ARC REVIEW: A Castle In Romagna – by Igor Stiks

Title: A Castle In Romagna
Author: Igor Stiks
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 2000
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: February 2nd 2018
Pages: 128
(Originally written in Croatian: ‘Dvorac u Romagni’)

“He was overcome by the immobility one feels upon meeting something long sought after, that silent tension of the body that, before we take the object into our hands, forces us to pause for a moment, as if every passing second increases its value.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

One of my goals this year is to read more international authors and translation, and I’ve been meaning to read more historical fiction that is not set during WWII as well. A Castle In Romagna manages to tick both boxes, and the blurb itself had me more than intrigued. Sadly, my reading experience wasn’t what I hoped it would be… Here’s why. First of all, I REALLY struggled with the writing style. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fact it is a translation and some of the magic is lost, but I do know it was really hard to stay focused and keep reading. The prose doesn’t flow and more often than not ‘formal’ or less natural phrases are thrown in. This slows down the pace considerably and kept distracting me from trying to follow the plot. Another thing that didn’t work for me was the dual storyline. I felt neither story had enough dept because of it, especially since this novel is not that long to start with. Both plot, background and characters in both storylines lacked fleshing out and honestly I think I would have rather seen two completely separate stories. Also, I think the connection of the two storylines through the 1995 setting and friar telling both stories was actually quite weak, as apart from the fact that both storylines are about doomed love they do not have all that much in common. I do have to say both the 16th century setting and the one in 1948 have a lot of potential, and I truly wish each would have been more developed. As it is, I failed to connect to any of the characters and I’m afraid to say I wasn’t able to enjoy my time with A Castle In Romagna.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

A young refugee of the Bosnian conflict decides to visit the old Mardi castle in the north of Italy in 1995. But instead of wandering around exploring the fortress, he will meet a guide who will tell him all about the past: both his own and how he ended up as a refugee himself in Italy in 1948 and the tragic fate of the poet Enzo Strecci back in the 16th century.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

I had such high hopes for this story, especially since the blurb sounded really promising, but unfortunately the story fell completely flat for me. Between the writing style, lack of dept and development in both the plot and characters and the failed dual storyline, I had a hard time reading A Castle In Romagna. Although I keep wondering if some of its charm has been lost in translation.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #162 – February 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m so excited to be finally starting our buddy read of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly with Nicki @ Secret Library! This title was actually a TBR jar pick months ago, but somehow I never actually picked it up… But no longer! I’m so excited to be finally reading this one. Also on my currently reading list is Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter, a 2016 most-anticipated release I somehow never actually picked up either. It’s the third and final book of the series, so I’ll be able to cross off yet another series on my to-do list soon!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/02
I’m definitely happy I finally gave this one a go… I went in completely blind and was pleasantly surprised with the whole dystopian angle being dropped after what seems like a contemporary beginning. The writing is enchanting and I really liked the ‘after’ storyline set twenty years after the disaster… Very intriguing. I did feel the plot felt a bit disjointed with all those different storylines, and things might get a bit confusing with all the different characters in the beginning, but that doesn’t take away I really enjoyed reading it.

2. As Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/02
While I still think the first book is the strongest, As Dead As It Gets without doubt makes a comeback from what I call a ‘weak-second-book-syndrome’. The writing is engaging and reads superfast as always, making it a fun, exciting and speedy paranormal read. The plot is darker than the second book and adds a level of suspension to the story… Without doubt an interesting final adventure, although I’m still on the fence whether I like the ending or not.

3. A Castle In Romagna by Igor Stiks (2/5 stars) REVIEW 08/02
I had such high hopes for this story, especially since the blurb sounded really promising, but unfortunately the story fell completely flat for me. Between the writing style, lack of dept and development in both the plot and characters and the failed dual storyline, I had a hard time reading A Castle In Romagna. Although I keep wondering if some of its charm has been lost in translation.

4. The Lot Of A Nobody by Dave Johnston (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
I needed something fun to brighten up my day, and this was EXACTLY the read I needed in my life. I already knew I would probably like it after seeing positive reviews a while back from bloggers with a similar taste, and I will definitely add myself to that group. I was able to take to the main character straight away and the writing style is just spot on. Engaging, quirky, direct, funny, a little blunt… The right kind of tone for a story I didn’t even know I was looking for when I started reading The Lot Of A Nobody. I LOVED the Nobody quotes at the beginning of each chapter as well as the perfect balance of contemporary and fantasy elements. Maybe even magical realism? Although only in the best possible way… Definitely a winner.

