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Review : Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Posted by on April 22, 2015 2:22 am in 4.5 stars reads | 4 comments

hausfrauHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Pages : 324
Genre : Literary Fiction
Stand alone
My Rating : 4.5/5

About the Book  :

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband Bruno and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside.

Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters into with an ease that surprises even her. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there’s no going back.

My Thoughts :

Hausfrau left me in such a state, I wasn’t able to pick another novel for a few days after finishing it. Then I had to think about it some more before I could decide whether I liked it or not, and why, and how did I really feel about it.

First off, Hausfrau is beautifully written. It’s the author’s debut novel, but not her first published words as she’s published a lot of her poetry before. It was my first time reading her, but I immedietally connected to her writing. I loved every word of it. I was entralled by its poetry and spent a lot of time rereading passages that spoke to me. Maybe because I don’t read much literary fiction these days, but it had been a while since I related to an author’s writing in such a manner.

When it comes to relating to the character though, that’s a whole other story. Anna isn’t really likable, and I think many readers will absolutely hate her and her story. She’s a liar and a cheat, which isn’t something you’d want to say  ”I really could relate to that!” And yet, because of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s writing and her acute perception of life, I found myself thinking exactly that. Not about Anna’s affairs of course, but about her general anxieties and questionings. It’s very human, certainly visceral, but in such a quiet way, too.

The story is a slow moving one, but I couldn’t pull my eyes away – it’s very much like a trainwreck, but one that’s about to happen, and you only watch to see the big, final explosion. And when I finished it, I felt both heartbroken and shaken, but also weirdly satisfied. I thought it ended the way it should, considering everything.

Would I recommend this book? Weirdly: not really. I loved it, and I still think a lot about it; yet the character and her actions are so unlikable, the pace is so slow, and the writing, while beautiful, might feel so overdone to some readers (lots and lots of metaphors and symbolism all along), that I would only recommend it with a word of caution. It’s an incredibly interesting novel wrapped in a gorgeous cover, but let’s just say that I am not surprised to see that many of my reader friends profoundly disliked it.

And on a final note: it seems that a lot of people don’t know what to do of this book. I’ve seen it announced as a Gone Girl meets Fifty Shades of Grey and Madame Bovary meets Fifty Shades of Grey… which is so weird to me. A sad housewife isn’t enough of a common point to make it a Gone Girl supplement, and crude sex scenes sprinkled through a book do not make an erotic novel. There’s so much sadness surrounding it all, that I think readers of Grey would probably be disappointed coming in expecting some of the same, with an added touch of mystery! I really don’t know what is up with these comparisons!

Filling the Shelf – 165

Posted by on April 19, 2015 11:48 pm in Book talk | 9 comments

Filling the Shelf – 165

Filling the Shelf simply is Mailbox Monday, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)

Happy Monday readers!

How are you? How was your week?

Mine was quite busy, with lots of work on finishing one big project (which went quite well!). Then we had my mom spending the weekend with us, which is always a good time and doesn’t happen often enough! I’m always happy to see her, but this weekend I was especially glad to; it’s a bit of a tough time for her this year, with death and sickness striking the ones she loves, so being able to give her a real hug felt really, really, really good. It doesn’t feel like it is nearly enough though…

Now, on to the books! I haven’t added more recently, except for Johanna Basford’s coloring books!

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Secret Garden and  Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

These books are simply gorgeous! I almost didn’t want to color them once they arrived – but I got over that feeling quick, and I have been having a blast coloring while listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

I’ve also discovered I’m quite a slow colorer! I’ve spent over an hour on the big green and orange flower; close to an hour on the other big ones. And this page has so. many. flowers! I guess it’s good, since I don’t feel in a hurry to finish my page: these books will last me a long time for sure!

For anyone hesitating on getting one of these coloring books : do it. It’s serisouly addictive, and fun, and a good way to put the stress away for a few minutes every day – one flower at a time!

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What books did you recently add to your shelves?

 

Review : The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Posted by on April 9, 2015 3:00 am in 3 stars reads | 1 comment

the killing woodsThe Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Pages : 384
Genre : YA, Mystery
Stand alone
My Rating : 3/5

About the Book  :

Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd’s dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl’s broken body. “Gone,” he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent — isn’t he? Before he’s convicted, she’s got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee’s charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her — the kinds of games that can kill?

My Thoughts :

The Killing Woods is a thriller with a good premise supported by good writing. The pace is a bit slow, as it often is with psychological thrillers, so I didn’t mind that : I love a story that burns down slowly to explode on the ending, in a rain or revelations and twists!

However, I wouldn’t say that the book succeeded on this. For one thing, the final revelation was predictable and, a worst offense maybe, uninteresting. I’d had a hard time caring for the characters, it’s true, and so maybe that’s why I didn’t care much about who-did-it. I’m also a bit confused about the “game” some of the characters were playing, and which was a big part of the story…

It’s a bit surprising to me that I didn’t enjoy the characters much, since I actually loved the narration. It alternates between Emily and Damon, and the author managed to give them both very distinct voices. But I never really “got” their characters or felt interested enough by them to truly care about the ending.

I also thought it was interesting to have Emily’s father afflicted by PTSD. I was at first afraid it would merely be used as a plot device, but the author did a good job describing it fairly, with compassion.

All in all, The Killing Woods was kind of an “in between” book for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s a feeling similar to the one I had when reading Stolen by the same author, so it’s possible we’re just not a good match after all!

Filling the Shelf – 164

Posted by on April 5, 2015 10:46 pm in Book talk | 12 comments

Filling the Shelf – 164

Filling the Shelf simply is Mailbox Monday, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)

Hello again dear readers!

How was your week? Mine was sort of slow going in terms or reading and blogging; but I did finish listening to Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s – and I loved it! I don’t know why I hadn’t read it before, but it was a mesmerizing experience, and I now count the book amongst my favorites. Especially with it being read by Michael C. Hall, whom I adore!

Other than that, I added a bunch of audiobooks to my audio-shelf! I’ve been in a thriller/suspense mood lately, which explains the last few mailboxes; and since it’s one of my most frequent reading moods, I don’t feel too bad about hoarding quantities of them.

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Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason – One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

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The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly – The First Wife by Erica Spindler

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In the Blood and Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger

What books did you recently add to your shelves?