Friday, 29 November 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"Let's be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading." Lena Dunham

"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. Ursula K. Guin

 “But, how do you know if an ending is truly good for the characters unless you've travelled with them through every page?” Shannon Hale

"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all." Abraham Lincoln

"Sleep is good," he said, "and books are better." George R.R. Martin

"What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers." Logan Pearsall Smith

"I go on many thrilling adventures and wondrous, profound escapades through books." Kurt Vonnegut
 

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book"

Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book" (Thursday Next 2) - 2002 

I read "The Eyre Affair" by Charlotte Brontë last year because someone from the book club recommended it to me. I probably would have never picked it up because it looked a bit like fantasy and science fiction and that is not something I am usually interested in.

But Thursday Next works for SpecOps 27, the Literary Deceives (LiteraTecs) in Special Operations, a fictional division of the British government. With the help of special gadgets and skills, she can enter books and move from one to the next, this is called "bookjumping". This time, she spends a lot of time in "Great Expectations" but also visits other places, e.g. Osaka via Gravitube. A device I would like to have in real life in order to visit friends on the other side of the world within a couple of hours.

Same as in her first book, there are a lot of funny names and funny occurrences but the funniest of all is when someone describes our life today as a "sideline" and they agree how weird that must be.

A funny, light book that can be read within a couple of hours but stays with you a lot longer. Whether you're into adventure or chick lit, science fiction or real life, this is a book for everyone. Very entertaining.

I wonder, where her next book "The Well of Lost Plots" will take her.

From the back cover:
"Thursday Next is back. This time, it's personal.
For Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, life should be good…
Riding high on a wave of celebrity following the safe return of kidnapped Jane Eyre, Thursday ties the knot with the man she loves.
But marital bliss isn’t quite as it should be. It turns out her husband of one month actually drowned thirty-eight years ago, and no one but Thursday has any memory of him at all.
Someone, somewhere is responsible.
Having barely caught her breath after
The Eyre Affair Thursday heads back into fiction in search of the truth, discovering that paper politicians, the lost Shakespearian manuscripts, a flurry of near- fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?
"

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

"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". 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.

November 26: Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For (could be bookish or not -- up to you)

I guess this is an American idea because it coincides with Thanksgiving but we all have things we can be grateful for. And even though I am a day late for the Tuesday, I still a day early for the actual date. 

 I am most thankful for my loving and supporting husband. Through all my years of chronic migraine, he has always been by my side and helped in any way he could. 

Then I am very thankful for my two amazing boys. They have grown up to be the best and most kind and helpful young men anybody can imagine. 

I am thankful for my family, my parents, brothers, their wives and children, who have always stood by my side. 

Next I am immensely grateful for all the friends I found in all those years that we travelled and settled in various European countries. Life without them would have been very different. 

I am thankful that we always have enough to live on, enough food, enough clothes, everything we really need. 

And last but not least, I am thankful that I always have enough access to any kind of book I would love to read whether I buy them or borrow them from the library.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Book Quotes of the Week


“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” Gustave Flaubert

"A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. " Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"The first book we fall in love with shapes us every bit as much as the first person we fall in love with ..." Laura Miller

"Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner Jr.

"The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer." Zadie Smith

"Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book." Malala Yousafzai

"Books breed like rabbits, bookcases breed like elephants." N.N.


Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Scieszka, Jon; Smith, Lane "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs"

Scieszka, Jon; Smith, Lane "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" - 1989

This is the true story of the "Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf" as retold by Alexander T. Wolf. Or is it "The Three Bad Pigs and the Nice Little Wolf"?

In any case, the story is hilarious, for children and adults alike. It is not just that the well known story has been turned around and the wolf is the innocent one in this scenario, there are so many aspects to the story that can be discussed with children of all ages whether they are still too little to read it themselves or are older than the kids who usually read fairy tales and picture books.

The wolf insists he only wanted to borrow sugar to make a cake for his grandmother's birthday. Poor wolf. It's not his fault he likes to eat pork.

The illustrations are also wonderful. A great book all around.

From the back cover: "A spoof on the three little pigs story, this time told from the wolf's point of view. Lane Smith also illustrated Hallowe'en ABC which was one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year."

