Und die Vögel werden singen. Ich, der Pianist aus den Trümmern) - 2017

I have read quite a few books about Palestinians in Israel (see here) but I believe that this is my first book that I read about Palestinians in Syria and how much the war has affected them.

What a tragic, what a sad story. The author grew up as the son of Palestinian refugees in Syria. His father is blind but tries to do everything for his son so he can have a better future than was given to him.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. The Syrian Civil began in 2011, when Aehmed Acham was just 22. I kept comparing his life to that of my son who is just a year younger than him. We moved him from one country to the next and there was always a school, medical care, recreational facilities, music teachers, sports groups, the Scouts etc. Anything we wanted for him and his younger brother was there.

Not so for the people in Syria, especially not the Palestinian refugees who were gathered together in a part of Damascus, Yarmouk Camp, that was extremely hard if not impossible to leave.

In the end, Aeham Ahmad was able to escape Syria and really lucky that his family was able to follow him within a year. Many have not been so lucky. I fear for all of them.

The memoir is very well written, the author received some help, but you can hear his voice, his despair about all that has happened to him and his friends. I really loved how he mentioned that the German people had been so extremely kind to him and helped him and his family and friends. Like me and my family, most of our friends have always said we need to help as much as possible. This is a personal story that will hopefully make everyone understand that these are people like you and me who have the same need, wishes, hopes, and dreams. We can all work for a better future by sticking together.

From the back cover:

"An astonishing but true account of a pianist’s escape from war-torn Syria to Germany offers a deeply personal perspective on the most devastating refugee crisis of this century.

Aeham Ahmad was born a second-generation refugee - the son of a blind violinist and carpenter who recognized Aeham's talent and taught him how to play piano and love music from an early age.

When his grandparents and father were forced to flee Israel and seek refuge from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict ravaging their home, Aeham’s family built a life in Yarmouk, an unofficial camp to more than 160,000 Palestinian refugees in Damascus. They raised a new generation in Syria while waiting for the conflict to be resolved so they could return to their homeland. Instead, another fight overtook their asylum. Their only haven was in music and in each other.

Forced to leave his family behind, Aeham sought out a safe place for them to call home and build a better life, taking solace in the indestructible bond between fathers and sons to keep moving forward. Heart-wrenching yet ultimately full of hope, and told in a raw and poignant voice, The Pianist from Syria is a gripping portrait of one man’s search for a peaceful life for his family and of a country being torn apart as the world watches in horror."

Friday, 7 June 2019

Book Quotes of the Week



"A novel is a conversation between a reader and a writer." John Green

"My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read." Abraham Lincoln

"Do you know what they call people who hoard books? Smart." Lisa Scottoline

"When I want to travel, I don't need an airplaine, a train or a bike. Just give me a comfortable seat, a cup of tea and a really good book." N.N. *

Find more book quotes here.


[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Alighieri, Dante "The Divine Comedy"


Alighieri, Dante "The Divine Comedy" (Italian: Divina Commedia) - 1308-20

I love classics. I love chunky books. So, those should be two points for this book.
I don't like reading plays. I don't like reading poetry. Those are two points against this book.
Which side wins? Hard to say. If you don't enjoy reading something, it doesn't get better when it gets longer, so the chunkiness played against the read.

I also didn't think this was a very funny book, not that I have anything against that but if a title is "comedy", you should have to smile at least from time to time. Hmmm, didn't happen. Maybe not my kind of humour (though that is usually slapstick and this is certainly not that kind, either).

I know how often this work is praised as highly intelligent, greatest work of art, etc. but for me, it was not something I could relate to very well. Let me put it like this, if you are a classic lover, this is probably a must read and I am glad I finished it.

From the back cover:

"Long narrative poem originally titled Commedia (about 1555 printed as La divina commedia) written about 1310-14 by Dante. The work is divided into three major sections - Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso - which trace the journey of a man from darkness and error to the revelation of the divine light, culminating in the beatific vision of God. It is usually held to be one of the world's greatest works of literature. 

