Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thoughts: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I'm in for a classic regularly and this time I decided it was finally time to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. English being not my native language, this was not a must read of my childhood or adolescence. I'm glad I read it anyway.

Alcott introduces us to four lovely sisters with very different characters and flaws of such. There is Meg, who likes pretty things and envies the girls whose families have money. Jo is a common madcap and always wanted to be a boy. She's got some sense for writing, too. Beth and Amy are the younger children, with Beth being shy but very amiable and Amy, the nestling, always being cared for.The story describes the coming-of-age of these four young girls until finally they all are grown up women.

The story is very heavy on the moral part, every chapter is pointing out some advice on how to best get along in a given situation. I guess it had some pedagogical merit in Alcott's time. I often felt lectured. Nevertheless I fell in love with the characters and reading how they became little women was to the most entertaining.

I expected the book to finish with the homecoming of their father who served during war and was injured and sent home afterwards. I read March by Geraldine Brooks some months ago and thought that Little Women would focus on the time of his absence. It did not and as Alcott published Little Women in two parts, the second part focuses on the girls' first loves and marriages.

I cared best for the parts about Jo, who was so lively that I would like to really know her. I did hope though that she and Laurie, her best friend and neighbor, were meant to be together in the end. I though the end dragged a bit and Alcott could have come to terms faster.

4 stars for this classy piece of writing.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Authors who deserve more Recognition

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme to share your top ten bookish things. It is especially funny for people who like to make lists.

This week's topic is: Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition (reduced to three on whom I set my heart).

1. Siri Hustvedt - She is an American author with Norwegian roots. I only read the novel What I Loved yet, which amazingly portrayed the complexitiy of relationships. What I Loved is a deeply moving story about art, love, loss, and betrayal. I'm looking forward to reading her new book The Summer Without Men.

2. Anna Gavalda - She is a French auhtor and wrote the beautiful story Hunting and Gathering or maybe better known as Ensemble, c'est tout. My review of this book is here.

3. Leonie Swann - She is a German author and wrote an amiable sheep detective story. When the flock finds out that their shpeard was killed they decide to find the murderer. I recommend this book over and over. Three Bags Full is the title of that dear book and I can't wait to read her latest book Garou.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Hop hop hop!

Every Friday, join the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at 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 visit my blog because of the hop, please leave a comment and link and I will be sure to pay a visit at your blog, too.

This week Jeniifer asks: "If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

That's a tough one. Or isn't it? Because I'd like to use the chance and become a part of my all time favorite book The Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's set in a mystic Barcelona in the first half of the 20th century. Everybody in this book is a friend of books and shadowy things around books are going on. I mean seriously have you read this book? Then you'll know what I'm talking about.

Check out my new books here.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

New books!

I have three new books in my posession. Atonement by Ian McEwan I got via Bookmooch.
I have read a review of Wildthorn by Jane Eagland at Bookworm with a View's blog and decided I had to have it. I bought it used.
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff is going to be my first audiobook.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Thoughts: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A children's story is a children's story is a children's story. This classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett tells the story of Mary Lennox who comes to live with her uncle at Misselthwaite Manor after her parents died of Cholera. She is a queer and sour young girl, who does not like anybody and is not liked by anybody. One day she finds the key to the secret garden and befriends with nature and a boy named Dickon. She finds that nature does her good and makes her a more amiable little girl and that she wants it to let cure another secret inhabitant of Misselthwaite.

It's a cute story, which at many points I thought to be very repetitive. Like when spring is described and everything gets green and the air is so fresh. It got mentioned over and over again. Like the point of my first sentence. I longed for a faster developing plot during reading. But I certainly did not miss Burnett's main statement: Playin' outasides is very healthy for children, making friends, too.
The book had cute moments though, e.g. when Mary makes friends with a Robin (the bird) and the gardener and the other people talk to her in their Yorkshire dialect.

3 stars out of the hat.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

I have my head in school books!

My final exam before I'll start my diploma thesis. When I have have done the exam on Wednesday, I'll be back. Wish me luck.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Friday Book Blogger Hop!

Every Friday, join the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at 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 visit my blog because of the hop, please leave a comment and link and I will be sure to pay a visit at your blog, too.

This week Jennifer asks which book I would buy myself if she gave me $80. Well, I wish this was real and not just hypothetical. I would go and get:

1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebeca Skloot
2. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
4. The Siege by Helen Dunmore
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What would you get yourself? Happy reading!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review: Sincerely Yours, Schurik by Ljudmila Ulitzkaja

Why I read this book: Some time ago arte a German-French tv-channel had a show named reading horizons (or Lesehorizonte in German). There famous and upcoming authors of different European capitals or countries all over the world were introduced. For example there were shows about authors in Lisbon, Moscow and Prague as well as about Egypt, Haiti and South Africa. I watched the one about Moscow where I was introduced to author Ljudmila Ulitzkaja who read some passages out of "Ergebenst, euer Schurik".

Schurik is a young man who grew up with his mother and grandmother. That's why he became a sensitive young man who knew about the wishes and needs of women. Schurik entertains a lot of affairs with lots of different women for whom he mainly feels pity. He identifies this special feeling - pity - to be his strongest feeling for every woman. But he, the modern Anti Don Juan can't resist the seduction of all those women be they crippled, depressive, lonely or a man eater. His first love Lilja, fled Moscow at age 18. Schurik often compares his love affairs to the pure one he had with Lilja. He lives his unliberated life, but when his 30th birthday arrives, Lilja is to visit Moscow and Schurik. After one day Lilja leaves for Tokyo. Her opinion about Schurik and what he made out of his live is shattering. She only feels pity for him.

I very much liked that I was able to vividly picture Moscow and the life one has there. It's not all love and light and laughter. The family has to face some serious problems when the resolute grandmother dies who always took care of everything. I was also amazed at how many different female characters the author was able to bring to life. Although it were about ten women I never wondered like: which one was that again?

The book never had so much a point than to tell a life's story. I liked Schurik because he cared about women but his problem was that it was more like a duty than a passion and that's why I felt sorry for him, he was just utilized and didn't even know. It's not like the women didn't need him, but they only needed him to polish their ego or because they belived he could make them healthy or because they were lonely. They never needed him because he was Schurik.

The book is worth its 4 stars.

Monday, 7 March 2011

It's Monday!

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

Last week I finished reading:

Ergebenst, euer Schurik by Russian author Ljudmila Ulitzkaja, the title translated into English is something like Sincerely yours, Schurik. It is about a young man who grew up only with his mother and grandmother. This made him sensitive for the needs of women, which he is easily obliged to satisfy. He soon learns that his primary feeling for women is pity. But only the reader knows that he is the one people look at with pity. I will review the book this week.

When Mary Lennox becomes an orphan she is send to live with her uncle in a big manor. The house is surrounded by parks and gardens of which one is locked. Lonely Mary sets out to explore the secret garden. I will review the book this week.

What I am reading now:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and when I have finished this I will either read Lord of the Flies by William Golding or Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Review: Tell No One by Harlan Coben

This was my second Harlan Coben book. I read The Woods about two years ago and liked it. Coben is a master of unforeseen plots. I decided to read another and a friend recommended Tell No One, stating this was the best Coben book.

David Beck and his wife Elisabeth celebrate the anniversary of their first kiss by carving lines in a tree for every year they have been together since their first kiss at age 12. At their 13th anniversary hey drive to the lake where this tree stands and after carving decide to take a swim in the dark. When Elisabeth leaves the water David hears a scream and follows to investigate the reason. He is struck over the head with a baseball bat or something.
Eight years later, Elisabeth has long been buried being the victim of a serial killer, David receives an e-mail from his dead wife. Could Elisabeth still be alive?

I always wonder how writers like Coben develop stories like that, twisted and totally unforeseen. Do they do it straight forward or do they develop an inner story and then construct an outer plot? Whatever. I like to creep myself with such a thriller now and then, although it has not much literal merit. But I decided to not care in change for two creepy reading nights.

The French made a movie out of the book, too. After reading I decided to watch the film. It very much keeps to the story of the book. There are only some little changes, like less different characters, to keep it more simple for the viewer and some scenes removed to keep it shorter. And of course the characters have French names.

When you want to read a book full of suspense I recommend Tell No One. When you want to watch a movie watch Tell No One. Three and a half stars!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Review: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Catherine Grace grew up in Ringgold, GA, a small town in the South of the US. Her daddy is a preacher, she's got a little sister and a dead mother. All she dreams about is to escape this life, go to the city and become a successful girl. She is planning her escape, sitting on the bench in front of the local Dairy Queen. After graduation she leaves town and her first love and gets herself a job in a big department store in Atlanta. But soon she is to home as a tragedy struck her family. Even a somewhat brutal secret is revealed. Catherine Grace recognizes that Ringgold, the town she always tried to flee, might be the place she ought to be.

It is Christian Fiction, a genre which I usually don't read. I recognized that this is for a reason. Being an atheist I don't go to church Sunday's although I do understand that this builds the fundament of community life in South American small towns like Ringgold, GA. I had problems connecting with the story and thus liking the book. But Gilmore did a good job portraying some of the minor characters like Lolly who unlike Catherine Grace grew up with a mother who resents the birth of her daughter. Or the family friend living next door, a woman never had her own children but takes care of the preacher's daughters like they were her own. She is a hearty woman (I forgot her name) who lives her life like it pleases her.

All in all it was a pleasant but not world-moving read. Three stars!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday!

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme to share your top ten bookish things. It is especially funny for people who like to make lists.

This Tuesday's topic is: Top Ten Books I Just HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Bookshelf.

I'm a book gatherer, and sometimes I'm just overwhelmed by the amount of books I meant to read.

1. The Likeness by Tana French - the second of French's novels which I bought together with the first one. In the Woods was amazing and ever since I say to myself I have to read The Likeness soon.

2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - I got it as an unexpected Christmas present because my man read my post about Top Ten Books I want for Christmas. I didn't get to it yet.

3. Room by Emma Donoghou - it's a very recent purchase, still I feel guilty and read older books first, so this book has to be patient.

4. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. I have this book for over one year now, but as I wanted to read Oryx and Crake first (review here) this book is still sitting on the shelf. But it's good to know that it is there and I could read it if I wanted.

5. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - I once borroughed it from the library and was not able to read it before I had to return it. Then I bought it and never picked it up again.

6. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunnant - I mooched it from Bookmooch because somebody recommended it, now I wait for the right mood to read it.

7. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho - I bought it three years ago when I still lived with my parents. It sat on my book shelf there, until recently, I took it home with me meaning to finally read it. I was not a big fan of The Alchimist but I very much liked Coelho's Veronika decides to die.

8. The Help by Katherine Stockett - I bought it and borroughed it to my mother. Hopefully she is done with it soon.

9. The Gathering by Anne Enright - I mooched it a long time ago when I decided to read some booker prize winners. I read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, which I got around the same time (review here) but not this poor, neglected book.

10. A short History of Tractors in the Ukrain by Marina Lewycka - I read some great reviews about this book and it seems to be very popular in Germany, I bought it and one other by the same author and put it on my shelf, where it looks nice but is waiting imaptiently to be read. Will this ever be different?

What a fun topic for a Top Ten Tuesday.