ARC REVIEW: Babel – by Gaston Dorren

Title: Babel
Author: Gaston Dorren
Genre: Non Fiction, Linguistics
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Finished reading: November 25th 2018
Pages: 320

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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Happy publication day!!

Some of you might already know I’m actually a philologist and linguistics has always been one of my favorite areas of study. Therefore I thought Babel would be perfect for me… I mean, traveling the world through twenty languages that together can make you communicate with at least half of the world population? Sounds like pretty much a dream topic for philologists to me. Sadly, this book failed to hit the mark completely for me. There were a lot of editing errors in my ARC copy, with not only spelling errors and words stuck together without hitting the space bar, but also more critical ones like all the missing numbers and facts that haven’t been incorporated yet (hopefully they will in the future). This made it a lot harder to read and slowed down the pace considerably. Also, I felt I was missing out by not having all the fun facts, numbers and comparisons. Editing issues aside, I had also problems with the writing style in general. Both the tone and style of each chapter seemed to vary considerably and simply didn’t feel consistent to me. From a memoir style approach to an informal interview style and a history lesson; I just didn’t feel I was getting to know each language equally. Not every chapter was as pleasant to read either as some didn’t flow that well and had quite a slow pace. There were some interesting facts as well of course and I think philologists and language fans in general will still be interested in the title. I just hope at least the editing issues will be dealt with so we get the full package of information and little fun facts.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #65 – The Cruel Prince & The Wife Between Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two very hyped books that (I should have known) didn’t live up to the hype for me even though they weren’t bad reads. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks &Sarah Pekkanen


Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk Of The Air #1)
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 17th 2018
Pages: 384

“Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way to far.”


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I have been hesitant, almost afraid to pick up The Cruel Prince for a long time. There has been such a hype around this book, and you all know how hyped books and me get along… But I figured I had waited enough to give it a try myself and see how I will react to the story. I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Things were going really well even though I’m not sure the plot itself is all that original. I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a little more developed and I think not enough attention was given to the description of the different characters. I mean, they are magical creatures and we only get so and so has a tail, that one has horns, that one has hooves etc? Without a more detailed description or more attention paid to the fact they are in fact not humans, I tended to forget about their special features completely after a few pages. The lack of sappy romance scenes in the beginning was a true relief though, although of course I should have had my hopes up. Of course the cliche romance scenes would come, and of course there would be another love triangle to deal with. Not talking about Locke, who I initially liked and came to despise. Jude is an interesting enough character though. While she in a way is just another typical strong female lead, I did enjoy reading about her development and how she would get themselves out of that mess. Did she lose points for the romance related actions in the second half? Most definitely yes. But I’m still intrigued enough to be looking forward to the second book. In short, while The Cruel Prince failed to blow me away completely, overall it was still a very entertaining read.


Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 19th 2018
Pages: 346

“We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


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In a way I’ve been hesitant to pick up The Wife Between Us due to the enormous hype around it earlier this year. I almost never react well to hyped books, but I was also curious about this title so I decided to give it a go. Now I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one… I’m not denying some of the twists were very clever, but they just didn’t do it for me (mostly related to the feeling this story was trying too hard). The writing style itself was pleasant to read and the unreliable narrator technique well used. It’s by no means a bad read and I can understand the love for it, but sadly The Wife Between Us just didn’t hit the mark for me.


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December 2018 TBR

I have no clue how this year can be already almost over, but it is what it is I guess… November ended up being a really successful month bookish wise, and I managed to read thirteen out of the fifteen books on my monthly TBR. I’m saving A Spark Of Light for next year, but as I type this I’ve finally started with Outlander… Fingers crossed it will treat me well.

>>> Find a complete list of my TBR on Goodreads <<<

I was going to spend December reading mostly my own books, but I have so many ARCs pending that that just isn’t going to happen. So more pending NG ARCs it is… I also still need to read two titles to finish two challenges (Outlander and Girl With A Pearl Earring), titles I’m hoping to finish before December 15th so I don’t have to worry about making the deadlines.