Monday, 18 November 2013

Regener, Sven “Berlin Blues”

Regener, Sven “Berlin Blues” (Herr Lehmann) - 2001 

It doesn't happen often that German books are translated into English so I was quite surprised to find that this one was.

This is the story about a guy who would probably be called a loser by many. Frank comes from Bremen but lives in Berlin and works in a pub. His parents think he could do better, his brother certainly thinks that. His friends call him Herr Lehmann, one girl after the other leaves him.

You would think this book is boring but it's not, it describes the last year before the fall of the wall in a city that had been divided for decades. It is both humorous as well as philosophical, a difficult line to walk down but Sven Regener managed this quite well. In a quite ironic way, he talks about language and life, about all the little things that make life difficult but also wonderful.

Nice story, well written, a realistic tale about the life of the "little people". I will go on and read the two other books of this trilogy, "Neue Vahr Süd" and "Der kleine Bruder" [The little brother], both of which have not been translated. Yet, I hope.

From the back cover: "It's 1989 and, whenever he isn't hanging out in the local bars, Herr Lehmann lives entirely free of responsibility in the bohemian Berlin district of Kreuzberg. Through years of judicious sidestepping and heroic indolence, this barman has successfully avoided the demands of parents, landlords, neighbours and women. But suddenly one unforeseen incident after another seems to threaten his idyllic and rather peaceable existence. He has an encounter with a decidedly unfriendly dog, his parents threaten to descend on Berlin from the provinces, and he meets a dangerously attractive woman who throws his emotional life into confusion. Berlin Blues is a richly entertaining evocation of life in the city and a classic of modern-day decadence."

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Hessel, Stéphane "Time for Outrage!"


Hessel, Stéphane "Time for Outrage!" (Indignez-vous!) - 2011 

This is probably one of the shortest "books" I ever read. It would not even go as a short story for many people. Just about 30 pages.

Stéphane Hessel is 93 years old and he was a member of Résistance during the war.

When he published his book in France, it caused a lot of attention. The author encourages us to be outraged. He has seen what happens when people aren't. He encourages us to stand up not only to dictatorship but before that to the business world, the banks, the financers, to fight for the minorities, against pollution and therefore for humanity and our earth.

I think everybody should read this, it doesn't take long but could change the world for the better if we all acted accordingly.

From the back cover: "This controversial, impassioned call-to-arms for a return to the ideals that fuelled the French Résistance has sold millions of copies worldwide since its publication in France in October 2010. Rejecting the dictatorship of world financial markets and defending the social values of modern democracy, 93-old Stéphane Hessel - Résistance leader, concentration camp survivor, and former UN speechwriter - reminds us that life and liberty must still be fought for, and urges us to reclaim those essential rights we have permitted our governments to erode since the end of World War II."

Friday, 15 November 2013

Book Quotes of the Week


"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library." Jane Austen

"A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." Italo Calvino 

"You cannot open a book without learning something." Confucius 

"Why Read the Classics?" "Reading is one of the joys of life and once you begin you can't stop and you've got so many stories to look forward to." Benedict Cumberbatch 

"Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one." Terry Pratchett

"I love that you can safely entrust yourself to books," she said, "though you may be torn in two, in the end your heart will be returned - more whole than when you gave it away at the first page." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Keneally, Thomas "Schindler's Ark"

Keneally, Thomas "Schindler's Ark" - 1982

I wanted to read this book for ages and when I came across it, I took advantage of the occasion and started reading it.

Of course, everyone knows the story of Oscar Schindler and that he saved thousands of Jews from being murdered in one of the many concentration camps the Nazis had built for this purpose.

Granted, the story is heartbreaking. Even with all the information we have today about what was going on, it still is unbelievable to me how people can have acted that way. Every time I read about it. It seems impossible but we know that this has really happened.

The author did a great research and there are so many details in this book, he must have worked so hard on it.

But it is a tough book to read. Not only because of its content. I did not enjoy the way the book was written. It was not a steady flow, a lot of the story seemed so disconnected, it seemed as if the author had collected his information, thrown together what he found and mixed it all up. I don't know how else to describe this but it certainly was not well written. If it had been another subject, I probably would have given up on it after about a hundred pages. Which would have been a hundred pages too many, if it was another subject. Any newspaper article even about a boring subject is written in a more interesting way.

