Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

by Sabrina

Georgia Walker is the successful owner of the yarn shop "Walker and Daughter", which she runs with the help of her twelve-year old daughter Dakota and friends like Anita, who gave the money for the shops founding. She is a single-mum and gets along pretty well. Until Dakota's dad James wants to get to know his daughter which he has never seen before. Georgia is not sure. Should she let this man, her daughter's father back into her life after all he has done to her?

Good advice she gets from her friends in the Friday Night Knitting Club which takes place every week in her own shop. There very different kinds of women with very different kinds of problems come together to talk and go after their collective passion: knitting.

Soon Georgia decides that at least Dakota should have the possibility to get to know her father and James is allowed to get back into the life of "Walker and daughter".

I enjoy to switch in a little chick-lit some time or other. This book has it all: a strong New York single-mum, indispensable girlfriends, a very special hobby (knitting) and of course love. But for me one thing it hasn't: a good ending. As I'm going to muse about the ending now there might be a little spoiler contained. But I couldn't stand that the story seemed to turn out well for about 420 pages with all the typical ups and downs to end abruptly with the tragic death caused by cancer of the main character in about 50 pages.
I know that there is a sequel and the story will go on. But somehow I could not stand the twist of the story's ending, it seemed far fetched to me and I'm a sucker for good endings.

After all I loved some of the characters, especially Granny, Georgia's grandmother from Scotland, who supported Georgia in word and deed all her life and taught her the secrets of knitting. Her way of giving advice and cheering up just makes her a lovely character.

I'm not sure if I'm going to read the sequels or not. Today I would say no but maybe sometime in the future I will change my mind.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Updates on my growing Pepper Plant

by Sabrina

Some weeks ago I did a post on a little pepper plant which grew out of the pluck hole next to my sink where the dishes are spread to dry.

Until today this tiny plant has become a young adult so to say. I would say my green thumb works pretty well, although I only have direct sunlight in the morning between 6 and 11 am.

Who knows, maybe I could get some vegetables out of it some time?!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

by Sabrina

“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila to share with others what you've read the past week and planning to read next.

I have finished:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. You can find my review here.
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. A review will soon follow.

I will read this week:
Slam by Nick Hornby (finally, as I have to return it to the library on 10th of July)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I have acquired:
The Girl who played with Fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. I got both from my boyfriend's mother. I already read the first one of the trilogy.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

by Sabrina

Young Henry is the only non-white boy (he has Chinese parents) at an all-white school in Seattle. He hates it as he is bullied around by all the other boys, especially Chaz Preston. But soon he isn’t alone anymore. Keiko, an American girl with Japanese roots, joins the school and keeps him company. Together they can endure the teasing by Chaz and his gang and become close friends.

However it is the year 1941 and Japan assaulted Pearl Harbor. Everybody Japanese is now the enemy or at least a spy, even if the person is American and has Japanese roots only. For twelve year old Keiko and her family this means they have to leave their home and move to an internment camp.

In 1986 Henry hears that there has been a big discovery in the old Panama Hotel in Nihonmachi, the old Japan town of Seattle. The new owner found the belongings of 37 Japanese families, which they stored in the Hotel’s basement before they left for the internment camps. Henry is sure he will find something of the belongings of Keiko’s family there. And now he is going to tell Keiko’s story and how he lost her sight.

The American internment camps during World War 2 are something I never read about before. I think the author wrote about it in some way which was not accusatory and totally leaves it to the reader to deal with what was wrong about it or not. I think it to be cruel to displace people from their homes and force them to leave their belongings behind. I am glad that although people were prisoners they weren’t treated as bad as in concentration camps. Conditions of housing and provision with food were poor and soon the interned families' resignation to their helplessness throughout these conditions was phrased with "shikata ga nai". Loosely translated that means “it cannot be helped”.

I found the book in the young adult section of my library, labeled with friendship and love. All this could be true for this book, but in my opinion it is so much more. For instance this book delivers a small insight in northwestern jazz music history or the manners between Chinese parents and their children.

Monday, 21 June 2010

My Paris In July

by Sabrina

This blogger event hosted by Tamara from Thyme for Tea and Karen from BookBath sounds like so much fun. It is all about Paris, including Parisian books, music, recipes and in general la vie francaise.

Last September I went to Paris and immediately fell in love with the French capital. The beautiful white stone maisons and the delicious smell of fresh baked croissants in the small side streets. I for sure would like to visit again some time.

I plan on reading:
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

I plan on watching:
Amelie and Coco Chanel, both films with the fabulous actress Audrey Tautou. I have seen Amelie plenty of times and it is one of my favorite movies.

I also plan to cook or bake (actually I love baking a little more) and listening to some French music, too. But I will have to do a little research on this first.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Japanese Literature Challenge

by Sabrina

As I'm searching for something to challenge my reading life lately I decided to do another reading challenge. I happened to come across the Japanese Reading Challenge, which is hosted by Belleza. I haven't read many Japanese books until today, besides some Murakami which I enjoyed very much.

