Keky Recommends: 4 books that have influenced me

Hello everyone,

and welcome to a new post that is a bit different from others. I will be talking about 4 books that have shaped me or that I am still thinking about. These books are not necessarily my favorites of all time (even though a couple are), however, certain elements of these novels have had a deep impact on me, that it is lasting today still. Before reading this post, I want to be clear that there might be some spoilers in the descriptions of the books and why they are important to me. I will write **Spoiler Ahead**  when that happens, so that you know spoilers are coming. Without further ado, let’s get into the books that up to today have meant a great deal to me.

Chronicles of the Emerged World: Nihal of the Land of the Wind, by Licia Troisi

chronicles-of-the-emerged-world-book-1-nihal-from-the-land-of-wind-827299-250-400I started reading Licia’s books at the end of elementary school. I purchased the second installment in the Chronicles series without realizing it, read half of it and then purchased the first and binged the trilogy. I have re-read this trilogy and the whole Emerged World series multiple times, however, the first book holds a special place in my heart. Nihal’s experience has taught me that it is petty and naive to expect everything to fall into place, and that only through hard work one can achieve what they desire (sometimes not even then). It was a wake up call for a dreamy 11-year old child. Unfortunately, this trilogy is not available in the UK yet, however, if you wish to read it – which I highly recommend doing – you can do so on kindle or any other eBook app.

Anne Frank: Diary of a Girl, by Anne Frank

9780553296983_mresI remember that my elementary school teacher assigned this book on our fourth year (we were only 9). Of course I did not read it. Back then I was a voracious reader, however, I have always believed that there is a right time to read certain (heavy) books, and that right time is different for everyone. For me, the right time to read Anne Frank came when I was 16, and I am grateful I waited that long because I was amazed at Anne’s maturity and feminist awareness. It was, in fact, my first direct contact with feminist writings. Anne’s emancipated and strong voice struck me, and her speech about the independence of women writers still resonates with me. Anne was such a precocious, intelligent young woman, and her words have definitely left an impact on me, giving me the motivation to be heard.

Mr Gwyn, by Alessandro Baricco

mrgywn-italianMr Gwyn was the very first book I read by this author, and I did so when I was 18. Alessandro Baricco is a widely known Italian writer, and this book deals with getting to know one sense, in the barest sense of the word. Mr Gwyn is a writer himself, however he decides to give up writing novels, and decides to start writing people. In order to be ‘written’, these subjects will have to spend several in a special room designed by Mr. Gwyn, and, at the end of this time, he will ‘write’ their essence, and they will be able to see themselves. I loved this book because it taught me to cherish spending time and truly knowing myself, valuing the interaction I have with with people as much as the interaction I have with myself.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

The Mistborn Trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson

9780765377159_p0_v2_s192x300I read these glorious books a few months after I turned 22 last year. Other than being a genius trilogy, Mistborn is also an exploration of the human character, of its darkest secrets and deepest doubts. One of them being the question of religion and afterlife. By the end of the third book, when the world crumbles and Sazed becomes Harmony, I felt that something had shifted in me. So far, I had identified with Saze’s cynical approach to religion, felt his anguish in discovering how ‘human’ and flawed religion was, and yet, he was supposed to become the new deity. It was a genial choice on Sanderson’s part, really. This trilogy ought to be read along the novella Mistborn: Sectret History, which I am currently reading and loving.

Here we go. These are the four books/series that have impacted me in the past ten years, and these are the ones that immediately popped to my mind when I started thinking about this blog post. It would be great if you could tell me some books that have impacted your life recently, I’d be curious to know!

