Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Dickens, Charles "Oliver Twist"

Dickens, Charles "Oliver Twist" - 1838

One of the many classics by Charles Dickens I haven't read, yet.

Charles Dickens certainly is one of the best classic authors you can think of. His love of detail, his way of telling you every single event, describing every person, makes his era come alive.

I think most people have seen the movie "Oliver" which is a good musical. However, the book - as usual - is so much better, the characters are more lively, the scenes ring more true.

This is certainly one of his best novels - although, I haven't found one, yet, that I didn't love.

From the back cover:
"Dark, mysterious and mordantly funny, Oliver Twist features some of the most memorably drawn villains in all of fiction - the treacherous gangmaster Fagin, the menacing thug Bill Sikes, the Artful Dodger and their den of thieves in the grimy London backstreets. Dicken's novel is both an angry indictment of poverty, and an adventure filled with an air of threat and pervasive evil.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War."

Friday, 8 December 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer." Ernest Hemingway

"Our high respect for a well-read man is praise enough of literature." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"People don’t read any more. It’s a sad state of affairs. Reading’s the only thing that allows you to use your imagination. When you watch films it’s someone else’s vision, isn’t it?" Lemmy Kilmister

"Books are best preserved in the minds of readers." Kat Lowe, Dream Cat

"I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve." Charles de Montesquieu

Find more book quotes here.

My Life in Books Tag

Another tag to steal! I found this list here on one of the Blogs I follow, You, Me and a Cup of Tea and thought it was a lovely idea.

Find a book for each of your initials
M - "My Name is Red" by Orhan Pamuk
M - "Middlemarch" by George Eliot
I don't have a middle initial and the two I have are the same but I still found some.

Count your age along your bookshelf... What book is it?
Gao, Xingjian "Soul Mountain" (Chinese: 灵山, língshān) - 1989

Pick a book set in your country
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

Pick a book that represent a destination you'd love to travel to
Bryson, Bill "Down Under/In a Sunburned Country" - 2000

Pick a book that is your favorite colour
Green is my favourite colour, followed closely by blue. Now, while there are a lot of books in blue, I could hardly find one in green. However, my favourite dictionary company in Germany publishes their books in green and here is one of the best:

Which book do you have fondest memories of
It is so tough to choose a book here because there are so many that bring back the best memories.
So, after thinking about it for quite a while, I've come up with this one, it was the first book I read in a book club and I have read so many other great books ever since and met the loveliest people by discussing them.
Bernières, Louis de "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin" - 1994

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading
Joyce, James "Ulysses" - 1922

Which book on your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you read it?
I think after "Ulysses", I'm ready for anything. If I look at the length of the books on my TBR pile, the next challenging is probably:
Kermani, Navid "Dein Name" [Your Name] - 2011

Well that's it! Feel free to steal the tag if you so desire!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Bryson, Bill "Notes form a Big Country"

Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Big Country" (US: I'm a Stranger Here Myself) - 1999 

After many years in Great Britain, Bill Bryson returns to his home country with his family for a while. He is one of my favourite authors.

If you need to laugh out loud, really laugh, pick up a Bill Bryson book and get carried away. I always said my favourite of his books was "Notes from a Small Island" (added by "The Road to Little Dribbling" later on) but I am not so sure after this one. Maybe because I also have left my home country and lived abroad for about a quarter of a century and don't always know my own country that well myself any more, maybe because this book seems to be even more personal than many of the other Bryson books ... in any case, I loved it.

Please, write more books, Bill!

From the back cover:
"Bill Bryson has the rare knack of being out of his depth wherever he goes - even (perhaps especially) in the land of his birth. This became all too apparent when, after nearly two decades in England, the world's best-loved travel writer upped sticks with Mrs. Bryson, little Jimmy et al. and returned to live in the country he had left as a youth.

Of course there were things Bryson missed about Blighty but any sense of loss was countered by the joy of rediscovering some of the forgotten treasures of his childhood: the glories of a New England autumn; the pleasingly comical sight of oneself in shorts; and motel rooms where you can generally count on being awakened in the night by a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading, 'Put the gun down, Vinnie, I'll do anything you say.'

Whether discussing the strange appeal of breakfast pizza or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on that strangest of phenomena - the American way of life."

I have a blogpost called "Bill Bryson - Funniest Author ever" where I link to all my Bryson reviews.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Oates, Joyce Carol "Big Mouth & Ugly Girl"

Oates, Joyce Carol "Big Mouth & Ugly Girl" - 2003

I don't think that I need to mention it again that JCO is one of my favourite authors.

