Giveaway – World Book Day 2017: Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (Bloggers Give Books)

Happy World Book Day, Book Lovers!

Bloggers Give BooksTo celebrate World Book Day and our Fourth Blogiversary, I’m giving away a copy of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West that is provided by our friends at Penguin Random House UK. I chose this novel because it is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I’d love to share its story with you.
If you’d like to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is answer one quiz question. The giveaway is open to people with an address in the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Norway and you have time to enter from today until April 30, 2017. Good luck!

 

 Mohsin Hamid Exit West
Exit West
Image provided by Hamish Hamilton¹

Synopsis quoted from Hamish Hamilton¹
An extraordinary story of love and hope, traveling from the Middle East to London and beyond, from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

  • The giveaway is open to people with an address in the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Norway.
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from April 23, 2017 until April 30, 2017.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. Neither is Penguin Random House UK.
  • There will be one winner who will receive one English language copy of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, sponsored by Penguin Random House UK.
  • You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
If you want to win a copy of Exit West, enter the giveaway here!
Do you want to find out about the other books you can win trough Blogger Schenken Lesefreude? Look no further than here.

Good Luck and Happy World Book Day!

Review – Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co. by Julian Kutos

Hi,

If you’re still looking for a little something the Easter Bunny could hide in its basket, you might be interested in Julian Kutos’ new Italian cookbook “Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co. Einfach italienisch genießen”. As you can probably guess by the title, the book is written in German and hasn’t been translated into English yet, but who knows?

Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co
Image provided by Löwenzahn Verlag¹

“Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co” is divided into four main chapters; Grundrezepte (Basic Recipes), Aperitivo, Pasta, and Pizza & Co, but where this book really shines are the concise and very helpful introductory chapters. They guide you from the very basics like ingredients or cooking equipment, to things like the five basic tastes and perfect cutting techniques. I think it’s needless to say that this cookbook also includes notes on how to use the cookbook, important terms, a glossary, suggested menus, an index and even a list of suppliers.

Of course I also did some cooking. Every recipe is accompanied by at least one large picture, and vegetarian and vegan recipes are easily distinguishable by special symbols at the top of the page.
FrittataI made four different dishes from this cookbook: Frittata, Bruschetta Tradizionale, Cannelloni ai Funghi, and Pizza.
The Frittata was easy and fast to make. I had most of the ingredients at home. I just exchanged the mozzarella di bufala the recipe called for for regular mozzarella. My boyfriend really liked the frittata, while I peeled off all the mozzarella, because I didn’t like the consistency and the taste together with the rest of the frittata. Maybe it would have been better to use buffalo mozzarella after all.

The Bruschetta was the recipe I had to modify the most. I still had loads of very soft Datterino tomatoes at home but no baguette. So I just used the rye bread I had at hand and made bruschetta just for me. It tasted good, maybe a little sweet, but that might have been my overripe tomatoes.

A meal my whole family liked but took me ages to make, were the Cannelloni ai funghi. The book says it should take about 65 min to prepare and cook them and I still ended up needing 50 min more.
Nevertheless, the cannelloni tasted wonderful. I had to use button mushrooms instead of chanterelle mushrooms due to the season but the filling was lovely. The only thing that might be problematic for some is the amount of food. It wouldn’t have been enough for four adults. We were three, we weren’t that hungry that day and there wasn’t much left.

A review of this Italian cookbook probably wouldn’t be complete without trying the Pizza Dough recipe. Making the dough isn’t hard. The dough shouldn’t be too wet and not too dry 😉 . I made pizza twice: Once on the same day after letting the dough rest for a few hours, and once after letting it rest in a cool room for five days. Both times, the dough was great to work with. It was easy to roll out and made wonderful thin crisp pizzas just the way I like them.

With “Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co.” Julian Kutos wrote an Italian cookbook that features Italian classics as well as a more modern take on Italian cuisine. Because of the easy-to-follow instructions and the great introductory chapters, the book would make a great gift for novice cooks. The only thing I really missed was a chapter on desserts. 🙂

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.loewenzahn.at/page.cfm?vpath=buchdetails&titnr=2618
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

 

Review – To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

Hi,

For Christmas I got a book that had been on my wish list since I first heard about its upcoming publication: Eowyn Ivey’s latest novel To the Bright Edge of the World. I’m glad that I finally got a chance to read it.

To the Bright Edge of the World
Image provided by Tinder Press¹

Alaska, 1885. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester and his handful of men are on their way to try the impossible. They want to scout the newly acquired territory with large uncharted parts that lay beyond the Wolverine River.
At the same time Allen’s wife Sophie has to sit tight at Vancouver Barracks in Oregon, where she is torn between disappointment at not being able to accompany her husband to Alaska, and the anticipation of the upcoming birth of their first child.

