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Showing posts from July, 2016

The Knights Templar in Britain by Evelyn Lord

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Ever since reading The Da Vinci Code , I have been interested in the Templars and what they were. I am obviously not alone in this interest, since the book generated a frequent stream of ’literary tourism’ to places in the book, and places connected to the Templars. The best thing to do, to find out what they really were is to read a non-fiction book about them. So, being me, I ordered two books; this one and ’ The Rise and the Fall of the Knights Templar ’ by Gordon Napier, still to be read. The beginning The book opens with a chapter called ’The Knights Templar: Knightly Monks or Monkish Knights? A very good question indeed. I think many of us forget the fact that the Templars were monks. We are used to think of monks, staying in their monastery, taking care of their gardens, doing their prayers and all in all live a very quiet, contemplating kind of life. However, the Templars we see as Knights and soldiers firstly (don’t we all have a notion of knights as a nobel class of sold

The Sleepwalkers - How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

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This is a very complex book about finding the cause to the First World War. It is not possible to point to one specific cause to the start of the war. Christopher Clark makes a fantastic job in showing us the various events that lead to this terrible war. ”The European continent was at peace on the morning of Sunday 28 June 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek arrived at Sarajevo railway station. Thirty-seven days later, it was at war. The conflict that began that summer mobilized 65 million troops, claimed three empires, 20 million military and civilian deaths, and 21 million wounded. The horrors of Europe’s twentieth century were born of this catastrophe; it was, as the American historian Fritz Stern put it, ’the first calamity of the twentieth century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang’. The debate over why it happened began before the first shots were fired and has been running ever since. It has spawned an historical literature of unpara

Book beginnings on Friday

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Rose City Reader , is hosting Book beginnings on Friday . She says: Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name. Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.)  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) *Post it. *Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. *It's that simple. My book this week is Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler Beginning ”He wakes to the scratching of a pencil against a page: a noise out of the darkness. He lies quite still on his back, reaching out for sound. His ears have become wings, straining, stretching, carrying him away. The world comes to him o

Challenge update - Full House Reading Challenge 2016

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This interesting challenge is hosted by Book Date  who have created a card à la Bingo, with five criteria in each direction, 25 in all. I will try to cover them all in my quest to lower my TBR shelves. Here is the card. So how have I done so far? Author you wish was known better - Alex Connor Published in 2016 - The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel Book from series you love - Debut novel - Thought Provoking book - The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe Had laugh out loud moments - The Almost Nearly Perfect People - Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth Book club worthy - Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler Color word in title -  The Woman in White  by Wilkie Collins Authors' surname starts with same letter as yours - The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco You didn't want to put it down - The Other Rembrandt by Alex Connor Way out of comfort zone -  The Circle by Clive Eggers Family relationship word in title - Trav

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

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I won this book at the Brussels Brontë group’s annual Christmas dinner, and it has spent half a year on my shelves. I am quite familiar with the story of the family and at first I could not really engage in the book. It is very well written, beautiful prose. It follows the thoughts of Charlotte, Emily, Anne, the father and the nurse helping the father during his convalescence after his eye operation. Sheila Kohler lets us into the minds of the sisters and how their experiences in life has found its way into their books. We hear the thoughts of the father, always somehow distancing himself from his children, except possibly from Branwell, the promising son of which became nothing. The more I read however, the more I did engage in their destiny, and Sheila Kohler has integrated their thoughts of what happened in their life and how the event were woven into their stories. It is very delicately and respectfully done, and towards the end of the book you feel their pain and their solitud

A real French 'crime passionel'

