Thursday, 31 August 2017

August 2017 Wrap up

Ouch, what a disappointing August in terms of novels... Of the seven books I read this month, one I loved, two were pleasant enough but the other four, absolutely forgettable, to the point I just abandoned some of them, not wanting to waste time! Here we go:

The forty rules of love - E. Shafak
Just not for me, too slow and boring.
Rating: Abandoned

The Whistler - J. Grisham
I loved the first books by Grisham but lately I just cannot appreciate his novels anymore.
Rating: Abandoned

Truly, madly, guilty - L. Moriarty
A pleasant, thrilling read but could have been much shorter in the first half.
Rating:  6,5 out of 10

The Roanoke girls - A. Engel
A shocking must read, very original in its plot, very good indeed.
Rating:  8 out of 10

Le notti blu - C. Marchielli
Non mi ha proprio colpita, trama gia' letta ed esecuzione insomma.
Rating:  5 out of 10

Z A Novel of Zelda - T. A. Fowler
I was so looking forward to this book..Unfortunately it didn't grip me as I though it would... 
Rating:  5 out of 10

The book of unknown Americans - C. Henriquez
An interesting novel about emigration, very sad though.
Rating:  6,5 out of 10

Three Martini lunch - S. Rindell
NY City, the 50s, publishing world, all I love is there, but I did not love it, I would have skipped whole chapters and just kept the ones with the main female character in.
Rating:  6 out of 10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Book Review: Truly madly guilty - L. Moriarty

“No one warned you that having children reduced you right down to some smaller, rudimentary, primitive version of yourself, where your talents and your education and your achievements meant nothing."

I was enchanted by the second part of this novel, I was bored to the point that I almost abandon it all together in the first part of the book. The beginning is slow, clearly something happened to this "infamous" BBQ but you really don't get to know exactly what and what the consequences are till mid book. Which for me is quite frustrating, I just want to know! I understand the building of the tension, but do you really need 200 and odd pages before you get to the clue of the story and it becomes juicy. 
What happens it is every parent's worst nightmare, so frightening, you just want to glue your kids to you after reading this novel, really. But what it is really interesting it is the reactions of the people involved in the events, how the parents, Clementine and Sam, grow apart, how the balances between man and wife and between Clementine and her friend Erika change suddenly, how the guilt and shame envelop them all to a point. 
There are a lot of parts and phrases about marriages and about being a parent that I really found interesting, they made me reflect.
As with her previous novels, Liane Moriarty is a great painter of the modern (Australian, but not only) society and all the weaknesses, issues, gossip related. 
In summary, a pleasant, thrilling read but could have been much shorter in the first half.

"Of course, a minute was enough. Never take your eyes off them. Never look away. It happens so fast. It happens without a sound. All those stories in the news. All those parents. All those mistakes she’d read about. ... Children with stupid, foolish, neglectful parents. Children who died while surrounded by so-called responsible adults. And each time she would pretend to be non-judgmental, but really, deep down she was thinking: Not me. That could never really happen to me.” 

Overall rating: 6,5      Plot:  6,5    Writing style: 6,5      Cover:  5

Title: Truly madly guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 480
Publication year: 2016

Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you'd think.
For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.
But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.
Which is how it all spirals out of control...

The Author:
Liane Moriarty is an Australian author. born 15 November 1966 in Sydney, Australia.
After leaving school, Moriarty worked in advertising and marketing at a legal publishing company. She then ran her own company for a while before taking work as a freelance advertising copywriter. In 2004, after obtaining a master's degree at Macquarie University in Sydney her first novel Three Wishes, written as part of the degree, was published.
Moriarty lives in Sydney with her husband, Adam, a former farmer from Tasmania who worked in agricultural marketing, and two children, George and Anna.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Book Review: The Roanoke girls - A. Engel

"Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die."

Wow, that's what I call a novel that leaves you shocked! Bought on an impulse at the airport, I could not put it down. It is not really a thriller, it is more a noir/twisted family saga in my opinion.
There is this family, the Roanoke, a patriarch and all his girls, sisters, daughters and granddaughters. 
They are all very beautiful and they are all destined to the same future, they either escape from the Roanoke property or they die young. But why?
Lane arrives at her grandparents house after her mother commits suicide, Lane is a tough, no nonsense teenager, lacking love. She finds herself from NY city to the Kansas countryside, she finds a cousin - Allegra - who quickly becomes her inseparable companion for the summer, she finds a warm affection from her granddad and she finds passion in Cooper who she loves and hurts with the same fierce. 
But she also finds family secrets' she cannot cope with so she has to escape. But she is then forced to come back when Allegra disappears and she goes back to Roanoke to find her and to sort the family out once for all.
It is such a dark story, disturbing yet so gripping; I loved Lane, loved her determination, her toughness, her weaknesses. And I loved Cooper as well, a tough kid with a big heart who reinvent himself not to succumb to the destiny of sufferance he seems predestined to. 
It is a novel of twisted love, a novel of the power adults can have on kids and the twisted power love can have on some people. 
A shocking must read, very original in its plot.

"You can't outrun what's inside of you. You can only acknowledge it, work around it, try and turn it into something better. I may not know exactly where I'm headed, but this time I'm choosing my own destiny.” 

Overall rating: 8      Plot: 9     Writing style: 9      Cover:  6

Title: The Roanoke girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Hodder
Pages: 288
Publication year: 2017

The girls of the Roanoke family - beautiful, rich, mysterious - seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them that's never spoken.Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.She is a Roanoke girl.Is she strong enough to escape a second time?
The Author:
Amy Engel is the author of THE BOOK OF IVY young adult series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. THE ROANOKE GIRLS (March 7, 2017), is her first novel for adults.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Book Review: Eligible - C. Sittenfeld

"Mrs Bennet looked from her end of the table to her husband’s. “If any of our girls marry doctors, it will meet my needs, yes”, she said to him. “But, Fred, if it gets them out of the house, I daresay it will meet yours, too.”

I really loved Sittenfeld's The american wife so I was curios to read his latest novel.
Eligible is a modern American adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice. The names of the characters remain the same, the location is Cincinnati instead of London, the plot is the same so you don't really get any surprises or you are massively anticipated what could happen in the end, you know it already (if you have read Pride and prejudice, that's it)!
It might not be a masterpiece of originality or of "high" literature, but all in all it is a very pleasant novel, you read it quickly consider the number of pages, the characters are all quite funny in their own ways and Liz maintains that qualities that the original Elizabeth Bennet has got and she is likable for. Mrs Bennet is still a nosey, not very cleaver, hypochondriac woman and in addition in this modern version she is also racist. Mr Bennet is here as well full of British sense of humour and his dialogues are the one I preferred in the book.
So in summary a nice read for summer, very distant from The American wife I am afraid.

Overall rating: 6,5      Plot: 6,5     Writing style: 6,5      Cover:  4

Title: Eligible
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: The Borough Press
Pages: 544
Publication year: 2017

For sisters Liz and Jane, coming home to suburban Cincinnati means being paraded at the Lucas family’s BBQ, where burgers are served alongside the eligible men. But it’s difficult to focus on re-booting their love lives when the family’s mock-Tudor house starts to crumble around them. Yet as their mother reminds them, it’s not every day you meet a pair of handsome single doctors . . 

The Author:
CURTIS SITTENFELD is the bestselling author of five novels: PrepThe Man of My DreamsAmerican WifeSisterland, and Eligible. Her first story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It, will be published in 2018. Her books have been selected by The New York TimesTimeEntertainment Weekly, and People for their “Ten Best Books of the Year” lists, optioned for television and film, and translated into twenty-five languages. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Esquire, and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York TimesTime, Vanity Fair, The AtlanticSlate, and on “This American Life.” A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis has interviewed Michelle Obama for Time; appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” CBS’s “Early Show,” and PBS’s Newshour

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Book Review: The forty rules of love - E. Shafak

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.” 

