Tag: Books: Mini-Reviews


Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 8 September, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Another day, another round of mini reviews! This is another poetry edition as I’ve read a bit of poetry in the last few months that I wanted to talk briefly about 🙂 Included in this batch are:


The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry: An Anthology
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

More than a century has now passed since F.T. Marinetti’s famous “Futurist Manifesto” slammed the door on the nineteenth century and trumpeted the arrival of modernity in Europe and beyond. Since then, against the backdrop of two world wars and several radical social upheavals whose effects continue to be felt, Italian poets have explored the possibilities of verse in a modern age, creating in the process one of the great bodies of twentieth-century poetry.

Even before Marinetti, poets such as Giovanni Pascoli had begun to clear the weedy rhetoric and withered diction from the once-glorious but by then decadent grounds of Italian poetry. And their winter labors led to an extraordinary spring: Giuseppe Ungaretti’s wartime distillations and Eugenio Montale’s “astringent music”; Umberto Saba’s song of himself and Salvatore Quasimodo’s hermetic involutions. After World War II, new generations—including such marvelously diverse poets as Sandro Penna, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Amelia Rosselli, Vittorio Sereni, and Raffaello Baldini—extended the enormous promise of the prewar era into our time.

A surprising and illuminating collection, The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry invites the reader to examine the works of these and other poets—seventy-five in all—in context and conversation with one another. Edited by the poet and translator Geoffrey Brock, these poems have been beautifully rendered into English by some of our finest English-language poets, including Seamus Heaney, Robert Lowell, Ezra Pound, Paul Muldoon, and many exciting younger voices

I bought this monster of a tome on sale at Book City; I’m always up to reading more translated texts and more Italian literature so the intersect between Italian literature and poetry with this book was a win-win for me.

Like the title and blurb mentions, the book covers Italian poetry over the course of the twentieth century, convering everything from life in Italy at the turn of the century to the two world wars, to experimentation in the latter half of the the twentieth century in culture. It’s a bilingual text, which I always enjoy checking out, and whilst there were some I didn’t care for or felt moved by (the really weird experimentation from the mid-century just will never appeal to me) there were others that did intrigue me and whose works I will keep a lookout for as solo collections, such as Giovanni Pascoli and Giuseppe Ungaretti.

Overall, I’m glad to have checked out this collection 🙂

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 23 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Oops, it’s already mid-year and I realised I never posted the following up. I actually read the following books late last year but never got around to finishing up typing out my reviews until…well, a few weeks ago :3 Luckily I did keep notes around the time that I read the following books so I have some recollection of my thoughts and reactions to reading them 😛 But as you may notice, this is a non-fiction edition of a mini reviews post. Included in this batch are:


The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics
By: John B. Judis
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

What’s happening in global politics? As if overnight, many Democrats revolted and passionately backed a socialist named Bernie Sanders; the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union; the vituperative billionaire Donald Trump became the presidential nominee of the Republican party; and a slew of rebellious parties continued to win elections in Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Austria, and Greece.

John B. Judis, one of America’s most respected political analysts, tells us why we need to learn about the populist movement that began in the United States in the 1890s, the politics of which have recurred on both sides of the Atlantic ever since. Populism, on both the right and the left, champions the people against an establishment, based on issues–globalization, free trade, immigration–on which there has been a strong elite consensus, but also a strong mass discontent that is now breaking out into the open.

The Populist Explosion is essential reading for our times as we grapple to understand the political forces at work here and in Europe.

I picked up this book exactly because of what was going on late last year and how the word “populism” was being thrown around, both in Europe and North America. It’s pretty informative if you’ve never heard of the term and the history behind the political concept and how it’s evolved over time. It was also informative from an economical-political viewpoint in understanding what’s going on with the rise of these nationalist groups. It was a good refresher, but I was expecting more in-depth analysis on the subject and its ramnifications. Despite the blurb mentioning the European Union, I thought it could’ve been more comprehensive with the European side as the book was discussing the United States more. It also doesn’t touch too much on these groups’ social context and their impact post-elections especially in the case of Trump (though it does touch on immigration in relation to jobs/the economy) but I suppose you’d need to loo elsewhere for a more detailed discussion. Nonetheless the book was a good starting point on the subject matter.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 20 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Time for another round of mini book reviews (the first of two this week, actually). Included in this batch are:


Collected Poems
By: W.B. Yeats
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

W. B. Yeats was Romantic and Modernist, mystical dreamer and leader of the Irish Literary Revival, Nobel prizewinner, dramatist and, above all, poet. He began writing with the intention of putting his ‘very self’ into his poems. T. S. Eliot, one of many who proclaimed the Irishman’s greatness, described him as ‘one of those few whose history is the history of their own time, who are part of the consciousness of an age which cannot be understood without them’. For anyone interested in the literature of the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, Yeats’s work is essential. This volume gathers the full range of his published poetry, from the hauntingly beautiful early lyrics (by which he is still fondly remembered) to the magnificent later poems which put beyond question his status as major poet of modern times. Paradoxical, proud and passionate, Yeats speaks today as eloquently as ever.

I’ve come across W.B. Yeats every now and then but never actually picked up a collection of his poetry to read. It was interesting to read this collection because you could trace out his progression as a poet over time, the different formats that he used. I have to say though I very much prefer his earlier works to his later works; I feel with the later works I need to be in a better mood to really sink into them.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 11 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Mini-reviews seem to be my friend these days 😛 Included in this post are reviews for the following titles:


Sonnets from the Portuguese
By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific writer and reviewer in the Victorian period, and in her lifetime, her reputation as a poet was at least as great as that of her husband, poet Robert Browning. Some of her poetry has been noted in recent years for strong feminist themes, but the poems for which Elizabeth Barrett Browning is undoubtedly best know are Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Written for Robert Browning, who had affectionately nicknamed her his “little Portuguese,” the sequence is a celebration of marriage, and of one of the most famous romances of the nineteenth century. Recognized for their Victorian tradition and discipline, these are some of the most passionate and memorable love poems in the English language. There are forty-four poems in the collection, including the very beautiful sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

I first read this collection two years ago (review) when I was first making a serious foray into poetry. Revisiting it now after having read quite a range of poetry, I find her poetry evokes a lot more emotion out of me with the passion conveyed about her love for Robert Browning and how that love affects her. I suppose you could say I appreciated this collection a lot more than I did the first time around 😛

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 18 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Another day, another mini-batch of book reviews featuring more poetry 😀


La Douleur Exquise
By: J.R. Rogue
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

What happens when you meet
your soul mate at the wrong time?
What happens when you meet
your soul mate but you aren’t theirs?

I picked up this book after seeing it listed as a nominee in the GoodReads Choice Awards in 2016. The book cover was lovely and the term “la douleur exquise” is lovely (see meaning). Plus, I was trying to read more contemporary and self-published poetry after reading a string of classic and translated poetry. The collection was good, can’t say I was blown away from start to finish but there were a few poems that did stand out, namely the early part of the book. Maybe my expectations were a little high picking up this book and being swayed solely by the cover and title, but I’m not saying it was a bad collection; it just didn’t connect with me as much as I thought it would.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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