Wrap Up: July 2019 or I might have finally read too many romance novels in a row

I did something stupid this month: I got Kindle Unlimited. I felt like a kid in a candy store and kind of went overboard with romance novels (again but this time for less money). I might have finally reached the end of that particular binge though – because many of these books I did not enjoy. And the books I loved this month were in different genres. So I might actually be back with my regularly programmed reporting next month (I keep saying that but it is bound to be true at some point).

Books I read in July:

  1. Mouth to Mouth by Tessa Bailey: 3 out of 5 stars
  2. The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  3. Heat Stroke by Tessa Bailey: 3 out of 5 stars
  4. Behind the Veil by Kathryn Nolan: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  5. The Trouble With Love by Claire Contreras: 3 out of 5 star
  6. Meant to be Kept by Amelia Foster: 2 out of 5 stars
  7. My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Remedy by Kaylee Ryan: 1 out of 5 stars (review)
  9. Whiskey Chaser (Bootleg Springs #1) by Lucy Score and Claire Kingsley: 4 out of 5 stars (mini-review)
  10. Untouchable by Sam Mariano: 2 out of 5 stars
  11. Catching Him by Aurora Rose Reynolds: 3 out of 5 stars (mini-review)
  12. Awayland by Ramona Ausubel: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  13. After All by Karina Halle: 4 out of 5 stars
  14. Vera Nabokov by Stacy Schiff: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  15. Sidecar Crush (Bootlegs Springs #2) by Lucy Score and Claire Kingsley: 2 out of 5 stars
  16. Moonshine Kiss (Bootlegs Springs #3) by Lucy Score and Claire Kingsley: 2 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

The Mere Wife, hands down. I just really loved that book.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: July 2019 or I might have finally read too many romance novels in a row”

Wrap Up: May 2018 or Finally.

I had a really good reading month, especially compared with the last two. I read 10 books which I mostly enjoyed.

Books read in April:

  1. An Abbrevitaed Life by Ariel Leve: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  2. Not That Bad eNotificationsdited by Roxane Gay: 5 out of 5 stars
  3. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Florida by Lauren Groff: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. The White Book by Han Kang: 4 out of 5 stars
  7. Women & Power by Mary Beard: 3 out of 5 stars
  8. Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells: 4 out of 5 stars
  9. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferries: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2) by James S. A. Corey: 3 out of 5 stars

Continue reading “Wrap Up: May 2018 or Finally.”

Recommendations: short books

I have not made a secret of my love for short books. I love it when an author can blow my mind in under 200 pages. As I have not been able to read as much recently, I treasure these books even more. I obviously also love these long immersive books that envelope you completely, but I will talk about those at some other point.

Here are some of my favourite short books:

Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot (published by Counterpoint Press; 143 pages)

35840657I adored everything about this book: it is honest and raw and brutal and stunningly written. I could not lift my eyes from the page and clutched it close to me when finishing it. My review can be found here.

 

 

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (published by Fourth Estate; 195 pages)

25970139I love Jeff VanderMeer’s craft in general, but here in this short, confusing, wonderful book it is on full display. Every sentence is perfect, the atmosphere is out of this world immersive, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. My review is here.

 

 

May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks (published by Curbside Splendor; 150 pages)

15701573Amber Sparks writes my favourite type of short stories. Slightly otherworldly, slightly fantastical, very beautifully written, very feminist. She is apparently working on a new collection (influenced by #MeToo) and I CANNOT wait. If you like short stories at all, I cannot recommend her work highly enough. My review can be found here.

 

Kassandra by Christa Wolf (Suhrkamp Verlag; 178 pages)

4412083No list of mine would be complete without shouting about this book, one of my very favourites. I have talked extensively how wonderful this book is; how every sentence packs a punch. How not a word is misplaced. How much of a genius Christa Wolf is. How woefully underrated she is outside of Germany (I had to read her for my A-Levels and will forever be glad to have been able to dissect her words). You can find my review here.

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Portobello Books; 183 pages)

27191166Much like Christa Wolf, Han Kang has a brilliant way with words where every word is placed with much care and every sentence is stunning beyond words. I adored this book and enjoyed The White Book immensely and one of the reasons for that is her economical way with language.

 

What are your favourite short books? Do you prefer short or long books?

Review: The White Book – Han Kang

39220683Verdict: Exquisite.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Published by Portobello Books, 2017

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Find it on Goodreads.

Writing while on a residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things – the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story – unfolds in a powerfully poetic distillation.

As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, ‘Can I give this life to you?’. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.

I am quite unsure how to review this brilliant little book. I think it is something that needs to be experienced rather than read about. Told in a series of very short musings on different white things, Han Kang circles her own grief and Warsaw’s scarred history in a way that I found absolutely moving. I read the book mostly in one sitting (it is very short) and can only recommend doing that. This way the interplay between the blank spaces on the page, the photography, and the writing worked to create an immersive experience.

Han Kang’s writing is economical; there is not a spare word to be found. It gives the impression of deep concentration and thoughtfulness which worked extremely well for this book. Another way to describe her prose would be elegant and precise. I loved this. I find there to be something fascinating in being able to write about personal trauma in this way – rather than it reading clinical it made the book all the more profound for me.

I have recently read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, which much in the same way deals with a colour (blue). But the two books are radically different besides their obvious similarities. Nelson’s writing is a lot more visceral and blunt, whereas Han Kang creates the illusion of distance while being obviously affected. I am very glad to have read of those these in short succession.

There is now only one book of hers left that has been translated to English and I haven’t read. I am a huge fan of Han Kang’s writing.

2018 Book Haul #2: I want to own all the memoirs.

I have not bought any books since I posted my last haul, so obviously I just went overboard and purchased too many. Now, to be fair to myself, I have been craving memoirs and essay collections and hardly own any anymore that I haven’t read, so I had to remedy that. Also, as I have recently talked about, I just love owning books.

And now, without further ado, here are the books I bought, first fiction, then nonfiction (but in no particular order):

When I hit you: or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy

38821165Blurb: Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back – a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape.

Smart, fierce and courageous When I Hit You is a dissection of what love meant, means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence; a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos; and a scathing portrait of traditional wedlock in modern India.

Why I bought it: This is one of the few books on this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist that I am actually interested in and don’t own already. Also, that title is just brilliant. Continue reading “2018 Book Haul #2: I want to own all the memoirs.”

5 star prediction tag

Mercedes over at my favourite booktube channel MercysBookishMusings recently did a thing where she predicted five books she thought she would adore so much she would give them five stars; later she then had a look at how that went. I think this is a brilliant idea and I am eager to see if I am any good at predicting which books I will adore.  You’d think, having read as many books in my life a I have, that I’d have a pretty good grasp at what will be a five star read for me, however ever since I started writing reviews I have come to realize that this is often not the case (exhibit a, exhibit b).

Five star reads for me are a combination of many things:

  • vivid language,
  • brilliant characters,
  • innovative story telling,
  • emotional response (helpful but not necessary).

For this list I went through my Goodreads to read shelf and then went with how I felt. Let’s see how this approach pays off.

975186

number9dream – David Mitchell

At first glance this seems a sure in; it is David Mitchell doing what David Mitchell does best. I gave two of his books five stars and three four stars. He is one of my favourite authors. But on the other hand, some people I trust think this is by far his weakest work. But I do trust David Mitchell. So I guess, I’ll have to read and see.

28172483

Human Acts – Han Kang

Again, I am going with a book by an author whose work I have previously enjoyed. The Vegetarian is one of my favourite books of the last few years and one with imagery that stayed with me. I have been waiting to be in the right mood for this because this seems like it’s very very grim.

33864360The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter

This just seems like a book I will adore. I have been wanting to get to Angela Carter sooner rather than later. Everything I heard of her sounds just so brilliant and I don’t even know why I haven’t read anything of hers. The edition I own looks so beyond beautiful and just like a me-book.

28601847

 

Snow in May – Kseniya Melnik

Short stories? Short stories set in snowy locations? Interconnected, bleak short stories set in the snowy North of Russia? Sign me right up. This sounds so much up my alley it is a bit ridiculous. Also, every time I look up this book, I wonder why I have not already read it. Because, see above. How can I not love this?

36262478

 

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories – Michael Andreasen

First off, I love that title. Second: Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses.” (From the blurb) Need I say more?

 

I will try and get to these books sooner rather than later – but I am a fickle reader and there is not telling if I will feel like reading any of them soon. Which is stupid now that I think about it.

Can you usually tell if a book will be a five star read for you? Also, you should all join in this prediction tag, so that I have somebody to laugh with when inevitably I am dead wrong about at least half these books.