Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books that Give Off Summer Vibes

"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 2: Books that Give Off Summer Vibes

So this week's topic is about books that give off summer vibes. Whilst I have read many books that take place in summer, they are not exactly what most people would think of as a good summer read. I therefore deviated a little from the topic and list ten books that have the word "Summer" in their title.

Aaronovitch, Ben "Foxglove Summer" (Fingerhut-Sommer) (Rivers of London 5)
Bristow, Gwen "Plantation Trilogy" ("Deep Summer", "Handsome Road", "This Side of Glory")
Bryson, Bill "One Summer: America, 1927"
Chabon, Michael "Summerland"
Chekhov, Anton "Summer Holidays"
Hustvedt, Siri "The Summer without Men"
Kingsolver, Barbara "Prodigal Summer"
Tsypkin, Leonid "Summer in Baden-Baden"
Tucker, Helen "The Sound of Summer Voices"
Weidermann, Volker "Summer Before the Dark"

Monday, 1 June 2020

Happy June!

Happy June to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Brombeerblüten locken die Schmetterlinge"
"Blackberry flowers attract the butterflies"

June brings us a painting with my favourite colours. I always say it's blue and green but, actually, it's exactly this kind of shades, a slight turquoise and a decent lilac. My favourite colour combination, as well. So, I am looking forward to seeing this picture for a whole month.

I think (hope) I found my reading mojo back last month. I have been reading some nice books of which you will hear soon in my reviews and just now, I read another couple of great ones.

* * *

Since Frank has painted blackberries with a common brimstone butterfly, and the green hairstreak looks almost like the one in the picture, let me introduce you to the butterfly of the year 2020, chosen by the BUND (German non-governmental organisation for the protection of nature and the environment. In German, it is also called the " Brombeer-Zipfelfalter" and "Brombeere" is the German word for the blackberry in the picture. So, this is definitely the correct topic for the month of June, don't you think?

As I mentioned last month, we hear a lot that nature is recovering during this hard time for us. Let's hope that will continue and that we will have these animals and these plants for a long time.

* * *

This leads me to a quote I saw this month that says it all:

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.
Sonya Renee Taylor

* * *

Have a happy June with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. Stay safe!

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.

You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about them.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"The world may be full of fourth-rate writers but it's also full of fourth-rate readers." Stan Barstow
I think every reader is first rate as long as they think about what they read.

"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity." Herman Hesse
This is so true. I once read a book about women who grew up without any schooling (Ramlin Rose) and one of the most interesting parts of the story was how they coped with not being able to read and how their concept of time was so different from ours. We'll never know how much books actually do teach us.

"The best cinema in the world is the brain, and you know it when you read a good book." Ridley Scott
A great sentiment about reading by someone who has also made some wonderful movies.

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Christie, Agatha "And then there were none"

Christie, Agatha "And then there were none" (formerly: Ten Little Niggers) - 1939

I love Agatha Christie. But I usually just watch her on the television as I don't read many crime stories.

This one was different. Our online book club decided to postpone the chosen books and read some instead that are available on the internet. So, one of the choices was "And then there were none". I remember watching it in a local theatre where I knew half of the amateur actors personally. I remember it was great but I didn't remember the ending. Weird, because that happens to me very rarely. However, it was also reported by others that they had forgotten, maybe another great twist by the author?

Anyway, as with the tv adaptations, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. There was a lot of suspense in it, the characters were well written and you started to really like them. I couldn't imagine any of them being the "bad guy" (or girl), they all seemed so nice and had a good reason for the deed they were accused of. Yes, all of them supposedly had killed someone and therefore were lured onto the island in order to be killed.

I think we all know the nursery rhyme after which the book was named at first (there even was a German version and probably more in other languages, sometimes with a different title/different characters):

"Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none."

Apparently, at first the soldier boys were not soldier boys (check here) but I think it is a good idea to have changed that. A lot of translations still use the old title which I think is totally unacceptable, especially in this day and age. (Should have been back then but we know how things were. Unfortunately.)

It was quite nice to read this story. As usual with Agatha Christie's books, the ending is totally surprising. There are crime stories where you can try to guess who the criminal is. Hardly ever with Agatha. I have always been annoyed when some detail turns up in the end that changes the whole story. One cannot possibly know that.

However, I have watched all the Miss Marple and Monsieur Poirot (and some other) stories on TV in the meantime and probably should read a few of her books. At least this one was very good. Great mystery.

In the discussion, the plot was talked about and all the ways how the reader was being read into the story, characters and their crimes, motivations, archetypes. There seem to be also quite a few movies and series adaptations of the story, the new BBC one apparently being very much harsher and cruel. I will have to check into that.

We discussed this in our book club in May 2020.

From the back cover:

"Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock off the Devon coast. Cut off from the mainland, with their generous host mysteriously absent, they are each accused of a terrible crime.
Then one of the party dies suddenly, and they realise there may be a murderer in their midst who might strike again…and again…

And all the time, copies of a macabre nursery rhyme hang in each room, a nursery rhyme with an omen of death for all ten of them."

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Opening Lines

"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.

