World Book Day – Blogger Schenken Lesefreude

Happy World Book Day everyone!

As you hopefully all know, today is World Book Day. The UNESCO organizes this annual event on April 23rd to “pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors, encouraging everyone […] to discover the pleasure of reading”¹

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (German for Bloggers Spread the Joy of Reading) has been an integral part of World Book Day here in the German-speaking book-world for years. It is a project organized by Christina, Dagmar and Sonja to help compile a list of all bloggers, companies and organizations who give away books on this special day. This year however, they want participants to think of new ways to spread the joy of reading other than simple blog giveaways.

The Wander Society
Image provided by Particular Books²

When Penguin Random House UK contacted me about a book crossing project, I knew this was a perfect match for Blogger Schenken Lesefreude. This is why I will release one copy of Keri Smith’s new book The Wander Society into the wild here in my hometown for some stranger to find. I think it’s a great book not only to spread the joy of reading but also to spread the joy of wandering around, exploring your surroundings.

I will keep you up to date on how the release of the book went. It hasn’t arrived yet, but should be here next week.

Happy World Book Day and keep on reading!:)

¹ http://www.un.org/en/events/bookday/
² https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/289139/the-wander-society/

Review – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Hi,

A few weeks ago, I devoured Becky Chambers‘ novel The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which was longlisted for the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Image provided by Hodder & Stoughton¹

Rosemary Harper is the newest crew member of the Wayfarer, a tunneling ship. While she has obviously traveled through open space before, Rosemary has spent most of her life planetside and the idea of living in this new environment is making her feel a little uneasy. Fortunately, most of the crew give her a warm welcome, especially the talkative and excited mechanic Kizzy, the friendly pilot Sissix and the big-hearted cook Dr Chef.

Rosemary’s addition to the mixed-species crew proves to be of value soon because the Wayfarer is offered a bigger job than usual. They have to travel to a far-away planet to build a hyperspace tunnel from there. On the way, they have to deal with all kinds of species and Rosemary who is well-read and open-minded, shows that these traits can be of great importance for the outcome of their job.

Even though The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is set in the distant future in space with planets and galaxies full of species created from Becky Chambers’ imagination, this novel is about current issues. It doesn’t matter if it’s different species or different nationalities that have to deal with each other, the strategies for successful communication and negotiation are always the same. This is what the crew of the Wayfarer has to learn the hard way.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is more than your usual Science Fiction novel. It is a sociological study that deals with interspecies communication, with prejudices, customs and culture. Even though Rosemary lives in the future out there in space, the problems she faces are the same as ours. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a reminder of what is important if we want to continue to live a peaceful life.

5 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.hodder.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781473619814

Review – March by Geraldine Brooks

Hello,

Last month, in March, I decided to finally read Geraldine BrooksPulitzer Prize-winning novel March.😉

This is the 2006 Harper Perennial edition¹
This is the 2006 Harper Perennial edition¹

When Mr March, abolitionist and the father of Louisa May Alcott’s four Little Women, volunteers to serve as a chaplain in the American Civil War, he doesn’t know that the upcoming months will be different from what he expects. Following an incident involving a black woman, March is transferred south to Oak Landing, a cotton plantation, where it is his task to establish a school for the workers’ children. Even though slavery has been abolished in the area it is still in people’s minds, which March only starts to realize when he sets foot on Oak Landing.

Geraldine Brooks crafted Mr March after Louisa May Alcott’s father Bronson Alcott and used his 61 journals and 37 manuscript volumes full of letters as an inspiration. So when Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau pop up as friends of the family in March, the author is really talking about the two transcendentalists.

While March is well-researched, the storyline is nothing special. Frankly speaking, I’m having problems thinking of something to write about March that stands out, may it be positive or negative, but nothing really comes to mind. This novel is a solid work of historical fiction that will keep you entertained, so if that is all you want, go for it! It might even do more for you.

3.5 Star Rating: Recommended
3.5 magic beans

¹ This is the latest edition.

Easter – The Secret Easter Bunny Brought Me Gifts

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a great Easter Sunday and are enjoying Easter Monday so far. This Easter I participated in a gift exchange that follows the same rules as Secret Santa except that it’s the Secret Easter Bunny who is trying to put a smile on your face. The gift exchange was organized by fellow blogger Sarah from Büchermops and was open to Austrian book bloggers.

Secret Easter Bunny Package

A few weeks ago I received a beautiful and big package, wrapped in mint-colored wrapping paper. This is when the long wait until Easter Sunday began. Fortunately, I am very disciplined when it comes to not touching stuff I’m meant to leave alone. Last night, I finally opened my package and here is what I found inside:

Secret Easter Bunny

The Secret Easter Bunny obviously wants me to spend more time at my sewing machine, because they gave me lots of fabric. There is red fleece, which I can never have enough of, as it is perfect for all sorts of small projects, very cute white cotton with animals on it (my boyfriend loves all the cats on it😀 ), salmon-colored stretchy knit fabric with glitter, and white jersey with fairies (or princesses?). The last two fabrics are perfect, as I can finally try my hand at stretch fabric. We’ll see how that goes.😉 I also got two kinds of grosgrain ribbon. One is pink with daisies and the other one, my absolute favorite, is blue with a space theme.

Secret Easter BunnyOf course Easter would be boring without some calories, right? So I got fruit confections and the Easter Bunny tells me that these are made by a local manufacturer – so cool! Some of you might have noticed the small green bag. It has tea flowers in it that bloom when you put them in hot water. I’ve always wanted a tea flower and the Easter Bunny didn’t even know that. Now that is a surprise! I’m looking forward to a special moment to make some blooming tea and I can’t wait to see what the flowers look like.

As this was a book blogger Secret Easter Bunny, I also got a book that has been on my wish list for a while now. It’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. I’m really looking forward to diving into it and I think I might do so tonight.

easter2016
Happy Easter Everyone!

Thank you so much Secret Easter Bunny! You did great selecting everything and I’m very happy about this wonderful package. I’m still not sure who you are, because you didn’t leave me any clues, or at least I didn’t see any, but I’ll take a lucky guess: Is it you msmedlock?

Review – The Christmas We Met by Kate Lord Brown

Hi,

Do you miss Christmas? As a matter of fact I do, but if you belong to the majority of people I know, you probably don’t. Please do me a favor and keep on reading.:) Some time ago, when I started to read Kate Lord Brown‘s The Christmas We Met, I was expecting a very wintry and christmassy novel, but it isn’t.

The Christmas We Met
Image provided by Orion¹

After Grace’s husband Sam vanishes she loses everything. She has to watch as her home and all her belongings are sold to creditors and her beloved workshop has to go under the hammer. When Grace is finally ready to take a new job, it’s to work as a secretary for Fraser Stratton and not as a jeweler. The day she drives to Wittering Manor for her job interview is the first day of a turbulent year that might change Grace’s life forever.

Fraser Stratton is in the process of writing his memoirs and needs help sorting his thoughts. He is an eccentric and lovable old man who made me laugh more than once. Even though most of the characters in the novel are well-developed, Fraser is my favorite. Grace, who is depressed after all that she’s gone through, soon realizes that she’s needed and, not surprisingly, turns into a much happier person. This process however is not a smooth one and from time to time Grace behaves irrational.

As I’ve said before, The Christmas We Met is not a Christmas novel, it spans a whole year and is set in the 1970s. As Fraser Stratton writes his memoirs, there are flashbacks to his past which is even more gripping than the action taking place in the present.

This novel is like a scavenger hunt full of mystery that soon turns into a page-turner. The Christmas We Met is well-researched and Kate Lord Brown has taken care of even the smallest details. If you like engrossing historical fiction, then this one is for you.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/Books/detail.page?isbn=9781409159957
² An uncorrected proof was provided by the publisher.

Review – A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Hi,

I recently read Anne Tyler’s novel A Spool of Blue Thread, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

A Spool of Blue Thread
Image provided by Vintage¹

The Whitshank family has been living in the house on Bouton Road for generations, well maybe just two generations, as Red’s father Junior was the one who built the house, and Red’s four children have already moved out. So the only ones living there when things start to get a bit complicated are Red, his wife Abby and their dog.

Anne Tyler takes us on a trip through 20th-century Baltimore, from the 1920s up until the 21st century. We get to know each generation and therefore understand why the characters act the way they do.

Two prominent characters are Denny and Stem’s wife Nora. We don’t however get a very close look at them. They are both introvert characters and Tyler keeps them at distance by not telling the reader what goes on underneath their facade.

As the plot follows Junior and Linnie Whitshank from their hometown to Baltimore, we see them struggle and move into the house on Bouton Road. Their children Merrick and Red grow up there and get married one after the other, until it’s Red’s time to live in the house, accompanied by his wife Abby and their children Amanda, Jeannie, Denny and Stem. There is nothing special about the Whitshanks, they are a normal family and so is their life. And even though Tyler writes about everyday life A Spool of Blue Thread isn’t a boring novel. Sure, it might take about 100 pages to get into the book, but as soon as you’re fully acquainted with everyone reading is like meeting up with old friends.

A Spool of Blue Thread won’t hold your attention because of a gripping plot, it is a character-driven novel and Anne Tyler succeeded in creating realistic characters whose lives we follow like old biddies at the coffee table. So if you are generally interested in what your neighbors are up to, you might enjoy A Spool of Blue Thread.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1100311/a-spool-of-blue-thread/

Review – The Obituary Writer by Lauren St John

Hello,

Lauren St John’s novel The Obituary Writer had been sitting on my shelf for almost three years until it finally felt like the right book to read. I guess you know these moments, right?:)

The Obituary Writer
Image provided by Orion¹

One day, Nick Donaghue, an obituary writer for THE TIMES, is on his way to work, when he is involved in a horrible train crash where he is the only one escaping unharmed. While everybody else thinks Nick to be very fortunate, his life is turning into a literal nightmare. After months of sleepless nights, he moves from London to an old beach house in Cornwall where he runs into Sasha and has to give up his notion of living a quiet and secluded life.

It is hard to put this novel into a literary genre. The Obituary Writer starts out as a mystery with thriller elements, then it turns into a love story. This would have been okay. Unfortunately, the romance is soon sprinkled with paragraphs right out of an erotic novel that seem utterly out of place. And to top it all off, there’s a little bit of crime here, and some sick lit ² there. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with mixing genres if the mix is homogeneous. In this case it isn’t and it seems like the author wanted to try out all these different genres to see how they worked for her.

Other than that, The Obituary Writer is an entertaining novel. It sucks you in right at the beginning and holds your attention for quite some time. The middle is a little slow, but the narrative takes up speed again in the last third of the book.

While we get to know Nick Donaghue’s character – his feelings, fears and doubts – very closely, most of the other characters stay in the background. It would have been nice to get a better understanding of Sasha, the woman who attracts Nick’s attention.

If you are as drawn to this novel by its beautiful cover as I was, you might as well give it a try, but it will not be a smooth ride, that’s for sure. And if you’ve already read The Obituary Writer, I’d like to know what you thought about the ending. But no spoilers please!

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/Books/detail.page?isbn=9781409127949
² There is a spoiler hidden underneath. If you still want to see it, just highlight the text with your mouse.