Wednesday 30 May 2018

Recent Reads #6: China Rich Girlfriend, Penguin Mini Modern Classics, I'll Be Gone in the Dark

May has been another great reading month, I've read six books so far and am hoping to finish my seventh before the month is over. It seems like summer is here and I've been really enjoying sitting out on the balcony with a book and a cold lemonade - long may this continue!

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan | ☆☆☆☆
This is a sequel, so no synopsis to avoid spoilers!

In my last recent reads I reviewed the first in this series, Crazy Rich Asians, which I absolutely loved. I decided to listen to China Rich Girlfriend on audiobook as it's a bit of a chunker and I couldn't bear to put it down so this helped me get through it a lot faster. I really recommend the audiobooks for this series, the narrator is so engaging and nails the humour so well. China Rich Girlfriend was just as hilarious as the first book in the series. Kevin Kwan outdoes himself with the heavy satire, bordering-on-ridiculous drama and stunning descriptive passages. I love this series because each book is a hilarious rollercoaster ride but they also have some truly heartfelt moments. Stay tuned to the next recent reads for the finale: Rich People Problems.

Daydreams and Drunkenness of a Young Lady by Clarice Lispector | ☆☆☆
Tales of desire and madness from this giant of Brazilian literature.
This is another from the Penguin mini modern classics series, which the lovely folk at Penguin kindly sent me a selection of. Overall, I found this one a little hard to get into. Clarice Lispector's writing is so unique and I definitely see the great skill in the richness and layering of motifs but I just didn't really find it that enjoyable. I found her writing quite jarring and these three little stories kind of felt like an intense fever dream, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I appreciate the artistry of Lispector's writing but it wasn't quite for me. However, this is why these mini collections are brilliant; they allow you just a taste of the author's work so that you can decide whether you want to read more.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle Mcnamara | ☆☆☆☆
A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer - the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade, thirty years ago, - from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

With the recent arrest of the Golden State Killer, this book has had a lot of hype lately. I first heart of it through one of my favourite podcasts: My Favorite Murder. Karen and Georgia talked about how wonderful this book is and after GSK's arrest a few weeks ago, I knew I had to pick it up.

Michelle Mcnamara's writing is what makes this book stand out from other true crime that I've read. In a case so complex (over 50 crimes scenes, over a ten year period) there is a lot to discuss and therefore a risk of a written account becoming quite dry. I'll Be Gone in the Dark completely avoids this through Michelle Mcnamara's incredible skill as a storyteller. The book has a narrative feel with Michelle's descriptive writing not only making the book truly enthralling but incredibly unnerving. There were times when I was reading this in bed at night and had to get up to make sure all the doors and windows were locked.

Michelle does justice to the upsettingly large number of victims through her sensitive but thorough exploration of the case. Michelle's unexpected death in 2016 means that the book went unfinished, but has been patched together by her close collaborators. If you think that true crime non-fiction isn;t for you, then I urge you to red this snippet of Michelle's writing and reconsider:


What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Recent Reads #5: A Shiver of Snow and Sky, In Search of Our Mothers Gardens, Penguin Mini Moderns

April was a pretty fantastic reading month for me, I finished off a book I'd been reading for about a month and managed to get seven books read in total! I reduced my massive TBR quite a bit and even got a new bookcase so I can see my TBR more clearly, hopefully it'll shame me into reading my own damn books! Now let's get into the reviews...

In Search of Our Mother's Gardens by Alice Walker | ☆☆☆☆.5
Published in 1983, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose is a collection composed of 36 separate pieces written by Alice Walker. The essays, articles, reviews, statements, and speeches were written between 1966 and 1982.

In Search of Our Mother's Gardens is an essay collection from Alice Walker, who is perhaps best known for writing The Color Purple. I bought it in a charity shop years ago and I don't think this particular edition is actually in print anymore so it feels kind of special.

In this collection Alice writes about a range of topics from black folklore of the south to Martin Luther King, single motherhood, feminism and the creative process. The essays vary in length but each is a little gem. It is not the responsibility of people of colour to educate white people, but I did feel like I learnt so much from these essays. Reading about feminism and civil rights from a black woman's perspective at a time of such political upheaval is absolutely invaluable.

I also loved reading about Alice Walker's creative process and her reflection on writing and the research it involves.  The passion, the drive, the history and the mythology behind The Color Purple leaps out from these essays. Walker was heavily inspired by Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and I really enjoyed reading about Walker's fight to uncover Neale Hurston's fate and bring her brilliance back into public knowledge. Although this book took me a while to read (it's fairly dense), I was never bored as Alice Walker's writing is incredible.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke | ☆☆☆
After reading (and loving) The Bear and the Nightingale earlier in the year, I was in the mood for another wintry atmospheric fantasy so I had such high hopes for A Shiver of Snow and Sky but sadly I was left feeling a bit disappointed. I've heard people compare this book's world-building to Leigh Bardugo and I have to say I disagree. The world-building was one of the main elements that let me down. The mythology and fantasy aspects were a little out of the blue and it was hard to feel the supposedly deep history of this isolated island.I found it very hard to connect to the main characters. There was some insta-love without much depth, as most of the relationship building happened pre-book and we were just supposed to accept this deep connection between the two when in fact their chemistry/connection wasn't developed enough on the page. The writing was a little clunky and I didn't understand a lot of the characters' motivations. This book had so much potential which for me it sadly didn't live up to.

The Problem That Has No Name by Betty Friedan |☆☆☆☆
I was absolutely delighted when the lovely folks at penguin sent over a few of their new Penguin Mini Modern Classics. This selection from Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is an interesting look at what inspired the 'second wave' of feminism. I quite honestly am rather uninformed on this particular period of feminism and this snippet of Friedan's work made me want to read more. I'm excited to get through a few more from this collection in the coming months.


What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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