Tuesday 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing all my friends and readers

A Happy New Year

May you all find many good books to read and the time to get through them.

Best wishes
* Marianne

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

"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.

December 31: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Quite a tough list to make because I read so many good books last year. So, I really tried to limit myself and I almost made it (if you consider more than one book form the same author as just one). Almost.

This is the result. These are my favourites.

Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook" (El Cuaderno de Maya)
Bernières, Louis de "Birds without Wings" 
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment" (Преступление и наказание)
Ghosh, Amitav "River of Smoke" (Ibis Trilogy #2)
- "Sea of Poppies" (Ibis Trilogy #1)
Hanff, Helene "84 Charing Cross Road"
Hislop, Victoria "The Return"
- "The Thread"
Mann, Thomas "Der Zauberberg" (The Magic Mountain)
Palacio, R.J. "Wonder" 
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (El mapa del tiempo)
Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (Masumiyet Müzesi)
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Marina" (Marina)
- "The Prisoner of Heaven" (El Prisionero del Cielo)
Rutherfurd, Edward "Paris" 

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Prisoner of Heaven"

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Prisoner of Heaven" (Spanish: El Prisionero del Cielo) - 2011
(El cementerio de los libros olvidados #3)  

The third book in the series of stories around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop after "The Shadow of the Wind" and "The Angel's Game". We see some familiar faces again and go further back in time but also further forward. We meet Daniel Sempere from the former and David Martín from the latter but also their mutual friend Fermín Romero de Torres who is the main character of this novel and whose story before meeting Daniel is told.

Like the two other books, this is a fantastic story. It brings together the characters from the two previous ones, creates the link from one to the other. I really liked that.

I would have liked more visits to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, though. I can't wait for his next book. Get writing, Señor Ruiz Zafón. Please.

From the back cover:

"Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past.

His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love, and will ultimately transform their lives.

Within just a few years, Carlos Ruiz Zafón has become one of my favourite authors. Read more about his other books here.

Must learn better Spanish so I can read his books in the original. And I'd love to go to Barcelona and visit all the places. One day I will and then I'll report about it. Watch this space. ;-)

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.

Saturday 28 December 2013

The Motherhood + Jane Austen Book Club

Jane Austen is my favourite author and I have not only read all of her but also a few of the stories she had started as well as a lot of her letters. I had intended to reread her books soon when I came across the blog "Gidget goes home" and their beautiful idea of reading Jane Austen's book from the perspective of a mother.

So, this is one of the challenges I am going to take on for 2014, read all of Jane Austen's books and report about all the different kinds of mothers she describes.

This is the plan and the links to the book review with regards to motherhood:
1. (Feb) Pride & Prejudice  
2. (April) Mansfield Park 
3. (June) Persuasion  
4. (Aug) Emma  
5. (Oct) Northanger Abbey  
6. (Dec) Sense & Sensibility 

And here are my previous blog posts:
Austen, Jane "Emma" - 1816
Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park" - 1814
Austen, Jane "Northanger Abbey" - 1818
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813
Austen, Jane "Sense & Sensibility" - 1811

Friday 27 December 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are." Mason Cooley

"Read books. care about things. get excited. try not to be too down on yourself. enjoy the ever present game of knowing." Hank Green

"The smartest thing Shakespeare ever did was kill off Romeo and Juliet before they had to consider combining their book collections. Because, for literary-inclined star-cross’d lovers, such is a fate worse than death..." Robert Hoge, author of Ugly, considers the challenges of combining libraries. 

"Writing is like sausage making in my view; you'll all be happier in the end if you just eat the final product without knowing what's gone into it." George R.R. Martin

"When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness." Jules Renard

"It's an ancient need to be told stories. But the  story needs a great storyteller." Alan Rickman

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people - people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.” E.B. White 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Roth, Philip "The Ghost Writer"

Roth, Philip "The Ghost Writer" - 1979

Why I have not read any books by this extraordinary writer is a big mystery to me.

What can I say, I really loved the book. I wondered whether this book was partly autobiographical, it certainly had tendencies that sounded like it. I liked the alternate history part, a genre I cherish a lot.

A young writer meets an older writer, his writing hero. And there he meets an interesting young girl who seems to have a fascinating past. That is the basic story. However, it's the way Philip Roth tells the story that makes it interesting, makes you want to know all about Nathan Zuckerman, the young author, and his life, makes you want to read the whole series.

Within just 180 pages, Philip Roth manages to give an overview of Jewish history, the Holocaust, Anne Frank's diary, and life in the United States in the fifties, especially the situations of the Jews at the time.

