Tag Archives: Reading

‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green

29 Aug

Hey look, I can read a book fast, too! Seriously though, it only took me 3 nights to get through ‘Looking for Alaska’ and not because it was so easy to read or short but because it was enthralling. John Green really knows how to keep me interested and I am simply in love with the way he writes. That’s a totally legitimate think to be in love with, right? Good.

The novel is divided into before and after, each part covering  a span of 136 days. Granted, the before-part is a bit longer due to exposition and everything; one needs to know who is who and all, you know the drill. I won’t comment on what’s the event that breaks the lives of these boarding school students apart because that would ruin the story for those that haven’t read it yet.

I enjoyed ‘Looking for Alaska’ immensely, I understand Pudge’s interest in Alaska, I mean I would have most likely fallen for her as well… Somehow John Green even managed to not make me hate the characters for smoking because that’s something I judge most people by, at first. (If you happen to be a smoker, I’m sorry but I don’t condone your unhealthy habit and you don’t like me judging your life choices, this is like a vicious circle. Moving on.)

I am sure everything that could be said about this wonderful book was already said at some point, probably way more eloquently than I could ever do so. YA novels never interested me as a teenager but as an adult I quite enjoy them, not that I’ve read many but more than I did as a teenager.

Instead of trying to feign intellect and an ability to discuss books (I’m serious, if you’ve read any of my previous ‘book reviews’ you know that) and instead leave you with a couple of lovely quotes that particularly caught my eye:

(1) “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” Especially the last sentence sums up my whole outlook on life. 

(2) “[…] if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” This is probably one of the most famous John Green quotes. 

(3) “In today’s world, boys are much more likely to objectify girls’ bodies than the other way around.” I love you John Green!

I had two other passages marked but that would have given too much away in my opinion. Next stop, ‘An Abundance of Katherines’.

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A to Z Bookish Survey

27 Aug

Another post, another meme. I recently stumbled upon this bookish alphabet survey on Books, Tea & Me and thought it would be fun to fill out.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

A local German author whom none of you will even have heard of. He writes crime novels set in my city and he publishes one per year these days so I have quite the collection by now.

Best Sequel Ever:

I like reading series so I’ve actually read a number of good sequels. Number 1 for me is probably ‘Lost in a Good Book’ by Jasper Fforde, followed closely by ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ by Douglas Adams.  

Currently Reading:

 ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green and ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

A lot of the times I read in bed so I don’t drink anything or maybe water.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I want to buy an e-reader but I don’t see the e-books as cheap enough considering that I don’t get a physical copy of the book to carry around with me. I get that e-readers can be really handy, especially when you read and travel a lot but I haven’t made the jump yet.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Gosh, I don’t know. Hermione or Ginny probably, they would have been on my wish list at least.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

‘Alexander’ and ‘Alexander in Asia’ by Gisbert Haefs. My uncle gave me the book a long time ago and when I finally decided to read them it was very interesting. It’s a historical novel about Alexander the Great and I now know a lot more than I knew before I read that book.

Hidden Gem Book:

I don’t have any great picks that nobody has heard of bla bla bla. If you want to gain insight into why someone becomes anorexic and cannot leave that sort of thinking, go read ‘Unbearable Lightness’ by Portia de Rossi.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

I don’t think there is one important moment in my reading life. Sorry.

Just Finished:

 ‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’m really not into vampires, also Fifty Shades and all his little crappy friends. Not because I dismiss erotica but this is nothing worth my time.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

See G I guess.  

Major book hangover because of:

Not that I remember.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Four-ish. I blogged about that before.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

‘Leaving Unknown’ by Kerry Reichs and also most of the Harry Potter books.

Preferred Place To Read:

My bed, the couch, on the balcony…

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

Reading Regret:

Probably the Twilight saga, especially the last one of them. Ugh.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

The Sherlock Holmes canon. I started strong with the novels but the case studies are a bit dull in my opinion.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
‘The Eyre Affair’ by Jasper Fforde
‘Leaving Unknown’ by Kerry Reichs  

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Kerry Reichs, Harry Potter and John Green.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

 Not currently excited for any new release because I have no idea what’s coming out. I saw that ‘A Casual Vacancy’ is now out in paperback so I’m kind of excited about that one.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I don’t like it when the backs of books get rips or whatever you call it. You know, when you bend them too far. I get crazy over that. My books need to look pretty. I also solely use pencils to mark stuff in my books.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

 ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce

Your latest book purchase:

‘Looking for Alaska’, ‘Paper Towns’ and ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ all by John Green.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

‘Looking for Alaska’ but more so because I took a nap and couldn’t fall asleep so I read a long time. Also, because it’s really good.

Bookish Q&A

15 Aug

I saw this meme on two of my friends blogs, Charleen and Kirsti while I thought of my poor and neglected Book section so I decided this needed to be on my blog as well. Enjoy and feel free to copy this meme if you like as I’m not going to tag anyone in this.

Rules

  1. Post these rules
  2. Post a photo of your favorite book cover
  3. Answer the questions below
  4. Tag a few people to answer them too
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
  6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Favourite book cover?

This one is easy:

Isn't the cover beautiful?

What are you reading right now?

I’m a bit stuck with ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I’m also reading ‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy which I enjoy a lot but have not finished yet because I fell into my usual summer reading hiatus. Not sure why this keeps happening but apparently it’s a thing for me.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I have the first book of the Game of Thrones series on lend from a friend. Maybe I will give that one a shot or finish my attempt to make it through the entire Sherlock Holmes canon.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten round to?

  1. ‘My Life’ by Bill Clinton
  2. ‘Living History’ by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  3. ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy
  4. ‘Gone With the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell
  5. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

None, I feel pressure with magazines because there is a lot to read and depending on the number of issues per month I feel like I’m cheating on my books. So no magazines for me. There’s a book about mathematical anecdotes in my bathroom though.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

Easy, this one. Also, Twilight was not great either.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like it?

Damn, I mentioned Twilight too early, didn’t I?

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about anyone?

See above for best cover, Lauren Groff – The Monsters of Templeton. Amazing prose and storyline.

What are your three favourite poems?

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke. I mostly love it for its sound and it loses a lot through the translation into English. Sonnet XLIII by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The last three lines always get me. They always do. And the third one is Song by Allen Ginsberg.

Where do you usually get your books?

I like to actually purchase books. Unfortunately due to my location I end up ordering a lot of them from Amazon because German bookstores only have a very limited choice of English books and I prefer to read books in their original language as far as I am able to.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

Umm, not that I’m aware of. I remember reading mostly mystery and adventure books instead of girlie books though.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Very captivating and pulling at your heart strings.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

I don’t know what that means ;)

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

Not exactly, I definitely decided to give a book a closer loo because of its cover and then decided to buy it because it sounded good so yes-ish?!

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie.

What book changed your life?

Tough one. I don’t know if there is a book that changed my life per se.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

I answered this in a recent VEDA video:

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Kerry Reichs, Lauren Groff and John Green.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff. It’s a collection of short stories and even though I am usually not very into them but this collection was something else. Go check it out!

What book are you an “evangelist” for?

I don’t know! I haven’t read a book that I liked but had to defend myself for liking it if this is what you’re asking.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

I am not very up to date with the new trends so my first time authors are not first timers anymore.

What is your favourite classic book?

Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre I would have to say.

Five other notable mentions?

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Every Jane Austen novel ever
The Bertie Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse
Leaving Unknown – Kerry Reichs

‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel

15 Apr

I’ve seen this book around stores for years but never bothered to take a closer look how stupid of me. The german title sounded more like a children’s book and I’ve never been into them, even as a kid or teen. After it was turned into a movie and got nominated for several Oscars I decided I needed to check it it though and thank god I did.

‘Life of Pi’ is so different from what I expected and in a good way. It’s been a long time since I read a book that made me grab the pencil on my nightstand to highlight paragraphs or sentences in a book but this one managed to within the first 10 pages. It didn’t make me believe any more in God than I did before but I have a very particular opinion of God and religion that’s not for this post do discuss.

The beginning is great even though sometimes a little bit exposition heavy, when Pi’s experiences with finding faith are explained or the zoo and the animals and all that stuff is explained. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading it. It’s not an easy story, Pi loses so much and he suffers a great deal. I  kept wondering if I would have been as resourceful in his position or if I would have made it as far as he did and I don’t think so even though that’s almost impossible for me to answer since I’ve never even been close to a situation like his.

It’s a wonderful book and I kind of regret not having read it sooner but I believe in right times for books and this was mine to read this one. The prose is wonderful, it made my heart sing at times and cry at others. I applaud the author’s ability to put this man’s struggle into words that are equally beautiful and heartbreaking.

Here are some quotes I loved:

The reason death stick so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.

All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.

At the rate you’re going, if you go to temple on Thursday, mosque on Friday, synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday, you only need to convert to three more religions to be on holiday for the rest of your life.

‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

3 Feb

You guys, I made it. I came late to the party as usual but I read the Hunger Games trilogy and it was fantastic! There’s not a lot of YA stuff I actually read. I never have, not even when I was a teenager – I was always reading books that were not really fit for my age but I didn’t care. The last series that falls into this category is the Twishit Twilight saga and that was just plain stupid and boring and badly written with terrible characterisations.

