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Booklife of Bia

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Die Stadt, in der ich lebe: ORF-Korrespondenten erzählen
Walter Erdelitsch
Lipstick Jungle
Candace Bushnell

Still Me

Still Me - Jojo Moyes This was an amazing sequel and update on Louisa's life after she lost Will and found Sam, and a lot of other stuff that is happening throughout her year in New York City! I really hope there will be another book, as this one ended in an over-the-top happy and super romantic cliffhanger... Sooo please, let there be another sequel telling the story of Lou's new life and plans in NYC!!

1984

1984 - George Orwell ...more relevant than ever! Everyone should read this at least once in their lives! It should also be mandatorily read in school (this counts for Austria, as I don't think students have to read this here).

Der Knochenmann

Der Knochenmann - Wolf Haas Vor ungefähr (oder relativ genau) 10 Jahren (zur Deutsch-Matura...) habe ich mit "Silentium!" meinen ersten Brenner-Krimi gelesen (obwohl das schon Teil 4 ist, aber wer ist da schon so genau), und ich kann mich erinnern, dass ich damals wenig bis gar nichts mit der Geschichte und dem Schreibstil des Autors anfangen konnte.
Den "Knochenmann" fand ich, gerade weil ich eher skeptisch daran ging, aber nun doch sehr gut, v.a. oder gerade wegen des Humors und des (nach wie vor) ungewöhnlichen Schreibstils. Scheinbar hab ich das damals nicht so zu schätzen gewusst wie jetzt, und darum werde ich mir wohl die anderen Brenner-Teile auch noch zu Gemüte führen, und spätestens dann die Meinung meines 19-jährigen, "na-super-ich-muss-auch-irgendeinen-österreischischen-Krimi-auf-meiner-Matura-Literaturliste-haben"-Ichs überdenken ;)

Le Koala tueur et autres histoires du bush

Le Koala tueur et autres histoires du bush - Kenneth Cook, Mireille Vignol This was a quite diverting read, consisting of several chapters featuring short stories about adventures the author himself has experienced in the Austrialian bush. If all the stories told have happened to him for real, he sure does have a lot of luck... Surprisingly, he always manages to get out of dangerous or difficult situations, despite him begin "incapable" of almost everything (I dont't even know how often I came across the word "incapable" in this not-so-lengthy novel. Guess what. It was often. VERY often.).

Die Hauptstadt: Roman

Die Hauptstadt: Roman - Robert Menasse Inhaltlich hat mich der Roman "Die Hauptstadt" wie vielen anderen LeserInnen zum Großteil überzeugt (obwohl "tying up loose ends" wohl nicht so des Autors Ding zu sein scheint - was vielleicht auch Absicht war, vielleicht gibt es ja eine Fortsetzung?). Meiner Interpretation nach zieht sich aber sehr wohl ein starker roter Faden durch den Roman, und ich meine nicht das mysteriöse Schwein, sondern die sehr im Vordergrund stehende Einsamkeit, der jeder Protagonist des Romans, wenn auch in unterschiedlichen Formen und Ausprägungen, ausgesetzt zu sein scheint. Woher kommt diese Einsamkeit?

Für mich als sehr an der Europäischen Union und EU-Politik interessierte Person war dieser Roman natürlich ein Glücksgriff sondergleichen, da er sowohl gut recherchiert war, als auch interessante Themen (wie den Spielchen der verschiedenen Akteure, sowohl innerhalb der Kommission, als auch zwischen den verschiedenen EU-Institutionen und den Mitgliedsstaaten) hinter dem Vorhang hervor holte, die den europäischen BürgerInnen sonst oft vorenthalten bleiben.

Einige Themen bleiben wie eingangs angesprochen (noch?) offen, daher wäre auch eine Fortsetzung sicher sehr spannend zu lesen!

Und jetzt noch ein paar vereinzelte Gedanken zum Schluss :)

- Robert Menasse hat einen bestimmten österreichischen Außenminister in einem sehr kurzen Auftritt unglaublich gut getroffen ("geil") - das hat mich seeehr amüsiert!
- Interessant und besonders wertvoll fand ich die starke thematische Einbindung des Nationalsozialismus (die redlichen Bemühungen der Involvierten, Auschwitz und die Überlebenden des Holocaust als zentralen Bestandteil des Jubilee Project und damit als "Grundstein" der Kommission zu setzen). Das Ende von Herrn de Vriend ist wirklich erschütternd.
- Der Mordfall und der damit einhergehende Erzählstrang über den Geheimdienst des Vatikan und einen polnischen Assassinen-Priester empfand ich als etwas überflüssig und auch als unabgeschlossen. Hingegen fand ich den Charakter von Komissar Brunfaut geradezu herzerfrischend bemitleidenswert, und ohne diesen Mord wäre der Komissar schwer in den Roman integrierbar gewesen, also hat dieser sehrwohl seine Daseinsberechtigung.
- Das Schwein ist genauso plötzlich aufgetaucht, wie es wieder verschwunden ist, und der Namenswettbewerb für ebendieses Schwein wurde ebenfalls abgebrochen. Schade!

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen A few years ago, a friend of mine told me that "Mansfield Park" was her least favourite Jane Austen novel, because she thought Fanny Price an annoying, overly prissy, well-behaved and too timid character. Now that I've finally read it, my conclusion is that I don't share her opinion.
I thought that the story got quite lengthy sometimes, but Fanny was a rather balanced and reasonable character, disposing of a really good sense of judgement, power of observation and knowledge of human nature (as opposed to her spoilt, over-confident and ill-judging cousins).

Blonde Ambition

Blonde Ambition - Zoey Dean Well... what an unfortunate conclusion for my 2017 reading challenge! This was a rather dull and pointless read. "Blonde Ambition" is the third instalment of the "A-List" series, and despite not reading parts 1 and 2 before, I don't feel like I missed out on much. I kept asking myself if I had liked this series any better, had I read it at an earlier stage in my life (as I definitely enjoyed reading Gossip Girl, for example). But, considering the flat and for my taste overly fast-moving storyline ( a 17-year-old girl (Anna) interning for an LA production company, falling in and out of love with 3 or more guys and shooting a film for a class project, whilst finding herself in weird competitive fights with one of her classmates (Cammie), and all of this in only 230 pages...?! ) and awfully misogynist wording ("But there was nothing she could do about her fire-hydrant calves and fat ankles." ?! Hellooo, what about all those buzzwords like body positivity???), I really don't think so.

Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries

Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries - Helen Fielding The "fourth and last" part of Bridget Jones - for the time being, I really hope there will be another one - is actually a prequel to the third book "Mad about the boy", telling the story of Bridget conceiving her first child, doesn't know exactly who is the father, as there's a 50% chance for both Mark Darcy AND Daniel Cleaver (!!), and almost gets fired from "Sit up Britain", thereby featuring an all-new friend (Miranda, the show's anchor) . On the whole, I liked the story, and I am glad I read it, as there are quite many references to the "past" in the 3rd part, which you only get if you read both novels. "Bridget Jones's Baby" was a fun and entertaining read, though it seems like Helen Fielding has been told "make it short" before she started writing this part. It could have definitely been a bit longer and more detailed for my taste ;)

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy - Helen Fielding This was the third part of the Bridget Jones series, featuring 90s-girl, 20-something Bridget's huuuge leap in time to the digital age (2013). She's struggeling with technology (Twitter, her smartphone, her TV,...) and her TWO kids, which apparently she had at a rather late stage in her 40s, as she is currently 51 years old, and her kids are somewhere between 4 and 7 (or so), AND WITH THE DEATH OF MARK DARCY?!?!? OMG!!!!! How can Helen Fielding be so mean and just kill him off so abruptly, without even going into ANY detail about all those years inbetween 1997 and 2013?! booohohoho!!! ...

Anyway, I really loved this sequel of the Bridget Jones novels! :)

Expo 58

Expo 58 - Jonathan Coe This novel was a real stroke of luck, as I bought it just because I liked the cover, and Brussels, and wanted to read a bit about Expo 58 ;) And it has been standing about in my bookshelf for a considerable amount of time since I bought it...

