April 18, 2012 24 Comments
It was my birthday last week, so I treated myself to a visit of book shops in Amsterdam. My friend, who loves bookshops as much as I do, came along. She bought some books, I bought some books. We had lunch. We bought some more books. What a great day!
Books for review
The Lifeboat (De reddingsboot) by Charlotte Rogan
You may recognise this cover: it’s indeed The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, but then in Dutch. I sort of won this book, but all winners are required to write a review of the book within the month, so really I got this “for review”. The book was provided by the Dutch publisher Signatuur. I’ve heard a lot about this book, on people’s blogs, and I think I’m really going to like this!
Description from the US publishers: “Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.
In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.
As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?”
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
I received this from William Morrow (HarperCollins) for review. I’ve read Spin by the same author, which I enjoyed a lot, so I’m happy to be able to read another book by McKenzie.
From the publisher’s website: “Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.
After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. […] But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it—and the company’s success rate—the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?
A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, everything seems to be working out….“
More Like Her by Liza Palmer
I received this book also from William Morrow (HarperCollins). It seems like another light read, which I love – I’m a keen mixer of genres and love to alternate more “heavy” books with lighter ones.
From the publisher’s website: “To Francis the height of female perfection is Emma Dunham. She’s beautiful, successful, and has the most thoughtful and handsome husband on the planet. Emma is everything that Francis, recently dumped with spectacular drama by her boyfriend, wants to be. Her fellow teachers—Lisa, a professional so career focused she doesn’t have time for a family, and Jill, whose unexpected pregnancy may hold devastating consequences for her marriage—think so too.
But what Francis, Lisa, and Jill don’t know is that Emma has a secret. Her home life is nothing like the suburban postcard it seems. And that perfect husband is about to become a killer. And the victim is none other than the perfect Emma.
In the aftermath, the trio of friends realizes they must come to terms with the secrets of their own lives. Yet how can they pick up the pieces and move forward when they know that everything they’ve counted on and believed in is nothing like what it seems?”
Books I bought
Look at Me by Jennifer Egan
This is the Jennifer Egan of Visit from the Goon Squad. No, I haven’t read that book, and from what I heard of the book, I’m still not convinced that I should. It’s the structure of the book which I think I will not enjoy.
But in Waterstone’s Amsterdam they have so many more English books than my local book shops! So they had 4 or 5 of Egan’s books, all the same style of cover and they looked very appealing. Look at Me especially spoke to me (well, the description on the back did), so I decided to buy it and see whether I’d like this one.
From the publisher’s website: “Reconstructive facial surgery after a car crash so alters Manhattan model Charlotte that, within the fashion world, where one’s look is oneself, she is unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte engages in an Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. As her story eerily converges with that of a plain, unhappy teenager – another Charlotte – it raises tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary Western culture.
Jennifer Egan’s bold, innovative novel, demonstrating her virtuosity at weaving a spellbinding, ambitious tale with language that dazzles, captures the spirit of our times and offers an unsettling glimpse of the future.”
“The [Name of Country]’s Stieg Larsson” is enough to put anyone off. But not me! I heard about this book on a few of my favorite blogs. I left Waterstone’s Amsterdam without this book, but hours later, on our way back to the station, decided I would regret not buying this, so we made another stop at this same shop.
From the UK publishers: “Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.
When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that day, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the genius behind this particular crime…“
The Submission by Amy Waldman
I read the first two chapters of this book in Dutch, for my Dutch blog’s First Chapters feature. It sounded great and I really wanted to read that. When I saw it in Waterstone’s Amsterdam I was dithering between this book and a few others. Then I noticed that it was published by Windmill Books, a UK publisher who seem to have only great books.
From the publisher’s website: “A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name-and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country’s.
The memorial’s designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself-as unknowable as he is gifted. In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.”
Vader by Karl Ove Knausgard
I saw this book on Jackie’s blog (Farm Lane Books) and it sounded interesting enough that I reserved it at the library immediately. Now, I don’t think I would have picked up the Dutch translation (on the right) if I hadn’t seen the English translation (on the left) on Jackie’s blog. The picture of the English book totally appeals, and that of the Dutch one, totally doesn’t. But hey, if the content is good…
This is a non-fiction book, a memoir about this Norwegian novellist’s childhood. I love Scandinavian books so let’s see whether this is one for me!
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
I found this book in the YA section in the library when I was looking for a book for my son (14). I’ve read two of this writer’s books (written for adults) so I was excited to see another of his books. My son liked it loads and I’m halfway and enjoying it too.
Another book by a Norwegian writer! Bit of a coincidence. My library has a lot of Dutch, UK, and USA writers and actually not all that many Norwegian writers. I guess there just aren’t quite that many, so relatively, they are well-represented. I’ve previously read Buzz Aldrin: What Happened to You in All the Confusion, and Hässelby by this author.
From the publisher’s website: “Everyone said sending teenagers into space would be their opportunity of a lifetime…
Have you read any of these books?
Which of these would appeal to you?