Top Ten Opening Lines

"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge."
Atwood, Margaret "The Blind Assassin" - 2000

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813

"Long ago, when I was a junior high student in Iowa, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up the human body could be bought at a hardware store for $5.00 or something like that."
Bryson, Bill "The Body. A Guide for Occupants" - 2019

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Dickens, Charles "A Tale of Two Cities" - 1859

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) - 1967

"They shoot the white girl first." (and I still have no idea who the white girl was)
Morrison, Toni "Paradise" - 1998

"It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen"
Orwell, George "Nineteen Eighty-Four" - 1949

"They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did."
Rhys, Jean "Wide Sargasso Sea" - 1966

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Tolstoy, Leo (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "Anna Karenina" (Russian: Анна Каренина = Anna Karenina) - 1877

"I'm pretty much f*cked."
Weir, Andy "The Martian" - 2011

I am sure I could have gound a lot more but these were the first that came to mind. I'm sure most of them are pretty well known but maybe some are new to some of you.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"A town with more drinking joints than reading joints has a problem reading can solve." Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
I totally agree with that. If people read more, they might need less alcohol.

"You know, there are people who love their country by torturing them. I love my country by criticizing my state." Orhan Pamuk
This is certainly the best way to work toward a better future. One of the many reasons why I love this author.

"As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air." Maggie Stiefvater, "Shiver"
This is just pure poetry. I can imagine exactly what it looks like and I like it.

"I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,

Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books." N.N.
My sentiments exactly.

[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.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

H., A. "My Struggle"

H., A. "My Struggle" (Notes by some megalomanic who thought he could rule the world) - 1925/26

I am not going to mention the name of the author or the original (German) title of this book, you will certainly guess who I am talking about and can see it from the cover of the book and from the goodreads page where you get when you click on the book. I don't want to make it too easy to find this post for the new fans of him and his ways. And I will delete any comments of those so inclined.

As mentioned on the book cover, he was described as a madman, a tyrant, the devil incarnate, any evil word you can imagine. And none of them is bad enough.

This was certainly one of the worst books I ever read, both in the way it was written and in the content. Even though it is supposedly an autobiography, it is more a propaganda and combat pamphlet and full of conspiracy theories. It was meant as a counter-proposal to Marxism.

I read these rantings because my grandfather had read the book before the war and then warned everyone not to vote for the guy. His words had been "He only wants war". From then on, my grandfather was known as "the communist" and had to go into hiding during some time of the war. That, and because he helped some Jews.

I always wanted to read the book but it was not for sale in Germany for a long, long time. I had foreign friends who read it but they read translations, of course. I always prefer to read the original, especially in such an important case. So, when a friend said she "inherited" it from her in-laws, I took it as a sign that I should read it now. Also, with so many people resurrecting his idea nowadays, I thought it was a good idea to get further into the subject. I knew I would never change my mind about him and anyone who has similar ideas. I am more inclined to the other side.

Winston Churchill had said that Allied politicians and the military should have studied this book very carefully. He was right, of course. If my grandfather with his 8 years of general school understood what was behind it, the learned men certainly would have. In 1945, it was shown in the news that an American soldier puts the lead set of this book into the fire in a symbolic act. Probably should have left it there.

This book is just racist. I was expecting that. But if someone honestly believes that there are people who are worth more because they are born with a certain colour of their skin or a certain religion or whatever and even thinks that is a scientific fact, you can only call him stupid.

Unfortunately, he wasn't that stupid. He knew exactly what he was planning and what he was doing. Apparently, he was a good speaker though all I can ever see or hear from him are rantings, ramblings, shoutings, blustering, fulminations (almost as a certain president of our time). And him being "always right".

I always thought it was funny how he was such a fan of the "Arian race" tall and with their blond hair and blue eyes. He was everything but. Also, he was so keen on the German people. He wasn't even German, he was Austrian.

I was always curious to find out why people would have fascist ideas, why they would have racist thoughts. Maybe the biggest racist of them all could at least shine some light on it and we'd find a way to convince the new generation who has got some big racists amongst them that they are wrong. Of course, I didn't expect to find a solution in this book and there was none.

My father used to tell me that whoever was one of the lowest workers in his village all of a sudden was a member of the party in some of the highest positions. I think that explains a lot.

I see young people nowadays who claim that foreigners take up their jobs. This is exactly what people were saying in Germany in the twenties and thirties. The extremists take advantage of any situation and always blame someone else, foreigners, other religions (Jews then, Muslims now), whatever. It's never them, it's always the others.

Oh, and one last remark. If you do intend to read this book, don't expect high literature. It is really, really badly written. I had to look a long time for a neutral book cover without the picture of the author or the emblem of his party because, as I said above, I don't want to "promote" this book or anything that stands with it. As said on the cover, this is "... a glimpse into the mind of a man who destabilized world peace and pursued the genocide now known as the Holocaust." True. Let's not ever allow anything like this happen again.

From the back cover:

"Madman, tyrant, animal - history has given A.H. many names. 

In M.K. (My Struggle), often called the N. bible, H. describes his life, frustrations, ideals, and dreams. Born to an impoverished couple in a small town in Austria, the young A. grew up with the fervent desire to become a painter. The death of his parents and outright rejection from art schools in Vienna forced him into underpaid work as a laborer. 

During the First World War, H. served in the infantry and was decorated for bravery. After the war, he became actively involved with socialist political groups and quickly rose to power, establishing himself as Chairman of the National Socialist German Worker's party.

In 1924, H. led a coalition of nationalist groups in a bid to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich. The infamous Munich "Beer-hall putsch" was unsuccessful, and H. was arrested. During the nine months he was in prison, an embittered and frustrated H. dictated a personal manifesto to his loyal follower Rudolph Hess. 

He vented his sentiments against communism and the Jewish people in this document, which was to become M.K., the controversial book that is seen as the blue-print for H.'s political and military campaign. In M.K., H. describes his strategy for rebuilding Germany and conquering Europe. 

It is a glimpse into the mind of a man who destabilized world peace and pursued the genocide now known as the Holocaust."