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“Thank you for the light”– F. Scott Fitzgerald’s new short story

F. Scott Fitzgerald

A so far unpublished story by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been discovered by his grandchildren who found the story among his papers. The New Yorker had refused publication in 1936, but in 2012 they came to a different decision. And now we may enjoy it after all.

You can read “Thank you for the light” by F. Scott Fitzgerald online at The New Yorker.

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another regular “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

Is Lord Peter Wimsey married, and if he is, to whom?

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

 

Our library (read why it sucks here) will be closing in a week for the big move into the new building. So they are encouraging everybody to check out as many books as they can, in order to facilitate the activities. So I went there on Thursday and got 13 books. To you this might sound like nothing (I have seen library haul in blog posts that was gigantic) but it is quite a lot for me. I got mostly non-fiction (health and cooking) but one.

 

From the library

  •  Coraline by Neil Gaiman. This is going to be my first encounter with Neil Gaiman. Unfortunately I got it in German, and I am not sure whether the translation will be ok, but we will see. I came across it by accident in the children’s section while browsing for the Dragon Slayers’ Academy.

Cover Coraline by Neil Gaiman

 

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

    What are your recent finds?
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Election! by Dan Gutman

election

Once you know it, it’s not that complicated.  

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Explaining to kids the secrets of the US way to elect a president-

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For children who: want to know more about the US system of electing the US President.

 


My thoughts: 

Dan Gutman has quite a knack for explaining the election process that until now seemed complicated and inexplicable to me. As a European I don’t know much about it, but at the same time am not willing to read some dry political essay about how that system works. This book came in handy and it was a useful guide.

It works with questions and answers; questions that children would ask, and answers that are simple enough for them to understand, but still not simplifying too much.

Dan Gutman goes a bit back into the history here and there and throws in little tidbits of information and trivia, like who started campaigning, who won the electoral vote even though they lost the popular vote etc. Quite interesting!

I liked that he also tried to pass along the message to his readers how important it is to vote and how you should go about it, i.e. how to make informed decisions and not just believe what TV ads tell them.

All in all I think this is a very helpful book for children in the US to understand a bit more about how presidential elections work. The other target group would be people like me, non-US adults who want to know a bit about this topic but are unwilling to read tons of detailed administrative papers. That little, basic knowledge, prepared for children, was just the right thing for me.


Location:

USA map

Map from wikipedia.org


Movie tip

All the President’s Men (1976)


Product info and buy link :

Title Election!
Author Dan Gutman
Publisher Open Road Media
ISBN n/a
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Election! at Open Road Media (out August 21)

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

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Solutions to the book beginnings quiz

Thanks to everybody participating in the blogoversary book beginnings quiz. Here are the answers to the five book beginning questions:

1. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

3. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

5. Devils by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The only entrant who got all the answers right is Elena from Books and Reviews. Congrats, Elena! You did great and won a small bookish something! I will be in touch.

 

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In my mailbox: The long journey

With my book buying ban still in place there is not much to report. However, I did receive one book this week that went around the globe on a long journey indeed. I “mooched” it from Bookmooch and it was posted in Australia on April 19. It took almost three months to get here, but eventually it made its way into my mailbox this week.

 

I swapped

  • A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, about the last night of the Titanic. It will not come as a surprise that I wanted it when the Titanic hype was at its high this year. Now I will probably have to wait for another fifty years before I feel like reading it. Just kidding!

Sea mailA night to remember by Walter Lord

 

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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Blogoversary giveaway #2

Blogoversary_image

And another giveaway to celebrate my blogoversary!

What am I giving away?

Today it is a used copy of Bernard Knight’s Crowner’s Quest, which is part of a great series of historical detective novels set around the end of the 12th century in England.

Cover Crowner's Quest by Bernard Knight

To enter just leave a comment for this post and tell me what other series of historical detective novels you enjoy.  The giveaway is international. Winner will be announced at the beginning of next week.

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Readalong: Girl Reading by Katie Ward #3

Cover Girl Reading by Katie WardGirl reading by Katie Ward is a collection of short stories that interweave women, books and art in various ways. Here you can find my thoughts on the first two stories. And here on the second set of two stories.

The fifth story “Unknown. For pleasure. 1916” is about a group of people spending some time together in the house of a rather unconventional academic and editor. The main character is a young silly girl who is infatuated with a painter who, of course, ignores her.

I quite liked this but it reminded me again of tons of other stories out there. If it had been set a little later and located at the Mediterranean, we would have read this story a hundred times before.

SPOILER ALERT!

There was one little paragraph though that I really enjoyed. Gwen just found out that Laurence has “betrayed” her by sleeping with someone else.

Surprisingly, this is not how she imagined it would feel. Where is the misery? Where is the despair? Where is the crying out his name, and the beating of her breast?Gwen does not feel them. She is miffed. She is thoroughly put out. Apparently, a love spurned feels about as painful as finding out Emily Dibner has been named hockey captain. Pretty bad, but not too bad.

That puts things back into perspective. And reading this made the whole story worthwhile.

The sixth story “Immaterialism. Reader in a Shoreditch bar. 2008”   took a while for me to finally get to the point. I would have enjoyed the whole thing if I hadn’t disliked the heroine that much. I just couldn’t connect with her at all for various reasons. When it eventually got to the Shoreditch bar and the “girl reading” I finally got into it.

The seventh story “Sincerity Yabuki. Sibil. 2060” was just so so for me. I am not a particular fan of Sci-Fi,  especially when I am getting thrown into an unexplained futuristic environment which seems at the same time different and very much the same as ours. On the one hand I found the mesh concept too odd and at the same time too similar to our time to draw me in. Plus, I found words like i-specs and sim-kitty rather trite. Maybe realistic, but trite nevertheless.

The idea about Sibil was a nice twist as the ending for this book, but, again, at the same time too half-baked, both as an invention by Sincerity as well as by Katie Ward. Why anyone would want to use it I can’t imagine.

To come back to the “novel” aspect, this is another thing which didn’t work for me. This book is no novel. The last story, which obviously was supposed to tie the stories together, didn’t succeed. Sorry, but you can’t just come up with a “Sibil” and create a loose connection and then think this makes it a novel.

Looking back at my thoughts about all seven stories, I would say it was an ok book, but I don’t understand what the hype is all about.

 

WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK? HAVE A LOOK AT:

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Blogoversary Quizzical Monday: Book beginnings

Blogoversary image

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”! Today, because it is my blogoversary week, there will be a small bookish prize for the winner who got the most answers right. Bookmarks, book plates and such…:)

I have got five book beginnings (always chapter 1) and want to hear from you the book and the author. To enter, fill out the form below with your answers, please do NOT post them in the comments!

1. While the present century was in its teens, and on one sunshiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton’s academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour.

2. Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

3. My mother did not tell me they were coming.

4. My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire; I was the third of five sons.

5. In setting out to describe the recent and very strange events that occurred in our hitherto completely undistinguished little town, I am compelled by my own lack of talent to begin from some time back, that is, with a few biographical details about the talented and highly esteemed Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky.

 

I will post the answers and the winner in a separate post on Sunday. You can enter until then. Readers from all countries are welcome to participate.

And while you are at it, why don’t you check out my giveaway that started yesterday.

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4 year blogoversary kick off

Blogoversary image

It is four years today that I started this blog in order to have a place to rant about Laurel K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake series (which I gave up after book 9 or so when the “ardeur” set in). Since then this blog has changed its name once and the genres of books I talked about changed quite a few times as well. I prefer to keep it with Heraclitus who said that

There is nothing permanent except change.

During the course of the next week there will a few giveaways and a Quizzical Monday where you can win a small prize so make sure you check back a few times in the next days.

The lion, the witch and the wardrobeWe will kick off the blogoversary with a giveaway of a book that many of you probably know and love. I have a spare copy of C. S. Lewis “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe” to giveaway (due to a double purchase).  You can read more about The Chronicles of Narnia on this page here and my thoughts about “The lion…” here.

This giveaway will only last a couple of days, so make sure you don’t miss it!

To enter just leave a comment for this post and tell me whether you are already acquainted with Narnia and, if you are, what you thought of it.  The giveaway is international. 

The entries are closed now! 

And now, let’s celebrate!

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Book beginnings on Friday

Boog beginnings on FridayCover The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough

My book beginning today is from “The Grass Crown”, a book I am eager to start after reading its prequel, “The first man in Rome”. That book’s beginning, by the way, you can find here.

“The most exciting thing that’s happened during the last fifteen months,” said Gaius Marius, “is the elephant Gaius Claudius showed at the ludi Romani.”

That was to be expected. At the end of the last book it was obvious that the following few months would be calm, so this beginning comes as no surprise.

 

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

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The Love Object by Edna O’Brien

Cover The Love Object by Edna O'Brien

Not for people newly in love

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

A collection of short stories about love in various forms.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who:

like short stories, love stories without happy end, like glimpses into other people’s lives


My thoughts: 

At the beginning of this book we read a quote by Aristotle that sets the tone of almost all eight stories in this book.

As matter desires form

so woman desires man

I suppose we could discuss those two lines alone for the rest of our lives, but let’s not go into that.

If you are happy-go-lucky and love to read fluffy romance where everybody lives happily ever after, don’t even think about reading The Love Object. I am not easily depressed but after reading those eight stories even I feel melancholic.

Not one of those stories conveys the feeling of  a merry life, happy love or, if nothing else, exhilarating sex. The few times where people are content and satisfied with their situation it is always with an undertone of sadness at the knowledge that it will end eventually.

That being said – and it might be a contradiction in itself – I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Edna O’Brien has people down to a t, and I could relate to the women’s or girls’ behaviour in a lot of the scenes.

I posted about the book beginning earlier, but not only are her first sentences strong, Edna O’Brien also excels at the ending. If you couldn’t be sure about the future of a character while reading the story, she wraps it up nicely with a few well chosen words in the last line. What an impact!

Highly recommended!

A quick overview of the stories:

  • The Love Object
  • An Outing
  • The Rug
  • The Mouth of the Cave
  • How to Grow a Wisteria
  • Irish Revel
  • Cords
  • Paradise

Product info and buy link :

Title The Love Object
Author Edna O’Brien
Publisher Open Road
ISBN 9781453247310
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Love Object as an e-book at Open Road Media
More info Video with Edna O’Brien at The Guardian

 

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

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

Ah, humanity. I give you rainbows, but you prefer 50 Shades of Grey.

Isn’t that funny? Plus, God is following exactly one person, and you know who that is? Justin Bieber! Love it!

    What have you found this week?

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

How long was papyrus in use as writing material?

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

 

You might wonder why there is an IMM post today, seeing that I am in the middle of a book buying ban. True, but when I saw the book below on Netgalley I just had to request it.

 

For review

  •  Election! by Dan Gutman.
    A kids’ book is exactly what I need to explain the secrets of the American political system. Now at least I will be able to add my 2 cents in November.
    election

 

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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Readalong: Girl Reading by Katie Ward #2

Cover Girl Reading by Katie WardGirl reading by Katie Ward is a collection of short stories that interweave women, books and art in various ways. Here you can find my thoughts on the first two stories.

The third story “Angelica Kauffman, Portrait of a Lady, 1775” is about a woman and how she deals with the loss of her (female) lover.

Not sure whether I liked this one or not. I did feel like I have to read on to find out how the story ends, so I suppose this is a good sign, but in general I have not much time for people who shut down the way Maria did. And the ever present dead lover isn’t something I particularly liked.

During the course of the story my thoughts about the nature of the relationship changed quite a bit; it seemed happy, but at the same time full of trouble and little jealousies. Somehow this reflects my ambivalent feelings about the story itself.

The fourth story “Featherstone of Piccadilly, Carte de Visite, 1864” was strange. I didn’t get it.

Twins with psychic talents whose lives went into two different directions is an interesting topic, but nothing was ever spelled out  properly, everything was only hinted at, and I had no idea what the deal was. I found it rather confusing than boring. However, I liked the atmosphere and especially the descriptions of how a photograph was taken. Quite a difference from today indeed, and rather inconceivable to us for whom snapshots of everything and everybody are a standard.

I still don’t see where the novel comes in. Three more stories to go, we are moving into the 20th century now.

 

WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK? HAVE A LOOK AT:

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The first man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

firstman

If you think Colleen McCullough only wrote tear jerkers like “The Thorn Birds”, you better think again.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Gaius Marius is climbing up the career ladder and becomes consul six times in a row. Sulla evolves from a debauched pauper to a military man occupying his rightful place in the Roman society.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? VERY much so.

For people who: like ancient history, historical fiction, ancient Rome, political scheming, power struggles, warfare


My thoughts: 

Starting to read:

I really like the beginning with Marius bearing a grudge because his chances of being consul are diminishing, and Sulla bemoaning his plight of being a pauper in spite of being a true Patrician. I sympathize with both of them. But, oh, this is going to be a long read. Tons of names and situations to remember (in Rome, Numidia, Numantia etc.) and a lot of back history.

Later on:

The story is picking up a bit of speed. Well, not really, but things are happening. Marius’ marriage, Sulla’s coming into fortune (which happens in a very strange way – it is his doing, but it all starts with something that looks like fate – the grass crown working for him?). Sulla is such a cunning devil – but very ingenious, I like him. Of course this is historical fiction and I don’t remember much about his biography I once read, so it might all be a complete fabrication; I need to re-read that biography afterwards to check.

The war against Jugurtha is in full swing now and Marius is getting his future told by Martha. I am enjoying how Colleen McCullough is setting things up, alternating between the political/military world of Marius and the  civilian and rather debauched life that Sulla is leading until now. You know that those two figures will meet soon and the anticipation is great!

The number of people in the book is mind boggling. The fact that father and son often are called the same (if you are lucky one is “the elder”, one “the younger” or they have a different cognomen) doesn’t make it any easier. So you have to be on your toes every minute in order to know who talks to whom about whom,
At times when I interrupted reading the book for a few days and came back I had to get back into all the names again even though I am not completely unfamiliar with them.

There is no point in talking about the plot of this book any further, so I will only mention a few snippets. It is the first book in a series dealing with real people and the number of events and historical facts mentioned and embellished is just too enormous.  The war against Jugurtha, Aurelia’s marriage to Gaius Julius Caesar, Livia Drusa’s marriage to Caepio and her infatuation with her unknown “Ulysses”, the siege of Burdigala, armies annihilated because one arrogant patrician won’t merge his army with a new man’s, the defeat of the Germans, Sulla’s German family and so on and on…

Towards the end:

We go back in time a bit again to hear about Aurelia’s life in her insula while Gaius Julius Caesar is away in Gaul. Oh, how interesting this is! We all know what an insula is, but here we learn how it is set up, how many and what kinds of people used to live in  that particular one, about the management of it and about the problems a landlady encounters. Aurelia is a tough woman and understands how things are done in the Subura very quickly. We learn about the extortion business in the area with the crossroads tavern as the headquarter and how Aurelia even tames the local assassin until he becomes her humble servant.

The book ends with another bang. A terrible murder has been committed and as a result there is a short, effective, yet unbloody, war inside the pomerium. The last few pages indicate that for once a few quiet months lie ahead. I am sure this is what everybody needs after the last six years.

All in all:

What I liked most is that these are all historical facts which are told in a fictional way. I don’t know how many of those situations are true and how many are invented, but they throw a colorful life on a period about which most of us know just dates and parentage and wars.
We all know that Gaius Julius Caesar’s parents were Aurelia and Gaius Julius Caesar. This might be good enough, but here we read about how Aurelia’s uncle not only suggests to her parents to let her choose her own husband, which is very unconventional to say the least, if not scandalous, and how he plays matchmaker. We all know that Livia Drusa is the mother of Servilia who will later become Caesar’s lover. But here we read about how she was forced by her brother to marry Caepio in a way that makes every modern woman shudder.
It gives life to people that we normally only know as names.

Even if you are only vaguely interested in ancient Rome, this book is an absolute must read. If you have never read anything about ancient Rome before and don’t care for it either, read this as any other fictional novel and you will have tasted blood.

At the end of the book there is a huge glossary as interesting as the novel itself. It explains not only  decisions Colleen McCullough made (e.g. Julia’s sister Julilla marrying Sulla, which would account for a few things that will happen later on and for which we have no explanation), but also certain Roman customs, names, relations and so on. On top of that the book comes with a number of maps and floor plans that the author drew herself. I can’t get over the amount of research that went into this book, let alone the whole series. I can’t wait to continue with The Grass Crown.


Location: Ancient Rome, around 100BC

Bust of Gaius MariusBust of Lucius Cornelius SullaRuins of the forum by Canaletto, 1742

Images from Wikipedia


Movie tip

Julius Caesar mini series

 

 


Product info and buy link :

Title The first man in Rome
Author Colleen McCullough
Publisher Arrow Books
ISBN 9780099462484
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy The first man in Rome
More info Masters of Rome series
still more info Gaius Marius and Sulla

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.

This post is part of

Tea & Books Reading Challenge

The Tea & Books Reading Challenge is hosted by The Book Garden.

Article

Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What are the two cities Charles Dickens tells us a tale about?

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 July and June recap

readinglist

In June I

This month I am planning to

  • celebrate my four year blogoversary on July 15 and the following week. Watch out for different giveaways , they are a very eclectic mix!
  • finish “Girl Reading”
  • finish “The Love Object”
  • start with The Grass Crown, the second book in the Masters of Rome series. Can’t wait!

How was YOUR reading month?