Tuesday 30 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

"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

June 30: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

This was an easy one, well, not sooo easy, after all, I had to throw out a few. I read a trilogy in that time-frame and listed all three books as one because it really should be read as one. So, I didn't cheat. Well, not really. Hope my friends will like some of them, as well.

Azevedo, Francisco "Once Upon a Time in Rio" (O Arroz de Palma) - 2008

Monday 29 June 2015

Scott, Mary "Pippa in Paradise"

Scott, Mary "Pippa in Paradise" - 1955

Another delightful novel by Mary Scott who has been writing so much about her beloved countryside in New Zealand.

Pippa is a young woman without a family who inherits some money and invests it in a small library in a little seaside town. Something every reader dreams about. But Pippa has other dreams, as well. She wants to change people's lives as the heroine in one of Robert Browning's poems "Pippa passes". She might have some influence on a few of the character but, true to Mary Scott's style, she mostly changes her own life.

Humorous, lovely, nice, an easy read, a feel good novel.

From the back cover: "Here is the third novel set in New Zealand by the author of Breakfast At Six and Yours To Oblige which have delighted so many readers. Pippa, like her poetical namesake, aims to make people happy. When she is left a little money, she decides that a small country library should provide a pleasant and sufficiently profitable occupation and, above all, be a likely centre for meeting people and brightening up their lives for them. There are some light stains down the spine and light foxing along the page edges but overall a tidy copy."

Unfortunately, Mary Scott's books are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as eBooks, like this one here.

Friday 26 June 2015

Book Quotes of the Week

"It isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you - and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life." Isaac Asimov

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." C.S. Lewis

"There's more to life than books, you know. But not much more." Morrissey

"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." Lemony Snicket

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.

L is for ... Lego

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Matheson, Richard "I am Legend"

Matheson, Richard "I am Legend" - 1954

All of my friends will be surprised that I even started this book. Yes, I did read it. And yes, I did finish it. Again, it was for an online book club and I would have never chosen it for myself if I'd read the description - and I always do that when I choose a book.

However, I did not choose this book. It was not a subject I am inclined to read, I don't believe in zombies, vampires, time travel, anything that has to do with something science can't explain. However, I liked that the author tried to explain these vampires through biology during a time where people did not know, yet, what vampires were, how these stories were created. Nowadays we do and even though they are not bacteria like Richard Matheson said, at least he made an attempt to find an explanation.

I was not too impressed with the story, I couldn't be with a story like this. But the book is not too bad. If you like these kind of narrations, I think you will like it.

From the back cover:

"Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.

By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?

I am legend
Buried talents
The near departed
Witch war
Dance of the dead
Dress of white silk
Mad house
The funeral
From shadowed places
Person to person"

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ My Ten Favourite Top Ten Topics We've Ever Done

"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

June 23: My Ten Favourite Top Ten Topics We've Ever Done In The Past 5 Years
In honour of 5 years of Top Ten Tuesday (our first Top Ten Tuesday debuted June 21, 2010)

I only joined the top ten idea in 2013 and I already found eleven instead of ten of my favourite top ten topics. I guess I'm more a Top Eleven kind of girl. Well, anyway, here goes: 

Monday 22 June 2015

Coory, Kasey "Pious Evil. Condemn not my Children"

Coory, Kasey "Pious Evil. Condemn not my Children. A mother's journey to insanity" - 2014

If you don't like to read about other people's misery, don't read this book. The Coory family has had more than their fair share of misery. I already read the book written by the authors sister, Anne Frandi-Coory "Whatever Happened to Ishtar?", and wanted to hear the voice of another family member when I heard her brother had written a book, as well. A lot of the family circumstances were already known to me but I am sure I would have understood them even without reading the other book first. What I want to say, it doesn't matter which one you read first, they both tell their part of a story, a story of a malfunctioning "family", a story of a miserable childhood but also of miserable adults. Why is it that people who already live in more than bad circumstances, always find other people just like that. Couldn't they find just one normal functioning person to help them to start a better life?

