Monday, 31 October 2011

Thoughts: The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

A little bit of crime, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of sentiment and you have this: a suspenseful page-turner, faster read than you can say "The Bone Garden".

Julia Hamill, a 38 year-old divorcée, is working in her garden when she thrusts on bones. Those turn to belong to a female long dead, the fractured bones suggest murder. Julia is intrigued. Who was that woman? Why was she murdered? Boston 1830: Norris Marshall is a student at Boston Medical College, but unlike his classmates he is a modest young man, forced to support himself with one of the most secretive jobs. He is a 'body snatcher' at night, a robber of cadavers to ensure his further study of human anatomy and because medical institutions pay well for corpses as they are always short of research objects. Soon Norris is hunting one of the most notorious killers of his time, not recognizing that the reaper is closer than he thinks. And what about the bones in Julia's garden?

One could not fight about the literary merit of this book. Because there is none. Which does not mean that it isn't entertaining and fast-paced. But this novel also crams a lot of human suffering in only 400 pages, which I didn't like too much. As this is one of Gerritsen's newer, stand-alone books I would opt to read one of her older books, as they are sad to be cracking reads.

Final words: Solid thriller with cleverly plotted mystery. Just too corny for my taste.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

I write like ...

Today on Leeswamme's blog I read about a page that analyzes your writing and compares it to the writing of other famous writers. It's called I write like. I analyzed three different reviews I wrote, one from this week and two I wrote about one year ago. All three came back with the same result:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

He is known for his horror writing and especially a subgenre called weird fiction. Well what do you think of that? I haven't read any of his work and am not sure I am going to.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thoughts: The Immrotal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The story about Henrietta Lacks cannot be complete when it isn't told along with the cancerous cells taken from her cervix, which proved to be immortal, and thus changed science. The HeLa cells were cultured and distributed all over the world bringing forward a new era of cellular research and advances in scientific technology as well as medical treatments. They were used in many experiments, such as vaccine research and cloning, the cells even went to space. Yet, very little is known about the woman, her life or her family. Rebecca Skloot attempted to change this.

Now I know that the real sad part of the story is the devastation of a family when its unifying force, a mother, a wife or a sister is taken away. And though the valuable cells should be a source of pride for the family they got to know about it far too late. Not to mention any monetary compensation. Millions or even billions of dollars were made out of the HeLa cells but still the family couldn't afford to pay their own medical bills.

I also learned about informed consent and that it wasn't 'law', which means it wasn't necessary to inform a patient about the medical procedures he or she is going to take in the 50s. Very much has changes since.

The book was light on the scientific side, everybody can understand what is going on in this book. I struggled with the cell's importance, of which I was remembered every other page although I already grasped it with the first chapter.

It is remarkable that Skloot was finally able to get Henrietta's story, because of being persistent, calling the family over and over to get them spill the beans, but I can't get rid of the feeling that she might have been a real pain in the a.. by doing so.

Final words: I learned about 'them' cells.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wonderful Wednesday #8 Gothic Reads

Do you like books which give you the creeps or which make you feel uneasy? Well then gothic fiction is for you! Those books are all about atmosphere and the building of suspense and a good handful mystery and madness thrown in. Today I'm going to share with you my top reads in this genre.

The Monster's of Templeton by Lauren Groff which I reviewed here. This one is a bittersweet, melancholy read. I very much fell for one of the last chapters about Flimmy, Templeton's lake monster and how it comes that it died, it was sad but beautiful.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier which I have reviewed here. I won't give away anything. Du Maurier is a remarkable narrator and I think the best recommendation I can give is to grab the book and start reading immedietly if you havent't done so yet.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. That's my all-time favorite book we are talking about here. I haven't reviewed the book becuase I read it prior to blogging. But still. I love the atmosphere and the epic style of Zafon's writing. The characters harbor dark secrets which are not easily revealed. Ever since I read this book I want to visit Barcelona. It must have been amazing in the 1920s.

Which are your favorte gothic books? Do you have recommendations for me? Have you read any of those I mentioned? Did you like them? Discuss.

