Review: The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

20 Books of Summer 2020: Book 4

Before I tell you anything about Elif Shafak’s The Architect’s Apprentice, do you think Jahan is receiving good advice in this scene:

Davud said, “Congratulations, novice! The master only sends his favourites to the old goat.”
As pleased as he was to hear this, Jahan felt a pang of unease.
“Don’t be humble next to him,” said Nikola. “Show him how much you know. He’ll like that.”
Yusuf smiled in agreement.
“Don’t forget to shout. Simeon is deaf as a log,” said Davud (146-147)

You don’t need to know anything about the book’s settings or characters to know that Jahan shouldn’t greet Simeon by shouting pompous things at him, but that’s what he does. read more

Review: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

20 Books of Summer 2020: Book 3

This is the first Murakami I’ve read after hearing about his brilliance for years (and years). I thought After Dark would be a good place to start because it’s short. It either feels incomplete or just about perfect and I honestly can’t decide. I’m leaning towards “just about perfect” because of the way this book was so absorbing and fascinating and left me with the feeling that anything could happen (even though very few things did). read more

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

20 Books of Summer 2020: Book 2

I loved Greek mythology when I was a kid. The stories had a kind of randomness—the appearance of monsters, transformations into animals, and Zeus making a pass at everything with a pulse. Madeline Miller’s Circe borrows its plot points from famous myths, but centers Circe in each. True to the source material, the gods are largely uninterested in mortal concerns, getting involved for their own reasons with little concern for humanity. Circe is most interesting when probing the gap between gods and mortals—though Circe inherits a long life and rapid healing from her sun-god father and nymph mother, they view her as lesser and she doesn’t fit in. Nor does she fit in among mortals, who occasionally mistake her for a goddess. read more