Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Harari first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011 and in English in 2014. It’s a fantastic book that wraps 10 000 years of human history in just 443 pages. Sapiens gives us very interesting topics to ponder upon: why did our species win, why do we believe in such imaginative things as gods, nations, laws and human rights. What we are really doing to our planet. And at this rate, what is ahead of us.

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Harari’s writing is very provocative and sarcastic. He questions everything about history and about who do we think we are. I think the most shocking part for me was the murder mystery at the beginning of the book, to read that how yes just 100 000 years ago, there were six different human species. And what happened to five of them? There is the interbreeding theory, yet it is also possible that we became the victorious group through a genocide. And it’s not too hard to believe that other species were hunted down and killed by our ancestors when we keep in mind what has happened in the last few centuries to aboriginal people of different countries and to other mammals.

“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  Needless to say, I very much enjoyed reading both Sapiens and its sequel Homo Deus written by Harari, they were both just dizzyingly good. I don’t think I fully understood the process of evolution and how we are no different from other mammals before reading it. However, I didn’t like how the author kept rambling and at times it felt like some issues were being repeated one too many times.

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars.

Tips
1.I recommend this book for everyone because it changes the way you think.
2. There’s a wonderful sequel to this book called Homo Deus.
3. Harari doesn’t use any difficult words and his thought process is very easy to follow.

To end this post, I’d like to urge you to go to watch Harari’s TED talk “Why humans run the world” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzj7Wg4DAbs and add this book on your to-be-read-pile if you haven’t yet.

Thoughts? Have you read this?

~ Anastasia

 

How-To Catch a Falling Star

“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust is a novel by British writer Neil Gaiman, published with illustrations by Charles Vess in 1999. It tells a story Tristran Thorn who promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from a dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. And Tristran soon discovers that stars are not how he imagined them to be.

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust was I think the second book I read by Neil Gaiman, first one being Neverwhere. I adore his writing and have to agree with Stephen King when he said that “Gaiman is a treasure-house of story and we are lucky to have him”. Stardust is a beautiful fairytale targeted more to adult readers, and it’s a wonderful thing that someone writes fairytales for adults.

“It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours, and then be willing to let it go.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at the stars because we are human?”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars. I’d give more but the problem here lies in me loving  Neverwhere and  American Gods even more.

Tips
1.
You´ll adore Stardust if you love fantasy and if you like books like The Princess Bride or works of Lord Dunsany.
2. It’s a quick read because it’s a short read, under 250 pages and because Gaiman writes so brilliantly.
3.
If you love reading fairytales, here’s one you should read.
4.
You can read an excerpt of Stardust here.
5.
There is a  good film adaptation of the book from 2007.

Have you read Neil Gaiman’s books? Have you read this?

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

How an Angel And a Devil Fell in Love

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fantasy novel written by Laini Taylor. It was published in 2011.  The story follows Karou, a seventeen-year-old Prague art student. Karou has bright blue hair and she was raised by chimera, or creatures that have attributes of different animals and humans. The chimera she lives with demand teeth in exchange for wishes and send Karou to fetch these teeth for them. In the beginning, Karou has yet to discover what the teeth are eventually used for. While on one of these missions, Karou meets a seraph named Akiva, and seemingly this is not the first time the two of them meet.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

I read this book for the first time almost four years ago. First of all, I adore the covers of this book. The feathers and the mask really put you in the right mood. Moreover, I enjoyed the little passages like the one above. There is the classic Once Upon a time beginning, however after that something is different. Something goes wrong. And clearly it will not end in happily ever after. Then, I really loved the setting of this book. Prague is such a gorgeous city and it has that air of mystery about it. You never know what kind of creatures might hide there.

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

What I didn’t like was perhaps the romance. It didn’t exactly bother me but the concept of forbidden love and angels falling in love with devils is kind of very worn out in young adult literature. I do think, however that Taylor realized it in an expert manner.

“Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters.
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

All in all, Daugher of Smoke and Bone is incredibly smart, surprising, funny and unforgettable. (I mean here I am reviewing it  four years after I first read it.
I’d rate this book 4/5 stars.

Tips

1.I warmly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy and paranormal.
2. There are two more books in this trilogy called  Days of Blood and Starlight & Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I plan to review those two on my blog soon so heads up.
3. If you’re even tiny bit interested of this book, I really recommend visiting the official Tumblr site for Laini Taylor’s series. Because there you can find this amazing art such as this one here below:

4. A perfect book to take with you to Prague. So basically you should buy this book and book a flight there.
5. There might be a film adaptation in the future.

Have you read this? Thoughts?

~Anastasia

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Ten Books I Loved More/Less Than I Thought I Would”. Here are recent reads I never expected to like as much as I did:

The Demonata series by Darren Shan

“There’s something different about you,” he says.
“I’ve started styling my hair differently,” I laugh.
“Oh. I thought it was that you were three feet taller, a hell of a lot broader, look like a werewolf, and are naked expect for that bit of cloth around your waist. But you’re right – it’s the hair.”
― Darren Shan, Wolf Island

The Demonata is a series of books by best selling author Darren Shan. It deals with the world of demons. I’m still reading the last books of this series but I very warmly recommend these books to fans of Cirque du Freak and fans of horror. By the way, I really like the cover art of these, they’re odd in a way but very fitting.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

“Know what?”
“I didn’t you see. I thought trees stood up straight… I only found out just now. They actually stand with both arms in the earth, all of them. Look, look, over there, aren’t you surprised? Yeong-hye sprang up and pointed to the window. “All of them, they’re all standing on their heads.”
― Han Kang, The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian  is a South Korean three-part drama novella written by Han Kang and first published in 2007. Based on Kang’s 1997 short story “The Fruit of My Woman”, The Vegetarian is set in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of Yeong-hye, a home-maker, whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life.

Very decent kind of a book. I don’t know how to sum it up, so I won’t. I think the Vegetarian beautifully describes madness and the state of mind and how dreams indeed can be very dangerous things. The Vegetarian is beautifully written, absolutely extraordinary story. I thought I was dreaming when Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was mentioned. Her obsessive and maddening dots were just perfect for this.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperiled mankind after two conflicts with the “buggers”, an insectoid alien species. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Also, I think the topic is very good, what if we find extraterrestial life and this would happen? And the ending blew me away…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

“Stories don’t always have happy endings.”
This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect.”
― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls6tag-1486666194-1400766922102349925_1486666194

A Monster Calls is a novel written for children by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay, and published in 2011. It features a boy who struggles to cope with the consequences of his mother’s terminal cancer; he is repeatedly visited in the middle of the night by a monster who tells stories. Dowd was terminally ill with cancer herself when she started the story and died before she could write it… Oh the amount of tears I cried while reading this. Still one of the best books I’ve ever read. And Kay’s illustrations are just stunning.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”
― Marissa Meyer, Cinder

The Lunar Chronicles is a tetralogy of young adult fantasy novels written by American author Marissa Meyer. Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, androids, and a race of moon colonists all coexist. Sounds like a  fantasy lovers dream come true right?

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

“Why must you look like the rest of us? Why do you have to be the one to change? Change the way we see. Don’t change the way you are.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Furthermore

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Furthermore is an absolutely fantastic retelling of Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Reading this was pure ecstasy. After Throne of Glass series I wasn’t sure whether this would reach the same level. I needn’t have worried. ACOTAR had everything I want from fantasy novel: great characters (not to even mention all the fairie males…), marvellous world-building, magic, great dialogue between characters. A Court of Mist and Fury was just as good as this. How long do we still have to wait until ACOWAR comes out…

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

“You’ll make mistakes because it’s impossible to know what is or isn’t a mistake until it’s made.”
― Stephenie Meyer, The Chemist

Surprisingly good! This was by far the best Meyer book I have read. I never was a big fan of Twilight series but this was something completely different. I think Meyer should write more thrillers.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”
― Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Terribly funny, engaging & inspiring!
I love people who have a good sense of humor and who constantly make jokes about everything. So I loved this book! Shonda Rhimes is just amazing. She’s introvert and brutally honest about everything she does and what she thinks about.
I also didn’t expect this to be so humorous. If you have watched Shondaland shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder you know what I’m talking about. Especially Grey’s Anatomy… How many times you have cried watching that?
& Be a doer, not a dreamer.

Sorry for a long post. Sorry no potato like in 9GAG. Pictures of books: my own/ Goodreads, Pinterest, Photobucket.

Happy TTT! Have you read these? What are the books that surprised you?

~ Anastasia

Finding More Time

clock and books

One of the most commonly used excuses I hear is “I don’t have enough time,” or “I’m busy.” While I was listening to a video by Tai Lopez, he said something that I completely agree with. His mentor, Joel Salatin, once told him, “When people tell you that they don’t have time, add two words to the end of it: for that. People make time for things they really want to do.”

Here are a couple tips for finding more time:

  • Eat smaller lunches and use the remainder of the time however you like
  • Sleep for six hours, instead of eight, or nine, or ten
  • Optimize your surroundings so that you are not distracted
  • Prioritize with a to-do list
  • Set goals that will motivate you
  • Innovate with everything you do
  • Commit to any schedule you make
  • Figure out when you are most productive (morning, afternoon, dinner time)
  • Try to avoid wasting time on social media news feeds like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat Stories
  • Stay ahead of house-chores

.

Read the full post for tips on finding more time to read, and how to use your time more effectively. I am really excited about this post, so I hope that you will learn something from it.

-Tyler / thewrightread.com

Introducing Myself

Hello Everyone,

My name is Tyler Wright, and I am Anastasia’s new recruit.

Here is a little bit about me:

  • I am 16 years old
  • I am from the United States
  • I also write book reviews
  • Bodybuilding has quickly become a passion of mine
  • I like dogs more than cats
  • If you couldn’t tell by my name, I am a guy
  • I wear a US size 10 shoe

That was a whole lot of I am this, I am that, so I better mix it up.

In 2008, I went to Disney World for my birthday. The biggest memory I have from that trip is while I was swimming in a pool with my little brother, all-of-the-sudden, he decided that he was afraid of the water. I wasn’t expecting him to cling onto me when he did, and I thought we were both going to drown as I swam to the edge of the pool. I’m sure it wasn’t nearly that dramatic, but everything is a big deal when you’re eight years old.

This summer I am going to Hawaii, which is the first big vacation I have been on since Disney World. I am super excited for that because there is really no good reason to wear a shirt in Hawaii, and five months of bodybuilding is starting to show.

I also really enjoy reading nonfiction books. I am learning so much from them, and it is unbelievable that so many people overlook that genre. I write reviews for biographies, classics, and any other kind of inspiring nonfiction on my website.

I have a couple of ideas for interactive posts, but I want to build a bigger following before then. Tomorrow I will be sharing an excerpt of a post with all of you that I am really excited about.

Please stop by my website: thewrightread.com

I am excited to get to know you guys,

Tyler

Merry Christmas!

Happy Christmas! 🎄Read books ❤ Hope you’ll get bookish presents 🎁

6tag_241216-105136

❤ : Anastasia

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change colour every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing-gum that never loses its taste, and sugar balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up. And, by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds’ eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little DARKRED sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children’s book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka.The story was originally inspired by Roald Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree’s were England’s two largest chocolate makers and they each often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other’s factory.

The plot of this book centers an 11-year-old boy named Charlie Bucket who in lives  in a tiny house with his parents and four grandparents. Every year, on his birthday, Charlie gets one Wonka Bar for present. Then, one year, Willy Wonka decides to open the doors of his factory to five children and their parents after 10 years of keeping it sealed.  In order to choose who will enter the factory and also receive a lifetime supply of chocolate, Mr. Wonka hides five golden tickets in the wrappers of his Wonka chocolate bars. The search for the five golden tickets is fast and furious. Each ticket find is a media sensation and each finder becomes a celebrity. The first four golden tickets are found by Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee.

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

And of course, eventually, the fifth golden ticket is found by Charlie Bucket. Factory visit, however, is far from an ordinary one. In fact, quite a lot of things go very wrong.

 

I adore Roald Dahl’s books. When I read it for the first time when I was a kid, it was a magical experience. I loved the characters, very poor Charlie, gluttonous Augustus,  spoiled  spoiled Veruca,gum addict Violet, and the TV-obsessed Mike and parents or relatives of these children, mad & genius Willy Wonka (I mean just think about how he invented television chocolate)  & mysterious Oompa Loompas.

“Whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all if it hasnt been whipped with whips, just like poached eggs isn’t poached eggs unless it’s been stolen in the dead of the night.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I loved the puns and the made-up words. Quentin Blake’s illustrations are just perfect for Roald Dahl’s books.

“Of course they’re real people. They’re Oompa-Loompas…Imported direct from Loompaland…And oh what a terrible country it is! Nothing but thick jungles infested by the most dangerous beasts in the world – hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles. A whangdoodle would eat ten Oompa-Loompas for breakfast and come galloping back for a second helping.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

For many years I longed for golden ticket to be a real thing…
5/5 stars

How-To Read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

1.This is for children of all ages.  think every kid should read this / all the parents should read this to their kids.
2.
You’ll love this if you adore stories with talented imaginations.
3. It’s kind of dark for a children’s book. I didn’t think of it as a kid but indeed… Charlie sleeps on a mattress on the floor and his family is starving to death, Oompa Loompas never leave the factory and they are paid in beans, Willy Wonka is untouchable billionaire corporate owner…
4. Story of Charlie Bucket continues in a sequel called Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
5. There are two wonderful movie adaptations:1971 American musical directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka & 2005 British-American musical directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

“Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”
Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”
Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Have you read this? Thoughts? What’s your favorite book by Roald Dahl? I think mine is this one & Matilda.

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016” Pictures of the authors from Goodreads.

1. Sarah J. Maas


“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
― Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

2. Tahereh Mafi

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

3. Michael Cunningham

“Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

4. Jojo Moyes

“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

5. Anthony Doerr

“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

6. Ransom Riggs

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.”
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

7. Patrick Ness

“Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
― Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

8.  Yuval Noah Harari

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

9. Pierce Brown

“I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind – how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.”
― Pierce Brown, Golden Son

10. Victoria Aveyard

“Rise, red as the dawn.”
― Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen

Happy TTT! What great new authors did you discover this year?

Shantaram

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.” Shantaram is a 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, in which a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict escapes from Pentridge Prison flees to India.  Soon, Linbaba or “Lin” arrives in Bombay. He puts his faith in local guide Prabaker and later becomes a good friend of his. Later on, Lin finds a profound inner peace and he is given a name ‘Shantaram’ – a man of peace. He also falls in love and becomes a slum doctor and also ends up in Afghanistan in the middle of war. To summarize, it’s very long book and and the plot is very rich.

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.”
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

I adored this book. First time reading this it seemed to me that this was a memoir rather than a novel. Of course, you soon get that not everything could have happened but as the author has said in numerous parts that some parts are true and other parts he has invented. I think this book paints a very alluring picture of Bombay (official name of Mumbai until 1995), even if it also describes for example Bombay’s crime, drugs, mafia, slums and prisons.

I have never been to India, however, I think that out of all books  I have read that have been set in India, this is definitely the most beautiful one. It made me want to pack my bag and leave immediately to India, even after all I read about Mumbai. Moreover, I just like reading longer books. I feel like I can better understand the author and the world and characters they have created. Writing style of this book is beautiful a mix of lyrical and philosophical and I think it just describes life very well. All in all, Shantaram is powerful and epic novel.

5/5 stars

“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

 How- To Read Shantaram

1. If you’re looking for a novel set in India, look no further.
2. It’s very long but very worth of your time. About 936 pages… almost one thousand pages. Yay?
3. I don’t know how to explain this novel properly but I think you’ll like it if you like long books about life and death in general and if you have like books with ramblings, philosophies about life.
4. There’s a sequel called The Mountain Shadow.
5. There has been some talk for many years about turning this book into a film which would star Johnny Depp. I guess it’s now in what media industry calls a development hell or development limbo.

“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like”
― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

My Dream Crate: Guardians Crate

Loot Crate is a  monthly subscription club for geeks and gamers and they are on the hunt for what fans and Looters would do if given the chance to design their own personal Dream Crate. Here’s what my personal dream crate would include:

& Sony Walkman Headphones…they’re so epic.

  1. Star-Lord Wacky Wobbler Bobble-Head Figure (because it would look great on my book  shelf)
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy DVD
  3. Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy (basically a Lonely Planet of Marvel Cosmos. Includes a lot of tips for a fun trip by Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket, Gamora & Groot.
  4. Groot Character Art Mouse Pad …because who doesn’t love Groot.
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Group in Space Hoodie
  6. Rocket Pattern Tote Bag
  7. Sony Walkman Headphones

If you could design your own Loot Crate, what would it look like & what items would you include in it? 

Pictures and products from Marvel Shop & Goodreads & LootCrate – monthly subscription club for geeks and gamers.

Top Ten Favorite Book-To-Film Adaptations

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Movie Freebie — top ten all time favorite movies, top ten foreign films, top ten rom-coms, top ten 90’s movies, top ten action flicks, top ten tear-jerkers, top ten movies your favorite actor/actress is in, top ten movies with PoC leads, etc. etc.)”

So of course, I’m doing my all-time favorite book-to-film adaptations. Post Scriptum. Book is better in most cases ;) Pictures kindly borrowed.

1 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Mr. Tumnus, the Faun: And what about you? You must be some kind of beardless dwarf? Lucy Pevensie: I’m not a dwarf! I’m a girl. And actually, I’m tallest in my class.

2. Harry Potter

Hagrid: You’re a wizard, Harry! Harry: I’m a what?

3. The Lord of the Rings

Aragorn: Gentlemen, we do not stop ’til nightfall. Pippin: What about breakfast? Aragorn: You’ve already had it. Pippin: We’ve had one, yes. What about second breakfast? [Aragorn turns and walks away] Merry: I don’t think he knows about second breakfast, Pip. Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he? Merry: I wouldn’t count on it.

4. The Princess Bride

...Anyone want a peanut?

…Anyone want a peanut?

5. Jurassic Park

John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked! Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.

6. V for Vendetta

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

7. Howl’s Moving Castle

Old Sophie: All right Calcifer, let’s get cooking. Calcifer: I don’t cook! I’m a scary and powerful fire demon!

8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

Of course you can! Everything in this room is eatable, even *I’m* eatable! But that is called “cannibalism,” my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.

9. The Godfather

You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me?

10. How to Train Your Dragon

This is Berk. It’s twelve days north of Hopeless and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death. It’s located solidly on the Meridian of Misery. My village. In a word? Sturdy. It’s been here for seven generations, but every single building is new. We have fishing, hunting, and a charming view of the sunsets. The only problems are the pests. You see, most places have mice or mosquitoes… We have…

I could do more…but let’s keep it in ten. What are your favorite book-to-movie adaptations?

On Importance of Literacy

“So I went to the library…”

How a Malawian teenager William Kamkwamba taught himself how to build a windmill out of junk and bring power to his village. He then went on to build a second, larger windmill to power irrigation to pumps. How did he learn to do this? From the BOOKS he read in the LIBRARY!

Project Literacy, a project aimed at making sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy, has released a moving video called The Alphabet of Illiteracy. It shows there are much more consequences of illiteracy than you think.

The Alphabet of Illiteracy represents a body of evidence suggesting that illiteracy is the root cause of almost every major problem humanity faces.

Helsinki Book Fair 2016

Me Before You

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

Me Before You is a romantic novel written by Jojo Moyes. Shortly about the book, it centers a young, handsome, successful man, Will Traynor. Then everything changes when he’s hit by a motorcycle and it leaves him quadriplegic. Soon after, his mother hires a second caregiver to help with Will when his primary caregiver is absent. Louisa (Lou) Clark is recently unemployed, twenty-six years old, and has no experience being a caregiver, but she has a very positive, bubbly character and Will’s mother Camilla thinks hiring her would help Will. Except that Will has different plans for his life and Lou will find about it only later.

“All I can say is that you make me… you make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful. I would rather be with you – even the you that you seem to think is diminished – than with anyone else in the world.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

I surprised myself by reading this book. I usually never read romantic novels and I’m annoyed by the whole genre in general. But I’m always caught by the media hype and there was just huge hype around this book… so I read it. I had no idea what this book was about. I refused to read anything about it and I’m very glad I did that.

“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

Me Before You was different. Different from what I expected this to be. I wasn’t disappointed, it was funny and moving (and highly depressing). I liked the characters, Will and Lou who are kind of complete opposites of each other. All these clichéd quotes were a bit annoying but I get it. There’s this theme throughout the book: quality or quantity of life. Will has lived his life to the fullest before the accident, whereas Louisa has lived in small town all her life, she has settled to the life she has. So, of course, Will tells her to live. Live her life to the fullest.

I’m glad this book mentioned and brought more attention to what Dignitas does. Extra points for that. Euthanasia is a very delicate subject and Moyes handled it very elegantly, I think. I liked how both sides are represented. There is no point in living life without quality to it but also there is no point in being stuck in life (like Lou).

“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

I didn’t like all the angst. I knew how Me Before You would end when I had read half of the book and I didn’t like the predictability and I kept hoping for a different ending. All in all, I adore books that make me feel and this did.
(3,5-4,5?) 4/5 stars

How-To Read Me Before You

1. If you like reading romantic novels & contemporary genre, this should be a perfect read for you. Also if you like authors like Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern.
2. If you don’t like books by John Green (Fault in Our Stars) or clichéd and annoying tearjerker books, definitely skip this.
3. Depressing, cute and fluffy read. Funny how the author made that combination work.
4. Some have said Me Before You plays a lot on stereotypes and that it doesn’t give a realistic picture disabled people. I didn’t see it like that and, after all, this is a work. fiction.
5. There’s a sequel. Yay? Nay? And a movie adaptation. Which I haven’t been able to watch yet.

“Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”
― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

Thoughts? Have you read this?

The Satanic Verses

“Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Honoring Banned Books Week, I decided to write a review of The Satanic Verses. The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired partly by the life of Muhammad. The title refers to the satanic verses, a group of Quranic verses that allow intercessory prayers to be made to three Pagan Meccan goddesses: Allāt, Uzza, and Manāt.

“When you throw everything up in the air anything becomes possible.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Very shortly about the plot, the novel centers two Indian Muslim actors who fall from the sky over the English Channel when the flight they are on is blown up by terrorists. Exciting right? Surprisingly, they both survive, and they take on the personalities of the archangel Gabriel (Gibreel Farista) and the devil (Saladin Chamcha). They and their personalities do their best to adapt to life in London. How to live an angelic life and what about an evil one.

“To be born again,’ sang Gibreal Farishta tumbling from the heaveans, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly Tat-taa! Takatun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love mister, without a sigh?”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

I first read this novel because I knew that it had been banned and I thought reading it was a way to protest. This is a very difficult novel to read, I had to read it many times before I got most nuances. However, it’s very enjoyable book. It’s complex both in writing and in thinking. The plot is entertaining (plane crash), yet it’s not a plot book but a thought book. Rushdie’s novel questions, questions and disrupts.

“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accomodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

I like very very many things about this book, however, I’m not the biggest fan of magical realism. It confuses me and makes it very hard to concentrate on a book because you keep thinking about what the author wanted to say and about all the possible other meanings and I don’t like this complex books that take forever to read. It’s frustrating.

3,5/5 stars.

How-To Read The Satanic Verses
1. You have to be somewhat familiar with Islam and Indian culture, because otherwise, you won’t really get this book at all.
2. Novel mocks Islamic faith and Prophet Muhammad. And I guess it mocks faith in general. I didn’t find it too offensive. However, as of 2016 fatwa to kill Rushdie still stands and yet more money has been added to the bounty. Guess how big the bounty is? 3.3 million $. Translators of this novel have suffered or been killed even.
3. If you get past the magical realism confusion, you’ll find some parts of this extremely funny.
4. It’s a very long book, 500+ pages, and it’s a bit dense too. I think when I first read it, it took me half a year. The sentences are long, references to characters, names and places and other can be challenging for western reader.
5. You’ll like this if you like magical realism.

“Not all possibilities are open to us. The world is finite; our hopes spill over its rim.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Thoughts? Happy October!

Banned Books Throughout History

September 26−October 2, 2016
Banned Books Week
is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Moreover, one of my favorite trilogies, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman was almost banned once. The Catholic League campaigned against The Golden Compass / Northern Lights, declaring that it promoted atheism and attacked Christianity…Well, that it did I guess.

On fantasy & how it encourages difficult behavior: Reading Harry Potter books makes children MENTALLY ILL says headmaster who warns letting them become ‘addicted’ to fantasy novels is as bad as feeding them ‘heaps of sugar’. My favorite part was how it’s all “demonic literature”…

What are your favorite books that have been banned or almost banned?

Found this infographic via: http://ebookfriendly.com/. Also check this out: How to Defend Your Right to Read (with memes)

Happy Hobbit Day!

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

September 22nd is the Birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s popular Middle Earth books (The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings). In the books both Bilbo and Frodo were said to be born on September 22, but of different years. (And yes, of course you know it’s Shire Calendar but let’s not mind the details.) Bilbo was born in the year of 2890 and Frodo in the year of 2968 in the Third Age.

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea -any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

How-To Celebrate Hobbit Day

1.Go on a quest. Preferably barefoot.
2. Throw a feast! Make sure there’s good amount of food! & Before the actual feast, don’t forget to have a second breakfast (and elevenses)!
3. Visit Middle Earth! (= Read Hobbit or Lord of the Rings trilogy. Or both!)
4. Watch some movies. There’s six of them… 1171 minutes… you don’t want to know how many hours that is. You can forget about sleeping though. (Don’t worry, this week is called Tolkien Week so you’ll have plenty of time)
5. Tell rhymes.
6. Talk in Sindarin or Quenya.
7. Music. THISSountracks: Lotr, Hobbit. My favorite ones are: Song of the Lonely Mountain, The Misty Mountains Cold & I See Fire.
8. Book a holiday to New Zealand! Now! &  To get you in the right mood watch this and this. Isn’t Air New Zealand just wonderful?
9. The Hobbits give other Hobbits presents on their birthdays. So be nice, give your fellow Hobbits gifts.
10. Fireworks!! …Or sparklers!

Happy Hobbit Day 2016! Party on!

Bookworm Stereotypes

“Oh this? It’s a ‘bookworm.’
They live in books, and they love to eat important or valuable words.”
― CLAMP, xxxHolic, Vol. 7

glasses-306695_960_720

1. Readers are intelligent
 Readers are leaders. How many times have you heard this? Personally, I read a lot science fiction and fantasy…even nonfiction sometimes. I don’t think it makes me terribly clever. No, not really & definitely not intelligent enough to be a leader. Unless we’re planning to overthrow the Capitol. Then I’m your person.
2. Readers always wear glasses
Bookish characters portrayed in the media ALWAYS often wear glasses. Yes, I’ve heard that reading in bad light might damage your eyes and you might need glasses or it might be in your genes. Personally, I don’t wear glasses.
3. Readers are all a bit ugly and a bit overweight and a bit goofy and there must be something wrong with them
OR
female readers must all look like sexy librarians
Is there a middle ground here?

“I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That’s right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that’s kind of perverted or maybe it’s just romantic and highly intelligent.”
― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

4. Readers are geeks/nerds
Yes I guess. However, nerd is the new black.
5. Readers must have a bookish profession
Author, librarian, literary agent, book blogger … you name it. I think you’re lucky if you have a job you like doing. Personally, I’m in event industry. Also people seem to think that while they’re doing something with their lives: go to gym, eat, sleep. Readers just…read.
6. Readers are antisocial, shy and introverts
I never considered myself shy but I tire of people easily. Often, I get so disappointed with people that I don’t want to socialize with anyone new.

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

7. Readers hate the outdoors
I mean…you could get an oxygen poisoning, some insect could bite you or you could get sunburn. Really. Anything could happen. Not like reading outside is an option. Or doing something other than reading in general.
8. Readers are socially awkward
Readers don’t know how to act normal. And how to make small talk. Not like reading helps with socializing and with knowing more of various topics.
9. Readers are dreamers
I think most of us are. Though it doesn’t mean that we have our head in the clouds. Or that we’d rather live in fictional worlds. Okay, I take that back…Take me to Narnia!


“I took my time, running my fingers along the spines of books, stopping to pull a title from the shelf and inspect it. A sense of well-being flowed through me as I circled the ground floor. It was better than meditation or a new pair of shoes- or even chocolate. My life was a disaster, but there were still books. Lots and lots of books. A refuge. A solace. Each one offering the possibility of a new beginning.”
― Beth Pattillo, Jane Austen Ruined My Life


10. Readers are typically used to process bank checks
Well…That’s what Google suggested when I wrote “readers are” in the search box. Blame Page & Brin.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.
What bookworm stereotypes have you encountered?

The Great Gatsby

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his obsession for Daisy Buchanan.The Great Gatsby is said to create a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties and it has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

I finished listening to Great Gatsby in June. I’m happy to have listened because it almost felt like I was in theater. Re-reading the book for this review has been going better because of that too.

Opening line. It was great. Plot wise there wasn’t much going on, I think Fitzgerald was more concentrated on building the characters and I think he succeeded well in that. There are three important characters in this book: Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan. Nick Carraway has a singular place within The Great Gatsby, he is both narrator and participant in the story. In some sense, Nick is also Fitzgerald’s Everyman. He comes from “some money” but he’s not that wealthy.

“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Then novel’s greatest man is of course the mysterious Jay Gatsby. Rags-to-riches success story. First Gatsby claims he has inherited his wealth, however later on we learn that not everything he says is true. Then there is Daisy whom Gatsby is madly in love with. First reader is given an image that Daisy is very ideal person although later on we begin to question her character too.

“I hope she’ll be a fool,” she says, “that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Book describes well the concept of “new money, old money, some money, and no money”. Some people in Great Gatsby have had wealth in their families for decades, some had just acquired it and some have some money. Or no money.

Ending was well thought. I enjoyed the complexity of this novel’s characters and also what it came down to, what we leaned about Gatsby.  I can’t quite explain what but there was something I didn’t like about this novel. Maybe it was the style of the book, perhaps the atmosphere and the illusion of all the complicated parties. I wonder about the reasons why this book was unpopular and forgotten about for the first few decades after it was first published and I get that in a way. I don’t mean that in a bad way, however at times I felt like I was in a bit fuzzy dream. In general I guess I enjoy books with more thought and plot.

3,5/5 stars

“There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind…”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Tips

1. You can read the ebook for example here or via Project Gutenberg.
2.
This is very subjective, however I wouldn’t recommend this for youngest readers. (Easy to say because I first read this/listened to Great Gatsby when I was 22.) 
3.
Author’s background is interesting. Fitzgerald never owned a home. He was always kind of on the outside looking in type of person who hoped to get into Princeton and hanged with his wealthier Riviera friends. Some things about his life were similar to that of Gatsby’s.
4.
It’s a quite short book, only about 180 pages, however somehow it feels much longer because of all the descriptions and illusions.
5.
If you like history, I think this novel gives a nice touch to what life was in 1920’s and especially the concept of “American Dream” or “Roaring Twenties”.

Have you read The Great Gatsby? Thoughts?

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Nineteen Minutes

“When you don’t fit in, you become superhuman. You can feel everyone else’s eyes on you, stuck like Velcro. You can hear a whisper about you from a mile away. You can disappear, even when it looks like you’re still standing right there. You can scream, and nobody hears a sound.
You become the mutant who fell into the vat of acid, the Joker who can’t remove his mask, the bionic man who’s missing all his limbs and none of his heart.
You are the thing that used to be normal, but that was so long ago, you can’t even remember what it was like. ”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes, published in 2007, is a novel by Jodi Picoult. It is a book about a school shooting, and focuses on the events leading up to and following the incident. The story begins on March 6, 2007 in the small town of Sterling following the lives of a number of characters on an “ordinary day.”

I don’t want to tell you too much about the plot. There are many characters who are all connected and the story is told through their perspectives. In short, 17-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of bullying. His best friend, Josie Cormier hangs out with the popular crowd and doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Finally, one final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge.

School shooting case is assigned to the superior court judge, Alex Cormier. Her daughter Josie has witnessed the events at the school—and Alex must decide whether or not to take the case. Josie, meanwhile, claims she can’t remember what happened during the incident. And then there are Peter’s parents who try to see what they might have said or done to compel their son to such extremes.

“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

“If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them? Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

I don’t what to tell you. I liked this book. It has a complex structure, many characters and I like how it reads, little by little you learn more and more about what happened and how it happened and there are some really good plot twists. And all the psychology and all the moral questions this ‘Nineteen Minutes’ raises. Also I like how Picoult makes us understand the mind of the school shooter. It’s harder to judge him.

I first read this book in 2008 when it was translated into Finnish. I was very touched by it because there had been a school shooting in Finland in 2007 and somehow this book helped me to understand more what had happened. Also, I was bullied in school at the time and I connected with the line “When you don’t fit in, you become superhuman…” and I felt like I was the Joker. That is perhaps one of my most favorite lines in literature, I like it because usually having superhuman strength is an advantage but here in this case it becomes a disadvantage. Finally, I guess this novel also carries some kind of message of hope, that nothing lasts forever.

5/5 stars

How to Read Nineteen Minutes
1.
 Rich with psychological and social insight. If you like psychology, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this.
2. 
Excellent writing & interesting plot twists. This book also makes you think of various moral issues: peer pressure, popularity, self-image, school bullying, single parenthood, communication barriers…  & How well do we know someone?
3.
This is a difficult book to read. It’s quite long, deals with school shooting and the story is told through past and present of very many characters.
4.
For further reading: School shootings category, Wikipedia 
5.
If you’re already a fan of Picoult, you should definitely read this. If you liked this, you should read her other books. She has a way with writing novels that carry serious themes like this. Nineteen Minutes also connects with some of her other books.

“You don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning, do you?”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

Thoughts?

Harry Potter Wands

“You’re a wizard, Harry.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

J.K. Rowling wasn’t the first author to write about witches and wizards and their magic wands. But her attention to detail in describing each wand individually helped to make the “wizarding world” come alive for readers like us.

via http://ebookfriendly.com/

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND: Top Ten Favorite Covers

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top Ten Tuesday REWIND — go back and do a topic you missed over the years or recently or a topic you really want to revisit.

I decided to go with an old topic of ‘Top Ten Favorite Covers’ because these covers are just gorgeous:

1.Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

2. The Folio Society Book Covers

3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

 

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…” he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
“What a stupid lamb,” I sighed.
“What a sick, masochistic lion.”
― Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

4. Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (& Mortal Instruments)

“We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Heavenly Fire

5. Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

6. Faery Rebels by R J Anderson

“I found her lying naked on the lawn at midnight, can I keep her?”
― R.J. Anderson, Knife

7. Selection series by Kiera Cass

 

“Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyway.”
― Kiera Cass, The One

8. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

9. Hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

10. Splintered by A.G. Howard

I kindly borrowed almost all pictures from the internet :) Sorry.

(Don’t) judge the book by its covers…
What are your favorite book covers?  Link pictures of your favorite covers and links to your TTT posts in the comment field below! :) Happy TTT!

 

How To Steal Books

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. It was first published in 2005 and it centers around the life of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel’s experiences are narrated by Death, who describes both the beauty and destruction of life. As this novel takes place during World War II, death and genocide are always present in the novel and it’s why I really liked that it was Death who was narrating the story. I think it was very fitting because especially during wars, many people are scared to die while for others it’s something they wait for, it’s a relief for them to die. And in ‘Book Thief’ he’s not distant or threatening because he explains how he feels about taking lives and how he has a heart and how he is at times even haunted by humans.

“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Very shortly about the plot, or the beginning of the book. Liesel Meminger  is nine years old in the beginning of this novel and suffering from the death of her brother and separation from her mother as she is sent to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann. When Liesel arrives, she can’t read and is made fun of in school. She realizes how powerless she is without words, and so Hans teaches her how to read during midnight lessons in the basement, reading from the book Liesel took from her brother’s burial: The Grave Digger’s Handbook.

I think I re-read this book shortly before the movie adaptation came out. I learned to admire Liesel even more because when I first read this book (ten years ago?) I didn’t yet have history classes at school and I didn’t read that much nonfiction and I had little idea of all the unspeakable horrors of the The Second World War and the Nazi regime. And Liesel was great, she wanted to learn to read because she knew it would make her powerful and that in a way only the words could save her. Also, she was admirable because as the Nazi were burning books, she was saving them without making a distinction whether they were good or bad books. Very brave act. I also liked other characters. Rosa seemed a bit cold at first but then you realized how much she really cared about Liesel and Hans who taught Liesel to read and acted very brave during other plot twists. And of course I liked Rudy, Liesel’s best friend and neighbor who constantly asked Liesel for a kiss.

“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Background of the author of this novel, Markus Zusak is interesting. He’s Australian, however his parents were German. The book was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets, ending with both boy and Jewish prisoner being whipped by a soldier. Of course, there are no these events in ‘The Book Thief’ but I think because of Zusak’s parents, he manages to deliver the story better, in a way you connect to the story more.

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

This book is about the power of the written word. Men rise and fall because of it and you can be strengthened or weakened by it. I was somehow very inspired by this book. And it was fascinating how even if it was kind of clear how it would end, I was still curious to know what would happen next. Very touching and very beautiful book. 
4,5/5 stars

How To Read The Book Thief
1.  
This is not a fast-paced book and if you’re looking for action, you should look elsewhere. Also, if you don’t like experimental fiction, this book might not be for you.
2. I think you will like this if you love books in general and if you read a lot and if you like historical fiction and beautiful prose.
3.
I think Book Thief is lengthier than most historical fictions (or for Young Adult genre as some liked to call it), it’s about 552 pages long.
4.
If you liked this book, there’s a lovely film adaptation directed by Brian Percival. My favorite scene in the movie is when Liesel walks into class and is asked to write her own name and instead of her name, she writes X.
5.
Personally, I really like the covers of this particular edition and the symbolism in them, one domino falls and causes a chain reaction much like with different kind of events in our lives.

“A small fact:
You are going to die….does this worry you?”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think of it?

The Hours

“But there are still the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

A year ago my wonderful Dancing English Teacher showed me a short video of The Hours. For such a short video it left a huge impact on me. You can immediately sense that something is off. Why is Laura’s husband buying flowers for her on his birthday and why does she look so haunted… I watched the movie for my US & Canada course and it was amazing and it was also one of the first book based movie adaptations I have seen before reading the book itself. Finding time and reading the book took a bit longer, I finally managed to read it earlier this year.

“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

The Hours tells the story of three women in three different timelines: Virginia Woolf who is beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, a beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of her “perfect” housewife life. At first, you think all these women have in common is Mrs Dalloway. Virginia Woolf who has written it, Laura Brown who reads it and Clarissa who is called Mrs Dalloway by her poet friend. But it goes deeper than that.

“Beauty is a whore, I like money better.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

“We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so…”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

By the end of the novel, all these three stories and timelines are weaved together in a beautiful manner. Nothing about this book is expected. The Hours is SO well-written and complex, I first thought that this complexity would make it hard for me to concentrate on reading, however it read very easily. The Hours is very deeply moving, I absolutely adored this novel.

5/5 stars.

How To Read The Hours:
1.
You can read the excerpt HERE.
2.
I think this is kind of a depressing thoughtful book so if you don’t like those, you perhaps won’t understand this.
3.
I think if you are interested about Virginia Woolf in general, you should read this. It’s a tribute to her and ‘The Hours’ was also the working title of Woolf’s 1920s classic Mrs Dalloway. This novel is also written in a similar stream-of-consciousness style, though I think it was much easier to read this than Mrs Dalloway.
4.
You’ll love this if you like reading beautiful prose and if you like deeper prose.
5.
If you liked the book, pretty please watch the movie adaptation. It’s just stunning. Meryl Streep (😂😂😂!), Nicole Kidman & Julianne Moore are just fantastic in their roles.

“What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It’s what you can bear. And there it is… It was death. I chose life.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Have you read The Hours or other books by Michael Cunningham? What about Mrs Dalloway? Would you like to?

                                            Buy The Hours: A Novel on Amazon

Divergent, Insurgent & Allegiant

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent

One choice can transform you.

In Beatrice Prior’s Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all 16-year-olds must select a faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice (Tris) the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is so she makes a choice that surprises everyone…

The Divergent trilogy  is a set of young adult dystopian novels by Veronica Roth set in a post-apocalyptic  Chicago. The trilogy consists of Divergent (2011), Insurgent (2012) and Allegiant (2013).

I first picked up Divergent at the end of 2013 (whaat was that really three years ago 🙈) and I was immediately hooked by the story. The concept was very fascinating and unusual. In this trilogy, people are split into different segments based on their personalities or virtues. For example, faction of Abnegation believes in selfless action and raw as less attention to themselves as possible. And it wasn’t all perfect, there are both political and social problems in Chicago and there are outcasts called “Factionless” and also people who are called Divergents. I found the world building in Divergent very captivating. Among other, it got me thinking about what faction would I have chosen.

“Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent

One choice can destroy you.

I picked up Insurgent almost immediately after finishing Divergent. It was not as good as Divergent (sequel syndrome?), I also felt like the plot was dragging on a bit at few points.  And the reader was hinted about what had happened to cause this apocalyptic world yet as the ending of the book was closing up, there were barely any answers.

“Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged.”
― Veronica Roth, Insurgent

In general, I liked the characters in Divergent Trilogy. I liked Tris the most, of course I guess it’s because it’s her first-person narrative that carries us through the trilogy. Tris keeps learning new things about herself and even though she has a strong character, she’s not perfect. For example, she has to learn how to fire a gun or punch someone. And she has insecurities. I liked the relationship between Tris’ mentor and later her boyfriend, Four. It’s maybe a bit over-romantic, however I think that tells us and shows us that it’s Tris who is telling the story. Tris’ friends were awesome and I liked how “the bad guy” was sort of there but not in a important role.

One choice will define you.

I felt a bit hesitant about reading Allegiant because I had heard some stuff about it …and then critics didn’t adore it and what not so I waited almost a year, until the end of 2014 before I finished the trilogy. I liked it but I felt like Roth left too many ideas unfinished and I found myself missing a little depth to those ideas. You finally were let on what has happened in Chicago ages ago, why in Chicago and why there are factions in the first place and I wish that would have been discussed more in the second book because now it felt a bit rushed.

“Knowledge is power. Power to do evil…or power to do good. Power itself is not evil. So knowledge itself is not evil.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

And perhaps I was expecting something a bit more explosive, not this damp ending. And what an ending! It kind of broke my heart but I guess I’m not so mad about it anymore (oh yes I am). In a way it felt right (no it didn’t) in a way even if I was basically sobbing for the last 50 pages or so. When you think of it, we saw this coming based on what happened to most characters in the series.

All in all, 4/5 stars for the whole trilogy.

How To read The Divergent Trilogy:

1. Divergent trilogy is a must read if you’re a fan of this genre, it’s fast paced, plot-driven & suspenseful. And I just love action packed books. However, I suppose if you haven’t liked Hunger Games, Legend series, Shatter Me, Selection series, Uglies…this probably isn’t your thing. I suppose I would recommend this more for young readers.
2. You’ll like this if you like character development and if you like strong main characters. Tris was wonderful female character. She’s strong but she has her weaker moments, insecurities and she allows herself to have feelings.
3. Lots and lots of quotable lines and writing suits the type of this book. Also, the use of stream of consciousness was nice and first-person narrative was fitting as well.
4. If you dislike and have gotten tired of love triangles in YA dystopians, you should read this. Relationship between Tris and Fours is so sweet. And I don’t know, it was refreshing after all those triangles.
5.  There’s a related book called Four!! Need I tell you more? <4
6. Prepare to sob over the ending.

I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Have you read The Divergent Trilogy? Thoughts? If you have read it few years back, what do you think of it now?

 

Buy Divergent Series Complete Box Set on Amazon

BBC – The Big Read

BBC

The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation’s best-loved novel of all time. The year-long survey was the biggest single test of public reading taste to date,and culminated with several programmes hosted by celebrities, advocating their favorite books.

If my maths worked correctly (rarely does) I have read 59/100 61/100 books from this list & reviewed only few… What about you? Which ones do you think I should read next? Are there books here you think I should skip ?

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (currently reading) read in 2016

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller read in 2016

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald read: 15.06.2016.

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma -Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery (not sure)

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck , read in August 2016

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville (not sure)

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Inferno – Dante

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (not sure)

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks (not sure)

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

How to Take a Road Trip

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

On the Road is a novel by American author Jack Kerouac, it’s based on the road trips of Kerouac and his friends across America. The novel was published in 1957 and it is  Roman à clef (novel about real life) featuring many key figures of the Beat movement: William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise.

