Book Haul: June

My goodness, we're halfway through the year already. Summer has made it's way to my doorstep, but it has been raining a fair amount this month. I'm not complaining though, rain is perfect for staying inside and reading!

I participated in my very first readathon this month, the #JuneTopicAThon and it was a lot of fun! Definitely going to do more readathons in the future, they're great motivation.

Enough of that, it's the books we all want to see, so here they are!

Let me know if you've read any of these, and what books you've gotten lately!


Book Review:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Published: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 864
Rating: 4/5

Theo Decker, aged thirteen, has his whole world turned upside down when he survives a huge accident where he lost his mother and somehow made it out with something very valuable that will eventually draw him into a very dangerous circle.

This book was fantastic. I completely understand why people rave over this gem.

My favourite part about this book were the characters. They're very realistic, nuanced and flawed. I did not find a single character in this book that I found to be flat, which is a rarity. I think Theo, the main character, is the kind of person who stays with you for a long time.

The writing is what really makes this story. It creates vivid scenes and drags you into the story, as if you're really there, you can almost smell New York City at times. Tartts writing is stunning and atmospheric.

My only complaint with this book is that I found some parts a bit dragged out. I don't mind long books, but there were parts of this I wish had been shortened.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction with a bit of mystery to it.

You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads


The Classics Book Tag

I found this tag a while ago, and I thought it looked really interesting! I really enjoy classics, so it's the perfect tag.

The original tag can be found over at the wonderful blog It's A Books World.

1. An overhyped classic you didn't like:
I know this is blasphemy to a lot of people, but Little Women by Louisa Mary Alcott didn't sit well with me. I had very high expectations of this though, since everyone seems to love it, so that had a part in it. I also didn't like The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, I did not get that one at all.

2. Favourite time period to read about:
Well, I find myself drawn to any story set between from the middle to late 1800s to around 1940, 1950.

3. Favourite fairytale?
When I was a child, my favourite was Rumpelstiltskin, which I've realized as I've gotten older is a really weird one. I also very much enjoyed Thumbelina and Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves

4. Most embarrassing unread classic:
I don't think one should every really be embarrassed that one hasn't read a certain book, but I probably should have read some Dickens, so I'm reading Oliver Twist now.

5. Top 5 classics you would like to read soon:

6. Favourite modern book/series based on a classic:
The only books I can think of are the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. They're pretty great!

7. Favourite movie version/tv-series based on a classic:
I love the BBC modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, and I very much enjoy both seeing Poirot and Miss Marple on TV. And I very much enjoy the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.

8. Worst classic to movie adaptation:
I can't remember ever seeing an adaptation that I hated.

9. Favourite edition(s) you'd like to collect more classics from:
I'd love to collect more Persephone Books, Penguin English Library, Modern Penguin Classics and VMC Classics. I've also been eyeing Everyman's Library Pocket Classics for a good while...

10. An underhyped classic you would recommend to everyone:
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Feel free to do this yourself! If you have any classics to recommend, shoot them my way.



Book Review:
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: This Side of Paradise
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: 1920
Language: English
Pages: 267
Rating: 3/5

Amory Blaine is handsome, spoiled and idealistic, and completely sure he is destined for greatness. We follow him through his experience at Princeton, during World War I, through several loves and see him grow into a part of the "Lost Generation".

I had zero idea what this book was about, and I had no expectations other than the fact that I know Fitzgerald is loved by many.

I found this book to be quite enjoyable. I quite like books where the main character are not necessarily bad people, but might not have so many redeemable characteristics. I felt like this was like that; Amory is pretentious, lazy and vain.

I found the writing to be quite nice, and I enjoy Fitzgeralds style of writing, which is also why I'll probably read more of his work. There are so many great sentences in his books. Fitzgerald experiments with many different writing styles, and I quite liked that. However, this story didn't move me. It didn't strike me in any particular way, and has therefore gotten a somewhat average rating.

I feel like this isn't the kind of book you read for the plot, but for the writing and for getting to know the author better. So, if that's your jam, this is for you!

You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads



Book Review:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 477
Rating: 5/5

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. When their country experiences turmoil, Ifemelu parts for America, experiencing both defeat and triumph, while Obinze plunges into a dangerous life in London, before returning to Nigeria. Thirteen years later, they meet again.

This is a story of love centered around a man and a woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they call home.

This is, simply, one of the best books I have ever read. It has easily taken it's place among my favourite books of all time. This is an exquisite and crucial piece of literature.

