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Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

catherineBlurb:

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.

 

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: the original English

I liked it:     Yes      

For people who like: royalty, biographies, European history


My thoughts: 

“Catherine the Great” starts before the birth of Sophia (later Catherine) and tells us a lot about the background of her mother and father, which is important to understand later events. The first part of the story until Catherine’s accession to the throne is told chronologically, whereas from then on it is told in a mix of chronological and topical. At first I thought I might not like this topical approach, but it turned out to be the much better way.

A lot of topics, like for example the Turkish war, Pugachev’s rebellion or her relationship with Potemkin could be understood much better when told in one big chunk instead of split up in between other events. Often certain situations were mentioned later again in passing when it came to that moment in the chronological timeline. This helped to see why something happened without having to digress into long explanations.

External events like the French Revolution were given quite a bit of room to make the reader understand Catherine’s actions that sometimes contradicted her own previous beliefs. The story was structured very well and left nothing to be desired. It brought all the characters, not only Catherine herself, to life. It was not only extremely informative but also very entertaining.

For readers who want to know more facts about Catherine the Great, her time and her contemporaries this is the book to go to.

Location: Mostly St. Petersburg, Russia

Map St. Petersburg, Russia Peter the Great

Images from Google maps & wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title Catherine the Great
Author Robert K. Massie
Publisher Random House
ISBN 978-0679456728
I got this book from Random House Early Bird Read
Buy link Buy Catherine the Great

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

After a short break it is time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

dr_seuss

What was Dr. Seuss’ real name?

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Answer SelectShow
Article

In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

Not too many books in the last couple of weeks, but good ones…

I swapped

 “The hottest dishes of the Tartar cuisine” by Alina Bronsky. I got it in the original German where it is called “Die schärfsten Gerichte der tartarischen Küche”

 

For review

Through the RandomHouse Early Bird Read:

“Catherine the Great. Portrait of a woman” by Robert K. Massie. It seems this is the time for books about Catherine the Great. 

 

gerichte catherine

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

Article

I write like…

Birgit from the Book Garden posted about this and it is fun. This website “I write like” analyzes your writing style and tells you what famous writer you write like.

Birgit, by the way, writes like Ursula K. Le Guin, whoever that is. At least I have heard of and read J.D. Salinger before (even though I found Catcher in the Rye extremely boring).

 

I write like
J. D. Salinger

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

 

Who do you write like? Let me know in your comments!

Article

The perfectly imperfect home by Deborah Needleman

perfectly_imperfect_homeStyle is a luxury, and luxury is simply what makes you happy.
Over the years, design expert Deborah Needleman has seen all kinds of rooms, with all kinds of furnishings. Her conclusion: It’s not hard to create a relaxed, stylish, and comfortable home. Just a few well-considered items can completely change the feel of your space, and The Perfectly Imperfect Home reveals them all.

 

 

 


 

In a nutshell:

I liked it:  Yes    

For people who like: Interior design, home decor, home makeovers


My thoughts: 

This is a great book if you would like to know more about how to decorate your home in a livable way. The book is divided into chapters like for example

  • Nice lighting
  • Places for chatting
  • Cozifications
  • Bath as a room
  • Delicious scent which deal with one aspect of living in various sub-chapters. 

All topics are accompanied by very nice  illustrations. Those images give you an idea of how to do it but don’t force you to think you have to re-create a specific setting like you do when you see a photograph.

Each chapter gives you additional historical information (for example about what entries were used for in the 18th century) or explanations to the various types of sofas, lampshades or tables. Did you know, for example, what a Bridgewater sofa looks like? Well, I didn’t.

Interspersed there are quotes about living and little side notes with how-tos, style tips, nice to know tidbits and so on. 

It is a fabulous book to either look through whenever you feel like getting some inspiration, when you need a solution for a specific design problem or when you just want to get some new ideas how you could improve your space of living.

Product info and buy link :

Title The perfectly imperfect home
Author Deborah Needleman
Publisher Clarkson Potter
ISBN 978-0307720139
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Perfectly Imperfect Home

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Sweat Shop Paris by Martena Duss & Sissi Holleis

sweat_shop_parisBlurb:

The Sweat Shop Book brings the namesake Paris Sweat Shop founded by Martena Duss and Sissi Holleis to North America with more than 50 DIY fashion and home projects, including instructions and more than 200 helpful, inspiring full-color photographs. The first "café couture" sewing shop in Paris, the Sweat Shop was named to highlight the questionable nature in which store-bought clothing is sometimes made. Instead of rewarding dubious labor practices, the Sweat Shop and The Sweat Shop Book inspire crafters to make something unique with their own sweat equity and creativity.

 


In a nutshell:

I liked it:     No, but that is me and my lack of skill.

For people who are advanced seamstresses, have an extravagant style.


My thoughts: 

I feel inadequate to talk about this book.

Apart from maybe two projects all the patterns in “The Sweat Shop Paris” are not for beginners, so I am not really the person to judge whether they are explained well or not. All projects are accompanied by a number of illustrations and a photograph of the finished piece. They range from a tote bag to a twisted hoodie to flapper trousers to a sweater and many, many more.

As for the style, it was not mine. While all projects looked very professional they were just not my taste at all and I wouldn’t be interested in recreating any one of them, even if I was able to.

I am sure that for the experienced seamstress with an unusual, very individual taste that matches the one in the book, it will be a treasure trove. Unfortunately I am neither the former nor do I have the latter and don’t belong to the target group.

Product info and buy link :

Title Sweat Shop Paris: Lessons from a sewing café
Author Martena Duss & Sissi Holleis
Publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN 978-1449408404
I got this book from netgalley
More info Sweat Shop Pairs website
Buy link Buy Sweat Shop Paris: Lessons from a Sewing Cafe

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

And the winner is…

gavalda

 

 

 

I know I am a bit later than everybody else, but real life circumstances prevented me from drawing the winner earlier.

This time I wrote all the names on a piece of paper and put them into a big bowl. Then one of my boys drew the lucky winner of “I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere” by Anna Gavalda.

It is

Dinda_SI

from Life is (not) beautiful with (out) books

Dinda_SI

Congrats, Dinda_SI. I will send you an email and get the book sent to you via TBD as soon as possible.

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Interrupting my scheduled program

I have to interrupt my blog posting activities for a few days as I have to stay in the hospital with one of our boys. My internet access is limited there, so I am not sure how often I can update the blog.

So I think it is best to extend the period of time for entries for the steampunk haiku contest until Oct. 26 and then go from there. By that time I should be back home and everything should have returned to normal.

Also if I am not able to draw the winner of the Literary blog hop before that, I will do that as well.

Please be patient! I’ll be back as soon as possible.

Article

Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What play holds the record for the longest initial run?

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Answer SelectShow
Article

In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren 

 

For review

All through Netgalley. I found some really good looking books there this week.

 

Weeknights with Giada  Easy & elegant beaded copper jewelry The winter palace

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

Article

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

Judith from Leeswammes’ Blog has organized the third Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. It will run until October 19, and again there are awesome books waiting for a new owner. Due to real life situations (more about it here) I will probably be able to draw the winner next week only. However, only entries made by Oct. 19 will be considered. 

What am I giving away?

gavalda

My giveaway today is a book I really, really liked. It is a copy of “I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere” by Anna Gavalda. You can read my thoughts about it here.

If you like short stories, French flair and stories about men and women this should be just the right book for you.

Edit: Seems my plan to use Rafflecopter doesn’t work out as the widget doesn’t seem to work properly. So, we’ll change the plan slightly. All you need to do is comment below this post and tell me why you would like to get this book. Please don’t forget your email address! That’s it.  

Oh, and yes, the giveaway is international.  

I hope you are enjoying your stay at my blog and that you have a look around. If you would like to know about future giveaways and new posts in general please consider subscribing to my RSS feed or follow me on twitter. You can also add me on Google+.

The other participants

Don’t forget to hop on to the other participating blogs and have fun!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Devouring Texts
  3. The Book Whisperer
  4. Seaside Book Nook
  5. The Scarlet Letter (US only)
  6. Rikki’s Teleidoscope
  7. Bibliosue
  8. Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  9. The Book Diva’s Reads
  10. Gaskella
  11. Lucybird’s Book Blog
  12. Kim’s Bookish Place
  13. The Book Garden
  14. Under My Apple Tree
  15. Helen Smith
  16. Sam Still Reading
  17. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  18. Ephemeral Digest
  19. Bookworm with a View
  20. The Parrish Lantern
  21. Dolce Bellezza
  22. Lena Sledge Blog
  23. Book Clutter
  24. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (US only)
  25. The Blue Bookcase
  26. Book Journey (US only)
  27. The House of the Seven Tails (US only)
  28. In One Eye, Out the Other (US only)
  29. Read, Write & Live
  30. Fresh Ink Books
  1. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US only)
  2. Bibliophile By the Sea
  3. Laurie Here Reading & Writing Reviews
  4. Amy’s Book World (US only)
  5. Teadevotee
  6. Joy’s Book Blog
  7. Word Crushes (US only)
  8. Thinking About Loud!
  9. Kinna Reads
  10. Sweeping Me
  11. Minding Spot (US only)
  12. Babies, Books, and Signs (US only)
  13. Lisa Beth Darling
  14. Tony’s Reading List
  15. SusieBookworm (US only)
  16. Tell Me A Story
  17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
  18. Nerfreader
  19. Mevrouw Kinderboek (Netherlands, Belgium)
  20. Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  21. In Spring it is the Dawn
  22. No Page Left Behind
  23. Elle Lit

Article

And yet another DNF

GRC

 

The mysteries of UdolphoLately it seems I pick up quite a lot of books that turn out to be a DNF. I tried so hard to read (and like) “The mysteries of Udolpho” which is a book I have been wanting to read for a long time, actually ever since reading “Northanger Abbey”. The Gothic Reading Challenge was the perfect opportunity to finally tackle it.

