Saturday, 29 December 2012

Weekend Cooking: Cake Pops Fail?

Everybody is into Cake Pops these days. And as my friend is a passionate baker I presented her with a Monster Pops baking dish for Christmas. Yesterday I invited her over to tackle the pops which we bother never did before.

Here is a picture of the Monster Pops thingy. 

We also wanted to try our luck with the 'real' pops shaped like a ball dipped in chocolate and maybe sprinkles for decoration.

But I guess the dough was too wet (maybe we added too much frosting?) as the pops, once on a stick, dipped in chocolate either fell off the sticks or broke. Disappointed I put my share in the fridge and labeled this baking experience as time consuming fail.

The outcome. Top a pop, bottom monster and pops.

Today as I opened the fridge I spied the baked goods and glaring at them shoved one in my mouth. Well, what shall I say, the taste is just fine. They may not be presentable but they are delicious!

Weekend Cooking is a meme hosted at Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has food related posts to share.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge

I totally sucked at this challenge in 2012. I read a total of four books out of twelve and reviewed only three of those read. Nonetheless I'll take part again. On the one hand I like to generate the lists necessary for challenges on the other hand I really have a huge tbr pile. It's almost toppling over. And a new year is best to be started with some commitments. Here is one.

My committed list fellow book hoarders:

1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)
2. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (2005)
3. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (2011)
4. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (2009)
5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)
6. I know why the Caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou (1969)
7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
8. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (2010)
9. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)
10. Blindness by José Saramago (1995)
11. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009)
12. The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht (2011)

My two alternates:
I The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (2009)
II The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)

This challenge is hosted by Adam and you can sign up here.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Thoughts: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Well, why not make it short?
Usually I enjoy books set in India but I couldn't really enjoy this book.

BECAUSE although there is a bunch of characters each carrying a story, for me, I couldn't care enough about them to mind their fates.
Only I cannot get rid of the feeling that I should have cared about them. There is the retired grumpy old judge, Jemubhai Patel, who studied in a Victorian England, groomed by the Raj, all of which made him rise above his humble roots, to become a sour, lonely man. Then there is Sai, his orphaned grand daughter, exiled by the convent to be home schooled by the delightful Bengali sisters Noni and Lola. Sai is about to discover the first pangs of love, with her Nepalese tutor Gyan. And there is Biju, the cook's son, who is an illegal immigrant in New York, trying hard to make a better life, learning the hard way that a handful of American dollars is not worth as much in one country as in the other.

All of Desai's characters carry some kind of 'colonial baggage', like the judge who likes to deny his roots by eating his Naan (Indian bread) with fork and knife.

And still I cannot decide whether the writing style pretends to be exquisite and ethnic or really is exquisite and ethnic, all like the characters who should be lovable but are not quite as much.

Nonetheless I think the perspective Desai tries to share is worth having read the book. Because I would never know what it is like to live in a country with a post-colonial trauma or about immigrating and carrying the baggage to a foreign country with all hopes of the people I left on me. All that I can do is to read about it.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Where I have been ... reading.

I am back! I have been in a reading slump and meanwhile I was working my ass off to earn money for my trip to South East Asia. This trip took place in November and the first half of December. And now I have found my way out of the reading slump, too.

It might have happened on a slow boat on the Mekong in Laos or maybe on the coast of Cambodia, winding  down at the beach. Or at a pool side in Thailand.

Wherever. I was reading and I am still reading. So eventually I will start posting reviews again.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Thoughts: The Outcast by Sadie Jones

The Outcast is Sadie Jones' debut novel. And it's a strong one. It is 1957, after two years in prison Lewis Aldridge comes back home. Nobody is keen on having Lewis back, except for Kit. Rewind to 1945. Lewis father Gilbert returns from second world war. Slowly Lewiss adjusts to have a man in the house, being only accustomed to live with his mother and the maid. Gilbert is sure that his wife spoiled the child, that Lewis is a mother's boy. Due to a terrible accident Lewis suffers great loss from which he does not seem to recover.

Lewis' life moves in a downward spiral. He makes one bad decision after bad decision. Nobody helps, but nobody wants to help either. Only Kit, a girl, a little younger than Lewis, living in the neighborhood, attempts to include Lewis in their small town life. Only he already became the outcast, living in an isolation which seems to be easily suspended.

Reading this book felt like watching a bad car accident. You know it's going to happen but you can't do anything to stop it. Sadie Jones dissected community life, in which one became the chosen outlaw and nobody wants to reach out a helping hand. Her writing is unique and catered the sad tone of the book. Add a dysfunctional family, British setting and literary praise and you'll have this book. Sounds appealing?

Further reading:
The Uninvited Guest by Sadie Jones, published March 2012

Thursday, 17 May 2012

And now for something completely different...

Today's post is neither a book review nor a bookish meme. I just wanted to declare my addiction for a TV series starring Zooey Deschanel.

Just recently New Girl aired in Germany and since then I am a big fan of this TV series and Zooey Deschanel. She plays the quirky, chaotic but extra lovely Jessica Day.

Jess is the new Fem-Nerd, weird but sexy, whimsical but comical. She moves in with three guys, Schmidt is a yuppie, Nick is the alleged womanizer, and Winston is the failed jock. All together they build a community that suits for laugh out louds.

Individualism comes with capital letters in this series. Jess is not a freek just because she likes to sing to herself or wears false teeth to a wedding. She is individual. Nowadays this seems to be more and more important in our society. One has to be in contrast of others. Unfortunately this often feels too forced or doesn't come with the desired effect. Not so with New Girl Jess who is being different by making fun of herself and not acting out individualism. 

Have you seen New Girl? Do you like it? Or do you think it's just weird?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Giveaway: Radiance by Alyson Noel

Dear readers of this blog. I want to give away Radiance by Alyson Noel. I got it for free as the cut of its pages is not accurate. BUT the cover looks great and no pages are amiss. If you have interest please leave a comment and a way to contact you. I will send everywhere. I will pull a winner next wednesday, May16th.

You do not need to be a follower although you are welcome to become a regular reader of my blog.

Good luck!

Thoughts: The Night Circus

I only got lukewarm with this book. First of course I was excited to dip into this story of a magical competition and a mysterious circus for a venue. Morgenstern surely has a thing for creating an atmosphere.The black and white tents of the Victorian circus which only opens at nightfall, the quirky magicians in their breathtaking robes and so on. But for me the story lacked in implementation.


The battle of the star-crossed lovers, bound by a magical power they can not overcome, reminded me of The Hunger Games a bit too much. But here unfortunately the battle was never really fought, Celia and Marco built tents containing beautiful things for one another just to impress each other. That's it. No real challenge, which was announced from the start, after all. The romance between the two is meek, as there is always a distance between them, Celia working in the traveling circus and Marco being the assistant of the circus owner, living in London.

The writing was okay, although I always felt like being hold at a distance here too. And although the book should have been all about magic, the part that described actual magic was kept plain. One could say that was done to make place for imagination, but to me it did not feel that way. Almost every time the characters could have revealed anything that could have actually lend to the story, they gave cryptic or evasive answers which only felt self-important to me. Examples?

"Help with what?" Bailey asks, but the fortune-teller does not answer.

"One of them is… somewhere else," Isobel explains. Celia does not question her further.

This is a typical Tsukiko response, one that does not truly answer the question. Isobel does not pry.

"You smile as though you have a secret," he says. "I have a lot of secrets." Celia says, glancing at him over her shoulder, before turning back to the wall.

There are many more.

Altogether I liked the descriptions of the circus and I too feel like it would be an asset if there was a magical place like this. But what happens in the circus should bust the limitations of a normal world as we know it and make place for something more extraordinary.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I am back!

I am not entirey sure anybody missed me. BUT I am a 100% sure I missed blogging and my blogging friends. Where have I been? I have been at my desk or in the library finishing my studies with my diploma thesis. And I have my first job. I am working in my city's office for environment and I am in charge to put together an exhibition for the catastrophic flood that hit Germany in 2002. Nonetheless I am back to reading for fun. Right now I have my nose in The Outcast by Sadie Smith and I enjoy the book and myself very much. Thank you. I'll be back to posting regularly, writing reviews and participating in memes. And now I will have a look around at my favorite blogs and see myself what you guys have been up to. Read on!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Thoughts: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

This novel is essentially a subtle love story. The retired Major Pettigrew and the shopkeeper Mrs. Ali are brought together by loneliness, that comes with loss of a husband or a wife, and a shared passion for reading and talking books. But soon their friendship blossoms into something "more". But before they can even find out about the possibilities of that "more" they need to face the people living in their small village who do not oblige of their relationship. For them, Mrs. Ali is a stranger, though she was born and raised in England whereas the Major was born in Lahore. But it seems that the Major has to choose between his life in the village or the relationship with Mrs. Ali.

First I was reluctant to read a book about a 68 year old, widowed and retired Major in a sleepy village but the book offers life lessons which are never too late to be learned. The social predjudice Mrs. Ali has to face or the meaninglessness of decorum just to name a few. And of course it is never too late to learn, that it is never too late.

I'd say it is a perfectly English read, but what do I know? The conversations in this book are held in such a polite manner and they bristle up with this deadpan humor, I couldn't get enough. But I don't think there is a small town England like the one portrayed in the book anymore. Which is sad and for me totally justifies the need of this book.

Monday, 27 February 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last week I read:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - Olive's story is told through short stories about her neighbours and friends. I liked this approach and the uniqueness of each character and his or her own story. Though Olive is a cranky, resentful old bugger I got to like her, too.

Now I am reading:

Garou by Leonie Swann - It is the second book of the Sheep Detectives series. The first is a crime novel, the second book is a thriller. And I love it! It's funny and as witty as sheep can be.

Coming up:

Faithful Place by Tana French - I already delayed reading it far too long. I am going to read it next. I swear.

Great House by Nicole Krauss - In March my shelfari group and I are going to read books about books and Great House is about a writer and her desk. When she has to give it back, she is not able to write anymore.

More news:

Starting this weekend Care from Lit in the Last Frontier is hosting a nice challenge about reading what you want, tracking your page count and thus accomplishing the IditaRod 2012, the famous Alaskan dog sled race, whilst reading. Check it out here.

It's Monday is hosted by Sheila from Book Journey.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thoughts: A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi

The memoir of an American woman who moved to Venice to follow her love, giving up her whole privileged and established life in the US. It contains recipes as the woman is a cook or a food tracker, searching for new tastes, or something. I didn't like how she referred to her new husband always as "the stranger" and put up with his kinks, she only got to know bit by bit. Didn't hold my interest, though I am a notorious book finisher, that's why I persevered till the end.

I decided to read it because of the blogging event "Venice in February" and because it fits the monthly tag memoir in a shelfari group I participate in. Especially the food related sides of Venice were mentioned, like markets and restaurants, which got me enough insight on Venice to count for the blogging event. I am not tempted to pick up one of her other books.

Unfortunately I think it's worth only 2 stars out of five.

Monday, 20 February 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Since my last Monday post a few weeks ago I read:

The Gathering by Anne Enright (click here for review) - A somewhat dark and melancholic view on the protagonist's emotions and thoughts due to the loss of her suicidal and alcoholic brother. This book was awarded the Man Booker Prize 2007.

Room by Emma Donoghue (click here for review) - A new favorite of mine. Five year old Jack and his mother are captured in Room. Their daily routine is somewhat bizarre as Jack is not aware of the existence of a world outside of Room.

The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe (click here for review) - How Imogen was blinded was a secret until now, but Rosamond is going to lift it with great empathy, also describing wonderful moments of Imogen's life, trying to rouse apprehension for an incomprehensible deed. A very enjoyable read.

Mockinjay by Suzanne Collins - My first audio book and I loved it, though I didn't like the third part as much as the other Hunger Games parts.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides - Insights on a marriage plot (as often spun in Jane Austen books)as it could have worked in the '80s. Unfortunately I couldn't connect to this time period that much and didn't get all the references.

A Thousand Days in Venice by Malena de Blasi - The memoir of an American woman who moved to Venice to follow her love, giving up her whole privileged and established life in the US. Didn't hold my interest.

Now I am reading:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which I think is adorable. The reader gets to know Olive through bits and pieces told through the stories of her neighbours and friends. I like this concept and though Olive Kitteridge is not the friendly, happy teacher woman from next door I like her too.

I plan on reading:

Whatever strikes my fancy or hopefully a book from my tbr challenge list (have a look here). I also have Great House by Nicole Krauss from the library, which, of course, I want to read before I have to return it.

It's Monday is hosted by Book Journey.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Venice in February. Finally started into the challenge.

I picked up my book from the library. I am going to read A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi. Unfortunately I only got hold of this
book, otherwise I would have committed to reading more.

Since I have been to Venice twice already, I thought I might share some impressions. Both times I went to Venice it was blazing hot in the city. I remember heading for narrow alleys, because houses there spent some cooling shadow. The windows and their shutters were closed keeping the heat out or because houses were abandoned. The canals running alongside the the alleys exuded the smell of standing water. There were shops that sold sandwiches and cold soft drinks to the tourist as well as souvenir shops that sold tiny glass figurines or painted masks. And I swear that I smelled licorice sticks at every other corner. I figure it must be some local speciality.

Hundreds of doves were filling Piazza San Marco and I think there must have been many more people. Napoleon once said: "San Marco is Europe's most elegant salon." Well, the setting is awesome and I am sure Venice might be able to make visitors feel quite exquisit, too. I also remember a very long queue of tourists waiting to get access to St Mark's Basilica. People were asked to cover bare shoulders and legs despite the heat before entering the church.

I can't say that Venice stroke my sense of romance though, because I only saw it in bright daylight and because instead of a mild sea breeze there only was sweltering heat and because instead of some privacy, Venice offered boatloads of shoving excursionist.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Thoughts: The Rain before it Falls by Jonathan Coe

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for ages, a beautiful hardcover still wrapped in cellophane. I'm glad I finally cracked its spine.

A family secret finally revealed in some beautiful prose is sometimes all a good books needs. Rosamond records a story for Imogen, her missing grand-niece, because she is the only one who can still tell Imogen's story, which reaches back till second world war, when Beatrix, Imogen's grandmother and Rosamond were still children. Beatrix didn't experience motherly love, which soon led her in the arms of the first available men she met and made her emotionally cold towards her own daughter, too. This paved the way for an awful incident which took Imogen's eyesight. Rosamond lifts the family secret with great empathy, also describing wonderful moments of Imogen's life, trying to rouse apprehension for an incomprehensible deed.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. I picked it up whenever I had a spare minute. I liked the way the story is told. Rosamond describes photographs of long-forgotten events and people to blind Imogen and reminisces in memories that come up looking at the pictures. The story develops along the succession of the photographs, adding details with every picture. The mood is melancholic and calm and very personal. The family secret is not that shocking rather than sad, but this did not lessen the reading experience for me. It was more the motivations behind it, that keeps the reader reading.

I'd recommend the book to people who liked Atonement by Ian McEwan or The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Thoughts: The Gathering by Anne Enright

The plot of this book is a simple thing. Veronica Hegarty is under shock because her alcoholic brother Liam died. He went into the sea with stones in his pockets. His funeral gathers the remaining Hegarty children and embraces Veronica in the arms of her rambling sisters and brothers. Meanwhile a lot of dark and melancholic observations of past times and past places are intertwined in the story, which go back to the get-to-know of Veronica's grandparents Ada and Charly. Veronica does not know much about this get-to-know but her thoughts strive back to it again and again, each time making up a new detail about it. Her apparently normal life, which includes a husband and children, seems to get more distant with each thought. Veronica is haunted by her brothers ghost and the reasons for his miserable life, seeking refuge in alcohol. Soon it dawns her that she might know what the reasons for it were, what happened to her brother. But does it change anything now?

The Gathering is not about a preceding plot, it is rather about the complicated emotional life of the protagonist Veronica. While reading I came to understand that sometimes the action is interior, that means the change or movement inside a person, when someone beloved passes away or leaves. Though I understand that this kind of writing makes some of us uncomfortable, too much feelings and not enough storyline.

Anne Enright has a most singular voice. I thought it was remarkable how everything came to live once Enright wrote about it. And this is why the book is not a simple thing at all. It attempts to analyze the essentials of love and death and their particular fears, pains and pleasures.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Thoughts: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is one of the books that gripped me already from the start. I read Room in two sessions, second time anxiously awaiting my free time to read on.

The book is narrated by Jack, who is a five year old living in Room with his Mom. And though five-year-olds experience the world different than adults, the reader instantly recognizes that Jack's situation is odd. This is because he and his Mom are captured in Room, but Jack doesn't really know. For him, everything happening in Room is his reality, with Old Nick visiting in the evenings, clearing the trash and delivering food. Jack's ignorance of the outside world is a desperate attempt of his mother to protect him, because Old Nick would never let them go. But now that Jack is five, his mother begins to form a plan of escape, in which Jack is going to have a leading role.

To read about the routine Jack and his mother kept in Room was shocking and amazing at the same time. Them playing rhyme games to build Jack's linguistic talents, running track on a C-round next to the bed for physical education or building a snake from egg shells, because there were not many other toys. And again I have to mention that all this was described in rich detail in the voice of a five-year-old.

I also think that Jack's mother is a great character. Her love for Jack and the way she tried to keep him safe from Old Nick but also from the world she could not offer him and how she tried to promote him though her means were restricted is just remarkable.

And though the circumstances of the Room itself must have been confined, I feel like the world has expansed a bit by looking at it with Jack's eyes. A five star read, of course!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Thoughts: Cain by José Saramgo

Much more a novella than a book, in his final piece of work Saramago sends out Cain to witness the deeds of an ever quarreling mankind and the punishments of a vengeful god.

After murdering his brother Abel, Cain is touring the Old Testament, cursed by God to wander endlessly. He is there with Lilith in her bed, building the Ark with Noah, watching Abraham almost killing Isaac and witnessing Sodom and Gomorrah as well as he Tower of Babel fall.

I think the book could hurt the feelings of serious Christian people, because Saramgao indicates that even God is not always right and is mocking the biblical stories. I am an atheist and for me it was funny, because I felt like Saramago blew the dust from those old stories, retelling them in an entertaining way. Especially in the beginning, the part about Adam and Eve, I often had to laugh out loud because of the ignorance of the earliest people on earth. My BF asked me to read aloud and we had some good laughs together, admiring Saramago's writing style which is unlike anyone else's, though I had to get used to his punctuation.

And though the book is funny, it could not keep my interest till the end and that is why I only give it three stars. For people who want to read a fun interpretation of Jesus' life, I recommend The Gospel according to Biff by Christopher Moore.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Since my last Monday post a couple of weeks ago I read:
Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith - All in all it was not really my cup of tea as I would have hoped for more plot and mystery, be it strange or not.

Child 44 and The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith - Child 44 is a thriller unlike any I have read so far, because of the very different setting, where every move you make is overseen which is nightmarish in its own.

Cain by José Saramago (yet to be reviewed) - An irascible God sends Cain out in the world to witness the heavenly punishments. Mostly witty and entertaining.

Now I am reading:
The Gathering by Anne Enright - When a brother and son dies, an Irish family gathers to, mourn the dead. Life comes apart at the seams and perspective might change. Not always for the better.

I'm listening to:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - my first audiobook and me likes it.

