Lillelara

Lillelara

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

Reading progress update: I've read 351 out of 604 pages.
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) - Hilary Mantel

"But it is no use to justify yourself. It is no good to explain. It is weak to be anekdotal. It is wise to conceal the past even if there is nothing to conceal. A man´s power is in the half-light, in the half-seen movements of his hands and the unguessed-at expressions of his face. It is the abscence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires."

Review
2 Stars
The Madwoman Upstairs
The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell

I like the premise of the book. The last descendant of the Brontë family gets entangled in a scavenger hunt for some hidden Brontë memorabilia, which her father supposedly has stashed away for her. A literary scavenger hunt and the life of the Brontë´s combined in one book, that could have been a book right up my alley. Unfortunately I have been wrong about that.

 

My biggest gripe with this book is the main character Samantha, who is one of the most unsympathetic characters I have ever encountered in a book. Surely, unsympathetic characters can be the most interesting ones. But this means there must be something interesting about them and Samantha hasn´t an interesting personality. Instead she is a petty, self-righteous and annoying woman, who behaves like a five-year-old most of the time.

 

At the beginning of the novel she gets to study literature at the old college in Oxford. And yet she hates authors, every single one of them. A fair amount of the book comprises of her sessions with her tutor and almost every session ends with him being displeased about her (non-existent) knowledge and her attitude. So, if she is not interested in literature and don´t know anything about it, why study it in the first place? And how did she get to study at Oxford university in the first place (without any talents whatsoever)?

 

Besides being an awful student she isn´t capable of keeping a descent conversation with another human being, as a matter of fact she alienates a lot of people she is having a conversation with. And then she is whining about her not having any friends and being so lonely.

 

And yet Catherine Lowell manages to squeeze a love story into her book, providing Samantha with her very own Mr. Rochester. Let´s just say I didn´t buy into this love story but at that point I was beyond caring.

 

Not even the scavenger hunt (with its anticlimactic solution) couldn´t keep this book from being a mediocre read. Not my kind of novel.

Review
3.5 Stars
The Body in the Library
The Body in the Library  - Agatha Christie

I´ve got to admit, I admire Miss Marple´s deductive skills. I wouldn´t be able to solve a single one of her cases (even if there were enough clues to work with). Sitting in a corner, knitting and listening and watching closely what´s going on around her, that how she does it. Yet with this book, I was puzzled by the ending. Not only because I didn´t see that ending coming, but mainly because I can´t believe how someone can come up with such an intricate murder plot in the first place. The murder is a criminal mastermind, but not nearly smart enought to outwit Miss Marple.   

 

Overall I enjoyed this mystery with it´s twist and turns, but it´s not my favorite Christie, mainly because I was a tad bored by the beginning of the novel.

It´s this time of the year

Last week has been my first week at work again after having had a three week vacation. And as every year this week has been an exhausting one. And as every year, I´m hitting a reading slump after my vacation (and for that matter an internet slump as well). I haven´t picked up a physical book in over a week and the only thing I could manage was listening to audiobooks.

 

Still Life - Louise Penny  A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny  

 

I´ve finished Stil Life last week and started the second book in the chief inspector Garmache series right away. These are the perfect books in my present state of mind. A mystery set in a quaint Canadian small town, with a likeable main character and with a cozy feel to it.

 

And to ease myself back into reading physical books, I picked up another one of my Agatha Christie books. I hope this one will be the perfect palate cleanser:

 

The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie

 

Keeping my fingers crossed that I can break through my slump.

Reading progress update: I've read 187 out of 473 pages.
The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf

After having travelled South America for five year, Humboldt and Bonpland return to Europe and eventhough Humboldt is desperate to get back into the field, he is stuck in his confined life and he has to quench his wanderlust. Caused by the East India Company, who didn´t allow Humboldt to travel to the Himalaya. (He used the 20 years being stuck in Europe to write his books).

 

I honestly didn´t know that the East India Company had such a huge influence, being able to decide who was allowed to get into a country and who wasn´t. And just imagine Humboldt climbing the Mount Everest. He would have done it, without a doubt.

 

I´m deeply impressed by Humboldts work. It seems like every significant work of science is based on an idea Humboldt had before them. You´ve got to admire his skills, his knowledge and his determination to science. On the other side he seems to be a deeply troubled character, incapable to form a serious and lasting relationship with other people. Even his brother Wilhelm is struggling with his character.

 

There were so many interesting tid-bits in this part of the book. I didn´t know anything about Simon Bolivar´s revolution in South America before reading this book, so I thoroughly enjoyed that chapter. And the fact that Humboldt did get a kind of salary from Prussia without doing anything for this money and the fact that Napoleon didn´t like Humboldt, makes you consider what kind of and agenda some people had regarding Humboldt or what kind of feelings Humboldt invoked in other people (and what this does say about these people, in this case Napoleon).

 

And then there is Bonpland. I sincerely hope that Wulf will follow his fate, because I kind of like him (I have a soft spot for scatterbrained scientist). I hope he will pull through whatever he has to suffer from.

 

Review
2 Stars
Mistress of the Art of Death
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin

As it turns out I couldn´t endure this book any longer (I´ve read 355 pages and after that I started skim reading).

 

It´s Cambridge in the year 1171, a child has been murdered, other children have been abducted and the local Jews are being accused of the crimes. Since the Jews are important for the Kings purse, he recruits an Italian investigator and a female doctor, who is skilled in studying corpses, to find out who the killer is.

 

This mystery started out perfectly okay. I liked the historical backdrop, there were a lot of interesting and suspicious characters and I was even suprised that the book had a gritty feel to it. 

 

But at the 300 page mark the author decided to turn this novel into a sappy romance story. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t have anything against romance (if it is handled well), but I don´t want it to be the most important thing in the latter half of a mystery novel. Somehow the author lost her focus, writing one of the most anticlimatic mystery thrillers I have read in a very long time. In the end I was neither shocked who the killer was, nor did I care. 

 

And may I just say that I really disliked the main character Adelia towards the end. She is depicted as a headstrong, independent woman and she has made a personal vow to herself that she never is going to marry or get into a relationsship with a man in the name of science. And then, snap, a dream hunk of a man appears and Adelia suffers from severe dementia when it comes to her own convictions. 

 

She even has extramarital sex with him, eventhough he insists on marrying her before anything is going to happen.

(show spoiler)

Seriously, I hated the whole romance storyline. 

 

Another series I can cross of my list. What a disappointment.

 

I´ve read this for Booklikes-opoly square Adventureland 26 and this book is tagged as "thriller" on goodreads.

 

Page Count: 502 pages (but I´m going to count the 355 pages I have actually read)

Money earned: $6.00

 

Reading progress update: I've read 355 out of 512 pages.
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin

On page 284 I still enjoyed this book and I was interested in the whole murder mystery. And then it took the author only 70 pages to turn this book into a Nora Roberts novel.

 

I wish I could DNF this novel, but I didn´t spend the last week reading it without cashing the $10.00 for the Booklikes-opoly. So here is my plan: I will be reading 401 pages in an orderly fashion and then I will skimread the last couple of pages. At least I want to know who the killer is (and hopefully it will get interesting again along the way).

 

I´m peeved.

 

 

 

Overdrive Library Finds

I´m so sorry for three posts in a row, but I have just been on the Overdrive site of my Danish library and they have gotten some new books that look really interesting.

 

Book 1:

 

Orkney Twilight - Clare carson  

 

I want to read this book because it has "Orkney" in the title. I still want to visit that place.

 

Book 2:

 

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History - Sam Maggs

 

Another book about exeptional women. I think that says it all. And I love the cover.

 

Book 3:

 

Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky - Rachel L. McCormack  

 

A book about Whisky. I just have to read that one.

Nonfiction Science Book Club: My Suggestions
The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug - Thomas Hager The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness - Sy Montgomery The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben Adventures in Human Being (Wellcome) - Gavin Francis Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari  Dr The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman Herding Hemingway's Cats: Understanding how our genes work - Kat Arney

Just my two cents :). I´m really looking forward to be reading some more non-fiction.

