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Second attempt at a blog and back up of my old account, ferningur.
During the lockdown me and my parents got into a tv series, "I delitti del Bar Lume" (The murders of the Bar Lume, barlume meaning "glimmer" or "spark", and being a pun about the name of a bar). It's a comedy/whodunit series that follows the investigations on a series of murders that happen in the fictional small Tuscan town of Pineta. All cases are usually solved either by or with the help of Massimo, the owner of the above mentioned Bar Lume.
Personally, I found the writing of the tv series perfectly average, especially as it went on and focused more on comedy and (not particularly well done) character development than the investigations. However, the great casting made the series actually enjoyable, and more than made up for the flaws in the script. Out of curiosity, I decided to pick up the first of the books on which the series is based, in part to compare and contrast and because I enjoy a good detective story during the summer.
Overall, this was a very solid comedic whodunit. The plot is overall the same (a small town murder, whose resolution is made slightly difficult by the fact that everyone in the town thinks they know everything about everyone else), but the style of humour is definitely the main difference between the source material and the series, much more subtle in the book.
The biggest surprise was how the characters were quite different, I guess to make them work better in a more comedic environment - for example, in the book the chief of police is Vinicio Fusco, a middle-aged, self-absorbed and slightly thick man, while in the tv series the character is a woman, Vittoria Fusco, in her late thirties/early forties, no-nonsense to the point of being abrasive, who's constantly passed over for promotions by incompent men, in part because of sexism and her general attitude towards other people. Another huge difference is how Massimo Viviani, the main character, in the series is pretty much a loser who happens to get lucky in frequent but very short bursts, while he's much more dignified in the book.
The title of the book refers to the game of "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Briscola">Briscola</a>", a card game that's commonly played in bars by elderly people. It's usually played in even numbered groups of people, so the version that's played in this story is a completely made up one where, instead of people playing in teams of two, everybody is playing against everyone else - something that is used for the obligatory epiphany moment that Massimo has about the real culprit towards the end.
As a whodunit, it's solidly written, though nothing mindblowing, and the more subtle writing makes the reading more interesting and gripping. A good read, not just for summer.
This part was... a lot.
- I'm going to drop out of the Booklikes-opoly, sadly (when I wondered if I would have ever managed to get to the orange spaces I was joking. It was actually accurate). The last few months have been a thing after the other for me, and sadly I haven't been able to find the time and peace to read as much as I'd want. I'll still read "Cities of Salt", when I'll have time.
- That said, I'll still try to be around for the next French Buddy Read. Like the other time, it might take me a bit longer than a weekend, but that's something I can deal with.
- I'll go on with Snakes and Ladders as well. I should pick only one challenge at a time from now on.
- I'm still going through "Il cardillo addolorato", just a bit slowly in part due to my own issues and in part due to the fact that the book is a much more difficult read than I would have expected - I have a short rant about a couple points in the prose of the third part, look forward to it in the next couple of days. I can already tell you that, if you want to read something from Ortese, this isn't the book you should start from, at all.
Part two of the novel is much shorter and less eventful than the first one, although the events taking place are definitely much bigger and more important. This part takes place after Elmina and Dupré's marriage - which, as it was easy to guess by the previous part, doesn't turn out to be a happy one.
Now that I have finished the first part of the book (there are seven of them), it’s time to write down some thoughts, if only because the book is turning out a bit more difficult and complex than I would have imagined.
After the most recent malfunctions and the other ongoing problems with spam that the admins of this site are seemingly not dealing with, I've seen posts from people talking about moving away from Booklikes.
I've been thinking about creating a backup online bookshelf and blog ever since the issues have become more bothersome (these days it can take up to a couple minutes for the homepage to load on my computer, which is just ridiculous), so this weekend I made some time, and started moving my blog to Wordpress.
At the same time, until there will be a few people around here, I'll be peeking around here, and if the system allows it, even to post something. This place won't be completely abandoned, not just yet. At the same time, I'll probably be a bit more active on these other accounts, especially if it's one of those days when Booklikes just keeps on giving me a 502 error.
Wordpress - still under construction. There are a few kinks I need to work out (I used to have a Wordpress blog about a decade ago, and the current setup of the site is incredibly confusing, even if definitely much more professional), but I backed up almost everything from this and my old blog.
Goodreads - though I mostly use it for the community and forums, rather than to leave reviews - at least for the moment, I'm still getting used to it.
Librarything - perfect to just keep track of the books, without distractions, although I'm starting to get more familiar with all the other features of the site.
Linktree - just to keep all the links to the new accounts in one place. In case I'll decide to start another account on some other site but miss my post announcing it, you'll find it there.
Feel free to follow me on any site you have an account on, and I'll follow back as soon as I can.
So, the linnet of the title is both a real one and a metaphor. Let's see what the lamentation will be about.
One big difference compared to the other book from Ortese I read, which was a collection of short stories, is that when given enough space for describing she just went wild with it. Still, when I can manage to sit down and read the book it's genuinely gripping.
