Tuesday 26 March 2024

Top 5 Tuesday ~ Female Authors


Top Five Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, but is now hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads. To participate, link your post back to Meeghan’s blog or leave a comment on her weekly post. I found this on Davida's Page @ The Chocolate Lady.

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This week’s topic is a freebie. As I've only participated once, I have a choice of many topics I miseed. I first thought about doing Books with Baked Goods but then decided for the one from 5 March: Top 5 Female Authors

March is women’s history month, and 8 March is international Women’s Day (and this is pretty close), so who are your top 5 female authors?

I have a huge choice, I know some great female authors whom I love, tough to choose just five. I love classic books but I chose some contemporary authors where I hope they will write more. In every case, I went with the first book I read by that author, otherwise it would have been even harder to choose the best book they wrote. So, here we go:

Chevalier, Tracy "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 1999
I read this book while living in the Netherlands. The main character is 16 year old Griet from Delft, a maid in the house of the famous painter. She doesn't just become a good help, she also is the model for his famous picture "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Even though this is fiction and it is generally assumed that the girl in this painting is one of Vermeer's own daughters, the story still is very interesting.

Hislop, Victoria "The Island" - 2005
An interesting book about a wonderful part of this world with a harrowing past. The island of Spinalonga was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. People who were banned there wouldn't return into normal life until a cure was found.
This book reflects on the lives of the people on this island, how they got there, how their everyday life was, how life was for those left behind, how the people in the little village just opposite the island were.

Kingsolver, Barbara "The Poisonwood Bible" - 1998
This story is told in diary form by the wife and four daughters of a preacher. He takes them to Africa where all five of them have different experiences and see the country with different perspectives. The father is quite abusive, not what you would expect a religious man to be.

Lawson, Mary "Crow Lake" - 2002
This is the story of a girl who is raised by her two older brothers and it describes the struggle they go through on their way to adulthood. The book combines everything, tragedy, drama, love story, sacrifices, the "togetherness" of a small community. The characters are well written, and so are the episodes

Oates, Joyce Carol
"We Were the Mulvaneys" - 1996
True, the Mulvaneys are a happy family, a special kind of family, they are rich, beautiful, have a fantastic live, a wonderful home, own a huge farm and everybody envies them. Until that event on Valentine's Day after which the whole world changes An interesting story about how one incident can destroy someone but how determination can bring them up again.

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👩‍🏫Happy Reading!👩‍🏫
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Wednesday 20 March 2024

Dorling Kindersley "Brussels"

Dorling Kindersley (Hewetson, Zöe) "Brussels. Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp" - 2000
A Dorling Kindersley Travel Guide

One of the DK Travel Guides I have used frequently. Brussels is my favourite city. I have lived there. I have met my husband there. We have been going more than once every year since we moved away and now our youngest son lives there, right in the area where my husband and I met.

I love the Eyewitness Guides and also their little sister, The Travel Guides. Even if you are not able to visit a city (or a country), you can see exactly what it looks like and get a lot of information about the town, the people, the buildings, the parks, the museums, the food, just about everything you would like to know about a certain place.

The guide is divided into the areas of the city: the Lower Town, the Upper Town, Greater Brussels, Beyond Brussels, it gives you all the information a traveller needs: Where to stay, restaurants, cafés and bars, Shopping in Brussels, there is a survival guide with practical and travel information, everything you need to know.

Brussels is such a beautiful city with so many historic places, it's hard to know where to begin. A must is definitely the Grand Place with all its picturesque guild houses. You certainly can't miss this. It's beautiful to sit in one of the restaurants and observe the bustling life around you. But we usually just have a coffee there and go for dinner in one of the cheaper places just off the market or in another quarter, the food is so much better, as well.

In every even year, there is a flower carpet on the Grand Place, always around Assumption Day (of Mary, 15 August), a national holiday in Belgium.

One place we visit almost every time is the Cinquantenaire which is close by my old living place. There's a beautiful parc and a palace built by Leopold II on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary (cinquantenaire) of Belgium. Him being German, he based the memorial arcade on the Brandenburg Gate but it also looks like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Then there's the Quartier Royal with its Royal Palace and the Parc de Bruxelles, one of the most beautiful parcs you can imagine. And, of course, lots of wonderful museums for anyone interested in art and history. The palace is open to the public in the summer. Definitely worth another visit.

And there are places you should visit, if you happen to be in Brussels for longer or at a certain time. First of all, the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium, originally constructed as the centrepiece of the 1958 Brussels World's Fair (Expo 58). Definitely worth it, especially since its renovation about two decades ago. Six of the spheres are accessible to the public and they show permanent as well as temporary exhibitions on the 50s, the Expo, the construction as well as modern art or anything of current interest.

Then there are the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken which are open to the public once a year for two weeks in April/May.

You can also do tours around Brussels to admire the Art Nouveau houses, doors, windows, entrances (you can get a cheap map at the info centre at the Grand Place). There is also such a map for all the comic related street art. Tintin and his friends are all over the place. And if you arrive at the Gare Central (central station) and leave the place, don't forget to look up when you pass under the passage of the Putterie.

Brussels also has beautiful metro stations, a ride on the metro is always interesting.

There is so much more to see that it is impossible to write in just one post. You will have to go and see for yourself why I love this town so much.

Of course, all the other cities mentioned in the title and the book are also very much worth visiting.

Book description:

"Highlights Lower Town, Upper Town, Greater Brussels, as well as sited beyond the city.

Recognized the world over by frequent flyers and armchair travelers alike, Eyewitness Travel Guides are the most colorful and comprehensive guides on the market. With beautiful commissioned photographs and spectacular 3-D aerial views revealing the charm of each destination, these amazing travel guides show what others only tell.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp' is your indispensable guide to this beautiful part of the world. The fully updated guide includes unique cutaways, floor plans and reconstructions of the must-see sights, plus street-by-street maps. The also is packed with photographs and illustrations leading you straight to the best attractions these cities offer.

With insider tips and essential local information, this uniquely visual DK Eyewitness Travel guide highlights everything you'll need to know to make your vacation special, from local festivals and markets to day trips around the countryside. Detailed listings will guide you to the best hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops for all budgets, while practical information will help you to get around by train, bus, or car.

'DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp' will help you effortlessly explore every corner of Brussels, Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp."

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Top 5 Tuesday ~ Green Books


Top Five Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, but is now hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads. To participate, link your post back to Meeghan’s blog or leave a comment on her weekly post. I found this on Davida's Page @ The Chocolate Lady.

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This week’s topic: Top 5 Green Books

17 March is St Patrick’s Day, so to share in the celebration of shamrocks, share your top 5 books with a green cover This should not be a huge problem for me since green is my favourite colour. I was trying to find some green books that take place in Ireland or are written by Irish authors. Alas, there weren't any, really. But I managed to find some books with about 99% green on their covers.

☘ Happy St. Patrick's Day! ☘

Aitken, Ben "Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island" - 2015
If you love Bill Bryson (like me), you will like this homage. Ben Aitken travelled the same route as Bill Bryson did in 1995 (as described in his book "Notes from a Small Island"), only about twenty years later.

Aleichem, Scholem "Tevye the Dairyman" (yidd: Tewje, der Milchiger טבֿיה דער מילכיקער, Jidd. und טוביה החולב, Hebr.) - 1894-1916
"Fiddler on the Roof" is one of my favourite movies and this is the original book. This is not just the story of Tevye and his wife Golde but even more that of their daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, Chawa, Shprintze, Teibel and Beijke. Every single one of them has their own story. I love the language in the book.

Follett, Ken "The Evening and the Morning" (Kingsbridge #0.5) - 2020
If you love the Kingsbridge series, this is a must. It's especially interesting since it takes place about a thousand years before us. A whole millennium. We can see how much has changed - and how much hasn't. Impressive.
And if you haven't read any book in the series, it's about time you started. You won't regret it, I promise.

Guo, Xiaolu (郭小橹) "Language" - 2017
The story of a Chinese girl who moves to England. At first, her English is rather limited. But you can tell by the time you get to the end that she gets better all the time. A good book to understand foreigners coming to your country.

Sand, George "Fadette" (aka Fanchon, the Cricket) (F: La Petite Fadette) - 1849
This novel gives you an insight into rural life in France of the 19th century and it isn't a very difficult read which made it worth my while because I like to read in French. But here, I only chose it because of the green cover.

