January 26, 2015

My Precioussss...

Hi sweeties! It has just arrived, and I want to share with you the best birthday present ever! I bought it myself, because if you don't treat yourself to awesome things, who would? :)

This is the 60th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings in hardcover with illustrations by Alan Lee!! It weighs 2.5 kilos and is breathtakingly beautiful!

And here's how happy I am about it!

Happy birthday to me from me, hehe :)

January 16, 2015

Never Let Anyone Recommend You A Book...

...even if you like the person very much. I've always followed the rule, and recently I've been reminded, WHY exactly. The guy that recommended me Wizard's First Rule is smart and funny and educated and generally great and I have zero idea how is he able to read and re-read (for sanity's sake!) this series and find it interesting and elaborate and philosophical. Should I be worried? :D

Title: Wizard's First Rule
Author: Terry Goodkind
First published: 1994
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Let's go through why it was bed with the help of bullets, OK?

  • It's long. Soooo long. When I saw that the book is over 800 pages, I braced myself. I reasoned that I've raced through much bigger books in several days, and this one is fantasy so it should be fine. It was not fine. It was slow from the beginning. What made things worse, I could see through everything which was going to happen, so there was no reason for me to be anxious about reading further. 
  • Usually I'm OK with some cliches. The (ignorant but very smart and super-tough and good-looking) chosen one - fine. A weird wizard - fine. A girl with a secret with which the main hero falls in love but can never be together because of reasons - fine. Nothing is new under the sun anyway. But OMG, can there be at least SOMETHING original? The bad guys were so cartoon it was impossible to take them seriously. And of course they can't delegate tasks and need to kill everybody themselves. While riding a dragon. And with no reason whatsoever. 
  • There's so much unnecessary sickening detail! I'm OK with it if it's really necessary. I read and enjoy Martin, after all. But I saw no reason for introducing anybody like Mord-Sith to the story for example. Especially because what follows is 50 pages of torture description. It's as if the author enjoys it and wants to shock public, is all. No benefit for the plot...
  • And here we come to the plot. It's a mess. There is magic in the book, and it works interestingly. It is all explained and you expect that you know the rules. But then you suddenly discover that everybody can be saved by something that JUST HAVEN'T BEEN MENTIONED BEFORE and it changes everything. It doesn't happen once, it happens always. It's cheating and it's not fair. I will not even mention the good timing of everybody, who appear exactly in the right moment to save somebody in grave need
  • It's repetitive. The dialogues are good and funny and clever, but every dialogue eventually comes to discussing the Machiavellian notion of the end justifying the means and reminding everybody around that they can't hesitate to kill, even the closest friends, if they may pose a danger to their objective of killing the Bad Guy. Seriously, I can get how tragic it is just from a couple of repetitions.

As I've mentioned, I liked the dialogues, and political games were very believable, but this was not enough to redeem the time I spent facepalming the plot and the characters.

January 4, 2015

2014 End of Year Book Survey

I've been pondering which format I want to adopt for my review of 2014 reading, and found this wonderful survey HERE. I thought it's a great idea to participate, even though I may skip some questions :)

Number Of Books You Read:

81. Not too shabby, but there were quite a few comics, so it's not as much as it seems. But considering all the stuff that happened this year, I'm still proud of myself! :)

Number of Re-Reads:

6. That's actually a lot for me, as I don't re-read often. But sometimes you just need some comfort reads!

Genre You Read The Most From:

Oh, that's difficult! I don't keep track of genres, but I think Sci-Fi and Fantasy are leading :)

Best Book You Read In 2014?

Not counting re-reads and sequels, here's the leader board:

Goldman, William: The Princess Bride

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Here are the two biggest disappointments of this year:

Gaiman, Neil: American Gods

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

I think it was The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. Because I don't usually read "zombie" books, but this one was amazing!

I've also discovered two great comics: Sandman and Y: The Last Man. I loved both and now I don't look down to comics any more!

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Easy! The Martian by Andy Weir! Two of my colleagues have already read and loved it and several more are still reading! :) It spreads like plague!

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

I've read the first of Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings, and I'm hooked up enough to continue reading!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

The most beautiful was the cover to The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch:

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Luzhin Defense by Vladimir Nabokov and Amsterdam by Ian McEvan. They are not called classics for nothing!

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins! I guess the hype frightened me...

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

The longest is, of course, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and the shortest is Historia Brittonum by Nennius

Book That Shocked You The Most

I read books 4 and 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire this year, so guess who shocked me most ;) 'cause he always does.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Locke and Jean in The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch!! They are SO AWESOME.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Definitely The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson! I have no idea how can one imagine a world like this

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Again, The Martian by Andy Weir! The guy is awesome!

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan. Ah, the ending!

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I can't decide between Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Seduction by M.J. Rose. Both incredibly stupid!

So here's how my 2014 looked like reading-wise :) I'm grateful for all the good discoveries of the year and all the time I spent engrossed in a great story. Hope 2015 will be even better! :)

January 3, 2015

Catching Up On 2014 Reviews

Hi everybody and congratulations on the New Year! :) I hope your holiday season was as fun as mine and you had a good rest and quality family time!

Today I've come back from my trip to Sofia to see a very good friend and fellow fantasy geek. It was awesome! We cooked, made cocktails, discussed everything in the world and binge-watched the director's cut of LOTR. What can be better? :)

Yes, there's Balrog on the screen :)

Now I finally have some time to wrap up year 2014, and I'll start with mini-reviews of the rest of the books I managed to read in the end of the year. Then I'll probably try to catch up on over-500 posts in my RSS feed... Oh well, maybe not :)

Title: Amsterdam
Author: Ian McEwan
First published: 1998
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

I started to read Amsterdam on my way to Amsterdam, but didn't finish it until a week after the trip. And it's OK, because it's not about the city at all :) I have always been curious about Ian McEwan, and I can say I've enjoyed his writing a lot. He is a great psychologist, and his descriptions of thoughts and feelings of the two main characters felt so real it was hard to believe it's only fiction. But as if to mock a reader who by this point already trusts McEwan as a great expert in human nature, there is such an unbelievable twist in the end of the novel that it left me embarrassed.  

In my book:
Great writing and character study.

Title: The Way of Kings
Author: Brandon Sanderson
First published: 2010
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

For the first 100-200 pages of this huge novel, which is part of even huger series, I had no idea what was happening and wanted to stop reading. I survived, though, and it appeared it was worth the time and struggle, as by the end of the book I was quite unable to put it down. The greatest thing about the book is the world-building. There's a totally different biology, physics and social structure, and it's all very fitting and works well together... but not before you really get into it. And this doesn't happen very soon. Strictly speaking, it wouldn't hurt if the book was shorter, but as I've said, in the end I came to appreciate it anyway :)

In my book:
Worth the time, but make sure you have a lot of it at hand before starting this mammoth :))

Title: High Fidelity
Author: Nick Hornby
First published: 1995
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

The intro, where the main character recaps his past heartbreaks is awesome! I've even read it twice. Then, however, some music records nerdiness starts (as the narrator is a fan and owns a record shop), which I can't appreciate due to my utter lack of knowledge or interest on the subject. Overall, the writing is great, and at times the novel is very funny, but when you think of it, the main character is really very sad and unlikable, and the ending is kinda... meh.

In my book:
Fun and entertaining, but makes you think nevertheless. Just skip the music parts :)

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
First published: 2009
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I think I might have loved this book if I read it at the age of 12 or so (I loved children's detective novels!), but for a grown-up there's not enough of mystery or character depth or humor. It's a sweet little novel, and the main heroine is pretty bad-ass, but it's not very gripping overall.

In my book:
Pick up for a total brain relax or as a present to your kid.
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