For all the I loved the idea of the plot and the cover, I could not pass the first 50 pages. I found it very slow and confused, passing from 1240 to present. And, unfortunately, my patience is very limited!

Overall rating: Abandoned      Plot:  3    Writing style: 2      Cover:  6,5

Title: The forty rules of love
Author: Elif Shafak
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 368
Publication year: 2015


Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella's life - an emptiness once filled by love.So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.It is a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse, taking Ella and us into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored. 
The Author:
Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker. 
She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Her books have been published in 47 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally. 
Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2010 by the French government.
She has been featured in major newspapers and periodicals around the world, including the Financial Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica. 
Shafak has taught at various universities in Turkey, UK and USA. She holds a degree in International Relations, a masters degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a PhD in Political Science. She is known as a women’s rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate. 
As a public speaker Shafak is represented by The London Speaker Bureau and Chartwell Speakers and Penguin Speakers Bureau.
Shafak has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, MAN Asian Prize; the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize
She sat on the judging panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2013); Sunday Times Short Story Award (2014, 2015), 10th Women of the Future Awards (2015); FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards (2015, 2016); Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (2016) and Man Booker International Prize (2017).
She lives in London.
. .

Monday, 7 August 2017

Book Review: Le mie amiche streghe - S. Bencivelli

"Essere felici è molto più divertente che essere perfette"

Copertina, titolo, trama: tutto lasciava pensare ad una simpatica e leggera lettura estiva, perfetta per il mare. Sbagliatissimo! Un romanzo noioso, pesante, spocchioso, in cui la protagonista e' assolutamente antipatica e stento a capire come le sue amiche possano sopportare ore di tirate su cose che non interessano a nessuno e sono prese direttamente da wikipedia. .
Veramente un libro che ho trovato bruttissimo e non consiglierei assolutamente.

Overall rating: 4      Plot: 5     Writing style: 4      Cover:  7

Title:Le mie amiche streghe 
Author: Silvia Bencivelli
Publisher: Einahdi
Pages: 184
Publication year: 2017

Alice ha quasi quarant'anni, non beve caffè, ha paura dei gabbiani, cura la gastrite con le banane, e sul mondo si concede di avere piú domande che risposte. Capire le cose difficili è la sua passione, e dopo che le ha capite ha il dono di saperle spiegare agli altri. Tecnicamente è un medico, in realtà fa la giornalista scientifica, è rigorosa fino all'impossibile, adora gli aperitivi e ha le stesse amiche dalle elementari. Amiche che la considerano una clamorosa rompiscatole. Perché Alice ultimamente le ascolta parlare e non le riconosce piú. Erano lucide e ragionevoli, adesso credono alle pozioni miracolose, alle terapie alternative, ai magici benefici del cetriolo e agli spaventosi malefici di generiche multinazionali del male. Ma forse sono i suoi occhi testardi a voler negare il potere inesauribile dell'irrazionalità.
Alice detesta le cose semplici, soprattutto se sono anche sbagliate. Fa la giornalista scientifica, perciò il mondo è abituata a interrogarlo e poi a raccontarlo. Anche alle sue amiche, che intrattiene per ore con le sue storie bislacche di scienziati. D'un tratto però le sue amiche sono diventate tutte streghe. Cioè, sono ancora le stesse di sempre, eppure sono diventate incomprensibili. Credono alle pozioni magiche, ai piani astrali, ai complotti, ai rimedi della medicina non ufficiale. Valeria, per esempio, spera di far girare il feto podalico che ha in grembo facendo le capriole in acqua. Vuole evitare il cesareo a tutti i costi perché ha letto su internet che non è il modo migliore per iniziare il rapporto con suo figlio. E dire che la nonna di Alice, ai suoi tempi, un parto podalico se l'è fatto per via naturale aiutata solo da una bottiglia di brandy, e a distanza di settant'anni non è affatto certa che sia stato un bel modo per iniziare alcunché. E poi c'è Lucia, fissata con l'alimentazione sana e i prodotti bio. E Arianna, medico anestesista, che si scopre fautrice dell'omeopatia. E ancora quella che non vuole vaccinare i figli, quella che segue l'ultima dieta del momento, quella che legge il futuro negli oroscopi. Alice si arrabbia, cerca di farle ragionare, e a volte pontifica, perché sembra incapace di vedere anche lei una semplice realtà, cioè che le emozioni possono tradire. Un romanzo d'esordio brillante e originale sulle nostre superstizioni ma soprattutto sulle nostre fragilità, che ha il coraggio di affrontare ironicamente temi molto dibattuti conquistandoci con la voce irresistibile della sua autrice.

The Author:
Silvia Bencivelli è laureata in medicina e chirurgia ma fa la giornalista scientifica e la conduttrice radiotelevisiva. Dal 2016 è tra i conduttori di Tutta Salute, in onda ogni mattina su Rai3, e da dieci anni tra le voci di Radio3 Scienza. Scrive per «la Repubblica» e «Le Scienze». Insegna giornalismo scientifico alla Sapienza di Roma. Ha pubblicato diversi libri tra cui Perché ci piace la musica (Sironi 2007 e 2012, tradotto all'estero) ed È la medicina, bellezza! (con Daniela Ovadia, Carocci 2016). Le mie amiche streghe è il suo primo romanzo.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Book Review: Piccola osteria senza parole - M. Cuomo

“Non è notte da dormire. E’ una notte di rane e nuvole, di pensieri. Scovazze scivola verso l’alba di un nuovo giorno senza che nessuno se ne accorga. Potrebbe staccarsi e cadere. Un punto sul confine del nulla che d’inverno sparisce nella nebbia e d’estate nel granturco. Ci arrivi per caso, a Scovazze, per errore. O per una specie di missione, come quella di Tempesta. Che stanotte, insieme al sonno, ha smarrito un po’ la speranza. E allora scuote la scatola di plastica con le parole dentro. I dadi a volte disegnano frasi consolatorie. Raccontano storie. Cantano ninne nanne. I dadi si raccolgono a caso, ma il caso è la vibrazione della mano che scuote la scatola e la mano è a un braccio dal cuore. Il Paroliere, certe notti, ti dice come stai. O cosa devi fare.”

Una delle cose peggiori, per me, e' avere aspettative molto alte su un libro, non vedere l'ora di averlo tra le grinfie e poi, beh, e poi, rimanerne delusi perche' in testa avevamo gia' un'idea preconcetta su come sarebbe stato, su quante frasi meravigliose e ispirazionali mi sarei segnata.
Con Piccola osteria e' stato proprio cosi', ho letto recensioni molto positive, mi ispirava molto il fatto fosse ambientato in un'osteria nelle mie terre natie, che l'autore sia veneziano come me, che parte del romanzo sia nel mio dialetto d'infanzia. E, per carita', non mi e' dispiaciuto, scorre veloce, e' divertente leggere dei classici stereotipi da "bar di paese" e di come viene accolto un uomo del sud nel profondo nord. Ma non mi ha colpita cosi' tanto, non ho trovato particolari perle di saggezza tra le pagine, ho sorriso a certi episodi, tornata con la mente a certi luoghi delle mia giovinezza, la campagna veneta, il baretto, la sagra.
Direi che la parte che mi ha piu' colpita nel libro e' stata l'amicizia tra Tempesta e l'Avvocato, lenta a carburare ma sorprendente visti gli inizi. E poi non si puo' traslasciare il mitico paroliere, gioco si cui avevo completamente dimenticato l'esistenza.
In sintesi, un romanzo piacevole, divertenti e dolce-amaro. Ed insegnamento per me: non partire con aspettative cosi' alte!

Overall rating: 6.5    Plot: 6.5     Writing style: 6      Cover:  7

Title: Piccola osteria senza parole
Author: Massimo Cuomo
Publisher: Edizioni e/o
Pages: 240
Publication year: 2015

Sospinto da una scrittura poetica e spassosa, Piccola osteria senza parole è un’epopea del Nordest, ricca di personaggi pronti a entrare nella leggenda e percorsa da un mistero che dà al romanzo una venatura di giallo. Nell’osteria al confine tra Veneto e Friuli vivono uomini sgangherati e taciturni, bestemmiatori feroci, razzisti in superficie eppure altruisti. Il bar è il cuore pulsante del paese, Scovazze, dove persino le slot machines hanno soprannomi improbabili – La Vecia, La Sopravvissuta, La Troia, La Magnaschei – e la televisione resta sempre accesa sui mondiali di calcio (USA ’94), tra gli accaniti giocatori di briscola e le superbe tette della Gilda, la proprietaria. Su questo sfondo, la sera di venerdì 17 giugno, fa irruzione un enigmatico meridionale che con i suoi modi e i suoi segreti stravolgerà la vita degli abitanti del paese.
Chi è Salvatore Maria Tempesta, il terrone che entra in osteria dopo che la sua auto è sprofondata dentro un fosso? Come osa sfidare questo mondo chiuso, concentrato a godersi le giocate di Baggio, in cui la diffidenza si taglia con il coltello? (“Come che l’entra ciapemo gol. El teròn porta sfiga”). Chi è la donna nella mezza fotografia che il meridionale si porta sempre appresso? E perché si ostina ad aggirarsi nei dintorni inseguendo chiese e campanili? Sono i tanti segreti di questa magnifica storia d’amore, amicizia e diversità che verranno alla luce poco alla volta, fino all’imprevedibile, clamorosa rivelazione finale.

The Author:
Massimo Cuomo è nato a Venezia nel 1974 e vive a Portogruaro. Ha esordito nel 2011 con il romanzo Malcom, seguito nel 2014 da Piccola osteria senza parole.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

July 2017 Wrap up

July for me means holidays and holidays normally mean more time to read! Below a quick summary of the novels I read this month. Full reviews on blog!

The Nest - C. D'Aprix Sweeney
A dysfunctional family saga set in NY. Pleasant but on the subject there are better reads.
Rating:  6 out of 10

La lettrice scomparsa - F. Stassi
Lento, noioso, spocchioso
Rating:  Abbandonato

Swimming home - D. Levy
A peculiar, languid, summery short novel set in Nice. Did't convince me much.
Rating:  5 out of 10

Where'd you go, Bernadette - M. Semple
Loved Bernadette, an hilarious and original novel, highly recommend it!
Rating:  8,5 out of 10

La ragazza sbagliata - G. Simi
Un noir con varie svolte, ma con un protagonista insopportabile. Scritto bene.
Rating:  7 out of 10

French Rapsody - A. Laurain
Searching for the lost past. Pleasant read but not as good as the previous two novels. A
Rating:  6 out of 10

Le mie amiche streghe - S. Bencivelli
Terribile, spocchioso, noiso, petulante.
Rating:  4 out of 10

Piccola osteria senza parole - M. Cuomo
Un'ironico ritratto della provincia campagnola veneta. Carino, ma non un capolavoro come mi aspettavo.
Rating:  6,5 out of 10

L'arminuta - D. Di Pietrantonio
Bello, bello, scrittura semplice ma diretta, una storia di famiglie, sorelle, forza di carattere. Consigliato!
Rating:  9 out of 10

La danza delle ombre felici - A. Munro
Raccolta di racconti autobiografici. Scritti molto bene, ma lo stile della Munro non mi prende.
Rating:  6 out of 10

Eligible - C. Sittenfeld
A modern remake of Pride and prejudice. Not very original, yet pleasant and funny.
Rating:  6,5 out of 10

Look at me - S. Duguid
A family drama about a newly found sister. Not my writing style, too slow at times, too neurotic at others.
Rating:  Abandoned