Hello dear readers and/or fellow bloggers! How's February treating you so far? I have had a pretty eventful weekend and I'm looking forward to a good night sleep before Monday kicks in. Before I get to bed though, there is another reading update I want to post. So it seems that I'm starting February with a reading update and a layered winter styling. I'll be reviewing three novels today. My outfit of the day deserves a few words as well. It is a neutral styling in terms of colour but I made it fun with the help of layering. In the photographs bellow you can see me sporting a grey sweater dress I swear by in the colder months, a white  hand painted shirt (only the collar is visible though), a white faux leather jacket that is getting a bit too worn out for every day wear but that served me well in the past, a brown vintage leather belt and a pair of high heels paired with high socks and leggings.   
From time to time, I do enjoy a good crime novel. I like books that make me think so when it comes to thrillers and crime novels, I prefer those that are a bit more philosophical and psychological. Meditation on Murder is a crime novel by Robert Thorogood, an English screenwriter and novels. I got this copy from my mom and dad. In fact, a British lady that was staying with them gave it to my mom and dad when she heard I was an English language teacher. So, when I visited my mom and dad last weekend I picked up this copy. 

Let me start by saying that I haven't seen nor do I know anything about the BBC series this book is based on. I just jumped into this novel without knowing anything about it or its writer. I don't see why you couldn't do the same and enjoy it just as much. One doesn't have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this book. One thing I did know is that is a crime novel. I mean the title (A Meditation on Murder) gives it away, doesn't it? I also assumed that it might take place on one of the Caribbean islands (because- Death in Paradise). I only figured out it was based on a TV show after I read it and saw the faces of the actors on the back of the novel (It didn't occurred to me to study the covers prior to reading it).

What kind of a crime novel is it? One with an intelligent but peculiar and eccentric detective inspector who invariably solves the murder crime in the end. Now, who does that makes me think of? Why, Agatha Christie and her famous protagonist obviously. That is not where similarities end for there are many ways in which this crime novel reminds me of those written by Agatha Christie. Not that I'm complaining, I do like this classic take on a crime novel. There isn't much violence or blood in this book, there is a murder but that is that, most of the novel is all about the psychological study of characters.

Our peculiar detective is a Brit who ends up being an inspector on a French Caribbean island. He has a phobia of sand and insists on wearing wool suits in the worst of heat- because that is what detective inspectors do. He is quite clumsy and withdrawn, but he also has a fine mind- and a great team. The murder crime he is called to solve is quite a mystery. Aslan, a spa hotel guru everyone seems to like is killed. It happens during a meditation in a paper room but the girl (fair Julie) who confessed to it couldn't have had done it. 

Who is to blame then? Our detective will found it out but it will take him quite a long time- as it can be expected in a crime novel. During that time we get to know so much about the past and the background of the six people who were in that meditation chamber. Aslan, the victim guru has had some secrets but so did all of them (don't we all?) and finding out all those secrets takes quite a bit of time. Now, this is not something I normally mind, but I did feel that this novel was a tad bit overwritten and that's the only thing I didn't like about it. I think it would have been better if it was just a bit shorter. Nevertheless, it is a fine crime novel. Not the kind of book that will change your life, but it is a mighty fine crime novel. If you like crime novels written in the style of Agatha Christie, you will probably like this one. I do recommend it! Even the cats like it. 

I must admit to mixed feelings about this novel. The Lake by Bianca Bellova is a highly awarded book, it even won the EU award for literature. On one hand, I do understand why this novel won so many important prizes. It is in many ways a compelling story. On the other hand, I didn't particularly like the way this story was told. I also had issues with the story itself. It was too depressive and negative for my liking, but there is something in it. Nevertheless, I must admit that I struggled with this novel, especially in the start. The middle part dragged on for a bit too long as well. In addition, I had a few issues with the writing, one of them being the portrayal of the protagonist Nami. I did feel sorry for him, but because of the way he was written it was hard for me to deeply care about him. I understand that Nami has been traumatized and that obviously influenced his thinking and numbed  his emotions, yet as a reader I needed to know more about him. What Nami does think and feel is often a mystery.

Nami is thrown from one horrible living situation into another, from one toxic environment to another, without much explanation and with many disturbing things were just left without a comment or conclusion of some sort. Now, the writing style didn't help either. I can get why the author choose to focus on bleak and dark things, such as lack of hygiene, pollution, poverty but there needs to be some balance. This book is incredibly grim, there isn't a single decent character in it. The society is all rotten, the individuals are all horrible abusers, nothing makes any sense. In fact, everything is so dark and terrible, that the book stopped making sense. It is only towards the end of the book that I really got into the story and started really wondering and caring about Nami.

The Lake is one of the most depressing books I have ever read and I do read a lot. I typically enjoy realism and naturalism, but I felt like this book tried too hard to be both. The author put together all kinds of horrible subjects and topics, from mass murders to revolutions, to all kinds of abuse and toxic life situations that it ended up feeling surreal. It just feels too much for one book. I got this feeling that the book wanted to be hyper realistic but ended up being too gory and disguising. I mean if I had a penny for every time Nami got sick. He was doing so much detailed and endless vomiting, I wonder he didn't die from it. Not to mentioned all the times he was beaten up, abused, survived the most horrible of things and so on. How statistically probable it is that your entire life will be a series of complete and utter abuse? 

I did kind of like the ending, it made sense, but I didn't always enjoy getting there. Nevertheless, I have to admit that it is a powerful story. There is strength in this book, but it lacks balance to be able to tell a more layered story. That's my opinion anyway. I certainly don't regret reading it. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to everyone. There is this worm of a doubt in me that the reason why this novel won so many prizes and awards is because it speaks of so many issues: pollution, environmental problems, communism, dictatorship, genocide and abuse. Perhaps there are just too many problems in it for one book. Personally, I felt that there were far too many things that weren't really discussed or elaborated on.  In conclusion, it is an interesting and potent but an extremely depressing and one sided read.
I'm quite fond of magical realism, especially of Latin American version of it. If you are a long time reader of my blog in the past, you had the chance to read my reviews of several Latin American writers of magical realism (here, here and here). Marquez is a well known writer in this genre. I've read a number of his works so far. On overall, I'm quite fond of his writing. There were a few minor things bugging me in this novels, but generally speaking I quite like this writing. This is a novel I read some time ago, but as I updated my review on goodreads, I decided to do the same thing on my blog.

  Of Love and Other Demons is a beautiful work of magic realism. With the lyrical descriptions, the wonderful recreating of times past and a captivating narrative, it is a really enjoyable read. The prose is very powerful and the story draws you in. There is something quite enchanting about this book. The narrative and the style of writing go so well together. There is something natural but also mystical about this novel, and this combination somehow really works. From one side you have a feeling you see things as they are, without embellishments, but you also have this feeling that nothing is certain, that things may not be what they seem. An absolutely fascinating book.

I read this novel quite a few years ago. I remember I had read it without pausing. It starts kind of slow but it does have a way of making you feel inside of the story. Once things do start happening, you'll probably find yourself completely immersed in the story. Was there anything I didn't like? Actually, there were a few things that bugged me. As much as I admired the beauty of its writing, some things about this book frustrated me a little.

The characterization is not perfect, I'd have to say. There are many memorable characters but somehow they are never in the focus, something like fairy-tale characters. Many characters didn't undergo any character development. Even with the protagonists of the novel, one doesn't get a detailed view of them. Maybe it is supposed to be like that, maybe that is what gives the novel its ambiguity and beauty. However, it stopped me from connecting with the characters. Still, I have to say that my favorite character was Abrenuncio.

One thing that troubled me was paradoxically the portrait of the character that is the center of the novel- Sirva Maria. I didn't think it was very credible. I mean cared for the story of her life, that is as the novel itself, sad, tragic and full of some delicate beauty. However, she as a character is just inscrutable. I know this is a work of magic realism, but still. Sirva Maria seemed more a symbol than a real characters. In the novel Sirva Maria is a neglected daughter of a nobleman and a drug depended mother. Sirva Maria is raised by slaves and hence has no noble manners. Still, at one point in the novel she turns into a Renaissance maiden. As she gets bitten by a dog, she is accused of demonic possession and the church moves in to investigate.

There is a part of the novel that doesn't make much sense. I understand that love can be a powerful sensational and a metaphor for possession but who would buy the idea of traumatized 12 year girl falling desperately in love with a 35 year old priest? Some connection between the two makes sense but the author perhaps pushed it too far. She is supposed to be raised by the slaves (that is why they suspect she is possessed- they don't understand that she has just identified with a culture they don't care to know or understand) but then suddenly she recites sonnets and behaves like a love crazed Renaissance maiden. It doesn't make sense for her to recite sonnets if she was raised with little or no education, does it. Again I repeat, she is twelve! She is a mere child so some things don't make sense there. I get that it is magic realism, but still....

Even for magical realism, some things were taken a bit too far. I wish the heroine of the novel was a bit older, the book would made much more sense that way. To conclude, this is a beautiful novel but it has its paradoxes and controversies. There is a bit of Lolita touch that might bother more sensible readers. Some aspects of it bothered me a little. Nevertheless, the writing is beautiful and poetic. On the whole, I really enjoyed. Marquez is a wonderful writer.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a lovely day! Happy February.


  1. A Meditation on Murder sounds like a read I would enjoy! Quirky characters add fun to a novel and this sounds like it has one. Sometimes I find a depressing novel attention grabbing and other times not. I think it depends on my mood when starting the book. Great reviews of 2 very different novels! Fantastic outfit by the way.

    1. I'm the same way. Sometimes depressive novels suit my mood and sometimes not. Thank you for your comment.

  2. What a fun belt with the grey dress! None of these sound like my kind of book but it's great you enjoyed most of them - shame that last one wasn't as enjoyable or believable as you'd hoped!

    Hope that you had a great weekend :)

    Away From Blue

  3. Amazing review dear! Love your outfit, very creative!
    Have a great day! xoxo
    Vesna - Home Chic Club

  4. Relaxing post, dear
    Mónica Sors

  5. Hmmm...I've not read any of those books, but they look interesting. I'll have to look them up, the show as well. Sounds great. I hope you have a lovely week ahead x

  6. It makes me want to review books also.

  7. Hi dear Ivana, hope you have a great month ahead!

    I am trying to read more new authors this years so I'll definitely put down these recommendations :) I adore that you picked such a nice outfit to shoot this post, actually you like intellectual and like a librarian :)


  8. I'm glad you enjoyed reading these books, Ivana. I missed reading, and I hope I will restart this year. You look so pretty in this grey dress and the belt looks perfect on you. Happy Monday dear.

  9. Amazing Outfit, you look beautiful. :)


  10. Love your outfit and thanks for sharing about your reads!
    xx- Nina

  11. They sound like great books! I am currently reading "Three Women" by Taddeo!
    xoxo, Vanessa

  12. Hello Ivana
    So I just found out that you are an English teacher, oh I'm ashamed my English is horrible ahahha !!
    I also like crime books, especially those by Agatha Christie with her Poirot. This would be my favorite book, Gabriel I already read and it’s not the kind of reading I like.
    As for your look is quite bold !!


    1. and don't worry about it, my Portuguese isn't very good either but I don't feel bad about it:).

  13. Ohhh great outfit - I love your style here <3

    And those cats :-D I love cats. They are clever being able to read ;-) Mind can't read haha. I really need to read more!

    1. These are my parents'cats. Well, the grey one is my parents's cat and the yellow one belongs to the neighbours but they are cat-sitting for them.

  14. So my question is how do you pick your books, Ivana? You have such a variety of themes and authors, and are so well read.

    1. sometimes I just go to library and pick up whatever catches my eye.

  15. Una vez escuche que para consagrarte como lector tienes que leer a Gabriel Garcia Marquez, yo he sido lectora durante un largo tiempo pero no he logrado terminar un libro de el, seguro no era el correcto seguire intentandolo.

  16. These sounds like a really good book, I'm really intrigued about it now. I hope I can get a copy.
    By the way, you look fabulous as always!

  17. Thanks for sharing this good fashion blog. Is there very lot of information. I am very glad to here you.
    Thanks a lot. Please check also my blog website.

  18. February's been absolutely amazing so far, as we started with a little break to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary! This even gave me a chance to read, so that book no. 3 of 2020 is now almost finished. I really do lack the time to read, lately. I really admire the fact that not only you manage to read so many books, but that you are taking the time for these in-depth reviews of the books you read. I'm loving your layered outfit as well, and those high socks are genius! Hope your week is going well, Ivana. I'm catching up on my blog reading now! xxx


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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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