Archive for Reviews

Book Review: The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook The premise seemed interesting, but I didn’t feel as enthused once I got a few chapters in. I wasn’t always convinced of the time period, partly due to the language, and it felt like a lot of heavy-handed telling rather than showing right off the bat. After several tedious conversations, some clunky turns of phrase (“a tiara of sweat?” really?), and a liberal sprinkling of ten-dollar words throughout, I had to bail.

Book Review: Motherland by Maria Hummel

Motherland by Maria Hummel Blander than bland.

Book Review: In Chancery by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy A continuation of the Forsyte Chronicles, I think I liked this one a little bit less than The Man of Property, but it was still enjoyable. I missed some of the characters from the previous book, but there was still plenty of drama to keep things interesting. I do wish there were more of Irene’s perspective, rather than treating her as a thing of beauty and not a whole person (which I think was one of Virginia Woolf’s criticisms of these books).

This series continues to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it’s a rather richly done — and engrossing — soap opera. The historical tidbits interspersed throughout make it more interesting and help make the time period more vivid.

Book Review: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk The book started off ok, but it got tiring and rather dull pretty quickly. Lots of very long, boring conversations that didn’t feel very realistic, and I lost interest in the characters fairly early on. Perhaps I would have liked it when I was younger, but it just wasn’t very interesting to me now.

Book Review: The Man of Property by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, only having heard of it and the rest of the series very recently. It took me a little while to get a good sense of the various family members, given there were so many to keep track of. The family tree in the edition I had certainly helped, though it also included spoilers.

Eventually, I felt like I had to keep on reading, to see how things might unfold. What would happen with the engagement? What would happen to the house? What would happen to the marriage? Perhaps the family tree egged me on, knowing what might lie ahead in this or the later books.

My only complaint was the way new or previously glanced-at characters were sometimes presented. When it happened, it felt like the narrator was putting the story on pause, to then turn to you and give you lengthy summary of the new person, before turning back to start things up again. It felt a bit jarring, and sometimes went on for too long, making me want to skip ahead and get back to the story.

That said, I did enjoy the book, even if it seems like not a great deal happened. Things were left open at the end, so I do plan on reading the next book in the series, to see where things pick up from here.

Book Review: The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett I’m not sure why I kept reading through to the end (or very near it). It was slightly interesting at first, but then it just dragged on…and on… and on. I hoped it would pick up or do something to redeem itself later on, but it never really did. I only wish I’d stopped reading earlier on…

Book Review: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass I read at least part of this book in college — in the original German — but I’d forgotten just how strange and twisted of a book it is. It’s rather intense overall, especially with the style it’s written in. It’s quite detailed and rather heavy at times, but it’s well-written almost throughout. There were only a few parts, especially towards the end, where I didn’t feel as captivated, usually when there was repetition of certain events.

As for the story itself, it’s quite difficult in many ways, and quite often. Disturbing, emotional, twisted, tragic, and lots of other “fun” stuff. Not surprising given our narrator, who seems to be precocious and talented, but also wicked and a bit insane as well. The other characters are all quite intriguing in their own ways, but you end up questioning how much you can trust the narrator in all of this, especially given the things he does to the others.

I think I’m glad I read (or re-read) this book, but I don’t know that I will be re-reading this in future. It’s such an intense book, and I can appreciate it for what it is, but I think I’ve had my fill, for now at least.

Book Review: The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun

The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun I don’t get it. How on earth is this could this book be “hailed by the feminists?” The narrator is vapid and only seems interested in pursuing relationships with men to get things, namely clothes, accessories, and money. I really didn’t like the stream-of-consciousness / diary style either, and I kept questioning how true to the original this translation was, given some of the awkward phrasing.

Book Review: Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck I wanted to like this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. I felt like I was just swimming through a tangle of words, trying to figure out what was going on. This felt like writing for writing’s sake, like showing off you know about words, rather than to properly tell an interesting story.

Book Review: The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka I really loved the author’s first book (A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True), but this second book just didn’t do it for me.

I don’t tend to be drawn to modern stories, especially with sports as a theme, but I figured I’d just give this one a try. The book started off well enough, and the writing style felt familiar and was pleasant at first. It sort of lost that feel though, and with it went my interest. I never really became that attached to any of the characters, especially the main character Etto, who I liked less and less as I kept reading.

Beyond that, this book just felt a lot fluffier and less genuine than the author’s first. It didn’t feel like there was anything special to it, and eventually I just decided to stop reading.

Ah well.