Believe it or not but In the Midst of Winter was the very first book I read by Isabelle Allende. I bought The House of the Spirits a little while ago to read it in the original Spanish, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll have to bring it with me on my Christmas break to read it in Milan.
Getting to see Allende speak in person earlier in December was an amazing experience. She has such a vibrant spirit and she was downright hilarious in all her funny asides about her life (like how her mother continues to be scandalized by any sex scenes in her novels). Listening to her speak about her writing process and the important topics she loves to write about made me feel like I need to read all of her works asap.
After the event, I started reading In the Midst of Winter and got through it within a couple days. It definitely wasn’t highly complex literary fiction but I have to say I loved how straightforward it felt – it was unapologetic about being a more accessible read and its characters and settings still felt warm and moving. It’s the kind of book you could recommend to a pretty broad array of readers. Keep reading to find out more!
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The Week 2 topic for Nonfiction November this year was Nonfiction To Fiction Book Pairings. It’s a review structure that I’ve been dabbling in recently, so I thought I would combine a new set of nonfiction to fiction reviews with links to two earlier ones I posted on the blog in the last few months.
The new reviews for today’s post are for memoir Born A Crime by Trevor Noah and novel Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais. Both books are set during Apartheid in South Africa, but ultimately only have a few things in common. The most interesting and significant parallel I found between Noah’s true story and that of Marais’ young female white character Robin, are in the spunk and initiative that both show amid extremely trying circumstances. Somehow, Robin’s character felt like it almost had the same level of dogged perseverance as Noah, though they experienced Apartheid with different skin colors and in different decades.
Hope you enjoy my reviews and don’t forget to also check out my two earlier book pairings below.
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This is a review I’ve had pending for a while, since I actually read this book back in August when I was home visiting my family in Milan. It was a Net Galley pick and I’ve been trying to get caught up on my reviews over there (aren’t we all), so here I am finally getting around to it.
The Last Days Of Night is a historical fiction novel that has a scientific component, so it reminded me in some ways of The Other Einstein. In The Last Days Of Night, however, there is much more action and less romance. The science in The Other Einstein is also relatively minimal due to its theoretical nature, while in The Last Days Of Night, the nature of electricity and the technological discovery of the light bulb are really at the center of the narrative.
Ultimately, for atypical historical fiction that has a significant scientific backdrop, I would definitely recommend The Last Days Of Night. Read my full review to find out more.
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Just like many other women who grew up in the 90s, I loved the movie Practical Magic, in which fresh-faced Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman played two rebel witch sisters. I had no idea, at the time, that the movie was based on a novel by Alice Hoffman, written in 1995.
My first encounter with Alice Hoffman’s writing was actually by reading two of her other novels. First Faithful, which I really ended up not liking and decided to skip reviewing. And then The Marriage Of Opposites for a book club, which was better than Faithful but still felt slow and repetitive to me. Both novels had elements of magical realism, but definitely not to the level of the Practical Magic series.
Based on my lackluster prior experiences with Hoffman’s writing, I wasn’t sure if I’d like The Rules of Magic as much as I loved the movie based on its sequel. Maybe it was the familiarity of the story and settings, or that I actually do need more magic from Hoffman to enjoy her writing, but I definitely ended up enjoying it. Find out why below.
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I don’t actually remember why I decided to request The Best Kind Of People from Net Galley. It may be that I heard about the book during some blog hopping. The premise is definitely intriguing – with a scandal at the heart of a small and close-knit community tearing the family it affects apart.
It was my first read by Zoe Whittall – she has two other novels whose names sound familiar – Bottle Rocket Hearts and Holding Still For As Long As Possible – but I’ve read neither. If you have, leave me a comment to let me know which one you think I might want to read next.
Overall, I liked Whittall’s writing style in The Best Kind Of People and the care she put into character development. However, there were some elements of the book that I found lacking, due to which I gave it 3 stars. I was a bit undecided between 3 or 4, so you can call it 3.5 if you’d like. Continue reading for my full review!
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I first included What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan in my list of Nonfiction Book releases I was looking forward to in Summer 2017. I knew it would be an important read, although there’s something to be said about the fact that a book about suicide that did not involve a beautiful, young, white woman would not have gotten the same level of attention. I actually felt that Maddy’s story was important exactly because she fit so neatly into that image of an ‘ideal’ or privileged life and was still subject to intense pressure, depression, and ultimately the impulse of taking her own life.
This was the kind of book pairing in which one book directly leads you to another. What I mean is that I didn’t read What Made Maddy Run and then decide to find a novel that covered suicide to match it with. Rather, Reconstructing Amelia is mentioned in Kate Fagan’s book about Maddy because Maddy decided to leave a copy of the novel at the top of the parking structure from which she committed suicide. Once I learned that, I felt that reading Reconstructing Amelia might help me understand Maddy better.
If you read both books, you’ll realize that Maddy’s story and Amelia’s don’t fit neatly together and it’s impossible to know exactly why Maddy decided to leave Reconstructing Amelia behind. It’s possible Maddy may have been drawing a parallel between herself and Amelia when it comes to the kinds of social pressure they were subject to through social media, their own expectations, the groups in which they participated and the assumptions of people around them.
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