Saturday, February 27, 2021

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Author: Gail Honeyman
Original title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Pages: 416
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: Contemporary

   Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

My thoughts: 
    This was a really sweet and tragic story at the same time. I loved the voice of Eleanor and how she defines and defies the life realities. When she describes some social norm in a logical questionable manner I cannot but agree with her. Some descriptions are a bit over-exaggerated, which makes Eleanor less believable character.  
   I enjoyed how the story unraveled - layer by layer, telling us bits of her life and letting us see the difficulties of a person, who does not want or cannot behave in an expected manner. It is a heavy novel, which shows how many things we take for granted, things that other people are deprived of.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Author: Tessa Dare
Original title: A Night to Surrender
Pages: 320
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Spindle Cove #1
Format: e-book
Genres: Romance

      Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.
      Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.

My thoughts: 
     I picked this book on the recommendation of a book blogger. Actually, it was rated as top romance for some of boooktubers. I, personally, was not expecting much from it, and still I was disappointed.  I didn't like Susanna or Bram. Their tragic past and injuries left me untouched, they just did not feel like real people.
     Overall, the concept of the series is interesting, it’s about a group of misfits ladies. But even though Susanna and her girls are supposed to be free-thinkers, they read like flat cardboard figures. This was extremely dull and boring. Absolutely nothing special. I wonder if this is the author that did not sit with me or the setting.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Author: Jon Ronson
Original title: So You've Been Publicly Shamed
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: Audio book
Read by: Jon Ronson
Duration: 8h16m

    For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

My thoughts:
       I loved this book so much and I was also properly terrified by it. It seems that I live in a bunker and has never thought that public shaming grew to such absurdity and cruelty. I keep away from social media mostly because it is boring and time consuming, but it amazes me how many people are obsessed with following and "teaching" others a lesson. This was a fascinating read about shame in the modern world and how it can impact a life of ordinary people. 
    The Internet has made it easier to make a mistake and then be publicly humiliated for it, and Jon Ronson researched and wrote about a few famous cases. I have never heard of the cases stated here, but all of them gained my compassion. A person is being torn apart by people like us for so little, that in real life would be mostly reprimanded or harshly commented. It seems that compassion is gone from virtual world or people are being afraid to stand for a shamed person, so they would be not objectified as well.
    It's not a perfect book. In fact, Ronson goes a number of paths in history and origin of shaming, modern technologies to deal with shame and so on - and yet it is still quite fun to go on the journey with him. The book has a lot of gaps as well, many important topics are just slightly covered, but I guess it was not the aim of this book to cover everything and everyone. It raises the question of our behavior online, appeals to our morality and asks what are WE going to do next time someone will be butchered online. 
     A book is incredibly actual, 5  years since this book has been published and it’s still as relevant. I am thinking about recent J.K. Rowling shaming, which took ridiculous proportions for a single tweet.
    This book I definitely recommend. Narration by the author really gives this audiobook the perfect voice. All the information and examples provided were very interesting.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

2021 Goals


    2020 goals were the best combination for my reading reality. I did not fulfill all of them but it kept me on track for the whole year. So this year I decided to keep most of them. So here my goals for 2021:
  • Read 52 books
  • Read 5 books by Russian authors
  • Read 10 translated books
  • Read 10 books in my Top 2021 books list
  • Listen to 10 audiobooks 
  • Read 8 classics
  • Complete Read your Bookshelf Challenge
  • Complete Page challenge
  • Buy less than 12 books during 2021
  • Participate in at least 3 readathons
  • Finish 5 or 6 series
Challenges I am Joining in 2020

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

2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Julie has read 3 books toward their goal of 52 books.

2. 2021 Pages Read Challenge
Goal is 24 000 pages
3. Read Your Bookshelf – Reading Challenge 2020
Goal is 12 books throughout the year.

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: 12/30
World of Literature: 24/50
Booker Prize Project: 7
Classics Club: 15/50

Friday, February 12, 2021

December 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 2/ listen: 0/ pages: 1373/ hours listened: 0
1. Six Degrees of Assassination by M.J. Arlidge 4h50m ****
2. The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young p.416 ***
3.  Beartown by Fredrik Backman p. 528 *****

Movie watched:

In the Woods by Tana French

Author:  Tana French
Original title: In the Woods
Pages: 480
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Format: e-book
Genres: Thriller

       In the summer of 1984 three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
      Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery.

My thoughts: 
      Well, I was expecting more from this based on how much everyone loved it. I saw the series almost everywhere, but I was thinking it would have Jo Nesbo vibes. Of course, it is not fare to expect the same degree of suspense and tension from the other author, but I just could not help it, as both series are police procedural detective stories set in a relatively small country.
    The mystery side of the story left much to be desired. I guessed the killer in the middle of the book, but just could not figure out the motives. Sometimes the story was going very slowly and I caught myself yawning a couple of times. 
        An undeniable plus of the book are the characters and relationship between them. The characters were totally flawed, but also likeable and relatable; they felt real. I loved the development of friendships between Rob and Cassie. It was really something to find such a great duo with a strong platonic friendship. I was hoping they were going to work together in further books.