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For Paris in July 2016 , hosted by Tamara at  Thyme for Tea  I found this interesting real life event about a 'crime passionnel'. While reading The Sleepwalkers I came on to a fascinating, real ’crime passionnel’ which happened in France in 1914. As mentioned in the book: ”In Paris, the news from Sarajevo was pushed off the front pages by a scandal of momentous proportions. On 16 March 1914, Madame Caillaux, wife of the former prime minister Joseph Caillaux, had walked into the office of Gaston Calmette, editor of Figaro, and fired six bullets into him. The reason for the murder was the campaign the newspaper had waged against her husband, in the course of which Calmette had published love letters she had written to Joseph Caillaux while he was still married to his first wife” Henriette Caillaux (from Wikipedia) Intriguing to say the least. It can’t be left without a little bit of research on Wikipedia, and here is what I came up with. Henriette Caillaux wa

Tower - An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones - part II

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Many important, high ranked and famous people spent time in the Tower, either to be released later on or go directly to the executioner. Many of them wrote poems to describe their peril. Here is one very touching from a Chideock Tichborne, a young gentleman writing to his wife. My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, My crop of corn is but a field of tares And all my good is but vain hope of gain; The day is past, and yet I saw no sun, And now I live, and now my life is done.   My tale is hear and yet it was not told, My fruit is fall’n and yet my leaves are green My youth is spent and yet I am not old,  I saw the world and yet I was not seen; My thread is cut and yet it is not spun, And now I live, and now my life is done.   I sought my death and found it in my womb, I looked for life and saw it was a shade, I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb, And now I die, and now I was but made; My glas

Coco avant Chanel - Paris in July 2016

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Paris in July 2016 is a challenge hosted by Thyme for Tea . This year I have been very busy, and have not had time to read anything much connected to Paris. I am still on Nana by Emile Zola, and hopefully I will be able to finish it. In the meantime I did watch a French movie, Coco avant Chanel. It is about the life of Coco Chanel before she became famous. It actually ends with her first fashion show. It starts when she and her sister are put in an orphanage by their widowed father, never to see him again. They strife to achieve something with their lives, singing in a bar or show place during the night, and sewing during the day to make ends meet. Her sister Adrienne, meets a baron and they fall in love. She is settled in as his mistress in a big house, but they can not married due to objections from his family. Through the baron and her sister she meets Étienne Balsan and she becomes his mistress. After a while he leaves the city to go back to his ancestral home. When the siste

Book beginnings on Friday and Page 56

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Two challenges that I am following and enjoying to see what your choices are. Here are mine for this week. Book beginnings on Friday Rose City Reader , is hosting Book beginnings on Friday . She says: Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name. Friday 56 Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.)  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) *Post it. *Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. *It's that simple. My book this week is The Sleepwalkers - How Europe went to war in 1914 by Christopher Clark I have just finished this very, thick book, which I have been

Tower - An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones, part I

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A while ago, when in London, I visited The Tower for the first time. All of you who have been there know that it is a very nice experience to visit today. This was not always the case. Somehow the Tower of London has been the synonym for a prison with torture, often leading to execution in the end. A place of horror! As this excellent book, that I found in the museum shop, tells us,  The Tower  is much more than that. If you want to know more about the place, this is the book. Reading the history of The Tower is like reading the history of the kings and queens of England. This was their turf and many, if not all, have put their marks on the grey stones that, still today, give an impression of power and glory, mixed with the darker sides of power. In the beginning it was William the Conqueror who began building the White Tower, which to start with was just a timber fortification. Not much is known about it, but its name comes from the whitish stones by which it was built. It w

12 Month Classics Challenge - Half year update

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The challenge is hosted by You, Me and a Cup of Tea . There is a different theme every month. I must admit that I don’t strictly follow the order of the months, but maybe I will catch up later in the year (haha!). January - A classic you've always wanted to read - Our Man in Havanna by Graham Greene February - A classic you've always dreaded reading - Shirley by Charlotte Brontë March - A classic you've been recommended - April - A classic you've seen the movie/miniseries/TV show of - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj May - An American classic - Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut June - A British classic - Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy July - A European classic (non-British) - Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann August - A modern classic - September - A children's classic - October - A classic by a female author - Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen November - A classic by a male author - The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins December - A cla

Two books came my way

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I am in Sweden and being busy with helping my son moving into his new flat. A visit to IKEA solves a lot of the problems with the furniture. I am totally exhausted after a couple of days running around shops and buying furniture. And coming home, you have to put them all together. Luckily, my husband and son did most of it! Now I am one week at my parents and enjoying a little bit of rest. June has been very busy, travelling here and there and having had visitors. It looks like it will continue through the rest of the summer. Will probably not have time to read as much as I would like, but I will do my very best. Visiting the bank the other day, a real treat was waiting. On the floor in the visitor’s corner there was a waste basket full with pocket books. Three different ones which was free to grab! I took two of them; Jenny S by Denise Rudberg. She is a Swedish writer, writing in the genre ’chick elegance’, whatever that means. She has got good reviews and I always wanted to read

Paris in July - Recent French activities

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I am travelling and have not had time to concentrate on my favourite challenge, Paris in July , hosted by Thyme for Tea . However, having not read anything French, and I promised to read French books this year, it is still to come. However, France has been showing itself from a good side as regards sports recently. I went to Halle in mid-June with my son, to watch the tennis tournament there. It was really great, and we saw a lot of good tennis players. One, new to me, was Lucas Pouille. He lost in his first game in Halle to excellent player Key Nishikori. However, in this year's Wimbledon he made a really good run and went all the way to the quarter finals where he lost to Tomas Berdych from Czech Republic. Also other French players like Tsonga, Mahut, Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin made it a long way into the tournament. The other big sport event, except Tour de France, which I am not that interested in, is the Euro football tournament. France has made it to the final and I

Mount TBR Mountaineering CHECKPOINT #2

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Time for a half year check-up on the Mount TBR Mountaineering for 2016 . My Reader's Block  is hosting this breath taking exercise up various mountains. Luckily, we only have to reach to the highest shelf on our book cases! I aimed high, Mount Everest with 100 books. My husband, who have been to the Everest base camp, wants me to join him at his next trip! I have so far refused and will probably not make it. It seems easier to reach the mountain through this challenge! Here a re-cap of my efforts. Tell us how many miles you've made it up your mountain. I have read 27 books so far, which means I have reached Mont Blanc. I am quite happy with that, although I have to speed up a little bit to achieve 100 books this year. Having made it to the top of Mont Blanc, I have started the ascent of Mt Vancouver. It is 4,812 metres to the top and so far I am on 1.203 metres, so one fourth up the mountain. Looking forward reaching the top! My Life According to Books 1. My Ex is/was

Book beginnings on Friday and the Friday 56

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Two interesting weekly memes Book beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader and the Friday 56 by Freda’s Voice . For the Book Beginnings you choose a book with an interesting beginning and share the first few sentences. For the Friday 56 you turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader and share a sentence or two that you enjoy. This week I would like to share the beginning of Maggie O’Farrell’s The hand that first held mine . ”Listen. The trees in this story are stirring, trembling, readjusting themselves. A breeze is coming in gusts off the sea, and it is almost as if the trees know, in their restlessness, in their headrossing impatience, that something is about to happen.” On page 56 I find the following sentences: ”Lexie’s mother gave her two pieces of advice when she left for London: 1. Get a secretarial job in a big, successful firm because that will ’put you in the path of the right sort of man’. 2. Never be in the same room as a man and a bed. Her father s

The First Wife by Emily Barr

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A book I picked up at this year's book festival. The theme made me think of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, but it is nothing like it. Lily Button grew up with her grand parents after her own parents deserted her at a young age and emigrated to New Zealand. When they die she is on her own, without much experience of either life and other people. She ends up in a city nearby and is happy to run into Al who is working for a municipality center, advising and helping people in need. He inspires her to get a job, guides her in educational matters and finding a place to live. She ends up in a family with divorced parents and children from their different marriages. It is a total new daily life for Lily compared to the quiet life she had with her grand parents. Slowly, slowly she starts embrace a normal life. She finds several jobs cleaning people's house. One house belongs to Harry and Sarah Summer. He is a lawyer and famous TV personality. She gets enthralled by their house and thei