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review 2017-08-09 02:30
The Moonlit Garden (Audiobook)
The Moonlit Garden - Alison Layland,Corina Bomann

This was a pleasant surprise! Especially for an Amazon First selection since usually those books are not that great. This is translated into English, but I didn't notice any awkward phrasing to the translation was well done. 

 

I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this one, except that at some point there'd a moonlit garden :D so I was just going along for the ride and it was a good one. Lily owns an antique shop in Berlin and one day an old man comes in, hands her an old violin, tells her it's hers and leaves. The rest of the book goes back and forth between Lily trying to solve the mystery of the violin and Rose, the violin's original owner, a master violinist in the earliest part of the 1900s.

 

There's enough left out in the historical parts to keep the mystery moving in the current timeline. It's just nice to have a mystery that doesn't revolve around murder for a change, and trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together. And while parts of this take place in England and Germany, a good chunk of it takes place in Sumatra, Indonesia, which was also a nice change of pace as I don't often come across books set in Asia.

 

The narrator has kind of a soft voice but it didn't bother me too much. I do wish she had more range in her voices, especially for the men since despite some slight differences to their accents, it was difficult to tell them apart because they all sounded so similar. She does a somewhat better job differentiating the female voices. 

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review 2017-07-23 18:05
The Kitchen God's Wife - DNF @ 41%
The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan

The writing is still well-crafted and masterful, but I just couldn't get into the plot at this time. It feels like a forgotten story from the Joy Luck Club, only without the same level of interaction with the younger generation that provided a counterpoint to the direness of the mothers' tales. I feel terrible for not being able to finish this because I do usually enjoy Tan's characters.

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review 2017-05-06 12:01
Das Scheitern Mitteleuropas 1918-1939 - Das Scheitern Mitteleuropas 1918-1939 -

Das Scheitern Mitteleuropas 1918-1939 / Walter Rauscher

 

„Das Scheitern Mitteleuropas 1918-1939“ von Walter Rauscher - ein Sachbuch, das informativer und lehrreicher nicht sein könnte, ohne auch nur eine Seite lang langweilig zu werden. Man möchte meinen, dass man als Westeuropäer mit den Geschehnissen und Entwicklungen der Vorzeit zum 2. Weltkrieg vertraut ist. Dass man sich auskennt mit den Verläufen der politischen Zeit und allgemeinen europäischen Situation. Doch weit gefehlt. Walter Rauscher gelingt es mit seinem aktuellen Buch, den Leser mit neuen und teils gar überraschenden und erschreckenden Informationen zu versorgen. Was die große inhaltliche Qualität des Buches ausmacht, ist meiner Meinung nach die völlig unerwartete Perspektive des Autors. Als Österreicher versteht er es, die Zeit in neues Licht zu tauchen und entwirrt Verstrickungen und offensichtlich politische Fehlentscheidungen auf gänzlich neutrale Weise. Es wird deutlich, dass die verschobene Perspektive nötig ist, um eine typisch deutsche Sichtweise der Dinge aufzubrechen. Die Darstellung aller Verstrickungen wirkt dabei geradezu spannend – wüsste man nicht um die reellen Hintergründe und Folgen dieser Zeit. Geschichte in ganz besonderer Form.
Der Schreibstil ist durchgängig verständlich (ausgenommen vielleicht einige, wenige österreichische Formulierungen oder Begriffe, deren Bedeutung sich aber immer im weiteren Zusammenhang erschließen lassen). Der Aufbau ist chronologisch und widmet sich in diesem Kontext der Reihe nach bestimmten Gebieten, Ländern oder Ländergruppen und ihren politischen Entwicklungen. Themenbereiche sind dabei territoriale und nationale Differenzen unter den Sieger- und Verlierer-Staaten. Die Neuaufteilungen der Gebiete nach dem ersten Weltkrieg, zunehmender nationaler Egoismus und ungünstige bis stark schädigende Dreiecksbeziehungen und Konflikte unter den einzelnen Staaten. Dramatisch die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung, massiv die Zunahme von Arbeitslosigkeit, Nationalismus und Fremdenfeindlichkeit. Sind dies keine unbekannten Komponenten, so werden es vermutlich doch die Details sein, die Walter Rauscher hier unglaublich präzise und konkret beschreibt sein. Der Autor beschränkt sich grundsätzlich auf die wichtigen Inhalte, so dass das Buch durchweg interessant und definitiv nie langatmig wirkt. Mich konnte Walter Rauscher mit seinem neuen Buch absolut überzeugen. Die Details zum Scheitern Mitteleuropas und der Weg in den 2. (verheerenden) Weltkrieg waren in diesem Buch unglaublich beeindruckend, schockierend und sehr informativ! Insbesondere, da die Thematik und damaligen Geschehnisse sich derzeit in Teilen zu wiederholen scheinen. Insofern ist dieses Buch vielleicht thematisch aktueller denn je und sicherlich ein „must-have“… Absolut lesenswert und zu empfehlen. 5 Sterne.

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review 2017-02-17 21:22
Review of Hitler: Ascent by Volker Ullrich
Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 - Volker Ullrich

This is a difficult book to rate. It is obviously an incredibly detailed look at the life of Hitler and his rise to power up to the German takeover of Czechoslovakia. The problem for me was the details. They were overwhelming. There were hundreds, if not thousands of names in this that I did not recognize and had a hard time following. At some points it felt as if this book was dealing with issues one day or one week at a time. It also focused almost exclusively on Hitler. Many history books would take a few pages as an aside to introduce important side figures. That was not the case here.

 

With all of that said, the story is fascinating. The knowledge of the author is simply incredible. I learned a great deal and feel like I have a deep understanding of the Hitler of the 1920s and 1930s. In terms of the history presented, this rating should be 5 stars. I gave it 4 stars because I just had a hard time slugging through many parts of it.

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review 2017-01-18 04:06
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird (Perennial classics) - Harper Lee

Life in the 30s in the South. The "good ole days". Yeah, riiiight.

 

Actually, narrating this from Scout's POV allows for a lot of innocence of childhood to shine through, and it's optimistic even Scout is making scathing observations and comments on the hypocrisies and bigotry of the times.

 

I originally read this in high school, like I'm sure a lot of people did, and while it made an impact then, I had largely forgotten a lot about the story aside from Boo Radley and the trial. So I was surprised by how little those actually came into the story, which mostly chronicles Scout and Jem's childhood and summers for the two years leading up to that fateful day in 1935 when Tom Robinson was put on trial. There was never a doubt what the outcome would be, but seeing Jem's hope and absolute certainty, Dill's anger at the injustice of the cross-examination and Scout's struggles to understand what all these big events around her meant in the larger picture gave it a focal point to highlight how not innocent these so-called "simpler and easier" times actually were.

 

I was much more uncomfortable with the casual racism on display by our protags than I was by the outright bigotry of the Ewells and others in town. I had forgotten how prevalent it was in the book.

 

The world needs more Atticus Finches, and more respect for our mockingbirds, in whatever form they come.

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