Url Phantomhive

Url Phantomhive

Trying to shed a light on the wonderful maze of books...

Review
1 Stars
Nonsense
Nonsense - Edward Lear

This was utter nonsense!

I guess the title should have given fair warning, but I was still surprised at it. Maybe I was missing a lot, but I could not get anything out of these poems and was just hoping the book would finish quickly.

Really not my cup of tea.

~Little Black Classics 100~

Review
4 Stars
Before The Coffee Gets Cold
Before the Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Geoffrey Trousselot

I had completely missed out on Before the Coffee Gets Cold earlier. But when I was visiting my sister in London (a month ago - but due to Corona quarantines this seems much longer) this book was staring me in the face everywhere. And it had a cat on the cover (spoiler alert: the cat does not feature in the book) and it is about Time Travel (and have I ever been able to resist Time Travel?). Let's say it was not a big surprise when this book ended up in my suitcase to bring home.

If you could travel into time for the duration of one cup of coffee and without a single chance of changing anything in the present, would you?

The little amount of Japanese books I have previously read, made it clear to me that plot is not the main feature of Japanese literature. I read that Before the Coffee Gets Cold was meant as a play, and it reads that way. But I liked it nevertheless, since I like plays. We follow four people who for various reasons take the trip, and the stories are becoming more and more intimate as the book progresses.

There is a lot of repetition, but since I read the four stories on different days (treating them as a short story each), this did not bother me. I was surprised by the amount of emotion that was conveyed through these 200-odd pages. It touched me more than I expected. Do not however, expect to be given an explanation of the time travel, since there is none.

Review
3.5 Stars
One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days
One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days - Giles Paley-Phillips

This was a beautiful but strange novel told in verse about a boy who cannot be with his terminally sick mother because he himself is struggling with a very nasty bout of pneumonia.

For me it was a bit of a surprise this was in verse, since I expected a normal novel. However, I do think that it allowed to convey the story well. There are a lot of short poems in there, and while some of them would work out of the context of this novel, most really fill a role in this particular story. So, it did take me some time to get used to it, but after a while I enjoyed reading it. The utter sadness of the story came across as well as the little signs of positiveness near the end.

A good read.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
3.5 Stars
Enter The Aardvark
Enter The Aardvark - Jessica Anthony

Aardvark is one of those few words where it is painfully clear the word has Dutch origins, translates to earth-pig but on doing a quick search I learned the aardvark is in fact a close relative to the elephant. And when you stop to think of it, it does make sense on a level: big ears and an interesting snout.

However, back to Enter the Aardvark, a novel with two POVs which both star the said stuffed aardvark as well as a closeted gay man. Their lives couldn’t be more different, one in the spotlight as a congressman preparing for re-election, the other a reclusive taxidermist. As you have probably guessed they have more in common than just the aardvark and their sexual preferences.

Part of the narrative is in second person, which is something I always need to get used to again, but I find it intriguing at the same time. New however, was the extreme unlikableness of the ‘you’ main character, whose hiding behind snarky remarks and neurotically mentioning the price of everything he gets in contact with.

It is a satire of the American political system where success can turn in the blink of an eye. As such, it works. But the ending, the solving of the mystery of the aardvark I thought was a bit absurd and left me a little disappointed.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
2.5 Stars
Face Of Glass
Face of Glass - Damon L. Wakes

I read about Pigeonhole, where you get a piece of a book - a Stave- per day for a limited amount of time. The idea is that everyone who is joining is reading at the same speed as you. Face of Glass was my first try with Pigeonhole, and it worked, but still, I don't really like reading from my phone as opposed to my eReader which reads great.

What I liked about Face of Glass, mainly the stories that were interwoven into the main narrative. The leader of the tribe outsmarted the volcano, the Sun and the Moon. The main story was mwah. It wasn't that it wasn't interesting, but it was all far too easy for the main character. He raises from slave to leader in the blink of an eye, and from that conquers all the remaining problems in a likewise quick fashion. There were 8 staves of this book and I felt that there was hardly any problem that couldn't be solved within one of those. Which was a shame.

