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 :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

Pic by Franzi.

“The whole point of good literature is to make newness durable. You are creating alternative time. You are making vivid that which did not exist before.” Colum McCann, Letters to a Young Writer

Letters to a Young Writer by author Colum McCann comprises fifty-two short texts that give some practical and philosophical advice about various matters of authorship – like creating characters, developing a plot, the terror of the white page, the first line and many more.  For me, each of the small texts was highly motivating and full of inspirational lines, which I would like to write down on a BIG mood board and hang it up above my favorite place to write (so currently this would be above my sofa).

A big recommendation for everyone who is loving the written word but also fighting with it from time to time.

I wish you a wonderful week! Have a creative one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

A Book About the Brain!

Pic by Franzi.

Today’s post is written under some time pressure: Thus the small picture and only a few lines…

Our last book in the literature club was Mein Hirn hat seinen eigenen Kopf (My brain has its own head) by Dong Seon Chang. It’s a book about the wonders of the mind – how our brain works and how it defines us and our relationships to the people around us.

An exciting read with lots of insights to discuss about!

I wish you a wonderful week! Enjoy the wonders of your mind :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

A Portuguese Crime Novel: Lost in Fuseta by Gil Ribeiro!

Pic by Franzi.

It was more accidentally than planned that I took the crime novel Lost in Fuseta by Gil Ribeiro (aka Holger Karsten Schmidt) with me at the Algarve.

In this first book of a new crime novel series we get to know Leander Lost, a police officer from Hamburg who participates at an exchange program and will stay one year in Portugal – in Fuseta, a small town at the Eastern Algarve. But Leander Lost is not the ordinary kind of police men: He wears only black, stares strangely into the eyes of other people and – most important – cannot lie. Soon after his arrival there is a murder case to investigate and his new Portuguese police partners, sub-inspector Rosado and her colleague Esteves, have to deal with this strange new man in their team.

This book was a positive surprise: It is written in an entertaining (German) voice, I really liked its figures and I learned a lot about the people at the Algarve. A book that is worth reading – not only if you are actually in Portugal.

I wish you a wonderful week! Enjoy the sun :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

Those Books I’ve Read!

Pic by Franzi.

During the last four weeks I read one book that was famous in the 1970, one book as a follow-up of one I read the month before, one crime novel that waited a long time on my stack of unread books and finally I listened to an audio book I discovered on the Frankfurt Book Fair last October.

Carmen KornTöchter einer neuen Zeit (Daughters of a new Time)

I saw this book the first time on the Frankfurt Book Fair last October and wanted to read it ever since. It’s the first of three books about a bunch of women living at the beginning of the 20th century in Hamburg. Töchter einer neuen Zeit starts in the year 1919 and ends shortly after WWII. Now I finally listened to the audio book and was fascinated by the descriptions of the life in my hometown Hamburg 100 years ago. The women of the story are all very different from each other, but I liked every one of them and wanted to know what happens next in their lives! Now I can’t wait to read the follow-up Zeiten des Aufbruchs, which is planned to be released in June.

**** (out of five)

Ernest HemingwayA Movable Feast

After reading Paula McLain’s novel The Paris Wife about the first marriage of Ernest Hemingway, narrated by his first wife Hadley, I was curious about his view on this time of his life in the early 1920s in Paris. Luckily, he wrote the memoir A Movable Feast. Written during the last years of his life, the book looks back at his younger self at the beginning of his career as a writer, his life with Hadley in Paris and also at the other famous writers he met in those years – Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, James Joys…. It’s a read full of insights, which showed me once more that I am a big fan of Hemingway’s style. I will definitely read more from him in the future!

****

Val McDermidThe Retribution

The Retribution is a follow-up of Scottish crime writer Val McDermid’s most famous novel The Wire in The Blood. After more that 12 years in prison serial killer Jacko Vance escapes. And he has one big goal: Revenge. On top of his list are Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan and the clinical psychologist and police profiler Tony Hill who once caught him. I couldn’t put down this book – it’s a real gem of a crime novel. If you loved The Wire in The Blood, you have to read The Retribution! Val McDermid at her best :).

****

Erica JongFear of Flying

Fear of Flying is a book that was extremely famous during the 1970s – mostly because of its description of female sexuality.

The main character Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing is a 29-year-old poet who accompanies her second husband on a psychology conference in Vienna. There she decides to try out her sexual fantasies with another man, also a psychologist. The story is about a young married woman who is struggling to find her place in the world and defining who she is and how relationships/marriages are influencing this.

I can totally see the point of why this book caused this much controversy back in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it’s a brave book, that dares to question the old ways of living and with it the institution of marriage in itself. I am sure that this book helped a lot of women to understand that they are not alone with their struggles and their desires.

****

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

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

Those Books I’ve Listened To!

Pic by Franzi (Audible screenshots from my mobile).

During the last four weeks life was busy. Thus, I only re-read one favorite book of mine and listened to two audio books…

Sophie KinsellaMy Not So Perfect Life (Read by Fiona Hardingham)

I love all novels by Sophie Kinsella. Only the Shopaholic series is not my cup of tea. But she simply is a genius in the field of writing romance novel plots! This is her last book:

Katie Brenner has the perfect life – at least on her Instagram account. In reality she lives in a tiny flat in London, has a stupefying commute every day, isn’t worshiped in her job and she hates her boss Demeter, who seems to have it all (the perfect job, man, family, house and look). But then the worst happens: Katie loses her job and goes back to her hometown, where she pretends to be only on a sabbatical to help her dad in starting a glamping (glamorous & camping) side. Everything works out well… until Demeter arrives for vacation with her family.

The plot was easy to follow, the heroine likable and there was – of course – some romance in the air. A book like a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy March Day ;).

*** (out of five)

Hendrik GroenEierlikörtage (Read by Felix von Manteuffel)

This book is based on the “secret diaries” of Hendrik Groen, 83 years old, living in a retirement home in Amsterdam.

Since my own grandpa is living in a retirement home (in Berlin) since a year now, I was immediately hooked by the idea to get an insight into the life of such an environment.

Hendrik Groen describes all those funny and not-so-funny everyday situations in his retirement home. Sometimes you have to laugh out loud and sometimes you are nearly crying.

I big must-read for everyone with relatives in retirement homes (and everyone else)!

****

I wish you a wonderful week! Have a remarkable one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

A New Podcast Addiction: Seriendialoge//Dialogs about Series!

Podcast screenshot. Made by Franzi.

I am in the mid of the pre-X-Mas craziness! So, today only a very short introduction into my newest (German) podcast addiction: Seriendialoge by journalist Ulrike Klode.

For every episode, she invites a guest to speak about his or her favorite series. Listening to those dialogs, I already learned a lot of background stuff about some of my favorite series – like Grey’s Anatomy, Transparent or Doctor’s Diaries. …One also gets recommendations for new series (I have to watch Episodes – it sounds great!).

I wish you a wonderful weekend! Have a fantastic one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

The Books I’m Reading Right Now: Veilchen im Winter // Violets in Winter by Amei-Angelika Müller!

Pic by Franzi.

A few weeks ago I sat on  sofa in Osnabrück and had a relaxing break. Suddenly I found the novel Veilchen im Winter (translation: Violets in Winter) by Amei-Angelika Müller, published in 1990, in my hands and started reading:

Julia spends her first winter vacations with her skiing-obsessed husband in a sports hotel, somewhere in the snowy mountains. Very soon, she realizes that she is not quite a skiing talent (I sympathize with her!). So, she spends her days stumping through the snow, accidentally crashing with other skiers on a slope and waiting for her husband – who is too exhausted in the evenings to be any fun at all.

Until… she meets Friedel, a little boy who is – to his dad’s big disappointment –  also not very fond of skiing. The two of them are spending their days together, Julia tells Friedel stories about dragons and they are enjoying each other’s company. But then… they are standing in front of a real dragon.

A novel full of nice surprises that doesn’t take itself too serious. A nice and entertaining winter read!

I wish you a wonderful weekend! Have a fantastic one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

The Books I’ve Read: The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling!

bookPic by Franzi.

I am a fan of the writing of J. K. Rowling from the first Harry Potter book on (1997 – nearly twenty years ago!!). I love her development of real characters and a big storyline with many turns and twists. Finally, I found the time to read her first novel for adults The Casual Vacancy (published in 2012 – I know, it took some years until I started reading it). What shall I say? I needed some pages to find my way into the story but then I imagined the single characters like persons I actually know and was totally hooked. Perfection!

The novel’s major topics are politics, social issues and family dynamics – all topics that are very rough and real-life based. The story is set in a suburban town called Pagford. Everything begins with the death of the Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother. As a consequence, a seat on the council is vacant, which leads to a big small town conflict of who should take this place. There are two factions with opposing opinions regarding the debate on whether or not to dissociate with a local council estate – “the Fields” – with which Barry supported an alliance. Within the election campaign dark secrets from the different candidates come to light and every character has to deal with his or her very own set of problems.

A book that needs some time to read, but when it finally is over one keeps on thinking about its different characters and their fates.

I wish you a wonderful weekend! Have a thrilling one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.

The Books I’m Listening To: Ach, diese Lücke diese entsetzliche Lücke // Oh, This Gap, This Horrible Gap by Joachim Meyerhoff.

meyerhoffAudible screenshot. Made by Franzi.

Joachim Meyerhoff’s memoirs about his childhood, his teenage year in the US and now also his recent book about his time as student on the drama school are always great! I read the first  book together with my literature club. The second one I listened to as an audio book. For his third book Ach, diese Lücke diese entsetzliche Lücke (Translation: Oh, This Gap, This Horrible Gap), the author read live at the Schauspielhaus Hamburg. I went there in February together with my literature ladies. Now, the live reading of the whole book is available and I am totally into it.

This book comprises  Joachim Meyerhoff’s time at the drama school in Munich, during which he lived in his grandparents house. The story narrates his life between two worlds – at the drama school where he has to learn to play a hippo as a figure out of Effi Briest and in his grandparents antique surroundings where everything stays as it is. A funny, sad and entertaining book that makes me often laugh out loud and pensive at the same time.

I wish you a wonderful weekend! Have a playful one :)!

Like always: All credits appear after clicking the links. If you are interested in putting ads on My so-called Luck feel free to email me.