Recently Read – First Quarter of 2017

Reading progress has been a bit slow this year, with only 8 books in 3 months. I’ve gotten into a reading slump, and it’s hard to get out of it. I’ll need to get back in the game soon though, as I’m behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Any advice on how to get out of this reading slump?

Anyway, here are the books I managed to read during the first 3 months of 2017.

Call After Midnight by Tess Gerritsen

After reading the cases of Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Harold James Nicholson, I’ve become interested in spy fiction. I’ve read Tess Gerritsen’s book before and it was quite good. Call After Midnight, however, turned out to be below my expectation. It’s thrilling alright, but the plot and actions seem amateurish. I wonder if real-life secret agents read this kind of fiction, would they laugh at the inaccurate portrayal, or would they be sweating considering how much the public is in the know? Anyway, the biggest turnoff for this book is the cheesy drama, it’s tacky and too much. I also found the ending wasn’t quite satisfying. Not my favorite Gerritsen’s book. 2/5 stars.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Once again, Hosseini brought me to tears with his beautiful telling of heartbreaking stories. I was drawn into the vivid pictures of war-torn Afghanistan and the lives there, particularly for women whose struggle are far greater than their male counterparts. It’s as gut-wrenching and harrowing as The Kite Runner (if not more), although for some reason I wasn’t as emotional as when I was reading The Kite Runner. 4/5 stars.

Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

I’ve always thought that Poirot novels are hit-and-miss, and I think this one is a miss. It’s a bit drab and I didn’t find the story compelling enough. The story is slow and boring from the beginning until a few pages before the end, with a sudden increase of pace and then… BAM! Poirot solves the mysteries and gives unsatisfactory explanations (at least for me). I haven’t read all Poirot novels but I think this is one of my least favorites. 3/5 stars.

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

I’ve never been big on books with spiritual/religious theme. However, I did enjoy The Five People You Met in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie, so I thought I’d like this too. Wrong. This book was such a letdown for me. The story is meh and I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to keep going. I did though, hoping it would get better. But it’s just plain uninteresting, with too many characters to follow (wasn’t interested in any of them except for 1 guy, whose story keeps being cut to give ways for other stories). The flimsy twist for the ending is so bad, I almost threw the book as soon as I finished. 2/5 stars.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ever since I read her article, We Should All be Feminists, I’ve always admired Adichie. She delivers her shrewd social observations in a powerful and eloquent way, something I got from reading We Should All be Feminists. Americanah isn’t so much different, and I’m applauding Adichie for opening my eyes about the issues of racism faced by millions of people today. I’d always known racism still existed in this time, but not to this extent, not the little things and the subtleties that might seem normal but actually not. The imperfect characters make this story felt raw and real, and I wonder how much of this she drew from her own experiences. 4/5 stars.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is that one guy whose self-deprecating and dry humor will never cease to amuse me. Witty and slightly eccentric, he manages to deliver anecdotes from his (seemingly) mundane life with a touch of exaggeration and sass, making it enjoyable for me to read. However, I found some of the stories were quite boring, but overall, I got a good laugh. 3/5 stars.

Amba by Laksmi Pamuntjak

There are not many Indonesian historical novels that interest me, but Amba wasn’t one of them. This book starts strong; beautiful and intriguing and insightful. It brought me to the stories my history books in school wouldn’t tell about the 30 September Movement and the mass killings that followed (thanks, Soeharto). It’s brilliantly written, there’s no doubt about it. However, I felt that some parts were too detailed and superfluous, while some others were a bit convoluted with explanations that didn’t satisfy me. Pamuntjak seems to assume the readers know everything about the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), given the minimum explanations about it, so I’d recommend you to read a bit about the party and its many wings before reading Amba as not to fall into confusion. 4/5 stars.

*for my non-Indonesian readers, this book has been translated into English under the title of The Question of Red, if you’re interested to read it*

Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes

In a true Marian Keyes’ fashion, this book gave me what I needed: a light read. It’s definitely not the most interesting book I’ve read, but I enjoyed reading the mundane stories of these women’s lives. And unlike that chick lit formula where a happy ending is indispensable, this book keeps it interesting by having the mess that’s irreparable, making it easier for me to relate and sympathize. 3/5 stars.

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

I don’t have much to say about this because I really didn’t like this book at all. I thought all the characters were a bit stupid and uninteresting, especially Lucy, the main character. If you need a book to put you to sleep, this is the one. 1/5 star.

Any recommendations on what I should read next? I’d very much appreciate it 🙂

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  • Reply aggy87

    Definitely bookmarking this list as I am interested in Americanah and Amba! I just bought Half a Yellow Sun – I guess we’re both enchanted by Adichie. Have not read Marian Keyes in a while, maybe I should!

    April 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Half of a Yellow Sun is next on my list! Adichie is amazing, I’m planning to read all her books. Amba is a real eye-opener for me. Some of the books here are pretty heavy and depressing, so I needed Marian Keyes to lighten up the mood. You should too when you need a pick-me-up or just something light 😀

      April 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm
  • Reply Kate Ann

    A Thousand Splendid Suns and Americanah are two of my favourites! I’ve read everything by Khaled Hosseini and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and those are my favourites by each of them. I haven’t read much Indonesian literature (possible none at all) so I’m really interested to The Question of Red. Thanks for sharing all these reads!

    Kate |

    April 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      I have yet to read other books by Khaled Hosseini and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I’m looking forward to it. They’re such amazing writers. The Question of Red is a good start if you want to read Indonesian literature 🙂

      April 10, 2017 at 7:31 am
  • Reply Christa

    I’m about to finish Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Dix.. it is a very interesting read and very funny too! I can’t say much because I haven’t finished but I’m loving it so far hehe

    April 10, 2017 at 3:09 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      I’ve heard good things about Modern Romance! It’s on the list now, thank you for sharing Christa 🙂

      April 10, 2017 at 7:31 am
  • Reply Nerissa Rahadianthi

    I read a review not a long ago about Americanah and thinking if I should really get the book myself and now after reading yours I think I really should! Thank you for the recommendation kak Dixie! xx

    April 11, 2017 at 1:02 am
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      You should! It’s a great book. Adichie really has a way with words. And you’re welcome 🙂

      April 14, 2017 at 3:09 am
  • Reply Ditaa

    Tips to set pace up reading:
    1. choose thinner books 🙂
    2. you should read what you enjoy, not what you think you should read. in my case, YA romance is always a lift up.
    3. choose a light and intense read. I usually pick-up a murder mystery novel because I get curious. Agatha Christie is not always the best one, but Gillian Flynch’s always works.

    April 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Wah bener bgt nih tipsnya, terutama yg nmr 2 & 3. I used to enjoy YA romance but not anymore, I guess I’ve outgrown that genre. It’s chicklit for me now :p. I agree about Gillian Flynn, I could never put down the book before finishing it. Most of the books are dark, depressing, and disturbing, though. Anyway, thank you for the tips 🙂

      April 14, 2017 at 3:11 am

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