If you like the first sentences: "It was the last daylight hour of a December afternoon more than twenty years ago--I was twenty-three, writing and publishing my first short stories, and like many a Bildungsroman hero before me, already contemplating my own massive Bildungsroman--when I arrived at his hideaway to meet the great man. The clapboard farmhouse was at the end of an unpaved road twelve hundred feet up in the Berkshires, yet the figure who emerged from the study to bestow a ceremonious greeting wore a gabardine suit, a knitted blue tie clipped to a white shirt by an unadorned silver clasp, and well-brushed ministerial black shoes that made me think of him stepping down from a shoeshine stand rather than from the high altar of art", you will like the whole book. His writing is beautiful.

I will definitely read more by this author, especially since I have ordered the second one in the series (Zuckerman Unbound) right away at my library already.

From the back cover:

"Exactly twenty years ago, Philip Roth made his debut with Goodbye, Columbus, a book that immediately announced the presence of a major new talent. The Ghost Writer, his eleventh book, begins with a young writer's search, twenty years ago, for the spiritual father who will comprehend and validate his art, and whose support will justify his inevitable flight from a loving but conventionally constricting Jewish middle-class home.  Nathan Zuckerman's quest brings him to E.I. Lonoff, whose work--exquisite parables of desire restrained--Nathan much admires.  Recently discovered by the literary world after decades of obscurity, Lonoff continues to live as a semi-recluse in rural Massachusetts with his wife, Hope, scion of an old New England family, whom the young immigrant married thirty-five years before.  At the Lonoffs' Nathan also meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background.  He is instantly infatuated with the attractive and gifted girl, and at first takes her for the aging writer's daughter.  She turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's--and may also have been Lonoff's mistress.  Zuckerman, with his imaginative curiosity, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution.  If she were, it might change his life.

A figure of fun to the New York literati, a maddeningly single-minded isolate to his wife, teacher-father-savior to Amy, Lonoff embodies for an enchanted Nathan the ideal of artistic integrity and independence.  Hope sees Amy (as does Amy herself) as Lonoff's last chance to break out of his self-imposed constraints, and she bitterly offers to leave him to the younger woman, a chance that, like one of his own heroes, Lonoff resolutely continues to deny himself.  Nathan, although in a state of youthful exultation over his early successes, is still troubled by the conflict between two kinds of conscience: tribal and family loyalties, on the one hand, and the demands of fiction, as he sees them, on the other.  A startling imaginative leap to the beginnings of a kind of wisdom about the unreckoned consequences of art.

Shocking, comic, and sad by turns,
The Ghost Writer is the work of a major novelist in full maturity."

I have read "Zuckerman Unbound" in the meantime.

Philip Roth received the Man Booker International Prize in 2011 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

all my friends, readers,
fellow book bloggers, writers, authors,
and all the bookworms in the whole wide world
a merry merry merry merry merry merry Christmas
hoping all your wishes will come true and you will have
a lot of books and reading material under the Christmas tree.

Friday 20 December 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own." Julian Barnes

"The ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one's life." Bruno Bettelheim

"The most technologically efficient machine that man ever invented is the book." Northop Frye

"Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you." Louis L'Amour

"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life." Fernando Pessoa

"Reading is not a hobby ... it's a lifestyle!" Dayana Razo

"The road to knowledge begins with the turn of a page." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2014

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2014

Last year, I participated in an interesting challenge, reading "chunky" books (I love that word). I signed up for the highest of the four levels "Mor-book-ly Obese" which meant eight or more Chunksters (books over 450 pages) of which three must be 750 pages or more. I reached that goal at the end of March. By the end of the year I read 37, 15 of which were "Chunksters".

This year, they are not setting goals within the challenge but asked everyone to come up with their own goal I think I can therefore easily pledge to read double the amount of last year's pledge, i.e. 16 Chunkys. I am looking forward to finding a lot of interesting ones.

If you are interested in the challenge, check out this link.

They also give you suggestions by page number, in case you can't find any Chunksters yourself. ;-)

Or you can check out my list from last year, maybe you are interested in a couple of them.

Happy Reading.

So far, I have read:
Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park" - 1814 - 479 pages
Collins, Suzanne "The Hunger Games" - 2008 - 454 pages
Eggers, Dave "The Circle" - 2013 - 634 pages
Joyce, Janes "Ulysses" - 1922 - 980 pages  
Thackeray, William Makepeace "Vanity Fair, or, A Novel without a Hero" - 1848 - 1,008 pages
Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita" - 1955 - 466 pages
Seth, Vikram "Two Lives" - 2005 - 544 pages 
Pamuk, Orhan "Snow" - 2002 - 528 pages
Sienkiewicz, Henryk "Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero" (Quo Vadis?) - 1895 - 712 pages
Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch" - 880 pages
Gaarder, Jostein "Sophie's World" (Sofies verden) - 1991 - 623 pages
McCulloch, Colleen "The Thorn Birds" - 1977 - 743 pages
Döblin, Alfred "Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story of Franz Biberkopf" (Berlin Alexanderplatz: Die Geschichte vom Franz Biberkopf) - 1929 - 586 pages
Bryson, Bill "One Summer: America, 1927" - 2013 - 672 pages
Brizuela, Leopoldo "Lisboa. Un melodrama" (Nacht über Lissabon) [Night over Lissabon] - 2010 - 725 pages
Dahl, Roald "The Best of Roald Dahl" - 1978 - 520 pages
Faulkner, William "Light in August" - 1932 - 565 pages
Hunter, Stephen "Night of Thunder: a Bob Lee Swagger novel" - 2008 - 473 pages
Roth, Charlotte "Als wir unsterblich waren" [When we were Immortal]  - 2014 - 567 pages
Austen, Jane "Sense & Sensibility" - 1811 - 462 pages
Dickens, Charles "The Pickwick Papers" - 1836 - 1,080 pages

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

"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.

December 17: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

I have read a lot of new authors this year. I therefore have chosen exactly what this title says: the top ten authors, those that I would like to read more.

Barbal i Farré, Maria "Campher" (Katal. Càmfora) - 1992
Binet, Laurent "HHhH" - 2010
Faulks, Sebastian "Birdsong. A Novel of Love and War" - 1993
Grossman, David "To the End of the Land" (אשה בורחת מבשורה/Isha Nimletet Mi'Bshora) - 2008
Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (Hoggerne) - 2005
Johnson, Adam "The Orphan Master's Son" - 2012
Mahfouz, Naguib "Children of the Gebelawi/Children of our Alley" (اولاد حارتنا/Awlād ḥāritnā) - 1959
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (El mapa del tiempo) - 2008
Roth, Philip "The Ghost Writer" - 1979
Tremain, Rose "Music & Silence" - 1999

Monday 16 December 2013

Garfield, Simon "On the Map"

Garfield, Simon "On the Map. Why the World Looks the Way it Does" (aka: "On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks") - 2012

I have always loved maps. They are beautiful, they tell tales of far away countries, exotic worlds, people I will never meet, life at different times. How can anybody not like maps. They teach us so much, yet they are also an art form to admire and enjoy.

Simon Garfield has put together a collection of stories about maps through the ages. He does not just tells us what the most interesting maps are, he tells us the whole history. What did the first known map look like, how did it change over time, why do we draw maps the way we do, what do they tell us?

Any map is a drawing of a location as well as a political statement. While most of the first maps were drawn for sea voyagers and a lot of the continents were only known as an outline, things have changed. There is a long way from the Mercator to the Google Map. Simon Garfield tells us about this trip. He introduces the oldest map and the biggest map, he shows us how maps could help stop diseases, how guidebooks changed the way of travel and how satellite navigation changes our way of looking at the world.

If someone didn't care for maps before they got this book in their hands, they certainly will afterwards. There are stories behind every map. For example, I really liked the one about Phyllis Pearsall who walked the streets of London in order to publish the London A-Z. And he even mentions an episode from one of my favourite television shows, "The West Wing", where Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman attend a briefing by cartographers who want to change all maps in schools from the Mercator to the Peters Projection map and explain that Greenland is a lot smaller than Africa (fourteen times smaller, in fact), something you would never guess if you looked at the well-known Mercator map.

In one article, the author describes the way a lot of computer games are based on maps. This reminded me of one of our favourite first games called Bushbuck. It was a treasure hunt, you would be given an object that was well known for a certain town (usually the capital of a country) and you had to fly there. Along the way you would receive hints until you found the town. It was a wonderful game and we found exotic places like Tuvalu and Kiribati. A wonderful way to learn the countries and their capitals, unfortunately it does not seem to exist anymore.

If you didn't get the idea until now, I really loved this book.

One of my favourite quotes on page 63: "Most [maps] share a common purpose: they were not intended for use, at least not for travel use. Rather, they were statements of philosophical, political, religious, encyclopedic and conceptual concerns."