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☘ Happy Reading! ☘
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Monday 18 March 2024

Harris, Robert "Fatherland"

Harris, Robert "Fatherland" - 1992

What an awful thought. Hitler resp. the Nazis had won the war. I always say, the Germans didn't lose the war, that were the Nazis. The Germans effectively won the war. In this book (and in various others, like my favourite "The Children's War") we can all see why.

The story itself concentrates on one particular case. A policemen who is not a fan of the Nazis but still has to wear their uniform for his job, tries to find the secret behind a murder. And with that, he could transform the whole world.

We need people like that everywhere, people who don't just blindly follow some dicatators, even if it is an advantage for them.

I think, right now is the right time to read this book again. Right now, where the Right is on the rise in many, many countries. Too many, if you ask me. How can people forget what it was? Even if you haven't lived during the war, most of us haven't, lets be honest. My parents would have been ninety had they still lived. And they were five when the Nazis were elected, so anyone responsible for the regime must be about a hundred. Not many of them alive anymore. But we have to remember what our parents or grandparents told us and see where we are heading if we elect those idiots that tell us the foreigners are our enemies. Nope, those who want to abolish our hard-earned democracy are.

We should all be happy that the war ended the way it did, this book shows us what could have been had it been different.

From the back cover:

"April 1964.

The naked body of an old man floats in a lake on the outskirts of Berlin. In one week it will be Adolf Hitler’s 75th birthday. A terrible conspiracy is starting to unravel…

What if Hitler had won?

Thursday 14 March 2024

#ThrowbackThursday. My first books by Wally Lamb

I have read quite a few books by Wally Lamb and I hope he will write more. These are the first three books I read by him and I have wanted to read more and more ever since.
Lamb, Wally "She's Come Undone" - 1997

Mother-daughter relationship, religion, death and coming to terms with it, obesity, self-delusion, women-men relationships, change in our culture, this book has it all. A lot of familiarity with the characters, sometimes you have to laugh about that, sometimes you feel "touché".

If you like a book that addresses problems and is fun to read, this will be a book for you. I liked it a lot.
Lamb, Wally "I know this much is true" - 1998

This is a very moving book, wonderful and awful at the same time. It's incredible how much a person can bear if they have to. Dominick has to deal with so many issues and there is no-one who can help him here but himself. The author has a very talented way of describing people in any kind of despair. His accounts are very emphatic, you really can understand the characters. I loved this.
Lamb, Wally "The Hour I First Believed" - 2008

Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado, 1999. Caelum Quirk is a teacher at that school, his wife works there as a school nurse. He is in Connecticut visiting his aunt after her stroke while his wife hides in the school hoping not to be killed by the two students to are out on a warpath.

This book is not about those unfortunate students and teachers that were killed on that terrible day, it is about those "lucky" enough to survive, those that got away.

Read my original reviews here, here and here.

Monday 11 March 2024

Brontë, Charlotte "The Professor"

Brontë, Charlotte "The Professor" - 1857

This novel has been on my wishlist for quite a while. It was recommended to me by another blogger who, like me, has also lived in Brussels and from her I learned that they have a Brontë society there now. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about that when I lived there but they might have started this after my time.

Anyway, if you have not read anything by Charlotte Brontë, you definitely must have heard of Jane Eyre, her most popular book, probably the most popular one of all the books by any of the Brontë sisters.

I have yet to find a book by any of them that I don't like at all, they are all fascinating and gripping. Just as this one. I must admit, I might like it even more because it takes place in Brussels but it would have been just as interesting had the protagonist lived elsewhere.

What makes this book as interesting as her others, you have the feeling you are in the midst of the story, even though it took place almost two centuries ago. It is so lively. You can feel the problems of the protagonists, you understand how difficult it was for women in former times and how much as changed and how much hasn't.

Unfortunately, like Jane Austen, the Brontës all died far too early.

From the back cover:

"Charlotte Bronte's first novel, The Professor, is narrated from the viewpoint of an ambitious and self-made man.

Rejecting his aristocratic inheritance William Crimsworth goes to Brussels to find his fortune. He takes a job teaching at a boarding school for young ladies, where he begins a flirtation with Zoraide Reuter, who, out of jealousy, attempts to frustrate his courtship of Frances Henri, an attractive young woman determined to make her way in the world.

The Professor Charlotte Bronte holds up to scrutiny the Victorian ideals of self-help and individualism. The result is an unusual love story, and a novel profoundly critical of a society in which the relationships between men and women are reduced to power struggles."