According to Goodreads I started reading that book on June 26. You want to know how far I got? To page 48!

I was willing, I compared covers, I told you the book beginning, Udolpho turned up on my monthly reading lists – to no avail.  That book is so long winded, it defies description. Admittedly, at 880 pages I didn’t expect it to go medias in res, but the descriptions of scenery bored the hell out of me, and I didn’t want to read through 200 pages of them before the gothic “horror” would start. If it ever started I don’t know. 

I think it’s time to say good bye to it and just face the fact that the mysteries of Udolpho will remain a mystery to me.

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Steampunk haiku contest

steampunk_haiku_contest 

It is October and the Steampunk challenges is coming to a close. Would you like to take on another Steampunk related creative challenge?

Enter the Steampunk haiku contest!  The winner will receive a gorgeous lapel pin created by Kristi from Northwyke Creations, a print copy of “The art of Steampunk” by Art Donovan from Fox Chapel Publishing and a Steampunk book of his/her choice.

For all the info about the contest please go to the Steampunk haiku contest page.

Article

Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What were the names that Dickens considered before using Tiny Tim? And what is Tiny Tim’s full name?

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Answer SelectShow
Article

Weekend cooking: Apple butter in the crock pot

Did you notice that cool new button? I got that one from Caite at a lovely shore breeze. Her niece made it and I love it.

As you all probably know by now I am the new owner of a slow cooker and am pretty enthusiastic about it. The other day my mom gave me cooking apples from a relative’s garden and I was looking around for ideas what to do with them. I found this recipe for apple butter in the crock pot. USA-kulinarisch, by the way, is a great site for people in Germany, who are looking for information about US food. It gives you tips on where to order it online, how to convert measurements, how you can substitute products that you can’t find, offers recipes etc.

apple_butter I am sure you all know apple butter, but I didn’t. I had never heard of it and only a search on the net revealed that it actually IS known in Germany under the name “Apfelkraut” (ugly name, that!). It seems to be more popular, however, in the Netherlands and Belgium.

From the pictures I found on the net apple butter is normally smooth, but mine turned out quite chunky. I suppose I could have used a blender afterwards, but I like chunky, so I left it that way.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple butter in the crock pot

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg apples, peeled, cores removed and cut into slices
  • 400g sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200ml apple juice or cider
    Fill the crock pot with apples. Mix spices with sugar, add to the apples and mix thoroughly, add apple juice. Cook on “low” for about ten hours. If the apple butter is a bit too liquid , cook a little longer on “high”.

Enjoy!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Image from flickr user stetted, frame N Rowe Janitz 

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Week on the web #5

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

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Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

Death at Wentwater CourtBlurb:

It’s the early 1920s in England – the country is still recovering from the Great War and undergoing rapid social changes that many are not quite ready to accept. During this heady and tumultuous time, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple, the daughter of a Viscount, makes a decision shocking to her class: rather than be supported by her relations, she will earn her own living as a writer.
Landing an assignment for Town & Country magazine for a series of articles on country manor houses she travels to Wentwater Court in early January 1923 to begin research on her first piece. But all is not well there when she arrives.
Lord Wentwater’s young wife has become the center of a storm of jealousy, animosity, and, possibly, some not-unwanted amorous attention, which has disrupted the peace of the bucolic country household. Still, this is as nothing compared to the trouble that ensues when one of the holiday guests drowns in a tragic early-morning skating accident. Especially when Daisy discovers that his death was no accident …


In a nutshell:

I read it in: German (“Miss Daisy und der Tote auf dem Eis”)

I liked it:   x  Yes, with some reservations about the ending

For people who like: cosy mysteries, mystery with no violence (except, of course, for the murder), easy reading, the atmosphere of the 20s


My thoughts: 

“Death at Wentwater Court” is the first book in the Daisy Dalrymple series. I read it after reading the fourth instalment “Murder on the Flying Scotsman” which I liked quite a bit.