Until next time,

Keky

Advertisements

BR: Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot

374414

Title: Daniel Deronda

Author: George Eliot

Genre: Victorian Classic, Realist Fiction

Published: 1876

Pages: 850

My Rating: 4/5 stars


Synopsis from Goodreads:

As Daniel Deronda opens, Gwendolen Harleth is poised at the roulette-table, prepared to throw away her family fortune. She is observed by Daniel Deronda, a young man groomed in the finest tradition of the English upper-classes. And while Gwendolen loses everything and becomes trapped in an oppressive marriage, Deronda’s fortunes take a different turn. After a dramatic encounter with Mirah, a young Jewish woman, he embarks on a search for her lost family and finds himself drawn into ever-deeper sympathies with Jewish aspirations and identity. ‘I meant everything in the book to be related to everything else’, wrote George Eliot of her last and, perhaps, most ambitious novel, and in weaving her plot strands together she created a bold and richly textured picture of British society and the Jewish experience both within and beyond it.


Hello Everyone,

and welcome to my Book Review of Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot. I read this novel for my course on Victorian Soundscapes, where we analyze novels in relation to sounds – both musical and rural/urban sounds. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which recounts a story of redemption. If you want to know more of my thoughts, keep on reading!

  • Plot: the plot of this novel is not its strongest asset. This is a character driven book, and, in the end, all the ties come together. Some plot twists happen, however they are not utterly unexpected. Sometimes these plot twists are rather convenient, which was a bit annoying for me. I also enjoyed the plot surrounding Gwendolyn Harleth more than the one surrounding Daniel Deronda himself, however, that is merely a personal preference.
  • Characters: characters are definitely the strength of this novel. Eliot is able to evoke extremely believable and realistic characters, who are flawed and multifaceted. I truly appreciated how flashed out everyone was, from the protagonists to secondary appearances, like Miss Arrowpoint and her music master, Klesmer. At times I could identify with Gwendolen’s thinking, and I loved her growth and development throughout the book.
  • Writing: George Eliot is an excellent writer. Her power lays in her ability to vividly evoke abstract concepts and describe people’s characters in a realistic manner. However, sometimes her descriptions can drag. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed the deep psychological insight she provided and it was interesting to see how objective she could be in the description of the people populating her story.

These are my brief thoughts on this novel. Let me know if you have read it and what you thought of it!

Until next time,

Keky

February 2018 Wrap-Up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my February Wrap-Up. February was a good reading month for me. I read some interesting novels for my course, and one of them is more than 800 pages long! I do not know how, but I managed to read a lot. I just hope that March will be the same. I have decided that this month I will try and read some shorter works as well, a few novellas by George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell and Thomas Hardy. I definitely am in a Victorian mood lately! If you want me to publish a guide on Victorian literature let me know. Without further ado, here are the novels I read in the past month.

9781408855652

The first book I completed was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling. Because in May I finished my re-read of the series for the hundredth time, I thought I would start afresh, and therefore I am re-listening to the Stephen Fry audiobooks for the second time. Of course a 5-star re-read.

 

 

cover2

Then I read Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read this for my class on Highlandism, and it was such a fun book to read. It tells the story of a young man who is kidnapped and tries to get back to his fortune traveling through the Scottish Highlands. It is an entertaining adventure story, and I rated it 4/5 stars.

 

 

9780679642237

I also had to read Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. Even though the premise of the story is entertaining, this book dragged on so much, and I skimmed certain chapters that had very long descriptions. I do not think I would read much more by Scott, even though I am happy to have read this one. I rated it 2/5 stars.

 

cover1

I am taking a course on Victorian Soundscapes, which is fascinating! The first novel we read for that class is The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens. It is a mystery/thriller novel, and Dickens died before completing it, thus leaving us hanging. I loved this one, and I was so frustrated by the fact that I will never truly know how it ends! I gave it 4/5 stars.

 

374414

Always for my Soundscapes course I had to read Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot. This novel is more than 800 pages long, and I loved most of it. It is an interesting portrayal of racial and gender power-dynamics in the 19th century, and even though a couple of hundred pages dragged a bit, the rest (600  pages) were brilliant and exquisitely written. Another 4-star read for me.

 

cover

Finally, the last book I completed was Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is a delightful collection of sketches describing a small town inhabited by older spinsters. Because the 19th century saw the surplus of women as a problem, this little book is an interesting and satirical take on the social problems unmarried women faced in the Victorian Era. Another solid 4-star read!

 

These are the six novels I completed in the month of February. In March I will read some more interesting Victorian fiction, including a collection of Gothic Short Stories. If you want to know my personal Victorian TBR let me know and I will post a list of Victorian works I think are part of the general canon. Let me know if you have read any of these works as well and what you thought of them!

Until next time,

Keky

Books Read: Summer 2017

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my long overdue list of books that I read between May and August 2017. Let me know if you have read any of these.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Keky

  • Rose Blood, by A. G. Howard – I DNFed this one. It was supposed to be a re-telling of the Phantom of the Opera, however its cheesiness and naïveté rendered it dull and childish, especially after reading Rothfuss! (The Wise Man’s Fear)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling – no words needed. I just loved it yet again, for the hundredth time.
  • 23766634A Court of Wings and Ruin, by Sarah J. Maas – I was a bit disappointed by the conclusion of this trilogy. It felt rushed, not well fleshed out, and somehow I was not  as emotionally invested as I was with the second installment. I still gave it 3/5 stars because overall I enjoyed reading it.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab – I really enjoyed this one. I still have to read the second one – it is on my shelf here at Uni. Nonetheless, the idea behind it and the magic system are fascinating! 4/5 stars.
  • Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell – I liked this one as well. I gave it 4 stars mainly out of nostalgia.
  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – Another 4 stars read! Mainly because of the use of words – beautifully mastered! The language is highly evocative, especially considering that one of the two protagonists is blind.51AT4y75bJL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_
  • The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #4) and Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #5)
    – 
    Both of these amazing. Very different from the first trilogy, however, the humor Sanderson put into these two books is delightful and just hilarious. I am looking forward to finishing the third book. I gave both of them 5 stars.
  • 171216The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – Amazing read. Truly amazing. Especially after having lived in the US and, more specifically Chicago, every time someone asks me how my experience is and what I think of it, I recommend this book. 5
    stars.
  • Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon – this one was mediocre, and I have decided to stop reading the books. I found certain parts to be very problematic, and overall I believe that this series already started declining with the second book. I gave this 3 stars because it is still relatively entertaining.

Where Have I Been?

Hello Everyone!

Indeed – Where have I been?

Last May I graduated college with a B.A. in English Literature, and minors in History and Classics. Then, I left. For a few months my life was disrupted: I moved continents, packing up my life and stalling in Italy for the summer, and then moved to Scotland to start Graduate school. All of this brought about a major reading slump – I will post about the books I read during the summer 2017 within the next few days.

Again, the start of postgraduate studies also played a major role in changing my reading habits. Suddenly, I had to research, read, and produce a lot of work. However, I was reading a lot of literary theory and non-fiction, for hours upon hours a day, so much so that when I came home my mind was exhausted, therefore the reading slump persevered.

With the new year, I realized that I am tired of it, and want to take my blog back into my hands (as we say in Italy). I am also reading a lot more novels now, even though always for school. The program I am currently attending is an MLitt in Romantic and Victorian literature, therefore I am reading loads of big books! A post is to come with a list of the works I have read so far, and my opinions regarding them.

I am excited to get back into the swing of things, and expect reviews of more classics than usual – that is all I am reading at the moment! And some of them are great. Hopefully you will enjoy my opinions on them, and believe me, classics are not as daunting as one might think!

Until next time,

Keky

BR: The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

25020c03e81e5472d5ea9924bc959a40

Title: The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles, #2)

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: Adult High Fantasy

Published: 2011

Pages: 1000

My Rating: 5/5 stars


Synopsis from Goodreads:

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.Now, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.


Hello Everyone,

Welcome to my review of the second book in Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy series. The Kingkiller Chronicles are an amazing trilogy, and everyone who loves either memoirs or adult fantasy should read it. To know more about my thoughts and feelings, keep reading!

SPOLER-FREE SECTION

  • Plot: Mr. Rothfuss is a master at creating intricate plots. Every word that is spoken and every action that is accomplished servers to the overall story, which is sign of a greatly developed novel. This second novel was definitely more focused on Kvothe’s story rather than the present story line. However, this means that the third and final book will have to resolve a lot of cliffhangers.
  • Characters: The characters are one of the strongest features of the novel. Kvothe, Denna, and all the others are very well developed, flawed and human. They definitely do feel real, and you love and hate them equally. There are so many sides to these character, and it is just a pleasure to read about them.
  • Writing: This is another strong element of the book. The writing style molds and adapts according to the scene described, which is amazing. It is lyrical, harsh and emotional, overall exquisite.

There is not much else I can say about this book without spoiling something – so much happens! Please let me know if you have read it and what you thought of it! If you have not read The Name of the Wind yet, do so, and you will not regret it!

Until next time,

Lucrezia

**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled.

There is so much that was unsaid in this book. I want to know more about Denna’s past, and obviously I hate that her patron beats her – I really want to find out who that is. Also, I kind of ship Kvothe and Devi.

I had heard a lot of critiques about the treatment of sex in the novel, but honestly I did not find anything particularly problematic about it. Kvothe is young, and I would dare anyone to not sleep with a creature like Felurian! Also, when the two village girls are raped Kvothe is the first who is not patronizing and sees them as human beings, therefore I do not think he is sexist at all. He is just full of hormones, and we all have been, there is nothing wrong with it.

One of the characters that left me wondering was the Maer. I don’t know if he will come up again, but he has an eerie aura about him. I did not like him, he was not appreciative and a smug. One thing I loved though, was the overall discussion of the Edema Ruh. There are so many relevant themes in the portrayal of the troupe, including contemporary prejudice against gypsies, which is think should be addressed more often.

BR: Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

13343734

Title: Warbreaker

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Adult High Fantasy

Published: 2012

Pages: 652

My Rating: 5/5 stars


Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses. Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city. A world transformed by a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous as breath can only be collected one unit at a time.


Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my review of Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, a High Fantasy novel dealing with politics, religion, and self-discovery. After reading the Mistborn Trilogy by Sanderson I knew that I wanted to get my hands on all of his adult books, so I decided to pick this one up and I was not disappointed. So, without further ado, let’s get into my review!

SPOLER-FREE SECTION

  • Plot: Sanderson is a master at plot development and world-building, and even though this book was a standalone, the author managed to create a complex world with a thoroughly thought-out plot. The plot twist at the end is not expected, and even though certain clues are dropped here and there, the reader will not be able to figure out exactly what is going on until the very end.
  • Characters: The characters are well developed as well. Because the entirety of this book takes place within a city, there is the space to develop the psychological and interior endeavors of the two sisters as well as the God King and the lesser god, Lightsong.
  • Writing: The writing is beautiful and evocative, as always. Sanderson has a way with writing that renders the characters very realistic without truly describing them: he manages to create real people through actions and dialogue, which I think is really hard and highly admirable.

These are all my spoiler free thoughts on Warbreaker. Please let me know if you have read it and what you thought of it! What is your favorite Sanderson book?

Until next time,

Keky

**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Where to begin? As always with Sanderson there is a plot twist at the end that completely tips the scales over. I loved learning about the politics and religion of this world, and I know it was maybe the most predictable part of the novel, but when I learned that Susebron did not have a tongue and was controlled by the priests I freaked out. After that I loved him so much he soon became one of my favorite characters. The fact that the high priests were not the bad guys was  also kind of a surprise, even though I suspected that after the conversation that happened in the garden.

I was really disappointed when the mercenaries betrayed the princes, I really was rooting for them. Especially when they brutally killed her friend, I thought to myself how stereotypes are perpetrated. I was so so sad. Overall, great read!