Monday, October 28, 2013

The Nightmare by Lars Kepler





Why I read this book?  

This is the second book starring detective Joona Lina. I really enjoyed the Hypnotist and I was looking forward the second installment of the series.  Also it makes part of my Sequel Challenge.

What's the book about?


Once again, inspector Joona Lina is confronted by a series of unusual murders. It is more of a police thriller than a noir novella though, and readers should be warned that the darkness present in the first book is almost completely gone in this one.

What about the main character?


In this matter, the story is consistent with the first book. Joona is still a very bright detective, capable of seeing the disconnected dots better than anyone. His personal live is a bit in shambles, but as he did in the first book, this will not affect his prior compromise to solving the crime.

Final thoughts

I was SO disappointed at this book. I gave a 5 to The Hypnotist, and it kept me in the border of my chair, wondering what new dark twist would be ahead. I've really enjoyed the books of Camilla Läckberg and off course Åsa and Stieg Larsson so I thought this sequel would keep the same line of a noir novella I so enjoy.

At a certain point I thought they were going to start using the nightmares as a psychological tool, now is going to get dark...it didn't.

I was also looking forward to more music related drama, since the name in Swedish makes reference to Paganini. There was some mention...but once again I was disappointed with this aspect.

The book is not bad, as a crime thriller I enjoyed it, is just that I was expecting a different type of story. If I remove my expectations, the book is good, is entertaining. I think there are some weird moments probably related to the translation, but since my Swedish is nothing more than under basic, I do not feel like I have the right to criticize this part. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson

Put passion ahead of training

Why I read this book?

While listening to the Nature podcast this April I learned about this book. Needless to say, as a young scientist myself I went to get it immediately. I couldn't read it until know, and boy, was I missing out!

What's the book about?


Edward Wilson is a renowned scientist, particularly in the fields of entomology and sociobiology. He has won several prizes, including a Pulitzer, and in this book he shares his views as how he "made it" in science. From making the decision to work in science through the difficulties of the scientific method, up to that inevitable moment when you doubt yourself, Wilson talks about how he felt, how he confronted different challenges, all while talking directly to the reader

Final thoughts
I took so much from this book. I realised half way through that I was taking a quote from almost every single mini chapter. There were moments when I put the book down and sight deeply because I identified with the struggle he was describing; moments were I felt like tears might be coming because I felt like a sweet grandfather was holding my hand and telling me everything would be ok. The book opens with this line:

                You made the right choice [...] the world needs you --badly. 

 I'm telling you people, some days you really wonder if you did make the right choice, getting into science, because is so easy to get discouraged, with experiments that won't work, people that will doubt the very core of your ideas...but you have to go on, and this book is full of encouragement. I would highly recommend this book to everyone with a career in science, whether they are starting, in the middle or retiring; for these last ones, I'm sure it will bring you fond memories of when you were just beginning in this path. 



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake



Why I read this book?

Last year I read the first book of the series and really liked Blake's style. I waited for the paperback to be available, to add it to my collection. It also makes part of my R.I.P VIII challenge, as well as my Sequel Challenge. Also this is the first book I've ever bought from the Book Depository!!

What's the book about?

As we saw in the first book, Cas has lost Anna; she saved his life. But Cas is sure she is still around; he sees her, once in a while but in the most inconvenient moments, including when he is trying to get rid of more ghosts. When looking for an answer he will learn more about his atame and his own role in "cleaning" the Earth of lost souls.

What about the main character?

Cas didn't change much between books, and this is a good thing. He kept his bitter humor and his loyalty to friends, while remaining a bit smug about himself. I liked that in this book he seems a bit more fragile without turning weak.

Final thoughts

The thing I liked the most about this book was the back story of the order; learning how and why the Atame was made and about Cas's father role in all this was interesting. I also enjoyed seeing Thomas character grow a bit more, both as a witch and as a friend. The change of scenery was nice too, but I wish Blake would've exploited this a bit more; sometimes while reading a part that was settled in London, the lack of descriptions made me come back to the US inevitably. I am a person that enjoys full scene building.
 
I didn't particularly care for Carmel in this installment of the story, I liked her better in the first book. As for Anna, I wished she would've had a bigger role in the book just because I enjoyed her so much as a ghost before.
 
In all it was a good closing for the story, an entertaining read, not to light, not to heavy. I would certainly recommend this book for everyone who enjoyed the first one.





Monday, October 14, 2013

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman




Being very small and very young, the only power Matilda had over anyone in her family was brainpower –Roald Dahl

Why I read this book?

I heard about this book last year, and I'm a sucker for memoirs. My boyfriend gave me the book for Christmas, but unfortunately I couldn't start it before now.

What's the book about?

The book tells us the story of Deborah Feldman, from very young age until the moment she left her Hasidic community. She tells us about different traditions and things that are taken from granted in such community.

What about the main character?

At first I liked Feldman’s voice and found her childhood story very touching and very compelling. However, as she grew up I found her less and less sympathetic. She portrays herself as someone very critic since she was a child, even when this criticism will get her in a lot of trouble with her family.

Final thoughts

The book is not a bad book, but is not great either. Let’s start with the things I did enjoy. I liked the insight views from the community. I like to learn about other’s traditions and off course is always better when you learn through a person that lived them and knows the thought behind it. I like the rhythm of the story and I liked Deborah as a child.

