MissBrangwen reads on in 2023

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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MissBrangwen reads on in 2023

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 2:41 pm

Hi, my name is Mirjam and this is my second year in Club Read. I have been a member of LT since 2012, but only started being more active in the groups two years ago.

I am in my mid-thirties and live in the north of Germany, close to the North Sea, teaching German and English at college. My husband teaches social sciences at the same institution. We love to travel and are very happy to do so now that it is possible again, but apart from that we lead a quiet life, cooking plant-based meals together, going on walks, visiting family from time to time and well, also working quite a lot (luckily we like most of the work).

My reading includes classics, historical fiction, crime novels/mysteries, some contemporary fiction and fantasy. I do read "serious literature", but not as much as most members of Club Read. Some nonfiction, too.
I was very happy with my overall reading in 2022 because apart from a four months break that happened for several different reasons, I was reading very consistently, and also much more varied than in the years before. This is why I gave my thread this title: I just intend to read on!
There are a few plans for this year that I hope to realize: To read more classics and more by J.R.R. Tolkien, my favourite author whom I have neglected for several years. I would also like to read more fantasy and historical fiction, and to read more diverse works as well.
Like many LT members, I also plan to read mostly from my shelves. My tbr (books I own, not my wishlist) is at about a thousand books right now - I don't have the exact number because my catalogue is not up to date (another goal!). I absolutely want to whittle that number down and this will have priority, although it goes against my wish to read more translated literature and more diverse works. I take part in the Category Challenge and in Reading Through Time and for a big part of my reading use those prompts to decide on what to read next because otherwise I just feel overwhelmed by all those books and just keep turning to my favourite series of crime novels (this is what mostly happened until I got more active on LT).

Well, I have written more than I intended to, but my thread will be quite simple. If you would like to see my reading organized a bit differently and more elaborate, have a look at my thread in the Category Challenge.
I also have a thread in the Global Challenge, although I haven't updated it in ages and really need to do that.

I am looking forward to another year in Club Read because it broadens my horizons, I learn so much from all of you and am inspired to read more and in more fulfilling ways - and I love this community of readers!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 7, 4:00 pm

Currently Reading

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 2:46 pm

Short Reads
Single short stories and articles (when I do not read the whole collection)

Short stories and other prose

Articles and essays
1. Ted Nasmith: Introduction to the Tolkien Calendar 2023

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 2:50 pm


Christmas week & January

1. Der Gesang der Berge by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (hardcover, gift by my husband)
2. The Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (paperback, gift by my husband)
3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (paperback, gift by my husband)
4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (ebook, kindle purchase)
5. In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas (ebook, kindle purchase)
6. What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen (digital audiobook, audible for free)
7. The Issa Valley by Czesław Miłosz (paperback, online purchase)
8. Die Straßen von Wilna by Czesław Miłosz (paperback, online purchase)
9. Gebrauchsanweisung für das Baltikum by Sabine Herre (paperback, online purchase)
10. The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
11. Out of Bounds by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
12. Broken Ground by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
13. Still Life by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
14. Drei Kameradinnen by Shida Bazyar (paperback, bought at Hundt Hammer Stein in Berlin)
15. Tolkien - The Art of the Manuscript by William M. Fliss and Sarah C. Schaefer (paperback, online purchase as part of a group order with the German Tolkien Society)


16. Letters of Note - Music ed. by Shaun Usher (digital audiobook, audible credit used)
17. A World Beneath The Sands by Toby Wilkinson (ebook, kindle purchase shared by my husband)
18. Der eiserne Wolf im barocken Labyrinth - Erwachendes Vilnius by Cornelius Hell (hardcover, online purchase)
19. Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (digital audiobook, audible credit used)
20. Streulicht by Deniz Ohde (paperback, online purchase)
21. Schwarzes Herz by Jasmina Kuhnke (hardcover, online purchase)
22. Im Menschen muss alles herrlich sein by Sasha Marianna Salzmann (hardcover, online purchase)
23. The High House by Jessie Greengrass (paperback, online purchase)


24. Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can‘t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (ebook, kindle purchase shared by my husband)
25. "Muss ich das gelesen haben?" by Teresa Reichl - no touchstone yet (ebook, kindle purchase shared by my husband)
26. Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay (ebook, kindle purchase)
27. Die Schattenfrau by Åke Edwardson (ebook, kindle purchase)
28. The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie (digital audiobook, audible credit used)
29. Tofylis, or The Marriage of Zosė by Žemaitė (paperback, bought at Eureka Bookstore in Vilnius)
30. Love in Defiance of Pain - Ukrainian Stories ed. by Ali Kinsella, Zenia Tompkins and Ross Ufberg (paperback, bought at Eureka Bookstore in Vilnius)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 6:51 am


31. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (ebook, kindle purchase shared by my husband)
32. Krokodilwächter by Katrine Engberg (ebook, kindle purchase)
33. Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer (digital audiobook, paid for using a discount code)
34. Em by Kim Thúy (ebook, kindle purchase)
35. The Eaves of Heaven by Andrew X. Pham (ebook, kindle purchase)
36. Wir Ertrunkenen by Carsten Jensen (hardcover, online purchase)

tammikuu 3, 1:28 pm

Welcome to my 2023 thread!

tammikuu 3, 1:30 pm

My reading year goes from Dec 24 to Dec 23, because Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year, and because my husband and I have made it a tradition to both start a new book that day. So it is nice to start with a clean slate then, and ring in the new reading year a bit earlier. This is why I already have a few reviews under my belt!

tammikuu 3, 1:31 pm

I wanted to start my new reading year with a novel that was easy and that I could just sink into, but something that was still special and not too shallow. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny was just right!
This novel was also published as Dead Cold.

Book No 1

"A Fatal Grace" by Louise Penny
Series: Armand Gamache (2)
First published in 2006
ebook, 408pp.
Rating: 5 stars - *****

I read "Still Life", the first of the Gamache novels, last year and enjoyed it very much. "A Fatal Grace" is even better! I loved this novel from the first to the last page!
The plot is quite interesting, although it is nothing completely new: A woman who only moved to the village of Three Pines a year ago is murdered during the Christmas curling match. She was not liked particularly well, so there seem to be many suspects. Gamache travels to Three Pines to investigate and of course he meets many people he knows from the last case, as well as a few he hasn't met before. The murder was quite gruesome because it was done by electricity - but how could that happen in such a public place?

While the case kept getting more exciting throughout the course of the novel, what appealed to me most was the community of Three Pines, the different characters, their background stories. Every single detail just felt right to me and when I had finished the novel, I did not want to leave. There is a magic about it, about Penny's style and the people she creates. I am already looking forward to reading the third book of this series.

tammikuu 3, 1:32 pm

I have owned Into The Water by Paula Hawkins for several years, although I don't remember when or where exactly I bought it. I decided to read it during the last few days because we were traveling to visit family and I like to read thrillers when out and about - I think I need something that is gripping, yet easy to read and not too emotional.

Book No 2

"Into The Water" by Paula Hawkins
First published in 2017
Black Swan
Paperback, 435pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

"Into The Water" is a dark novel that deals with secrecy, disappointment, lies, false beliefs and complicated relationships. Every character in this novel - and there are a lot! - is flawed.
At the centre of the plot there is Jules, a woman living in London who travels to Beckford, the village in northern England where she grew up, because her sister Nel has just died and she needs to look after her teenage niece. Apparently, Nel has committed suicide by jumping into the water in a bend in the local river, into the "Drowning Pool" as it is called, as many women have died there since way back in history. The odd thing is that Nel was writing a book about the history of the pool, asking questions around the village and trying to get the locals to talk, so why would she decide to kill herself the same way as all those women?

This novel is told from more than ten perspectives, which sounds laborious and confusing, but I did not have any trouble keeping them apart. I think that this novel gained from it because I enjoyed the puzzle, piecing all the information together, getting to know all the different points of view, the specific memories, the distinct angles. Much more than the mere question of What happened? I was occupied with the relations between the villagers, their feelings and their life stories. I enjoyed unraveling this web and trying to get to the core of it.

However, I do think that the novel is a bit too long and a few plot points and complications could have been left out, making it 50 or 100 pages shorter. I also had the persistent feeling of reading a novel taking place in the US - somehow it just did not feel British, and Beckford did not seem structured like a British, or even European, village. Although the river was described so often, I would have wished for more of a sense of place and more descriptions of the village itself.
The ending was a bit of a let down, too, because I just thought that it would be more exciting. I cannot believe that the murderer in the end just confessed without putting up more of a fight.
Apart from this, I liked reading this novel very much. Due to the short chapters it is an easy and fast read, and I could not put it down.

tammikuu 3, 1:32 pm

Short Reads

I read the introduction to the Tolkien Calendar 2023, published by HarperCollins. It was written by Ted Nasmith and he explains a little bit about the history of the Tolkien Calendar (the first one was published in 1973) and its meaning for Tolkien artists in the early days, who did not have many publishing opportunities. Nasmith than introduces each of the six artists featured in the calendar: Emily Austin, Jenny Dolfen, Spiros Gelekas, Justin Gerard, Donato Giancola and Kip Rasmussen. I have only seen pictures by Jenny Dolfen before (she is from Germany) and I love her beautiful art! But all the other pictures are stunning, too. I have bought the Tolkien Calendar each year since 2014, but this is one of my very favorites to date. The introduction was an interesting read, especially so because Nasmith is one of the most popular Tolkien artists himself and I was interested in his words. I plan to read an edition of The Silmarillion illustrated by him later this month.

tammikuu 3, 1:38 pm

For my third book of the reading year I decided to continue with my Harry Potter project: Reading all of the novels before my husband, my younger cousin and I will go to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Hamburg in mid-February. We bought the tickets in August 2019 and now it will finally happen!
I started my project with a reread of book 3 in early summer last year and then continued with the novels I had not read so far at all. I left books 6 and 7 for this month and read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince within two days on New Year's Eve and New Year.

(Once again I want to say - please, no J.K. Rowling discussion. I have thought a lot about whether I can still read Harry Potter, and have explained my decision here.)

Book No 3

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter (6)
First published in 2005
Paperback, 542pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

BingoDOG: 4+ LT rating
My own categories: Doorstoppers, Series - Ongoing series

I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by this book because after what happened in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", I had expected much more action. About 3/4 of it just seemed to ramble on, the pacing felt oddly off to me. Once again, some aspects that I was not that interested in were dealt with in detail, while other aspects seemed to be neglected (for example, I would have expected the atmosphere in Hogwarts to be much more serious and tense considering what was happening in the wizarding world). I did enjoy it, but still had a feeling that it could have been better.
But then - the last quarter of the novel. Oh my. I was prepared for it, but still it hit me, made me cry, and gave me a serious book hangover. I seriously dreamed of the cave and the inferi in the night!

Now, straight on to book 7!

tammikuu 3, 7:22 pm

Hi, Mirjam

I'm happy to see you back here this year. I always find something interesting on your thread. My husband is currently rereading Harry Potter too. The first time around he stopped after book 5, which he didn't like. Now I think he's stalled somewhere in book 6. For myself, I called it quits after book 4. I just lost interest, and I also don't like long books. I've seen all the movies though, so I know what happens in general

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 7:28 pm

>14 MissBrangwen: Part of the problem with Book 6 was that it had to cater to the fans who had grown up a lot since the start (in age - a whole generation grew up with these books) but had been around since they were much younger and at the same time to set the stage for the end of this book and the whole Book 7. It works a bit better if you read them 1 per year (or thereabouts) IMO - it was designed to work that way...

tammikuu 4, 6:47 am

Happy 2023! I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

tammikuu 4, 10:27 am

>15 Nickelini: Thank you for your kind words! Book 4 was the one I liked the least.

>16 AnnieMod: I totally agree. I have the illustrated editions as well (all gifted to me) and wish to use them for a reread one day, and I think that then I will make it just one or two books a year.
Both my younger cousin and my brother-in-law were born in the mid-nineties and are potterheads to this day, which is why we all somehow bond over Harry Potter (of course not only over this, but it is still there).

