Thursday, 14 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 15 - Book beginnings on Fridays

I post this a little bit early, since I am busy the whole day tomorrow! It is Friday and two favourite memes; Book beginnings on Fridays and The Friday 56. Here we go!



Rose City Reader, is hosting Book beginnings on Friday. 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. 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



My book this week I have not read yet, but is from a favourite author. It is On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry.

Bookbeginning

"Bill is gone."

Page 56

"In this way, Bill and I, on very separate occasions, received the same book, in different editions and translations, as a gift.
'There has never been a better book about these matters. Friendship, loyalty. The bricks and mortar of Greece, and of America.'"

What do you think?  It gives a little bit to think of.

Advent Calendar, box no. 14 - Full House Reading Challenge 2018



The Full House Reading Challenge is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date and it is high time to sign up for the 2018 challenge.  I managed to fulfil the challenge in 2017 and I really loved choosing the books for the criteria in the grid. Here are a few guidelines, for more visit her web-site:

It will run from January to December 2018; publish a post with your intentions and link it to the web-site; add your reviews if you have any, not obligatory. Here is the grid.


Looking forward trying to combine this challenge with my TBR challenge. Well, the future will tell.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 13 - Sankta Lucia



To blog and talk about Sankta Lucia, or Saint Lucy's Day as it is called in English, today is almost compulsory in Sweden.  It is mostly celebrated in Scandinavia and in Sweden it is an old, important tradition. The story is that Lucia was a 3rd century martyr who according to legend brought "food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs". Since her hands were busy carrying things she lighted her way by putting a candle-lit wreath on her head. This is how it is done today, although she does not bring food, but maybe our special Christmas treats, 'saffransbullar och pepparkakor' and, of course, the special songs.

I guess we enjoy it still today, because it is a light in this dark time of the year. Here is a short video from the Zorn house in Mora, which shows the tradition (from Youtube).





Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 12 - More new purchases

Another day of snowing, but the temperatures are still too warm to keep it. I love snow though and remember my childhood winters. It always seemed to be snow and cold. Just like you want it. That is to enjoy skiing, skating and sledging. Well, the climate has changed and this is no more.


Instead enjoying my new purchases. Apart from the six new books I showed you on December 7, here comes another seven books, of which three are from favourite authors and the other four are new authors to me.

Sebastian Barry, On Canaan's Side - a favourite author of mine and this books sounds as intriguing as his others. "At once epic and intimate, On Canaan's Side is a novel of memory, war, family ties and love."

William Boyd, Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms - two more book by this new favourite author.




On to the new acquaintances.

Andrea Camilleri, Hunting Season - "Both a delightful murder mystery and a comic novel of huge brio, fired by love and obsession and filled with memorable characters."

Esther Freud, Mr Mac and Me - a story from 1914, where Mac in the title is Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time - another author I have heard good things about but never read.

Val McDermid, Dead Beat - another author that everybody seems to have read, except me. Well, it will change soon.

That is quite a diverse set of books and I am looking forward to read them soon.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 11 - 2018 Cloak and Dagger Challenge

Today it is snowing here. I better enjoy it why it lasts, because here in Belgium it usually does not last very long! At least it makes it all a little bit Christmas like.


Now it is only two weeks to Christmas and so much to do for us bloggers. Making a year end summary and sign up for new challenges. I came into this challenge from Stormi and Kathy at Books Movies Reviews Oh My. I have not heard about it before, but it seems a perfect one for me. I do not read a lot of detective stories, but more mystery, suspense and thrillers. Here you get it all.


Challenge Rules:
You can read any book that is from the mystery/suspense/thriller/crime genres. Any sub-genres are welcome as long as they incorporate one of these genres.
You don’t need a blog to participate but you do need a place to post your reviews to link up. (blog, goodreads, booklikes, shelfari, etc.)
Make a goal post and link it back here with your goal for this challenge.
Books need to be novellas or novels, please no short stories. (At least 100 pages +)
Crossovers into other challenges are fine.
The Challenge will  be from Jan. 1st to Dec. 31st. (Sign up ends April 15th)

Levels:
5-15 books – Amateur sleuth
16-25 books – Detective
26-35 books – Inspector
36 – 55 – Special agent
56+ books – Sherlock Holmes

I will not be overbold, like I usually am. I do have other plans for books this year as well. I go for Amateur sleuth with max 15 books. If I do a few more, I can become a Detective. But let's leave it there for the moment.

