Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Author: Ninni Holmqvist
Original title: Enhet
Pages: 268
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Format: Paperback
Genres: Dystopia

     One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty-single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries--are sequestered for their final few years.
    In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation.

My thoughts: 
      This is the book we read in Tales & Co. book club during November 2017 and mostly the impression was negative. 
     I would not say I particularly liked the story, but I have enjoyed it. It is a slow first person narration with frequent reminiscence of the past and mood changed from healthy indifference to deep depression. The book does not explain anything, does not bring reasons for such society, does not have evaluation stand, it just gives you the picture how it is now and leaves you to deal with the facts. And you do not have much, only bits and bobs that Dorrit gives in her narration. The book has such a grayish tone: there is no tragedy nor hope - it is something that all residents of the unit feel silent meekness. Even the perception of the characters is vague - I cannot picture anybody, even though they were described in details - all of them is a gray mass of submissiveness. Only Elsa I can see clearly in my mind, the rest are people with blurred mass instead of faces.
      But anyway, in all this grayness the difficult topics come out and make you think. For me the most striking was the indifference of youth to matters of the old. Only a couple of lines where Dorrit tells about the deliberation about "dispensable" when she was young and how she did not see it possible, made me think about the perception of time. It was quite thought provoking read and, though, it has a similar topic to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, it is still captivating and unique book.
    Despite of all above, I had my difficulties with the book. Mainly with the narration itself: the language seems dry and unemotional, which made it difficult to enjoy the prose. Another quite disturbing feature was the detailed description of everything the characters eat, drink or do. It was like rewinding narration: first we have a quick section of events of several months and then paragraphs of character dress, room and sandwich description.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Eagle Trap by Geoffrey Archer

Author: Geoffrey Archer
Original title: Eagle Trap
Pages: 404
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Format: Paperback
Genres: Military, Spy Thriller

     He was head of an international drugs ring, a kidnapper and a ruthless killer. One night British Sea Harriers reduced his Beirut headquarters to rubble and his evil empire to ruins. But Abdul Habib still had money, and hate, enough hate to spare to construct an elaborate plan which would destroy Gibraltar and the British Aircraft carrier which had committed the fatal strike. All he needed was luck to thread a nuclear warhead through the complicated network of the Middle East terrorist rings, get it on a Libyan freighter and head west across the Med-And enough luck to avoid the one man whose hate is even greater than his, Captain Peter Brodrick of the Royal Marines.
My thoughts: 
       I used to love Geoffrey Archer's novels, but this one did not stick with me. It has too many details about work of helicopters, aircraft carriers and other deathly devises to my taste. Though the plot develops quite vividly it is clear from the start where it is going. I would say nicely going military action book, I am just did not read those for a while and most probably was not in the proper mood.
       What I liked about it is the description of the former USSR military. I am so used to caricature image of those in books and movies that I was nicely supersized that you can actually see intelligent and sensible people and not muscular imbeciles with a Kalashnikov.
     The funny trope the author used when he was killing the side characters: every time they were thinking about their children and then bang!.. Only the main villain and protagonist does not have any children. In this connection one particular scene touched me deeply. When a Turkish journalist was running away from Kurd assassins, he jumped in a taxi and a taxi driver was now voluntarily helping this journalist. After the short race the driver ordered the journalist to leave taxi and went to the cafe to calm down. And this scene is written so striking and touchy, that it moved me. I hope the taxi driver survived after he was found by assassins.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Original title: Attachments
Pages: 416
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: Romance, Contemporary

     Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
    Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
     When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
    By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

My thoughts: 
       I did not like the book. It was boring. I did not like the characters and did not believe the story.
I do not understand the moral problems of Lincoln: he is a security manager - it is his job to read the triggered mail, so he does, and both Beth and Jennifer are aware of this fact, though they do not know him personally. Everything in the book seems so conveniently settled.
      Another thing that greatly irritated me is the imposing of the idea that Beth-Jennifer e-mails are funny. I found them terribly dull and uninteresting, but then I am reading Lincoln's thoughts about how witty and funny Beth is; and this happened several times, so it is difficult to ignore this kind of imposture. I can decide for myself if something is funny in the book or not.
    I guess I am expecting too much of a romance novel, but I heard so much praise of Rainbow Rowell, so I might be unfair to judge it seriously. I will try to relax with different books by Rowell, I am still hoping to like Fangirl.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sunday Post #23, On a lake

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday fun, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Outside the Blog
    I was away last weekend so no Sunday post. It is such a pleasure to relax from the internet and all communication and just enjoy  nature and the weather. I did not even touched the book I took with me, but it is ok.
    We have been on a lake, of course it is not the best time to be there, but we had the idea just to change the scenery, so the off-season is ok for that purpose too. The weather was superb: cold and snowing - proper winter and I enjoyed the frosty air very much. It was also really quite there in comparison with the city. So everyone returned refreshed and renewed.
    But with the reading I am suffering from some kind of stagnation. I do not have time to read, but moreover, I do not seem to enjoy the books I am reading. I  believe I need to think my reading attitude in December. Maybe I will even stick to one or two books maximum, just to give myself time to get into reading again.

 Last on the Blog 
Next on the Blog
  • I will review Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • I will review Eagle Trap by Geoffrey Archer

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #16: result

So the result for a Classics Spin this time is number 4, which adds another book to my TBR:

Flaubert, Gustav: Madame Bovary (1856)

Do not know anything about the book and do not want any spoilers. It is much better to go into the book without any expectations and predictions and be genuinely surprised and enchanted.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #16

What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Friday, November 17th, create a post to list your choice of any twenty books that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the year.  On Friday, November 17th, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by December 31, 2017. 

    I completely failed the previous Classics spin, I am going to try read the book for spin #15 till the end of this month, so I can consemtrate of ht e winner of spin # 16.

Here is my spin list:
1.    Austen, Jane: Persuasion (1818)
2.    Dostoevesky, Fyodor: The Idiot (1868–69)
3.    Du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca (1938)
4.    Flaubert, Gustav: Madame Bovary (1856)
5.    Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1921)
6.    Bronte, Anne: Agnes Grey (1847)
7.    Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
8.    Montgomery, L.M.: Anne of Green Gables (1908 -39)
         a.    Anne of Green Gables (1908)
         b.    Anne of Avonlea (1909)  
         c.    Anne of the Island (1915)
         d.    Anne of Windy Willows  (1936)
         e.    Anne's House of Dreams (1917)
         f.    Anne of Ingleside (1939
9.    Pushkin, Alexander: Tales of Belkin (1831)
         a.    The Shot, (Выстрел)
         b.    The Blizzard (Метель);
         c.    The Undertaker (Гробовщик);
         d.    Stationmaster (Станционный смотритель);
         e.    The Squire's Daughter (Барышня-крестьянка)
10.    Pushkin, Alexander: The Captain's Daughter (1836)
11.    Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
12.    Wells, H.G.: The Time Machine (1895)
13.    Turgenev, Ivan: Home of the Gentry (1859)
14.    Zola, Emile: L'Assommoir 1877
15.    Goncharov, Ivan: The Precipice (1869)
16.    Eliot, George: Middlemarch (1871-72)
17.    Hardy, Thomas: Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)
18.    Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea (1939)
19.    Turgenev, Ivan: Rudin (1856)
20.    Dostoevesky, Fyodor: The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80)

Monday, November 13, 2017

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Author:Anthony Doerr
Original title: All the Light We Cannot See
Pages: 589
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Historical Fiction

     Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
      In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

My thoughts: 
       This autumn seems to be quite disappointing for me. Again, big expectations and not much to be impressed by.
   I have this book for a couple of months and was saving it for better times. The cover is utterly gorgeous and it is so pleasant to hold, but the content was not so impressive. I do not know what is the matter as I cannot point out the obvious flaws, it just did not get to me. I had a feeling that the author tries to picture the events as truly as possible, but fails to make it realistic; tries to describe the events in horrific way but it feels very distant like the other universe.
        In a word I did not believe the book and did not feel the atmosphere that can be conveying the events in question. I guess terribly small chapters irritated me as well. At first I thought it was cool and convenient, but later on it prevented me from enjoying the book and concentrate on the event. It was like peeking into a window and then another and another and in the end you are not sure where you saw this or that picture. The strange chapter in the end of the book about the rape seems quite strange to me - it is like the author was thinking: "we do not have enough drama, what can been done.. aha, Russians are approaching Berlin... let's picture them cruel dogs as we cannot do the same to Germans, as one of the protagonist is German...but we need to show the cruelty of war... before that everything was so civil and almost it is time to show those savages in their true colours..." I did not like it, felt dirty and fell out of the book structure.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Post #22, Cold in the Air

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday fun, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Outside the Blog
    The Secret Santa from The Broke and the Bookish  is officially on and I got my person, so I was thinking how I can organize it nicely. Have a couple of ideas, but not much time to realize.
    My worst week so far during this autumn: I have not finish any book, and most probably I did not even read more them 100 pages.

   Last on the Blog 
Next on the Blog
  • I will review All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • and I actually do not have any books read, so I might concentrate on  some challenge updates and movie reviews.
Newcomers on my Shelf
   None and that is good. I believe one of my New Year resolutions will be to reduce my unread books to the minimum.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Original title: Never Let Me Go
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Dystopia, Drama
Format: Audio book
Read by: Rosalyn Landor
Duration: 9h43m

     As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one –lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. 
      She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham's nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.
My thoughts:
    I truly enjoyed this book. It like going into calm water just to find out the whole living world under the surface. The same in the book: under oversimplified narration and leng description of the  settings and circumstances the reader can find multiple hot and controversial topics: starting from bullying in schools and finishing by right to live. Day to day life with small joy and sadness of a group of young people who have the whole life in front of them; and at the same time a huge shadow of horror and cruelty stands behind this peaceful picture.
    I understood the nature of the school quite early in the book and had difficulties to read further on impartially. I had the movie The Island (2005) on my mind all the way through the book and I believe they correlate with each other. 
    The book provokes a lot of discussion and it does not give you the opportunity to choose one correct answer or way: everything is the grey zone of ethic and humanity. I am still not sure if I agree with Tommy: if I would want or not to know.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

October 2017 Wrap up

Read books: 
read: 3/ listen: 2/ pages: 963/ hours listened: 31h34m
1. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon p.379 - my review
2. The Diviners by Libba Bray 18h14m  - my review
3. The Circle by Dave Eggers p.448 - my review
4.  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro  13h20m - my review
5.  Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie p.136

Challenges overview:
Goodreads Reading Challenge: 55/50 - completed
Pages Read Challenge: 15142/12000 - completed
Audiobook Challenge: 8/15
Russian Literature: 2/30
World of Literature: 12/50
Booker Prize Project: 4
Classics Club: 2/50

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dogheaders by Alexej Marvin/ Псоглавцы by Алексей Маврин

Author: Alexej Marvin
Original title: Псоглавцы
Pages: 348
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Дэнжерологи #1/Dangerolog 1
Format: Hardback
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

     This is a book about so called dangerologs, people who are dealing with dangerous wonders of world culture.
    A village in the middle of nowhere with a decaying culture and population. Three bloggers are chosen and sent to take off the wall painting in an abandon church.  On a wall painting is a picture of Saint Christopher, which is traditionally painted with a dog's head. Their task is not only to take off the painting, but to watch and record the people's reaction to it, as the village has many secrets.

My thoughts: 
       The synopsis was very intriguing and I even enjoyed the first quarter of the book, but then it went down hill. One of the main characters was trying to "reveal" the mystery behind Dogheaders and was going through internet pages: so the great a majority of the book felt like a Wikipedia page and I could clearly see some of the attempted of the author to make it more "digestible". So some suspense interlaced with Wiki pages was not doing it for me. And all the characters in the book were quite unsympathetic, so I could not even enjoy character development.
     The positive thing though is the description of the village and its population. It is so vivid and detailed that you can feel the hopelessness and depression; actually it is so good that it is terrifying.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Ocean by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa

Author: Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa
Original title: Océano
Pages: 448
Edition Language: Russian
Series:  Océano #1
Format: e-book
Genres: Drama

   The island Lanzarote was for generations home to Perdomo family, untill Yáiza was born. The girl, that can tame animals, heal the wounds and talk to the dead, grew up in a stunning woman. Defending the honor of a sister Yáiza's brother kills the only son of the most powerful man on islands. Devastated father demands blood of a young man by all means and Perdomo family has nothing to do but to flee the island and cross the Great Ocean to hide away from the assassin.

My thoughts: 
     I remember watching the film adaptation of this book and quite liked it. So when I had a chance to read the original source I could not resist. Of course the book is quite different for the story I remember and it was a nice journey to read about Perdomo family, and islands, and the way of living so unfamiliar. I have never read a book based in Canary island and so much devoted to the sea description.
Though the narration is quite simple and the language is not captivation the story has its rhythm as waves going against the shore and its atmosphere. Going through the plot I could easily picture the purity of the sea and roughness of the people who are bond with it forever.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Post #21, Leaves are Falling.

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday fun, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

 Outside the Blog

     Finally the spell is over and I started to watch movies. Not the full movie so far, but at least the 2 episodes of the new season of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and it is again mind blowing. It is so confusing and you just keep wondering what can come out of it, but still it is very fast pace, dynamic with great actor performance.
I am still struggling to catch up on some challenges and the time is running out for this year, so I might skip Non Fiction November. Anyway, I am not into reading nonfiction so far.

   Last on the Blog
Next on the Blog
  • I will review Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • I will review Dogheaders by Alexej Marvin
  • I will publish October 2017 Wrap up
  • I will review The Ocean by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa 
Newcomers on my Shelf
    I got The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist for reading in Tales & Co. book club.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Author: Libba Bray
Original title: The Diviners
Edition Language: English
Series: The Diviners #1
Genres: Mystery, Fantasy
Format: Audio book
Read by: January LaVoy
Duration: 18h14m

    Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
    Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

My thoughts:
     I was going into this book with HUGE expectations as I have heard only positive reviews so far. I have even chosen the audio book format, which was masterfully narrated by January LaVoy. As I was enjoying the audio format I gave a book a higher rating. The book itself left me a bit puzzled. I can see only positive features: the coherent plot development, the characters greatly outlined, the city description is so vivid that it is almost a character itself, the atmosphere of the 20s is depicted colorfully; but still the book did not captivate me and I even struggled through it. Maybe it is because the narration was jumping from one character to another trying to introduce everyone who will be playing roles in later books. Maybe because of constant repetitions of passages, or maybe because Evie's incredible egoism.
      The crime/horror plot line was not very interesting as well. Though the murders are quite horrific, I was not terrified and could not feel the suspense; and the ending was flat and crumpled. So thought the book did not grip, it was solid and entertaining read and I will continue with the series.