# TBR #

  • Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen (384 pages) NETGALLEY
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (866 pages)
  • Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald (329 pages) NETGALLEY
  • Love Looks Pretty On You by Lang Leav (224 pages) NETGALLEY
  • My Life In A Cat House by Gwen Cooper (270 pages) NETGALLEY

  • Gril With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (233 pages)
  • Mala Vida by Marc Fernandez (288 pages) NETGALLEY
  • The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (320 pages)
  • The Songbird Girls by Richard Parker (264 pages) NETGALLEY
  • The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peder Nordbo (352 pages) NETGALLEY

Have you read any of these and/or do you recommend them?


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Stacking The Shelves AKA ARC Haul #68 – December 1st

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I somehow managed a week without new titles, but of course this couldn’t last… I always have a week spot for WWII historical fiction, so I just couldn’t resist A Woman Of War. I’ve enjoyed Lang Leav’s poetry bundles in the past, so I finally gave in and got a copy as well (it’s a Read Now last time I checked). And while it’s completely out of my comfort zone, but there was just something about Plus+ that made me want to try it. 

I then saw Sorry Not Sorry and while it’s not my typical genre, there was just something about the blurb that made me think I would enjoy it. I also sounded like the perfect read to celebrate the upcoming summer months. The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek was actually an older request coming through and one I’m excited about. And as a crazy catlady I just couldn’t resist the memoir My Life In A Cat House. 😉

# NETGALLEY ARC #

 

Click on the summaries below to go to the Goodreads page… 

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DNF ARC REVIEW: Not A Clue – by Chloe Delaume

Title: Not A Clue 
Author: Chloe Delaume
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
First published: December 1st 2018
Publisher: University Of Nebraska Press
Finished reading: November 16th 2018
Pages: 276
DNF at 9% (25 pages)
Originally written in French: ‘Certainement Pas’

“I’m Dr. Black, I’m dead. There are six of you, and you killed me.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and University Of Nebraska Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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The truth is that I have been looking forward to read this one. I like reading international authors and I was completely fascinated by the blurb. A mystery, a crime and a mental health angle? Sounds like a pretty good recipe for a successful read to me. Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be. As soon as I started reading Not A Clue I knew we won’t be able to get along. Why? The writing style. Right from the very first sentence, I found myself scratching my head and wondering what the heck I just started reading. The writing style is just one big humble bumble of random words and nonsense being woven together, short ‘sentences’ mixed with randomness and endless weird descriptions and repetitions over and over again. I get that the patients have mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean I should feel so confused they could lock me up myself along with those patients, right? And I also get it, they killed him. But who on earth are they in the first place? And how am I supposed to make sense of this mess? I’ve decided to include a sample to give you a hint of what the writing looks like.

“There are six of you, you are alone, a stuffed mynah bird stands in for your memory, your tartarclot tears scratch your corneas plow your cheekbones into furrows more sterile than horror could ever be.”

Someone please make sense of that sentence for me? Or the rest of the sentences for that matter? I’m not sure if this is a case of ‘lost in translation’ or a writing style that is 200% not for me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep struggling through the pages. I almost never make the decision to DNF, especially this early in a story, but sadly Not A Clue and me just weren’t ment to be.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #64: An Officer And A Spy (DNF) & Educated

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books that didn’t manage to convince me. The first, An Officer And A Spy by Robbert Harris, sadly a DNF, something that rarely happens. And I had high hopes for Educated by Tara Westover after so many glowing reviews, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again.


Title: An Officer And A Spy
Author: Robert Harris

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 26th 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: November 12th 2018 
Pages: 429
DNF at 30% (129 pages)

“It seems to be a necessary part of the criminal mentality: to survive captivity, one must somehow convince oneself one is not guilty.”