I will read more books about the Holocaust and World War II abut I doubt that I will read another book by Thomas Keneally.

From the back cover: "As thousands faced death in Nazi-occupied Poland an unlikely saviour materialised in the shadow of Auschwitz. Oskar Schindler was a heavy-drinking, womanising German industrialist whom the war transformed into a man with a mission. This is an incredible story of huge risks and enormous gains, as Schindler defied and outwitted the SS to protect the beleaguered Jews who worked for him."

Friday, 8 November 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"You’re the only person I’ve ever met who can stand a bookstore as long as I can.” Junot Díaz, "This Is How You Lose Her"

"Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter." Paxton Hood

"I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C.S. Lewis

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” J.D. Salinger

"Ordinary performers have giant TVs. Extraordinary performers have huge libraries." Robin Sharma

"Every book you read may not save your life but some of them will." Adam Stanley

 "I thought that words and books and pens were more powerful than guns." Malala Yousafzai

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook"


Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook" (El Cuaderno de Maya) - 2011

If she hadn't been on the list, yet, with this book Isabel Allende would have made it onto my favourite author's list. I absolutely loved this book.

Maya is a girl with a tremendous story. She has a Chilean father and a Danish mother and is brought up by her Chilean grandmother and her second husband who is African American. Can it get any more international? Can a girl who is loved by a grandmother and looked after so carefully, get into trouble.
Yes, she can, if she feels that neither her mother, who just left her when she was a baby, nor her father, who is always away on business, wants her in her life, that she is unwanted.

And this is what happens to Maya, she ends up with all the problems our parents warn us about. Sex, Drugs and Rock'n Roll, well, less of the rock'n roll and more of the drugs, unfortunately. She gets into so much trouble that the whole world seems to be chasing her.

But her grandmother has a solution, like always. She simply sends Maya to an old friend who lives on a Chilean island with only a few villages on it. Nobody knows where she is and that is a good thing.

Here she has all the time in the world to get back on her feet and find out who she really is.

The description of all the characters, whether they are in Mayas former or in her new life, is just fantastic, we can imagine very well being part of any of the communities Maya is catapulted into. She learns what life is all about, that there is a lot more to it than a quick "fix" can give her. Great voice, Isabel Allende, great storytelling. She builds anticipation by switching from Maya's life before to the one after she arrived in Chile. Her writing is poetical, yet it rings so true. You want to believe this is a true story.

Some great quotes:
"Nothing strong can be built on a foundation of lies and omissions."
"Our demons lose their power when we pull them out of the depths where they hide and look them in the face in broad daylight."
"Happiness is slippery, it slithers away between your fingers, but problems are something you can hold on to, they've got handles, and they're rough and hard."

From the back cover: "Isabel Allende’s latest novel, set in the present day (a new departure for the author), tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl who finds refuge on a remote island off the coast of Chile after falling into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. There, in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya Vidal writes her story, which includes pursuit by a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. In the process, she unveils a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul."

I really need to improve my Spanish, these authors seem to be the greatest.

Read about my other Isabel Allende books here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On

"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". 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.

November 5: Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On

Not many sequels that I am waiting for the authors to write or the publishers to sell except for:

The third book of the Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh: "Flood of Fire" - 2015
Sequel to:
Ghosh, Amitav "Sea of Poppies" (Ibis Trilogy #1) - 2008
Ghosh, Amitav "River of Smoke" (Ibis Trilogy #2) - 2011

The reason is probably that I am not reading the kind of books that produce many sequels. But there are a few that are out and I have not yet read them. If only I could buy the time to read a book with the book.

