Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Before I get to the point, I feel that I need to put out a few disclaimers, to level the ground - I don't want to come out as unfair.
* I am not, and have never been, very much into fairy tales. Except those of Hans Christian Andersen, but this is a completely different topic. Even as a kid, fairy tales were not something that I gave a lot of thought. I read them, heard about them, adults read them to me, I went to see them in theatre (on one memorable occasion even in opera - and coincidentally, that was also an interpretation of Cinderella) and so on; I didn't dislike them, but they didn't really affect my life in any way - once the direct connection with the tale was over, it was pretty much gone from my head. Later on, I remember thinking how both the curse and blessing lie in the simplicity of fairy tales - on the one hand, they are promising, hopeful and in a very generic level, relatable for everyone; on the other, they are totally unrealistic and for me personally, also boring (due to lack of any kind of depth). I won't deny the importance of fairy tales as such in our culture, though; they are definitely influential and a good match for many people.
* So far my experiences with YA lit have been underwhelming (I've read around 10 more recent YA books, or so). I try to keep an open mind when approaching each new one, but I have begun thinking that YA probably just ain't my thing.
* I didn't read this book for the pure reason of possibly being able to bash it, though (:p), it's one of the five YA books I left into my science fiction reading list back in November.
* I feel uncomfortable when it comes to the whole concept of "retelling" stuff, which seems to be trending right now. I know that hardly anything in the world is completely new, unique and original, but somehow I feel strange about the whole thing of putting it this ... well, blatantly.
That being out of the way, I think I can say that I didn't enjoy Cinder a whole lot. I was hopeful at first though because more than once in my life I had discovered myself from thinking - what if you had a fairy tale, but someone took it and turned all those flat characters into more multi-dimensional ones, added a little bit of spice and personality to the setting and overall, turned it into a quite decent story? I still think that the idea has quite an appeal.
So in Cinder (which of course is a retelling *smirk* of the fairy tale Cinderella), the action has been brought to future, Cinder(ella) is a cyborg, and there is life on the Moon. Sounds fantastic! Only, did I get more fleshed out characters and rich setting? I felt like I didn't. Characters are still pretty much only two kinds - the really bad ones, and the really good (albeit at times a bit confused) ones. There is a case of instalove, which, I guess, this book can get away with, being based on fairy tales, which are like the mother of all mothers of instalove. The most disappointing was the setting and the world, though. I was quite excited about the prospect of New Beijing, I mean, all the opportunities! But did I learn anything about New Beijing? Nothing springs to mind when I try to envision it based on how it was in the book. It was just the setting, I can't remember even a single description about the place.
Overall, for me, this was the textbook example of a book of missed opportunities. The idea of cyborg Cinderella, Moon Queen and New Beijing - fantastic! And then, nothing happened. I almost felt like I was reading that same old Cinderella fairy tale, only it was about 300 pages longer. Also, the blessing and the curse of this particular book - basically you can see all the "plot twists" from three miles away. Which is okay, because it is a fairy tale, but it doesn't really make a chair-gripping read.
So it was 2/5 for me, but most people it seems have enjoyed the book (and its sequels), so don't let that discourage you. If you have no problem with fairy tales, YA, and the concept of retelling, it's possible you'll like this book.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0: [Day 7 & Wrap-up]

The Bout of Books is over for a few days now, and I am only typing this post now because I'm a slacker. Well, not really, just yesterday was the first day of my week-long vacation and I was busy doing things like washing all the windows (we have 3+ metre high ceilings so yes, window-washing is a project) and mopping all the floors, and watching all the ice hockey.
So I will make the Sunday short - I read only Cinder, and from 30% to 68% on Kindle (that is maybe like a few hundred pages). I will say right now that this book and me are not the best match and for several reasons, some of which are not the book's fault (but some are). I have multitude of thoughts on Cinder so I will publish a separate post.
Summer arrived on Sunday so we went to park for a while.
Loving my Kindle on days like this.