The book tells us a lot about the hardships in a big family that hasn't learned how to deal with their life in a new culture but especially about the tragic life children have to lead in these kind of families. It makes you want to go out and help them, in any way possible. That the author and his siblings have found their way into an ordinary life is more a miracle and certainly the exception rather than the rule. It can't have been easy. It also tells us about the church and their misgivings that were certainly responsible for a lot of the misery of the children.

Same as in "Whatever Happened to Ishtar?", one tragedy follows another, they slither from one bad situation into a worse one.

What I would have loved in this book though is a sort of family tree because there are many many members in that family and sometimes it is hard to find the connections. Luckily, you can find one online on Anne Frandi-Coory's page "A Life in Two Halves". It helps checking the situation from time to time.

As I said above, don't read this book if you cannot bear to hear about other people's misery but if you think you might want to do something to make this world a better place, to understand the background of tragedy, this is the book for you.

From the back cover: "Based on a true story, Pious Evil is an historical narrative of prejudice and intrigue. A revealing chronicle of a manic depressive mother, who is deprived of her children, as seen through the eyes of a disparaged and vulnerable child. A deviant priest rapes a nun. She is sworn to silence in a cover up by the Church to avoid scandal. She is then ostracized and married off to the deviant's older brother, with unforeseen consequences. A mother is propositioned to sell her baby daughter, who is blessed with beautiful auburn hair. She is eager to execute a betrayal in an endeavour to gain freedom from her despised husband. Pious Evil is an autobiographical saga of two families who immigrate to New Zealand at the turn of the twentieth century. The Patriarchs and their wives weave a tapestry of Piousness and Evil, which is revealed in the machinations of the following generations."

Saturday 20 June 2015

Book Quotes of the Week

"In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold." Ben Aaronovitch

"Without libraries, what do we have? We have no past and no future." Ray Bradbury 

"All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen." Roald Dahl, Matilda

"Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk. You'll find what you need to find. Just read." Neil Gaiman

"Books are a hard bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am a happy victim of books!" Karl Lagerfeld

"We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth." John Lubbock 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.

K is for ... Kids. From all over the world.

Barbara Kindersley "Children just like me" DK

All the children's books I reviewed can be found here.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Brontë, Charlotte "Villette"

Brontë, Charlotte "Villette" - 1853

I really loved this novel. As a fan of Jane Austen and someone who read all her novels and pamphlets, I am always on the lookout for more literature like hers. I think the Brontë sisters belong to the next best thing. I had not read "Villette" before and might not have come across it if I hadn't read "Becoming Jane Eyre" by Sheila Kohler)

It might be a little hard if you don't speak French because a lot of the conversations are held in French but there is a translation in the back of the book (at least in my edition but I would hope it's in all of them) and it's totally worth going through it anyway.

The novel is not just about a young girl who lost her family and has to look after herself, not easy at a time where the only decent way for women to keep alive is to get married. But Lucy is not someone who gives up easily, who gives in to her despair. She goes abroad and hopes to find something. And she gets rewarded for her courage. Her life still isn't easy but at least she knows she will not starve. And she finds some wonderful friends who stand by her.

The writing is very well done, the characters described perfectly. Apparently, Charlotte Brontë used a lot of material from her own life, so this can be seen as an autobiographical rendering of her own life in Brussels. This makes the story even more interesting.

There is only one question that gets no answer. Why is Lucy not telling anything about her family, her background? We don't learn anything about her before she turns up and is already in position where she needs to fend for herself.

There is not a lot more I can say about the book without spoiling the story for new readers. If you have read Villette and would like to talk about it, please, let me know.

If you liked "Jane Eyre", you will like this novel, as well. I will certainly read Charlotte Brontë's other novels.

From the back cover:

"Based on Charlotte Brontë's personal experience as a teacher in Brussels, Villette is a moving tale of repressed feelings and subjection to cruel circumstance and position, borne with heroic fortitude.

Rising above the frustrations of confinement within a rigid social order, it is also a story of a woman's right to love and be loved."

