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ellinor

Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.

Summer-Bingo

I noticed that many people here were playing summer-bingo. So when I visited my local library a couple of days ago I was amused to see that they had had a similar idea:bingo_spielfeld

I was a little late to start with the Booklikes version, so I'm now playing this one. For anyone interested the bingo can be downloaded here: http://blog.muenchner-stadtbibliothek.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Flyer_BuecherBingo.pdf

 

Have fun playing!

Vielfältig - aber leider nicht genug

Bayern fürs Handgepäck: Geschichten und Berichte - Ein Kulturkompass - Bianca Stein-Steffan

Die Bücher der Handgepäcks-Reihe des Unionsverlags stellen eine andere Art von Reiseführer dar: Sie sind eine Zusammenstellung von (Reise-)Berichten verschiedener Schriftsteller über bestimmte Orte und Regionen, in denen es mehr um Details aus dem täglichen Leben oder auch um Sagen/Legenden geht als um eine geschichtliche oder landschaftliche Beschreibung. Bei den beiden Büchern aus dieser Reihe, die ich zuvor gelesen hatte (Malediven und VAE), fand ich dies auch sehr gelungen.
Da es sich bei Bayern um meine Heimat handelt, bin ich hier natürlich um einiges kritischer. Ich fand etliche Berichte sehr interessant, andere hätte man dagegen weglassen oder ersetzen können. Vor allem dieses letzere wäre oft sinnvoll gewesen, da viele meines Erachtens dieses Bundesland prägende Orte und Veranstaltungen nicht erwähnt wurden; ich denke dabei u.a. an die Landshuter Hochzeit, die Passionsspiele in Oberammergau, die Bayreuther Festspiele etc.

Deutschlandalbum von Axel Hacke

Deutschlandalbum - Axel Hacke

Eigentlich bin ich nicht der größte Axel Hacke-Fan. Ich finde seine Kolummnen nicht immer besonders lustig. Bei den in Deutschlandalbum veröffentlichten satirischen Abschnitten ging es mir da ähnlich. Richtig gut dagegen fand ich die Geschichten aus dem wirklichen Leben, die unterschiedlichen realen Schicksale, besonders die von Einwohnern der ehemaligen DDR. Diese Darstellungen sind sehr gelungen und haben mich teilweise sehr berührt.
Und hier findet sich auch eine Geschichte, die mich richtig zum Lachen gebracht hat, obwohl sie eigentlich gar nicht komisch ist. Es handelt sich um "Schönberger" über einen Dresdner Partyservice. Hierzu muss man wissen, dass mein Mann aus Dresden stammt und wir dort auch unsere Hochzeit gefeiert haben. Auf der Suche nach einem Caterer stießen wie auch auf Schönberger. Bei einem Treffen stellte sich aber sehr schnell heraus, dass dort zwei völlig unterschiedliche Vorstellungen aufeinandertrafen, die sich auch nicht genügend annähern würden. Besonders deutlich wurde dies beim Geschirr, vor allem bei einem Geschirr mit Weinlaub. Und nun wurde genau dieses Geschirr hier erwähnt und ausgerechnet für Hochzeiten wärmstens empfohlen. Ich habe schon lange nicht mehr so gelacht!

Not at war anymore - but also not quite at peace

Krieg und Frieden - 'Leo Tolstoi',  'Hermann Röhl'

Never before has it taken me that long to finish a book as it did with War and Peace. I started this work an unbelievable 8 years ago! I didn't read it during all this time, there were long breaks and several attempts to finish it. The main reason why it took me so long was that I had this huge one-volume edition which just was too big for my hands and too heavy for my handbag. But the end of last year my library finally had it as an ebook and this really helped! Now I'm just glad to finally be done!

I had watched a miniseries of War and Peace before reading the book which made reading it a lot easier: I had the character's faces on my mind and this helped remembering who was who. There really are a lot of characters!

War and Peace is an enormous work and it deserves to be read. It's just that tiny bit too long. The peace parts can be read fairly quickly, but the war parts are often very very slow going. I'm not really interested in battle descriptions or at least only up to a certain point. When they are hundreds of pages long with every detail and often repetitive that's a bit too much. He reaches the peak when he even uses mathematical equations! What I didn't like about Tolstoy's style is that whenever he uses an image or an example he explains it. It seems like he doesn't believe his readers can understand what he's saying. He's also often quite preachy which isn't my cup of tea.

I was at war with this work for a long time, now I'm finally at peace with it but only barely. After all the effort I put into reading it I just hoped that I would love it in the end. It's a good book but it will never be one of my favourites.

Very boring

The Museum of Things Left Behind - Seni Glaister

Set in a tiny picturesque country between Austria and Italy with lots of quirky characters, The Museum of Things Left Behind sounded just like something I would love. However it turned out to be extremely slow-going and quite boring. It's supposed to be a parody on bureaucracy and people's narrowmindedness and pomposity. Parody and satire are very difficult genres and I can see how some people will enjoy this book. I wasn't one of them however. I would have enjoyed this more if it had been a lot shorter and not so very detailed in many of its descriptions.