Reading progress update: I've read 284 out of 512 pages.
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin

Enjoying this book so far, eventhough I don´t know how historical accurate this novel is. But it certainly fits the Booklikes-opoly criteria for which I´m reading this book. It´s much more a thriller than a mystery and it´s a gritty read. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 108 out of 473 pages.
The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf

I´m still enjoying this book immensely, Alexander von Humboldt is a fascinating person.

 

This second part of the book is about Humboldts travels through South America and his subsequent visit in the USA. As my fellow buddy-readers I´m suprised, too, that he and his travel companiens have managed to get out of there alive. I´m always imagining a rainforest to be the most unhospitable place on earth and Humboldt´s report of how every triburary of the Amazon has a different taste gave me the shivers. And let´s not forget all the dangerous animals and Malaria (they did know about quinine back then, didn´t they? So maybe that was a managable problem to some extent). Imminent death is looming around the corner.

 

And I wonder if Humboldt will get in trouble with the Spanish government, telling the president of America state secrets. Eventhough Humboldt is doing this in the name of science, they can´t be too amused about that.

Wisdom
Still Life  - Louise Penny, Ralph Cosham

"You need to learn that you have choices. There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?"

She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin.

"They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean." Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. "I don´t know. I need help. I´m sorry. And one other." Gamache thought for a moment but couldn´t bring it to mind. "I forget. [...]"

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 0 out of 384 pages.
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics - Jason Porath

Gathering together a diverse set of some famous, some infamous, some forgotten, and some virtually unknown figures from history and myth, from all over the globe, this book presents the female role models we never knew we needed. Yes, there are are a few princesses, but there are also pirates, spies, journalists, activists, concubines, empresses, ninjas, pilots, samurais, mathematicians, sword-slingers, and warlords too.

 

I got my used copy of Rejected Princesses today in the mail and I´m looking forward to learn something new about some kick-ass ladies. And the dedication is adorable:

 

"Dedicated to my mother, the strongest woman the world. You carved a space for yourself out of a world that offers strong women no quarter. Then, out of everything you could have been, you choose to be my mom. I hope I can live up to you."

Booklikes-opoly Roll #26 (July 10th)
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin

Finished the fantastic book My Year of Meats, so I´m allowed to roll the dice again. Starting from square Adventureland 24:

 

 

Brings me to:

 

 

My pick is:

 

Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin 

 

And I rolled a double, so my next roll brings me to:

 

 

 

I´ve been her before. And I don´t know what I will be reading for this square just yet.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
My Year of Meats - Ruth Ozeki

Why did it take me so long to read this book? It´s so good, I loved every page of it. My favorite read of the year so far.

 

  

 

 

Review
1.5 Stars
Magpie Murder
Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz

Honestly, this novel is a mess of a book.

 

Editor Samantha Ryeland reads a book by her most famous client, mystery writer Alan Convay. The first part of this novel consists of the mystery novel, which Alan Convay has written. But the last part of this fictitious mystery novel is missing and at this point we get thrown into Samanthas narrative, who is trying to find the missing chapters and who has to deal with a whole lot of other problems along the way.

 

Basically this book is two stories in one and let me be upfront, I didn´t enjoy both stories. Alan Convays novel is incredibly boring and when I finally got invested in the narrative of this story, the novel abruptly ends, because the final chapters are missing.

And then I had to endure Samantha´s narrative, an unsympathetic character who turns into an amateur sleuth for no reason at all. Samantha just rubbed me the wrong way with her pathetic whining about her relationsship and she is really full of herself. Towards the end of the novel she comes to the conclusion that only an editor could have solved the mystery that has been laid out in the present narrative. At that point I felt the need to punch her in the face.

 

Both stories get incredibly bogged down by incessant info-dumping. Whether it being the looks of a person, the interior of a house, the never-ending references to Agatha Christie, the author felt the need to provide the reader with too much information. This book could have been shorter and it could have needed a better editor.

 

I listened to the audiobook of Magpie Murders and both narrators, Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner, did a good job with the narration. They were the reason I didn´t DNF the book, but I´m still glad that I got it from my local library via Overdrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

currently reading

Progress: 140/230pages
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Progress: 187/473pages
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Progress: 119/258pages