Monthly Archives: March 2013


Review: The Enchanted April

Posted 21 March, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Enchanted April
By: Elizabeth von Armin
Format: eBook

Four women, all strangers, escape the dismal English weather for a month-long retreat in an Italian villa. Once there, the company of the other women along with the “wisteria and sunshine” brings each character to a heartening realization about herself.

I read von Armin’s Elizabeth and her German Garden last year and was curious about this one. It seems like a rather spring title, even as the weather over here continues to be winter (which is weird and, at this point, unwelcomed). But anyways, I decided now was a good time to get around to reading this title.

This book had an interesting premise–four women from various backgrounds and stages in their lives–rent out a villa in Italy for the month of April. Early in the novel I thought each of their situations were interesting–the mindset they were in, so to speak–but after a while, it felt as though some of these characters fell under particular stereotypes. Plus, I was getting a bit annoyed at how grumpy Mrs. Fisher was and how snobbish Lady Caroline was. Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Arbuthnot had some considerable development over the course of the novel but otherwise there wasn’t really anything that compelled me further with these characters.

I also started losing interest in the story the further I read along because the pacing was too leisurely. I’ve read some pretty slow reads in the past that move at its own pace but there’s nothing about the story that’s keeping my attention; there are some interesting thoughts here and there but otherwise there’s not much else. It doesn’t help that the women do not venture out of the villa either, which is a pity because they are in Italy and it could’ve made for some amusing scenes.

Overall, The Enchanted April was okay, it had its moments but otherwise it was quite task to get to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Read more about this author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Meme: Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 19 March, 2013 by Lianne in Meme / 30 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy…But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

Yeah, this week’s topic speaks for itself, doesn’t it? =P

In no particular order:

  1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami — I bought this on my Kobo before I got around to reading Norwegian Wood (review). My brother has already read it almost two years ago but yeah, I still haven’t read it *blushes*
  2. The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones — I bought this the minute the English translation was available on the Book Depository (the cover I used above is for the original Spanish edition). At 900 pages in mass paperback, I haven’t gotten to it yet xD I think I’ll be saving it for the summer ^_~
  3. The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett — I mentioned this before but it’s huge! I reckon I’ll be waiting for the second one to hit paperback before I read it =P
  4. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell — I got this for a really low price for my Kobo but yeah, haven’t read it yet…dunno when I’ll get to it, to be honest…
  5. Guernica by Dave Boling — I mentioned this book in last week’s TTT but I hope to get around to it this spring ^_~ Been eyeing it long enough, lol.
  6. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer — Ditto as the above explanation.
  7. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani — I bought this book last summer. It hit paperback in Europe first so I got it through the Book Depository (so pretty) but yeah, been meaning to read it when things aren’t so hectic around…
  8. Selected Works by St. Thomas Aquinas — I bought this book two years ago when I got back from my exchange programme. I forgot my reason for it–I guess it would be my curiosity in medieval philosophy and Christian writings–but unlike St. Augustine’s Confessions this book is something else. Like dense philosophy. Need proper time and ample brain cells for this one.
  9. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay — Been eyeing this book for ages. I finally got it on my Kobo and yeah, haven’t touched it since, lol.
  10. Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas — It was on sale for a very good price so yeah, snatched this one too for my Kobo. Hasn’t been on my list as long as the others but yeah, haven’t touched it either, lol.

And that’s my list for this week! What books did you HAVE to buy but haven’t touched since? 🙂

List: Alternatives to Google Reader

Posted 14 March, 2013 by Lianne in Lists / 7 Comments

By now the entire internet has heard that Google Reader will be closing on 30 June 2013. Which absolutely sucks because I finally got around to using it to keep track of all of my friends and fellow bloggers’ entries! *facepalmsmack*

So! Like many, I’ve been wandering around a bit for some alternatives that’s easy to use and aesthetically pleasing (yes, this is important to me, I don’t like cluttered-looking feeds xP). This is what I ended up checking out:

THE OLD READER
www.theoldreader.com

I found out about this site through a friend on Twitter and decided to check it out (This is me over there if you want to follow me). I like the layout, it’s very simple but organised and kind of reminiscent of Google Reader in a way. I’m still learning how a few of the features works but I suspect that I will be using this site the most (unless something changes or whatnot; see this entry from the creators).

The only drawback at the moment is that the server’s working rather slow, probably because of the migration over, but thankfully there aren’t as many blogs on my subscriptions feed on Google Reader so I was able to do it manually.

FEEDLY
www.feedly.com

Another website that’s been recommended in place of Google Reader and one that’s gotten quite popular in the past 24 hours. Aesthetically it’s quite wonderful, giving you the choice of themes and a selection of layouts to present the latest blog entries from magazine layout to a full coverage of the entries. There’s also no server issues of lagging time. I haven’t used it as much yet but for the most part it’s just as easy to use as the Old Reader.

The only drawback I have about this website at the moment is that I can’t seem to delete the categories. It says you can delete certain items through a drag-and-drop system but I can’t find the option to delete it anywhere. If you’re using Feedly, do you know how to do it?

There are also other alternatives out there (including app-only readers but I did not include those in the list), although I haven’t used any of the following:

So what RSS reader have you migrated to or have checked out? What are the pros and cons about that program for you? Would you recommend one that I did not list here in my blog?

Commentary: Mansfield Park

Posted 14 March, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Mansfield Park
By: Jane Austen

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever.

Mansfield Park is often listed as the least favourite amongst Austen readers. Although I haven’t read this book as often as the other novels, I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s not as sharp and witty as Pride and Prejudice (commentary) or as funny as Emma (commentary) but the characters and their circumstances are so multi-faceted, I love the dynamics that go on in this book. I saved it for last in my re-read of Jane Austen’s completed works if only because I know there’s a lot going on in this book ^_~ Contains spoilers ahead!

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Review: Bunner Sisters

Posted 14 March, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Bunner Sisters
By: Edith Wharton
Format: eBook

Ann Eliza and Evelina are spinster sisters eking out a quiet existence as shopkeepers in a crumbling corner of New York City. When Ann Eliza gives Evelina a clock for her birthday, their lives become entangled with the clockmaker Mr. Ramy, with devastating consequences for them both. Ann Eliza feels she has it in her power to ensure her sister’s happiness at the expense of her own – but can she really envisage the effects of her actions?

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (review) and The Age of Innocence (review) so I’ve been curious to check out her other books. I started with this book partly because it’s short but also because the sisters as protagonists intrigued me a lot.

The focus of this novel was more on Ann Eliza, the older of the two sisters, as their quiet lives are turned upside-down with the arrival of Mr. Ramy into their lives. I felt a little bad for Ann Eliza over the course of the first part of the novel because it seemed as though nothing has ever happened in her life whereas her younger sister Evelina seemed to be blessed with more attention and happenings coming her way. There seemed to have been some undercurrent of tension between the sisters the more that Mr. Ramy stuck around but it would have been more interesting had Wharton fleshed out that section of the story. I will say that I did not expect that sudden turn of events in the second half of the novel. Without going into any details I really felt bad for everyone, it was so unexpected. It certainly is a lesson that people are not always what they seem to be.

Bunner Sisters is not as well-developed as The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence. Many scenes could’ve been fleshed out and the characters could have been more established but it was still interesting to check out and read about characters in a different station in society.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Read about the author from her Wikipedia page || Order the book from the Book Depository