December 17, 2016

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown (Review)

adulting review
Title: Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
First Published: 2013
Rating: ★★★★☆

If you are an adult, I bet that sometimes (or often as in my case) you lament the amount of shit you have to take care of on a daily basis. Remember how easy it was when you were a kid? You do your homework, help about the house, read a poem... And this is enough for people to accept you as an accomplished human being. Not so easy now, not so easy! 

On the other hand, as rightly points out, the feeling of accomplishment after you've nailed a complicated adult situation is worth straining your will. From house maintenance to job interviews to handling a breakup - Adulting covers a lot of issues that you have no idea about until they manifest themselves in your live and you're like WHAT?

The book is a bit too US centered so you may just skip the tax returns and retirement plans is they don't apply to you, but the general idea is still valid - you should totally take care of this shit or else it will take care of your undoing. Overall, after reading this I don't feel overwhelmed, rather reassured. I mean, it's totally doable, so chances are I can manage too.

In my book: An encouraging read for those who despair over dish washing, car maintenance or handling social events with grace.

December 15, 2016

Alif the Unseen by G.Willow Wilson (Review)

Title: Alif the Unseen
Author: G.Willow Wilson
First published:  2012
Add it: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Since I started learning Arabic in summer, I'm trying to also learn more about the Middle East, because frankly speaking, my ignorance is vast and unpardonable. Alif the Unseen combines all the stuff that I love so much in books - computer sci-fi and urban fantasy - set on a backdrop of one of the rich oil cities in the Middle East. And the setting is not just a prop - the background defines the characters and the storyline, and the reader learns so much while not being explicitly lectured.

Alif is a young and poor computer genius who earns money by providing online anonymity to everyone who needs it. As social unrest breaks into Arab Spring revolutions across the region, the government becomes less and less happy with Alif, and BIG PROBLEMS are looming in front of him. Alif, of course, is more concerned about his girl issue, because, well, hormones. When shit hits the fan, he has to make some tough decisions and seek help in unimaginable places. But I won't tell you more of the plot, do yourself a favor and read the book :)

I loved how Alif the Unseen tackles the social and religious aspects of life in the nameless City - without any kind of judgment, very matter-of-factly. The wild mix of characters lets the reader observe a lot of facets of life in a Muslim police state and make her own opinions on them. There is also a very powerful message that however different people are, they can work together if they respect each other, and this is the only way to get things changed for the best.

My only problem with the book was how programming issues are tackled (professional deformation, you know :)) and that sometimes the action just stops so that the characters have time to philosophize about IMPORTANT STUFF. But, you know, these are minor problems in an overall great book.

In my book: An exciting sci-fi + fantasy read that also gives you tons of interesting insights of the Middle East life.

December 13, 2016

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Review)

Title: Mom & Me & Mom
Author: Maya Angelou
First published:  2013
Add it: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

This is the last pick for Our Shared Shelf reading group organized by Emma Watson. I've enjoyed reading along with the community because it has made me pick a lot of books that I wouldn't even consider reading otherwise. That said, it was a 50/50 hit/miss for me: some books I loved and some hated, but it was a great journey nevertheless.

Mom & Me & Mom was one of the books I didn't enjoy. The writing is overly simplistic and disconnected - jumping from story to story skipping whole years. A lot of stuff got glossed over - like, who mentions being raped in childhood and then just goes further without elaborating?? It's kinda important, you know?

I'm aware that Angelou has other autobiographies and perhaps for readers who are familiar with them or who at least know who she is, the book would have made more sense. I have never heard about Angelou before and I still feel like I don't know her, even after reading her autobiography. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's how autobiographies SHOULD work.

In my book: A confusing read.

December 12, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? December 12th

In an effort to staying more organized in my reading, I've decided to join the Monday party of updates hosted at Book Date. Monday update posts are my favorite in a blog update feed - I love peeking at what everybody around is reading - it's like creepily trying to read the title of a book your fellow morning commuter is engrossed with.

What I Read Last Week:

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

I've struggled through 50 pages of the book and then gave up. More on that failure later :)

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

A very matter-of-fact and encouraging read. I was inspired to pick it up because I was moving to another flat and pretty depressed with this whole boring and difficult adult thing. 

What I Am Reading Now:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

For my WEM project. The book is very big and heavy so I only read it at home, which greatly slows the process, as I'm constantly on the move. I'm about 1/5 through now and although it is funny and clever at times, it's very tiring to read because of wordiness and repetitiveness.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

This is a heartbreaking but essential read. Very difficult to read emotionally but very worth it too.

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Philip G. Zimbardo

The book is very interesting and educative, but the author is not a master of concise writing, so it's taking more time than I've expected. Still, I'm nearing the end of the book already :)

And what are YOU reading this Monday? Join in the fun!

December 11, 2016

The Modigliani Scandal by Ken Follett (Review)

Title: The Modigliani Scandal
Author: Ken Follett
First published: 1976
Add it: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It was my first Ken Follett, and I was so prepared to love it - I know people who are HUGE fans. But before committing to some of his giants, I've decided to read something smaller (besides it was a bargain on Book Depository). Well, maybe this was my mistake - to start with a less known and praised work. I did not like The Modigliani Scandal.

