Month: May 2016

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Unlimited Stars for Alexievich: THE Oral History of Eastern-Block Communism & the Transition to Capitalism

secondhandSecondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich
First English Translation
by Bela Shayevich on May 24, 2016
Random House
Source: ARC from Random House via Netgalley
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The magnum opus and latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—a symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia. In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.” Source: Penguin Random House.

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Review

“We sit atop the ruins of socialism like it’s the aftermath of war.”

UNLIMITED STARS.

One of the best books I’ve ever read. THE most personally touching and relevant book I’ve EVER read. A book that penetrates the soul of my being and explains me to myself.
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A Foreign Take on a Very Personal Experience – Romania under Ceaușescu’s Dictatorial Regime

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The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller
First English Translation
by Philip Boehm on May 10, 2016
Macmillan
Source: I bought it
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From the winner of the Nobel Prize hailed as the laureate of life under totalitarianism, a haunting early novel of surveillance and paranoia. Romania—the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara’s lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the rest of the group.” Source: Macmillan.

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Review

Perhaps I was expecting a bit much of this book in imagining it would touch my soul in a most profound and resonating way. See, The Fox Was Ever the Hunter is the story of a teacher’s life (1) during the last few year’s of Ceausescu’s communist regime (2; 1980s – place and decade of my birth), and moreover, it’s written by a Romanian, also an emigre (3). Considering that’s 3 for 3, I naively assumed this would somehow be the story of my life, the conundrum of my dual-identity explained, the nostalgia for a horrific yet clearer, more certain time expressed in all its contradictory complexity. (more…)

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The World Without Water – Bacigalupi’s Complex Political Dystopian Sci-Fi

waterknifeThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
First published on May 26, 2015
Knopf Doubleday
Source: I bought it
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“In the near future, the Colorado River has dwindled to a trickle. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel Velasquez “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, ensuring that its lush arcology developments can bloom in Las Vegas. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive.

There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with her own agenda, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north. As bodies begin to pile up, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger and more corrupt than they could have imagined, and when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.” Source: Knopf Doubleday Publishing.

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Review

The Water Knife starts out SO BRILLIANTLY as a detailed and complex story about local water politics. I am a bit obsessed with politics, and I compulsively follow the most local of stories (well, I’m in DC so local politics here is always fascinating, intersecting as it often does with national politics, and frequently mired in corruption scandals). *Swoon* Definitely a “Love at First Page” kind of book for me! (more…)

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A Note & Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’ve Picked Up On a Whim

Hello lovely bookish friends –

I am so happy to be back with you after an impromptu week’s absence, and so look forward to catching up on all that I’ve missed in the following days. It’s truly in being away from something that you realize just how meaningful it is, as they say. I am so grateful for this amazing community and thank you, so much. (more…)

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Top 10 Tuesday: The DC (Political Junkie) Edition

Hi everyone!

Thank you to The Broke and Bookish for the inspiration and for hosting “Top Ten Tuesdays” since 2010! This week’s prompt: Top Ten Websites I Love That Aren’t About Books (suggestions: favorite food/travel/craft/fitness blogs I follow, websites I visit daily, fun websites I waste a lot of time on etc.)

My post this week is dedicated to my (American) hometown: DC (REPRESENT!), where I’ve lived since moving to the US at the age of 11. (more…)

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And After Many Days – A Personal and Political Story of Nigeria

afterdaysAnd After Many Days by Jowhor Ile
First published on February 16, 2016
Crown Publishing
Source: from publisher via Blogging for Books
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“During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.” Source: Penguin Random House.

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Review

1995. The Political.
Nigeria has asserted its independence from Britain 35 years ago, but the devastating aftermath still resonates through all fronts of the post-colonial struggle. The militarized government (overturned and replaced in coups multiple times) executes human-rights activists it labels dissidents (BBC News). University students take to the streets in protest as reports of police brutality percolate the toxic atmosphere. (more…)

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Blogger Recognition Award

I was nominated for The Blogger’s Recognition Award by Poppy – many thanks for the nomination! Poppy’s Best of Books is a great blog that covers a wide array of fiction, with thoughtful and honest reviews – please check it out when you have a moment!


THE RULES:

  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.

