Friday, 23 July 2010

Join the fun of Book Blogger Hop!

Every Friday, join the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer (Crazy-For-Books), and hop to some new blogs. The Book Blogger Hop gives book bloggers a chance to connect and find out what others are reading. Sign up at Jennifer’s blog so people can find your blog too.

If you are hopping by because of the blog hop please leave a comment and a link and I will visit you too.

Jennifer asks to tell you about the book I'm currently reading. I'm reading Dear Jane by Jon Spence. It's a biography about Jane Austen which was also made into a movie. So far I have to say that it is only at parts interesting, because Spence in my opinion takes too long to tell the reader about Jane's family than herself.

Have a great weekend everybody and thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Blink! by Malcom Gladwell

by Sabrina

This book is about the first impression all humans have in a blink of an eye about every situation in daily life. Our mind is drawing conclusions in an instant about meeting people for the first time, entering a lecture hall, reading the first lines of a book etc. The author describes how one can use the power of rapid cognition to ones advantages but also how one can be tricked by it.

It's more or less a report based on the scientific field of psychology which is easy to understand. But in my opinion only tells us what we deep inside us have already known. I liked the book for it's descriptiveness though. Gladwell introduces us to cases which are entertaining like adventure stories. I also liked that he often gets back on cases when he revealed another part about rapid cognition.

I missed some information on why we are able to make decisions based on first impressions though. I would have been interested in what happens inside our mind or body when we get strange knowing feelings about things we can't actually know.

My star rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Diary of Frida Kahlo

by Sabrina

Frida Kahlo's illustrated journal documents the last ten years of her life (1944-1954). It was first published 40 years after her death. The 170 pages contain Frida's thoughts, poems and illustrations like in a sketch book, using it to work out graphical ideas for her canvases. Other pages are all over filled with Frida's generous handwriting in brightly colored ink.

This personal document gives a very deep and personal insight in Frida's feelings and thoughts, reflecting especially her love for Diego Rivera whom she divorced once and one year later married again. It adds also to the understanding of her unique vision and courage in facing some 35 operations to correct injuries she had sustained in an accident at the age of eighteen.

The journal is written in Spanish, as Frida was Mexican but in the ending every page is printed smaller in black/white again and an English translation is provided as well as some notes on the meanings of the entries. The high quality paper of which the pages consist is very thick and shiny and smells just great. An introduction to the book is written by Carlos Fuentes. "An essay on the place of the diary in Frida's work and in art history at large, as well as commentaries on the images, is provided by Sarah M. Lowe."[cover]

Actually this book made me curious about Frida Kahlo's life and I decided to read Hayden Herrera's often quoted biography about Kahlo too. As I am no expert in art I think it is possible that I did not enjoy the book as much as somebody who really knows about the milestone of Frida's work. I only enjoyed looking at the colored pictures and getting an impression on Frida's intellectual world. More or less that was everything I could do with it. For me it was enough.

It's Monday! What are you reading? & Mailbox Monday

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:
The Diary of Frida Kahlo (soon to be reviewed)
Blink! by Malcom Gladwell (soon to be reviewed)

I will read this week:
The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (2nd in Millenium Trilogy)

Books I have aquired:
Tell no One by Harlan Coben via BookMooch

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Last week I found a copy of Harlan Coben's Tell No One in my mailbox. I got it from BookMooch. I really look forward to reading this as I have read The Woods by him and liked it very much. It was more suspenseful than anything I had read in a long time. A friend recommended Tell No One and told me that it is even better than The Woods.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ensemble, c'est tout - Recommendation for Paris in July

by Sabrina

I just browsed my bookshelf which harbors my most beloved books. I stumbled over the fantastic novel Ensemble, c'est tout by Anna Gavalda. The English translation of the work is Hunting and Gathering.

I would like to post my review of this book here, which I read about one and a half year ago when I had to stay in bed because of a flu. With about 500 pages this book is a big one but really deserves to be read and loved by Paris fans.

"Four different people are brought together by fate as life made them unhappy alone. There is Philou a nice young aristocrat, who stutters; Camille, who is anorexic but a passionate artist; Franck, a fabulous cook and his grandmother Paulette who needs assistance in daily life routine. Those four come to live together. Camille cares for Paulette, Franck cooks for Camille and falls in love with her and Philou decides to become an actor. Every single one of them makes his way out of his or her misery and finds family in strangers. This is what it is about.

It's an amazing book by an incredulous French author. Gavalda's style is enchanting. She shows us the world of each of the four by changing the point of view once in a while. With that she creates a cheerful and realistic portrait of people who once were very miserable. This book contains a lot of the Parisian way of life. If you like irony and characters, who are natural or seem to be real this is defineately a book for you."

I think Paris in July is a great chance to read this book and I envy all of you, who have the delight to read it a first time.

By the way this book was also made into a movie with my favorite actress Audrey Tautou, who also was grand in Amélie.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

by Sabrina

"Things usually work out in the end. What if they don't? That just means you haven't come to the end yet."

When I consider the fact that the story I just read is true and really happened to some little girl I feel sorry for her but as I know the story is working out for her and her siblings I find it really entertaining.

Jeannette and her brother Brian and sister Lori are the children to irresponsible parents, the mother a painter and the father a free thinker and alcoholic, who makes up a whole imaginative world for his children in which they are hunting demons, searching for gold and building the glass castle, a construction made of glass in which they wish to live someday.