The story was fun, exciting and really well-written. The historical background seemed very well-researched, and the author managed to capture the whole atmoshpere and vibe of Expo 58 and so many nations coming together despite being torn apart by two World Wars only a few years ago, and the atomic arms race being in full swing.

The only part I didn't enjoy that much was the slightly weird turn in the end, when Thomas wanted to get divorced from his wife because he thought he didn't love her anymore, but then didn't because he found out that she hadn't cheated on him (though he had cheated on her, which he didn't confess to her and kept a secret for his whole life), then decided to quit his job in London, move to Warwickshire, have another child and start a new job at a company, just in order to become a spy again (?). which came on a bit abruptly for my taste. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this story, and I learned a lot about Expo 58 and also about the exhibits, some of which were lucky enough to serve a purpose also after the whole spectacle was over after 6 months (and even became landmarks, like the Atomium).

Designs of a Gentleman: The Early Years

Designs of a Gentleman: The Early Years - Judith Thomson I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway from the author - thanks a lot :)

This was the first historical fiction book I ever read, and at first I wasn't sure if I could really get into the story and it honestly took me some time, but after the initial phase I rather enjoyed the storyline of intrigues, personal preferences and strategies to advance in high society at the at the court of King Charles II, and also the King of France.

The main character, Lord Philip Devalle, has quite a manifold personality to deal with, which at times is a bit exhausting, but on the other hand also amusing. He definitely knows how to work things to his advantage, but some plans also don't work out quite as well as he imagined. One example for this is the spectacular turn in the end, which leaves you really curious for the continuation of the story!

Revenge of the Wedding Planner

Revenge of the Wedding Planner - Sharon Owens "Revenge of the Wedding Planner" was a rather quick, and in parts also amusing book, although some characters were just plainly unlikeable (Julie, Alexander, Emma!!!). It was quite refreshing to read about a 40-something lady, who is at times not able to hold things together as good as she wants to, because these kinds of stories mostly feature the complicated and messy lives of 20-something girls (and are getting a bit worn out anyway, at least for my taste).

Die Leopardin

Die Leopardin - Ken Follett, Till R. Lohmeyer, Christel Rost This was a really exciting read that kept me interested from the beginning to the end. I also liked the topic - women fighting in WWII, because stories like that are not very much known, and also rather uncommon for that time (meaning a woman's role was being a mother, a housewive, maybe a telephonist or secretary... but not a fighter, or even a war heroine).
The only thing i don't really get in this context of brave women, risking their lives for the resistance and fighting the Nazis, is that the female protagonists were repeatedly described as super sexy, gorgeous, pretty ladies ( e.g. when Nazi Major Franck, face to face with death a.k.a. Flick with a machine gun, thinks that Flick looks incredibly beautiful (???)), which was in most parts just out of place, at least in my opinion.

Umsonst ist nur das Leben

Umsonst ist nur das Leben - Paul Burke Some parts of this novel were really funny, laugh-provoking and well-written. I found the lives of the two main characters Andy and Dave quite reproducible, though I don't have any connection to Polish or Irish life in the UK in the 1970s, or ultra-catholic families and the implications that come along with that, but I really believed the boys' troubles and burdens that they had to overcome. At times, the book got quite lengthy and a bit boring, but I liked the twist of fate in the last part of the book, though the end came rather abruptly and left some things unsaid.

Lyrebird

Lyrebird - Cecelia Ahern Like every book Cecelia Ahern writes, I also loved this one! :)
The storyline was great, though really cringe-worthy at times, not least due to what is happening to one of the main characters, Laura, in what seems like an incredibly short time span.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer I had this book waiting in my stack of to-reads for at least four years, but never felt like reading it. Now, after finally starting and finishing it, I am really glad I did, because I really enjoyed it and I think it's worth a read for everyone who has it also in a waiting position :)

At the beginning of this novel, I had a rather hard time getting into it, but after a rocky start, I was literally drawn into the story! I loved the playful makeup and appearance of the book, with a few graphic design elements and pictures here and there. The story of Oskar's family is an extraordinary one, reaching back to WWII, and building a bridge to the early 2000s and 9/11, loaded with personal difficulties and burdens, but also love and joy.