HOW Books Reenchanted GOT STARTED:

This year has been a revelation for me re: books. In retrospect, my activities of the past few years – mainly, joining GoodReads, and through it, becoming a habitual reader – all seem to lead up to 2016. And, the first few months of this year explain the story of this blog. 2016 is:

  • the year I ‘discovered’ I could make new friends on GR (I’m a dinosaur with social media stuff, I only ever ‘friended’ people online whom I knew in real life… before this January, when I began reaching out on GR and found such a wonderful community of bookish people that now extends to the blogosphere)
  • the year I read my first “newly released” book EVER (Girl through Glass by Sari Wilson) and got hooked (addicted, even, it seems like most of what I read now is a new release)
  • the year I won my first ARC on a goodreads giveway, and realized ARCs were a thing. Of course, as soon as this realization took hold, I had to get more. So I signed up for the Reading Room, Netgalley, Edelweiss, and Blogging for Books (I’ve gotten so many free books already, I can’t believe I never knew this world existed before)

So, this blog got started when I realized (1) I could widen my bookish community and get to know people outside of GR, and (2) I would have even greater chances of getting free books (Blogging for Books, for example, requires one to, well, blog in order to receive copies).


ADVICE TO NEW BLOGGERS:

I’m pretty new to blogging myself (less than 2 months), but what I’ve learned so far from other bloggers is:

(1) interacting with others is key! Ok, so I mainly started this blog to get free books. But the reason I’ve fallen in love with blogging is all about the interaction. There is something to having an audience (even if it’s just perceived, if not many read these posts). Something about writing ‘out in public’ that invites me to think more carefully about how I phrase things, that writers may call “finding one’s voice”. Just as important, this audience is other people – who I would probably not otherwise meet in ‘real life’, people from all over the world with such different reading lists and experiences. There is so much to learn here. And, if that isn’t enough, if you want a successful blog, imho, you definitely can’t take your readers for granted! Interact: Visit other blogs, like others’ posts, comment, reply to comments on your own blog, take part in discussions and tags, participate in blogging “memes”.

(2) promotion on other social media platforms is important if you’re looking to interact with non-book-bloggers – thank you to Read Diverse Books for this excellent advice on 8 Lessons Learned from First Three Months of Blogging, which I still have to implement. Like I said, I’m a social media dinosaur so Twitter is alien territory. I do know at this point 99% of those who visit my blog are other book bloggers, so I look forward to taking this advice myself to broaden my audience.


MY NOMINEES:

If you have already received the award, or if you do not wish to participate, please feel free to ignore this nomination 🙂


Thanks so much Poppy for this nomination! Had a lot of fun writing this post!

And thank you everyone for reading 🙂

top5wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Authors I’d Like to Meet

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme hosted by @ThoughtsOnTomes; the related GR group may be found here: Goodreads T5W. This week’s topic: Authors You’d Want To Meet at Book Expo America & Bookcon.

I’m modifying this a bit and thinking instead of Authors I’d Want to Meet. I’ve only ever met one author – last night, I attended a release-day talk by Don DeLillo about his new book, Zero K (post coming tomorrow! Many, many thanks to Cover2CoverMom for inspiring me to go!!!) I haven’t thought much (at all) about this question before because it never occurred to me I could meet authors in person (? right?).

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Hauntingly Penetrating Stories – Dinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin

dinosaursDinosaurs on Other Planets: Stories by Danielle McLaughlin
Published in the US on August 9th 2016 (UK in 2015)
Penguin Random House
Source: ARC from Random House via Netgalley
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“In a raw seacoast cabin, a young woman watches her boyfriend go out with his brother, late one night, on a mysterious job she realizes she isn’t supposed to know about. A man gets a call at work from his sister-in-law, saying that his wife and his daughter never made it to nursery school that day. A mother learns that her teenage daughter has told a teacher about problems in her parents’ marriage that were meant to be private—problems the mother herself tries to ignore. McLaughlin conveys these characters so vividly that readers will feel they are experiencing real life. Often the stories turn on a single, fantastic moment of clarity—after which nothing can be the same.” Source: Penguin Random House

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Review

I had the privilege of traveling to Ireland just over a month ago. Alas, when I returned, as these things go, my Netgalley request for Dinosaurs on Other Planets, a beautiful debut short-story collection by a budding Irish author, was approved. Having just spent a few days imbibing the soulful atmosphere of Dublin and the melancholy of the fertile but sparsely inhabited countryside of County Cork, I was especially appreciative of McLaughlin’s portrait of Ireland in transition. (more…)