Tag Archives: book review

“Lost for words” by Stephanie Butland

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“A book is a match in the smoking second between strike and flame” – a marvelous opening line. One can say the same about the human life on Earth.

“Lost for words » is a story of a long path to self-love and empathy. Loveday – the name of the main character – moves in the blink of an eye from a carefree childhood into the world of a child in foster care, as a result of domestic violence.

The story line is nonlinear and the flashbacks are moving as they are narrated through the eyes of a 10 year old caught in a family drama, which keeps reverberating in her adult’s life through the choices she makes. The story ends a bit abruptly to my taste, as if letting you wonder about what’s next. There is a charm in that, I think.

“What’s left of me is yours” by Stephanie Scott

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Did you ever hear about “wakaresaseya”? It is a business in Japan which delivers broken marriages and divorces through agents who play the lover to elicit “evidence” of adultery. In short, they are breaker-uppers. People with pecuniary interests and/or desire to keep the child often make recourse to such services. This novel is inspired by a real murder trial in Tokyo in 2010.

« What’s left of me is yours » is a story told through the eyes of a child caught in the middle of this adults’ game. It is also a story of a woman who was pulled in the game by her bitter and broken husband. It is the story of the agent who fell in love with his target and their mutual love. It is the story of a man who had to become a father again when his grandchild lost her mother in this cruel manipulation. It is a story of choices between getting stuck in revenge and building a future, hide away or embrace humanity.

I loved Scott’s beautiful writing style. It made me witness events, feel the emotions of characters, smell the ocean and hear the sounds of places where it took me.

“The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene

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If you are looking for a book on sexual seduction, this is not the one. By this book, “Seduction is a form of persuasion that seeks to bypass consciousness, stirring the unconscious mind instead”.

The book abounds with historical examples from ancient times to nowadays, from western to eastern cultures, literary characters to real life humans. I probably missed a chapter on the virtual world. Maybe in a next book.

This reading can inspire you to transform how you position yourself in the interaction with others. As with every book, you can only find there what’s already inside you. I take this reading with a grain of salt for my perspectives in every encounter in my milieu, personal or professional: “Nobody in this world feels whole and complete. We all sense some gap in our character, something we need or want but cannot get on our own.”

To wrap it up, in any relationship, adopt tact, style and attention to detail. Proceed.

“Codename Villanelle” by Luke Jennings

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This is so far my shortest book review.

For once I would agree with some of the reviewers on Goodreads: the television series is better than the original. Much better.

«Can you hear me? How to connect with people in the virtual world» by Nick Morgan

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This is one of the books I find to be appealing to different audiences in the same clear and friendly language. If you are looking for advice on your online and social media presence, this is the book. Equally, if you work in a more and more virtual working environment, this is the book.

I wrote about my take aways for the working environment on myprojectdelight.com. Here are my take aways for the online social media presence.

“Writing is hard; few of us do it well.” Our modern world requires all of us to become writers.

“Good writing also has authenticity, consistency, transparency, empathy, and connection.”

“In the virtual world, good storytelling is even more important”. Learn from the best and do not frown at hashtags. The shortest story ever belongs to Hemingway. His bet started inadvertently a flash-fiction game that has gone on to this day: six-word stories.

I found an abundance of great advice and tools here: empathy quiz, advice on basic online hygienic package, how to create and manage your online persona, and where to get started, etc.

And a call for action: “We need to reclaim our lost humanity on the web. We need to restore the emotions that all too many of the digital conveniences of the modern world have silently and unthinkingly taken away.”

“The billion dollar spy” by David E. Hoffman

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The main character of this non-fiction book is Adolf Tolkachev, a soviet engineer at a top secret military defense institute in Moscow. He spied voluntarily for almost 7 years and had 21 meetings with undercover CIA officers right under the nose of KGB in late 79s-early 80s. Tolkachev delivered to the United States a library of top secret documents about the design and capability of radars deployed on Soviet fighters and interceptors. It saved billions to the United States at the expense of the soviet military. He was caught due to a defected CIA officer who sold him to KGB for a bit of money and «refuge » in Russia. Howard did this in revenge of CIA kicking him out after a failed polygraph test just before his assignment to work with Tolkachev.

As I was reading the book, I realised that as I was peacefully playing outdoors, men in suits were also playing a game called « whose’s longer » in their race to dominate the world. I also thought that spies are literally made by systems. I do not mean the trainings. I mean by how the system they devote themselves wholeheartedly breaks them ruthlessly to the point of no return. Be it in Soviet Union or in the United States.

“If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland

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I found the central idea of the book in these lines “creative power is in all of you if you give it just a little time; if you believe in it a little bit and watch it come quietly into you; if you do not keep it out by always hurrying and feeling guilty in those times when you should be lazy and happy.”

The book requires a certain openness to spirituality to inhale some of the book’s ideas especially on reason and inspiration and concepts like that.

Brenda Ueland is convinced that we all can and shall write: “But if (as I wish) everybody writes and respects and loves writing, then we would have a nation of intelligent, eager, impassioned readers; and generous and grateful ones, not mere critical, logy, sedentary passengers, observers of writing, whose attitude is: “All right: entertain me now.” Wouldn’t that be truly great? I think so.

She takes a strong stance on critics and argues her case, quite persuasively. Among the many reasons she gives: “Another reason I don’t like critics (the one in myself as well as in other people) is that they try to teach something without being it.”

So, if you want to write you’ll find a supporter in this book. If you are already writing, you might find yourself coming back to the 12 pieces of warm advice this book concludes with.

“A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

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I just finished the book. And I cried. And I laughed. It is so human I wanted to embrace it. The author does so much justice to the roller coaster of the life of this amazing couple at the center of the narrative – Ove and Sonja.

The story line is rich, tender and explosive. It embraces such a diversity of characters throughout the book that at times I thought I am reading two or three novels in parallel. Yet, by a masterly stroke of the pen, they come together as one. It is quite extraordinary.

My favourite quote: “And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter.”

“The salt path” by Raynor Winn

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That’s some tale. I “walked” for miles and miles on the English coast line with this amazing couple – Moth and Ray. The reading made me straighten my back, lower my shoulders and relearn acceptance.

This couple in their 50s lost their home, family business and all income and walked into their next stage with their 8 kg each backpacks. On top of that, Moth was diagnosed with some incurable disease… . They endure, overcome, cry, despair, get up, and move on.

I read some of the reviews after I read the book. Some saw it as a diary, others as a coast guide and national geographic type of writing. Some focused on the homeliness side of the story only. Others on the iterations… It has it, indeed, a little bit of each. As with any reading, we will find there only what we have inside already…

My favourite quote from the book: “A new season had crept into me, a softer season of acceptance.”

“My life in France: the life story of Julia Child” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

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If you wonder about life in Paris in late 40s seen through the eyes of an American, this book might be of interest. Narrated by the main character – Julia Child – the book is a very personal take on life in Paris at that time, French cuisine being at the center of it. And it’s natural – it is that Julia Child, the legendary self-made cook, author, teacher and media presence in the times of those ugly boxes entering the Americans’ homes.

You’ll find here the history of Child’s first 728 page long cooking book, which she wrote and re-wrote with two of her French friends – “Mastering the art of French cooking”. It takes you literally through its notes, side notes, authors’ arguments, endless trials, tests and failures of recipes. And that’s important as at that time, “editors seemed to consider the French preoccupation with detail a waste of time, if not a form of insanity”.

Child pays tribute to all great chefs she met and learned from as well as to all who taught her tricks of the trade, ranging from bakers to meat, fruit and vegetables stands sellers from the regions of France.

I found the last chapters on Julia entering the TV world less interesting, yet those years were important for the effect she had on households and cooking people. Some stories there are funny too. Filming with a Dutch cameraman in a French open air market, for instance.