Simone2's reads in 2018
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However, I miss being here and your reviews and keeping track of my own reads so I decided to give it another go, even though it is March already. I will post the books I read so far this year and copy paste my short Litsy reviews.
And a big thanks to you, Alison, for reaching out. Your message convinced me to join again!
1. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: 4*
2. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: 3*
3. The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson: 3,5*
4. A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman: 4*
5. Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong: 4*
6. Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay: 3*
7. Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim: 2*
8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: 5*
9. The Time Machine by HG Wells: 2,5*
10. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: 3,5*
11. Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty: 3,5*
12. White Tears by Hari Kunzru: 4*
13. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers: 3,5
14. Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton: 4*
15. Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair: 4,5*
16. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich: 4,5*
17. Passing by Nella Larsen: 4*
18. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: 4*
19. Summer by Edith Wharton: 3*
20. The Standing Chandelier by Lionel Shriver: 5*
21. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: 3,5*
22. The Dry by Jane Harper: 4*
23. The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor: 3,5*
24. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: 2*
25. So Much Blue by Percival Everett: 4,5*
26. The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis: 4*
27. Gezien de feiten by Griet op den Beeck: 3*
28. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: 3*
29. The Idiot by Elif Batuman: 4*
30. Deep Rivers by Jose Maria Arguedas: 2*
31. Emma by Jane Austen: 3,5*
32. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin: 3*
33. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh: 3*
34. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs: 3,5*
35. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones: 4*
36 - Disobedience by Naomi Alderman: 3,5*
37 - Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie: 4,5*
38 - As it is in Heaven by Neil Williams: 3*
39 - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: 4,5*
40 - Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis: 2*
41 - An Untamed State by Roxane Gay: 3*
42 - Force of Nature by Jane Harper: 3*
43 - See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt: 3*
44 - Sodom and Gomorra by Marcel Proust: 3*
45 - Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro: 3,5*
46 - Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner: 2,5*
47 - Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum: 4*
48 - Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman: 3*
49 - Mr Summer’s Story by Patrick Süskind: 4*
50 - The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink: 1,5*
51 - Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough: 3*
52 - I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: 4*
53 - The Looking-Glass Sisters by Gohril Gabrielsen: 3,5*
54 - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese: 4,5*
55 - The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt: 2,5*
56 - The Story of my Teeth by Valeria Luiselli: 4*
57 - The Refugees by Viet Than Nguyen: 4*
58 - Bleak House by Charles Dickens: 4*
59 - Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman: 3,5*
60 - In a Free State by VS Naipaul: 3*
61 - Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck: 5*
62 - Tomb Song by Julian Herbert: 3*
63 - What Maisie Knew by Henry James: 2,5*
64 - Reasons She Goes to the Woods: 3*
65 - Human Acts by Han Kang: 4*
66 - Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: 1*
67 - Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup: 3,5*
68 - The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti: 3,5*
69 - The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: 4*
70 - Census by Jesse Ball: 4*
71 - Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett: 3*
72 - The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: 2*
73 - Tornado Weather by Deborah E Kennedy: 4*
74 - Villette by Charlotte Bronte: 2*
75 - Circe by Madeline Miller: 4*
76 - The Friend by Sigrid Nunez: 3,5*
77 - Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan: 4*
78 - Lullaby by Leila Slimani: 3*
79 - A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza: 4*
80 - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: 3*
81 - My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh: 4*
82 - Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: 3,5*
83 - I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara: 4*
84 - Less by Andrew Sean Greer: 3,5*
85 - The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa: 2*
86 - The Outsider by Stephen King: 2*
87 - There There by Tommy Orange: 4*
88 - Florida by Lauren Groff: 4*
89 - Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell: 3*
90 - I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid: 4,5*
91 - Penance by Kanae Minato: 4*
92 - Summerhouse with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch: 2*
93 - The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe: 4,5*
94 - Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz: 3,5*
95 - The Long Take by Robin Robertson: 4*
96 - From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan: 2*
97 - Sabrina by Nick Drnaso: 3,5*
98 - The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh: 3,5*
99 - Everything Under by Daisy Johnson: 3,5*
100 - In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne: 4*
101 - Normal People by Sally Rooney: 4*
102 - Snap by Belinda Bauer: 4*
103 - The Overstory by Richard Powers: 3*
104 - Warlight by Michael Ondaatje: 3,5*
105 - The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner: 3*
106 - Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter: 3,5*
107 - Confessions by Kanae Minato: 4*
108 - The Captive 1 by Marcel Proust: 3*
109 - Sight by Jessie Greengrass: 3*
110 - Can You Forgive Her by Anthony Trollope: 4*
111 - My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan: 4*
112 - Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras: 3,5*
113 - The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam: 4,5*
114 - A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne: 4,5*
115 - The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg: 2*
116 - Kisscut by Karen Slaughter: 3,5*
117 - You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld: 4,5*
118 - This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell: 4*
119 - Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: 4*
120 - Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie: 2*
121 - A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler: 4*
122 - The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz: 1,5*
123 - Kudos by Rachel Cusk: 3*
124 - The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: 4*
125 - Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander: 3*
126 - The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: 4,5*
127 - A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride: 3*
128 - A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter: 3*
129 - A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: 4,5*
130 - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams: 1*
131 - Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope: 3*
132 - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: 3*
133 - Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut: 3,5*
134 - The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman: 3,5*
135 - The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton: 3,5*
136 - The Seed by Tarjei Vesaas: 3,5*
137 - Carry me Down by MJ Hyland: 4*
138 - A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan: 2*
139 - Indelible by Karin Slaughter: 3,5*
140 - News From Nowhere by William Morris: 2*
141 - Small Country by Gaël Faye: 3,5*
142 - The Windfall by Diksha Basu: 4*
143 - De trein der traagheid by Johan Daisne: 3*
144 - Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent: 3,5*
145 - The Incendiaries by RO Kwon: 4,5*
146 - So Lucky by Nicola Griffith: 3,5*
147 - My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent: 4*
148 - The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat: 3,5*
149 - Women Talking by Miriam Toews: 2,5*
150 - Washington Black by Esi Edugyan: 3*
I don’t know much about baseball but I liked this book a lot. There’s so much more to it. It’s about friendship and failing, about fear of one’s future and willpower. Highly recommended!
I liked the descriptions of the city and of career women's life in the 1930s. Rooney may be a good writer but to me she is not a good storyteller. Lillian's character is flat, without any emotion or depth. Without spoiling anything: the period she is 'unhappy' is sooo unrealistic. Why is she suddenly so unhappy? The causes remain vague or unnamed, the characters involved (Max, Julia, John) are even more one-dimensional than Lillian herself.
The most 'real' are the people Lillian meets during her walk on New Years Eve buth with them I found the conversations very unbelievable. So... no, not for me.
This is a story about loneliness. Jens, the mailman, fights his way walking through the desolate winter territory of Iceland. He is accompanied by 'the boy' (who we know from Heaven and Hell, part one of the trilogy. The weather is harsh, it is always snowing, storming and freezing cold. 'The sorrow of angels', they call the snowflakes. The men hardly talk during their journey. They both have their own demons to fight, but in the end it is inevitable they start talking.