Starting again, since I had a long-ish break since last time I read it, and also so that I can go with some detailed personal thoughts about the book.
The first chapter is very solid and striking, with the first paragraphs sounding a bit like a fairy tale, only to have Ortese's narration constantly undercut it by noting that it's still the real world - at one point there's a very prosaic mention of the fact that the streets smellled like manure, due to the fact that the time horse carriages were still the main means of transportation. It feels a bit as if she's constantly going "Just keeping it real, son". However, the sarcastic edge gets a bit lost due to the very flowery prose - if the intention was to be sarcastic at all, but I'll see as I go further on with the book.
And speaking about the writing, in some descriptions Ortese just overuses commas, almost as if she got paid by the number of them she put in the manuscript. Even for a language like Italian, that allows for much longer sentences than English, it's a bit too much.
Inspired by themis-athena's own post and challenge. I also need to read more books from different authors than I usually do, so I decided to try this out, albeit with a couple changes.
An enjoyable first part of a fantasy series - not so much as a single book, though.
When I picked up the book, I was intrigued by the premise: an alternate universe where almost everything is (mostly) similar to ours in the 19th century, except dragons exist, they're sentient and are used for war, and because of this they and their riders very sought after by the armies of most countries and empires.
From the premise, I guessed it would have either been a silly fun romp, but the world building did turn out to be much more deep and well crafted than I would have imagined. The author could have gone with a full blown high fantasy world, but instead she decided to stick to the real world of the time, and she definitely did her research. If the next books will focus a bit more on the other countries and how they fit into this world, or at least on other foreign characters, I will be definitely read more of this series.
However, a few things didn't completely grab me: the main characters, both Temeraire, the dragon, and Laurence, his human rider, aren't really that compelling, at least so far. There are a few elements in the story that I hope will be explored in future books, but for the moment there isn't much of note to them - aside form the fact that they both speak like dapper gentlemen, especially Temeraire. If I had a shot everytime either of them says "pray" instead of "please", I'd need a new liver.
The story itself is a pretty standard "boy and his dragon" kind of plot, not done badly and with some nice twists due to the realpolitiks of this world, but still a bit predictable in some parts. At points the book feels a bit more like a set up for the rest of the series than an enjoyable story of its own. I have a few more thoughts, but I'll hold them back until after I've finished the second book in the series.
So, why not. Let's see if I can manage to at least get to the orange spaces.
This time I will not add a rule about the language of the books I'll be reading, but I'll try to keep it different, and not to read too many books in English.
Space 5, railroad:
Well, according to the UNESCO page Saudi Arabia (where the book takes place) and Jordan (where the author was born) count, so I'll pick "Cities of Salt", by Abdul Rahman Munif.
Doing another roll without having finished the previous book, because why not.
35. Has been adapted as a movie / In a language other than English
Sadly I don't have any books that fit those two criteria (technically there's "La briscola in cinque", but it's less than 200 pages). I'm just going to pick "Il Cardillo Addolorato", and next time I'll just have a single roll.
Also, would it be too late to try and jump on the Booklikes-opoly challenge?
So, I've had two extremely busy weeks, but the time it took me to finish this book was still too much. But finally I made it (hooray for weekends).
As for the book itself, after a very slow start (as you might have already guessed from my previous posts) the book found its footing and a good pace, and it became a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery, if just a bit more violent than I would have expected.
One thing that at times pulled me out of the reading is that the author has clearly done a lot of research on the history and many more aspects of the period he's writing about (as the impressive amount of notes peppered throughout the book), and he wants to show off his knowledge; for me at times it was interesting and other distracting, though admittedly it depeneded on whether I cared for the argument he was talking about.
This is a series I'm genuinely curious to read more of, if only to see if the issues with the writing were a one off, or if the different pacing and style were intentional and the author was building up to something else.
Still, whenever I was able to sit down and enjoy the book for more than an hour at the times, I had lots of fun. And kudos to themis-athena for providing incredible visual references to help get into the story.
Between last night and today I finally managed to find the time to get halfway through the book (a historical hard-boiled, in a way) and I can say I’m quite enjoying it. Hopefully, since these days I’m finally having some free time, I’ll be able to finish it for good.
On chapter 5, and I can definitely say I'm into it. I hope that the pacing issues were just limited to the start, getting stuck again would be genuinely annoying.
Chapter 4, and the story is finally picking up, it seems. Hopefully it's just a slow start, and not a problem with the prose throughout the book.
It'd be especially annoying because I'm having the same problem with the other book I'm reading right now. I like its premise (it's a fantasy novel about an alternate 19th century where world powers depend on the dragons they have), but it's taking a bit to start and by this point the main characters are still pretty bland - I seriously can't wait for that development to kick in. Still, there are enough things I enjoy about it, and I don't feel like dropping it.
And, back to the French Buddy Read, I'll just drop this link here; it's a great reference work by themis-athena, I'll be definitely looking it up as I go along with the book.