Or: "With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette.

There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster and her own complex feelings, first for the school's English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emmanuel. Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a governess in Brussels, Charlotte Brontë's last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books On My TBR For Summer 2015

"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.

June 16: Top Ten Books On My TBR For Summer 2015

I don't know whether I'll manage to read all of these this summer, there are still some from my last list that I need to read, I just find too many in between that I need to read right away. LOL. Still, these are waiting in line to be read next:

Azevedo, Francisco "Once Upon a Time in Rio" (O Arroz de Palma) - 2008
Dickens, Charles "Little Dorrit" - 1857
Doerr, Anthony "All the Light We Cannot See" - 2014
Falvey, Patricia "The Yellow House" - 2010
Hawkins, Paula "The Girl on the Train" - 2015
Hay, Ashley "The Railwayman's Wife" - 2013
Modiano, Patrick "Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue" - 2007
Murakami, Haruki "Norwegian Wood" (Noruwei no mori, ノルウェイの森) - 1987
Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Drachenspiele" (Dragon Games aka The Language of Solitude) (Dragon Games #2) - 2009

Monday 15 June 2015

Modiano, Patrick "La Place de l'Étoile"

Modiano, Patrick "La Place de l'Étoile" (French: La Place de l'Étoile) - 1968

An interesting book, certainly a challenging book. The author was quite young, only 23 years old, when he wrote this, his first book that led eventually to him receiving the Nobel Price for Literature.

Patrick Modiano starts with a little story which could be called a joke if it wasn't so sad:
"In June 1942, a German officer approaches a young man and says: 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is the Place de l’Etoile?' The young man points to the left side of his chest. - A Jewish History". The young man is, of course, alluding to the star of David that was required to be worn by all Jews rather than the famous place in Paris.

Then he carries on talking about his protagonist, Raphaël Schlemilovitch and his way of surviving or not surviving the holocaust. It took me a while to realize what he was doing. He is living the lives of many and has an almost magic realistic but certainly an immensely sarcastic style in describing this. We meet many famous Jews and non-Jews who have made history both past and present in his stories.

I don't know whether this is the main book why the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and whether this is a typical novel by him but I certainly would not classify it as an "easy read". Still, if you are interested in this history, you might enjoy it.

From the back cover:

"The first novel by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2014, which with The Night Watch and Ring Roads forms a trilogy of the Occupation.

This astonishing first novel by one of France's greatest living writers was among the earliest to seriously question both wartime collaboration in France and the myths of the Gaullist era. The epigraph reads:

In June 1942 a German officer goes up to a young man and says: 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is La Place de l'Étoile?' The young man points to the star on his chest.

The narrator of this wild and whirling satire is a hero on the edge, who imagines himself in Paris under the German Occupation. Through his mind stream a thousand different possible existences, where sometimes the Jew is king, sometimes a martyr, and where tragedy disguises itself as farce. Real and fictional characters from Maurice Sachs and Drieu La Rochelle, Marcel Proust and the French Gestapo, Captain Dreyfus and the Petainist admirals, to Freud, Hitler and Eva Braun spin past our eyes. But at the centre of this whirligig is
La Place de l'Étoile, the geographical and moral centre of Paris, the capital of grief.

With La Place de l'Étoile Patrick Modiano burst onto the Parisian literary scene in 1968, winning two literary prizes, and preparing the way for the next two books -
The Night Watch and Ring Roads - in what is regarded as his trilogy of the Occupation."

Patrick Modiano received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014 "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation".

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 12 June 2015

Book Quotes of the Week

"I don't read to pass the time, I read to open up my mind." Steven Aitchison

"Not every book is for every reader." Meg Waite Clayton

"Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost." Khalil Gibran

"'Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read." Mark Twain (I strongly disagree, Mr. Twain.)

"A good book not only brings a new world to you, it brings you into a new world. It allows you to see and to experience things that never actually happen to you, and to learn from events that take place only in the realm of imagination." N.N.

