Cocktail of Reading in March 2016

What a month it has been! More snow than we’ve had all winter, amidst bursts of sunshine and flowers coming out. Helping to prepare a conference with the Geneva Writers’ Group and getting to meet so many talented writers. Getting even more impetus to work on my novel and poetry. And, of course, without fail, plenty of reading – a cocktail of flavours. Some day, I may even catch up with the reviewing…

Photo from
Photo from

Foreign language fiction:

  1. Pascal Garnier: Too Close to the EdgeBlack Vodka and Pomegranate
  2. Peter Gardos: Fever at DawnVodka and Cranberry Blush
  3. Mircea Eliade: Romanul Adolescentului Miop (The Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent) – a mocktail for underage drinkers to be reviewed for Necessary Fiction
  4. Marius Daniel Popescu: La Symphonie du Loup (The Wolf’s Symphony) – Bitter Orange and Cardamom
  5. Alina Bronsky: Scherbenpark (Broken Glass Park) – White Russian – the cream makes it a bit sickly

Crime Fiction (stretching the boundaries a bit):

  1. Quentin Bates: Thin Ice Margarita – let’s get the party started!
  2. Guy Fraser-Sampson: Death in Profile  – Pina Colada with an umbrella
  3. Joe Flanagan: Lesser EvilsOld-Fashioned with a twist of lemon
  4. Katharina Hall (ed.): Crime Fiction in German – Hefeweizen beer
  5. Elizabeth Knox: WakeBloody Mary
  6. Liz Jensen: The Uninvited – Sidecar – there’s far more to it than immediately obvious
  7. Claire McGowan: A Savage Hunger – Guinness
  8. Sara Gran: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead  Mai Tai – colourful, vibrant
  9. L.S. Hilton: Maestra – trendy Amaro-based mix (with oysters on the side)
  10. Laura Lebow: Sent to the Devil – Opera (or Bellini?)


  1. Olivia Laing: The Lonely City  – Manhattan
  2. David Sedaris: Me Talk Pretty One Day – Cosmopolitan
  3. Mary Oliver: Felicity (poetry collection) – Long Island Ice Tea

18 books, of which 10 by women, 5 in translation, 9 crime(ish) novels and one book about crime fiction. Let me tell you which of the yet-to-be-reviewed books I really enjoyed: Olivia Laing, Liz Jensen and Crime Fiction in German. Meanwhile, Sara Gran, Laura Lebow and David Sedaris were a nice diversion. One book I did not much like, although it is currently getting a lot of hype and will no doubt sell well, since it is being marketed as ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ meets ’50 Shades of Grey’ is Maestra. [The art history and fraud element in there was the most interesting part to me, and I wish there’d been more of that instead.]

While there is nothing much I can do about the books I am given to review, I should make more of an effort to read more diversely, while also reducing the piles on my virtual and physical shelves. [Although I suspect I will be buying plenty of new books in Lyon, as usual.]

Here are some suggestions for myself: Marina Sonkina, Claire Fuller, Joanna Cannon, Sarah Hilary from Netgalley; Clarice Lispector, Yana Vagner and Virginia Woolf from my shelves; Circ (written by 10 authors), Jennifer Tseng and The Devil is a Black Dog: Stories of the Middle East by Sandor Jaszberenyi from ‘books found languishing on my e-reader for far too long’. But of course, I am also eager to read the books I acquired at the GWG Conference…

23 thoughts on “Cocktail of Reading in March 2016”

  1. Just the post that I needed this morning….I need some inspiration! I’ll look at your suggestions. Last Polar, Lyon I found Thilliez via your post! I think it’s time to do some binge reading and review only the one’s I think others would really like. I’ve read some dull books lately, perhaps that is making me feel so ….dull.

  2. That’s what I’ve been feeling too – I can’t keep up with the reviewing and maybe not everything needs to be reviewed. Sadly, what tends to happen is that the books I liked best end up not getting reviewed, because a thoughtful review takes longer to write (rather than a short, quick one).

    1. I try to make every review interesting….but found myself completely empty after reading “La Petite Fadette” . Twice I pushed the review to ‘trash’…twice I fished it out again. If I want to keep blogging with the same enthusiasm …I’m going to have to learn to be selective. One or two reviews (with my heart and soul) and the reset in a recap post…. Now, enough about my ‘dip’. Time cuddle the cat, pour some coffee and start reading. Have a good day!

  3. A great reading month by the sounds of it, I like Garnier and I enjoyed the Bates and probably no time for any of your others.
    I haven’t penned a thought yet on anything I’ve read in March – apathy (or exhaustion) rules!

  4. It does sound like you had a great month. I used to review almost every book I read but now . . . I fall behind and after a few weeks it just doesn’t seem to work anymore.
    I did read some good ones though, so I’ll try to pull myself together and do it anyway.
    Do you have a favourite this month?

    1. It’s hard, isn’t it, I feel the same after a few weeks…
      It’s too close to call this month – really enjoyed Garnier, Liz Jensen and Olivia Laing.

  5. You did have a good reading month, Marina Sofia! I’m always amazed by the variety in the books that you read, too. And how creative to choose exactly the right cocktail to go with each – I’m impressed!

  6. An interesting range of books there – and a lot of them! Yes, do pull Virginia Woolf off your shelves – I did yesterday and it was a wonderful experience! 🙂

  7. I’m inspired by your cocktails, so much so that I’m not sure what to do first drink or read? I wasn’t quite as keen on Savage Hunger as Claire McGown’s other books but I sometimes wonder if I’m just not in the right frame of mind for some books.

    1. Ah, but you see, that was my first Claire McGowan book, so I was quite impressed and want to read more… Sounds like I’ve got something to look forward to then!

  8. What a brilliant idea – your cocktail and book marriage. I ADORED the Laing, she is a fantastic thinker and writer, and also read my first Garnier in Too Close To The Edge. Perhaps a little too grisly for me, at points, but SUCH a good writer. I’m thinking that rather than seeing which of your book titles I should place on the TBR, I should choose a cocktail and then get the title the preferred tipple is paired with!

    Your example here is very tempting………..perhaps it’s time for me to examine Hotel Chocolate’s fine flavour assortments, (there are SO many varieties) and after judicious sampling pair them with books. I wonder, could I persuade my local HC to give me their entire chocolate range in return for a linked mention with a book, for each of them………………………..

    1. That sounds like an excellent strategy – there can never be too much fine chocolate/drinks/books combinations. I’ll be writing a proper review of the Laing book for Shiny New Books soon.

      1. I will be really interested to read that MarinaSofia. It’s one of those books with SO MUCH within it, that I really find I am getting even more from it by reading what other reviewers have to say. I do think reading blogs is like a slowed down, reflective book discussion group, offering the chance to read a post, and then go away and think about it in the context of the book you have already finished and come to your own conclusions on. I expect Laing to be one of my books of the year, for sure

        1. That’s a really good way of thinking about book blogs. I once tried a book club but it revolved too much around wine-drinking and discussing husbands and kids for my taste…

        2. Yes, they can be challenging if people have different agendas for being there. Plus you get both the advantages and disadvantages of live discussion – going off in different directions about the book, but maybe you would have wanted to have sat and thought a bit about something someone had said, but suddenly the discussion has shifted. Can be exciting – but also frustrating

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