Tuesday 31 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ My Top Ten Personal Heroes


"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: Fictional Crushes

I don't often have crushes, never was the type of person to be blown away by someone's good looks. It was more the type of person someone was. And there are a few men in literature that I admire (probably fewer than women but I don't want to get too far away from the subject), I call them my personal heroes, so that's what I'm going to present today.

My Personal Heroes

Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women" - 1868
Theodore "Laurie/Teddy" Laurence, I never understood why Jo March didn't want to marry him, he is such a lovely guy.

Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Captain Frederick Wentworth. I know, for most women, Mr. Darcy from "Pride & Prejudice" is the epitome of a hero but for me, it's always been Frederick Wentworth who waits for his girl until she is ready.

Becker, Jurek "Jacob the Liar" (German: Jakob der Lügner) - 1969
Jacob Heym gives people hope for telling them lies and thereby saves quite a few.

Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Atticus Finch, of course. What a wonderful guy who stands up for the little man even if it is to his disadvantage.

Pasternak, Boris "Doctor Zhivago" (Russian: Доктор Живаго = Doktor Živago) - 1957
Of all the main and secondary characters of all the books I read, Jurij Zhivago was always one of my favourites. Though, that might have been the lovely Omar Sharif who played him in one of my favourite movies ever. 😉 (So, you could count this as a crush)

Powers, Charles T. "In the Memory of the Forest" - 1997
Leszek Maleszewski tries to discover the reason for his friend's murder and therefoy uncovers the history of his village.

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (Spanish: La Sombra del Viento) - 2001
(El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1)

Juan Sempere is the guy who introduces his son Daniel to the Cemetery of Lost Books and us to a wonderful tetralogy of books about it.

Stroyar, J.N. "The Children’s War" - 2001

Peter Halifax is the kind of guy youd would want by your side if you are in trouble.

Turner, Nancy E. "These is my Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" - 1999

Captain Jack Elliot who is a good man and helps everyone around him, that's what draws Sarah to him.

Zusak, Markus "The Book Thief" - 2005

Hans Hubermann, Liesel Meminger's foster father. He raises the little orphan girl as if she were is own, is very sympathetic and courageous, has the heart in the right place.

Monday 30 August 2021

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katheryn Howard"

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katheryn Howard. The Tainted Queen" (US Title: The Scandalous Queen) - 2020

I have read all of Alison Weir's Tudor Queen books and this is the one about Henry VIIIs fifth wife. I have always read about her as being frivolous which she probably was. But the background about her and her family, I never heard of that.

A poor little girl who lost her mother when she was very young is sent from one place to the next and gets her "education" mainly from other young women who want nothing else than their enjoyment.

Alison Weir lets us see Katheryn Howard from a whole different point of view and that is the main reason why I think everyone who is interested in the Tudors should read the book. In her book about Anna of Kleve she took some liberties and invented "facts" that cannot be proven. Maybe she also did this with Henry's next queen though I doubt it because she even mentioned the stuff she had invented about Anna in her epilogue.

A pleasant read, as always. Looking forward to the book about the sixth and last wife, Katharine Parr.

From the back cover:

"Alison Weir, historian and author of the Sunday Times-bestselling Six Tudor Queens series, relates one of the most tragic stories in English history: Katheryn Howard, Henry VIII's fifth queen.

A naïve young woman at the mercy of her ambitious family.

At just nineteen, Katheryn Howard is quick to trust and fall in love.

She comes to court. She sings, she dances.

She captures the heart of the King.

But Henry knows nothing of Katheryn's past - one that comes back increasingly to haunt her. For those who share her secrets are waiting in the shadows, whispering words of love ... and blackmail.

Katheryn Howard

The Fifth of Henry's Queens.

Her story.

History tells us she died too soon.

This mesmerising novel brings her to life.

There is also a non-fiction book by Alison Weir about all of the ladies: "The Six Wives of Henry VIII".

Friday 27 August 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

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"Dear and most respected bookcase! I welcome your existence, which has for over one hundred years been devoted to the radiant ideals of goodness and justice." Anton Chekhov

I respect my bookcase(s) but I really, really, really love it, as well.

"Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions." Aleron Kong, I The Land: Raiders

I've known this as: Diplomacy is the art of stepping onto someone's foot so that he notices but doesn't scream.

