Monday, 18 March 2019

Biden, Joe "Promise Me, Dad"

Biden, Joe "Promise Me, Dad. A year of hope, hardship, and purpose" - 2017

Joe Biden is an amazing man. First, he brought up two children after the loss of their mother and little sister and found the strength to enter political life, not in order to be admired but truly to serve others. That surely tells you everything. Then he enters one of the most powerful and stressful jobs and has to see how his son slowly but surely loses his life. And he still stays strong and does his duty. What a guy! I am not surprised one of the greatest presidents ever chose him as his vice.

As in Michelle Obama's book "Becoming", we follow the relationship between the Biden and Obama family and see what a special kind of bond there is between them. They are both decent families who love their children and want them to grow up in a better society.

Beau Biden's illness was described in such a sensitive way, his father admired him for all he did and how strong he stayed by going through such an ordeal. It was sad and heartbreaking but it was also possible to see the strength it gave them, how it welded them together, how they all learned from each other. Such a wonderful family, such a wonderful man.

What a shame he gave up running for president. He would have been a great incumbent!

Looking forward to more books by Joe Biden, maybe another one about his relationship with Barack Obama?

From the back cover:

"A deeply moving memoir about the year that would forever change both a family and a country.

In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden's eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. 'Promise me, Dad,' Beau had told his father. 'Give me your word that no matter what happens, you're going to be all right.' Joe Biden gave him his word.

Promise Me, Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden's extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad -- Joe, I need your help -- he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.

The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me, Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future."

Friday, 15 March 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"You’re a reader as well as a writer, so write what you’d want to read." Cassandra Clare 

"Hold a book in your hand and you're a pilgrim at the gates of a new city." Hebrew saying, from Anne Michaels "Fugitive Pieces"

"It's one of the ultimate escapes. You can forget where you are and who you are. There have been times I've gone to Middle-earth and Hogwarts and Narnia in my head just to survive… Everyone should have that blessed escape." Ruby *

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." Malala Yousafzai  

Find more book quotes here.

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Sparks, Nicholas "The Notebook"

Sparks, Nicholas "The Notebook" - 2004

I've had this book on my TBR pile for quite a while, actually, since it was suggested for our book club and given to me by a member who left and didn't want to take it along. So, more than ten years. I must admit, I was reluctant to read it since it seems very much like chick lit to me. It was made into a movie - and I haven't watched that, either.

All in all, it was an alright story, not as bad as I imagined but not much better, either. A love story, poor boy loves rich girl and all the obstacles that there are in these kinds of novels which you know they will overcome. There is a twist at the end but that doesn't really make up for the kind of writing that is more destined to those who look for "easy reads".

Most probably the only book I will ever read by Nicholas Sparks.

From the back cover:

"Every so often a love story so captures our hearts that it becomes more than a story-it becomes an experience to remember forever. The Notebook is such a book. It is a celebration of how passion can be ageless and timeless, a tale that moves us to laughter and tears and makes us believe in true love all over again...

At thirty-one, Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after World War II, is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At twenty-nine, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who long ago stole her heart. Thus begins the story of a love so enduring and deep it can turn tragedy into triumph, and may even have the power to create a miracle..."

Monday, 11 March 2019

Fredriksson, Marianne "The Book of Eve"

Fredriksson, Marianne "The Book of Eve" (Swedish: Evas bok) (Paradisets barn / The Children of Paradise #1) - 1980

After reading "Hanna's Daughters" and "Simon and the Oaks" by my name sister Marianne Fredriksson, I was happy to tackle another one of her books. This one is slightly different, although it only looks like this at first glance.

Eve - we all know Eve, you know, the wife of Adam, mother of Cain and Abel. Yes, THAT Eve! From Paradise. But we only know that she gave the forbidden fruit to Adam and is guilty of all the hardships we women have to bear. Otherwise, the bible is not very explicit about her life, neither before nor after being expelled from paradise.

This novel tells us what happens to Adam and Eve after they leave the Garden of Eden, how they lead their life, how they cope with the death of their son. Eve goes back to paradise where she meets the people she left. It's especially interesting after having read "Sapiens" and "The Good Book of Human Nature" where they compare the bible with the evolution.

So, Eve returns to her people who are hunters and gatherers whereas Adam and his family has started to become settlers and farmers. She also learns how to use plants for curing illnesses.
Quite an interesting story that tells us how our ancestors might have lived. I shall try to read the next two books in this "Children of Paradise" trilogy, "The Book of Cain" and "The Saga of Norea".

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

From the back cover:

"A fictional version of the biblical scenario of Adam and Eve, in which Eve leaves the family shortly after their son Cain murders his brother Abel. She travels out in the world in search of their origin and of knowledge about their existence.

This is the first published novel by Marianne Fredriksson and the first book in her trilogy 'The Children of Paradise'. It was later published in a collection volume with the same name, together with 'The Book of Cain' (book two) and 'The Saga of Norea' (book three)."

Friday, 8 March 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever." Louis L’Amour

"Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we’re someone else, disrupting the delusion that we’re permanent and at the centre of the universe. Suddenly (we’re saved!) other people are real again, and we’re fond of them." George Saunders

"From the reader’s view, a poem is more demanding than prose." Mark Strand

"Books make your mind sharper. Life more exciting. Spirits higher. Stress levels lower. Heart more compassionate." 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, 7 March 2019

Murdoch, Iris "The Philosopher's Pupil"

Murdoch, Iris "The Philosopher's Pupil" - 1983

It is hard to describe this book. It starts with an accident. It involves several people from a small town but also some from far away. Whilst I liked the amount of characters and the different kind of relations, they had with each other, I couldn't really warm to them and there wasn't really a big story. You expect a sort of murder mystery but it's not that. It' also not too philosophical even though that subject gets touched all the time. It's not a love story, either.

A library book that I'm not sad to return. I might read this again in a couple of years trying to understand. On the other hand, there are plenty of stories I haven't read, yet, and others that really got me the first time around, so that might never happen.

I happily talk to someone who loved this book. It's not that I dislike it, I just can't find anything to really really like it, either.

From the back cover:

"In the English spa town of Ennistone, hot springs bubble up from deep beneath the earth. In these healing waters the townspeople seek health and regeneration, righteousness and ritual cleansing. To this town steeped in ancient lore and subterranean inspiration the Philosopher returns. He exerts an almost magical influence over a host of Ennistonians, and especially over George McCaffrey, the Philosopher's old pupil, a demonic man desperate for redemption."

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Fielding, Henry "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling"

Fielding, Henry "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" - 1749

This book has been on my wishlist forever. One of the British classic authors that I hadn't "met", yet. And this is always mentioned as the first true novel ever written.

Actually, this could have been two books. One, the novel with the story about Tom Jones and his life. Two, the philosophical thoughts of Henry Fielding before every chapter.

While I usually enjoy reading about philosophy, I think in this case it rather distracted than added to the story. I could have done without it, didn't add anything to the story itself. I also couldn't find the humour that it claims to contain. And I love British humour but this must have been a different kind to the one we usually enjoy. The only other time this has happened to me was with "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons.

This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book. The story itself was very interesting and gave us a great view of the society of the time, what was done and what wasn't, how many rights you had as a woman or even as a man if you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

So, all in all, an interesting read. But it won't be on my "read this again" list.

From the back cover:

"A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire - though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature."