Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally 

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

DNF @ 20%.


This book and I didn't get off to a great start, and I admit that some of this was due to my own preconceptions. But, I gave it a try.


It just didn't work.


When at 16% I still felt like



it just was not getting any better. The writing style was just aggravating me. I should have stopped there, but thought I'd read on for a bit to see if maybe the characters would make up the overuse of alliterations, but I just could not even get invested in the plot that was hinted at.



There are just so many more books out there that I would rather read.



Reading progress update: I've read 3%.

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

The overuse of alliterations is annoying me already. How long before it will drive me bonkers?



Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 321 pages.

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

As much as I would like to crack on with my Opoly reads, I need to make a start on this month's RL book group read.


If only I found the premise of the book a bit more interesting. How is it that the books on the library group reading list are all a bit meh? From what I have seen, the titles are either hyped up popular fiction novels or debut works of unknown authors.


I've had this book for three weeks but have had no interest in starting this. I hope I am wrong but I can't shake the feeling that this will be another over-written, highly dramatic, humorless, family saga, which will derive a lot of "interest" based on its "exotic" setting and possibly some or other romantic entanglement or, alternatively, tale of hardship.


I really hope I'm wrong.


Has anyone read this?

Making History

Making History - Stephen Fry

Can you have a mid-life crisis at twenty-four? Or is it just the usual crisis of adulthood, something I was going to have to get used to until I doddered into oblivion? For the past year, I realised, I had been suffering from this pain, this leaking of hot lead in my stomach. Every morning when I awoke and stared at the ceiling and listened to Jane’s gentle snoring it flooded my gut, a dark swell of recognition that here was another pissing day to be got through as me. How can you tell if that’s freakish or usual? No one ever says. The ceaselessly expanding Christian Societies in the university would tell you that it was a sign that you needed room for Christ in your life. That your ache was a vacuum in the soul. Yeah, right. Sure. It was the same void that drugs filled, I supposed. I had thought too that maybe this was what Jane was for. No, not what Jane was for, what Love was for. Then either I didn’t love Jane as I should or this was another blown theory. The longings of a creative spirit then? Maybe my soul craved expression in Art? But: can’t draw, can’t write, can’t sing, can’t play. Great. Where does that leave me? A kind of Salieri deal perhaps. Cursed with enough of divine fire to recognise it in others, but not enough to create anything myself. Aw, rats . . .

Even tho I love Stephen Fry's books (and pretty much everything else he shares with the world), Making History has been lingering on my kindle without even tempting me to start this. Why is that?


Well, I unfortunately was put of by the premise that promised time travel that would culminate in the prevention of Hitler, two subjects that really don't intrigue me at all.


When I started the book, the misgivings I had with the premise continued: I liked Fry's writing but I still couldn't get to grips with reading what was in part a biography of Hitler, which, well, I had not planned on ever reading. I even found myself skimming some of those parts. It was written really well, but not something I would have engaged with if it had been by any other author.


However, I knew enough about Stephen Fry to be intrigued as to how he would handle the subject and how he would tie up the various parallel story lines. 


And of course the second story line about a history student who has just submitted his PhD thesis, was quirky enough and contained all the good parts, the parts where Fry questions things like the relationship between science and art, and how society attributes more importance to one rather than the other.


But then it happened: At about the half-way point, two things happened:


For one, I realised how unusual it is to read a WWI account (even tho fiction) from a German perspective. What is more, Fry did this rather well and without resorting to a lot of stereotyping or using cliches.



The second change was that the story suddenly changed a gear when the two plots crossed, and when we get to read Fry's conjectured alternate reality, which is not as, erm, peachy as the simple solution erasing Hitler's existence from the 20th century may seem. 


The second half of the book had me gripped. If I had not arranged to meet with a friend for lunch, I would have read this book straight through all morning.


What I loved about Fry's story is that he did not rely on a naive plot, but actually put a lot of thought into his conjectures, where one change effects so many things that outcomes are not predictable. And, yet, despite the sensitive subjects that Fry brought up, there is an overarching tone of hope for humankind, even if the book focuses on the balance between the good and the bad that comes with every action.


I absolutely loved it.


Unfortunately, this is the last of Fry's novels that I hadn't read, yet, so I can only hope that he will at some point write another one. I love his other books (the non-fiction ones), but his fiction work is rather special to me.

Reading progress update: I've read 97%.

Making History - Stephen Fry

Aaaarrrghh.... I want to know how it ends but I don't want the book to end!



Reading progress update: I've read 69%.

Making History - Stephen Fry

"Gripping" is when you can't even get up from your book when your coffee is ready.

