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Showing posts from September, 2011

Books through my lens #4

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Known to walk with my nose in the air, I often come across little gems that would normally pass unnoticed. In this case, an unmissable Waterstone's shop located in a gorgeous building on the corner of Gower Street and Torrington Place, in London. Look at the smooth stone! Marvel at those carvings! It speaks of beauty inside and out!

Kimberly Menozzi and... Late September Notes

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To my initial dismay, September arrived late, this year. The blessedly cool air -- which normally follows close after my return to Italy from the US -- took its time, this time around.

This year, it almost felt like the cool weather would never arrive. This struck a chord of fear within me, foolish as it sounds, but I really was worried for a while. I worried most when the heat had me up in the wee still hours of the night, unable to sleep but too tired to do anything productive.

You see, I've never dealt well with heat and humidity. Either one is a problem for me, particularly at night, but heat is probably the worst. I get rashes on my skin; itchy, flaky, painful rashes. I toss and turn when it's too warm, unable to keep cool so I can rest well. We've all been there, of course -- but to go from an air-conditioned environment over the course of the summer to a more, shall we say "natural" existence, was a bit of a shock for me.

I spent several sleepless nights this…

Help! My wish list #36

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
By Mohsin Hamid

Amazon's product description: At a cafe table in Lahore, a Pakistani man begins the tale that has led to his fateful meeting with an uneasy American stranger...Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. He thrives on the energy of New York, his work at an elite firm, and his budding relationship. For a time, it seems that nothing will stand in the way of his meteoric rise to success. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his relationship crumbling and his exalted status overturned. Allegiances are subsequently unearthed, proving themselves more fundamental than money, power and maybe even love.

Why I want to read this book: This sounds like an interesting,…

In conversation with... Isabelle Grey

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To celebrate the release of Out of Sight - published this month by Quercus Books - author Isabelle Grey kindly agreed to answer a few questions on Book After Book.

Enjoy...

Hello Isabelle! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the release of Out of Sight. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Out of Sight is a novel of psychological suspense. Patrick Hinde is a good man whose coping strategy is to compartmentalise and ‘forget’ the things that upset him. Following a difficult visit from his parents, his failure of memory causes the death of his beloved son, Daniel. Struggling to accept his wife’s forgiveness, his avoidant behaviour becomes worse, leading him to hurt those closest to him. The novel is also a love story; in France five years later he meets Leonie, who cherishes the romantic belief that love can heal his damage. But will Patrick be able to change his destructive behaviour?

This is your first work of fiction after a series of non-fiction books written as Isabelle An…

"Italy in Books" - September reviews

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Thanks again for joining the "Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011! What? You haven't joined yet? No worries, there is time to sign up until the very last day of the year...

Below you can find a list of all the book reviews submitted in September (via this link). I am sure that everyone will find it useful to learn about new and interesting reading ideas - in fact, I suspect that as a result of this challenge my TBR list will expand dangerously!

Whether you know the books that are being discussed or have never heard of them, I strongly encourage you to leave comments below and on the blogs themselves. I want to hear your voices! Despite its name, the reading challenge is not a mere competition, rather an opportunity to share ideas and bond over common interests!

Let's begin!

01. Barbara read and reviewed The Scarlett Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis.
02. Jeane read Ask Me If I'm Happy by Kimberly Menozzi. Scroll down to read her review.
03. Gretchen read and reviewed Venice

Book review: The Brave

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By Nicholas Evans
Published by Little, Brown

Borrow it from the library, buy it online or in a bookshop. Do whatever you have to do to get a copy but make sure that you read The Brave by Nicholas Evans. It’s amazing.

If you want to read on, be warned that this is a biased review!

Once upon a time, I read The Horse Whisperer by a certain Nicholas Evans, an author whom I had never heard of before. I don’t know what happened. I was suddenly under a spell. Nicholas Evans’s books, however, can literally be counted on the fingers of one hand. It was thus with great joy and expectation that I recently picked up The Brave, published this year after a (not so) patient wait of 6 years.

The only disappointment of The Brave is that, once you start reading it, you know that it will inevitably have to end.

So, what is so good about The Brave? First of all, a brief outline of the story. The chapters alternate between the childhood and the adulthood of Tom Bedford. As a child, Tom grows up in the Midlands …

Help! My wish list #35

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

We Are Michael Field
By Emma Donoghue

From the back cover: For the first time, Emma Donoghue tells the story of two eccentric Victorian spinsters; Katherine Bradley (1846-1914) and her niece Edith Cooper (1862-1913); poets and lovers, who wrote together under the name of Michael Field. They wrote eleven volumes of poetry and thirty historical tragedies, but perhaps their best work - richest in emotional honesty and wit - was the diary that the two women shared for a quarter of a century. Donoghue's groundbreaking Outline is based on these unpublished journals and letters. The Michaels lived in a contradictory world of inherited wealth and terrible illness, silly nicknames and religious crises. They preferred men to women…

And then there was a house

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In the past few months I have read three works of fiction whose stories evolved around imposing houses. All highly recommended, here they are:

The Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters

Hundreds Hall is the crumbling Georgian house at the heart of this unsettling story. It is the home of the Ayreses, mother, son and daughter who struggle to keep up with a changing society and the financial difficulties resulting from the Great War. Fascinated by both the house and its inhabitants, Dr Faraday becomes increasingly involved with life at Hundreds, a house that seems to have a life of its own.

We Are All Made of Glue
By Marina Lewycka

Canaan House, a decrepit mansion in North London, is at the centre of this charming novel. It is the home of Mrs Naomi Saphiro, an old lady who lives with dozens of cats and who strikes up an unlikely friendship with neighbour Georgie Sinclair, a lonely mother of two. When Mrs Saphiro ends up at the hospital, a war breaks out among estate agents to seize possession of th…

Books through my lens #3

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Last summer I went to see an Antony Gormley exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea and came across a temporary art installation entitled "Introspective Retrospective". The artist is the Japanese Tomoko Takahashi, who is known for her "playful recycling of everyday detritus of everyday life into illuminating works of art". Needless to say, I felt a stabbing pain in my chest when I saw a copy of Moby Dick "playfully recycled" as pictured above!

Book review: Maybe This Time

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By Alois Hotschnig
Translated by Tess Lewis
Published by Peirene Press

First published in German in 2006, Maybe This Time was published yesterday in English thanks to the efforts of translator Tess Lewis and enlightened publisher Peirene Press.

The author, Alois Hotschnig, is considered to be one the most important contemporary short story writers in the German language and his books have won several literary prizes. This little volume, which, like all other Peirene titles, promises to be “thought-provoking, well designed and short”, doesn’t fail to deliver.

To properly savour each short story, I set out to read only one each day rather than one after the other. I did well but didn’t always succeed because some of the short stories just made me want to see what else Hotschnig had in store. Which boundaries he would break next.

I normally get frustrated by short stories because I feel that – despite the clue being in their name – they end too soon, just as I’m getting involved and want to k…

Help! My wish list #34

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

The Ringmaster's Daughter
By Jostein Gaarder

Amazon's product description: Panina Manina, a trapeze artist, falls and breaks her neck. As the ringmaster bends over her, he notices an amulet of amber around her neck, the same trinket he had given his own lost child, who was swept away in a torrent some sixteen years earlier. This tale is narrated by Petter, a precocious child and fantasist, and perhaps Jostein Gaarder's most intriguing character since Sophie. As an adult, Petter makes his living selling stories and ideas to professionals suffering from writer's block. But as Petter sits spinning his tales, he finds himself in a trap of his own making.

Why I want to read this book: It's been a while since I&#…

In conversation with... Lilian Harry

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To celebrate the release of Secrets in Burracombe - published in August by Orion Books - author Lilian Harry kindly agreed to answer a few questions on Book After Book.

Enjoy...

Hello Lilian! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your latest release. Secrets in Burracombe is the latest novel in your Burracombe Village series. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Secrets in Burracombe follows the story of the villagers of Burracombe from the end of the previous book, An Heir for Burracombe. It continues the story of the French boy, Robert, who appeared as the possible heir to the estate, disrupting the life of his aunt, Hilary Napier, who had expected to inherit. Hilary’s life takes a further surprising twist later, which will have repercussions for some time to come. Meanwhile, there are American visitors at the Tozers’ farm, who cause their own disturbance in the settled lives of the village. But everything else is set aside when an accident befalls some of the most popular …

"Italy in Books" - Link for September reviews and prize draw

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It’s September and the “Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011 continues!

This month, courtesy of author Betsy Hoffman, five of you will have the chance to win a copy of Dreaming of Sicily.


To participate in the prize draw, all you have to do is:

• Read a book set in Italy or about Italian culture & language
• Share your review (or opinion, if it sounds less intimidating!) by clicking here

Easy, isn't it?

IMPORTANT! Please note that you need to have signed up for the challenge to be eligible for the prize draw. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do it here (full instructions here). If you can't remember whether you have or haven't signed up, you can check whether your name is listed here.

Buona lettura!

LGBT challenge - Link for September reviews and prize draw

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It’s September and the LGBT reading challenge 2011 continues!

This month, courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton, one of you will have the chance to win a copy of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.


To participate in the prize draw, all you have to do is:

• Read a book - fiction or non-fiction - whose author is LBGT, whose topic is LGBT and/or whose characters (even minor ones) are LGBT
• Share your review (or opinion, if it sounds less intimidating!) by clicking here

Easy, isn't it?

IMPORTANT! Please note that you need to have signed up for the challenge to be eligible for the prize draw. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do it here (full instructions here). If you can't remember whether you have or haven't signed up, you can check whether your name is listed here.

Happy reading!

"Italy in Books" - August winners

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12 reviews this month!

Did you miss the reviews? Fear not, follow this link and catch up with all the bookish goodness! And if you’ve just come across the Italy in Books reading challenge 2011, you can find all the information you need by clicking here. Joining couldn’t be easier!

And now, the long-awaited moment of the prize draw!

The lucky reviewers who, courtesy of Profile Books, will receive a copy of Pompeii by Mary Beard are:

Parrish, who read and reviewed Without Blood by Alessandro Baricco, & Tina Marie, who read and reviewed A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi.

LGBT challenge - August winner

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Only 2 book reviews this month... summer is taking its toll!

Only 2 reviews but not to be missed! Follow this link and catch up with all the bookish goodness!

And if you’ve just come across the LGBT reading challenge 2011, you can find all the information you need by clicking here. Joining couldn’t be easier!

And now, the long-awaited moment of the prize draw!

The lucky reviewer who, courtesy of Constable & Robinson, will receive a copy of The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, edited by Barbara Cardy, is:

Juliet, who read and reviewed Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay.

Help! My wish list #33

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

The Yacoubian Building
By Alaa Al Aswany

Amazon's product description: An international bestseller, The Yacoubian Building is a mesmerising and controversial novel that is at once an impasssioned celebration and a ruthless dissection of a society dominated by bribery and corruption. The Yacoubian Building -- once grand, but now dilapidated -- stands on one of Cairo's main boulevards. Taha, the doorman's son, has aspirations beyond the slum in the skies, and dreams of one day becoming a policeman. He studies hard, and passes all the exams, but when he is rejected because his family is neither rich nor influential, the bitterness sets in. His girlfriend, Busayna, finds herself unable to earn a living without also pr…

Book review: There But For The

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By Ali Smith
Published by Penguin

A simple story: during a dinner party at Gen and Eric Lee’s house in Greenwich, Miles enters the guestroom, locks the door and refuses to come out. Possibly, ever again.

What follows is a procession of acquaintances, who, some in indirect and others in more direct ways, allow us to catch a glimpse of the person behind the locked door.

There is Anna, who met Miles during a trip to Europe when they were teenagers. There is Mark, a gay man who met him at the theatre and invited him to that fateful dinner. There is an old lady whose daughter died at an early age. And, last but not least, there is Brooke, the young and inquisitive neighbour of the Lees.

Miles, who becomes a kind of hero for hordes of followers, is an invisible main character. Action is also almost non-existent while the novel fluctuates back and forth in time, in the same way that young Brooke hops on either side of the Greenwich meridian line.

The main dimension of this book is found in la…