Thursday, 20 April 2017

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon"


Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015


I always found the Tudor period captivating, I have read about Elizabeth I in Margaret George's great Novel "Elizabeth I" and other works about the Virgin Queen, I have read Hilary Mantel's novels "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" where I learned about the Boleyns, Thomas Cromwell, I have read about Shakespeare in the time of Elizabeth I. but I have never read a whole book about Katherine of Aragon, I have always seen her through the eyes of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the "old" wife who didn't want to get divorced and therefore forced her husband to break with the church.

Now here is a chance to see it all through Katherine's eyes, learning her side of the story, how she came to England to become the wife of Henry's brother Arthur first but then was taken by Henry after his brother died. Only to be cast aside when she couldn't provide a male heir.

This novel certainly makes us more acquainted with Katherine, her life, her love, her desires, her problems. She was a strong woman, courageous, someone who tried to make the best of what life threw into her way but in the end, her husband was more powerful. Not better, not stronger, he just had more power behind himself.

Alison Weir manages to write about all this and more, how life in Tudor times was, especially in the court, of course, but she introduces so many characters that you can well imagine life anywhere, you even think it was better to be poor and have nothing to do with aristocracy at all.

So many occurrences during Katherine's life determine history and the way we live today.

What if?
Katherine of Aragon had died on her way to England?
Prince Arthur had not died?
Prince Arthur had died before marrying Katherine?
Prince Arthur had died after having had a son?
Katherine had not married Henry after Arthur died?
One of Katherine's sons had survived?
Ann Boleyn had married at the French court?
Henry and Ann Boleyn had never met?
Ann Boleyn had died of "the sweat"?
Queen Mary had not died?

If either of these incidents had or had not occurred, there would be no Anglican church today. At least not the way Henry created it.

It's interesting to follow Katherine's life and ask yourself those questions. A phenomenal book.

I can't wait for part II of this "Anne Boleyn. A King's Obsession" and have already ordered the non-fiction book that introduces all of the ladies to us: "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"

From the back cover:
"A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen.

Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it. At sixteen years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers.

She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother.
She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.

KATHERINE OF ARAGON. The first of Henry’s Queens. Her story.

Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir has based her enthralling account of Henry VIII’s first wife on extensive research and new theories. She reveals a strong, spirited woman determined to fight for her rights and the rightful place of her daughter. A woman who believed that to be the wife of a King was her destiny.

History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived."

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Grimm, Hans Herbert "Schlump"



Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier" (German: Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt) - 1928

I have never read "All Quiet on the Western Front" even though it has been on my wishlist forever whereas I never heard about this one. The author writes about the same war as Erich Maria Remarque but he decided to publish his book anonymously under the name "Schlump".

An interesting read, Schlump describes the various faces of war, the different kind of jobs a solider is forced to do, from sitting in an office to fighting in the trenches. We have it all first-hand, from someone who saw it all with his own, very critical eyes. Therefore, it was a good idea he didn't tell anyone his name at the time, he certainly would have ended up in one of Hitler's concentration camps. This way, he survived.

Highly interesting read.

From the back cover:
"Schlump is seventeen, a romantic, a chancer and a dreamer. It's 1914 so naturally he volunteers for war. In France he is assigned an administrative position in a small town and has a marvellous time. But when he gets to the trenches, where death and mindless destruction are the everyday, he starts to understand something about war."

Similar Books:
Remarque, Erich Maria "Im Westen Nichts Neues" (All Quiet on the Western Front) - 1929
Renn, Ludwig "Krieg" (War) - 1928

Friday, 14 April 2017

Book Quotes of the Week



"A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself." Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

"In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream." Thomas Carlyle

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant." Voltaire

"The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it." Thomas Wolfe

"I'm a bookaholic on the road to recovery. Ha, not really. I'm on the road to the bookstore." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.


[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype"


Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" - 1992

The latest book that was suggested by Emma Watson fro the Goodreads group "Our Shared Shelf". There have been good and bad books, in my opinion, in this group. This is one of the better ones. Dr. Pinkola Estés talks about myths about the Wild Woman, she tells us fairy tales, folk sagas, anything that has to do with women standing on their own feet, defending themselves and their offspring and explains the symbolism behind it. Highly interesting.

The author explains so much about the human being so that this book should not just be read by women, also a great selection for men who would like to understand women better. You can tell this is written by a professional who knows everything about the human psyche, has studied it for a long time and always tries to look at every aspect of every story. Dr. Pinkola Estés is a Jungian analyst and even if you have never heard of Jung, she explains everything very detailed so that anyone can follow her stories and her analysis.

I have read a lot of fairy tales and there were quite a few stories that I heard in a similar version but every story the author retold was like new to me the way she explained them.

I borrowed this book from the library but might want to buy it for myself to read it again some other time. That's how good it was. And encouraging book that teaches us a lot about ourselves.

From the back cover:
"Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society's attempt to 'civilize' us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller, shows how woman's vitality can be restored through what she calls 'psychic archeological digs' into the bins of the female unconscious. In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes uses multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories chosen from over twenty years of research that help women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype. Dr. Estes collects the bones of many stories, looking for the archetypal motifs that set a woman's inner life into motion. 'La Loba' teaches about the transformative function of the psyche. In 'Bluebeard,' we learn what to do with wounds that will not heal; in 'Skeleton Woman,' we glimpse the mystical power of relationship and how dead feelings can be revived; 'Vasalisa the Wise' brings our lost womanly instincts to the surface again; 'The Handless Maiden' recovers the Wild Woman initiation rites; and 'The Little Match Girl' warns against the insidious dangers of a life spent in fantasy. In these and other stories, we focus on the many qualities of Wild Woman. We retrieve, examine, love, and understand her, and hold her against our deep psyches as one whois both magic and medicine. In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and lifegiving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.."

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016


Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016

Victoria Hislop has become one of my favourite authors. I loved all of her books so far.  And this one was just another brilliant one by this writer whom I've come to love after reading her other books beginning with the "The Island" until "The Sunrise" and this one is no different. First I was a little apprehensive since it was described as a "collection of short stories" and I don't really like short stories that much. But I had already liked her other collection, "The Last Dance and Other Stories", so I was determined to read this.

And I was not disappointed. Like in all her other books, the author manages to describe her characters so well and makes you want to get on a plane and go visit the place right away.

So does, Ellie, the "reader" of this story who receives postcards from a stranger. Well, they seem to be to a previous person living in her flat but since she doesn't know where S. is now, she has no idea where to send them. She starts loving the places described and goes on a trip to Greece. Quite a lovely story through which we get to know a lot of Greek folk stories and tales of contemporary Greek people.

Great read. If you like Greece or want to know more about it, the authors novels are all brilliant but this one gives you quite an overview since it travels through the country.

From the back cover:
"Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop's Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind."

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The "Piggybank" Challenge 2017



This is my fifth year of taking part in this challenge and decided to carry on. Why? You will discover once you read this text:

This is a challenge idea by a German blogger. I have translated her text and you can find the original site here at "Willkommen im Bücherkaffee".

How long does this challenge last?
1 March 2017 to 1 March 2018

What goes into the piggybank?
For every book I've read - €2.00 into the piggybank
(Amount can be individually altered, of course)

Rules
• For every finished book, the amount chosen is inserted into the piggy bank/ money box.
• This money is then off limits until the end of the challenge, i.e. the piggybank stays closed.
• On 1 March the piggybank can be opened and you can go shopping extensively - or carry on reading and saving.
• Be consistent and put the money into the bank immediately, otherwise you will lose track easily. (Personally, I put the books I read right next to the money box  until I drop the money in, otherwise it gets forgotten very quickly. Only after that do i put the book back on the shelf.)
• A list of books read would be very nice because you can perfectly observe the savings success.
• In addition, it would be great if you post a challenge post on your blog. This way, everyone can follow the progress of the other challenge participants so much easier. If you don't have a blog, then just leave a comment here in the comments from time to time about your opinion or your progress.

Would you like to join us?
Go ahead! It is worthwhile in any care and you will certainly not regret it.

Just write in the comments or by email to buecherkaffee@yahoo.de and send your link to the post. You may use the challenge logo with a link to the challenge in the Bücherkaffee.

The hashtag for the Twitter exchange : # Sparstrumpf

Last year, I read 81 books in that timeframe which resulted in €192 to spend on something nice. :-D

My progress (I add the German title, if available, for my German friends):
Falcones, Ildefonso "Das Lied der Freiheit" (The Barefoot Queen/La Reina Descalza) - 2013
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016
Lippe, Jürgen von der "Der König der Tiere. Geschichten und Glossen" - 2017
Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" (Die Wolfsfrau: Die Kraft der weiblichen Urinstinkte) - 1992
Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt" (Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier) - 1928
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015 
Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989
Zweig, Stefanie "Heimkehr in die Rothschildallee" (Familie Sternberg #3) [Homecoming to Rothschild Avenue] -2010
Grass, Günter "Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten" (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom) (Autobiographical Trilogy #2) - 2008
Scott, Mary "It Was Meant" (Zärtliche Wildnis) - 1974
Ballantyne, Tony "Dream London" - 2013
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006
Bryson, Bill "Bill Bryson's African Diary. A Short Trip for a Worthy Cause" (Mein Afrika-Tagebuch) - 2002 

Hirst, John "The Shortest History of Europe" - 2009
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter" (You Are Not Like Other Mothers) - 1992
Murakami, Haruki "Kafka am Strand" (Kafka on the Shore) (海辺のカフカ Umibe no Kafuka) - 2004


My lists of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen"



Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (Spanish: La Reina Descalza) - 2013

As with his former books "Cathedral of the Sea" and "The Hand of Fatima", Ildefonso Falcones does not disappoint with his newest novel. Whether he talks about Barcelona in the 14th century, Muslims in the 16th century or gypsies in the 18th, he seems to know all the characters personally and introduces us to their lives and struggles. This time, it's the gypsies and their problems in a country where they are not welcome, well, where are they ever? They can't make a living by staying somewhere because they are not allowed to work in many many jobs but they also can't travel. And when the Spanish crown decides to lock them all up in order to conduct the perfect genocide. Well, luckily, there is no perfect genocide, there are always members of a race that are willing to fight until the very end.

Ildefonso Falcones is a great storyteller, he can make you love the characters and feel with them through their dramatic lives. And in addition to that, it's also a fantastic history lesson. We don't just learn about Spain in the 18th century, we also learn about slaves in Cuba, tobacco planting and and working, trading and smuggling. There is so much in this story. Even though Caridad, a former slave, is supposed to be the protagonist, her friend Milagros with her grandfather Melchor and their family are also quite important to the story.

Can't wait until his newest book "Los herederos de la tierra" (2016), the follow-up to "Cathedral of the Sea" is translated.

From the back cover:
"A historical epic full of bravery and romance that follows two women as they make a life for themselves in 18th-century Spain.

It's January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona's-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy's struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it's a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with characters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe."