December 17, 2014

My Autumn of Silent Escapist Reading

Hi everybody! :) As you've probably noticed, I haven't been in the mood to post for the whole autumn. I've also sucked at commenting and participating in events, and I'm truly sorry for this. I'm not sure what's happening to my reading habits, but my attention span is still very short, and now I shun from classics and big books and often pick books on a whim. I don't like it, as I usually enjoy being organized (and it's a pity I'm not finishing any of my challenges, the year has started so well!), but I can't do anything about it. Also, I'm reading much less now and am much more likely to play a game or watch a movie/series instead. Well, I hope it's just a short period...

Nevertheless, I HAVE been reading and I have missed blogging in the short moments of activeness. So it feels good to finally write a post :)

For starters, I've decided to make a small recap of what I read this autumn in the format of mini-reviews. These are really good books, and most of them are, I guess, unknown to many readers, so let me tell you more about them! :)

Title: Y: The Last Man
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
First published: 2003-2008
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★★

This 10-volume comics was October's book of choice for Coursera Fantasy and Sci Fi book club, and I loved it so much! It tells about a sudden epidemic of unknown origin which results in wiping out all the male population on Earth. All except Yorick and his monkey Ampersand. See? How can one NOT love a story with a plot like this? :) Add some great humor, kick-ass characters, amazing plot, beautiful pictures and an oh-so-great finale - and you get Y: The Last Man.

In my book: An awesome, awesome story. Read it.

Title: Spectrum
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
First published: 2002
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: ★★★★★

This is my favorite Lukyanenko book, and I've read them all! :) It is also a standalone novel rather than a part of the series, which I also appreciate. Unfortunately, it is not translated into English yet, although it is very popular in some European countries. US publishers are just soooo bad at seeing further than the ends of their noses. As nearly every Lukyanenko book, Spectrum features a very likable hero stumble over some mystery of the universe and forced to make difficult decisions. The book is very clever and philosophical and yet packed with action and suspense and great world-building. I'm very glad I've re-read it!

In my book: This novel is like an old friend which, when you meet after a long time apart, never fails to keep you up all night while discussing philosophical problems and drinking wine :)

Title: Hard to Be a God
Author: Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
First published: 1964
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Another great Russian Sci-Fi novel, Hard to Be a God is also an old favourite. It tells about a historian from Earth doing research on a "medieval" planet. He poses as a noble and has to observe and cautiously encourage progress without getting too involved and unnaturally changing the course of history. But pretending to be someone else for so long is not easy, and with obtaining more relations it's hard to stay impassive during a shocking twist in the planet's historical course. Re-reading the novel as an adult dimmed my initial impression of it a bit, as the moral became much more obvious. But it's a great book nevertheless!

In my book: Still very relevant and makes you think a lot. And the main character is great.

Title: Night Watch
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
First published: 1998
Add it: GoodreadsBook Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

As I've already mentioned, Lukyanenko is great, and luckily this book is translated into English, so it is an introduction to his writing for many readers. Which is a pity, because in my opinion it is not his best book, and the continuation of the series gets worse. I've read three out of (already) six books and don't intend to continue. The first one is still good though, if only a bit simplistic. The idea is that there are magicians between us, and they have two guilds: the Light and the Dark (I know, so obvious!) and they have some kind of a pact which ensures that they don't destroy each other. So it's "battles for souls" mixed with political plots to get round the pact.

In my book: Rather fun if you don't get sick of this whole Light/Dark opposition stuff.

Title: The Last Wish
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
First published: 1992
Add it: GoodreadsBook Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

You can already tell this autumn was full of Eastern European fantasy/sci-fi, right? :D Well, here's a super-popular polish fantasy saga, which inspired a computer game, dozens of spin-offs, fanfics, etc. I even have two friends who participated in role-playing games based on The Witcher world. The book is a collection of short stories telling about separate adventures of a Witcher - a guy specifically trained to kill different evil supernatural beings. I loved how Sapkowski took different Slavic fairy tale tropes and turned them into an entertaining and sometimes funny heroic saga.

In my book: An iconic novel, Slavic fantasy at its best. Recommended!

Title: The Master and Margarita
Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
First published: 1967
Add it: GoodreadsBook Depository
Rating: ★★★★★

This is a classic of Russian lit, which is unlike any other book. For most of high school students in Russia this is the only book they like from the school program, even though I bet none of them understand much of it. To tell you the truth I can't say I understood everything even after this re-reading, and I hope I can say that I'm now a more experienced reader then I was in the 11th grade :) Anyway, the novel is a satire about early Soviet era, and is set in Moscow in the 1930s. But it also has a plot line which tells about Pontius Pilate and the two intertwine through Master - a writer with a difficult fate, who wrote a story about ancient Jerusalem. The architecture of the novel, the beautiful language, the characters, the scaring hilarity of the dialogues, the macabre mood of it all - Bulgakov IS the real Master, and I can't possibly over-recommend this book :)

In my book: Just read it, OK? Nothing more that I can say :)

That's it! I have a couple of stand-alone reviews coming (hopefully soon) and I'm thinking about doing some year overview. We'll see if I have time and enthusiasm for that :)


  1. So glad to see you back, Ekaterina. Sometimes it's nice to have some quiet time and a change of habits. It can be renewing.

    I loved The Master and Margarita. I didn't understand the underlying themes of some of it, but it was quite an original work. I would love to be able to read it in Russian, but sadly that's not going to happen. I have Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog on my bookshelves. Maybe I should pull it off and read it soon.

    1. Thank you, cleopatra! Heart of a Dog is also very good, and it's a much shorter read besides. You will not be disappointed! :)

  2. I was just thinking about you the other day - great to see you posting :)

    Yay M&M - I wonder if it's enough time from my previous re-read to read it again... (2 years? maybe).

    I also want to try some Lukyanenko, have heard some buzz.

    I assume you read The Last Wish in English? How was the translation? I've been almost picking it up for n+1 times, but been scared away from people saying how horrible the English translation is (Polish friends). But it's not like there's going to be another English translation, so I guess I have to either just do it, or learn Polish - thehehe.

    1. Thanks, Riv! :)

      I know people who re-read M&M nearly every year, so two must be enough :)

      Oh, DO try Lukyanenko! He's so awesome! And I'm sure there are Estonian translations, he's very popular in Eastern Europe. Spectrum or Labyrinth of Reflections are to my mind the two best starting points.

      No, I read The Last Wish in Russian, and the translation was very good! I think it might be difficult to translate all the rural words which contribute to the mood of the book. Again, have you checked for Estonian translations?

    2. :o :o :o *facepalm* I LOVE YOU. Yes there is an Estonian translation of The Last Wish... ... ... For some reason the thought never occurred to me? Which is weird because I much prefer Slavic texts translated into Estonian instead of English...

      I'll have to hunt down the book, but it looks like it at least exists :)

    3. You're welcome :) I hope it's better than the English one :)


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