Happy World Book Day 2018

Hello there!

Happy World Book Day everyone! Yes, it’s me and yes, I’m still alive and breathing.
Those who have been following me for a while now will also know that World Book Day usually also means that it’s Blogiversary time and that is why I couldn’t keep silent much longer 😉 It’s our fifth Blogiversary this month and even though there won’t be a huge celebration, I wanted to write a little update.

Some of you might have noticed that little notification on the right where it says that I’m working on my thesis and that there will be fewer blog posts these days; Well, that’s absolutely true! When I’m not working on my thesis, I’m trying to relax while sewing, doing jigsaw puzzles, visiting the local zoo or reading just for pure pleasure! I hope you can forgive me if writing a book review isn’t the first thing I’d like to do after spending time with my thesis.Volumes of books

If you are interested in what I’m reading, my Goodreads profile is always up to date. The only thing I usually don’t do when I’m planning on maybe someday reviewing a book, is rating it. But if you see something that I’ve read and would like my opinion on it you can always ask me. 🙂

Of the books that I’ve read since last summer, there were a few books that stood out:

What have you read and really enjoyed in the past months? I’m always looking for an awesome read!

Anyways, I hope you’re enjoying World Book Day in style today.
Have a great day! I will be back 😉

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer

Hi,

After a short break studying hard for an exam, I’m back with a new review. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer is a book I’ve been hearing many good things about, so I thought I’d give it a go.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Image provided by Random House¹
Synopsis quoted from Random House¹:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

My Thoughts:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in London and on Guernsey after World War II. Shaffer and Barrows are able to make you envision the spectacular scenery on Guernsey. Their descriptions of the wind and the sea made me instantly want to go on holiday there.

The novel’s main character is the writer Juliet Ashton, a young woman at the ideal age to settle down and get married. She can’t, however, make up her mind yet. What’s more, she isn’t the devoted wife type who stays at home and cooks and cleans. Juliet has a mind of her own and loves her work. The people living on Guernsey are a lovely mix of different characters. I particularly like Isola, a very kind woman with many future passions lying dormant within her.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel that reads very fluidly, so please don’t be put off by this unusual writing style. I did need some time to get used to it, but that might also have been due to my massive book hangover after reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. While The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’s synopsis suggests a light read, the book has its serious sides concerning the German occupation of Guernsey. What I really like is that the writing is not judging but well-balanced. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will please history aficionados as well as those looking for a down-to-earth love story.

4beans

¹ http://www.randomhouse.com/book/164594/the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society-by-mary-ann-shaffer-and-annie-barrows

Review – Dear Life by Alice Munro

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re enjoying Sunday! Today I’ve got a review of Alice Munro’s short story collection Dear Life for you. Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013 and this is the first time I’ve read something she has written. I have to thank Random House UK for this copy. I got it to discuss it with other readers on Lovelybooks and to write a review.

Dear Life
Image provided by Random House UK¹
Summary quoted from Random House UK¹:

Alice Munro captures the essence of life in her brilliant new collection of stories. Moments of change, chance encounters, the twist of fate that leads a person to a new way of thinking or being: the stories in Dear Life build to form a radiant, indelible portrait of just how dangerous and strange ordinary life can be.

My Thoughts:

Dear Life is divided into two parts. The first one consists of ten short stories, the second of four autobiographical pieces. I’ll only review the short stories. As far as I can remember, all of them are set in Canada, many in the 20th century. Of course, Alice Munro knows her trade. She understands how to set the scene and how to transfer atmosphere.

In Dear Life, Alice Munro’s characters often seem to share similarities. The oppressed woman, the confused man and sometimes a child to tell us all about their problems. What struck me most, was how Mrs. Munro told stories from a child’s perspective. Especially in “Gravel”. You really think you are a child experiencing what the narrator experienced.

Unfortunately, technique isn’t everything. Don’t get me wrong, “To Reach Japan” was perfect! I also enjoyed “Amundsen” and “In Sight Of The Lake”. But the remaining seven short stories didn’t do the trick. They were okay, but I really expected more than just “okay”. While “To Reach Japan” was captivating and left me thinking, “Dolly” for example, left me indifferent.

As Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize, I’m sure there are better short story collections out there. If life is like it is shown in Dear Life, it’s mostly dull, gray and tedious.

bohnen3s

¹http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/dear-life/9780099578635

Review – Touch by Alexi Zentner

Hi,

Today I’ve got another book review for you (to be honest, I’ve still got two more to write). Lovelybooks and btb (Random House) provided me with the German Edition of Touch by Alexi Zentner called Das Flüstern des Schnees. I read it in a Lovelybooks reading group where we also got the chance to ask Mr. Zentner questions. If you’re interested in them, just head over there. They are in English :).

Touch
Image provided by Chatto & Windus¹
Summary provided by Chatto & Windus¹:

On the eve of his mother’s funeral, Stephen, a middle-aged priest, sits down to write her eulogy. But as the evening creeps into night, he is haunted by memories from his childhood: birthday trips to the cuts with his father; the moment his sister slipped under the thick winter ice forever; and the memorable day his grandfather, Jeannot, came home after a thirty-year absence with a bundle of bones in his pocket and a mission to raise the dead.
Masterfully weaving the stories from three generations of one family, Touch tells the founding tale of Sawgamet – originally a gold-mining village – where deep in the forest reign golden caribou drinking from a honey-sweet river. Yet also in the forest lurk malevolent shapeshifters disguising themselves as friends, storms raging against foolhardy settlers, and the forest taking back the land for itself, branch by branch and root by root.
Touch is a singular, startling debut as enchanting as it is unnerving. In this darkly sinister fairy tale Alexi Zentner builds a magical world as distinctive as a grown-up Narnia, and marks himself out as a real talent to watch.

My Thoughts:

Touch is set in the fictional town of Sawgamet somewhere deep in the woods of Canada. The book spans the life of three generations of a family living there from the second half of the 19th century onwards. I am fascinated by the world that Mr. Zentner created in Touch! You can feel the chilly ice and snow, you can see it glitter. You fear the dark woods but you are also fascinated by how vast they are. And while you walk through them, you can even see your breath against the light shining through the trees.

I’d say there are two important characters in Touch, the first one being the narrator, Stephen. The second is his grandfather Jeannot. The reader accompanies Jeannot through many years of his life. He is a tough and fearless man. But it seems like almost all men who come to Sawgamet are tough and fearless. I can’t really remember a feature that would distinguish Jeannot from any of the secondary characters. The same happens with the women in Touch. They are all quite similar. I’d guess this could be interpreted as a means of showing that the characters in the book could be exchanged for anyone.

The plot of Touch is very fascinating as it leaves room for interpretation. It is a work of magical realism after all. My theory is that Jeannot fights nature itself, as he came into the woods and took from them. Touch isn’t a book you’ll quickly read and put back on the shelf, it is a book that will make you go back and think about it.

bohnen4s

¹http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/touch/9780701185466

Review – The Wishing Thread

Hi there,

It’s me again 🙂 I’m back with my review of Lisa Van Allen‘s The Wishing Thread. As I’ve told you before, I got a German-language copy for a book discussion at Lovelybooks. Aufbau Verlag even added a matching bracelet :).

It is very important to know that I read the German translation of the book because I’m going to say something about the writing style in my review and I am well aware that the writing style can change through translation. I also had a quick look at the fist 30 pages of the English original and they read better than the German version.

Which cover do you prefer? The German cover, or the English one? Tell me in the comments below 🙂

The German edition Ruetten & Loening Verlag (Aufbau)
The English cover provided by Random House¹
More on the German edition can be found here.
Summary of the English edition quoted from Random House¹:

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

My thoughts on the German translation:

The Wishing Thread is mainly set in 21st century Tarrytown, a city south of Sleepy Hollow and north of Manhattan. Lisa Van Allen’s writing style is very descriptive and she uses a metaphorical language to describe the setting. I particularly liked the stitchery. Even though it is described as an old, rundown house, it has its charm. In the German translation, the writing style and the time the book is set in clashed. The writing style made me think of a setting in the 19th century. This stiff language seemed outdated to me and every time there was an indication of the 21st century (e.g. a mobile phone), I was shocked like a time traveler. What didn’t help either, was the German cover that (in my opinion) also suggests a historical setting.

There are quite a lot of important characters in this book. The main character, however, is Aubrey. She’s the guardian of the stitchery and she’s a tad old-fashioned. She was easy to identify with at the beginning of the book. The further I read on, the harder it got to identify with a young woman who grew up in the 20th century and thought like an oppressed and naive woman from the 19th century. In one scene, I also felt like this about her sister Bitty. Apart from this problem with Aubrey, the other characters were nicely crafted. I really liked Aubrey’s niece Nessa, who made the story more lively. The bit I read about aunt Mariah was great, because Mariah radiates warmth and comfort. I also enjoyed Mason Boss. From the second he entered the stage… I can’t tell you more. But I like how he was written to life.

The Wishing Thread is a creative and unique story. It’s a story about family bonds. Magic plays a minor role in this book just like the love story. If you are a knitter, you’re in for a treat. Knitting is a big topic and all the chapter headings involve knitting terms that somehow relate to the content of the chapters if you have the time to think about them (at least that’s what I think). There’s another treat for knitters, but I don’t want to tell you too much. In my opinion, The Wishing Thread is a light and entertaining read for people who like to read stories about families and knitting.

My rating for the German translation of The Wishing Thread:

bohnen3s

¹ http://www.randomhouse.com/book/221371/the-wishing-thread-by-lisa-van-allen

Review – Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Who comes to your mind when you are asked to think about post-colonial British authors? Close your eyes for a few seconds; think hard; then open your eyes and tell me what you came up with. Hmh, let me think …. Kazuo Ishiguro! Does the name ring a bell? Yes? Excellent! I think it’s time to talk about one of Britain’s most eminent writers. He has won the Booker Prize for The Remains of Day in 1989. Even though his last publication was some time ago, in 2009 to be exact, this does not mean that it’s too late to talk about Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.

nocturnes
Image provided by Random House¹
Summary quoted from Random House¹:

With the clarity and precision that have become his trademarks, Kazuo Ishiguro interlocks five short pieces of fiction to create a world that resonates with emotion, heartbreak, and humor. Here is a fragile, once famous singer, turning his back on the one thing he loves; a music junky with little else to offer his friends but opinion; a songwriter who inadvertently breaks up a marriage; a jazz musician who thinks the answer to his career lies in changing his physical appearance; and a young cellist whose tutor has devised a remarkable way to foster his talent. For each, music is a central part of their lives and, in one way or another, delivers them to an epiphany.

My Thoughts:

Nocturnes is Ishiguro’s first collection of short stories and consists of five parts: “Crooner”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “Malvern Hills”, “Nocturne” and “Cellist”. What bind the stories together are recurring themes and characters which are all tightly connected with music, musicians and music lovers. They are all written in prose style and every story has its own delightful and charming twist.

Basically, Nocturnes tells the story of people who have not yet fulfilled their dreams, about people who live ordinary lives and about the sacrifices they have to make every day. We all have a vision of who we are, but very often the world does not allow us to fulfill your dreams. All the characters in Nocturnes struggle with their lives; some get it right, some get it wrong, but they all have to overcome obstacles. I guess this is what makes the book so attractive to us normal ones. It shows that fictional characters are not superheroes after all.

When I got hold of Nocturnes, I expected to really love this collection and I have to admit that I found it wonderful in parts. It would be a lie to claim that Nocturnes is absolutely superb, because there are a few flaws in the novel. But all in all, it’s a nice and entertaining read for everyone who likes humorous, cynical and serious stories.

bohnen3s

¹ http://www.randomhouse.com/book/85610/nocturnes-by-kazuo-ishiguro

Incoming – The Wishing Thread

Look what the postman brought today: It’s the German edition of Lisa Van Allen‘s The Wishing Thread. It’s next on my TBR pile and the lovely people at Aufbau Verlag even added this bracelet which matches the topic of the book. Thank you so much ❤ I love the colors!
(Btw.: I got the book through Lovelybooks 🙂 )

Oh and if my male followers are wondering when I’ll be reading something more “manly” again. The time will come, I promise. Science Fiction and my beloved Pirate Tales are waiting 😀
wuenscheschwestern

More on the German edition can be found here.
An English summary quoted from Random House¹:

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

¹ http://www.randomhouse.com/book/221371/the-wishing-thread-by-lisa-van-allen