Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Author: Neal Shusterman
Original title: Scythe 
Pages: 448
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Format: e-book
Genres: Fantasy
Goodreads

Blurb
     A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

My thoughts: 
     I read the synopsis of this and loved the idea. And I really, REALLY wanted to love this book. It’s so popular on Booktube, Goodreads, everywhere. I was sure it was going to be a good one.
It was such a boring and predictable book. I understand that an imaginary world is created in a dystopian fantasy, but even then, the set up needs to be worked out well with reasons and consequences. The writing was not impressive, the characters flat and predictable.
      All in all, it was an tiresome 450 pages story of some kind of weird apprenticeship. The utopia was full of unexplained, contradictory rules and setup. The action seems to be created for the sake of it and pushed in front of the reader to be taken for granted. I really did not know if I should give the series another chance or just DNF it, but I decided to read the second book and was hooked, it was much more interesting, which I did not expect, so defensively finishing up the series.
  Rating:  
    2/5  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

They shoot the horses don't they? by Horace McCoy

Author:  Horace McCoy
Original title:  They shoot the horses don't they?
Pages: 288
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: Classics, Crime
Goodreads

 Blurb:         
       The marathon dance craze flourished during the 1930s, but the underside was a competition and violence unknown to most ballrooms—a dark side that Horace McCoy's classic American novel powerfully captures.

My thoughts: 
      I find this title in one of the "you should read before you die" lists and it perfectly suited one of the prompts in my #popsugarchallenge2019 - read a book with the question mark in the title. Was I expecting anything special? No, just another display of difficult life. But I was so surprised by this short novel. It is really short and very brutal, full of events and great array of the side character and snippets of the their lives, all these give us enough to see humanity at the bottom of desperation and despair.
      The entire novel takes place on the dance floor, which is also quite unique and fresh setting. I have a feeling that the contest, in many ways, is the falsity and illusion of the American Dream.
      I found this short work was beautifully assembled, although the prose is quite simple, the narrator gives insight into the events of the dance marathon and the character of Gloria, a negationist, who sees through the falsity of this marathon. I did not like the main female character though and found her terribly irritating. But still definitely recommended.
 Rating:  
    4/5  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Middle Grade March Announcement and TBR 2020 - add some and ready


One of my favorite month long challenges is happening again. Middle Grade March is a month long readathon happening March 1-31. It will be hosted by Katie @ Life Between Words  and Krista from BooksAndJams.
Katie's Announcement Video
Krista's Announcement Video
Don't forget to use the hashtag #middlegrademarch

CHALLENGES (optional, of course):

1. A book with illustrations 
2. A book about books or stories 
3. A mystery 
4. A book set in another country 
5. A book to screen adaptation

  I do not read too many so I put up quite a big TBR list so I can choose from.

1. I want to check Serafina series by Robert Beatty: Serafina and the Black Cloak; Serafina and the Twisted Staff; Serafina and the Splintered Heart; Serafina and the Seven Stars. There are four books so far and quite chunky, so it will be good to start and see if it's any good. I do not have the 4th book, so my aim here is read at least first 3 that I have.

2. For challenge #2 I have not found a book that grabbed my attention.

3. For challenge #3 I have Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens. It is the first book in Murder Most Unladylike Mystery series, which has at least 9 more books. I am not sure about this one, as this book will be out of my comfort zone, I do not read many middle grade mysteries.

4. For challenge #4 I have Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. I would like to continue in the series as I loved the first book. So I hope it will be the same good.

5. For challenge #5 I am thinking about The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. There are 5 books in the series and I am not sure if I would like those books as a grown up. My nephew loved another series by Rick Riordan - Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and I want to check this series before him, so I can be sure to recommend it or not.

Apart from the challenge prompt, I want to read below books which I have for a long time, but never picked up.
So altogether it is 10 mandatory books, which is quite ok. So I am quite hopeful that I will be able to read through many series during the month and find new favorites.

Friday, January 24, 2020

December 2019 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 3/ listen: 0/ pages: 1373/ hours listened: 0
1. Macbeth by Jo Nesbø p.608 **
2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini p.445 ****
3. Sweet Revenge by Lynsay Sands p. 320 ***

Movie watched:
1. And Then There Were None (2015) *****
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) **
3. Green Book (2018) ****
4. To the Bone (2017) ***
5. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) **
6. The Lost City of Z (2016) ****

2020 Goals

     This is quite a difficult task for me this year to set any type of goals as I was not consistent with my reading and blogging in 2019. I was thinking over my goals for more than a month, taking inspiration and ideas from other bloggers and booktubers; and here is the list of  my goals so far for 2020:
  • Read 52 books
  • Read 5 books by Russian authors
  • Read 3 books by Czech authors
  • Read 4 books by German authors
  • Read 20 books in 2020 list
  • Listen to 10 audiobooks 
  • Read 10 classics
  • Complete Read your Bookshelf Challenge
  • Complete Page challenge
  • Buy only 12 books during 2020
  • Participate in at least 3 readathons
  • Finish 4 series
Challenges I am Joining in 2020

1. This year I am setting my Goodreads goal to 52 books

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Julie has read 1 book toward their goal of 52 books.

2. 2020 Pages Read Challenge
Goal is 24 000 pages
 
3. Read Your Bookshelf – Reading Challenge 2020
Goal is 12 books throughout the year.

4. Reading German Books in 2020
Goal is 4 book, 3 of which are in German.












That is basically it. I am still continuing with my Russian Literature, World of Literature, Booker Prize and Classics Club projects, which at the begging 2020 are the following:

Russian Literature: 9/30
World of Literature: 21/50
Booker Prize Project: 7
Classics Club: 9/50



Thursday, January 23, 2020

November 2019 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 3/ listen: 0/ pages: 1161/ hours listened: 0
1. Mistress by James Patterson, David Ellis p.411 ***
2. Awful Auntie by David Walliams p.414 **
3. Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer p. 336 ****

Movie watched:
1. Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) ****

To Be Continued Readathon 2020 and TBR

    A readathon for those series you need to finish

RULES AND INFORMATION
  •     The readathon will take place during the month of February 2020
  •     There are 15 prompts in total, distributed along 7 levels
  •     Complete the prompts of one level, to level up to the next one!
  •     There’s a WILD CARD that you can use once.
  •     The important thing is to HAVE FUN and ENJOY YOURSELF!
  •     One book = One prompt
  •     You don’t have to read them in order, but you will have to complete all the previous levels.
It seems that the readathon will be managed through Twitter, which I do not have, so I will just keep the progress to myself, anyway, I do not think I will surpass the second level.

THE PROMPTS

LEVEL 1: STAND ALONE
Top of the TBR Pile: the sequel you are Most Excited to get to.
The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden 
The Journey: is about the sequels we read along the way. Read a book in the Middle of a series
Knife (Harry Hole #12) by Jo Nesbø
The Grand Finale: Read the Last book in that series so you can finally boast about finishing it.
The King of Crows (The Diviners #4) by Libba Bray

LEVEL 2: SEQUEL
Read the book: There’s always a book being adapted or something getting adapted into a book! Read a sequel with Adaptation/Adapted and figure out how much they screwed that up...
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) by Philip Pullman
This Just In: fresh from the printing press, read a New Release!
WILD CARD 

LEVEL 3: TRILOGY
Catch-Up: This prompt is for that Popular Series everyone keeps going on about
Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Hiatus: People are still waiting to see how it all pans out! Hopefully the author will get to it and release the rest of the series. Read a book in an Uncompleted Work (as of yet).
 In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

LEVEL 4: ARC
Tangent: Stories don’t have to be linear! Read a Companion novel, a work in a Parallel world or a Prequel!
Welcome Home: Sometimes self-care is ignoring the unread books and getting back to what you know. Treat yourself to a Re-Read!

LEVEL 5: SERIES
I Like Them, Another: Read a book by your favourite author
Tale as Old as Time: Read the sequel that has the Oldest Publishing Date

LEVEL 6: SAGA
Hipster: Ah, the bittersweetness of loving an obscure book, but having no one to share our love! Read a Hidden Gem!
Procrastination: There’s always that pesky book, side-eyeing you from the shelf. Read a sequel that has been on your TBR the Longest, that you find Intimidating, or that you’ve simply been Putting Off for no good reason! (pick one)

LEVEL 7: MASTER OF THE TBR
I Bet You Thought You’d Seen The Last of Me: You thought you had this one in the bag! SIKE, there’s a new book on your TBR now! Read a book from a Previously Completed series!
Second Chance: Some things get better with age, like wine and cheese, and unlike most jokes from old sitcoms! Sometimes the Sequel is Better—read a book where you found the first/previous installment disappointing, but have heard good things of the follow-up

REMEMBER: Don’t have a book that fits a prompt? Use your WILD CARD! You can replace one of the prompts with any sequel you fancy

October 2019 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 5/ listen: 0/ pages: 1689/ hours listened:0
Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier p. 233 ***
The Law of Tall Girls by Joanne Macgregor p. 352 ****
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire p. 416 **
The Dry by Jane Harper p. 320 ****
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli p. 368 **

Movie watched:
Gemini Man (2019) ****
Poslední aristokratka (2019) ***

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020 Pages Read Challenge

    While I’m participating in a number of challenges that shows how many books you’ve read, I am joining as well the Pages Read challenge, which is hosted by Gina @ Book Dragon’s Lair. Gina does not seem to post any more or is having a break, but I still like this challenge and would like to continue with it just for my own statistics. According to this challenge you are judged by the number of pages you read.




