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Fix-it and Forget-it Holiday Dishes and Sides by Phyllis Pellman Good

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

Cookbook for the crockpot lover

My thoughts: 

Meat and crockpot lovers will like this book. Being a vegetarian I didn’t get too much out of it, as all main dishes, except two (Arroz con queso and Minestra di Ceci), are with meat or seafood.

From what I understood Phyllis Pellman Good collected those recipes from other people and edited them for this book. Every recipe has a name and town at the top, so I assume that is the person who contributed the recipe. A good sign, as those meals tend to be more “real life” as some you can find in the cookbooks from professional cook book authors. All ingredients are common and easy to find, no recipe has an impossible amount of ingredients and all you do is put them in the crockpot and let it do its magic.

Some recipes come with a photo and those also look like real life pictures taken in a real environment – not the kind where the food stylist has created a “dish” that nobody will ever be able to produce.

If I were a meat eater I’d cook several of the recipes. Here are some that would have appealed to me in my previous life.

  • Barbecued Ribs
  • Ham with sweet potatoes and oranges
  • Garlic with lime chicken
  • Turkey Fajitas

The veggie factor

Recipe ratio (non.veg./veg) 40/60. Almost all main dishes are non veggie, the sides are without meat.
Worth it? No


Product info and buy link :

Title Fix-it and Forget-it Holiday Dishes and Sides
Author Phyllis Pellman Good
Publisher Good Books
ISBN 9781453276969
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Fix-it and Forget-it Holiday Dishes and Sides for Kindle

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

This post is part of

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

Article

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.

Article

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!

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

What matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

Cover What matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

Twenty puzzles in Jane Austen’s fiction – twenty (possible) solutions.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen’s brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it?  Yes

For people who:  hate it when apple blossoms turn up in June and nobody has an explanation for it.


My thoughts: 

Both for Jane Austen aficionados as well as for those who simply want to learn more about her this is a must read. In various chapters we are being told about all the little details in her books that most readers don’t even notice and never think about.

Who does never speak? Who calls each other by their first names and if they don’t, why? Not only gives the book insight into the books that you would otherwise not have, it also tells you a lot about the time Jane Austen lived in, her life, letters and circumstances. It dissects the stories, but not in a way that you think “oh, I am sick of Jane Austen now and never want to read anything by her again” but rather in the way that you want to go and re-read all her books once more and discover all those things yourself. You will see her stories in a different light because this book opened your eyes for them.

I will probably buy this book in print and then start to re-read Austen. Also, I will buy it for my Austenite friend. I know that she will love it, too. And, I am sure, so will you. 


Movie tip

Any Jane Austen movie. My recommendations: Pride and Prejudice TV mini series and Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.


Product info and buy link :

Title What matters in Jane Austen?
Author John Mullan
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN 9781620400418
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy What matters in Jane Austen? (out in Jan 2013) or an older edition What matters in Jane Austen?

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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Shades of Earl Grey by Laura Childs

Very short synopsis:

A cat burglar is causing trouble in Charleston and, of course, Theodosia feels compelled to investigate.


inanutshell 

I read it in:  English

I liked it:   So so. I was not too impressed. 

For people who like:  cosy mysteries, tea.

This was my second book in the Tea Shop Mystery series after Death by Darjeeling and I was not too thrilled with it. Theodosia is again way too nosy for her own good and towards the end downright stupid, which gets her into a situation that could have ended very badly for her. No idea where she gets the idea that she has an obligation to help out her friends by finding the culprit when moral support would be more than enough (reminds me a lot of Isabel Dalhousie; at least, Isabel uses obscure philosophical reasons as an excuse though). Also she has not learned anything from previous experience and is just as ready to suspect everybody for no reason whatsoever as she was before.

However, the very cosy atmosphere with Charleston as scenic background and the lovely tea shop as immediate location is very agreeable. I might read more of these books just for that alone – and take the meddlesome sleuth as a necessary evil.


Product info and buy link :

Title Shades of Earl Grey
Author Laura Childs
Publisher Berkley Publishing
ISBN 9780425188217
I got this book from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Shades of Earl Grey

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.

Article

Is Heathcliff a murderer? by John Sutherland

inanutshell
Puzzles in 19th-century fiction 

Short synopsis:

John Sutherland analyzes unsolved mysteries and enigmas in classic 19th century fiction.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like to get to the bottom of things, enjoy speculating about what happened that the writers kept quiet about.

