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Showing posts from 2014

Wild Romance by Chloë Schama

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Connected reading, file 1 During a ten year period in the mid 19th century a different kind of court case hit the headlines in Europe and America, it was Longworth vs Yelverton. Theresa Longworth met William Charles Yelverton in 1852 during a boat trip from France to England. They talked the whole night and afterwards started a correspondence that continued for years. The unusual thing about it, was that it was the woman who started the correspondence, and pursued the acquaintance. They couple spent most of the time in different places all over Europe. Yelverton was a military man and went where he was posted. When he came to Crimea, Theresa followed him there to work as a nurse with a convent. Later on, when they were both in Scotland, they entered into a closer relationship which led to a different kind of marriage.  On April 12, 1857, Yelverton declared himself her husband with his hand on a Book of Common Prayer. There were no witnesses, but according to Scottish Common Law,

New book coming my way!

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Yesterday, my friend Lena, gave me a book by Patrick Modiano, Nätternas gräs (L'herbe des nuits).   Quite suitable, since it was the Nobel day on 10 December, and Modiano won the Nobel prize in Literature this year. Looking forward to read it after the holidays. Review will follow.

TBR Pile Challenge 2015

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You see how far my promises go? I said I would not participate in any challenges...and here I am at the first possible time. Having said that, it does go with my personal challenge of lowering my TBR shelves. As you might remember I have entered into a ' Connected Reading ' challenge, where I follow a lead from one book to the next. Two 'files' are to be followed, and all of the books have to be taken from my TBR shelves or from the public library. So this challenge really goes very well with Roof Beam Reader TBR challenge. The challenge is back for its sixth year! You have to choose 12 books, plus 2 extras just in case you can't go on with the chosen ones, from your TBR shelves. They have to be published before 2014. To participate, go to the page linked above and link your own page with your chosen books.

Monday morning

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Today is a grey Monday morning, which does not really help. Reading the paper does not really help your mood either. Disaster, disaster, disaster wherever you look. However, I have two nice things to share with you. There has been simultaneously auctions in Brussels and Paris on comic book drawings. A rare 1939 drawing of Tintin and his dog was sold for 539,880€ (673,468 USD). The cover which was made for the Belgian weekly "Le Petit Vingtième", scored the world record for a Hergé cover for that magazine. The buyer is not identified. Skillshare Through Bloglovin I found the ' Into Mind ' blog by Anuschka from Berlin. In her post '10 ways to de-stress your day hour by hour' she shares a lot of useful tips in different areas. One of them is the site ' Skillshare ' where you can sign up for free and take on-line classes. They cover a lot of different areas, so something for any of us. I signed up of course, and this morning I got an e-mail with

A Dark Inheritance by Mary Williams

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As you might have seen from my 'Read' list, I have read some historical romance lately. Always nice to relax your reading with a little bit of romance these grey, rainy days. The books were;  A Code of Love  by Jackie Delecki,  The Duchess War  by Courtney Milan and the book that I will review here,  A Dark Inheritance  by Mary Williams (from  Endeavour Press , where I downloaded it for free). I liked all three books. The two first ones have a young, intelligent, beautiful, brave woman in the lead (as usual) trying to resist the handsome, rich, rascal lord (as usual). We all know how it ends, but if the story is good enough it is enjoyable.  A Code of Love has a story of code breakers during the Napoleonic war and it is exciting enough.  The Duchess War has a more social story connected to the working conditions of the poor. The young woman has a secret, as has the lord, and the story is quite fascinating since, at least for the young woman, everything is not revealed in tota

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys

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This is a book in my second line of 'connected' reading. The first and previous book was Wide Sargasso Sea  so the connection is the author. See ny new 'Connected' page here  or go directly from the Home page. As mentioned in my review of the previous book the author is new to me. And what a pleasant surprise. Having finished the second book, I look forward reading more by Rhys. She has a simple, poetic, down to earth language in her stories, which is quite fascinating. The two books I have read have another thing in common. The story takes places in Dominica and England, and tells of the difficulties to come from an exotic, beautiful, warm island to the coldness of England. Both in the different climates, but also how people are behaving.

The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood

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Charlotte Brentwood contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review her new book 'The Vagabond Vicar'. Since I love historical fiction and a little bit of romance to go with it I agreed. The review to follow is my own personal view and Charlotte has not influenced me in any way. First a short summary of the book. William Brook is an idealistic young cleric. His highest wish it to go to a foreign land to spread christianity and help the very poor people. Unfortunately for him, his best friend get a posting to India, and  he himself, receives a small parish in Shropshire. This is not exactly what he was aiming at. Although it was seen as a favour to him, since the parish is a good one and he has the approval of the nobel family in the area. However, his idealistic self cannot see how there will be too many poor to help and he realises rather quickly that many families are eager for one of their daughters to merry the vicar. He is determined to stay one year, not get married and

Sunday bliss

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Today started with a wonderful, sunny morning with blue sky. The autumn colours were awesome! Half an hour later it was all gone. Sky got all cloudy and the day looked gloomy. The first intention to go for a nice walk in the woods has now been abandoned. I realised when I ventured out in the garden, that it is nicer to cuddle up inside with candles and a good book. Grey isn't it? So what am I reading this grey Sunday? As usual I am on to several books that I alternate between. The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood, a historical fiction that I received from the author to review. Review will follow shortly. Vägen mot Bålberget by Therése Söderlind, also a historical fiction about witches in 17th century Sweden. The Song of Taliesin, Tales from King Arthur's Bard by John Matthews. Taliesin, Arthur's poet who, like Merlin, was said to have shamanic powers. His writings are mostly lost but Matthews has used his imagination, based on his studies of original sou

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014

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Historical Tapestry is hosting the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014 . I choose to read 10 Renaissance books and has now finalised this challenge. I am lucky to finalise at least one of the challenges. It has been a little bit uphill this year. Here are the books that I read. 1. The Chosen Man by J.G. Harlond 2. The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien 3. The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien 4. The Kingmaker's Daughter by Anne O'Brien Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (not finished!)) 5. Sofia Magdalena A True Queen by Gerd Ribbing 6. A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift 7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 8. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 9. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon 10. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon I could not finish Sacred Hearts, I found it too slow, but all the other books are interesting. My absolute favourite  will have to be The Chosen Man by J.G. Harlond ( review here ), which takes place in Holland (among other places) during the Tu

Christmas shopping in Sweden

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We have been in Växjö, Sweden for some days to visit our son and to do some Christmas shopping. Absolutely lovely. Weather cold and even the sun shone on us from time to time. The first of Advent is the weekend in Sweden when the Christmas shopping starts. In the old days, that is, when I was a child, the shops used to decorate the windows and people walked around and enjoyed the creativity of the shops. The shops were not open, it was just to look. That is a nice remembrance. Today it is all commercial and the windows look the same all of December! We managed to buy all our presents, so we were very pleased. I know I promised not to buy any more books, BUT, I could not resists since there was a place where they sold them soooo cheap. My son got a pocket book for student cooking which I think he will enjoy. At least when he realises that it is not that difficult and the variety is good. Two drink books; one how to make wonderful (hopefully) vodka drinks and one book about cocktails.

Christmas feeling in Växjö

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Over in Sweden to visit our son and do some Christmas shopping. Came just as the Black Friday sales are on, so discounts everywhere. Weather nice, cold and fresh. Today we have been walking around the centre where there is a Christmas market. We visited this beautiful ecological shop as well, see photos below.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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This is the first book in my second 'line' choice of 'Connective Reading'. This is the book that tells the story about the 'mad woman in the attic' in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Jean Rhys was born in Dominica and came to England when she was sixteen. She tried a lot of professions before she started writing. She was one of the artists in Paris in the 1920s and Ford Madox Ford helped her publish her first stories. She had not published anything since 1939 when she made this remarkable come back in 1966. It saw her win the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W.H. Smith Award. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1966 and a CBE in 1978. She died in 1979, at the age of eighty-four. Having had a background in Dominica, Jean Rhys was really suitable to write about Rochester's first wife who was born there. We don't get to know too much about her in Charlotte Brontë's book, just the tantalising information that Roch

Odessa - Genius and Death in a City of Dreams by Charles King

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This is a book I have read, connected from The Hare With the Amber Eyes. To try to lower the Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. number of TBR books, the 'connected reading' will have to come from these shelves or from the library. I am in the process of creating a separate page, for this my very own challenge. I will use two different 'lanes' of books to connect. First one is the one above and the second one is The Hare with the Amber Eyes  connection: this book is about the Ephrussi family who originated in Odessa. There were many connections to pursue from this book, but since I have a book about Odessa it was a natural choice. Mark Twain felt supremely at home when he visited Odessa in the late summer of 1867. He had come to the Russian port city on the world's first long-distance pleasure cruise, a jaunt across the Near East related in The Innocents Abroad. After a twenty-hour run across the Black Sea on the american steamer Quaker City , Twain stepped ashor

Sunday bliss - From E-book to E-bike

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Me with the E-bike! Another lovely autumn day that has to be used. Yesterday we passed by the bike shop to pick up my bike that has been serviced. Once inside the shop we found this wonderful e-bike and my husband, Martin, insisted that I should try it. He has been trying for some time, to convince me that an e-bike is something for me. I have resisted, but once I tried it, I only needed about two minutes to realise that this was an absolutely fantastic bike. I did not need to much convincing that this would be a wonderful Christmas present. Since it is too big to put under the tree, we decided to buy it right away. In this way I could benefit from the lovely autumn and still use it.  So already today we ventured out. Martin had to use one of the two bikes we just had in for service. Just ordinary bikes since I am not much for these modern bikes! Hmm, seems it is not entirely true. But...I am absolutely in love with this e-bike and can see myself improving on my physical conditi

Brussels and its history (part IV)

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So finally I managed to finish walk No.2 from Derek’s book Brussels for Pleasure . It covered the Sainte Catherine district in the southern part of Brussels, where once there was a harbour. The harbour was covered years ago and it is difficult to even imagine how it was then. I started the tour at the square ‘Quai aux Briques’ and took the first right turn to enter into the square Sainte Catherine. Continuing along the square it continues into a beautiful street with benches and trees in the middle, almost like a square. There we can look at the first house of interest, an Art Deco building constructed in 1928 by a firm importing exotic fruit. When we look up to the top of the house we see decorations suitable for such a firm; pictures of orange and banana trees. Next fantastic building is on Rue de Flandre. This is a so called ‘hidden gem’. The real house lies hidden inside in the court yard. Today the building is a theatre and art

The Pleasure of Reading

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Today I visited the library in Overijse for the first time. I wanted to check whether they had any books in English. And...yes, they did. Also in French, Spanish, Italian and German. The choice was quite interesting with a mixture of new, old and classics. There are many books there that I can borrow. I started with two books by Jean Rhys; Wide Sargasso Sea  about the 'mad woman in the attic' in Jane Eyre. This is the story about her life in Jamaica before and after meeting Mr Rochester. The other book is Voyage in the Dark . I don't know so much about this book but it sounds interesting. A brief liaison with a kindly but unimaginative man leads Anna to abandon the theatre and drift into the demi-monde of 1914 London: red-plush dinners in private rooms 'up West'; ragtime, champagne and whisky back at the flat; these, and a discreet tinkle of sovereigns in the small hours pave the way to disaster...

The Hare with the Amber Eyes - A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal

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Beautiful cover. This is the first page and... This is a book I have heard of for quite some time. It was the title that first caught my attention, it sounded so mysteriously in a way. And that is what this book is about. A mystery. A quest for finding out the story of a family, an international family that was scattered all over Europe. Furthermore, recently several bloggers have mentioned this book, so, when I went into Waterstones last week and this book looked at me from the shelves, there was no way back. I just had to have it...NOW! In spite of the fact that my own shelves are wearing down with books I have not yet read. I can only say that it was an excellent choice. I did not realise though that it was a biography. That makes it even more fantastic. Edmund de Waal, a renowned ceramic artists, sets out to find out the history of his family when he inherits 264 netsuke figures from his great uncle. How did they come into the family? How did they travel within the family? H

Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontës by Lynne Reid Banks

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As a fan of the Brontë sisters I take every opportunity to read something about their lives. It does not matter that you already know most things, each writer always has something to add to the whole story. This book is a biographical or historical fiction of the four Brontë siblings. I love historical fiction so looked forward reading this. However, it is difficult to write biographical fiction about such loved characters as the Brontës. All the fans have their own view on how they were and how they lived. Lynne Reid Banks book is a master piece in this sense. I must admit that I had some difficulties getting into the book and the first part, the very start of the story, did not appeal to me. I found the writing a mixture between non-fiction and fiction. However, that changed rather quickly. The more I got into the book, the more I was amazed how well she describes the siblings, as well as other characters connected to them. She has created their characters from what is known of

Presence and the Art of Stillness

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Today is a quiet Sunday morning, rather warm for the season, I even heard some birds singing. It is all quiet everywhere, which gives you a feeling of being alone. I went out in the garden to try to capture some late autumn colours. They are there because the autumn so far has been very mild. Here are a few flowers that lights up the day. I have seen that some of you out there already have got snow. It looks really lovely, but I appreciate not to have to shovel snow from the drive way! On brain pickings   I found a wonderful article on What Leonard Cohen Teaches Us about Presence and the Art of Stillness.  Novelist and essayist Pico Iyer, the author of The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere , have interviewed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who in 1994 moved to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center to embark on five years of seclusion. Midway through Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddist monk and given the Dharma name Jikan-Pali for "silence".  Iyer writes: "

Autumn is here!

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We have had a lovely autumn or more like an Indian summer extending well into November. However, now the leaves are very yellow and orange and are falling off the trees. This is how it looked yesterday when I took a walk in the rain! This is how autumn is described in Wikipedia: Autumn, interchangeably known as fall in North America, is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphere), when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier and the temperature cools considerably. One of its main features is the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees. What does autumn remind me of when it comes to books and films? The first to come into my mind is the wonderful film Legends of the Fall  with Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, based on the book with the same name by Jim Harrison. I have not read the book but seen the films several times. Another film is the Autumn Sonata  by Ingmar

New purchases and the discovery of a new second hand book shop

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Today it was a lovely, sunny day, with blue skies and trees or tremendous colours. One of these very nice autumn days. They are very rare here in Brussels where the autumn is mostly connected with heavy clouds and rain. Not this year though. I went down town to Brussels today to finish of my walk No. 2. It took me to the St Catherine area of Brussels.  A post about this will appear shortly. However, I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled on a fantastic second hand books shop. Just have a look here:  I just wanted to look since I did not want to carry around more books than I already had in my ruck sac, but guess what? I couldn't resist a book which I wanted to read a long time. Furthermore, it had some guidance for studies on this book, which I thought I very much needed. It is Stendhal's The Red and the Black.  For 5 € it was a bargain. After my walk I went to my favourite Döner Kebab place and had my usual durum pita, sans pommes frites et sauce picante! Good as

Els Calderers - a flair of times passed by

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Els Calderers We have been to Mallorca regularly for about 12 years. Still, after all this time, we find places, houses, restaurants, beaches and much more where we never visited. This time we made an excursion to Els Calderers. It has been on my list to do for a long time. It is a manor house that has been in the same family for many years. The present building is in the style from around 1750. The family has now opened the house as a museum and for that we can only be grateful. The office (I am envious of course!) It was once one of the largest wine estates in Mallorca. As so many other wine farmers in Europe they were caught up by the wine louse, phylloxera, which came from the United States some time around 1860. The vine had to be taken away and it was replaced by more traditional farming. The inner yard in autumn colours The tour around the house is lovely and you are transported back in time (even if this is not the Outlander ). The furniture and the traditiona