Levels:
Bonsai - Read 12,000 pages
Shrub - Read 24,000 pages
Dwarf Peach - Read 36,000 pages
Apple Tree - Read  48,000 pages
Oak - Read 60,000 pages
Douglas Fir - Read 72,000 pages
Sequoia - Read 84,000 pages
Redwood - Read 84,001+ pages

Dwarf Peach (36,000 pages) is a nice deal, but I will set my goal to 24,000 (Shrub) again this year.  In 2019 I have read only 28808 pages, so no point to add pressure to my reading.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Author:  Seanan McGuire
Original title: Every Heart a Doorway
Pages: 224
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Wayward Children #1
Format: e-book
Genres: Fantasy
Goodreads

 Blurb:         
       Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.
     Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
       But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

My thoughts: 
      It was such a disappointment for me. All this hype and really for what? I saw these series in almost everyone's video and have not heard any bad reviews. It is not that the book is bad, it is just so average and I do not understand the obsession with it.
       It was too short to connect with the characters or the worlds they experienced. The plot centers around a murder mystery. The killings were sudden and pretty brutal. It was quite predictable who was behind the murders. All of the children were one dimensional. They didn't have any personal characteristics. The whole pacing was a rush. The ending was unsatisfying and abrupt like most of the book for me. 
     It was a huge disappointment, I won't continue the series and I also wouldn't recommend it
 Rating:  
    2/5  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Read Your Bookshelf – Reading Challenge 2020

This fun yearly challenge is hosted by An Intentional Life
This challenge is about reducing the number of unread books on your shelves. Here are some prompts for each month to make it more interesting and challenging.

Let’s get into the challenges for each month!

 JANUARY
a book with a color in the title

FEBRUARY
a book that is also a movie

MARCH
a book with a nature word in the title (wind, rain, snow, etc)

APRIL
a book that had been unread on your shelves the longest

MAY
a book geared towards children/middle grade

JUNE
a book with a place in the title

JULY
your newest unread book on your shelf

AUGUST
a fantasy book

SEPTEMBER
a book written before 1900

OCTOBER
a thriller, mystery or generally creepy book

NOVEMBER
a biography

DECEMBER
a Christmas themed book

Monday, January 20, 2020

September 2019 Wrap up

Read books: 
read: 6/ listen: 0/ pages: 2018/ hours listened: 0
1. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas p.320 **
2. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? by Horace McCoy p. 288 ****
3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick p. 352 ***
4. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger p. 208 **
5. The Thirst by Jo Nesbø p. 512 ****
6. A Little Love by Amanda Prowse p. 338 ***

Movie watched:
Anna (2019) ****
Strike  season 2 (2018) ***
Pres prsty (2019) *****

Hotel by Arthur Hailey

Author:  Arthur Hailey 
Original title: Hotel
Pages: 442
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: Hardback
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads

Blurb:    
   During five days in the midst of a hot, steamy Louisiana summer, the lives of a colorful cast of characters intertwine in a series of public, private, and personal dramas at the famed St. Gregory luxury hotel.
My thoughts: 
    It's a good little story, one of my favorites by Hailey: who knew that daily running of a hotel might be that interesting.
      Recently I re-read it again and the story totally holds up. Arthur Hailey is a good writer, an excellent storyteller, an expert at plotting and character development, and a genius at weaving story lines and characters together. 
Despite some old cliche the characters here are excellent. The book is dated, the views and problems are dated but despite all that it is still a great story and fascinating read.
 Rating:  
    3/5  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

August 2019 Wrap up

Read books: 
read: 10/ listen: 0/ pages: 3267/ hours listened: 0
1. Expecting Royal Twins! by Melissa McClone p.130 **
2. River Lady by Jude Deveraux p.400 ***
3. Chances Are by Robin Lee Hatcher p.352 **
4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West p. 304 ***
5. Miss Cameron's Fall from Grace by Helen Dickson p.304 *
6. Persuasion by Jane Austen p.272 ****
7. The Garin Death Ray by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy p. 330 ****
8. Секреты спокойствия «ленивой мамы» by Anna Bykova p.288 ****
9. Royal Seduction by Jennifer Blake p. 566 *
10. The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim p. 321 ***


Movie watched:
none

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Original title: The Kiss of Deception/The Heart of Betrayal/The Beauty of Darkness
Pages: 480/480/689
Edition Language: English
Series: The Remnant Chronicles
Format: e-book
Genres: Fantasy
Goodreads

Blurb:    
    The Remnant Chronicles is a three book series. The first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception, was released on July 8th, 2014, followed by The Heart of Betrayal a year later on July 7th, 2015, and completed on August 2, 2016 with the release of The Beauty of Darkness. The Remnant Chronicles is a Young Adult Fantasy series which centers around the journey of Lia of Morrigan, a young princess who flees her marriage to a foreign prince, launching her own life and multiple kingdoms into chaos.

My thoughts: 
      Please note that the Mini Reviews for books 2 na d 3 in the series feature some spoilers.

The Kiss of Deception
      The Kiss of Deception gets off to a quick start. But since it starts off so quickly, we do not know anything about the characters and it makes Lia, the princess, slightly less likeable, as she comes across as a bit spoiled and stuck-up, fleeing a relatively stereotypical wedding arrangement for her station. Upon settling down, Lia and Pauline quickly encounter two strangers – Rafe and Kaden. One is a prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Despite to the instability of her current situation, Lia quickly finds herself increasingly attracted to the strange men – perhaps seeking a romance of her own choice, rather than an arranged marriage. But this freedom brings many dangers she has no idea who she can trust. As Lia finds herself falling more deeply in love, she must make an impossible choice, before one of the men in her life makes it for her.
     The Kiss of Deception is a great adventure, and an even better romance, making even the love-triangle working rather smoothly. Lia, Kaden and Rafe relationship immediately draw the reader in, as do their morally grey decisions and motivations.  In addition, the plot is fast-paced, but easy to follow, hooking and keeping the reader’s attention early on, and hanging onto it with every twist and surprise. My most favorite character in this book is the assassin. He is really cruel, but seems just and there is something nice about him.

The Heart of Betrayal
     Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, the assassin, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen. Meanwhile, everything is complicated: apart from the love-triangle there are the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country and her own destiny and she finds herself increasingly embroiled in Vendan affairs, and in the Komizar’s plans.
    The Heart of Darkness is a story of individual growth, of love in the impossible scenario, and of impossible choices, all leading towards a final, heart-shattering conclusion. Lia, Kaden and Rafe's struggles are heart-breaking to read. The reader will find themselves drawn into this tale. The story Pearson creates here is equally masterful and interesting, once again keeping a fast-paced plot with plenty of twists. In this book Lea is shinning all different colors and her personal growth is incredible. The prince is still my lest favorite character and the assassin is starting to loose his stability in judgements and becoming more a softie.

The Beauty of Darkness

Lia has survived Venda, but the threat of the destruction of Morrighan is still on. And only Lia can stop it. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself lost in her relationship with Rafe and is suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down, as Lia and Rafe flee Venda.
    Lia and Ralf are pushed further apart as they find themselves at cross-purposes, each with their own country in mind.  Finally, Lia is forced to leave Rafe and her companions behind, striking out for Morrighan with only Kaden at her side.  Everything comes to a head as Rafe, Kaden and Lia finally stand as a united front in the face of true evil – the Komizar. In battle, each will make impossible decisions, forever changing the course of their lives and the trajectory of their kingdoms.
The Beauty of Darkness is a story of loss, strength and war. No character escapes change as they come face to face with both internal and external horrors, which force them to question their decisions, their loyalties, and their future. Lia, Kaden and Rafe each face impossible decisions, and their choices change them completely, making them stronger and more human people. The only character who changes beyond recognition is Kaden,  and though he is more human and caring, he seems more like a puppy with his master than and a self deficient grown up man, his total compliance without much character , that we saw in two previous books made me sad at a lost of a great literary character.
---
Overall, The Remnant Chronicles were a strong series, which seamlessly blended romance and adventure. Lia, Rafe and Kaden are charming characters who draw the reader into their adventure almost immediately, until they become increasingly invested in their lives. Lia was an exceptionally strong female character, who embodied feminine empowerment as she went about her story, never in distress, but instead a strong warrior who fought for her successes and accepts her failures. The only downside I found in the books is the magic system, which, I guess, suffered because of the action filled plot. Otherwise, it was truly engaging and entertaining series, with great characters and a solid plot.
Rating: 
    4/5 
 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

July 2019 Wrap up

Read books: 
read: 10/ listen: 1/ pages: 3272/ hours listened: 17h52m
1. The Hotel by Arthur Hailey p. 336 ***
2. Running on Waves by Alexander Grin p. 166 **
3. Jessie a Morgiana by Alexander Grin p. 131 ****
4. Scarlet Sails by Alexander Grin p.126 *****
5. The Glittering World by Alexander Grin p.123 *
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott p. 640 ***
7. Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott p. 330 ***
8. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter 17h52m
9. The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris p. 704 ***
10. Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey p. 384 ***
11. The Heir by Johanna Lindsey p. 352 **

Movie watched:
None this month unfortunatelly.