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Showing posts from November, 2015

First of advent and book launch

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Yesterday was first of advent. We don't have a candle stick with four candles this year, which is customary in Sweden. In stead we settled for a 'christmas tree' candle that we received from Sally. In the afternoon we ignored the grey weather and headed down town to Waterstone to attend my friend Helen's book launch. Helen MacEwan is the founder of the Brussels Brontë Group  and has written two earlier books about the Brontës; Down the Belliard Steps - Discovering the Brontës in Brussels , a book about how the group came together. Her second book is The Brontës in Brussels , a complete guide to Charlotte's and Emily's stay in Brussels and the places they visited. Her third book was inspired by her earlier books. While researching them she came upon the first biographer of the Brontës after Elizabeth Gaskell, Winifred Gérin. She is actually the only one who has written one book for each of the siblings, four altogether. Helen discovered that, not only w

'Bonjour Tristesse' and 'A Certain Smile' by Francoise Sagan

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Two short books by famous French author Francoise Sagan. Bonjour Tristesse was her first book, written when she was only 18 years old. It is also her most famous book. Both books are about young love and complications. However banal that may sound, it is not banal at all. I was quite overtaken by both stories, they are very well written and you turn the page to see how the love stories will end. Bonjour Tristesse is about 17 year old Cécile who lives with her father, the mother is dead. The father, Raymond, is a seductive, amorous man, with a string of mistresses coming and going. This story is mostly set in the south of France during some summer months. Elsa, the latest of the young mistresses, come to live with them in a rented villa. All is well. Cécile meets Cyril a neighbouring young man, and they fall in love with each other. In comes Anne Larsen, a woman the same age as Raymond, independent, self assured, intelligent and successful. Totally different from the usual women tha

The Human Factor by Graham Greene

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I am almost ashamed to say that this is my first book by Graham Greene. A classic spy thriller in the same fashion as John Le Carré. The set-up is classic:  a small unit in MI6, a leak and a search for the traitor. Our man, Maurice Castle, is close to retirement. His only post abroad was in South Africa some years back.  Now he is back in London. During his years in South Africa, a local girl was working as one of his sources. He fell in love and he managed, with some difficulty, to get her and her son out of there. They married and are living a quiet life in a suburb to London. Living exactly like everybody else in the street, not to stick out, always to hide their real business. Their whole life is an artificial one, but at least they have each other. The leak has been connected to the African section where Castle works. He jokes about it with his colleague Davis, and they don't take it too seriously to start with.  Things are moving very slowly forwards. In parallel we follo

Have Mercy On Us All (Pars vite et reviens tard) by Fred Vargas

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The first book I read by Fred Vargas was ’ The Chalk Circle Man ’. A different kind of ”inspector solves murder” kind of book. So happy when someone in the book club suggested another title of hers, Have Mercy On Us All . Fred Vargas is a pseudonym for Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, a French historian, archaeologist and writer. Fred is the diminutive of Frédérique, but Vargas comes from Ava Gardner’s character of a fictional Spanish sex symbol Maria Vargas in the film The Barefoot Contessa. I think that her profession as a historian and archaeologist, is the base for the fantastic stories she tells. Her novels are not just any murder mystery; there is a complicated, intricate story behind. It is not for every inspector to solve these kind of murders, but inspector Adamsberg is not anyone. I doubt he would ever have a chance to go up the ranks in real life. But here he certainly is allowed to use his unorthodox methods of murder solving. In this book it seems that the plague is back in Pa

2016 Challenge - What's in a Name?

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I will not participate in too many challenges in 2016. I have noticed that the biggest challenge I have is on my own TBR shelves, so will continue with them. I have managed to read quite a few in 2015, so I am happy about that. The "What's in a Name" challenge, hosted by The Worm Hole  seems to be something that I could manage and it is a challenge that tickle my curiosity. The basic rules are simple enough. The basics
   The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets – I’ve included some from other languages, and translations most definitely count!): A country (try not to use ‘Africa’!) Suggestions: Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Xiaolu Guo’s I Am China, Martin Wagner’s Deutschland) An item of clothing (Su Dharmapala’s Saree, Ann Brashare’s The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Javier Moro’s El Sari Rojo; Pierre Lemaitre’

Four Shades of Brown Book Covers

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I have read a few books recently without writing a review of them. Partly because I have been very busy, and partly because of some lack of inspiration. When I took photos of some of the books I have read, I realised that they all had different kind of brown covers. Brown is not my favourite colour, it is not very common on book covers, so I was quite surprised to find four of them on my last reads. Here they are with a short summary of the books. Opening Pandora's Box by Ferdie Addis A book in the same series as The Classical Education; the Stuff you Wish You'd Been Taught at School , this time about phrases borrowed from the Classics, and the stories behind them. Many of these phrases we use today, often maybe, without knowing where they came from. Like the opening of Pandora's box, which today means ' to unleash a stream of unforeseen problems; to open a can of worms' .  The original being... According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Pandora was the world

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: my 100th book in 2015

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I have reached my 100th read books this year. This is the goal I set on Goodreads. However, it seems that not all the books I have read is available on Goodreads so I have to go on for another couple of books. That is no problem at all. A Study in Scarlet  was read for the 'Brontë Reading Group' and we will meet next week to discuss it. I have only read the occasional Sherlock Holmes book, but seen films and TV-series. This is the very first book about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and we get to know how they met in the first place. Very soon after their first meeting they decide to share accommodations on 221B Baker Street! Very soon after that their on to their first murder mystery. The inspectors Gregson and Lestrade are contacting Holmes to get his opinion on a mysterious murder, taking place in an abandon house, no sign of violent entry and the murderer has written the word RACHE (meaning 'revenge' in German) on the wall with blood. Sherlock with his sharp e

Broken Harbour by Tana French

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Ever since I read Tana French’s debut novel In the Woods some years ago, I wanted to read something else from her. I really loved the book, although, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Maybe because I felt that part of the story did not get an explanation. On the other hand, it leaves you with an option to make your own ending and interpretation. We had a great discussion on it in our reading group. It is open for a lot of different interpretations. I recently bought her fourth book, and it was with great anticipation I started it. Like with the other book you are directly thrown into a murder case. And not just any murder; it is a murder case with a twist.  The text from the back cover says it all in a few words: Sometimes there is no safe place.   Nothing about the way this family lived shows why they deserved to die.   But here's the thing about murder: ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it doesn't break into people's life.   It gets there because

An ’outdoor’ challenge came my way!

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Last week I heard about a company named  Cotopaxi  and they had a challenge that tickled my curiosity. So, here I am, inspired to participate in a Cotopaxi project, to write a post about my favourite adventure book. Apart from Mount Sinai, this might be the highest climb I ever did! From Mallorca, Spain Since I was not familiar with Cotopaxi, I did a little bit of research on the web. The first thing I learn is that Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, looks fabulous  in the pictures, and yes, I would like to visit! Scrolling further down I found the relevant Cotopaxi who is making outdoor clothing and accessories. They presents themselves as ”an outdoor gear company with a social mission”. That sounds like something I can agree too. Furthermore, and here is where she wanted my contribution; they have a section of their blog called " 5 road trips inspired by adventure books ". The books already there are: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer The Adv

Sunday bliss!

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As usual on the weekend we try to take a walk in the forest, close to us. Yesterday, we made a little bit of a shopping round instead. Walking, in stead of taking the car as usual, we went to various shops along the main road. Imaging what you see when you walk, rather than taking the car. We discovered new shops and managed to buy a birthday present for a friend's 60th birthday next week. Today we made it to the woods. It must have been a special day, because I have never seen so many people here. This is a popular spot for people living in Brussels. They come out here to walk in the woods and then to go for one of the many restaurants that are covering the area close to the woods. Not entirely matured blackberries! The wood, or more like it a forest, is so huge so, once your inside and choose your own paths, you are quite on your own. A lovely day, 19 degrees C, and the autumn colours of red and yellow fight with the still green plants and trees. There were leave

Reading habits?

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A book well read? Bended spine and a lady's fan? There are many different kinds of reading habits. What we most commonly talk about is probably; “Where do you like to read?” Another one is if you mark the page where you are by folding the corner (“dog ear” we call it in Swedish and I am not able to remember the English word for it. Maybe someone can enlighten me?) Another one is how you read your books and this is the topic of today’s post. My husband gets very irritated with me when he, from time to time, spots the books I have read (I am talking about pocket books here, hard cover is something else). He says I ‘destroy’ the books! Hm, thanks.  In my case it means, that some way inside the book, I fold the spine ‘inside-out’ to be able to read properly. In most books, but not all, after a certain number of pages you cannot read the text closest to the spine. Do you know what I mean? You have to move the book left/right to be able to read properly. I admit that when the book

Thackeray - A Writer’s Life by Catherine Peters

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Recently I read Pendennis by William Thackeray. Someone told me that it was, in certain parts, based on experiences from his own life, so I made a mental note to read a biography of him. I have just been to Mallorca for two weeks, and stepping into the flat I was astonished when the first book I see on the shelf is a biography of Thackeray! Just shows the overview I have of my TBR shelves, especially in Mallorca. This is a biography by Catherine Peters from 1987. Got raving views at the time and it is very well written. Ms Peters chooses to analyse his books in the back drop of his own life, which makes an interesting angle. She points out influences from his life and how they made it into his writing. His childhood was not happy and his school years disastrous and remained with him all his life. We Indian children were consigned to a school of which our deluded parents had heard a favourable report, but which was governed by a horrible little tyrant, who made our young lives