Lillelara

Lillelara

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

Review
0 Stars
Recent Non-Fiction Reads
Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany - Norman Ohler Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson

Blitzed:

A highly informative and gripping read about Nazi Germany and the significance of drugs during World War II. Drugs didn´t fit in the idealogy of the Nazis, but despite banning them, one substance with a highly addictive potential became the drug of the people: methamphetine. The sheer possibilities of a drug, which would keep the troops awake for days on end, were just to promising to pass up on and it didn´t stop with the troops: the methamphetin chocolate for the wifes at home really made me shook my head.

My favorite part of the book, though, is the chapter about Hitler and his personal physician Theo Morrell, who pumped the Führer full of various drugs. Everyone ,who ever wanted to know how much a human body can endure, should read this chapter, it´s unbelievable.

4,5 stars.

 

Just Mercy:

Bryan Stevenson is an inspiring personality. Being the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an institution which provides helps for prisoners, who have been wrongly convicted of crimes or didn´t get a fair trail in the first place, he gives hope to the hopeless.

Stevenson tells of different people he has helped throughout his work with the initiative, the main narrative being about Walter McMillian, a black man who has been wrongly accused of murdering a white woman, eventhough it is clear from the beginning that Walter couldn´t have done it.

This book will make you feel angry and heartbroken. Angry because of the racial bias and the injustice that gets inflicted on these people. Heartbroken, because Stevenson describes his clients in a compassionate way so that you see them for what they are: Human beings with hopes, dreams, feelings and the ability to redeem themselves. A highly recommended read.

5 Stars 

 

So You´ve Been Publicly Shamed:

To be honest, I´m scared of social media. And this book didn´t help to overcome my anxieties. Jon Ronson takes a hard look at the phenomenon of public shaming. One false tweet on Twitter, a disrespectful post on facebook, making things up in a non-fiction book you are writing ... all these things could lead you to being publicly shamed.

Ronson has interviewed a variety of public shaming victims and some of these stories really made my stomach turn (I admit it, I cannot feel compassion for the dentist, who has butchered the lion). I missed, however, the perspective of a person, who participated in the actual public shaming of a person (for example Justine Sacco). Why does someone participate in an act of public shaming? Do they feel sorry for said person, when they are getting death threads? Do they feel responsible for destroying a life? Or are they perfectly okay with it because they feel safe behind the wall of anonymity in the internet? 

I sorely missed this perspective, but nonetheless I really enjoyed listening to this book (Ronson himself narrates it and he is excellent).

4 Stars

Reading Habits Tag

First of all thank you to Spooky´s House of Books for this tag.

 

Do you have a certain place in your home for reading?

 

 

I have heard the word "hyggekrog" somewhere. A krog is a nook, so it roughly translates to hyggenook. And I guess I have my own kind of hyggekrog, where all my reading takes place:

 

 

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

 

Both, but I prefer bookmarks. It depends on whether or not I have access to the latter ones.

 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop reading after a chapter / certain number of pages?

 

I can just stop reading in the middle of a chapter, but I try to finish a chapter before I have to stop.

 

Do you eat or drink while you read?

 

No, I don´t. Most of the time I actually have to force myself to drink something once in a while.

 

Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

 

I can do both, actually. I prefer listening to Soundtracks while reading (Braveheart, Imitation Game, Moon ...) and as for TV: I´m plowing through the pages while the Bundesliga (the German football/soccer league) is on.

 

One book at a time or several at once?

 

Normally one book at a time, but if a book is especially demanding (yes, I mean you "A Place of Greater Safety") I like to read something lighter in between.

And as for "War and Peace", which I´m currently reading: I could read this book nonstop, but I have the problem that my arm starts to ache massivly because this book is so heavy (I know, it is kind of ridiculous). So I had to take a break from Tolstoy over the last couple of days and I had to fill this void with another book. 

 

Reading at home or everywhere?

 

I´m reading mostly at home and at work during lunch breaks.

 

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

 

Silently in my head. At least I hope so ;).

 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

 

No, I don´t read ahead or skip pages. But sometimes I skimread books I have invested too much time in to DNF it with a good conscience. But this happens maybe once a year.

 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

I try not to break the spines on my books, but if it happens I don´t mind.

 

Do you write in your books?

 

I have never written anything in a book and I never will. I just can´t do it. 

Reading progress update: I've read 294 out of 1273 pages.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

I just finsihed book one of War and Peace and I´m really enjoying this novel so far. I even like the war parts of this story and even though I´m not familiar with the history behind the Napoleonic wars, I don´t find it too difficult to follow what is going on.

But I have to admit, I prefer the family drama parts in Russia to the war related chapters just because it is so much fun to follow the characters and their lives. There a characters you immediately are going to dislike (oh Nikolai, it´s going to take a lot to redeem you in my eyes) and there are characters that I liked right from the beginning. So far my favorite is Pierre, whose naivete is endearing, and I cheered so loud for Marya for

turning down the proposal of the douchebag Anatol.

