Monday, 30 September 2013

Cottrell Boyce, Frank “Millions”

Cottrell Boyce, Frank "Millions" - 2004

I borrowed this book from my son after it had been suggested by the book club a couple of years ago.

Quite a funny story, two boys find a bag full of stolen money and they have to spend it within seventeen days because - listen to this - the UK is joining the Eurozone and all those pounds will be worthless.

The boys have lost their mother, but that is only a sideline of the story, it could have happened to any boy who would have been in his garden at the time the bag was dropped from a passing train.

The book is quite funny but you can tell it has been written for younger children, maybe around ten years old at the most. It is not one of those youth books that adults will enjoy just as well, it is a children's book.

Interesting how the author tries to answer the old question what you would do when you had a lot of money to spend I liked how he explain what a metaphor can mean for a child, they take everything literally.

In the end, the boys learn that money can be a large burden. Again, more written for children than for adults. So, I didn't enjoy the book too much but it certainly is interesting if you want something fast and easy. Or if you are looking for a nice book for a ten year old.

From the back cover: "The clock is ticking.
A bag crammed with cash comes tumbling out of the air and lands right at Damian's feet. Suddenly the Cunningham brothers are rich. Damian has questions: Is the money a sign form a higher power? Should they tell the police? Anthony is eager to spend. They can buy anything they want. There's just one problem -- the boys have only seventeen days to use the money before it becomes worthless. And the crooks who stole the cash in the first place are closing in -- fast."

Friday, 27 September 2013

Book Quotes of the Week



"Books fall open, you fall in. When you climb out again, you're a bit larger than you used to be." Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. 

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin) 

"A writer’s job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as our personal memories.” John Irving 

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” Ray Bradbury 

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Reading everything by a certain author?

I had a strange thought the other day. It was more or less a coincidence. Most authors whose books I love, I can't wait to read more of their literature, whether they write fiction, non-fiction or both, I want to read them all.

Yet, there are some authors where I only read one book and didn't venture to more of their works. A.S. Byatt, for example. I must have read her book "Possession" about half a dozen times and, yet, I have never even looked at any of her other books. Authors that I am constantly looking for more of their novels would be Joyce Carol Oates or Bill Bryson. And Jane Austen, of course I have read all of her novels already and am sad that there is no new one to discover.

Anyway, why is that? Am I reluctant to read more by A.S. Byatt because I'm afraid I might be disappointed? Or - and I think that is more the case - is she just not as popular in the bookshops I frequent that I might stumble over another one of her books? As most of my friends know, I prefer to by in local bookshops even though I have to order online from time to time. Maybe I ought to put one of A.S. Byatt's books on my list.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Best Sequels Ever

"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.

September 24: Top Ten Best Sequels Ever 

Follett, Ken "World Without End" = 2007 Sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth" - 1989 
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Angel's Game" (El juego del ángel) – 2008 = Sequel to "The Shadow of the Wind" (La sombra del viento) - 2001
Ghosh, Amitav "Flood of Fire" - 2015 and "River of Smoke" - 2011 = Sequel "Sea of Poppies" - 2008 (Ibis Trilogy)
Allende, Isabel "Daugther of Fortune" - 1999 and "Portrait in Sepia" - 2000 = Sequel to "The House of the Spirits" - 1982
Bragg, Melvyn "A Son of War" - 2001 = Sequel to "The Soldier's Return" - 1999
McCourt, Frank "'Tis: A Memoir" - 1996 and "Teacher Man. A Memoir 1949-1985" - 2005 = Sequel to "Angela's Ashes" - 1996
Tademy, Lalita "Red River" - 2007 = Sequel to "Cane River" - 2001
Turner, Nancy E. "Sarah's Quilt" - 2006 and "The Star Garden" - 2007 = Sequel to "These is my words" - 1999
Ingalls Wilder, Laura "Little House Books"
Alcott, Louisa "Good Wives" - 1869, "Little Men" - 1871 and "Jo's Boys" - 1886 = Sequel to "Little Women" - 1868 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles"

Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (Hoggerne) - 2005

It says in the description: "'The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles' is not a novel about war, but about the lives of ordinary people dragged into war." True. I think that's what makes this novel so interesting. I know little about Finland during the war. I guess if you're not Finnish, the same goes for you. We know about Norway and Denmark being occupied, Poland being invaded, we know about the battles between the Germans and the Russians, the Baltic countries but very little is often said about Finland during the war even though they had two big fights with the Russians, tee Winter War in 1939/40 and in the Continuation War in 1941/44, so more or less during most of the war. Probably because very little often is said about Finland in general.

