Tag: Books: Literary


Review: Station Eleven

Posted 4 March, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Station Eleven
By: Emily St. John Mandel
Format/Source: Trade paperback; was a Christmas gift

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of “King Lear.” Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Oh man, there was so much buzz about this novel last year, it’s hard to have not known about this book. The premise of this novel sounded really interesting, very eerie, and I’ve been reading so much positive buzz about the book. My best friend gifted me a copy of the book last Christmas and it drifted up to the top of my to-read pile fairly quickly 😉

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Review: The Buried Giant

Posted 2 March, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Buried Giant
By: Kazuo Ishiguro
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of the publishers via GoodReads First Reads programme

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

Whoo-hoo, a new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro! I’ve read two of his books before, The Remains of the Day (review) and Never Let Me Go (review), having especially come to really enjoy the former, so I was curious to read his latest literary endeavour (so naturally I was flailing when I learned I had won an ARC of this novel). This book will be available on 3 March 2015.

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Review: The Cellist of Sarajevo

Posted 17 February, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Cellist of Sarajevo
By: Steven Galloway
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Sarajevo: a city under siege. As the mortars falls and snipers conduct their deadly business, a cellist sits at his window, playing Albinoni’s adagio. When a bomb kills twenty-two people waiting in line to buy bread on the street below, he vows to carry his cello into the cratered street at four each afternoon for the next twenty-two days and play the same adagio in memory of the dead. Unknown to the cellist, a young woman watches his performances more avidly than anyone else. For she is the counter-sniper chosen to protect him from the enemy she knows lurks nearby with gun poised and ready to shoot. Can she keep the cellist alive? And what will it cost her to do so?

I read this book years ago, sometime after it was published (2008/2009 about?) but it’s one of those books that I never typed up a review or anything here on the blog. I do however remember feeling rather impressed by the novel, and had been meaning to re-read it for some time now.

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Review: The Mathematician’s Shiva

Posted 28 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Mathematician’s Shiva
By: Stuart Rojstaczer
Format/Source: Won a copy via Twitter giveaway contest held by Penguin Paperbacks

A comic, bittersweet tale of family evocative of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Everything Is Illuminated

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar, Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave. To Sasha’s chagrin, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution—even if it means prying up the floorboards for Rachela’s notes.

Written by a Ph.D. geophysicist, this hilarious and multi-layered debut novel brims with colorful characters and brilliantly captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible.

This book started cropping up in my scope sometime in the late summer and early autumn. The book had a curious premise, and I was drawn by the wonderful cover art. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had won a copy of the book held by the publishers’ Twitter account a few months ago. I think it was watching This Is Where I Leave You recently (review to be posted in early January) that prompted me to pick this book up to read. This book was released on 2 September 2014.

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DNF: Pravda

Posted 26 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Pravda
By: Edward Docx
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Thirty-two-year-old Gabriel Glover arrives in St. Petersburg to find his mother dead in her apartment. Reeling from grief, Gabriel and his twin sister, Isabella, arrange the funeral without contacting their father, Nicholas, a brilliant and manipulative libertine. Unknown to the twins, their mother had long ago abandoned a son, Arkady, a pitiless Russian predator now determined to claim his birthright. Aided by an ex-seminarian whose heroin addiction is destroying him, Arkady sets out to find the siblings and uncover the dark secret hidden from them their entire lives.

This book has been on my to-read pile for a few years now. It sounded interesting and mysterious, and set in Russia. It was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, which also piqued my interest. Recently I decided to pick it up as it has been staring at me for a very long time. After some seven chapters in however, I had to put it down as I had a sense that the story was going to be a long, slow, and cumbersome; the characters did not interest me enough to go with them on this journey to find their brother (not to mention I was already feeling exasperated of them and their respective anger and troubles, which is not a good sign); and the writing seemed odd and rather stilted. I’m usually all for novels set in Russia–contemporary and classic–and that have a morose atmosphere to them, dealing with some hefty topics, but there was nothing that intriguing me enough to keep on going.

Having started this book up with the Christmas season in full swing plus all the other books sitting in my to-read pile, I just wasn’t compelled enough to keep on going *le sigh*

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