From the back cover: "Maps fascinate us. They chart our understanding of the world and they log our progress, but above all they tell our stories. From the early sketches of philosophers and explorers through to Google Maps and beyond, Simon Garfield examines how maps both relate and realign our history.
With a historical sweep ranging from Ptolemy to Twitter, Garfield explores the legendary, impassable (and non-existent) mountains of Kong, the role of cartography in combatting cholera, the 17th-century Dutch craze for Atlases, the Norse discovery of America, how a Venetian monk mapped the world from his cell and the Muppets' knack of instant map-travel. Along the way are pocket maps of dragons, Mars, murders and more, with plenty of illustrations and prints to signpost the route.
From the bestselling and widely-adored author of
Just My Type, On The Map is a witty and irrepressible examination of where we've been, how we got there and where we're going."

Friday 13 December 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"Literature is the safe and traditional vehicle through which we learn about the world and pass on values from one generation to the next. Books save lives." Laurie Anderson

"A truly great book should be read in youth, against in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight." Robertson Davies 

"Books make fine friends. With soothing words the soul is fed. A page is turned. New thoughts are painted in the mind. Thoughts join letters in joy." Connie Furgason

"Gentlemen, nerd girls are the world’s most under-utilized romantic resource. Do not tell me that nerd girls aren't hot because that shows a Paris Hilton-esque failure to understand hotness." John Green 

"You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames." Lloyd Jones 

"What is reading but silent conversation?" Walter Landor

"Book love is something like romantic love. When we are reading a really great book, burdens feel lighter, cares seem smaller, and commonplaces are suddenly delightful. You become your best optimistic self. Like romantic love, book love fills you with a certain warmth and completeness. The world holds promise." Steve Leveen 

"People who say they don't have time to read simply don't want to." Julie Rugg

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Bourgeois, Paulette "Big Sarah's Little Boots

Bourgeois, Paulette "Big Sarah's Little Boots" - 1988

A favourite book of both my boys even though the main character was a girl. It's all about growing up and how it can be both a painful and a joyous occasion. While Sarah tries to get her favourite boots to grow with her, she learns what it means to be a big girl all of a sudden and what the advantages are, even if she has to give her lovely boots to her little brother.

I am very sad to learn that this wonderful book is out of print. I hope the publisher will decide to  bring out a new edition.

From the back cover: "When Sarah outgrows her favourite rain boots she tries everything to make them grow, from pulling and tugging them to planting and watering them, but nothing works. Splashing in a new pair of boots just is not any fun -until Sarah discovers she can jump over puddles. Full colour."

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

"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.

December 10: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

I have lined up the following books to be read soon. That does not mean I won't get any other novels in between and not get to read all of these this winter. However, I hope to have finished them all sometime next year.
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813
Bryson, Bill "Shakespeare: The World as a Stage" - 2007
Burgess, Anthony "A Clockwork Orange" - 1962
Calvino, Italo "Why Read the Classics?" (Perché leggere i classici??) - 1991
Grjasnowa, Olga "All Russians Love Birch Trees" (Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt) - 2012
Joyce, James "Ulysses" - 1922
Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita" - 1955
Pamuk, Orhan "The White Castle" (Beyaz Kale) - 1985
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Midnight Palace" (El Palacio de la Medianoche) - 1994
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Das Herzenhören" (The Art of Hearing Heartbeats) - 2002

Monday 9 December 2013

Pool, Daniel "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew"

Pool, Daniel "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist - the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England" - 1993

Even though this book is a non-fiction one, the first part reads like a novel. If, like me, you love your English classics, especially Jane Austen, the Brontës, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins and similar authors, this is the book for you. It's not just about food but, as the second part of the title already suggests, about every important or not so important fact about life in the 19th century in England. If you always wanted to know how they play whist, what a Rear Admiral of the White is, why the ladies need all sorts of clothing that we are not aware of today and why Mr. Collins in Pride & Prejudice has to inherit the Bennett estate rather than the daughters of the family, this book gives you all the explanations.

The authors of that era wrote, same as most authors of any era, for their contemporaries. After all, they were the ones who would pay for their work. They didn't want to hear explanations about the food they ate or the celebrations they had, they already knew the background. Now you can, too. I have read a lot of that literature and about the background, so I had learnt a lot before I picked up this book but I never found a piece that was as explicit as this one. It has so many details.

Daniel Pool has done a lot of research and came up with a great book about that time of life in England. Even though he wrote this for Americans in the first place (and it does come up quite frequently), it is also interesting for the rest of us. While the first part is divided into chapters where everything from politics and public life up to customs and rituals are explained in a narrative form, the second part is a dictionary, a reference book that you can always go back to and check out the exact job description of a scullery maid or what the difference was between a physician and an apothecary. And is a baron more than a marquis or less (he is lower) and what on earth is the difference between a curate and a perpetual curate? You will find all the answers to those questions you never asked yourself in this book.