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/ the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)

Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker

Fatal Pursuit: A novel (Bruno, Chief of Police Series) - Martin Walker

This book is all about cars and car races, especially about a Bugatti 57s Atlantic, the world's most valuable vintage car. I enjoyed Bruno as a co-driver in a car rallye, but overall I'd say that this is one of the weaker installments in the series. From the first time the Bugatti was mentioned it was obvious where this was leading and also who the murderer was - of the second murder I mean; the first one was never really solved or did I miss something? The terrorist plot also seemed very constructed and just a weak excuse to give Isabelle an appearance. The setting was great as usual and so is Bruno's work for his town. I'd not recommend this book for people new to the series, but fans will love it anyway.

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/ the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)

Beautifully written but overhyped

Homegoing: A novel - Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing has received lots of praise and so my expectations were naturally very high. I have to say, however, that I'm a little disappointed. I really enjoyed the author's language and style. The way the story is told through several short stories with lots of backflashes reminded me a lot of Alice Munro and for a debut the book was especially well written. But I was never really hooked by it. It took me quite long to finish it because there were just too many stories I wasn't really interested in. Curiously enough in the first part of the book I enjoyed the American parts more, while in the second part it were the African parts which caught my attention. What I was most disappointed by was that at the end of the book there was no great twist or revelation. The end was satisfying but in my eyes nothing special.
Still, the book was beautifully written, I guess it is just a little overhyped.

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/ the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)

Reading progress update: I've read 54 out of 224 pages.

Deutschlandalbum - Axel Hacke

Reading this during the football match Germany vs Italy was obviously good luck.  I will comtinue reading it during the semi-final! 

Die Lebenden und die Toten von Nele Neuhaus

Die Lebenden und die Toten (Ein Bodenstein-Kirchhoff-Krimi, Band 7) - Nele Neuhaus

Die Zeiten, in denen man die Bücher von Nele Neuhaus zu den - meist recht harmlosen - Regionalkrimis zählen konnte, sind mit Die Lebenden und die Toten endgültig vorbei: Hier ist ein Serienmörder unterwegs, der seine Opfer mit äußerster Präzision aus der Ferne erschießt und die Menschen rund um Frankfurt in Angst und Schrecken versetzt. Zunächst erscheinen die Morde in keinem unmittelbaren Zusammenhang zu stehen, doch schnell wird klar, dass der Täter Rache für einen über zehn Jahre zurückliegenden Todesfall nimmt. Dabei tötet er jedoch nicht die eigentlichen Schuldigen, sondern deren nächste Angehörige. Für Pia Kirchhoff und Oliver von Bodenstein beginnt ein Wettlauf mit der Zeit, denn niemand weiß, wann der Sniper als nächstes zuschlägt und wie viele Opfer noch auf seiner Liste stehen.

Das Buch ist sehr spannend und kurzweilig geschrieben und ich habe schon lange keinen Krimi mehr derart verschlungen. Es gibt einige unerwartete Wendungen und das Thema Organspende wird sehr interessant dargestellt. Lediglich gegen Ende wird die Handlung ein wenig verworren und das Buch endet auch etwas abrupt, die Auflösung ist doch ein bisschen zu weit hergeholt für meinen Geschmack. Gut hat mir gefallen, dass das Privatleben der Ermittler zwar beschrieben wurde, jedoch nicht zu sehr im Vordergrund stand, wie dies in anderen Krimis oft der Fall ist. Dies war für mich der erste Fall von Kirchhoff/Bodenstein, wird aber definitiv nicht der letzte bleiben.

(Danke an Netgalley/den Ullstein Verlag für die Bereitstellung eines kostenlosen digitalen Leseexemplars!)

A special history book - but not for everyone

1913 - Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts - Florian Illies

1913 is a history book unlike every other one I ever read. As the title says it is about the year 1913. There is a chapter for each month but the history is not told as one would except it, relating political events and stating how they lead to other events, in this the Great War. 1913 uses a different approach: It is more of a cultural history, but not in the ordinary sense. Different episodes from the lives of important artists, authors, editors etc. and sometimes also political characters are told. The author, Florian Illies, describes e.g. how Rilke is always suffering, Kafka is writing letters to Felice Bauer, Franz Marc is working on hie Blauer Reiter etc. These episodes are sometimes tragic but often also quite funny. They are very short, seldom longer than four pages, which makes the book a quick and entertaining read.
What I loved especially was Florian Illies' language: In a world in which not much value is set on stly anymore it is great to read a work which emphasizes style a lot, but at the same time doesn't seem anxious.
This book is clearly not for everyone. The reader needs a certain amount of education and especially a knowledge of German and Austrian artists, authors etc. to understand what the author is talking about. But if you have all that you will find this book a very enjoyable read.

