Certainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I eCertainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I enjoyed, but this book definitely disproves a lot of the details about the life of a Geisha as depicted in that work of fiction.
As for this book itself - it was rich in detail, which I appreciated. I did wonder at times how Mineko could remember things from the past in such detail however, especially from when she was still young. Sometimes I didn't really like her as a narrator either. She seems to have been raised as a princess, and sometimes I really got annoyed by this air of superiority. Maybe it's just a distorted image one gets because of the examples she used in the book, but there was often a case where she said that she'd gotten compliments about having done this or that particularly well.. which eventually got on my nerves. I understand that she's a legend in her field (and a bit of a workaholic) and probably earned the right to be proud of what she's achieved in life, but sometimes it made her seem condescending towards others. It wasn't always pleasant to read about.
Overall though it's a very informative book, if you want to learn to look beyond the stereotypes of traditional Japanese culture and Geishas....more
Relatively short and therefore concise biography on Jane Austen. I'm a bit of an Austenite, but I had never actually read a biography on her before. MRelatively short and therefore concise biography on Jane Austen. I'm a bit of an Austenite, but I had never actually read a biography on her before. My mom's more of an Austenite than I am, so I had seen many, many documentaries while growing up: I never really had a choice in the matter, though I didn't mind. I therefore never really felt the need to pick up a book on her life. I was already so familiar with it. My mom thought differently. She really wanted to try a Jane Austen biography, so I bought her the Dutch translation of the Claire Tomalin biography. She admitted that it was very in-depth and seemed to cover a lot of ground, but she just wasn't very interested in it. She found it too factual. She's been trying to read it for 2 years now.
At some point, you start feeling discouraged by a book you can't get into. I hate this feeling, and I wish it hadn't happened to my mom. She wanted to read this book so badly. Also I bought her the biography as a gift, so I felt kind of responsible.
I heard about this book a few days ago, when my Goodreads friend Katri read and recommended it. I figured I'd give the book a try. I must say this is the most readable biography I have ever read. It does use facts, quotes, etc., but there's feeling in it, you don't just read fact upon fact. Carol Shields paints the society Jane lived in, she paints her life, and she discusses these things on the basis of Jane's novels. Though her insights aren't always groundbreaking, they can be enlightening and definitely make you want to pick up Jane's novels again - as a good biography should, I do think.
The only bad thing about this novel is that it apparently hasn't been translated into Dutch, and now I'm not sure if I can buy it for my mom after all, as she rarely reads in English. Bit of a shame. But the book was a good read, so thanks again to Katri for making me aware of this book's existence!...more
Quite a fascinating read. I started out thinking "you guys are crazy! buying a zoo with literally *all* of your money!" but over the course of the booQuite a fascinating read. I started out thinking "you guys are crazy! buying a zoo with literally *all* of your money!" but over the course of the book I was convinced by Benjamin Mee: he and his team loved nature, loved what they were doing, they loved it so much they put everything on the line to achieve their dream. To me that is both crazy and awe-inspiring. The incredible nerve it took to do that, my.
I had a few problems with the book itself. Though it was interesting seeing what had to be done to renovate this zoo, I thought it wasn't very in-depth at some points. I liked the anecdotes about the zoo and the animals, very much so, but for instance this famous check list they needed to fulfil to get their Zoo License? I was never quite sure what needed to be done exactly, until Benjamin Mee started writing about how they solved it. Eh.
There was also a large personal aspect missing: you don't really get to know anyone in this book, with perhaps the exception of Benjamin Mee himself. I didn't mind too much, I understand the need for privacy: on the other hand it was a bit hard to connect to all these people and therefore harder to connect to the book. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I had problems telling people apart (but then I am terrible with names).
Chronology also seemed to be a problem: sometimes there were jumps in time that I couldn't keep up with and it was hard at times to place events in the right order. Which was annoying, because it was mostly a chronological book and therefore distracted me while reading.
Overall though I found it fascinating, and I'd be interested in seeing the zoo if I ever get to the neighbourhood. Even if just to see if they did get those zebras in the end. (You'll probably understand why I'm saying this after reading the book.)...more
I picked up this e-book because of, you probably guessed it, the movie. I saw the movie back in January in the Netherlands, but it's only now being reI picked up this e-book because of, you probably guessed it, the movie. I saw the movie back in January in the Netherlands, but it's only now being released in the cinemas here in Vienna (which is where I'm currently living). So I thought, "hey, why not, let's pick up the book".
I read the book that described only this one particular week Colin Clark spent with Marilyn, not the edition that combines both books Colin Clark has written about the filming of the movie "The Prince And The Showgirl". The story about this week was quite charming. I'm not familiar enough with Marilyn to know if it's true to her character or not, but for me this book read like fiction. Colin Clark had all these ~insights into Marilyn's character, that I don't feel he could have had (at the time, or ever). After all, the diary of this week was only written long after it had taken place so I had difficulties accepting some things in the text sometimes.