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

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.

J is for ... Joke Books. 

Someone who always makes me laugh. This is my favourite book by him:
Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Small Island

All the books I read by Bill Bryson can be found here.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Moore, Michael "Stupid White Men"

Moore, Michael "Stupid White Men" - 2001

In one of my challenges for this year there is one that says "A book written by an author with your same initials." Since I wanted to read this book ever since it came out, I thought it was about time to tackle it.

Michael Moore does not just share my initials and most of my political opinions, I also found out that he is an Eagle Scout. As are both my boys.

Anyway, now to the book. This was even worse than I thought. Not as in the writing but as in the contents. Some of the stuff is so unbelievable, you wonder why people still vote for that party. And, even worse, they are the ones who write the most negative stuff about others.

Having said that, Michael Moore doesn't just rant about the party he didn't vote for, no, he also writes down what those in the party he'd rather see in office did and do wrong. I like that, it means you are not just saying the other side is evil, you look at the while picture and maybe even accept that they might do something right from time to time, as well.

This book has kept what it promised. It gives you a good view over what is (was) going on in the so-called Land of the Free, and not just what you hear from friends who like to overshare their hate for the other party on Facebook.

Of course, the book dates from  2001 and was published even before September 11th, so it isn't current. But I think it even gains in retrospect because you can see that some of his fears were quite prophetic. We can see that a lot of the problems created in this world stem from that time.

I don't want to get into big discussion in this blog. So, if you belong to my friends who hate President Obama and loved President Bush, just scroll over this as I do over your numerous hate posts almost every day. Thank you.

"Stupid White Men" tells you everything you need to know about how the great and the good screw us over.

From the back cover: "It reveals - among other things - how 'President' Bush stole an election aided only by his brother, cousin and dad's cronies, electoral fraud and tame judges; how the rich stay rich while forcing the rest of us to live in economic fear; and how politicians have whored themselves to big business.

Whether he's calling for United Nations action to overthrow the Bush Family Junta, calling on African-Americans to place whites-only signs over the entrances of unfriendly businesses, or praying that Jesse Helms will get kissed by a man, Stupid White Men is Michael Moore's Manifesto on Malfeasance and Mediocrity.

A hilarious must-read for anyone who wants to know what the con is and how 'they' get away with it, Stupid White Men is only available uncensored because public pressure forced the original publishers to publish a book they felt was too hot to handle. Now it's time to find out why."

I know most of these leaders have changed in the meantime but I challenge any of you to name more than ten of the present ones without googling or checking Wikipedia or whatever.

List of Leaders of Fifty Largest Countries
(in order of country's size)

1. China - President Jiang Zemin
2. India - President Kocherit Raman Narayanan
3. United States - President George W. Bush
4. Indonesia - President Megawati Sukarnoputri
5. Brazil - President Fernando Henrique Cardoso
6. Russia - President Vladimir Putin
7. Pakistan - General Pervez Musharraf
8. Bangladesh - President Shahabuddin Ahmed
9. Japan - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
10. Nigeria - President Olusegun Obasanjo
11. Mexico - President Vicente Fox Quesada
12. Germany - Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
13. Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
14. Vietnam - President Tran Duc Luong
15. Egypt - President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak
16. Turkey - President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
17. Iran - Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamemei, President Mohammad Khatami
18. Ethiopia - President Negasso Gidada
19. Thailand - Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat
20. United Kingdom - Prime Minister Anthony C. L. Blair
21. France - President Jacques Chirac
22. Italy - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
23. Congo (Kinshasa) - President Joseph Kabila
24. Ukraine - President Leonid D. Kuchma
25. South Korea - President Kim Dae-Jung
26. South Africa - President Thabo Mbelki
27. Burma - Prime Minister Than Shwe
28. Spain - President Jose Mariaaznar
29. Colombia - President Andres Pastrana
30. Poland - Presided Aleksander  Kwasniewski
31. Argentina - President Fernando De La Rua
32. Tanzania - President Benjamin Wiliam Mkapa
33. Sudan - President Lt. Gen. Omar El-Bashir
34. Canada - Prime Minister Jean Chretien
35. Algeria - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
36. Kenya - President Daniel Arap Moi
37. Morocco - Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi
38. Peru - President Alejandro Toledo
39. Afghanistan - Mullah Mohammed Rabbari
40. Uzbekistan - President Islam Karimov
41. Nepal - King Gyanendra, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur  Derba
42. Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez Frias
43. Uganda - President Lt Gen. Yoweri Museveni
44. Iraq - President Saddam Hussein
45. Romania - President Ion Iliescu
46. Taiwan - President Chen Shui-Bian
47. Saudi Arabia - King Fahd Bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud
48. Malaysia - Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamed
49. North Korea - President Vim Jong Il
50. Ghana - President John Agyekum Kufuor

