Book Reviews: July – August 2016

I had to skip a Book Reviews post for July because of my traveling, but I certainly didn’t skip reading! I managed to read 5 books during my travels, and here they are:


The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams:

This is the second book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series. I’ve read the first one years ago (on a flight from the US back to Vietnam, in fact!) but never got around to reading the rest of the series until now, since I’ve just been hired to translate this into Vietnamese (that should add at least 100 points to my nerd cred.) It’s the continuation of the misadventures of Arthur Dent and his friends, and even though I remember really enjoying it and laughing out loud a few times, I can’t remember what the plot is exactly. That’s the thing with Douglas Adams – if you take away the jokes, there’s not much plot left. But then again you don’t read Douglas Adams for the plot, do you? 4/5

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton:

I can’t remember if this was recommended to me or I saw it on a list, but because I was going to Amsterdam, I thought a book set in 17th century Amsterdam would be a good choice. Plus, the story – about a young woman arriving at the house of her husband, a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam, and finding it full of secrets and mysteries – seems right up my alley. However, this one is a big letdown. The story itself is boring. No, worse than that, it’s frustrating. See, a lot of the plot revolves around the mystery of “the miniaturist” – an artist who makes miniature replicas of people and things to furnish the main character’s dollhouse, and somehow seems to have intimate knowledge of the family. And then – spoiler – you never find out who she is, how she knows these things, or why she is doing this. In short, in a book called “The Miniaturist”, if you take out the miniaturist, the story would remain virtually the same! Plus the main character is the definition of a doormat heroine. 1/5

Oh and, there’s the writing. Oh gods, the writing. It tries soooooo hard to be ornate and flowery, with lines like “Her hard boast melts to a raw fib, pooling between the silent women”. I kept wanting to do this:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir:

I’m interested anything that has to do with British monarchs, so I really love this book. Being non-fiction, it doesn’t exactly offer any new interpretations of the events or the people involved, but it’s meticulously researched and filled with tons of details and descriptions of court life (which I love). I thought it would be a good book to take on the trip with me because I could put it down any time I wanted, and I ended up not wanting to put it down! 5/5

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor:

This is the book I mentioned in my SIA post on Monday. Written by the director of the British Museum, the book is just as its title says – 100 chapters, each featuring an object from the Museum’s collection, chosen to reflect a specific era in history. It’s like a virtual tour through the museum, which is great. My only complain is that once it gets to modern time, it gets really boring – but that’s just the last few chapters, so it’s OK. 4.5/5

The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell:

This is my birthday present from Debbi (as in, I asked her to buy it for me.) It’s sort of a coffee-table book about the writings of Neil Gaiman, from his comics to his short stories, novels, poems, and many more. What I love is that it includes the shelved projects as well – things that haven’t happened or will never happen – and talks a lot about the history and the process of how each piece came to be. It has inspired me to dust off my writing and maybe give some of them another try. 5/5

Now it’s your turn! Tell me what you’ve read!

5 Comments on “Book Reviews: July – August 2016”

  1. Mike says:

    Wow… 5 books?! You go, Salazar! You’re awesome!

    Well, I’m embarrassed to say that while I’ve attempted to get some reading done for our reviews, I sadly don’t have anything new to present at this time, thanks mostly to my $&%!@ summer. I haven’t had the heart to read much I guess. But I’ll be back on track next month and I can’t wait because I have some pretty cool books that I found and want to share.

    I’m still on the third book of the “Taj Mahal” series, “Shadow Princess”, which I ended up starting over from the beginning (even though I was nearly half way through it the first time) because I had a lot of long gaps in between my reading times and I started to forget what the story was about. As much as I love books about India (pretty much any book that is about India, I’m totally into), this one is surprisingly hard for me to stay focused on. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many people that are in the story or if it’s because they’re all new characters as opposed to the first two books, or what.

    In any case, I’ll have it read for September’s review as well as another book that I found that sounds pretty interesting (hopefully!).

    So stayed tuned!

  2. Kezzie says:

    YESSSSS< I am SOOOo glad you said that about the miniaturist! I couldn't agree more! What a disappointment and how bloomin irritating about now knowing who she is and why she does it and how! And what a wet blanket the author was!

    • Salazar says:

      I know! I felt like the author had written herself into a corner, so she took the easy way out, like “Oops, no, the miniaturist herself is not so important after all, what’s important is how she changes our main character.” Uh, no, if you set something up like that, you HAVE to pay it off!

  3. I’m finishing up the most recent book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. It’s taking me a long time to finish it, because (a) her books are so long, and (b) I will be sad to finish the series, thus far. I’m sure she’ll come out with a new title in a few years! 🙂

  4. […] The dollhouse that inspired “The Miniaturist“ […]

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