Aaronovitch, Ben "Moon over Soho" (Rivers of London 2) - 2011
Aaronovitch, Ben "Whispers Under Ground" (Rivers of London 3) - 2012
Aaronovitch, Ben "Broken Homes" (Rivers of London 4) - 2013
Aaronovitch, Ben "Foxglove Summer" (Rivers of London 5) - 2014
Aaronovitch, Ben "The Hanging Tree" (Rivers of London 6) - 2016
Sequels to:
Aaronovitch, Ben "Rivers of London" (US: Midnight Riot) - 2011

Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book” - 2002
Fforde, Jasper "The Well of Lost Plots" - 2003
Fforde, Jasper "Something Rotten" - 2004
Fforde, Jasper "First Among Sequels" - 2007
Fforde, Jasper "One of our Thursdays is Missing" - 2011
Fforde, Jasper "The Woman Who Died a Lot" - 2012
Fforde, Jasper "Dark Reading Matter" - ???
Sequels to:
Fforde, Jasper “The Eyre Affair” - 2001

Palma, Félix J. "The Map of the Sky" (El mapa del cielo) - 2012
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Chaos" (El mapa del caos) - 2014
Sequel to:
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (El mapa del tiempo) - 2008

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Prisoner of Heaven" (El Prisionero del Cielo) - 2011
Sequel to:
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (La Sombra del Viento) – 2001 
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Angel’s Game" (El juego del ángel) – 2008

If ever she wrote one, a sequel to:
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime"

Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine" – 2007
Sequel to:
Turner, Nancy E. "These is my Words , The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" – 1999
Turner, Nancy E. "Sarah’s Quilt. A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906" – 2006

Looks like I ought to improve my Spanish!!!

And then there are the authors of which I would like to read everything ... or more if only they wrote more. Isabel Allende, Bill Bryson, Charles Frazier, Kate Grenville, David Guterson, Victoria Hislop, Khaled Hosseini, Barbara Kingsolver, Wally Lamb, Mary Lawson, Pascal Mercier, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Orhan Pamuk, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Edward Rutherfurd, Vikram Seth, Jane Smiley, Lalita Tademy, Nancy E. Turner, Alice Walker, Stefanie Zweig

Classics: Jane Austen, The Brontë Sisters, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Mann, Mary Scott, John Steinbeck, Leonid Tolstoy. In most of these cases, I just have to read the remainder of their work but in some of them, I have read all of their work and would have loved for them to write more.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Mann, Thomas "The Magic Mountain"

 

Mann, Thomas "The Magic Mountain" (Der Zauberberg) - 1924

"Buddenbrooks" is one of my favourite books ever. Thomas Mann is a very famous German Nobel Laureate and he has written a lot of books worth reading. Why I haven't read more novels by this fantastic author is beyond me. But this was a first step.

"The Magic Mountain". Even the title sounds enchanting. Who wouldn't want to step into it, even if it means you have to go through 1,100 pages to get to the end. I think this book deserves five stars just for the brilliant title which is as magical in the original as well as the translated title.

"The Magic Mountain" is a lot more philosophical as the "Buddenbrooks", it doesn't really give you more hope, though. The novel is classified as a "Bildungsroman", a work of formation and education. It might as well been an irony of it.

Thomas Mann lived during a very difficult time, He was born in 1875, so he was quite aware of the situation in Europe before the first world war and he also lived through the second one.

This novel is a great idea of putting all of Europe into a Swiss sanatorium, letting them find a solution out of the situation the continent is in. But they can't, can they? A bunch of lung sick people of all sorts of education, most of them quite rich, all of them busy with their own problem of dealing with their illness, trying to get better and get back into the "normal" world.

The authors words are both wise and beautiful, ironic and philosophical, historical and astoundingly contemporary.

Hans Castorp is a young man with money who seems to have a goal in life which is overthrown in one minute when he visits a cousin who has to stay in a Swiss sanatorium. As we imagine a stay in any sanatorium, it stars very slow, just like you might feel when you yourself have to be admitted to such a place. But it gets better, a lot better, I promise. It's amazing how someone at the beginning of the 20th century had so much insight into today's world. Probably because history doesn't change much.

The plot of the story is easily explained, there isn't a whole lot. But that doesn't make it uninteresting. On the contrary, the book is based on a whole lot of ideas. You won't read this book quickly but you will also not forget it quickly. It will stay with you for the rest of your life.

This is a fantastic book. Give it a chance.

From the back cover: "With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. 'The Magic Mountain' takes place in an exclusive tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted to sickness that serves as a fictional microcosm for Europe in the days before the First World War. To this hermetic and otherworldly realm comes Hans Castorp, an 'ordinary young man' who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying for seven years, during which he succumbs both to the lure of eros and to the intoxication of ideas. 'The Magic Mountain' is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death."

Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks', which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here. I was lucky to be able to visit the Buddenbrook House in Lübeck, you can read about my experience here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dai, Sijie "Once on a Moonless Night"

Dai, Sijie "Once on a Moonless Night" (Par une nuit où la lune ne s’est pas levée) - 2007

I always find it difficult to follow a novel written in a female first tense when the author is male. It's probably the same the other way around but I can't follow it that well.

In any case, it wasn't difficult here, at all. Whether that is the case because the author is Asian and lives in Europe or whether he is just someone who can sense others so well, I don't know. All I know is, it works.

This deep and complex story revolves around a French student in China and a Chinese greengrocer. But there are many little stories interwoven with this, the story of Emperor Puyi who loses an ancient scroll and a French linguist who finds it. The novel takes us from the beginning of the 20th century to 1990, from China to Laos and Myanmar and then to France, it spans half the earth and almost a whole century, it talks about history and archaeology, language and politics, but most of all it is a story about the love between men and women, it's as much a philosophical story as well as a mythical one. And, above all, the language is so beautiful, almost poetical. It is a silent book, one of those that aren't full of action, yet there is always something going on. It is a peaceful book despite all the evil in the world that does affect all our protagonists. It gives hope.

I loved this book, give you so much to think about. It is one of the books, when you read it, you know it will become a great classic one day. Because it is timeless. Dai Sijie will go down in history as a wonderful storyteller.

It is just as great as the other book I read by this author "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress".

The title originates from the old story "Once on a moonless night a lone man is traveling in the dark when he comes across a long path that merges into the mountains and the mountain into the sky, but halfway along, at a turn in the path, he stumbles.  As he falls, he clutches at a tuft of grass, which briefly displays a fatal outcome, but soon his hands can hold him no longer and, like a condemned man in his final hour, he casts one last glance below, where he can see only the darkness of those unfathomable depths." (I have looked up the English translation for this, the original reads: "Par une nuit où la lune ne s'est pas levée", un voyageur solitaire progresse sur un chemin escarpé, fait un faux pas et tombe. Par qui, par quoi sera-t-il sauvé de cette chute? Ceux qui sont en quête de ce texte seront-ils sauvé eux aussi de leur folie à vouloir en percer les mystères? Habité par la foi ou le désir, l'homme doit franchir le pas car il sait qu'il retombera "du côté de chez soi.") Such a beautiful story.

From the back cover: "From the author of the beloved best seller Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a haunting tale of love and of the beguiling power of a lost language.
When Puyi, the last emperor, was exiled to Manchuria in the early 1930s, it is said that he carried an eight-hundred-year-old silk scroll inscribed with a lost sutra composed by the Buddha. Eventually the scroll would be sold illicitly to an eccentric French linguist named Paul d’Ampere, in a transaction that would land him in prison, where he would devote his life to studying the ineffably beautiful ancient language of the forgotten text.
Our unnamed narrator, a Western student in China in the 1970s, hears this story from the greengrocer Tumchooq - his name the same as that of the language in which the scroll is written - who has recently returned from three years of reeducation. She will come again and again to Tumchooq’s shop near the gates of the Forbidden City, drawn by the young man and his stories of an estranged father. But when d’Ampere is killed in prison, Tumchooq disappears, abandoning the narrator, now pregnant with his child. And it is she, going in search of her lost love, who will at last find the missing scroll and discover the truth of the Buddha’s lesson that begins “
Once on a moonless night . . .” in this story that carries us across the breadth of China’s past, the myth and the reality."

Friday, 1 November 2013

Book Quotes of the Week



"I always felt if I can get to a library, I’ll be okay." Maya Angelou

"Books have to be heavy because the whole world's inside them." Cornelia Funke in "Inkheart

"Yes, books are dangerous, they should be dangerous - they contain ideas." Pete Hautman

"A book should teach us to enjoy life, or to endure it." Samuel Johnson

"I read a book one day and my whole life was changed." Orhan Pamuk

“I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.” Dorothy Parker
 
Find more book quotes here.