Tag: Books: First Reads


Review: The Bigness of the World

Posted 8 February, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Bigness of the World
By: Lori Ostlund
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

In Lori Ostlund’s award-winning debut collection, people seeking escape from situations at home venture out into a world that they find is just as complicated and troubled as the one they left behind.

In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, The Bigness of the World contains characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign. In “Upon Completion of Baldness,” a young woman shaves her head for a part in a movie in Hong Kong that will help her escape life with her lover in Albuquerque. In “All Boy,” a young logophile encounters the limits of language when he finds he prefers the comfort of a dark closet over the struggle to make friends at school. In “Dr. Deneau’s Punishment,” a math teacher leaving New York for Minnesota as a means of punishing himself engages in an unsettling method of discipline. In “Bed Death,” a couple travels Malaysia to teach only to find their relationship crumbling as they are accepted in their new environment. And in “Idyllic Little Bali,” a group of Americans gather around a pool in Java to discuss their brushes with fame and end up witnessing a man’s fatal flight from his wife.

If you’ve been following my blog posts and book reviews regularly this year, you may have noticed that I’ve been reading a lot more short stories. Maybe it’s all of the Alice Munro stories I’ve been reading (see author tag), maybe it’s my own writings lately, but I’ve added short story collections to my list of titles to be on the lookout for. This book was one such example; I’ve never read anything by this author but the premise sounded very interesting. I was approved an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 16 February 2016.

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Review: The Viceroys

Posted 18 January, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Viceroys
By: Federico de Roberto
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

A classic of Sicilian Literature, first published in 1894

The Viceroys tells the story of three generations of the aristocratic Uzeda princes of Francalanza. De Roberto portrays a world undergoing fundamental change, where the family must try every means in order to hold onto their power and position. Through this drama, a portrait of a complete society is carefully drawn as it discards the old ways and stumbles into an uncertain future. At every level the stains of corruption and decay taints lives, and hope. A lost literary classic, comparable to Lampedusa’s The Leopard, The Viceroys is an important novel that still resonates with a contemporary readership.

I requested an eARC of this book as I’m always excited to check out more classic Italian literature. This is indeed a lost literary classic in that it’s not as well known as Lampedusa’s The Leopard (which I have yet to read) and Manzoni’s The Betrothed (sitting on my TBR queue right now). So I was curious. This book will be available on 19 January 2016.

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Review: The Tsar of Love and Techno

Posted 9 December, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Tsar of Love and Techno
By: Anthony Marra
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

I read Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (review), two years ago and absolutely loved it; it was one of my favourite books read that year. I had no idea he was coming out with this story collection until early this year when fellow bloggers were talking about it so I was pretty excited about it. I was fortunate to have been approved an eARC of this book by the publishers through NetGalley for review. This book was published on 06 October 2015.

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Review: Made to Kill

Posted 13 November, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Made to Kill (LA Trilogy #1)
By: Adam Christopher
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

It was just another Tuesday morning when she walked into the office–young, as I suspected they all might be, another dark brunette with some assistance and enough eye black to match up to Cleopatra. And who am I? I’m Ray, the world’s last robot, famed and feared in equal measure, which suits me just fine–after all, the last place you’d expect to find a Hollywood’s best hit man is in the plain light of day.

Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, as good as he ever was at being a true Private Investigator, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency–except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray’s inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret.

When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing movie star, he’s inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she had the cold hard cash, a demand for total anonymity, and tendency to vanish on her own.

Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen–and this robot is at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Made to Kill is the thrilling new speculative noir from novelist and comic writer Adam Christopher.

I saw this book pop up over at GoodReads and on NetGalley recently and I thought it sounded rather interesting, a mix of science fiction and a noir and old-school Hollywod glam. I got approved an eARC of this book to read just in time as I recently was going through a number of mystery novels, haha. This book will be available on 03 November 2015.

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Review: The Shards of Heaven

Posted 10 November, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Shards of Heaven
By: Michael Livingston
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods-or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

Michael Livingston’s The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

I had started seeing this book crop up a bit on my Twitter feed and on Goodreads. The premise sounded really interesting, infusing a bit of fantasy into a well known historical moment. I was fortunate to have been approved an eARC of this novel courtesy of the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 10 November 2015.

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