>17 rhian_of_oz: Thanks for visiting! It is going really slow for me (I started way back in June!), but I hope to finish it this month.

tammikuu 6, 12:24 am

I usually avoid any Harry Potter chatter, but i was entertained by your post. I read them as an adult with almost-Potter-aged kids, and enjoyed them, and enjoyed my kids exploring them.

Also i’m rather impressed by all that goes into a Tolkien calendar.

Happy New Year Mirjam.

tammikuu 6, 1:04 am

Hi, Mirjam, looks like you're having an energetic start of the reading year. Also, it's astonishing to realise the first Potter fans are today's adults. :)

tammikuu 6, 1:13 am

Hello, stopping in to wish you a happy new year!

I read almost all of the Harry Potter series out loud to my kids. (Parts of the last one were read to my son by my daughter while we were on a road trip together.) I believe my daughter started reading them when she was in 3rd grade, and she was a middle-schooler at the midnight release party for the last one at the bookstore where I worked. She'll be 29 in a few months!

tammikuu 6, 4:08 am

Happy New Year!
I'm also one of those people who read Harry Potter to their millennial child when they were young. Well, that was true of the first two books, I think, but as soon as she realised she could read faster on her own than I could read aloud, I was told to shut up ;-)

tammikuu 6, 7:37 am

>22 Dilara86: Well, that was true of the first two books, I think, but as soon as she realised she could read faster on her own than I could read aloud, I was told to shut up ;-)

That's funny. My daughter was the opposite. She hates suspense in books (will often read the end first), so she had me read the books so I could tell her the gist. That way she was au courant with her friends, but didn't have to deal with the stress of reading them.

tammikuu 6, 5:05 pm

>23 labfs39: Ha Im the same way esp if I am bogged down in a book, Ill check the end to see if its worth continuing. And I feel much more at ease when I do so

tammikuu 6, 7:04 pm

Hello Mirjam. I’ve thought about rereading all of the Harry Potter books, which I read with a few of my grandchildren. I’ll decide at some point if I’m going to follow through on that.

I’m glad you are enjoying the Three Pines series. Your thoughts mirror the way I feel about them.

tammikuu 7, 1:44 am

>22 Dilara86:, >23 labfs39: Funny. My daughter read fast (she read the last one from midnight till morning to finish it), but my son was a slower reader and preferred listening to books. It worked out though because my daughter was a huge re-reader, so she didn't mind sitting with us every night and hearing them all again.

tammikuu 7, 2:39 am

As a child, I read the the last page of books first too!

tammikuu 7, 4:01 am

>19 dchaikin: >21 ursula: >22 Dilara86: Thank you all for sharing your Harry Potter memories!
I am a millennial myself (born 1986), so the books were published when I was a teenager, but I did not read them at the time. The hype took a few years until it fully reached Germany, and by then I was a Tolkienist - at my school, you could only be one or the other.

>20 LolaWalser: Yes, time flies!

>23 labfs39: >24 cindydavid4: I don't do that and generally try to avoid spoilers, but my husband is the opposite.

>25 NanaCC: That would be a great project, although quite time consuming! As written above, I plan to reread them at one point, but not in the near future I guess.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 6:05 am

Short Reads

I am preparing a short sequence on parables for this month, so I started by rereading "Vor dem Gesetz" (Before The Law) by Franz Kafka. It has been ages since I last read Kafka. Apparently, this text later was also included in Der Prozess (The Trial), which I have yet to read.

tammikuu 8, 1:08 pm

I have finally done it - I read the (original) Harry Potter series! Earlier today I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and after a break I feel ready to phrase my thoughts.
This is not a real review - more like a small retrospect reading diary with a lot of rambling!

Book No 4

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter (7)
First published in 2007
Paperback, 620pp.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

Although I have some points of criticism, on the whole I loved this book, and I think it is a worthy finale. Many aspects that I had hoped for are there: Characters returning, exciting fights, emotional scenes, friendship and love. I had dreaded some of the events that I had known about (The many deaths!) and while Dobby's death made me sob so hard that I don't remember ever crying so much over a book, the others were "ok-ish" because they are not described in so much detail.
I must say that the first half of the novel was very slow reading for me, it seemed to drag. This was broken up by a few more exciting chapters, but on the whole I could not keep from wondering why the story unfolded as it did. I was happy when I read the reason for this towards the end. However, I still think it would have been preferable if some of this space had been used for other aspects, because I would have liked the ending to be a bit more fleshed out, more loose ends tied up. What happened to Hogwarts after the battle? I wished for an energized speech held by McGonagall about rebuilding the castle! What happened to Hermione's parents and the Dursleys? Luna's father? Did Draco and Harry ever speak to each other again? I also would have loved to read about another encounter between Harry and Ginny, Kreacher to be praised for leading the elves into battle, and another appearance of Moaning Myrtle. But no, nothing of that - instead, chapter on chapter about how dreary life in the woods is.
Ok, rant over - apart from that, I did love this book, and I cried several times more, I started the second half yesterday at about 08.00pm and did not stop, apart from getting some sleep, until I had finished at lunchtime today. I loved Ron's return to Harry and Hermione, Neville taking charge of the DA and him killing Nagini, the silver doe and Narcissa saving Harry - and I had a hard time returning to reality when I closed the book.
But now, I am also somewhat relieved and glad that I made it!

tammikuu 8, 1:22 pm

>20 LolaWalser: "it's astonishing to realise the first Potter fans are today's adults."

My brother-in-law (my wife's brother) and his daughter had a tradition of reading the Harry Potter books aloud to each other. By the time the final book was published, she was away at college, but to keep up the tradition he read the book aloud to himself.

tammikuu 8, 1:28 pm

>30 MissBrangwen: “ I had a hard time returning to reality when I closed the book.” - oh, awesome

>31 rocketjk: that’s really cute!

tammikuu 8, 3:29 pm

Happy New Year. I seem so terribly behind visiting everyone's threads already.

Nice topper of Trinity Library!

I enjoyed that Paula Hawkins book too. Someone gave it to me and I really wasn't expecting much, but it was an enjoyable enough read.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 11, 2:07 pm

>31 rocketjk: That is such a sweet story!

>32 dchaikin: Such a bookish hangover!

>33 AlisonY: Don't worry! The first half of January was such a stressful month for me work wise, so I personally had no chance at all of reading all the threads. I'm looking forward to it now, but it should be fun and not a chore!
I am glad you liked Into The Water, too. It has so many bad reviews so I wondered if I was too easy to please because I haven't read that many thrillers compared to other people.

tammikuu 11, 1:57 pm

Short Reads

More parables: "Der Kreisel" (The Top) by Franz Kafka and "Weise am Weisen ist die Haltung" (What's wise about the wise man is his stance) by Bertolt Brecht.

tammikuu 12, 9:58 am

I decided to use this thread to track my book acquisition, so here are the first ones of the year (starting from Christmas):

1. Der Gesang der Berge by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (hardcover, gift by my husband)
2. The Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (paperback, gift by my husband)
3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (paperback, gift by my husband)
4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (ebook, kindle purchase)
5. In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas (ebook, kindle purchase)
6. What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen (digital audiobook, audible for free)
7. The Issa Valley by Czeslaw Milosz (paperback, online purchase)
8. Die Straßen von Wilna by Czeslaw Milosz (paperback, online purchase)
9. Gebrauchsanweisung für das Baltikum by Sabine Herre (paperback, online purchase)
10. The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
11. Out of Bounds by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
12. Broken Ground by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)
13. Still Life by Val McDermid (paperback, online purchase)

tammikuu 12, 12:08 pm

>36 MissBrangwen: Some wonderful selections there, Mirjam.

tammikuu 12, 6:43 pm

>30 MissBrangwen: I loved your description of The Deathly Hollows. I read it when it first came out, but I think I remember most of it. I believe it was a real page turner.

tammikuu 12, 7:20 pm

tammikuu 13, 9:01 am

>37 labfs39: >39 dchaikin: Thanks! I‘m looking forward to reading them!

>38 NanaCC: Thank you! I just wrote down what came to my mind, so I‘m glad it resonated with you.

tammikuu 13, 1:28 pm

I'm joining late, but want to say I'm happy you set up a new thread this year. I will definitely come and visit and I'm sure I'll find some great gems here!
I love the picture in >1 MissBrangwen:! It's a dream of mine to have such shelves for myself...

Great you finished the Harry Potter series. My children are more of the Harry Potter film generation than the book generation, but I read them all and my son as well. I agree that some parts of the ending could have been more exciting, but overall it's a great story, and there is a lot to think about. The films are much poorer than the book, expecially regarding the character of Neville (who, retrospectively is one of my favourite characters in the series).

I've read the play, did not watch it. So I am curious to know what you'll think about it, especially having the series fresh in your mind. I hope you'll enjoy it, and that you'll report here!

tammikuu 14, 7:29 am

>41 raton-liseur: Thank you for your kind words! I will definitely write something about the theater visit. I plan to read the book shortly after we have watched the play, so that I can still remember it well. Neville is one of my favourite characters, too.

tammikuu 14, 5:59 pm

How are the students responding to Kafka?

tammikuu 15, 3:14 am

>43 LolaWalser: They were initially a bit baffled and intimidated by "Vor dem Gesetz", but then really took to it and figured out lots of possible interpretations. We had a very good discussion.
I did not use Der Kreisel because I thought that it was a bit too abstract for them. But we are going to read the beginning of Die Verwandlung next. Unfortunately we don‘t have time for the whole text.

tammikuu 15, 11:02 am

I came across the title Die kleine Seenadel - "Jeder ist wichtig" (The little pipefish - "Everyone is important") by Nicole Bernard a few years ago and told my husband how cute I thought it was (just the words of the title - I had not seen the book itself). He gifted it to me in 2020, but I did not read it in that terrible year. Now KiddyCAT, over in the Category Challenge, was the perfect reminder, since this month's prompt is "picture books".

Book No 5

"Die kleine Seenadel - "Jeder ist wichtig"" by Nicole Bernard
Series: Die kleine Seenadel (1)
First published in 2009
Hardcover, 24 pp.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

The little pipe fish wakes up one day and realizes that she has been washed into the harbor of a small village by the tide. At first she is frightened, but then she sees that there is no danger in this new world, but that it is very interesting. Still, she wants to go home into the open North Sea and starts her travels, meeting new friends along the way. Finally, she learns something from the busy lugworm, who looks obscure but who is responsible for the health of the tidal flats: Everybody is important!

Apart from this essential message, children learn about the tidal flats and about walking in these flats (a popular activity in Northern Germany). The pictures are beautifully done and capture the essence of the German North Sea coast.

I did not like the ending, though. The lugworm and the pipe fish see a granddad and his grandchildren who are walking in the tidal flats. The granddad explains the message (Everybody is important!) to his grandchildren, then the story ends. I would have liked to read about the pipe fish arriving at her home instead of the book ending during her trip, it feels a bit unfinished and some children might be concerned about that.

tammikuu 15, 1:53 pm

That's a lovely message. My cousin's little girl currently calls all the animals -brudi and -schwestie, like some toddling St. Francis.

tammikuu 16, 8:15 am

>46 LolaWalser: "like some toddling St. Francis" That made me smile :-)

tammikuu 16, 8:15 am

Short Reads

Another short story read for work that I haven't used before: "Vera sitzt auf dem Balkon" by Sibylle Berg. I like this one and would love to read more by this author in the future.
I don't think it has been translated to English. It deals with a couple and their failing relationship, characterized mostly by the things they do not do, like touching or talking about what is important.

tammikuu 16, 2:58 pm

>45 MissBrangwen: I wish that were available in English, I would get it for my nieces.

tammikuu 16, 4:03 pm

>49 labfs39: Yes, what a pity! I never really thought about translations before joining Club Read, but now I realize how much they influence.

tammikuu 16, 4:03 pm

Where The Sky Begins by Rhys Bowen was a BB from NanaCC in the end of December and I finished today. Although the author's name was vaguely familiar, I had not really encountered her before, but somehow I just felt like trying this story as an audiobook.

