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!

October 16, 2016

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Review)

Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
First published: 2013
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Are you afraid of Google? If you think of it, the amount of information it knows about you is pretty unsettling. But the majority of people are OK with that because it makes their lives easier in so many ways. I personally am one of them. But what if people continue being OK with everything it introduces and as a result, they end up abandoning their right to privacy completely for the sake of safety and transparency? It's a 21st century kind of Utopia, and one very easy to imagine.

The book starts with Maya's first day on a shining high-tech campus of a huge search engine / social network / everything company called the Circle. She can't be happier to land the job, although the demands are pretty high. She integrates more and more into company's life while disintegrating from her friends and family. Eventually, she becomes the center of the big changes in the company's policies and services.

I really enjoyed the writing. Well, maybe "enjoyed" is a wrong word, let's say it was very appropriate. It was unstoppable and hectic, as constant updates and notifications are. You can feel how excruciating being always online and worrying about it can be. Everything is happening in the real world and then of course the immediate flow of comments and likes comes. You can feel the irritation growing inside you as you are always told what's happening on the virtual plane too. And it is really great writing, because this is exactly how the characters' brains work - always paying attention to the flow of reactions on the Internet.

I liked how Eggers explored a lot of possible consequences of every new technology, it is all very believable. Sometimes what was happening was a tad bit over the top though, so no fifth star here, but a great read nonetheless.

In my book: A perfect read for both technology junkies and those who are wary of this whole new online thing.

October 8, 2016

All That Is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon (Review)

Title: All That Is Solid Melts into Air
Author: Darragh McKeon
First published: 2014
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★★

I've just returned from an Italian holiday! Love this country: food and Renaissance are both amazing! Before the journey, I had thought for quite some time about what I wanted to read on the trains, and had decided on probably the least holiday-themed book ever. But somehow, it fitted perfectly. The thing is, I went on this trip with my mom, and we always have these heated discussions about politics and Soviet Union. She's often resentful of me being so negative about the whole period. I guess she's nostalgic of the era of her crazy young life, or maybe the propaganda is so ingrained into your brain that you can't easily get rid of it. I try to listen to her, but I can't but remember all the facts that I've read and that are painting a very different picture than what she remembers. The picture this book paints, for example, is not pretty. It is true and painful and urgent and shows exactly what was wrong with the social system in Soviet Union at the time of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

I'm usually skeptical about non-soviet authors writing about soviet times. True, there is such thing as research, but I didn't believe you could write based on research as believably as if you'd lived it. Well, this book proves me wrong. Every little detail rings true, beginning with the mundane stuff like living arrangements to the unsaid fears deep in the people's minds. The writing is very vivid and precise, and it lulls you into the atmosphere of the book so that it's very difficult to put down.

I admit I didn't know much about Chernobyl meltdown before reading this book, just the basics. As it turns out, the catastrophe was much more horrible than I could have imagined. And the most horrifying thing is not radiation itself, it's how the system prevented any kind of effective counter-actions. There was even no backup plan or emergency procedure, because preparing them would mean admitting the plant could fail, and that's just unthinkable, right? If you just imagine how many lives could have been spared if they actually counted for something! Medical advice was ignored to honor subordination and save the face of the officials and the nation and people were treated.. well, in the same way as people were always treated in Soviet Union.

In my book: A very powerful book that shows the big picture of the catastrophe and the small, individual picture of the lives of the people caught in its whirlwind. Really stunning!
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