Saturday, 31 March 2018

ARC Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Penguin

Published: February 2018

Pages: 229


Summary


In a city far away, bombs and assassinations shatter lives every day. Yet, even here, hope renews itself, welling up through the rubble. Somewhere in this city, two young people are smiling hesitating, sharing cheap cigarettes, speaking softly then boldly, falling in love.

As the violence worsens and escape feels ever more necessary, they hear rumour of mysterious black doors appearing all over the city, all over the world. To walk through a door is to find a new life - perhaps  in Greece, in London, in California - and to lose the old one for ever...

What does it mean to leave your only home behind? Can you belong to many places at once? And when the hour comes and the door stands open before you - will you go?

Saturday, 24 March 2018

ARC Book Review: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Canongate Books

Published: April 2018

Pages: 198

Summary


Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making.

In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and - curiously - twelve of her maids.

In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: "What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?" In Atwood's dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the story-telling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality - and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

ARC Book Review: Of Women: In the 21st Century by Shami Chakrabarti

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Allen Lane

Published: October 2017

Pages: 229


Summary


A powerful, urgent and timely polemic on why women still need equality, and how we get there.

Gender injustice is the greatest human rights abuse on the planet. It blights First and developing worlds; rich and poor women. Gender injustice impacts health, wealth, education, representation, opportunity and security everywhere. It is no exaggeration to describe the position of women as an apartheid, but it is not limited to one country or historical period. For this ancient and continuing wrong is millennial in duration and global in reach. Only radical solutions can even scratch its surface. However, the prize is a great one: the collateral benefits to peace, prosperity, sustainability and general human happiness are potentially enormous. All this because we are all interconnected and all men are of women too.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Published: May 2014

Pages: 531


Summary


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfenning, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.