I felt part of the audience of the club in which stand-up comedian Dovaleh is having a breakdown. Instead of telling bad jokes he tells the story of his youth. I felt a spectator - just as his youth friend Avishai did when he knew Dovaleh back then as well as this evening when they meet eachother again.
It is a dark and uncomfortable read but anything Grossman writes is perfect.
Somehow Ruth in this book reminds me of the unnamed narrator in Chemistry and of Lois in Sourdough: all not too successful women, dealing with life and telling strange little facts (like that the king of hearts in the only one without a mustache).
However, this was another good read about a serious subject: dealing with Alzheimer's. Very well written, I loved the style and the snippets.
I really feel for Roxane Gay. I admire the courage to write this book. She really made me see and feel how it must be to live with the body she has, where it comes from and how it influences everything she says and does. All the time. The book is an eye-opener and yet I can't rate it with many stars. It just went on an on too long for my taste. In the end I got bored by her story, I am sorry to admit.
Basically this is just a story about some people telling eachother unbelievable stories. Then again, they are superheroes of course.. not for me though. I didn't care about them and found the writing style so far-fetching. Maybe there'll be an interesting discussion about it during the Tournament of Books but until then I don't think it is worth my time.
When Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest, people foresaw a better and smarter world. In the same years, Wells wrote this story about a scientist traveling into the future to discover that things don't always get better as time goes on – just the opposite. When travelling in the future, the narrator views the passing of human intelligence: people were smart enough to make the world a more comfortable place – but as the world got more comfortable, people became less smart. I think Wells might be right…
All in all this is a very interesting read with lots of interesting theories and insights. However I read it as an audiobook and had trouble staying concentrated. Because it is a bit boring as well.
Lots of interesting, well worked out storylines about the lives of the extended families Keating and Cousins. A nice enough weekend read, not really mindblowing though.
Gerry and Stella are a middle-aged couple, married for years. They are Irish, living in Scotland. With time on their side they take a midwinter break to Amsterdam. They seem so at ease with eachother, you'd almost envy them, but nothing is as it seems.
They are both looking for other things in life: for her it is religion for him it is the whiskey. This book describes what they both do and how they feel. Painfully honest.
What starts out as a tale of two friends, musicians, inspired by the Blues of the early 20th century, turns out to be a layered, dark story about slavery and the oppression by rich white men. It leaves me thinking and confused. What an highly original and impressive book.
The title refers to the nine strokes of a church bell to announce the death of a man. And a man is found dead, in the grave of another in a small English village. Fortunately Lord Peter Wimsley happens to be around and soon he is part of the investigation. A lot is happening, many questions need to be answered. And I learned a lot about ‘change ringing’, the traditional British art of ringing a set of tunes bells in a controlled manner to produce variations in their striking sequences.
My second audio read turned out to be a better choice that the first. Librivox has plenty of free audiobooks from the 1001 list, but the narrators are not always that good. This one was though.
The two Bunner sisters, Ann Eliza the elder, and Evelina the younger, keep a small shop. They are not rich but can manage and are happy. When the sistes become involved with Herbert Ramy, both sisters fall a bit in love with him. Ann Eliza decides to sacrifice her own hopes and yearnings for those of her younger sister. Evelina is very egocentrical and doesn’t even notice what Ann Eliza does for her. This is the main theme of this sweet and very sad story.
Once again Edith Wharton succeeded in creating a very real main character that’ll stay with me for some time to come.
What a ride! I really, really loved this book! I think of it as superb storytelling, as a wonderful, old-fashioned adventure with a fantastic plot and sub-plots. I was drawn in from the first page and loved how the many characters each revealed their interpretation of what happened on that night in 1866 in which Emery Staines disappeared, Anna Wetherell tried to commit suicide and Crosbie Wells died in the gold-digger town Hokitika. 800 pages read like a rollercoaster, wow. I am left with many questions and still don’t understand the Zodiac framing, but I am satisfied with the whole experience of reading this great book.
What a confronting read in only 100 pages. This is the story of Harriett Frean (no surprise there) who lives in the 19th century as so many girls under the oppressive weight and strength of the chains of family love, of the craving for parental approval. By denying the love of her life for moral reasons (and thus the approval of het parents), Harriett stays alone for the rest of her life.
The way she grows old is so confronting: she grows bitter and judgemental (for example, someone has a cat, she hates thats person because a cat is a surrogate for a baby, the baby she never had). She sees her friends aging and hates them for it. Because they grow fat or are complaining all the time. The only one she isn’t very critical of, is herself. Because she has high morals als everyone must know.
I recognise some elements of this story in my own environment and that makes it a painful read sometimes. Is this the way life goes?? I certainly hope not.
I read this one almost in one sit, thay says it all I think. Most of the time I am too restless to read longer than half an hour at a time.
I was pulled in immediately by the writing style, the tender, loving Ann and the mention of what happened on that hot summer day in the mountains of Idaho.
Or no, WHY it happened. I wanted to find that out more than anything else and I didn't and still I loved all of this book.
Clare and Irene are childhood friends who lost touch when Clare's father died and she moved in with two white aunts. By hiding that Clare was part-black, she was able to 'pass' as a white woman and married a white bigot. The novel centers on when they meet again twelve years later. Irene despises Clare for passing and also for threatening her secure and safe middle class lifestyle. But if Irene doesn't help Clare, she will feel as if she is betraying her race.
Irene fights so many conflicts within herself, which Larsen knows perfectly to describe. The narrator on Librivox (Elizabeth Klett) is great, I immediately downloaded another book by her.
What I liked most about this book is what I learned about the position of Koreans in Japan and its origin: first the Japanese occupation, then the war that divided Korea. It is sad how Korean people have been in exile for all these years and are suffering the consequences until now - even if they have lived in Japan for generations.
I liked these historical facts even better than the family saga, which I enjoyed too but didn't think that special
This started out as a romance and although this is of course Wharton and the characters are not-perfect people and the romance became less romantic in the end, this story was still a bit too sweet for my taste. My least favorite by her.
Jillian and Weston have been friend since university. Their bond is considered a threat by Weston’s new girlfriend, Paige. When he proposes, she makes it clear that if they are to marry, Jillian has to go.
In this brutal, sharp novella all three characters are neither good nor evil, just out to survive. While reading I had to make my own assumptions and judgements about them and to take side.
In the end Paige’s method for slowly severing the friendship between Weston and Jillian begins to feel so cruel, I couldn’t help but empathize with Jillian’s desperate attempts to maintain familiar intimacies with Weston even when it’s clear he’s emotionally pulling away from her.
I was not as impressed by this book as the rest of the world seems to be. It is a book about a love triangle and I could not help but compare it to the one I finished before this one (The Standing Chandelier, see above), which I really thought was better.
It was an enjoyable read though and i loved the development of all characters.
I love Edith Wharton, but that is one I haven’t read.
As for short reviews, that is all that I can bring myself to do. If I try to do a full blown review, i wind up spending too much time on it, and don’t find the time to visit threads.
This was a real good thriller, I flew through it. I loved the plot(s) and the circumstances (small town life, the drought in the outback of Australia).
I always find it hard to rate a thriller with stars but it is definitely a pick.
When they were kids, Ed and his friends draw chalk men on the sidewalks as a secret language to communicate with with each other. The idea behind this way of communicating comes from their teacher, a man who himself looks a bit like a chalk man. Then there is the murder and thirty years later, Ed is reminded of what happened because suddenly chalk drawings are appearing again.
Nothing beats a good thriller. One that makes that you literally can't stop reading. I can so look forward to that kind of thrillers. And what a pity it is that they so often are a bit disappointing in the end. This thriller is pretty good. There are many twists and I had not seen the end coming, at least not far in advance. I even wanted to read on until I finished it. And yet… it is not a must-read and I guess I will forget all about it pretty soon.
I just don’t like slapstick. And Ignatius is pure slapstick. He made me laugh a few times but I preferred the storylines without him (The Levy’s, Miss Trixie, Mrs Reilly, New Orleans).
I know I am in the minority and I hope I don’t offend the ones who love him, but I think Ignatius is above all an annoying character.
I loved this book. Narrator Kevin is an artist who is hiding the painting he is working on from the people he loves. But he has been hiding things from them all his life. We learn about some of his secrets in three storylines: 30 years ago in El Salvador, 10 years ago in Paris and one in the present.
I loved Kevin: his thoughts, his honesty, his humor, his relationships (all of them feel so real, so human). The plot is good too: Personally I was interested most in the El Salvadorian one, but they were all so very good. And that ending. Made me fighting back tears.
Eddy is bullied and beaten, because he is 'different'. The gay boy grows up in Northern France, in a stifling environment where alcoholism, unemployment and crime set the tone. A village where the houses are non-isolated and the television is on eight hours a day. A village dominated by poverty, violence, racism and especially homophobia.
Eddy is one of them, but yet not, and that's why he has to flee. A painful but striking sociological portrait of an unknown France in current times.
After the funeral of her husband, 71 year old Olivia feels mostly relief. To be able to do the things she wants, to make her own choices. She leaves for an unnamed country in Africa to be a teacher at a place for traumatised children. There she meets Daniel, a local colleague, and all falls in place. An enjoyable novella, though not much more than a romance.
She’s a tough lady, Maya Angelou. Just like all women in her family. Strong black women, it is fascinating to read how they cope with the hard circumstances in which African American have to live in the first half of the 20th century. Maya Angelou writes beautifully about growing up, making choices and setting goals.
“Adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything.”
The epigraph by Proust fits this novel perfectly. Narrator Selin has just arrived at Harvard and is learning how to live all the time. And it frightens her. She writes to fellow student Ivan, a boy in her Russian language class, in which they both are personae of their Russian textbook. Hiding behind this façade of fiction, Selin dares expose herself to Ivan and a special friendship develops between them.
I loved how Elif Batuman describes Selin’s incertainty and the college life. It is so recognizable. The second part of the book, when Selin is in Hungary during Summer, teaching English, is great as well. She keeps on searching and waiting. And learning.
And although the book is one about identity and coming-of-age I kept hoping for a proper love story, for Selin’s sake!
The protagonist is 14-year-old Ernesto who, after years of traveling with his father through his country Peru, ends up in a catholic boarding school.
His life reflects the internal conflicts in Peru: the silent struggle between the Spanish upper class and the oppressed indigenous population, the role of religion and the economic struggles.
Unfortunately, the style made it a struggle for me to read and finish the story.
Who ends up with who, that’s the question, and it takes a long time to get there. 400 pages full of social talks and outings. They give us insight in Emma’s character (I like her a lot) and in life in the 19th century, in which people keep seeking out eachother’s company for amusement and diversion. It is a fascinating and funny book, timeless in parts, boring in others. My last Jane Austen, now I’ve read them all...
Four siblings learn the day they will die from a gypsy woman. Each reacts different to this knowledge in the way they live their lived. An interesting premise but a disappointing story. I didn’t care for these people at all.
I’m sorry for this boring review of a boring book. Can’t make more of it.
Life is one big party, or isn’t it? In the roaring twenties England’s Young Bright People show their disapproval of the establishment by partying non-stop, thinking of nothing and caring for nothing. In the mean time Adam tries to gain enough money to be able to marry Nina. He gains some, he loses some, he doesn’t mind. But then things start changing because nothing lasts forever.
What a pleasant surprise. This was a very entertaining book, an adventure novel of course, but one with a great character development of the person/apeman Tarzan. I don't think the storyline is correct everywhere (for example, how can someone who can read but does not know the sounds of the words, write his own name correctly?), but that did not really matter to me. I was fascinated by what was going to happen and the end came as a complete surprise for me. Oh yes, and did I miss the phrase 'Me Tarzan, you Jane' or does it really not appear in the book?
‘What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you. That’s all you get.’
This was a great read about a weak man (sorry, I think so), marrying two women and having a daughter with both. His ‘first’ family doesn’t know a thing, his second family does. You know this must go wrong, but the greatness of this novel is in all the details, the little lies that add up.
A better read than An American Marriage, in my opinion.
After her father, Rav Krushka, dies, Ronit returns for the first time to the Orthodox Jewish community she grew up in. She once fled because she didn’t fit it, didn’t want to fit in, but upon her return she observes and realizes there are always two sides of a story.
I started to add some of your books to my wish list and gave up as there were too many I wanted to add - I'm just going to refer back to your thread when I get stuck for ideas!
Delighted to see another Shriver book hit the mark - will look out for that one. You reminded me that Passing has been on my wish list for too many years as well - I need to get a copy of that sooner rather than later. The Luminaries I've shied away from for no good reason than I thought it just isn't my kind of read, but you have me convinced I should give it a try.
I just joined Litsy last week after learning of LT's acquisition of it. I have the same user name as here, and I've marked you and >59 dchaikin: Dan for following.
>61 ELiz_M: Liz are you on Litsy? User-name?
While I am glad Litsy was acquired by LT (I assumed sooner or later it would have to go commercial to continue existence), I was already overwhelmed with the number of posts and don't know how I'll ever keep up with all the new people I want to follow!
>65 ELiz_M: I agree it is overwhelming at times, especially with non-book items messing with my timeline. I often unfollow people to ‘clean up’ my timeline, although I love the photo challenges over there. And I really like that your reviews must be short. That comes in handy for me as a non-English native!
Another book by Kamila Shamsie that I loved. Moving from Japan, to India, to the US and to Afghanistan Shamsie writes about human relationships between different cultures and religions. She writes about the wish to understand eachother and how hard that becomes when reality hits and fear and prejudices take over. I love all she teaches me.
On Litsy I'm dithering as I feel awash with social media already. I make succumb when I get some more storage space on my phone.
I had high expectations for this book because I loved History of the Rain. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a so-so read for me. The synopsis is intriguing: a man loses his wife and daughter in a car crash and mourns them for years until he is dying himself and decides he can’t die without taking care of the happiness of his other, neglected, child, now a grown-up. The story itself does not rise above the mediocre for me though. It is a love story not unlike many others.
It is impossible not to feel for Eleanor. She is so lovable, this lonely, strong, witty, insecure woman. She made me laugh and cry and I wish her all the happiness in the world as if she were a real person. Gail Honeyman did a great job creating a character so real. She did a great job too with the rest of the book - the story of Eleanor’s life. I can’t believe it’s a debute.
An unnamed narrator leaves for the island of Crete to exploit a mine. He brings Zorba to manage the work in the mine. Zorba turns out to be the man he always wanted to be: he does all he does with passion, whether he is working in the mine, drinking, eating or ‘making women his’. After a 100 pages I think I have enough however, I get the point and am not enjoying it at all. On to the next.
I was in the slums of Port au Prince for work last year. Such an intense place with hardly a glimpse of hope for a better future. Its reality struck me hard.
I recognize this Haïti in Gay’s story and it felt somehow good to read that I am not alone in what I felt and saw there.
Other than that I have to admit she appears to me (again) so immature, accusing and angry in her storytelling. I can’t explain this properly but Gay is just a no for me.
Five women go on a corporate survival in the Australian forests. Only four return. Detective Aron Falk, who we know from The Dry, knows the missing woman and leaves for the outback. A real page turner but never as surprising or thrilling as I hoped for after The Dry, that I liked better.
Why is everybody in this book vomiting all the time - and not cleaning it up? Why is everybody licking blood? Why is everybody chewing and smacking and ‘passing gas’ noisely?
It distracted me from what the book is (I thought) about: the axe murder of a father and his second wife and the dubious role of daughter Lizzie in it. I didn’t know this true case and while reading I thought Lizzie was a child but she turns out to be over 30 at the time. What a strangely written book of a fascinating story.
I finally finished Sodom and Gomorra, the fourth installment of In Search of Lost Times. It starts with Marcel discovering that M. De Charlus is gay and he becomes obsessed with homosexuality. He sees gays and lesbians everywhere and is afraid Albertine might be one as well. He gets terribly jealous and keeps her by his side all the time. They pretend she is his cousin when they are both in Balbec again.
These are the times in which the aristocratic salons of the Guermantes are still unchanged and timeless but are eventually surpassed by the intellectual salons of civilian women like Mme Verdurin and Odette Swann.
Marcel is visiting all the time, having intellectual discussions with everyone and keeping track of how everyone is related to everyone. He grows bored in the end - of Balbec, of the conversations, the people and of Albertine.
It is interesting how his mind works and to follow it in the future. I will start The Captive soon.
I honestly don’t know how to review this book. I loved the theme of a long lasting marriage, devotion to one’s family and yet the need for more. Maggie seeks refuge in her religion (I think) but can’t resist James, the poet who feels like her missing half. Parts of this book were so, so good I could relate completely, almost painfully to Maggie’s doubts and longin. In other parts I felt nothing at all and almost disappointed.
Karen and Mark live a comfortable life that is completely centered around their daughter Heather. Then Heather becomes an attractive teenager and her parents are less important to her. They don’t know how to deal with this new reality. An interesting plot but Weiner wrote a book without dialogue, just a recitation of people doing or thinking things. He can’t expect his readers to feel anything after finishing this cold story.
I can’t imagine how lonely Anna, the MC of this book, must have been. With a cold husband, living in a strange country without speaking its language, with no ties to her homeland, no job and no friends. Except for her kids she lives a very empty life, too passive or frightened to make a change. Yet she wants to belong. A depressing, thoughtprovoking read.
This is the story of four families with young kids, living in the same street in a suburb of LA.
I couldn’t stop reading once I started... and while I had a good time reading it and found parts of it very funny and recognizable, in the end I felt underwhelmed. It may be caused by the end, that felt very forced, as if Waxman needed a way out.
Each time I come across a novel by Patrick Süskind I must read it. He never disappoints. His stories read like modern fairytales.
This one is about Mr Sommer. No one knows him personally but everyone sees him walking, every day, everywhere.
Maybe I have read too many books on marriages and adultery lately, in any case I was not a bit interested in the loveless relationship of two young Americans living in Switzerland. They both go their own way and talk about birds and electronic music. That is, until I decided I didn’t care for them at all and got rid of the book.
Reviewing thrillers is always difficult. Should I judge them on how they grab me while reading, on the unexpected twists or on the outcome?
All in all I had a good time reading about the bizarre relationship of Adèle and David and I definitely didn’t see twist in the end coming.... Well. I’ll give it a pick because i couldn’t stop reading!
It is impossible not to love Cassandra, the 17 year old girl who lives with her eccentric family in an old English castle. The family is very poor but Cassandra is such an optimist, she is able to make the best of all situations. Then a rich American family arrives, who are the original owners of the castle whom have leased it to Cassandra's father.
Her sister Roses smells an opportunity to escape poverty and she and Cassandra become friends with the two American young men.
In her diary Cassandra tells about what happens and how that makes her feel. She is cool and adorable and you wish her all the best. A very charming read!
I find rating books really hard. I think I look for books that I am fairly certain I will enjoy. I rarely have a dud, but that is because I don’t move out of my comfort zone very often. But once in a while I’m surprised at enjoying something I was sure I’d hate. (I’m looking at you Stephen King!)
As Nordic Noir as it can get, this book. Two sisters live their isolated lives together in Norway. The one who tells the story is handicapped, the other takes fulltime care of her. They drive each other mad, out of frustration, boredom, and indifference. And then a man arrives in the village and the MC sees her sister falling in love and wonders what will happen to her if the man takes her sister away.
A brutal, sad story, beautifully written.
Have you given up on The Children's Book or are you still ploughing through it?
>106 ELiz_M: It is, a bit. But The Birds is so much better and sweeter. This is a rather cold book. In fact I didn’t even make the connection myself while I loved The Birds so much.
Marion and Shiva are twins, raised by two people who are not their parents but couldn’t be more loving. They grow up around the Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa, in which their parents work as doctors, while Emperor Haile Selassi rules over Ethiopia. I learned so much about the country and about medicines and surgery and I loved it. But most of all this book is an amazing and heartbreaking family saga for ofcourse the twins want to know what happened to their real parents.
For years I had been looking forward to this book, as it got so many raving reviews here. Now I finally got to it and I didn't care for it at all. There are so many characters and storylines (why??), all are potentially interesting. However because there are so many, none is really worked out well. All subjects (war, art, anarchism, etc.) are being touched upon and then onto the next. On me this had the effect that I ended up not being interested in any of the subjects or the characters. I really wonder what point Byatt wants to make with this book.
I am sorry Allison, we mostly agree on the books we read and I was sure I'd love it after reading your review. Well, onto the next!
I was in need for a short one after The Children’s Book and this one fitted perfectly.
Highway is a Mexican auctioneer (the best in the he world!) who loses all his teeth. During his quest to replace them he meets a young author who he asks to write his ‘dental autobiography’. A smart short novel with a nice twist.
This is a wonderful, hearbreaking collection of short stories about Vietnamese refugees. Whether they live in the US or are coming back to Vietnam, whether they were born in Vietnam or in a refugee camp, all stories teach something about how it is to leave your country and start all over again somewhere else. How you want to forget where you came from or want to cherish its culture and traditions. The stories seem so light, but they are full of meaning and left me gasping again and again.
First, this is the story of Esther Summerson, uncovering the truth about her parents and in the process setting off a chain of events that include murder, blackmail and suicide. We also learn how she is related to the lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, that has been going on for decennia!
Second, this is a story about morality, about whether the rich should take care of the poor.
The story is told by Esther (a personal storyline) and by an unknown narrator (a very critical observer).
All in all it is a novel that has it all: suspense, romance, dialogue, scenery, tragedy. Combine this with a lot of characters and you have the ultimate Dickens.
Harri Opoku is an 11-year-old boy from Ghana who immigrates with his mother and sister to the tough projects of London. After the seemingly random stabbing of an older boy, Harri and his friend Dean turn amateur detectives, looking for clues everywhere. Kelman's ability to write from an 11-year-old's perspective is incredible, he creates such a sweet, naïf boy, who manages to stand strong in an environment of junkies and gangs. All the love for this book except for the role of the pigeon, that literally added nothing to the story.
Two English people, Bobby and Linda, undertake a long car journey across an unnamed East African country (Uganda?) where a coup by the president has just displaced the king. Just freed of colonialism the president’s men replicate the selfsame power structures, similar instruments of oppression of their own peoples as the whites did before. During their road trip Bobby and Linda (both so white and racist) become aware of how serious the situation has become.
While I write this summary I realize the plot is very good. Yet somehow I didn’t enjoy reading it. It’s Naipaul’s style, the dialogues and the racism that botters me.
My vote for the #ManBookerGoldenPrize won’t go to this one.
‘Nobody loves a refugee’
This book. It makes me feel so ashamed of myself. All those refugees who make it (if they do) across the Mediterranean and then encounter Italy or Greece; countries who can’t handle that amount of refugees and make deals with other European countries, like mine or like Germany, where this book is set. The refugees are a problem to be dealt with. Laws and bureaucracy take over. Politics and media are in favor or against the refugees. People organize demonstrations. But oh, how we ignore or forget or try not to see the human beings behind the word ‘refugee’. The way Erpenbeck gives them a name, tells their stories, shows what they have to deal with in Europe, is super confronting, shocking and heartbreaking.
A mother lies dying in a hospital, her son Julián Herbert is at her side. He watches her, cleans her and feeds her. When she is asleep he feverishly writes in his notebook. About growing up as the son of a prostitute, about poverty and violence in his Mexico, about drugs and trips abroad, about his pregnant wife. It’s a chaos in his head, sometimes hard to follow and hard to relate to. In the mean time his mother lays there. Great writing, but not really for me.
Maisie is the product of a broken home. Her parents hate each other, and Maisie is being ping-ponged between them, or even their new partners. All the adults are utterly self-centered and Maisie never comes first. They use her as a weapon in their own battles, thinking she won’t understand because she’s just a child.
This theme was probably more shocking in the 19th century than nowadays. For me, the novel lost much of its relevance.
I have no idea why I bought this book some years ago but now I’ve finally read it. Each chapter is exactly one page and tells bits of Pearl’s coming of age. She is often a bad girl, thinking and doing bad things. It is hard though to be a good girl under the circumstances in which she grows up. Her mother is mentally ill and asks alsof her daddy’s attention. Attention Pearl wants. So she makes sure her father notices her.
“There is no way back to the world before the torture. No way back to the world before the massacre.”
Han Kang tells the stories of survivors and victims of the 1980 Gwangju uprising and the following massacre in South Korea. An uprising I knew nothing about. It lasted merely ten days but its impact was enormous, as Han Kang makes clear by telling the story through multiple pov’s. It is hard to read, the things people went through and never recovered from - but it is a story I am glad Han Kang shared.
No, life is too short for books like these. I really tried but it bored me to death, so I must bail. I definitely don’t like pirates and adventures.
Ram Mohammed Thomas is arrested for winning a quiz show. For how could a poor, uneducated boy like him possibly know the answers to all those difficult questions? Because he got wise living in the slums of India. And because he kept having faith in other people and kept listening to their stories. A lovely story of hope and destiny.
A bit disappointed by this Italian novel that got raving reviews in the Dutch media.
It is the story of two friends who grow up together in the Italian Alps. When they get older they grow apart but there are always the mountains that reminds them of the importance of their friendship.
I’ll give it an extra half star because it is beautifully written, the dialogues as well as the descriptions of the mountains.
I find it always hard to review thrillers as I somehow feel you can’t rate them the same as more serious novels. Besides I often find them disappointing in the end. But a pick it definitely was, this thriller about a marriage, and an ex. The question is who is controlling who. Some nice twists made this a real pageturner. No literature no, but a good easy read and one I wanted to keep reading in.
In between watching way too many football matches I managed to finish this wonderful book for the Summer Tournament of Books.
It takes some getting into but once I became used to the style I felt mesmerized most of the time. A father is dying and takes his son, who has Down syndrome, on a roadtrip from A to Z. They are census takers and so meet many different people with different stories. But most of all it is their own story: their memories and the coming end. So very touching.
This book read like an action movie, filled with crime and corruption. Had it been a movie, I would have zapped to another channel. I read on however because it is a book off the 1001 books-list and because I was mildly interested. Glad it’s done though!
A detective researches England’s past: was Richard III as bad as the history books claim? Or is history constructed, and do certain versions of events become known as the truth, even without evidence and plausibility?
The theme is interesting but I was not really interested in all research into English history.
What an unexpectedly good read. I had a hard time getting into the story. In a small town in Indiana a little girl disappears. The book focuses on the inhabitants of the town and their relation to the girl, daughter of a Mexican immigrant in a community filled with racial tensions.
There were many characters, not one I could identify with. That’s why it took me some time to get involved but when I did, wow. I suddenly felt for them all. And then that last chapter... highly recommended.
I can’t believe this is the author of Jane Eyre, I really didn't like this one. So much French and no plot at all. Very uninteresting.
What a great book. From page 1 Miller drew me into the world of the Greek gods. I kept reading on, I wanted to know all about Circe’s life as an exiled witch on the island of Aiaia. I wanted to be with her and witness her deeds, her conversations, her courage, her standing up against the gods. So very very good written. I can’t wait for The Song of Achilles.
Another one for The Rooster Summer Reading Challenge.
This has been a strange reading experience.
For me the book started out very strong, with a woman losing her best friend and taking care of the dog he left behind
The woman is a writer and a big part of the book is about writing. I thought it rambling and even skipped some pages to get it over with.
And then there’s these last chapters and they are so so good and everything makes sense.
Lydia works in a bookstore where one day one of her regular clients, a boy who she befriended, hangs himself. Lydia is the one to find him and discovers a picture of herself in his trousers. A picture of her as a child....
What a concenient moment to start this book. A lazy, sunny Saturday with nothing to do except reading and finishing this really thrilling novel that pulled me in from the start.
Another quick read. The perfect nanny (title of the book in the US) kills the two children she has been taking care of. We know that from the first page. The question is why.
After finishing it I can only say I am not sure I know now.
I did like the other theme though: the questions about motherhood and about combining a career with two little children.
A Muslim Indian-American family of five struggles (together and individually) with their cultural heritage, their religion, and growing up in the US in the aftermath of 9/11. It is a beautiful story of relationships, between siblings, and between parents and children.
In the center is Amar, the son who left. Each of the characters tries to make sense of why he left and their own role in this. The point of view of the father is so beautiful, so wise: I can’t believe the author is a 26-years old woman!
This book is a bit too sweet for me, too obvious. I liked the epistolary style but on kept wondering how the letters went so fast between all people, almost as if they were WhatsApping in 1946...
A young woman who seems to have it all (beauty, brains, a job in a galery in NYC) doesn’t know anymore how to live her life or how to grief for her deceased parents. An idiot shrink writes description after description for her and with all those medicaments she goes hibernating. The only reaching out to her is her friend Reza.
I loved this book. The writing. What the young woman went through. The ending.
Agnes has been convicted for the murder of two men in an isolated place in the north of Iceland. She awaits her beheading in the house of a poor family and in the company of a reverend to whom she tells the story of what happened at the night of the murder.
Hannah Kent weaves this true story into descriptions of life in Iceland in the 19th century.
I didn’t know about this killer (the killings took place when I was a baby and on the other side of the world) but is was a thrilling read nevertheless. And to know that the Golden State Killer has been caught now... wow. I hope he read the book and felt Michelle McNamara come closer and closer.
Arthur Less will turn fifty soon and it scares him. He feels so old, especially since his young lover left him and his editor dismisses his latest manuscript. What to do with the rest of his life as an old man, he thinks. And flees. He travels around the world and learns to consider life and himself in different ways.
This book has been called a romantic comedy but I found it poignant and philosophical. Maybe Arthur reminds me of myself.
I read this book now because it is on the list of 1001 books and it is set in Sicily where I am holidaying at the moment. Is is the story of the downfall of the Sicilian aristocracy in the 19th century. Not a subject that I am really interested in. I liked the setting and the historical context but all in all I was not really interested in the Salina family and caught myself skimming the pages more than once.
Unpopular opinion but what a stupid book this was. All those horrible cliche characters (that Jeannie, wife of Ralph... I kept hoping The Outsider would get her 😀) and then the supernatural twist and a so predictable plot: no, this was obviously not for me.
This is an impressive debut. In short chapters Tommy Orange introduces various Native Americans with each their own story and relation to their heritage. All look in one way or another forward to the Pow Wow in Oakland, which they all will attend.
It is a sad story and to read about the reality of Native Americans in 2018 was confronting and shocking for me. I am looking forward to Orange’s next book.
The short stories form an hommage to Florida with its heat, snakes and sinkholes. But also to women living there, all struggling one way or another, with their lives and with Florida. About all women I wanted to learn and know much more than Groff gives in these short storIes. They are so good and the women so interesting!
I had a good time with this thriller, it is a real pageturner, but there were no surprises or unexpected twists in the book so now, having finished it, I feel a bit disappointed.
Wow, this was really a disturbing and unsettling read. I didn’t get it at all until I came to the last pages. What starts out as a story about a bit weird couple visiting his parents for the first time, turns out to be a completely different story. So unreliable and so well done. And so creepy. In the end it literally asks to be read again. I won’t but I can imagine a second read will reveal even more. Wow.
I really liked this book. It is so Japanese (the way people think and behave) and I am a sucker for Japanese fiction.
And I loved the story. A girl was murdered. Her friends, who saw the murderer but can’t describe him, carry the impact of this for the rest of their lives. Each tells her story, as does the dead girl’s mother. For me, her ‘testimony’ nails it.
I am not a fan of Koch. I only read this one because I had a copy and I needed a book for a reading challenge on Litsy.
And I was right in dreading this book, Koch creates some highly unlikable characters again. He always does that and I always really despise them. Maybe that means he’s a good writer but to me it is too much of a trick, the same in each book.
This is combination with the sexism and the too graphic descriptions of sexual organs made me really dislike the book. And yet I finished it in one read. That’s what I hate most about it!
When I finished the great What a Carve Up! years ago I wanted to read more by Coe and bought this book but somehow never got to it. Until now. Why did I wait so long? It really is such a great book.
Dr Dudde starts a clinic for patients with sleeping problems in the building were he used to live as a student with some others. Their shared past catches up with all of them and it is a wonderful, highly original story that I wanted to keep reading and that not disappointed for one minute. Highly recommended!
A book within a book, a whodunnit within a whodunnit. That’s a smart concept. I always like these kind of old school murder mysteries and I wasn’t disappointed: in both cases I couldn’t predict the murderer.
Walker is a smart guy, living the low life in Los Angeles, where he ends up (maybe because he loves the movies) after being mentally destroyed liberating Europe in 1945. He doesn’t feel a hero though, in the US. Like many other soldiers he feels neglected, the country being too busy with combatting communism and immigration. He despises it all: the cities, the government, the war, but mostly himself.
Walker’s thoughts are written in a lyrical, dark poetic style, which makes this book unforgettable.
How can a book that starts so strong (with the story of Farouk, a Syrian refugee) become so utterly boring? I was drawn in immediately by Farouk’s story and Ryan’s style, but Lampy’s story was disappointing and the last one I could only skim. In the end the three stories come together in a forced way. Too late for me, I wasn’t interested anymore. Definitely not Booker worthy in my opinion.
Wow, this was a surprise. I never read graphic novels but I really liked this one. The simple, repeating graphics and the relevant plot about conspiracy theories and the power of the media. I didn’t understand the ending 😊 but I had a surprisingly good time reading Sabrina for the Man Booker longlist.
Okay it is not Booker worthy but I did enjoy this one. Set on a isolated island three sisters are being raised by their parents and by bizar punishments prepared for if evil (read: men) will reach the island. And of course, men do come.
It is a dystopian novel in line with The Handmaid’s Tale, Never Let Me Go (but not as good) and The Power (better than that, imo).
Well I don’t know about this book. I didn’t like it as much as I feel I should. It had some weak points I think. The plot is good, well written and interesting if not shocking. I do have a problem with the setting (what kind of places this, this riverside where no one lives and coincidentally all main characters keep running into each other?) and with the Bonak. The story didn’t need a Bonak. All in all a bit disappointing.
This is a political very relevant novel about live in modern London. The Estate is a block of high buildings surrounding a square where the local youngsters meet and play football. All of them English yet with roots in another country or religion. They live an ordinary life but you can feel the tension in the community building up. Things spin out of control mad and furiously. A very believable plot, that could happen any day in any European city. Such a scary thought. One of my two favorites for this year’s Man Booker Prize so far.
This is the kind of book you want to keep on reading and never to be finished. Because you want to know all there is about Marianne and Connell, who fall in love in high school and grow up together. Their dialogues are superb, their friendship is unique, their lives are recognizable. It is a feel good book and yet it isn’t. It is bittersweet. It is very good. Not the Booker Prize winner but a very good read.
This surely was one of the best thrillers I have read lately. Jack is a 14-year old, looking for his mother’s murderer. Fast paced and with good and unexpected twists the story made for some well spent hours.
In its genre it is a four stars read for me, but man, this is the Booker longlist! Call me a snob, but I don’t see its literary merites. Maybe it’s me and it’s just good that Booker broadens its horizon and that the longlist now includes a crime thriller beside a graphic novel and an almost poetry one. Maybe it just takes some getting used to....
I had a hard time reading this book. So many characters and let’s face it, I’m not that interested in trees. So while the character development was interesting I couldn’t really warm up to the many parts about trees and eco-terrorism. I admire Powers storytelling qualities though.
Nathaniel tries to make sense of what happened in those years after the war, growing up among strangers who took care of him and his sister when their parents left them.
The first part describes this youth, in the second part (that I enjoyed a lot more) Nathaniel is an adult.
I so much love the way Ondaatje writes. His characters, the atmosphere, the descriptions of landscapes, hotel rooms, European cities. It’s all there, yet somehow it didn’t accumulate to the fantastic novel I expected.
I am not a fan of books about drugs and poverty, I have read too many of them. This one is about a poor, drug-using and lapdancing woman who ends up in prison. Books and films about prisons have its own clichés, and they are all here in the book: lousy lawyers, corruption, women being touched and hassled by male policemen not standing a chance, the poor circumstances in prison, the fights among the women, etc. Kushner writes well and I kind of liked Romy Hall, but that’s about it.
I wonder however, is this really reality in the US, this lousy criminal justice system and those circumstances in prison? Or are books and movies exaggerating?
My first Slaughter after she's getting so much love on Litsy at the moment. And I really felt like a pageturner after all those Man Booker books. So this was the right book at the right moment. It is the first in the Grand County series, and thrilling is it. What a horrible descriptions of rape and murder, what a fantasy she must have to come up with this! But it kept me going and I already ordered a copy of the second in the series. For now a solid 3,5 *
Five narrators tell their story straightforward, with no fuss and no emotion. Teacher Moriguchi sets the tone by telling her students about her daughter’s murder and her revenge. The other confessions follow and where the story ends is a complete surprise after a lot of dark and chilling twists.
Just as in Penance, I love Minato’s style.
Slowly progressing with Proust. In The Captive, part 1, Albertine and Marcel are living together. Now that they have a love affair and she is completely in his possession, he can no longer love her and he realizes what he is missing because of their relationship. On the other hand he becomes obsessively jealous when they are apart and he is afraid she’ll cheat on him. From his bedroom, where he spends most of his time, he tries to control both their lives and thoughts.
While being pregnant of her second child, a mother remember her first pregnancy and her relationship with her mother and grandmother. The author also supplies many historical facts about Freud, Röntgen and the physician Hunter.
Despite many beautiful sentences I feel as detached from the main character as she seems towards her husband, daughter, mother and grandmother.
I finally started reading Trollope and finished the first in the Palliser series: Can You Forgive Her?
Alice Vavasor is not the traditional 19th century upperclass woman and her disobedience is a central theme in this book that, despite its setting, reads as a contemporary novel. Trollope's account of a society in which money, breeding and influence are the primary routes into power is pretty familiar. The mixture of satire and romance makes the book a real pageturner. I am looking forward to Phineas Finn, which is supposed to be a more political novel.
Well that was a very quick read. But it shows the master. Even in 34 small pages McEwan is able to create a world, pull you into it and let you get acquainted with his main characters.
A smart read about writers and betrayal.
>182 japaul22: Yes I do. I have started Phineas Finn immediately. I wonder though if there will be any relation with the ‘cast’ from Can You Forgive Her?
I am really interested in Latin America’s contemporary history so this story of life in Colombia in the era of Pablo Escobar was right up my alley. It is he story of two young girls, one growing up in a wealthy neighbourhood in Bogota, the other her maid from the slums. Danger lurks around the corner everywhere. It’s a sad and impressive history.
"But if they couldn’t talk about their pasts, what could they say to each other at all, given that there was no future for them to speak of either?”
Arudpragasam writes about two evacuees in the Tamil-majority north of Sri Lanka. Dinesh meets Ganga in a makeshift camp in the jungle among the constant threat of sudden death. Dinesh describes their first night together in a placid, almost poetic way. There is no room for emotions, they have gone through so much in the recent past. Dinesh is more an observator of his own life than a participant. But I can’t imagine it’s fiction, it feels so sadly realistic.
I really think Boyne is the best storyteller of today’s wtiters. One of them for sure.
Completely different from The Heart’s Invisible Furies, this is another plot-driven novel with outstanding characters. The MC is Maurice Swift, an ambitious and ruthless would-be-writer. He’s horrible but his dialogues are so witty and sharp. I loved all about this book!
No, not for me. Written well but I kept skimming because of the horror elements.
I am restricting myself to one Slaughter a month. They are pretty addictive despite the repulsive details, and the horrible, almost unimaginable things that happen in this book. You need a strong stomach for these books. But I have and I am enjoying them and I love the twists and the main characters.
This is collection of perfect short stories of women in their thirties, living in the Midwest in this Trump era. They are smart, they are a bit strange, they think about gender and politics. They are so real and I was sorry for each story to end. Highly recommended!
This is a story of a marriage and kids and secrets. It’s so well done, the plot, the characters, the emotions. O’Farrell is a fantastic storyteller. I am definitely not finished with her.
“The world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of. “
Keiko is such an exception but her work as a convenience store woman keeps her somehow sane. Being a convenience store woman is her identity, it’s all she is.
It’s a quiet and poignant book and so very Japanese.
I am no season-reader and I’ve got nothing with Halloween (we don’t celebrate it where I live), so I purely read this book for a reading challenge on Litsy.
I have read and loved many Agatha Christie books when I was young and am disappointed that my first Christie in years didn’t live up to my expectations.
I wasn’t particularly interested in who murdered a girl during a Halloween party and maybe that’s why I didn’t see the end coming (I used to be able to think along with Poirot). I was rather underwhelmed because I feel like I couldn’t have known the outcome.
Four generations of a middle-class American family, living in the suburbs of Baltimore. Nothing much happens to them, they live and love and lie and make mistakes. This easily could have been a cheesy novel, but it isn’t. As homely and cosy as it is, Anne Tyler takes it beyond cheesiness and creates a family I want to know all about.
In a series of essays Octavio Paz tries to understand and analyze the Mexican people. It bothers me a lot though that he speaks of 'the Mexican' throughout the whole book. As if they are all the same. I wanted to know more about Mexico because I am going there this week for my work, but this book didn’t work for me.
I haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy so I don’t know how this one compares to the others but I am not sure what to think of it. Basically it’s other people talking to the narrator, who isn’t much of a character herself. She is an author on tour in Europe and everone shares their stories with her, even those who are supposed to be interviewing her. That construction (along with the typeface) is rather tiresome even though some of the stories people tell her are fantastic and intimate and painfully true.
How much I learned from this book and what a woman Sandra Parkhurst is. She has lived an incredible hard life only to come out stronger. She is a real survivor. She owns a company that cleans the houses of homicide, suicide and death scenes. The houses of hoarders, people ending up somehow amongs rubbish, faeces, rats and maggots. The stories of their lives as well as that of Sandra’s are so gripping and Sarah Krasnostein writes them down beautiful and respectfully.
Once you’re past the first 50 pages this political novel starts to make sense. It’s all about Israel and the Palestines and the question whether there will ever be peace.
Until then, there will be spies and treaties, bombs and betray, love and hope. Nathan Englander captures all the feelings again.
Maybe this book was even better than Circe. I loved the friendship between Patroclus and Achilles with all its ups and downs and I love how Miller knows to combine Greek mythology and a great, timeless story. I hope she’s busy writing another one of these fantastic stories.
What a harshness and misery in this book, filled with religion and abuse. Set in a stream-of-conscience style, a girl who only cares for her brother, uses sex for an escape because she thinks she’s not worthy of love. So much sadness, so much violence. It is written well but I’d say don’t read it if you don’t have to, it’s one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read.
A bit of a disappointment, this third book in Slaughter’s Grand Country series. I was pretty annoyed by especially Lena’s behaviour but also by Sara and Jeffrey’s.
Also the plot wasn’t that good, I always like when I can think along with the detective but this time the detective couldn’t think straight and for that reason neither could I!