~Read through Pigeonhole~

Review
3 Stars
The Little Book of Shakespeare
The Little Book of Shakespeare - D.K. Publishing

This little book of Shakespeare plans to discuss all his plays and his sonnets in general over the space of 200 pages. Therefore, of everything there is only a little bit of information. A short synopsis of each play and a very short analysis. Obviously, these aren't very deep.

I feel this book works best for readers who sometimes want to refresh on play or another every now and then.

Review
3.5 Stars
The Fox & The Little Tanuki
The Fox & The Little Tanuki - Mi Tagawa

The Fox and the Little Tanuki was the first volume of a Japanese series featuring a fox-spirit Senzou who is being punished by having to bring up a little Tanuki, and teach him how to serve the gods. Something that is also lacking in Senzou himself. Together they have all kinds of cute little adventures.

The artwork is very cute, I can not describe it in a different way. It was what first drew me to the book. The story is nice too, but maybe a little bit simplistic at times, probably aimed at a young(er) audience. The one thing I didn’t like was the extreme cliffhanger the book ends on. I always hope that volumes are also able to be read individually, which is difficult in this case.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

#StayHome24in48 -> Extended!

Hi everyone,

 

Hope that you are doing well! I'm about to enter the second week of serious social distancing, and suddenly it is rather lonely living alone abroad. I'm just so glad this is the time where we can stay in contact with other people via virtual means, or else I think I would have gone mad at this point (and I went two work for two mornings).

 

I just came across this extra Read-a-thon and while I think there will be more in the coming weeks, it was too good not to join. Although I think I will just keep posting updates after the weekend for the duration of the social distancing (here in Belgium it's currently until April 5th, but they are already saying it will probably be longer).

 

So yes, let's read.

 

What I already finished this weekend: (watch out for the reviews)

 

Ooronoko - Aphra Beth **

 

The Little Book of Shakespeare ***

 

Review
4 Stars
Break Your Glass Slippers
Break Your Glass Slippers  - Amanda Lovelace

I’m not an experienced poetry reader but this year I’m trying to branch out towards other genres, and the theme of Break your glass slippers resonated with me, so I wanted to give it a try. The message of female empowerment is great and it comes across strongly.

I also really liked the aesthetic of the book. Some nice drawings and interesting page settings. The lack of capitals for me took some getting used to. The story of Cinderella is taking as the base of the poems, which had a modern style where everything is discussed directly, which I quite liked.

I guess this was my favorite one:

there is nothing
unfeminist
about the girl
who chooses
the ball gown
& the prince.

there is everything
unfeminist
about those
who try to
shame her for
her choices.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

Review
2 Stars
Why I Am So Clever
Why I Am so Clever - Friedrich Nietzsche

Every week I read one Little Black Classic and this week's is Nietzsche supposedly self-mocking autobiography.

I can be quick. To me, I found it less self-mocking and more like a man who is rather full of himself. Sure, he is exaggerating and it shows, but with this kind of snub undertones that go on to make it painfully clear he actually beliefs he is that clever.

Either that, or I just didn't understand a thing of what he was trying to say. Anyways, not an entertaining read.

~ Little Black Classics #102 ~

Review
3 Stars
Sword Of Destiny
Sword of Destiny - Andrzej Sapkowski

I was expecting much of The Witcher. It's the one series my sister has been telling me for years to read. And with the recent Netflix series (that I still need to watch, possibly during the social distancing of COVID-19), it was finally time to give it a try.

So, Sword of Destiny, like it predecessor The Last Witch are prequel short story collections that tie in some of the questions I'm sure people would have had about the characters in the main series. While I like short stories from time to time, I felt like it was time for me to read a full Witcher book, rather than more short stories.

So, I'm reading the series in chronological order, but haven't decided yet if that is what works best. Either way, while I liked the stories I would have liked to see some more character development. I am still having this sort of strange feeling where I feel like I am reading a book based on a game, rather than the other way around.

Next book is full length, fingers crossed!

