Trifolia reads in 2023

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Trifolia reads in 2023

Editado: Mar 20, 5:58 am

Read in 2023

11. A Hundred Million Years and a Day by Jean-Baptiste Andrea - 3,5 stars
10. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman - 3 stars
9. The Colony by Audrey Magee - 3,5 stars
8. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead - 3,5 stars

7. Vida de Guastavino y Guastavino by Andrés Barba - 4 stars
6. Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller - 3,5 stars

5. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan - 4 stars
4. Madame le Commissaire und der Tod des Polizeichefs by Pierre Martin - 3 stars
3. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - 3 stars
2 Africa Is Not a Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa by Dipo Faloyin (audio)
1. A Bookshop in Algiers by Kaouther Adimi - 3 stars

Mar 20, 5:53 am

Hello everyone, I’m Trifolia and I’ve decided to join the 75 books in 2023 group. I’m a 50-something historian working full time as an information manager (aka archivist). I live in Belgium (Flanders). I’ve been a member of LT since 2010, but initially under a different name (JustJoey4 and monicagovers).
My reading preferences are international literature from all over the world, modern literature and classics. In stressful times, I reach for detectives and thrillers. Although I will not officially venture into challenges, etc., I do intend to focus on African literature, Nobel Prize winners, historical fiction and non-fiction.
I’ve been a part of this group before, but I dropped out due to personal reasons. I missed the camaraderie and the inspiration that this group provides. I also missed keeping track of my reading and writing reviews. So I’m happy to be back and looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
I hope you don’t mind me joining in late. I’ve already read some books this year that I would like to share with you. And of course, I’m eager to see what you have been reading and what you think of it.
I’m not sure if I will reach 75 books this year, but that’s not my main goal. My main goal is to enjoy reading and participating in this wonderful group.
I’m also active in Club Read and other groups on LT, where I enjoy the discussions and recommendations of other thoughtful readers. But there is something special about this group that made me want to join again. Maybe it’s the diversity of genres and opinions, or the warmth and support of the members, or the fun and challenge of reaching a goal together. Whatever it is, I’m glad to be here again.
I have to admit that sometimes this group can be a bit overwhelming for me with all the activity and chatter. It can be hard to keep up with everything and everyone. But at the same time, it gives me energy and motivation to read more and better books. So please bear with me if sometimes I fall behind or disappear for a while.
I hope you will all make yourselves known if you want to connect with me or follow my thread. Whether you are old or new friends, you are always welcome here.
Take care and happy reading!

Mar 20, 7:51 am

Welcome back! I'm glad you're joining in again.

Mar 20, 8:09 am

Thank you, Jim. I must admit I had cold feet to start a new thread, but I'm also excited to be here again.

Mar 20, 8:11 am

I hope you'll forgive me that I'll more or less copy my reviews from the books I read in 2023 to catch up. So here goes:

1. A Bookshop in Algiers / Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi - 3 stars

Author’s nationality: Algerian
Original publication date: 2017
Author’s age when first published: 31
Written in: French
Read in: Dutch translation
Format: e-book

Why I read this :
In my search for suitable books for the African novel challenge in January, this book caught my eye. It wasn't quite what I was looking for, because I actually wanted an Algerian story by an Algerian author in an Algerian context and the French context therefore seemed less interesting to me. But since France is an integral part of Algeria's history and since I have a soft spot for bookstore books, I read it anyway. The fact that it is a short novel made the choice easier.

Based on true events, the book tells the story of Edmond Charlot, a young man in his twenties, who opened a bookshop (Les Vraies Richesses) in Algiers in the 1930s and also became a publisher and champion of a literary scene that transcended borders. His bookshop became the place to be for writers, poets, publishers, students, a.o. Albert Camus (who had some of his first works published by Charlot).

My comments:
In this book we follow three storylines: that of Charlot through fictionalized diary fragments, that of Ryad who has to clean up the bookshop in 2017 and the author who's the voice of the Algerian people.
Charlot's diary fragments are interesting because they depict the hectic pace of the entrepreneur and enable the author to give a lot of information in a very concise manner. But sometimes it was a bit too much name dropping without the necessary context. Ryad's story seemed a bit superfluous to me, but perhaps necessary to complete the circle. Perhaps the most impressive was the anonymous voice of the Algerian people, although it is very limited. However decisive the storyline of Charlot's bookstore is, this is also the story of Algeria, a colony of France that tried to become independent and pays a very heavy price for it.
I must admit that I know very little about colonialism and the struggle for independence. That lack of knowledge is one of the reasons I've joined the African Roman Challenge. Ailthough this book offers no more than a very concise look at a complex and painful history, its merits are that it is well written, it rescues Charlots bookshop from oblivion and it has made me curious enough to explore this topic further, so it does have its value.

Recommended for:
Anyone who likes to read about booksellers or wants to take a cursory glance at a small aspect of Algeria's history.

Mar 20, 8:12 am

2. Africa Is Not a Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa by Dipo Faloyin - 4 stars

Author’s nationality: Nigerian
Original publication date: 2022
Author’s age when first published: ?
Written in: English
Read in: Dutch translation
Format: audiobook
Genre: non fiction

Why I read this :
In my preparation for the African Roman Challenge I was looking for some kind of overview of African history. This book came up and while it wasn't really what I was looking for (I can see a pattern emerging here…), the synopsis tickled me enough to read it.

In this intriguing book, the Nigerian journalist Dipo Faloyin who was born in the US, spent his childhood in Nigeria and now lives and works in London, challenges us to look at Africa differently. Because, for various reasons, we still use stereotypes and prejudices that are detrimental to the development of this continent.
After a first chapter in which he tells the story of how Africa was divided among the Western powers, he explains why charities such as Band Aid are so harmful, that there is much more diversity within Africa than Westerners think. There is a hilarious chapter about how Hollywood filmmakers should portray Africa to fit all the clichés, but he also explains the variety of African dictatorships and the impact of foreign influence, the link with supremacists, the outrage over the plunder of African art and heritage, he writes about the jollof rice war that Jamie Oliver unintentionally unleashed and finally also about possible future prospects for the continent. The common thread running through his story is the author's concern that Africa is being robbed of opportunities by all those wrong assumptions that drive investors away, simply giving a wrong picture of a continent in full development.

My comments:
The author sometimes rambles on and repeats himself, but it never gets boring. It may be necessary to emphasize the seriousness of the message, especially since Dipo Faloyin writes in such a disarmingly humorous, sometimes hilarious way. I can’t really say the facts he mentioned were unknown to me, but he presents them in a way that makes me think and see things from a different perspective.
I don't always agree with the author and I had hoped he would make more suggestions to improve Africa's image, but Faloyin has already given me a lot to chew on. He has made me think and I accept his invitation to try to stay away from clichés and prejudices when looking at this beautiful and fascinating continent.

Recommended for:
Anyone who’s interested in Africa and would like to look at it from a different angle.

Mar 20, 8:12 am

3. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - 3 stars

Author’s nationality: Northern Irish
Original publication date: 2020
Author’s age when first published: 48
Written in: English
Read in: Dutch translation
Format: audiobook
Genre: historical fiction
Other books read by this author: Instructions for a Heatwave / The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

Why I read this:
I have enjoyed reading several of Maggie O’Farrell’s books so I was interested to read this one, especially since it was a historical novel, it was well received and also won several awards.

The fictionalized story of the impact of the plague on the lives of William Shakespeare and his family, especially from the point of view of his extraordinary wife.

My comments:
I have started reading this book in december 2022 and in the beginning I liked it very much but somehow, somewhere in the middle, I became more and more frustrated with this book till I reached the point that I put it aside for a few weeks and only finished it a few days ago. It had all the ingredients for me to like it: it’s historical fiction with true to life characters with an interesting plot. Maybe a bit too sentimental and too drawn out at times, but okay, I can take that. So why didn’t I like it more and why did I become frustrated after really enjoying the first chapters. It took me a while to realize it’s probably due to the format! I actually listened to this book and I realize I became frustrated at the very moment the child died. From that very moment, the narrator’s voice was whining. Every word, every sentence: whiny. This had a huge impact on how I perceived this book. She even whined when she could or should have used a more neutral or even optimistic tone.
So, to be honest, I think the format really blew it for me because I think I would have liked the book a lot better if I had read it instead of listened to it.
I started listening to audiobooks last year and liked the experience so far, especially since it enables me to read more often. It has worked well with a few classics and mysteries but I wonder if some books are better read than listened to. Or is it all due to the narrator’s interpretation?
I wonder if you have had a similar experience.

Recommended for:
Anyone who likes intimistic historical fiction.

Mar 20, 8:13 am

4. Madame le Commissaire und der Tod des Polizeichefs by Pierre Martin - 3 stars

The third part of a cozy police series set in Provence. In this part, the police commissioner investigates the suicide of a colleague which turns out not to have been a suicide. Especially nice because of the atmosphere and the well-typed characters.

Mar 20, 8:13 am

5. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan - 4 stars

I read this little book, actually more of a novella in January and was very charmed by it. Although I actually expected something completely different, more historical facts about the Magdalena sisters, it did not disappoint me at all. It's the story of a man who grew up without a father, is now the father of a happy family and looks his past into the eye by being confronted by a girl in the convent where he has to deliver coal. A bit of an open-ended Christmas story, but very nicely told.

Mar 20, 8:17 am

I read five books in January and had read but not yet reviewed a few others when covid hit me. I had been able to duck away for nine rounds, but it finally hit me in round ten. Although it was a mild case, compared to others (I've been fully vaccinated), I'm still suffering from extreme fatigue and brain-fog. So I'll try to add the reviews of February and March soon.

Editado: Mar 20, 11:45 am

6. Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller - 3,5 stars

Author’s nationality: UK
Original publication date: 2021
Author’s age when first published: 54
Written in: English
Read in: English
Format: e-book

Why I read this:
I had read rave reviews or mentions about this book (thanks BLBera, Nickelini, RidgewayGirl, Caroline_McElwee, arubabookwoman and I may forget more) and it seemed like a book I would enjoy.

