My Vacation (in) Books!

The six books I read during the last two vacation weeks. All pics by Franzi.

Our (late summer / early fall) vacations are already over. Those two weeks were incredible relaxing and fun. And finally there was time for reading :)! Here are the six books I indulged in.

Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray:

In spring 1936 seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family owned “Café Paradis” in the small French village Juan-les-Pin. The already famous artist Pablo Picasso stays incognito in a nearby villa and makes a deal with the “Café Paradies” that they are responsible for his food. Thus, Ondine rides everyday with her bicycle to Picasso’s villa and cooks for him her extraordinary dishes.

Céline is a Hollywood makeup artist in New York of the present days. From her mother Julie, she learns that her Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso and that she may once owned a Picasso painting. But where’s the painting got to?

This was a perfect vacation book – French Riviera atmosphere, excellent food descriptions, a gripping story and plot that combines the real facts wonderfully with imagination.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

This is a historical letter novel that plays shortly after WWII and is about a young English author on the search for a topic for her new book and a bunch of people located on Guernsey who created the “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” during the German occupation on Guernsey. The plot is hilarious and entertaining and sometimes sad. But then there’s also a romantic story-line ;)… A big must-read recommendation!

A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie

This is the first book of a crime series around the Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his young sergeant Gemma James:

Overworked Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid plans to make vacation at the time-share “Followdale House” in northern England. Some of his fellow guests have been to the time-share hotel before. Others are newcomers. Then someone dies…

I am a big fan of good-written crime series (I love the Elizabeth George series!) and this book was a good start into a new addiction :).

Becks letzter Sommer (Beck’s last summer) by Benedict Wells

A bored teacher in his 30s, his depressed and addicted black best friend and a 17-year-old Lithuanian, who’s a highly talented musician. Those three people are experiencing not only a summer together, but also a road trip to Istanbul full of adventures that have consequences for all of their futures.

A nice German book that’s well written, easy to read and has a clever plot.

Ein Kind für mich allein (A child all for myself) by Elfriede Brüning

This is a German 1950s classic about a woman who is trying to find her life’s purpose. Shortly after the war ended, she works as a nurse in a hospital in Berlin. She falls in love with a doctor of the same hospital who is not interested in a long-term relationship with her. Then she believes she’s pregnant…

At the moment, I am interested into German literature of the 1950s – especially if it is about the life of women during this time. The book illustrates a woman on her search of independence – which was a lot harder in the 1950s than it is now. But some of her thoughts are nevertheless up to date. Like: What is one’s purpose in life? Or: When is the right time to get a child and with whom?

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This novel from 1926 was one of the first successes of Hemingway. It describes not only the “lost generation” of the 1920s in Paris but plays also in Pamplona during the Fiesta of San Fermin where the protagonist Jake Barnes travels with a bunch of friends to visit the running of the bulls. He is in love with a typical 1920s girl named Brett. Unfortunately Jake was injured during the war and, as a consequence, is now impotent. Brett on the other side loves life and men – her fiancée Mike is with her in Pamplona – as is also her latest affair Robert Cohn.

The story is typical Hemingway – fast and with a passionate plot it narrates the story of Jake and Brett and the destiny of all those involved.

I wish you a wonderful week! Have an entertaining one :)!

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Frankfurt Book Fair 2016! #fbm16

fbm8This year’s guest at the book fair were the Netherlands and Flanders. Here they presented their literature and culture. All Pics by Franzi.

I am back from Frankfurt and this year’s book fair. It was a blast and my little note-book is full of inspirations and  – of course – new book recommendations. Those will be following the next days :). Here are some impressions from my time on the book fair.

I wish you a wonderful start into the fresh week – have an inspiring one :)!

fbm7The presentation of the Netherlands and Flanders reminded on a beach with waves…

fbm6…and the books shined through layers of fabric.

fbm11The stall by the publishing group Oetinger was impressing!

fbm4The Hendrick’s Gin Bar at THE ARTS+

fbm5…I drank a G&T, of course!

fbm2There was also an antiquarian bookseller part on the fair…

fbm3…that was really fascinating for me!

fbm1David Hockney opened the book fair and presented his gigantic monograph A Bigger Book.

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The Books I’ve Read: Astrid Lindgren – Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren//War Diaries, 1939-1945!

BuchPic by Franzi.

In my literature club we just finished reading Astrid Lindgren’s War Diaries from 1939 until 1945 (German edition Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren). She started writing it on September 1, 1939 with the words: “Oh, today the war started.” Back then, Lindgren was still an unknown person in the literature world. She just started to write her first children novels and invented Pippi Langstrumpf/Pippi Longstocking by telling her sick daughter Karin stories about Pippi and her funny adventures. Lindgren and her family lived in Sweden – a country that didn’t participate on WWII. Nevertheless, the people there were in the middle of the fights surrounding Sweden and always frightened that the war would also come into their own country. I was deeply impressed by Lindgren’s documentation of those dark years. Her insights speak of a clever mind, far from what was expected from a ‘housewife and mother’ in the 1930s/40s. A big, big, big MUST-READ!

I wish you a peaceful weekend. Have a wonderful one!

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Darm mit Charme by Gulia Enders!

Darm mit CharmePic by Franzi.

I may be the last person in Germany who read Darm mit Charme (aka ‘charming intestines’) by scientist Gulia Enders. Honestly, even my mother did it before me (after all, I read her used and highlighted copy). I just was not interested in a whole book about my intestines. But then I simply ran out of books during the X-Mas holidays while staying at my mum’s place. That’s how I finally ended reading the book. …And surprisingly it’s not only funny but also – even for a Biologist like myself – full of new insights! Moreover, I loved the illustrations by Gulia’s sister Gil. …Her pictures of microbes living inside us all, looking diverse and having some sort of party blew my mind!

I wish you a wonderful weekend. Have a charming one :)!

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins!

Girl on the trainPicture Credit

Did you already read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins? If not, it’s a must-do! The book was a big success in the year 2014 and was on my ‘X-Mas book wish list’ back then. I planned to read it in between the years in December 2015, but it was too exciting to read it slowly. Thus, I was already done with it on December 25…and had to look for another book in my mum’s house :D. This is what the story is about:

A girl commutes from London’s suburbs to the city. 5 days a week. At an intersection the train stops every time for a few seconds or minutes. The girl looks out of the window and observes a couple that lives near this intersection. She names them Jason and Jess and fantasizes about their dream-like relationship. But then it happens: One morning she sees something that changes all their lives – the girl’s, “Jason’s” and “Jess”.

I wish you a wonderful weekend. Have an exciting one :)!

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The Book I’m Reading Right Now: Boyfriend by Christmas by Jenny Stallard!

BuchPic by Franzi.

Every year before X-Mas I am treating myself with a (kitschy) X-Mas novel. This year I decided for Boyfriend for Christmas by Jenny Stallard!

Single girl and dating journalist for a lifestyle website Genie Havisham has to find a boyfriend by Christmas (and write a column about it) or find a new job. …That’s the ultimatum her boss gives her. So, Genie sets out to find where all the eligible bachelors in London have been hiding, using whatever means possible.

…I just started reading, but it’s already a fun story that’s just the romcom/girly stuff I need during those crazy advent weeks. I am already curious if Genie will meet her deadline or not :)!

I wish you a wonderful weekend. Have a cozy one :)!

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Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom!

Morrie1Pic by Franzi.

Yes, I read another book: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alborn! This one was the summer read of my literature club. Actually, the book lay already unread in my flat for several months. So I was extremely happy to finally be forced to make it through it.

The story is incredible, but simple: The author Mitch Alborn meets his old college professor Morrie during the lasts months of the old man’s life. Morrie has ALS and there is nothing he can do but share his life’s insights with his old student.

It’s indeed a heartwarming story that will stay in the mind. If you knew someone with ALS, you know that the book (and Morrie) tells a lot of truths. A sad, but life-affirming must-read!

I wish you a wonderful weekend – have  one to remember :)!

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Das Kunstseidene Mädchen/The Artificial Silk Girl by Ingrid Keun!

Kunseidene Maedchen1Pic by Franzi.

A am really into novels about women mastering their unique way of life, ending either tragic or succesful and happy. The book Das kunstseidene Mädchen/The artificial silk girl by Irmgard Keun falls into the first category. I found a used copy in one of my favorite book shops in Hamburg. This is what it’s about:

Doris is a provincial girl, living during the last days of the Weimar Republic. Her heart was already broken once, she is unhappy with her office job and – foremost – wants to be a star (“ein Glanz werden”).  She ends up in Berlin and tries to become the lady of a rich men. Sometimes she’s lucky, more often not.

The book is narrated in her own voice – in the form of her diary. I’s lively, funny and tragic. It draws a realistic picture of the pre-Nazi area, and Berlin at the end of the 1920s/beginning of the 1930s. Seems like those times were not always roaring. A must-read!

I wish you a wonderful weekend – with many lazy reading hours :)!

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The Books I Read: The Rosie Project!

AmazonPicture Credit

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a book that honestly haunted me. When it was released a few years ago, I read the summary: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance.” …Ok, as a biologist myself I know a lot of people like Don. This sentence really resonated with me. But then I read on: “So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.” …Really? A scientific approach to find the right partner? I wasn’t convinced that this is something that interests me. “Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.”…I put the book away.

Then it’s follow-up The Rosie Effect was released a few months ago and EVERYONE around me told me that I REALLY NEED TO READ the first part. – What can I say? I finally read it… and loved it. It’s hilarious to follow Don on his way finding and struggling with emotions. I still don’t know if I like the way it deals with the topic of autism/the Asperger’s syndrome. But in case you didn’t read it yet: YOU SHOULD REALLY READ IT ;)!

I wish you a wonderful, long weekend with lots of sunny hours, wonderful emotions and good books!

Summary Citation by Goodreads.

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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman!

GaimanPic by Franzi.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – or author Neil Gaiman in general – were recommended to me by several people recently. Finally, my pal Marie borrowed me her copy. Here comes my book review…

Summary: A middle-aged man returnes to his childhood hometown because of a funeral. Afterwards, instead of driving to his sister’s house, he just drives across the landscape and lands on a farm (at the end of a lane), where his childhood friend Lettie Hempstock once lived. Behind the house is a pond that Lettie always called ‘her ocean’. When the man arrives at the pond he remembers long-lost and forgotten events from the past … involving Lettie, her and his family members, supernaturals, worms and other scary things.

Conclusion: Since I am not that into the fantasy genre, I was sceptical if I would like the story (supernaturals!). But as I just found out originally Gaiman wrote it for his wife, who isn’t into fantasy as much as me. The book really grabbed me and I couldn’t put it down. Neil Gaiman’s words are wonderfully orchestrated – it was a treat for a book-worm (no pun intended) like me and touches all the big life topics: Growing-up, friendship, love, parenthood, play, adventures, responsibility. A big, big must-read … even for non-fantasy fans!

I wish you a thrilling weekend with lots of happy-mysterious moments!

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