Month: February 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Swoon

Posted February 11, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Books That Will Make You Swoon. I don’t know if I’m the type of person that swoons but I here are ten books where the writing stands out so much that they are swoon worthy.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Posted February 10, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeTitle: Robinson Crusoe (Goodreads)
Author: Daniel Defoe
Published: Oxford World's Classics, 1719
Pages: 321
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When Robinson Crusoe gets shipwrecked on an island, everything changes for him. Now stuck on the island of despair, Crusoe has to learn how to survive. Daniel Defoe’s classic survival novel has been the inspiration for many stories to come. Most people know the story so I won’t go into too much detail summarising the book.

Some may disagree but I found that Defoe set out to shatter the misconceptions that Europeans had towards colonialism. When Robinson Crusoe lands on the island he adopts colonialism, as it is familiar to him and the political nature he recognises. You see the progression of this social structure from when Crusoe first found himself on the island. He built his shelter, farmed the lands and hunted. Then when other people were introduced, the social order fell into place, putting himself as lord and master. Others like Friday and his father were slaves, but the Spaniard and the Englishmen were treated completely differently.

Another theme I noticed while reading Robinson Crusoe was the idea of isolation; this was portrayed in a literal sense. Stuck on the island, Crusoe had so much time on his hand he spends it contemplating society, religion, politics and the world. What was interesting to note is the fact that there was no real mention of women in the book; there were some but none played a significant role. This detail is something I spent a lot of time contemplating, it felt like with all his reflections, women never were an important part of the world. I’m not sure what Defoe meant by this but I’m sure it is something worth investigating.

I found Robinson Crusoe fascinating; I was studying it for university so I had to look at what Daniel Defoe was trying to say about colonialism. However there is something that really annoyed me about the book and that is the way the writing style kept changing. It felt like Defoe wasn’t sure how he was writing the novel, switching between diary entries and first person narrative. It didn’t feel intentional just changing whenever it suited him and that, in turn, just felt sloppy.

Robinson Crusoe isn’t a great book; I’m glad I read it but it just isn’t something I can praise. It wasn’t a problem with the themes or the style; it just focused too much on survival and missed opportunities to explore other topics. Sure, this is a classic and you have to give a book credit for staying around so long, but Robinson Crusoe just wasn’t for me.

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Posted February 8, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance / 0 Comments

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLeanTitle: A Rogue by Any Other Name (Goodreads)
Author: Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #1
Published: Avon, 2012
Pages: 386
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After a broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships, Lady Penelope Marbury has all but given up on finding love. That was until she married the Marquess of Bourne, a prince of London’s underworld, a man cast from society into nothingness who is out for revenge. This wasn’t a marriage of love but convenience, Bourne married for the dowry and Penelope to avoid scandal and to ensure her sisters wouldn’t suffer the same fate.

You can guess how the story goes. He wants to keep Penelope away from his world and his underground gambolling house. She is bored, he is a prick. She wants adventure, hot sex and happily ever after. That is how regency romances work, right? Well, it does in this case with Sarah MacLean’s A Rogue by Any Other Name. I feel like I need to go back to my review of Outlander and pretty much cover the same issues again. The whole fantasy verse reality issue; my wife loves Outlander but I know her well enough to know she doesn’t really want someone like Jamie. In reality, if you were in a relationship with Jamie (from Outlander) or Michael Lawler (the Marquess of Bourne) you would be in an abusive one.

People are probably wondering why I decided to read A Rogue by Any Other Name; it wasn’t because it won the RITA Award for Best Historical Romance in 2013 because I don’t care about awards. There are a few reasons. Obviously I needed a romance novel for the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. I know I could have gone with a literary romance novel but I was curious about Sarah MacLean mainly because she often talks about the intersection of feminism and the romance genre but also because the sex scenes are hot. Why not find out for myself?

Interestingly enough there was a very feminist vibe in this novel along with the whole cliché romance story arc. Penelope is portrayed as a very strong willed woman, willing to stand up to Michael’s stupid behaviour. She was in a situation where she had to think about her family and to avoid the scandals she made the choice to marry. The novel has a lot of other examples of feminism but what I liked about this book was the fact that most of the women were feisty and strong minded; they didn’t let the men control them. At times the men may think they are in control but they had no idea what they had gotten themselves into.

When it came to the sex scenes, yes they were hot and steamy but the fact that MacLean avoided most of those flowery euphemisms was what stood out to me. There were some cringe worthy phrases but as a whole the words seemed fitting. I know sex scenes are an important factor in deciding on which romance novels to read so I will say they were erotic, but there weren’t enough of them. Most of the time Penelope was the lonely wife and Michael didn’t want to corrupt her innocence, even if she was begging to be corrupted. However this is book one in The Rules of Scoundrels series so I’m assuming sex will be a more common thread in the next two books.

I’m not sure what the appeal is with romance novels but I will continue to try them. Personally I’m not that interested in reading more from The Rules of Scoundrels  series but maybe I’ll try book one of her other series, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (just because I like the name). Sarah MacLean’s written style is pretty good, the plots are pretty basic but she makes up for that with strong women and steamy sex. There is a black strip along the right hand side of the book cover; does anyone know what that means? If you are a fan of romance then I’m sure Sarah MacLean is someone you should be reading; it is better than the Outlander series.

Mini Reviews: Books about Books

Posted February 6, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

I don’t often write mini reviews but I do think they might be handy at times. I like to write a few hundred words on each book for documentation purposes, this is my reading journal after all. Having said that there are two books that I wanted to talk about, I can’t say I’ve ‘read’ them as these are the types of books you keep on your shelf and skim through. Both are a similar theme, my favourite non-fiction theme in fact (books about books) so I thought I would combine them into the one post.

The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud, Susan Elderkin

“Sick? Tired? Lost your job? Take one dose of literature and repeat until better.”

I would like to be known as a Bibliotherapist; it is on my twitter profile so it must be true. I received this book for Christmas from the most amazing person (my wife) and now I finally have the textbook to officially hand out some bibliotherapy. You have a shopping addiction, please go away and read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (that’s what it recommends); I can tell you after that book you’ll not want to be so concerned about what clothing labels are trendy enough to buy and reference in conversation. This is the medical handbook that I can truly get behind and I had a lot of fun looking through it and finding out just how to deal with my parents during Christmas. I loved this book, it was so much fun to flick through. My only problem was the fact that Frankenstein was never prescribed to cure an illness, why can’t it help a god complex, isolation or something like that?

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

“What to read next is every book lover’s greatest dilemma.”

Any real book lover knows that picking the next book is hard, but this is not the book that solves this issue. Book Lust is a collection of different reading lists for different topics, moods and so on. Say you want to know what Russian books to read or want a list of coming of age books. That is all well and good, hats off to Nancy Pearl for able to make a collection of book lists into a book series. The problem I found is book lovers are aware of most of the books mentioned in these lists; they have millions of books they want to read and this book doesn’t really help them at all. Personally I don’t think anyone apart from book lovers will read a book like this so really it feels pointless. There are lists in the book so obscure they start to feel like filler. My major beef with this book was there were no original thoughts, all books seemed like obvious choices and the presentation of each list needed work.  Each topic isn’t a book list and they are not essays of literary criticism either, for me, this just felt sloppy.  I will give credit to Nancy Pearl for being able to turn her love of book lists into a collection of books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Cry

Posted February 4, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Books That Will Make You Cry. I don’t normally cry in books, but I’m sure I can come up with some books that will make you feel sad enough to cry.

Books by Charlie Hill

Posted February 3, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Humour / 0 Comments

Books by Charlie HillTitle: Books (Goodreads)
Author: Charlie Hill
Published: Tinder Press, 2013
Pages: 242
Genres: Humour
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When two tourists drop dead, it peaks neurologist Lauren Furrow’s interest and seeks out indie bookseller Richard Anger to help her uncover this mystery. What they find is something unexpected. Have you ever read a book so mediocre that your brain stops working? Best-selling author Gary Sayles’s books are doing just that. Charlie Hill’s Books will take a satirical look at the state of our book industry today.

This novel starts out with Richard Anger, an angry book seller with the best bookshop ever mentioned in a novel. “A bookshop full of long-forgotten noir fiction, modernist classics, chapbooks, transgressive experimentation, translated erotica, minimalism, short stories, satires, samizdat, surrealist poetry and smut.” This is the kind of book shop I would love to spend my time in, it’s the type of store I would love to own; it just sounds amazing. Is it bad that I identified and really enjoyed the character of Richard Anger? I just thought his whole attitude and personality really tied the book together, offsetting the humour with some bitterness.

As this is a satire, I paid closed attention at what Hill was parodying. A particular favourite of mine was the literary critic, who was a blogger. As a book blogger I’ve heard it so many times, people calling blog reviews into question and while running a blog gives you more freedom to explore your own style and voice but that doesn’t mean what we say is less relevant. This tiny dig at literary criticism amused me greatly but then again I enjoyed the many little pokes being made at the book industry.

As an overview of this novel, Books is satire on the sheer amount of books that are extremely similar being published. You know the styles, I won’t point out books but there are heaps of examples of books that feel very much like a carbon copy of a similar book that was popular. There are genres out there that have the same thing being published over and over again because they sell. Books takes a look at this practise and just made fun of it.

People are devouring these books that are so similar that they all die from SNAPS (Spontaneous Neural Atrophy Syndrome).  Books reads similar to a thriller but there are so many laugh out loud moments. I love how on the surface this novel seems like a genre-based novel but if you explore it a little deeper you see so much. You can spend a lot of time trying to dissect Books and seeing everything Charlie Hill is doing here.

If you are a fan of books and want a good laugh at the expense of the book industry, then Books is for you. I had so much fun reading this book and equally as much fun thinking about what is written. I picked up this book because I love books about books and satire and I was not disappointed. This could be on my best of 2014 list but it is way too early to tell. Highly recommend Books, it is fun to read and you’ll enjoy the fun it made at the book industry.