Sunday, 31 July 2016

A month in books - July 2016

I've read eighteen books in July, including two audio books. Authors came from twelve different countries which gave me a great range of cultures and ideas. I did have one Did Not Finish which was Orthokosta by Thanassis Valtinos, but I also read what I am sure will be one of my Top Ten books of 2016 - if not The book of the year, The First Wife by Paulina Chiziane. I don't think I can recommend this book highly enough!


The Cup That Made You Stagger by Katherine Hayton

Not for sale.

Read my full book review on Literary Flits

A download link for The Cup That Made You Stagger was included at the end of my KindleScout find The Three Deaths Of Magdalene Lynton. This short story complements the original novel, telling the back story of one of the supporting characters in greater detail.


The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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I first listened to my The Gambler Audible download a few years ago and enjoyed the book just as much again this time around. Granny has to be one of the best characters ever written and I love Dostoyevsky's portrayal of high society shenanigans in a casino resort.


Orthokosta by Thanassis Valtinos

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I thought I would learn a lot about Greece and its civil war in the years immediately following WW2 by reading this novel. Unfortunately I found it too much of a struggle to understand the relationships and connections between the many characters and so abandoned Orthokosta part way through.


Haven by Katherine Bogle

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I was pleased to be offered a review copy of Haven by its author and enjoyed reading this indie fantasy novel. Bogle raises some interesting philosophical questions while telling a good story - with a proper ending!


Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 

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Can you believe that I have only just gotten around to reading this classic? As the book is such a feature of British culture, I thought I knew the story well, but it turns out that much of what I expected isn't actually Mary Shelley's creation at all and her novel is quite a philosophical work.


Happy Hour And Other Philadelphia Cruelties by Tony Knighton

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I had already received a short story, As Long As You Can, from this collection for signing up to Crime Wave Press' newsletter so I was pretty confident I would like the whole book. As it turns out, other stories here and the title novella are even better!



Mistress Of Rome by Kate Quinn 

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We borrowed this historical epic from Dave's daughter and it is a very readable story of privilege and poverty, power and greed. I was reminded of the TV series, Rome, as Mistress Of Rome portrays a similar view of this ancient society.


Yevgeny Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

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I was initially intimidated by the thought of attempting Pushkin's famous poem, but Onegin was surprisingly readable. It's a tragic tale, but with beautiful glimpses of Russian life and moments of humour too.


A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry

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A Long Long Way is set in Ireland and Belgium during The Great War and is frequently a disturbing read. It feels very real and I wish I could unsee some of the images that Barry described. Good writing, but rarely happy.


Songs Of Exile by Banoo Zan

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I really wanted to enjoy this volume of poems, composed by an Iranian woman who now lives in Canada. Unfortunately I just didn't understand enough of Zan's cultural and mythological references so couldn't appreciate much of her poetry.


The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

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I posted my The Omnivore's Dilemma review to coincide with my SmallSteps - Do I Really Want To Eat That? post over here on Stephanie Jane. This book has much in common with Farmageddon, but Pollan approaches the issues from a more personal angle.



The Other One by Nico Reznick

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Another triumph from the pen (keyboard?) of Nico Reznick who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. This novella is a chilling tale of a girl living with the aftermath of her twin's abduction.



Outsider In Amsterdam by Janwillem van der Wetering

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This 1970s Dutch classic reminded me a little of the Sjowall and Wahloo Swedish crime novels in style. Its attitudes to race and gender make for uncomfortable reading at times, but I enjoyed the twists and turns of this murder mystery.


The Road To Soweto: Resistance And The Uprising Of 16 June 1976 by Julian Brown

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This scholarly tome provides an interesting survey of often overlooked mass political action in South Africa between the Sharpville Massacre and the Soweto Uprising, exploring links between students, workers and dissidents across the country.


Across The Silence by Caroline Gourlay

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This coffee table book combines haiku and art to beautiful effect. I was shown the work while visiting a friend's house recently and particularly loved the illustrations which are surprisingly atmospheric.


The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane

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When I learned The First Wife is the first novel by a Mozambican woman to be published I knew I had to read it and this is definitely my book of the month, possibly of the year! Absolutely brilliant!


In The Heart Of Cairo by Mahi Wasfy

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I was tempted back to Smashwords by their July Summer/Winter sale and was pleased to find this Egyptian novel. Admittedly, it's not the best writing, but I was interested in its discussion of culture clashes within the country. If you would like to read this yourself, I am offering an ebook copy in my Giveaway this week.


Riker's Calling by Rico Lamoureux

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Rico Lamoureux contacted me asking if I would like a review copy of his new thriller novella, Riker's Calling. It's an exciting read and if you pre-order before the 4th August you'll get a 25% discount!


So that's all my books for this month. A pretty good haul I think! I'm not sure if I will get as many read in August as we have lots of 'new home' stuff to organise, but I hope so as my To Be Read list is getting longer by the day!

2 comments:

  1. Wow congrats on reading 18 books! Also, I love Frankenstein!

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    Replies
    1. It's well deserving of being a classic :-)

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