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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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It has taken me quite some time to write this post. Mainly, because I am about to make a very bold statement. This is the best book I have ever read! Yes, that is indeed a bold statement, but I have considered it for some time, and it feels good to say it. It is difficult to write about everything that crosses your mind while reading this book, mainly since I don't want to give away spoilers. "In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.   Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one

Nonfiction November - week 5

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We have reached the last week of Nonfiction November. It has been a great month, with many discussions on nonfiction, various subjects and inspiration from people with other interests than my own. This week is hosted by Rennie @ What's Nonfiction  and the task is to go through recommendations through the month, and see what ended up on your TBR. In my case, they entered into my list of Wish to Read  I am not entirely sure I will be able to track all of my recommendations, so sorry about that. If you recognise it, please let me know, and I will add your link. The Brontë sisters are a big interest of mine. I love their books, but also enjoy reading about them. I have already read quite a few books, but I am happy to have received tips on some books, of which I was not aware. Lisa of Hopewell  recommended three interesting books, and they all seem different from the ones I have read before. It is always good when an author/expert manages to near the subject from a different ang

Nonfiction November - week 4

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This weeks Nonfiction November is hosted by Leann of Shelf Aware . This week we look into how we choose our nonfiction books. Leading us to what makes a book you have read your favourite one. Is the topic important? Is it the way it is written? They way it tells a story? Do you look for a humorous approach, or a more serious one? Leann thinks that picking one of your favourite nonfiction books, is like picking your favourite human. Leann gives us a hint of what could be part of our favourite nonfiction read. Time period – favourite this year or decade Type of nonfiction – is it a big idea book, a how-to book, a memoir, a book aimed at academics or clinicians? Use Case – are you trying to find out how to solve a problem? Do you need a new skills? Is the topic on business, creativity, mindset, relationships, etc? How easy it is to understand and ultimately, how helpful was it? Leann thinks it is hard to rate a book by using stars and numbers. I totally agree. Both as concerns f

Amok by Stefan Zweig

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Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. He was one of the most popular writers in the 1920s and 30s. He published his first book in 1900 and his last in 1942, the same year he committed suicide, together with his wife. They were then living in exile in Brazil. Amok came in 1922. Amok, or running amok, is often used when describing something wildly out of control or causing a frenzy (Wikipedia). It is a good title for this book of five short stories. The stories tell of men and women who, when something specific happens, loose their bearing in life, that is, they run amok. We meet a man obsessed by playing chess, almost like an addict. One day he finds himself on a cruise ship, where the world's best chess player, a very young man, has challenged some enthusiast. Winning over the young man, he withdraws and refuses a return match. He quietly tells his story to a fellow passenger. “People and events don't disappoint us,

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

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This week's book beginnings and page 56 text comes from a book on my shelves. Since it is November and I am participating in Nonfiction November , I choose a non-fiction book; The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England  by Ian Mortimer. Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader "What does the word 'medieval' conjure up in your mind? Knights and castles? Monks and abbeys? Huge tracts of forest in which outlaws live in defiance of the law" Such images may be popular but they say little about what life was like for the majority." The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice "The foregoing makes the woman's lot seem a particularly harsh one. However, there are some great advantages to being a woman. When the king issues writs to his sheriffs summoning an army, it is the men who have to risk their lives and fight, not the women. Despite this, high-status women are still entitled to all the benefits of being connected

Nonfiction November - week 3

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We have reached week 3 in Nonfiction November, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey  This is all about being the expert, asking the expert or becoming an expert. There are three ways to approach this week. Be the Expert: Share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend Ask the Expert: Put a call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read Become the Expert:  Create your own list of books on a topic that you would like to rea Can I be so bold as to use all three of the options? It is rewarding to be an expert, fantastic to be able to ask and expert, which will, hopefully, made you become an expert. My main interest in nonfiction is history. Although it seems to take a lesser part in the educational flow (at least in Sweden), I think it is important to know and remember our history. The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel said: " The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."  An

Nonfiction November - week 2

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The second week of nonfiction reading is hosted by Sarah's Book Shelves . This is a week of pairing nonfiction books with fiction. From Sarah: "It can be a "If you loved this book, read this!" or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it's a historical novel and you'd like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story." Pairing nonfiction and fiction - theme Russia I am still reading the very big and thick book about Stalin: Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar  by Simon Sebag Montefiore. Excellent, scary and terrifying reading of the situation behind the scenes. Still 150 pages to go. While visiting the library the other day, I saw the book Stalin's Children. Three Generations of Love and War  by Owen Matthews. Matthews tries to find out what happened to his family. His mother is Russian. Her father was picked up one day in 1937, never to be seen again. Her mother was sent to one of Stalin's ca

