Lillelara

Lillelara

"A half finished book is, after all, a half finished love affair"
                 - Robert Frobischer (Cloud Atlas)

Review
2.5 Stars
The Lost City of the Monkey God
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston

Should a bunch of middle aged men invite me on an expedition into the South American jungle, I will politely say "no, thank you". Chances are that these men are complete idiots, not being aware of the fact that everything in the jungle might kill you. Plus they are lugging so many people into the jungle with all the snakes, spiders, tropical diseases and what not, I had to shake my head several times because of the stupidity of these people.

 

So this audiobook was a mixed bag for me. I liked the parts about the history of Honduras and the banana trade, the tropical diseases and the fer-de-lance snake. The rest of the book didn´t capture my attention quite as much. I´m simply not interested in archaeology and anthropolgy, so there were whole parts of the book I was incredibly bored by.

 

The Lost City of the Monkey God is not my favorite work of non-fiction.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 160 out of 495 pages.
The Gene: An Intimate History - Siddhartha Mukherjee

They have the original Watson and Crick DNA Model on display in the Science Museum in London. Why didn´t I know about this? I have to go back!

 

[Source]

 

I really enjoy this book. Besides the history of genetics Mukherjee starts to delve into the science behind the DNA. Since I studied phamacy, I´m not unfamiliar with this subject. And yet it remains a topic I´m incredibly fascinated by.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 88 out of 495 pages.
The Gene: An Intimate History - Siddhartha Mukherjee

So far this is an interesting read. Part one of the book deals primarily with the discovery of genetics and one of its key figures, Gregor Johann Mendel, a monk who crossbred peas (and crossbreeding the offspring) and thus discovered that hereditary traits by both parents gets passed on to the offspring. HIs work was groundbreaking, but unfortunately everyone forgot his paper until it was rediscovered in the beginning of the 1900s. From then on discussion about genetics and eugenetics, the notion that it is possible to alter humans to become better and to erase bad traits in humanity, kicked into full gear. The fact that scientist almost instantaneously went for the dark side of the discovery of the genes is deeply disturbing.

 

Mendel isn´t the only famous person mentioned in this first part. Mukherjee explaines the theories of the greeks, Pythagoras and Aristhoteles, he talks about Charles Darwin and his theories and he takes a look at the man who coined the term eugenetics, Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Saint Lucia´s Day

Task for Square 7, Saint Lucia´s Day:

 

Get your Hygge on -- light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.

 

Tonight I will snuggle up with a book in my comfy chair, a blanket wrapped around me and I will be sipping a glass of wine. I hope that you are having a cozy reading night as well.

 

 

 

I have currently three books on the go. Into Thin Air is a reread, so I´m in no hurry to finish that one up. I have started The Gene today and it´s quite a hefty non-fiction book, so this will take me some time to finish it as well. And then there are only about 60 pages left of True Grit, so I will definitely finish this book tonight.

 

 

 

 

I might just read this book out of morbid curiosity
Wild: oder der letzte Trip auf Erden - Reinhold Messner

I stumbled upon this book in my local bookstore. My initial reaction was complete and utter bafflement, simply because I can´t wrap my mind around the thought that Reinhold Messner has written a book about the Shackleton Expedition. Especially since there is a famous non-fiction book out there written by Alfred Lansing. If someone would force me to choose between these two books I would always pick the one written by the journalist instead of the one written by a guy who is climbing mountains.

 

However, I did take a peek at the first few pages and I already spotted a pet peeve of mine. There are extensive amounts of dialogue between the characters, so for me it´s more of a fictionalized account of the expedition than an actual work of non-fiction. And I tend to dislike these kind of books. But I might get this book from the library, because I´m curios about this book.

Review
3.5 Stars
Wolf Winter
Wolf Winter - Cecilia Ekbäck

Swedish Lappland, 1717: The two daughters of Maija stumble upon the body of a killed man on the Blackåsen mountain. Everyone thinks that the killed man has been mauled by a wolf, but Maija believes that he has died by the hand of a man. One of the few settlers on the mountain has to be the murderer and whilst she is struggling with the abscence of her husband, the numerous secrets of her neighbours and the superstitions about the mountain, her life and the lives of her loved ones are threatened by an incredibly harsh winter.

