Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Online Resources for Book Lovers


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is
Online Resources for Book Lovers
(what websites, podcasts, apps, etc. do you use that make your reading life better?)

I think we can all do with those great websites that tell us more about the books we read. Therefore, I really like this week's challenge. I will try to keep it as short as possible. All in alphabetical order.

Booklist Online
Freely accessible book lists.

Fantastic Fiction
Bibliographies of bestselling fiction authors, with the latest books and series information.

Goodreads is a subsidiary of Amazon with a database of books where anyone can search. As a user, you can register books to generate your reading list and share with your friends. Find my profile here.

Google Books
Find an index of full-text books.

Similar to Goodreads, a home for your books with information by other readers.

Oprah’s Book Club 
I've been following Oprah's list for decades. She always selects very interesting books and you can learn a lot from the discussions. Here is my list.

Project Gutenberg
Unfortunately, due to some copyright issues, the Gutenberg Project is blocked in Germany but I used it a lot when I still lived abroad. They can't decide when a book is free for public reading. I wish they would at least let us use those that the Germans think are free.

are very helpful study guides but it can also be useful for us book bloggers.

What should I read next?
Enter a book you like and the site will recommend what to read next.

The large free encyclopedia. It doesn't just give you information on any book or author you might be interested in, you can also use it to search for the titles in other languages.

Then there are two online bookshops where I like to order (especially used) books.
World of Books

However, in addition to these, there are more that might be helpful to some of you.
Electric Literature 
Free Book Notes 
Literary Hub

Midwest Book Review
My Shelf

Read Print
WayBack Machine

Do you have any favourite internet pages that you use regularly? I'm looking forward to many suggestions on your page or mine.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Dragon Games"

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Dragon Games" aka "The Language of Solitude" (The Rising Dragon #2) (German: Drachenspiele) - 2009

If you liked "Whispering Shadows", you already know Paul and his family and will want to know how their story goes on. If you like books about China, expats, crime stories, you will love this series which already has a third book (The Far Side of the Night).

This is an interesting book about the life not just of foreigners in China but also about the lives of people both in urban and rural China. Paul and Christine visit her ancestor's village after receiving some disturbing news. Here they find the clash between the people in the village and the greed of a large company, the corruption of politicians. Yes, we all know those plots but Jan-Philipp Sendker has a great talent to describe it.

Like in all his other books, the author is able to tell both the story as well as describing the background. He has a wonderful way with words, you can tell he is a journalist.

I could well imagine that one day someone will make a film out of this.

I am definitely looking forward to reading his next books which will probably be the sequels to his Burma story, "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats".

From the back cover:

"Paul Leibovitz is 53, living in Hong Kong, deeply in love with the city, its culture, and most of all, Christine. When a fortune teller predicts the death of someone she loves, however, the pair are once again thrust into the murky criminal world of Hong Kong and forced to fight for their lives. We learn the details of Christine's dark family history which is mired in the horrors and iniquities of Mao's cultural revolution and now her brother and his family who are living in rural China are victims of a very modern ecological scandal that is every bit as terrifying as past atrocities."

These are the books in the Rising Dragon (China) trilogy:
"Whispering Shadows" (German: Das Flüstern der Schatten) (The Rising Dragon #1) - 2007
"Dragon Games" aka "The Language of Solitude" (German: Drachenspiele) (The Rising Dragon #2) - 2009
"The Far Side of the Night" (German: Am anderen Ende der Nacht) (The Rising Dragon #3) - 2016

Friday, 15 October 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

Word cloud made with WordItOut

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway

If it really were that easy, we'd have a lot more authors.

"A book that we love haunts us forever; it will haunt us, even when we can no longer find it on the shelf or beside the bed where we must have left it. After all, it is the act of reading, for many of us, that forged our first link to the world. And so lost books - books that have gone missing through neglect or been forgotten in changing tastes or worst of all, gone up in a puff of rumour - gnaw at us. Being lovers of books, we've pulled a scent of these absences behind us our whole reading lives, telling people about books that exist only on our own shelves, or even just in our own memory. This is what was on our minds one rainy afternoon in Toronto, as we sat around a dining-room table where the four of us, every few months, make manifest a sporadic but long-lived magazine called Brick: A Literary Journal." Sample text for Lost classics / edited by Michael Ondaatje

I talk about this in one of my posts, "Forgetting a Book Title". I'm still looking for that book.

"If I'm ever stranded, I hope it's in a bookstore." N.N. *

Don't we all?

Find more book quotes here.  

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

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Throw Back Thursday. Which Austen Heroine are You?

I haven't done a Throw Back Thursday, yet, but will try to do this from time to time.

This was my very first post eleven years ago. I took the test again today and guess what?

I am still Elinor Dashwood, eleven years ago as well as today.

Take the Quiz here 

Who are you? Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, Catherine Morland, Fanny Price, or Emma Woodhouse? I always thought I would be most closest to Anne Elliot but maybe that's because "Persuasion" is my favourite Jane Austen novel?

The 1976 Club


A couple of months ago, I was made aware of a book challenge that takes place once a year and concentrates on one year and one year only. This year, 1976 was picked. For more information, see Simon @ Stuck in a Book.

I have tossed through my bookshelves and found just one book, a German one which I am in the middle of reading.

Ditfurth, Hoimar von "Der Geist fiel nicht vom Himmel: Die Evolution unseres Bewußtseins" [The mind did not fall from the sky: the evolution of our consciousness] - 1976

Not an easy choice but highly interesting.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Hesse, Hermann "Narcissus and Goldmund"

Hesse, Hermann "Narcissus and Goldmund" (German: Narziss und Goldmund) - 1930

A friend of mine was surprised that I never read this book. Well, we can't have read all the books available and I had read three other books by Hermann Hesse before. Still, she had a DVD of the film they made in 2020 (see here) and then she lent me her copy of the book. Thanks, Elisabeth.

