Wrap Up: March 2018 or I don’t really read all that much on holiday.

I planned to write this wrap up while still on holiday; that didn’t happen. I underestimated how bad the WiFi was going to be and also how much I did not feel like blogging. Because New Zealand was just so very stunning. I had so much fun on this holiday and I cannot believe I am already back (and back at work…). I have some catching up to do now though blogging wise.

My reading month on the other hand was just alright.

Books read in March:

  1. The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen: 3 out of 5 stars.
  2. From A Low And Quiet Sea by Ryan Donal: 4 out of 5 stars.
  3. The Gender Games by Juno Dawson: 4 out of 5 stars.
  4. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: 4 out of 5 stars.
  5. Ayiti by Roxane Gay: 4 out of 5 stars.
  6. Happiness by Aminatta Forna: 3 out of 5 stars.
  7. The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by JY Yang: 4 out of 5 stars.

I also finally DNFed How I Lose You. I just could not get into it and decided that enough is enough.

Favourite of the Month:

The Gender Games. I just needed something this positive and fun and important. Listening to this was an excellent choice.

Stats (ish):

I finished seven books totalling 2044 pages. Of these seven books there were two short story collections, one memoir, one literary fiction, two definite fantasy and one weirdly unclassifiable book, so overall a total mix of genres. Two of those books were written by men, four by women and one by a person identifying as gender-nonconforming. Four books were written by white people and three by people of colour.

How did I do with my TBR:

Actually surprisingly ok (compared to last month): I read three of the books on my TBR and I am slowly making my way through the arcs I have.

Currently Reading:

(Some of the) Blog posts I loved:

I loved Steph’s review of If We Were Villains – a book that has been on my TBR since well before it was published and I still haven’t read.

I love lists, especially those recommending female authors. So check Uwadis’ wonderful post.

Musings on Motherhood and Fiction: Sign me right up.

Elle has a lot of thoughts on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Long List.

I loved Clare’s predictions for the Man Booker International Longlist.

Rachel’s reviews are always worth checking out, but her nuanced review of Madeline Miller’s Circe even more so.

Review: From A Low And Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

36339460Verdict: Stunningly constructed, profound, sad, and wonderful.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Published by Transworld Publishing, March 22nd 2018

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction.

Find it on Goodreads.

Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war.

Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe.

John’s past torments him as he nears his end.

The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

Do you know these books that make you fall in love with an author’s writing in a way that makes you want to read everything they have ever written? This was a book like that; it blew me away. I adore Donal Ryan’s way with words and the obvious care he takes to construct perfect sentences.

This is more a collection of short stories but so much more than that in a way (and I say that as somebody who obviously loves short stories). Ryan tells the stories of three widely different men; the only thing they have in common is a deep unhappiness with their lives. All three of them are fully fleshed-out, flawed characters that were a joy to spend time with. This is even more impressive when considering how few pages Ryan uses for his portraits.

My favourite part of this book was the first: I adored everything about the way Ryan tells Farouk’s story. Here the language is the most whimsical and powerful, whereas later it becomes more understated (which works brilliantly as well, I might add, I just happened to adore beyond measure the beauty of the first part). Farouk is also the most sympathetic of the men and the one whose story seems most tragic. I do love how Ryan allows this story to be as tragic as it needs to while still offering glimpses of hope.

Beyond being a perfect snapshot of these men’s lives, this is also an ode to storytelling in its different incarnations. Be it the fairy tales Farouk and his wife tell their daughter or the stories of pub life in a small town that connects Lampy and his granddad, Donal Ryan shows how stories are the glue that keep us together. Which I obviously love.

First sentence: “Let me tell you something about trees.”

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Transworld Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

PS: Please do tell me which of Ryan’s books I should read next!

TBR: ARC-Round Up 2018-II

I want to start something new: I will update on the ARCs I received, link to the reviews of the ones I have already read and generally talk about how excited I am. I also hope this will keep me organized. I don’t know how often I will need to post such lists because I seem to be seriously lacking in self-control when it comes to books I want to read and review. (Seriously, do you remember my bookish resolutions? I apparently don’t.)

I have last posted in the middle of January talking about the ARCs I still needed to read. You can find that post here. Since that post I have received 9 eArcs from NetGalley. The books are in no particular order below.

Still to be read:

37807353Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Publication Date: April 3rd

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Blurb (from Goodreads): London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide–Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his “niece” who hasn’t called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the network of rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens–mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London–come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness.

Why I requested it: This has been compared to KazuoIshiguro’s The Remains Of The Day, which I loved. The author was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone. Plus, the blurb sounds fantastic.

Continue reading “TBR: ARC-Round Up 2018-II”