The plot of The Divine Comedy is simple: a man is miraculously enabled to visit the souls in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. He has two guides: Virgil, who leads him through the Inferno and Purgatorio, and Beatrice, who introduces him to Paradiso. Through these fictional encounters taking place from Good Friday evening in 1300 through Easter Sunday and slightly beyond, Dante the character learns of the exile that is awaiting him (an actual exile that had already occurred at the time of writing). This device allowed Dante not only to create a story out of his exile but also to explain how he came to cope with personal calamity and to offer suggestions for the resolution of Italy's troubles as well."

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books From My Favourite Genre



"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

June 4: Books From My Favourite Genre

Historical Fiction

Definitely one of my favourite genres. But - decisions, decisions! It's always so hard to choose ten books only. I have reduced it to ten authors but even that was hard enough:

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar)
Follett, Ken: Medieval Duology ("The Pillars of the Earth", "World Without End") and Century Trilogy ("Fall of Giants", "Winter of the World", "Edge of Eternity")
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain"
Hislop, Victoria "The Sunrise"
Lowenstein, Anna "The Stone City" (Esperanto: La Ŝtona Urbo)
Mahfouz, Naguib: Cairo Trilogy: ("Palace Walk", "Palace of Desire", "Sugar Street")
Rutherfurd, Edward: any ("Awakening", "Dublin", "The Forest", "London", "Paris", Russka")
Schami, Rafik "The Calligrapher’s Secret" (German: Das Geheimnis des Kalligraphen)
Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton"
Weir, Alison: The Tudor Queens ("The Six Wives of Henry VIII", "Katherine of Aragon", "Anne Boleyn", "Jane Seymour"

As you can see, I have labels for almost all of those authors which means, in most cases I have read a lot more of their books than just the ones mentioned here. As soon as I have read three books by one single writer, I give them a label

I had chosen eleven other books/authors but, unfortunately, was restricted to ten only. If you're interested in them, I can always add them in the comments.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Melville, Herman "Moby Dick or The Whale"


Melville, Herman "Moby Dick or The Whale" - 1851

Moby Dick, an epic tale, "Call me Ishmael", one of the most famous first lines ever. So, I just had to read it one day.

Was it everything I thought it might be? Probably not though it is quite interesting. The story itself is a good one, the mad captain who is looking for the whale who is responsible for him losing his leg, the crew that is out for money, the encounters with wales or other ships. That alone might have made a good novel.

But Herman Melville had to add more, I was reminded of lessons at school where all I wanted was that this class would be over and the next, more interesting one, would begin. If I want to know all about wales, maybe I should better buy an illustrated book about them. Or what about fishing? Ships? How to dissect a whale? Various other seafood? I think after reading this most people know enough to go whaling themselves. Only - do they want to?

Anyway, one of the lesser classic tales, in my opinion.

From the back cover:

"On a previous voyage, a mysterious white whale had ripped off the leg of a sea captain named Ahab. Now the crew of the Pequod, on a pursuit that features constant adventure and horrendous mishaps, must follow the mad Ahab into the abyss to satisfy his unslakeable thirst for vengeance. Narrated by the cunningly observant crew member Ishmael, Moby-Dick is the tale of the hunt for the elusive, omnipotent, and ultimately mystifying white whale - Moby Dick.

On its surface, Moby-Dick is a vivid documentary of life aboard a nineteenth-century whaler, a virtual encyclopedia of whales and whaling, replete with facts, legends, and trivia that Melville had gleaned from personal experience and scores of sources. But as the quest for the whale becomes increasingly perilous, the tale works on allegorical levels, likening the whale to human greed, moral consequence, good, evil, and life itself. Who is good? The great white whale who, like Nature, asks nothing but to be left in peace? Or the bold Ahab who, like scientists, explorers, and philosophers, fearlessly probes the mysteries of the universe? Who is evil? The ferocious, man-killing sea monster? Or the revenge-obsessed madman who ignores his own better nature in his quest to kill the beast?

Scorned by critics upon its publication, Moby-Dick was publicly derided during its author’s lifetime. Yet Melville’s masterpiece has outlived its initial misunderstanding to become an American classic of unquestionably epic proportions. "