Nov 13, 2012


Review of Bohemia by Veronika Carnaby

I just have to say that for about half of this book, I couldn't get the song "Pure Imagination" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out of my head. This book resembled the song in so many ways: the characters were looking for a place where there was nothing to changing the world into the creative wonderland they thought it should be, a place where "you'll be free if you truly wish to be."

I know that this is not the usual type of book that we read, but when Marked By Books was contacted by the author, Veronika Carnaby, we figured that we'd give the book a shot anyways. The idea seemed interesting, and the book looked like it had a lot of promise, fresh from the mind of a young author. The largest issue was probably the need for a more colorful cover, but luckily the rest of the book doesn't follow suit so monotonously.

In her debut novel, Veronika Carnaby picks up where the Beat Generation left off. Set in 1960, Bohemia chronicles a group of twenty-somethings who defy the "ideals" of a mid-twentieth century society to seek creative fulfillment. In the process, they spotlight the creative path that artists of all mediums tread, all the while depicting the challenges faced by youth in the decade that changed the world.

I have mixed feelings about this book. There were some very interesting high points dispersed throughout, and some constant pieces that I enjoyed, but I couldn't really seems to get into the story. I don't know if this is just not my kind of book, or what, but it just seemed like it jumped around too much for my taste. Nobody ever seemed to stay in the same place for long, giving me literary whiplash, but it was really interesting to see how Veronika Carnaby was able to individually describe each location not just by what it looked like at the time, but also by the type of people that would be found there.

All of the characters were extremely unpredictable so it was hard to keep a hold of them at times, but I think they were each very defined in their personalities, which I liked a lot. It's a sign of a very talented writer when they know and describe their characters so well that they seem to be real human beings. I personally think that the characters presented in Bohemia were the most interesting part of the novel as a whole. They were all so different in their own little ways, yet everyone seemed to be connected by a similar eccentricity that comes with being a true artist.

It's fairly obviously that she spent quite a bit of time researching for her debut novel, and I can appreciate that. While the most obvious part of the novel was to trace the journeys of the main character and of those she met along the way, the book seemed to be chock-full of information. She did an absolutely brilliant job of portraying how life was at the time.

I think that some of my favorite parts in the book were when she would go off and describe the passerby that were not apart of the strange and artistic world presented. It was nice to kind of get a break from the quick-paced world that the characters lived in, and to look at how these people would be viewed by those unlike them. It gave me an interesting perspective as to how the magnificent nature of life is viewed by different people in different circles, still while exhibiting an exquisite writing style.

"It was there that I discovered both the beauty and the tragedy of life. Those folks too rushed with a sense of urgency, but for all the wrong reasons. They sped past us and enveloped us until we could no longer see in front, behind, or beside ourselves. We found each other in the eye of a whirling hurricane, swimming against the current of the populous with no escape."

Rating: 2 stars

Now, its my turn. Hello to all! It's Gabby now. Just like Taylor here, I read the book, Bohemia, by Veronika Carnaby but unlike my beloved friend and partner, I enjoyed the book much more. I agree in some respects about the way the book was written, such as how keeping up with the individual characters was hard because of how scattered they were. They always seemed to be jumping about from one area to another and almost never seemed to be able to sit still. Kind of like a form of ADHD without having any of the medications. This itself describes the two men, Jimmy and Lester. They both seem to get these random ideas of adventure and what I enjoyed so much about them is that they act on what they believe in. They don't just say, "Hey, here's an idea to travel and deny the regular ideals of this era, so let's do it!"

No. It doesn't work that way.

They don't say that but through their actions, you can see that that is what is implied. Most people nowadays are less so. They do more barking than biting and that takes away from any appeal it might have had. So, when I read Bohemia, I felt so.... refreshed because through this, I gained a better sense of what dreams can achieve if one just follows them. People sell dreams too much, and by that, how can you gain a sense of true life?

Maybe I am ranting a little. Or a lotta. But, everything I say is true. This is why I like Valerie, the main protagonist, because through her writing, she portrays a sense of freedom and her true self. Like Emm, who paints, she finds freedom in her work. Again, I say that not a lot of people can manage to experience something like this because they are too caught up in all these new gadgets and so called, "self-improvements." So, as I continuously repeat, reading a book such as this one, especially from a new and budding author, gives me hope for the future. Well, for future writers who want to become authors who don't only write about supernatural things. Not that  there is anything wrong with that, because personally, I enjoy reading that genre of book, but it takes a lot to be able to write a book such as this one and accomplish something good and enjoyable.

So, I say cheers to Ms. Carnaby for accomplishing this book and actually making readers be more aware of their surroundings and to never give up on what they wish to accomplish. A hearty thank-you goes out to you from us here at Marked by Books.

Rating: 4 Stars


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This book was sent to Marked by Books from the author in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Love the way you all did this dual review. Goes to show how tastes can be reflected in how we perceive something. I read the book and loved it for all the reasons mentioned here. Good job on the reviews.

    My review of Bohemia appears at my blog today. Check it out to see how it compares.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Thank you! We try to review as many books together as we can because everybody does see things differently. Your review seemed to go more along with Gabby's in my opinion.



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Gabby & Taylor