"We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it." Barack Obama

He is so right. As always. Why are there still people around who don't want to believe this?

Find more book quotes here

Thursday 26 August 2021

Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich "The Communist Manifesto"

Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich "The Communist Manifesto" (German: Das Kommunistische Manifest) - 1848

It's unbelievable that this book is almost two centuries old. It's as contemporary and accurate as it was in 1848. I have always said, and I still believe it is correct, Marx and Engels would turn in their grave if they saw what has been made from their ideas. Unfortunately, they forgot to include one aspect into their theories, the human factor. As we have seen during the last two years of this pandemic, there are always greedy, selfish people around and they will not change their mind for the common good, often they are not smart enough to understand that and cannot think further than their own nose. So we should forgive them. But, honestly, I don't want to. I hate selfishness more than anything.

I live in a country with a good health system which is regarded by many outsiders as communist. We have free education and a good insurance for when we lose our jobs. We look after each other in our system and I am happy about that. But there are still too many rich people who could do more for the rest of the population. Again, the human factor. But I am glad we have the system we have and wouldn't want to live in some other countries, even if they claim to have more money. My son lived in Sweden for a while and their system is even further than Germany, a great system with high taxes but the people are generally a lot happier than those in other countries. I think that speaks for itself.

Karl Marx is a great philosopher; he has been named one of the most well-known thinkers in the world. We should give his thoughts more consideration.

"Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another."
Unfortunately, Karl Marx was right here, as always.

"The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."
So true, those who rule the country tell us what we should think.

"Then the world will be for the common people, and the sounds of happiness will reach the deepest springs. Ah! Come! People of every land, how can you not be roused."
Good question. If people don't want to understand, they won't.

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population."
Also this is still truer than ever.

"Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Workingmen of all countries unite!
The trouble is, many of the suppressed people believe their oppressors that this is wrong and will end in a disaster for them. No, it will end in a disaster for the rich.

"Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps."
Still the same!

And last but not least:
"Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that is does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation."

From the back cover:

"A rousing call to arms whose influence is still felt today

Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions,
The Communist Manifesto is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview Marx and Engels developed during their hectic intellectual and political collaboration. Formulating the principles of dialectical materialism, they believed that labor creates wealth, hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetical to freedom.

One of the most profoundly defining documents ever published in history.
The Communist Manifesto has forever realigned political faultlines worldwide, and its aftershock resonates to this day. In the 150 years since its publication, no other treatise has inspired such a dividing and violent debate, and after the recent collapse of several regimes which had initially embraced it, a retrospective interpretation of the essential ideas it advocates is presented in this comprehensive volume."

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Books with Fall in the Title


"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: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time

I did this a while ago when we were supposed to do Bookish wishes. Mmmh, now I have to think about something else.

So, it's summer and I've done a post with books that have the word "summer" in the title, even if it doesn't always talk about summer. But autumn is my favourite season and it's not far off (though, this summer wasn't all that bad, not too hot). However, I couldn't find any books with autumn in the title, except for a German one which I have included. So, I thought about the American word for autumn and it's easier to find titles with "Fall", even though it is a different kind of fall most of these books talk about and that is probably the reason why I don't like using that word for my favourite season. And I found one about leaves.

Achebe, Chinua "Things Fall Apart" (The African Trilogy #1) - 1958

Chevalier, Tracy "Falling Angels" - 2001

Follett, Ken "Fall of Giants" - 2010 

Gauck, Joachim (German President 2012-2017) "Winter im Sommer - Frühling im Herbst: Erinnerungen" [Winter in Summer, Spring in Autumn. Memories] - 2009 - (Goodreads)

Guterson, David "Snow Falling on Cedars" - 1994

Hannah, Kristin "Angel Falls" - 2000

Kadaré, Ismail "The Fall of the Stone City" (aka Chronicle in Stone) (Albanian: Darka e Gabuar) - 1971

MacDonald, Ann-Marie "Fall On Your Knees" - 1997

Oates, Joyce Carol "The Falls" - 2004

Truss, Lynne "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" - 2005

Monday 23 August 2021

Hislop, Victoria "One August Night"

Hislop, Victoria "One August Night" - 2020

I absolutely love Victoria Hislop. My first book by her was "The Island" and I have read all her subsequent novels (see here). All of them were fantastic, great stories with a lot of information mainly about Greece but also some other Southern European countries (Cyprus, Spain, Turkey).

Fourteen years after her first novel, the sequel to it was published. It is the end of the leper colony in Greece since they found a cure. That is great news for some since their loved ones return, not so good news for others who fear their lives will change. And they do.

A drama that occurs on the return changes the life of everyone whom we got to know in the first book. It would have been nice to learn more about other inhabitants of Spinalonga but we learn more about Maria who spent a long time of her life there.

As in all her novels, Victoria Hislop tells us a lot about her beloved country Greece. She has been made an honorary citizen in the meantime, a well-deserved recognition. I always love her describing the Greek whom I got to know as a warm and loving people. And her stories always have a feeling of truth, you can believe the people really existed, they led this life. She always brings me back to Crete which I really love.

I am already looking forward to her next book which she will hopefully write soon.

From the back cover:

"25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.

When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.

In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in
The Island - the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island... and beyond."

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.

Friday 20 August 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

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"A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity."  Italo Calvino

I think that is one of the reasons why I love classics so much.

"The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading." Norman Rush

I find I've been doing that for decades.

"When people say, 'I have so many books to read! Look at my To Be Read pile!' and it's like 8 books, I want to say, 'That's adorable. I have a TBR bookcase." N.N.

The thing is, we bookworms probably finish our bookcase faster than that person their 8 books.

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 19 August 2021

McCall Smith, Alexander "Espresso Tales" and "Love Over Scotland"

McCall Smith, Alexander "Espresso Tales" (44 Scotland Street #2) - 2005

This book is the reason why I started another series by Alexander McCall Smith. I found it on one of those book swapping shelves. And since I liked "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" Series, I thought, why not. I bought the first and third book in the series ("44 Scotland Street" and "Love Over Scotland").

Some parts are really silly and definitely exaggerated but he always makes me smile. His books are definitely on the lighter side of my reading but they are nice night-time stories to read in-between.
And I can get upset about some people and their behaviour. There is this mother of a five-year-old who treats him like a baby girl, no football, no rough play, pink walls in his bedroom, pink dungarees, no, excuse meeeee, crushed strawberry dungarees. LOL She even takes him to a psychiatrist but if you ask me, it's her who is in desperate need of one.

And then there is Pat, a nice girl but without a goal, who shares a flat with Bruce, a narcistic macho and that's the best I can say about him.

So, a nice little story about neighbours and friends.

From the back cover:

"In Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith returns home to Edinburgh and the glorious cast of his own tales of the city, the residents of 44 Scotland Street, with a new set of challenges for each one of them.

Bruce, the intolerably vain and perpetually deluded ex-surveyor, is about to embark on a new career as a wine merchant, while his long-suffering flatmate Pat MacGregor, set up by matchmaking Domenica Macdonald, finds herself invited to a nudist picnic in Moray Place in the pursuit of true love. Prodigious six-year-old Bertie Pollock wants a boy's life of fishing and rugby, not yoga and pink dungarees, and he plots rebellion against his bossy, crusading mother Irene and his psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn.

But when Bertie's longed-for trip to Glasgow with his ineffectual father Stuart ends with Bertie taking money off legendary Glasgow hard man Lard O'Connor at cards, it looks as though Bertie should have been more careful what he wished for. And all the time it appears that both Irene Pollock and Dr Fairbairn are engaged in a struggle with dark secrets and unconscious urges of their own."

McCall Smith, Alexander "Love Over Scotland" (44 Scotland Street #3) - 2006

"Love Over Scotland" picks up where "Espresso Tales" leave off. We hear more about Bertie, the five-year old and his awful mother, a neighbour of Pat goes to meet some pirates in South-East Asia, there are other small and big problems with the people in the book but I think this is it for the series. There are more books that carry on the tales of our Scottish friends but I think I'll give them a miss. If you love light reading, you will probably love it, Alexander McCall Smith has a good way of describing people.

From the back cover:

"With his characteristic warmth, inventiveness and brilliant wit, Alexander McCall Smith gives us more of the gloriously entertaining comings and goings at 44 Scotland Street, the Edinburgh townhouse.
Six-year-old prodigy Bertie perseveres in his heroic struggle for truth and balanced good sense against his insufferable mother and her crony, the psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn. Domenica sets off on an anthropological odyssey with pirates in the Malacca Straits, while Pat attracts several handsome admirers, including a toothsome suitor named Wolf. And Big Lou, eternal source of coffee and good advice to her friends, has love, heartbreak and erstwhile boyfriend Eddie's misdemeanours on her own mind.

These are the other books in the series "44 Scotland Street":
2007: The World According to Bertie (Tür an Tür in der 44 Scotland Street)
2008: The Unbearable Lightness of Scones
2010: The Importance of Being Seven
2011: Bertie Plays The Blues
2012: Sunshine on Scotland Street
2013: Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers
2015: The Revolving Door of Life
2016: The Bertie Project
2017: A Time of Love and Tartan
2019: The Peppermint Tea Chronicles
2020: A Promise of Ankles

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books with Cities in the Title


"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 Places to Read

I know I've done these kinds of lists before and it's always the same, so I thought I'd rather go back to a list of books, this time with places, so
Cities in the Title

I first went and chose titles from Nobel Prize or German Peace Prize winners where I found quite a few, then I checked my list of Pulitzer, Booker and other prize winners where I didn't find any, so I thought I'll see whether there are other authors or books that deserve prizes.

I have cities in Egypt, France, Italy, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the USA with authors from Egypt, Germany, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the USA.

Abulhawa, Susan "Mornings in Jenin" - 2010 (this author contributes to the understanding of Palestinians, she could get the Nobel Peace Prize)

Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Russian: Чернобыльская молитва/Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006 (Nobel Prize 2015/German Peace Prize 2013)

Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich (Иван Алексеевич Бунин) "In Paris" (RUS: в Париже/v Parizhe) - 1943 (Nobel Prize 1933)

Coetzee, J.M. "The Master of Petersburg" - 1994 (Nobel Prize 2003)

Lindgren, Astrid "Samuel August from Sevedstorp and Hanna from Hult aka A Love Story" (Swedish: En kärlekshistoria: Samuel August från Sevedstorp och Hanna i Hult) - 1975 (German Peace Prize 1978)

Mahfouz, Naguib
"Palace Walk" (Cairo Trilogy #1) (Arabic: بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) - 1956 (Nobel Prize 1988)

Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice" (German: Der Tod in Venedig) - 1912 (Nobel Prize 1929)

Mercier, Pascal "Night Train to Lisbon" (German: Nachtzug nach Lissabon) - 2004 (brilliant author who received several prizes)

Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014 (my suggestion for the next Nobel Prize winner)

Pamuk, Orhan "Istanbul - Memories of a City" (Turkish: İstanbul: Hatıralar ve Şehir) - 2003 (Nobel Prize 2006/German Peace Prize 2005)

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 16 August 2021

Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston"

Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914

I've mentioned it a couple of times that poetry is not my thing. But this ended up on my TBR pile for some reason, probably the gift of someone moving who didn't want to take it along and so it was among my classic books that I listed on my classics club list. And then it was chosen for our latest classics spin  where a number is drawn (number six) and we read that book from our list that carries this number.

I had only recently read Pablo Neruda's "The Captain's Verses" for my book club and hadn't intended to read another poetry collection for a while but well, I thought it was meant to be and started reading. Since I really get bored with any poem after a while, I tried to read it in very small pieces but that didn't change anything.

The only "poem" I could relate to was almost a short story, "The Death of the Hired Man" which you can read here on the page of the Poetry Foundation.

To be honest, most of the other poems made no sense to me and no matter how hard I tried to understand what the author wanted to tell us by it, I didn't get it. I guess, let those who like poetry enjoy them and let me stay with my chunky books.

From the back cover:

"The publication of A Boy’s Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914) marked the debut of Robert Frost as a major talent and established him as the true poetic voice of New England. Four of his volumes would win the Pulitzer Prize before his death in 1963, and his body of work has since become an integral part of the American national heritage.

This is the only edition to present these two classics in their original form.
A Boy’s Will introduced readers to Frost’s unmistakable poetic voice, and in North of Boston, we find two of his most famous poems, 'Mending Wall' and 'The Death of the Hired Man.' With an introduction by distinguished critic and Amherst College professor William H. Pritchard, and afterword by poet and critic Peter Davidson, and carefully selected bibliography, this edition stands as a complete and vital introduction to the work of the quintessential modern American poet."

Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry (in 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943).

Another well-known poem by him, probably the best known is "The Road Not Taken" which is here on the Poetry Foundation page.

Friday 13 August 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

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"We are rare and we are weird…there is nothing you can do to change us… Really, don't try. We are so happy, in our own way… Be glad of all the benefits it will bring, rather than lamenting all the fresh air avoided, the friendships not made, the exercise not taken, the body of rewarding and potentially lucrative activities, hobbies, and skills not developed. Leave us be. We're fine. More than fine. Reading's our thing." Lucy Mangan, Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading

That's a great description of us bookworms. And a warning to those who don't understand us.

"He’s read books, you know, it’s amazing. He’s drunk and wenched his way through London but he's thinking all the time." Peter O’Toole as King Henry II in Becket

Just shows that no matter what else you do, reading is always a benefit.

"When in doubt, go to the library." J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Always a great idea!

Find more book quotes here.  

Thursday 12 August 2021

Rushdie, Salman "The Satanic Verses" Buddy-Read/Read-Along Announcement

Rushdie, Salman "The Satanic Verses" - 1988

A while ago, I talked to one of my blogger friends, Emma (@ Words and Peace) about Salman Rushdie and mentioned that I hadn't read this book by him. She had read and thoroughly enjoyed the last two books published by him ("Quichotte" and "Languages of Truth"), I had read "Midnight's Children" but never his earlier novels.

Emma has been buddy-reading a couple of times, so she suggested we read this together and invite others, as well.

Emma and I will be reading "The Satanic Verses" in November 2021.


"Just before dawn one winter's morning, a hijacked jumbo jet blows apart high above the English channel. Through the debris of limbs, drinks trolleys, memories, blankets, and oxygen masks, two figures fall towards the sea: Gibreel Farishta, India's legendary movie star, and Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices. Clinging to each other, singing rival songs, they plunge downward, and are finally washed up, alive, on the snow-covered sands of an English beach.

Their survival is a miracle, but an ambiguous one. Gibreel acquires a halo, while, to his dismay, Saladin's legs grow hairier, his feet turn into hooves, and hornlike appendages appear at his temples. Gibreel and Saladin have been chosen (by whom?) as opponents in the eternal wrestling match between Good and Evil. But which is which? As the two men tumble through space and time towards their final confrontation, we are witness to a cycle of tales of love and passion, of betrayal and faith."

Let us know if you would like to join us.

  • Each week, we’ll have a set number of pages to read. We will take turn in creating questions, and posting our answers to them.
  • You can join us either by posting your answers in a comment or on your blog, or in taking turn posting questions as well.
  • We will have a total of 5 posts, so it would actually be really nice to have 5 active participants, each one of us creating one set of questions.

Have you read this book?
According to you,
Is it a good representative of magical realism?

This is Emma's Announcement.
You can buy the book at Emma's Bookshop.

All posts about this buddy-read.
Introduction on Emma's blog
Introduction on my blog
Pre-discussion questions by Emma
- Link to that on my blog
Questions to parts 1 and 2 by Marianne
- Link to that on Emma's blog
Questions to parts 3 and 4 by Emma
- Link to that on my blog
Questions to part 5 by Marianne
- Link to that on Emma's blog
Questions parts 6 to 9 by Emma
- Link to that on my blog

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love


"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: Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love

Mary Bennett, the middle Bennett sister. She gets neglected all the time, the father prefers the two older sisters (the only sensible ones), the mother the younger ones.
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813

Georgiana Maria Gargery, Pip's sister, who takes him in after the parents died. That might have been more common in those days since a lot of people died young and left young children but they also ended often in an orphanage.
Dickens, Charles "Great Expectations" - 1861

Celia Brooke, Dorothea's younger sister. She marries Sir James even though he loves her sister first but I think they lead a happy life.
Eliot, George "Middlemarch" - 1871-72

Ruby Thewes. Without Ruby, Ada would not have survived. She is the sensible person who rescues the heroine of the story.
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain" - 1997

Maureen Quirk survives a shooting in her school and has to live with the aftermath. She cannot forget this for the rest of her life.
Lamb, Wally "The Hour I First Believed" - 2008

Gerda Buddenbrook née Arnoldsen. She marries Thomas, the son of the Buddenbrook family. He is not happy with his destiny and cannot live the life his ancestors have bestowed on him. I would like to see her view of this life.
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

Dulcie Piper, the nice lady who offers Robert Appleyard, the protagonist, not just a roof over his head for a while but a new outlook on life. We should all have a Dulcie in our lives.
Myers, Benjamin "The Offing" - 2019

Tonya Gromeko Zhivago. Well, the main characters in this novel is, of course, Yuri Zivago. We learn a lot about him, his life, the love of his life, Lara. But what about his wife, Tonya, with whom he grows up, who is like a sister to him for many years and then becomes his wife. We don't hear that much about her, I would love to know her better.
Pasternak, Boris "Doctor Zhivago" (Russian: Доктор Живаго = Doktor Živago) - 1957

Minny Jackson, one of the maids in this story, THE maid in this story. I would love to have her courage. And to have a friend like Minny.
Stockett, Kathryn "The Help" - 2009

Hans Hubermann, the only guy in my list. He is the foster father of Liesel Meminger and there should be more stories about heroic people like him.
Zusak, Markus "The Book Thief" - 2005

Monday 9 August 2021

Khorsandi, Shappi "Nina is Not OK"

Khorsandi, Shappi "Nina is Not OK" - 2016

Shaparak "Shappi" Khorsandi is an Iranian-born British comedian and author. I've known her from various British panel and quiz shows and I think she is absolutely fabulous.

So, when her memoir "A Beginner's Guide to English" was published, I really wanted to read it and found it just as great as the comedian herself. Then I learned that she had also written a novel "Nina is Not OK". Without even looking at the content (which I hardly ever do), I bought the book and started reading.

At first I was disappointed. Nina, the protagonist, came across as one of those heroines from chick lit novels. Superficial and dumb. If she had been blonde, she would have been the best example for the kind of girls that are always seem to populate those novels.

But, after a little while, the novel begins to grow on you. This is not a superficial book about some stupid teenagers, this is a book that deals with many problem topics. You can tell at times that the author has a great sense of humour though this is not a funny book. But I started to like the characters very much, not all of them, of course, otherwise there would be no problems and this book would never have been written. But there are not only accusations but also trials to solve some of those problems.

Some horrible things happen in this novel and I'm sure it's too much for some readers but the scenes had to be included in order to understand what was going on. Alcoholism in a family and sexual abuse are the worst things but it's not all.

While the mother's feelings are not portrayed as much as those of Nina, I think mothers can very well understand the nightmares they all go through, not just Nina. And if you didn't think alcoholism was an illness before, you will certainly understand those people better after reading this book. And hopefully not make the same mistakes everyone around Nina made.

I don't like alcohol, so I always find it hard to understand how someone can drink so much. It's not that I judge them, I just can't follow personally. I've had to take so much medication in my life that I am always afraid I get addicted to some of them. I do think that this book helps to understand people who are afflicted with this illness.

I hope Shappi Khorsandi will write more books. This one was fabulous.

From the back cover:

"Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

And if she sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

Saturday 7 August 2021

Spell the Month in Books ~ August


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.

Like last month, I have tried to find one word titles and I even managed this time. Granted, some of them have "subtitles" but don't a lot of them have that nowadays? I could have left them out but thought it might be nice to have them here.

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah" - 2013

This is the story of a young woman from Nigeria who emigrates to the United States and comes back years later.

Kingsolver, Barbara "Unsheltered" - 2018

Why do people work hard all their lives, do everything right, and still end up in dire straits?

Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London" - 2014

A great non-fiction book about The Globe, how it first was built in Shakespeare's time and what it meant for the world of acting back then and how it influenced our world of the theatre today.

More, Thomas "Utopia" - 1516

Less a novel than a "little red book" that states rules for a dream country.

Harari, Yuval Noah "Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind" (Hebrew: קיצור תולדות האנושות/Ḳizur Toldot Ha-Enoshut) - 2014

This non-fiction book tries to explain how we became the beings we are today, what happened between the time the first humanoid forms appeared on this earth and today. It answers many questions you might have never asked yourself but always should have.

Atkinson, Kate "Transcription" - 2018

We follow the protagonist and her colleagues through WWII where she works for MI5 and has various tasks, first as a typewriter, later also as a secret agent, but it always involves the observation of British fascists.

Six Degrees of Separation ~ Postcards from the Edge

  Postcards from the Edge
Fisher, Carrie "Postcards from the Edge" - 1987

#6Degrees of Separation:
from Postcards from the Edge (Goodreads) to Sancta Lucia 

#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 Postcards from the Edge (Goodreads) by Carrie Fisher.

Postcards made me think of letters.

Rosendorfer, Herbert "Letters Back to Ancient China" (German: Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit) - 1983

A man from China made his way through a time machine, he travelled a thousand years and is more than surprised about everything he sees. He knows no cars, no telephone, no buildings that go over one storey high.

This made me think of the first book I read about China. It wasn't a thousand years ago but it might as well because that world is very different from ours.

Buck, Pearl S. "Peony" - 1948

Peony is a young servant (almost a slave) in a rich Chinese Jewish household. Her love to the son of the family cannot result in anything as traditional rules don't allow a marriage between them.

Peonies are my favourite flowers and therefore, I go further with a flower that is very popular in the last country I lived in, the tulip.

Moggach, Deborah "Tulip Fever" - 1999

Tulips meant a lot to the people of the 17th century in Holland and Flanders. Some bulbs would yield the price of a house in the most expensive quarter of Amsterdam.

Of course, there are other kinds of fever, the illness kind but also something we can compare to the tulip fever, the gold fever.

Allende, Isabel "Daughter of Fortune" (Spanish: Hija de la Fortuna) - 1999

This part of the "Del Valle" trilogy is situated mostly in the United States, especially California, and talks about different cultures getting together at around the time of the gold rush.

One of my favourite books about daughters is by a name sister:

Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna's Daughters" (Swedish: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) - 1994

A remarkable story about the life of women and how it changed during the last century. The story is situated in Sweden but it could have happened anywhere in Europe.

Thinking about Sweden, I often think about winter, Christmas and their feast of Santa Lucia, so I had to think about this book by Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman who received the Nobel Prize for literature.

Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" (Swedish: Kristuslegender) [Christmas Stories] - 1893-1917

Look for further monthly separation posts here.

Friday 6 August 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

Word cloud made with WordItOut

"Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud." W.H. Auden

That's a pity. I think there are things you can be proud of if you have worked hard for it but someone vain ... not my type.

"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society." Henry David Thoreau, Walden

That's all we need for happiness.

"One does not stop buying books just because there is no more shelf space." N.N.

Exactly. Why would one? LOL

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 5 August 2021

Twain, Mark "A Tramp Abroad"

Twain, Mark "A Tramp Abroad" - 1880

I have often remarked how much I love Bill Bryson, specifically his travel books. I was told by a few people that I ought to read those of Mark Twain about his travels to Europe. So I did. Five years ago, I read "The Innocents Abroad" and found that it wasn't just the most boring book ever but also a very racist one. I was then told that "A Tramp Abroad" was a lot better. Okay, I gave him another chance.

Maybe I didn't like his judgment about Europe but even more, I think, I didn't like the way he portrayed the American tourist. And, again,  I couldn't find any humour in his writing.

I didn't find this book as racist as his first one (though that is still no excuse for some of the diatribes) but he was still rambling on and on, mostly about nothing at all. Boring, boring, boring. I guess this will be my last book by Mark Twain, unless I'll reread "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" again one day with my grandchildren, if ever I should have any.

From the back cover:

"Twain's account of traveling in Europe, A Tramp Abroad sparkles with the author's shrewd observations and highly opinionated comments on Old World culture, and showcases his unparalleled ability to integrate humorous sketches, autobiographical tidbits, and historical anecdotes in a consistently entertaining narrative. Cast in the form of a burlesque walking tour through Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy, A Tramp Abroad includes among its adventures a voyage by raft down the Neckar and an ascent of Mont Blanc by telescope, as well as the author's attempts to study art - a wholly imagined activity Twain 'authenticated' with his own wonderfully primitive pictures in this volume."

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Twelve Titles or Covers That Made Me Want to Read/Buy the Book


"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: Titles or Covers That Made Me Want to Read/Buy the Book

I don't really buy books because I like the cover or the title but they make me aware of them and then I check whether it would be a good read for me. So, here are a few books that I didn't buy because it was a book club read, winning a prize, someone told me it was a great book, I love the author or whatever but because something drew me to the title or the cover. Often, not always, this was the first book by that author but it always was the first book I bought by them. I loved them all. And quite often, as you can see by the links, this was the beginning of a great "friendship" between me and the author.

Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015

Croker, Charlie "Løst in Tränšlatioπ. Misadventures in English Abroad" - 2006

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar) - 2008

Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005

Hislop, Victoria
"The Island" - 2005

Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" - 2017

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

Roberts, Gregory David "Shantaram" - 2003

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (Spanish: La Sombra del Viento) - 2001

Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993

Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" - 1998

Turner, Nancy E.
"These is my Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" - 1999

Monday 2 August 2021

Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses"

Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses" (Spanish: Los versos del capitán) - 1973

I mentioned it before, I'm not much into poetry, I don't enjoy it much. But my book club chose it, and I am always committed to read everything on the list.

The only plus is that my edition has both the Spanish as well as the English version, so I could practice my Spanish a little. And Pable Neruda is a Nobel Prize laureate that I hadn't read, yet. I probably won't read more by him.

If this book has taught me anything, I'm REALLY not into poetry.

Some comments from our members:

  • Reading the book and widening my own experience was well worth the read anyway.
  • What a heart! Neruda opens his heart to love again and again, bringing his readers' hearts along no matter what. Even across all these distances and all these years, Neruda loves the very essence of love in these poems. And I don't even like poetry.

We read this in our international online book club in July 2021.

Pablo Neruda received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams".

From the back cover:

"Pablo Neruda finished writing The Captain's Verses (Los versos del Capitán) in 1952 while in exile on the island of Capri - the paradisal setting for the blockbuster film Il Postino (The Postman), that centers around this period of Neruda's life. Surrounded by the sea, sun, and the natural splendor of a thousand vineyards, Neruda addressed these poems of love, ecstasy, devotion, and fury to his lover Matilde Urrutia, the one "with the fire/of an unchained meteor".

Later the same year, Neruda published The Captain's Verses anonymously in an edition of fifty copies, fourteen years before he and Matilde legally married. The first 'acknowleged' edition would not appear until 1963.

This complete,bilingual collection has become a classic for love-struck readers around the world - passionately sensuous, and exploding with all the erotic energy of a new love.

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

Sunday 1 August 2021

Happy August!

Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Kleines Anglerglück"
"Little Fisher's Luck"

Look at the happy face of this little girl who caught a fish, quite big for her size, I think. Isn't it cute?

* * *

The Low German name for August ist "Arntemaond", the English translation is "Harvest Moon". Now, it might seem a little early to speak of harvest in some regions but not here. You see tractors driving around all day carrying the fruit of their fields to the barns.

* * *

No national holidays in Germany in August but summer holidays almost everywhere. Since Germany has 16 states (Länder) including 3 city states, the can't all start and end their holidays at the same time. The motorways are too full as it is. So, they have divided the country into five groups that always have the same holidays:

I: Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Hamburg, Brandenburg, Berlin
II: Thüringen (Thuringia, Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Sachsen (Saxony), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Bremen
III: Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine Westphalia)
IV: Saarland, Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Hessen (Hesse)
V: Bayern (Bavaria), Baden-Württemberg

They last between six and seven weeks and start in the middle of June (earliest) and end middle of September (latest). Every state determines how long certain holidays are, so some have longer Easter holidays and shorter holidays in the autumn or some have holidays at Pentecost and the other holidays are shorter.
The states alternate with their time except for group V since Bavaria has holidays at Pentecost and the time between the two would be too short if they alternated. But the Bavarians always have to have an exception.

* * *

Weather lore (or farmers' rule) for August:

Stellt im August sich Regen ein, so regnet's Honig und guten Wein.
If it rains in August, it rains honey and good wine.

Hitze an St. Dominikus – ein strenger Winter kommen muss.
Heat on St. Dominic - a severe winter must come.
(That would be the 8
th of August)

* * *

We've had changing weather in Germany last month. Hot days interchanged with rainy ones. But our weather was halfway normal compared to further South. You certainly all heard about the terrible floods in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. We never had weather like that. I hope more people understand that we have to act against climate change.
Now!!! It might be too late already.

Corona has abated a little in Germany so we could go to some restaurants and other places. However, it's not good in some other countries, so there still was no way we could visit our sons in the Netherlands and Belgium without any danger and major complications. Hopefully soon.

* * *

Have a happy August with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. I wish you no Corona, no floods, no other catastrophes.
Just a lovely month.

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.