#20booksofsummer summary

The 20 Books of Summer challenge was hosted by Cathy at 746books. I’m probably the last person to still linger on it, but since it is the first challenge I actually completed I cannot let this opportunity slip, no matter the delay!

I finished my 20 books on 9th September, so 5 days later, but I give myself right to an extension due to being sick. Here is what I read, as I publish reviews they will be linked on the page. I am a bit behind on blogging, because of travelling and teeth problems, but I really hope to catch up by the end of the year.

I decided not to commit to a list upfront, so it was growing as I went along, but now that I look at it I am happy with my choices. There is a little bit of everything and I really enjoyed majority of the books I picked. Initially I thought the challenge won’t be a challenge at all, because I do read around 7 books a month, what I didn’t expect was the whole Brexit mess and how much it would affect my ability to focus on a book. July and August were quite difficult reading-wise, because of the lack of focus and also because of travels. I actually made me realize how my reading patterns change depending on the length of day, in the summer I tried to spend as much time as possible out, to use the sun and charge my batteries (I firmly believe my brain operates on solar power), which left a bit less time for reading. Now that it’s autumn my couch and blanket look a lot more tempting.

If the challenge is on next year I will definitely participate, it was a lot of fun.

Does the weather/time of the year affect your reading habits? Do you read in different places or at different times?

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi

Let’s get back to reviewing!

I finished this book a while ago (two months probably) and I must admit I had to reach back to the notes I made while reading, to remember what it was about.

It tells a story of 15-year old Gabriel, whose parents had just split. He now has to deal not only with being a teenager, but also his parents problems. Gabriel’s relation to his parents is not an easy one. Sometimes it feels like he is the grown up, other time he is getting annoyed about being lectured what to do, but at the same time he feels being cared for.

Things shift when Gabriel receives a precious gift, both of his parents seem hell-bent on taking it for themselves. I was really surprised about their selfishness, somehow in my mind parents are more likely to sacrifice something for the child, rather than sacrifice the child’s future for their own ends. I keep forgetting that Gabriel’s parents are not much older than me and I’m definitely not one for sacrifice, so why would I expect it from them? Maybe it is because in my mind parents are more than humans, somehow free of the typical human vices.

It is a book about relationship between parents and children, but also about power of imagination, about talent. It is also a book about art and how it in a way owns it’s creator; about desire to possess art – this is topic that has been reappearing in my reading recently (The Goldfinch by Donna Tart and The Book of Evidence by John Banville). Why do people feel the urge to own art? Is it always about money? Is it always selfish? What is so special about art? Each of those books gives a different perspective on the subject.

Going back to Gabriel’s Gift, I think it touched on a lot of important and interesting topics, but it failed to move and engage me. I found it a bit chaotic and disjointed, and somehow forgettable.


This is book #13 of my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746books.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


Reading Ireland month…or a bit longer

As I mentioned before I brought some books from my trip to Ireland. I surely have not read enough of Irish literature, so this is my chance to catch up, I decided to focus on reading those books over the next month. Initially it was supposed to be only an October thing but as I’m starting late with Anne Enright’s ‘Taking Pictures’, I also decided to give myself more time.

As the autumn is definitely, undeniably, darkly and coldly here, I’m making a cup of tea and wrapping myself in blanket to read Ireland.

Here is the original list:

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And here is a bonus I discovered this week when staying at my family home:

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It’s Edna O’Brien’s ‘Time and Tide’ in a 1997 Polish edition.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


September round-up

Welcome back! September round up is a bit delayed and I’ve been quiet last month. I’m almost willing to say that it was a planned break o give you all a bit of rest… but it wasn’t, it was a mix of wonderful vacation in Spain and not so wonderful root canal treatment (I do recommend it as a diet though, really puts you off eating).

There is a lot to catch up on, so I decided to post separately in the next few days on #20booksofsummer and on my reading plans for the next few weeks.

Reading in September was slow, it was difficult to focus because of travelling and the tooth. I’m happy about almost all the books I read, it definitely was time well spent.

63. The Goldfinch – Donna Tart – actually finished in October, but read most of it in September and if I was in good shape would have finished, so I allowed myslef a little cheat here. The book was a treat,its size kept me puting it off forever, but it didn’t seem so long at all when I read it.
62. Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country’s Hidden Past – Giles Tremlett – fatastic book to read when in Spain, or not actually in Spain as I discovered travelling to Basque Country and Catalonia, two parts of the country that fiercely claim being separate nations  and countries from Spain.
61. Alone (The Girl in the Box #1) – Robert J. Crane – that’s the one I’m not very happy about, but it’s been on my Kindle forever, so now at least it’s off the list.
60. Drive – James Sallis – interesting and in my opinion overrated, but at least now I can have an opinion
59. Homage to Barcelona – Colm Toibin – great preparation before going to Barcelona.

How was your September? Are you ready for autumn?

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


What I brought from Ireland

While I was in Ireland I was thinking what to bring back as a souvenir. I usually try to pick something I interact with often to remind me about my travels, things like jewelry, fountain pens, bags and, of course, books. As I was never very well read in Irish fiction I decided there’s no better time and place than Ireland to buy books, killing two birds with on stone – catching up on my knowledge of Irish fiction and getting something that will make me remember this fantastic vacation.