I did not like however that as she grew up and supposedly she grew more and more conscious of the things bothering her from her community, she victimizes her more and more; it felt a bit like she wanted people to feel pity for her. While I can only imagine how hard it has to be to change your life so radically as she did, I would’ve expected her take a more powerful voice, and not to portray herself as someone that seemed weaker as a woman than as a child. Also, and this is just me being a scientist reading a non-fiction book, there are some items that seems way too farfetched for me (the shingles infection for example).

I would’ve appreciated a glossary, since she uses a lot of Yiddish words. Sometimes she explains them but other she just mentions them, and while it is possible to infer the meaning from the context I would found myself misunderstanding the sentence once in a while if I didn’t look up the word.

Again, I cannot know how hard it was for her to change her life the way she did it, but I think she would have a more compelling case if the book read more like an empowering journey.



In the physics of imagination, this is the rule: a child can only accept a just world








The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood




The thing that ruins families these days is the husbands

Why I read this book?

Rebbecca from Book Riot raves about Margaret Atwood. After seeing an amazing interview with her I decided it was time to start from the beginning. I was not disappointed.

What's the book about?

Marian is a girl working with a survey enterprise. She is dating a guy, without any pressure…and then he proposes, which being the 60’s is supposed to make you happy, right? Except…her daily routine changes; she cannot longer eat. Thinking of eating even makes her stomach move. The closer and the more public the engagement and hence the marriage the hardest it is for her to eat anything, could it be that her body is telling her something she doesn’t want to see?

What about the main character?

Marian McAlpin is a complicated character. At first she seemed pretty plain, but as the book advances she grows, not only as a character, but as a presence. Her point of views, her fears are in way of critics to the world that she, as a woman, is supposed to accept, but she won’t! And I liked her!

Final thoughts

I really, really liked this book. The first part starts as a first person point of view, we see Marian’s doubt, her views on her friends and acquaintances, on the world. When she gets engaged and “becomes the fiancée” character, the story turns to be told from a by standard point of view, the way Marian starts feeling about her life, like she has no control. It will take her a while to realize that’s what is bothering her but watch out for when she does. The side characters would seem are there to reinforce the ideas that are dancing in her head, whether compromising or rebellious. I was surprised by the way things end up, by the last twist, but it was a pleasant surprise. This was indeed a great start to be introduce to Mrs Atwood, and I foresee a great deal of her work in my future.


The Demonologist, A novel by Andrew Pyper




Million of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.
John Milton-Paradise Lost
Why I read this book?

Another audiobook this year. I've heard great things about it and in the spirit of the R.I.P challenge I went for it.

What's the book about?

David Ullman is a professor from Columbia University. Although he teaches about Milton’s Paradise Lost, he considers himself an atheist and could not care less for about the supernatural world. As everything seems to be falling apart in his personal life, his believes will be put to a test when he loses his daughter to what seem to be a Demon. 

What about the main character?

David is a very depressive person. As he calls it, melancholy has been a constant in his life. An atheist, an unbeliever ever since young age when he lost his brother. Everything in his personal life seems to be falling apart as we begin the book; his wife is leaving him for another professor, his best friend is sick and depression seems to be getting stronger, even though he fights it for his daughter. One amazing characteristic about him is that he loves Tess (the daughter) so much that he will risk his life, his psyche and anything necessary to recover her. 

Final thoughts:

When I saw that this book was compared to The Historian I was afraid since I was VERY disappointed at that book. However, I really enjoyed The Demonologist. It was a perfect read (eh, audio) for October. The audio has a very good narrator, John Bedford Lloyd, who adds to the story. He really committed to the voices, specially the demon. At certain point I was walking back home, at night…at actually got scared while listening to it.

I think the book is very entertaining and has a good pace, enough background (history, mythology) to teach you a bit, without feeling like a lecture, which is one of the problems I had with The Historian. 


City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare




Why I read this book?

This is the second book in the Mortal Instrument Series. After reading the first one, I decided to give it a try to the whole series. Also it makes part of my Sequel Challenge. I would suggest if you haven’t read City of Bones, you stop reading right now.

What's the book about?

From the first book we learned that Clary is not a “mundane” and that she is actually the sibling of our charming Jace and they are the progeny of Valentine. In this book, Not only is Valentine back, stealing yet another one of the mortal instruments, but also Jace is considered suspicious and believed to be helping his father. On the not-other-world related stuff Clary is beginning to see Simon as more than her best friend.

What about the main character?

Has Clary gotten a bit deeper as a character since last time? Maybe a bit, however what I did of her was her dynamics with other characters around her. Since last review I commented mostly on her, let’s talk a bit about Jace. He is still a bit full of himself, but with so much pain coming from within (Valentine related, Clary related) we begin to see glimpses of a, if not sentimental, more emotional Jace.

Final thoughts

Although I cannot say that anything shown in this book came as a surprise, I have to admit it was an entertaining reading. I don’t like the fact that every teen female character is portrayed as easily swayed by a guy, but at least Isabelle can kick some ass once in a while. 

In paper it took me longer to read this book than it actually did. I started it and then I got 3 books from the library and off course this took precedent. When I actually sat down to only read this book it was an easy read. 

I am still expecting to Clary to become a bit more of a heavy character; even though the series is supposed to be about her it feels like she just goes with the motions and that annoys me a bit.

 

This is book makes part of my Sequel Challenge :)