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Patchett, Ann "The Magician’s Assistant"

Patchett, Ann "The Magician’s Assistant" - 1997

I read this book years ago with my book club in England (so at least 15 years ago) and I don't remember much about it. Only that it didn't invite me to read more books by this author. Maybe it was too "fantastic" for me. I have read "The Patron Saint of Liars"  in the meantime and maybe I should go back to this book or at least read more novels by this author because I really liked the other one.

From the back cover: 
"Sabine - twenty years a magician’s assistant to her handsome, charming husband - is suddenly a widow. In the wake of his death, she finds he has left a final trick; a false identity and a family allegedly lost in a tragic accident but now revealed as very much alive and well. Named as heirs in his will, they enter Sabine’s life and set her on an adventure of unraveling his secrets, from sunny Los Angeles to the windswept plains of Nebraska, that will work its own sort of magic on her."

We discussed this in our British Book Club in January 2000.

I did read "The Patron Saint of Liars" by Ann Patchett in the meantime and I liked it a lot better.

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015

"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

June 9: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015
Some of these are the follow-up of a series, others are books by authors I liked who wrote a new novel/non-fiction book. Some have already been published a little earlier this year but they all have one thing in common, I would love to read them all. 

Monday 8 June 2015

Burton, Jessie "The Miniaturist" - 2014

Burton, Jessie "The Miniaturist" - 2014

Fascinating story, gripping story. If you believe in magic, you should read this book. If you do not believe in magic but like historical fiction, you should also read this book. This is a great combination of both.

A novel about a family in the 17th century, a rich family in Amsterdam, a poor girl from the countryside who marries into the rich family. Having grown up in a village, I know women like Nella, the wife in the house has nothing to say, first there is the mother, then the sister and if and when they die before the wife, it's the kids.

But that is not the major part of the story, the book is full of secrets. I guessed the first secret quite early and knew there were more to come even before the first one was revealed. But it took me a little longer to guess what would happen next.

The author was inspired by the doll's house of a real life Petronella Oortman, a real life doll's house that can be visited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For a view of the house, click here.

But this is the only resemblance to our protagonist, the name and the fact that she owned a doll's house.

And this is what first drew me to the book, the doll's house. I saw the cover, read the description (which I always think is very important) and my decision was made. I wanted to read this novel.

Anyway, we meet a lot of interesting characters in the story, they have all been painted very well, the author has a great talent to describe the people outside and inside. And you almost feel like you live among them, you can see the streets of Amsterdam how they must have looked like more than 300 years ago.

I really liked this book. It is an easy read but still contains a lot of information, it is a mystery but has a great historical background.

I felt the whole time that this story should have been written in Dutch, I even caught myself rethinking the sentences in Dutch. This has never happened to me before which is probably a sign of how well the author managed to draw me into the story.

This is Jessie Burton's first novel. I am sure I will read her next one, should she decide to carry on writing. I hope so and wish her good luck.

We discussed this in our book club in March 2016.

From the back cover:

"On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true. 

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands - but does she plan to save or destroy them?"

Friday 5 June 2015

Book Quotes of the Week

"I never feel lonely if I've got a book - they're like old friends. Even if you're not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they're part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life." Emilia Fox

"The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you." B.B. King

"But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself." C.S. Lewis

"I don't love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful." Natalie Portman

"If I put my book down, the characters might do something without me." N.N.

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

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Mak, Geert "In Europe. Travels through the twentieth century"

Mak, Geert "In Europe. Travels through the twentieth century" (Dutch: In Europa: Reizen door de twintigste eeuw) - 2004

The 20th century. What a century it was. If we are older than 20 years, we might remember part of it. I remember the last half. The better half I would think, the peaceful half, the one where war only loomed around the corner but was never present. At least not in the part of the world where I lived.

Geert Mak is an excellent Dutch journalist who has written several non-fiction books about life in general and in particular in this part of the world (I reviewed "Jorwerd: The Death of the Village in late 20th Century" here.)

With this work he has excelled himself. He travels through Europe (not just in the book but also in real life) and describes every decade through the country he is just visiting. Some of them he has to visit several times, of course.

In any case, he gives a brilliant overview about the century that changed everyone's life (and not just that of the Europeans) forever. Let us learn from the mistakes made in the past. Reading a book like this one could help us all understanding those mistakes better and trying to avoid them for a better and more peaceful world.

From the back cover:

"From the First World War to the waning days of the Cold War, a poignant exploration on what it means to be European at the end of the twentieth-century. Geert Mak criss-crosses Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Srebrenica in search of evidence and witnesses of the last hundred years of Europe. Using his skills as an acclaimed journalist, Mak locates the smaller, personal stories within the epic arc of history-talking to a former ticket-taker at the gates of the Birkenau concentration camp or noting the neat rows of tiny shoes in the abandoned nursery school in the shadow of Chernobyl. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to a half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. Sweeping in scale, but intimate in detail 'In Europe' is a masterpiece."

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.

I is for ... I. My favourite book about me is our wedding album.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Frisch, Max "The Arsonists"

Frisch, Max "The Arsonists" (aka "The Firebugs" or "The Fire Raisers: A Morality Without A Moral, With An Afterpiece") (Biedermann und die Brandstifter) - 1958

One of the books almost every German students has to read in the upper classes. And I think it would be great if other students would read this, too. And adults. Because Max Frisch is a fabulous author who teaches us a lot.

Max Frisch is a satirical, dark writer. He shows this very well in this play. Gottlieb Biedermann is a rich person who is upset that some arsonists are in town who start living in people's houses while intending to burn them down. Even though he knows this, he takes in two alleged salesmen who behave just the way as if they did want to burn down his house. We can follow Biedermann's downfall slowly but surely. The characters develop and we can see that quite clearly, too.

The name Biedermann comes from the German word "bieder" which is a more satiric/negative meaning of conservative, conventional, upright. The right description for our protagonist.

The morale of this story: If you tell people the truth, they will let you do anything, even burn down your house.

From the back cover:

"Fires are becoming something of a problem. But Biedermann has it all under control. He's a respected member of the community with a loving wife and a flourishing business, so surely nothing can get to him. The great philanthropist is happy to meet his civic duty by giving shelter to two new guests but when they start filling his attic with petrol drums, will he help them light the fuse?

Max Frisch's parable about appeasement is given its first major UK revival since its Royal Court premiere in 1961, which was directed by Lindsay Anderson.

The play is published as a programme text for the production that runs from 1 November - 15 December on the main stage at the Royal Court."

Max Frisch received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 1976.

I also read "Homo Faber" by the same author.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I'd Love To See As Movies/TV Shows

"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

June 2: Top Ten Books I'd Love To See As Movies/TV Shows

Even though I love watching movies almost as much as I love reading books, I am always a little suspicious of the movies that were made from "my" books. However, since this is something I would dream about, here are some of the books I would love to see turned into good movies, movies that last for at least ten hours so they won't have to cut too much from the novels. ;) 

There are, of course, several movies made from the books I have read. I haven't listed any of them because if I'd love to see them, I have already done so. I hope some of these novels will be turned into films at one point.

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (La catedral del mar) 
Follett, Ken - The Century Trilogy
- "Fall of Giants"
- "Winter of the World"   
- "Edge of Eternity"  
Ghosh, Amitav - Ibis Trilogy
- "Sea of Poppies"    
- "River of Smoke
- "Flood of Fire"    
Grenville, Kate "The Secret River
Hislop, Victoria "The Island
Kingsolver, Barbara "The Poisonwood Bible" and/or
- "The Lacuna"   
Oates, Joyce Carol - any but especially "The Gravedigger's Daughter"  
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red"
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos - Cemetery of Forgotten Books Trilogy
- "The Shadow of the Wind" (La Sombra del Viento)     
- "The Angel’s Game" (El juego del ángel)  
- "The Prisoner of Heaven" (El Prisionero del Cielo)  
Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy"  
Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" and/or
- "Some Luck" (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga #1)   

I know, I've done it again, I've listed eleven, but I just couldn't take out any of them. Let's just pretend it's something like a baker's dozen. ;)

Monday 1 June 2015

Brown, Eleanor "The Weird Sisters"

Brown, Eleanor "The Weird Sisters" - 2011

"The Weird Sisters", another book I probably wouldn't have opened if it hadn't been for my friend's online book club. But same as "The Wednesday Sisters" this turned out to be quite an interesting read. First of all, "The Weird Sisters" aren't called Weird at all, their last name is Andreas and their father is a professor of English literature. The title comes from the name of the three witches from Macbeth, the girls are named after different characters from different other Shakespeare plays, Rosalind (Rose) from "As you like it", Bianca (Bean) from "The Taming of the Shrew" and Cordelia (Cordy) from "King Lear". I haven't read any of those plays (I'm not a big "play reader") but know the contents of some of them.

The girls are all as different as the plays, they all have their own ways of doing things, their own dreams, their own problems. They come together after many years apart to help their mother who suffers from cancer.

The story is narrated in an unusual way, first person plural, I don't think I've ever read a book like that. The girls tell the story together, all at the same time. That way you get three different point of views on every subject, whether it is about the girls themselves or other people or situations. Makes an interesting point.
What I loved most about the book, what every reader probably loves most is that this is a novel about readers and reading. The whole family reads all the time, no matter what happens, they always carry a book with them. There is one part where Bean is asked by a friend how on earth she manages to read that many books and she thinks what she should say, that she takes a book everywhere, that she doesn't waste time with other things, but all she does say is "I don't know". It is probably easiest that way. Only those who do that already will really understand.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, it's an easy read but has a lot of depth.

From the back cover: "Unlucky in work, love and life, the Andreas sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother. But each sister has a secret she's willing to share - each has come home to lick her own wounds.

The Andreas family is an eccentric one. Books are their passion (a trip to the library usually solved everything), TV is something other families watched. Their father – a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespeare who communicates almost exclusively in Shakespearean verse – named all three girls for great Shakespearean women – Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia); as a result, the girls find that they have a lot to live up to.

With this burden, as well as others they shoulder, the Andreas sisters have a difficult time communicating with both their parents and their lovers, but especially with each other. What can the homebody and shy eldest sister, the fast-living and mysterious middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Why can't Rose leave her hometown for the man she loves? Why has glamorous Bean come home from New York City with her tail between her legs to the small college town she swore she'd leave as soon as she could? And why suddenly has Cordy resurfaced after years of gypsy living? Each sister has found her life nothing like she had thought it would be – and suddenly faced with their parents' frailty and their own disappointments and setbacks, their usual quick salve of a book suddenly can't solve what ails them."

Happy June!

This is already the third year that I am lucky to have one of Frank and Hanna Koebsch's beautiful calendars on my desk and I thought the other day that I should show my readers the paintings this couple produces. I can honestly say that I love everything they do. I am a huge art fan and love paintings by not so famous painters just as much as by famous ones but these two speak to me even more than many others. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do and I will post more of them in the Future.

You can check their blog here.