Tag: Books: Mini-Reviews


Two Book Reviews

Posted 16 July, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

The following are two reviews (sort of) that didn’t warrant a post of their own. Unfortunately this post is a bit of a downer, but I also didn’t want to pass them off and not post about them, if that makes any sense lol.

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Love in a Cold Climate
By: Nancy Mitford
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways.

This book has long been on my wishlist so it was nice to finally pick up the book and read it. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, which might be a culmination of having started it before going on vacation and then picking up and finishing it when I got back. But maybe it was my mood too as before I left I wasn’t terribly invested in the story already. There were some witty dialogue here and there, but otherwise I was just bored by the story, a lot of it was hearsay (heh, isn’t life a lot about stories we hear from other people?) which I guess it also part of the society that Polly and Fanny live in. So yeha, it should’ve been a story that should’ve interested me a lot more, and there’s a lot going on in their story, but yeah, in the end I just didn’t really care for it 🙁

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

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Holding on to Normal
By: Alana Somerville
Format/Source: ARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

A compelling memoir about trying to live meaningfully with illness and triumph beyond it, by breast cancer survivor Alana Somerville, a teacher and mother of two young children.

I looked at all the sick people around me. Was I going to be like them? Was that already me? Did I suddenly have a time stamp on my life? Would I make it out of this alive?

Alana Somerville—wife, teacher and mother of two small children—was thirty-three years old when she was diagnosed with stage-two, triple-negative breast cancer. The diagnosis changed her world and the relationships she had with everyone around her. Suddenly she was faced with endless medical appointments, multiple surgeries and procedures, the challenges of chemotherapy, and all the decisions involved in her treatment. She also had to deal with the trauma of realizing that her support network—sometimes even her closest friends—could struggle with how to help or even how to react to her anymore.

Throughout the course of her illness, Alana learned to maneuver through the medical system, to advocate for herself, and to build a truly supportive network. She also discovered how to keep her positive spirit intact while undergoing a double mastectomy and ongoing treatment. She is now living cancer-free—a survivor and an advocate.

Alana’s story is not unique. It’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has suffered illness and found themselves navigating a whole new world upon diagnosis. This is an “everywoman’s” journey through the experience of cancer, tracing the emotional, physical and psychological steps that are common to all. In the end, this memoir will offer hope that one can live a healthy, fulfilling and happy life beyond diagnosis. Holding on to Normal is for anyone who is suffering—or knows someone who is suffering from—a setback in life, and who is looking for inspiration on how to navigate their own journey.

I tried to start this book a few times since receiving it from Simon & Schuster CA (unsolicited, but anyway, I give unsolicited books a chance should they pop up in my mailbox) but I just could not. It’s not to say this book is not worth checking out or whatever, it’s just that given my job in healthcare and working with patients who are living with a cancer diagnosis (though they shouldn’t be at my hospital as my hospital is a rehab/continuing care facility) and moreso patients having had a history of cancer, it’s just not something I’d read about on my spare time. I might go back to it at some point but for not I’m nowhere inclined to read it.

Rating: DNF

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 3 May, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Hallo everyone! This is my first review here on the blog in quite a while, and suffice to say I’m starting off small because I read a small bit in the last few weeks but unfortunately didn’t jot down enough notes to remember them all in-depth. So here we are instead 😛 Included in this batch are:


Drafts, Fragments, and Poems: The Complete Poetry
By: Joan Murray
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The first appearance of this award-winning writer’s work since the 1940s, this collection, which includes an introduction by John Ashbery, restores Joan Murray’s striking poetry to its originally intended form.

Though John Ashbery hailed Joan Murray as a key influence on his work, Murray’s sole collection, Poems, published after her death at the early age of twenty-four and selected by W. H. Auden for inclusion in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, has been almost entirely unavailable for the better part of half a century. Poems was put together by Grant Code, a close friend of Murray’s mother, and when Murray’s papers, long thought to be lost, reappeared in 2013, it became clear that Code had exercised a heavy editorial hand. This new collection, edited by Farnoosh Fathi from Murray’s original manuscripts, restores Murray’s raw lyricism and visionary lines, while also including a good deal of previously unpublished work, as well as a selection of her exuberant letters.

Okay, I never heard of Joan Murray until I saw the Instagram account for NYRB post about this upcoming collection and posted a few snippets of her poetry. I was intrigued–read a lot of high praise about her work–so I decided to check her work out. Admittedly I read this book a few months ago and did not write any notes anywhere so my memory of my reaction to this book is a bit hazy but I remember enjoying it, the imagery choice she uses was quite intriguing. But the impression that was left in my mind first and foremost was that reminder that poetry can be whatever you make it to be, however you want to express yourself using the words at your disposal, arranged by way your mind, perspective, and creativity makes of it.

So yeah, if you’re looking for new poets from the early twentieth century to check out, definitely look in to this book! It’s great that NYRB is showcasing so many different poets from different periods, I’m finding out about lots of new poets this way 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

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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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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 16 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

I read the following books a few months ago but lol, this batch of mini-book reviews just getting pushed further and further down the schedule. Oops xD Anyway, this batch is another poetry edition so yay! 🙂 Included in this batch are:


Memories Unwound
By: Ruby Dahl
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Memories Unwound is a collection of free verse poems and prose that tap into the thoughts, feelings and ideas of the author. Each piece aims to go beyond just words and reveal an emotion; love, pain or happiness and by the end of it, the prospect of attaining solace. The author uses ‘memories’ as a title to emphasise that it is universally relatable – as readers should find at least one (or more) piece(s) that reminds them of a previous experience that they have had/ emotion that they have felt, hence becoming a ‘memory’ that is unwound in this book.

Each piece aims to fuel the realisation of sentiments that fabricate our very being, and by the end of the book readers are shown the possibility of hope, redemption, closing ‘old chapters’ and moving on to make new memories.

I kept seeing this book whenever I’m browsing on Amazon so I decided to read some of her poems over at Instagram before picking up a copy. Anyway it’s a great collection of poems. I actually read this some time ago before compiling these reviews so whilst no particular poems come to mind that stood out, I nonetheless enjoyed it and will keep a lookout for her future work.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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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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