To the Bright Edge of the World is an Epistolary Novel that is largely told using Allen and Sophie’s diary entries. The frame story is set in the present, where Allen’s great-nephew Walter from Montana and Josh, a museum curator from Alaska, exchange letters about Sophie’s and Allen’s legacy. While their correspondence complements the plot at first, it gets a bit too much near the end of the novel.

It took me quite some time to warm up to Bright Edge to be honest, but when I did, I was hooked and didn’t want to go to sleep. I wanted to know more about the characters’ fate, wanted to see how clever Sophie dealt with the boring life at the barracks, wanted to accompany Allen and his men through snow and ice in Alaska spring, marveling at the breathtaking and solitary landscape. So every time I opened the book I almost felt like Josh the museum curator.

With To the Bright Edge of the World Eowyn Ivey has created an epistolary novel that reads so convincingly that I almost believed the journal entries and letters to be real. Even though it is inspired by Lieutenant Henry T. Allen’s journey into Alaska, I had to remind myself more than once that this book is a work of fiction and that the magical elements in the story are too good to be true. So if you’re up for an adventure and love the North as much as I do you’re in for a treat.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.headline.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781472208606

Review – Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Hello there,

A few weeks ago I got to read an ARC of Mohsin Hamid‘s latest novel Exit West.

Exit West
Image provided by Hamish Hamilton¹

Nadia and Saeed live in a city at the brink of war. When the militants take over the city it is time for the two of them to leave. They have heard of the black doors leading to places all around the world and so they decide to use one of those doors to make their escape.

With the refugee crisis, Mohsin Hamid chose a current theme for Exit West. We get to experience the crisis from the perspective of those directly affected – the refugees themselves. This way, we can see that the foreigners coming to our countries, looking for safety, are just humans like us, that they often come from a background similar to ours, and that war or displacement can change them for the better or for worse.
The novel also shows what people, what our own neighbors, are capable of if they are scared of the unknown, and what the world could come to if we give in to our fears.

Exit West is a quick and fluid read up until the middle of the book where Nadia and Saeed end up in London. Their stay there drags on quite a bit. What I really enjoyed were those few short glimpses at other people’s lives during the crisis that are interspersed into the main plot.

Mohsin Hamid wrote a short book packed with information and themes. Exit West is a novel that couldn’t be closer to reality and still there is a pinch of magical realism to illustrate that the whole world is on the move. It’s one of those books that should be a compulsory read for those who lack empathy and humanity.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/300265/exit-west/9780241290088/
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review – Die Jüdische Küche by Annabelle Schachmes

Hi,

If you know me, you’ll know that I love food and cooking. I also love collecting cookbooks, something I must have inherited from my dad. Luckily enough, I recently got my hands on a copy of Annabelle Schachmes’ Jewish cookbook “Die Jüdische Küche”. It was originally published in 2015 by Gründ cuisine under the title “La Cuisine juive“.

Die Jüdische Küche
Image provided by südwest¹

With “Die Jüdische Küche”, Annabelle Schachmes tried to create a collection of Jewish dishes from all over the world. To find the recipes, she traveled to different continents and brought back gems from Russia, Tunisia, Israel, the USA and various other countries.

The book is divided into eight sections: “spices, pickle & condiments”; “appetizers”; “main courses”; “sides”; “soups”; “street food & New York delis”; “breads & pastries” and “desserts”. Usually these chapters are there to help you find recipes, in this book they only confuse. Everything is okay up until we reach the “soups” section which is not where I would look for it at all. It’s in the middle of the book while it should be somewhere near the beginning. I also don’t get why “street food & New York delis” is so far away from the main dishes. The placing of “breads & pastries” as well as “desserts” is perfect but what I don’t get is why “desserts” is full of pastries again with some lemonade recipes sprinkled in between. The whole thing is quite chaotic.

Cinnamon ChallahAmong over 160 recipes you will find favorites like falafel, hummus or challah as well as lots of dishes you’ve never heard before. Many recipes are accompanied by a description or even a photo but some aren’t and it is really hard to guess what cholent or loubia are supposed to be if all you’ve got is a recipe. “Die Jüdische Küche” is a beautifully illustrated cookbook full of photographs of markets and people in the streets but wouldn’t it be better to cut back on those photos and accompany every recipe by a picture instead?

While all this sounds harsh, you can’t judge a cookbook without doing some cooking. For Valentine’s Day, I chose to cook falafel and bake challah.
Falafal with Cucumber SaladI didn’t make a falafel sandwich as it is suggested in the book, but chose to serve the falafel with cucumber salad and sour cream. The recipe lets you choose between frying or baking the falafel, so I did the latter. I was a bit confused because the ingredients didn’t specify if the weight for the canned chickpeas meant the drained weight or not. In another recipe that was stated and here it wasn’t. Anyways, the falafel turned out great, maybe a bit on the dry side, but they tasted heavenly and they were assembled in no time. This will become a go-to recipe in my home for sure.