This is about two young people at a school where someone has to stand up for what's happening. The story belongs to one of her youth books which are just as well written and interesting as her adult ones. But this is a particular good one for the youth, there is so much to learn. That the popular kids are not always the best kids to be friends with, for example. That in the end, it doesn't matter what you look like or what others think about you, it's your personality that counts and that you should be true to yourself and to others. The two kids in this book learn this the hard way.

A journey back to our teenage years. Oh, if we had known then what we know now ...

A beautiful story that confirms the old saying: "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

From the back cover:
"Matt Donaghy has always been a Big Mouth. But its never gotten him in trouble until the day Matt is accused of threatening to blow up Rocky River High School. Ursula Riggs has always been an Ugly Girl. A loner with fierce, staring eyes, Ursula has no time for petty high school stuff like friends and dating or at least that's what she tells herself. Ursula is content with minding her own business. And she doesn't even really know Matt Donaghy. But Ursula is the only person who knows what Matt really said that day and she is the only one who can help him. In her first novel for young adults, acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates has created a provocative and unflinching story of friendship and family, and of loyalty and betrayal."

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden"

Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine" - 2007

The third book in a trilogy. I loved "These is my words" so had to read the sequel "Sarah's Quilt" and this one. The story about the author's pioneer grandmother. In the first part,

In "These is My Words", we meet Sarah Agnes Prine who teaches herself to read, "Sarah's Quilt" we heard about Sarah Agnes Prine dealing with life as a widow and mother of young children.

This story is just as coloruful, the characters come alive just as well, the scenes are just as exciting as in the first two books ... you should definitely read them in order, though.

I would have only one tiny little complaint. I don't live in the USA and so I had to chase down this third book in the trilogy and it took me quite a while. So, I didn't remember every single family member and who belonged to whom etc. I would have liked a little reminder of who is who in the family. A family tree, a list, or something like that. Or at least on the author's website.

But other than that, the book was great. The protagonist surely led an adventurous life. And her Great-Granddaughter Nancy E. Turner did a good job describing her life.

From the back cover:
"From the bestselling author of These Is My Words comes this exhilarating follow-up to the beloved Sarah's Quilt. In the latest diary entries of pioneer woman Sarah Agnes Prine, Nancy E. Turner continues Sarah's extraordinary story as she struggles to make a home in the Arizona Territory.
It is winter 1906, and nearing bankruptcy after surviving drought, storms, and the rustling of her cattle, Sarah remains a stalwart pillar to her extended family. Then a stagecoach accident puts in her path three strangers who will change her life.
In sickness and in health, neighbor Udell Hanna remains a trusted friend, pressing for Sarah to marry. When he reveals a plan to grant Sarah her dearest wish, she is overwhelmed with passion and excitement. She soon discovers, however, that there is more to a formal education than she bargained for.
Behind the scenes, Sarah's old friend Maldonado has struck a deal with the very men who will become linchpins of the Mexican Revolution. Maldonado plots to coerce Sarah into partnership, but when she refuses, he devises a murderous plan to gain her land for building a railroad straight to Mexico. When Sarah's son Charlie unexpectedly returns from town with a new bride, the plot turns into an all-out range war between the two families.
Finally putting an end to Udell's constant kindnesses, Sarah describes herself as 'an iron-boned woman'. She wants more than to be merely a comfortable fill-in for his dead wife. It is only through a chance encounter that she discovers his true feelings, and only then can she believe that a selfless love has at last reached out to her. . . ."

Find Nancy E. Turner's website here.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Glasfurd, Guinevere "The Words in my Hand"

Glasfurd, Guinevere "The Words in my Hand" - 2016

A novel about the mother of René Descartes' daughter, a Dutch maid in the 17th century. Not badly written but also not really that challenging. I may have read too many books about this time so that there wasn't much that was new to me or it might just not have been the goal of the author to tell us about that kind of topic.

In any case, I didn't enjoy this very much. I meant to suggest it to my book club because we always look for stories about the Netherlands, contemporary or historical, but I know a few better ones that gives us more to talk about.

From the back cover:
"The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th century Amsterdam working for an English bookseller. One day a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives - the Monsieur - who turns out to be René Descartes.
At first encounter the maid and the philosopher seem to have little in common, yet Helena yearns for knowledge and literacy - wanting to write so badly that she uses beetroot for ink and her body as paper.
And the philosopher, for all his learning, finds that it is Helena who reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him, as gradually their relationship deepens in a surprising story of love and learning.