Stiletto Heels/team

Off Topic / Sharing / Venting => Heels' Personal Library => Topic started by: Minelauva on September 02, 2014, 11:52:03 PM

Title: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on September 02, 2014, 11:52:03 PM
As the title says, here is the topic where you can mention books you've read if you don't want to start an entirely new topic (which you're welcome to do, of course).   :cool:

Let's start with me. Here are the latest book I've read:

 - Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (  :aww:

To be honest, I probably wouldn't have heard of this book if it wasn't for Beyonce's song, Flawless. I don't even like Beyonce (as a singer), even if I have to admire her communication and marketing abilities, but this book was great. Easy to read as well. I think it took me a couple of days to read it.
Amazon's description sums it up quite well. The most interesting part of the novel is not the love story, although it is quite nice, it's what this story allows the author to tell about the coming-of-age of her characters, about living and adapting to a country that is not your own, and about race too, naturally. It tells the specific experience of a Nigerian woman who immigrated to the US and ended up coming back to her home country, changed by what she experienced during all those years, and the different experience of her ex-boyfriend, and that was very enlightening.
But what I liked most about this novel, because I could relate to it, is that even though it is a bildungsroman, it really starts after the characters graduate from high school and continues over several years, until they're in their thirties, putting in evidence the fact that people never stop evolving and that you don't suddently, magically become a grown-up.

- Magic Breaks, Ilona Andrews (  :eyefall:

As I mentioned to Rexy in the comments of one of our releases, I like reading Urban Fantasy, and particularly Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series (although I might like Clean Sweep better). It's entertaining and easy to read, which is always nice since english is not my first language (I still haven't managed to read any of Shakespeare's works in english, but I will someday  :yougogirl:). But there's more to UF than that, of course. To put it simply, I like that the stories describe worlds similar to ours, but with a strange twist to them. Usually, the more similar the world is to ours, the more I will like the book, although there's more to it than just that. So, I like the Kate Daniels series. But it wasn't love at first sight. When I first read them, the books didn't strike me as particularly interesting. It's only when I read them again that I got into them. However, I was quite disappointed by the latest installment in the series, released this summer. I had enjoyed the previous one but this one just didn't do it for me. I thought its pace was odd.

Next, I will probably read Shifting Shadows (, by Patricia Briggs (another UF author I like), Colorless Tsukura Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage (, by Haruki Murakami and I'll be right there (, by Kyung Sook Shin.
Title: Re: Books you've read
Post by: Hats on September 11, 2014, 02:32:59 AM
Lots of interesting stuff you posted there. I've saved almost all of them, lol. I need to slog through this mess on my Kindle before I can start anything new though.

I'll go with what I'm currently reading, and that's The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton. Genius mistress of language, but I have to say one thing. I have never disliked a female protagonist (if she can even be called that) as much as I do the snotty, spoiled, coddled and undeserving Undine. Dude, Ralph gave up his writing and got a boring job just to keep you wrapped in your stupid furs and so you can go on hugely expensive shopping sprees and waste a ton of his hard-earned money, yet you still want to cheat on him with that porpoise of a man, Peter Van Degen? All he wanted was for you to show up for your kid's birthday party, and you can't even do that because you're busy going on joy-ride with your cousin-in-law's husband. Oh, god, if I only I could slap this woman to her senses!
Title: Re: Books you've read
Post by: badzphoto on September 11, 2014, 04:49:23 PM
Saving these books to ever growing to be read list  :umm:
I just finished the 4th book of The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I'm late to the party, but the series is so good. I'm hoping she writes more.
Starting Long Live the King by Fay Weldon (2nd of the series Habits of the House) because of the addictive Downton Abbey.
Title: Re: Books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on September 11, 2014, 06:29:36 PM
I will add all these books to my reading list.  :hero:

I've read Shifting shadows, which is interesting, as long as you've read the other books in the series.

And I'm currently reading Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay. It's a collection of essays. I didn't get all of them, since I don't always have the same references as the author, but I love her writing. It's very touching. She can talk about herself with a great honesty and without appearing self absorbed.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on October 07, 2014, 06:55:39 PM
Here's an update on the latest books I've read.

I started reading I'll be right there (, that I mentioned in an earlier post but I gave up after a few chapters. It was well written but I didn't get into it. I felt like as I kept reading, I was waiting for the novel to really start, but it never did.

I also read Neverwhere (, by Neil Gaiman, and liked it. It is a short fantastical novel, a quick read. Gaiman had a good idea and build something interesting with it. The premise of the novel is that an alternative London exists and that most people living in our world ignore it, but that the reverse is not true. However, it is impossible to belong to both worlds at the same time. Basically, if you belong to London Below, you don't exist in our London, London Above. It is a great idea for a fantastical novel because it allows the author to play with this concept and to maintain a certain ambiguity between the supernatural explanation and a plausible realistic explanation. Of course, in this regard, Gaiman doesn't beat the French master of the genre, Maupassant, but it is well done.
The hero accidentally slips into London Below and finds himself involved in an adventure with a girl from that world. As in most novels of this type, the psychology of the characters is not too developed, the book is clearly not a characters study, but it's still believable. I liked that the hero decided to help the girl because he thought it would help him go back to his own world and not out of pure altruism, and that it remained his main priority throughout the novel. It made the expected self-discovery journey more original. The world building was, naturally, very well done. The author clearly thought things through and created interesting characters, but it was subtly done. The reader isn't submerged by useless information. Finally, the adventure was well chosen. It wasn't an epic quest but it wasn't a mere pretext either. So I liked this book. Since Americanah, it is the first novel I've read that I genuinely enjoyed.

Also, I just finished reading the first volume in the high fantasy series The Wheel of time, The eye of the world (, by Robert Jordan. It is the first high fantasy novel that I've read since my attempt at The Lord of the Ring. I liked it. It uses the usual codes of the genre, nothing unexpected, but it is well done. Very good, extensive world building, interesting cosmology. It makes the stakes of the novel interesting. I was afraid it would be a boring battle between, in one way or another, the forces of good and the force of evil. It is indeed about that, and it has been done so much that it is, in my opinion, one of the limits of the series, but the author makes it interesting. It is more subtle that I feared it would be. There are many characters but the reader is never lost. The main positive point of this volume is that it is a very immersive read and despite its lenght, I never lost interest, in fact I was barely able to let go of the book. However, it is a very long series: 14 volumes that tell a single story, most likely spanning years and telling the lives of many characters. It is high fantasy after all. At the moment, I can't afford to immerse myself in the following thirteen volumes as I did in the first. It would be too emotionally taxing. So I will probably read the rest of this series at a later time, during some holidays. For the same reason, I still haven't read Game of Thrones. I'm still waiting for the right moment.  :rolleyes:
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on December 28, 2014, 02:14:07 AM
Since I just had to spend long hours in the car, with nothing to do apart from sleeping and reading (I managed not to drive. I'm so tired it would probably would have been dangerous anyway), I finally got around to reading Ancillary Justice ( It had been on my reading list for more than a year, due to the very positive reviews it got, but for some reason never started it. In a way, I'm glad I didn't do it sooner, because it is amazing. I already started reading volume 2 and will soon be done with it, and then I will have to wait for the release of the next volume for months. I'm usually not particularly fond of SF but I loved this book. I found its main character interesting and unusual, and I liked how themes like identity, humanity, gender, justice among others, are central to the story, without weakening the narrative.

I'm also slowly going through The age of innocence, by Edith Wharton. It is incredibly well written. I didn't know this author but after I'm done with this, I will definitely read her other books.

I also finally managed to read American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I liked it. Once again, I can only praise the author's imagination. However, I don't think I will read it a second time.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on May 23, 2015, 03:34:01 PM
I just noticed that one of my favourite books, The private life of plants ( by Lee Seung-U, is going to be published in English next October. I strongly recommend it. I read the french translation of few years ago and it remains one of my favourite books. I have looked in vain for other books that would produce a similar effect on me before understanding that it was unique.

I also just noticed, because I eagerly await every new book by this author, that I want to kick you in the back (, by Wataya Risa, was just published in English. I really liked this book when I read it in French, a few years ago. The author has a very distinctive style.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Avelys on August 18, 2015, 08:49:03 PM
I just finished reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It's a sort of fan fiction of my favorite book, Jane Eyre!

It's so hard trying keep up with reading but my friends and I formed a book club so it kind of encourages me to read every two weeks.


@Minelauva: Ohhh! You can read french! Do you have any favorite books? I just ordered Le Petit Nicholas because I really enjoyed it when I was growing up. That nostalgia~
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Hats on August 19, 2015, 02:43:33 AM
I heard lots of positive reviews about Wide Sargasso Sea. I actually haven't completed Jane Eyre yet, so I was planning to wait until I get to it first before tackling the "prequel". (I always think of it as a prequel-sequel.) Since I am a major Thomas Hardy fan, I was absorbed in finishing Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and then unfortunately followed that up with Jude the Obscure. BIG MISTAKE. I wasn't sure if I could handle anything dark and dreary after that, so I put off Jane Eyre, even though I did watch the film with Mia Wasikowska when it came out on DVD. Then the 2015 film for Far From the Madding Crowd came out, and then I reread the book yet again!

Long story short: I started Jane Eyre a year ago, and left off at the first chapter - still!

I'm doing my Edith Wharton round - The House of Mirth and finishing up the last few chapters of The Age of Innocence - and then Jane Eyre will definitely be next up. And THEN Wide Sargasso Sea!  :uhh:

Minelauva: I am so looking forward to The private life of plants. I've been keeping an eye out for that book here, and hopefully I'll be able to get a copy of it in October. As for I want to kick you in the back by Wataya Risa... it turns out there was no kindle version, but the Kinokuniya nearby has a copy of it in original Japanese. I think I'm going to tackle it in the original language and brush up on my reading skills.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on August 20, 2015, 09:40:57 PM
The both of you just gave me lots of ideas of books to read.  :butsubutsu:

@Avelys : I'm French :D. I usually don't mention the books I read in French here because most of the time, I don't know if there's a translation available or if it's good. My favourite books by French writers are Mémoires d'Hadrien, by Marguerite Yourcenar, and Désert, by Le Clezio. These books are amazing. *__*

Lately, I've been reading mystery novels : the Adamsberg series, by Fred Vargas (I've particularly enjoyed Have mercy on us all), the Commissaire Laviolette series, by Pierre Magnan (I don't think those have been translated in english, which is a shame). I also read The devil's whisper, by Miyabe Miyuki, and I've been looking for other books by this author.

I started reading Cousine Bette, by Balzac, and surprisingly liked it, so I'm going to finish it eventually. He's a very good writer but in some of his books, those I've read, he litterally spent pages describing the pavement and the streets, it was incredibly boring. This one is better. I'm glad I don't live in the 19th century though.

I read Jane Eyre and liked it. I think you should definitely read it, Hats. However, I liked Wuthering Heights better. It's more striking and more intriguing.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Hats on September 10, 2016, 03:30:16 AM
I didn't touch ANY of the books I said I would get to reading, and for that I need to kick myself in the rear end!

We had a lot of hospital visits to go to, so I was stuck in the waiting room for hours and hours and finished Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (which was hilariously WEIRD), Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (which was just as weird but not as humorous by the end), and now wrapping up Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Curse you, Arthur Huntingdon!).

I'm still lamenting the fact that there is no kindle version of The Private Lives of Plants: Private Life of Plants by Lee Seung-U. (Your recommendation, Caro.) But I've ordered a paperback copy off of the Amazon Marketplace store. Hoping that comes in the mail soon.  :butsubutsu:

Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Minelauva on September 11, 2016, 05:08:15 PM
I just realized that I didn't read much this year. The most memorable books I read were The left hand of darkness, by Ursula Le Guin (definitely recommended!), Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, and The lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. My pile of books to read kept increasing, so I stopped buying new ones. I'll have to read the ones I already have for now.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Hats on May 05, 2017, 05:44:43 AM
I've taken up a morbid interest in Yukio Mishima's works. OK, maybe not morbid. But it's sickening how much I actually "get" him and identify with his characters. I'm working my way through Spring Snow (, the first installment in his Sea of Fertility series, and I can see much of Mishima in his character, Iinuma, from his chest hair down to his borderline creepy fascination with his master, Kiyoaki, (to the point of getting a boner while sweeping at the temple). At first I struggled with parts of his writing. It began so simply, and then bam! We get that freaking long passage from Honda, musing about the Laws of Manu, which I had to read and re-read over and over again.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm not supposed to get it.

Previously, I finished A Fine Balance (, by Rohinton Mistry. Mistry's writing falters when he reaches a state of happiness in his novel. I don't quite understand why it is, but it's in the misery of his characters that his writing shines most beautifully. I laughed at the ridiculousness of his characters' situation because it made me sad. Thus the irony.

While Maneck was not very interesting to me, I was spellbound by Ishvar and his nephew, Omprakash, and of the strange people they meet. Perhaps Maneck is like me, an observer and a sponge, all at once. That's why the ending, with Maneck's psychological unraveling, makes it all the more frightening.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: Hats on June 20, 2017, 03:40:40 PM
Finished Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian.”

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I didn't read this as an allegory. I couldn't because the story hit a little close to home. I was the older sister in The Vegetarian. That's how frighteningly real this book was for me.
Title: Re: Last books you've read
Post by: cocoyam on August 01, 2018, 08:22:03 AM
I leafed through The Vegetarian in a bookstore (after having read about it in an article first!). Seemed a bit interesting but a little too much for me. I think I empathize more with Kafka (the metamorphasis)? which feels similar in literary format.

I don't read much these days T_T coco from elementary/middle school days would be shamed + she didn't know those would be the glory days. I recently read two books from the Kate Elliot's Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate). They're not bad fantasy books, each book a little lengthy, not quite the gripping page-turner but the large cast of characters are interesting enough. It's nice just to have a bit of fantasy to stave off the dearth.

Speaking of lengthy books with large casts of characters, I just could not get into The Game of Thrones (tv is another thing, v. entertaining). I love intrigue and suspense but is it me or was the writing super dry!!!! OK, just rambling here  :lalalala:

If literary manga tomes count as books, I've been consuming Inio Asano (nijigahara holograph, a girl on the shore). Asano's (or should it be Inio's?) work provide a plentiful fountain for critical analysis both in visual symbolism and underlying commentary. I think his relationship on gender is really complicated and potentially problematic, but pretty interesting. I emailed my favorite professor from college who taught a class on American Contemporary Graphic Novels about these books and got a reply! which made my day. He ordered the books to read them himself. <3