All posts tagged: NetGalley

Book Review – ‘The Vegetarian’

Title: The Vegetarian Author: Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith) Genre: Fiction (literary) Release Date: 2nd February, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.” (Goodreads) My immediate reaction on finishing this book was, “wow I loved that – it’s just as good as I was expecting”. And it really was. But after letting it sit for a few days, I have no idea why I enjoyed it so much and I’m not too sure what …

Book Review – ‘Messages from a Lost World’

Title: Messages from a Lost World: Europe on the Brink Author: Stefan Zweig, translated by Will Stone Genre: Non-fiction (essays) Release Date: January 28, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ “As Europe faced its darkest days, Stefan Zweig was a passionate voice for tolerance, peace and a world without borders. In these moving, ardent essays, speeches and articles, composed before and during the Second World War, one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers mounts a defence of European unity against terror and brutality. From the dreamlike ‘The Sleepless World’, written in 1914, through the poignant ‘The Vienna of Yesterday’, to the impassioned ‘In This Dark Hour’, one of his final addresses, given in 1941, Zweig envisages a Europe free of nationalism and pledged to pluralism, culture and brotherhood. These haunting lost messages, all appearing in English for the first time and some newly discovered, distill Zweig’s courage, belief and richness of learning to give the essence of a writer; a spiritual will and testament to stand alongside his memoir, The World of Yesterday. Brief and yet intense, they are …

Book Review – ‘The Art of Reading’

Title: The Art of Reading Author: Damon Young Genre: Non-fiction (popular philosophy) Release Date: 28 March 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “In The Art of Reading, philosopher Damon Young reveals the pleasures of this intimate pursuit through a rich sample of literature: from Virginia Woolf’s diaries to Batman comics. He writes with honesty and humour about the blunders and revelations of his own bookish life. Devoting each chapter to a literary virtue—curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice—The Art of Reading celebrates the reader’s power: to turn shapes on a page into a lifelong adventure.” (Melbourne University Press) First, I need to babble about the cover of this book for a bit. Look how cute it is! It’s simple but effective and just screams ‘reader’. I’m not a huge fan of green, but this is probably one of my most favourite book covers in recent times. Two enthusiastic thumbs up to the cover designer. And now for the inside. I won’t lie, I did get a little bit lost in some parts and that prompts me to say that …

Book Review – ‘The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig’

Title: The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig Author: Stefan Zweig (translated by Anthea Bell) Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: 2nd February, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “A casual introduction, a challenge to a simple game of chess, a lovers’ reunion, a meaningless infidelity: from such small seeds Zweig brings forth five startlingly tense tales-meditations on the fragility of love, the limits of obsession, the combustibility of secrets and betrayal. To read anything by Zweig is to risk addiction; in this collection the power of his writing-which, with its unabashed intensity and narrative drive, made him one of the bestselling and most acclaimed authors in the world-is clear and irresistible. Each of these stories is a bolt of experience, unforgettable and unique.” (Pushkin Press) The first thing you need to know about this collection is that you have to stick with it. Some of the stories take a little time to warm into but if you take the time to work through them, it’ll be worth it. As a whole, I think the collection is a good showcase of Stefan …

Book Review – ‘The North Water’

Title: The North Water Author: Ian McGuire Genre: Fiction (Historical) Release Date: February 1, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★ “A 19th-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp and highly original tale that grips like a thriller. Behold the man: stinking, drunk, brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the hunting waters of the Arctic Circle. Also aboard is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money and no better option than to embark as ship’s medic on this ill-fated voyage. In India during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which a man can stoop and imagined he’d find respite on the Volunteer, but now, trapped in the wooden belly of the ship with Drax, he encounters pure evil and is forced to act. As the true purposes of the expedition become clear, the confrontation between the two men plays out in the freezing darkness of an Arctic winter.” (Simon & …

Book Review – ‘After the Circus’

Title: After the Circus Author: Patrick Modiano, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: October 27, 2015 Rating: ★★★★ “One of the hallmarks of French author Patrick Modiano’s writing is a singular ability to revisit particular motifs and episodes, infusing each telling with new detail and emotional nuance. In this evocative novel the internationally acclaimed author takes up one of his most compelling themes: a love affair with a woman who disappears, and a narrator grappling with the mystery of a relationship stopped short.  Set in mid-sixties Paris, After the Circus traces the relationship between the narrator, a young man not quite of legal age, and the slightly older, enigmatic woman he first glimpses at a police interrogation. The two lovers make their uncertain way into each other’s hearts, but the narrator soon finds himself in the unsettling, ominous presence of others. Who are these people? Are they real, or simply evoked? Part romance, part detective story, this mesmerizing book fully demonstrates Modiano’s signature use of atmosphere and suggestion as he investigates the perils and the exhilaration of young love.” (Yale …

Book Review – Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours

Title: Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours Author: Erwin Mortier (translated by Paul Vincent) Genre: Memoir Release Date: January 5, 2016 Rating: ★★★★ “‘My mother, a house that is slowly collapsing, a bridge dancing to a tremor.’ It started when she could no longer remember the word for ‘book’. Then her mind, her language and her identity began to slip away.  This is Erwin Mortier’s moving, exquisitely observed memoir of his mother’s descent into dementia, as a once-flamboyant woman who loved life and pleasure becomes a shuffling, ghostlike figure wandering through the house. Piecing together the fragments of her lost life, and his own childhood, Mortier asks: what do we become when we lose the repertoire of habits and words that make us who we are? How well do we really know our families? How do you say goodbye to someone who is still there and yet not, suspended between life and death? Stammered Songbook is a heartbreaking and poetic expression of a son’s love; an extraordinary hymn to language; a meditation on time, mortality and how, eventually, we …

Book Review – ‘Tristano Dies: A Life’

Title: Tristano Dies: A Life Author: Antonio Tabucchi Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult) Release Date: September 29, 2015 Rating: ★★★ “It is a sultry August at the very end of the twentieth century, and Tristano is dying. A hero of the Italian Resistance, Tristano has called a writer to his bedside to listen to his life story, though, really, ‘you don’t tell a life…you live a life, and while you’re living it, it’s already lost, has slipped away.’ Tristano Dies, one of Antonio Tabucchi’s major novels, is a vibrant consideration of love, war, devotion, betrayal, and the instability of the past, of storytelling, and what it means to be a hero.” When I saw Tristano Dies: A Life on NetGalley and read the description, it immediately piqued my interest – not only did it fit in with my translations kick I was on at the time (and am still on), it also sounded really good. But I’m going to be honest and say that I found this really hard to read. So hard in fact, that I had …

Book Review – ‘The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse’

Title: The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse Author: Ivan Repila Genre: Literary Fiction Release Date: November 10th 2015 Rating: ★★★★ ‘”It looks impossible to get out,’ he says. And also: ‘But we’ll get out.‘ Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped at the bottom of a well. They have no food and little chance of rescue. Only the tempting spectre of insanity offers a way out. As Small’s wits fail, Big formulates a desperate plan. With the authority of the darkest fables, and the horrifying inevitability of all-too-real life, Repila’s unique allegory explores the depths of human desperation and, ultimately, our almost unending capacity for hope.” (Pushkin Press) A novella that goes for a hundred and something pages that basically only has two characters, both of whom are stuck at the bottom of a well, probably doesn’t sound that exciting. And if that’s what you’re thinking, you’d be right, because it isn’t really exciting. What it is, is a thought provoking look at how people survive when the odds are stacked against them, as well as the …

Teaser Tuesday – ‘The Portable Veblen’

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! All you have to do is grab the book you’re currently reading, open to a random page and share two sentences from that page. But make sure you don’t share any spoilers! This week I’ve been reading The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. I got this one on NetGalley a little while ago and really it was the cover that I loved most about it – look how cute that squirrel is. I’ve found it a bit slow to get going, although this morning it turned a corner and the pace of it has picked up a little, so I enjoyed this morning’s reading session. Hopefully it gets even better as I move towards the end. Now, here are the sentences: “It was so much work, getting along! She felt deflated, a balloon skin on the ground.” What are you reading this week?