Our park by the bay.
In conclusion, here's what happened:
 Technically I finished only one book during readathon, and that was Half of a Yellow Sun (4/5). A day before Bout of Books I finished Hyperion (5/5 - speaks for itself) and a day after I finished Cinder (2.5/5). So if we nitpick I completed one book but if we don't nitpick, I completed three. I also read good 200 pages from Red Seas Under Red Skies, and that was it for me this time around. I stuck to my TBR pile, although it was a close call because I was so near starting The Goldfinch on Sunday.
I didn't take part in any challenges and didn't visit many new blogs (but I visited and commented my already-reading blogs almost religiously) - it was a very low-key readathon this time around. TOP distractions:
1. Painkiller-induced naps during first half of the week.
2. Diablo III
3. Ice hockey world championships
4. Warm weather
5. Preparing for vacation
Overall I am really happy with the result though. I will continue with Red Seas and Middlesex (I read one chapter last night and made a happy sigh, this book is really good).
I hope y'all had good readathon (I know you did!) and have a nice week!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0: [Day 5 & Day 6]

Hello everybody! It's the last day of Bout of Books, hope y'all have been reading all the books in the world, and having all the fun in the world. As for me, just as expected, Friday was a bit too busy to read a lot. We were out and then there was hockey game, and then it was already night... Last night we played Diablo III one hour too many, with Jan and a friend but I read here and there during day time.

I'm hoping to get a lot of Cinder done today, although there will be hockey and other things to interfere again (it's like summery degrees outside!).

Here's some #foodporn from Friday:

Paella with annato rice, vegetables, chorizo sausage, tiger prawns, chicken and sofrito.

Chocolate con Churros.

The books I read on Friday and Saturday: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Pages read: 40 + 36 + 30% (115) = 191
Books finished so far: 1
About the books: I got to the place with Red Seas where a part of story kinda ended, and as it was obvious I'm not going to finish this beast during readathon, I put it aside for a bit and picked up Cinder in hopes of a fast read. Well, it's fast alright...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

This post is so long overdue that I can't even. If you remember, me and Jan read this book almost at the same time, and he has already posted a guest review on it, which can be found here.
I just wrote somewhere yesterday that I don't think there are many perfect books in the world, but I think this one is pretty perfect - for me. I loved Cloud Atlas to pieces, but in many ways The Thousand Autumns is a more whole book, a story that is better grasped, more round overall. There are no funny timeline constructions here, it flows more naturally, it feels... oriental, a bit zen-like, if you know what I mean. Which is, of course, totally apt, since the story is set in Japan. I mean don't get me wrong - there is so much tension at times it feels like it would easily crush a bug, but it is not obvious, simple or over-done - it's just really well done.
I will not even try to write something coherent because one thing, several months has passed since I finished this one and secondly, it's like trying to analyse the best cone of blueberry ice cream you ever had. You look at it lovingly, tasting now and then, sigh happily, but trying to put into words what exactly makes this blueberry ice cream better than the next one feels like it would take away from the experience.
I will say it though, just like with Cloud Atlas, it might be a bit of a struggle to get into this book at first. It starts very, very slowly and the build-up is quite long. I remember I was even disappointed at first and complained quite a lot and asked Jan "when is it getting good", but was I rewarded in the end. At some point I discovered I don't want to stop reading. Again, this is the book from where you can learn so much - about the Dutch East India Company in Japan in 1800s, and through that about the Japanese - their integrity and at the same time, if you are not one of them, no matter what, you will never be. The ending is so good, there is a certain passage towards the end that when I read it I almost wept because it was just so. beautiful.
When I look at my Goodreads page, I see only one person who has read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and that is Jan. I know Cloud Atlas is a divisive book and probably discouraged many to read anything else by David Mitchell, but I think in many ways this is, if not better, a more accessible book. Mitchell is one of my favourite authors for sure, the guy has some mad writing skill, and I can't wait to read everything he has written so far.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0: [Day 3 & Day 4]

