March 26, 2016

Weeckies: My Purple Scented Novel by Ian MacEwan



Hello, everybody! This week's short story is My Purple Scented Novel by Ian MacEwan. You can read it at The New Yorker. There is also an audio version of the story there, narrated by the author himself. Enjoy!


Ian MacEwan is one of the authors that I follow closely. So, I was overjoyed to find out this short story just a few days ago. My Purple Scented Novel tells the story of two writers, who were friends since their college days. Both of them want to serve literature, but suddenly one of them writes a script for the television and so it becomes easier for him to succeed. Long story short, the writer that remains unknown causes the destruction of his friend's reputation without ever acknowledging the truth.This narration of the events might easily be considered as his confession, but there is not a single thing in the whole text that indicates that he is regretting his actions, or at least that he has the need for redemption.

Generally, the story of My Purple Scented Novel is  a hit or miss, you'll either love it, or you'll hate it. The morality of the main character is at the best case questionable and what makes it worse is that he lets his friend nurture his own theory why this thing happened the way it did. Although this character isn't a nice one, the narration is so much grabbing that I didn't even notice when I reached the end. I highly recommend My Purple Scented Novel, it's a great investigation of the human character.


Have you read My Purple Scented Novel? Would you forgive the actions of the main character?
Which is your favourite Ian MacEwan novel?

March 24, 2016

Review: The Story of Lucius Cane (Book One) by Vanya Ferreira


Title: The Story of Lucius Cane (Book One)

Author: Vanya Ferreira

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 2016

Number of Pages: 27

Disclaimer: The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!


Summary

London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar sort of vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.


Review

You can never go wrong with the Vampire vs. Werewolf theme in a horror-fantasy novel. Plus, I'm always eager to dive into worlds with supernatural creatures, such as these two. The Story of Lucius Cane is a short novella that promises a lot within this field.

Lucius Cane is apparently a very powerful vampire. Jack Estenborough, aka "The Hound", is a werewolf who is hired to kill Lucius, only to fall into a trap. I have to admit that this story is very intriguing and by the end of the novella, I just needed to know what happened next.

But, as is usual with novellas of this length, I felt that many things were missing. The only real backstory we get in this book is how Jack was converted into a werewolf. But Lucius interested me more, as the protagonist, and I wanted to know more about him, like his origin and who/what is the one that he's constantly hearing in his head! Also, in the beginning, we are introduced to a human character, Anne Hathborne, only to forget her as soon as the chapter finishes.

The Story of Lucius Cane is a novella with a lot of potential and I would love to read it as a full-length novel, as well as Book Two, whenever it's ready. If you want something quick to read and you like horror-fantasy then give it a try!

March 17, 2016

Review: Sophia: Writings On Nature and Religion by Todd Erick Pedersen

Title: Sophia: Writings On Nature and Religion

Author: Todd Erick Pedersen

Publisher: Balboa Press

Date of Publication: 2013

Number of Pages: 172

Find it at: Book Depository

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

Sophia: Writings On Nature and Religion features a selection of concise meditations and short essays, with a host of psalmist-style prose poems and one eponymous hymn. Thus, this book is all at once supposed to deepen and to expand upon and to illuminate, the ancient mysterious and religiously archetypal figure, of Sophia, or Holy Wisdom. Writings On Nature and Religion is then a sustained exploration of this numinous figure and of her livingly gracious presence.

Review

Sophia: Writings on Nature and Religion seemed like the ideal book to provide food for thought. Although I'm not that religious, I am a nature lover and so I thought that I could give it a try. But it turned out another disappointment.

First of all, I never understood what the author tried to write: essays or poetry? I know that in the description they are mentioned as psalmist-style prose poems, but in order to keep the format the author had to cut something from the writing. This often led to half-finished sentences. Another thing that really bothered me was the extensive use of adjectives. I understand perfectly well that the imagery was used in a symbolic way, but it was too much. Most of the times it didn't add anything to the essay, it just described beautiful scenery.

This leads to the next problem I had with this book: its name should be Sophia: Writings On Religion. This was a purely religious book and although at first there was a more holistic approach to it, after a certain point passages from the Bible appeared. Don't misunderstand me, this fact alone didn't bother. I just expected to read something about nature, as well as something about religion.

All in all, Sophia: Writings On Nature and Religion wasn't my cup of tea. I almost didn't finish it. I'm also not sure where to recommend it. I guess, if you are into spiritualism then you could give it a try.

March 16, 2016

The Reading Book Post, March 15th


Hello, everybody! As you might have noticed I'm taking part in another Classics Club Spin and so I'll have to read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner by May 2, 2016. I can't wait to read it! Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The shortlist for The Wellcome Book Prize 2016 was revealed! The winner will become known on April 25, 2016.


  • To Kill A Mockingbird is without a doubt an iconic novel. But the mass-market paperback edition of this book will no longer be available, after the decision of the Harper Lee Estate.

  • A volunteer has discovered a rare letter written by the poet Walt Whitman in lieu of a dying soldier to his wife. Although it is known that the poet wrote those kind of letters, very few of them are actually saved.

  • There is a lot of speculation on who Elena Ferrante really is. Last week, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera hinted that this might be the pseudonym of a university professor in Naples, but it was immediately denied by Ms. Ferrante's publisher, Edizioni E/O. 


  • The Batman '89 series might have happened! Artist Quinones revealed that he along with the writer Kate Leth planned to revisit the 1989 Tim Burton film, Batman Returns. The project was rejected by the editors, and so, we can only speculate. Would you have read it? 


  • Stuck on what to read next? Then you'll definitely find this infographic very helpful. All you have to do is decide which genre you'd like to read!


  • In Which Original Grimm Story Do You Belong? Take the quiz to find out! I got Rapunzel, how about you?


March 6, 2016

The Classics Club Spin #12


The Classics Club is doing another Classics Club Spin. In this event, all the Classics Club members are called to read a classic book within a certain amount of time. But it's not that simple. Each one who wants to participate makes a Spin list, then the Club announces a certain number and the book that it's in that list's number is the one that you have to read.


So, here is my list for spin #12:
  1. Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott
  2. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
  3. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  4. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
  5. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  6. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  7. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  9. The Vampyre; a Tale by John William Polidori
  10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  12. A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne
  13. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  14. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  15. Utopia  by Thomas More
  16. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  17. The Atom Station by Halldor Laxness
  18. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
  19. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  20. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

I can't wait to find out, which book I'll have to read until May 2, 2016.

March 5, 2016

Review: The Boston Ranter: Slanted Vignettes from a Native New Englander by Layden Robinson

Title: The Boston Ranter: Slanted Vignettes from a Native Englander

Author: Layden Robinson

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 85

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.


Summary

This autobiographical novella was inspired by my life growing up in New England. Comedic, dramatic and quite revealing. This latest title will truly explain why I am the raving lunatic I am today.

Review

I'm always up for a short and quirky read. The number of pages appealed to my first demand, and if a cover can tell us things about the book, then this cover appealed to my second demand. But the first question that comes to mind about The Boston Ranter is whether this is a short story collection or a novella, as the summary promises. Would it be some sketch-like stories or would a central plot exist? Is it the story of the author's life, or is it a work of fiction? To be honest, I was kind of confused. I can understand if the author changed the names of the people he mentioned in the stories, but I never figured out if the incidents he described actually happened.

To answer my first question, this is a short story collection. In fact, there are 37 chapters in this book all dealing with different subjects. But there is no way I could see The Boston Ranter as a novella. I'm not sure if describing those chapters as short stories would be alright. Vignettes is definitely a more fitting word. In each chapter the author shares a certain memory, but most of the times the stories don't lead anywhere.

This leads to my next question: is it fiction or not? There is definitely a very particular point of view and some of the characters appear again and again. The way that the stories are written makes you think that these are things that have actually happened. At least, I hope so. In that way, I could forgive that there is no structure in the stories. Most of the times there is neither a beginning nor an ending.

The writing style is vivid and it actually makes The Boston Ranter an easy book to read. The author tries to bring the particular accent of Massachusetts is his writing, but the result isn't always as pleasant or as funny as it tried to be. There are also some profanities, which don't really bother me, but I know that some readers find disturbing. Lastly, there are smileys in a couple of chapters. I didn't mind, but I couldn't explain either the need for their existence in the text.

The Boston Ranter is indeed a quick and easy read. If you can pass the fact that there isn't a central plot and you don't have any problems with the profanities, then you could give it a try. At least, some of the stories are entertaining.


This counts as a self-published book for the 2016 Reading Challenge.
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