Sunday, February 26

Book Review: Wasted in Love

Title: Wasted in Love

Author: Allan Wilson

Pages: EBook 131

Summary: Set against a backdrop of menial employment, escape into alcohol and an unflinching belief that life has the potential to offer so much more, Wasted in Love explores the tragedy and humour that exists in the everyday lives we lead. Whether they are starting out in life or having a cold moment of realisation, Allan Wilson s poignant vignettes are powerful, unflinching in their honesty and full of dark humour. We see the real world of love; couples fight, break-up, make-up and fall in and out of love. Lies, suspicion and betrayal haunt them. But when they come together in love, can they escape and rise above their problems?

Contents:
A Celebration
Peaches
Dangers Far Worse Lost Than Run
Lost in the Supermarket
We Are More Than This
Black 26
Important Things to Do
After the Party
A Couple
Her Last Night
Boiler
Rats
Sharkman #1
Day 19
Life Expectancy
Swimming With the Sharks and Bungee Jumping
Thunder
The Marijuana Room
Everybody Will Be Orphans

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an enjoyable short story collection, which I found to be well written. All the stories were quick and well developed; however, this wasn’t a short story collection I could say I loved. The entire time I was reading it, it always felt like something was missing to give it that extra push to go from good to fantastic, but it was definitely worth reading.

The stories all had an eclectic set of characters, which were well developed. Some were a bit raw and hardened, and in most cases, a rather miserable group of people. A lot of stories show them at their less than desirable qualities, I can’t say any of the came out to be likeable for me, but I think they were incredibly well written. They were realistic and fleshed out, which I always appreciate. This was a case where I could still enjoy the stories, yet not enjoy the characters in them.

The writing style was what kept me invested in the collection, although the complex, broken and sometimes miserable characters and their stories also helped factor into it. It’s a real look at people and their relationships, and it was an interesting read at times.

In the end, it was a well written collection of stories, but something was missing from it to make it a truly fantastic read.

Would I recommend it to read:  I think I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys short story collections. It’s not my favourite collection, but it does have a uniqueness to it, compared to other short story collections I’ve read.

What to read next: More Scottish authors, I picked this one at random so I don’t have much to go by.



Saturday, February 25

Book Review: Homegoing

Title: Homegoing

Author: Yaa Gyasi

Pages: Ebook 260

Summary: A riveting kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day.

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising "half-caste" children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and—with outstanding economy and force—captures the intricacies of the troubled yet hopeful human spirit.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book:  Wonderfully written, with a large cast of characters, this was a good read. The characters were well developed and had some powerful stories, as well as detailed backstories on how they were all connected. While I enjoyed the book, I didn’t love it like others have.

The main issue I had with this book was that it felt more like interconnected short stories than a novel. Which would have been fine, if it were a short story collection, but because it was in a novel format I felt disconnected from the story. It moved viewpoints too much which caused the characters’ stories to be left unfinished with a lot of unanswered questions. While I did enjoy how the author gave pieces of information about certain characters, and how their lives were woven in with the other characters’ points of view throughout the book, something still felt off about how the story came together. While it was a powerful and memorable book, something was missing to pull the individual chapters together as one solid story.

The writing was wonderful. I hope to read the author again because of her writing style. Even when I felt parts slowed down, or chapters I didn’t like as much as others, I still enjoyed how the book was written. I also found she was able to capture each characters’ voice within each section, that was incredibly well done, and one of my favourite aspects of the book.

Overall, a good book and I will likely read the author again – it’s definitely a book worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, while it’s not a book I loved, it’s still an incredibly well written, powerful read.

What to read next: Daughters Who Walk this Path, The Book of Negroes, Things Fall Apart


Saturday, February 4

Book Review: The Forgotten Waltz

Title: The Forgotten Waltz

Author: Anne Enright

Pages: Ebook 184

Summary: The Forgotten Waltz is a memory of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing, that reads with breathtaking immediacy. In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009, it has snowed. A woman recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for "the love of her life." As the city outside comes to a halt, she remembers the days of their affair in one hotel room or another: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial. Now, as the silent streets and the stillness and vertigo of the falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, she awaits the arrival on her doorstep of his fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong, the narrator had a clear voice, which pulled me into the story, and kept my attention. Although I didn’t like the narrator much, she was honest and upfront, which made her a more reliable narrator. I also found that the story seemed to lose me at some point, and in the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did in the beginning.
The writing and the narrative in this book were wonderful, it’s what initially pulled me into the book, and it’s what kept me reading until the end. Even when I found that the plot seemed to drift and become disjointed, I still enjoyed the writing style a lot.

I found the characters hard to like, and it wasn’t because of their decisions they made. I think the issue with the characters were that they were one dimensional. It could be because of how the narrator her viewed each particular person, it was her personal bias on the individual characters, but they lacked depth, making them bland and boring to read about.

I also felt that the first half of the story was well paced and moved along quickly, but halfway through the book, it seemed to lose momentum and the plot became still and at times, disjointed. I found the flow of the story didn’t have the same flow as the first half. It was almost as if something was missing from the story to connect it together.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing style and the first half of the book, but it didn’t work out for me in the end.

Would I recommend it to read:  It wouldn’t be high on my list of books to recommend, but I wouldn’t not recommend it either.

What to read next: That’s a hard one, I’d say more by the author.