I’m Back From Hiatus + August 2017 Reading Recap

Hi, how have you been?  Thank you for being so patient while I took some time off blogging.  The hiatus helped me to identify what about my blog was working for me and what wasn’t.  A key aspect was that I need to let myself off the hook: no one is forcing me to keep a strict posting schedule or write reviews about books that weren’t meaningful to me.

To ease myself back into things, I’m starting with an August recap.  At this stage, I don’t plan to write full reviews for these books.  Instead, I summed up my thoughts in a chatty way.  This was more fun and drastically less time consuming!

I’ll be experimenting a lot more with what I post, in the hopes of making my blog work for me and not the other way around!

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The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride

28363987PUBLISHER: Faber & Faber
RELEASE DATE:
August 30, 2016
GENRE:
Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT:
 320
MY RATING: ★★★☆
Add on Goodreads

Blurb in one sentence: The romance between a theatre student and a much older man becomes complicated when his traumatic past returns to haunt him.

What I liked:

  • The narrative voice, consisting of sentence fragments and unconventional punctuation, is poetic and compelling.
  • The romance developed at a realistic pace with just the right amount of awkwardness.  This made it easy for me to fall in love with the characters and empathise with them when they made mistakes.
  • Eimear McBride is so talented at describing everyday events—hookups, breakups, fuckups—so that they’re original and emotional.

What I disliked:

  • The middle section of the plot is exposition.  Since this info-dump is told in a different character’s voice to the rest of the book, I found it jarring.  This chunk was hard work to read, whereas the rest of the book is riveting.
  • I’m not sure if I needed so much insight into the characters’ pasts.  I would have preferred if essential memories were revealed seamlessly over the course of the story, rather than in one, exhausting chunk.

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

CqiLWfZW8AA9b2W.jpg-largePUBLISHER: Penguin
RELEASE DATE:
March 2, 2017
GENRE:
Speculative Fiction
PAGE COUNT:
 231
MY RATING: ★★★★
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Blurb in one sentence: New lovers in a war-torn country flee through magical doors that lead to random locations around the globe.

What I liked:

  • This magical realism concept of doors that act as portals between countries is perfect for exploring the refugee crisis.  The premise of this book instantly captured my attention.
  • I felt that Mohsin Hamid completely nailed what would realistically happen in this incredible situation.  He considered the personal, political, social, and economic impact, and left me feeling satisfied and mentally stimulated.
  • Although the omniscient narrator is objective, at times I was moved to the point of tears by the characters’ experiences.

What I disliked:

  • Although I didn’t dislike anything about this book, the second half, which focuses less on the immigrants’ stories and more on the logistics of their rehabilitation, went over my head sometimes.

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Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris

1497507125012PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
RELEASE DATE:
May 30, 2017
GENRE: 
Autobiography, Memoir
PAGE COUNT:
 514
MY RATING: ★★★★★
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Blurb in one sentence: David Sedaris keeps a diary of every interesting thing that happens to him, resulting in a hilarious and troubling portrait of society and self.

What I liked:

  • In my opinion, David Sedaris is the funniest, nuttiest writer alive.  I savoured every morsel and bullied my boyfriend by forcing him to listen to my top 200 favourite parts.
  • Since the diary entries average less than a page in length, this was the perfect book to pick up for a few minutes at a time.  If it weren’t so hefty, it would be the book I always keep in my handbag.
  • It was oddly educational (and sometimes downright terrifying) observing the changing state of the world over the course of  25 years’ worth of diary entries.

What I disliked:

  • I see waaaaay too much of myself in David 😛
  • I have to wait for Volume 2 to come out.

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Patience by Daniel Clowes

PATIENCE_FC_Colors-(1)PUBLISHER: Fantagraphics
RELEASE DATE:
March 2, 2016
GENRE:
Adult Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
PAGE COUNT:
 180
MY RATING: ★★★☆
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Blurb in one sentence: A grief-stricken man attempts to prevent the murder of his wife, Patience, using time travel, but makes a fatal miscalculation.

What I liked:

  • Time travel may be overdone, but Patience is original with its emotionally-charged story and anti-hero narrator.  There’s no limit to what you can do with time travel, but I appreciated that this graphic novel maintained a targeted focus.
  • When things go wrong, they really go wrong.  There’s something to be said for a story that doesn’t lean on luck or coincidence to escape sticky situations.
  • The colour palette is pretty; a bit retro?

What I disliked:

  • A month later and I honestly can’t remember how Patience ends.

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Island Home by Tim Winton

9781926428741-island-home-by-tim-wintonPUBLISHER: Penguin Australia
RELEASE DATE: 
September 23, 1015
GENRE:
Nonfiction, Memoir
PAGE COUNT:
 256
MY RATING: ★★★★
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Blurb in one sentence: Tim Winton reflects on his relationship with the Australian landscape, drawing on history, indigenous culture, and stats to educate current day Australians about their environment.

What I liked:

  • I think every Australian teenager should read this book at school.  It does a better job of making me care about my environment than any of my teachers did.
  • The balance of cold hard facts and Tim Winton’s personal story was just right, making this an easy read.

What I disliked:

  • After reading Island Home, I realised I don’t know how to practically apply my new knowledge.  That said, this memoir inspires me to learn more and do more.

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Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1) by C.S. Pacat

captive-prince-volume-1PUBLISHER: Viking
RELEASE DATE:
May 22, 2012
GENRE:
High Fantasy
PAGE COUNT:
 240
MY RATING: ★★★☆
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Blurb in one sentence: When his traitorous half-brother usurps the Akeilos throne, Prince Damen is sent as a pleasure-slave to the prince of the enemy nation.

What I liked:

  • Despite my first impression that this is essentially Gryffindor/Slytherin slash fan-fiction, I am shamefully addicted.
  • Homosexual relationships are the norm in the nation of Vere.  I didn’t pick up on a deeper message here, but it was still refreshing to see LGB romance depicted as “normal”.

What I disliked:

  • Does the rapey stuff serve a purpose?
  • The writing style is average.
  • There are no female characters of substance in this book.

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

9781524733131PUBLISHER: Knopf
RELEASE DATE:
March 7, 2017
GENRE:
Nonfiction, Essay
PAGE COUNT:
 63
MY RATING: ★★★★★
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Blurb in one sentence: Feminist activist, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, writes to a friend with fifteen suggestions for raising her newborn daughter a feminist.

What I liked:

  • Dear Ijeawele clarifies gender inequality and the goals and values of feminism in an extremely short and easy-to-understand book.  I have never read anything that better communicates what it means to be a feminist.
  • This book is extremely practical.  It may only take one hour to read, but it is truly your one-stop shop.  Besides providing information that will guide you in making your own decisions, each of the fifteen suggestions includes steps to applying your feminist values in everyday life.
  • I love how Adichie specifically references her Nigerian culture.

What I disliked:

  • I had to stop playing the CD-book on repeat long enough to lend it to my mum.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

9780241015728 - The Power - Naomi AldermanPUBLISHER: Viking
RELEASE DATE:
October 27, 1016
GENRE: 
Science Fiction
PAGE COUNT:
 320
MY RATING: ★★★★★
Add on Goodreads

Blurb in one sentence: The modern world is flipped on its head when women unlock their primitive power to create electricity, and band together to overturn society.

Trigger warning: frequent graphic depictions of sexual violence.

What I liked:

  •  The Power is an intelligent and fucking brutal book.  The way Naomi Alderman develops and explores the simple premise surpassed my wildest dreams.
  • The variety of points of view made it possible to look at the complexities of the issue from diverse angles.
  • I felt like the more I read, the deeper down the rabbit hole I went.  I had to pace myself because my heart rate kept going berserk.  It gradually became so intense that I had to fight myself to be able to put it down for my own emotional wellbeing.

What I disliked:

  • I held onto it for so long that I ended up with library late fees.  Which, being a librarian, says a lot.

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Reflect & Discuss

I feel good about the mixture of genres I read in August, especially that I branched out with a high fantasy novel (unlike me nowadays).  What mix of genres do you like to read?  And what genre would you like to challenge yourself to read more of?  

cup-on-books

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