Books 7-12

Mar. 11th, 2015 10:40 am
lizzardgirl: (books)
Book 7: Spur 24, by Wolfgang Kaes

This was pretty much a run-of-the-mill German crime story, rather decently done.

Book 8: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers

Just needed to add one more to my LPW re-read ;-) This was my first LPW ages and eons ago, and I love that I am still discovering new things even after all those years. This time it really struck me that Ann Dorland seems like a very early version of Harriet - did anyone else feel that way?

Book 9: Sternstunden der Menschheit, by Stefan Zweig

This book. Oh this book. It's a set of fourteen historical miniatures, but this is really not that important. I fell in love with the language. It's German at its most powerful, most beautiful imaginable. It's forceful, dreamy, poetic, just slightly antiquated - it's just aweful, in the original sense of that word. Google-fu tells me it's been published in English as Decisive Moments in History or Tides of Fortune, but I'm not sure if a translator could fully do that language justice. I know I couldn't, but then I'm not a native speaker of English.

Book 10: 1913: Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts, by Florian Illies

This book had the great misfortune that I read it back-to-back with the Stefan Zweig and it just ... fell short. It's a pleasant enough read, even witty - it's basically a collection of anecdotes of things that happened throughout the year 1913, and how some of them were a cultural climax of the 20th century. It's a very intriguing premise, and it was decently enough executed - but after the Zweig, the language just felt flat and the tone too familiar and chummy. But I think I'd have liked it better if I'd read it at another time. (The English title, apparently, is 1913: The Year Before The Storm, if anyone is interested.)

Book 11: Märzgefallene, by Volker Kutscher

Another German crime story, this time the fifth in a series set in 1920s/30s Berlin. This one takes place just after the Nazis came into power, and though the murder mystery was a bit confusing and there were some historical details I side-eyed, the description of the atmosphere of suspicion and dread was well done, very chilling and eery. I don't think there's an English version though.

Book 12: Der Schieber, by Cay Rademacher

Another German historical crime story, this one set in 1947 Hamburg, second in a series I started last year. I'm not too keen on the narrative voice, but the story is pretty interesting and I like the amount of details, so I'm going to get the third one from the library as well.

Books 2&3

Jan. 18th, 2015 06:09 pm
lizzardgirl: (books)
Book 2: Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers

Hm, yeah, I don't know whether I can say anything new about this since I discussed it before ;-) Oh yeah: HELL YES INTELLIGENCE *IS* SEXY. Also, I just love, love, love so many little details in this book and while reading I always love looking forward to them. Like when Harriet realises that Peter took her gown per accident, and then decides it doesn't really matter. Because it also signifies that Harriet realises - and that she realises Peter saw it this way all along - that as far as education and university rank go, they are equals, and that they could meet as equals in a marriage. Or when Miss de Vine tells Harriet it's bloody obvious she's in love with Peter. Or about every time Peter is happy when Harriet doesn't rebuff him. And the punt scene of course. So much the punt scene. I always have to restrain myself almost physically not to skip ahead to the punt scene and Peter's underlying elation afterwards. Also, Katharine was right, of course now I have to read Busman's Honeymoon too. Also it's made me all excited about the book about the development of university education for women that I borrowed from Caroline but haven't started yet, because Gaudy Night always makes me wish I could attend an Oxford women's college in the 1930s.

Book 3: The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, by Sinclair McKay

For all intents and purposes, this should be #2 because I read all but the last ten pages or so before I started Gaudy Night. It was a very interesting read and quite illuminating in some ways. (I also realise that some of the Bletchley allusions I made in Blackout wouldn't really have worked that way, but since I never named Bletchley in the story, I think I can get away with that :D) One thing I missed a little was - since I used to be quite proficient in Maths in another lifetime - a more mathematical analysis of how the codes were cracked and how the enigma encoding and decoding actually works. I had the feeling the author was a bit out of his depths there. But I can't really find a fault with that since the book never promised anything mathematical ;-) I'll just have to find Simon Singh's book on secret codes and then see if maybe the library has something more about enigma codes. I'll probably not get all of it but I'd like some more mathematical insights all the same. But apart from that, it was a really fascinating book! Thanks Caroline for lending it!

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