After the unexpected death or their mother, the 51-year old twin-brother and sister Julius and Jeanie are left unprepared. They have lived a very sheltered life but now have to face the hard reality that their mother had secrets which have a huge impact on their lives and future.

My comments:
I liked the characters, especially Jeanie, who was strong and loyal. The writing was clear and atmospheric, creating a vivid sense of place and time. The plot was engaging, with some twists and revelations that kept me hooked until the end. The book explored themes of identity, family, loyalty, love and survival with honesty and grace.
However, I also felt that the author was sometimes too harsh or unrealistic with the twins’ struggles. The writing was sometimes too slow or repetitive, making the story drag in some parts. Some twists and revelations were predictable, leaving me unsatisfied.
So all-in all, I had mixed feelings: it had some flaws but overall I liked it.

Recommended for:
I recommend this book to anyone who likes character-driven novels with a touch of mystery and social commentary.

Mar 20, 11:47 am

7. Vida de Guastavino y Guastavino by Andrés Barba - 4 stars

Author’s nationality: Spanish
Original publication date: 2021
Author’s age when first published: 46
Written in: Spanish
Read in: Dutch
Format: e-book

Why I read this :
I came across this book by chance on my ereader (KoboPlus-account and I was interested.

This book tells the story of two Spanish architects, Rafael Guastavino, a bit of a rogue, and his son, who emigrated to New York in 1881 and became famous for their innovative vaulting technique. They worked on iconic buildings such as Grand Central Station and St. John the Devine, but they also had a complicated father-son relationship.

My comments:
The Guastavinos really existed and this story is based on real facts. But the author has worked his own story around it. I liked this book for its historical and artistic interest, but especially for its description of the father-son relationship.
However, the book lacked some emotion and suspense, making it hard sometimes to connect with the characters.

Recommended for:
I recommend this quick read to anyone who likes historical novels with a touch of art and social commentary, but be aware that it’s an very short and not a very exciting or moving book.

Mar 20, 3:43 pm

Welcome! Hope the fatigue is better soon.

Editado: Mar 20, 9:46 pm

Will be following… you’ve got an interesting selection thus far this year and your reviews are helpful (I read Hamnet and somehow I don’t think the narrator to the audio is the problem). I vastly preferred Nutshell - far more creative, if one needs to pick their favorite Shakespearean knock-off! Anyway, hope you enjoy the reads! I look forward to your reviews whenever you get to them.

Mar 20, 11:33 pm

Some good reading Monica and wonderful to see you back.

Mar 21, 10:26 am

Happy to see you back here, Monica!

Mar 27, 8:48 am

>13 banjo123: Thank you. I'm still struggling, but improving slowly every day.

>14 PocheFamily: Now I'm curious if you had a problem with Hamnet :-)

>15 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul!

>16 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita. I don't have the energy yet to comment on other threads (it seems March 20th was an exceptional day), but I'll get there eventually (she says hopefully).

Mar 27, 8:49 am

8. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead - 3 stars

Great Circle is a novel about two women trying to find their own way in life: Marian Graves, an adventurous pilot who disappeared without a trace over Antarctica in 1950 while trying to fly around the world over the poles, and Hadley Baxter, a modern film star. who wants to change her life by playing her role in a biopic about Marian. The book follows the adventures and misadventures of both women and a host of major and minor secondary characters.

The book is well written and the story reads smoothly, but my interest and initial enthusiasm faded with each chapter. And even after I finished the book, this feeling remained.

I felt that the book captured the atmosphere and history of the different periods and places in which it was set rather well, but some characters and storylines were not very realistically developed. And there were way too many details, sidetracks and loose ends that slowed the story down. Hadley Baxter's side story was also more of an excuse to tell the whole life of Marian Graves than a fascinating story in itself. So the book was way too long for my taste and could have been shortened more than a bit.
But one of my biggest annoyances was that I had the impression that the author wanted to include sexual relations in all possible forms without really adding anything to the story or character development. Once I started noticing this, I even considered compiling a checklist to see which variation hadn't been used, only to find out a few pages later that it was after all.

While I initially considered giving this book 4 stars because of its story and elegant style, I've since revised it to 3 stars and even that now seems flattering. It seems that where some books score better with me over time, the reverse happened with this book.

I also wonder to what extent the form has played a role in the experience of this book. I listened to this as an audiobook. Aside from the fact that it takes me much (but really much) longer to listen to an audiobook than to read it, I can imagine I'd be skimming through some passages faster than an audiobook would allow. And maybe that skimming would have made me feel less annoyed by some of the elements in this book. But since you can never read a book twice for the first time, I will never be able to answer this question.
Have you already experienced something similar?

Mar 28, 8:27 pm

>18 Trifolia:-- I loved Great Circle, and read it in print. But I think that I have more tolerance for long and meandering stories? I didn't skim with this one. My wife listened on audio, and liked it as well, so I suspect it wasn't the format that got you.