This is a delightful read if you have read the books in question and always wondered about certain aspects, like, for example, what the hell was that transcendental experience when Jane and Mr. Rochester communicate via “celestial telegram”? Or, what went really on between Ms. Stoner and Dr. Roylott in “The Speckled Band”? Or whether Alec is a rapist or not?

Out of the 34 books tackled I have read only 13, not an impressive figure, but it is still worth getting this book. Plus, the intriguing chapter titles encourage you to go and read the rest. Who wouldn’t want to know what is behind the question “What kind of murderer is John Barton?”, or what is the story of “Effie Dean’s phantom pregnancy”

Highly recommended!


Related books by John Sutherland:

Can Jane Eyre be happy? *** Who betrays Elizabeth Bennett?


Product info and buy link :

Title Is Heathcliff a murderer?
Author John Sutherland
Publisher Oxford Paperbacks
ISBN 9780192834683
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Is Heathcliff a murderer? in Awesome Books’ bargain bin

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

Article

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Cover The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Elena from Books and Reviews recommended this short story to me after we briefly talked about The Monkey’s Paw, a great little horror short story that I re-read for last year’s RIP.

I had never heard of The Birthmark before and when I saw that it really is very short, I read it right away.

On a few pages Hawthorne creates a very uncomfortable, creepy atmosphere and he needs nothing but two protagonists and a supporting character. We have a scientist who thinks he will triumph over nature, a pliant wife, a somewhat pessimistic assistant and an obsession to create perfection where there is no need to.

I have to admit I am not sure whom I disliked more. The man who gets obsessed with the removal of his wife’s birthmark or the wife who is so under his influence or is so willing to please her husband that she starts to dislike it even more than he does.

In fact she should have been a little more suspicious of his achievements and not trusted him so easily (even though she was ok with even dying in the process, so it didn’t matter). On the one hand he tells her he has found the elixir of immortality and could make anyone live or die at will, on the other hand his journal is a list of failures (by his own standards). I found this discrepancy rather odd.

Apart from the topics whether man should try to meddle with nature, perfection vs. imperfection and all that symbolism of the birthmark being the manifestation of sin (give me a break!) etc., what interested me most was the aspect of what sort of relationship Aylmer and Georgiana were leading. Definitely not a healthy one! If transferred to nowadays Georgiana’s online name would most probably be “aylmerswife” and I thoroughly dislike that sort of attitude.

Anyway, this story is super creepy, a perfect short Halloween read. But not only that. It leaves you with a distinct uncomfortable feeling that will linger for some time. Haunting!

Read The Birthmark for free by downloading, for example, Little Masterpieces at Project Gutenberg

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

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne at Books and Reviews

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Weekend Cooking: Duchy Originals Cookbook

duchy_origEver since I tasted Duchy originals lemon curd I was in love with the products.

On my last trip to the library I came across this Duchy Originals Cookbook and took it home without even looking inside. I knew there would probably be a lot of meat recipes in there but that didn’t matter. I just wanted to have a closer look at it. And I am glad I did.

The book is divided into four seasonal chapters with sub chapters like lambs or the forest in spring, bread or bees and honey in summer, jam or salmon in autumn and cheese, sausages or chocolate in winter.

The foreword is written by Prince Charles, who founded Duchy Originals twenty years ago, then we learn about the history and philosophy of the company. Some of those are the promotion of sustainable and organic farming, producing food in a traditional manner and working according to the cycle of nature.

It is an absolutely lovely book with beautiful pictures, interesting articles and very yummy recipes. Even though I only looked at the vegetarian ones I found plenty of dishes I want to try out.

The one I did try out right away are the granola bars. 

Granola Bars with organic honey

granola_bars

Frame by Audrey Neal. 

Ingredients

  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 25 g sunflower seeds
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 150 g butter
  • 75 g organic honey (preferably Duchy Originals, but any kind will do)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Mix rolled oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and sugar in a bowl.

Melt butter together with honey and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Line a baking dish with baking paper and pour mixture into it. Even it out and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Take out of the oven and cool down completely. Take off paper and cut into bars.

They keep in an airtight container for about a week.

I didn’t have bought pumpkin seeds but a Hokkaido pumpkin instead and wanted to roast my own seeds, but it didn’t work out. They burnt in the end, but I am not sure they would have turned out ok even if they hadn’t.

If anyone has a few tips on how to roast your own pumpkin seeds I would be grateful.

