Tuesday, 27 December 2011

My favorite books of 2011.

It's this time of the year. Everything is closing up and reading statistics are a fine way to do so. And The Broke and the Bookish asks for our top ten reads of 2011 this week.

2011 has been another exceptional year readingwise. I read over 40 books this year, although I wanted to crack those darn 50 but obviuosly it was not meant to be or something. I'll try again next year.

In no particular order (links will show you my review):

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky
The Likeness by Tana French
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Miss Timmin's School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

I'll do another post with statistics about the amount of books I read during the year, adding things like if they were library books, e-books or written by male or female authors and stuff like that. So stay tuned.

Have you read some of the books mentioned above? Did you like or even love them like I did?

Monday, 26 December 2011

Thoughts: Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Alison Wonderland suspects her husband to cheat on her and so she decides to ask a private detective agency to help her spy on him. The disturbing truth about her unfaithful man comes to light and Alison decides to leave him and become an investigator for the agency herself. There she works on a case that soon becomes threatening to her and her loved ones.

Because of the title I suspected a somewhat strange story in terms of Alice in Wonderland. And weird things are happening indeed. Alison is suspected to have found out more than she did, her neighbour Jeff, who is in love with Alison, is kidnapped and questioned by the company Alison investigates about and she helps her friend Taron to find a baby to keep.

It's all very quirky and though the book starts out promising it never really has a point. The characters' mindset is mostly grotesque and following their thoughts was often hard because those too never went somewhere. The characters and setup of the story could have been more enjoyable if there was an actual plot.

But the development of the relationship between Alison and her neighbour Jeff is a nice part of the story. Though this relationship is rather odd because it is actually a love affair, both, Alison and Jeff don't seem to acknowledge, it is pleasant to read about. I wish Helen Smith would have concentrated more on it.

All in all it was not really my cup of tea as I would have hoped for more plot and mystery, be it strange or not.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Santa, please bring me BOOKS!

With Christmas only a few days ago The Broke and the Bookish asks us about the Top Ten Books We Hope Santa Brings.

Giving books to a person who reads much is difficult. Especially if you don't know what books are already on the person's shelves. That is why I ask for books I have on my wish list or gift vouchers for Christmas.

This year I asked Santa to bring the following books:

1. The Marrige Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides - I love Eugenides. He is an incredible author and wrote two of my favorite books The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. I don't know much about this book, because I wanted to save the reading experience all to the time I settle down with this book in a cozy place, hot choclate in one hand book in the other and cat purring near me.

 2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt - This book was recommended to me by some shelfari friends who knew how much I enjoyed The Likeness by Tana French (review here). They compared the book to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which I knew existed but not what it was about.

 3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I know the book gets a lot of hype lately and sometimes reading a book when the buzz slows down makes for the better reading experience... but I WANT this book. I am somehow very excited to read it and own it. I have the feeling that the book and me could become close friends in the future.

Have you read the books I mentioned above or have you listed books on your wish list? Which ones do you want for Christmas?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Thoughts: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

About: Tucker Crowe, ex-rock star and icon of a small passionate fan crowd, lives a secluded life in small-town America. Annie and Duncan, who live across the pond, question their relationship because of him. Duncan, a big Crowe-worshipper, won't admit Annie the understanding it needs to form an opinion on Crowe's songs, for which one needs to be an expert like Duncan. Annie is no expert, but she decides to put a review of Crowe's latest album Juliet, Naked in the Internet. When the musician reads the review, he feels understood for the first time - and contacts Annie...

My thoughts: Nick Hornby already wrote a couple of good books about obsessive men and their music fanaticism. This book too seizes a man, Duncan, who seems to stand in his own and his life's way. For him, analyzing the music of his idol and it's meaning is the most important thing in life. He doesn't recognize that his life just  passes by without him taking part in it. Annie tolerates Duncan's passion until he degrades her opinion on Crowe's newest album. But who would have thought that the musician himself sympathizes with Annie's views. Maybe Duncan is now able to realize, that though some things we do with passion, we are not above them.

The book is also about the weariness two people feel for each other, when day-to-day life already outrun them. Duncan meets another woman and Annie suddenly becomes the feeling that she wasted her precious time with Duncan. She is anxious to compensate some of the lost time, but she does not yet know how.

I think that the emotions and thoughts of the characters somehow felt real and tangible. I mean they are not pompous and  exaggerated like in the most romance books. Though I like a good romance once in a while because they work great for the soul, they seldom reflect reality. Juliet, Naked is no romance but it does not leave the reader hopeless.

My favorite quote:

“For the best part of 40 years she had genuinely believed that not doing things would somehow prevent regret, when, of course, the exact opposite was true.”
I got this book from my local library.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thoughts: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This book is a tome. It needs a lot of commitment to get through it, but in my opinion it was very much worth it. I started reading this book in English but it was extremely hard to follow for me (not just because nearly every other character's name is Thomas) and thus I got a German copy from my library. It still was a lot of work but at least I knew what was going on.

Hilary Mantel is a breathtaking, witty and sophisticated writer. I loved reading about the distribution of power, intrigue and manipulation at the British royal court in the 1620s. King Henry VIII is in need for a male heir, that's why he wants to get a divorce from Queen Katherine, but the pope wouldn't let him have one. So Henry needs to become not only head of state but head of church in Britain to marry Anne Boleyn. The man helping him to get what he wants is Thomas Cromwell, an eloquent  and persuasive man, who does not only represent the King's interests but his own, too. Though Cromwell is a manipulator I got the impression of him as an amiable character. Being the son of a blacksmith, he worked his way up to court, gaining more and more influence, enemies and friends.

The writing was also very amusing and entertaining. I often found myself laughing or wanting to read passages to my partner to share the fun or to discuss things that were going on. We enjoyed talking about the book and some times (evenings, weekends) he asked me to read out loud for us.

I think Mantel found a bold but all new sight on British history. Wolf Hall is not a piece of historical fiction from the rack but a work of epic force, sharing new ideas, which very well deserved a prestigious award like the Booker prize.

My favorite quote:
“It is all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it's no good at all if you don't have a plan for tomorrow.”

Monday, 5 December 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Since my last Monday post in Mid-November I finished reading:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - Thomas Cromwell gets Henry VIII his divorce and the opportunity to marry Anne Boleyn.
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby - Duncan is a big fan of Tucker Crowe's music. He does not think that Annie, his girl friend, is able to build a proper opinion about Tucker's music. She decides to write a review and gets in contact with the musician herself.

Both books will be reviewed soon.

Now I am reading Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith. I got it from the author as review copy and so far I enjoy the book. I am curious about it and am excited to take it up again.

Next I will read some books belonging to series. I want to read Faithful Place by Tana French, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

It's Monday is hosted by Book Journey.