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My reading list for January and December / 2012 recap

readinglist

In December I

  • read and reviewed The lost art of gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith  My review * Goodreads
  • read and reviewed Just one night: The stranger by Kyra Davis  My review * Goodreads
  • Read and reviewed Murder is binding by Lorna Barrett  My review * Goodreads
  • DNF’ed Murder Unleashed by Elaine Viets  Goodreads
  • read and reviewed Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett  My review * Goodreads 
  • read Fix-it and Forget-it Holiday Main Dishes and Sides by Phyllis Pellman Good  Goodreads


Additionally I

This month I am planning to

  • try to finish the Grass Crown which I hope to enter in Birgit’s 2013 chunkster challenge (in reality the challenge has a nicer name than that)
  • finish all my other “currently reading” books which would be really great. I’d love to start the new year all clean and tidy.

As for the challenges I participated in

Mount TBR Challenge:
I didn’t read all of the ten books that I first planned to read (in fact I read two), but nevertheless I reduced my TBR pile considerably. So I call it a success.

Narnia Reading Project:
FAIL! My own project, too. But, after the first book I gave up. I suppose you have to read Narnia for the first time as a kid and not as an adult.

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge:
My goal was 56 book minimum and I read 62. Success.

Books read in 2012

Venice in February Reading Challenge:
Started one book and DNF’ed it. Fail.

Tea & Books Reading Challenge:
Planned to read two books and finished one. Fail.

If you would like to see what challenges I joined for 2013, go here.

My TBR pile and the book buying ban:
When I started the ban in June I had 65 books waiting to be read that I owned already. Today that number is 43. I haven’t read all of those in the meantime, but I purged the pile a bit more and got rid of some books that I know I won’t read. Apart from some gifted books and a few swapped ones I haven’t acquired a single book since June. I am proud of myself.

I additionally created a “read maybe” shelf on Goodreads which is exclusive, where I put books I might read in the future and don’t want to forget about, but I don’t consider seriously just yet. The to-read books include 22 books on my wishlist.

Goodreads status now:

Goodreads 31.12.12

I am pretty happy with this.

How about you? How did your challenges / buying bans go?

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Movie: The Brothers Grimm

The Brothers Grimm

I’m getting into movie mode. For the 200 year anniversary of the publication of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales it was only fitting to watch “The Brothers Grimm” with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. The description on the cover sounded very nice so I gave it a go. I shouldn’t have. To me this movie must be the disappointment of the century. What utter crap! Its only saving grace are the pictures that, I have to admit, are rather magnificent.

Other than that the Grimm brothers and the whole topic of German fairytales were slaughtered until you didn’t recognize them anymore. I wasn’t aware that the Grimms (often referred to as the “Grimmy” by a sidekick in the person of an Italian torture master – typical Italian accent included) were con-artists who travelled far and wide to “free” the country from enchantments that they had previously created themselves. Obviously the real Grimm characters were too boring and needed some embellishing. In fact, to me the film was a mixture of “Dirty, rotten scoundrels”, “Ghostbusters” and “Sleepy Hollow” that went awfully wrong.

The fairytale allusions all started kind of ok and then disappeared into nothing. Hans and Greta (totally rubbed me the wrong way, they are Hänsel and Gretel!) go into the forest and she gets lured away by a piece of cloth. Wow! Where is the witch, where the gingerbread house? And it went on and on like that. What on Earth does a gingerbread man have to do with German fairytales? Why is Hesse called Westphalia and what is the Thuringian queen doing there? And why has she been living in Rapunzel’s tower? The whole story is a very odd hodgepodge of half baked but never finished ideas about which horrific tales might appeal to an audience who has never read a Grimm fairytale before.

There was one sentence that I found quite amusing (and symptomatic for the movie). The Grimm brothers come to Marbaden where they have never been heard of and introduce themselves as the guys who have fought off “the cannibal chef of the Schwarzwald in the gingerbread house of terror”. There you have it. If you like murderous chefs in gingerbread houses and a bit of comic relief then the movie might be for you. If you like fairytales in their original form and a less horror-like approach, then stay away from it.

