Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Book Review: Roseanna - M. Sjowall - P. Whaloo


“...you have three of the most important virtues a policeman can have,” he thought. “You are stubborn and logical, and completely calm.”
What a good, old fashioned crime novel, with a down to earth detective, Martin Beck, and a proper investigation in Sweden in the 60s, with no technology as such, but just investigators using their brains and their feet to find the killer. The crime itself reminded a bit Agatha Christie's as it was committed on a closed environment (a boat) and there are several people that could be the perpetrator for several reasons. Martin Beck is an interesting character, quite moody and depressed, reminded me of Mankell's novels, which of course were written at a later date though.
An absolute gen of a crime novel, I surely will read the other nine books of the serie - Roseanna being the first and I would recommend it to readers who like a good, solid, old fashioned mystery book.
“January 7 arrived and looked like January 7. The streets were full of gray, frozen people without money.” 
Overall rating: 7,5      Plot: 7,5     Writing style: 7      Cover:  5
Title: Roseanna
Author: Maj Sjowall, Per Wahloo
Publisher: Fourth Estate Books
Pages: 304
Publication year: 1965

Plot:

The first book in the classic Martin Beck detective series from the 1960s - the novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime writing. Hugely acclaimed, the Martin Beck series were the original Scandinavian crime novels and have inspired the writings of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo. Written in the 1960s, 10 books completed in 10 years, they are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo - a husband and wife team from Sweden. They follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction; without his creation Ian Rankin's John Rebus or Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander may never have been conceived. The novels can be read separately, but are best read in chronological order, so the reader can follow the characters' development and get drawn into the series as a whole. 'Roseanna' begins on a July afternoon, the body of a young woman is dredged from Sweden's beautiful Lake Vattern. Three months later, all that Police Inspector Martin Beck knows is that her name is Roseanna, that she came from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that she could have been strangled by any one of eighty-five people. 

The Authors:
Per Fredrik Wahlöö (5 August 1926 – 22 June 1975) -and Maj Sjöwall (born September 25, 1935) are Swedish authors, best known for the series of ten novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm, published between 1965 and 1975.Sjöwall had a 13-year relationship with Wahlöö which lasted until his death in 1975

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Book Review: Pulvis et umbra - A. Manzini




“Da quando ero piccolo ho sempre avuto la sensazione di stare nella camera della morte, hai presente? Quel percorso che fanno fare ai tonni nelle mattanze? Per quanto sia tortuoso, pieno di angoli e svolte, finiscono tutti nella trappola per essere trasformati in scatolette. Ecco, per me è la stessa cosa. Qualsiasi decisione tu prenda nella vita arrivi sempre nello stesso posto, nella scatoletta. Ci illudiamo di fare delle scelte, ma la strada è già segnata e questo non me lo toglie nessuno dalla testa...”

Premessa: amo Rocco, amo come parla in romanaccio de' Trastevere, amo il suo non avere peli sulla llingua, amo il suo attaccamento alle sue Clarks e i suoi loden anche con la neve, amo la sua ruvidezza e il suo lato "oscuro", ma amo anche la sua tenerezza, il suo proteggere amici e colleghi, il suo dolore, il suo parlare con il fantasma della moglie deceduta. Direi che, insieme all'avvocato Guerrieri di Carofiglio, e' il mio "eroe" maschile letterario.
Quindi ho aspettato questo settimo capitolo della saga di Schiavone con apprensione (altro che groupies degli anni '70!) e appena l'ho ricevuto, l'ho divorato. E' davvero facile rientrare nel mondo di Rocco, e farsi prendere dalle indagini, dai problemi di Rocco e da quelli dei suo agenti.
Come sempre l'umorismo del vicequestore fa morire, soprattutto quando si tratta dei due agenti D'Intino e Deruta, come pure rimane intatta la sua avversione per le varie rotture che si presentano in questura sotto vari gradi.
Ma in questo ultimo romanzo, forse ancora piu' che nel precedente 7-7-2007, Rocco appare molto malinconico, Marina e' quasi del tutto sparita e chiaramente Rocco vorrebbe che tornasse. E Schiavone fa vedere un lato molto piu' tenero di se',un lato che ha bisogno di amore e compagnia, sia impersonificati nella cagnina Lupa che sta sempre al suo fianco, che nel vicino adolescente, per cui Rocco diventa una specie di figura paterna/amico prendendolo sotto la sua ala. 
Non voglio fare spoiler, quindi non vado avanti a raccontare perche' questo libro e' cosi' malinconico, tanto che alla fine avrei tanto voluto essere li' con Schiavone e dargli un super abbraccio, perche', come dice il titolo Rocco in questo romanzo mangia tanta polvere e deve affrontare tante ombre, alcune politiche, professionali, altre molto piu' private e personali. 
Un libro che si legge tutto d'un fiato, che vorresti non finisse mai, un romanzo che unisce con maestria giallo, humour, malinconia, scelte di vita, amore, amicizia, valori. Una bellissima lettura (anche se per me il preferito della serie rimane sempre 7-7-2007). E ora che e' finita, non vedo l'ora che sia trasformata in serie tv con il mitico Giallini e che Mr Manzini si sbrighi a scrivere il seguito!

