Archive for December 29, 2015

Best of Book Around The Corner’s reads for 2015

December 29, 2015 24 comments

Mafalda_merciBefore starting with the Best Of List for 2015, I’d like to thank all the readers and commenters of Book Around The Corner. It was a pleasure to share this reading year with you. I’m grateful for the time you spend on this blog and chatting with me on Twitter.

Now, the list.

Best of all because it has it all

If your TBR is as high as the Eiffel Tower and you have to choose only one from my list, please pick Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It’s beautiful, thoughtful, breathtaking, heartbreaking and oh, so human.

Best Beach and Public Transport

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino. That’s Japanese crime fiction. Your trip will seem shorter in this book’s company. If you’re on the beach, Watch out, you might be so far away that you might forget to reapply sunscreen.

Best Sugar Without Cellulite

This category is for books that can be used as sugar substitutes. Feeling a little blue? Instead of eating ice cream in the carton, try The Romance of a Shop by Amy Levy. No need to work out to burn extra calories and it has the desired effect.

Best mille-feuilles book.

No this category has nothing to do with French pastries. It has everything to do with multi-layered book and the 2015 winner is I Married a Communist by Philip Roth. I had to write three billets about it.

Best Translation Tragedy

A Translation Tragedy is a brilliant book I read in French and that is not available in English. My pick for 2015 is Pain, Education, Liberté by Petros Markaris. (Bread, Education, Freedom) It’s crime fiction, set in Athens and it gives you a unique view of the reasons of the Greek crisis. There’s also Je dénonce l’humanité by Frigyes Karinthy (I denounce humanity). Short pieces by a Hungarian writer who had the funniest sense of humour.

Best Literary UFO

B is For Beer by Tim Robbins. Or beer explained to children. Not that there was much competition in this category this year.

Best Damn-the-#TBR20-challenge-I-can’t-buy-another-one-right-away

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson and Still Life by Louise Penny. For the characters, the plot, the atmosphere, the style and the entertainment. It could also be the I-want-to-go-there-at-ounce category because they describe the places so well that you want to see them yourself.

Best I’m-fed-up-with-WWII-but-this-one-is-a-must-read.

Fatelessness by Imre Kertész. Concentration camps seen with the eyes of a Hungarian teenager who sounds like the author. Books like this remind us why we should never forget what the Nazis did.

Best evocative novel.

Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion. More than literature. I was reading and hearing Jim Morrison sing and thinking of Edward Hopper. And more than anything, I was in California with Maria.

Best punch-in-the-face book

Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien. I still have to write the billet about this compelling story.

Best I’m-soooo-British book

Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford. The wits of the Roaring Twenties in the upper classes.

That’s all folks. See you in 2016 for my next reading adventures.



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Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

December 29, 2015 10 comments

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. (2014)

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz is our Book Club choice for December and I’m not going to waste a lot of time reviewing it. That’s how irritated I am with this book I abandoned at page 67.

First, there’s this ridiculous font of characters that reminded me of a giggling teenage girl who puts little hearts on her is. Look!


Then there’s the flatness of the style and the easy literary devices: addressing to the reader to go back in time and introduce the plot or describe the characters or make useless detours to add fake life to the prose. I started to roll my eyes from the first page after I recovered from the silly font. The narrator is American, a detective from the famous Pinkerton Agency.

As I sit at my Remington Number Two improved model typewriter (an American invention, of course) et begin this great labour, I know that I am likely to fall short of the standards of accuracy and entertainment that he maintained to the end.

Well, that inspires me. The first part of the sentence seems labored, as an American would spell it and autobiographical for the actual writer. He fell short of fiction greatness and accuracy is an accounting standard, which might be crucial if the point of the book is to earn money. You think I go a bit too far? You need another round of it:

My appearance? Well, it’s never easy for any man to describe himself but I will be honest and say that I could not call myself handsome. My hair was black, my eyes an indifferent shade of brown. I was slender and though only in my forties, I was already too put-upon by the challenges life had thrown my way. I was unmarried and sometimes I worried that it showed in my wardrobe, which was perhaps a little too well worn.

See? Am I mistaken when I say he doesn’t sound like a New Yorker? And compared to Craig Johnson, Horowitz writes like a toddler.

I was still willing to suffer through the banal prose for a good piece of entertainment. But then it got worse when the British inspector from Scotland Yard came into the story. The deciphering of the secret code included in a letter made me groan of frustration. Like we say in French, I threw the sponge away. (I gave up) I’m too old to read a mix of Da Vinci Code and The Famous Five. I’m too busy to waste good reading time on such a book.

So, bye bye Moriarty! Hello Petros Markaris! I’m taking the French leave and going to Athens for Liquidation à la grecque.

If you want to read an gentler review of Moriarty, go to Caroline’s review.


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