Books Between a 3 and a 4-Star Rating

Deciding on the rating of a book can sometimes be difficult. I usually struggle when my opinions and feelings about a book change throughout the reading experience. Some books have great beginnings, while others become outstanding closer to the end. I decided early on not to give half-stars, since that would make me overthink (even more) the rating. Why only give a book 3.5 stars when it could maybe be a 3.75? That decision left me with another problem, though – how to rate books that I enjoyed for the most part, but that I also had more qualms about than I typically do for a four-star read.

There are at least five books that I struggled to decide whether to rate with four or three stars.

 

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

The second book in The Farseer Trilogy continues to tell the story of Fitz, who, being the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is a member of the Farseer royal family. Court intrigue, battles and magic abound in this novel that I rated with four stars after some contemplation. For almost half of the book, the plot doesn’t seem to have a well-defined direction and the pacing is all over the place. However, the rest of the book is engaging and affecting. The characters gain a new life and shine as bright as in the first book in the trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice. Continue reading

Writing the Seasons with Books: Autumn

This year, instead of recommending books that some people may deem appropriate to read during a specific season, I’m writing the four seasons with books. I take a look at my shelves and select books with titles beginning with the letters of the name of the season that is just starting. And the time has come to welcome autumn! Temperatures have started to slowly drop. The leaves of the trees are getting ready to fall.

 

Autumn by Ali Smith

This was the first book that I read by Ali Smith. It’s not easy to describe what Autumn is about, as it mixes a couple of elements. Not only does it compile recollections about how 101-year-old Daniel Gluck, who lives in a care home, influenced Elisabeth Demand’s life, it also alludes to a variety of current events. Brexit, the plight of refugees and various economic issues connect this novel to the time of its writing.

 

Uma Casa na Escuridão by José Luís Peixoto

The Portuguese author José Luís Peixoto penned a hugely implausible story that doesn’t aim to be anything else. The plot of this novel, which hasn’t been translated into English yet as far as I know, is merely used as a way to convey feelings – love, jealousy, fear, suffering and solitude. Although I struggled to finish it, I truly cared for the characters and enjoyed the poetic prose. Continue reading

Books That Didn’t Live up to First Impressions

There are books that grab our attention from the outset. Reading some of them is a pleasurable and gratifying experience until the very end. Others, on the other hand, can leave us slightly frustrated, because they end up not living up to our first impressions. In the latest years there were some books that I was quite enjoying reading at the beginning, but that I didn’t like that much as a whole. Below are some of the most striking examples of books that had potential to be far more than just satisfactory reads.

 

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

In Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, we are introduced to Sonja, a woman in her early forties who is struggling to learn how to drive. Overall, this is a story about loneliness and lost family bonds presented in a fluid writing style. I was intrigued by the references to Sonja’s past and her relationship with her sister. However, the ending was too abrupt and I felt that there was far more story left to tell.

 

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I had high expectations for The Power even before I started reading it, since the premise had great potential. This is a speculative fiction book in which girls start to electrocute people with their hands. The prominent question is: what would women do if they had supreme power? It reveals that power can corrupt and that the aim should be to achieve equality. But it lacks character development and tries to cover too many points of view and events in an insufficient number of pages. Continue reading

‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’ by Dorthe Nors

My rating: 3 stars

The ending of a book can irrevocably transform our opinion on it. I was enjoying reading Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by the Danish writer Dorthe Nors almost until its conclusion. However, when I reached the last pages, I couldn’t help but feel that the story was incomplete. The main character is a woman in her early forties, Sonja, who is struggling to learn to drive a car. While being shown occurrences from her daily life, we are offered glimpses from her past and come to understand that this is a story about loneliness and lost family bonds.

Sonja is at first being taught to drive by Jytte. Although she passed the theory part without difficulty, the practice is not going well. Six months have passed and she is still not able to shift gears by herself. So, she decides to speak with Folke, the owner of the driving school, in order to change instructors. She doesn’t believe Jytte to be the appropriate teacher for an older woman. He ends up accepting to be the one to teach her how to drive. Accounts of her driving lessons are interspersed with other moments from her life. Sonja is translating a crime novel and goes to a therapeutic massagist, Ellen, who invites her to go hiking and meditate with a group of women.

Despite the plot not being too beguiling, I was surprisingly enjoying following the main character’s thoughts and actions. The writing style being fluid was one of the reasons for my initial appreciation. I was also intrigued by Sonja’s past, particular her relationship with her older sister, Kate. They used to be really close, but they don’t speak on a regular basis any longer. She believes her sister to be scared of her. Continue reading

Book Haul – June / July 2018

Ahead of my birthday (which is today!), I bought some books as a gift to myself. I have had almost all of them in my possession for a while now, as I ordered them online and they arrived much earlier than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, I decided to wait until today to reveal my new acquisitions to you. Some of them are representing certain countries at the ‘EU still 28’ reading project, others felt like the perfect books to delve into this summer, and a few were on discount and caught my attention.

Without further ado, these are the eight books that I bought recently:

 

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

This is the third book in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. After reading and enjoying the first two books (A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents) last year, I plan to read the Voyage of the Basilisk really soon. I am eager to be absorbed in another adventure of the famous dragon naturalist, Lady Trent. Continue reading