Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 9 February, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

First batch of mini book reviews for the new year! The following are books that I read recently or from last year that I never got around to writing full book reviews for. Included in this batch are:


Luminae
By: Allison Marie Conway
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

A seductive mix of poetry and prose, Luminae is about soul-searching, longing, finding your truth, and feeling comfortable with an inner being who is both tender and strong.

Luminae will resonate with intuitive souls, those who yearn to explore the wild depths of their true nature, and who believe they must hold sacred both the darkness and the light, without turning their backs on love. It speaks to those who embrace the totality of the human experience—even the difficult, ugly, and messy parts.

Our chaotic world is starved for wholehearted, compassionate words like these. Now, more than ever, is the time to quiet the outside noise and come home to the splendor, power, and magic of yourself.

Now is the time to experience Luminae.

I actually read this collection late last year after having followed her poetry IG for some time. The book blurb is pretty apt in that her works are a bit about soul searching, of what is and what can be. On a personal note, and I don’t think I mentioned it previously, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer just straight up short–not necessarily micro–format poetry over poetic prose (I don’t know the actual term for them but they’re like mini essays). Nonetheless I like her poetry, some of them resonated with me and I enjoyed reading her collection.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Everyone’s Just So So Special
By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The history of the world. All of it. Its wars, its empires. Each and every one of its decline-and-falls. It’s really terribly simple. It’s the story of a bunch of mediocrities who are trying to look special. And it is my duty, it is my pleasure, to expose the lot of them.

A little boy who betrays his father to the mercies of Santa Claus. An assassin whose personality is so insipid he erases people with his very presence. A kitty cat that likes to hunt only endangered species. Camel marriages, killer angels, and conjuring tricks that cause worldwide plague.

The history of mankind. As told through twenty-one tales of the comic and the macabre. Frightening and funny. Heartbreaking and wise.

Robert Shearman’s stories have won the World and British Fantasy Awards, the Edge Hill Reader’s Prize, and the Shirley Jackson Award.

Okay, please bear with me, I read this book sometime last year and I just never got around to writing a review *hides* So my memory is rather hazy about this book…Again, because I had read his later releases first before getting around to his earlier collections, some of the stories are familiar to me. Once again Robert Shearman has written some intriguing and unique stories that are thought-provoking and eerie all in the same vein. I was also very amused at how the history of the world was printed out in between stories in tiny font xD

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture
By: Kazuo Ishiguro
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Delivered in Stockholm on 7 December 2017, My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs is the lecture of the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. A generous and hugely insightful biographical sketch, it explores his relationship with Japan, reflections on his own novels and an insight into some of his inspirations, from the worlds of writing, music and film. Ending with a rallying call for the ongoing importance of literature in the world, it is a characteristically thoughtful and moving piece.

I cannot recommend this lecture enough. Kazuo Ishiguro thoughtfully reflects on his career as a writer, noting particular events throughout his career that either reflected his own state of mind or highlights a trend in his work. It left me thinking about my own work all the same, and is a wonderful celebration of his career as a writer.

Rating: ★★★★★

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The Same Old Story
By: Ivan Goncharov
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Filled with dreams of pursuing a career as a poet, the young Alexander Aduyev moves from the country to St Petersburg, where he takes up lodgings next to his uncle Pyotr, a shrewd and world-weary businessman. As his ideals are challenged by disappointment in the fields of love, friendship and poetical ambition, Alexander must decide whether to return to the homely values he has left behind or adapt to the ruthless rules and morals of city life.

Told in the author’s trademark humorous style and presented in a sparkling new translation by Stephen Pearl, The Same Old Story – Goncharov’s first novel, preceding his masterpiece Oblomov by twelve years – is a study of lost illusions and rude spiritual awakening in the modern world.

I loved Oblomov (review), it’s become one of my favourite Russian classics. So I was curious about this book; the premise sounds pretty straightforward and that you’ve seen elsewhere (perhaps why it was cleverly titled what it is) but I was also intrigued at the fact that this book wasn’t translated as often to English compared to Oblomov. So I picked it up. It is your usual fare of naivete versus worldliness, that sense of hope versus wariness and scepticism. I didn’t find it as funny as some may have, and I did feel for young Alexander every now and then. Nonetheless I am happy to have finally read it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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And those are the mini book reviews! Have you read any of these titles? Would you read any of them at some point in the future?

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