Heart-shaped ChallahI chose to pimp the challah recipe by making cinnamon challah. I did the dough just like the recipe stated and before I braided it, I brushed it with melted butter and dusted it with cinnamon and sugar. The challah was just as yummy as the falafel. So recipe-wise, “Die Jüdische Küche” is a great book.

Annabelle Schachmes collected Jewish recipes from all over the world. She took the recipes and her photos and had them bound into a book. What she forgot is that there are people who will want to use this book as a cookbook. There isn’t an introductory chapter telling us about the ingredients and the measurements used, or about possible substitutions – something you’ll find in every good cookbook. I also miss the possibility to see the geographical origin of a recipe at a glance. This would have been so easy to accomplish. And then there is the big question that hasn’t been asked or answered: What is Jewish cuisine? Why are all these recipes considered Jewish and not German, Eastern European, or Tunisian? We’ll never know.
If you are an experienced cook who wants an extensive collection of good Jewish recipes and lots of beautiful pictures of people and markets, then go for this book, but remember: “Die Jüdische Küche” is just a collection of recipes and not much more.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.randomhouse.de/Buch/Die-juedische-Kueche/Annabelle-Schachmes/Suedwest/e507478.rhd
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review – Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sherlock Holmes’ Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor

Hello,

Today, I’m going to tell you about an audio book that has been on my shelf for quite a while. It’s BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sherlock Holmes’ Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor.

Sherlock Holmes' Rediscovered Railway Mysteries
Image provided by BBC Physical Audio¹

The audio book features four short stories -“An Inscrutable Masquerade”, “The Conundrum of Coach 13”, “The Trinity Vicarage Larceny” and “The 10.59 Assassin”- inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Each story is approximately 30 minutes long and is read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

When I started listening to the first story, I noticed right away that the British accents Cumberbatch uses to narrate the stories take some getting used to. He voices each character differently which makes them easy to distinguish, but some of them a bit hard to understand. Fortunately, I soon adapted to Cumberbatch’s reading style. Sometimes however, he tends to overdo his voice acting, like when he tries to imitate a woman’s voice, which turns out to be rather comical.

As some of you might know, I usually don’t read crime fiction, but these four whodunnit stories aren’t scary at all, so I was okay listening to them. Unfortunately, most of the stories aren’t really that engaging. I only really liked “The 10.59 Assassin” which is very clever and held my attention throughout.

In my opinion, Sherlock Holmes’ Rediscovered Railway Mysteries could be good company on a two-hour train ride. You should, however, listen carefully or else you’ll miss important details. Even coloring my Grumpy Cat Hates Coloring book turned out to be a bit too distracting at times. 😉

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1109883/benedict-cumberbatch-reads-sherlock-holmes-rediscovered-railway-mysteries/

Review – A Boy Called Christmas & The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I get it, it might be a bit too late for that. But hey, it’s less than 49 weeks until Christmas, so you might as well start your preparations. 😉

Today I got two books for you. I read Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas in one go and thought it would be appropriate to just review them together.

A Boy Called Christmas
Image provided by Canongate¹

Nikolas and his father Joel live in a humble cottage in Finland when one day Joel joins an expedition to find elves in the Far North. When he doesn’t return after more than three months, Nikolas gets worried and follows him on a dangerous journey that will change his life forever.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Image provided by Canongate²

It’s Christmas Eve when catastrophe strikes and Elfhelm and Santa’s sleigh are destroyed by trolls. There is no choice than to cancel Christmas. At the same time Amelia, the girl who once had enough hope to create the magic necessary for Father Christmas to travel around the world, loses all hope when she is locked up at a horrible workhouse. Will there still be enough hope left for Father Christmas to deliver toys next year?

If you aren’t drawn to these novels by their beautiful covers with illustrations by Chris Mould – which can also be found throughout the books – I can’t help you, but you might want to know that I think Matt Haig has written another Christmas essential with A Boy Called Christmas in particular.
This story of a small boy setting out to find his father touched my heart. It teaches us a lot about bravery, friendship and forgiveness. Throughout his journey Nikolas also learns one very important thing: that family isn’t necessarily about the blood you share.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas, which is set in London and Elfhelm, deals with similar themes than its predecessor A Boy Called Christmas. Under desperate conditions, young Amelia has to learn to believe and trust again. Her perseverance has shielded her from becoming one of the many robotic faces at the workhouse that has become her home. Unfortunately, the second narrative thread revolving around the preparations for Christmas in Elfhelm pales in comparison to Amelia’s story. It is a nice background story but nothing memorable.

With A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas, Matt Haig shows that he is a versatile author who can write more than fiction and non-fiction for adults. These two novels have the potential to become Christmas classics that will enchant children and adults alike.

5 Star Rating: A Boy Called Christmas  A Boy Called Christmas

4 Star Rating: The Girl Who Saved Christmas  The Girl Who Saved Christmas

¹ http://www.canongate.tv/a-boy-called-christmas-paperback.html
² http://www.canongate.tv/the-girl-who-saved-christmas-hardback.html
Review copies of the books were provided by the publisher.