In this first book Daisy meets Alec Fletcher, the smart detective for the first time and the foundation stone for their future relationship is being laid. We also find out why Alec is always investigating the crimes taking place in “High Society”, I had already wondered about that. Daisy is a very nice, down-to-earth girl. However, her overall likeable-ness started to get on my nerves when everybody, really everybody, wanted her to stay/go with them when they had to confess to the police or talk about a difficult topic. Those people only knew her slightly, if at all, and still she became their confidante almost immediately. Even Alec himself, who is a police officer, talked about the current case as if she was a co-worker instead of a , let’s face it, nosy female who just happened to be at the right place at the right time. His readiness to tell her confidential information was odd, to say the least.

Spoiler below!

The discovery of the culprit was based on another confession made in Daisy’s presence which was a bit of a disappointment.

What followed after was downright shocking. I know this is supposed to be a harmless cosy mystery, but somehow the end rubbed me the totally wrong way. Daisy played judge, jury and executioner (or rather the opposite) in one go and decided to let the culprit go free by coming up with a cunning plan to get him out of the grasp of the police. As justified as this may seem, it was highly irregular. The motivation behind this was basically to protect the noble family involved from being dragged through the press and prevent further pain. All very nice, indeed, however, if the same incident had happened in a working class environment, I am sure, the outcome would have been different. The subsequent outburst of Alec was understandable.  How quickly he was placated and  the laissez faire attitude of his superior – a friend of the family involved–, made me feel slightly uneasy.

It might very well be that the situation during those times was exactly like that – hang the rabble, spare the upper classes – but really, in a mystery novel one expects to see justice done. If a jury had found the accused not guilty, which would have been not unlikely, then all would have been good. As it was it leaves an uncomfortable feeling with me. 

Location: Hampshire, England, UK

Map UK, Hampshire  Back entrance to Hyde Farm

Binley Bottom, Hampshire Hampshire village

All images from wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title Death at Wentwater Court
Author Carola Dunn
Publisher Robinson
ISBN 978-1845298654
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy Death at Wentwater Court
More info The Daisy Dalrymple mysteries in chronological order
and more Two free Daisy Dalrymple short stories

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Needlework Tuesday: Crochet flower necklace

I am all into combining crochet and beading at the moment. When the last two weeks it was about crochet with wire this week I am combining crochet flowers with beading. I crocheted the little flowers and then threaded them onto wire with a larger bead in the middle of the flower and smaller beds between the flowers. The instructions said to sew the middle bead onto the flower but I chose not to because I found it easier that way (and I could skip the sewing). For threading the flowers on the wire I had to use a needle since the wire was too  elastic to go through the yarn just so.

My next necklace is already in the making. It will be longer with larger five petal flowers in black, grey and light blue.

Crochet flower necklace

Photo template from puglypixel

Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts.

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”! Last week must have been too hard. Oh, well, I am not sure that today is going to be any easier.

Question:

What is the title of the collection of short stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu published in 1872? And what is probably the most known story from that collection?

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Answer SelectShow
Article

My reading list for October

readinglist

In September  I read

For this month I am planning to read:

  • I am determined to finally tackle that monster of a book “The mysteries of Udolpho”. If I can’t finish it this month I will give up and leave it a DNF. This is getting ridiculous.
  • Another cosy Daisy Dalrymple mystery which I got from the library

Unfortunately my e-reader has disappeared, so a couple of books for review are out of my reach at the moment. So annoying! I refuse to read books on the computer screen. If my Sony turns up again (and I sure hope it will). I will continue/start to read

    What is on your reading list this month?
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German literature month November 2011

german_lit Caroline from  Beauty is a sleeping cat and Lizzy from Lizzy’s literary life are organizing a German literature month in November. It is very well thought out with readalongs, weekly themes and giveaways to boot.

I won’t join the readalongs, however. I read “Effi Briest” in school and am not so keen on Heinrich Böll, but week 3 is reserved for Austrian and Swiss literature, and then Alois Hotschnig comes into play. I have “Maybe this time” in German on my shelf, and it seems November is the ideal time to read it.

If you would like to try out some German literature and maybe need a little nudge, check out Caroline’s and Lizzy’s blogs.

Edit:

It might not be a bad idea to add a link to all the German books I have read recently. Maybe someone will find some inspiration what to read. There are not many… 

 

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German and Austrian book bloggers wanted

Birgit from The Book Garden recently had a giveaway for her German and Austrian readers. At the same time she took the opportunity to create a list of German and Austrian book bloggers who blog in English. Her list so far comprises ten blogs, nine of them are German and one (Birgit’s) are Austrian.

Needless to say we all would want to know whether there are more of us out there (I suppose German speaking Swiss would be welcome, too). So, if you ARE a German, Austrian or German speaking Swiss book blogger and blog in English or you KNOW one, let Birgit know and she will add you to her list.