“Perfetto. Hai appena imparato l’articolo sette della costituzione romana che recita: uno sticazzi al momento giusto risolve mille problemi....”

Overall rating: 8      Plot: 8     Writing style: 9      Cover:  7,5



Title: Pulvis et umbra
Author: Antonio Manzini
Publisher: Sellerio Editore
Pages: 416
Publication year: 2017

Plot:
In Pulvis et umbra due trame si svolgono in parallelo. Ad Aosta si trova il cadavere di una trans. A Roma, in un campo verso la Pontina, due cani pastore annusano il cadavere di un uomo che porta addosso un foglietto scritto. L’indagine sul primo omicidio si smarrisce urtando contro identità nascoste ed esistenze oscurate. Il secondo lascia un cadavere che puzza di storie passate e di vendette. In entrambi Schiavone è messo in mezzo con la sua persona. E proprio quando il fantasma della moglie Marina comincia a ritirarsi, mentre l’agente Caterina Rispoli rivela un passato che chiede tenerezza e un ragazzino solitario risveglia sentimenti paterni inusitati, quando quindi la ruvida scorza con cui si protegge è sfidata da un po’ di umanità intorno, le indagini lo sospingono a lottare contro le sue ombre. Tenta di afferrarle e gli sembra che si trasformino in polvere. La polvere che lascia ogni tradimento.

The Author:

Antonio Manzini (Roma7 agosto 1964) è un attoresceneggiatoreregista e scrittore italiano.
Ha pubblicato i romanzi Sangue marcio e La giostra dei criceti, quest'ultimo pubblicato da Sellerio nel 2017. La serie con Rocco Schiavone è iniziata con il romanzo Pista nera (Sellerio, 2013) cui sono seguiti La costola di Adamo (2014), Non è stagione(2015), Era di maggio (2015), Cinque indagini romane per Rocco Schiavone (2016), 7-7-2007 (2016) e Pulvis et umbra (2017). Nel 2015 ha pubblicato Sull’orlo del precipizio in altra collana di questa casa editrice. Nel 2016 ha anche pubblicato il romanzo Orfani Bianchi per la casa editrice Chiare lettere.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Book review: Vinegar Girl - A. Tyler


“In my country they have proverb: ‘Beware against the sweet person, for sugar has no nutrition.’” This was intriguing. Kate said, “Well, in my country they say that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” 

I really like Anne Tyler's serene, tranquil yet poignant writing style. She is very good at describing families and people with all their qualities and weaknesses and this novel is very witty as well as superbly written. This is the story of a father who, thinking of doing a good thing for both his researcher and his daughter, try to match them up so he can obtain his green card to stay in the US.
Kate Battista, daughter, sister, nursery teacher is a very no non-sense person, quite blunt and direct and with little filters between what she thinks and what she says. Which is brilliant, I loved her, even if her attitude leads her to troubles in her workplace. Pyotr comes from a very different culture and his ways os expressing himself are hilarious. There are comic scenes in the novel between the family relatives that are very funny and witty. The book is apparently a modern remake of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, which I have never read so I cannot really comment on that.
Overall I really liked this novel, loved the main character and Tyler's writing style. 



“It’s hard being a man. Have you ever thought about that? Anything that’s bothering them, men think they have to hide it. They think they should seem in charge, in control; they don’t dare show their true feelings. No matter if they’re hurting or desperate or stricken with grief, if they’re heartsick or they’re homesick or some huge dark guilt is hanging over them or they’re about to fail big-time at something—‘Oh, I’m okay,’ they say. ‘Everything’s just fine.’ They’re a whole lot less free than women are, when you think about it.” 

Overall rating: 7      Plot: 7     Writing style: 8      Cover:  6

Title: Vinegar girl
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 272
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
Kate Battista is stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and infuriating younger sister Bunny? 
Dr Battista has other problems. His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, his new scientific breakthrough will fall through…
When Dr Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Will Kate be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to win her round?