Wonderful Wednesday is hosted by Tiny Library.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Announcing winner of the Literary Blog Hop

Drumroll please for readingmind. You have won A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. I have contacted you via Email. So please get in touch with me to arrange the shipping of the book.

Thank you all for participating! It has been a blast.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wonderful Wednesday #7 Favorite Authors

Everybody has some favorite authors. Often a passion starts with an innocent crush for one specific novel. Soon one wants more and is determined to read all there is by this particular author.

Today I want to share three authors of whom I'm determined to read every book they have published or are going to throw on the market in the future.

Jeffrey Eugenides - I read The Virgin Suicides for a book project in school. I loved his writing and I was interested in the fate of the five suicidal sisters. As soon as I read the last page of this, I dashed out chasing for more. I found Middlesex, which is to date one of my most favorite books. I lost myself in this epic story about Greek siblings immigrating to the US and falling in love on the ship that brings them there. I'm looking forward to reading The Marrige Plot which was released most recently.

Banana Yoshimoto - Yoshimoto's stories are sad ones. But she uses language and style to make it easier to endure. Her protagonists are young and lusting for life as well as anxious for it. I discovered Yoshimoto early this year and have reviewed Kitchen and Goodbye Tsugumi in January. Sitting on my shelf I have Lizard and The Lake.

Margaret Atwood - I have only read one book by Margaret Atwood but I am going to go for more. I think she is a fascinating woman with an even more fascinating mind. I have reviewed Oryx and Crake this year and have The Year of the Flood as well as The Blind Assasin waiting on my to be read shelf.

Have you read any of them? Have you got recommendations?

Wonderful Wednesday is hosted by Tiny Library.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Thoughts: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I finally managed to read the sequel to The Hunger Games. And I can report that it was a pleasant undertaking. Catching Fire introduces the reader to background information on Panem as well as its cruelty.

After Katniss' glorious return to District 12, life gets back to "normal". Her relationship with the boys she most cares for, Peeta and Gale, keep being complicated. But soon the next Games are up and life gets complicated again.

I didn't foresee the plot twist coming for the reader. It was like being hit by thunder when I read and I was hooked again. I can barely describe the pleasure I get out of reading the Hunger Games. It's a page turner, a real good one. Can't wait to make time for the last part of the trilogy The Mockingjay.

Have you experienced similar feelings for The Hunger Games? Maybe like me because I have only praise and no criticism.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Literary Blog Hop, Oct 15 - 19

It's time for another giveaway here on Thinking About Loud! It's the second time I participate in the Literary Blog Hop. It's just amazing how many wonderful blogs are giving away cool, literary stuff.

To keep things simple, I will give away this book, which I reviewed here:

You can win A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka by simply posting a comment stating that you want it. Please leave me a possibility of how to reach you like an email address. The giveaway will be closed on Wednesday October 19th. I will pull the winner on Thursday June 20th and contact you via email. Please make sure you are going to respond within 48 hours. Once I got in contact with the winner I will put the book in the mail. I cannot be hold responsible in case of loss.

This is an INTERANTIONAL giveaway. Anybody can join. Please be aware since I already read the book it is not new and will arrive in a gently used condition.

Now make sure to visit all the other lovely blogs taking part in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. Thanks to Judith from Leeswammes for hosting this.

  1. Leeswammes

  2. Devouring Texts

  3. The Book Whisperer

  4. Seaside Book Nook

  5. The Scarlet Letter (US only)

  6. Rikki's Teleidoscope

  7. Bibliosue

  8. Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

  9. The Book Diva's Reads

  10. Gaskella

  11. Lucybird's Book Blog

  12. Kim's Bookish Place

  13. The Book Garden

  14. Under My Apple Tree

  15. Helen Smith

  16. Sam Still Reading

  17. Nishita's Rants and Raves

  18. Ephemeral Digest

  19. Bookworm with a View

  20. The Parrish Lantern

  21. Dolce Bellezza

  22. Lena Sledge Blog

  23. Book Clutter

  24. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (US only)

  25. The Blue Bookcase

  26. Book Journey (US only)

  27. The House of the Seven Tails (US only)

  1. In One Eye, Out the Other (US only)

  2. Read, Write & Live

  3. Fresh Ink Books

  4. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US only)

  5. Bibliophile By the Sea

  6. Laurie Here Reading & Writing Reviews

  7. Amy's Book World (US only)

  8. Teadevotee

  9. Joy's Book Blog

  10. Word Crushes (US only)

  11. Thinking About Loud!

  12. Kinna Reads

  13. Sweeping Me

  14. Minding Spot (US only)

  15. Babies, Books, and Signs (US only)

  16. Lisa Beth Darling

  17. Tony's Reading List

  18. SusieBookworm (US only)

  19. Tell Me A Story

  20. Close Encounters with the Night Kind

  21. Nerfreader

  22. Mevrouw Kinderboek (Netherlands, Belgium)

  23. Boekblogger (Netherlands)

  24. In Spring it is the Dawn

  25. No Page Left Behind

  26. Elle Lit

So now it's time to hop! Have a wonderful weekend! I for sure know what I am going to do.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wonderful Wednesday #6 Historical Fiction

This weeks theme is historical fiction.

As this is about spotlighting books, which we loved but may be not so well known to other readers I decided to write about The Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck this week. The summary is partly taken from

Originally published as "Die Mittagsfrau" in German, this book won the German book prize in 2007. The Blindness of the Heart is a dark and gloomy novel set in the 20th century, spanning two world wars and several generations of a German family. In the devastating opening scene in 1945, a woman named Helene and her seven-year old son find themselves at a provincial German railway station, amidst the chaos of war refugees fleeing west. Having survived the horrors of the war years, Helene now abandons her son on the station platform, getting on a train and never looking back for him.

The story now goes back to the burdens of Helene's childhood with her sister Martha in rural Germany, which abruptly comes to an end with the outbreak of WWI. Helene's father is send to the Eastern Front and her Jewish mother slips into mental confusion over the hostility her surroundings now show her. Helene and Martha are going to live with their aunt Fanny in Berlin, where they grow to become young women. Aunt Fanny is a rich and cocaine-addicted lady, who introduces the sisters to the entertaining society of the 1920s Berlin. Helene falls madly in love with the young medicine student Carl, who wants her to get to know his family but dies in a car accident. Helene is devastated.

Now we have to watch how the hard years of survival (Helene is of Jewish descendant, due to her mother) and the ill-fated love make her capable of the unforgivable.

I hear you cry out loud: "The war is over but she leaves her son behind at a crowded railway station, though she struggled hard to keep him alive during those hard war years? Why? How could she?"

This is what the book is about, the things that must happen to a woman to make such a cold-hearted decision as to abandon her only child.

Julia Franck's English language debut novel throws light on a time, revealing the breathtaking scope of its citizens' denial - the "blindness of the heart" - that survival often demanded.

What do you think? Are there explanations for such a behavior?

This meme is hosted by Tiny Library (clicky-clicky).

Monday, 10 October 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading?

During my last post I read and reviewed:

Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky (click for review) - a suitcase first opened in the 90s revealed Némirovsky's unfinished master piece.
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (review one click away)- story about an old Ukrainian immigrant marrying a thirty year old woman, wanting his money and a visum.
The Likeness by Tana French (click for review) - a psychological thriller featuring the detectives from the Dublin murder squat.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (clicky clicky)- revealing the life of maids during segregation in the 1960s.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - soon to be reviewed.

Now I'm reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which is a page turner at first but somehow slows down a bit now. Although it is amazing how the HeLa cells improoved the research on cancer and cells in general, I can't stand to read on every page how important the cells were. I'd like even more about Henrietta and her family.

I plan on reading The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver this month. I'll pick up which ever book I fancy reading next.

It's Monday is hosted by Sheila from The Book Journey.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Oct 6-9

This week's question: If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to a Sunday Dinner who would they be?

I would love to have a tea party actually. One like in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. And I would send invitations to Lewis Carroll first of all. It could be no spectacular tea party without him and maybe he could bring Alice, the Mad Hatter and March Hare with him. I'd also love to have Jane Austen at my table. I'm sure she wouldn't turn down an invitation for tea. Maybe C.S. Lewis could join us and please us with a sentence like: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." That would make a perfect round for me.

How about you? Would you like to join us?

Thoughts: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Finally I picked up The Help and it wasn't hard to get through because it's one of those book where you keep turning the pages compulsively although the topic is so heavy. I absolutely wanted to hear what the maids had to say, it only troubles me that Stockett did feel the necessity to rely on a young, white woman, Skeeter, to carry their stories. Because she is the one, who one morning has the idea to give the maids a voice, telling their stories in form of a book and how they are treated by their white, female employers. Every page in the voice of Aibileen or Minny was a treasure, taken away during Skeeter's parts.

When thinking about this book and the rating I wanted to give it, I asked myself a few questions. Is The Help an easy and enjoyable read? Yes. Does The Help imply an interesting and important topic? Yes. Is The Help great literature? No. I think the writing is far from brilliant. That's why I only give it four stars. Stockett introduced characters and never quite understood to use them, most of them remained shallow and didn't add to the story, like Skeeter's boyfriend Stuart, the senator's son, or Miss Lou Ann and her mysterious illness. I wondered why Stockett set plot points like this going nowhere. And why did she create Miss Celia and let her go waste? A tough girl from the country who couldn't even boil water doesn't make sense but a fool of herself. Still I liked her and would have loved to read more about her forming complexity.

I don't see The Help overcome time like To Kill a Mockingbird, but all in all I quite liked it. Four stars.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lisbon. Get yourself started.

I have been in Lisbon in September for one week. And let me tell 'ya I had a jolly good time.

First of all, if you visit Lisbon in the summer beware of the constant heat or the real nice weather. The time you step out of the airport you should have your sun glasses ready. If you go by bus to the city center take line 44 or 745. You pay 1.75 € for a single ride, whereas you pay 3.50€ in the aerobus. You can buy your ticket from the bus driver and don't be shy, most of Lisbon's people you'll get in touch with can speak English. A friend told me that is because they get all their TV-series only in English with Portuguese subtitles.

If you plan on using public transport you can either buy your ticket from the bus or tram driver, which has the disadvantage that you should always have some change at hand or you get yourself a 7 colinas card with the option zapping at a cost of 0.50€. Thus you can load for example 10€ on your card and get around Lisbon using tram, bus, metro or even train. You only have to validate your card at the entrance of each vehicle. You can get the card at the tourist information at the airport or at each ticket autmomat in metro entrances. For me charging the card once with 15€ was more than enough for my one-week stay. Although I challenged myself, walking up and down the city's steep hills. But hey, even the old Lisboetas can do it, so I can do it, too. And it makes for perfect muscles in ass and legs. Also necessary to know is that when you wait at a stop you have to indicate the driver you want to get on. So stretch out one arm or otherwise the driver will not hesitate and somewhat coolly drives by. And if you have trouble reading a timetable. The number in a circle means that a bus or whatever is coming by every "circled number" minutes (this is at least different from German timetables).

For people who have never been to Lisbon before I wholeheartedly recommend a Lisbon Walker Tour (clicky clicky). They have fantastic guides who know to give a lively tour and tell funny anecdotes. I joined the Lisbon Revelation Tour with Inès, a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide. She showed us around town about three hours including a ride on the Santa Justa Lift and a ride in the famous Number 28 tram. As a student I only had to pay 10€, whereas a normal adult ticket costs 15€. Tours start at Praca do Comercio nearly everyday (check the timetable at their site) at 10 o'clock. You can get free maps of the city at every tourist information. But you can't miss Praca do Comercio it is next to the river Tejo, in the heart of the city.

I plan on two more posts about Lisbon. One about the top five things I did in Lisbon like Europe's biggest aquarium and a post about trips out of town like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.