Monthly Archives: August 2013


Review: The Tower at Stony Wood

Posted 30 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Tower at Stony Wood
By: Patricia A. McKillip
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

She saw the knight in the mirror at sunset…

During the wedding festivities of his king, Cyan Dag, a knight of Gloinmere, is sought out by a mysterious bard and told a terrifying tale: that the king has married a false queen—a lie cloaked in ancient and powerful sorcery. Spurred on by his steadfast honor and loyalty, Cyan departs on a dangerous quest to rescue the real queen from her tower prison, to prevent war, and to awaken magic in a land that has lost its way…

I’m always up for a Patricia A. McKillip novel. I love how there’s a dreamy-like quality to her fantasy novels. And aren’t her book covers amazing? Anyways, I loved Ombria in Shadow (review) and Alphabet of Thorn (review) so I was greatly looking forward to reading this novel =) May contain some spoilers ahead!

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Review: The Archivist’s Story

Posted 30 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Archivist’s Story
By: Travis Holland
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

Moscow, 1939. In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison, a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there. The writer is Isaac Babel. The great author of Red Cavalry is spending his last days forbidden to write, his final manuscripts consigned to the archivist, Pavel Dubrov, who will ultimately be charged with destroying them. The emotional jolt of meeting Babel face-to-face leads to a reckless decision: he will save the last stories of the author he reveres, whatever the cost.

From the margins of history, Travis Holland has woven a tale of the greatest power. Pavel’s private act of courage in the face of a vast bureaucracy of evil invigorates a life th had lost its meaning, even as it guarantees his almost certain undoing.

This novel has been on my want-to-read pile for years. My online friend recommended it to me on GoodReads–it hit all of my interests, both as a reader and as an academic–but for whatever reason I never got around to picking up a copy of thise novel until recently (hurray!). Contains some minor (I think?) spoilers ahead!

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Meme: Friday Book Memes

Posted 29 August, 2013 by Lianne in Meme / 8 Comments

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

Rose City Reader

Here’s a book I started reading:

Unexploded
By: Alison MacLeod

May, 1940. Brighton. Wartime.

On Park Crescent, a sunlit and usually tranquil street, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news. The enemy is expected to land on the beaches of Brighton any day.

It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while young Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. He spends hours with his friends imagining life in Brighton under Hitler’s rule. And as the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, her thoughts becoming tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.

Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest.Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto, and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably.

Here’s the first lines of the book:

The talk that May afternoon was of the rockfall at the undercliff. A fisherman’s dory had been buried, along with his dog, and the collapse had taken part of the sea wall with it.

– 1% on my Kobo eReader

This novel has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this 2013 and I’m so happy I was approved of a galley copy to read. I’m hoping to finish it before the shortlist is announced on September 10 so at least I can say I read one of the books before the next round (for a change!) xP Anyways, I’m looking forward to it, the premise sounds really interesting.

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Flashback Fridays

Flashback Friday is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, a little weekly tradition in which she picks a book from her reading past to highlight. If you’d like to join in, here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  • Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  • Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  • Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

For this week’s FF, I chose another historical fiction title published some six years ago…

The Spanish Bow
By: Andromeda Romano-Lax
My review of the novel

In her impressive debut, Romano-Lax creates the epic story of Feliu Delargo, an underprivileged child prodigy whose musical ability brings him into contact with world leaders, first-class artists and a life filled with loss and triumph. Their father killed in Cuba just before the Spanish-American War, Feliu, his three brothers and one sister manage a meager life in Campo Seco, a small Catalan town, while their strong-willed mother fends off suitors. At 14, Feliu and his mother travel to Barcelona, where a cello tutor agrees to take on Feliu as a student. Over the years, as Feliu establishes himself, he crosses path with Justo Al-Cerra, an egotistical, manipulative pianist, and their touring leads to an intertwining of lives that becomes more complicated when they encounter Aviva, a violinist with her own emotional damage. As the trio tour and Europe careens toward WWII, Romano-Lax weaves into the narrative historical figures from Spanish royalty to Franco and Hitler, giving Feliu the opportunity to ponder the roles of morality in art and art in politics.

from Goodreads

I picked this novel up a few years ago as I was searching for novels set in Spain and written by Spanish authors. This novel fit perfectly and the scope of its story–covering the end of the 19c and early half of the 20c and all of the upheavals in Spain–is just epic. These events of course serve as a backdrop that Feliu is aware of as he navigates through his own life and his rise as an accomplished musician.

It’s hard for me to really explain this novel, it’s such a canopy of different things: the character development and interaction, the historical events happening around them, the music and how it affects everyone’s lives to varying degrees. There’s a lot going on and it may seem a little slow for some readers but I thought the pacing was perfect as the narrative really fleshes out Feliu’s life and experiences.

The Spanish Bow is a very lovely read…I’ve been meaning to re-read it, actually (and check out the author’s latest book!)

If you’re participating in this meme, be sure to link up over at Bookshelf Fantasies!

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Hope everyone has a great Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Website: August Wrap-Up + Links

Posted 29 August, 2013 by Lianne in Website / 8 Comments

Where has the time gone? How is it already the end of August? I am seriously baffled beyond belief O_O


Not my gif (as always)

  1. Despite reading quite a bit this month, the book reviews are rather few, partly because many of the titles I’ve read were short stories, lol. Anyways, some of the titles I’ve reviewed include Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami (review), Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project (review) and Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident (review). You can check out all the books I’ve reviewed recently in the book review tag.
  2. I’ve also read a a few advanced reading copies and early reviews this month including Jason Mott’s The Returned (review), Jojo Moyes’s The Girl You Left Behind (review) and Simon Duffin’s Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral? (review). You can read all of the reviews of the ARCs I’ve read in this tag.
  3. The July/August 2013 issue of Femnista is out! The theme of this issue is Epic Friendships and for that issue, I focused on the fantastic friendship between the Doctor and Donna Noble from BBC’s Doctor Who. You can read more about the issue and how to access it in this post
  4. I’ve been posting a few lists recently, part of me reminiscing over a summer vacation I had a few years ago (seeing as I didn’t go away this summer). The first list focuses on books set in Paris, France and the second on books set in Spain. Look out in the coming weeks as I will (most likely) be posting a list on books set in Italy ^_~
  5. In a slightly offline update, I’ve been writing. It’s been slow.
  6. Just a friendly reminder that caffeinatedlife.net is on BlogLovin’. Feel free to add the site over there to get the latest posts! =)

For this month I only have a small collection of links saved:

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List: Books Set in Spain

Posted 28 August, 2013 by Lianne in Lists / 8 Comments

So I put together a list last week featuring some books set in Paris, France. This week, I am looking at books set in Spain as around this time back in 2010 I was somewhere in that country (probably Barcelona or Valencia).

I love Spain. It was really hot when we were there but that’s okay. There’s just something really unique about their history and their culture that fascinates me; there’s so much more going on underneath the surface, so much complexity. We were only in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid but I would love to go to the other cities and regions in the country one day. Did I mention the architecture is amazing? You can feel the age in some of these places…

The country probably also intrigues me because I didn’t study its history as much as the other European countries in uni. In fact, had I gone on to do my PhD, I might’ve done my dissertation on Spanish history (long story, it’s a big jump from my previous studies, etc.), but that’s beside the point here…

The following list after the cut is a mix of classic lit and contemporary lit featuring different aspects of Spain. I chose not to focus on a particular city for this list because my list is just all over the country, lol.

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