Monday, 22 August 2016

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson

The third book of Jonasson, the third secure laugh! Oh you did it again!

As I think I said before about his books, I know that you can either love or hate them, and I do love them.

Here we meet a new funny character, Hitman Anders, a former criminal that once out of prison meets some craz(ier) people on his way that have a mission in mind: make some easy money and become rich. With a naive reception and a priest without vocation, we will be brought in a new crazy adventure characterised by Moldovan red wine and Bible quotes.
As I read somewhere, while reading this book you hope God has a BIG sense of humour!!!

Yes ok, none of his books can compare in originality and laugh with his first masterpiece, but give him a break, his books are so enjoyable that I cannot stop laughing while reading them.

You did it again Jonasson!

If you interested to read my reviews about his first two books, here are the links
The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared
The girl who saved the king of Sweden

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

One day Harold, just retired and enjoying his lazy life, receives a letter from an old friend and colleague, Queenie, who is informing him she has cancer, and not much time ahead to live.
The letter gets him by surprise and Harold, shocked, decides to walk to the post office to drop Queenie a reply.
Things, however, take an unexpected turn, when Harold lost in is thoughts, keeps on walking, passes many post offices, and makes the  sadden decision to reach Queenie by walk (on the other side of the country) to drop her the letter in person, in the attempt to try to save her.

During the long walk to Queenie, Harold will test his strength, his will, and will analyse his life from a different point of view.

A long walk to salvation and for salvation.

Engaging, sad, at times funny, a nice introspective reading!!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

I finished this book last night, and the sadness has been following me throughout the day. Like it has been saddening me for the last month I have been reading it. A month, yes, because this is not a book that you can read quickly, it is painful, it almost breaks you, I had to take pauses from it for a little while, just to find the courage to read it again.
 Throughout the book I was trying to convince myself that after all this was fictional book and, as much as you can empathize with the characters, you could still try to detach from them. But the truth is that you actually can’t, because you somehow know that the characters might have fictional names, that the episodes might not have happened in that order, or in that precise way but you deeply know that this is all true, and this has all sadly happened, and I am afraid it is still, somewhere in the corner of Palestine...
And if you wanted to keep still a doubt to clear a bit your conscience, the writer will strongly clarify her position at the end of the book, and trust me I am doing you a favour by telling you this now, that the book might be fictional but Jenin is not!

We are, of course, in Palestine and the story set place in a simple family with a normal life, until war knocks at their door and ruin everything and everyone. They will find themselves to be refugee from one day to another, without having the time to think and to realize. The book spares you nothing, from the kidnapping to the torture, it will bring you straight there, in an enduring fight for survival. How the singular personalities will survive and shape is the key of the book, no one will possible be still the same and their relationship evolve and involve all the time during the reading.
A book which I found, after all, being still full of love and hope.

People often ask me why I do this to myself, why I feel I have to read what is going on around the world when reading should be primarily a pleasure and a distraction? It is difficult to give a satisfying answer to this, because it is something that I need to do, to not let the scream of humanity to be unheard.

“I know she is crying. Her tears fall on the wrong side, into the bottomless well inside her.”

P.s. another good read on the topic is this.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

All the names by Josè Saramago

When I am stressed I need to read something I know I would like, to reduce at minimum the possibility to quit the book after couple of chapters.
This only happen with Saramago and few others.
I open his books and by magic I am in someon else's mind, thinking what he/she is thinking and getting engaged in a new adventure.

In this book Saramago explores the mind of Senhor José, a low-level clerk in the Central Registry, and the only person with a name in the book, all the others characters will be only described with their job/activity or role in the story.
Saramago is like this, he does not waste time in details that do not help the story, and names here are really not important.
-while writing this post I think I have just realized one of the reason I love Saramago: I am very bad in remembering names in books!-
Senhor José has a very monotonous life, with a repetitive, boring work; he lives alone in a basic apartment just beside the Central Registry. To give a bit of spark to his life he collects news on famous person that he carefully organizes chronologically. His predictable and monotonous life will get an unexpected turn when he finds the record card of a woman that for no particular reason catches his attention. From there on, like there was an external will controlling his actions, he will start to obsessively looking for the mysterious woman, finding himself living a different life...

As usual Saramago enters into human brain, feeling and emotions with a simplicity that amazes me every time!

"Strictly speaking, we do not make decisions, decisions make us. The proof can be found in the fact that, though life leads us to carry out the most diverse actions one after the other, we do not prelude each one with a period of reflection, evaluation and calculation, and only then declare ourselves able to decide if we will go out to lunch or buy a newspaper or look for the unknown woman"

Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Modigliani scandal by Ken Follet

I used to read lots of thriller during my teens, I adored them, the engagement, the surprise, the sudden turns, then I stopped and read just a couple for years. But I could not resist to a thriller about Modigliani, which I adore, and moreover by Ken Follet.
The story evolves around the search of a lost/unknown painting by Modigliani, different people are looking for it for different reason, from the cultural one to the economical one. Between fakes and only one original, only one person will be the lucky one to find it.
Overall it was a nice reading, but must admit did not find it very engaging, a bit plain and average. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

My life in France by Julia Child

I finished this book a while ago, but did not know how to review it (together with having basically no time at all!). The reasons are two:  the first book a reviewed on this blog was about Julia Child (you can find it here), so I grew very attached to her life and (or maybe that's why), I bought this book on a special day, in order to reconnect with France, and with the little things that I love of Paris.
It is a simple book that describe the life of Julia Child from her moving to France with her husband Paul and her first steps in the cooking career. So be prepared to that, but it is somehow so engaging that you cannot stop reading it.

Since I can still not find the right words to describe it, I found a review on goodreads by Kelly 
that describe exactly why I loved this book (and this woman), and I cite here a part:

"You love her because she always brings things back to this place of happiness and, “oh well, the show must go on!” no matter what- but the way she told the stories and negotiated herself to that place was very realistic. This was not an unrelenting “always look on the bright side of life,” montage. There were difficult people in her life, difficult spots in her marriage, difficult moments in her career- the fact that she still remembers verbatim quotes and fights from forty years earlier is telling- and she’s clear about it when she doesn’t like something or someone and why. She doesn’t have an American sense of everything will turn out all right in the end, but rather this very French tant pis acceptance that shit happens and life is shit and oh well, wade through it like a big girl. She doesn’t try to deny anything or erase it or obsess about appearing perfect when she wasn’t- which is something I find irritating about American self-help books and TV fantasies. Her philosophy about serving your food even if it comes out bad and not apologizing for is sort of the epitome of this rejection of the hide your dirty laundry ideals of the mid-century. She’s perfectly frank about her fights with Paul Child, her problems with her co-authors on the book, her difficulties with her Republican father, her failures in the kitchen and on her TV show. It isn’t in the exhibitionist way that you see so often these days either. She’s a good girl, but she won’t let herself be walked all over- she is going to have her say and that’s just fair. I don’t know if I am doing a very good job describing this voice, but believe me when I say that it is as captivating in print as it is on television."

If you wonder if the book helped me in the reconnection process, I can definately give you a positive answer. Thanks Julia, I needed it!!! 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Alabarde alabarde by José Saramago

The book you wish you never had to read. The last incomplete book Saramago wrote before he died, it is only 3 chapters with few note of the author but somehow you already love the characters.
It was a very hard reading, because every page I was hoping I would turn the page and there would  still be many more to read...but eventually it had to end, incomplete with a quite clear idea of where he wanted to go, but with lots, too many questions of how he would have gone on with the writing.

In the Italian version (I am not even sure it was translated in English) there is a note from Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah, at the end of the book. The note is full of love, admiration and hope and this made the book even more intense.
You are missed Saramago, you are so missed...