Coming up:
I still have Faithful place by Tana French and Room by Emma Donoghue high on my list. But as always those are subject to change. Becuase I am a moody reader. I like to make plans but nearly never am I able to stick to them.

It's Monday is hosted by Book Journey.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Thoughts: Child 44 & The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

I am not much of a series reader but my BF's mother lend me those two books and as I wanted to return them, I decided to give them a shot. Surprise, surprise I ended up liking the Leo Demidow series quite a bit.

Child 44

There is no crime in Stalin's Soviet Union and it is a paradise for it's dutiful citizens, it's hard workers. No one needs to live in fear of criminals but nearly everybody lives in fear of the State. An ideologically disloyal opinion or contact with suspicious people can send people into Gulags or their own execution. When Leo Demidow, a war hero and courageous MGB agent, becomes aware of a serial killer who murders innocent children, he has to be careful. The state arrests the wrong people, because they need to present the cases solved but the real murderer is still at large, killing at will. Leo must not challenge the state's way to come by the crimes but needs to find the killer on his own and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.

The books was better than expected. Child 44 is a page-turner and brims with information about the repression and fear people lived in in a Stalin reigned Soviet Union. I myself felt the anguish. And I certainly liked the character of Leo. He is not perfect, first devoted to the state, pursuing innocent people, arresting them and delivering them to torture, he soon becomes aware of the wrongness of it all and wants to change. But he too only is a puppet and has to play his designated role, because everybody who questions the system is exposed to the state's cruelty. That is why Leo soon finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. And Leo has to think of his family too, his parents and wife Raisa, who becomes a true companion for Leo and is a remarkable character herself.

Child 44 is a thriller unlike any I have read so far, because of the very different setting, where every move you make is overseen which is nightmarish in its own.

After finishing this one I instantly grabbed the second book of the series.

The Secret Speech

The Soviet Union in 1956 is a country where Stalin is dead and due to Khrushchev's secret speech some kind of reformation is going on. Suddenly the police, who forced repression and torture on people, are identified as criminals and the criminals are the innocent. The hunters become the hunted. Leo Demidow's adoptive daughter is kidnapped by a gang of criminals whose head is a woman Leo once betrayed. She wants him to get her husband out of a Gulag in Kolyma, a cold and dark Siberian region, where the forced laborers mine gold. Leo is channeled in the gulag as prisoner but already on the first day he is found out to be a Checkists, an agent working for the state. Now not only the life of his daughter but his own is in danger.

The second book in the series turns out to be as entertaining and fast-paced as the first book. The life in gulags, which played an important role in the punishment and conversion of dissidents, is focused in the middle part of the book. The conditions in those prisoner camps were horrible and the people that died in them are estimated about the same number as people died in second world war. But I think that Leo might have acted a little naive given what his experiences were in the first book, which makes Child 44 a slightly better read for me.

The next book in the series is Agent 6 which I might read some time in the future, too.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

My 2011 reading stats.

In 2011 I read 45 books out of 50 books, which was my set goal for the year. I didn't reach it but I read some great books this year and will attempt to crack those 50 this year again.

I already did a post about my favorite books of 2011, which you can find here.

As my native language is German I certainly read books in German. Out of 45 books I read 21 in German and 24 in English. I hope to keep reading books in both languages in balance for 2012, too.

I read 10 of those books on my e-reader.

13 books were written by men and 32 books I read were written by women.

Only 5 of the books were non-fiction. That is why I hope to read some more non-fiction this year.

Only 10 books I read were from the library and though I am happy to own many books I sure want to support my local library and would be happy to read more books from the library this year.

Of the 45 books I read, 32 books were written by authors new to me.

I am not sure exactly how many pages I managed to read in 2011 but my shelfari account told me that I read more than 15,000 pages and reached my goal for 2011.

All in all I am happy with my reading year 2011. As I already mentioned I'd like to read more non-fiction and more books from the library in 2012. Also I hope to explore some more new great authors this year, but also to revisited some "old friends and favorite auhtors".