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An Officer And A Spy is one of my TBR jar picks and a title I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I had been looking forward to it despite the mixed reviews, mostly because the setting sounded fascinating. I still think the setting on its own is very interesting and the general plot has a lot of potential. A possibly wrongly convicted officer, espionage, the threat of a war and other struggles definitely sound like a good recipe for a successful historical fiction read. Sadly, the execution of those elements in An Officer And A Spy just didn’t work for me. I have picked it up only to put it down again after only a few pages multiple times over the last few weeks. I’ve tried and tried to at least make it to the end to see if things improved later on, but in the end I decided to make the difficult decision to just DNF it. I hardly ever give up on a book, so it definitely makes me sad to do so… But between the superslow pace, writing style, too many descriptions and a lack of interest in both the plot and the characters, I think this was the right choice for me. An Officer And A Spy just never grabbed me and I was never able to stay interested in the story… It’s very possible this story simply wasn’t for me even though historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. A lot of readers did love it, so definitely don’t give up on it if you are thinking about reading it.


Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: February 20th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: November 14th 2018
Pages: 352

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occured to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”


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It’s unpopular opinion time again… You’ve been warned. 

I have been looking forward to finally read Educated for months now, especially after reading so many glowing reviews. This is probably one of the reasons my expectations might have been too high, that and the fact that this memoir has been compared to The Glass Castle. The fact is: I was quite underwhelmed by all of it. This was not what I was expecting, and I feel sad for feeling this way, but it is what it is… I’m going to try and explain the reasons why. First of all, I know that I’m a skeptical person, and I don’t tend to believe things easily just because they are written down on paper. I also had a hard time believing Tara Westover‘s story as it was written down. Please don’t tell me I’m implying she is a liar, which I’m not. I do believe that she wrote Educated based on her memories, memories that can have gotten distorted over time especially if her early life has been such a struggle. And I really had to take her story with a whole lot of grains of salt to be able to continue reading. Like I said, I’m not saying she hasn’t had a tough life, or that her family didn’t do what they did, just that I didn’t find her story as told credible. I mean, for a survivalist family living in the mountains they sure have a lot of luxuries including at some point even a phone, TV and internet (not talking about the enormous mansion they seem to be having in the end). Her family life definitely wasn’t standard, with them not even having a birth certificate for a long time, not going to school and working in the junkyard etc etc. But I would rather call it eccentric for the most part instead. Also, at one point she describes her father as bipolar, something that is never confirmed as the same disease prevents him getting a medical diagnose. Still, I would have liked to have seen this angle developed further rather than just throwing the ‘bipolar’ word out and leave it at that. Another thing that bothered me were the many many serious accidents, a few life threatening, and somehow they are all healed with essential oils and other herbal cures? I do believe in holistic treatments along with medical care, but this is just getting too hard to believe. (I’m not saying they weren’t injured, just that the injuries maybe weren’t as bad as they remembered?) Anyhow, this reckless behavior and indifference towards general safety of others and the ‘miracle’ recoveries were just too much for the skeptical person in me to handle. Another thing I found hard to believe? Where all the money came from. First we are told they are poor, then money starts popping up everywhere somehow. I can get why her childhood chapters are a bit vague about money, but how on earth did she get the money together to get into a prestigious college and university? I know there are grants, but they don’t cover it all and it is a LOT of money we are talking about and very prestigious and expensive education. I mean, she goes to the UK and studies abroad for a long time? And then travels back and forth between the US and the UK multiple times? The flights alone cost a fortune, and surely aren’t covered by grants. A real mystery to me. There is also the question how she got into college in the first place, especially since she was never really educated at home in the first place. Somehow being able to get a superhigh score just by teaching herself advanced math and everything else in the test just doesn’t come over as credible to the skeptical me. Maybe she had a higher level of education than stated in the memoir before she started preparing herself for the test? I don’t know, but as it is Educated wasn’t at all credible to me. I’m not saying her being able to get her degrees isn’t admirable, and I’m sure she’s had a hard life especially with her despicable brother Shawn (I’m not even going into the abuse and her brother here, or we could still be talking tomorrow), but sadly her memoir wasn’t able to convince me.


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