Book No 6

"Where The Sky Begins" by Rhys Bowen
First published in 2022
Digital audiobook, 11h 11min
Rating: 4 stars - ****

The story starts in 1940 in London. Young Josie Banks has a sort of freedom for the first time in her life because her controlling husband is away with the army. When she has just started to make a little life for herself, she loses her home in the Blitz and is left with nothing. A kind nurse secures her a spot in an evacuation program and so Josie moves to Lincolnshire, into an old country manor where she is confronted with a staunchly traditional old lady and her equally intimidating Irish maid. But Josie is determined to find a little luck in a her life at last and also to make the lives of those around her better during those dark times.

I had a little trouble with this story in the beginning because Josie just seemed too kind-hearted, too naive. But after some time, I really warmed up to her and rooted for her, and I also loved all of the supporting characters. There is a love story and also a mystery, and while some of it is foreseeable, it was still exciting and I just wanted to listen on. The details about life in Britain during World War Two seemed mostly authentic.

The narrator, Emma Griffiths, does a wonderful job. She excellently performs different characters and actually does sound like different people, but without overdoing it or sounding artificial. I loved her various accents and voices.

I am sure that this will not be my last book by Rhys Bowen!

tammikuu 17, 8:36 am

Just getting here now. Since you start your reading year on Christmas Eve, a very nice tradition, I'm even further behind than I would be otherwise, but happy new reading year.
I have to confess I've never read Harry Potter.

>46 LolaWalser: lovely - I hope she never outgrows the feeling, even though the language develops

tammikuu 17, 1:16 pm

>52 SassyLassy: Oh don't worry - I haven't visited most of the threads so far because January is always so stressful for me, but I hope to get to everyone's thread some time. Thank you for stopping by!

tammikuu 20, 2:49 pm

I bought In Distant Fields by Charlotte Bingham in a secondhand bookshop on Ko Tao, Thailand, simply because I liked the cover and the blurb. I had never heard of the author. That was back in 2016 and I have always meant to read it, but you all know how it goes! Now I finally did, prompted by Reading Through Time's quarterly theme.

Book No 7

"In Distant Fields" by Charlotte Bingham
First published in 2006
Bantam Books
Paperback, 602pp.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***°

When I had read the first few pages of this novel, I had to check back and look at the publishing date. Yes, it really is 2006, which I first found hard to believe since it seems much more old-fashioned both because of the style and the content.

The story is sweeping, told at a large scale. While the blurb makes it sound as if it is primarily a novel about World War One, the war only starts after about half of the story. Before that, we accompany young Kitty Knowle while she makes her way up into better society. Although she is a member of the upper classes herself, her chances of marrying someone suitable are small since her father is a notorious gambler. When her best friend from school, Lady Partita, invites Kitty to spend Christmas with her at her family's castle in the countryside, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Through Kitty's eyes, the reader experiences the luxurious lives of the aristocracy, including love, friendship and heartbreak, adventures, hopes and jealousies, until all of that comes to an expected, yet sudden stop when the war begins.

The second half deals mainly with the experiences of the women during the war, working as nurses in London or at the castle, which has been transformed into a hospital for convalescents. But there are also occasional chapters featuring the men, fighting in Belgium and France. The story features historical events such as the sinking of the Lusitania and the Battle of Loos, as well as many details of life in England. However, while there are many emotions, it is all told from a distance, and somehow it seems to be neither one thing nor the other. There are so, so many characters (not only Kitty, Partita and their respective love interests, but also a whole set of friends as well as some of their parents!), and the story spans several years, so despite the length of 602 pages, some chapters feel rushed. I think that it should have been longer to do more justice to the characters and not to cut out so much that was important, or the author should not have included quite so many characters. The distant point of view added to the feeling of reading about these people without being really close to them.

Nevertheless, I actually did enjoy this novel, and I felt with the characters, rooted for them, and was touched many times. I loved the descriptions of life at the castle before the war, which made the contrast to later events even stronger. Although I am not convinced of the distant point of view of the narration, I loved the writing style itself. I am not sure if I will read anything else by the author, but I do not regret reading this.

tammikuu 20, 5:00 pm

>54 MissBrangwen: Excellent review, Mirjam.

tammikuu 21, 4:32 am

>55 labfs39: Thank you!

tammikuu 21, 4:05 pm

I read Nachts ist es leise in Teheran by Shida Bazyar for the new course that I am teaching, Narrated Identity. As far as I can see, there are Dutch and French translations, but no English one so far. The meaning of the title is At night it is quiet in Teheran. The author, whose family has a similar background, was only 28 years old when the novel was published.

Book No 8

"Nachts ist es leise in Teheran" by Shida Bazyar
First published in 2016
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Paperback, 275pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This novel consists of four parts, each concentrating on a different member of one family, and each ten years apart. The story starts with Behsad, who is a communist revolutionist in 1979 Teheran, but whose hopes and ambitions are shattered. In the next part, told from his wife Nahid's perspective in 1989, the reader learns that the couple had to leave Iran and start a new life in Western Germany, struggling to come to terms with the cold language, the strange neighbors, the memories that hurt so much. Fast forward to 1999, there are reforms and new hopes in Iran, and through Laleh's (the daughter's) eyes the reader experience's her first visit back to Iran after she had to flee when she was just four years old. There is a wild mix of emotions, of feeling both like belonging while still being an outsider. Clashing expectations make this visit difficult, as well as questions about her own identity. And in 2009, there is Laleh's brother Mo who has only ever known Germany while still being read as non-German by most of the people he meets. He does not feel a connection to Iran until he is suddenly glued to his screen, watching YouTube streams and Facebook posts of the Green Revolution. When he sees his fellow students in Germany protesting against tuition fees and feeling smug about it, he cannot help but feel estranged from them, knowing that his relatives in Iran risk all they have for their protests, as did his parents in the 1970s.

The author includes a lot of aspects in this novel, she touches upon many subjects. The structure of four decades and four characters enables this, but it is also restricting because it means that some points of view are excluded. I would have liked to know more about how Behsad and Nahid felt in the end of the story, but this does not play a big role anymore in the end. While all characters are strong, Nahid was my favourite and I would have liked to learn more about her. I feel like I am craving more of a conclusion, but maybe that is not the point of the novel.

In the end, there is another short chapter, told from the youngest sister, Tara, who was born in Germany. There is no given year, but it is simply called an epilogue. Tara and her niece - the third generation of the family - return from holiday and learn that there has been a new revolution that has finally succeeded, and the novel ends in euphoria. Thinking about the current situation in Iran, this scene hit deep. It is a utopia, as this chapter must take place around 2030. I have no words except that I hope that it will become true, as soon as possible.

tammikuu 21, 4:44 pm

That sounds good. I have a couple of older Iranian friends who had a similar odyssey--young Marxist students, the husband was imprisoned by the shah's regime for seven years, released a little before the revolution only to be threatened again, they escaped to Germany and eventually to Canada. But it's just a refuge, not home.

tammikuu 21, 4:54 pm

>57 MissBrangwen: Persian Utopia? It think that’s what was desired in 1979. From Reading Lolita in Tehran I learned a little about the Communist-idealist strain of the 1979 revolution. I understood there was both a religious and anti-western aspect to the revolution, but wasn’t aware of that.

tammikuu 21, 5:00 pm

>58 LolaWalser: "But it's just a refuge, not home." That sums it up.

>59 dchaikin: The parents in the book are communists, but towards the end of the book the longing to be with family, to travel there without fear, is in the centre.

tammikuu 21, 5:21 pm

>59 dchaikin:

Prior to the revolution there were multiple movements opposed to the shah, and originally it was a coalition of secular and religious forces that deposed the shah. Khomeini quickly consolidated his party's dominance, though and the witchhunts began anew.

Iran's left was represented by multiple ideologies, as anywhere else. The communists and socialists were of various flavours too, from pro-Soviet to Trotskyist, Marxist to social democrat etc.

As for being anti-Western, one needn't be a religious nutter to feel so, given that the Brits and the Americans kicked out the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh because he dared nationalize the oil industry, and installed their friendly puppet Pahlavi.

tammikuu 22, 8:20 am

>59 dchaikin: >61 LolaWalser: And the Shah, propped up by the US, was not a nice guy...

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 4:09 pm

Short Reads

Two short stories that I reread for work: "Justin Finds A Way" by Sheila Paynter and "The Visitor" by Christine Pinsent-Johnson. I really like these and the students usually do, too. The last time I used them was two years ago, so they needed a proper reread.

I hope to add some short reads soon that are not related to my work, but so far it seems like I am mostly using this category for that!

ETA: I forgot another one: "An manchen Tagen" by Nadja Einzmann.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 4:09 pm

I had a lot of work to do this week and did not read much, and I did not really have time to delve into the threads here, so I am incredibly far behind. But well, I will get around to everything eventually :-)

Tomorrow my husband and I will go to Berlin for a long weekend and I am looking forward to that very much. The last time I visited there was exactly twenty years ago as a school trip!
I don't know yet if I will read much, but I hope to resume my usual reading schedule after that.

tammikuu 26, 10:46 am

Have fun on your weekend away!

tammikuu 26, 5:02 pm

>64 MissBrangwen: Enjoy your long weekend, Mirjam!

helmikuu 2, 2:39 pm

>65 Nickelini: >66 labfs39: Thank you! We had a wonderful weekend. I wish we could have stayed longer because I liked it so much. We also visited a few places with a literary connection, especially the Kurt Tucholsky Museum. It is located within Rheinsberg Castle which was also written about by Theodor Fontane. It is about 100km from Berlin and we stopped there on our way back.

helmikuu 2, 2:39 pm

I did not finish any physical book or ebook for more than a week, on the one hand because I did not read much, on the other hand because I have started too many. I did at least finish an audiobook, though: Bunburry - Murder at the Mousetrap by Helena Marchmont.

Book No 9

"Bunburry - Murder at the Mousetrap" by Helena Marchmont
Series: Bunburry (1)
First published in 2018
Lübbe Audio
Digital audiobook, 3h 29min
Rating: 2 1/2 stars - **°

The first installment of the Bunburry series has all the important ingredients of a cosy mystery: A small, picturesque village, a set of people who have known each other for ages, two lovely elderly ladies, and a host of secrets. The main character is Alfie McAlister, a middle-aged man who travels to Bunburry because he inherited a cottage there from an aunt he barely knew. He quickly becomes acquainted with his aunt's two best friends, Marge and Liz, who gently force him to take part in the rehearsal of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap", which is traditionally performed by the village's drama group every year. The group is one member short because someones accidentally died shortly before Alfie arrived in Bunburry, but of course the trio soon suspect that it might not have been an accident.

I loved the beginning of the story, it was set up very well. I soon lost interest, though, because the story rambled on. It was hard to distinguish the characters, the plot moved incredibly slow sometimes, and there was not much excitement overall. I did like the main character and the nods to Agatha Christie. The audiobook is narrated by Nathaniel Parker who does it well.
As I have already downloaded books 2 and 3 of the series I will listen to those (I got all three for one credit in a bundle), but if they are not considerably more interesting, I will stop after that.

helmikuu 2, 2:52 pm

I also have two new purchases:

14. Drei Kameradinnen by Shida Bazyar

which I bought in a bookshop in Berlin because I had just read her first novel, Nachts ist es leise in Teheran. This one is her second. I might also use it for my lessons.


15. Tolkien - The Art of the Manuscript, which is the exhibition catalogue of the exhibition of the same name that took place at the Marquette University last year. I had the opportunity to take part in a group order from the German Tolkien Society and thus to save on shipping costs, so of course I had to do it! ;-)

helmikuu 2, 3:56 pm

Welcome back, Mirjam. I'm glad you had a pleasant, if too short, trip to Berlin.

helmikuu 4, 4:12 am

>70 labfs39: Thank you!

helmikuu 4, 3:18 pm

Inspector Barnaby is a popular TV series in Germany, too, but I first encountered it on a trip to the UK when I was watching TV in my hotel room. I quite liked it and started buying the DVD sets, and it has since been one of my favourite TV series. Of course it is not great art, but it is a real comfort watch to me, and I watched it together with my husband for several months when we went through a difficult time at work and did not have any energy to read or do anything else. During that time I also bought the first three books of the original book series, but it took me until now to start reading them.

Book No 10

"The Killings at Badger's Drift" by Caroline Graham
Series: Chief Inspector Barnaby (1)
First published in 1987
Paperback, 275pp.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***°

This 2016 edition contains an introduction by John Nettles, who played Barnaby in the TV series, in which he stresses the cuts and changes that need to be made in order to adapt a novel to the screen. Therefore I was prepared for the book to differ from the TV series. I was surprised, though, that the plot has been kept very faithfully. The characters have not, though - Sergeant Troy, whom I really like in the TV series despite his obvious flaws, is thoroughly loathsome in the novel. Barnaby's daughter Cully is quite different, too, and Barnaby himself is not really a contrast to his TV personality, but a deeper character, with more background and, coming with that, more difficulties. I must admit that I did have some problems with that because while on the one hand it was interesting to learn more about him, not all of it matched the fatherly and calm figure I am used to on the screen.

Now to the story itself: I have watched the first episode four times and thus reading it was not that exciting. I knew all the twists and turns, and it might be unfair to really rate this novel. Still I must say that I found it rather slow in the beginning, the characters felt exaggerated, and I just wished the plot to progress. However, it still became a page turner towards the end of the book, and then completely drew me in. It is well written, Barnaby is a sharp and funny character, and I appreciated the crafting of the case maybe even more than when watching it.

helmikuu 4, 3:26 pm

>72 MissBrangwen:

I've been watching some episodes too, they remind me of my dad. I quite like it, but I don't feel compelled to seek out the print mysteries. Do you watch them in the original or dubbed in German? Do you have a preference?

helmikuu 4, 3:35 pm

>73 LolaWalser: I watch them in the original. I completely stopped watching anything dubbed when my English became good enough, it sounds too artificial to me (I know it sounds snobbish to some people, but that is how I feel).

helmikuu 4, 3:46 pm

>74 MissBrangwen:

I feel the same; I wouldn't say it's snobbish... I was surprised that some of my German friends said they actually preferred dubbing in some cases but that may have to do with sheer habit. I should add though, something I learned the last time we had a discussion about dubbing, that for some people reading may represent a greater obstacle.

Do you enjoy the post-Nettles series too? I haven't kept up (I only watched it sporadically when I visited home), but catching up now on YouTube, it's all fine by me. What you mention, that the detective is calm and has a non-controversial private life, is something I much prefer too. Not that the usual addiction/marital problems/boss problems/general malfunction wouldn't be authentic, only that it ruins for me the escapism of mystery.

helmikuu 6, 2:36 pm

>75 LolaWalser: I have not seen any of the new Barnaby (well, not so new anymore)! When I bought the DVDs, I started watching the episodes in order, and then started from the beginning with my husband, and I think we stopped somewhere in season 8 or 9. We still mean to watch the whole thing, but I don't know when, since we unintentionally almost completely stopped watching anything about a year ago when we moved. We did not plan it all, but since we have lived here, we have not felt like watching anything at at all apart from an occasional film, and then mainly adaptations of books we have read.
I have just realized that I don't know what your first language is - may I ask?

"What you mention, that the detective is calm and has a non-controversial private life, is something I much prefer too."
This is an interesting point and one that I have not really thought about before! I don't have anything against those other detectives with their problematic lives, but if I had to pick, I would pick the calm ones, too.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 3:12 pm

My husband bought Dunkel by Ragnar Jónasson in 2020 and I immediately knew that I wanted to read it, too. Well, we all know how it goes sometimes with new books - I have read it only now, and he still hasn't!
This was published as The Darkness in English, the original, Icelandic title is Dimma. The German version was translated from the English text, not the original one.

Book No 11

"Dunkel" by Ragnar Jónasson
Series: Hulda / Hidden Iceland
Original Title: Dimma
First published in 2015
Paperback, 367pp.
Rating: 3 stars - ***

I am only lukewarm about this novel and will not continue with this series. There were some aspects that I enjoyed, most of all the wonderful descriptions of the landscapes of Iceland, which made we want to jump on a plane and travel there instantly. The main character, Hulda, a police officer who is just about to retire and is offered to look into one last cold case, is unusual and interesting. She chooses the death of a young asylum seeker which was quickly written off as a suicide. The book is a page turner. I read it very fast because I wanted to know what happened. The case itself was not the most gripping, but not boring either.
However, there were also a few aspects that were off-putting to me. Hulda is a difficult character and it was often hard to sympathize with her and to understand her actions. I also think that her character was not round and there are some contradictions which made the novel less credible. The most off-potting point, though, was the ending. Apparently Hulda dies in the end, the investigation comes to nothing, her body is not found. It is so frustrating! As far as I can see the trilogy moves backwards and the next book takes place fifteen years before, and the third one even further in the past. Why would I like to read more about a character who I know will meet a terrible end, and whose life held almost no joys? I learned online that there is a new series about her successor and that readers hope that there will be a book where he will find out what happened to her - maybe even find her alive somewhere - but as of now there is no real hint to that. I can see myself googling these spoilers in the future, or looking for them on LT, but I do not think that I will read more of this series, if anything by this author, although I have heard that the "Dark Iceland" series is supposed to be better.
I see that many readers love this book, but because of what I mentioned above, it is just not my cup of tea.

helmikuu 6, 3:19 pm

I have just realized that I don't know what your first language is - may I ask?

Technically it's Greek followed by English, because we moved to Cyprus from Croatia (then Yugoslavia) when I was about five months old, and my parents intended for me to be multilingual from the start, as they were. I had a short period of Croatian immersion when I was five but then we moved to Syria and I was placed in a French school. Before returning to Croatia in my teens, English, French and Italian (my mother's heritage), and even Greek, were all stronger than my Croatian. I read German (my father's heritage) but didn't systematically study it until my teens too. But it just occurs to me that I could have simplified by noting that for the last 32 years it's English I speak most often. If not first then, for sure it's first now. :)

helmikuu 6, 3:29 pm

>78 LolaWalser: Thank you for taking the time to explain! I think I have never met anyone with such a truly multilingual history.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 3:45 pm

>77 MissBrangwen: I’m just thinking, they had a published it in English as Dunkel, they could have had a curious interesting title, making Americans think about dark beer. But they chose to translate.

>78 LolaWalser: very interesting

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2:30 am

>80 dchaikin: Not knowing much about beer, I wasn't aware that dunkel is used in the English language. I think it's a funny word!

helmikuu 7, 8:27 am

>72 MissBrangwen: I also love Midsomer Murders, and find it a great comfort show. I read a couple of the novels a few years back, and found them nothing special. I like the TV show much better, myself. It was interesting to read your opinion as a fellow TV fan coming to the books from the show. You seem to have liked the book better than I did, and I'm glad for you.

I do love that cover, though. The copies I got at my local library were (presumably) the originals, and they weren't nearly as good as that one.

>75 LolaWalser: What you mention, that the detective is calm and has a non-controversial private life, is something I much prefer too. Not that the usual addiction/marital problems/boss problems/general malfunction wouldn't be authentic, only that it ruins for me the escapism of mystery.

I definitely agree with you both on that! Having the detective's home life between mysteries serve as a sort of "safe space" a la home base in playground tag keeps the tension from getting too high. I don't mind high tension in some shows, but I don't want it in my comfort watches.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 12:52 pm

>82 Julie_in_the_Library: Yes, I like the cover, too! Spooky and classic, but still with a modern feel.

"Having the detective's home life between mysteries serve as a sort of "safe space" a la home base in playground tag keeps the tension from getting too high. I don't mind high tension in some shows, but I don't want it in my comfort watches."
I totally relate to that. The scenes at Barnaby's home, with Joyce's cooking and them sitting at the table, are among my favourite ones. I am always disappointed when there is an episode when their home is not featured!

helmikuu 7, 12:53 pm

We have booked a trip to Lithuania for April, so I have been looking for books about this country and came across Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

Book No 12

"Between Shades Of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys
First published in 2011
Penguin Books
Paperback, 344pp.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

"Between Shades Of Gray" was written by Ruta Sepetys, a Lithuanian-American author who did extensive research while working on the novel. It is classified as Young Adult, which is apparent in the language and the perspective of the main character, Lina, but this did not diminish the reading experience. In contrast, I felt that the character's voice was stronger and more authentic because of this because it was in line with her age.

Lina, her younger brother and her mother are deported from Kaunas in Lithuania to a work camp in Siberia. The novel relates the long journey in a cattle train to the camp, the events in the camp and more - I am not describing the further plot to avoid spoilers.
This book will stick with me for a very long time because of its characters, but also because I learned so much about the events under Stalin at the time. Of course I learned about it at school, but that was almost two decades ago, and the focus was not on the Baltic countries.

I read this almost in one sitting, within one day, because I just couldn't stop! The reason that it is not quite a five star read is because the ending felt a bit abrupt and I would have liked to meet Lina for real once more, and not only through the capsule that is found in the 1990s, although the afterword explains this choice. I also felt that sometimes Lina was a little bit too brave and adventurous to make it credible, and these were instance where it did indeed feel strongly like YA, but it is only a minor point of criticism in an otherwise excellent novel.

helmikuu 7, 2:22 pm

>84 MissBrangwen: I read the graphic version of this a few months ago and was likewise impressed. If you are looking for more Lithuanian books to read before you go, I have two that I would recommend. The first is Siberian exile : blood, war, and a granddaughter's reckoning by Julija Šukys. The author lives in Canada, but starting researching her family history thinking that she would write a biography of her grandmother, who was sent to Siberia. She uncovered a big secret, however, and this books is the result. The other books I would recommend is a novel called In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas. It's about the Wolfskinder, German children who walked into Lithuania looking for food and sometimes a home after WWII. The first winter after the Soviet occupation of Eastern Germany was particularly harsh. The author wanted this to be a screenplay, so it's very cinematographic in style, but the story is an important, if sad, one.

helmikuu 8, 5:53 am

>85 labfs39: Thank you for the recommendations! In fact, I already have In the Shadow of Wolves on my kindle. I will check out the other one you mention.

helmikuu 8, 6:07 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

helmikuu 8, 10:02 pm

>86 MissBrangwen: If you are interested in a wider scope of Lithuanian lit (other than my WWII picks), I put together a list on the Baltic Sea theme read. Although I haven't read them all, it might give you some ideas.

helmikuu 9, 2:05 pm

>88 labfs39: I think I have enough books for now (I am not even sure if I can read them all before the trip, haha), but I will keep it in mind for later! You put together such an amazing list, not only for Lithuania, but also for all the other countries. I will certainly go back for reference. It is a treasure trove!

helmikuu 10, 7:50 am

>89 MissBrangwen: It's always nice to have options! I volunteered to do the Baltic Sea theme read, then went a little nuts compiling lists, but it was a labor of love. Jorgen was a great help with Sweden, and others have chimed in with more knowledgeable suggestions as well. Reading Globally is a great group for plumping up my wishlist...

helmikuu 10, 9:47 am

>90 labfs39: "Reading Globally is a great group for plumping up my wishlist..." Oh yes! I did only lurk so far, but I decided to post more actively now! And in the future, I know where to have a look when I am searching for books from a specific country.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 10, 10:04 am

I decided not to list short reads from work in my thread anymore - it is too much and I don't know where to draw the line! I read and reread so many articles, stories and excerpts almost daily and I have increasingly asked myself: Should I add this? But this thread is for fun and I don't want to stress over it, so I decided to only list short reads read for leisure from now. That does not apply to proper books, though.

In that department, I have ordered four novels for work that I plan to use excerpts from in lessons between now and Easter break. I intend to completely read them for myself, too, because they are all very interesting and I expect them to be great, but I will probably not be able to read them all anytime soon.

20. Streulicht by Deniz Ohde
21. Schwarzes Herz by Jasmina Kuhnke
22. Im Menschen muss alles herrlich sein by Sasha Marianna Salzmann
23. The High House by Jessie Greengrass

Before that, I also bought or downloaded a few more.

Audible audiobook:
16. Letters of Note - Music ed. by Shaun Usher
The editions and touchstones are totally messed up. There are several "Letters of Note" books, I am currently listening to the one featuring letters about music.

17. A World Beneath The Sands by Toby Wilkinson
My husband saw this one in the bookshop of the Neues Museum in Berlin (which was fantastic!!!) and bought it on kindle, sharing it with me through Kindle Family.

18. Der eiserne Wolf im barocken Labyrinth - Erwachendes Vilnius by Cornelius Hell
More on Lithuania.

Another audible audiobook:
19. Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
I thought long and hard about whether I really wanted to do this, but yes, I am curious and the reviews on LT convinced me.

helmikuu 11, 10:19 am

>90 labfs39: I volunteered to do the Baltic Sea theme read, then went a little nuts compiling lists, but it was a labor of love. I know what you mean exactly - I've had the same experience in Reading Globally. It really is worth it in the end.

You're absolutely correct too about what it does to the wishlist .

helmikuu 12, 4:34 am

Another book I read for the upcoming trip to Lithuania: Der eiserne Wolf im barocken Labyrinth - Erwachendes Vilnius by Cornelius Hell. It is part of a publisher series that I like and I have read two other books by this author that I enjoyed very much, so I was looking forward to this one.
Unfortunately the titles of the series are all quite awkward, this one translates as The iron wolf in the baroque labyrinth - Vilnius awakening.

Book No 13

"Der eiserne Wolf im barocken Labyrinth - Erwachendes Vilnius" by Cornelius Hell
Publisher Series: Lesereisen
First published in 2009
Picus Verlag
Hardcover, 132pp.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

This book is part of the publisher series Lesereisen ("reading journeys") by the Austrian publisher Picus Verlag. The series contains many, many books on different places in the world, all of them feasible travel destinations, and each book containing essays or short reports about the place written by one contemporary author. I like this series a lot and although it is not my aim to collect all of the books, I often buy books about places I have already traveled to or plan to visit in the near future.
This one was even better than most others because the author, who is from Salzburg, has strong ties to Vilnius as opposed to only having traveled there a few times. He moved there in the 1980s to teach German at the university, learned Lithuanian, and has since then worked as a translator, traveling there at least once a year. His love for Vilnius and Lithuania shines through every page, although he also talks about negative aspects and is not shy to criticize when that is due. Weaving his personal experience over the years into the history of the city, telling stories about close friends while describing buildings, streets and other points of interest, he creates a vivid impression of the city. It was wonderful to read this book and learn about Lithuanian history as well as the Lithuanian language, the architecture of Vilnius and its culture. Sometimes the namedropping of the author became a bit much and I would have liked to learn a little more about the city in general than about his life, but that is just a minor point. I am glad that I read this and am now looking forward to the trip even more!

helmikuu 12, 7:40 am

How long are you going to be there, Mirjam? Any sights you are particularly anxious to see?

helmikuu 12, 8:50 am

>95 labfs39: We are going to spend a week in Vilnius, so it is more of a city trip than a proper trip around Lithuania. But we hope to do a day trip to Trakai Castle and also spend a day or two in Kaunas (it is easily reachable by train).
In 2008, when I was studying, I shared a flat with an Erasmus student from Vilnius. Although we could hardly communicate because we did not share any languages, we got along well and she showed me beautiful pictures of her city. We did not keep in touch, but I have wanted to visit Vilnius ever since, so I am full of joy that it is finally happening!

helmikuu 12, 9:57 am

I came across the Letters of Note project when I was browsing Audible. I had never heard of it, but it is wonderful and I plan to read and listen to a lot more of it. Collections of letters, first compiled online and then published as books and audiobooks that became so popular that there are live events that fill places like the Royal Albert Hall? What's not to love?
On a whim, I decided to listen to Letters of Note - Music. The editor is Shaun Usher.

Book No 14

"Letters of Note - Music" ed. by Shaun Usher
Series: Letters of Note
Collection first published in 2020
Canongate Books
Digital audiobook, 2h 30min
Rating: 5 stars - *****

This collection features letters spanning almost 200 years, by famous musicians and composers, but also no names who happened to write letters that are noteworthy for one reason or the other, such as the letter by a Beatles fan who wrote to Nike, being outraged when they used a Beatles song for a commercial. There are letters by Leonard Cohen, Richard Strauss, Tschaikowski and Keith Richards. There is one by Helen Keller who wrote about her experience of feeling music by touching the radio, and one by a doctor who wrote to David Bowie after the famous singer died. Each letter is unique, be it sad, earnest, passionate or funny.
Listening to this meant that the letters were brought to life by such accomplished readers such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry and Miriam Margolyes. I really savored it and tried to listen to not too many at a time, in order to be able to really take them in. I loved this listening experience, although I think that reading the letters as a book, including, as I understand, facsimiles and pictures, must be wonderful as well.
I am looking forward to exploring more of these collections!

helmikuu 12, 1:30 pm

I snatched up Murder at the Dolphin Hotel by Helena Dixon as a free kindle book last year because I thought it sounded interesting, and now was the perfect time to read it for this month's MysteryKIT over in the Category Challenge.

Book No 15

"Murder at the Dolphin Hotel" by Helena Dixon
Series: Miss Underhay (1)
First published in 2019
ebook, 250pp.
Rating: 2 stars - **

This is the first book of the Miss Underhay series that takes place in early 1930s Devon. Kitty Underhay and her grandmother manage the Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth. Kitty, who has never known her father, has lived at the hotel since she has been six years old, when her mother suddenly disappeared. Now her grandmother leaves for Scotland to take care of an aunt who has injured herself, but because the hotel has received a series of anonymous letters, she employs Captain Matthew Bryant as a security officer. Of course, the events start to speed up once Kitty is in charge of the hotel all by herself, and the first murder happens.

Although I love hotels as settings and the premise sounded promising to me, I felt this novel to be a slog. The setting is the beautiful Devonshire coast, yet I never got a sense of place. The hotel and its guests did not come to life for me, and I did not get the feeling of really knowing the characters, they remained oddly lifeless. To my mind, the story is constructed and over the top, and I did not enjoy how it developed. The language is overall too modern and casual, to the effect that this did not feel like a story of the 1930s.
The reason I gave it two stars and not one is because I still wanted to know the ending, and towards that ending, and during the final showdown, it improved a little. Moreover, the character of Matt Bryant was a little more fleshed out than the other ones, so I liked some of the chapters featuring him. I will not continue with the series, though.

helmikuu 21, 6:28 am

We finally went to Hamburg to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! The week before was very busy and on top of that I got sick (not covid) shortly after, but the experience was fantastic and now I finally feel like writing about it here.
Is it worth the exorbitantly high ticket price? For me it was because I went there with my husband and my younger cousin, and we had an amazing day. My cousin is one of the biggest potterheads out there - she is 26 now but went in full Hufflepuff gear and really stood out because her costume was so beautiful, wand, coat and all! - so it was a great bonding experience for the three of us. As I have explained before, we had bought the tickets in July 2019, and it was just wonderful that it finally happened. I was nervous until the last minute because the weekend before, two performances had to be cancelled due to illness.
The play finished about 05.00pm and after that we had a delicious meal in a cat café (yes, there really were cats!) and then drove back to Bremerhaven (it is about two and a half hours from Hamburg).

Book No 16

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter (8)
First published in 2016
Little, Brown
Harcover, 343pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

I decided to watch the play first and read it afterwards, which I did yesterday, and I think it was a good decision. I knew that many people were disappointed by the book, so my expectations were not high. Yes, it is probably not the best story and the plot could be better, but the production was amazing, and like this I was able to read the book and really see it all before my inner eye.
I understand that reading the book first would probably be a bit disappointing because it might be hard to envision it all. The descriptions of some of the rapid changes in the beginning, of the time turner or even some of the props would be hard to imagine without seeing them, I think. To me, watching it first and then reading it was the perfect way because while reading, I was able to take in all the words, to reread passages and ponder them, while having the scenes from the play fresh in my mind - while the play was fast paced at times and sometimes it was hard to catch everything. Moreover, the play was in German and some of the translations just don't sit right with me.

I like the way the story starts: Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny see their children off to Hogwarts, so it is a direct connection to the last chapter of the last Harry Potter novel. I expected a cosy and heartfelt story about Harry's son at Hogwarts, but it is very different: Harry's son is not like you would expect him to be, and the two have difficulties. The boy tries to find his own way out of this, and adventures follow. I am not saying more to avoid spoilers for those who still wish to read it or to watch the play.
Although some aspects of the plot are unexpected, and there are some I did not like at all and frankly think are quite bad - Voldemort has a daughter with Bellatrix? Come on, you really weren't able to think of anything better than that??? - , I overall enjoyed the story. However, what made it really special was the production. The visual experience is simply superb - the stage design, the costumes, the visual effects. Yes, there really is magic, there are potions and spells, and dementors fly above you. And although the story is not as good as the novels, there are some intense moments. Reading the play, I was able to savour these even more - and some of them for the first time because we watched the one part play that has been shortened, which was ok for us because three and a half hours at a play is enough!

True, most of the moments I truly loved involve the golden trio and their friends from their childhood days, and not the new characters. But I don't care, I will cherish those. Malfoy being all his old arrogant self, but finally somewhat bonding with Harry and the others when they have to rescue their sons. Ron and Hermione being in love even in alternate histories, and being kissed by dementors to save a better future. Dumbledore's portrait! And most of all, the dreamy memory of Hagrid picking up baby Harry from the ruins of his parents' house. It had me sobbing. Poor nostalgia? Yes, but it made these millennials happy for a weekend and a bit.

helmikuu 22, 4:52 am

>99 MissBrangwen: Nice review of the book and the play. Great that you enjoyed the experience. I agree with you on most of the plot twists, but watching it on stage seems to be a treat!

helmikuu 22, 11:28 am

>100 raton-liseur: Thank you! Yes, it was treat and that made up for some of the rather silly points ;-)

helmikuu 22, 11:28 am

I first learned about First World War poetry at school and vividly remember my English teacher reciting Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier" in the class room, a poem that has stuck with me ever since. When I was a trainee teacher and saw A Collection of First World War Poetry on the shelves of a teacher shop in Cologne, I bought it because I expected to teach these poems myself soon. I haven't done so because in the state of Bremen they have not been on the curriculum since I have worked here, but I kept the book and now Reading Through Time's quarterly topic has given me the incentive to properly read it.

Book No 17

"A Collection of First World War Poetry" ed. by Janet Borsbey and Ruth Swan
This collection first published in 2013
ELi Readers
Paperback, 137pp.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

As explained above, this collection has been compiled for students, but it reads like any other poetry collection. The poems are not simplified or abridged, and I like the beautiful cover that does not scream school book to me. There are four pages of exercises that I skipped, and eleven pages of historical context that were interesting to me. I knew about most of the facts mentioned there, but it was helpful to be reminded of them in a concise way.

Now on to the poems themselves: If I counted correctly, the book features 37 poets, eight of them female. Each one is introduced by a very short biography and a picture (if available - sadly there are no pictures of some of the female writers), followed by one or more poems. There are famous writers such as G.K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and John McCrae, but also lesser known ones (I think) such as Nina Macdonald.
What I specifically like about the collection is that it does not only include poems illustrating the life of soldiers and the horrors of the front, but other war experiences, too: Life on the home front, the loss of loved ones, work in the factories or as a nurse. It also gives an overview of the different artistic forms, ranging from traditional to experimental. Thus, reading these poems was interesting throughout. Some are clear and beautiful, some are witty or even funny, while others rage with emotions. Some are elaborate, some are simple. There are poems that are just a few lines, while others span several pages. What most have in common is that they provide an individual insight into that terrible time, and sometimes reading them almost felt like time traveling, sharing the sentiments and experiences of people from more than a hundred years ago.

helmikuu 22, 12:09 pm

>102 MissBrangwen: Nice review. I've only scratched the surface of WWI poetry and would like to learn more. Something like this might be a good start.

helmikuu 23, 4:31 am

>103 labfs39: I agree that a book like that might be good start. I liked the overview it provided, going beyond the popular poems that one typically knows about.

helmikuu 23, 2:01 pm

I purchased The Figure in the Carpet by Henry James as a Penguin Little Black Classic on a trip in 2018 or 2019, but I didn't add it to my LT library at the time, which is why I cannot exactly remember where or when it was.

Book No 18

"The Figure in the Carpet" by Henry James
First published in 1896
Penguin Little Black Classics
Paperback, 56pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

"A Figure in the Carpet" by Henry James is sometimes considered a short story and sometimes a novella. The narrator is a writer employed by a newspaper who is tasked with reviewing his favourite author's latest novel. After meeting said author, who tells him that his works include a secret, a kind of truth or particular point, the writer becomes obsessed with finding out what this secret is.
It was a pleasure to read this story because of the fascinating plot and the compelling writing style. Every sentence is on point and this made for an enjoyable reading experience. So far I have only read "The Bostonians" and "The Beast in the Jungle" by Henry James, which I liked both, but I enjoyed this one even more. The only aspect that was negative to me was the ending as it felt too constructed and too tragic. It was one unfortunate instance too many, and I would have wished for a bit of closure at least. Apart from that it is a great story and it has shown me once again that I wish to get to the other works of Henry James.

helmikuu 25, 12:58 pm

I read so many Agatha Christie novels between 2017 and 2021 that last year I needed a break, but now I felt like reading one again and chose The Moving Finger. In contrast to the Poirot novels, I am reading the Miss Marple ones in order and this was the next one.

Book No 19

"The Moving Finger" by Agatha Christie
Series: Miss Marple (3)
First published in 1942
Paperback, 243pp.
Rating: 3 stars - ***

While some parts of this novel were satisfactory, all in all it is not my favourite Christie.
It is narrated by Jerry Burton, who moves to the small town of Lymstock together with his sister, in order to recover from an injury. The doctor prescribes some peace and quiet, but of course Lymstock offers the opposite, and the siblings realize this as soon as an anonymous letter arrives.
The novel kept me guessing, and as always I had no idea who the murderer was. The plot was crafted well as were most of the characters. Many readers criticize that Miss Marple only makes an appearance in this towards the end, which I did not mind that much, because it is a good story in its own right. To me it feels much more modern than most other Christie novels I have read, mainly due to the attitudes of the siblings, who are outsiders in the town and bring with them London airs and another frame of mind. Initially I liked them a lot, but that changed during the course of the story because of how they treat some of the other characters. The atmosphere of it all becomes so negative that at some point I just wanted it to be over. On top of that, the love stories that are included are just too silly and incredible. Because of all these reasons, I was a bit disappointed in the end because the novel started out so well but did not hold its promise.

maaliskuu 12, 12:05 pm

I can't believe that I haven't finished a book in two weeks! I have just been so busy, but I hope that things will calm down a bit now.
I have now finished Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which I have wanted to read almost since it was published - in 2012 I traveled to London for the first time and saw it all over the bookshops everywhere I went. I read my husband's copy because he is a huge fan of the early books of the series.

Book No 20

"Rivers of London" by Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant (1)
First published in 2011
Paperback, 392pp.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***°

If I remember correctly and did not forget any book, this was my first foray into urban fantasy. I adored the beginning when Peter Grant, just starting his career in the London police, suddenly meets a ghost who wishes to make a witness statement regarding a recent murder. Ghosts, vampires and magic, a police department taking care of otherworldly crimes, and London locations and folklore on every page - what's not to love? That is what I thought, and it is all great, but to me, it was a bit too crazy, and the plot and pacing suffered from it. Towards the end, it was a labour to reach the finish line, which is why I won't continue with the series. I still think that this is a fantastic book and I appreciate the author's ideas and work, but it is not really for me.

maaliskuu 13, 8:22 am

>99 MissBrangwen: she is 26 now but went in full Hufflepuff gear and really stood out because her costume was so beautiful, wand, coat and all! I'd love to see a photo of the costume, if you're comfortable sharing.

>107 MissBrangwen: I love the Rivers of London series, but I can see how it wouldn't be for everyone, especially if it's your first foray into urban fantasy.

maaliskuu 13, 2:04 pm

>108 Julie_in_the_Library: I'll ask her if I'm allowed to share a picture!

maaliskuu 13, 3:03 pm

On my search for Lithuanian books, another one that frequently came up was In The Shadow Of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas. It was translated from Lithuanian to English by Romas Kinka.

Book No 21

"In The Shadow Of Wolves" by Alvydas Šlepikas
Original Title: Mano vardas - Marytė
First published in 2011
ebook, 146pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This novel deals with the wolf children - Wolfskinder, German children who lived in Eastern Prussia shortly after World War Two and crossed into Lithuania to find food to survive, or even to bring back to their families. The story starts with one such family, a mother and her five children, who try to survive the first winter after the end of the war. They are under constant thread of starving or freezing to death, of being raped or killed. While at first the reader gets to know the situation mostly from the mother's point of view, the story then follows some of the children who go to Lithuania, crossing the wilderness and meeting locals to find food and shelter. Some are welcoming, others are not. While at first Lithuania seems like some kind of paradise, it soon becomes clear that the locals have their own problems, too.
Chapter after chapter loosely follow each other, and there is no considerable structure, which mirrors the existence of the characters who live from day to day because they cannot look further. The writing is beautiful in parts, reminiscent of a fairytale, but it is sparse and harsh in others. The author first intended this to become a documentary, and it still shows - I could imagine the scenes as a film, it is cinematographic in its descriptions, evoking haunting images in the reader's mind. The ending comes very sudden, which left me wanting more. Likewise, some characters just disappear from the story and the reader does not learn anymore about them. While this is unsatisfying, I think that again, it mirrors the experience of the characters, who lost family members or friends, sometimes by sheer accident, without any chance to learn about their fate.

maaliskuu 13, 3:16 pm

>110 MissBrangwen: That sounds super interesting. What language was it originally written in?

You find so many interesting books

maaliskuu 13, 3:18 pm

>111 Nickelini: It was originally written in Lithuanian. I think it is one of the most widely read Lithuanian novels, and Lisa (labsf39) also recommended it!

maaliskuu 14, 7:46 am

>112 MissBrangwen: I did like it, for despite some writing inconsistencies, it is very memorable and introduced me to an aspect of history of which I was ignorant. I got it through the Early Reviewer program.

maaliskuu 14, 11:26 am

>110 MissBrangwen: I very recently learned about this history Just when I think Ive learned enough about WWII this shattered me, I know I wont be able to read this book, tho I know its a valuable and important chapter in opening up the truth

maaliskuu 17, 5:44 am

>113 labfs39: A memorable book indeed. The images it evoked will stay with me.

>114 cindydavid4: Although I knew some parts of this history, I did not know that children went to Lithuania. I think it is ok to not read some books if you don't feel up to it!

maaliskuu 18, 2:45 pm

Despite my inclination not to by too many new books this year (don't laugh! I haven't bought any this month so far!), I instantly purchased The High House by Jessie Greengrass when I read about it on JayneCM's thread. One reason was that her review captured my interest so much, and the other one was that it was perfect to use in a course I am currently teaching and for which I was looking for texts dealing with climate change (I used an excerpt of two chapters and it worked very well).

Book No 22

"The High House" by Jessie Greengrass
First published in 2021
Paperback, 279pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This novel was my first venture into CliFi. The story is set in the future - it is not specified when exactly - and the world suffers the consequences of climate change. Caro and Pauly, the children of a climate scientist, arrive at the high house where everything is prepared for them to survive. There is a barn full of supplies, there are chicken and plant beds, the house features a mill and it is located by the sea, but on high ground. It is tended to by Sally and her grandfather, who was the village caretaker and possesses many skills that are forgotten by most, but are crucial now.
Soon, these four are cut off from the rest of the world and have to come to terms with each other, but also with themselves and their memories. It is a microcosmos of emotions, of memories, hopes and desperations, all driven by the need to survive and by the relationships between these characters.
Despite some heavy topics, it is a slow and quiet novel that lives from the descriptions of the natural world that surrounds the high house. The story felt rather depressing to me, but it also has some beautiful moments, and the characters seemed real and raw.
However, the criticism I have is that it all seems rather improbable to me, which is why I have to take one star off my rating. I don't mean climate change itself, but the way the people deal with it in this novel - on a large scale, but also on a small scale. The high house does not seem like the best place to survive, nor does the way it is equipped make much sense. But I do think that to be realistic in a practical sense is not the foremost goal of this novel, but rather to show how different characters might react under these circumstances.

maaliskuu 24, 9:52 am

I haven‘t read much this week because I was suffering from heavy migraines, but I have two acquisitions. Strictly speaking they are acquisitions of my husband which he transferred to my kindle as well because I wish to read them, too.

24. Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can‘t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
25. "Muss ich das gelesen haben?" by Teresa Reichl - no touchstone yet. It is a book questioning the literary canon with a focus on German literature.

maaliskuu 24, 12:40 pm

I don't know who is Teresa Reichl but the book intrigues me. :)

maaliskuu 24, 3:42 pm

>118 LolaWalser: I haven't heard of her before, but have read that she was born in 1996 and studied German and English to become a teacher. Instead, she became a poetry slammer and then, when the pandemic started, turned to YouTube and social media. Apparently the book is written for teenagers or at least for younger people, but still I am looking forward to it very much.

maaliskuu 25, 1:45 am

I'm sorry you suffer migraines. I've had nasty, horrible headaches, but from what I understand about migraines, I've never had one. Big virtual hugs.

Also, I always like opening your posts. You have so many interesting books and comments.

maaliskuu 25, 5:06 am

>120 Nickelini: Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so happy you enjoy my posts.
I have suffered migraines for many years and this year is much better so far than previous years, but I hope to continually improve with medication and avoidance of triggers!

maaliskuu 25, 5:06 am

I was on the fence about reading or listening to Spare by Prince Harry because while I was initially liking Harry and then also Meghan, I became weary of the omnipresence during the last years. The Oprah interview, then the Netflix series, and now a book?
But still I was curious. I enjoyed the Audible sample and the first LT reviews were positive, so I decided to go for it despite my reservations. I am so glad I did!

Book No 23

"Spare" by Prince Harry
First published in 2023
Penguin Audio
Digital audiobook, 15h 37min
Rating: 4 1/2 stars - ****°

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook very much, if enjoying is the correct term considering some of the contents. I do think that listening to it might be a better experience than reading because Harry has a pleasant voice and reads it well, and like this it feels more personal than reading the written word. It is very easy to listen to it, and the tale is told well.

The memoir starts with Diana's death and ends a few days after Queen Elizabeth's death. It consists of three parts: Harry's childhood and youth, his bachelor years, largely influenced by charity work and the army, and his relationship and marriage to Meghan. I will not write more about the content because his life is widely known.