 

I was about to quit this book on page 60. I really struggled  with Camilla Ekbäcks writing style. She uses a lot of short sentences and I had the hardest time to get into the story. But at some point I became totally immersed in the book and I got used to the writing. From this point on I enjoyed this book immensely. The descriptions of the gruesome winter and the mountain are great and the way Ekbäck develops her characters with all their secrets is done really well. I just had to know what would happen next. 

The only thing that fell short for me was the ending. It felt like Ekbäck didn´t know how to end her story in a satisfying way. 

 

A weak beginning and a weak end, but the part in the middle I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 7 Saint Lucia´s Day: Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden - and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

 

 

   

Review
3 Stars
Equal Rites
Equal Rites  - Terry Pratchett

So far I´m not the biggest Terry Pratchett fan. I´m still looking for that book that pulls me completely into the quirky Pratchett universe. Equal Rites is my third Pratchett and unfortunately I´m still not enthusiatic about his books (but I´m not giving up).

 

In Equal Rites a wizard makes the grave mistake to pass his powers onto a baby girl. A female wizard? Unheard of in the whole of Discworld. The novel follows this female wizard, Eskarina Smith, how she gets tutored by Granny Weatherwax, an awesome witch, and how she tries to become the first female wizard in a male dominated world.

 

I loved Granny Weatherwax, she is such a fun and great character and a lot of the enjoyment I took out of this book is because of her. Unfortunately she isn´t the main character of this novel. The MC is Eskarina, a nine year old child and an annoying know-it-all. Eskarina is the proof that child characters and I don´t get along very well.

 

Equal Rites is an okay read, but I´m not in love with it. Granny Weatherwax on the other hand: 

 

"Listen, said Granny "If you give someone a bottle of red jollop for their wind it may work, right, but if you want it to work for sure then you let their mind make it work for them. Tell `em it´s moonbeams bottled in fairy wine or something. Mumble a bit over it. It´s the same with cursing."

 

"She was wearing servicable black, and concealed about her person were a number of hatpins and a breadknife. She had hidden their small store of money, grudgingly advanced by Smith, in the mysterious strata of her underwear. Her skirt pockets jingled with lucky charms, and a freshly-forged horseshoe, always a potent preventative in time of trouble, weighed down her handbag. She felt about as ready as she ever would be to face the world.

 

  

[Source]

 

"It´s Mistress Weatherwax," said Granny. "Three sugars, please."

Mrs. Whitlow pushed the bowl towards her. Much as she looked forward to Granny´s visits it came expensive in sugar. Sugar lumps never seemed to last long around Granny.

"Very bad for the figure," she said. "And the teeth, so Aye hear."

"I never had a figure  to speak of and my teeth take care of themselves," said Granny.

 

I love her.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 1 All Saints Day: A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

 

This wonderful cover of my edition has all the colours of the rainbow in it.

 

Review
4 Stars
A Morbid Taste for Bones
A Morbid Taste for Bones  - Ellis Peters

This was a fun read. And I might just have found my favorite literary monk in Brother Cadfael.

 

[Source]

 

He is a man of the world, who turned to priesthood in his later years, he isn´t the most pious monk, he is keenly aware when one of his brethren is full of BS, he is a topnotch matchmaker, he is an amateur sleuth and on top of it all he is Welsh (don´t ask me why, I really like that about his character).

 

So in this novel there is a small town in Wales, a murder, a lot of monks and relationsships are at stake or are formed and Cadfael is in the midst of it all, trying to untangle all the mysteries and problems that arise on this journey. And I enjoyed every second of this book and I can´t wait to read the second novel in the series.

 

 

16 Task of the Festive Season: Penance Day (Square 4):  Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

 

Reading update
Everland - Rebecca Hunt

Sorry for being absent the last couple of days. I´ve been super busy since friday and now I´m sick and I´m stuck at work because of a night shift and overall I´m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment.

 

Anyhow, I decided to give you an update on my reading. I finished two books over the last week:

 

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett  The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser  

 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles has been a reread for me and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time I read it. And I can´t help it, I love Hastings.

 

I´m still trying to fall in love with Terry Pratchett´s books. Equal Rites has been a solid three star book for me. I loved Granny Weatherwax (her scenes with the wizard Cutangle were so much fun), but Esk annoyed me.

 

I´m not sure for which task I have read the Pratchett, but it will fit several I think. I´m not sure if I can make the Christie work for one of the tasks, though. I have to look at that tomorrow.