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain - Bill Bryson

After several popular science books Bill Bryson is back with another travel book: Once again he travels around the UK. He did so the first time in Notes from a Small Island more than 20 years ago. This times his plan is to travel from the very South to the very North, only visiting places he didn't before. He draws a Bryson-line across the map and plans to travel along it. And this is where my problem with this book lies: I love Bill Bryson, he's extremely funny and so was this book. But I can be a little nitpicking when I'm given an initial plan and then someone deviates from it completely. I know that Bill Bryson says that he won't stick exactly to the line but than he e.g. travels to Cornwall which isn't even close to the line. And most of the places he visits he alreay visited before - if not in Notes from a Small Island than in person without writing about them, but still. It also takes him almost two thirds of the book to get past Manchester and Liverpool. Wales gets only one chapter and so does Scotland (which probably is only mentioned because he needs it for the very North).
But on the other hand this is Bill Bryson - and I just love Bill Bryson. He was very witty as usual, and I could empathize with almost anything he says. I guess this book is mainly for his fans who will be well entertained. I'll still read anything he writes no matter what it is about.

The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E.Bowman

The Ascent of Rum Doodle - Bill Bryson, W.E. Bowman

The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a parody on mountaineers and as with all parodies there are people who love them and others who really don't see anything in them. I'm a bit in the middle of these two. The writing was over the top and there were lots of funny paragraphs - I just didn't laugh as much as I had hoped. My expectations were very high, especially because Bill Bryson in the foreword calls this the funniest book he ever read. It is funny, just not as funny as I thought. Sometimes it was also trying a bit too hard to make people laugh. I think I might have enjoyed it a lot more even I hadn't read the foreword and the caption which both gave away the funniest parts of the book. So I'm not saying anything else about the books content here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone else.

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Novel) - Elizabeth  George

Clare Abbott, a well known feminist writer, is poisoned. A few days later her editor almost dies as well. But were the two really meant to be the victims or was someone else actually the killer's target?

With this 19th installment in the Inspector Lynley series the old Elizabeth George is finally back! And it was high time for that. After the really bad Just One Evil Act I was about to give this series up. I'm glad I didn't because this book was so good. My expectations weren't very high but once I started reading I couldn't put the book down anymore.

What I found very interesting was the Lynley-Havers constellation: Havers is doing the actual work this time and is almost instructing Lynley what to do next. Lynley is of course still the supervisor but is really in the background. This worked very well and I'm very curious where this is leading. There are also some (positive) changes in both their lives which makes me look forward to the next book a lot.

The crime itself was excellent even though I knew who the killer was quite early. But this just shows how well constructed it was. The characters were well created (I will probably never forget the highly manipulative Caroline) and the many twists and turns made this an exciting read. Let's hope that the series will stay this way!

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)

The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching) - Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was not able to fully complete this novel before his death. This is sad but also brings us so much closer to him: In the afterword we can read how he wrote his novels, that he had several scenes on his mind and then constructed the story as he went along. Most of The Shepherd's Crown is finished but there are also some scenes which don't seem to be much connected with the rest of the stoy. That doesn't matter, however. The book is still a fun and quick read.
But at the same time it's a sad read, not only because it's the final Discwolrd novel but also because of Granny Weatherwax's death. She was such a great character and Discworld is just not the same without her.

We will miss you, Terry Pratchett!

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Just One Evil Act - Elizabeth  George

I've had my problems with the Lynley books ever since Helen's death. What still kept me reading them were the main characters, especially Barbara Havers. She's very special and I like her unorthodox methods. But in Just One Evil Act Barbara's behaviour often was hardly bearable. She acts extremely immature, naive and often simply stupid. While this is partly understandable especially when you look at the miserable live she's leading it makes reading this book very tedious.
On top of that the actual crime seems very contrived and obvious. Most of it is set in Italy and Elizabeth George seems to use every possible cliché, not just on Italy and the Italians but also on Pakistanis/Muslims and private investigators.
What makes me still want to continue reading this series is how the book ended (except for Azhar's story): Things seem to progress in Lynley's private life, Barbara finally is in her right mind again and Isabelle Ardery even looks human. I'm curious for the next volume and how things will continue!

The Girl in the Spider's Web

Verschwörung: Millennium 4  - Roman - David Lagercrantz, Ursel Allenstein

I absolutely loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it was one of the best thrillers I ever read. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest were good thrillers but they weren't as exciting as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They both focused heavily on Lisbet Salander's past and her family history.
The Girl in the Spider's Web is following this path as well. Now that Lisbet's father and half-brother are dead the focus is on her lost sister Camilla who inherited her father's business. Like in the previous books there is another storyline as well. Here it is about intellectual property theft and an autistic boy. However, this story seems very unlikely and badly constructed. There are also too many new characters which first are described in rather great detail but in fact remain very superficial and the role they play often is quite unimportant.
It's obvious where all of this is leading: the next one or two books will deal with Lisbet's fight against her sister. But she will have to fight without me following her. This book convinced me that my time with Lisbet and Mikael is over. Especially after the final sentence: After Lisbet and Mikael seem to have made peace with each other it says "And outside a star fell from the sky." Ugh, that just sucks!