Booklikes-Opoly - BrokenTune's Game Updates

Let the games begin!

Many thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for creating this intricate and detailed game for us.


I'll use this post for updates and as a balance sheet (aka score card).



May 14th:


I've spent the last two days "in jail" reading through my sentence with The Franchise Affair (278p.) and twenty odd pages of Der Kaempfer im Vatikan, a biography of Pope Francis, which I will continue reading on the side.  


I'm delighted to be able to roll again, tho.


Bank account: $58

Dice roll:


2 2

Timestamp: 2017-05-14 16:54:00 UTC


....which takes me to: "Tomorrowland Station" Sq. 22 - Read a book that involves time travel either to the future or to the past."


Ugh, time travel again... Not a fan. The only title that comes to mind is H.G. Wells The Time Machine, unless someone can tell me if Journey to the Centre of the Earth would qualify as they end of finding a prehistoric world...


Edit: I found Making History by Stephen Fry on my kindle, which involves time travel. That's going to be the book I choose. 594p.


Dice roll #2 (because doubles):


2 3

Timestamp: 2017-05-14 17:06:02 UTC


....which takes me to: "Adventureland" Sq. 27 - Read a book by an author whose initials can be found in the name "Tarzan" or that has a tree on the cover."


I have just the book for this on my shelves and I am delighted to start Das Wunder the Baums by Annemarie Schwarzenbach. (Tree on the cover.) 295p. 


-read more-

The Franchise Affair

The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Book 3) - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard

Another one from the Inspector Grant series. It is not as gripping or interesting as The Daughter of Time, which has been my introduction to Tey's works, but The Franchise Affair was also an enjoyable read - perfect to chill out after all of the excitement of last week. 


Most surprising to me was that this is not a murder mystery, but one where two women living in a house in between two small towns are accused of kidnapping a young girl to force her to work as their servant.


The premise sounds preposterous, but Tey's slow unravelling of the story and her quips about the English legal system and about how the characters are perceived by their neighbours make this story worth the read. 

The Sunday Post: Clachnaben

Happy Sunday!


In a spontaneous turn of events, a couple of friends invited me to join them on a hike yesterday. I was at their house waiting for the tow truck to take my broken down car to the garage when they came up with the idea of walking up one of the many, many, many hills around this part of the world. So, of course, I was delighted - even tho the prospect of getting up early for outdoorsy exercise after a night of drinks and nibbles (it was Eurovision night last night!) was a bit daunting. 


I needn't have worried. I woke up freakishly early (you know that waking feeling when you're trying to decide whether a hangover will develop or not?), made sandwiches and coffee, and dug out my hiking boots.


I haven't been hiking properly for about two years (and am not the fittest of people), so this really was a bit daunting but the company was great and we got there early enough to have a lot of time to make our way up the hill.



Clachnaben (Gaelic for "rock on the hill") looks pretty impressive but it is still classed as a "hill", not a munro. The ascent, however, was pretty challenging - well, it was for me - and changed between wide paths to very narrow ones on the edge of steep slopes, from smooth to rocky steps and rubble.



By the time we made it to the top, I was done for.



The views made up for the effort, tho:


Die So Geliebte (Lei Cosi Amata)

Die So Geliebte. Roman Um Annemarie Schwarzenbach - Melania G. Mazzucco

Die So Geliebte (The So Beloved), originally published in Italian as Lei Cosi Amata, a fictionalised biography of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, on of the 1930s travel writers that I have become a fan of over the last couple of years, really quite surprised me.


I'm always hesitant about fictionalised biography because so many authors try to add an angle (usually a soppy romance - blergh!) that wasn't really there, so when I come across a book that does not dwell on this, is researched well, includes a lot of details and dates, and even goes to some effort to describe the research process in the afterword, it is exciting.

Of course, there are still aspects that I could criticise in the book: I still only have a vague concept of what Mazzucco describes as the betrayal of the MC (Schwarzenbach) on her family or the "disgrace" she's brought on her family, or that some of the re-imagined conversations were overly dramatic and sounded somewhat unnatural, or that some of the episodes in Schwarzenbach's life were missing, like her famous trip to Afghanistan with Kini Maillart.


However, these small criticisms fade when I look at the intent of the book, which was to tell the story of a young person in the 1920s and 30s who was searching for her own identity and purpose in a world that seemed to be falling apart. It was not the intent of the book to be a factual chronology of Schwarzenbach's life but to give context to it. And in this it really succeeded. 


(Btw, it is kinda ironic that the cover of the book is from a film called "Die Reise nach Kafiristan", which is loosely based on the trip with Maillart that is missing from this book.)

The Day of the Owl

The Day of the Owl - Anthony Oliver, George Scialabba, Archibald Colquhoun, Leonardo Sciascia

Mainlanders are decent enough but just don’t understand things.

I came across Sciascia when browsing through the Sicily travel guide last week, which recommended The Day of the Owl (alongside Lampedusa's The Leopard) as quintessential Sicilian reads. 


The Day of the Owl begins with a murder that takes places in broad daylight in a town square. There is an abundance of witnesses but nobody claims to have seen anything or know anything significant that could lead the police to the killer.


And so the investigation, led by a "Northerner", begins to unravel the complicated net of obligation, honor, and lies that surrounds the killing and tries to describe the organisation of the mafia, at a time when its existence was still being denied and kept out of public view. 


Sciascia wrote this in 1961 (8 years before Puzo would publish The Godfather), and although the novella is only 100+ pages in length, it has the depth of a full length novel, and leaves behind an unsettling notion of how big an influence the organisation must have had (or still has?) on the lives of people who are surrounded by the web of silence and obligations. 


This was a fascinating read.



Corleone (picture found on the www), the original HQ of the mafia.

Reading progress update: I've read 12 out of 136 pages.

The Day of the Owl - Anthony Oliver, George Scialabba, Archibald Colquhoun, Leonardo Sciascia

Not part of the BL-Opoly, but I felt obliged to read this because... Sicily.

# Follow a Newbie



Can you please check out  Coffee time with romance , who seems to be a new(ish) and underfollowed member?


BL has been running pretty smoothly since Kate's return (Yay!!!) but it is still difficult to connect with other members and interact if you're new to BookLikes, so I would like to take the opportunity to  remind about the open discussion groups set up some time ago where people can drop in say hello or tell others about new blogs they have found. 


The Groups are located in :


Find New Booklikes Blogs To Follow


Happy reading!



Reading progress update: I've read 236 out of 541 pages.

Die So Geliebte. Roman Um Annemarie Schwarzenbach - Melania G. Mazzucco

Die So Geliebte (The So Beloved) is the book I chose for the BL-Opoply Carsland 18 square - it has a car on the cover. 


It is a fictionalised biography of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, one of the 1930s travel writers that I have become a fan of over the last couple of years.


Usually, a fictionalised biography would put me off because I prefer to read either primary sources or biographies that do not involve the author imagining conversations and actions between people, but I don't mind it in this one, even where some of the imagined scenes are hard to prove or even guess. What I can say so far is that much of what Mazzuco has written seems to match what I have read in other sources.

Rose's Run

Rose's Run - Dawn Dumont

In this particular year, Dahlia had already run three marathons, three half marathons, and four 10Ks — and it was only June. This was Rose’s second race, in her lifetime. (Fifth if you included races she ran in elementary school. She’d done okay in those — never last, just an innocuous second or third last, depending on whether one or both of the asthmatic Bower twins was in attendance.) She’d never had an athletic performance that resulted in someone taking her aside afterwards like the coach in Rocky and patting her on the shoulder: “Yuh got real talent, kid. But you’re still a bum.”

I don't even remember how I found this book but it's been lingering on my kindle for far too long. You know when you browse through your library and find titles that you really want to pick up and read but you don't want to squeeze them in between other books and rush them? This has been one of those books. 


Yet, I had no idea what the book would be about. All I knew was that it was about Rose, a mother of two, who lives on a reservation in Saskatchewan and decides to take up running.


What I didn't know was how her decision to take up running came about, and when the book started off with Rose standing on the starting line of a 10k race without having had much training at all and showing Rose full of both self-doubt and determination to finish this race, I was intrigued. 


This was a light read. Dumont has a warm and empathetic way of narrating Rose's story and that of the other characters on the "rez". She's funny, yet, gets across some of the issues faced by Rose's community. 


There even was a romance element that I didn't mind reading about because it was quite quirky and fun, and that is really saying something.


I look forward to reading Dumont's other book Nobody Cries at Bingo, which has also been on the kindle for far too long already.


Reading progress update: I've read 17%.

11/22/63 - Stephen King

This just isn't for me. 


DNF @ 17%

Currently reading

Der Kämpfer im Vatikan: Papst Franziskus und sein mutiger Weg (German Edition) by Andreas Englisch
Progress: 46/374pages
Das Wunder des Baums by Annemarie Schwarzenbach
Progress: 19/295pages
Metamorphoses by Denis Feeney, Ovid, David Raeburn
Progress: 248/723pages