Thank you for hosting. Looking forward to this challenge.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 10 - Alfred Bernhard Nobel by Kenne Fant

Today is December 10 and in Sweden it is called" The Nobel Day". Alfred Nobel, chemist, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist died this day in 1896 in San Remo, Italy, 63 years old. What he had feared most happened: he died alone, only surrounded by servants. After reading Kenne Fant's depiction of Nobel's life, perhaps that is the most striking thing; he was a lonely and solitary person throughout his life. He was what we today call a workaholic, and his work was at the same time his hobby and greatest interest.



Alfred Nobel was one of eight children, of whom four reached adulthood, the brothers Robert, Ludvig and Emil. The father was also an inventor, although during Alfred's first years, the times were hard for the family due to the father’s bankruptcy.  They moved to St. Petersburg where the father started a new company, which the other brothers eventually took over and developed. The family became successful in Russia, and involved in the oil business in Baku.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 9 - A finalised challenge

Today I am proud to announce that I have finalised one of my challenges. There will probably not be that many that I have managed to follow up thoroughly, so very proud of this achievement. The challenge is the Full House Reading Challenge 2017 hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. Here is the list



Non fiction - Kapare och Pirater/Privateers and Pirates by Lars Ericson Wolke
On TBR for 2+ years - The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears
More than 500 pages - Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
Page Turner - Effie by Suzanne Fagence Cooper
Middle Grade Book - Lisbeth by Ragnhild Hallén
2017 published - Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Published pre 2000 - Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (1995)
UK/European author - The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry (Ireland)
Back List book from fav. author - Eden Close by Anita Shreve
Book from a list - Kim by Ridyard Kipling
Award Winner - Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
Book about books - All Roads Lead to Austen - A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith
Size word in the title - Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicin by Roy Porter
Two worded title - left bank by Kate Muir
Debut book - Spring tide by Cecilia and Rolf Börjlind
Cozy mystery - Maigret Mystified by Georges Simenon
Food on cover or title - Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Book from childhood - The World Around in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Diversity book - Dr Luther and Mr Hyde by Per Svensson
Australian/NZ author - Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Western - Notorious by Janet Dailey
USA/Canadian author - Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon (American)
Not really for you - The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Attractive cover - The Last Girls by Lee Smith (Swedish version)
Borrowed - Alfred Bernhard Nobel by Kenne Fant



There are 25 books in this challenge and a nice variety of genre books. I will sign up for the 2018 challenge. Great way to read books.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 8 - Book beginnings on Friday & Friday 56


Friday, 8 December and time flies. I have to start preparations for Christmas. Luckily, we will be with my parents, so I can just come in an help out. It is a little bit of luxury. Friday is time for book beginnings and here is one for you.


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 one I am reading for the moment The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 7 - New purchases, part 1

It is this time of the year, when the Dutch Boekfestijn (Book festival), just in time for Christmas visits our neighbourhood. As usual I set out on the first day to see what they had to offer this time. It takes place in an exhibition area and apart from books there are also some scrapbooking items, plays, puzzles and much more.


I managed to find 16 books! Yes, I know, too much for my already overfull shelves. Three of them went for Christmas present so that leaves me with 13 books. Today I present six of them, under the genres history non-fiction and biographies. I start with two books of one of the greatest writers all time.

William Shakespeare


Shakespeare and the Countess by Chris Laoutaris  -  "In November 1596 William Shakespeare was engulfed by a catastrophe. The force which stormed inot his life and shook it to the core was a woman named Elizabeth Russell. This is the true story of the woman whose battle with Chakespeare and his associates in the Blackfriars of London gave birth to the world's most iconic theatre: the Globe."