The Author:
Anne Tyler (born October 25, 1941) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and literary critic. She has published 20 novels,Tyler resides in the Roland Park neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, where most of her novels are set.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Book Review: Touch & go - L. Gardner


“Violence, the great equaliser. Cared nothing for money, class, occupation. One day, it simply found you.” 

My first Lisa Gardner's book and I loved it! Such a suspense filled, fast moving detective story!
I really liked all the main detective characters and, even if I didn't read the first book in the Tessa Leoni's serie, it was quite easy to catch up with her personality and to like her. The character I really liked though is Wyatt Foster, a lied back, easy going, smart sergeant in New Hampshire, very down to earth and likable I really hope the promises of a relationship between the two gets concrete in the next chapter of the serie! I just bought Love you more, the first novel with Tessa Leoni, as I am curios to read about her deceased husband and how she went from police office to private investigator.
I'd highly recommend this novel to readers who like books filled with a lot of surprises, plotting, detective work. Brilliant!
.
Overall rating: 8      Plot: 8     Writing style: 7      Cover:  6


Title: Touch & Go
Author: Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 480
Publication year: 2013

Plot:
Justin and Libby Denbe have it all: a beautiful daughter; a gorgeous house; a great marriage, admired by all. Arriving at the crime scene of their home, investigator Tessa Leoni finds no witnesses, no ransom demands or motive - just a perfect little family, gone. But Tessa knows that flawless fronts can hide the darkest secrets. Now, she must race against the clock to uncover the truth. Who would want to kidnap such a family? And how far would they be willing to go?

The Author:
Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times crime thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. Lisa lives in New Hampshire with her auto-racing husband and black-diamond skiing daughter. She spends her days writing in her loft with a young silly sheltie and a adventurous terrier. http://lisagardner.com/about

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Book Review: Three Martini lunch - S. Rindell


"I thought most girls were just waiting for a ring." "Well, I am waiting for a ring... On the telephone. From my boss. Telling me I've been promoted." 

I was captured by the title of this novel, I never heard of that American expression before - I had to google it! - but I love Martini (my poison is Martini bianco not the cocktail Martini, though), I love NY and stories set there, especially in the 50s, and I definitely love novels about the publishing world. So this looked like the perfect read for me, hopefully as enjoyable as My Salinger year by J. Rakoff or No Angel by P. Vincenzi.
I loved the female main character, Eden, how determined she is to make a career for herself in the publishing world, despite her being a woman.
I did not love, however the "digressions" about the other book characters, good stories on their own, but a bit too much jumping around plots in my view.
Overall a pleasant read, I'd have loved it if it was just all about Eden though.

“Back in those days My Old Man was king of what they called three-martini lunch. This meant that in dimly lit steak houses all over Manhattan my father made bold, impetuous deals over gin and oysters. That was how it was done. Publishing was a place for men with ferocity and an appetite for life.” 
Overall rating: 6,5      Plot:  6,5    Writing style: 6,5      Cover:  5
Title: Three Martini lunch
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Pages: 543
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
Cliff Nelson is the privileged son of an editor at a New York publishing house. Having dropped out of college he's slumming it around Greenwich village, enjoying the nightlife, booze, drugs and the idea that he's the next Kerouac. Eden Katz arrives in New York fresh-faced and filled with ambition to realise her dream of becoming an editor. She has to develop a thicker skin and adopt an imposture of her own in order to succeed. Finally Miles Tillman, a black soon-to-be Columbia graduate and publishing house bike messenger, is an aspiring writer who feels he straddles various worlds and belongs to none. Their choices, concealment's and betrayals as they reach for their goals ripple outwards leaving none of them unchanged.
The Author:
Suzanne Rindell is a doctoral student in American modernist literature at Rice University. Her first novel, THE OTHER TYPIST, debuted on May 7, 2013. It has been translated into 15 languages and optioned for film by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Her second novel, THREE-MARTINI LUNCH, is forthcoming from Putnam on April 5, 2016. She lives in New York City and is currently working on a third novel.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Book Review: The book of unknown Americans - C. Henriquez


“We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them. And who would they hate then?” 

They are from Mexico, Puertorico, Panama, Guatemala, they have no choice but to leave their mother countries and to find a new life in Delaware, USA. They are all hard workers, simple people who just want peace and a decent life. They all left their countries thinking of the USA as the "promised land", the land where everybody can make it. And yet they remain in their little "ghetto", where they just speak spanish and cook Hispanic food and there is a great sense of community. They struggle to find jobs, they have underpaid jobs with zero satisfaction but they don't complain as they have moved for their families and they have hope for a better future.
However, there is a sense of sadness in the novel, a sense of hopeless feeling for the future among the characters that have left me a sense of bitterness at the end I cannot shift.
A very interesting novel, it is fascinating to read how these people live and how they are treated, the differences in cultures. I loved how strong the women are in the novel, never complaining even if they are homesick. 
The brief chapters where other immigrants tell their stories distracted me from the main plot and I did not like that very much.
Overall an interesting read, quite sad and bitter.


Overall rating: 6,5      Plot: 7     Writing style: 6,5      Cover:  6,5


Title: The book of unknown Americans
Author: Cristina Henriquez
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 304
Publication year: 2014

Plot:
A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she'll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It's also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel's core.
Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart. 
The Author:
Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, which was a New York TimesNotable Book of 2014 and one of Amazon’s Top 10 Books of the Year. It was the Daily Beast Novel of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, a Target Book of the Month selection, and was chosen one of the best books of the year by BookPage, Oprah.com, and School Library Journal. It was also longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Henriquez is also the author The World In Half (a novel), and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection.
Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and AGNI along with the anthology This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers.
Cristina’s non-fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, The Oxford American, and Preservation as well as in the anthologies State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America and Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Women Writers Reflect on the Candidate and What Her Campaign Meant.
She was featured in Virginia Quarterly Review as one of “Fiction’s New Luminaries,” has been a guest on National Public Radio, and is a recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, a grant started by Sandra Cisneros in honor of her father.
Cristina earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Illinois.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Book review: Le notti blu - C. Marchelli


“Se c'è una regola dell'amore, vorrebbe dirle, è questa: soccorrersi senza bisogno di chiamarsi.” 

Adoro la copertina di questo libro! Sono stata subito attratta dalla trama, mi e' sembrato un po# la versione "maschile" di L'amore che mi resta della Marzano (che avevo recensito qui). Le notti blu e' infatti la storia di un padre che perde il figlio suicida. Una storia dolce e triste, in cui i genitori non trovano pace, ma scoprono, invece, un enorme segreto sul figlio.
La trama di per se' e' interessante, ma lo stile non mi ha presa per niente, l'ho trovato tedioso, fastidioso. i filosofeggianti dialoghi del padre mi sono stati pesantissimi e le descrizioni geologiche del figlio pure. La scrittura, a mio avviso, e' troppo piatta e non riesco a provare alcun sentimento per nessuno dei personaggi, solo un certo fastidio che non so definire con esattezza.
Nel complesso quindi non mi e' piaciuto, troppo piatto e a tratti tedioso.


Overall rating: 5      Plot: 6     Writing style: 5      Cover:  7,5


Title: Le notti blu
Author: Chiara Marchelli
Publisher: Giulio Perrone editore
Pages: 223
Publication year: 2017

Plot:
Tutti crediamo di conoscere le persone che amiamo: Larissa e Michele si conoscono da una vita, così come pensano di conoscere Mirko, il figlio che lascia gli Stati Uniti, dove è nato, per vivere in Italia e sposare Caterina. Un colpo di fulmine che non hanno mai approvato pienamente.
Larissa e Michele sono sposati da oltre trent’anni, vivono a New York, hanno una vita agiata e hanno saputo costruire un rapporto solido, basato sulla cura reciproca, sulle piccole e generose attenzioni e sulle affettuose abitudini della loro quotidianità.
Le notti blu racconta, come una sorta di lastra raggi X, il matrimonio di Larissa e Michele e la loro vita che sembra normalissima, se non fosse per un dolore tremendo che accompagna, e regola, le loro esistenze. È una notizia dall’ Italia a rompere l’equilibrio che la coppia ha faticosamente costruito.


The Author:
Chiara Marchelli è nata nel 1972 ad Aosta e vive a New York dal 1999 dove lavora come editor, copywriter e traduttrice.
Laureata in lingue orientali all'Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, dopo aver vissuto in Belgio e in Egitto, esordisce nel 2003 con il romanzo Angeli e cani, Premio Rapallo Carige per la donna scrittrice Opera prima
Dopo gli incarichi presso l’Università di Pavia e la John Cabot University di Roma, diventa titolare dal 2004 della cattedra di Italiano e Scrittura creativa all'Università di New York.
Dopo la raccolta di racconti Sotto i tuoi occhi del 2007, torna la romanzo nel 2014 con L'amore involontario al quale fanno seguito Le mie parole per te l'anno successivo e Le notti blu nel 2017, entrato nella dozzina del Premio Strega.

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

Plot:
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

Plot:
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

Plot:
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

Plot:


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.
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