As it is up to every single participant how much books he or she wants to read between June 1, 2010 and January 30, 2011, I decided to read at least three books.

I'm not quite sure which titles I am reading but I hope to start with Out by Natsuo Kirino as soon as it is available in the library.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

My Complete Booker Challenge 2010

by Sabrina

I have decided to join this year's Complete Booker Challenge. I think I will go with the Winner Circle as level of participation.

This means I will read six books that won the Booker Prize including the following titles:

• The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – 1992
• The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - 1997
• Amsterdam by Ian McEwan – 1998
• The Gathering by Anne Enright - 2007
• The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – 2008
• Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - 2009

The Challenge runs until the end of this year. Reviews will be posted here on my blog as soon as I read a book.

Monday, 7 June 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

by Sabrina

“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila to share with others what you’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

I have finished:
Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann. A very nice book about two German scientists who moved out to measure the world and unfold it's last secrets to mankind.

I will read this week:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Slam by Nick Hornby

I aquired this book:
I got it loaned from a friend. Mafialand Deutschland by Jürgen Roth (translated it would be Mafia Country Germany)

Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

by Sabrina

This novel accompanies two outstanding German scientist on their adventures to elicit the world of it's secrets to mankind.

On the one hand we get to know the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Humboldt, who travels down the Orinoco, inspecting every plant and turning every rock which came his way, counting head lice for scientific purposes; on the other hand we meet the unsocialized scientist and mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, who counts prime numbers in his head and does not even have to leave his home in Göttingen to prove
that space is curved. He is worried about people thinking too slow and as getting older does the same to him, he thinks growing old not to be tragic but ridiculous.

In 1828 both queer old scientists meet in Berlin. They get to know each other but of course do not like each other.

The book is fairly entertaining as one gets to know each scientist chapter wise. I have to admit that I liked the parts about Gauss better, as he really is an odd man who doesn't need more than a sheet of paper and a pen to do science. I liked to read about his peculiarity, although Humboldt was the one who went through adventures like climbing the highest mountain then known to men and hallucinating due to thin air.

If you would like to read a book including strong characters, adventures, travels and a bit of science this book is the right one for you.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Spaghetti with Shrimps

by Sabrina

This recipe again suffices for two persons. I know that shrimps are somewhat expensive but my boyfriend had a generous day today so he bought us some.
You will need:

• 200 g shrimps
• 300 g spaghetti
• two onions and a clove of garlic
• 200 ml cream
• 300 ml white wine
• some salt, pepper and thyme
• one lime fruit

First I chop the onion and the garlic into little pieces. Then I heat a pan with about two spoons of olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until the onions went glassy. I add the shrimps and fry them until they are lightly golden. After that the shrimps need to be removed out of the pan as I want to do a sauce with the remains of the frying. I give cram and white wine into the pan and let it reduce.

Then I put a pot with water and some salt on the stove. When the water is boiling, I add the spaghetti and cook them ‘al dente’.

While the pasta is on the stove, I add some salt, pepper and thyme to the sauce. As I like my meal to be a little piquant, I add chili flakes to the sauce too. Just do so if you like it. Next I give the shrimps into the sauce. When the pasta is ready, I give them into the pan too. I stir everything up and serve the meal.

Enjoy your food!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

by Sabrina

It’s a ghost story set in London in and around the Highgate Cemetery.

Elspeth is dying of cancer. All her worldly belongings including a big London flat go to her nieces, the daughters of her twin sister Edwina with whom she had a quarrel when they were young and therefore never met her sister or her nieces again. What is the big mystery behind this quarrel? That is what Julia and Valentina want to find out. The only request to Valentina’s and Julia’s heir is that they need to live in the flat of their aunt, whom they never got to know, for one year before they can sell it. So Julia and Valentina, twins themselves as their mother and aunt, pack their things and set off track from their home in Lake Forest to London.

The girls are described as fragile individuals but strong together as twins as no one can interrupt a relationship as united as the one of twins. Julia is the powerful character who knows what is best for the two of them, whereas Valentina is kind of a submissive character, who has got asthma and needs a lot of care. During the story she learns to stand up for herself.

In London the girls get to know Robert, lover and friend of their aunt Elspeth, who lives in the flat below theirs. He is tourist guide on the Highgate Cemetery next to their home. He falls in love with Valentina. The twins become established in their new surrounding and enjoy their lives at the expanse of their aunt. Soon they recognize something like a ghost present in the flat. Could this be aunt Elspeth?

I had no high expectations with this book as I read reviews of people who didn’t like this book for some reason. I enjoyed most of the story for example the parts about the life as a twin, which I always thought to be extremely exciting and the parts about Elspeth recognizing herself to be and live as a ghost. All that was highly interesting and in a storytelling manner, which I loved so much in The Time traveler’s Wife. But I didn’t like the ending at all. The twist was just not my cup of tea and only surprising as one really didn’t hope to be surprised with an ending one could have imagined but hoped to be not surprised with. You may ask yourself what I mean. As I can’t tell the ending you would have to go read and be surprised by yourself.