Wednesday was an excellent reading day because I finished a book and read a bunch from the other; Thursday not so much - I was out on town with Jan, and there was a hockey game in the evening... I've also been having concentration problems so Bout of Books is not going *that* well for me this time. I've been pretty stressed out by several things (Mammu's illness - which is fine now after the vet visit, some things connected with my dad passing away still - for a person with my mental condition continuous state of stress is very bad, and now I've been struggling with the loss of appetite as well). We will have a week off from work next week (a bit ironic?) and it's always a bit hectic with work things before off-time.
I have no idea how today will shape out to be, we will be going to a restaurant in the evening and I will take the book with me, and there is another hockey game in the evening. I'll try to sneak in a page here and there at least.
So sorry for the whiny update :p, but I just feel a bit sorry that this is not the bestest week for me and that I cannot give more of myself to Bout of Books.

The books I read on Wednesday and Thursday: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Pages read: 56 + 81 = 137, + 52 = 189
Books finished: 1
About the books: I finished Half of a Yellow Sun, and it's an excellent read, 4/5 for me. Red Seas Under Red Skies - well... what is there to say. Jean Tannen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0: [Day 1 & Day 2]

So the first two days of Bout of Books have been fairly successful (I usually read around a 100 pages a day), but they could definitely have been more successful, if there had not been plenty of small distractions. I've been taking painkillers, which have made me feel woozy and prone to random napping. There is ice hockey world championships on, and I can't ignore those, because it's like a national sports in Finland, and I live with a Finn. Then there's the computer game, which we needed to finish.
Also, in regards to my books I picked for the readathon - I finished Hyperion (5/5) already last weekend, just couldn't resist, which means I got one book done even before the start of the event. And I can't start my Classics Spin book As I Lay Dying because I didn't own a copy and have only just ordered it. I will finish Half of a Yellow Sun today (about 60 pages to go) and then I will be picking up Red Seas Under Red Skies - ohboyohboy, can't wait.

The books I read on Monday and Tuesday: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Pages read: 92 + 115 = 207
Books finished: 0
About the book: I'm almost done with Half of a Yellow Sun and although I am enjoying it a great deal, especially towards the end it is getting very political, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but can come out a bit dry. However, I am enjoying learning about the civil war in Nigeria, I had no idea there was a small country called Biafra that attempted to exist for a small time. Some of the characters are absolutely fascinating. I think I definitely need to read more about Africa.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0: [Goals and Book Pile]

Bout of Books reading event is only a few days away, and I've had trouble putting together a doable book pile. I usually stack a little mountain of potential books so that I was able to choose depending on the mood, but I'm not in the mood (:p) to do it this time, so here is what I have come up with:
The first two are buddy reads, which I've been reading since the beginning of the month.
* Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides - I'm currently about 1/4 done and it's so good. I am not going to finish this one because I want to pace my buddy reads so they last throughout the month, but I will probably be reading the next week's portion of it.
* Hyperion, Dan Simmons - same goes for this one, I'm about half done. I might finish it because Hyperion is really, really good.
* Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Goodreads says I'm 27% done with this one. I want to finish it during Bout of Books.
* The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R. King - the beekeeper in this case is Sherlock Holmes. Though I usually am very wary about "spin-offs" as such, this book has received quite a lot of positive feedback.
* Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch - I swear this book has been in each and every one of my latest TBR-lists and I still haven't picked it up. If I do, however, and if it's addictive (and why wouldn't it be?), I'll probably be able to finish this in a day or two (despite the size and tiny font).
* Classics Spin #6 book, provided I have it at home the moment the number gets announced on Monday.
* My Kindle is charging right no so it ain't on the photo but I might pick up Cinder, Marissa Meyer, if I feel like it.
* Read books from my Bout of Books list only.
* Read every day!
* Post updates daily or every other day (like I usually do).
* Participate in a few challenges that seem appealing - very big maybe though because I've been so lazy laid back lately and I suspect I won't be feeling up to that. But I might.
* Prioritise reading over Internet and Diablo III.
That's it, folks, happy weekend and happy Bout of Booking!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I was awarded! - with a lot of questions :)

Oo look! It's an award! I usually keep away from blog awards, but I do like this particular one, because I'm just as nosy a person as the next one, and there's not much better than learning new revealing scandalouz provocative interesting facts about my bookish friends.
The Set of Rules:
1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Display the award somewhere on your blog.
3. List 11 facts about yourself.
4. Answer 11 questions chosen by the blogger who nominated you.
5. Come up with 11 new questions to ask your nominees.
6. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think deserve the award. (One post said blogs should have less than 300 followers, one said less than 500 and offered number 1000, so I'm just going to ignore the number altogether and nominate people I want to genuinely know about! :)  Also, I have no idea how many followers someone has - GFC is probably not the most objective indicator.)
7. Go to their blog and inform them that they've been nominated.
I was nominated by Ekaterina at In My Book, Lianne at caffeinatedlife.net and Captivated Reader - thank you all so much! I recommend y'all to go and check out their blogs (if you haven't already!).
11 random facts about me:

1. My love for books did not start from home, and often I feel like an odd one out, because most bookish people seem to have had really nurturing childhood in that sense. My parents had, at the time, different values (more "practical" ones). Reading wasn't exactly encouraged, but hey ho, I prevailed nevertheless! :)

2. I went straight to the 2nd grade when I started school at the age of 6. One month in the 1st grade made my teacher convinced that I was simply bored.

3. I'm not into Disney movies, and I cannot stand musicals in general. However, I've seen (and loved) almost all full-length animations directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
4. I never go to bed with make-up on. It has probably happened less than 5 times in my whole life. It gives me shudders even to think of that.
5. I am diagnosed with GAD (general anxiety disorder). I worry a lot.
6. I met my fiancé in an MMORPG.
7. Since Robert sometimes thinks he is a vegetarian, we have had to be creative when bringing plants home. I have some herbs in a little greenhouse on windowsill, and some plants are hanging on the wall. I have made only cacti available for Robert to nibble on, but for some reason he is not very enthusiastic :p
8. I'm a very straightforward person, and would make a terrible diplomat.
9. Both my cats are rescued and former strays. Robert was initially a foster cat (I never intended to take two of the little buggers), but after we bonded over a deadly cat disease, that almost took tiny Robert to the cat grave, I was unable to give him away.
10. I can't drive.
11. I want to become a runner.

Robert as a kid - not a worry in the world.

I'll answer questions by Lianne and Captivated Reader, since Ekaterina didn't have a set of new ones, and the post is going to be gigantic Wall of Text as it is.

Lianne's questions:

1. What's your least favourite book and why?
Oh, starting out tough... There actually aren't books I hate, there are only books that "weren't for me", but I guess one of the most "not for me" ones has to be The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Very repetitive and written in such a simple language that I felt completely uninspired (I'm not a prose snob and plenty of simple and good books out there, but this one was really bad). I get the idea that it's the kind of book that is supposed to remind us the "simple truths" in life, and what's really important, but I don't know. It's like a boring self-help book, only in disguise.
2. What's the last book you read and what did you think of it?
The last book that I finished was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, I read it during the Dewey's 24-hour readathon, which as I now realise was like two weeks-ish ago... Why haven't I finished another book by now? Anyway, it really was a lovely read. It just made me feel good!
3. When recommending books to other people, what book do you find recommending the most?
I don't like recommending books, but the times it has happened, I recommend something only after thorough interrogation on what this particular person has liked, or usually reads. Or when it's a close person whose taste I know, but since people are different, it's never the same book that I recommend. Other than that, the book I've been hyping the most lately must be The Master and Margarita.
4. What's the last movie you've watched that you would recommend to others?
It wasn't the last movie that I watched, but the last one I would recommend is The Wind Rises animation by Studio Ghibli. It's a wonderful, heartwarming historical piece with lotsa aviation in it.
5. When times are stressful, what do you do to relax?
Go for a walk, play a hack-and-slash computer game, complain to Jan, make food (very relaxing activity) (also later you can eat it, which helps as well).
6. Is there a television show that you sort of hate-watch? It's not even a guilty pleasure, you know you would never be caught dead watching it and yet you do anyways? You can expand this to a book or a movie if you can't think of anything.
Haha good question. Well I thought about Project Runway, but I don't really hide the fact that I watch it; just that it's one of "those" shows and I generally don't watch any reality or on-air-competitions and similar... Um. Can I transfer this question over to foods instead? :p It's hard for me to admit that I like colourful candy. Like, the neon green and red and blue and the kind that has more chemistry in it than there are elements in Mendeleev's periodic table. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like to be seen eating that stuff in public :)
7. What's one place you'd love to travel to (or return to) and why?
Probably Japan, though it's really unoriginal - just the culture is so fascinating, and it's so far away... And I would always like to return to Prague. (<3<3)
8. What's one sport you wish you could play or play well at?
Tennis, definitely; also badminton, and I miss volleyball from the high-school days. If running counts then that too.
9. What's your favourite sport to watch and why?
The question from hell. I love watching so many sports, it might be easier to count what I wouldn't watch (F1 and basketball hop to mind). The Olympics and Football World Cup are party-time in our home. Track and field, ice hockey, curling, synchronised swimming, archery, snowboard - you name it, it's pretty likely I watch it :p
10. If you could eat one particular meal or item for a whole year, what would it be?
Why are those questions so difficult, Lianne? :p Leaving aside the fact that no matter what you choose, you cannot win in this situation, I'd probably go with a breakfasty kind of food. Some kind of omelette would be doable... perhaps? With coffee (it says "meal"!) But this question is officially unanswer-able!
11. Is there something you've always been meaning to try (a kind of food, a type of drink, a new restaurant, a sport) but haven't?
Food - oysters. Why I haven't? Combination of being a complete wuss and having seen a certain Mr Bean episode one time too many in childhood. A sport - running (this is third running-related thing I bring up this post, maybe it's really time to just do it). Why I haven't? The classic reason, a serious trauma caused by school-time PE classes.
A recent photo - furballs enjoying their birthday dinner, back in April.
And questions by Captivated Reader:

1. When did your love for reading books begin?
Mm, I must have been tiny! Grandfather taught me the alphabet when I was 3, so shortly after that I started attempting-to-read newspapers, and then came children's books. By the school time I was already hooked :)
2. Where's your favourite place to read? Do you have any favourite foods/snacks or beverages that you eat or drink while reading?? Or do you solely focus on the book you're reading?
Couch, under the window, definitely, or then when I feel snuggly, in bed. I don't really eat while reading, but I don't mind having a cup of coffee, or tea, or a bottle of water with whatever tossed in it (lemon and raspberry are my current favs).
3. Nostalgic question for you! What was your favourite book growing up?
I love that question :) I read (and reread numberous times) most of Astrid Lindgren's children's books - my absolute favs were (and still are) the stories of children in Bullerby, the stories of Karlsson and those with boy detective Kalle Blomkvist (the name in English has been changed to Bill Bergson - ???). I also loved books by Norwegian author Anne-Cath. Vestly, these were about a Norwegian family with eight children, they were quite very poor and the books talked about their everyday life and how they were still very happy.
4. Do you have an all time favourite book & why is it special to you?
I don't have one and only, but recently I made a whole long post of the ten most influential books in my life. The one and only would probably come from that list (if I was able to have only one).
5. Name the last book you reread!
Let's see *opens Goodreads site* It's one of the kids' books I mentioned earlier, The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren.
6. Do you like attending literary events (book signings/book festivals, etc.)? If so, share with us a favourite literary event you've attended.
I haven't - living in Finland and being an Estonian who mainly reads in English, there aren't that many opportunities. I'd love to go to a signing of David Mitchell, though (although on photos he looks pretty intimidating, so I'd probably be a lot scared).
7. If you were to host a dinner party and could invite any author(s) to attend your dinner party, from the past or present, who would you invite and why?
Well my first reaction was that a dinner party with Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen and Orson Scott Card would be something potentially fun, but quick search showed that Ellis is very much "Team Franzen", so I'm afraid the dinner would be just them two bashing anything and everything, and maybe Card contributing with some juicy remarks on certain minorities in society. However, joking aside (and I hope no-one took offence because I've given fivers to books by Ellis and Card before, and I'm sure I'm gonna find The Corrections very entertaining as well), I think my dinner party would be perfect if I could pretty much have two authors present: Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell. I think the synergy would be great because Mitchell seems to be fascinated with Japan. And I could ask Murakami lots about running (4th time!).
8. Which fictional character (from a novel) would you most like to meet in real life?
I'd gladly meet (and switch places for a time!) with Thursday Next.
9. What has been the best experience you've had as a book blogger?
Another great question. And here's a cheesy answer: the comments. Or being mentioned by another blogger. My blog is so tiny, I don't promote it in any way because more than anything it's my personal place to talk about books, I don't read ARCs and I'm so happy I've made friends who come here regularly! :)
10. Do you participate in weekly book memes, online read-a-thons, reading challenges, etc? If so, which one is your favourite one to participate in?
I don't do any memes regularly, only Top Ten Tuesday, but it has to be topic that really grabs me, and I do it like 3 times in a year, maybe. I've participated in a few Dewey's 24-hour readathons and a few Bout of Books readathons (another one coming up next week!). I am currently in a middle of a few reading challenges, but most of them aren't going that well :p, except for the 2014 TBR Challenge, which is the only one I'm on schedule with. And the chunkster challenge, but this one's pretty much coming naturally anyway.
11. What do you enjoy doing for fun when you aren't blogging and reading?
Gaming, spending time with Jan and the furballs. Food-related activities, biking around Helsinki, taking an occasional photograph.
On top of Prague <3
That was a lot of questions! Thank you both, and Ekaterina for mentioning me as well.
Here are my 11 questions (some of them bordering on silly I guess, feel free to be creative :) )
1. Do you read magazines? Which are the ones you are subscribed to, or buy (fairly) regularly?
2. Those of you that eat ice cream - what is your favourite flavour? Those who don't (if there are any) - why don't you eat ice cream?
3. Do you have any pet peeves? Name some.
4. From pet peeves to pets - do you have any pets? Please introduce them, and feel free to add your favourite photo of them. (Or talk about pets you have had in the past. Or pets you'd like to have in future.)
5. Choose your preferred one among the following: a handbag, a tote bag, a sleeping bag, a tea bag, a punching bag. Why did you choose the one you chose?
6. Do you keep (or have ever kept) a journal or a diary?
7. Do you read any other type of blogs aside from book blogs? Feel free to link your favourites, if you feel like it. :)
8. Do you have a favourite nail polish brand? (I hope none of you is a man hiding behind a female profile :) )
9. When was the last time you were on a plane?
10. If there was a hashtag to describe your life, what would it be? #ClearlyRunningOutofQuestionsFast
11. Jan Special: If you could time travel, where would you go and why?
Before I list a bunch of wonderful bloggers, a disclaimer: I've been to y'all's blogs today to make sure that you don't have "Award Free Zone" somewhere in a visible location, or if you have already done this kind of a post. If you feel like answering my questions, please do - but if you don't and don't do awards, or don't feel like talking about non-bookish things, or don't have time, or whatevs, please ignore this. Take it just as my way of showing support to you and your blog!
The people I feel like being nosy about:
Ellie @ Lit Nerd
Jillian @ Random Ramblings

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Classics Spin #6

Previous Spins:
Time for another Classics Spin. All the rules and information available at Classics Club site.
About previous spins I've taken part of:
Spin #1 - my book was Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
Spin #2 - my book was Villette by Charlotte Bronte (I don't think I finished it on time because of death in the family, but I finished it eventually)
Spin #4 - my book was Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
This time, once again, I used the help of random.org to pick out, well, random unread books from my Classics Club book list. Random.org was in a bit of a funny mood, and picked several books I'm dreading to begin, I've marked those ones in maroon-ish colour:
1. William Faulkner "As I Lay Dying"
2. Vladimir Nabokov "Invitation to a Beheading"
3. A.C. Doyle "The Sign of Four"
4. Marcel Proust "The Swann's Way"
5. H.G. Wells "The War of the Worlds"
6. Daniel Defoe "Moll Flanders"
7. Ian McEwan "Atonement"
8. George Eliot "Middlemarch"
9. William Shakespeare "Hamlet"
10. Charles Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities"
11. Victor Hugo "Les Miserables"
12. Herman Melville "Moby Dick"
13. Edith Wharton "The Age of Innocence"
14. Daphne duMaurier "Rebecca"
15. Michael Cunningham "The Hours"
16. Yevgeni Zamyatin "We"
17. Thomas Hardy "Jude the Obscure"
18. Fyodor Dostoyevski "Idiot"
19. William Shakespeare "Macbeth"
20. Louisa May Alcott "Little Women"

Monday, May 5, 2014

Closing the lid of April

So I only read five books last month, and I didn't really keep track, so that was a bit of surprising result. Then again three of those are chunky ones, and I generally enjoyed all of those with the exception of American Gods, so ain't no reason to complain.
Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón - I was apprehensive about this book mainly because a few people from my "real life" (thehehe) have read it and had some complaints, but I was happy with it. I generally don't respond well to overly dramatic, soap-opera-ish, women-portrayed-as-special-snowflakes type of books, but I think what worked for this one and tied everything together was the setting and atmosphere of Barcelona, and also the book theme. And Fermin. 4/5
American Gods, Neil Gaiman - sigh... I think I actually might have given it higher rating, had only this book been shorter. I just felt totally uninspired by the plot, by the characters, by the mythical background. Little stories here and there were the better part of the book, and one whole point out of two I gave goes to the one with the djinni and the taxi driver in New York - this one was really well done. Maybe Gaiman's a decent short story writer instead? 2/5
Honour, Elif Shafak - a pleasant surprise; review here. 4/5
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling - one of the better HP books so far (only ones I've given fivers are this and the 3rd one). Things get way more serious and the teenage angst aspects aren't dominant, although they are there.  Isn't Umbridge just the perfect villain? You just want to strangle her. 5/5
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows - this was a lovely read! It's bookish and literary, but by no means pretentious. Loads of likeable and charming characters, and the epistolary format was very well done. Also, one of the ladies reminded me of Drusilla Clack from The Moonstone - that was pretty awesome. 4/5
Plans for this month - I've already started both buddy reads that I had up for May, Middlesex and Hyperion, and both are excellent so far. I also want to continue, and finish, Half of a Yellow Sun. Other than that, I have no certain plans as to what I want to read. I guess I will make some kind of tentative book mountain for Bout of Books though.  
I also saw two films, The Wind Rises (very good, as expected) and Crank (a really odd one... but somehow very funny at midnight after 10 or so hours of reading). I guess it's obvious that I suck at movies, though. Every time I think "Maybe watch a film?" I think I could be reading a book instead :p