Anyway, I ended up using twice the amount of sunflower seeds instead and that worked, too. The bars are super nice, a bit on the sweet side, so I suppose you could cut down on the sugar a little. 

The veggie factor

Recipe ratio (non.veg./veg.) I didn’t count, and I could be way off, but I reckon about 75%/25%
Worth it? Yes, definitely. In spite of the veggie factor.

Product info and buy link :

Title Duchy Originals Cookbook
Author Johnny Acton & Nick Sandler
Publisher Kyle Cathie Limited
ISBN 9781904920694
I got this book from the libary
Buy link Buy Duchy Originals Cookbook

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

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

Article

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter readalong

I know, I will probably get some hate mail in the near future.

This is about the third time or so that I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and, once more, it was like reading it (almost) for the first time. Harry Potter books are – for me – “forgettable”. I can’t imagine how there are adults out there who remember every little detail about every completely inconsequential character, every meaningless detail, every irrelevant incident. I can’t. Every time I read Harry Potter it’s a new experience.

That being said, a new experience is not necessarily a good one. This time I found the book rather dull, uninspiring, full of stereotypes and lifeless. Harry Potter seemed like a meddlesome, precocious little boy who doesn’t know his place. He is making wrong assumptions all through the book, is prejudiced and a general nuisance.

The message of the book – that continues in the rest of the series – is a dubious one in parts. Why, oh why, does Voldemort have to look like the caricature of Nosferatu in a snake mask (I admit I am somewhat influenced by the movies here, but his movie looks do come close to his description in the books)? He should be a charming and maybe average looking man with charisma instead. Most people who are evil don’t look the part, and vice versa. How he gained so many followers is a mystery to me, considering that he kills his supporters just as ready as he kills his enemies. Why follow him if you don’t gain anything from it?

The role of unreliable Hagrid is also puzzling. Why Dumbledore would trust that oaf (sorry, Hagrid lovers!)  I can’t imagine. I mean, he gives away the secret of how to knock out Fluffy to a complete stranger in a pub! Not to mention the fact that he thinks he can raise an illegal dragon on Hogwarts’ grounds without it being noticed. The man is a liability.

The only fairly interesting character in the whole book is Snape. I love poor Snape (blame Alan Rickman!). Even though he seems to be the good guy at the end of the Philosopher’s Stone his dubious role is being played out until practically the last pages of the whole series. An easy method to keep up the tension without any further efforts.

I don’t know what I saw in those books when I read them for the first time (and I was not a kid back then). I suppose the nice setting in a wizard world ensnared me and I didn’t realize how unsubstantial the books really are. I am sure that lots of people are going to tell  me now how well planned out everything is and how a little detail in book one already was the harbinger of an occurrence five books later and how greatly interwoven the whole storyline is. That may be so, just I can’t see it because by the time I read book five I have completely forgotten what I read four books (or one book) earlier.

I have been watching the movies at the same time that I was reading The Philosopher’s Stone and enjoyed watching them for the beautiful setting, the good actors and all the action. I’ve got to admit though that I am rooting for the bad guys – to no avail, I am afraid.

Article

Never seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Cover Never seduce a Scot by Maya BanksAnother Highland romance with a little twist.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Clan chieftain is forced to marry enemy clan’s daft daughter, but not everything is at it seems.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, rather.

For people who: like Highland romance and the standard romance components 


My thoughts: 

After the absolute disaster with 50 Shades of Grey I needed another romance to get that book out of my system. After reading a Random House newsletter and looking on Netgalley I got a historical romance by Maya Banks. Can it be a more sure thing than Scotsmen and Maya Banks? I don’t think so.

I have read books by her before, but they were contemporary ménage stories, and I somehow must have expected some happy threesome with a fair maiden, a fierce chieftain and a gentle healer or something because I was surprised to find a rather standard Highland romance. In fact it reminded me a lot of two books by Julie Garwood combined, “The Secret” (bride comes from an enemy clan, just that in The Secret it is kept, well, a secret) and “Saving Grace” (brutal ex husband comes for “his” woman again). But I suppose all components of a Highland romance are so formulaic that you take them from a pool and combine them at will and they will always make a nice romance read.

In this story we have an additional twist with the bride/wife being deaf , and it takes some time for her man to find out. How her family has not noticed this in years and just thought her daft is a mystery to me, but I will let that slide, as it is mandatory to the plot.

The whole story is a really enjoyable read, not as hot as other Banks books, but rather sweet and cosy. I just saw on Goodreads that is is book 1 in a series and that makes perfect sense. Both clans have a couple of brothers to find brides for and it is only reasonable to give them their own books.

Why the book is called “Never seduce a Scot” I have no idea. So far I haven’t come across one Highland romance where the  Scot in question isn’t a prefect specimen of his kind. In fact, seducing a Scot (or alternatively being seduced by one) should be a top priority on every girl’s bucket list.


Product info and buy link :

Title Never seduce a Scot
Author Maya Banks
Publisher Ballantine Books
ISBN 9780345533234
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Never seduce a Scot

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.

Article

Come together by Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees

Cover Come Together One couple, two points of view.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

The story of Jack and Amy, told from both sides.

Language I read the book in: German (Come together)

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like modern romance (not erotic).


My thoughts: 

When I got this book from a swap partner I didn’t know whether I would like it, but the idea about the two voices sounded nice.

Both protagonists start telling the story at a point some time before they met and it was quite good to get to know them beforehand. As is often the case with me, I immediately sided with the guy and didn’t think Amy was such a nice  person. Her irresponsible behaviour in her job (she is a temp) made her unlikeable to me. My initial feelings about her were confirmed later in the book in various other situations, but that didn’t spoil the reading fun.

The plot covers all the usual ups and down, the story is realistic and definitely not being told from a pink cloud. Insecurities, jealousies, misunderstanding, stubborn behaviour, we have all been there.

For my taste people could have been a little less inebriated. I am no teetotaller by any means, but in general I don’t like people to get drunk at every party until they can hardly remember their name the next morning. And I dislike it even more when they do things while drunk and then use that as an excuse.

One thing I really could have done without was the corny way Jack was thinking about things. Well, I read this in German, so I can only give you a (translated) idea, but there we go:

I saw, I conquered, I came.

How awful is that? There are some passages like this one where you just have to shake your head and quickly read on, otherwise you’d throw the book in the corner, but otherwise it is a fun read. There are a couple of sequels out and I am waiting for “Come again” to turn up in my mailbox.


Product info and buy link :

Title Come together
Author Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees
Publisher Arrow Books
ISBN 9780099279273
I got this book from a swap partner
Buy link Buy Come together

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.

Article

A chance acquaintance by Charles Chadwick

chance_acquaintanceOdd couple gets together and then part ways again.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Ugly Elsie meets a man on the bus who will soon give her life a different direction for a while.

Language I read the book in: German (Eine zufällige Begegnung)

Did I like it? Yes.

For people who: like quiet stories, interesting and unusual characters.

 


My thoughts: 

I got this book because the title caught my interest. I had no idea what to expect, Charles Chadwick was an unknown name to me and I just started reading.

The story is told from various points of views and at first I found it a bit difficult to get into it. After a while, however, I just could not stop. It was obvious that the acquaintance would not turn into romance but rather into a friendship and until now I still can not figure out where the line was.

Elsie’s disfigurement makes it impossible to awake any romantic feelings in Stan, even though he wishes this was different. On the other hand Elsie has feelings for Stan, but knows they will never lead to anything. I liked her attitude towards herself. She never indulged in self-pity and just took things as they were without making a fuss about them.

All characters were well developed and believable. Elsie’s brother and uncle I found absolutely insufferable. How his sister’s looks can play such a big part that he even lies for years to his children (or rather lets them believe something which was not true) is incomprehensible. Her uncle Geoffrey is such an ass, but you find people like him all over the place. His character was so realistic it was frightening. Pretending to be generous, but then never living up to his own words with some“excuse” or other. I thoroughly disliked him.

The only complaint I have is that the relationship between Elsie and Stan came about a little too quickly. On the other hand, maybe people like them have to make snap decisions in order to grab what is being offered. I don’t know. Maybe we all should be a bit more like that.

This is a quiet and quick read that, in spite of it being so unspectacular, will stay with you for a long time.


Location: Mostly Dorset, UK

Dorset CottageDurdle Door, Dorset

Images from flickr user j-sin and wikipedia user Saffron Blaze


Product info and buy link :

Title A chance acquaintance
Author Charles Chadwick
Publisher Short Books Ltd.
ISBN 9781906021405
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy A chance acquaintance

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.

Article

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Cover Coraline by Neil GaimanI never knew buttons could be so frightening.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Coraline has to fight an evil witch to get her parents back. At the same time she rescues a few lost souls.

Language I read the book in: German (Coraline)

Did I like it? Oh, yes.

For people who: like children’s adventures, good vs. evil, witches and smart cats.

 


My thoughts: 

This was my first book by Neil Gaiman and I didn’t know what to expect. I have heard a lot about him, but it was always referring to adult literature and not children’s books.

I finished Coraline in one afternoon which is rather remarkable as I normally drag books around for ages. But this was a quick read, very entertaining (in a spooky sort of way) and – I wanted to get it over with. I never read thrillers or horror (not anymore, that is), and now you know, why. If Coraline is already scaring me to death, what a bundle of nerves would I be after reading some adult thriller?

Coraline is such a courageous girl, it is amazing. She is sensible, clever and fearless. The book should be read by every child out there so she can be their role model. The ideas Neil Gaiman came up with – OMG, I have no idea how kids relate to them, but I found them frightening to the extreme. Fake parents with buttons for eyes, a world that slowly dissolves, some ancient being acting as a corridor? Bloody Hell, for me that was about as much as I could bear. But I am a bit of a scaredy cat.

Anyway, this story had me from the beginning and I just couldn’t stop reading until it was over, evil was outplayed and everything was good again. Totally recommendable for children and adults alike.


Movie tip

Coraline


Product info and buy link :

Title Coraline
Author Neil Gaiman
Publisher HarperPerennial
ISBN 9780061139376
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy Coraline

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.

Article

The art of travel by Alain de Botton

kunstdesreisensWhy our way of travelling won’t work.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

The Art of Travel explains our way of travelling, why it doesn’t work and what we could do to improve our travel experiences.

Language I read the book in: German (Kunst des Reisens)

Did I like it? Only in parts

For people who: like Alain de Botton, long winded musings.

 


My thoughts: 

I read this book in German and was very pleased with the translation by Silvia Morawetz. I know Alain de Botton’s writing style from other books and she seems to have captured it very well. It was a pleasure to read this book – as far as the German was concerned.

I love travelling. I have been working in the hospitality industry for decades and everything even remotely travelling related is in my nature. That is why I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately I was disappointed by it.

The book is divided into several chapters about departure, reasons for travelling, landscapes, art and return. In each chapter Alain de Botton is musing about what we do while travelling, how we do it and why it does or doesn’t work, enriched with his own experiences. His reasoning was always right on, not that they were anything new, mind. Everybody who has travelled and possesses the ability for self reflection must come to the conclusion that travelling won’t make you happy if you haven’t been happy in the first place. The conclusion that you are always bringing yourself is not that original, but I am sure there are people out there who still think that going from one place to another will change their own  disposition. Those are the people this book is for.

I also found his arguments about sightseeing and why it usually isn’t educating very reasonable and convincing. It all makes sense and it was really nice to read about it.

Unfortunately, as if he thought his books needs more substance or as if he thought he needed help from other writers or artists, he brought other people’s thoughts into it. And that is exactly what bored me to death. Alain de Botton could have gone on ad infinitum about travelling and I would have gladly read it all, but Gustave Flaubert’s thoughts on France and the Orient, Edward Hopper’s love for gas stations, or von Humboldt’s obsession with plants I found plain boring. And those guys (among others) took over a big part of the book.

The only interesting chapters and their “supporting writers”, in my opinion anyway, were the ones about Vincent van Gogh and John Ruskin (about whom I knew next to nothing before).  Those were interesting reflections about beauty, art, painting and drawing.

All in all, I would have preferred it if the book had been smaller and had focused less on other people’s thoughts.


Product info and buy link :

Title The art of travel
Author Alain de Botton
Publisher Penguin Books
ISBN 9780140276626
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy The art of travel

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.

Article

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

Cover Death by Darjeeling by Laura ChildsTea can be deadly, and so can amateur sleuthing.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Local developer gets murdered. Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning feels obliged to investigate.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, sort of, but I had some misgivings. 

For people who: like cozy mysteries, tea, nosy amateur sleuths

 


My thoughts: 

At the start I thought I would love this book. I posted its beginning last week and the whole atmosphere of Charleston, the tea shop, the people, it spoke to me.

However, after a while, I started to seriously dislike our heroine (from now on I call her TB, her name is just too long). Frankly, she is a nosy bitch with preconceived opinions who lies through her teeth to find out things. Not that those things help her much, mind, at the end she is as clueless as she was in the beginning, just that her snooping almost kills her.