Here’s what I got, as you can see it’s seven books, and this is the number I usually read per month, so I’m wondering if not to make October my personal Irish reading month.

Have you read those books? Did you like them? Which one should I start with in October?

What do you bring as souvenirs from your vacation?

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I finally also downloaded my photos from Ireland to my laptop and started weeding through them, 200 down yesterday, 1480 to go through.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


August round-up

August was a lovely month, I probably liked it so much because I finally got to go on vacation. I’m absolutely in love with Ireland, so much that I’m thinking on writing a separate post on the trip, but first I need to go through 1,600 photos I took and pick the ones I want to keep, sometimes I think life was easier with an analog camera…

While in Ireland I read a lot, generally sticking to crime and mystery as decided in July. I think I piked my books well, just one was quite bad but I knew it before I started, I just needed a bit of brainlessness. Thanks to my habit of devouring crime novels I managed to stay on top of the 20 Books of Summer challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746books, I have another 2 days and I’m reading book #20 now, you can check my list here. I am however behind with reviewing and I doubt this will improve in September, because [drum roll!!!] I’m going for another vacation – this time Spain and my last book that is in progress now is my preparation for the trip, but for now it’ll remain a mystery.

How was your August? Any reading plans for September?

Here is what I read in August:

58. The Devil in the Marshalsea – Antonia Hodgson – suprisingly interesting, especially because of the huge amount of research done on life in London debtors prison in 18th century, all with a good plot thrown in.
57. A Cruise to Die For – Charlotte and Aaron Elkins – that’s the bad apple, I think I have one more book by them on my reader, mistakes of daily deals
56. The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling – second attempt and this time I was blown away, I never read Harry Potter, so I could come to this book treating J.K. Rowling like any other author and she definitely delivered
55. Last Bus to Woodstock – Colin Dexter – hmmm, this was an experiment, I never saw the series or read any other book, I guess if I trea it as a document of it’s times it is interesting and Morse is quite entertaining, but sometimes I really had to remind myself this was written in 1970’s not to get annoyed.
54. Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin – this was a nice and interesting surprise, I think I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I do not read Inspector Rebus books in order, so this was my fifth or sixth but it is the first one in the series.
53. The Disappeared – Kristina Ohlsson – yet another one of very good scandinavian crime novels, good story, well developed characters and broad social context.
52. Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi – it was a nice read, but I was not as impressed with it as I expected.
51. Numero Zero – Umberto Eco (r)

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska

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Numero Zero – Umberto Eco – Quotes

I’d lost all faith in everything, except for the certainty that there’s always someone behind our back wanting to deceive us.

“The whole business of mobile phones can’t last,’ declared Simei. ‘First, they cost a fortune and only a few can afford them. Second, people will soon discover it isn’t so essential to telephone everyone at all times. They’ll lose enjoyment of private, face-to-face conversation, and at the end of them onth they’ll discover their phone bill is running out of control. It’s a fashion that’s going to fizzle out in a year, two at most. Mobile phones, for now, are useful only to adulterous husbands, and perhaps plumbers. But no one else.”

“No,” I said, “these are precisely the expressions readers expect, that’s what newspapers have accustomed them to. Readers understand what’s going on only if you tell them we’re in a no-go situation, the government is forecasting blood and tears, the road is all uphill, the Quirinal Palace is ready for war, Craxi is shooting point-blank, time is pressing, should not be taken for granted, no room for belly-aching, we’re in deep water, or better still we’re in the eye of the storm. Politicians don’t just say or state emphatically – they roar. And the police act with professionalism.”

“Now let me go on with my list. We need to have our cake and eat it, keep our finger on the pulse, take to the field, be in the spotlight, make the best of a bad job. Once out of the tunnel, once the goose is cooked, nothing gets in our way, we keep our eyes peeled, a needle in a haystack, the tide turns, television takes the lion’s share and leaves just the crumbs, we’re getting back on track, listening figures have plummeted, give a strong signal, an ear to the ground, emerging in bad shape, at three hundred and sixty degrees, a nasty thorn in the side, the party’s over…And above all, apologise. The Anglican Church apologises to Darwin, Virginia apologises for the ordeal of slavery, the electricity company apologises for the power cuts, the Canadian government officially apologises to the Inuit people. You mustn’t say the Church has revised its original position on the rotation of the Earth but that the Pope apologises to Galileo.”

 “Darling, we’ll look for a country with no secrets and where everything is done in the open. In Central and South America you’ll find plenty. Nothing’s hidden, you know who belong to which drug cartel, who runs the bands of revolutionaries. You sit in a restaurant, a group of friends passes and introduces you to the man in charge of arms smuggling, all neatly shaved and perfumed, dressed in a starched white shirt that hangs loose from his trousers, the waiters address him reverently with señor here and señor there, and the Chief of the Guardia Civil goes across to pay his respects. They are countries that hold no mysteries, everything is done in the open, the police demand to be bribed as a matter of right, the government and the underworld coexist by constitutional decree, the banks make their living through money laundering, and you’ll be in trouble if you don’t have other money of doubtful provenance, they’ll cancel your residency permit. And they kill, but only each other, they leave tourists in peace.”

Maia has restored my peace of mind, my self-confidence, or at least my calm distrust of the world around me.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska