A new year warrants a new title for my book posts! For 2017, I gave myself the goal of reading 60 books and I’m somewhat on track right now. In January and February, I’ve read 10 books, some good and some others not so good. Here are my reviews, with some recommendations!
*Marriage as a Fine Art. Julia Kristeva & Philippe Sollers. 3.5/5
Having studied Kristeva during my Masters, I was really intrigued by this book. As a feminist myself and interested in semantics, words, language and meaning, this was a fascinating read. I have trouble reconciling ideas of feminism and marriage and love, but this book, consisting of interviews and essays, managed to convey both Sollers and Kristeva’s beliefs and ideas regarding their marriage, love, being a couple, self-identity, etc. It was difficult to understand at times due to the heavy contrived language of psychoanalysis and philosophy. But it is a short read and is worth it.
*The Way of the Writer. Charles Johnson. 3.5/5
As a writer I really enjoyed this book of reflections on ‘the art and craft of storytelling’ by Charles Johnson (whom I had never heard of before). It was a fascinating book full of deep thoughts and reflections on writing, the writer, storytelling, craft, art, philosophy, etc. It wasn’t a moralistic book telling you what to do and what you should be to become a writer, but reading this book makes you question yourself and your craft.
*A Year and a Day. Isabelle Broom. 3/5
This book follows three women as they head to Prague at life-changing times of their lives. The book was nicely written with a nice pace and going back and forth between all the connected narratives. It was fun to get to know Prague through the knowledge and discoveries of the characters, and great knowledge (or research) from the author. If anything it definitely made me want to head to Czech Republic. It was also interesting to see the characters evolve along the narrative, but I saw the different endings coming from the beginning. So while suffering from cliches, it was a lovely read, perfect for a winter holiday!
*The Hothouse by the East River. Muriel Spark. 3/5
I’m a big fan of Scottish writer, Muriel Spark, and I think she writes beautifully. This book was no different. It felt a bit nightmarish and bipolar at times, but I think it is because it is rooted in madness, secrecy and memories of war. Though sometimes slightly disjointed, it is a nice short read to put things into perspective.
*Language of Love. Jean Saunders. 2.5/5
I didn’t know anything about the writer or the book when I picked it up and within the first 10 pages it really hit me how old fashioned the book was written and even imagined. I did my research and found out that Saunders was born in the 30s and this book was first published in the 80s. That made so much more sense to me! It is a short and sweet love story, written very well. However, it did not age well. It also falls prey to the trope of the pushy man who, because he’s rich and handsome, charms the girl despite being a bit moody, rude and somewhat creepy.
The Lost Neruda Poems. Pablo Neruda (& Forrest Gander). 4/5
Neruda is a wonderful Chilean poet. I found this book in my brother’s library and read it in a few days. It’s wonderful poetry that was found later on – some poems are even unfinished. This copy was in both English and Spanish which is great for seeing the original and practising Spanish if you want to.
*Dreams and Shadows. Jeffrey Collyer. 2/5
This book has potential but it was sadly not well channeled. I think Collyer invented an interesting fantasy world that I would like to know more about, however I think the book could have benefited from better writing and editing. I almost DNF, but I only kept reading because I wanted to review it for Netgalley. Thankfully I persisted because around page 250-300 (of 400) it got interesting. I know it’s important to explain the mythology of a new world, but Tolkien is one of few who managed to pull it off…
*Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. Jennifer Bohnet. 1.5/5
This short novel follows the life of mostly three women (all English?) who live in the French Riviera. I really wish I liked this book, I’m always rooting for the author, but I just can’t find anything positive to say about this book. While the book did a good job interweaving the different story lines, it was mostly irritating.It was irritating to get an idea of so many characters but none of them felt like rounded characters because they were all explored on the surface. Above all, I was irritated by the ending where everything seemed revolved without any effort.
*The Difference Between You and Me. Celia Hayes. 2.5/5
A cute little chick lit novel that follows workaholic Londoner, Trudy has she sees herself relocating (against her will) to a remote village in Scotland. I found it enjoyable, but there are a few things that irritated me. Except from all the obvious clichés that this book rehashes, it’s the slightly inaccurate way of portraying Scotland and Scottish people, right down to the language.
We Should All Be Feminists. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 5/5
It’s short and it’s great. Read it.
Do you have any books recommendations?xx
The books marked with an * were given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – all opinions are my own.