Just a few examples what I didn’t like about the whole story/character:

  • One of TB’s employees, Bethany, is a suspect and is being questioned by the police. Nothing wrong about that. Nothing in the book indicates that the police is unfair, they do not abuse her, they are only doing their job. However, at a meeting with the detective TB says to him: “The more you continue to harass her, the more you look like a rank amateur.” No wonder the guy is flabbergasted, the police did nothing of the sort.
  • At the funeral TB gives the impression to the deceased’s sister that she was “very close” to him. She actually says that to her when the sister asks her whether she knew her brother. Just on the next page, however, TB muses that the sister “had obviously mistaken her for a female friend of Hugh Barron”. Um, no, she has not mistaken her, TB has TOLD her that she was a “very close” female friend.
  • Bethany was sacked from the Heritage Society after the murder, a fact that was never properly explained. In fact it is treated in the book as if the president was this unfair old man who fired her unfairly. Well, let me tell you, if I was the board president and I got into an argument with a new board member (who later gets killed), the last thing I’d expect was an INTERN to interfere and give her two cents. And, what is more, to see her address the new board member later and apologize for the unfair treatment by the rest of the board.
  • TB lies to about everyone to get information. She goes as far as going to the local morgue and acting as an undertaker who comes to pick up the corpse! Needless to say the morgue employee hands out freely all info about the lab results of a murder case to an undertaker who is unknown to him and who comes from a funeral home he has never heard of before. Standard procedure, that!
  • TB finds out that another suspect (of hers) has worked in the jungle and knows about frogs whose poison  is used for arrows. From that little nugget she presumes that the man “knows all about toxins”. Of course, if you have ever heard of a rattlesnake it makes you an expert on poisons of all kinds and at the same time a potential suspect in ANY poison case ever.

So, as far as the investigation goes, I was thoroughly disappointed. The assumptions and conclusions were just too weird and illogical to make any sense to me. On top of that the reader was misled on purpose by some strange internal thoughts from one of the suspects that were put in a way to make him sound extremely odd, stalker-ish and suspicious, when in fact he is only a harmless man smitten with TB. No doubt this was done to obfuscate the whole story and I did not appreciate that.

That being said, I liked it for the atmosphere and general feeling which was just right for a cozy mystery. We will see what the other book in the series that I have will be like.


Location: Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Broad Street, CharlestonCharleston

Images from wikipedia.


Product info and buy link :

Title Death by Darjeeling
Author Laura Childs
Publisher Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN 9780425179451
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Death by Darjeeling

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.

Article

French Pressed by Cleo Coyle

Cover French pressed by Cleo CoyleChefs are an arrogant and insufferable bunch. But do they deserve to die?

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Clare’s daughter is the main suspect in a couple of murder cases and now she has all hands full to find the real killer.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cozy mysteries, feisty heroines, the restaurant scene.


My thoughts: 

So far I liked this one best, I think. Birgit did say that the series gets better and she is definitely right. I start to really like Clare even though she is a terrible busybody who thinks everybody and everything is her business.

Her daughter, however, is a different matter.
The first time you stumble on a corpse and then get to be the main suspect it is a tragedy, if it happens again it becomes a farce. How stupid can you get, for Christ’s sake? Her boss and lover humiliates her in front of the whole staff and dumps her like an old rag, so she flees from the scene. And what does she do next? Goes back to retrieve her knives at midnight when she can be certain the guy will be there and most probably alone! Isn’t humiliation enough? Well, she paid for her idiocy.

This story takes place in the restaurant scene and chefs and cooks play a huge part. As I have experience with cooks myself I can vouch for the realism in most of the book. Even though I find it totally unbelievable that a four star restaurant – no matter how avantgarde or extraordinary – does not have a coffee machine and the maitre d’ allows the waiters to serve clients staff coffee from some dirty old coffee maker. This is unheard of.

S P O I L E R !

Clare’s assumption that the man she suspects to be the killer has knife skills is ridiculous. He is not a butcher, he is the SON of a butcher. Why would the son of a butcher have knife skills? That would be the same as saying the son of an accountant is an excellent bookkeeper.

On another note I am glad to say that no artists made an appearance in this story and so Jackson Pollock can rest in peace today.

In spite of all these little things that bothered me I very much enjoyed reading this cozy and am looking forward to the next one already. I particularly like how every book puts a spotlight on a certain “scene”, the high society in the Hamptons, the fashion people, the coffee business and now the top restaurants. Highly entertaining!