They are both great works though, as so often with films, you cannot compare the two. The ending is pretty different and there are parts that are larger in the book than in the film and vice versa. Why do they always have to do that? I have no idea.

This is a much acclaimed book and supposedly one of Hesse's best. I can well understand that. It is a great novel with many layers and much information about life in the middle ages.

I have enjoyed the book very much though I find it hard to say why. Certainly, the writing is superb and the description not just of the two main characters but also all the other ones is fantastic. Maybe I just say it's magical and - like magic - not explainable.

Of course, I cannot vouch for any translations as I have read this book in the original German language.

From the back cover:

"Narcissus and Goldmund is the story of two diametrically opposite men: one, an ascetic monk firm in his religious commitment, and the other, a romantic youth hungry for worldly experience.Hesse was a great writer in precisely the modern sense: complex, subtle, allusive: alive to the importance of play. Narcissus and Goldmund is his very best. What makes this short book so limitlessly vast is the body-and-soul-shaking debate that runs through it, which it has the honesty and courage not to resolve: between the flesh and spirit, art and scientific or religious speculation, action and contemplation."

And another one:

"Narcissus is a teacher at Mariabronn, a monastery in medieval Germany, and Goldmund his favourite pupil. While Narcissus remains detached from the world in prayer and meditation, Goldmund runs away from the monstery in pursuit of love. Thereafter he lives a picaresque wanderer's life, his amatory adventures resulting in pain as well as ecstasy. His eventual reunion with Narcissus brings into focus the diversity between artist and thinker, Dionysian and Apollonian".

Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964 "for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style".

Hermann Hesse received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 1955.

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Thirteen Favourite Book Settings


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is Favourite Book Settings

That's a tough one. I enjoy reading books about history or about real events but I don't ever select them for their setting.

However, over the years, there have been some countries that I read more about than others because they started to interest me more or I'd been to the place or would like to go there. So, here is a list with towns or countries that I've read more about than others. I have added my favourite book if I could decide.

Afghanistan because their story is just too important to be ignored. And Christina Lamb has told the story of the women and girls in this torn country.
Lamb, Christina "The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan" - 2002

Catalonia because I adore the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (Spanish: La Sombra del Viento) - 2001 (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1)

China because Pearl S. Buck was my first adult book love. I read many other books about this huge and interesting country but this was my first.
Buck, Pearl S. "Peony" - 1948

England because I've lived there. Jane Austen because I love classics and she is one of my favourite authors and "Persuasion" because it is my favourite novel by her
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817

Germany because it's my country. Thomas Mann because he is one of my favourite authors and "Buddenbrooks" one of my absolute favourite books and I just love Lübeck.
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

Greece because I've been there and love their country and because Victoria Hislop is one of my favourite authors. And I've been to the Island of Spinalonga.
Hislop, Victoria "The Island" - 2005

India because it's such a fascinating country. One of the first books I read was "A Suitable Boy" and it tells us so much about the life of the people there.
Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993

Ireland, my favourite country in the world. Edward Rutherfurd has written many sagas about all parts of the world but the one about Ireland is probably my favourite.
Rutherfurd, Edward "Dublin: Foundation" (aka The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga)" - 2004

Israel because I've been there and absolutely loved it and their history will forever be intertwined with that of my country. "
City of Oranges", there is so much history in this book about how the states of Israel began, what was before and what it led to today.
LeBor, Adam "City of Oranges" An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa" - 2006

Netherlands because I've lived there for two decades. There are quite a few interesting books about the country and its history. But this one by Harry Mulisch has been selected the favourite book of the nation and I thought that is good enough to include it here. It is fantastic, by the way.
Mulisch, Harry "
The Discovery of Heaven" (Dutch: De Ontdekking van de Hemel) - 1992

Russia because I love Russian literature. There are so many great authors here and it was tough to choose just one but in the end I decided for this one:
Tolstoy, Lew Nikolajewitsch (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "War and Peace" (Russian: Война и мир = Woina i mir) - 1868/69

Scandinavia because it's such a beautiful area. Again, tough to decide. I love Astrid Lindgren as much as Marianne Fredriksson but I decided in the end for this one where the life of women in the last century is described so well.
Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna's Daughters" (Swedish: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) - 1994

Turkey because I've been there and we have many people with Turkish ancestors living in our country and because Orhan Pamuk is one of my favourite authors ever and "My Name is Red" probably my favourite book by him.
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998

I could have carried on with Japan, the USA and many, many other countries but I thought thirteen is already three more than ten, so here you go.

* * *

Do you have a favourite setting? Even if you don't participate in the Top Ten Tuesday challenge, maybe this would be a topic you could just write one post about.

Monday, 11 October 2021

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #28


"Words and Peace" is a blog I've been following for a couple of years and I have always found some interesting new (or olde) books there, especially French ones.

On her page, I found the posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, this time before next Sunday 17th October 2021, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. They'll then post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until Sunday 12th of December 2021 to read it.

In the meantime, I read five more books from my old list (Classics Spin #27) which I usually replace by some new ones. Since I want to finish my oldest classic novels first (as published in my Classics Club list) before buying new ones, I simply added the first ones to the end of the list. They are all in chronological order.

1.    Eichendorff, Joseph von "Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts und andere Novellen" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
2.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" - 1855/56
3.    Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896
4.    Martin, Catherine "The Incredible Journey" - 1923
5.    Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
6.    Cather, Willa "Shadows on the Rock" - 1931
7.    Christie, Agatha "Murder on the Orient Express" (Hercule Poirot #10) - 1934
8.    Némirovsky, Irène "La Proie" [The Prey] - 1938
9.    Fallada, Hans "Every Man Dies Alone" (Jeder stirbt für sich allein) - 1947
10.    Böll, Heinrich "The Silent Angel" (Der Engel schwieg) - 1949/50
11.    Kazantzakis, Nikos "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Ο τελευταίος πειρασμός/O telefteos pirasmos) - 1951
12.    Highsmith, Patricia "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - 1955
13.    Eichendorff, Joseph von "Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts und andere Novellen" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
14.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" - 1855/56
15.    Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896
16.    Martin, Catherine "The Incredible Journey" - 1923
17.    Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
18.    Cather, Willa "Shadows on the Rock" - 1931
19.    Christie, Agatha "Murder on the Orient Express" (Hercule Poirot #10) - 1934
20.    Némirovsky, Irène "La Proie" [The Prey] - 1938

Since I want to finish my oldest classic novels first (as published in my Classics Club list) before buying new ones, I simply added the first ones to the end of the list.

If you want to take up the challenge, here is the post: The Classics Spin #28 

For Classics Spin #20, I got #19:
James, Henry "Daisy Miller" - 1879
For Classics Spin #23, I got #8:
Stendhal "Le Rouge et le Noir" (The Red and the Black) - 1830
For Classics Spin #24, I got #18:
Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900
For Classics Spin #25, I got #14:
Hubbard, Fra Elbert "A Message to Garcia" - 1899
For Classics Spin #26, I got #11:
Bulgakow, Michail "The Master and Margarita" (Мастер и Маргарита/Master i Margarita) - 1929-39
For Classics Spin #27, I got #6:
Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914
For Classics Spin #28, I got #12:
Highsmith, Patricia "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - 1955

And here are all the books on my Classics Club list.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Nobel Prize for Literature 2021 goes to Abdulrazak Gurnah from Tanzania

Image credit: James Wiseman via unsplash.com

My husband asked me yesterday morning whether I had heard anything about nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature since he knew I was waiting for the announcement of this year's winner. I hadn't (and I know the official ones will not be published for another 50 years but there are always speculations) so I googled and found lots of names, mostly unknown to me. I had read Ismail Kadaré (The Fall of the Stone City, The Pyramid), Lyudmila Ulitskaya, (Imago or The Big Green Tent), Yu Hua (China in Ten Words) and heard of Milan Kundera, Edna O'Brian but had never heard of Can Xue, Annie Ernaux, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Maryse Condé, Nuruddin Farah, Yan Lianke, Scholastique Mukasonga, Xi Xi, Jon Fosse, Javier Marias, Hélène Cixous, Dubravka Ugrešić, Botho Strauss, Ivan Klíma, Mircea Cărtărescu, László Krasznahorkai, Péter Nádas.

So, I was quite surprised to find the name of the new Laureate (who hadn't been on any of the lists).

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and after winning the Booker and the Whitbread Prize and being shortlisted for the the Los Angeles Ties Book Award, Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature yesterday.

Officially, he is only the sixth African winner after Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) in 1984, Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) in 1988, Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) in 1991, J.M. Coetzee (South Africa) in 2003, Doris Lessing (UK and Zimbabwe) in 2007. Having said that, if you include Doris Lessing who was born in Iran and then spent 24 years in Zimbabwe, you should technically also include Albert Camus (1957) who was not just born in Algeria but lived there for 27 years and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (2008) who lived in Nigeria and Mauritius and also has the Mauritian nationality. But who am I to decide this? And it won't make a huge difference if you consider that the Prize has been awarded 118 times until now.

Needless to say, since I never heard of this author, I haven't read any of his books - yet.

Abdulrazak Gurnah received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021 "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fates of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents".

Book Quotes of the Week

Word cloud made with WordItOut

"Lyrics do that sometimes. They find their home at just the right time. Like a secret message in a bottle, floating on a current for decades, only to wash up at someone’s feet when the words are needed." Erin Hahn, More Than Maybe

I need music to any lyric, poems don't do the same to me.

"I think there is an increasing danger of novels becoming too streamlined, domesticated. When you read Vasily Grossman or the big Russian novels, they are wild and unwieldy, but now there's a way in which literature is being commodified and packaged - is it romance, is it a thriller? Commercial? Literary? What shelf should we put it on?" Arundhati Roy

Not just that, I have the feeling, many writers only write what they think their readers will like. It doesn't come from the heart, it's just a repetition of a former success.

"Our story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And although this is the way all stories unfold, I still can't believe that ours didn't go on forever." Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

Like life, no story goes on forever, no matter how much we wish it. That's why a lot of sequels are so bad, some already in the first book, others in the tenth, but they do get bad at some point.

Find more book quotes here.  

Thursday, 7 October 2021

10 Year Challenge Book Tag

I was not tagged but saw this challenge on Deanna's page A Novel Glimpse through Bea @ Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic. It was created by Rincey Reads. It’s a fun tag that takes a look back at my reading 10 years ago versus today. Please check out Deanna's, Bea’s and Rincey's posts.

What was your favourite book in 2011?

Pamuk, Orhan "Istanbul - Memories of a City" (Turkish: İstanbul - Hatıralar ve Şehir) - 2003
Orhan Pamuk is one of my favourite authors and Istanbul is a wonderful city. He grew up and lived there all his life, so what better than a book about his city by this fantastic writer.

What is your favourite book of 2021 (so far)?
Harris, Kamala "The Truths We Hold. An American Journey" - 2019
I love reading about strong women and I admire Kamala Harris a lot, especially after reading her book.

What was your least favourite book in 2011?
I try to read a book by the latest Nobel Prize winner every year (and some from the previous ones). This was one that really disappointed me.
Jelinek, Elfriede "The Piano Teacher" (German: Die Klavierspielerin) - 1988

What is a book published in 2011 that you still want to read?

Lodge, David "A Man of Parts" - 2011 (Goodreads)
A story about H.G. Wells. I have read "The Time Machine" and several book by Felix J. Palma that are based on his stories (The Map of Time, The Map of the Sky, The Map of Chaos) that mention him and his life, so I really want to read this one soon.

What is the book published (to be published) in 2021 you want to get before 2022?

Lawson, Mary "A Town Called Solace" (Goodreads)
I loved her other books so far (Crow Lake, The Other Side of the Bridge and Road Ends), so I've been waiting for another one by her since 2013.

What is a genre you used to read a lot of that you don’t read as much of anymore?
Forest, Jim "Praying with Icons" - 1997/2008
Spiritual Books. I used to be in a church group and we read a lot of books together. Now that I try to reduce my TBR pile, I don't read as many anymore. I still want to read more by Jim Forest who I was lucky to meet during one of our get-togethers.

What is a new genre you’ve discovered since 2011?

Stroyar, J.N. "The Children’s War" - 2001
This is a tough one. I've been reading for so long and I've always been reading almost anything at least once. And those genres that I didn't tend to didn't increase after 2011. What I probably started reading more since 2010 are dystopian novels, starting with my favourite book ever, The Children's War.

What is a reading or book habit you are hoping to leave behind in this decade?
Buying too many books. Though, who am I kidding …?

What is a new reading goal or habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?
I started to add only books from my TBR pile to any challenges I wanted to do this year and have been following that diligently so far. I'd like to keep that up.

I'm not tagging anyone but invite you all to do this, if you like to participate. If you decide to do this, leave a link in the comments so I can check out your post. Thanks!

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Eleven Years of Blogging

11th "Blogiversary"

It's a special day today. At least for me. Eleven years ago, I started this blog.

Eleven is a prime number. Its twin is the next prime number, 13. It has a lot of meanings.
Armistice on WWI was declared on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" 1918. This is still the time and date it is commemorated today.

Apollo 11 was the first rocket to land on the moon. There are eleven players on a football field. In chemistry, it's the atomic number for sodium.
Apparently, according to the know-it-all WWW, the number eleven is a master number in numerology. It is a double digit of the number one which stands for beginnings and purity and the meaning of the prime number doubles its strength. The number eleven also stands for balance and represents male and female, sun and moon. That is interesting because my star sign is the libra which also balances everything. So - perfect. Not that I really believe in this but it's always interesting to read what people have been coming up with.

My very first entry was about Jane Austen. "Which Austen Heroine are You?" (apparently, I'm Elinor Dashwood), followed by a list of my Favourite Books Ever. I carried on with a list about our Book Club History, right after that a post about the Nobel Prize for Literature winner of 2010 (Maria Vargas Llosa), which was then followed by a post about my favourite book ever, "The Children's War". I have, of course, updated all those lists over the time.

I think this shows how I play with my blog. I love Classics (329 posts so far), Nobel Prize Winners (121), Lists (149), I have been a member of a Book Club for decades (198). And I have found many other things to blog about over the years, I add some Book Quotes most Fridays and participate in several challenges, Top Ten Tuesday once a week (141 weeks by now) and new challenges all the time, the Classics Club and the Classics Challenge 2021, Spell the Month in Books, Six Degrees of Separation etc. And I Travel the World Through Books. This is only a smidgen of the topics I blog about but I hope I have given a quick overview.

I have found many other enthusiastic readers here whose blogs I love to read and who come to my blog and comment on our issues. I found many, many interesting books that way, and had lots of fascinating conversations.

So, thank you all for your support. I look forward to the next couple of years of living in the blogging world.

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Bookish Pet Peeves


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is Bookish Pet Peeves

May I introduce my favourite bag saying "favourite book" in German. I have had this for years (as you can see from the copyright, even then it was a couple of years old) and take it everywhere. My handbags have to be big enough for it to fit in there because only then can I take a book with me wherever I go.

When I first saw this topic, I thought, I know I've done this before. And yes, it's been eight years ago. The challenge was Top Ten Book Turn-Offs and mine were:

10. Books with movie covers.
9. No description of the book on the cover.
8. Spoilers in the introduction.
7. Description of clothes.
6. Mentioning shoes.
5. Bad translation.
4. Contradictions within the story or even compared to real life.
3. Wrong dates.
2. Wrong grammar, wrong spelling.
1. Bad language.
None of that has changed, I still loathe all of those facts. But, of course, there are other events that can make me mad.

One would be: Sequels coming out a different size to first book. I like my series to match. But that isn't the worst one.

And since we're on the topic already, cover redesigns after they have been turned into a movie! I think they do it because they hope to sell the books with the new cover to those who liked the movie. But they don't make them attractive to those of us who hate movies made after our books (see here).

I also hate that paperbacks are published later than hard covers. Now it's bad enough with English books but in Germany it might take years until they publish it in paperback. With the result that I hardly ever read any new German books and by the time they appear in paperback, I have forgotten that I liked the description when I first heard about it.

Then there is something I love when it's there, but it doesn't happen very often. I love to have maps about the area, so I know what the author is talking about. Also, when there is a historical notion, a timeline of what happened in real life is very helpful. I know I can get all that information on the internet nowadays but it's nicer to have it right then and there while reading.

Another thing we book lovers hate is when a book we ordered online is damaged. I don't like ordering online much but my local bookshop often has problems getting a foreign edition for me, so I have no choice but to use one of the online bookshops. It's really annoying when they arrive damaged.

And the last biggest problem is:
How will I ever get through my TBR pile before I die?

I hope Jorge Louis Borges is correct and paradise is like a library. Sigh!

Monday, 4 October 2021

Wodehouse, P.G. "The World of Jeeves"

Wodehouse, P.G. "The World of Jeeves" (Jeeves #2-4: The Inimitable Jeeves #2, Carry On, Jeeves #3, Very Good, Jeeves! #4) - 1923/1925/1930 

Wodehouse, P.G. "The Inimitable Jeeves" (Jeeves #2) - 1923
Wodehouse, P.G. "Carry On, Jeeves" (Jeeves #3) - 1925
Wodehouse, P.G. "Very Good, Jeeves!" (Jeeves #4) - 1930 

After reading "Right Ho, Jeeves", "Ring for Jeeves" and "The Code of the Woosters" last year, it was time for another book by P.G. Wodehouse about Bertram (Bertie) Wooster  and his trustful gentleman's gentleman Jeeves. I found an omnibus of three of the Jeeves books and I had a lot of fun reading it over several months, the two helped me through some awful Corona months.

There isn't much more to say about these books other than how wonderful they are. I mentioned before that they aren't just funny but that the language is superb. My final sentence to the first book I came across was:
"A truly delightful book. Whenever you feel gloomy, read a bit of Jeeves and Wooster!"
That's still true today.

I found it incredible, how much some of the covers have changed, so I made a little collage with the different books.

Here is a list of all the stories I found in this collection.

1.    Jeeves Takes Charge (COJ)
2.    Jeeves in the Springtime (VGJ)
3.    Scoring Off Jeeves (VGJ)
4.    Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch (VGJ)
5.    Aunt Agatha Takes the Count (VGJ)
6.    The Artistic Career of Corky (COJ)
7.    Jeeves and Chump Cyril (VGJ)
8.    Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest (COJ)
9.    Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg (COJ)
10.  The Aunt and the Sluggard (COJ)
11.  Comrade Bingo (VGJ)
12.  The Great Sermon Handicap (VGJ)
13.  The Purity of the Turf (VGJ)
14.  The Metropolitan Touch (VGJ)
15.  The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace (VGJ)
16.  Bingo and the Little Woman (VGJ)
17.  The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy (COJ)
18.  Without the Option (COJ)
19.  Fixing it for Freddie (COJ)
20.  Clustering Round Young Bingo (COJ)
21.  Jeeves and the Impending Doom (VGJ)
22.  The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy (VGJ)
23.  Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit (VGJ)
24.  Jeeves and the Song of Songs (VGJ)
25.  Episode of the Dog Mcintosh (VGJ)
26.  The Spot of Art (VGJ)
27.  Jeeves and the Kid Clementina (VGJ)
28.  The Love That Purifies (VGJ)
29.  Jeeves and the Old School Chum (VGJ)
30.  Indian Summer of an Uncle (VGJ)
31.  The Ordeal of Young Tuppy (VGJ)
32.  Bertie Changes His Mind (COJ)
33.  Jeeves Makes an Omelette
34.  Jeeves and the Greasy Bird

IJ = The Inimitable Jeeves
COJ = Carry On, Jeeves
VGJ = Very Good, Jeeves!

From the back cover:

"A Jeeves and Wooster Omnibus

Jeeves knows his place, and it is between the covers of a book.'

This is an omnibus of wonderful Jeeves and Wooster stories, specially selected and introduced by Wodehouse himself, who was struck by the size of his selection and described it as almost the ideal paperweight. As he wrote:

I find it curious, now that I have written so much about him, to recall how softly and undramatically Jeeves first entered my little world. Characteristically, he did not thrust himself forward. On that occasion, he spoke just two lines.
The first was:
"Mrs Gregson to see you, sir."
The second:
"Very good, sir, which suit will you wear?"
It was only some time later that the man's qualities dawned upon me. I still blush to think of the off-hand way I treated him at our first encounter...'.

This omnibus contains
Carry On, Jeeves, The Inimitable Jeeves, Very Good, Jeeves and the short stories 'Jeeves Makes an Omelette' and 'Jeeves and the Greasy Bird'.

A glorious collection of all the short stories featuring Jeeves, the perfect manservant, and Bertie Wooster, a 1920s bachelor on the run."

I was told the "Psmith" books are even better. Will have to check that.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Six Degrees of Separation ~ The Lottery

 The Lottery
Jackson, Shirley "The Lottery" - 1948

#6Degrees of Separation:
from The Lottery to The Wave 

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.
This month's prompt starts with The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Kate mentioned that there was no excuse for not reading the starting book since this is the first time we’ve started with a short story. Weeeeeelll, I don’t really like short stories. The longer a book, the better. However, since I could read the story online and it really was only 30 pages, I did it anyway as you can see in my link here.

The story about a small American town who holds a lottery to find a scapegoat reminded me very much of a newer successful book that selects members from their community for a gruesome task.

Collins, Suzanne "The Hunger Games" - 2008

That title led me to a book with a completely other kind of game, more in a magic realism world than a dystopian one but still quite surreal.

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Angel's Game" - 2008

In this story, one of my favourite authors talks about a library of forgotten books. Another novel in a similar setting is a children's or youth book where people from the book come to life.

Funke, Cornelia "Inkheart" (German: Tintenherz) - 2003

And then there is the book where nobody comes out of the book but somebody goes in:

Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story" (German: Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979

Here we read about disappearing people because everyone has stopped reading fairy tales. So, another fairy tale should be the next link, right? Maybe in a different setting. Fractured fairy tales.

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

Talking about true stories in the title, here is a real one. When his students couldn't believe how people could follow the nazis and not do anything against them, their teacher started an experiment.

Rhue, Morton "The Wave" - 1981

You might think there isn't a huge connection between the first and the last book. Or is there? If you've read both of them (and none of them is very long), you will understand.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Spell the Month in Books - October


I found this on one of the blogs I follow, Books are the New Black who found it at One Book More. It was originally created by Reviews from the Stacks, and the idea is to spell the month using the first letter of book titles.

I found this on one of the blogs I follow, Books are the New Black who found it at One Book More. It was originally created by Reviews from the Stacks, and the idea is to spell the month using the first letter of book titles.

Homer "Odyssey" (Ancient Greek: Ομήρου Οδύσσεια, Odýsseia) - 800-600 BC
This is an epic story. I am not much into poetry but you can read this almost like a novel. This story is over 2,000 years old and it still captures us today.

Cabré, Jaume "Confessions" (Catalan: Jo Confesso) - 2011
This book always plays on different levels, different times and stories run alongise each other. The life of a Nazi henchman is interwoven with that of a Spanish inquisitor from the Middle Ages.

Liao, Yiwu "Testimonials or: For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's Journey Through a Chinese Prison" (Chinese: 證詞/Zheng-Ci) - 2000
The book "describes the horrific treatment of Liao Yiwu and other political prisoners in a Chongqing prison who were arrested after the June 4, 1989 crackdown".

Gabaldon, Diana "Outlander" (UK: Cross Stich) - 1991
This is not my kind of read but many of my friends have told me I should read this.

Morrison, Toni "Beloved" - 1987
This is one of my favourite books ever. The author uses a lot of symbolism unknown to us, yet, explains the world of the slaves so lively, you can really feel their pains.

Jessop, Carolyn "Escape" - 2007
Even though this is a book about one terrible thing after another, it is also a book of hope, that there is something you can do in a hopeless situation, where everyone tells you it's impossible to get away from but it shows there is hope.

Byatt, A.S. "Ragnarok. The End of the Gods" - 2011
A retelling of the Norse mythology. I really enjoyed the author's "Thoughts on Myth" at the end of the stories where she explains where certain words come from and why she was re-writing something that has been written already a hundred times before.

Happy October!

Happy October to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Autumn Anemones"

Flowers are always pretty and the Koebsch couple can paint them very well. Don't you agree?

* * *

The Low German name for October is "Wienmaond", the English translation is "Wine Moon" as this is the month of the wine grape harvesting (Vintage).

* * *

In Germany, we start the month with "German Unity Day" on the 3
rd. It's a public holiday in commemoration of the German reunification in 1990. 
In the West, we used to celebrate this day on the 17th of June (as "Day of the German Unity") until 1990 as a reminder of the East German uprising in 1953. In the East, "Founding Day" (1949) was celebrated on the 7th of October as "Day of the Republic".

But we don't celebrate it as much as we probably should, it is not to be compared with "Quatorze Juillet" in France or "Independence Day" in the States.
Our president (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) usually holds a speech, other politicians, as well. But that is about it.

Of course, there are also harvest festivals but we mostly celebrate them in church
as I have explained earlier (here).
My Canadian friends celebrate Thanksgiving on the 11
th this month.
I wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving.

A lot of towns and villages have their autumn festivals/funfairs.

And at the end of the month, some of our states (those where the majority is Protestant) celebrate Reformation Day. The Catholic states celebrate a day later, 1s
t of November, "All Saints Day."

* * *

And last month, we had elections. In some states (including ours, Lower Saxony) we even had two. At the beginning of the month there were local elections.

And then the federal elections on the last weekend. We still don't know who is going to be our next chancellor or what our government will look like as coalition discussions are still ongoing, but there are going to be changes, that's for sure. The CDU (Christian Democratic Union) has lost a lot of votes and the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) won the elections.
But, same as before, they will not be able to govern by themselves as they won't have a majority, so they need the help of smaller parties. We give every party a colour and the coalitions all have names, as well.

At the moment, it looks like the Traffic Light Coalition could be the winner (Red-Green-Yellow, i.e. SPD, Green Party and Liberals) with Olaf Scholz as our new chancellor. We'll see.

Weather lore (or farmers' rule) for September:

Viel Oktober-Regen ist für die Felder ein Segen.
A lot of October rain is a blessing for the fields.

I'm sure there is a lot of truth in this. Our fields do need rain in order to give us their fruit.

Mit Crispin sind alle Fliegen hin.
With (until) Crispin all flies are gone. (= 25
th of October)
I'm looking forward to that. I hate insects.

* * *

We had a few things to celebrate last month. My brother turned sixty and I had the family around for my birthday, as well. And we could have some outings which was fantastic.

But the best part of last month was seeing our sons. Our younger one was moving within Brussels into his first own apartment and his older brother came over to lend him a hand. So, we had some nice days together when the boys sorted out and relieved us of most of their stuff.

* * *

I want to say goodbye today with a quote by L.M. Montgomery in "Anne of Green Gables:
"I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
I totally agree.

* * *

Have a happy October with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch.

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

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

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Molnár, Ferenc "The Paul Street Boys"

Molnár, Ferenc "The Paul Street Boys" (Hungarian: A Pál-utcai Fiúk) - 1907

This story takes place in Budapest at the end of the 19th century when Hungary and Austria still belonged together. A group of boys plays in a storage area between tall buildings and regards that as their home country. They even have their own flag, in red, green and red, the colours of Hungary. Another group with a red flag representing the rebels wants to take over the space and declare war.

We have all the typical characters as in a real war, we have the two groups who want the same thing but don't want to share, we have the traitor who thinks it's better to belong to the other group, we have the hero (who isn't always the strongest or the one people expect to be the hero) who saves the day, no matter what it will cost him.

It's amazing how much is always the same in any war. And the reason is usually materialistic. One group wants something the other has. Nothing new there. But the idea to let children copy the "great warriors" is fascinating. I mean, kids do copy adults. And I remember my brothers playing Cowboys and Indians when they were little, probably a similar game to the "war" the Paul Street Boys played.

And like all wars, everyone loses, even the "winners". And I think this book shows that even better than all the numbers we get about "real" wars. It should have us think more about patriotism and what it can do to people.

This book is so well-known in Hungary, they even have a sculpture in Budapest (see here on Wikipedia) depicting the Paul Street Boys playing marbles. And they made several movies of the book.

Comments from other readers:
"I must say, this book was such a positive reading experience. A book I had never heard about before it got chosen for reading and I wondered what possibly a little boys book could offer me for though. But it absolutely surprised me positively how engaging the story was, and amazing to think it was written well over 100 years ago. A real little heroes story with a very thoughtful ending."

We read this in our book club in September 2021.

From the back cover:

"The war between two groups of Hungarian boys living in Budapest. One with Hungarian national colours (red, white, green) is defending the square from redshirts (from Garibaldi's redshirts), who want to occupy the square."

Similar stories are the French novel "La Guerre des Boutons" (War of the Buttons) by Louis Pergaud (1912) and the German book "The Flying Classroom" (Das fliegende Klassenzimmer) by Erich Kästner (1933).

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Nobel Prize Winning Books


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is a Freebie.
(We can come up with our own topic or do a past TTT topic that we missed or would like to do again.)

Nobel Prize Winners is so ME. I absolutely love most of those that I've read. Therefore, I will list my favourite ones this week. Whenever I don't know what to put first, I usually do my lists in alphabetical order. These are in chronologica order according to the year the author was awared the prize.

1929 Thomas Mann, Germany
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

My favourite German author. My favourite German book.
His home town,
Lübeck, is also a wonderful German city.

1938 Pearl S. Buck, USA
Buck, Pearl S. "Peony" - 1948

She was the first Nobel Prize winner I read and "Peony" was the first book. It's so hard to choose my favourite because they are all fantastic

1957 Albert Camus, France/Algeria
Camus, Albert "The Stranger" (aka "The Outsider") (French: L'étranger) - 1942

Albert Camus is one of my favourite writers, certainly my favourite French author but I had no problem picking my favourite.

1958 Boris Pasternak, Russia
Pasternak, Boris "Doctor Zhivago" (Russian: Доктор Живаго = Doktor Živago) - 1957

I have only read this book by Boris Pasternak but, even though I love Russian authors, this is one of my favourite Russian novels.

1961 Ivo Andrić, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Andrić, Ivo "The Bridge on the Drina" (Serbo-Croat: На Дрини Ћуприја or Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945

This is one of the few Nobel Prize winners who received his award for just the one book. This one. And it is definitely worth it.

1982 Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) - 1967

Not easy to pick my favourite but this was my first book by him.

1988 Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt
Mahfouz, Naguib "Children of Gebelawi" (aka Children of our Alley) (Arabic: اولاد حارتنا Awlād ḥāritnā) - 1959

He was the first Arab speaking recipient of this prestigious prize. I have chosen this novel rather than his Cairo trilogy because it is just one book. But the trilogy is also fantastic.

1993 Toni Morrison, USA

Morrison, Toni "Beloved" - 1987

Another tough one to choose my favourite from. I love all her books but this was my first one. And she also received the Pulitzer Prize for it.

1999 Günter Grass, Germany
Grass, Günter "The Tin Drum" (German: Die Blechtrommel. Danziger Trilogie 1) - 1959

Probably my second favourite German author after Thomas Mann ^^. They both are linked to Lübeck, a wonderful German city.

2006 Orhan Pamuk, Turkey
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998

Probably my favourite author among all the Nobel Prize Winners. And "My Name is Red" is his best book, although the other ones are all pretty fabulous, as well.

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

Monday, 27 September 2021

McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" Series # 11-17

McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" Series # 11-17

See my previous reviews of the other books in this series by Alexander McCall Smith:

McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" Series # 1-9
McCall Smith, Alexander "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built" - 2009
McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" (1) - 1999
- "Tears of the Giraffe" (2) - 2000
- "Morality for Beautiful Girls" (3) - 2001
- "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" (4) - 2002
- "The Full Cupboard of Life" (5) - 2004
- "In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" (6) - 2004
- "Blue Shoes and Happiness" (7) - 2006
- "The Good Husband of Zebra Drive" (8) - 2007
- "The Miracle at Speedy Motors" (9) - 2008
- "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built" (10) - 2009
- "The Double Comfort Safari Club" (11) - 2010
- "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" (12) - 2011
- "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" (13) - 2012
- "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon" (14) - 2013
- "The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café" (15) - 2014
- "The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine" (16) - 2015
- "Precious and Grace" (17) - 2016
- "The House of Unexpected Sisters" (18) - 2017
- "The Colours of All the Cattle" (19) -2018
- "To the Land of Long Lost Friends" (20) - 2019
- "How to Raise an Elephant" (21) - 2020
Extra: 2013: The Slice of No. 1 Celebration Storybook (ebook only)

After having described the first ten novels (see links above), I have carried on readin the next books in the series.

They are all as delightful to read as the first ones were, especially in between more serious and challenging reads.

Whether Mma Ramotswe is chasing some criminals or tries to make everyone around her feel good, she is always a lovely person to read about.

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Double Comfort Safari Club" (11) - 2010

As I said in my first blog about The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, I have enjoyed reading the series about Mma Ramotswe and her family and business a lot. They are easy going reads where you learn a little about Botswana, try to follow the lady detective in her pursuit of wayward husbands, "loose women", petty criminals but mainly in her special way to protect those she loves.

The author's writing style is warm and gentle. His way about describing about Botswana and its inhabitants makes you want to go and visit.

From the back cover:

"The delightful new installment in Alexander McCall Smith's beloved and bestselling series finds Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi travelling to the north of Botswana, to the stunning Okavango Delta, to visit a safari lodge where there have been several unexplained and troubling events - including the demise of one of the guests.

When the two ladies of the
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency arrive at the Okavango Delta, their eyes are opened, as if for the first time, to the natural beauty and wildlife of their homeland. With teeming wildlife, endless grasslands, and sparkling rivulets of water running in every direction, it is breathtaking. But they can't help being drawn into a world filled with other wildlife: rival safari operators, discontented guides, grumpy hippopotamuses. On top of that, the date has still not been set for Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti's wedding, and it's safe to say that Mma Makutsi is beginning to grow a bit impatient.

And to top it all off, the impossible has happened: one of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's apprentices has gotten married.... Of course none of this defeats the indomitable Precious Ramotswe. Good sense, kindness, and copious quantities of red bush tea carry the day &- as they always do.

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" (12) - 2011

I preferred this one to the last book. Not only does Mma Makutsi get married to her Mr. Phuti Radiphuti, we also have an interesting crime story within the novel. Mma Ramotswe has to find a cattle killer, something as criminal in Botswana as if you killed your neighbour.

And then there is the story of Mma Makutsi and her love of beautiful, even if unpractical, shoes.

From the back cover:

"As the countdown to Mma Makutsi's wedding begins, all is not as it should be at the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. While investigating unpleasant occurrences on a southern cattle-post, Mma Ramotswe, always on the side of the weak against the strong, has reason to reflect on Rule No.3 of The Principles of Private Detection: never lie to the client. Apprentice mechanic Charlie seems to be avoiding certain important responsibilities. And as Mma Makutsi's big day approaches, her nemesis Violet Sephotho is casting her net wider: by standing for election which could spell trouble for the entire nation. But as friends and family gather under starry African night skies, it turns out that even the most perplexing of apparitions - and the most shocking of crimes - may yield to rational explanation. And, of course, to Mma Ramotswe's inimitable way with love, intuition and redbush tea."

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" (13) - 2012

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi meet their hero, the author of their detective book, Clovis Anderson.

How lovely to meet the guy they quote almost daily. He helps them with some of their cases. As always, life in Botswana is calm and quiet, except for some troublemakers. This is my "in-between" reading.

From the back cover:

"Mma Ramotswe, normally a peaceful sleeper, finds her slumbers disturbed by dreams of a tall stranger, but she is not quite ready to learn what this vision portends. Soon even Mma Makutsi has to admit that untoward things are occurring around the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, not least with the construction of her marital home. At Speedy Motors Fanwell finds himself in trouble with the law, and the indomitable Mma Potokwani flees the orphan farm. Armed with courage, kindness and an instinct for the truth, Mma Ramotswe sets out to restore order."

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon" (14) - 2013

And the story goes on. There is an addition to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, not 97% but 100%. Mma Makutsi has a baby whom she calls Itumelang Clovis Rhadiputhi. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe carries on solving her small but still disturbing crime scenes in her usual, cheerful manner. You just have to like her.

From the back cover:

"There are joyful tidings at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency with the arrival of Mma Makutsi's baby. However, while her assistant is busy with motherhood, Mma Ramotswe must tackle tea-making and detective work alone. Well-known troublemaker Violet Sephotho may or may not be behind a smear campaign against the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, and a dispute over the will of a local dignitary points to a shocking family secret. But the agency is resilient, adaptable and open to useful lessons - on particular, that our enemies and allies are not always obvious."

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café" (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #15) - 2014

Mma Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency will always have a special place in my heart. I love her kindness and cleverness, she is the type of person you would like to have as a friend. And there are not twenty murders in every book, there are hardly any. Just other everyday problems anyone of us could have.

Mma Makutsi on the other hand is getting too full of herself often and I know I would not have the patience of her employer. Shows again what a great lady she is.

From the back cover:

"The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency often helps people find things they have lost. But they have never had to help a client find herself - until now, in this latest installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling and beloved series.

A kindhearted brother and sister have taken in a woman known only as 'Mrs.' - a woman with no memory of her name or of how she came to Botswana. And so it’s up to Precious Ramotswe and her new co-director, Grace Makutsi, to discover the woman’s identity.

Meanwhile, motherhood proves to be no obstacle to Mma Makutsi’s professional success. As she settles into her role as partner at the agency, she also launches a new enterprise of her own:
the Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café, a restaurant for Gaborone’s most fashionable diners. But even Miss 97 Per Cent isn’t fully prepared for the temperamental chefs, drunken waiters, and other challenges that come with running one’s own business. Help may come from an unexpected source, if only Mma Makutsi can swallow her pride and ask.

And next door to the
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is all too familiar with the difficult decisions of business owners. He is finally forced to make a tough choice, one that will bring major changes to both Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency - and that will require all of Mma Ramotswe’s finesse and patience to sort out.

With sympathy and indefatigable good humor, Mma Ramotswe and her friends see one another through these major changes and discover along the way what true friendship really means.

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine" (16) - 2015

Another story about Mma Ramotswe, the 1st lady detective in Botswana and her assistant. When I read the last book (The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café), I said that Mma Makutsi was getting too full of herself and in this one she even gets to run the detective agency by herself. She didn't get more bonus points from me but this story was a little more interesting and fun than the last one. I might go back and read some more.

From the back cover:

"Mma Ramotswe is taking a break, leaving important tasks in the capable hands of Mma Makutsi, co-director of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. But Mma Ramotswe soon finds herself interfering in cases (secretly, or so she intends). While 'on holiday', she delves into the past of a man whose reputation is brought into question, she is called upon to rescue a small boy - and discovees Violet Sephotho's latest underhand business endeavour: the No. 1 Ladies' Secretarial College. Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi hires a part-time science teacher as an assistant, and suspects that her authority is being undermined. Will Mma Ramotswe be caught out?"

McCall Smith, Alexander "Precious and Grace" (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #17) - 2016

So, I started (and finished) another Mma Ramotswe book. I must say, I enjoyed this one more than the last one, maybe because it concentrated a little more on Mma Ramotswe again. And on some of the other people working for either Mma Ramotswe or Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, all of them lovely in their own way. I wonder whether we will learn more about the young clerk whom Mma Ramotswe promised to find a bride.

I usually look for the blurb on the book and was quite shocked to find in one of the descriptions (presumably) from the book that a lady was coming from Australia to get help from Precious and Grace. No, no, no. She came from Canada. Is it too much to expect them to get that right?

From the back cover:

"The one with the woman who lost her past.

Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi's friendship is tested by a curious case: a client who left Botswana thirty years ago and remembers little of her past. The quest for the truth takes the detectives in very different directions - but what if they are both wrong? Meanwhile, Fanwell adopts a stray dog, Mr Polopetsi becomes entangled in a tricky business deal and Violet Sephotho could be running for a prestigious award. Can Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi move beyond their differing views to solve the case and bring harmony to the agency?