Monday 4 March 2024

Spell the Month in Books ~ March


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.

March: Caffeine (National Caffeine Month – Books with a beverage on the cover or in the title)

It was not that easy to find books that fit the topic but I managed, somehow:

Clarke, Stephen "Merde actually" (aka In the Merde for Love) - 2006
Paul West, the author's alter ego, has opened a British tea room in Paris. He struggles with the French authorities who don't accept anything not precisely written in French and with French girls, their families and the French in general.
(Follow-up to "A Year in the Merde")

Şafak, Elif "
Araf" (aka The Saint of Incipient Insanities) - 2004
An interesting book. Three roommates from Turkey, Morocco and Spain in Boston, one has  a Mexican-American, another an American girlfriend. All of them have to fit into the society they are in, they struggle in their own different ways. The author managed to describe these diverse characters in such a way that you could feel with them. I loved the way the various stereotypes and prejudices were dealt with, or not.

McCarthy, Pete "The 
Road to McCarthy: Around the World in Search of Ireland" - 2002
Pete McCarthy traveled through Ireland to find any bar with his name in "McCarthy's Bar".
This time he travels from Ireland to Morocco, New York, the Caribbeans, Tasmania, all sorts of destinations that somehow have to do with the name McCarthy, places you wouldn't even imagine having a link to Ireland at all. But Pete McCarthy found it.

Mortenson, Greg "Three 
Cups of Tea" (with David Oliver Relin) - 2006
A Pakistani proverb says "
when you share the first cup of tea you're a stranger, with the second cup you are a friend, and with the third cup you become family."

Greg Mortenson gets lost on his way back from K2. He reaches a tiny little village in Pakistan and meets the most helpful people in the world. He see the conditions they live in and promises to come back and build them a school. He keeps his promise and carries on to build more than 50 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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

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Not all of them are about caffeine drinks or beverages at first sight but, believe me, they all match the brief.

Happy Reading!
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Saturday 2 March 2024

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From Tom Lake to Silent House


#6Degrees of Separation:
from Tom Lake (Goodreadsto Silent House

#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 we start with "Tom Lake" by Ann Patchett. I have read several books by this author. Some I liked, others not so much.

This is the description of the book:
"In this beautiful and moving novel about family, love, and growing up, Ann Patchett once again proves herself one of America’s finest writers.

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today."
I will use a word in the title from one book and find another book with that same word in the title. The starter word is Lake.

Lawson, Mary "Crow Lake" - 2002

MacDonald, Ann-Marie "The Way the Crow Flies" - 2003

Carey, Peter "A Long Way From Home" - 2017

Bryson, Bill "Notes From a Small Island" - 1995

Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Chronicles": The Small House at Allington - 1864

Pamuk, Orhan
"Silent House" (TR: Sessiz Ev) - 1983


"Crow Lake" by Mary Lawson is one of my favourite books and she is one of my favourite authors. And the link to the last book is that Orhan Pamuk is also one of my absolute favourite writers. And both the stories are about families with problems.

Friday 1 March 2024

Happy March!

   Happy March to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Guten Morgen neuer Tag"
"Good Morning New Day

Hanka says to this picture:
Every morning - between the starry sky and sunrise - I go out with our dog. ... of course the birds also welcome the first rays of sunshine. Frank was in the right place at the right time and took a photo of the sparrow checking the situation from its nesting box early in the morning.

Jeden Morgen - zwischen Sternenhimmel und Sonnenaufgang - bin ich mit unserem Hund unterwegs. … natürlich begrüßen auch die Vögel die ersten Sonnenstrahlen. Frank war zur richtigen Zeit am richtigen Ort und hat den Spatz, der aus seinem Nistkasten am frühen Morgen die Lage checkte, fotografiert.
(see here)

And Hanka then beautifully immortalized it on her drawing pad Enjoy!

Read more on their website here. *

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Spring has sprung. Not officially but after our mild winter, this is definitely the beginnning of the next season. I doubt I can wear it much longer, so here is a picture of the scarf my son gave me for Christmas last year. Isn't it beautiful?

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It's still theatre time. There are a lot of amateur groups in our district and so we had quite a few theatre plays in our calendar. Wonderful.

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The German word for March is März. The old German word is Lenzing or Lenzmond. Lenz is the old German word for spring.

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

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🌷 I wish you all a Happy March! 🌷