Timo is a woodcutter who lives in Suomussalmi and is asked to leave his village in 1939 together with the rest of the inhabitants. But he resists. He is the only one who doesn't obey, he doesn't burn down his house and stays.

When the Soviet soldiers arrive, he is the only one available to show them how to survive the harsh winter.

Even though Timo is not exactly known for his intelligence, to say the least (on the contrary, he is regarded as the village idiot), he is a brave character, someone born to survive. He tells the story, you can feel his determination not to give in, not to the Finnish order, not to the Soviets. He is Timo and he is the only one who gives him orders. He is one of the small heroes, those we don't hear about but without whom humanity would not survive.

A good book that gives you a lot to thin k about.

From the back cover: "Set in Finland in 1939, this is the story of one man who remains in his home town when everyone else has fled, burning down their houses in their wake, before the invading Russians arrive.
Timo remains behind because he can't imagine life anywhere else, doing anything else besides felling the trees near his home. This is a novel about belonging - a tale of powerful and forbidden friendships forged during a war, of unexpected bravery and astonishing survival instincts.
'
The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles' is not a novel about war, but about the lives of ordinary people dragged into war, each of whom only wants to find the path back home.
Roy Jacobsen uses the dramatic natural landscape of light and darkness, fire-blazing heat and life-robbing cold to spectacular effect.
"

Friday, 20 September 2013

Book Quotes of the Week


"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting." Edmund Burke

"Read. Forget everything you've been told about books and read." Paulo Coelho

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” Nora Ephron

"I don’t have a favourite book, I have hundreds." John Green

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” Mark Twain

“I read books because I love them, not because I think I should read them.” Simon Van Booy

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Scarry, Richard "What Do People Do All Day" et. al.

Scarry, Richard "What Do People Do All Day" - 1968 et al.

Richard Scarry is the author of many wonderful stories about the activities of people in Busytown. He must have written and illustrated at least a hundred of them and I suppose we own most of them.

Busy little animals portray the busy little people in Busytown. There are books that teach little kids manners, others that are just plain silly, some are puzzle books, they all teach the kids words.

In "The Cat Family Take a Trip", for example, they start going by boat and the kids learn all the different words for different boats and all the equipment used on boats. When they reach the town, they learn all the words you use there, especially the shops. But they also teach children about the house, any tool used in the kitchen and clothes in the wardrobe are just a tiny part of this episode. In the end, they visit a farm and we learn about the animals and harvesting. On their way back, they see a lot of workers, from the petrol pump attendant to the engine driver of the train.

There are books about the ABC and school, about seasons, vehicles, toys, anything.

Richard Scarry has created one of the most fantastic worlds for little children to explore before entering the real one.

My boys really enjoyed his books.

Just a few of his many, many titles:

ABC Word Book - 1971
All About Cars - 1989
Best Christmas Book Ever - 1981
Best Counting Book Ever - 1973
Best Friend Ever - 1989
Best Rainy Day Book Ever - 1974
Best Story Book Ever - 1967
Best Times Ever - 1988
Best Word Book Ever - 1963
Billy Dog's Bad Day - 1996
Boats - 1967
Busiest People Ever - 1976
Busy, Busy Town - 1994
Busy, Busy World - 1988
Busy Houses - 1981
Busytown Shape Book - 1982
Busy Town, Busy People - 1976
Busy Workers - 1987
Cars - 1967
The Cat Family Takes a Trip - 1991
Christmas Mice - 1981
European Word Book - 1974
Firemen and Fire Engine Stamps - 1959
Getting Ready for School - 1987
Great Steamboat Mystery - 1975
The Hickory Dickory Clock Book - 1961
Look and Learn Library - 1971
Lowly Worm Things on Wheels - 1979
Planes - 1967
Please and Thank You Book - 1973
Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors - 1978
Rabbit and His Friends - 1954
Richard Scarry's ABC - 1966
The Santa Claus Book - 1965
Things That Go - 1987
To Market, To Market - 1979
Trains - 1967
Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit! - 1991
Welcome to Scarrytown - 1989
What Animals Do - 1963
What Do People Do All Day? - 1968

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Autumn 2013 TBR List

"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.

September 17: Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

I don't normally plan my reading for three months in advance but I always have a list of (mainly classic) books on my TBR pile that I am probably going to tackle next. So, here is my list for this autumn.

Bernières, Louis de "Birds without Wings"” - 1994
Brontë, Charlotte "Villette" - 1853
Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book" (Thursday Next 2) - 2002
Johnson, Adam "The Orphan Master's Son" - 2012
Keneally, Thomas "Schindler's Ark" - 1982
Mann, Thomas "Der Zauberberg" (The Magic Mountain) - 1924
Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita" - 1955
Oates, Joyce Carol "Little Bird of Heaven" - 2009
Senkiewicz, Henryk "Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero" (Quo Vadis?) - 1895
Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" - 1759-67

Monday, 16 September 2013

Palacio, R.J. "Wonder"

Palacio, R.J. "Wonder" - 2012

A story about a unique child, a child with a rare genetic disorder that makes him look like a monster to other children. However, we mainly learn to see him as he is on the inside. And that's the beauty of this book, if we didn't know it already, never judge anyone for their looks. Everyone has the same feelings, the same wishes, dreams, desires, problems. Only, if we stop at the outside of a person, we never get to meet the real one.

August is in fifth grade and is going to school for the first time in his life, his mother has been home-schooling him so far. "It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite."

So, this is the reality he has face every day, all the children stare at him, nobody wants to sit near him or even touch him.

He has some great teachers. Mr. Brown, the English teacher, gives them a precept for every month. The first one: "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." The whole story talks about anti-bullying, really. No child should be bullied, especially not if they suffer so much already. And yet, it is usually the helpless ones, those that need our support, that get bullied.

What a really liked about the book, as well, that everyone gets to say something, his sister, his friends, his "enemies". We see August from all sides, we get to know him as well as you can get to know anybody.

This story makes you sad and happy at the same time. Sad to see how much August has to struggle, how his life is so much harder than that of any other fifth grader. For example, he needs hearing aids that can't be fixed like they normally fit them because his ears are very different, they can't hold anything.

And one important lesson to learn, as August's mother puts it: "There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie."

I think this is a book every fifth grader should read, learning enough to get them through the important times at school where they will make friends for life and where they set their first important steps into the world.

The author has a website where she explains how she had the idea to write this book. Check it out here.

From the back cover: "'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'"

Friday, 13 September 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Jane Austen

"He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two." Describing the character Father Mabeuf. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?" Henry Ward Beecher


“You're never alone when you're reading a book.” Susan Wiggs

"Pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism." Malala Yousafzai


"Every person has a book, and every book has a cover, but behind every cover is a different story. So don't judge a person by the cover of their book." N.N.


Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Awdry, Rev. Wilbert "Thomas the Tank Engine"

Awdry, Rev. Wilbert "Thomas the Tank Engine" (The Railway Series) - 1945-2011

A favourite book series ion our house has always been the story of the little trains in Wales.
"Thomas the Tank Engine" is a little locomotive that lives on the fictional Island of Sodor in Wales. He has a lot of friends who all have a certain character. First there is Thomas the Tank Engine who is small and blue, he is the cheeky one. Then there is kind and friendly Edward the Blue Engine, snobby  Henry the Green Engine, proud and boasting Gordon the Big Engine who is also blue, vain James the Red Engine, and adventurous Percy the Small Engine, all of which could be called main characters. There are at least another half a dozen of other engines and rail cars, and then there are a lot of coaches, passenger cars and also some other non-rail vehicles like Terence the Tractor, Bertie the Bus and Harold the Helicopter.

