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Heat

I am melting away today, so I went in search for some haiku to confirm I am not the only one suffering from the heat – and I am not…

I’m melting, melting
Wicked Weather of the West
Quick! A mountain breeze!

~Marcia Hook via Denverpost

 

My car is a kiln
I use oven mitts to steer
Arriving red-faced.

~Tracy Wohlgenant via Denverpost

 

Sunny, hot, humid,
We all have been reduced to
A puddle of goo.

~via Les bonnes idées mag

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Book beginnings on Friday

Boog beginnings on FridayCover Girl Reading by Katie Ward

It’s been a while since I did a book beginning. I have only recently started a new book that I could use for this kind of post, so here it is. Girl Reading by Katie Ward is called a novel, but it doesn’t seem to be one. It is a collection of short stories; you can read about the first two in my post here.

This is the beginning of the first story “Simone Martini, Annunciation, 1333”:

She arrives glowing from the effort of running, strands of red hair coming loose from her kerchief (she tucks them in), marks on her neck like bruises on fruit.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to Rose City Reader!

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Readalong: Girl Reading by Katie Ward #1

Cover Girl Reading by Katie Ward

Girl reading by Katie Ward is a collection of short stories that interweave women, books and art in various ways. It is called a novel, but why they do that eludes me – at least right now. So far I have read two stories and found them quite good, but not too overwhelmingly so, to be honest.

In general, I found the way of not putting direct speech in quotation marks rather confusing. At first I had no clue that someone was talking and then when I realized that that was so I didn’t know who it was. Sometimes the spoken sentence even started in the middle of a line, and without quotation marks I found this hard to follow. Later on my brain must have partially adjusted itself to this, because I didn’t seem to have so many problems with it anymore.

The first story is about an orphan in 14th century Siena who gets to sit for a famous painter for an altar piece. What I found most interesting was the painter’s progressive attitude towards the different religions. I can’t imagine that his opinions were very popular and that his clients would have been very happy to know about them. The girl’s approach to art (what you see is what you get) reminded me a lot of myself. I like or dislike a painting without looking for some deep symbolism or trying to analyse every little detail.

The second story about a deaf maid in a Dutch painter’s household reminded me A LOT of Girl with a Pearl Earring. With a jealous wife, the relationship between maid and painter, a snooping child, careless parents (did anyone else find the choking incident rather odd?),  I found the whole atmosphere in the household quite disturbing. I very much liked the maid though, a strong and tough woman indeed.

More to come in a few days, I am a slow reader.

 

Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What are the three slogans of the Inner Party?

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
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Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Literary Giveaway Blog HopSnow falling on Cedars

Welcome to the fifth Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

It is great that you found your way here, welcome! I hope you are enjoying your stay at my blog and 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+.

What am I giving away?

I am giving away a used copy of David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. Never heard of it? This is the blurb:

On San Piedro, an island of rugged, spectacular beauty in Puget Sound, a Japanese-American fisherman stands trial for murder. Set in 1954 in the shadow of World War II, Snow Falling on Cedars is a beautifully crafted courtroom drama, love story, and war novel, illuminating the psychology of a community, the ambiguities of justice, the racism that persists even between neighbors, and the necessity of individual moral action despite the indifference of nature and circumstance.

Above is a picture of the actual book you will be getting. It is in good condition, but it IS a used book, so please don’t expect it to be pristine!

Are you interested? Enter the giveaway below! All you need to do is answer one tiny question…:-)

Enter the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The other participants

Don’t forget to hop on to the other participating blogs and have fun! You can find the full list at Leeswammes’ Blog. There are more than 60 participants, so what are you waiting for?

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

    What have you found this week?
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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

How old is Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings?

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
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I need to get my a** in gear

Yes, that is true. You might think that I have been a slacker in regards to reading lately, and you are not completely wrong.

Reflection

Image from Stock Exchange user nickobec

I am obsessed with finishing “The First Man in Rome”, but as I am mostly reading at night and the book is so gigantic and heavy, after about 15 minutes it gets too much. It’s not a little paperback you can shift around but a monster of a book. I still have about 350 pages to go, so there is not much reading to talk about at the moment.

The non-fiction photography book I am reading “Beyond Snapshots” is really very nice and educational and great to look at but I hate reading books with lots of images (photography unfortunately has a lot to do with images) on the e-reader, and at the same time I hate reading books on the PC. I just downloaded it for the second time – luckily it was still available – but I learned my lesson. No more “picture e-books” for me.

Then “Girl Reading” is waiting for me. I must start on that one soon, it is looking at me expectantly every night from my bedside table.

Right now my book buying ban is in place already and what happens? Awesome books (my go-to book store) have sent me another coupon! I need to persevere. But 20% off is such a good deal… What to do?

Plus, my new German digital scrapbooking blog is coming along nicely and picking up, so I am eager to provide content to keep it going. Two blogs = hard work indeed, especially if both blogs involve a lot of time consuming activity besides blogging.

Is anyone else maintaining two blogs with different subjects? How do you do it?

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My first amazon order

Die schreckliche deutsche SpracheI know a lot of people hate Amazon, but probably more people shop there on a regular basis. I am one of them. Yes, I own up to it, I am an Amazon supporter.

Quite some time ago someone mentioned their first amazon order years ago (I think it might have been sakura)  which made me wonder what I ordered first at one of my favourite stores.

Thanks to Amazon’s excellent order history I tracked down my first order easily.

It was placed in June 1999 and I ordered Mark Twain’s “The awful German language”. Very fitting, indeed. Needless to say the guy had no clue about our wonderful language. But that is another topic for another day.

 

Are you an Amazon customer? If you are when did you place your first bookish order there?

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Death of a macho man by M. C. Beaton

Very short synopsis:

Unpleasant guy gets killed, but is he really who he says he is? Hamish investigates independently once more.


Cover Death of a Macho Man by M. C. Beaton

I read it in: English

I liked it:    no

For people who like: cozy mysteries, the Scottish Highlands, who are hardcore Hamish fans

 

This is definitely the weakest of all Hamish Macbeth books so far. No reader can possibly be interested in finding out who killed the victim. Not because he is an unpleasant lout (most victims are), but because we don’t really get to know him. Then the little that we do know turns out to be a complete lie, the victim has taken on a false identity, so in the end it seems like we never knew the victim at all.

The solution to the problem is so disconnected to the story that it is impossible to guess why the victim was killed, so reading the mystery was no fun at all. Just like a Deus ex machina the solution is there. Yes, we have met the murderer before (so it was not as bad as it could have been, I guess), but still the end was extremely unsatisfying.

Not to speak of the “Gentleman Jim” gangster character appearing! How trite can you get? Gentleman Jim! I was surprised that Gentleman Jim didn’t wear spats!

This felt like a book that needed to be cranked out at an even quicker pace than usual and the story was made up as the author went along.

And just really quick on the “relationship” between our hero and the Belle of the village…

It is obvious why Hamish and Priscilla had to split up and can never be a couple. More than once Priscilla used her social position to get Hamish out of trouble, either by just being who she is and at the same time being a friend of Hamish’s (obviously being friends with the rich and noble is enough for Hamish to be above suspicion or reproach) or by using her status deliberately to pull strings with Hamish’s superior’s wife. That woman’s social aspirations would all fall to pieces if Priscilla wasn’t friends with her anymore, so she does everything (including dissuading her husband from firing Hamish) to stay on Priscilla’s good side. What sort of light this throws on her husband I don’t even want to think about.

If Priscilla was married to Hamish, she would be reduced to being a constable’s wife, living in a cottage, and where would that leave her social influence? No superintendent’s wife would beg for an invitation to a Bobby’s cottage! So for Hamish’s sake he and Priscilla need to stay apart under any circumstances.


Product info and buy link :

Title Death of a macho man
Author M. C. Beaton
Publisher Robinson Publishing
ISBN 9781845299071
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Death of a Macho Man, though I advise against it

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

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

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What is the sequel to “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel called?

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
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Goodreads purge and book buying ban

I decided today that my Goodreads lists (i.e. my TBR pile also) needed to be purged. I know many of you will laugh about me when I say that my TBR list contains 140 books, but to me this seems quite a lot and needs some downsizing – and a book buying ban to boot.

I had a closer look at my TBR list and found that I keep adding books that I hear or read about which are unlikely to ever get read by me. I switched a lot of them over to my “read maybe” list, which is a euphemism for “think about it and probably discard the idea”.

I am sad to say that six Narnia books went that way as well. I know, it is my own project and I am not giving it up completely, but the first book so disappointed me that I can’t be bothered to continue at this point.

OK, so where does this leave me? My TBR list is down to 124 books, 44 of which are the “probably never” kind. I should make this hopeless shelf exclusive, shouldn’t I? So 80 books to read, which sounds do-able. 15 of those books I do not own yet, which means I have 65 books at home waiting to be read. Perfect!

gr1206

Until I have read a significant number of those 65 books I won’t buy another book. What would a significant number be? 20? 20 sounds good to me, that is almost 30%!

Oh, swapping is allowed, btw, simply because sometimes the opportunity comes along to swap a book that I have been searching for and it would be stupid not to to grasp it, wouldn’t it?

OK, the ban has come into effect as of now… Anybody care to join me?

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What I like…besides books: TV – Hamish Macbeth

I really like the Hamish Macbeth books by M.C. Beaton, so I thought it might be nice to watch the TV series which is based on the books.