The Hunger Games however, blew me away. From the first chapter in the first book on, I was hooked and eager to see how the story unfolds. The characters are fantastic, I love Katniss and Peeta and even the ever-drunk Haymitch. They are far from perfect but aren’t we all? The books have a fast pace and it was hard putting them away at night. The last one I read in only one day because I had to. I just needed to get to the end, the conclusion and find out what awaited the characters, how everything turns out.

It’s not a peaceful story, it’s dark and painful but so worth reading. I originally didn’t want to read it even though there was a lot of hype around it but every time I read the summary on Amazon I chickened out. Dystopia and suffering don’t make me come running because it doesn’t sound like good reading material but in the end, curiosity got the best of me. Thankfully. Just like it did in 7th or 8th grade with the Lord of the Rings.

To be honest though, I prefer the first 2 books. Mockingjay is a bit slow (not even sure if that is it) for my taste. You kind of know what everyone is dancing around and a lot of stuff seems to be happening without the prominent characters around. Instead there are a lot of hospital visits and days spent not doing anything real. Not really fighting but trying to figure out what will happen. Also, a lot of character deaths that I didn’t want to see. In the first 2 books, you are prepared for deaths because it’s the whole purpose of these Hunger Games and mostly characters die that you are not that emotionally invested in. Not so in Mockingjay. There go a lot of brave people and it feels like a waste. But then again, the final Harry Potter had a high death toll as well.

What I also have my problems with but which is probably a main focus of the story is how Katniss is always used in one way or another. She is always a player in some bigger scheme she has no clue even exists. She has amazing instincts and a head of her own which makes me like her even more but still she can only break away at times and never fully until she is left broken at the end. She is not a glorious heroine but rather a normal person trying to deal with the demons of her past that continue to haunt her. I really like her. I’m not ecstatic about the end but I guess it’s ok and a fair conclusion. I like it, just nothing big – nothing earth shattering.

I haven’t seen the movie yet but after I realised that I’ll be able to see the next 3 movies as they come out it makes me excited. I’m fully caught up with the story and ready for once.

‘May the odds be ever in your favour.’

‘What You Wish For’ by Kerry Reichs

23 Jan

After Christmas I went on a shopping spree on Amazon because I got a gift certificate and was more than ready to use it. Hell, I’ve been born ready to spent money on Amazon. One of the items in my shopping cart was she newest novel by Kerry Reichs.

You’ve read my gushing on and on about her previous book and if you haven’t, well, you must be new around here. I was excited to finally read this and also a little bit worried if it could live up to my expectations.

The style of the book is different from her previous ones. It’s a multi-character story, so every chapter focusses on a different character. What unites them is their wish to become parents only they are not what anyone would call a traditional family. Far from it. There is the 40-year old actress named Dimple, 50-year old Wyatt who is a high school principle and Maryn the breast cancer survivor who is now sterile. All of them are single and struggle with the prospects of a society that sees family as a mom and dad and kids. Not a single mother. Especially not a single heterosexual man trying to adopt a baby. He surely must be a pedophile, why would he want to have kids?

Throw a couple of other characters into the mix, like Wyatt’s cousin who is healthy and fertile as you can be but never wanted kids and doesn’t change her mind and you’ve got yourself a story. Just imagine, there are women out there who don’t want children, it is possible. Then there is Maryn’s ex-husband whom she is suing for the right to use the eggs they harvested, fertilised and stored in a cryobank before beginning chemotherapy. Andy is against it for reasons I don’t quite understand. He also starts to run for city council and that turns into an ugly mess soon. Last but not least we have director Julian who challenges Dimple to go out of her comfort zone in order to get a role.

In the beginning I struggled a little bit with the jump from one character to the other. I’m not used to so many players in the mix but once I settled into the story I was fine. I really liked the story, the characters and the message it sent. There is more to a family than a mom and a dad. Also, I just love Kerry’s writing style.

There were just some minor things that irritated me, mostly for personal reasons. First of all, when Dimple refers to her libido or inner whatever as LaMimi I’m instantly reminded of 50 Shades of Grey and Ana’s inner goddess. So that’s a dealbreaker. Then there is the legal aspect of Maryn suing Andy over the use of their embryos. Eh, I read about that at length in ‘Sing You Home’ by Jodi Picoult even if it had different circumstances. Also, I’m not that into legal matters. As I said, minor hiccups.

What I liked though was the mention of one character from Leaving Unknown, Laura/Lola, the girl that works at the studios in LA. She is mentioned once but I saw it as a treat and was happy that I recognised her. It’s just a funny occurrence. Then there is the matter that the Reichs women must think Summer is THE name of the rebound wife. Andy’s second wife is named Summer and if I remember correctly, so is the fiancé of Pete who is Tempe Brennan’s ex-husband in the novels by Kerry’s mother, Kathy Reichs.