Together, they are employed to run the railway line on the island. The Fat Controller (Sir Topham Hat in the States) is one of the few humans that appear in almost every story, you might say he's an honorary train.

Every story tells us about the specific engine and what they go through in their daily lives. Accidents happen that are mostly funny, the trains behave quite human.

Even though the Reverend Wilbert Awdry only wrote 26 books, the stories were continued by his son Christopher for whom they were first written. There are now 42 books in this series but Thomas still is by far the most famous one.

Our favourite ones were:

Henry the Green Engine
The Three Railway Engines
Thomas the Tank Engine
James the Red Engine
Troublesome Engines
Toby the Tram Engine
Gordon the Big Engine
Edward the Blue Engine
Four Little Engines
Percy the Small Engine
Duck and the Diesel Engine
James and the Diesel
Gordon the High-Speed Engine
Toby, Trucks and Trouble
Thomas and the Twins
Thomas and the Great Railway Show
Thomas Comes Home
Henry and the Express
Thomas and his Friends

In the meantime, Thomas has not only become famous through his books, there is a television series (narrated partly by the famous Beatle Ringo Starr with his cute Scouse accent), a movie, and all kinds of different toys for any child to enjoy. When we were in Wales, we even had a train ride with Thomas.

Thomas has certainly brought a lot of good times and laughter to our house and will continue doing to millions of other homes with little children, I am sure.

From the back cover: "Since the publication of the original "Thomas the Tank Engine" in 1946, millions of children and their parents all over the world have loved this series of bedtime stories about Thomas and his friends."

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Clarke, Susanna "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell"

Clarke, Susanna "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" - 2004

"Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King."

If I said about me that I am not exactly the biggest fan of fantasy, that would be a huge understatement. I used to like fairy tales as a child and am still quite fond of them but that's about it.

When the online "Chunky Book Club" put this title on their list, I wasn't too sure whether I shouldn't even skip this one. But, my son already had it on his shelf (he loves fantasy) and therefore I thought, what harm can it do, I can always put it aside. But - even though I wouldn't declare it my most favourite book of the year - I carried on reading it, all 1,024 pages of it.

It is a lot more a Grimm's fairy tale with a little bit of Victoriana mixed in than a JRR Tolkien kind of fantasy novel. It is also more an alternate history book with a lot of links to non-existing literature. It almost feels like a Dickens novel. Quite entertaining, actually.

Two magicians want to bring back magic to England. We meet historical figures like the Duke of Wellington or Lord Byron as well as some illustrious fictional inhabitants of fairieland. We can read a lot of quotes from the books about Magic that have presumably been written by either of the two protagonists or other magician characters from the book. I would have wished them to be printed at least as large as the rest as there are a lot of quotes, sometimes they contain whole stories by itself.

As in so many fantasy books, the main theme is the fight between good and evil, who will win the big battle?

In any case, as a fan of England, I was not disappointed with the book, even though this is not my favourite genre and never will be. But Susanna Clarke has an interesting writing style, I will look into her other writing, as well.

The book received a lot of prizes and nominations, i.a. it was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004.

From the back cover: "The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr. Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine."

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Why I am glad that I can read in more than one language

It is not only wonderful to be able to speak and communicate in another language, it is also great to be able to read in another one.

First of all, I enjoy to read books in the original language. It is so much better to be face to face (or face to book) with the author rather than having a third person (the interpreter) getting into the conversation.

Of course, I am not able to speak every single language, so I do have to read translations from time to time, especially if I want more direct knowledge about certain cultures and countries. Again, it is positive to know more than one language. First of all, I can choose the language that is closest to the original one, e.g. French for a Spanish book or German for a Scandinavian one. But there is another huge advantage if you can read more than just English. A lot of foreign books never get translated into English, or only decades after it has been available in many of the smaller languages. I have read many great books by non-English authors that I would not have been able to read if I had only spoken English.

I don't know why that is. I guess there are already enough English books around, so there is no need to translate more into English. But it's a pity because whoever reads English only, loses out.

That's why I am glad that I can read in more than one language.

Having said that, I am extremely grateful to have been given the chance to learn quite a few foreign languages.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Moyes, Jojo "Me Before You"

Moyes, Jojo "Me Before You" - 2012 

A friend recommended this book. When I checked the description, it sounded a little too "easy" to me. My friend assured me this was not so, and when I came across it, I supposed it was meant to be and therefore read it.

Was she right? Yes and no. The story has a certain background, it deals with an incurable illness/handicap and the will to live or not to live.

However, the whole story itself is quite shallow, the characters didn't convince me that this was the major part of the novel. The author talks a little bit too much about clothes, shoes and alcohol to my liking, the people come across as if that is the only thing worth living for.

So, even though I appreciate the thought of the story, I would have preferred it to be a little more elaborate, more deep. The author reminded me of Jodi Picoult whose novel "My Sister's Keeper" I didn't like, either.

My advice: Do not try to hide a dramatic story with a deeper meaning in a shallow "chick lit" novel, it doesn't do either of them any good.

And I should have listened to my inner voice that tells me, never read a book that has pink on its cover.

From the back cover: "Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
"

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Aleichem, Sholem "Tevye the Dairyman"


Aleichem, Sholem (שלום עליכם) "Tevye the Dairyman" (Tevye der milkhiker, טבֿיה דער מילכיקער, Yiddish and טוביה החולב,  Hebrew) - 1894-1916

I always wanted to read the original book of one of my favourite movies "Fiddler on the Roof". I am glad I read this after watching the movie because I might have been disappointed. Even though the book is not very big, only about half of it is in the musical. I can understand that certain parts had to be cut out and I am glad they did it this way but there is still something missing.

Anyway, the story of Tevye is not just the story of Tevye and his wife Golde but even more that of their daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, Chawa, Shprintze, Teibel and Beijke. Every single one of them has their own story, their own cross to bear. And together, they give us a good view of the lives of Jews in the 19th century. Whoever didn't know it so far will learn here that they have always had hard times, they were never wanted anywhere, even if they were poor and worked hard.

I love the language in the book. While Tevye is telling his story, I hear an old Jewish guy talking, you know the way it almost sounds like singing when they talk Yiddish, just beautiful. Sholem Aleichem manages to bring that feeling to paper. I would love to read more of his works and will certainly read this one again

From the back cover: "Of all the characters in modern Jewish fiction, the most beloved is Tevye, the compassionate, irrepressible, Bible-quoting dairyman from Anatevka, who has been immortalized in the writings of Sholem Aleichem and in acclaimed and award-winning theatrical and film adaptations.
And no Yiddish writer was more beloved than Tevye’s creator, Sholem Rabinovich (1859–1916), the “Jewish Mark Twain,” who wrote under the pen name of Sholem Aleichem. Beautifully translated by Hillel Halkin, here is Sholem Aleichem’s heartwarming and poignant account of Tevye and his daughters."

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Children's Books


Since my children are both at university now, they have outgrown the children's book phase. That doesn't mean I don't remember the wonderful books we have read together or they have read on their own and the lovely times we had with children's literature.
I've been asking my friends with children and I have added our own favourites and put together a list of great books for children of different reading ages. Wherever I have written a review, I added the link.
I hope many of my friends and their children can find some interesting stories on this list.

Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women"
Awdry, Rev. W. "Thomas the Tank Engine"  
Babbitt, Natalie "Tuck Everlasting"
Balliett, Blue "Chasing Vermeer"
Barrett, Judith "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"
Barrie, J.M. "Peter Pan"
Baum, L. Frank "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
Baumgart, Klaus "Laura's Star"
Bemelmans, Ludwig "Madeline"
Berenstain, Stan and Jan "The Berenstain Bears"
Blume, Judy "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?"
Bond, Michael "A Bear Called Paddington"
Bourgeois, Paulette "Big Sarah's Little Boots" 
Bridwell, Norman "Clifford" (series)

Briggs, Ward, Barbara "The Raindeer Keeper", "The Snowman Maker"
Brown, Marc "Arthur"

Brumbeau, Jeff/de Marcken, Gail "The Quiltmaker’s Gift"
Busch, Wilhelm "Max and Moritz" 
Cabot, Meg "The Princess Diaries"
Cannon, Janell "Stellaluna"
Carle, Eric "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Campbell, Rod "Dear Zoo"
Carroll, Lewis "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland"
Carson Levine, Gail "Ella Enchanted"
Chandler Warner, Gertrude "The Boxcar Children" (series)
Civardi, Anne; Cartwright, Stephen "Things People Do" 
Cleary, Beverly "The Mouse and the Motorcycle"
Coerr, Eleanor "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes"
Colfer, Eoin "Artemis Fowl"
Cooper, Susan "The Dark is Rising" (series)
Cottrell Boyce, Frank “Millions” 
Craighead Goerge, Jean "My Side of the Mountain"
Creech, Sharon "Walk Two Moons"
Cronin, Doreen "Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type"
Curtis, Christopher Paul "Bud Not Buddy"
Dahl, Roald "The BFG", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", "James and the Giant Peach", "Matilda"
Deary, Terry "Horrible Histories"   
De Brunhoff, Jean "The Story of Babar"
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe"
Degen, Bruce "Jamberry"
De Paola, Tomie "Strega Nona"
DiCamillo, Kate "Because of Winn-Dixie"
Elwell Hunt, Angela "The Tale of Three Trees"
Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story"
Estes, Eleanor "The Hundred Dresses"
Fitzhugh, Louise "Harriet the Spy"
Forbes, Esther "Johnny Tremain"
Freeman, Don "Corduroy"
Funke, Cornelia "Inkheart" (series)
Gilbreth, Frank + Gilbreth Carey, Elizabeth "Cheaper by the Dozen"
Goldman, William "The Princess Bride"
Grahame, Kenneth "The Wind in the Willows"
Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm "Grimm’s Fairy Tales" [Jorinda and Joringel]
Handford, Martin "Where's Wally?" (series)
Herriot, James "James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small"
Hesse, Karen "Letters from Rifka", "Out of the Dust"
Hodgson Burnett, Frances "A Little Princess",  "The Secret Garden"
Hoffmann, Heinrich "Struwwelpeter" (or Shockheaded/Slovenly Peter)
Hoffman, Mary "Amazing Grace"
Ingalls Wilder, Laura "Little House Books" (series)
Jacques, Brian "Redwall" (series)
Jansson, Tove "The Moomins"
Johnson, Crockett "The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon"
Juster, Norton "The Phantom Tollbooth"
Keene, Carolyn "Nancy Drew"
King-Smith, Dick "The Hodgeheg", "King Max the Last"
Kinney, Jeff "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (series)
Kipling, Rudyard "The Jungle Book"
Leaf, Munro "The Story of Ferdinand"
L'Engle, Madeleine "A Wrinkle in Time"
Lewis, C.S. "The Chronicles of Narnia" (series), "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
Lindgren, Astrid "Emil of Lönneberga", "Pippi Longstocking", "Seacrow Island", "The Six Bullerby Children"
Lionni, Leo "Swimmy"
Lobel, Arnold "Owl at Home"
Lofting, Hugh "The Story of Doctor Dolittle"
Long, Melinda "How I Became a Pirate"
Lowry, Lois "Number the Stars"
MacDonald, Megan "Judy Moody"
MacLachlan, Patricia "Sarah, Plan & Tall" (Series)
Marshall, James "George and Martha"
McBratney, Sam "Guess How Much I Love You"
Moers, Walter "The 13-1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear"
Montgomery, L.M. (Lucy Maud) "Anne of Green Gables"
Milne, A. A. "Winnie the Pooh"
Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever"
Murphy, Jill "Five Minutes Peace"
Nesbit, Edith "The Railway Children"
Norton, Mary "The Borrowers"
Numeroff, Laura "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"
O'Dell, Scott "Island of the Blue Dolphins", "Zia"
Oxenbury, Helen & Michael "We're Going On a Bear Hunt"
Parish, Peggy "Amelia Bedilia"
Park, Barbara "Junie B. Jones"
Parnell, Peter; Richardson, Justin "And Tango Makes Three"
Paterson, Katherine "Bridge to Terabithia"
Paulsen, Gary "Hatchet"
Peet, Bill "The Whingdingdilly"
Peterson, John "The Littles"
Pfister, Marcus "The Rainbow Fish"
Piper, Watty "The Little Engine That Could"
Pope Osborne, Mary "Magic Tree House" Series
Porter, Eleanor H. "Pollyanna"
Potter, Beatrix "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"
Rathman, Peggy "Good Night Gorilla"
Rawls, Wilson "Where the Red Fern Grows"
Reid Banks, Lynne "The Indian in the Cupboard"
Rey, H.A. "Curious George" (series)
Robinson, Barbara "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
Rowling, J.K. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (series)
Rylant, Cynthia "Old Town in the Green Groves"
Ryrie Brink, Carol "Caddie Woodlawn"
Sachar, Louis "Holes", "Sideways Stories from Wayside School", "Small Steps", "Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake", "There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom"
Sage, Angie "Magyk" (series)
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine "The Little Prince"
Scarry, Richard "What Do People Do All Day
Scieszka, Jon "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales", "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs"
Sendak, Maurice "Where the Wild Things Are"
Sewell, Anna "Black Beauty"
Seuss, Dr. (=LeSieg, Theo) "The Cat in The Hat", "Green Eggs and Ham", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish", "Wacky Wednesday"
Silverstein, Shel "The Giving Tree", "Where the Sidewalk Ends"
Smucker, Barbara "Underground to Canada"
Snicket, Lemony "A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket"
Sobol, Donald "Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective"
Spinelli, Jerry "Maniac Magee"
Spyri, Johanna "Heidi"
Stevenson, Robert Louis "Treasure Island"
Streatfeild, Noel "Ballet Shoes"
Swamp, Viola "Miss Nelson is Missing"
Taylor, Mildred D. "Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry"
Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Hobbit"
Travers, Dr. P. L. "Mary Poppins"
Trivizas, Eugene "The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig"
Twain, Mark "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs"
White, E.B. "Charlotte's Web"
Williams, Margery "The Velveteen Rabbit"
Winthrop, Elizabeth "The Castle in the Attic"
Wise Brown, Margaret "Goodnight Moon"
Wood, Don + Audrey "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear"
Woodruff, Elvira "Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad
Wyss, Johann David "The Swiss Family Robinson"
Yarrow, Peter "Puff, the Magic Dragon"
Yates, Elizabeth "Amos Fortune, Free Man"

Monday, 2 September 2013

Gillham, David R. "City of Women"

Gillham, David R. "City of Women" - 2012

This was a novel chosen by our book club. This will probably be the last International Book Club book I discuss for a while. For health reasons, I regrettably had to decide to end it for now. But I hope to start again at some point.

I probably would not have chosen this book if I had to decide for myself. I like to read books about the war but I prefer to read them when they are written by someone who lived through the war, and there are plenty of accounts like that.

What was even worse in this case, the author is a non-German man but he writes mainly about German women. I could have forgiven that fact if I had had the feeling that he knows what he is talking about. But already the names give you the impression that he has no idea. They are all spelled differently, no German would spell the name Erika with a "ch" (so Ericha), for example, and even Karin with a C looks weird. It just leaves behind a weird taste of unprofessionalism and makes the story less believable. It reminded me of those of my American friends who find out that the city Wiesbaden is pronounced Weeesbaden and henceforth spell it Weisbaden.

Anyway, the names were not the only part that was annoying, the whole plot, the whole language was rather simple. Yes, he was trying to tell how the women in a war torn city lived, how they carried on their lives in Nazi-Germany. But did he really manage to do that? The story wasn't as brilliant as a lot of the critics suggest, it was boring at times and didn't reveal anything new that I hadn't read in other, much better books about the second World War.

Not my book. Probably goes well for those people who would call it a "beach read". I would file it under "chick lit".

From the back cover: "Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?
It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.
But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets.
A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit.  A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions.  And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.
Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.
In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.
"