November 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 4/ listen: 0/ pages: 1113/ hours listened: 0
1. French Women Don't Sleep Alone: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love by Jamie Cat Callan p.384**
2. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon p.352 ****
3. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells p. 148 ***
4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi p. 229 ***

Movie watched:

Thursday, February 11, 2021

October 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 1/ listen: 2/ pages: 625/ hours listened: 20h12m
1. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 12h15m  ***
2. The Toll by Neal Shusterman p. 624 ****
3. Sadie by Courtney Summers 7h57m *****

Movie watched:

September 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 2/ listen: 0/ pages: 870/ hours listened: 0
1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman p.448 **
2. You by Caroline Kepnes p. 422 **

Movie watched:

Escaping from Houdini/Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco ready check

Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Original title: Escaping from Houdini
Pages: 512
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Format: e-book
Genres: Mystery

  Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery.

My thoughts: 
    I was going into this book expecting at least the same degree of enjoyment that I got from books one and two and I was really puzzled to find a really bad story and a degradation of the characters. 
    First of all, Audrey Rose turned into a flimsy shallow girl, putting her nose in other peoples' affairs, and entertaining herself in the company of a person with disputable reputation. Her attitude towards
Thomas Cresswell is incomprehensible, she is keeping secrets from him and constantly seen with a different man alone. All her "Trust Me", "Love you" "I know what I am doing" etc. are just pathetic. It is not clear what exactly she is doing with the artists. What is required of her by this con artist? To stand with an apple on her head at the last performance? 
      Cresswell present in this book is close to nothing. He is a secretary during an autopsy. He is sitting idly and waiting for her to choose when she is running with a different man. He cannot even be jealous and fight for her as this will portrait him as a proprietor and an anti feminism character.
    And, secondly, since this book is a mystery and there is a killer on the loose, there must be some detective work done by our characters. But alas, while Audrey Rose was enjoying herself at the carnival, Thomas was watching her to fall in love with a flashy arrogant con artist (not even a scientist) within a week, bodies kept piling up. They did nothing to find the killer. I believe if the murderer was not so theatrical they would still not have a clue who it is. He practically was explaining every step of his doings, at the final show, exactly as he planned it and no one was even close to uncover him. 
So altogether absolutely boring and illogical book with a very irritating female character.
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Original title: Capturing the Devil
Pages: 512
Edition Language: Russian
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #4
Format: e-book
Genres: Mystery

  Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

My thoughts: 
    I do not know why I decided to torture myself with this book, but hope dies last. I have already read 3 previous books and I kept hearing positive reviews about the final one. Altogether, I was going to DNF it just about 7 times. I was bored to death by it. Audrey Rose turned to absolutely intolerable person. For a such young person there were too much "I know", "I can", "I will do". So much talking and so little done. On one page she is refusing to be a mistress and two or three pages later she is in his arms. She is always armed and never uses the scalpel. She is constantly thinking over the same issues: love for Thomas, sadness over her brother's death and fear of the murderer, her dress again and again, pages and pages on. In this book the mystery is secondary and it is so chaotic. All logic behind the investigation is unclear. Altogether, the book is a 19th century soap opera with a happy ending. Endless boredom, it is better to pretend books 3 and 4 never happened and Audrey Rose and Thomas lived happily after escaping Romania.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

August 2019 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 4/ listen: 0/ pages: 2016/ hours listened: 0/ DNFed: 1
1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling p.608 *****
2. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard  p.576 ***
3. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken p.512 ***
4. This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay p. 320 ****
5. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken DNFed

 Movie watched:
1.  The Mummy Returns (2001) re-watch ***
2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) re-watch **
3. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) re-watch *****
4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) re-watch *****

July 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 17/ listen: 0/ pages: 4357/ hours listened: 0
1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë p. 639 ****
2. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill p. 386 ****
3. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch p. 398 ***
4. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey p.300 ***
5. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov p.70 ***
6. The Ladies' Paradise by Émile Zola p. 416 ***
7. The Last Star by Rick Yancey p. 352 ***
8. Caraval by Stephanie Garber p.402 **
9. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite p. 226 ****
10. Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
11. Saga, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
12. Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
13. Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
14. Saga, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
15. Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
16. Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****
17. Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughan p. 146 ****

Movie watched:
1. Dark S.3 E. 1-8 (2019) *****

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Author: Naomi Novik
Original title:
Pages: 640

Edition Language: Russian

Format: e-book


      Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
    Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

My thoughts: 
      I really do not know how to discuss this book. It is a whimsical fairytale sort of way, very fast paced (sometimes too fast) with a lot of plot turns and magic. That is basically it. I cannot remember a single thing about it after a month, apart from the fact that love interest felt a bit wrong - 100 year old wizard (looking young though) and 17 or so year old girl...Yes... Strange. The rest of the book is just ok, fast, captivating and quite forgettable. I would probably try other books from the author to see if there is any chance to like her.

June 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 10/ listen: 0/ pages: 3707/ hours listened: 0/ DNFed: 1
1. Tomb Raider Archives, Volume 1 by Dan Jurgens p. 408 ***
2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier p. 447 ****
3. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin p. 352 ****
4. Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James  p.386 ***
5. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor p.337 ***
6. Prince of Persia by A.B. Sina, Jordan Mechner p. 190 ***
7. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo p. 511 ***
8. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan p. 178 ***
9. Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev p. 262 ****
10. HHhH by Laurent Binet p. 442 ****
11. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer DNFed

Movie watched:
1. Man of Steel (2013) re-watch **
2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) ***
3. Dark S.2 E. 1-8 (2019) *****
4. Leap Year (2010) re-watch  ****
5. Call the Midwife (2012 - ) ****
    S.1.  E. 1-6 
    S.2   E. 1-4
6. Mona Lisa Smile (2003) re-watch ***

May 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 8/ listen: 1/ pages: 3008/ hours listened: 
1. Well Met by Jen DeLuca 9h45m **
2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo p.384 ***
3. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo p.416 ***
4. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo p. 416 ***
5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman p.384 *****
6. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne p.216 **
7. Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan p.168 ****
8. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames p.544 ***
9. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black p.480 ***

Movie watched:
1. Bumblebee (2018) **

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Author:  A.J. Finn
Original title:  The Woman in the Window
Pages: 414
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: Thriller

       Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
     Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

My thoughts: 
      In this book, you're following a psychologist who went through something traumatic that left her agoraphobic and an alcoholic. Sadly the mysteries with unreliable narration are in trend and that makes them really predictable. With every twist you know that there is not everything as it seems and it is obvious that the author is throwing us in a different direction. So, however, good the story might be, the predictability of the structure is stealing the enjoyment. The big reveal at the end left me feel kind of meh as well, it was a bit too sick for me. 
     I liked the atmosphere, though; the author managed to create this claustrophobic environment that I felt like grabbing a bottle of red wine as well.


April 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 5/ listen: 1/ pages: 1955/ hours listened: 7h51m
1. The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti p.224 ****
2. Knife by Jo Nesbø p.600
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini p.416
4. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien p.544
5. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys p.171
6.10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston 7h51m

Movie watched:
1.Constantine (2005) *** re-watch
2. A Monster Calls (2016)  **** re-watch

March 2020 Wrap up

Read books:  read: 7/ listen: 1/ pages: 2576/ hours listened: 8h57m
1. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary 9h35m ***
2. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman  p. 448 ****
3. Force of Nature by Jane Harper 8h57m ****
4. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty p.320 ****
5. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery p.512 ****
6. Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty p.400 ****
7. Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty p. 384 ***
8. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan p. 512 ***

Movie watched:

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Author:  Rory Power
Original title:  Wilder Girls
Pages: 288
Edition Language: Russian
Series: no
Format: e-book
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia

       It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

My thoughts: 
      I have heard positive reviews about this book from multiple sources, and let's be real - the cover is a bomb! Unfortunately, the story itself left me untouched. It felt more like a book of character sketches: you can see framework of people, but none of them is complete and whole. I was let down by how a lot of the characters motivation for their actions didn't seem to make any sense. They either weren't explained, or some characters needed more background to be able to understand why they made the choices they did. I could not make any sense of their past, character traits and motivation. The only more or less round character is Hetty, but again the motivation of her actions is not clear. 

   Altogether, interesting premise, but the book felt very raw: many scenes did not make any impact on the story and felt cut out from the flow of the narration. Byatt's point of view contained a couple of chapters only and I found them out of the place as well. They told the story of what happened with her, but I was expecting more history and character development and got nothing.


February 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 9/ listen: 1/ pages: 3490/ hours listened: 22h20m/ DNFed: 1
1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. p.224 ****
2. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco p.416 ***
3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes p.485 ****
4. After You by Jojo Moyes p.381 ***
5. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young p.416 *****
6. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han  p.352 ****
7. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han p.352 *** 
8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han  p.352 ***
9. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco p.512 ***
10. The King of Crows by Libba Bray 22h20m
11. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson DNFed

Movie watched:
1. Mr. Mercedes S3. E 1-10 (2019) ****
2. The Frankenstein Chronicless S.1 (2015) *** 
3. Me Before You (2016)  **
4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)  ***
5. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)  *** 
6. Death in Paradise S9. E 1-8 (2011–2020 ) ***

January 2020 Wrap up


Read books: 
read: 4/ listen: 0/ pages: 1437/ hours listened: 0
1. Dry by Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman  p.399 **
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley p.351 ***
3. One Day in December by Josie Silver  p.480 **
4. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg p.207 ***

Movie watched: