Tuesday 29 August 2023

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Water


"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, our topic is a Water (This can be covers with water on them, books with bodies of water in them, titles with bodies of water in them, etc.).

What a lovely idea. I don't think I've ever seen this subject. And I guess many of us have read books with water in the title or on the cover. For me, it's all books with the word "water" in the title.

It happens very rarely that I have just ten books that fit a certain subject. Not nine, not eleven, exactly ten.

Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015
Adams, Richard "Watership Down" - 1972
Ansay, A. Manette "Blue Water" - 2006
Berry, Venise "Colored Sugar Water: A Spiritual Tale" - 2003 (not one of my favourites)
de Man, Herman "The Growing Water" (NL: Het wassende water) - 1925 (Goodreads, only in Dutch)
Fermor, Patrick Leigh "Between the Woods and the Water: On Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland" - 1986
Gruen, Sara "Water for Elephants" - 2006 (also not one of my favourites)
Lamb, Wally "We are Water" - 2013
Shreve, Anita "The Weight of Water" - 1997
Turner, Nancy E. "The Water and the Blood" - 2001

Some of them have water as a topic, others just refer to it. But I always love books about the ocean.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 28 August 2023

Arnim, Elizabeth von "The Enchanted April"

Arnim, Elizabeth von "The Enchanted April" - 1922

A book club book. My very first novel by Elizabeth von Arnim. I might have chosen another one, I don't know.

The book seems a bit dated in parts, but we had a really nice conversation about it. It's funny, the readers really liked it, and we may read another book by her soon.

The author has led an interesting life, first married to a Prussian nobleman, then had an affair with H.G.
Wells, followed by a second marriage to an English aristocrat. Her story reads like a novel.

As for the book, I didn't really identify with the characters, but then again, they lived a full century ago.

Four English women who hardly know each other go on vacation together. They rent a house and, of course, don't get along at all, because everyone has different ideas.

Well, times have changed - fortunately - and women don't see themselves as complete until they have a man in their life.

From the back cover:

"Four women, with very different backgrounds and characters - the artless Lottie Wilkins, the pious Rose Arbuthnot, the cantankerous Mrs Fisher and the haughty Lady Caroline Dester - respond to an advertisement in The Times offering a medieval castle to rent in Italy that April. As their joint holiday begins, tensions flare up between them, but they soon bond over their past misfortunes and rediscover hope and the pleasures of life in their tranquil surroundings."

Thursday 24 August 2023

#ThrowbackThursday. Jane Eyre


Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre" - 1847

If you are a fan of English classics (like me), "Jane Eyre" is a definitive must.

Charlotte Brontë has created a wonderful, strong young woman. If she had lived today, she certainly would have gone exploring and conquering the world.

The book is  easy to read, easy to walk into.

We discussed this in our international book club in January 2012.

Read my original review here

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Plus Genre Freebie ~ Top Thirteen Scandinavian 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, our topic is a Genre Freebie.

We have had many opportunities to share our favourite genres and I have taken plenty advantage of that. I have done Bookshop books, Classics (here, here, here, and here). Can you tell it's my favourite genre?), Dystopian literature, Epistolary novels, Love books (here and here), Nobel Prize winners, Travel literature (here and here). So, I was thinking to do travel books again, I have plenty of new ones. On the other hand, there are also many other genres or other types of books I love and then I was thinking about the next trip we plan, going to Sweden to visit Göteborg where my son studied. So, in the end, I decided to do Scandinavian literature.

I have read many books about Scandinavia (as you can see here) and so I had quite a choice. In the end, I decided to take the books that are written by a Scandinavian and take place in Scandinavia, though I had to omit one of my favourite books,
"Out of Africa" by Karen Blixen (or Isak Dinesen).

So, here are my top thirteen Scandinavian books:

Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna's Daughters" (S: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) - 1994
Gaarder, Jostein "Sophie's World" (NO: Sofies verden) - 1991
Gulbranssen, Trygve "Beyond Sing the Woods" (NO: Og bakom synger skogene) - 1933
- "The Wind from the Mountains" (NO: Det blåser fra Dauingfjell/Ingen vei går utenom) - 1934/35
Hamsun, Knut "Pan" (NO: Pan) - 1894
Høeg, Peter "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow" (DK: Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne) - 1992
Ibsen, Henrik "Peer Gynt" (NO: Peer Gynt) - 1867 
Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (NO: Hoggerne) - 2005 
Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" [Christmas Stories] (S: Kristuslegender) - 1893-1917
Lindgren, Astrid "The Six Bullerby Children" (SW: Barnen i Bullerbyn) - 1947
Mankell, Henning "Daniel" (SW: Vindens son) - 2000
Petterson, Per "Out Stealing Horses" (NO: Ut og stjæle hester) - 2003
Sturluson, Snorri "Egil's Saga" (Icel: Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) - 1240
Undset, Sigrid "Kristin Lavransdatter" (NO: Kristin Lavransdatter) - 1920-22

I hope you can enjoy some Scandinavian stories.

🇩🇰 🇮🇸 🇳🇴 🇸🇪

Friday 18 August 2023

Guiliano, Mireille "French Women Don’t Get Fat"

Guiliano, Mireille "French Women Don’t Get Fat" - 2004

I'm not a fan of self-help books. I didn't think this was one, I thought it was a sort of funny one but that wasn't the fact. It was a self-help book as most of them are: Only the author knows what's best and the rest of the world, or in this case, the American woman, has no idea.

I'm not American and I know a lot of Americans have weight problems, as do many Germans. But the way the author talks about Americans and American women was quite denigrating. I didn't care for that at all. You can give advice without being uppish. I love France and I have French friends and they are all really nice. And I always met lovely people in France. But this one sounded like she just wanted to confirm the prejudice that all French people are unfriendly. What a pity.

I must admit, though, that some of her advice certainly is not wrong, just the way she pronounced it.

From the back cover:

"Irresistible, chic, convincing, funny, wise, and very timely, this is the ultimate non-diet book, which nonetheless could radically change the way we think and live - showing us how to eat with balance, control and above all pleasure. Packed with wonderful recipes, this charming memoir teaches us how to enjoy our meals, like a French woman, without putting on weight."

Thursday 10 August 2023

#ThrowbackThursday. Siba Shakib


Shakib, Siba "Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep" (German: Nach Afghanistan kommt Gott nur noch zum Weinen) - 2002

A "faction" book, some of the events happened to Shirin-Gol herself, others to other Afghan women.

A great account of the struggles and problems women have to go through, not only in Afghanistan but anywhere in the poorer part of the world where war and/or disaster strucks.

We discussed this in our international book club in April 2006 and in our German book club in April 2010.

Read my original review here
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Shakib, Siba "Samira and Samir: The Heartrending Story of Love and Oppression in Afghanistan" (German: Samira und Samir) - 2004

When the young Afghanistanian girl Samira is born, her father, a commander fighting in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, decides to raise her as a boy called Samir.

This is a novel. I am always amazed about the challenges women go through in order to live their lives as a man. The book is very interesting.

Read my original review here

German books by Siba Shakib.

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Orwell, George "Down and Out in Paris and London

Orwell, George "Down and Out in Paris and London: A Gritty Memoir on Life & Poverty in Two Cities" - 1933

Having read "Nineteen Eighty Four" and "Animal Farm", I was expecting, well, I don't exactly know what I was expecting but it was something else.

The book was well written and this will not be the last one I read by this author, it just didn't seem what I thought it might be. Although, I should have known. After all, this is a memoir.

George Orwell gives us a good insight into life on the streets. The book is almost 90 years old, so it is easy to assume that things have changed in the meantime. But have they? We sill see homeless people in the streets, the larger the city, the more homeless people there are.

I guess the author's very insightful novels about the future stem from his experiences in the slums, he must have thought a lot about that when writing his later novels. It also shows us where it can lead when we neglect the poor. Not long after his experiences on the street, WWII started.

Maybe this should be read by everyone, especially those who have no empathy for anyone less fortune than them.

From the back cover:

"Orwell is well-known for his 1984 and a satire, Animal Farm. Down and Out in Paris and London is his memoir where he pens down his life as a penniless writer in two Paris and England. Through his beautiful phrases, meticulous, honest, and vivid experiences of searching for work and spending nights on benches, he blends the testimonies of others of his kind on the streets of London and Paris. The book both illuminates the huge change between 1933 and now, and exposes horrifying similarities. Job insecurity is still a major driver of homelessness nearly 90 years later. This is just an important read now as it was back then."

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Spell the Month in Books ~ August

Reviews from the Stacks

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.

August: Series – Books that are part of a series, or the name of the series itself
I'm not a huge series reader but I found enough to spell the name of the month. Good thing I could relay on several languages. Hurrah!


Goscinny, René; Uderzo, Albert "Asterix the Gaul" (F: Astérix le Gaulois) - 1959
A favourite of my childhood. We had to read one in our French class but that was not my first and definitely not my last one. I am still a huge Astérix fan.

Zeh, Juli "Among People" (Name of the village but also wordplay) (GE: Unterleuten) - 2016 
The first novel in a trilogy about today's life in East Germany, the former GDR.

Alcott, Louisa May "Good Wives" - 1869
The second part of "Little Women". Funnily enough, the series is published in four parts in the UK (as originally in the US) and in only two parts in the US, so this would be the second part of "Little Women".

Weiler, Jan "And the puberty animal sleeps forever" (GE: Und ewig schläft das Pubertier) (Pubertiere #3) - 2017
Part 3 of a series about children growing into teenagers where you hardly recognize them anymore. Really funny but with a lot of truth in it.

Ghosh, Amitav
Sea of Poppies" (Ibis Trilogy #1) - 2008

The first part of the "Ibis Trilogy", this novel describes the fate of a ship and its passengers.

McCourt, Frank "Teacher Man. A Memoir 1949-1985" (Frank McCourt #3) - 2005
The third part of Frank McCourts biography.

Happy Reading!
📚 📚 📚

Monday 7 August 2023

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From Romantic Comedy to The Kalahari Typing School for Men


#6Degrees of Separation:
from Romantic Comedy to The Kalahari Typing School for Men 

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. Thank you, Kate. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.

This month's prompt starts with Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld (Goodreads).

The weekend was a little busy, so my post is a tad late. I hope you still enjoy my chain.

I have not read the starter book - again. First, I had another idea about the chain when I saw the author's name because she also wrote a book about Hillary Clinton and I have read several books by her. But I have done politics recently, so I checked whether I couldn'd do a word chain. And I managed, I even avoided re-using any book that I have used for the six degrees before which doesn't happen very often.

Let's start with Comedy:
Alighieri, Dante "The Divine Comedy" (IT: Divina Commedia) - 1308-20 

Wells, Rebecca "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" - 1996

Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005

Hegi, Ursula "Stones from the River" - 1994

Mortenson, Greg; Bryan, Mike "Stones into Schools" - 2009

McCall Smith, Alexander "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" - 2002


The books take me from Italy to the United States, from Australia to Germany, from the Himalayas to Africa. What do the first and the last book have in common? There is a romance in both of them.

Thursday 3 August 2023

#ThrowbackThursday. Summerland and The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Chabon, Michael "Summerland" - 2002 

A youth book that we read in our international book club in April 2004.

This novel describes a little island in Washington state that has been blessed with perfect weather during all their baseball games. There is a reason for this, and the reader soon finds out that not only human beings inhabit this little piece of our earth and that there is more to our globe than what we call our world.

Fantasy mixed with a little sports and adventure, a perfect book for young teens and pre-teens who enjoy magic but also for anybody older who likes fairy tales and fantasy.

Read my original review here.

Chabon, Michael "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" - 2007

An alternative history novel. Instead of settling in Israel, Jewish refugees are sent to Alaska after World War II, especially after the State Israel was destroyed (remember: "alternative history"). They move to Sitka which becomes a Yiddish-speaking town.

Despite the negative background and the glum outlook on the future, the book is spiced with a lot of good humour.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Ernaux, Annie "The Years"

Ernaux, Annie "The Years" (French: Les années) - 2008

We read this in our international online book club in July 2023.

As so often, I had never heard of Annie Ernaux before she received the Nobel Prize. And that's why I always eagerly await the awards, in 99% of the case, the choice is excellent.

And it was this time. Annie Ernaux is a little older than me but I could find a lot of her experiences in my life. I think most women born in the middle of the last century share them, no matter where they're from. Maybe that's why I liked this book.

It wasn't at all what I expected. While the author grows up, she compares her life with her country, its politics, its developments, especially for women (always to slow). Her memories are haphazard, always in fragments, like a collage or a scrapbook. She uses the third person singular. I think that makes it easier for us to associate with her story, she doesn't give the impression as if she is just speaking about herself.

So, this is not just a biography about Annie Ernaux' life but a history of France after WWII. And a reminder to reflect on our own lives and what our country has done for us and to us. So I am sure it is also interesting for younger people who would like to hear about the generations before them.

I have not studied French (at university, I have learned it at school and speak it) but taken lots of classes and read a lot about French history and politics, visited the country, have friends there. So, not much was totally new for me. But I still enjoyed learning what history and society did to one single person, how she grew up the way she did and became the woman she is today. I will surely read more by her.

Some comments from the discussion:
  • "Beautiful language and picture of its time. The reading created a feeling of 'participation' or belonging, as she wrote the autobiography mostly in 'we' form.
  • I have read her biographies about her mother and father, and the abortion. With this The Years, I finally understood her writing style. I found it impressive, starting as glimpses of history, flowing, like a movie, and ended as glimpses again, the person grew along with the story also, reflecting her life in different ages, the perspective growing with the story, as she grew, her perspective of the world grew. Adding more and more observations the wider her perspective and reflection became. Much of the historical references and politics I missed. But an excellent brilliant book, for adults with some reflective skills.
  • A subjective culture history. I did not feel connected to the 'we' form of participation she tried to bring to the story, like she was taking power she doesn't have. The history interested me, but pop cultural references were not familiar to me.
  • The modern pop culture and freer availability of products came much earlier in France than in Finland, I felt.
  • The French perspective on Algeria before and in the later parts of the book felt written from a French born person, very one-sided, that turned around in the modern waves of anti-immigration feelings.
  • Language was very dense, containing a lot of information in small space of pages. Interesting to read about how influences from different parts of the world arrived and 'affected' the French population. What political news shocked them, what was passed over. What parts of Europe they observed, Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, etc. and how the feelings and thoughts about these changed. The travelling, the Euro.
  • It was not an emotional book, but a very verbal one, she kept a distance to her history and feelings from youth, trying to keep neutral. Like a huge amount of source material (her life) summarized into this book, full of specifically chosen sayings and expressions. It made the book a beautiful experience to read or listen to. The translators were also skilled in translating these special sayings.
  • We also discussed listening to audiobooks, how we feel about it, experience it, and how we felt it affected reading this book.
  • It was interesting that she analysed her own book in the end, intention to write the book, how she wrote it, what perspective, etc."

From the back cover:

"Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist’s defining work and a breakout bestseller when published in France in 2008.

The Years is a personal narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present - even projections into the future - photos, books, songs, radio, television and decades of advertising, headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and writing notes from 6 decades of diaries.

Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for the ever-proliferating objects, are given voice here. The voice we recognize as the author’s continually dissolves and re-emerges. Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective.

On its 2008 publication in France,
The Years came as a surprise. Though Ernaux had for years been hailed as a beloved, bestselling and award-winning author, The Years was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir 'written' by entire generations, and a story of generations telling a very personal story. Like the generation before hers, the narrator eschews the 'I' for the 'we' (or 'they', or 'one') as if collective life were inextricably intertwined with a private life that in her parents’ generation ceased to exist. She writes of her parents’ generation (and could be writing of her own book): 'From a common fund of hunger and fear, everything was told in the 'we' and impersonal pronouns.'"

Annie Ernaux received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2022 "for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory".

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 1 August 2023

Happy August!

 Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Reddevitzer Höft – Blick auf die Granitz"
"Headland of Reddevitz – View of the Granitz

Hanka and Frank say to this picture:

It's always fun to paint on the Baltic Sea. This time we had chosen a beautiful place on the Mönchgut as part of the painting trip to Rügen. When painting landscapes on the Mönchgut, I am always inspired by the motifs for maritime watercolours.

(Es macht immer wieder Spaß an der Ostsee zu malen. Dieses Mal hatten wir uns im Rahmen der Malreise nach Rügen einen wunderschönen Platz auf dem Mönchgut ausgesucht. Bei der Landschaftsmalerei auf dem Mönchgut begeistern mich immer wieder die Motive für maritime Aquarelle.)

Read more here.
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I couldn't agree more. There are so many beautiful spots on the Baltic Sea. We live closer to the North Sea but the Baltic is calmer, more peaceful. I think this shows beautifully in Frank's painting.

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July had a lot of changing weather, almost like April, though I cannot remember a month of April ever being this hot. But the heat alternated with heavy rain and storms, so it was a weird summer months. Quite a few of the acitivities we had planned to attend were cancelled due to the weather.

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But there was one event we could attend and that was a balloon festival nearby. Here is a collage of some of the beautiful balloons.

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However, July is always interesting in the blogging world. Because we have

Find Emma's original post here and my summary here. We have read lots of interesting books about Paris and France.

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Another great watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. Enjoy!

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. 

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I wish everyone a happy August!