The Mystery Path - part II

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The first Mystery Path you find under link. I have read a few very good mystery/thrillers and would like to share a few short reviews with you. The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton Another typical Kate Morton story. I love her way of telling two parallell stories; a modern one and a mystery in the past. This time we meet Elodie Winslow, a young archivist, living in London. She is working for a prestigious, old lawyer's firm and take care of their archives. One day she finds a leather satchel with two unrelated items; a sepia photograph of a beautiful, mysterious woman dressed in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. It is a drawing of Birchwood Manor and it feels familiar to Elodie. The past story takes place in the summer of 1862, when a group of young artists meet in the house of talented painter Edward Radcliffe. They are meeting to spend a secluded summer with friends and to find ins

Nonfiction November: My year in nonfiction, so far

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Week 1 in Nonfiction November 2019, runs from Oct 28 - Nov 1 First week is hosted by Julz of Julz Reads . We have a few questions guiding us on what we have read so far this year. What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?  Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?  What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?  What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? List of nonfiction books read this year (by category) History: Linnés skånska resa (Carl von Linné's Scania Travel) by Ove Torgny  Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore (audio) Skånes slott och borgar by C Karlsson, P Karlsson, M Christensen Med Örnen mot polen by Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi (Scientific account of the Andrée expedition 1897) Politik och passion  - Svenska kungliga äktenskap under 600 år (Politics and Passion - Swedish Royal Marriages during 600 years) by (edi

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

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I love the cover Eight o'clock on Saturday, May 13, 1939, steamer St Louis , sailing with the Amerika Linie (HAPAG), set sail from Hamburg with destination Cuba. On board were 900 people, mostly German-Jewish refugees leaving a more and more troublesome Germany for freedom at the other side of the world. The passengers had entry visas for Cuba. Nearing the island, the Cuban president Federico Laredo Brú, cancelled those visas, signed by one of his own general director. Only those visas, signed by a specific ministry, were valid. The result was that most of the 900 passengers had to stay on board and, in the end, return to Europe. Since all of them had entry visas for the US, the ship sailed on to the States and Canada, but they both refused to admit the people. They had to return to Europe. A couple of days before touching European soil, a committee had agreed with Great Britain, France, Belgium and Holland to receive the remaining refugees. In principal, only the people who

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

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This week's book beginnings and page 56 text is another library book,  Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor. It is a little bit out of my usual style, but it features Bram Stoker, so could not resist it. I have not yet read it, but review will follow. Love the cover! "1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation and passionate devotion to art and one another. The Chief ... HENRY IRVING volcanic leading man and impresario The Leading Lady ... ELLEN TERRY most lauded actress of her generation The Theatre Manager ... BRAM STOKER following along behind them in the shadows Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

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This is a book outside my comfort zone. I don't read a lot of scary book, and this is said to be a classical, scary Victorian style, ghost story. What made me take it? A reference at the back to indicate that this book has been compared to Henry James' The Turn of the Screw . That is really all I need. Arthur Kipps, is a young lawyer who travels to a village in the middle of nowhere, to take care of the estate of recently deceased Alice Drablow. Her house is situated outside the village, on an island which is only accessible via a small bridge, or road, during low tide. It is a monstrous house, with a life of its own. Already during the funeral, he sees a peculiarly dressed woman in black. Everyone seem reluctant to even talk about the lady, and he gets no answers to his question on who she is. While staying in the old house, he is haunted by sounds, locked doors, wind, fog and rain. He hears things which sounds real, but are they? This is a traditional ghost story wit

Non Fiction November Challenge

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Nonfiction November is coming up, hosted by Readerbuzz and co-hosts. I think one third of all my books are nonfiction, so I am ready to go. Co-hosting with Deb Nance are: Katie at Doing Dewey , Julz of Julz Reads , Rennie of What’s Nonfiction , Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves , and Leann of Shelf Aware . The event will run from Oct 28 – Nov 30  November is dedicated to our favourite nonfiction. There will be talks, discussions, exchange of views, recommendations and lots more. On top of this I expect to find new blogging friends who, like me, love nonfiction. Head over to Readerbuzz for more practical details on posting, links etc. Below is the schedule of events and the host for each week. Schedule of Events Week 1 (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) Your Year in Nonfiction So Far (Hosted by Julie at Julz Reads) Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve

Calypso by David Sedaris

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I used this novel for last week's  Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56. David Sedaris is a new, to me, author. I knew nothing about him, but found this book at the library's new books' shelf. The back cover text sounded good, it is a large print edition, which is always helpful, so I grabbed it. It is a great read. "With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories can make you laugh till you snort. Sedaris's wirting has never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter is unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when you own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future." (From back cover) He takes you on a hilarious ride of satire and humour, spelling out a lot of the things we usually just think to ourselves, but not always dare to speak out loud. When his

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

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Friday once again, and time for Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56.  This week I go for a library book that I borrowed a couple of days ago. Calypso by David Sedaris.  Here an extract from the back cover: "When David Sedaris buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, he envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lunging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is as idyllic as he imagined, except for one vexing realization: it's impossible to take a vacation from yourself. " Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader "Though there's an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you'll acquire a guest room. Some people get one by default when their kids leave home, and others, like me, eventually trade up and land a bigger house."  The Friday 56 hosted by Fred

The Mystery Path, part 1

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Without any exact planning, I have gone down the mystery path lately. I have read several books that have a mystery and/or murder in it. What I like about them is that they are more like average fiction, rather than a detective story. Only one of them belong to the traditional genre. The other positive thing is that the murders are not that bloody or cruel. Many of the traditional detective/crime stories these days, have these gruesome, cruel and violent murders, which is not so nice to read about. The books I have read lately tend to lean on good, traditional mystery solving à la Agatha Christie. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd Adam Kindred is a scientist, working with climate relating research. He has a meeting with a fellow researcher at his home. When he arrives to the flat, he finds his friend dead, murdered. He is wrongly accused for the murder and has to go underground. In a split second he lost everything; his home and job and his whole life. He can't use his

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 and 2019

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The local library had an open invitation for a Nobel reception, to await the announcement of the new Laureates of the Academy. A lot of expert guesses before the announcement. Several important writers from all over the world was suggested. Once Mats Malm took the floor, it was announced that two European writers, one woman and one man has been awarded the prize. Polish Olga Tokarczuk won the prize for 2018, and Austrian author Peter Handke for 2019. I am not familiar with any of the two authors, but am looking forward to read something by both of them. The 2018 prize is awarded to Polish author  Olga Tokarczuk, “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.” I am looking forward reading something by her, and it seems that her 2014 novel  The Books of Jacob  is well worth to start with. She also won the Man Booker International Prize 2018,  for  Flights.  The 2019 prize is awarded to Austrian author Pet

Beyond All Reasonable Doubt by Malin Persson Giolito

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Malin Persson Giolito has written five books, of which I have read four. Have not yet read her last book. Of the four, there is only one I did not really like (her first one), the others are excellent and thrilling. Probably, mostly known for Quicksand , about a school shooting, made into a TV series by Netflix. Her heroine, Sophia Weber, is a lawyer. Stig Ahlin was sentenced to lifetime, thirteen years earlier, for having killed a fifteen year old girl. He has always insisted he was innocently sentenced, and is now trying for a re-examination of his case. Sophia's mentor is asking her to take the case. She is not so eager to jump into this case, which seems doomed beforehand. She promises her mentor to have a look at it. She discovers that the police investigation was very badly done at the time. That is a reason, good enough, for her to take on the case. The book changes between Sophia's work and Katrin, the murdered girl, and her actions leading up to the murder. I

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

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From the back cover: "Dublin, 1918. At the end of the First World War, Lilly Bere and her sweetheart Tadg are forced to flee Ireland for America. They plan to marry and forge a new life together, in the hope that their past will not catch up with them. Seven decades later, Lilly, mourning the loss of her grandson, tries to make sense of her own life and the lives of the people she has loved. At once epic and intimate, On Canaan's Side is a novel of memory, war, family ties and love." Another master piece by Barry, who is one of my favourite authors. He never disappoints you. This time he tells the story of Lilly, an Irish girl who has to leave Ireland when her husband is accused of collaboration with the English. Set just after World War I, it is another enchanting story by Barry. Lilly looks back at her life and the different paths it took. Must revenge and sorrow follow you all your life? Don't you deserve a little bit of happiness? "Because the ingre

Book Beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56

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Another week and another challenge for a good book beginning and interesting quotes from page 56. This week I have found On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry. A short review will be up on Monday, 30 September. Book beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader "Bill is gone. What is the sound of an eighty-nine-year-old heart breaking? It might not be much more than silence, and certainly a small slight sound." The Friday 56 hosted by Freda´s Voice "Amazement and delight were Mr Eugenides' bywords. When Bill was going into the army, just a couple of years ago, Mr Eugenides bought him a copy of Homer in translation, which Bill dutifully brought with him to the war. In this way, Bill and I, on very separate occasions, received the same book, in different editions and translations, as a gift."