I don't even know where to start with this. I think perhaps the writing is what struck me most. Adichie creates scenes and people that you feel are so real you can almost touch them. I loved her descriptions of families, dynamics in relationships, the places in the story, even things as simple (and complicated) as hair.

This book has taught me many new things, and I love it when books do that. I loved the peek into the culture and the changes in culture the characters experience. But it's the people in this book that snuck their way into my heart. There's something so truthful and raw about they way they are constructed that is so beautiful it almost hurts.

I cannot get over this book. I need to read everything this author has ever published. Everyone needs to read this book. YOU NEED TO READ THIS!
You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads

Also, if you're interesting, I would definitely check out some of Adichies interviews on YouTube. I think she's got a wonderful mind, and I love hearing her speak. One of the interviews I enjoyed most was this one, which I would recommend watching after you've read this book (which you MUST).



Book Review:
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey

Title: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
Author: Julia Strachey
Published: 1932
Language: English
Pages: 119
Rating: 3/5

England in May. Dolly is getting ready to marry the wrong man, and we see the inside of the bustling house on her wedding day.

My very first Persephone book! Quite excited about that, I must say.

This was an enjoyable little read. It's quite charmingly written, though it took me a little while to get into. I was a little confused by all the characters at first, but I got more of a grip the further I got in.

I could very much picture the house this is set in, with all the people in the different rooms and the different floors. It feels sort of like a mix between a play and a short story.

It is very short, and not a lot happens. We don't really get a chance to dig deep, and I thought that was a little sad. I wished we'd had a little more time getting to know these people.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and I would recommend it if you like short, play-like books with beautiful writing.

You can get this book at The Book Depository* or from Persephone Books.
You can read more about it on Goodreads


Top 5: Books I Want To Read from Japanese Authors

I'm quite interested in Asia as a continent and it's culture, and I think it's time to explore more of their literature. Starting with the Japanese, here are five books I want to read.

Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

This is the first book in The Sea of Fertility quartet, and this has been on my radar for quite some time. It's set in Japan in 1912 and is, as far as I know, a family saga. 

The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki

This is set in the years leading up to World War II, and is the story of four sisters trying to preserve a dying way of living. This is called the greatest Japanese novel of the 20th Century, which is quite the praise.

The Man with the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi

I don't really know much about this, but I've bought it because I know it is magical realism, which I'm very much interested in. Also, this cover is glorious. I think this might be the book I first read on this list.
(Edit: Turns out Wu Ming-Yi is actually Taiwanese! Oh well...)

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

This book has been on my to read list forever. This is about a professor who's short-term memory only lasts about eighty minutes, and his relationship with his housekeeper.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I have yet to read a Murakami book, which is a shame. I own this, so I want to read this one first. No idea what it's about, only that I feel I should read it.

Do let me know if you've read any of these, or if you have some Asian literature to recommend.



Book Review:
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Published: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 150
Rating: 2/5

Tony Webster is looking back at his days with his friends, back on times when they were sex-hungry and book-hungry. But the past is not quite as Tony remembers it...

Hm. I am very torn as to how I feel about this book. One one hand, it was in parts very fascinating and overall well-written, on the other I felt like the ending was a bit... disappointing? I don't really know if that's the word for it, but something along those lines.

As stated, I like the way this was written, and I usually like stories with unreliable narrators. And I suppose I liked it in this too, but I didn't really feel a huge connection to anyone in this. I also felt that one of the main characters were being oddly and conveniently angry, and it didn't feel realistic.

The reason I'm disappointed, is that I found the ending to be less shocking than what I felt it was leading up to. I had sort of a "is that it?" feeling when I closed this book. But when you're not really connected to the characters, I suppose it's not such an odd thought to have.

I think this is a book a lot of people would enjoy though. It's a good book for when you want something mysterious and cryptic. For me though, this book was just okay.

You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads


Faerie Magazine

I recently found something of a treasure in a magazine shop, and I flipped through it. I didn't buy it, but since I kept thinking about it, I went back and alas, they didn't have it anymore.

However, I found it online, and thought perhaps this is something some of you might like to see too. It's called Faerie Magazine, and it has all sorts of magical things in it. It comes out quarterly as far as I'm aware, and I got two of the ones I thought looked most interesting to me (one of them which is the one I flipped through in the store). There are stories in here as well, and the best thing about it that there are very little adverts in here, if any.

I think what drew me in the most was the photography. It's just the kind of photos I'm very drawn to; a bit mysterious, a bit magical, and very beautiful. I've also quite loved some of the recipes in this, if you're into cooking.

I took a few snaps of what it looks like...

Have you ever read Faerie Magazine? What magazines do you like?

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