I am going to give the fourth book a try though (next month!) and will then decide if I’ll continue with Slaughter.
After the Russian revolution of 1917 revolution, Count Rostov is sentenced to life-long house arrest in a grand hotel in Moscow. Apparently he accepts his fate effortlessly and fills his repetitive days with dignity. Just outside the walls of the hotel however, times are turbulent: those are the days of Bolshevism, of Stalin’s Five-Year Plan system and of the Second World War coming and going. Rostov knows but doesn’t let reality come in the way of his daily routines. Or does he? What a great book!! One of the best this year!
Not for me.
This book deals with both British parliamentary politics of the 1860s and with Phineas Finn's romances with women. The political parts were killing me in the end (Too much and too difficult or boring for me to understand what all the fuss was about), but I loved the romance parts. Trollope’s female characters are so strong and independent, I’d like most of them as my friends!
When I make up the balance though, I think the women couldn’t make up for the men and I am taking a break from Trollope’s Palliser series for now.
I was a bit underwhelmed by this book about a blind French girl and a German boy who both live during WWII and who are destined to meet one day. I did like the storyline and the characters, but it went on a bit too long for me, the story became predictable. However, the few chapters set just after the war I found very interesting, the way people tried to get their lives back on track after those years.
Vonnegut has a humorous, quite ironic view at the US, illustrated by antihero Dwayne Hoover (a rich but mentally ill Pontignac dealer), about to meet pulp SF writer Kilgore Trout in the cocktail lobby of his local Holiday Inn.
Also, Mr Rosewater makes his appearance, as does Mr Vonnegut himself.
Last but not least there are many illustrations and statistics of penis sizes. And a lot of (in the end anti-) racism. Highly original!
This is a book about art. And about a father (an artist), belittling his ever admiring son. Throughout the whole book I wanted to warn the son (Pinch) and talk him out of all the choices he makes, the life he lives, all out of wanting to gain his fathers respect, never chosing for himself. An intense read, the art as well as the father-son relationship.
Another enjoyable Wharton, the last I needed to read for the list.
Susy and live the live of the wealthy, a world where the idle rich flit between the playgrounds of estates in Europe. They have fallen in love, and come up with their own experiment: to marry and to live as long as possible on the hospitality of their friends. Should the chance of a better marriage come along for either of them the other will move aside. However this bargain doesn’t take into consideration their real feelings.
A handsome, strange young man arrives on an isolated and idyllic Norwegian island and kills a girl. The islanders know and take revenge impulsively. Then they have to deal with their guild and the island is not so idyllic anymore. Gorgeously written by the unsurpassed Vesaas.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, on the list of 1001 books to read before you die and yet I had never heard about this book before.
And that while it is really good. Told (so convincingly!) from the POV of an unstable but lovely 11-year old boy who considers himself a human lie detector. Because there are many lies in his family, even though his parents are trying to be honest. Painful and beautiful.
I had such high expectations of this little book, in which two women tell stories to the baby they are expecting. I missed any form of coherence between the stories, which made it just a bundle of short stories. That can be fine but in this case it didn’t work for me unfortunately. And I don’t see why an unborn baby should only be told dark and depressing stories. Maybe I missed the point...
I want to finish the Grant County series (two more to go) but I’m not such a fan as many others. I can’t put my finger on what’s bothering me since they are definitely thrilling. Maybe it’s the translation (I read the last two in Dutch and will switch to English again), maybe it’s that I don’t really like any of the characters. That may be it.
A man in 1890 falls asleep to awaken in an idyllic, communist world of sometime in the 21st century. What follows is mostly a Q&A between the man and the all so friendly and happy inhabitants of this future utopian world. It is interesting to read how Morris expected or wanted the world to turn out. The communists explain how they can live in a world without fear, without money, without war and without government, yet to me it raises many questions, a lot of which are not answered. The 1890 man buys it all though, and sleeps in this future London ‘with a fear to wake up in the old, miserable world of worn-out pleasures, and hopes that were half fears’.
In this little book Gabriel tells about how he was “exiled from his childhood” by the war between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s in his country, Burundi. A war I remember so well from the 90s but know so little about. The genocide based only on etnic differences. An impressive, sad read based on a true story.
Mr Anil Jha sells his website and becomes very rich overnight. He and his wife move from a middleclass apartment to a villa in a rich part of Delhi. Everyone is judging them: the former neighbours as well as the new ones. Trying to fit in is not easy and leads to some funny situations. More than funny I found the novel charming and sweet however.
After a mysterious ride, three train passengers end up in a strange, dark country, a timeless transition zone between life and death, to which they each respond in their own way and from which one of them in the end returns to this world, where he turns out to be the victim of a railway accident. (Book in Dutch, not translated).
I'm in awe at the amount of books you've managed to get through in a year. How long on average do you read for every day?
About my reading, I know, I’ve read a ridiculous amount of books this year. Much more than any other year. I think I read about two hours a day. I am often awake at night (frustrating but regarding in the end :) and I have a lot more time to read now that my kids are older. And I am a bit neurotic about reading I guess, I grab every opportunity.
Also: I discovered Audiobooks this year! When I am driving I now listen to books instemde of the radio.
Another thrilling and yet in the end not such a satisfying read as I keep hoping for when reading a thriller.
It’s always the same; I have a soft spot for thrillers and when the reviews are good I can’t wait to read them myself. And they are hardly ever as good as I expect.
This one is about an obese boy who carries with him the secret of his father, murdering a girl. He stays home, taking care of his mother.
A damaged, grieving narrator looks back, trying to understand what went wrong since his girlfriend met a former student turned cult leader. While he just turned his back to his former Bible College, she embraces this new form of Christianity. They try to stick together though. He tries to understand. I loved them both - and the book. So sorry it didn’t make the Tournament of Books shortlist.
How to deal with a sudden diagnose of MS when you’re young and strong and dealing with a broken heart? Nicola Griffith tells about the first year after she got diagnosed with MA. The anger, the fighting, the despair and the loneliness. The book reads like a journal, distant and very intimate at the same time. She’s so tough but she csn’t fight this disease all by herself. A decent read for the Tournament of Books.
Just finished this book and still trying to capture it all. Despite the graphic descriptions of abuse and violence I couldn’t stop reading it. Against the wilderness of northern California this is the story of the intense, warped love between 14 years old Turtle and her father Martin. He is a erudite but horrible man, he despises current civilization and tries to deny it by living isolated with Turtle, whom he teaches everything he knows, all the skills that they both know will enable her to destroy him.
Up until the end I was not sure what to think of this well-written book in which an Ethiopian girl in Boston hangs out with the imposant parking lot attendant Ayale.
Their conversations are cool, their relationship is interesting. Slowly politics starts taking over their personal acquintance however.
And then in the end the story suddenly really takes off - the ending did it for me.
I didn’t like this book as much as the rest of you seem to. Although I am really interested in the subject, I am sorry to say I found it a bit boring, the endless discussions between the Mennonite women about leaving or fighting the sexually abusing men of their community.
I felt the same about A Complicated Kindness so I think Toews is just not for me.
This was an amusing kind of adventure / coming of age novel. Wash is a slave that escapes in an air balloon with a white man who means the world to him from then on. He will follow him everywhere.
I enjoyed it but may have missed a deeper meaning?