Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Secondhand Book Haul

Bonjour,

Well well well, another book haul... Since I have SO MANY unread books I did kind of ban myself from buying any more until the end of the summer at least, but that quickly went out the window when a sudden desperate need to get out of the house and away from studying coincided with the biannual charity booksale at the English shop nearish to where I live.

I can usually happily spend a few hours scanning the crates of books for interesting titles, but it was so unbearably hot that I decided to call it a day after barely an hour. I still left with a considerable stack though! They're priced at 1€ per cm which is really quite excellent as you can get thinner books for a euro, and it all goes to charity anyway.

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

The blurb of The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite begins with the sentence 'decadent, tantalizing Berlin in a Germany torn apart by war at the turn of the twentieth century...' - honestly, what more could you want from a book? That alone won me over, but the actual plot looks interesting too: it's about an illegitimate orphaned girl who finds herself in the glamorous motion picture world and becomes a silent film star. I'm feeling a bit of a Valley of the Dolls vibe, but I could be totally wrong there.

Daughter of Fortune was kind of a spur of the moment buy in a 'is it historical fiction?' *grabs and adds to pile* kind of way, but I think I'll probably enjoy this. It's set in Chile in the 1830s and it's described as a 'rich adventure story', which is never a bad thing. I don't think I've actually read anything by Isabel Allende but I understand it she's meant to be a tip-top historical fiction writer so I'm totally up for this.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Memoirs of a Geisha is one of those books that has always been inexplicably on the edge of my literary knowledge, along with books like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Brave New World, neither of which I have read. I just feel like I've been aware of them for a long time, but never really bothered to find out much about. Anyway, the point is that I immediately recognised the title and decided I may as well bite the bullet and give it a try. The story seems pretty straightforward in that the title says it all, but I'm interested to see how it's executed.

Oh look... Could it possible be yet another Tudor historical fiction novel? I admit I picked this up purely because it has the word 'queen' in the title, and was filled with joy when I realised it's about Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. She's probably the one of his wives that I have the least number of books on, so of course I had to get this.

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein
The Girl with the Painted Face by Gabrielle Kimm

My friend Elisha recommended The Moth Diaries to me a couple of years ago and I mentally added it to my 'to-buy' list, so I was thrilled to spot it. So far it's the only one from this lot that I've started, and I'm planning to review it when I've finished so I won't say too much here!

I picked up The Girl with the Painted Face because I read the title as The Girl with the Pearl Earring at first, which happens to be one of my favourite books. But this is set in Italy in 1582 and the main character is Sofia Genotti, a seamstress falsely accused of theft who joins a troupe of travelling actors to avoid being destitute. I think this appealed to me initially because I was still slightly in the English/theatre/acting zone from my exams but I know I will enjoy this a lot.

The Dark Heart of Florence by Michele Giuttari
The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

I spotted The Dark Heart of Florence at the absolute last minute and I'm glad I did because I'm planning on collecting all the books in this series. I have the second already (and I did a review of it here) and I loved it so I'd really like to get them all and read them in order. Set in Italy in the early 2000s, the series is written by the ex-head of the Florence Police Force Michele Giuttara, who manages to pack his books full of really authentic detail.

I have to be honest, I only picked up The Duchess because I was on the lookout for books with 'queen' and 'king' in the title, and I'm regretting it slightly because I'm fairly sure it's not actually fiction. I probably should have realised that from the blurb which reads slightly differently from your average historical fiction novel, but I saw the words 'a world of decadence and excess' and 'passionate but doomed love' and automatically added it to my pile. Either way, it does redeem itself slightly as it's signed by the author, which I always think is pretty cool. Whether I actually get round to reading this remains to be seen, but at least my collection of signed copies of books has grown by one.


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