Location: Greenwich Village, New York City, NY, USA

Washington Square ParkMacDougal street

Images from wikipedia


Product info and buy link :

Title French Pressed
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley Publishing Group
ISBN 9780425220498
I got this book from I won it from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy French pressed
More info The Coffeehouse mysteries series
and more info Cleo Coyle’s Internet coffeehouse

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.

Article

Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle

Cover Decaffeinated corpse by Cleo CoyleDecaf is not for the faint of heart.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

An old friend of Matt and Clare comes up with a decaf coffee plant. Are others after it and stick at nothing to get it?

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cosy mysteries, a down to earth heroine, a slowly developing love affair.


My thoughts: 

Birgit was right when she said the books get better, as opposed to a lot of other cosy mystery series. I am slowly coming to like Matt, Clare’s ex husband, as well as her ex-mother in law who plays quote a bit part in this story again. I particularly liked her drug deal and how cool-headed she is.

Clare is the typical busybody amateur sleuth. Always suspecting something, always sniffing around in people’s lives and asking indiscrete questions. I don’t know how people put up with that. Also she is so persistent when questioning people (with no right to do so, mind) she doesn’t seem to have any sense of shame or embarrassment inside her.

The obsession with coffee in this series is still slightly over the top. OK, people work in a coffee shop but that doesn’t necessarily mean they HAVE to be fanatical coffee aficionados who place a well made coffee above everything else. Sometimes I get the feeling that, as long as the coffee is perfect, life is as well. If it was just that easy.

All in all, another nice, cosy read. I still have one book to go from Birgit’s batch, after that, I will have to look around for some more.


Location: Mostly Greenwich Village, NYC, NY, USA. Around Halloween

Halloween Parade Greenwich VillageHalloween Parade Greenwich Village

Images from wikipedia. Image links go to source.  


Product info and buy link :

Title Decaffeinated Corpse
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley Publishing Group
ISBN 9780425216385
I got this book from I won it from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Decoffeinated Corpse
More info The Coffeehouse mysteries series
Even more info Cleo Coyle’s Internet coffeehouse

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.

Article

Latte trouble by Cleo Coyle

Cober Latte trouble by Cleo Coyle

Java Jewelry, Lattes and Murder in the fashion world

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

When Clare suspects a murder victim was not the intended one she starts to investigate during New York Fashion Week.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, quite. It’s an easy and quick read.

For people who: like cosy mysteries, coffee, fashion labels, first person POV


My thoughts: 

Right at the start I realized that the book I read before this one “Murder most frothy” is actually the one after “Latte Trouble”. Ah, I hate reading out of order, but that couldn’t be helped now.

Clare Cosi is a rather likeable character and in this book we get to know her a bit better as far as her relationship with her ex-husband is concerned. Matteo is in this book for most of the time, so there is a lot of interaction between them. Somehow it seems he always turns up at the right time and always in the company of an influential, rich, trendsetter he can make use of. Not a bad connection to have for Clare, even though her feelings about these relationships are ambivalent.

The murder story is rather uneventful and even a kidnapping and visit to a hellhole of a club turns out to be not as bad as anticipated. Does anybody else find it remarkable that Clare knows off the top of her head that the fourth circle of hell is the circle of the greedy (she calls the hoarders)? Wow, this woman is literate, indeed! On the other hand she has no clue that the artist is called Jackson Pollock, not Pollack, for Christ’s sake! (see my review of Murder most frothy)

The solution to the mystery was –I wouldn’t call it far-fetched, but rather unexpected. The murderer turned out to be someone totally unrelated until then, something I am not a big fan of.

Brand labels play a big part in the book, not as hints to the mystery solution but rather as continuous name dropping. Bloody Hell, ok, it is fashion week, but I couldn’t care less whether witnesses wore a Prada dress, a Chanel costume or whatever. Got on my nerves, that.

All in all:

The whole plot is rather straightforward and easy to follow. A comfort read without much brain engagement involved.


Location: New York, New York, USA, during fashion week

Fashion showBackstage

Images from wikipedia users mangostar and mandiberg.


Product info and buy link :

Title Latte trouble
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley Publishing Group
ISBN 9780425204450
I got this book from I won it from Birgit at The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Latte Trouble
More info The Coffeehouse mysteries series
Even more info Cleo Coyle’s Internet coffeehouse

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.

Article

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Cover Fifty Shades of Geey by EL JamesIf that sorry effort is what modern women get off on, it’s not looking good for the future of erotic literature .