I thought the writing was nothing special, a bit simplistic. Then again, it is supposed to be someone's diary, and I don't expect someone to be eloquent in their diaries (I know I am not). But still, for an actual book hoping to sell some sort of hype.. I don't know. I understand the writing style, but I still found it lacking.
What mostly surprised me was how true the movie was to this particular book. The details have been put on screen quite faithfully. Overall though, I found the movie to be much more enjoyable so I think I shall just go to see it again in the cinemas and forget about reading Mr. Clark's second set of diaries about the filming....more
Because there is little known about Gaudí's personal life, you can see this book as a quick overview of Gaudí's work. I wasn't familiar with his workBecause there is little known about Gaudí's personal life, you can see this book as a quick overview of Gaudí's work. I wasn't familiar with his work at all, but after reading the book I have fallen in love with his use of lightning, colour and shapes. His metal work is also very impressive. I must say I'm very much looking forward to seeing the actual buildings and not just the photographs when I'm in Barcelona!...more
Read a book on Klimt. Fall even more in love with his work. This is how it went for me. The book is richly decorated with many of Klimt's paintings, bRead a book on Klimt. Fall even more in love with his work. This is how it went for me. The book is richly decorated with many of Klimt's paintings, but also some of his (composition) sketches and it was just a wonder to behold. I was not very familiar with Klimt, so learning he did landscapes was a big surprise for me.
The book was nicely, chronologically set up. Mostly. References to paintings were sadly all over the place, considering not every painting was printed there when it was talked about (which was annoying) but what mostly pissed me off was that they wrote Sisi as "Sissy". I've had to learn to live with "Sissi" because of the Romy Schneider series, but "Sissy" is something else entirely! And that in a Dutch translation. Made absolutely no sense at all....more
This was a nice introduction to JK's life, but in fact.. if I'm really honest.. I would advice everyone to watch the documentary on the bonus disc ofThis was a nice introduction to JK's life, but in fact.. if I'm really honest.. I would advice everyone to watch the documentary on the bonus disc of the 6th movie instead. It's much more gripping that way and that was my biggest problem with this book. The things that happened were horrible at times but I just wasn't feeling it. Despite being a biography, I think that definitely should have been in there. But the general feeling about Jo's past and childhood was overall just.. wrong I think. It was all rather positive and somehow that's not the idea that I got from Jo herself in the beforementioned documentary.
Another complaint is with the translation. I read this in Dutch and the Dutch translation wasn't too splendid.
Also I didn't get the feeling that Sean Smith checked a lot of the facts with Jo herself. Many others, yes, but Joanne was only quoted from interviews and that actually frustrated me. Not to say this was badly researched, but it just irks me when it was concluded that this or that in the Harry Potter books was based on this or that event from Jo's life without getting the feeling that this was actually the case.. It just felt like something Smith concluded..
That said, the book definitely picked up in the second half and did make an enjoyable read. It just wasn't as good as it could have been. ...more
The book ends with a photo of Billie on the stage wearing a shirt that says: "Don't put your daughter on the stage." Everyone who's considering lettinThe book ends with a photo of Billie on the stage wearing a shirt that says: "Don't put your daughter on the stage." Everyone who's considering letting their child have a career in showbusiness (even if they want it themselves), should read this book. It's not as lovely as it looks. Personally I think this is the real message in the book, not to mention that ending with this particular picture is very good and underlines what she's trying to say. The book may be an autobiography, but it's not just that. There are too many people who love the showbiz and think it's wonderful and want their kids up there. The book may shatter illusions, dreams, fantasies - but it argues a good point. I always get annoyed when I see young people up for these TV auditions such as (...)'s Got Talent. These kids are too young. I wish people who produce such shows would read up on what fame does to kids and start making these shows off limits for younger people. You think fame doesn't change you. But it does. It really does.
I loved how Billie presented this. She was mostly very open about her life. I must confess I bought this mostly because I love what she did in Doctor Who - I don't think I've ever seen her in anything else, nor heard anything of her pop career. But that's okay. Billie comes across as such a grounded, real person in the book that I somehow feel I really know her.
The thing that shocked me most about the book is not what she went through as a pop star. Not the eating disorder. Not her marriage to a man twice her age. But that she was only 23 when publishing this. Wow. She sure did a lot with her life and I can't wait to see where it'll take her now....more
Lovely and quick biography of Grace Kelly. Presented as valuable life lessons one should use to become a bit like Grace Kelly, it gives you a generalLovely and quick biography of Grace Kelly. Presented as valuable life lessons one should use to become a bit like Grace Kelly, it gives you a general overview of her life in a really fun way. Also includes many photographs and quotes.. the last chapter about her death really was heartbreaking....more
I bought this book when I was in London, after having visited an exposition on Grace Kelly. My mom thought I would like it, even though I wasn't familI bought this book when I was in London, after having visited an exposition on Grace Kelly. My mom thought I would like it, even though I wasn't familiar with the woman before. My mom was right. I very quickly fell in love with Grace Kelly. They also showed some movie material of Grace's at the exposition which convinced me to buy this book.
I liked the book, although I understand why some people have problems with it. The writer of this book, Donald Spoto, is exceptionally positive about the actresses mentioned (not just Grace Kelly, but also Audrey Hepburn and others). All the same I felt that he did try to give a truthful account of events and I really enjoyed it. Considering I knew nothing of Grace's career, I feel that I learned a lot and I now know which of her movies I would definitely love to see someday. I'm only a bit sad that her life as princess of Monaco was mostly glossed over, but considering that was not the aim of the book, that was understandable. I still would have liked a bit more on that, but even as it was I quite enjoyed the book. (Actual rating: 3,5 stars - downgraded because sometimes it was a rather slow read.)...more
In contrast to John's earlier book, Anything Goes, this is not so much an autobiography but a book full of stories - and lovely ones they are! John isIn contrast to John's earlier book, Anything Goes, this is not so much an autobiography but a book full of stories - and lovely ones they are! John is every bit as cheeky and fun as he is during his shows or on TV and reading the book simply guarantees you having a great time. It should come as no surprise then that there's 5 stars for this book of my favourite performer - Mr. John Barrowman!...more
Re-reading this about a year after I first got into this man and his work, the book probably impressed me more than before. Part of this had to do witRe-reading this about a year after I first got into this man and his work, the book probably impressed me more than before. Part of this had to do with the fact that I now know nearly everyone & the works he mentions, which helps drive this book home just that bit more.
John (or actually his sister, Carole) writes easily, with wit and charm. She really makes the autobiography come to life in what definitely sounds like John speaking. He just tells these funny stories about his life. And what a life he's had. John's had some of the best adventures and if you're even slightly interested in what he's done, you'll probably end up liking/loving this book. ...more
There's a surprising amount of information in this thin book. Granted, it's not really a biography of Winterhalter, but it's much more than that. AbouThere's a surprising amount of information in this thin book. Granted, it's not really a biography of Winterhalter, but it's much more than that. About Winterhalter himself not a lot is known, safe for the assignments he took on, where he studied and where he lived, but in place of that information we read about the historical background about the people he has painted.. and they were some very interesting people indeed! Besides the historical background, some of his best known (and loved) paintings are discussed in detail, which I found particularly lovely since I wasn't familiar with most of them.
In short: an absolutely stunning book, with 47 paintings, amongst them some of the best Winterhalter has ever painted. ...more
If I had to pick the most remarkable book on the subject of Sisi and her fellow family that I have read, this would definitely be that book. Why? BecaIf I had to pick the most remarkable book on the subject of Sisi and her fellow family that I have read, this would definitely be that book. Why? Because it challenges the status quo, and quite plainly says that all biographies out there are mistaken in some very vital issues, the most prominent one being that Sisi and her mother-in-law, the Duchess Sophie, had a bad relationship.
Everything in this book is about trying to prove certain well-established beliefs wrong. It manages to do this because Gabriele Praschl-Bichler got her hands on a lot of letters written by the Habsburgs - mostly Sophie - during their life time. Most of the book combines background information with a lot of quotations from the actual letters, so that you get a good view of the Habsburg every day life. And that was exciting, and kind of refreshing. In these letters, Sophie comes off as a very nice and kind woman. And, perhaps surprisingly, so does Sisi.
Despite having problems believing the entire book (I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that apparently every other book out there must be wrong to some extent, if this is book true) I found it a very enlightening read, and I have ever so slightly fallen in love with Sisi and her family again....more
This turned out to be a much easier read than I had thought. It's not really in-depth, just a general overview of Rudolf's life and as such it's an alThis turned out to be a much easier read than I had thought. It's not really in-depth, just a general overview of Rudolf's life and as such it's an all right read. I really loved the pictures.
I don't like the way Mayerling was dealt with though. The most popular theory (about Rudolf shooting Mary before shooting himself) was presented as the truth and only later were we informed that there were many other theories, some of which could prove true as well.. so I don't see why Thiele felt he had to present that one theory as 'the truth', because really, we don't know which one *is* the truth. That's the problem.
Overall verdict: okay and light read, nice for when you're just starting to get into this man.. but when you know a bit about the subject, it will hardly be able to tell you anything new....more
This is a good introduction to an interesting woman. It gives you a correct, though very incomplete, picture of who Sisi really was. It might be a gooThis is a good introduction to an interesting woman. It gives you a correct, though very incomplete, picture of who Sisi really was. It might be a good start to see whether this woman does or does not interest you. The book is also accompanied by beautiful pictures, so it's lovely to have anyway. :)...more