Tag: Spring Cleaning

I went through my drafts to find a tag I want to do because I have not finished a book in days and I don’t think I will anytime soon. Given that I just moved and therefore organized my shelves and got rid of quite a few books this tag seemed appropriate. I was tagged by Sarah whose wonderful blog you should all check out.

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK OR SERIES YOU STRUGGLE TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE

32200595I am very good at starting series and not good at all at finishing them. The first answer that comes to mind is therefore A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab, not only is it the last book in a series, it is also ridiculously long. I am hoping to finally tackle it in May, when Wyrd and Wonder is taking place.

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK OR SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL

Honestly? At the moment none. Like I said, I got rid of so many books recently (mostly books I owned for years and that don’t appeal to me anymore) and at the moment I am super pleased with my collection.

OPENING THE WINDOW AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING

36136386I adored Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends enough to be super excited about literary fiction after months of only reading fantasy. Rooney is a genius and everything about her writing excites me.

WASHING OUT THE SHEETS: A SCENE THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE

33368868I recently read Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden and while I hated the vast majority of the book, the ending nearly made me throw the book (or my phone). It is a special kind of awful. Rachel’s review is mostly about the ending of that book, if that gives you any indication of just how horrible it was.

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES YOU DIDN’T THINK WAS NECESSARY

Did I mention that I am horrible that finishing series? What I meant is that I often only read the first book. However, I am currently making my way through Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series and that has been a brilliant but sometimes uneven experience. She does a great job at always moving the main story along, but some books are weaker than others (Blaze of Memory for example was boring to no end).

POLISHING DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH

Again, Conversations With Friends is the obvious answer here. The ending is pitch-perfect. Enough so that I have listened to the last chapter twice since finishing the book. Just thinking about it makes me giddy.

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE

I don’t usually mind politics in books at all – even if they are included in a way that others perceive as heavy-handed, but I do think that Tolstoy’s books and short stories got weaker the older he got. He argued that only morally worthwhile books can be considered great, which is premise I don’t totally agree with but something that becomes painfully obvious when reading his works in publication order.

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH: A SERIES THAT WAS TIRING BUT SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH

 

I am not quite sure whether I understand this prompt correctly but the series that came to mind is N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy – it becomes painfully obvious early on that the series can only end in heartbreak and I was scared for my heart and for these characters I adored throughout the final book.

I tag Rachel, Naty, Hadeer, Ayunda, and Emily. As well as everybody else who wants to do the tag.

Wrap Up: March 2019 or hello, Women’s Prize Longlist

I think this is the month I have blogged the least since I started. But I am still reading at my normal pace and I think I just need to be ok with the fact that I don’t have a lot of time for blogging at the moment. My decision to stop writing reviews for everything I read has helped me immensely to not lose my blogging mojo.

Books I read in March:

  1. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. The Playmaker by Cathryn Fox: unrated.
  3. The Sheikh’s Pregnant Lover by Leslie North: unrated.
  4. The Bastard by Lisa Renee Jones: unrated.
  5. Milkman by Anna Burns: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden: 1,5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling #12) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Wild Embrace (A Psy-Changeling Collection) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  9. Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Wild Invitation (A Psy-Changeling Collection) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  11. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn: 2 out of 5 stars (rtc)

Favourite of the Month:

Conversations With Friends, hands down. I am still so very much in awe of this book that I don’t think any other book will top the reading experience for me any time soon.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: March 2019 or hello, Women’s Prize Longlist”

Review: Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

33368868Verdict: At least it was short.

My rating: 1,5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published by Jacaranda Books 2018.

Find it on Goodreads.

Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas’ idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo’s father, following his mother’s advice, places the girl in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the 15 years she is held in the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, this novel is a contemporary story that offers an eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies will break your heart and then heal it.

Of all the books on the Women’s Prize longlist, this one I feared reading the most. And it pains me to say that I was absolutely correct in not looking forward to reading this. I struggled with this book and not in a “it was at least intellectually stimulating”-way. I found it clumsy and painful and the characters unbearable.

The book starts promising, with a fairly intriguing look into Abeo’s life in New York, and a superficial but assured introduction into the family and their dynamics. But as soon as Abeo’s grandmother moved in with them, the book lost me and I never recovered. I found her character irritating in her complete lack of redeeming qualities (she might as well have been an evil queen in a Grimm’s fairy tale for all the nuance) and the way she was allowed to be awful just drove me up the walls. I think part of my problem was the fast-moving narration that never really took the time to just stay with any given moment long enough for the characters to come to life for me. Simultaneously, McFadden gets hung up on weird little details that for me added nothing to the story and felt like padding. For example, she describes characters smoking in a way that made it seem like it was supposed to be meaningful but did nothing for me.

The language is without any frills, nothing offensive but also not interesting enough to save the book from its godawful characters and plot for me. I hated pretty much every single character and found them one-dimensional in their exagerated awfulness. Their behaviour did not strike me as true (or at least I optimistically hope people this awful are an exception rather than the norm) and I did never really understand anybody’s motivations enough for them to become compelling.

Now, I know that this is super outside my wheelhouse and a lot of my dislike might be simple genre preference but I really hated vast stretches of it. It is not quite abysmal enough to warrant a one star rating (a rating I really hardly ever give) but only by a hair’s breadth. I am very glad to have gotten this out of the way early in my longlist reading because honestly? It can only get better from here.

I am reading the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist this year. My current ranking is as follows:

  1. The Pisces by Melissa Broder (review)
  2. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (review)
  3. Milkman by Anna Burns (review)
  4. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (review)
  5. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist: Reaction

The longlist is finally here! I am beyond excited and a bit baffled because of the depth excitement. I stayed up yesterday to hear the announcement the moment it went live, something I have never done for a longlist announcement.

My longlist predictions were so wrong, it’s not even funny; I only correctly predicted two books. Of the 16 books on the longlist I have read three, am currently reading one, and three I had never heard of before yesterday. This means that I have an awful lot of reading to do (according to the Goodreads page counts it’s 4023 pages). I will really try to read the longlist but I will definitely DNF the books that don’t work for me.

Without much further ado, here is the longlist in all its glory:

The Silence of the Girls Pat Barker
Remembered Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces Melissa Broder
Milkman Anna Burns
Freshwater Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People Diana Evans
Swan Song Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li
Bottled Goods Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive Valeria Luiselli
Praise Song for the Butterflies Bernice L. McFadden
Circe Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney

My thoughts:

Read: I am beyond thrilled The Pisces by Melissa Broder made the list; it was by far my favourite book of last year and I want more people to read it. In case you need convincing, here is my gushing review for it. I am also happy to see Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi on the list, which I also adored (my review). I was a bit worried that Emezi wouldn’t want to be included as they are non-binary but they are pleased so I am pleased. I am keeping my fingers crossed that people will try to make an effort to use the correct pronouns though (the first glimpse on twitter makes that seem unlikely). The only other book I have read is Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, where I seem to be the only person online to not have enjoyed it all that much (my review) – but others really do, so I am glad for its inclusion.

Currently reading: I have started Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli a while ago and really enjoyed the first few pages but found the prose very wordy – I am excited to see it on the list though because that means there is at least one book I don’t need to hunt down.

Well pleased: I am super excited to get to Normal People by Sally Rooney; I finished Conversations With Friends yesterday and I am so very much in love with it that I will read everything Rooney ever publishes (I spent yesterday periodically exclaiming “What a book!”) – and Normal People sounds brilliant. I am also happy to see both Circe by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker on the list; I adore feminist myth retellings and I have heard great things about both books. I did not think both would make it but I am glad for it. I am also really excited to have an excuse to finally take the plunge and read Milkman by Anna Burns, a book that scares me but also sounds really great. I opted for the audiobook version of this as I have heard listening to the prose makes the book more accessible. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is another one of the books I did want to read at some point anyways and this is a welcome excuse to prioritize it.

Cautiously optimistic: I requested a review copy of Ordinary People by Diana Evans last year and didn’t get approved but it does sound like a book I could really enjoy. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott isn’t quite a book I would have picked up on my own but I have heard great things about it. I am not good with books that deal with injustice, but again I have heard brilliant things about An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, so hopefully I will enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn but it is a short book that actually sounds like it could be my cup of tea.

Slightly pessimistic: While Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li sounds interesting, I have read rather negative reviews of it – however, sometimes my taste is different to Goodreads’ average and I might enjoy this more (after all, The Pisces has a dreadfully low rating as well and that book is perfection). Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton could be great but it is also really outside my wheelhouse.

Really dreading: Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden does not sound like my type of book at all – and the blurb includes this: “educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa.” and I do not really appreciate books that are meant to be educational. I am hoping to be proved wrong.

Overall I am mostly pleased (The Pisces!!!) but also sad for a few notable exclusions. I was really hoping for both My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and Motherhood by Sheila Heti because I really, really want to read these books. I was also hoping for Women Talking by Miriam Toews because it sounds intriguing but I don’t know whether I’ll get to it without the added push. I also thought there would be more overlap with the Man Booker longlist and would have really liked The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson to get a shout out because I really liked both books and think the authors are awesome.

What are your thoughts? Are you still planning on reading the longlist?