But one comes not around to say that the parents are neglecting their children, the mother often feels depressed and more than once complains that she is not able to care for her children and by the way nobody ever cares for her. The father, a bad drunkard, does not restrain from taking his children's savings out of the piggy bank to afford his addiction.

It is really bad that although they are the poorest family in their neighborhood the parents don't want to take social welfare benefits because they don't want to be dependent from a system they don't give a shit about. As a consequence the children are much too often put asleep still hungry.

On one hand I think it to be okay when an adult decides to spent his or her life in a way which is not adapted to society but in case of the children someone should have taken responsibility and it's sad that none of the two parents cared enough to do it.

Sometimes I couldn't really believe that Jeannette Wall's childhood memories went back so far in her early years or to put it right that she had so many clear memories even of her three year old self. But maybe a childhood like hers must have been simply impressive.

The book easily can join other books which portrait a hard childhood like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith or Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, both books I really loved. I think Wall's husband to be right: A person with a past is an interesting one.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Slam by Nick Hornby

by Sabrina

"There was a time when everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously it was time to go and screw it all up."

Sam Johnson is sixteen years old, he is in his last year of school, he likes skateboarding and girls and his art teacher told him he should study art and design when he has finished school, although he was never the kind of kid whom the teachers told that he should study anything in their opinion. His parents are divorced but for once they are not quarreling. He met Alicia and she seems to like him very much. Life is good.

But some people cannot help it and screw up the last little luck life grants them. Sam is one of them. His mother got pregnant with Sam when she was no older than Sam now. But Sam appears to have not learned out of it. Alicia gets pregnant too and Sam now has to learn how to cope with it. Helpful are some sneak peaks in the future Sam has at night where he can gain some insight in being an adult/parent.

This book is a typical but totally untypical young adult book, whereas the topics like coming of age, teenage love and pregnancy are typical but the way Sam experiences it all is untypical. The author did a great job to to put himself in Sam's situation. He felt it all from the urge to run away to the exuberance he could manage it all.

The book was witty and funny, like all Hornby's work, so once again my expectations were fulfilled. I especially like Sam's nightly glimpses into the future where he is a dad and everyone is used to it but him. Some pretty funny things happen during his contact with the baby. Often Sam's way of thinking and where it leads him is hilarious too.

I also liked that the book honestly describes what you have to expect when you are happening to be a teenager who is going to be a parent. The book makes it obvious that teenage pregnancy is something nobody should really want but when it happens to become reality there are ways and adult people who will help to deal with it.

Monday, 5 July 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:
Slam by Nick Hornby (soon to be reviewed)
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (soon to be reviewed)

I haven't decided yet what I'm going to read this week. But probably it is one or tow of this books:

The Gathering by Anne Enright
The Girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson
The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe
The Diary of Frida Kahlo

Books i acquired:
The Gathering by Anne Enright

My first Mailbox Monday 7/5

by Sabrina

Hey all! This is going to be my first Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page.

I had one book in my Mailbox last week. It was my first order via Bookmooch.

The Gathering by Anne Enright

I wanted it because I would like to read it for my BookerChallenge. The back cover says:

"A dazzling writer of international stature, Anne Enright is one of Ireland's most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past. the nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, who drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secrets she shares with him - something that happened in their grandmother's house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations, she shows how memories warp and secrets fester. As in all Enright's work, her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction, and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light."

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Paris (in July) for Book Lovers and Gourmands

by Sabrina

Paris in July has started in it's first week, hosted by Tamara and Karen.

Last September I visited Paris. I thought it would be nice to share my favorite boulangeries and bookish places with you.

Books along the Seine: In antique, a little shakily green boxes on top of the quay walls of the Seine is the place where the bouquinistes pile their treasures. One can find antique books, post cards, cartoons and pressings on Rive Gauche between Quai Turnelle and Quai Malaquais. I found quite some beautiful postcards to take home for souvenir. I wanted to do a collage with them when I returned home, but unfortunately didn't take the time to do it yet.

After the visit of the Louvre I did a little shopping in the 1er Arrondissement. I found a very exquisite bakery on 33 rue Danielle Casanova, Paris 1er. It's name is Eric Kayser, who is an artisan boulanger and besides the ones in Paris also has shops in Tokyo, Dakar and other international locations. I bought some baguette which tasted just fabulous.

On the same day I stumbled over a very nice bookshop. It's a librairie anglaise called Galignani on 224 rue de Rivoli, Paris 1er. It is a book shop for English literature and I liked the atmosphere. Book lovers all over the place browsing for new purchases. And I loved the ladders which led to the tops of the very high bookshelves. In the back the shop had a stair and something like a balcony filled as well with bookshelves. Has anyone seen this in real life before?

When I did a walk through the old Marais I passed a very good bakery, the Maison Hilaire on 11 rue de Saint Antoine, Paris 4e. They had very fine pastries and cakes for sale. I couldn't resist and went in to buy something very delicious I can't remember the name of. But it was sweet and had berries on it.

Last but not least I loved the very tiny and not glamorous but therefore authentic and cozy bakery on 42 rue Jacob in Saint Germain des Prés. On my very first day I visited it and bought Pain au Chocolat and Clafoutis. I tried my French on the very nice owner Catherine Prud'Hon Maillard which she acknowledged with a very nice: "Trés bon, mademoiselle." I felt like in heaven. I had a break in a very tiny park next to the Église St Germain des Prés where I ate up all those little deliciousnesses.