Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge

     I set for myself that unless I complete the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge I will not read for 2017 Challenge list and I failed. At the end of the 2017 I was falling behind and now had 2 lists on my hand and did not compete any.
    So I decided to "DNF" 2016 Reading Challenge completely and not waste my time on it anymore. And concentrate on 2017 instead. As a result out of 40 prompts I completed 36 and not going to read the last 4 in 2018, but start a new 2018 challenge.

2017 Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge
1. A book recommended by a librarian - A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (completed in March)
2. A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long - About a Boy by Nick Hornby  (completed in May)
3. A book of letters - Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer  (completed in September)
4. An audiobook - The Diviners by Libba Bray  (completed in October)
5. A book by a person of color - Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (completed in October)
6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title - Strawberry Spring by Stephen King (completed in December)
7. A book that is a story within a story - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (completed in August)
8. A book with multiple authors - The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle, Sue Conklin, Susie Conklin  (completed in September)
9. An espionage thriller - Eagle Trap by Geoffrey Archer (completed in November)
10. A book with a cat on the cover -
11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym - The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith; pseudonym for J.K. Rowling (completed in August)
12. A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read - Blankets by Craig Thompson (completed in April)
13. A book by or about a person who has a disability -  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (completed in November)
14. A book involving travel -  Holy Cow by David Duchovny (completed in February)
15. A book with a subtitle - I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai  (completed in December)
16. A book that's published in 2017
17. A book involving a mythical creature - Dogheaders by Alexej Marvin  (completed in May)
18. A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile - Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov  (completed in April)
19. A book about food - Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop (completed 12/8)
20. A book with career advice - Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (completed in February)
21. A book from a nonhuman perspective - If I Stay by Gayle Forman (completed in September)
22. A steampunk novel -
23. A book with a red spine - The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman   (completed in August)
24. A book set in the wilderness - The Martian by Andy Weir  (completed in May)
25. A book you loved as a child - Asya by Ivan Turgenev  (completed in March)
26. A book by an author from a country you've never visited - A Slow Boat to China by Haruki Murakami (completed in March)
27. A book with a title that's a character's name - Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief by Maurice Leblanc  (completed in September)
28. A novel set during wartime - The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas (completed in September)
29. A book with an unreliable narrator - Under The Skin by Michel Faber  (completed in February)
30. A book with pictures - A Bear Called Paddington  by Michael Bond  (completed in September)
31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you - All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (completed in July)
32. A book about an interesting woman - The Ocean by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa (completed in September)
33. A book set in two different time periods - Blood Ties by Samantha Hayes  (completed in August)
34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title - Goodnight June by Sarah Jio (completed in September)
35. A book set in a hotel - The Archived by Victoria Schwab  (completed in September)
36. A book written by someone you admire - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (completed in October)
37. A book that's becoming a movie in 2017 - The Circle by Dave Eggers  (completed in October)
38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas -
39. The first book in a series you haven't read before -  Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell (completed in December)
40. A book you bought on a trip - The Son by Jo Nesbo  (completed in August)

So the below prompts are left incompleted:
10. A book with a cat on the cover
16. A book that's published in 2017
22. A steampunk novel
38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas

Monday, January 29, 2018

Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Author: Megan Mayhew Bergman
Original title: Almost Famous Women: Stories
Pages: 256
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Format: Paperback
Genres: Short Stories

    Twelve of the 13 stories in this collection take up the lives of historical women who are either virtually unknown or only known through association with more famous figures. As Bergman puts it in her author’s note, the stories “are born of fascination with real women whose remarkable lives were reduced to footnotes.”

My thoughts: 
      This is the book we read in Tales & Co. book club during January 2018.
I loved the whole collection. I enjoyed reading up on all of these women afterward to get more information about their lives.
The Pretty, Grown-Together Children
    Truly sad story about two conjoined twins whose life turned out to be a constant fight with difficulties and humiliation.
The Siege at Whale Cay
    This story I liked a lot for its atmosphere. Though the story is not that captivating, I could feel the tension in the air and all the suppressed emotions.
Norma Millay’s Film Noir Period
   That story did not captivate me at all.
Romaine Remains
   This one was quite an interesting read, though I did not like the character too much.
Hazel Eaton and the Wall of Death
    This one is rather short and I literally couldn’t care about anything in it. It felt a bit flat. But as I have never heard about this woman it was a nice acquaintance.
The Autobiography of Allegra Byron
     It was quite a touching story. I read later about the relationship of Byron to his daughter, but it was interesting and moving to see how the child goes with that drastic change in her life and find someone ready to perceive Allegra first as a little girl but not a daughter of a great figure.
Expression Theory
    I had to read about Lucia Joyce otherwise I could not understand what was it all about.
Saving Butterfly McQueen
    This was such an unusual introduction of this "almost famous" woman. There is almost no participation of Butterfly McQueen in the story development and still it is story about her.
Who Killed Dolly Wilde?
      This is again a sad story and shows what bottom can reach a person touched by fame and does anything to stay at the top. This is also the joining point for two other persons from this collection: Joe and Romaine.
A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch
The Internees
The Lottery, Redux
Hell-Diving Women 

These last stories I liked the least.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Curse of the House of Foskett by M.R.C. Kasasian

Author: M.R.C. Kasasian
Original title: The Curse of the House of Foskett
Pages: 409
Edition Language: English
Series: The Gower Street Detective #2
Format: Paperback
Genres: Historical Mystery

     125 Gower Street, 1882: Sidney Grice once had a reputation as London's most perspicacious personal detective. But since his last case led an innocent man to the gallows, business has been light. Then an eccentric member of a Final Death Society has the temerity to die on his study floor. Finally Sidney and March have an investigation to mount - an investigation that will draw them to an eerie house in Kew, and the mysterious Baroness Foskett.

My thoughts: 
      I would not say that it was a masterpiece, but at the time I read this book I truly enjoyed it. I did not guess the killer, but I was not trying to. The killing scenes were deliberately gory and it seems the author was trying to appall the reader and to me it felt a bit forced.
     I liked the idea of the badly behaved, rude and relentless detective; and though it sounds like description of Homes, Sidney Grice did not feel like a copy, but a nicely developed character. It was an entertaining and light read, just in time when I needed it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Original title: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: do not know

     Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.
My thoughts: 
       I remember when I was in the university everyone talked about the movie based on the novel starring Johnny Depp. I never had a chance, but fallen in love with the soundtrack to the movie and was listening it non-stop. Of course I heard about the novel, but was not eager to read it, unfortunately last year I needed a road trip novel and picked it up...
      On Goodreads it is labeled as "Humor" and if it is, I definitely do not understand something in life. I hated the book as I hated the main topic and the characters. I could not connect to them in any way and all their "living the life" was kind of offensive. I rated it 2 stars anyway, as it is not badly written, and might on some level has its merit; but for me the theme was trashy and thus the novel turned out to be rubbish.

Monday, January 22, 2018

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Author: Malala Yousafzai
Original title: I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: Audio book
Read by: Archie Panjabi, Malala Yousafzai
Duration: 9h53m

     When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. 
    On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
     Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
       I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

My thoughts:
   I had to write a review when it was fresh in my mind, now the book is fading a bit.
The first thought I got when I started the book was: it is a huge speculation of a singular tragedy of a girl. There might be thousands of books written by victims of injustice and unfair world and not many are rushing to publish those. Then I relaxed a bit and just started to enjoy the book without prejudice as this story is deserved to be told.
   Firstly, I like the poetic depiction of the countryside and nature, it was very vivid and full of love and affection. Secondly, I actually enjoyed Malala Yousafzai retelling on her school, true childhood with plays and friends and little mischief; her father's dream; her daily life.
     I had difficulties with the political and historical parts: it sounded like memories or like knowledge gained through experience, but could not be so. I had to remind myself all the time: these are memoirs of a young girl, 14 yeas old, she cannot have this experience or vision of the world. It is obvious that Malala was greatly influenced by her father and I believe was speaking his words and making his dream reality. Of course she is a brave girl and has merits of her own, but she is just a girl with ambitions and desires, which is quite normal at that age, but there is no point of putting this in absolute as it is done in the book. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell what is  written by Malala and what is done by her co-writer.
  Another point for me was that, throughout the book the topic was so obviously dragged through: Malala suffered because she spoke for education. Yes, I do believe that that can be so, but it was written on every page and every chapter in case we forgot about it. Malala and her family went through unimaginable and here come my feeling of speculation on this tragedy: she is a great hit in the western world, but she is not understood by her own country, even by some members of her family.  From their point of view what she has done? Just talked a lot as many others at many other occasions; this is their reality: Malala writes it herself about politicians who just talk and do nothing, even her brothers asked her what she has done to earn all the buzz.
    Still a worthy read and I really appreciated the insight into the young girl's life with her family; into the country so unfamiliar to me and its traditions. And this book reminded me again how blessed I was to have a carefree childhood without any troubles and hard choices. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Isle of Dogs by Patricia Cornwell

Author: Patricia Cornwell
Original title: Isle of Dogs
Edition Language: English
Series:Andy Brazil, #3
Genres: Crime
Format: Audio book
Read by: Lorelei King
Duration: 13h22m

   Chaos breaks loose when the governor of Virginia orders that speed traps be painted on all streets and highways, and warns that speeders will be caught by monitoring aircraft flying overhead. But the eccentric island of Tangier, fourteen miles off the coast of Virginia in Chesapeake Bay, responds by declaring war on its own state. Judy Hammer, newly installed as the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Andy Brazil, a state trooper and Hammer’s right hand and confidant, find themselves at their wits’ end as they try to protect the public from the politicians—and vice versa—in this pitch-perfect, darkly comic romp.
My thoughts:
    I'm surprised that I even finished this book. It is one of the worst books I have ever read.
This was a huge waste of time. I kept thinking it would get better and unfortunately it didn't! Too many characters - all  dis-likeable and caricatural; plot, if there was any too confusing and illogical.
     First of all, one of the main characters, who was present through the first two books, is not mentioned at all in Isle of Dogs. What happened to her? I kept reading, thinking her absence would be explained at some point, but about halfway through the book, I realized it wasn't going to happen. 
    Secondly, I had some suspicions that this book was supposed to be humorous or, perhaps, the
caricature of police detective genre, but if so it was really badly performed, that I was shrugging shoulders while reading about talking blue crabs and trout and other "funny" passages. This had been my first Patricia Cornwell series, and  I doubt I would pick up another.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Post #26, Merry Christmas Again

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
    You know that it is Christmas again! And a lot of people celebrate it. I do not especially into it as it is not much fun as Catholic Christmas.

 Last on the Blog 
Next on the Blog
  • I will review Isle of Dogs  by Patricia Cornwell
  • I will review I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • I will publish 2017 Challenges wrap up post 
Newcomers on my Shelf
    I do not have any new books this week but I am waiting for some to come. Don't you think that end of year is a terrible time for a book blogger -  everyone is writing and making videos about their favorite books of the year and you are just doomed to add more and more to your TBR(((

Friday, January 5, 2018

December 2017 Wrap up

Read books: 
read: 1/ listen: 4/ pages: 12/ hours listened: 40h13m
1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai 9h53m - my review
2. Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell 12h41m - my review
3. Bossypants by Tina Fey 5h35m - my review
4. Southern Cross by Patricia Cornwell 12h04 - my review
5. Strawberry Spring by Stephen King

Movie watched: 
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - my review
2. A Monster Calls (2016) - my review
3. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency season 2 (2017) - my review

Challenges overview:
Goodreads Reading Challenge: 64/50 - completed
Pages Read Challenge: 16831/12000 - completed
Audiobook Challenge: 12/15
Russian Literature: 2/30
World of Literature: 14/50
Booker Prize Project: 4
Classics Club: 2/50

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Audiobook Challenge

Following the successfull 2017 I am planing to take part in 2018 Audiobook Challenge. Join Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer for the 7th year of audiobook fun.

Challenge Details
  • Runs January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2018 than you did in 2017.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed. 
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate;
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be June 30, 2018, and the last update will take place on December 15, 2018.
  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+ 
Since the aim is to improve from your previous year I would go for Socially Awkward this year

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Southern Cross by Patricia Cornwell

Author: Patricia Cornwell
Original title: Southern Cross
Edition Language: English
Series:Andy Brazil, #2
Genres: Crime
Format: Audio book
Read by: Cristine McMurdo-Wallis
Duration: 12h04m

    Judy Hammer has accepted the challenge of Richmond, Virginia's police department to try and reverse the escalating crime statistics in the city. She brings with her Deputy Chief Virginia West and Andy Brazil, now a full-time police officer. They find a lot of things they are all too familiar with - teenage gangs, a rash of robberies at cash dispensers, street corner drug-dealing, racial tensions, too many people with too many guns and a cardiac inducing lack of parking spaces. They also meet resentment from the established police force and over-high expectations from the city's institutions. Then a computer virus crashes the police computer, freezing their screens with a design of blue fish, and the same blue fish appears on the statue of Jefferson Davis, which a graffiti artist has turned into a black basketball player and a gang called the Pikes claim it is their symbol, which also has links to the robberies. In an incredibly fast-moving police procedural Patricia Cornwell takes her readers on a roller-coaster ride of action and emotion.
My thoughts:
   I guess my thoughts will be shorter than the blurb for the book. It was even lamer than the first one. And while I enjoyed some the main characters in the first one and was laughing from time to time; this time I could not make my mind how this book was even published. It is really random ideas poorly developed and poorly connected.
   First, this gang, which not a gang but a psycho with some strange plot; then this boy, who is slow, but not slow but a genius, bringing down the whole psycho's plot down just like that; and then this relationship between Andy and West, who are behaving like two teens in their early puberty - not able to communicate single messages to each other... Really strange badly told story with a lot of unnecessary details and detours.