5. Black Heart by Anna-Lou Weatherley (4/5 stars) REVIEW 12/02
I couldn’t resist requesting a copy after certain bloggers (hint hint) kept going on about how great this detective thriller was… And I definitely agree. It’s refreshing to follow a male detective again for a change, even though he has the ‘usual’ complicated past baggage with him… And I do have a weak spot for a serial killer thriller. The writing draws you right in and it was without doubt a lightning-speed fast thriller ride… The plot was a bit predictable though and it was quite clear early on who the killer really was. There just weren’t all that many plot twists and surprises? That doesn’t take away I had a blast reading this one and I will definitely look forward to the next book in the series.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading Hollo by Devon Michael next depending on what genre I’m in the mood for. It’s another ARC I was supposed to read ages ago… (sorry!) I also want to read What Blooms From Dust by James Markert because I’m pretty intrigued by the blurb. And since I don’t have any pressing NG thriller releases anymore (YAY!!!!), I’ll be finally picking up my very first Karin Slaughter book The Good Daughter. I know I’m more than fashionably late to the party, but I’m having high hopes of becoming an instant fan of her work. I also should pick up The Last Star by Rick Yancey to get rid of another unfinished series on my list… I can’t say I was a fan of the first two books, so it will probably be a bit of a struggle reading that one though.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. FacebookBloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #161 – January 31st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a book I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages. I didn’t get a chance to read a lot of it yet, but so far it looks really promising. I’m also about to pick up A Castle In Romagna by Igor Stiks, a Netgalley ARC I picked up as part of my whole ‘read more international authors/translations’ goal.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Best Friends by Carys Jones (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 01/02
If you are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining psychological thriller that focuses on both the characters and the action, you have found a good balance in Best Friends. This thriller has an interesting premise and a lot of action, but the story isn’t solely about the ‘problem’ they have to deal with. The story also focuses on their friendship and how the complicated situation they are in might affect this relationship. Especially in the second half of the story might not be all that believable, but it is still a solid read if you don’t focus that much on the credibility of it all.

2. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/02
The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One without doubt makes a statement. Not only did I instantly connect with her style of poetry and the way she expresses herself, but I could also relate to some of the topics she discusses in her poems. Powerful, enchanting, inspiring and so well represented in both the words and format of her work!

3. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/02
Born A Crime is a very powerful and thought provoking read. I already knew the apartheid was going to be an intriguing topic, and Trevor Noah does an excellent job narrating his personal experience during the end of the apartheid as well as his mother’s experience. He balances these personal accounts with a lot of background information and facts about apartheid that are relevant to that particular account he was talking about. Born A Crime is a memoir you will not soon forget.

4. The Camera Lies by AB Morgan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/02
There is no doubt that both the TV documentary angle and the murder case itself make The Camera Lies a very refreshing, intense and action-packed read. Even though I did see a mayor plot twist coming, there were other things I never would have guessed. There are some disturbing things going on for sure! The story reads superfast and you will be wondering what will happen next and how things will end until the very last page. Entertaining and thrilling for sure!

5. Halfway by Lokesh Sharma (2/5 stars) REVIEW 05/02
This sci-fi story has an interesting concept, but the execution didn’t work for me. The lack of worldbuilding and plot left me feeling confused and Halfway is more of a disjointed character background story than a story set in a properly fleshed out fantasy world. I’m having a feeling I would have enjoyed it better as two completely separate stories: one with the characters and their history, and one fully about Enigma.

6. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (3/5 stars) REVIEW 10/02
I was in the mood for a YA contemporary, so I picked up this title on a whim. I didn’t remember this one had actually a very prominent mental health angle: the main character suffers from agoraphobia and OCD. The author was able to develop this element really well, although I do have to say it all felt a bit too similar to Everything, Everything… And I wasn’t too sure about the ending or credibility of certain parts of the plot.

7. Unclean Spirits by Chuck Wendig (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 13/02
This is one of those cases where I should have investigated better, because I am so NOT the target group for this one… And this had a big influence on the lowish rating. This feels definitely written for macho male readers who like a lot of action, graphic scenes, swearing and adult content. AKA not my cup of tea. I did really like the whole mythology angle though.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading The Lot Of A Nobody by Dave Johnston next, mostly because I’ve had that ARC on my pile for way too long now… (sorry!) After that, I’ll probably read As Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender so I can cross off another series on my list. I do hope it’s better than book two. I also want to read What Blooms From Dust by James Markert because I’m pretty intrigued by the blurb. And it looks like I will be finally picking up Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly soon! Thanks to the wonderful Nicki who offered to buddyread it with me. ❤


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. FacebookBloglovin’.