Any work about everyday life in Regency or Victorian England couldn't be more fascinating. A great companion to your English classics.

From the back cover: 
"For every frustrated reader of the great nineteenth-century English novels of Austen, Trollope, Dickens, or the Brontës who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison," here is a "delightful reader's companion that lights up the literary dark" (The New York Times). 

This fascinating, lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules, regulations, and customs that governed everyday life in Victorian England. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "
plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the Church of England, sex, Parliament, dinner parties, country house visiting, and a host of other aspects of nineteenth-century English life -- both "upstairs" and "downstairs." 

An illuminating glossary gives at a glance the meaning and significance of terms ranging from "a
gue" to "wainscoting," the specifics of the currency system, and a lively host of other details and curiosities of the day."

Saturday 7 December 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

"A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance." Lyndon Baines Johnson

"Buying a book is not about obtaining a possession, but about securing a portal!" Laura Miller

"A man's bookcase will tell you everything you'll ever need to know about him." Walter Mosley

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” Sylvia Plath

"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." Irving Stone

“I like books that aren't just lovely but that have memories in themselves. Just like playing a song, picking up a book again that has memories can take you back to another place or another time.” Emma Watson 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman"

Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" - 1759-67

Why I kept on reading this book until the end I will never know. I love classics. I do. They are my favourites. Just not this one.

Laurence Sterne tries to put the whole world into this novel, wanting to explain it by the example of one gentleman called "Tristram Shandy". He wants the story to be both philosophical as well as entertaining. It is neither. Most of the characters are so flat, they are all hopelessly useless and there isn't really any plot, the story hops from one end to the other without making sense. He starts hundreds of short stories without getting anywhere, without either ending them nor picking up the pieces at a later time. I kept asking myself whether I would find the meaning of this all. I didn't. The author doesn't convince me.

If someone wants to add philosophical thoughts to a story, he should at least tell the story. Or just leave the whole story out altogether. Which would have been better in this case.

The novel is supposed to be humorous, I couldn't find the humour in this, I didn't laugh even once. And I love British humour. This was NOT British humour. The only funny part are the names, like Hafen Slawkenbergius. Those I did enjoy.

From the back cover: "Laurence Sterne's great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate "hero" Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr. Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations."

I think the last sentence in the synopsis says it all.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Anderson, Leith "Jesus. An intimate portrait of the man, his land, and his people"

Anderson, Leith "Jesus. An intimate portrait of the man, his land, and his people" - 2006 

This is an interesting read both for Christians and those who know almost nothing about the New Testament. A lot of parts are explained to people reading it nowadays, examples are given to our contemporary life or what certain parts meant to people in Jesus' life.

Whether you know the bible or not, this book is full of information. You can read it in one go or use as a reference book. It reads like a biography.

From the back cover: "An expanded retelling of the life of Jesus, including all the details from the Gospels in chronological order, the geopolitical scene, the historical and cultural setting, and the likely emotions and motives of those who interacted with Him. Here is a great introduction to the greatest man who ever lived for those who don't know much about Him, and a fascinating read for those who have grown up in the church and are very familiar with the Gospel accounts. Leith Anderson's conversational storytelling style makes the book appealing to a wide range of audiences and ages."

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten 2014 Release I'm Dying To Read

"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.

December 3: Top Ten 2014 Release I'm Dying To Read

I don't read many series and a lot of my favourite authors are classic, which means they have died quite a while ago and are unlikely to release a new book in 2014. And there are still a lot of new books from 2013 on my list so that I haven't been exploring much what is going to be new next year.

But there are a few books I am waiting for:
Ghosh, Amitav "Flood of Fire" (Ibis Trilogy #3)
Jonasson, Jonas "The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden" (Analfabeten som kunde räkna)
Lawson, Mary "Road Ends"

I would love to see a new book by Isabel Allende, Bill Bryson, Victoria Hislop, Barbara Kingsolver, Joyce Carol Oates, Orhan Pamuk, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and Edward Rutherfurd but since there are still a few of their old ones that I haven't read, it's not so urgent.

And, of course, I always wait for the new winners of the Booker Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Friedenspreis and most of all Nobel Prize, so I can read their books.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

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" by Charles Dickens 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" (German: 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" [Neue Vahr South] 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!" (French: 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."

Thomas Keneally won the Booker Prize for "Schindler's Ark" in 1982.

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" (Spanish: 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" - 2002/2004

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.