There are three seasons and so far I am in the middle of season two and can compare books and TV series. Nothing could be further apart. As far as I can see, only the name of Hamish and the village Lochdubh, a few aspects of the plots and a very loose resemblance of some of the other characters remind us of the books.

Hamish Macbeth Title Screen

Most of the names have been changed, there are many characters who never turn up in the books and the personality of Hamish is quite different. However, the series is quite good and cozy in its own right, just do not expect to find the books in it. And, oh, the Scottish accent is to die for.

Hamish himself.

Hamish’s looks are not at all like in the book. No tall, lanky and red-haired Hamish here. But this is not the only difference. Yes, he is rather indulgent when it comes to not abiding by the law, but on the other hand he shows some traits that are definitely not nice, not to say disturbing.

Like in the books he is jealous, but here his jealousy manifests itself in deliberately damaging other potential suitors’ cars and generally harassing the guys in a petty way.

Then there is one episode where his dog (Wee Jock, not Towser) gets killed in a car accident. A dog, by the way, that is so used to being fed by John McIver that he won’t even take food from Hamish. What does Hamish do? He goes out, follows the two convicts who ran Wee Jock over, befriends them, lies to them and lures them to a certain spot to kill them. Only the arrival of his Lochdubh friends stop him. Now, don’t tell me that he would not have been able to shoot them! It doesn’t change a thing.
Apart from the fact that at the time of their rescue the two men were only holding on to a rope and could have easily allen into an abyss, resulting in their death with Hamish not even shooting them, the idea that he planned to go after them with a gun in his pocket, becoming their friend and leader through the rough Scottish landscape, pretending to wanting to help them only to take them to a safe spot to kill them shows a rather nasty and evil disposition. The fact that that man is a police officer makes it only worse. And to top this all, the two men only killed his DOG by accident! I find this side of his personality rather disturbing and from that episode on I am not sympathizing with him anymore.

The women

Priscilla is now called Alex and is not the beauty she is supposed to be. Also she is extremely jealous and behaves rather idiotic. Hamish and Alex are engaged by now (different situation but also rather awkward), but already one can see that this is not a match made in heaven.

Isobel is a new character that loves Hamish and that Hamish fancies in spite of his engagement with Alex. Tension everywhere.

Villagers

There are many new characters that do not appear in the book.

  • TV John McIver is Hamish’s “housekeeper”, part Hamish’s counsellor, part helper, part stand in for the seer Angus MacDonald with his premonitions.
  • Rory, the shopkeeper, stand in for the Indian Patel. Obviously an Indian wouldn’t fit into the Scottish setting. Rory has an affair with
  • Esme, the teacher. They are quite an interesting couple, those two.
  • Barney and his wife Agnes are the pub/hotel owners.
  • My favourite characters: Father and son McCrae. Lachlan and Lachie jr., the local entrepreneurs. Those two are so funny and make sure the necessary comic relief is there.
  • Doc Brown, a young doctor instead of the old fellow, who is Hamish’s pot smoking buddie (yeah, really!)

I would recommend the series to everyone who likes cozy mysteries (not necessarily with murder) in an interesting setting. You don’t have to know the books, on the contrary, knowing the “real” characters you might even be disappointed a bit. But it is entertaining nevertheless. Do not forget to put on the subtitles on your DVD player, though!

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What is the name of the milk bar where Alex and his droogs hang out?

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
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In my mailbox

 

My mailbox was rather empty this week but John’s birthday is coming up soon. Our default gift is books and, of course, while ordering some for him, a few more for me won’t hurt anyone…:).

 

I received for review

Cover The Love Object by Edna O'Brien

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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My reading list for June and May recap

readinglist

In May

  • I DNF’ed “The Get Yourself Organized Project” by Kathi Lipp
  • I read and reviewed The Accusers by Lindsey Davis
  • I reviewed It’s Tyrannosaurus Rex, an e-book/audio book for kids for iPhone
  • I read and reviewed in a nutshell Death of a Glutton by M. C. Beaton
  • I read and reviewed in a nutshell Death of a Travelling Man by M. C. Beaton
  • I read and reviewed in a nutshell Death of a charming man by M. C. Beaton
  • I read “Death of a nag” by M. C. Beaton
  • I continued “The first man in Rome” (its book beginning is here) by Colleen McCullough. I have reached the 30% mark!
  • I started “Beyond Snapshots” by Rachel Devine, a book about taking your camera off auto mode.

This month I am planning to

  • guess what! Continue my Rome chunkster
  • read "Girl Reading” by Katie Ward together with Caroline. Join us for our readalong!
  • read The Love Object by Edna o’Brien
  • possibly continue the coffeehouse mystery series of which I have read the second book Murder most frothy already. Not very likely though…
  • finish the photography book
  • participate in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Judith from Leeswammes’ Blog

How was YOUR reading month?