Showing posts with label david park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label david park. Show all posts

Friday, January 9, 2015

Scanning the Backlist #1

Scanning the Backlist is a feature created by Julie over at Book Hooked Blog.  Julie's gone through all of the authors she's reviewed in the past, and explored their backlist titles.  Through this feature, she then highlights some of the backlisted books that she most wants to read.

I think this is a GREAT idea, because I review tons of new-to-me authors, and swear that I am going to read everything that they ever wrote, but then I...don't.  Because I get distracted by shiny things and never actually make it to those backlisted books.  So perhaps this feature will remind me of all this good reading I have waiting for me!

Today, I have 2 authors to highlight:

Emma Donoghue

I read Donoghue's Room pre-blogging days, and was instantly captivated.  I finally got around to reading another of her novels, Landing , a couple of years ago.  Even though I didn't love that one as much, I was extremely surprised by how different these two novels were--if I hadn't read the covers, I would have never guessed they were created by the same author.  Not just because of the subjects, but even the writing style had a different feel.  Donoghue has a lengthy backlist beyond Room and Landing, and they all seem just as varied in scope as the two that I've already read.  I'm especially interested in Slammerkin (historical fiction set in 18th century England) and her debut novel, Stir-Fry.

David Park

One of the first review copies I ever received was David Park's The Light of Amsterdam .  It is an emotionally complex, character-driven novel, and totally up my alley.  In checking out Park's other work, it seems much of it is not very well known (though, to be fair, neither is Amsterdam).  However, he takes on an array of interesting subjects.  In The Poet's Wives, he writes from the perspective of three poets' wives (two real and one fictional).  And in The Truth Commissioner, he creates a fictional "truth commission" investigating the disappearance of a young Irish Catholic boy.
He does appear to have some older works that focus primarily on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, though they are very limited release and likely hard to find.  I'd like to get my hands on at least one of his other books though, just to see if they are as atmospheric and intriguing as The Light of Amsterdam.

Whose backlist are YOU interested in perusing, reader friends?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (20)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. craic. "'And take those jeans off,' her daughter called. 'And try to get in the spirit of it, Mum, or you're not going to enjoy yourself. It's only a bit of craic.'"  (from The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)

1. fun and entertainment, especially good conversation and company (often preceded by the): Come for the beer, lads, and stay for the craic!
2. mischievous fun; laughs: We did it just for the craic.

Now there's a good Irish-ism!

2. abstemious. "That's what did it for him.  And women of course although this was an area in which he would have been more than willing to be less abstemious if the opportunities had only presented themselves."  (from  The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)

1. sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet.
2. characterized by abstinence: an abstemious life.
3. sparing: an abstemious diet.

I pretty much figured out the definition from the context, but definitely a new word for me.

3. ataxia. "The mark of the devil on a woman's breast is only a mole, the man who came back from the dead and stood at his wife's door dressed in the cerements of the grave was only suffering from locomotor ataxia..."  (from  'Salem's Lot by Stephen King)

loss of coordination of the muscles, especially of the extremities.

Leave it to SK to make a medical term take a creepy turn.

What are your new words this week?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2012

I know there's still technically 2-ish weeks of the year left, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I've waited long enough to announce my...
Now you still have 10 days to buy them before Christmas!  WINNING!

It is always so hard for me to look back on a year's worth of reading, and narrow it down to just a few favorites.  I start with a list of eleventy billion great books, and I swear that I will never be able to cut any of them from the list.  After many tears, I get it down to maybe 20, then 15, and finally 10.  And I did it.  I DID IT FOR YOU.  You're welcome, world.

So without further ado!

I will start with the two books that were, far and away, the best things I read this year.  FAR. AND. AWAY.  I cannot choose between the two.  They were:

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

These two books blew my mind, for entirely different reasons.  Gone Girl is probably the best psychological thriller I've read in the history of ever.  The Night Circus has some of the most outstanding writing and detail work I've seen, along with a romance that draws in even the most mush-resistant reader (ME).  Unfortunately for you, I read The Night Circus before I started blogging, but you can read my gushing review of Gone Girl here.

After those two, here are the other 8 that made the cut, in no particular order.  (I included links to my reviews for any that I read after starting the blog.)

3. Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Chick-lit with wry, deadpan humor?  Yes.  More of this please.  Perfect for the late 20s/early 30s set.

4. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Finally got around to reading this masterpiece.  Worth every page.  Furthered my already-existing King love.

5. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Deeply heartbreaking, but the writing is beautiful.

6. Gold by Chris Cleave

Phenomenal character development, unpredictable twists, and the Olympics!  TRIFECTA!

7. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

A frightening premise (child abduction) told from a unique perspective.  Richmond does a great job exploring the relationships between her characters.

8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

(Kind of) dystopian, (kind of) romance, (definitely) raises tons of sociological/cultural questions.  Great twist at the end.  I'm dying to see the movie now.

9. The Light of Amsterdam by David Park

I know, I didn't pick this as my best book of November, and the book that did get picked isn't on this list.  What can I say?  It's books, not a math equation.  A month later, this book is sticking in my mind longer than most.  The setting and the characters are just so well done.

10. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

My one non-fiction pick of the year.  Jenny Lawson is hilarious, and so is her book.  She makes me want to taunt my husband with a yardful of metal chickens.

That's all she wrote, 2012!

What were your favorites this year?  What should I add to my MUST READ list for 2013?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (9)

Happy 12/12/12!  Fun date!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. miscegenation. "In 1960, the year that my parents were married, miscegenation still described a felony in over half the states in the Union." (from Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama)

1. marriage or cohabitation between a man and woman of different races, especially, in the US, between a black and a white person.
2. interbreeding between members of different races.
3. the mixing or mixture of races by interbreeding.

(Never knew there was a formal term for this.)

2. concupiscent. "Call the roller of big cigars, / The muscular one, and bid him whip / In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. " (Wallace Stevens, as quoted in 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King)

1. lustful or sensual.
2. eagerly desirous.

(OK, this is a weird poem.)

3. pastiche. "...because unlike most of those around him he could claim to have actually seen him play and not just the jaded pastiche of his final years when his legs had gone.." (from The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)
1. a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources.
2. an incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc, taken from different sources; hodgepodge.

(Every time I use a word from this novel, I am impressed with Park's use of language!)

What are your new words this week?

Monday, December 3, 2012

November 2012 In Review

Small Fry demands turkey satisfaction.

November...was crazy.  Reading wise, it was great.  I liked pretty much every book I read (felt a little lukewarm about 1-2, but overall, I'd say I at least liked them).  Some months aren't always like that.  Back in July or so, I felt like I was reading NOTHING but bad books.  Luckily that was before the blog was born, so you did not need to share in my misery.  :)

Just to add a little spice to my monthly wrap-ups, I've decided to name my favorite, and least favorite, book read each month.  Which is really hard this particular month, given that none of my books were very low on the rating scale!  Sooooo:

November 2012 Favorite: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
November 2012 Least Favorite: Landing by Emma Donoghue

With that, let's review the rest of my reading month.

I read and reviewed 7 books (click links for my reviews):
Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Being Santa Claus by Sal Lizard with Jonathan Lane
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
The Light of Amsterdam by David Park
Landing by Emma Donoghue
Deadline by Mira Grant
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I also posted 2 mini reviews of past reads:
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
In The Woods by Tana French

And I posted 4 new Small Fry Saturdays!
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Peekaboo Kisses by Barney Saltzberg
Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
I'm A T.Rex! by Dennis Shealy

In the midst of all this, I shared deep thoughts about self-published novels, tried to find ways to read without ignoring my husband, talked about my hotly-anticipated 2013 releases, and hosted another giveaway.

Nowadays, I am gearing up for the Christmas season in a big way.  Luckily, I am nearly done with shopping, so now I can concentrate on kissing under the mistletoe and keeping my toddler out of the tree.  :)  And of course, MORE READING!

Do you have any favorite Christmas-themed reads?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (7)

Word Nerd Time!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. rictus. "Kelly looked at me, lips drawing back in a smile that looked more like a rictus." (from Deadline by Mira Grant)

1. the gape of the mouth of a bird.
2. the gaping or opening of the mouth.

2. palimpsest. "'Have to what?' he asked, staring at the dark palimpsest of beard on his head of department's lower face that threatened to seep through the aging surface of his skin and re-form its former glory. " (from The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)

a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.   (really interesting use of the word by the author!)

3. jobsworth. "'What a jobsworth,' Shannon hissed at her.  'A little power and it goes to their head.'" (from The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)
a person in a position of minor authority who invokes the letter of the law in order to avoid any action requiring initiative, cooperation, etc.

What are your new words this week?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Light of Amsterdam--giveaway winner!

Congrats to the winner of a hardcover copy of The Light of Amsterdam by David Park...

Diana B.!

Diana won via a freebie entry on my Rafflecopter form.

Woot Woot to Diana!  I love sharing good books with others.

I have 2 more giveaways in the works in the coming months...stay tuned!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GIVEAWAY and Review: The Light of Amsterdam by David Park

Title: The Light of Amsterdam
Author: David Park
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: November 13, 2012  (UK edition published April 1, 2012)
Source: copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

It is December; Christmas is approaching and the magic of one of Europe's most beautiful cities beckons. A father looks for himself in the past, struggling to deal with a recent divorce, his teenage son in tow. A single, selfless mother accompanies her only daughter and friends for a weekend-long bachelorette party. And a husband treats his wife to a birthday weekend away, somehow heightening her anxieties and insecurities about age, desire, and motherhood.  During their brief stay in the city, the confusions and contradictions inherent in their relationships assert themselves in unexpected ways, forcing each couple into a sometimes painful reassessment and a new awareness of the price that love demands. As these people brush against each other in the squares, museums, and parks of Amsterdam, their lives are transfigured in the winter light as they encounter the complexities of love in a city that challenges what has gone before.  

My Review:

"Let them all come to Amsterdam, let it be compulsory for every citizen to temporarily sojourn there and imbibe the knowledge that race and religion, colour and gender mattered little in the pursuit of happiness." (p 137)

While perusing NetGalley, my curiosity was immediately piqued when I saw "Amsterdam" in the title of this novel.  In our pre-baby life, the Hubs and I were big travelers, and one of our last overseas trips was to the Netherlands and Belgium in 2010.  Two days of this trip were spent in Amsterdam, a truly unique city.  It has so many different faces to it--rich with history, vibrant with a youthful population, but also with the seedy nightlife that everyone hears so much about.  The premise of this book intrigued me, because I liked the idea of three very different people/families encountering Amsterdam from unique perspectives, with a variety of goals in mind.  You need a very eclectic setting for that to work, and I think Park was spot-on in choosing Amsterdam.

As I started reading, the first thing I had to get used to was Park's writing style.  He tends to write each character almost from a stream-of-consciousness perspective, so that you follow their thoughts from one subject to the next without much break in between.  This means his prose is very dense and prone to run-on sentences, which is disorienting at first.  Each paragraph gives you a lot to take in all at once.  However, once you get a feel for it, you start to appreciate the rich narrative of each character's life.  By the halfway point of the novel, I felt like I had a real understanding of each person's weaknesses and desires.

Of the three protagonists, I think Marion (the wife being treated to the birthday getaway) was most interesting for me.  Her motives are hard to pin down--is she a control freak?  Is she lacking self esteem?  Would she flourish more on her own, rather than with her husband?  I enjoyed trying to figure her out.  By the end, I didn't have a solid answer, but I didn't expect to, given the complexity of her character.

Essentially, all of these people are dealing with a bit of mid-life crisis; facing big changes in their lives (a daughter's marriage, a recent divorce, marital instability), they are looking for a new sense of self.  Even as a younger-than-middle-age reader, I was impressed by Park's ability to portray the sense of confusion and disorientation that goes along with this type of self-discovery.  We've all had moments in life where we feel an emotional change deep within us, but we have a hard time expressing it to others, and that is what these characters are going through.

A few other notes: I didn't love the ending (its abruptness seemed a bit unfitting vs the rest of the novel).  Amsterdam is a wonderful character in itself--the book will make you want to check it out, if you haven't already!  Overall, this is a character-driven novel; don't expect action and adventure.  It's more character study than melodrama.  But if you enjoy getting into the heads of your protagonists, this one will leave you with much to mull over.

Sound good?  Well, lucky you--I have a copy to pass on!

Bloomsbury USA was kind enough to send me 2 copies of the book, so I have 1 unread, mint-condition copy of The Light of Amsterdam to gift to a lucky blog reader.

Just fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.  Entries close on November 25, and the winner will be notified by November 27.  US/Canada only please.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Imagination Designs