What to watch instead? My suggestion is “The company of wolves” by Neil Jordan,  which I am going to re-watch tonight to get yesterday’s taste out of my mouth.

The Brothers Grimm on imdb.

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Weekend Cooking: NEW 52 foodie project in 2013

I haven’t done a weekend cooking post in ages, but I am planning to change that. As a scrapbooker I am always looking out for new projects and for 2013 I am planning a “NEW 52 project”. You can read a bit more about that kind of project at the blog of One Little Bird Designs, but basically it involves doing one thing that is new to you each week.

I decided to limit my new experiences each week to recipes and am planning to try out one new recipe each week and – if it turns out nice – scrapbook a recipe card to create a special little cookbook at the end of the year. That way, I am forced to look through the umpteen cookbooks we have (or peruse all your weekend cooking posts) and finally cook something else than our staple meals, at least once a week.

So prepare for a recipe post every week in the new year!

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

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Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett

Cover Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett

Tricia is meddling again.  

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

After killing a book seller a murderer seems to be after Bob and Angelica.

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it? Yes,  but the heroine is annoying, as almost always with cozies.

For people who:  like lovely settings, aggravating heroines


My thoughts: 

This second book that I read in the Booktown Mystery series is quite a nice cozy mystery again. It is the fourth in the series, my prediction after book one regarding a relationship between Tricia and Russ has come and gone, meanwhile she has had another thing going with a police officer and her love life is non existent once more. On the mystery side it is a run of the mill cozy where the Booktown is yet another token theme that has no bearing on the actual story. Those people could be selling anything from books to jam to second hand clothes and it would be just the same.

What I realize more and more is that I have a real problem with the cozy mystery heroines. Why do they always have to be either idiots, have attitude problems or both? Tricia is no exception. I find her aggravating and insufferable. Sorry!

Tricia meddles in business that is not her own. She is condescending and prejudiced. She does idiotic things even though she knows better (I suppose you have to be grateful for that). The number of times I shook my head and thoroughly disliked her I can’t count. I don’t know what is wrong with cozy writers. Can’t they create women that are sensible, reasonable people who deal with things in a respectful and cautious manner?

  • Agatha Raisin is a natural cheater and liar. (Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton)
  • Theodosia is nosy and –again- meddlesome to the extreme. (Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs)
  • That woman from Murder Unleashed (DNF for me) doesn’t want to deal with the police because she is wanted for attempted murder in another state!

Maybe is should stop reading cozies for a while and turn to something else.


Product info and buy link :

Title Chapter and Hearse
Author Lorna Barrett
Publisher Penguin
ISBN 9780425236017
I got this book from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Chapter & Hearse

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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A Christmas Carol (BBC)

My Christmas Carol movie marathon continues…

Christmas Carol cover 1977

You can’t go wrong with this movie adaptation of A Christmas Carol. The BBC did it in 1977 with Michael Hordern as Scrooge and he is fabulous. Mean and morose, he makes Michael Caine as Scrooge look like the benefactor of the year.

The production is rather spooky and bleak, no big special effects, just the bare story as we all know it. No lovely locations; you know, you can even make slums look picturesque if you want to, but here we are talking about black and white line drawings for setting the scene. They certainly haven’t spent a lot of money on location and decor, but instead focused on the cast.

Other than the previous two adaptations I blogged about (Muppets and Blackadder) I wouldn’t watch this one for jolly entertainment and a good time – popcorn and Coke included -, but rather for educational purposes.

A Christmas Carol at imdb.

This post is part of

Dickens in December

Dickens in December is hosted by Beauty is a sleeping cat and Postcards from Asia.

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The year in review

Review 2012

Here are the relevant links to the mentioned posts in case you want to see what you missed:

Don’t you just love infographics? Check out Piktochart to make yours!

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Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

I just love watching Christmas Carol re-tellings, especially the ones with a little twist. So what is better than a reverse one? If you know Black Adder (one of my favourite comedy series EVER) you will know already that this short movie – it is only 45 minutes – will be funny and entertaining.

Mr. Ebenezer Blackadder is a good person, charitable and giving, but after the visit of the Ghost of Christmas (delightful Robbie Coltrane alone is worth watching the film just because of his little ballerina entering dance) he decides to change his ways.

The whole Black Adder cast is present, Baldrick is the ubiquitous servant as always, and the usual suspects make an appearance, Hugh Laurie as the dozy Prince George, Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett, Miranda Richardson, Miriam Margolyes, Nursie, everybody you know and love is there.

Traditional Christmas Carol fans might be a wee bit disappointed in this rendition but for Black Adder fans this is a must see.

This post is part of

Dickens in December

Dickens in December is hosted by Beauty is a sleeping cat and Postcards from Asia.

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In my mailbox

 

Only one non-fiction book this week that I discovered in the Netgalley Christmas newsletter. As I am always on the lookout for new crockpot dishes I had to get this one. It is not exclusively vegetarian, but I am sure I can adapt some recipes. I just saw on Goodreads that the author has written tons of other crockpot cookbooks, one of them a veggie one. Maybe something to think about.

For review

Cover Fix-it and forget-it Holiday Dishes and Sides by Phyllis Pellman

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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The lost art of gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith

The lost art of gratitude
Isabel Dalhousie meddles once more.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Minty Auchterlonie asks Isabel to help her in a private affair. Isabel should know better, but does she?

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it? Yes.

For people who:  like Edinburgh, Isabel Dalhousie, meddlesome people, slow and comfy plots.


My thoughts: 

By now the way Isabel Dalhousie books develop is well known to me. The plot is always interesting, intriguing, but never overly exciting or thrilling. This book was no exception and it was a nice and lovely read.

Brother Fox made a prolonged appearance in this one and Jamie, Charlie and Grace are fixtures again. Isabel’s niece has yet another, unsuitable guy at her side and once more it leads, well, not to disaster, but to another breakup.

And again there were some points that just made me ponder the nice and comfortable life of Isabel Dalhousie. Her son Charlie is 18 months and already she thinks of him as a man of 21, “coming to the end of his university days”. Talk about plans for your children. I just hope than Charlie does not turn out to be a person who does not want or is not able to pursue an academic career. Isabel – as open minded and philosophical she might seem – is a terrible snob. She walks through Edinburgh thinking to herself how she is fond of both the “romantic tourist posters and this unadorned, workaday Scotland”, and about ten lines later she does not “like this street and wished it was not there”, because it was full of cheap Italian restaurants and low-life bars with bouncers. Then she constantly thinks about being a good person, but her thoughts about colleagues are less than charitable. Actually, she is a hypocrite in every way.

On the other hand she can be rather certain that her son will not disappoint her in later life, seeing that he is such an angel at this point already. An angel! He never cries, he goes to sleep and never wakes up, he eats without spilling anything, he has a gourmet taste in food and is just PERFECT in every way. At one point someone says to Isabel “You’ve got a journal to run, as well as a child and a fiancé. You’ve got more than enough in your life.” Oh, has she? All I can see is someone who has not to work for a living, who can go out at any time and leave her son in the hands of her trusted housekeeper, who has all the time in the world to meddle in other people’s business and who has enough money to buy expensive art for pleasure. Oh yes, Isabel has enough on her plate to deal with. I don’t mind her situation at all, but at least she should be honest about it, for God’s sake and not pretend otherwise!


Product info and buy link :

Title The lost art of gratitude
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor Books
ISBN 9780307741974
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy The lost art of gratitude

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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A Holiday Card from Down Under

Holiday card and bookmarkThe holiday card from the Book Bloggers Holiday Cards Exchange arrived today. My swap partner was Jeanie from Sam still reading and she lives on the other side of the globe in Australia. How exciting!

Bookmark

I got a very cute Santa card and a handmade bookmark with an origami woman on it. I love handmade gifts, and a bookmark always comes in handy. Yes, I have seen the error of my ways and started to use bookmarks again, :). Thank you, Jeanie for a lovely gift and a great card!

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In my mailbox

  

Not very much to report this week. My ban is still working, I haven’t bought a book in ages. This one I only got because someone on my swap site offered one of his in return for one of mine. So I chose this one.

I swapped

I have a couple of books by Jojo Moyes on my TBR list, but so far don’t own any. This one I had never heard of before, but it sounds good. My edition is German (The German title is “Das Haus ohne Wiederkehr” – “The house of no return”) but I decided to post this cover because it is so beautiful.

Cover Foreign fruit by Jojo Moyes 

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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Just one night, part 1: The stranger by Kyra Davis

Cover The Stranger by Kyra Davis

Being engaged but not altogether certain about it can be difficult.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Woman is engaged to boring, but reliable guy and looks for a one night stand to “be young” for once. Doesn’t work out the way she had planned.

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it?  Not so much

For people who:  liked Fifty Shades of Grey without the kink but with a rival for Grey.


My thoughts: 

“Just one night: The Stranger” is the first part of a trilogy and it is very short. At about 130 pages it keeps the plot to a minimum and jumps right into the sex. I am sorry to say that, even with erotica, sex without context doesn’t do it for me, so I found the erotic scenes not so much erotic but rather boring and uninspiring.

Kasie goes to Vegas because her best friend tells her she has to sleep with a stranger before she marries her reliable, secure, but rather boring boyfriend. She does it and, needless to say, the stranger, CEO of his own company, turns up again as a client. She is a business consultant, and at this point -in spite of my complaint that the plot was scarce- I cursed that there was plot at all. The business babble between the consultants or between them and the client was so vague, tedious and empty that it made you wonder why anyone would pay for their advice.

Anyway, the whole client-consultant relationship was just there in order to drive on the sex development which it did splendidly. Kasie and Robert have sex and then some more. In between she beats herself up over it and thinks of herself as a sinner. In order to justify her betrayal of her boyfriend/fiancé she comes up with all sorts of ideas. For example she asks her boyfriend whether he is ever tempted by beautiful female colleagues and when he says that he isn’t she conveniently interprets this answer as a lie (it came too fast to be true) and thus regards her own behaviour as excused.

She is constantly torn between her desire for Robert – which is huge, she dreams about him 24/7 and practically drools just from the thought of him – and her wish to be respectable. How dreadfully boring! One day she tells Robert they can’t meet again, the next day she seduces him, one day later she tells him to stop…after a while she so got on my nerves, I just skipped whole paragraphs. What bothered me most was the fact that she loves the idea that Robert knows the woman who lies underneath her business like exterior instinctively (and he does seem to know her very well), on the other hand she is so clueless about him that probably his bin men know him better than she does. It’s a tragedy.

The end is just another cock teasing episode with a twist when her boyfriend changes the course of events.

SPOILER

At the end of book one there is a short teaser for book two, called "Exposed". At the end of “The stranger” Kasie has to literally leave Robert and go back to her fiancé without another word to Robert. You would imagine that this calls for something other than sex at the beginning of the sequel, but no! It starts with a scene where she has just been violated by her fiancé and now has fantasies about Robert again. Bloody Hell! She has just been threatened by her fiancé, possibly raped, had to leave her lover for good and all she does is come?! I find this hard to believe.

Read this if you must. I will stay away from the sequels.


Product info and buy link :

Title Just one night: The stranger
Author Kyra Davis
Publisher Pocket Star
ISBN 9781476711102
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Just one night: The stranger (release date: 22 January 2013)

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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The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppets Christmas Carol

When it comes to Dickens in December for me The Muppet Christmas Carol is a must see. This is even more surprising when you know that I am not a big fan of the Muppets –actually I dislike everything animated, puppet-ish, cartoon-ish, you get the idea. Even worse, I don’t particularly like musicals either, and there is a LOT of singing in this Muppets movie.

Scrooge is played by Michael Caine and that is a definite plus. He is the perfect Scrooge and Kermit as his employee Cratchit is just as great. Gonzo, of all people, plays Charles Dickens as storyteller.
The music is pretty awesome, Waldorf and Statler as Marley and Marley do a great performance with the song “Marley and Marley”, which is one of my favourites in the movie.

The movie is fun to watch and enjoyable for adults and children alike. The only thing I don’t like are the characters of the three ghosts of Christmas, somehow they didn’t fit into the rest of the cast. But this is just a small complaint.

All in all this is a great and fun Christmas movie for the whole family.

This post is part of

Dickens in December

Dickens in December is hosted by Beauty is a sleeping cat and Postcards from Asia.

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

I was looking around for strategies to survive the advent and all its busy side effects. And found Martha Stewart’s Helpful Hints: Seasonal Strategies

Some other things:

What interesting things have you found on the web recently?

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In my mailbox

 

I got a nice bookish gift in my mailbox this week. Believe it or not, our family joined the group of Kindle users. A friend of mine gave us her spare (first) Kindle as a gift as she received another, more recent, one for Christmas. You might know that I am no Kindle friend, but have to admit that it looks quite good and it has some features that my other reader hasn’t got. Still, I will stick with my trusted old Sony and will only use the Kindle if I have no choice.

As far as books go…

I got for review

  • The Stranger by Kyra Davis, obviously another part of a trilogy with a multi billionaire CEO and erotic tendencies. Reminds you of something? Yes! I couldn’t resist when I saw that one in the Netgalley newsletter. Ally, you should definitely take a look at it!

Cover The Stranger by Kyra Davis

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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Murder is binding by Lorna Barrett

Cover Murder is binding by Lorna Barrett

Who knew book lovers lived so dangerously?

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:
A cook book shop owner is murdered and the next door neighbour, mystery book seller Tricia, is the only suspect for the police sheriff who holds a grudge against her.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, rather

For people who: like books about book lovers and cozy mysteries


My thoughts: 

I got this book from Birgit and as it sounded nice and entertaining I read it right away.

Once I started reading it drew me right into the atmosphere of this little New Hampshire town with a whole street full of antiquarian books stores. Sounds like a reader’s dream come true.

There was budding romance (don’t recoil, it was ok for a mystery book), quite interesting characters, a sisters’ conflict, an intriguing murder and a dislikeable sheriff. A few of the plot items will definitely carry on into following sequels and I find it quite inconsiderate of Birgit that she didn’t send me the next book, but the fourth. Just kidding, I love Birgit, but now I somehow have to get the two mysteries in between in order to be in the picture. I am predicting a relationship between Tricia and the publisher of the local newspaper in the future, but we will see.

Anyway, a nice mystery, the series is definitely worth reading on.

One thing that I would like to mention that totally rubbed me the wrong way was the fact that the characters (and thus the author) talked about a child with Down Syndrome as being "retarded" which I find offensive. I have a child with Down Syndrome and I find that word hurtful. Obviously the author knows that the word is debatable to say the least, because in one scene she has one character say something along the lines of "you can call her [the child] retarded, it won’t offend me". Well, it did offend me as a reader and that little detail (as unimportant as it may seem – the story doesn’t revolve around the DS issue) was in the back of my mind during the whole book and bothered me.


Product info and buy link :

Title Murder is binding
Author Lorna Barrett
Publisher Berkley Mystery
ISBN 9780425219584
I got this book from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Murder is binding
More info The Booktown mystery series

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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In my mailbox

 

Birgit from The Book Garden sent me a parcel with tons of lovely goodies, books and souvenirs from her recent trip to the US. I enjoyed every single one of them (and carry around a couple in my purse) – thank you, Birgit!

I got as a gift

It is cozy time again! Birgit sent me two books in the Booktown Mystery series

Cover Murder is binding by Lorna BarrettCover Chapter & Hearse by Lorna Barrett

and there is more…

I have never heard of those before, but they sound quite nice and entertaining.

Cover Dying in style by Elaine VietsCover Murder Unleashed by Elaine Viets

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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My reading list for December and November recap

readinglist

In November I only read

I decided to join two reading challenges in 2013

This month I am planning to

Other than that, no idea, it is going to be a busy month with Christmas coming. I’ll read when and what I feel like.

How was YOUR reading month?