Two aspects that appear consistently are his grief for his mother, and his experiences with and hate of the media. Some have written that it is a whine fest and that he should stop complaining, but for me, the very treatment of the book proves that he is right, and that is one reason why I am glad that I read the book. After it was published, so many incidents were written about in the media, dissected in instagram posts, analyzed and criticized. With the exception of maybe the chapter about killing Taliban (I cannot judge if the criticism of Harry including this is justified because I am not knowledgeable about this topic), I can say that all of these articles and posts are exaggerated and biased. Most of the incidents are only described in a few sentences in the book and were totally blown up just to generate scandals and therefore clicks. Moreover, while Harry of course makes clear that he feels like a victim of the media and also of his family, he tries to stay fair when it comes to his father and William. Most of the time - until the end, when he writes about Meghan's suicidal thoughts, racism and the break of the family - he tries to paint a balanced picture and to show empathy towards the family, to present their point of view, too. Of course, nothing of that was mentioned in the yellow press, which treated the book as if Harry was just throwing everyone under the bus.
This was what ultimately made me want to read "Spare": To see for myself, and I am happy I did.

Yes, Harry is a privileged person, and he could acknowledge this a bit more, but I was surprised to listen to his criticism of the colonial history of the UK. I learned a lot about the power of the yellow press, and about how the 'firm' works, how it is to grow up in such a position, and despite all the money and the perks, I would never want to be in their shoes. While of course keeping in mind that this is Harry's perspective and that it is a depiction of what he wants the world to know, I could not help but feel empathy for him and Meghan and their decision to prioritize their health and their freedom of choice. And even if you don't support this decision, I am sure there is nothing to justify the sheer hate and vitriol that is continually displayed towards these two.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 3:47 am

Two more added:

26. Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay

This was a BB by Amber (scaifea). I am currently thinking about easy reading for our upcoming trip and this fits the bill perfectly.

And one more for the trip to Lithuania:

27. Die Schattenfrau by Åke Edwardson

I usually read crime novels while traveling because they work best for me then.


maaliskuu 25, 7:06 am

>122 MissBrangwen: I'm about a quarter of the way through Spare, and really enjoying it. I also chose the audio version because I like listening to Harry talk. Also some things definitely pack more of a punch when said out loud in his own voice, I'm thinking of when he talks about how much he loved his grandmother and yet he wasn't able to imagine a circumstance under which hugging her would be possible.

maaliskuu 25, 9:38 am

>124 ursula: "Also some things definitely pack more of a punch when said out loud in his own voice" I totally agree with that. I think listening to it has much more impact and I decided to listen to more memoirs because of this experience.
I am looking forward to your comments about this book when you have finished and get to post them.

maaliskuu 25, 1:48 pm

I listened to the first installment of the Bunburry series earlier this year and was skeptical about it, but as I had bought and downloaded the first three books in a bundle and it was not totally terrible, I decided to go on with it. It was good that I did because I liked the second book much better.

Book No 24

"Bunburry - A Murderous Ride" by Helena Marchmont
Series: Bunburry (2)
First published in 2018
Lübbe Audio
Digital audiobook, 2h 35min
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***°

The Bunburry series is a typical cosy mystery series: It is set in a small, picturesque village in the Cotswolds, most of the characters have known each other for ages, there are two lovely elderly ladies who like to solve crimes, and everyone has secrets.
The main character is Alfie McAlister, a man in his forties who moved to Bunburry three months earlier because he inherited a cottage there from an aunt he barely knew. In the meantime, he has made friends with a few of the villagers, mainly his late aunt's two best friends, Marge and Liz. In the beginning of this story he discovers that in addition to the cottage, he has inherited a vintage car, and he takes it to a garage in order to be inspected. Unfortunately, the car is soon used as a murder weapon, and of course Alfie is the prime suspect...

I enjoyed this installment much more than the first one. The scene was set, I knew all the important characters, and so it was much more straight forward. The reader learns more about Alfie's past life, and in fact the case only gets going until a substantial part of the story has already been told. There is only very little actual case solving involved. But I did not mind because I like Alfie as a character so much, and I was just fond of the story. The actions of the police are totally unrealistic in this one, and the plot is thin, but it is all good fun and that was what I wanted.

maaliskuu 25, 1:48 pm

>117 MissBrangwen: I found Quiet very helpful when I read it years ago, especially the distinction between shyness and introversion. I am introverted but not shy. Another member of my family is a shy extrovert. Understanding that gave me insight. I also liked the examples she gave of famous introverts and how they cope.

maaliskuu 25, 1:59 pm

>127 labfs39: Knowing that you liked it I am looking forward to this book even more! I think it is such an important and often overlooked topic and I am keen to learn more about it, and maybe to find new ways of looking at myself.

maaliskuu 26, 9:01 am

Fabulous review of Spare, Mirjam. I had very little interest in the book before your comments about it, but I may seek it out now.

maaliskuu 26, 11:43 am

>129 kidzdoc: Thank you so much for your kind comment! I hope you like the book should you decide to go for it.

maaliskuu 26, 11:43 am

I read some of Johannes Bobrowski's poems when I was studying, but had always planned to read this whole edition. I know that I loved them back then, but otherwise couldn't remember them. Reading Globally's quarterly topic made me think of Bobrowski again, so I did not hesitate but picked up the book.

Book No 25

"Gedichte - Eine Auswahl" by Johannes Bobrowski
This edition ed. and publ. by Eberhard Haufe in 1990, poems written between 1941 and 1965
Paperback, 131pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This edition of Johannes Bobrowski's poems was published in 1990, in the still existing GDR, by Eberhard Haufe, who chose around 150 poems and also wrote an illuminating afterword.

Johannes Bobrowski was a German writer who was born in Tilsit/Sowetsk, a town close to Königsberg/Kaliningrad, now on the Lithuanian border. He was from a Christian family who were opposed to the Nazis, but still, he became a soldier. He served on the campaign in Russia and was later imprisoned there until 1949.
Because of these experiences, Bobrowski's main topic was the European east, its natural world, but also its history. Most of his poems deal with the Lithuanian/East Prussian landscape of the region where he grew up, or with the Russian landscape around Nowgorod, where he was stationed during the war. Bobrowski moved to Berlin after he returned from prison and lived there until his death, so with the exception of a few poems that were written in the 1940s, he wrote about the east from memory, and created a magical and unreal region. This was supported by his usage of the ancient name Samartia - a poetic version of the land, but not a perfect one, because there are the shadows of the war and of the holocaust. There are people who go to their death, buildings that are destroyed and decayed, there is a cold and dangerous feeling that disturbs the often lyrical descriptions of nature. Emotions of loss and guilt - both Bobrowski's personal guilt as a soldier, as well as Germany's collective guilt - influence these poems.

During his lifetime, Bobrowski was one of the few authors who were equally read and respected in both German states, despite dealing with the politically and morally difficult topics mentioned above, which were treated differently in the two Germanys. Bobrowski himself wanted to be just a 'German' writer and did not wish to pledge allegiance to one of the two, and he was successful in that. He was a friend of some of the most important writers of the time, such as Günter Grass, Uwe Johnson and Paul Celan.

Bobrowski's poems are often not easy to understand, as they are full of metaphors and images, as well as deeply intertextual. Some are dedicated or written in response to other writers (alive or long deceased), others reference myths and legends. His continuous use of enjambement, of neologisms and inversions creates a special rhythm that does not always feel natural. Despite the often dreamlike quality of his poetry, it is firmly rooted in reality, often being connected to specific places that are mentioned or described. The language often includes prefixes used in a surprising way and an unusual syntax, which builds an atmosphere that makes the reader feel that despite the beautiful nature, something is wrong. For sure, I have only scratched the surface of Bobrowski's work with these poems.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 28, 2:21 am

In 2019 my mom gave us a gift card from the German bookstore chain Thalia for our birthdays (they are not even two weeks apart, so we frequently receive one gift together), and we decided to use it for a beautiful boxed set of His Dark Materials, written by Philip Pullman. I had never read the series but had always wanted to. My husband read the first book in German about twenty years ago, but does not have that book anymore and anyway, we both mostly read English books in their original language now.
This month I decided to finally go for the first part of the series!

The Golden Compass was originally published as Northern Lights in the UK, but I am using the American title since it is the title of the book I read and since it is Der goldene Kompass in German, so it is the one I first became familiar with when I heard about it years ago.

Book No 26

"The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials (1)
Original Title: Northern Lights
First published in 1995
Alfred A. Knopf
Hardcover, 399p
Rating: 5 stars - *****

Oh my, why did I wait so long to read this? I loved, loved, loved it!
For the first few chapters I did not really know what to make of it, but then I totally became immersed in this world. The writing, the characterization, the world building - everything is just perfect. It was one of those books where I couldn't wait to see how the story would play out, but simultaneously did not want it to end, did not want to leave these people and this world.
Five stars!!!

maaliskuu 28, 3:34 am

This evening we are traveling to Vilnius for a week, so I won't be online much for that time. I have wanted to go there for many years and I'm looking forward to it very much! I also hope to read quite a bit in the evenings.

maaliskuu 28, 7:46 am

Have a wonderful time! I used to sit next to someone at work who had lived in Vilnius for a while and loved it.

maaliskuu 28, 12:58 pm

>122 MissBrangwen: I enjoyed your comments on Spare. Throughout his adulthood, I didn't pay much attention to him and had a mildly negative opinion, thinking he was probably a privileged, unaware twit (Hello? the Nazi Halloween costume?). And then he married an American actress, so "ugh". But then as I saw more of them in the press and in culture in general, and the vitriol against them, and particularly against Megan, the naysayers were looking more and more irrational and unhinged. So a book I normally would have ignored is now physically on my TBR pile. Haters sold that book! :-D

maaliskuu 29, 7:38 am

>133 MissBrangwen: Enjoy your trip! I'm so envious. Can't wait to hear all about it and photos :-)

huhtikuu 5, 3:21 am

>134 wandering_star: Thank you! I certainly understand that you colleague loved Vilnius - we loved our week there, too. It is such a beautiful city, but so calm and friendly at the same time. The atmosphere is special.

>135 Nickelini: I agree that Harry was definitely unaware when he was younger, and the nazi costume was an utterly terrible thing to do (he talks about that in the book as well). I think that there was a big lack of education and awareness surrounding him like a bubble, which he later was able to grow out of, but other parts of the family probably have not (just my opinion obviously).

>136 labfs39: Thank you, Lisa! I hope to post some photos later. Is there anything that you are especially interested to hear about?

huhtikuu 5, 3:26 am

So I am back and as written above, we loved the trip to Vilnius and I am glad we decided to do it. It was definitely one of the most interesting trips I have done so far. I plan to do a longer post later, but I am a bit tired today.
We still have one week off work, so I am looking forward to that and hope to read and relax! And to catch up on LT of course :-)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 11:42 am

I bought two books on this trip, both at the Eureka Bookstore, which is a bookshop selling many English books:

29. Tofylis, or The Marriage of Zosė by Žemaitė

This is a short story from the end of the 19th century and I plan to read it soon.

30. Love in Defiance of Pain - Ukrainian Stories ed. by Ali Kinsella, Zenia Tompkins and Ross Ufberg

A collection of contemporary short stories from Ukraine. This book was published last year.

I also saw another book in the bookshop of the MO Museum, which I didn't buy but added to my wishlist and wanted to mention here, too:

White Shroud by Antanas Škėma

I had not heard of Škėma before. He was a Lithuanian who was born in Łódź in 1910 (his father was teacher who had been sent to work at a school there). The main character of the novel is a Lithuanian who works in New York operating an elevator, something which Skema, who moved to the US in 1949, did as well.

huhtikuu 5, 2:09 pm

The first book I read on the trip was Die Schattenfrau by Åke Edwardson, the second book of his Erik Winter series. I usually read crime novels when I travel since they work best for me then, and after I had liked the first installment of that series so much, I was eager to read the next one. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed!
This book has been published in English as The Shadow Woman.

Book No 27

"Die Schattenfrau" by Åke Edwardson
Series: Erik Winter (2)
Original Title: Rop från långt avstånd
First published in 1998
ebook, 599pp.
Rating: 2 stars - **

The case is interesting enough: A young woman is found murdered on the shore of a lake in Göteborg, and there is no clue about who she is. Erik Winter, a wealthy investigator in his late thirties, is drawn into the case immediately and does his best to find out who the woman was, but it is proving to be very difficult. The stakes are even higher because the autopsy shows that the woman has given birth, so somewhere there might be a child in grave danger.

So yes, the premise is intriguing, but after a while the story just dragged on and on and I just hoped that something would happen. Moreover, I don't mind reading about the private lives of detectives, but in this novel it is too much, especially because it is equally depressing as the case. I know that this is nordic noir, but still, there must be something that creates a spark and that makes me want to read on. There are a few points where the plot does become more gripping, but as it evolves, it is taken over by the background story of a bank robbery and that did not interest me in the least. After 599 pages, I was just happy that it was over.
Having said that, I still somewhat like Erik Winter as a character, although I liked him much more in the first novel.

I will read the third book for three reasons: First, I enjoyed the first one immensely and am not ready yet to give up on this series. Second, my husband owns the third book as a physical copy and because of that I started reading this series, wishing to read it in order. Third, from that book onwards the series has been translated by another German translator who, according to the reviews, does a much better job and makes the books more readable, so I am curious about that.
If I don't like the third book considerably more than this one, I will abandon the series.

huhtikuu 6, 3:31 am

So this brings my reading of the first quarter of 2023 to an end. I am quite happy with my reading of this year so far, I have read many books that I loved. Especially The Golden Compass stood out towards the end of the quarter. My goals for the time to come are to read more classics and more nonfiction, but in general, just to keep reading!

huhtikuu 6, 4:43 am

My first read in April was The Draycott Murder Mystery by Molly Thynne which was a free kindle book some time last year. This novel was originally published as The Red Dwarf in the UK.

Book No 28

"The Draycott Murder Mystery" by Molly Thynne
Original Title: The Red Dwarf
First published in 1928
Dean Street Press
ebook, 205pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

Young farmer John Leslie comes home to his farm one stormy night and finds a luxuriously clad woman who has been shot in his sitting room. He calls the police and, as he has no alibi, he is soon the main suspect and brought to London. However, his aristocratic fiancée as well as the circle of upper class friends she moves in are convinced of his innocence and set out to prove it.
There are quite a lot of characters, but the reader mainly follows Allen Fayre, who has recently returned from India and has too much time on his hands, so he cannot help himself but try to support the star lawyer who has taken on the case at the fiancées bidding.
I enjoyed this novel very much because I liked the characters and the story, and it is well written. The style is quite literary. The author was aristocratic herself, and apart from the whodunit she paints a vivid portrait of the 1920s in the English countryside as experienced by her class. She wrote five more crime novels and I am looking forward to reading them in the future.

huhtikuu 7, 4:03 am

Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay was a BB by Amber (scaifea), or rather, the series was and I decided to start with the first one. This was the last book I read on the trip to Vilnius.

Book No 29

"Books Can Be Deceiving" by Jenn McKinlay
Series: Library Lover's Mystery (1)
First published in 2011
Berkley Prime Crime
ebook, 268pp.
Rating: 3 stars - ***

Lindsey Norris has started a new job as the director of the Briar Creek Library half a year ago after breaking up with her fiancé. She has introduced a few new activities to the library, like the crafternoons when a circle of women do crafts and talk about the books they have read, and like that she has made a few friends and already feels at home in the small town. Her best friend Beth, who is the children's librarian and an inspiring children's book author, suddenly finds herself to be the prime suspect of a murder investigation, but Lindsey is convinced of her innocence and sets out to find the truth.

There is nothing really new here of course, but I still enjoyed the cosiness of the small community at Briar Creek. The setting is a big plus because it is a coastal town, so the action takes place around the small islands off the coast and there is lots of boating, which I loved to read about. I also liked the characters, but must say that the writing style could be improved because the dialogue felt stilted most of the time.
I don't think I will seek the next one out soon, but might read one when I am stressed or ill and need something very light, or as a holiday read on a plane. I liked it enough to want to meet the characters again and see how the romance that has only tentatively started so far develops.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 7, 9:50 am

I felt in the mood for travel reading when we came back and therefore chose How To Plan Your Trip To Off The Beaten Track Countries, a short ebook by Joan Torres that I received from him a couple of years ago. I used to read his blog during the pandemic and it was wonderful to do some spectacular armchair traveling in those times, even though I will never travel as adventurously as he does, and I do not support all of his views.
I do not think that this ebook is available anymore as I could not find the link on the author's new website.

Book No 30

"How To Plan Your Trip To Off The Beaten Track Countries" by Joan Torres
ebook, 40pp.
Rating: 3 stars - ***

In this short ebook, Joan Torres, who is a very experienced traveller, explains the basics of traveling in countries that are not on the main tourist trail. He first lists the advantages of such trips as opposed to traveling to typical destinations and then makes a distinction between countries that do not have a touristic infrastructure at all and others that have touristic hotspots, but are less crowded in other regions. The short chapters mainly consist of practical tips in a listing format and also include some breathtaking pictures, for example of the mountains of Azerbaijan and a street scene in Saudi Arabia. Because of the structure and the style, reading this book rather felt like reading a long blogpost. The tips are also somewhat superficial and very broad, and from an ebook I expected more comprehensive and detailed info and a deeper coverage of the topics included. On the other hand, I received this ebook for free, so there really is nothing to complain about!

huhtikuu 7, 3:38 pm

Destination Unknown is one of the many Agatha Christie Fontanas that I bought from secondhand shops in 2016 and 2017. I nearly bought every single one I saw, and I still have so many to read.

Book No 31

"Destination Unknown" by Agatha Christie
First published in 1954
Paperback, 191pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This is only the second spy thriller that I have read (the other one being The 39 Steps) and I neither have much experience with this genre, nor am I particularly interested in it. I only read this because it was written by Agatha Christie. And well, I really enjoyed it!

Hilary Craven has nothing to live for as her daughter has died and her husband has left her, when she is recruited by the secret service and agrees to impersonate the wife of a brilliant scientist who has vanished, as have several other scientists recently. The book was written in 1954 and it is firmly set in its time against the backdrop of the Cold War. Soon Hilary is off to Morocco and the adventure unfolds.

Of course most of the story is rather improbable, but reading it was gripping and fun and I read it almost in one sitting.

huhtikuu 9, 9:47 pm

>139 MissBrangwen: My Irish grandmother was an elevator operator in a department store in the 1950s.

huhtikuu 10, 10:42 am

>146 dianeham: I was not aware of the fact that there were still elevator operators during that time, probably because I just never thought about it.

huhtikuu 10, 1:58 pm

>147 MissBrangwen: wearing white gloves. They had to get the elevator to stop level with the floor.

huhtikuu 11, 6:19 pm

>142 MissBrangwen: Nope, walking around the club is really bad for my reading plans... that sounds interesting :)

>143 MissBrangwen: And another one....

huhtikuu 20, 9:53 am

>132 MissBrangwen: I’m glad you liked this book. It’s one of my favourite young reader book that I read as an adult. I think I read it twice, which is very unusual for me, once in French and once n English, and I’ve been thinking about reading it again…
I hope you’ll continue with the series !

Glad you enjoyed your trip in Vilnius, it sounds like a great destination !

>141 MissBrangwen: Indeed, you had a nice reading quarter. I hope the next one will be at least as good!

huhtikuu 20, 11:58 am

>149 AnnieMod: Sorry, I somehow missed your post! I hope you will like these when/if you get them :-)

>150 raton-liseur: I will definitely continue with His Dark Materials, and hopefully soon!

huhtikuu 20, 12:00 pm

The Autumn Bride, or rather the series Chance Sisters by Anne Gracie, was a BB from christina_reads. I was looking for a new historical romance to listen to on audiobook and this was perfect for that purpose. Never mind the utterly pointless, inappropriate cover that does not befit the novel at all!!!

Book No 32

"The Autumn Bride" by Anne Gracie
Series: Chance Sisters (1)
First published in 2013
Tantor Audio
Digital audiobook, 10h 54min
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***°

The Chance sisters are four young women - not all of them biological sisters - who find themselves in dire circumstances until they are taken under the wing of an aristocratic elderly lady who passes them off as her nieces. All is well until her nephew, Lord Davenham, comes home from Asia - of course he knows that the girls are not who they claim to be. He is set on finding out the truth about them, but then he develops feelings for the eldest sister.
Although it is foreseeable in most parts and the plot is improbable, I really enjoyed this novel. The story is well written and I rooted for the characters because I liked them a lot. The audiobook is narrated by Alison Larkin who does a splendid job.
I am looking forward to listening to the next one!

huhtikuu 20, 12:01 pm

I bought Tofylis, or The Marriage of Zosė by Žemaitė a couple of weeks ago in Vilnius because it caught my eye and looked like something I would like. I read it in one sitting this morning.
Žemaitė was the pen name of Julija Beniuševičiūtė-Žymantienė, a Lithuanian writer born in 1845. This story was first published in 1897, and not in Lithuania, but in the US. Lithuanian books had to be smuggled into Lithuania because it was a part of the Tsar's empire at the time and works written in Lithuanian were forbidden.
This edition was published by Paper and Ink, the text was translated by Violeta Kelertas.

Book No 33

"Tofylis, or The Marriage of Zosė" by Žemaitė
Original Title: Topylis
First published in 1897
Paper and Ink
Paperback, 76pp.
Rating: 4 stars - ****

I cannot really say that I enjoyed this story, the reason being that it is very gloomy and depressing. Nevertheless, it is interesting and worth reading. It is a short tale about a young peasant woman called Zosė, who works as a maid on an estate. She is caught up in a web of miseries. At first she is deeply in love with Tofylis, the dazzling huntsman, but when he finally marries her, the marriage is a deeply unhappy one. In addition, Zosė is pursued by her employer and her mother blames her instead of supporting her.
The story is mainly told in inner monologues and dialogues, which makes it a bit constructed at times and hems the reading flow a bit. On the other hand, like this Zosė's pain and loss of hope is presented in a direct, unembellished style. She is caught within the constraints of her class and her gender, and the author makes this clear in an unmediated way.

huhtikuu 20, 12:02 pm

I bought this small book titled The Illustrated Poets: Robert Burns, which was edited by Daniel Burnstone, on my first trip to Scotland eleven years ago. I have never really looked at it, though, until I decided to read it a couple of weeks ago.

Book No 34

"The Illustrated Poets: Robert Burns" ed. by Daniel Burnstone
Series: The Illustrated Poets
This edition first published in 1994, poems originally published between 1784 and 1794
Lomond Books
Hardcover, 72pp.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - ***

This is a small souvenir type book, so if you are looking for a comprehensive collection of the poems written by Scotland's national poet, this is not the one. However, it served my purpose of getting to know his works a little just to get an impression.

The collection includes twenty-four poems, originally published between 1784 and 1794. They are divided into six categories: Drink, death, love, friendship, marriage and animals. The section on animals only contains one poem, though!
I liked the love poems best, they are simple, but touching and moving because Burns expresses so much in such modest lines. The poems on marriage, in contrast, are quite misogynistic. The poems on drink were the hardest to understand because of the vocabulary and because they told stories that were hard to follow.
All in all, I got used to the Scots writing fairly quickly (it helped to read them aloud in my mind), and I am happy to have read these, but will not seek out more as this was quite enough.

The books includes several pictures as well, and I enjoyed these (they show Scottish scenes from the writer's lifetime), but I would have liked a bit more info. Only a couple of the pictures show the painters name, and there isn't any other information apart from a list of art galleries in the beginning of the book (it does not even say which picture is presented in which gallery). In addition, the book misses a list of the poems and their publication date, so I had to make my own while I read. A short biography of Robert Burns would also have been nice. I think that even in such a small book, these things should be included.