Lillelara

Lillelara

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

Video

Since I´m reading Geoffrey Chauchers The Canterbury Tales and I´m really enjoying it, I thought I would share some medieval fun. Have a nice sunday, everyone :).

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYFefppqEtE&t=69s
Review
4 Stars
Far From the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

I may be the odd one out, but I really liked Far From the Madding Crowd. I liked the sheep, I liked the character of Gabriel Oak and above all, I loved Thomas Hardys descriptions of the landscapes and the weather. Since I know that a lot of people don´t like his writing style, I´m very pleased by the fact that Hardy seems like an author that I enjoy reading.

 

I have to admit, though, I´m not the biggest fan of the heroine, Bathsheba. She is selfish, condescending, at times cruel, vain and, which is my biggest complaint, utterly stupid. I didn´t feel sorry for her once and during the whole Valentine cards fiasco I just wanted to punch her in the face. How she can have three suitors in the first place is beyond me and the falling in love of Gabriel in the beginning was extremely poorly developed. Why is he falling in love with her? Right, it must have been her looks, because they didn´t talk that much to each other.

 

And I still have the same problem with the book as I had with the Carey Mulligan movie way back then:

 

Gabriel proposes to Bathsheba on page 20 or there about. And after 400 pages of drama and stupidity on behalf of Bathsheba, she ends up with the guy, who proposed to her in the first place. Yeah, she is a daft cow.

(show spoiler)
Review
3.5 Stars
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness - Richard Yates

My plan is to read all of Richard Yates´ work in chronological order, so next up after Revolutionary Road has been his first short story collection. And as always with short story collections, it has been a mixed bag for me.

 

The main theme of this collection is loneliness in 1950s America in all its forms and how the characters deal with it. There is the child, who gets bullied in school, the patient in a TB ward, the unhappy spouse in a marriage, the unsatisfied worker of a newspaper and the dreamer, who wants to create but doesn´t have the means to do this himself.

 

Richard Yates just has that uncanny ability to give his characters a personality and a soul, whether he writes about them on 300 pages or on merely twenty. The stories are quite sad and depressing and especially the first story, "Dr. Jack-O-Lantern", has been a total gut-punch (at least for me). Some stories worked better for me than others, but there hasn´t been a story that I disliked and overall it´s a strong collection of short stories. 

Reading progress update: I've read 23 out of 233 pages.
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

"I think if I find that I have any third cousins living at Cold Comfort Farm (young ones, you know, children of Cousin Judith) who are named Seth, or Reuben, I shall decide not to go."

"Why?"

"Oh, because highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben, and it would be such a nuisance. And my cousin´s name, remember, is Judith. That in itself is most omnious. Her husband is almost certain to be called Amos; and if he is, it will be a typical farm, and you know what they are like"

 

I have a slight premonition about the first names of the Starkadders ;D.

Review
3.5 Stars
Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey is my second Jane Austen novel I have read so far (Pride and Prejudice being the first one) and I enjoyed it, eventhough I had some issues with it.

 

What I liked: It´s a fun and lighthearted story and Catherines endeavours to open up a simple trunk or drawer are hilarious (she sees a gothic mystery in everything). I really adored the part of book that takes place at the actual abbey.

 

What I didn´t like: The first half of the book (the Bath-episode) is too long and nothing of interest happens. I didn´t like the Thorpe´s and Catherine´s inability to see past their demeanour grated on my nerves (I know, I have to cut her some slack. Catherine is only 17 and pretty naive).

I struggled with Jane Austen breaking the fourth wall, adressing Catherine as her heroine and talking directly to the reader. I thought this was utterly distracting from the narrative.

And The ending is just too rushed. All the drama is shoved into the last 20 pages of the story and nothing is developed properly and the the story is all of a sudden over.

 

I still enjoyed Northanger Abbey, despite its flaws, but this won´t be my favorite Austen novel.

Review
4 Stars
War and Peace
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

I have to admit, War and Piece intimidated me. The sheer size of it, the huge cast of characters and the fact that is a russian classic (I have that weird prejudice that Russian literature is difficult to read) really made me hesitate to read this book. But since I wanted to watch the BBC miniseries, I had to go on with it.

 

And I´m so glad I did, because I love this book eventhough it has its flaws. At times the war chapters felt like a history lesson, Tolstoys musings about the war strategies were most of the time too drawn out and there´s a huge list of characters and sometimes it was hard to keep track of them (keeping a list of the characters might be helpful). And I´m the first to admit that I had problems with grasping the motivations of the characters most of the time. Especially Pierre was making one odd decision after another and I kept scratching my head (I guess the Russian soul is a special one). But because of these flaws in the characters and because of the time I have spent with them, I became emotionally attached to the characters. Whether it being their feeling of happiness and love or their struggles with war, death and hardship, I kept turning the pages to see what is going to happen next and it´s been such a great experience to be in the same emotional turmoil alongside the characters.

 

There is one thing, though, that I didn´t like about War and Peace and this is the epilogue. It consists of two parts. The first part is about the characters and how they live their lives seven years later. I wish I hadn´t read this part, because all of a sudden I didn´t like the characters anymore. And I don´t think that the epilogue adds anything to the overall narrative. The second part of the epilogue consists of Tolstoys philosophical musings about war, history and why people act the way they do. And I didn´t find this to be particularly interesting. And yes, the epilogue is the reason why War and Piece didn´t get a five star rating from me.

 

But still, I love it and now I can proudly claim that I have read War and Peace in it´s entirety. It´s a great feeling.

 

I´ve got new bookmarks ...

 

... and they are so pretty.

Source: http://www.etsy.com/de/shop/BeyondthePages19
Reading progress update: I've read 342 out of 342 pages.
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

Good grief! This has to be one of the scariest books I have ever read in my entire life.

Reading progress update: I've read 145 out of 342 pages.
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

It´s my first time reading 1984 and it´s quite a disturbing and gloomy read (as gloomy as the winter weather here in Schleswig-Holstein). But so far I really like it.

 

On another note: I have sewn a book pillow for myself today (the last time I used a sewing machine must have been in 1995). So I´m very pleased that I managed to do it and that it looks like this:

 

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.

currently reading

Progress: 49/327pages
Progress: 180/941minutes
Progress: 1389/4318minutes