Review
4 Stars
Circe
Circe - Madeline Miller

I was recently overcome with a strong urge to read about Greek mythology. I assume it arose since I was reading Through The Looking Glass, which starts the argument that language is dependent on culture with the absence of mentions of color in Greek epic poems like the Odyssey. If colors are mentioned, it is often what we would consider wrong, like violet sheep. (But that is a story for another time).

Either way, I went through my shelves and landed on Circe. And what a great choice it turned out to be, such a shame I didn't read it earlier. As the name suggests, this is the story of Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios. Never one to stand out among the other gods she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she meets multiple important characters from Greek mythology, before Odysseus sets foot on the island and his men are turned to pigs.

It was more of an engaging read than I initially imagined, considering that rather a large part of the story was already familiar to me. Still, Circe was given a very interesting voice and she definitely took the reins of her own story. The descriptions were also particularly livid. I would like to read more by Madeline Miller.

Review
2 Stars
Otaku
Otaku - Chris Kluwe

According to the Cambridge Dictionaire an Otaku is “a young person who is very interested in and knows a lot about computers, computer games, anime (= animated films), etc., but may find it difficult to talk to people in real life”. My kindle dictionaire also mentioned that an Otaku might have problems separating the real from the computer world. In Otaku, the real and the virtual world are heavily intertwined and combined with a standard dystopian setting.

I think that was what disappointed me most in the novel. There are evil corporations and some fractions but other than a bit of info dump right at the beginning, I didn’t learn anything about the different fractions and they all seemed about as bad to me. Because I thought the world was rather bland, even though it was apparently on water and there had been something that was called The Water Wars, I had a hard time connecting to the story or the characters.

There’s a lot of tech-talk and I got lost in it sometimes, making that I couldn’t really get into it or enjoy it. I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t for me, unfortunately.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
3.5 Stars
War And Peas
War and Peas - Jonathan Kunz

Every popular web comic seems to be expanding into publishing collections of their comics. Since I’m more up to date on my reading books than I am reading webcomics, this is a good thing. It also means I have only seen War and Peas passing by on my channels from time to time so most if not all comics are new for me.

The comics follow a pattern of four panes, and usually they are a little morbid. There are certain returning characters like The Grim Reaper, a robot, a witch, a dog and a ghost. Quite some of the comics made me smile.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
3 Stars
The Last Wish
The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski

This was my first venture into the world of The Witcher, I haven't even seen the Netflix series yet. I had heard a lot about the games though and I liked beforehand that it was originally Polish, which I hoped would bring some nice refreshing elements to the story.

It felt a little bit weird for me to start with short stories since I still needed to be introduced to all the characters. However, I thought it was relatively easy to follow and I never had the feeling I was utterly lost. The stories were nice, but not much more than that. I thought the writing was a bit awkward at times (almost as if I was reading a transcription of a computer game, which I know was the other way around), which might also be due to the translation.

Either way, I will continue with the next book and give the series a try as well.

Review
2 Stars
Normal People
Normal People - Sally Rooney

Maybe towards 2.5 stars

 

I read this for a book club and it was not something I think I would have picked up otherwise. Sometimes this brings me very nice reading experiences and sometimes, like with Normal People, I find it difficult to decided whether I am glad I read the book. What is Normal, anyway?

Normal People follows the relationship of Marianne and Connell who grew up in the same village in Ireland and who drift in and out of each other's lives a number of times. So far, it seems like any other novel, but what made it more special (it was nominated for a number of prices) is the rather distanced way the story is told.

There are huge gaps in the stories, and it is mainly during these gaps that the interesting parts seem to take place. Rather these are told in hind sight through one or both of the POVs. This way, to me, it felt like I was never really a part of the story, and it took me quite a while to get into it even though it read easily.

Another stylish item that was very obvious was the lack of " " to mark conversation in books. Apparently the author thinks " " are ugly and disrupt the flow of words, so they were completely absent from the novel. This took some getting used to at first, but once I got used to it, it was fine. It gave the feeling like the story was being told to me by someone, with all the 'she said, he said''s.

Marianne and Connell strive the entire book to be a part of the normal people, but the book tries to show that they already are, if something like normal people exist.

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