July 21, 2015

(Already Traditional) Mini-Reviews, Part 1

As promised, here's the first batch of long-due mini-reviews :)

Title: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Is it me or has Sir Arthur lost some of his flair for awesomeness after the first three short story collections? I guess he’s not to blame, as *spoiler alert* he honestly tried to kill Sherlock and not write about him anymore, and had only caved to extreme public pressure to resurrect him. Anyway, I don’t even remember any of the stories that stand out in this particular book… And some are repetitive of the ones in the earlier collections. Still, Sherlock is adorable, and anything about him is a great comfort read.

Title: Zoo City
Author: Lauren Beukes
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

This was January choice for Coursera Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Club, and it was the first book we read together that I didn’t like. Maybe Southern African English and excessive use of slang words are to blame, but I never understood what was really happening in the book and WHY it was happening. You see, when you commit a crime there, they give you an animal mascot(?) that you can’t be separated from. “Animalled” people are considered lower class and live in some kind of slums. They are despised and also feared, as animals sometimes give them supernatural powers. Now I could have told you more, but as I’ve said, I’m clueless as to what the plot is and why this imaginary world functions like it does.

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Rating: ★★★★★ 

Oh, this book! If you think of it, the society structure is rather ridiculous and it’s hard to imagine how people can end up living like this, but the writing is so brilliant that the story totally makes sense and you don’t want to see any plot holes. Not much HAPPENS in the book per se, because things are not supposed to happen to a handmaid, but the descriptions and musings of the protagonist are so engrossing that you literally can’t put the book down. And the ending… Oh, I just love the ending!

Title: Changing Places
Author: David Lodge
Rating: ★★★★★

This is a very funny novel that just GETS academia life! Two professors, one from US and one from UK are on an international exchange program and have to spend half a year in each other’s shoes. Hilarity ensues as they battle cultural differences and discover their new selves. Ah, there’s nothing like a funny book about professors :)

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Rating: ★★★★☆ 

An award winning hit, and yet I don’t wait a couple of years before reading it? Weird! But everybody in my feed was praising this novel, and besides the premise is awesome! There has been an epidemic, and 10 years after it the few people that are left alive are reduced to scavenging, hunting and primitive lifestyle in general. However, for some “survival is insufficient”, so a theater on wheels is travelling across Canada, performing what do you think? Shakespeare! Who apparently never goes out of fashion. The writing is beautiful, magical even, but the plot, although converging satisfactory in the end, is not without lapses. Like what about that menacing and pointless Prophet? I just don’t buy it.

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Rating: ★★★★★

Ah, what a sweet book! Apart from being hilarious, it’s also very optimistic and good-humored. It just makes you feel good, especially if you are partial to weird scientists and happen to know a lot of them, even though such grave cases of social awkwardness are unlikely to exist in real life.

Title: The Lives of Tao
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: ★★★★☆

This is a very enjoyable and fun read. A tad bit too much pathos in the end to my taste, but the dialogues! They are awesome. Also, I can’t help wishing for an all-knowing and wise alien sitting in my head and pushing me to greatness. Maybe then I’d actually run in the mornings!!

Title: Москва - Петушки (Moscow to the End of the Line)
Author: Venedict Erofeev
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I just wish it was possible to format the part of my brain that remembers this book. It’s really postmodernist and unusual… for the first 5 pages. Then it gets repetitive, boring and straight mad.

So that's it! A really mixed bag of books, some being awesome 5-star ones and some ending up on my hate list... Part 2, covering my reading adventures from the end of April to current time is coming soon :)


  1. I absolutely loved Zoo City and the world she created. Didn't write a review and it's been months since, but I do plan to re-read it soon.

    And I've been meaning to read Moscow at the End of the Line forever... and still will read it, but sad face to you not liking it. Or maybe it's whatever ;)

    Station Eleven and Changing Places are now on my TBR list :)

    1. Everybody seems to love Zoo City except me... Maybe it's one of the cases when "it's me, not the book" :) I'll be looking forward to your review to see what I might have missed!

      Moscow at the End of the Line is one of the books that you need to read yourself and form an opinion about it. I know people who say that it's a work of a genius... Well, whatever, but I hope you will not feel like it was lost time :)

  2. Yaay. Had same feelings about Station Eleven - cool book, but don't see how it's the best thing out there... The prophet part was really troubling. On the other hand I gave Handmaid's Tale four stars and am wondering now whether I missed something because it seems most give it a fiver. And I love Atwood.

    1. I suspect that the people were just "wow, look Sci-Fi which is ALSO literary fiction" about Station Eleven. But being called literary fiction doesn't mean that it has literary merit and other books don't, right?

      Maybe you just expect more of Atwood now that you know her books and love her :) I'm not so experienced :)


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