In the end, all characters come together through different circumstances. It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet but also a good ending. I liked where the book went and not everything turned out exactly as I expected which is always a plus.

There is a Q&A at the end of the book and there is one excerpt I want to share with you because it’s so nice and sad and great and… It’s a letter from one of the characters. It’s not a part of the book but something Kerry envisioned for the character.

I had a second chance to do everything I wanted, but that is rare. Never wait to be asked twice to dance. Dance. Laugh often. Be noisy. Hug your father. Do something every day that doesn’t make rational sense. Be joyful, though you considered all the facts. Love freely, and love those who don’t deserve it. Do a selfless thing each day. Every day won’t be the best day in your life, but that’s okay. If someone were to tell you the world would end tomorrow, plant a tree. Most of all, don’t be afraid of risk. If you open yourself to opportunities, fortuities will land on your shoulder like birds. The only thing that holds you back in life is yourself. I give you permission. Go for it.

Reading this made me cry all over again after I was done crying about the actual book. Maybe it’s wrong to measure the quality of a book by the fact if it made me cry or not but that’s juts how I roll. If I cried, it means the story touched me enough to make me care – to be a catalyst for the feelings I cannot let free on my own.

This is a story about wanting to have kids without having the opportunity to do so on your own. It’s about health that is not distributed fairly and most importantly, it’s a story about family values. A kid can grow up happy having just a single parent, or two mommies or two daddies as long as it’s cared and loved for. There’s nothing more that matters.

What I Call an Apocalypse

22 Jan

Imagine my surprise when I wake up on monday morning and my cell phone tells me it has no service. The internet is also not working. Then I switch on the radio which is set to our local station but all I get is dead air. I try the landline but that seems to work. I’m mostly annoyed and a little bit worried because nothing works but I know it can’t be just me as the radio is dead and the internet as well as cell phone service.

And then I’m curious. Why is nothing working the way it’s supposed to? Sure, it snowed over night but we’ve seen more snow and colder temperatures without something like this happening. And then I’m thankful because the electricity is still working. Without it, it would be bad since the temperatures don’t rise up to 0°C these days.

But I’m none of those kids that need the internet (LOL, I’m just fooling myself here, because I keep yelling at the router in random intervals to give me my internet back, as if that could actually change things) and I settle down with the book I’m currently reading.

At noon the radio is finally back on so that’s a good sign. An hour later my neighbour is at the door telling me she has no phone service and internet either. Also a truck from the fire department is driving slowly through our street announcing the 112 emergency hotline is not working but that there are people at every fire station so we should not be worried. You know, this just has me bathed in confidence.

I call Granny and she tells me that on the radio (not sure how she managed to hear something when I couldn’t but whatever) they said there was a fire at the telecom building and it affects all of our county. So yay! More reading for me. Damn, I get to finish this book today. But no, I can’t blog about it. That’s just sad.

After 2pm the first message from bestfriendboy pops up on my phone via WhatsApp which means that some part of the cell phone network is up and running again even if it’s shaky and slow. He provides updates and listens to me ranting about not being online. I’m sad, I know.

Later I keep listening to the radio news hoping to hear them announce that everything is back up and running again but of course not. Instead they tell me about all that is not or is only barely working.

The landlines are not working everywhere. 112, the fire department hotline, is only reachable from cell phones even if they have no service. 110, the police hotline, is not working but when you call 112 they’ll patch you through. All banks have closed except the main buildings of the two biggest local banks. You cannot withdraw cash except at those two places. You cannot pay with debit cards. Cell phone service is shaky, as is the internet. In my case, it’s dead, deader than dead but ok. People are working on fixing it. Just have to be patient.

LOL, nope, me patient? You must not know me at all!

At least I got around to finishing my book and starting The Hunger Games. I go to bed hoping that my internet will magically reappear over night. Of course it doesn’t but my cell is finally working properly again with decent 3G coverage so I’m not totally cut off from everything anymore.

I know how pathetic I am but feel free to tell me anyway. I would trade my working landline immediately if it meant having the internet back. I don’t like to call people, I only do so under duress. I write and text and blog and tweet and tumblr – everything that has to do with writing. Well, I still can tweet and text but I miss looking at pretty pictures and gifs on tumblr.

At least I now have two more blog posts queued and a guest post waiting for your entertainment and I’m already 200 pages into the Hunger Games. It’s just sad how dependent I am on the internet but so is modern life as you can see by all the things affected from the fire. Sue me, I live on the internet and I’m fine with it. I’m a child of my generation. At least I can still occupy myself with reading and writing and bitching about it. But it would be very nice to be back online #justsaying

Just as I typed these last few words, my prayers were answered and the online light on my router flickered back to life. Thank god, I’m online again.

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