Lillelara

Lillelara

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

Review
4.5 Stars
Miss Buncle´s Book
Miss Buncle's Book - DE Stevenson

Have you met Miss Barbara Buncle? It´s the 1930s: Miss Buncle is an unmarried woman in her late thirties and she has some severe economical problems. In order to earn money she writes a book under a pen name, a book about the small English village she lives in. And since she is the most unimaginative person on this planet, it´s pretty apparent who she is writing about. And her neighbours are not amused...

 

Whenever you have a crappy day, just pick up Miss Buncle´s Book and reading it will make you feel happy. It´s cozy, delightful and utterly charming and all of my favorite characters got their personal happy ending, which made me happy. And I adored the depiction of the small village of Silverstream and its inhabitants.

 

I really love this novel and I highly recommend Miss Buncle´s Book to everyone who needs a great comfort read.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 6 out of 344 pages - MIss Buncle´s Book by DE Stevenson
Miss Buncle's Book - DE Stevenson

Colonel Weatherhead (retired) was one of her (Mrs Goldsmith, the baker) best customers and he was an early breakfaster. He lived in a grey stone house down near the bridge - The Bridge House - just opposite to Mrs Bolds at Cosy Neuk. Mrs Bold was a widow. She had nothing to drag her out of bed in the morning, and, therefore, like a sensible woman, she breakfasted late. It was inconvenient from the point of view of breakfast rolls that two such near neighbours should want their roll at different hours.

 

The delivery of breakfast rolls needs to be meticulously planned. And she has only one delivery boy and he doesn´t even have a bike to do his errands.

 

As it was, something must be done, either a bicycle or an extra boy - and boys were such a nuisance.

 

I think I´m going to like this book.

 

(Btw, this isn´t the actually cover of the book, it´s a picture of the endpapers. I already submitted the change of the cover and I hope that one of the librarians will approve it). 

Review
4 Stars
The Blank Wall
The Blank Wall - Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

The Blank Wall tells the story of Lucia Holley, a suburban housewife in 1940s America. Her 17 year old daughter falls in love with a considerably older man and one morning Lucia finds this man in her boathouse, dead. She decides to protect her family by dumping the body in a nearby swamp and from this point on Lucia´s life begins to unravel.

 

I really enjoyed this suspense novel about a mother, who is willing to do everything to protect her family. The discovery of the body is only the beginning of her problems and it´s been fascinating to see how every new turn of the story increases the physical and emotional strain on that woman. 

 

Elisabeth Sanxay Holding writing is very descriptive. Think of 1940s black and white movies like Hitchcoks "Rebecca" and you might imagine how I felt while reading this book. I couldn´t put it down and I would have devoured this novel in one sitting if I would have had the time for it.

 

If you´re a fan of suspense novels with a classic feel to it (I felt reminiscent of novels by Patricia Highsmith), I highly recommend The Blank Wall.

 

 

 

 

Review
3 Stars
Frankenstein
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

I have finally conquered Frankenstein. And it has been okay. There are things that I Iike about this book and there are things that I don´t like about it.

The descriptions of the nature, the landscapes and the wheather are splendid and the story of the creature is heartbreaking. You cannot help but to feel sorry for it / him and despair over the cruelty of men.

But the narrative is to convulted and at times boring and I´m pretty sure I wouldn´t have made it through some of the chapters without listening to the audiobook in these chapters (narrated by Dan Stevens). And how I disliked Victor Frankenstein. He is such a pathetic character and a huge jerk.

 

Not one of my favorite classics, but I´m glad that I finally read it.

Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly

I just saw Hidden Figures and this was such a wonderful and inspiring movie, I loved it.

And, of course, the book goes on my ever-growing TBR.

Review
4 Stars
Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road (Audio) - Richard Yates, Mark Bramhall

I read Revolutionary Road for the first time last year and I was deeply impressed by it. It´s a harsh and devastating look on a dysfunctional marriage and on the lives of two people, who blame each other for their own shortcomings. If you are searching for a book that feels like a gut punch while reading it, you should definitely pick this one up.

 

After having listened to the audiobook, however, I have to change my rating from five to four stars, because the part in the middle (the whole "moving to Paris" part) has been to drawn out and some narratives of minor characters haven´t been that interesting as well.

 

The narration by Mark Bramell was pretty good, eventhough his narration of April was too whiney. I like to think that April is somewhat of a fierce character, who is perfectly able to give Frank the hardest time of his life (he certainly derserves that). The narration unfortunately didn´t give me that impression and I would urge you to either read the book and give April a voice of her own in your head or to watch the excellent movie adaption. Kate Winslet gives a sublime perfomance as April Wheeler.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Leviathan Wakes
Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey

After having watched the first season of The Expanse on Netflix, I decided to read the first book of the Expanse series. And it is a good book for what it is: a fast-paced, action-packed space opera and a fun read. But stories like these just work better for me with visuals and there is nothing that makes me want to pick up the next book in the series. So I will stick with the TV series, which I really like.

Reading progress update: I've read 49 out of 230 pages.
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

Victor Frankenstein really likes to hear himself talk, doesn´t he?

 

I have heard that especially the beginning of this book drags a little bit, so I´m alternating between reading the novel and listening to the audiobook. Dan Stevens narration really helps with getting through the first few chapters.

 

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley,Dan Stevens   

 

Reading progress update: I've read 932 out of 1217 pages.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

I just finished the third volume of War and Peace and there has been a lot of war in this volume. I have to admit, the war parts are a bit of a slog. But this minor downfall gets evened out by the awesome (and admittedly crazy) characters and their insane lives. I mean, what is up with Pierre:

 

He decides to go to war (mind you, he is not a soldier), stumples upon the battlefield without realising it, stands in everybodies way at the most crucial point of the Russian forces, a constant smile on his lips, and after a few hours constant bombardment by the french troops he realises that people are dying and he just wants to go home. And upon coming home and learning that his brother-in-law and his best friend are dead and his wife wants a divorce (the way she wants to achive this divorce is just ludicrous), he decides to kill Napoleon.

(show spoiler)

 

Totally ridiculous, but so much fun.

Reading progress update: I've read 600 out of 1217 pages.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

"If I were not I, but the handsomest, brightest and best man in the world, and I was free, I would go on my knees this minute and ask for your hand and your love."

 

Pierre Bezukhov might not be the handsomest, brightest and best man in the world, but he is one of the best characters I have ever encountered in a book. I simply adore him.

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.

currently reading

Progress: 157/389pages
Progress: 180/941minutes
Progress: 208/436pages
Progress: 709/4318minutes
Progress: 129/353pages