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Ditz meets rich guy and consents reluctantly to a D/s relationship.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? No, it was complete drivel.

For people who like: not sure.


 

My thoughts: 

Starting to read:

I don’t know what the hype is about. This story is exactly like any other (erotic) romance that is out there. Just much worse.

The two protagonists are run of the mill:

  • Little self conscious woman who is embarrassed way too easily. Who gets intimidated by the powerful, rich, extremely handsome man. Who bites her lip way too much (which turns him on no end).
  • Uber attractive, richer than God stud who is a control freak. Who sometimes lets his mask down and shows how lonely and desperate he is. Who is always smiling ironically. Who always seems to be amused and, at the same time, exasperated about the heroine.

Give me a break, this is just Christine Feehan without the paranormal.

Later on:

Why does Christian think that She. Is. So. Sweet? That woman has nothing going for her, nothing. She is a klutz and an idiot who doesn’t get a thing. It can’t be her witty conversation or her great sense of humour, her elegant poise or her sophisticated tastes. There is none of that. It can only be her naive innocence, and ingenues can get on your nerves very quickly, not to speak of the fact that soon the innocence will have vanished.

The whole contract concept seems very simplified to me. Given that everything else in the book is described very detailed, this doesn’t work. No experienced Dominant can expect a total newbie to come up with a list of things she won’t do. She doesn’t even know what CAN be done. If you have no idea about BDSM would you think of, let’s say, games involving breath control to include in your list of no- nos? You wouldn’t even think that this is a possibility.

Ana is an odd mixture of contradictions when it comes to sex. She is a virgin, is taken by surprise that “That was inside me”, seeing that Christian’s cock is so big (and bad… just kidding), on the other hand she is expertly deep throating Christian when she gives him her first blow job ever. I am not buying that. 
How often we read about her “inner goddess” I can’t count. That goddess is constantly revelling in her success to arouse Christian. Or she feels rejected or disappointed or whatever. Her “inner goddess”! Have you ever thought of your inner goddess when pondering a man? I haven’t.

I had another Christine Feehan déjà vu when it came to Christian’s eyes turning “molten gray”; the “molten lava” won’t take much longer to turn up, I am sure. Given that Christian’s eyes are gray to begin with, I don’t think they have changed much by becoming molten, but what the heck!

A bit later still:

No molten lava yet, but how about molten silver? I wasn’t too far off.

OK, I haven’t talked about the erotic factor. It took the story a while to get there, that’s why I am only mentioning it now. I have read car manuals that are more erotic than this. Someone who calls this erotic must have limited themselves to reading non-fiction up to now. The sex scenes are boring and uninspired to the extreme. There is NO sexual tension to speak of between Christian and Ana, even though we are constantly told how much they want each other. The scenes are a lacklustre sequence of sexual activities without even making an attempt to engage the reader’s imagination.

The writing style is repetitive and simple. The number of times someone is staring at their hands/fingers, blushing, gasping or talking in a small voice (mostly her, but he DOES gasp once in a while) is mind boggling. Also get used to “holy crap”, “holy cow” and “crap” in general. They are the default beginnings of sentences (again, her).

Want a sample? Here you go:

Situation: She has sent him an email to which he responds by showing up in her bedroom (btw, she is a 21 year old student in the year 2011 and has no computer and no email address. In order to rectify this he gifts her with a state of the art MacBook Pro).

Holy Cow, is he offended? I stare down at my fingers. How am I going to dig myself out of this? If I tell him it was a joke, I don’t think he’ll be impressed.

“I thought you’d reply by email.” My voice is small, pathetic.

“Are you biting your lower lip deliberately?” he asks darkly.

I blink up at him, gasping, freeing my lip.

“I wasn’t aware I was biting my lip,” I murmur softly.

My heart is pounding.

About 55% done:

I am going to stop reading now. This is such insufferable drivel, I can’t continue this. Apart from all the things I mentioned before it annoys me no end to continuously read that someone is “fucked up” and “depraved” simply because he likes that lifestyle. If that is the way he rolls, fine. It has nothing to do with depravity or being fucked up. If it is not your thing, then just walk away!

I don’t have to read this book until the end, and so I won’t.


Product info and buy link :

Title Fifty Shades of Grey
Author E. L. James
Publisher Arrow Books
ISBN 9780099579939
I got this book from the library
Buy link If I were you I wouldn’t.

 

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

Article

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:

Article

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.

Article

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.

 

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