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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage"

Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014

I've had this book on my TBR list for quite a while and then we decided to read it for our book club. I am glad we finally did.

As most of my fellow readers know in the meantime, Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favourite contemporary authors. Same as always, I loved every bit of this book. Every chapter concentrated on a different character and you were able to get to know them all pretty well. So, we could fear with the Mayfield family what had happened to their youngest daughter but we could also see how the disappearance influenced the lives of all the other family members. Almost a moment from "It's a Wonderful Life" where we can see how one life has an effect on so many others.

As usual, I loved the rich expression of JCO, her way of unfolding a story, of leaving hints here and there without revealing anything. She is a psychological writer as well as a crime writer, a drama reporter as well as a narrator of characters. It's always incredible how well she manages to describe a person, to so much detail that you must be convinced that person really exists. You almost are tempted to google the person in order to find out what happened to them afterwards. You feel their minds, their love, their hopes, their dreams, their guilt, their grief, everything they feel, you feel. You feel with the "slightly" autistic girl, you even understand her worries, you feel with the young soldier who came back from Iran, you feel with his fiancé who tries to live with these changes, you feel with the parents ... You get an insight into how the life of a young man can change once he joins the military and is sent into war. And you learn how one single moment can change the lives of many people forever.

As always, when I read a novel by this brilliant author, I have to send out a message to Sweden: Joyce Carol Oates should get the next Nobel Prize for Literature. It's about time!!!

We discussed this in our book club in November 2016.

From the back cover:
"Cressida Mayfield has gone missing. The ‘smart’ Mayfield girl is lost somewhere in the forests of the Adirondack Mountains. The desperate search yields only one clue: she was last seen in the company of Corporal Brett Kincaid. Kincaid is a severely disabled veteran of the Iraq War -  and was once the fiancé of Cressida’s beautiful sister.
As the grisly evidence mounts against the tormented war hero, Cressida’s family must face the possibility of having lost their daughter forever. For the deeply traumatized Kincaid, the facts of that terrible night are tangled with memories of the most appalling wartime savagery. He craves redemption - and he is not the only one.
Dark and riveting, Carthage explores the human capacity for violence, love and forgiveness, while questioning whether it’s ever truly possible to come home again."

In one of the houses, Cressida comes across many authors and books:

Aristotle's "Politics"
Cather, Willa
Chomsky, Noam "Problems of Knowledge and Freedom"
Descartes, René "Meditations"
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor "The Insulted and Injured"
Fanon, Frantz "The Wretched of the Earth
Faulkner, William
Humes, David' "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding"
Hobbes, Thomas"Leviathan"
Passos, John dos
Rawls, John "A Theory of Justice"
Singer, Peter "Animal Liberation"
Sinclair, Upton "The Jungle"
Quite a library!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy January

Happy January to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this beautiful watercolour painting
by Hanka Koebsch 

"Ice Age"
"Ice Time"

(depending on how you translate)


As I've done for the last couple of years, I'd like to share the wonderful watercolour paintings from Hanka and Frank Koebsch with you every month. I have bought their calendar every year for six years now and have loved every single one of their pictures. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do. 

You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their blog here.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas! Happy Jólabókaflóð!

"In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, and you spend the rest of the night reading. People generally take their books to bed along with some chocolate. How cozy and wonderful does that sound?

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, and new books are typically published only during the Christmas season - the frenzy is called "Jólabókaflóð" which means Christmas Book Flood."

Found on Facebook.

☆☆ Merry Christmas! Happy Jólabókaflóð! ☆☆ 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

December 6: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Aboulela, Leila "The Kindness of Enemies" - 2015

Abulhawa, Susan "Mornings in Jenin" - 2010

Ali, Sabahattin "Madonna in a Fur Coat" (Turkish: Kürk Mantolu Madonna) - 1943

Atkinson, Kate "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" - 1995

Filipović, Zlata "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo" (Bosnian: Zlatin dnevnik: otroštvo v obleganem Sarajevu)- 1993

Kulin, Ayşe "Rose of Sarajevo" (Turkish: Sevdalinka) - 1999

Maalouf, Amin "Samarcande" - 1988

Obama, Barack "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" - 1995
- "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" - 2006

Steinem, Gloria "My Life on the Road" - 2015

Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Imago" or "The Big Green Tent" (Russian: Zelenyi shater/Зеленый шатер) - 2010

Looking at that list, this was a great reading year. I found so many new and interesting authors. Well, some of heir names were already familiar to me but I had never read anything by them. Others were completely new to me. But all in all, I found some wonderful books and some great new authors.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Happy December

Happy December to all my friends and readers 

New Calendar picture with this beautiful watercolour painting
 by Hanka Koebsch

"Christmas Greetings from the Baltic Sea"
"Weihnachtsgrüße von der Ostsee"


Same as last year, I'd like to share the wonderful watercolour paintings from Hanka and Frank Koebsch with you every month. I have bought their calendar every year for five years now and have loved every single one of their pictures. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do. 

You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their blog here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom"

Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom" - 2013

I have read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou quite a while ago and really liked it. So, I was happy that when one of her books was chosen as a new read for "Emma's Book Club - Our shared shelf".

And I was not disappointed. Maya Angelou's writing is still as gripping as it was in her previous novel. She writes in a way as if you sit there listening to her telling a story. A really good story.  Her mother must have been a remarkable woman, as she was remarkable herself, she can find something good in everything, even though she had a difficult life to lead.

I learnt a lot about Maya Angelou and her family but I also learnt a lot about myself and my relationship to my late mother. Everything good but still interesting.

I am certainly going to read more of her books.

From the back cover:
"The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence - a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call 'Lady,' revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights."

Monday, 28 November 2016

Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London"

Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London" - 2014

I have read a few books of and about William Shakespeare and so far have enjoyed most of them a lot even though I always say a play is written to be played, not to be read.

My favourite of those books is still "Shakespeare: The World as a Stage" by Bill Bryson, one of my favourite authors.

However, this is a great non-fiction book about The Globe, how it first was built in Shakespeare's time and what it meant for the world of acting back then and how it influenced our world of the theatre today.
I love reading about historical times but the Tudor times belong to my favourites. There was just so much going on, the world was about to change. The world of great rulers was always the world of great art. And no matter what people say about Elizabeth I, she did a great job in a man's world and with her encouragement, the theatre flourished.

We learn a lot about the theatre here, about Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare's life and life in Shakespearean times in general.

Informative, interesting, excellent book about interesting, adventurous times.

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to visit the new Globe but I am determined that I will during my next visit to London.

From the back cover:
"The life of William Shakespeare, Britain's greatest dramatist, was inextricably linked with the history of London. Together, the great writer and the great city came of age and confronted triumph and tragedy. Globe takes its readers on a tour of London through Shakespeare's life and work as, in fascinating detail, Catharine Arnold tells how acting found it's place in the city. We learn about James Burbage, founder of the original Theatre in Shoreditch, who carried timbers across the Thames to build the Globe among the bear-gardens and brothels of Bankside in 1599, and of the terrible night in 1613 when the theatre caught fire during a performance of King Henry VIII. Rebuilt, the Globe continued to stand as a monument to Shakespeare's genius until 1642 when it was destroyed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. And finally we learn how, 300 years later, Shakespeare's Globe opened once more upon the Bankside, to great acclaim, rising like a phoenix from the flames.

Arnold creates a vivid portrait of Shakespeare and his London from the bard's own plays and contemporary sources, combining a novelist's eye for detail with a historian's grasp of his unique contribution to the development of the English theatre. This is a portrait of Shakespeare, London, the man and the myth."