The Lodger - Shakespeare on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl - "In 1612 Shakespeare gave evidence at the Court of Requests in Westminster - it is the only occasion his spoken words are recorded. The case seems routine - a dispute over an unpaid marriage-dowry - but it opens up an unexpected window into the dramatist's famously obscure life-story. --- Charles Nicholl applies a powerful biographical magnifying glass to this fascinating but oddly neglected episode in Shakespeare's life."

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Advent Calendar, box no. 6 - Byron in Love by Edna O'Brien

Love is a theme of Christmas, and I thought it would be suitable to read a book about love. Maybe this is not the right book about love since Lord Byron's attitude towards love is somewhat different from most peoples. However, there are a few people in the world like Lord Byron. He has gone down in history with an everlasting fascination for later generations. Lord Byron was worshipped, by both men and women, already during his life time. A life that has fascinated people ever since.


Edna O'Brien's biography is a vivid account of his life, in beautifully written prose. She has been concentrating on his countless love affairs, but we have enough of background information to give us an idea of his rather nomadic life. Fascinating is to say the least. From a rather unhappy childhood, wild years of university studies and into adulthood and poetry, there was no stopping him. At the age of ten he inherited the Barony of Byron on Rochdale, and from then on used the name of Lord Byron.

His first adult love was a cousin, Mary Chaworth, but she later married someone else. Sixteen years after loosing her he wrote:
I saw two beings in the hues of youth

Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill,
Green and of mild declivity
During his student years he had a relationship with John Edleston. "John Edleston, two years younger than Byron and an orphan of low birth, was one for whom he formed the purest and most intense passion, a mystic thread joining them both." Their relationship broke after some time, but some years later when Edleston had died of consumption he wrote:
Yet did I love thee to the lastAs fervently as thou,Who didst not change through all the past,And canst not alter now
Claire Clairmont, the sister of Mary Shelley, was quite obsessed with Lord Byron and managed to enter into a love affair with him. It resulted in a child, Allegra, who Byron acknowledged and raised. In this relationship, both to the mother and the child the brutal nature of Byron is shown.

Byron was used to scandals along his way. His love affair with Lady Caroline Lamb, might be the most famous and passionate. Even long after he left her, she haunted him. However, his greatest love was for his half-sister Augusta. They had a relationship for many years. When Byron married Anna Isabella Milbanke in 1815, he spent more time with Augusta than with his wife. They separated early and he treated her very cruelly. It was a devastating love triangle, and this scandal together with a huge debt, forced Lord Byron to leave England for the Continent in 1816, never to return as it turned out. Until he was dead.

He was a famous man already in his lifetime and was welcomed everywhere, and there were no shortages of women either. He must have been a very charismatic person, and as I read along, I wonder how it would be to actually meet such a person. Nobody was indifferent to him. As he grew older, his lifestyle took its toll, and he got bored with how he was living. He thus involved himself in the Greek movement of independence and left for Greece to fight. He died there in the aftermaths of flue like fever symptoms.

In 1819, he wrote a letter to Augusta from Venice:
"My dearest Love - I have been negligent in not writing, but what can I say. Three years absence - & the total change of scene and habit make such a difference - that we have now nothing in common but our affections & our relationship. - But I have never ceased nor can cease to feel for a moment that perfect & boundless attachment which bound & binds me to you - which renders me utterly incapable of real love for any other human being - what could they be to me after you? …We may have been very wrong - but I repent of nothing except that cursed marriage - & your refusing to continue to love me as you had loved me - I can neither forget nor quite forgive you for that precious piece of reformation - but I can never be other than I have been  and whenever I love anything it is because it reminds me in some way or other of yourself."
Not only his poetry is beautiful, his letter writing as well. Lord Byron was a complicated man, and it takes a lot more to get to know the man. Or, maybe it is not even possible. Having read this excellent biography, at least one can form an idea of him. It might not be a very positive one. I think he had difficulties loving other people, he was often rude to people, even those close to him and did not care for them. However, a fascinating character. Edna O'Brien has complemented her writing with extracts from his poems, which are really beautiful. Now it is time to read them.

Have you read any biography of Lord Byron? His poems? What do you think?