A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson: After ‘Life after Life‘ another great book from Kate Atkinson. The author calls it a companion book to ”Life after Life’, I also read somewhere that it is a sequel. I find it could be a stand-alone, only for the ending to understand you might need the knowledge from the first book. Anyway, I loved it. Very interesting to read Ted’s story and his life as a bomber pilot in WWII. I was always fascinated by this subject, ever since I read a Reader’s Digest novel in boarding school called ‘Last days of summer’ or something similar (I can’t really remember the title and I never found it online although I did extensive research).
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: There was a lot more to Cleopatra than her being the mistress of the two greatest men of her time. An astute leader of her people for 22 years she had few peers in her time. To reduce her to a beauty and a seductress wouldn’t do her justice at all as I learned in the book. She bested the men and managed her country with her intelligence but to acknowledge that wouldn’t look good for Octavian. So much easier to blame it on her beguiling abilities.
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan: Once you betray a friendship all hell can break loose even if it is in a very quiet way. The two friends Vernon and Clive united in their hatred of the husband of their former lover Molly make a pact that has eventually unforeseen consequences. Great read with interesting characters and food for thoughts.
Airframe by Michael Crichton: Exactly the right book for a holiday, Michael Crichton does not disappoint. The story is simple and follows Crichton’s pattern. Still it has enough “meat” to keep me going and especially interested. The background information about the airline industry/airplane manufacturing was interesting and well researched. In light of the current accidents and disappearances of planes well worth reading.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: A long and enjoyable read about three generations of women and their stories. It starts in Australia but ends in Cornwall and there is also a love story in between. Of course it is all connected and there is a secret but everything is kept light and fluffy. Just the right thing while you are on vacation.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I didn’t see that coming. It started slow and I was not sure if I liked the main character at all. But then there were subtle shifts and all of a sudden I rooted for her. I just wanted her to remember, so I would know too what happened. I loved how the story developed, how it kept the end open, it never let up the suspense! Great read!
Landline by Rainbow Rowell: I almost read it in one go which is pretty great considering I am moving constantly and spent the last days kayaking and tubing. The book was great, I just loved the characters, loved how the story went back and forth between now and then. This is the first adult book from the author and I can’t complain I loved her YA books Eleanor and Park; Fangirl). She is an amazing writer and the book just draws you in. Excellent read!
Yes Please by Amy Poehler: Instead of one continuing story it is a series of short or longer chapters going back and forth in her life. There was only one laugh out loud moment (at least for me) but a lot of interesting comments. I liked how she talked about making and shaping her career and above all I loved that she came across as a real person with very ‘normal’ opinions on life. A quick and easy read and very entertaining if you are interested in SNL.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan: The story of the man behind the myth as far as can be told after 2000 years. Really, really interesting especially for one who went to Catholic school. After reading this book it’s fair to say that the man Jesus has nothing to do with the figure of Jesus Christ and he wouldn’t have liked this new church neither. Thanks for the recommendation Cheps, it was very eye opening!
Just Kids by Patti Smith: The name Patti Smith was familiar to me but I didn’t really know what she did. And that is basically not a problem at all if you want to read her book. I really liked her story and how her artistry developed. Her relationship and then continuing friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is beautifully described and I like to think that I have some friendships with the same depth and support. Lovely and quick read (if you are interested here is a Zeit article for the publication of this book in German).
The Adults by Alison Espach: A coming of age story with an interesting twist. The main character gets seduced at age 15 by her teacher who is 9 years her senior which makes for a completely different story. Still it never goes in this direction. Instead it focuses on the relationship with her parents and the continuing influence of the teacher. I liked that it was never judgmental but kept your mind open in all directions.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: The perfect book for China. A mother – daughter story told from the views of four Chinese born mothers and their American born daughters. There were a lot of cultural differences between these mothers and daughters; and just because a mother wanted something for her daughter, didn’t mean the daughter was in agreeing with it. Very fitting since I am still traveling in China but it also reminded me of my relationship with my mother and we don’t have any cultural differences.
Accidentally On Purpose by L.D. Davis: DNF! The first book in a very long time that I didn’t finish. But it was just too much of a time waster. The two protagonists are cheating on their respective partners to keep up a relationship that makes no sense to anyone except the author. Forgettable nonsense. (Am actually wondering where I got it. Maybe free on Amazon?)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: I have seen the film years ago and can’t remember much more from it except Audrey Hepburn wearing huge sunglasses. The book now is a different matter especially since Holly is a blonde. Written from the perspective of her neighbor, the poor and so far unsuccessful writer ‘Fred’. Hugely entertaining and enjoyable, Holly is like a whirlwind for everyone involved with her. Love it when a classic turns out to be a great book.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz: A family story from the Dominican Republic over three generations during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Shame on me that I didn’t even know that the DR had a dictator especially after I just finished the trilogy about the other half of this island. Unbelievable things happened during Trujillo’s time but what a way to put it into a story. Oscar might not be a relatable character but sooner or later you start to root for him.
Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin: Who would have thought that the disappearance of a woman would make a good backdrop for a chick lit? But Anna McPartlin makes it work. When chance brings four people together in an elevator during a blackout the ball gets rolling. All four characters have challenges ahead that sometimes seem insurmountable, but there is always a way. I liked that there was still humor to be found despite the sometimes harsh realities and I was crying this morning when I finished it. Maybe not exactly a beach read, but good nonetheless.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: Another strong story from the ‘Kite Runner’ Author. This time about two children who got split up in their early years and their life-long yearning for each other. We hear about their upbringing in Afghanistan and their later travels to France and the U.S. Again quite a sad story but also very uplifting.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: Such an interesting topic of American history. During the 1890s and 1920s more than 200.000 orphans from the east coast were ‘shipped out’ to the midlands. Some got lucky and really found a new family but others were just used as cheap laborers. The story follows Niamh/Dorothy/Vivian on her journey through these terrible times. Well written and a quick read.
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel: The men of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space projects were heroes. But so were the wives behind them who were taking care on the ‘Homefront’ of everyone and everything. Life Magazine had a deal with NASA and the seven Mercury pilots to report exclusively about the lives behind the scenes. Later this was extended to the other pilots as well. It made for some dramatic stuff and I learned a lot about the space program and how much effort it took in manpower but also in money to put a man on the moon.