I feel shortness might actually be one of the main sources of problems in the novel. The characters feel like props and the plot goes fast and is not very elaborated. Most of the key shocking revelations I have guessed in advance and characters behaved pretty predictably.

I love the art world atmosphere and it was nice to glance a bit behind the scenes of the art world, yet some of the plot twists depended on people behaving highly unprofessionally and I'm wondering now if this is even slightly close to the true situation. But then the book is rather old, so it's very possible that security standards have changed a lot since then.

In my book: A fast-paced but not very elaborate or complicated novel.

December 10, 2016

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Review)

simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda by becky albertalli review cover
Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
First published: 2015
Add it: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Weirdly, I like books about high school. They are so angsty and emotional and sometimes calling for facepalms every second page. But hey, we all remember we WERE that crazy at this young age. Anyway, these books usually end with the main character growing somewhat and hopefully figuring his or her shit out. This is more difficult to achieve for this book's protagonist, as he's not out yet, blackmailed about his orientation, and oh yes - in love with an anonymous dude online that might just be from his school.

Simon's life situation pretty much sucks, but he always stays funny, committed to remaining a decent human being and even sometimes considerate of others - unthinkable for a high-schooler! Characters are what make the book so fluffy - most of them are instantly likable (apart from some occasional unnamed jerks) and accepting and even reasonable in situations when it matters. I think it's one problem I had with this books - I mean, come on, why does everything need to go smoothly?

Nevertheless, I was left with a happy feeling of satisfaction at the ending, and am glad I've bought the book. It's a fast and funny read, and Facebook scavenger hunt MUST be a real thing! Seriously, let's all play that :)

In my book: A cute little book which tells you that sometimes it doesn't suck to be a teenager that much :)

October 28, 2016

The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Review)

Title: The Twelve
Author: Justin Cronin
First published: 2012
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Do you have a topic that makes you instantly suspicious of a book? For me it's vampires! I immediately start figuring out if it's YA and if the vampires happen to be hot and sparkly. You can tell I'm not a fan of the humiliating transformation these terrifying creatures of the night have undergone in modern culture.

But Cronin's vampires are properly and dignifyingly scary! It's the second book in the series, but probably I liked it even more than the first. There are old acquaintances and new characters, both so real that you feel like you can hear their thoughts and feel what they feel. More is told about the first days after the infection spread and we also see more ways in which groups of people have learned to survive as a society.

The whole plot feels like a blur of disjoint puzzle pieces, which, as you read on, start to fit into the whole picture with the most satisfying clicks. I'm very intrigued about the third book now. Although I don't remember The Passage (the first in the series) very clearly, I think there was not much information about "patient zero", and he should be the main character of the last book of the trilogy!

In my book: An awesomely written, gripping vampire apocalypse!

October 23, 2016

Dewey's End of Readathon Survey

I've done it!! I've read for about 13.5 hours in the past 24 hours, which is pretty awesome! I'm not a very fast reader, so it amounts only to 622 pages, but hey, the font was small! :D Check out my progress notes on the bookmark to the right! And here goes the end of the event survey!

Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 3, I guess. I always get very sleepy after lunch, and I only had 5 hours of sleep the night before. So I indulged :)

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
The second book that I've started today - Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - is a very funny and easy read, and you also root for the main character

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?
I wish it was not on the weekend after the new Civilization release because keeping my laptop shut down was especially difficult today ;-P But readathon happens about 12 times more often than new Civ games so I guess the chances of this ever happening again are thin))

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Drinking mate tea! Much better than coffee in the long run!

How many books did you read? What were the names of the books you read?
I read the last 2/3 of The Twelve by Justing Cronin and the first half of the abovementioned Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Which book did you enjoy most? Which did you enjoy least?
I guess The Twelve was a bit too intense for a whole-day immersion. Simon is more enjoyable so far, I'll probably continue reading it even though the event has ended))

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very likely! The event was a blast, especially the twitter discussions and the challenges! Can't thank the organizers enough for putting this together! You're the best!

October 22, 2016

Dewey's Opening Questions

I'm so excited about the start of readathon!! Hour zero is 10 mins away and here I am taking part in the opening meme: 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Czech Republic!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Kinder surprises! Chocolate - yum!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm a Ph.D. student in speech recognition, travel enthusiast, and book lover!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I did participate once but life got in the way. The one thing I'll do differently today is switching off Facebook, hehe:)

Good luck to all of us!

October 19, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Sign-Up.

As nothing particularly exciting is going to happen around here this weekend, I plan to SIT AND READ with Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon! Seriously, I think this is the first time I might actually be able to fully participate in this famous and awesome readathon. I'm excited, and I plan to get prepared well: cook the food, shut down facebook and get some good sleep the night before.

Here's a picture of books I'll have to choose from this weekend:

I have the WEM monster by Cervantes, from which I hope to read some chapters, the gripping Cronin masterpiece that I'm already half-way through and hope to finish, and three rather thin books to keep things lively around here. I'm especially excited about Simon, I've read great reviews! Where to you think I should start?

I plan to update my reading progress on Goodreads, which is also shared on Twitter. And maybe I'll do some hourly challenges here if my internet connection behaves. And we'll see how many hours out of 24 I'm able to read)) I'm excited!!

Drop me a link to where you'll be updating if you're planning to participate too!
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