Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is the story of Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker who survives a bomb blast in a museum that kills his mother. With his father off in Las Vegas with a new girlfriend, Theo is taken in by the Barbours, the affluent family of a friend in school. Theo is left with the memories of his mother and his “picture” – The Goldfinch, a small 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius which he took with him from the museum on the day of the accident upon the prodding of an old man, Welty. Before he died in the museum, Welty purposely “led” Theo to his furniture shop in the Greenwich Village and his business partner, Hobie. Eventually, however, Theo’s father, Larry, finds him and takes him to Nevada, where Theo meets Boris, his foul-mouthed, drug-addicted friend with whom Theo will spend much of his teenage years. Circumstances will ultimately compel Theo to return to New York – now a young man – where he continues to live a shady life, longing for his mother, clinging to the one thing that he knew bound her to him even in death: The Goldfinch.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reading List 2015: August

July was a good reading month for me. Well, I didn't even crack open one book on the list but I figured I could go back to it some other time, so I'm shelving that one off (again) in the meantime. I'm trying to conquer my 2015 reading list so I have to prioritize reading those books.

Curious which book got shelved for the nth time? Let's do the July report:

  • Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald - Read with a couple of bookish friends. Quite depressing to say the least. 4/5
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - The Tudor saga continues! Goodbye, Anne Boleyn! 5/5
  • The Tudors by G.J. Meyer - Shelved.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan - Beautiful. I saw the movie after reading this and it was just as beautiful. Sad, though. And Briony!!! 5/5
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene - The book club's book for the month. Had our first EOP* discussion, too! 4/5

With these books I finished reading last month, my write-up backlog is beginning to pile up (again!) but I'm hanging in there. One write-up per week should do it. Currently gathering my thoughts about The Goldfinch so check back here for that.

And finally, for August:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy 4th, marginalia!

Aaand my little book blog turns 4 today. Happy anniversary to us!

image source

A few days ago, I announced a book giveaway in celebration of this milestone. I asked readers and/or participants to name a book they think should win an award (any bookish award!) but didn't, for whatever reason. I also qualified that the giveaway is open only to Philippine residents and non-robots, which in my book means someone who is not a stranger. (Hey, it's my giveaway; I have the final say on this matter, yes?)

Anyway, the deadline for entries was at 11:59 pm yesterday, and there are four valid entries:

I commissioned the help of my darling daughter in picking the winner because I didn't want to use a randomizer this year. So, without further ado, here's the winner of this year's giveaway:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon was the book club's book for the month of June. I missed the actual discussion but I had fun reading it and talking about it online with the folks at the book club.

Set in 1920s San Francisco, The Maltese Falcon is a hard-boiled detective noir story. The main protagonist is Sam Spade, the detective hired by femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy to tail a certain Floyd Thursby, who allegedly kidnapped her sister. The story is fake, though, and when Miles Archer, Spade's partner, was shot to death while he was on Thursby's trail that same evening, Spade will discover what Brigid has actually hired him for: to trace the location of the invaluable Maltese Falcon, a historical artifact. While Spade hunts down the Falcon, however, he is also hunted down not only by the police, who have him figured out as prime suspect for the killing of both Thursby and Archer, but also by devious characters who would do anything to get the Falcon first.


The Maltese Falcon is a short and easy read. It was fast-paced and dialogue-heavy, which I think is effective for a plot-driven work such as a detective story. The characters were all interesting, especially Joel Cairo, the queer crook who was after the Falcon - among others. Brigid O’Shaughnessy managed to annoy me from her first appearance up until the end, while Spade himself came off as a mystery, as his real feelings and thoughts were not apparent. In fact, because Spade’s point of view was conveniently concealed, the reader is left to speculate on his sense of morality and opinion on things. Thus, from the characters alone, The Maltese Falcon worked for me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's marginalia's 4th anniversary soon! + Book Giveaway

My book blog's 4th year anniversary will be in a few days, and what better way to celebrate a book blog anniversary than with a book giveaway, yes? Are you up for it? :)

image source

Because I've only recently begun collecting and reading award-winners (particularly, the Man Booker, Pulitzer, NBA, IMPAC Dublin, and Folio winners), the giveaway will be something related to book awards. In the comments section of this post, leave a comment and tell me which book you've read deserves to win an award, but for whatever reason, it didn't. Briefly explain why you think it should win something. And then I'll pick one winner on July 24, 2015, marginalia's 4th birthday. All entries must be in by 11:59pm of July 23. Giveaway is open to Philippine residents and non-robots only. The prize? The winner's book of choice from The Book Depository, max amount of US$20.00.

Game? Comment away! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reading List 2015: July

It's the middle of the year today, which means half of 2015 is officially past. Really?? Where did my 6 months go? How time flies, indeed.

A quick check of my 2015 read shelf over at Goodreads shows that I've already finished reading 19 books so far. For someone who doesn't really read that fast (well, by my own standards at least) I think I'm doing well. 19 books means I get to read 3 books on the average per month, and that's good for me! No reading slumps so far, but I'm not crossing my fingers now, right?

Before I proceed to this month's reading list, a quick recap of the last month's books:
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett - The book club's book of the month. 3/5.
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - Spillover from May. Currently at page 322 of 404. Fewer than a hundred pages left!
  • How to be both by Ali Smith - A little underwhelmed with this book. 3/5.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - What a mess of a book! Ugh. 1/5.

I'm itching to write my thoughts about The Goldfinch, which so far holds the record for being my sole 1-starrer this year, but I need to tackle one other book first.

And now, for my July books:

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