Thursday, August 16, 2012

Random Mini Reviews

My reading has been all over the place this summer. I interned at a bookstore, where they gave me lots of books that made up quite a bit of my summer reading. But, most of these are in German, and a lot of them are adult books. I'm not going to be writing full reviews for any of these, since this is a YA blog, and because it feels weird to review books that I read in German, since translation may have been a part of why I liked or disliked the books. But it feels wrong to not acknowledge these somehow - I've gotten used to stating my thoughts on books in one way or another. Soo I've decided to do mini reviews! These are the random books I've been reading over the summer (minus the ones that don't exist in English) and my brief thoughts on them.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking to save someone else's life.
Surprisingly good! I wasn't expecting to like this one, since it's about a 60-something-year-old guy, and when I read adult, I tend to go for the younger MCs.  I did end up liking this one, though. Very well-written and such a unique idea! Some parts in the middle get a little boring, but I especially liked the last part, when the secrets and the bad stuff start coming out. A very refreshing read for me! 4 out of 5 stars

Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
When English girl Sky, catches a glimpse of bad boy Zed in her new American high school, she can't get him out of her head. He talks to her with his thoughts. He reads her mind. He is the boy she will love for ever. Dark shadows stalk her past but a new evil threatens her future. Sky must face the dark even if it means losing her heart.
Ugh. No. I'll admit that the translation was part of it, because the translation is pretty terrible. But the story itself didn't work for me, either. The first part is all annoying 14-year-old MC ("Does he LIKE me!?"), insta-love, and a love interest that is, essentially, Edward Cullen 2.0. (Or 100.0. Whatever.) Then starts the paranormal stuff, which, again, is the Cullen family minus the bloodsucking. I only liked the very last part, when we start to find out about the MC's past and get to explore her character. 2 out of 5 stars

The Confidant by Hélène Grémillon
Paris, 1975. Sifting through the letters of condolence after her mother's death, Camille discovers a strange missive sent by someone she does not know. She thinks it is probably an error. But then, every Tuesday, a new letter arrives, recounting a tale of two impossible loves, four broken destinies, until the final dénouement destroys everything in its inevitable path. Little by little, Camille begins to piece together the puzzle and is shocked to realise that this story has a direct bearing upon her own life.
Alternating Camille's story and the mysterious letters from the unknown correspondent, Grémillon transports us to the years between 1939 and 1943, a fascinating time in French history, to tell a powerful story of friendship and secrets between women, of surrogacy, passionate love, jealousy, revenge and reconciliation.
Loved this book SO MUCH! Nothing makes sense at first, and I loved slowly putting the pieces together. It is weird and dark and AWESOME. Jellicoe Road meets adult historical, sort of. Just really, really good. 5 out of 5 stars

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.
Hmm... Not sure about this one. The writing is incredible - every page has a sentence so beautiful it'll just make you stop and read it over and over again. But I was kind of underwhelmed by the plot. There are so many issues that are never really addressed or resolved, and that made it kind of hard for me to get invested in any one of the storylines. The fact that very large parts of the MC's life are just skipped over made it even harder to connect with her, and I found myself a little confused as to what part of her life we were reading about when. Still, it was worth it for the gorgeous writing. 3 out of 5 stars

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias
The author of "Fearless" delivers his first novel in 13 years, an autobiographical and devastatingly raw appraisal about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together.
I really liked the first half, when the chapters alternate between the two meeting and the last few weeks before Margaret's death. But in the middle, it kind of went downhill for me; the way Enrique's cheating is handled did not work for me at all. I started feeling removed from the story when it started switching between so many different parts of their lives. 3 out of 5 stars
(I'm showing the German cover here because the one for the English edition is ugly and I really like this one. Hehe.)

Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
July 1964. Chartwell House, Kent: Winston Churchill wakes at dawn. There’s a dark, mute “presence” in the room that focuses on him with rapt concentration. It’s Mr. Chartwell.
Soon after, in London, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress. It’s Mr. Chartwell.
Charismatic, dangerously seductive, Mr. Chartwell unites the eminent statesman at the end of his career and the vulnerable young woman. But can they withstand Mr. Chartwell’s strange, powerful charms and his stranglehold on their lives? Can they even explain who or what he is and why he has come to visit?
This book is so weird, in the best way possible. The whole idea is crazy, and I didn't think I'd like it that much, to be honest, just because it sounded so out there. But I'm so glad I gave it a try - it totally works! The writing is great, making this weird, impossible stuff somehow seem possible, and making this a very entertaining, surprisingly lighthearted read. 4 out of 5 stars

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets.

I loved some storylines but did not like a few others. And there was too much baseball for me - I was confused and bored by most of the baseball scenes. But there was still something about this book - it's very readable, if that makes any sense. I just really liked reading it, whatever the reason. 3 out of 5 stars

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
Really liked this one! Elizabeth Gilbert's style and voice are great; entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. The middle part was a little too spirituality-focused for me, though. 4 out of 5 stars

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

***No summary because of spoilers - this is the sequel to Eat Pray Love.***

I didn't like this one quite as much as Eat Pray Love, simply because the topic doesn't interest me as much. Marriage is just not something I'm really concerned with, yet, so some parts were boring for me. But some of the stuff was still really interesting to learn about, and I still love Elizabeth Gilbert's style. 3 out of 5 stars


  1. I envy you for having internship at bookstore!!
    The Confidant seems interesting. I love stories with "revealing secret from the past" plot.

  2. I am reading The Art of Fielding at the moment - some of the baseball terms are lost on me, but I am really enjoying it so far! Hope your summer of reading continues!

  3. A very interesting selection. THE CONFIDANT looks amazing.


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