 

As for the books I´m currently reading:

 

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1) - Patrick O'Brian  Wolf Winter - Cecilia Ekbäck  Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster - Jon Krakauer  

 

All three books that fit at least one task.

 

And yes, I´m still reading Master and Commander. I managed to read to page 112. Definitely not an easy read when you don´t have a lot of time to sit down with it.

 

 

 

Quote
One reason for the bustle was that over large parts of the continent other people preferred to make money without working at all, and since the Disc had yet to develop a music recording industry they were forced to fall back on older, more traditional forms of banditry.
Equal Rites  - Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites, page 135

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Pancha Ganapati
Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay

Task: Read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow 

 

This book, people...

 

[Source]

 

The Queen and I are not amused (and definitely not impressed). This has to be the most unmysterious mystery that has ever been written. The Inspector appears on the scene on page 210 or thereabouts. I loved the very last page, though. It´s so sweet.

 

The good thing is that the stunning cover of the British Library edition has all the colours of the Pancha Ganapati holiday in it.

 

 

My first attempt...

... at making Danish paper hearts with a more intricate pattern.

 

The very first specimen:

 

 

*sigh* Ok, let´s try again (with another pattern):

 

 

Mmh, not to bad.

 

It´s not my final post for the 16 tasks. For this I have to make another 5 hearts and I haven´t made them for ages. I forgot what a pain in the ass it is to make these.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 193 out of 288 pages.
Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay

Don´t ask me who the main character in this book is. To put it mildly, this book is weird. It´s supposed to be a golden age mystery, but there isn´t a lot of mystery in it. Sure, a woman has been strangled with her dogs leash on page one. But after that not much of sleuthing is going on and I have no clue who of the characters is supposed to be the amateur sleuth.

 

Anyhow, I claim the character we hear most about and feels like the MC (and who is a freaking idiot) as the main character and he has a paid servant. Which means I can count it for the 16 tasks (I started it October 31th and read about 20 pages, so the 20% rule counts for this book).

 

Task: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Bon Om Touk

Task: Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle)

 

First thing first: A picture of the river Thames

 

 

We had a wonderful time in London and besides buying books we did manage to see a lot.

 

On the day of our arrival we went into town to Green Park and Buckingham Palace

 

 

 

before taking a stroll down Picadilly. Our host recommended a visit to Fortnum & Mason, a store that sells the finest food, tea pots and stationary among other things. I was so in awe of this store I only dared to take a picture of the macaron display.

 

 

The next day we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is an impressive buildung. And I would like to own the art in the entrance hall. Simply stunning.

 

 

The afternoon took us to Covent Garden, with its great stores (I especially adored the Moomins shop), places to eat and fabulous live music.

 

 

In the evening we went to see the Mousetrap, Agatha Christies famous play and the longest running play of the world. It was amazing.

 

Wednesday we did our Southbank walk alongside the Thames. Starting point was Westminster.

 

 


 

 

We visited the Tate Modern and this place was awesome. I definitely have to visit this gallery again. My favorite art works (of the ones I have seen) were the "Bakelit Robot" by Nam June Paik

 

 

and "Babel 2001" by Cildo Meireles.

 

 

At last our walk took us the Southwark Cathedral and the Borough Market (with all its delicious food). My mother was lucky, she spotted Doorkins the Cathedral Cat.

 

 

Thursday we visited the National Gallery, experiencing wonderful paintings by William Turner (my favorite painter of them all), Monet and Van Gogh.

 

 

In the afternoon we went to the odd museum of the excentric John Soanes. This place was weird and I can hardly describe it with words. One has to see it for oneself.

 

In the evening we watched Les Miserable at the West End. I absolutely loved this musical (and I can´t wait to read the book).

 

 

The perfect end to our vacation.

 

(I have taken all the pictures myself).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder by Deaths giveaway prize has arrived!

And both books are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for your generous gift, MbD.

 

I have choosen two books from the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition series:

 

 

 

 

And they have gorgeous french flaps:

 

 

 

At the moment I am one happy reader :D.

I love London because...

... you can find something like this on the tube. The Lateness Excuse Generator:

 

 

This one is for you, BrokenTune:

 

"Sorry I´m late, there were thousands of giant slugs in my trousers"

 

This might actually be an excuse that Patricia HIghsmith might have used every once in a while ;D.

currently reading

Progress: 427/1244minutes
Progress: 12%
Progress: 111/464pages
Progress: 328/495pages
Progress: 1870/4318minutes