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

Review
1 Stars
The Interestings
The Interestings: A Novel - Meg Wolitzer

In 1974 six teenagers meet at a summer camp for the arts and become close-knit friends, calling themselves ”The Interestings”. Over the following 400+ pages we get to follow the lives of these six people and let me tell you, it is not that interesting.

To tell the turth, the story is incredibly boring. Following the lives of (rich) white people over a span of 40 years isn´t something I particularly enjoy to read. At about page 300 I became so annoyed with this book, I started to skimread. What really got to me in the end was the sheer amount of drama that Meg Wollitzer has inflicted on her characters. Aids, poverty, depression, physical abuse, 9/11, the recession (only mentioned by the closing of their favorite takeout restaurant). I don´t think there is a single problem, that these characters not have to deal with.

 

I hated the main character, Jules. Everybody is just in love with her and she is the best friend ever and she is so funny. Here comes the truth about Jules (born a Julie, but that is not hip enough): she is a petty, jealous, selfish and horrible person. The author describes her as being so funny and the only funny thing is that she hasn´t a single funny line in the whole freaking book.  

 

And then there happens something in this book that is so dismissive towards women and victims of sexual abuse that I cannot give more than a one star rating with a clear conscience. 

 

A book that I won´t recommend to anyone, because, to be honest, it is awful. 

Reading progress update: I've read 87 out of 1273 pages.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

So, I´m tackling this beast of a book. Seriously, I could knock someone unconscious with this tome. It´s humongous. I haven´t reached the war part just yet (I don´t know if I´m going to like this part of the story), but if "getting annoyed by the fact that I have to go to work" is an indicator for just how much I enjoy this book right now, then I´m enjoying it a lot.

 

On a sidenote: I´m so glad Booklikes is working again. Keeping my fingers crossed that it stays this way.

Reading progress update: I've read 323 out of 438 pages.
The Interestings: A Novel - Meg Wolitzer

"At eight in the evening Ash was still at the new apartement, and they all ate Vietnamese food from what would become their primary takeout restaurant for over twelve years, until it closed during the recession of 2008."

 

So their favorite restaurant had to close down. Honestly, who cares?

 

In the next hour I will skimread the last 100 pages of this book. I just want to get it over with.

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 299 pages.
Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson

"My work with the poor and incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I´ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the priviliged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned."

 

Review
2 Stars
The Paying Guests
The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests is my third Sarah Waters book and eventhough her other books aren´t perfect, at least they have been compelling reads. But this book I found to be incredibly dull and boring. The story in a nutshell: moping, moping, doing house chores, moping, more house cleaning, falling in love, being miserable and heartbroken, more moping, sex, drama, drama, drama, even more moping whilst being in a moral dilemma, the end (which is a lacklustre one, btw). 

I might have enjoyed the story more if I felt sympathetic towards the two main characters. But these two are horrible people, so not even the ending has been a satisfactory for me. I´m hugely disappointed by this book.

Only two more books ...

... and I wil have read 100 books this year. I have never, ever read 100 books in one year before, so this is a huge success for me. The two book bingos hosted by Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue have helped a lot to achive this number. So thanks again for hosting these awesome bingos. It has been a lot of fun.

I´m planning to read and finish the follwing books:

 

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams  The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters  

 

Dirk Gently´s Hollistic Detective Agency: Last weekend I binge-watched the TV series on Netflix and I adore this show. So I decided to read the first book in the Dirk Gently series as my first Douglas Adams read. I´m 25% into the book and I´m not sure what to think of it. I´m still waiting for some kind of plot and so far Dirk Gently has only been mentioned once. What I can say is that the book and the show don´t have a lot of things in common (which I don´t mind).

 

The Paying Guest: I´m so in the mood to read another book by Sarah Waters over the christmas time. Maybe this book will get me out of my reading slump *keeping my fingers crossed*.

 

I haven´t forgotten about the Hygge-post. Now that Booklikes is up and running again, it will eventually come. December is just the most busy month at work and I´m not sure if I can´t get it up before christmas. So I apologize for the delay.

 

I hope you all enjoy christmas time and the days leading up to it. Happy reading everyone :).

Review
3 Stars
Planetfall
Planetfall - Emma Newman

As much as I liked the book up until the 90% mark, the ending fell flat for me and the last time I felt this kind of disappointment I was watching "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Maybe you know that feeling: You enjoy something and in the end you are sitting in your chair and you say to yourself "Really? This is supposed to be the ending? They got to be kidding me."

 

It´s not a bad book and I still recommend it, because there really are some things in it I immensely enjoyed (the world building, the characters, the storytelling). I just don´t think I´m that much of a spiritual person to really like and appreciate the ending.

Update on my reading life
Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes Dracula - Bram Stoker, Tim Curry, Alan Cumming, Simon Vance And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie, Dan Stevens Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie Planetfall - Emma Newman So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson

Hi everybody,

the last couple of weeks have been super busy for me, so I didn´t have that much time to drop in here on a regular basis. Add to this that I´m having the weirdest reading month ever, since I manage to finish up on my audiobooks while I´m dragging my way through my physical books. Apparently I´m not in the mood to read with my eyes.

I was planning to participate in the 12 tasks of christmas, but I don´t think I have the time rigth now. But I will definitely make a post about hygge. You can count on that.

 

These books I have finished so far this month:

 

Broken Monsters: Not a favorite of mine. You can find my review here

 

Dracula: The narration of this audiobook is amazing and Alan Cumming could narrate the phone book for all I care and I would be one happy listener. But I´m not completely satisfied by the book itself. As good as the first half of the book is, I didn´t like the second half of it that much. Mainly because I couldn´t stand Van Helsing and him constantly saying "fair madam Mina" and "My good friend Jonathan". And I´m flabbergasted by the sheer stupidity the men put on display when it comes to Mina and

count Dracula´s visits to her bedroom.

(show spoiler)

 

And Then There Were None: An excellent story and an excellent narrator (Dan Stevens), who gives all of the characters a distinctive voice. I´m currently watching the 2015 BBC-Adaption with Aidan Turner, Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Toby Stephens and Miranda Richardson and it´s brilliant as well.

 

 

And these are the books I´m currently reading:

 

Catherine the Great: A memoir of Catherine the Great, empress of Russia. I´m really loving this book and Massey truly makes history come alive. I´m about halfway through and I just needed a little break from this book, because the political chapters are a bit more dense than the chapters where the personal drama is going on (and there is a LOT of personal drama in Catherines life).

 

Planetfall: There is some great worldbuildung in this book and I really like that the author focuses on the very troubled main character instead of focusing on the mystery surrounding the colony. I will definitely finish this book over the next couple of days,

 

So You´ve Been Publicly Shamed: The author Jon Ronson narrates this audiobook himself and he brings the right amount of compassion to his narration. Ronson takes a look at the lives of people, who have been publicly shamed and the psychology behind the phenomenon of public shaming. I´m fascinated by this topic and this audiobook has the "I´m just going to listen to one more chapter"- effect.

 

Last but not least: A happy thanksgiving to all my American Booklikes friends :).

 

Review
2 Stars
Broken Monsters
Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes

A prime example how a otherwise decent three star book gets ruined by a ridiculous ending.

 

I was intrigued by the twisted murder mystery. A body, half boy, half deer, is found and I expected a compelling thriller. But the story turns into a weird horror-mystery-thriller-mix with a central message regarding social media that I didn´t care about and ultimately has been lost on me. The descriptions of derelict Detroit are pretty good, though.

Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie

I never knew about the connection between the Romanovs and the German house of Holstein-Gottorp. It´s really fascinating to learn something new about my home Schleswig-Holstein.

Reading progress update: I've listened 364 out of 928 minutes.
Dracula - Bram Stoker, Tim Curry, Alan Cumming, Simon Vance

"A brave man´s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble."

 

No, that´s not how blood transfusions work:

 

Either the woman is AB negative and a universal blood recipient (which is highly unlikely, because only approximately 4% of earths population have this bloodgroup) or the four men all have the same bloodgroup of 0 negative and thus being universal blood donors. And this is even more unlikely. 

 

I guess I have to accept that Luca Westenra is so special that her bloodgroup actually is AB negative.

Back from Munich

The last couple of days my mother, my aunt and I have been in Munich. We had some errands to run, but we had some time to look at Munich as well. It´s a wonderful city and I definitely have to visit it again at some point.

We only had two full days in Munich and we visited castle Nymphenburg and the Viktualienmarkt, which is food heaven (I got so distracted by all the food, I forgot to take a picture). But I managed to take some pictures and we had the best weather:

 

 

And of course I did buy some books:

 

 

I hope you had all a lovely weekend as well with some great fall weather :).

 

Review
3 Stars
A Room with a View
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

A coming of age story about a young Englischwoman named Lucy Honeychurch, who during her travel to Florence realizes that she is trapped in her rigid upperclass life and yet isn´t able to escape it. Soon she has to make a decision whether she is going to do the things that everyone is expecting from her or whether she is going to follow her own heart.

 

A Room with a View didn´t win me completly over, even though I really liked how E.M. Forster adresses the issues of stiff, victorian society in the beginning of the 1900s. But the characters lacked developement, the writing confused me more than once while reading this novel and the love story could have been more fleshed out. And Lucy Honeychurch is a lying, spoiled brat and most definitely not a heroine that I could root for.

 

Not one of my favorite classics, but there were some chapters that I adore (the scene at the lake is one of them). A solid three star read.

 

 

 

 

 

currently reading

Progress: 81/445pages
Progress: 129/353pages
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens