Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova




Why I read this book?

Before I changed countries, a long time ago, I saw my aunt reading this hefty, brick like book with so much interest. I asked her, what is it about? She said: Dracula, as if he was alive in modern time. I wanted to read it, but alas, my luggage was kind of limited. So after years of waiting I finally got her copy and dive into it...

What's the book about?
Well...my aunt didn't lie. In the book Dracula is supposed to be still alive...but the book doesn't deal much with him actually. Is more about...well a family of historians that somehow end up connected to Dracula; we follow them through different European countries, following the trail of mystery and darkness that the Count left behind...allegedly.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

I enjoyed the description of landscapes, of the cities; If we divide the book in 4 parts...I enjoyed the 3rd one, when the father is moving around Bulgaria and Romania.

What about the main character?

Was there really a main character? The book in titled The Historian (La Historiadora in Spanish) which made me think the first girl to talk was the main character...but she wasn't. For me the main character was the father, and even so...this place, the main character felt empty for me for most of the book. So I won't comment much in this section.

Final thoughts

3 months...that's how long it took me to read this book. I could tell you that it was because I was studying, which is true, but I read a lot of other books in this 3 months. Thing is, the story failed completely to grab me. Is not that I don't like descriptive literature (I loved Proust's In search of Lost Time), but here the descriptions of what the girl drank in certain plaza...seemed so utterly pointless for the story. I felt that knowing that she liked her orange drink didn't change the outcome of the tale one bit. That said, the part where the author described the mountains, the landscape was beautiful. The part that I liked (part "3") was full of different countries, different cultures, that part was great...but it was surrounded of nothing really happening, and then the end was so disappointingly anticlimactic! I think that my aunt remembers liking it because of the country descriptions...but for me this wasn't enough to make it an outstanding book.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Scarlett by Marissa Meyer



No picture this time, sorry :(



Why I read this book?

This is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles of Marissa Meyer. I really enjoyed the first one, Cinder and decided to continue with the series. It also makes part of my sequel challenge.

What's the book about?

As it was the case with Cinder, this is a re telling of a children story, in this case Little Red Riding Hood. The story follows Scarlet and Cinder in different parts of the world to finally merge towards the end. On her side, Scarlett's grandmother has gone missing and she is sure it's abduction. While trying to find her grandmother she will meet some interesting people along the way.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

Although you know how the story goes for LRRH this re telling takes a few twists that make the book interesting. I enjoyed the way the characters are written. 

What about the main character?

As you probably guessed by now the main character here is Scarlett Benoît, and she is inspired on LRRH, she even wears a red hoodie! Once again, as in Cinder, they have glimpses of the original story, but they are both very strong young women, albeit they are still teen agers and as such they will sometimes take rush decision marked by a pretty pair of eyes, if you know what I mean. In the case of Scarlett, she is also an orphan, even though her father is still alive, but he pretty much walked on her, so its her grandma who brought her up. She is a bit ill tempered, but mostly because she has had to deal with a lot.

Final thoughts

I'm really getting into this series, Meyer takes the fairy tale background, including the origin of the story (in this case France) and incorporates them into the whole tale while adding a bit of futuristic elements without pushing it into sci-fi necessarily. The characters are not dull, although sometimes is a bit predictable what their reaction will be, but never mind that, the books are very enjoyable. 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

TSS: Back once again

Hello everybody!

OMG, it's been such a long time since I did a TSS post! Maybe I mentioned, maybe I didn't but I had a huge exam recently...long story short if you don't pass this exam you are not allowed to graduate from your PhD. I passed!!. You can only imagine how happy I am, how relieved and how relaxed I am right now. 

My reading life was not in a pause however, I was a good girl and kept on reading...ok, it had nothing to do with being a good girl, but mostly needing to do something different than studying every night. So I did finish 8 books since my last TSS post. 

However, as you may have noticed I did not post the reviews for the last 6 :S. But I'm catching up, yesterday I posted the reviews for Gone Girl, The Buddha in the Attic and Wool. Hopefully during this week I will be able to post the other 3; I'm lucky to have a long week-end all for myself and work on this.

Other than that everything is going fine. Weather is not very summery yet, but I will change my banner soon, just the window image. Maybe that will hint mother nature that is time to summer things up?

Anyway, have a wonderful week, and fingers crossed you will be able to drop by and actually find new stuff in the site. I'm a bit behind updating my lists of challenges and books reviewed, but I will get to it soon enough.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Wool by Hugh Howey




Why did I read this book?

This book was the May selection of the Sword and Laser book club.

What's the book about?

Something happened to Earth years ago and what is left of humanity leaves now in a Silo, separated in different levels, providing everything people may need. Thinking about going outside is forbidden, although ironically enough talking about it might get you outside, into a toxic, lethal environment. Not surprisingly, rules are questioned and methods are not agreed upon. Are this rules really there to protect us or to contain us?

What was the thing I liked the most? 

I have to say, I had a bit of a trouble getting into this book, but once you pass the first section where the main characters are introduced, you start seeing the big picture of the Silo. I liked the way (for me, please keep in mind this reviews are ALWAYS according to me) the institution and more specifically the rule are criticised yet reinforced. The lives of everyone are controlled by sets of rules established long ago, rules that no one explains and very few understand. 

What about the main character?

For me the main character was Juliette. I liked her as a strong woman character. In general in this book I was fond of the fact that most of the women were doers, not waddling around waiting for things to happen. In the case of Juliette, although there are moments were I did not agree with her, she was always moving, she is resourceful and she is smart. Most of all, she cares and she wants to understand why everything is like it is in the Silo. 

Final thoughts

I like the book...but it wasn't great. Some of the things, specially the end turned out to be a bit predictable in a non exciting way. I know that Howey gives more details on how the Earth was "damaged" in the follow up of Wool...but with the explanation given I don't feel compelled to go and read it; I actually rolled my eyes a bit every time Bernard talked about the "real way humans are" Not that I do not agree, but he was too pushy with his view, too black and white, and I just don't like that. I like my characters a bit more gray. 


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka



No picture this time sorry, I forgot :(

Why did I read this book?

I heard beautiful things said about this book at Bookrageous. The premise was short and full of sentiment and it completely delivered.

What's the book about?

This is the story of Japanese women who came into the States right before WWII as "picture brides". They traveled the ocean to meet their husband, whom they only met before through pictures. They arrived with the American dream and nightmare at the same time. We hear multiple voices speaking as one and see how their life changed after that boat trip.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

Otsuka has a powerful way of transferring feelings by word. The happiness, the pride, the pain felt by all these women is palpable in the book. Sometimes the situations are so full of meaning that I had to put the book down and just breathe. It was a beautiful, complete research and it shows how deep into the subject she went. I also really liked the fact that the book was written in first person plural, which made all the different event merge into a big life full of everything there is to feel.

What about the main character?

As I mentioned is panoply of voices altogether. But I think the main character is being foreign. Not knowing what is ahead, adapting to a new culture, new way of living without losing our ways, what makes us who we are. 

Final thoughts

It's been quite a while since I read something this short yet so full of everything. It was beautiful to read, touching, eloquent, sweet and sad. I felt the need to share it with someone the moment I finished it, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so. It was a perfect transition to Gone Girl, since they do not resemble in any way. By reading this tiny book I can't help but to want to read Otsuka's debut novel When the Emperor Was Divine, and it has been added to my TBR pile.