Monday, 30 June 2014

Requiem in Vienna by J. Sydney Jones

I bought this book because I thought the story sounded good. Someone is trying to kill Gustav Mahler, the composer and chief conductor at the Hofoper. It takes place in Vienna (my husband is Austrian so always nice to read stories that take place there) around the last century, (meaning between 19th and 20th century). It is historic fiction, which I love.

Well, then. What's wrong? I don't really know. The story did not catch my attention, neither did the characters. It seems this is the latest book in a series, about the lawyer Werthen and his criminologist friend Dr. Gross. They have obviously solved murders before and this is yet another one. This book also includes Werten's new wife Berthe, who is an emancipated woman.

The story in short. A young girl, Alma Schindler, in love with Mahler (and later marries him in real life), employs Werthen to find out who is trying to kill Mahler. There has been several accidents at the Hofoper (Royal Court Opera) where he is working. One of the singers died instead of Mahler. Mahler is a rather nasty type, so he naturally finds people who don't like him. The suspects are therefor rather many. Werthen starts his investigation, Gross turns up and take over...almost. They go about trying to find out who is behind it all. None of the investigations or the people are really exciting. You get a lot of information and description on how Vienna looks, where everything is situated, historical background and a lot of famous, real life, people are passing by during the investigation.

This historic fiction is more of a history lesson, which is nice, but there is something missing. Jones surely knows his way around Vienna, and its history. However, it is not enough to make this book into something thrilling and exciting.

Secrets of the Paintings

I find historical mysteries very interesting. Recently, I read the book about the search for the grave of Richard III (review here some days ago).  For breakfast this morning, I read an Annex to the Swedish evening paper Aftonbladet, which my parents brought on their last trip. It is about secrets to be discovered in famous paintings. Or at least what people think they can read out of it. The most famous painter with supposedly a lot of hidden messages in his painting is Leonardo Da Vinci. It was made really famous with Dan Brown' The Da Vinci code but also in other books. Let's have a look at some of the paintings mentioned. We start with the most famous painter of them all: Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper 

It was painted between 1495-98 and ordered by Ludovico Sforza and his wife Beatrice d'Este (Duchess of Milan as reviewed here). It was painted directly on the wall in the Monastery Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Leonardo used a new 'dry' technique rather than the traditionally 'wet' fresco painting. The devastating result being that the oil did not stick to the wall, and already in the 16th century the condition of the painting was very bad. During the years, as many as at least 20 artists have tried to 'improve' the condition, leaving not much left of the original. Today only 20% of the painting can be referred to Leonardo.

The holy number of three: The people in the painting are divided into groups of three. Three being the symbol of the Trinity. The number of windows in the room are three. Even Jesus is painted according to the divine code: as a triangle.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Paris in July - new challenge

I guess this post should have been placed before Austen in August? However, it does not matter. In July there is a lovely challenge called Paris in July! Sounds very romantic I think, but it can be everything. This year it is hosted by four persons, four blogs. Read more about the idea here.

The general idea is that "this year we will be talking, sharing and blogging about books, food, travel, perfume, films, music, favourite markets, poetry, history and almost anything else with a Paris or French flavour – it really is like a virtual trip to Paris – and who could resist that?

Each of the team members here at Paris in July will be joining in with special topics:

Me (being A Wondering Life) – Fashion and books

Dolce Bellezza – Perfume and she promises some give aways!!

Adria – Life in Paris and reflections as an author

Tamara – Travel and Food"

I have chosen the following two books for the challenge:

  • Paris was Yesterday 1925-1939 by Janet Flanner
  • Hemingway, the Paris Years by Michael Reynolds 

Hemingway said:

If you have been lucky to live in Paris
 as a young man, then wherever 
you go for the rest of your life,
it stays with you, for Paris is a Moveable feast.

It seems that Paris has a special place for most people. We have heard so much about it and we have all kinds of imaginations how it is. 

Austen in August - new challenge

This challenge is hosted by

The goal for Austen in August is to read as many Austen-related books as you want during the month of August. This includes any of her novels, biographies about her, or any contemporary re-imaginings (such as Austenland or The Jane Austen Book Club, for example). Re-reads also count. I will post throughout the month on different Austen topics as well as my own book reviews, and I encourage you all to do the same. All posts will help you qualify for prizes, which I’ll explain in a later post! I hope that some participants will be interested in writing guest posts or hosting giveaways on their own blogs.

My choice is Emma. I started to read it many years ago, but did not like the character of Emma. Let's hope I have more patience now or at least see her differently.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Search for Richard III - The King's Grave by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones

I think most people love a mystery. Right? When this mystery is a real, life, historical mystery, I am just asking, how good can it be? It can be as good as this book and its fantastic story of finding a long, lost grave of a King! To make it even better, the story happened recently so it is really hot stuff! The last entries in the book was made in March this year.

I feel I know a lot about Richard III now. First I read The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey about a inspector "solving" the crime of the "Princes in the Tower" from his hospital bed. A very enjoyable read. This book is a 'real' look into the mystery of Richard III and the search for his grave. But it is also a quest to try to find out who he was and try to find a more nuanced picture of the man and his deeds. His bad reputation, which was emphasised by Tudor propaganda at the time, and the still not solved mystery of who killed the "Princes of the Tower".

Friday, 27 June 2014

Book launch and buying new books!

As I announced earlier there was a book launch yesterday here in Brussels at the Waterstones. It was my the initiator to the Brussels Brontë group, Helen MacEwan, who was launching her second book called The Brontës in Brussels. 

This is a book for all Brontë fans who want to know more about their stay here in Brussels. Included is also a guided tour of the places that the Charlotte and Emily visited during their stay here in Brussels.

Helen held an introduction of the book to the interested crowd that had gathered. Afterwards she was signing the book, and there was some wine and snacks. It was a rather busy event and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Of course I had to buy the book. While I was at it, I also grabbed a book by Philippa Langly and Michael Jones, The Search for Richard III, The King's Grave. I have almost finished it and a review will come shortly. Fascinating story. Waterstone had put it under a sign collecting books that are more fascinating the fiction!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Today's post is brought to you by the letter...

On Dolce Bellezza I found this message:

"Here's something that should be fun - and do get involved in the comment section! - I'm going to kick off a meme where we say our favourite book, author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. And that letter will be randomly assigned to you by me, via If you'd like to join in, comment in the comment section and I'll tell you your letter! (And then, of course, the chain can keep going on your blog.)"

It is a message from Simon on Stuck in a book. I started from Dolce Bellezza and I have received the letter

So here are my favourite book, author, song, film, and object beginning with a N.

It was not as easy as I thought to find a favourite book on N. Looking around my book cases I finally found a book which is also a favourite of mine.

Over to the author, hmm a favourite author on N?

Håkan Nesser is one of the most popular criminal writers in Sweden. His books can be read even if you are not interested in 'crimis' since the stories are really good.

A song, can't be that difficult can it? One of my favourite albums is Pink Floyd's The Wall. From there we find Nobody home.

Nobody Home
I've got a little black book with my poems in.
Got a bag with a toothbrush and a comb in.
When I'm a good dog, they sometimes throw me a bone in.

Time for a film. If I would make it easy I could use The Name of the Rose here as well, but I will vary myself. So I go for a classic

One of Alfred Hitchcock's best, North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. I still remember the classic scene above when I hear about this film.

An object that I love. Well, that is easy, I love nuts of all kinds!

If you want to participate go to Dolce Belezza or Stuck in a Book, or ask me for a random letter by commenting below!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

After the thick book of the Luminaries I needed something light, and having just read Josephine Tey's book Daughter of Time I tried her other more acclaimed book. It is not as good as Daughter of Time, but the riddle is quite fascinating. In short it starts with our "hero" lawyer Robert Blair. He lives in a small sleepy town called Milford. It seems to be one of those small, beautiful country towns that we love to read about or see on telly. He is in his forties, working in the inherited law firm with history down to the last century, a little tired with his life all of a sudden. He is living with his cousin/aunt who serves him with lunch, dinner and packing his bag when he has to travel. Yes, one of those men. The book is written in 1948 so it is another time indeed.

One day he gets a phone call from a lady at the Franchise house. It is an ugly, old building in the next village. The house was recently given by inheritance to a middle aged woman and her mother who live there with small means. She is calling to ask him to come since the police is visiting and is accusing her and her mother of having kidnapped a young girl, held her prisoner and beating her up for a month! This is not really the case that he normally takes, being a civil lawyer, but the lady Marion manage to persuade him. Here is where his life is changing. Meeting the ladies he just can't imagine that they have done something like that and he is sure that it is all a misunderstanding. Furthermore, he is attracted to Marion from first site so...happy to help out!

The police is bringing the girl, whom the pair has never seen. However, she is describing the house, the attic where she were kept prisoner, the furniture etc in every detail! The police must therefore believe in the girl and a warrant is issued.

The mystery is a good one and Blair is trying a little bit of detective work with the help of a detective and a friend who is a criminal lawyer. Slowly, slowly they manage to find things to break the story of the girl. I can reveal that much because we always know that they manage in the end. The case is curious and you wonder how she could know how the house looked like. Unfortunately, this is the one question you don't get an answer to.  I think I know how, but it not pursuing this question and I think this is lacking in the overall answer to the mystery.

Otherwise it is an easy read and can be something for the beach this summer! This is one of my summer reads, only the hammock was missing! It has also been filmed several times so maybe an old classic on a nice summer evening!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Literary plates!

While doing a little bit of cleaning I ran into some plates with literary characters on them, that I forgot that I had! Yes, that happens to me all the time. I remember collecting them when I was younger. They are in ceramic and it is possible to use them for eating, but I think the main purpose was to hang them on the wall. Well, I don't like so much plates on the wall so they were just standing around! I think, I actually had them on the wall at a certain time.

Now they are standing on a side table in the garden. Here a picture of the five plates I still have. One was broken and thrown away, I think it was Carmen. There seems to be two other in a series of eight, which are Hamlet and Aphrodite. Here are mine:

They are showing Camille, Faust and Marguerite, Don Juan, Anna Karenina and Leda and the Swan!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Book launch of "The Brontës in Brussels" on Thursday 26 June

Those of you who live in Brussels might want to attend a book launch on Thursday 26 June at 19.00. It is my friend Helen MacEwan who has written her second book about the Brontës in Brussels.

Here some information about the event:

You are very welcome to come along to the launch of the book The Brontës in Brussels on Thursday 26 June at 19.00 at Waterstones bookstore, get a signed copy and celebrate with a glass of wine!

See also a post about the book on the Waterstones blog:

Thursday 26 June at 19.00 at Waterstones bookstore, Boulevard Adolphe Max 71, 1000 Brussels

Launch of the The Brontës in Brussels by Helen MacEwan, published by Peter Owen (UK). This lavishly illustrated guide gathers together information on Charlotte and Emily Brontë’s stay in Brussels in 1842-43 and makes it easy to identify the Brontë places – which, without help, can be quite a challenge! Apart from giving a biographical account of Charlotte’s and Emily’s stay at the Pensionnat, the book is abundantly illustrated, with over 90 pictures including many of 1840s Brussels. It includes a self-guided Brontë walk with detailed maps; extracts from Villette showing how the novel reflects Charlotte’s real-life experiences in Brussels; English translations of some of the sisters’ ‘Belgian essays’; and translations of Charlotte’s four moving letters to M. Heger.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This is also a review for Book Beginnings on Friday  hosted by Rose City Reader:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton starts with Mercury in Sagittarius:

The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met. From the variety of their comportment and dress - frock coats, tailcoats, Norfolk jackets with buttons of horn, yellow moleskin, cambric, and twill - they might have been twelve strangers on a railway car, each bound for a separate quarter of a city that possessed fog and tides enough to divide them; indeed, the studied isolation of each man as he pored over his paper, or leaned forward to tap his ashes into the grate, or placed the splay of his hand upon the baize to take his shot at billiards, conspired to form the very type of bodily silence that occurs, late in the evening, on a public railway - deadened here not by the slur and clunk of the coaches, but by the fat clatter of the rain.

This is a much appreciated book, having won the Man Booker prize this year. It seems that people either love it or hate it. It is a very special book, as I would say all Man Booker prize winners are! I am not always on the same tune as they are. However, for this book, I am.

Eleanor Catton
It is a difficult book to have an opinion of. That is why I think you either love it or hate it. I read it for one of my book clubs and I am for it, but I am sure not everyone is. We will meet on Wednesday so we will see.

One of the reasons why I love it, I think is, that I always loved the Wild West. This is not exactly the wild west, but still looking for gold...this time not in the US but in New Zealand's South Island's West Coast in mid 1860s. It starts with a death and a disappearance. From there you follow the action from 12 different people's view. It starts with Walther Moody arriving in Hokitika and by chance checking in to a hotel, visiting the bar and running in to a gang of 12 people having decided to meet to get the whole picture of the death and the disappearance! On you go for 832 pages with a story that is sometimes told in 2nd person sometimes in 3rd person. Most of the men are connected to Anna, the whore, but she is quite mysterious until the very end.

At some point in the end of the story I felt that it was maybe to long and dragged out to long. However, the story was told in such a delicate way and in such a way that you always looked forward to another view. In the latter part of the book you get the story of what happened before the book starts. I found it quite strange, but on the other hand, it gives you the background. And then the end.... I wondered how it would end from the middle of the book...and then it ended? Well, I let you discover for yourselves.!

What I mostly loved about the book, apart from the story, which was told in a very sensitive way, was the language in which it was written. Beautiful, quite simple, prose. It gave a very interesting view of the characters, all very different, but becoming very familiar when you return to them. I think, that what mostly grasped me was the language in which it was told.

For me, it was a lovely book!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Expensive Whitman!

Yesterday Christie's sold a first edition of "Leaves of Grass" by American poet and humanist Walt Whitman for $305,000. This is the most expensive book sold by Whitman and more than double the expected estimate. A previous record for the same book and same author was $230,500, sold by Sotheby's in October 2011.

The most expensive book ever sold is the Bay Psalm Book, sold by Sotheby's in the autumn of 2013 for $14.2 million! Wouw! I read that this is the first book printed in British North America in 1640, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

18 June in History

18 June 1815 Napoleon was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, in present day Belgium.

Battle of Waterloo 1815
On June 16, 1815, Napoleon defeated the Prussians under Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher at Ligny, and sent 33,000 men, or about one-third of his total force, in pursuit of the retreating Prussians. On June 18, Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington's 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher's troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to
Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Weird requests in hotels!

Skyscanner is a travel booking site. They have recently made a survey with hotels around the world on the weirdest requests made by guests in hotels.

Here are the most unusual requests:

1. One glass of water on the hour every hour, throughout the night

2. 15 cucumbers a day
15 cucumbers a day!
3. Toilet to be filled with mineral water

4. Bath of honey

5. Sound of goats bells to aid sleep

6. Only the right legs of a chicken

7. A dead mouse

8. Bath of chocolate milk

9. 16 pillows (for single guest)

10. Crocodile soup

The survey also includes the most unusual complaints and they are:

The blue sea!
1. The sheets are too white
2. The sea was too blue
3. Ice cream too cold
4. Bath was too big
5. Girlfriend’s snoring kept guest awake (discount requested)
6. Guest’s dog didn’t enjoy his stay (refund requested)
7. Hotel had no ocean view (in Mayfair, London and Italy, 80km from coast)
8. There was no steak on vegetarian menu
9. Waiter was too handsome
10. Mother of Groom wasn’t given the honeymoon suite

Having a look at the requests and complaints one has to assume that it concerns four or five star hotels, most likely the latter. Just shows that some people do not live in the real world!

If I had the means, what would I ask for? Probably a first edition of Wuthering Heights! And I don't mean that that is easier to fulfil than the other requests on the list.

What would you ask for?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Most Famous Person in the World?

This morning I read in DN (Swedish daily paper) in the scientific section (yes, it happens) that researchers have used algorithms from Google to find which persons are mostly linked on Wikipedia. That is; links to and from in the world total, and different countries and language areas. The first writer on this research is Young-Ho Eom and the paper is on (not that I could find it but maybe you can).You will not believe who is the person that has the most links to his (yes, it is a his) name?

Carolus Linneaus, or as we say in Swedish Carl von Linné! After him on the international list are Jesus, Aristoteles, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler and Julius Ceasar. The article refer to The Guardian who is surprised by the result, since the English speaking list, is topped by Napoleon and Barack Obama according to one way of counting and Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson according to another.

Benjamin Disraeli is alleged to have said that there are "three kinds of lies: lies, dam lies and statistics." Winston Churchill is supposed to have said: "the only statistics you can trust are the ones you have falsified yourself." Well, statistics are of course dependent on the data you put in, but nevertheless it is an interesting exercise. The reason why Linneaus came out as the most famous person is that he belongs to the world of natural science. This is a universal science and available in all countries at all times. Artist, politicans, religious leaders and writers are popular within a certain time frame, geographical and language area, but scientific people tend to go down the centuries anywhere.

Linneaus was born in 1707 and died in 1778 in Sweden. He was a botanist, physician and zoologist and laid the foundation for the modern biological naming scheme of plants. He is know as the father of modern taxonomy and is also considered as one of the forrunners for modern ecology. Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name was Carolus Linnaeus (and after 1761 Carolus a Linné).

He sent apostles all over the world to report to him and send him species and information. Most of them unfortunately died in their quest. Linné himself lived abroad between 1735 and 1738 and he published his first edition of Systema Naturae in the Netherlands. He returned to Sweden to become professor medicine and botany at Uppsala. In the 1740s he was sent on journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals. It resulted in books through the landscapes of Skåne, Öland, Gotland, Västergötland, Dalarna and Lappland (maybe they have also been translated?). At the time of his death, he was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe (all from Wikipedia, where else).

From Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau he got the following message: "Tell him I know no greater man on earth." German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: "With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly." Swedish author August Strindberg wrote: "Linnaeus was in reality a poet who happened to become a naturalist". He has also been called Princeps botanicorum, The Pliny of the North and The Second Adam.

We Swedes tend not to take too much notice of our great men and women. However, I think we should. Linné is one of these people who are probably more famous abroad then in Sweden. I am thinking that if I had lived in his time, where I live now, he could have come to my garden. Here we have so many different species (not because I have planted them myself, but they tend to appear still!!) so he would not have had to travel so much!

In 2007 there was actually a celebration or at least a highlight of his deeds in Sweden to celebrate the 300 years since his birth. I have a nice biography about him, not yet read, but why not read it for the Historical Fiction Reading since he is one of the most famous people from the renaissance! It must count as well.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Summer Reading

In Europe we are welcoming the summer. However, if you are from north of Europe you never know what kind of weather it will be. In southern Europe it is normally sunny and warm, but further north it can more or less be any weather; sunny, rainy, cold, windy, maybe not snow but we have seen hail storms here, one just the other day.

People who don't have too much time to read during the year, usually say that they will read during the holidays. For a Swede a very nice thing is to lie in the hammock, in the shade of a tree with a cold lemonade and read a good book! This is summer. Since Sweden in recent years have seen a lot of detective story writers, this is a popular option among us. Easy enough and a little bit of excitement and guessing on who is the murderer?

I thought it was a good idea to try to select a few books from my TBR shelves and my newly bought or downloaded books. I realised that we are soon half away through the year and I have only read 40 books. Multiplied with two that makes 80 and not enough for coming close to last years 108 books. That means I have to speed up a little. Life has been very busy lately, but I can see that the summer can brings me some moments for loosing myself in the world of books. Better than to try to set a list that I would like to finish, although I am not always too fond of this, since when I decide to read something I always feel like reading something else! Well, that is life I imagine.

Friday, 13 June 2014

13 June in Literature

This day in 1893 author Dorothly L. Sayers is born in Oxford, England.

Her most famous creation is the detective Lord Peter Wimsey. He appeared for the first time in the 1923 book Whose Body?. She continued with some dozen novels about him. In the end of her carrier she returned to her academic roots. She died in 1957.

Some quotes:

“Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him -- or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.” 
― Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?"

"So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.” 
― Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

“Books... are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.” 

“The great advantage about telling the truth is that nobody ever believes it.” 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

I have heard of this book for some time and was eager to read it. It did not disappoint me, it is a fantastic book, just my cup of tea! If you love history and murder mysteries this is a book for you. Josephine Tey is a pseudonym for Elizabeth Mackintosh born in 1896 and died in 1952. She is Scottish and wrote mostly mystery novels, but also some plays with a historical theme. Her most famous book is The Daughter of Time which was selected by the British-based Crime Writers' Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time. I can only agree. Her The Franchise Affair ended up on place 11 out of 100.

The story is about Alan Grant, a chief inspector at the Scotland Yard, who after an accident ends up in hospital. He is bedridden for some time and his friends tries to give him books to read to make time go. However, none of the books are to his liking. He is interested in faces. His actor friend Martha gives him pictures of paintings. Going through the paintings he finds one of Richard III (see photo). He sees something in the face and asks different people around him what they see and what they know of the man. Depending on their profession they see different things and most of them say he is the man that murdered the Princes in the Tower. Grant asks himself if this is a face of a murderer.

He becomes interested in the history and asks friends to bring him books. He studies the books and thinks of the disappearance of the Princes as one of his cases. To his aid he finds a young, american history student/researcher. Together they look into old manuscripts, laws, court papers, other documents, and what not, to find the facts. They soon only discover that Richard III could not have had anything to do with the disappearance of the Princes. The most likely culprit is... well, I will let you find out for yourself.

The story is revealed as they study documents, biographies etc. The procedure is the same as if it was a present case. The historical background makes this book so interesting and you really want to read more on these times.

A highly recommended read. Difficult to put down and I almost read it through in a day. I would not mind trying The Franchise Affair as well. Anybody who has read it?

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

This book is regarded as the first detective novel written in the English language. There are other contestants like Edgar Allan Poe's short mystery stories The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) and The Purloined Letter (1845) which were published before the Moonstone (1868). However that is, all stories are great.

T.S. Eliot called it "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe". Dorothy L. Sayers says: "probably the very finest detective story ever written!. G.K Chesterton calls it "Probably the best detective tale in the world". The story introduces the always fascinating mystery of the 'locked-room'. Collins also introduces here elements that has become classic attributes in detective stories up to our days, such as;
"English country house robbery, an "inside job", red herrings, a celebrated, skilled, professional investigator, bungling local constabulary, detective enquiries, large number of false suspects, the "least likely suspect", a rudimentary "locked room" murder, a reconstruction of the crime and a final twist in the plot." It definitely makes me think of Agatha Christie among others.

Friday, 6 June 2014


The Original
Today is the Swedish National Day. Here in Brussels it was celebrated by the Swedish Club with a reception at the Swedish Church. However, earlier in the day it was celebrated by one of the main features and tourist spots in Brussels; the Manneken Pis.

For you who don't know who this is, it is a peeing boy! Yes, this is Belgium an one of the main tourist attractions. A small (when you see pictures you always think it is bigger) bronze statue of a naked boy that is peeing into a fountain. However, it has a story behind it.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

5 June in Literature

This day in 1949 Ken Follett is born. Famous to most of us for his novel The Eye of the Needle which was also made into a successful film. The book came in 1978.

He published quite a lot of novels before he hit the lists with the above book. Some books I remember to have read were The Key to Rebecca, On Wings of Eagles and Lie Down with Lions. 

From then on he went into historical fiction with Pillars of the Earth, a wonderful book about cathedral builders in medieval Europe and On Wings of Eagles about a rescue attempt made by the americans for their trapped country men in Iran. Later books include more historical novels like World Without End and Fall of Giants. 

Blogging for Photographers by Jolie O'Dell

Saltaire Art and Craft centre
As I mentioned in an earlier post I bought this book at the fantastic Art and Craft centre in Saltaire. It was one of many nice and interesting books available there. Not that I am a photographer, but I thought that it might explain a little bit how to use photos on the blog and other things about photos. It does not. However, it is a very interesting and very pedagogical book about blogging. OK, for photographers, but this is just the theme of the blog, right? Most of the advice is also valid for bloggers in general.

The book is printed on beautiful, a little bit thicker, half glossy paper and is divided into 8 chapters; basics, blogging platforms, content, community, monetization, inspiration, photoshop basics and resources.

Even when you have been blogging for some time and you think you know what to do it is very useful. At least for me. I might know what to do, but I don't always know why and how it works. You also get explanations on a lot of abbreviations and other technical terms.

The most useful for me were:

Content: How to write a blog, what to write about, methods, regularities and consistencies. How much? How little? Most important thing is to write regularly. Since that can sometimes be a problem we go to the next point.

Inspiration: Challenges are one. Considering all the challenges out there the biggest problem would probably be to find a new challenge that people would be interested in. With photography it might be easier, but the 'well of books' is big and there are a lot still to be found. Another option is to find inspiration from other artists; not only book bloggers as in our case, but also from other areas of which you have an interest, photo blogs for example!

Photoshop basic: This was very useful to me who is not very good at photoshop. I just bought a magazine tutorial how to do it. It is time consuming and I don't know why, but my efforts does not always end up at the same end point as in the tutorial! Maybe the tutorial is wrong! Hmm...This basic one is very good and probably all what you need to highlight your photos a bit.

Resources: This was also very useful for me with information on various media. Web hosting with links to various types, software that can be useful for various parts of the blogging. And on top of all! A glossary that explains it all.

Jolie O'Dell has worked as a technology journalist for Mashable and Venture Beat, with a decade of experience engaging the online community. Her photojournalistic creations have been featured in tech and social-media publications internationally. All according to the cover. She has also written a blogging for creatives which could be interesting to read as well.

Well, that's it. Now, I have no excuse not to make professional blog posts! Let's see if I can put some of the advice into some thrilling posts for this site!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Illustrated photos

I posted some of my photos yesterday which should symbolise/associate to a book in my book shelves. Maybe you have associations to other books? Maybe in your own book shelves? Please feel free to put forward which books you come to think of seeing the photos.

Just looking at the photos again I can think of the following books:

1. In the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
2. The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By by Georges Simenon
3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
4. The Collector by John Fowles
5. Paradise Lost by John Milton
6. Dragonwyck by Anya Seton
7. The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian
8. In the Woods by Tana French

I am sure you have a lot of other alternatives!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Illustrated books - a quiz

Still reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and it is going slowly. Not much to write about in other words. So, I have to use my imagination and try something else. So here are some of my photos to illustrate books in my library (read or not read). I leave it to you to guess which books are illustrated. The right answers will be in the end.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Food and Books - Maigret, Babette and Lieven

Some books are more dedicated to food then others. The Austrian author Johannes Mario Simmel wrote the book Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein (It Must Not Always be Caviar; my translation). This merry adventure book is about Thomas Lieven, ladies man, pacifist and gourmand, who is reluctantly forced to work as a secret agent for England, France, Germany and the United States, before, during and after WWII. He only wants to be left in peace to create culinary masterpieces, but alas, this is not for him. Somehow he manages his adventures and find time to cock. The recipes are shared with the reader.

 Babette's Feast by Karen Blixen is about Babette who was a master cock in Paris but had to flee France around 1871. She ended up in a small village in Norway with two priest daughters. They were fine, good people who lived a sparse life and never thought too much about food. To celebrate the 100 anniversary of the daughters father, Babette - who had won 10.000 franc in a French lottery, insists on paying and organising the feast. She travels back to France to buy the best food and wine. The dinner is a huge success in the congregation, they have never tasted anything like it.

Maigret by Georges Simenon, is a famous chief inspector in Paris, who loves food and to solve crimes. Simenon wrote around 100 books about Maigret. Maigret likes simple, every day food, especially Mrs Maigret's oven baked mackerel. He feels the aroma already in the stairs leading up to his flat. The secret is that the mackerel has been brushed with an equal amount of lemon juice and mustard, then put on a bed of onion and parsley, plus a little bit of white wine! Sounds good to me, might be worth trying!