All posts filed under: Review

Book Review – ‘The German Girl’

Title: The German Girl Author: Armando Lucas Correa (translated by Nick Caistor) Genre: Fiction (historical) Release date: 1st December, 2016 Rating: ★★★★  “Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now the streets of Berlin are draped in swastikas and Hannah is no longer welcome in the places she once considered home. A glimmer of hope appears in the shape of the St Louis, a transatlantic liner that promises Jews safe passage to Cuba. The Rosenthals sell everything to fund visas and tickets. At first the liner feels like luxury, but as they travel the circumstances of war change, and it soon becomes their prison. Seven decades later in New York, on her twelfth birthday Anna Rosen receives a package from Hannah, the great-aunt she never met but who raised her deceased father. Anna and her mother immediately travel to Cuba to meet this elderly relative, and for the first time Hannah tells them the untold story of her voyage on the St Louis.” (Simon & Schuster) First, here’s a couple of reasons you should read this: With …

My Top 10 New Releases of 2016

I’m getting in early with my Top 10 New Releases for this year for three reasons. I don’t think I’ll read any more new releases this year, and I suspect that any I do won’t be up to the standards of my top ten. I’ve started studying again and blogging takes up a lot of time (if you let it), so I’ve written this in the past (i.e. last week) before my class starts so I can prioritise reading loads of potentially less exciting stuff. This is probably going to be my last post for a while which means there will soon be tumbleweeds rolling through this little corner of the internet. I’m helping you guys out! Maybe there’ll be a book on here you can ask someone to sneak under the Christmas tree for you (or you can sneak it under there yourself), or maybe there’s the perfect book on here for a reader you know. If you don’t do Christmas, maybe there’s a book on here you can buy just because (which, as …

Book Review – ‘Wayward Heroes’

Title: Wayward Heroes Author: Halldór Laxness (translated by Phillip Roughton) Genre: Fiction (literary) Release date: 1st November, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “This reworking of Iceland’s ancient tales, set against a backdrop of the medieval Norse world, complete with Viking raids, battles enshrined in skaldic lays, saints’ cults, clashes between secular and spiritual authorities, journeys to faraway lands and abodes of trolls, legitimate claimants and pretenders to thrones, was written during the post-WWII buildup to the Cold War, and Laxness uses it as a vehicle for a critique of global militarism and belligerent national posturing that was as rampant then as now. This he does purposefully, though indirectly, by satirizing the spirit of the old sagas, represented especially in the novel’s main characters, the sworn brothers Þormóður Bessason and Þorgeir Hávarsson, warriors who blindly pursue ideals that lead to the imposition of power through violent means. The two see the world around them only through a veil of heroic illusion covering their eyes: kings are fit either to be praised in poetry or toppled from their thrones, other men only to kill or be killed by, while women are more …

Little reviews // October 2016

I’ve got three little reviews this month – one a new release that I’ve been waiting for for a year, and two audiobooks that were spur of the moment downloads and were both fantastic. ALL OF THESE WERE FIVE STAR READS!! Can you believe that?? The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life Author: John le Carré Genre: Non-fiction (autobiography/memoir) Release Date: September 8th, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ [Goodreads] I wanted to dedicate a whole post to this book, because it’s so special to me and it deserves it. But the reality is that a post of any great length would have just been a gush fest with very little substance to it. So a short post it is – being succinct is sometimes best with books we love. Although this book falls best into the memoir category it isn’t really a memoir; as the title suggest it’s more like a collection of stories. Any fan of le Carré is guaranteed to enjoy this book. Not only are we given an insight into his writing process, but along …

Book Review – ‘The Mystery of the Three Orchids’

Title: The Mystery of the Three Orchids (Commissario De Vincenzi #12) Author: Augusto De Angelis (translated by Jill Foulston) Genre: Fiction (mystery/crime) Release Date: 8th August, 2016 (first published in 1942) Rating: ★★★ “Death is in the air at one of Milan’s great fashion houses. As a new collection is unveiled, and the wealthy rub shoulders with the glamorous, owner Cristiana O’Brian escapes upstairs to discover the strangled body of her servant slumped on her bed – a single orchid by his side. When Inspector De Vincenzi is called in to investigate, the brilliant detective is puzzled; why is Cristiana behaving so suspiciously? And what is her estranged ex husband doing there? As two further corpses appear, each accompanied by an orchid, De Vincenzi must see through dirty tricks and slippery clues in order to uncover the real killer. Augusto De Angelis’s notorious sleuth returns in a cryptic murder mystery teeming with blackmail, deceit and revenge.” (Pushkin Press) This is the third book in the ‘Inspector De Vincenzi’ series that I’ve read (the others were The …

Book Review – ‘The Birdman’s Wife’

Title: The Birdman’s Wife Author: Melissa Ashley Genre: Fiction (historical) Release Date: 1st October, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ “Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man. Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an ever-growing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into countless exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s Galapagos finches. In The Birdman’s Wife a naïve young girl who falls in love with an ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to the colonies to discover Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.” (Simon & Schuster) So I need to …

Book Review – ‘We Eat Our Own’

Title: We Eat Our Own Author: Kea Wilson Genre: Fiction (literary with a smidge of horror) Release date: 6th September, 2016 Rating: ★★★½ “When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn’t hesitate: he flies to South America, no questions asked. He quickly realizes he’s made a mistake. He’s replacing another actor who quit after seeing the script—a script the director now claims doesn’t exist. The movie is over budget. The production team seems headed for a breakdown. The air is so wet that the celluloid film disintegrates. But what the actor doesn’t realize is that the greatest threat might be the town itself, and the mysterious shadow economy that powers this remote jungle outpost. Entrepreneurial Americans, international drug traffickers, and M-19 guerillas are all fighting for South America’s future—and the groups aren’t as distinct as you might think. The actor thought this would be a role that would change his life. Now he’s worried if he’ll …

Book Review – ‘Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman’

Title: Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman Author: Stefan Zweig (translated by Anthea Bell) Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: 4th February, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “‘The less I felt in myself, the more strongly I was drawn to those places where the whirligig of life spins most rapidly.’ So begins an extraordinary day in the life of Mrs C – recently bereaved and searching for excitement and meaning. Drawn to the bright lights of a casino, and the passion of a desperate stranger, she discovers a purpose once again but at what cost? In this vivid and moving tale of a compassionate woman, and her defining experience, Zweig explores the power of intense love, overwhelming loneliness and regret that can last for a lifetime.” (Pushkin Press) I’m starting to get to the point with Stefan Zweig that any comments I make about his work should be preceded by a disclaimer that goes something along the lines of, “In my eyes, he can do no wrong.” So if you read any further, you should keep in my …

Book Review – ‘In the Month of the Midnight Sun’

Title: In the Month of the Midnight Sun Author: Cecilia Ekbäck Genre: Fiction (historical) Release date: 14th June, 2016 Rating: ★★½  “Stockholm 1856. Magnus is a geologist. When the Minister sends him to survey the distant but strategically vital Lapland region around Blackåsen Mountain, it is a perfect cover for another mission: Magnus must investigate why one of the nomadic Sami people, native to the region, has apparently slaughtered in cold blood a priest, a law officer and a settler in their rectory. Is there some bigger threat afoot? Blackåsen seems to be a place of many secrets. But the Minister has more than a professional tie to Magnus, and at the last moment, he adds another responsibility. Disgusted by the wayward behaviour of his daughter Lovisa – Magnus’s sister-in law – the Minister demands that Magnus take her with him on his arduous journey.” (Hodder & Stoughton) I had a strange time reading this book. On the one hand I appreciated the themes thread through it: women having little choice in their lives; the destruction of native culture; …

Book Review – ‘The Museum of Modern Love’

Title: The Museum of Modern Love Author: Heather Rose Genre: Fiction (literary) Release date: 1st September, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ “Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do. This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.” (Allen & Unwin) Approximately 15 pages into The Museum of Modern Love, I decided that it was a contender for my favourite new release of the year. Two pages later I became concerned that if I kept on reading that it would take a turn for the worse and I’d end up hating it; I contemplated putting it …