“A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I saw ‘On the Road’ audiobook in the library and having never listened to audio book before I thought it was about time I did. Listening to ‘On the Road’ took only about two hours and I listened to it while I was riding a bus home. I think it was more enjoyable than listening to music. I liked the voice of Carradine and it was sort of interesting experience, however, I didn’t really get the point of this novel. I’m not sure if it had one. I get the title but somehow I expected this to have more self-discovery, self-knowledge, more lessons learned, more of something else than what this was. And I guess it’s freedom and fun to drive across the states like that but I like to have at least some kind of plans. Moreover, I didn’t quite like the way this was written even when I was only listening to this. Sentences are all broken, endless stream of thoughts and again where was the point of the whole road trip. Sometimes it works for me, with this it didn’t. What I did like was the American culture & road trip culture and there were some funny moments like when Sal Paradise who hadn’t eaten for days hitchhiked with a man who purposefully was starving himself.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

2/5 stars

Tips

1. If you want to read this but can’t bring yourself to read the actual book, audiobook read by Carradine is a good option for you. And it only takes about 2 hours to listen to it :D
2.
I think this book is more suitable for male readers for those of you who like road trips. If you don’t like unplanned road trips, I’m sure you won’t like this.
3. If you want to learn more about the Beat Movement, literature that explored and influenced American culture in the post-World War II era., this is the book for you. And I guess if you like authors like: William S. Burroughs or Allen Ginsberg. Otherwise stay away.

                                         Buy On the Road audiobook on Amazon

“I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Have you read On the Road? Do you like audio books?

Nothing to Envy

Ordinary lives in North Korea

new.jpg

GUEST POST BY UDANTHA

We have come across all the ridiculousness going on in North Korea through awesome documentaries such as VICE put through and hype the movie “The Interview” created. But something always made me wonder actually what was going on in the bubble the North Koreans were stuck in , apart from Kim Jong Un’s “iconic” haircut. Nuclear weapons, Communism and propaganda: some words that comes to our mind when the name is brought on. Recently one of my favorite pod-casters Jocko Willink did a review on this book and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it . It was just well written, the exceptional details and solved almost all the questions that I had about North Korea. My initial reaction was ” Damn , didn’t thought MAD MAX was real”. So I took my time and read the book and here’s my thoughts on the book by The Los Angeles Times journalist, Barbara Demick.

The book centers around six North Korean defectors in 1990s. I was really fascinated by the fact that all characters, differ from each other and came out of different walks of life. Mi-ran, a young girl who grows up to be a teacher, Jun-sang : Mi-ran’s lover and an engineering student , Mrs Song a factory worker , Kim-hyuk an Orphan child ,Dr Kim a young doctor, Oak-hee: Mrs Song’s rebellious daughter. The Author manages to give life to the characters through super detailed descriptions. Nevertheless all the character’s mentioned above were real people. Struggle, sadness, helplessness, innocence and bravery was embedded deeply in each an every character in a way that the reader would really embrace it . The story is mostly set on a coastal city in North Korea, Chongjin, fairly far away from the Capital Pyongyang.

“He wasn’t merely the father of their country, their George Washington, their Mao, he was their God.” – Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy

2

Kim il sung, and his propaganda machine shines through out the book, dragging people to hell while they grew their wealth and comfort into a surreal amount. The communism and the dictatorship of the regime, manages to take away the freedom and brainwashes them to believe in the inevitable propaganda. The author goes to explain how they all thought the purpose of living was serving their fatherland the and the great Marshall Kim il sung. All the media from books to movies were just one more glorification of Kim il sung. And as the book says people even takes the pleasure of believing he’s some kind of a super human being.

“But the dark has advantages of its own. Especially if you are a teenager dating somebody you can’t be seen with.”  – Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy

Mi-ran and Jun-sang’s innocent romance is captivated through out the book till the very end with picturesque descriptions. and Mr. Song’s ability get on her feet every time a road block shows up and her kindness impersonates almost an anchor character in the book . After the death of Kim il sung North Korea suffers from a famine that shook downs to the core. Even before, the author explains food wasn’t ever the strongest suit of general public except the elites. And everything the North Koreans had to go through, the Americans were to blame according to the regime, the death of Kim il sung and the treacherous food shortage. And like wise the hatred that the population had towards US was mind boggling. And here’s an example of a math question that was mentioned in the book.

“Three soldiers from the Korean People’s Army killed thirty American soldiers. How many American soldiers were killed by each of them if they all killed an equal number of enemy soldiers?”  – Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy

3

“Behind the station near the railroad tracks were vendors who cooked soup and noodles over small burners, and it was said that the gray chunks of meat floating in the broth were human flesh.”  – Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy

The brutality of the famine that each character experiences makes you appreciate your life more. Each character escapes North Korea in unique ways bribing their ways through and hurdling million challengers. After they get out of North Korea, all the things that they have been missing and the realizing the propaganda that regime put through was priceless. Mr Songs reaction to a rice cooker to Jun-sang seeing Mi-ran drive a car , made a faint smile on my face, berried by the empathy I felt towards them for all the things they went through.

On a high note I can’t recommend this book enough to anybody, a great work of art depict beautifully yet simply reflecting on lives of North Koreans and their struggle.

4,7/5 stars

                           Buy Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea on Amazon
Buy Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea audiobook on Amazon

Room

“When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

Room is a 2010 novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue. The story is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother. In 11-by-11-foot room, there is a small kitchen, a rug,  a bathtub, a wardrobe, a bed, and a TV set. Because it is all he has ever known, Jack thinks that only Room is “real” and that the rest of the world exists only in television. (=Jack thinks that he and his mother are the only two real humans.)

I was hesitant to read this at first because I was half-expecting something like 3096 Days, some kind of a good/horrible survivor story but one that makes you hate the world and people and it’s always kind of awful to read something like that. Then I got this book as a gift from my friend (thank you!) and ‘Room’is just excellent.

“People don’t always want to be with people. It gets tiring.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

“Everybody’s damaged by something.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

I liked the characters and how the characters were described. Main characters were Jack, Ma and Old Nick. Jack is wonderful and Ma is very brave woman. And the way they were described and character building in general reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. ‘Room’ tells us all we need to know about characters without telling the reader their real names or backgrounds, all we get is little pieces here and there.

Point of view of five year old child was just genius move from Donoghue, it was something I haven’t really encountered before and she wrote it very well.  Kids are like that, they think like that, they make up their own words, they believe everything their parents or ‘Ma’ tells them, they’re so smart but so naiive and luckily they get over things quickly. And Donoghue nailed it. First I thought it would be annoying but it was really sweet and interesting to read a book from a POV like this.

“This is a bad story.”
“Sorry. I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have told you.”
“No, you should,” I say.
“But—”
“I don’t want there to be bad stories and me not know them.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

Although there is a much darker topic I felt like it was handled very gently. Also, this is a hard topic to turn into a fiction so I applaud Donoghue for writing this book.

Unique, gripping and truly remarkable.

4,5/5 stars

Tips
1.
This is a great novel if you are interested about survival stories, psychology and if you want to read something that has unique kind of point of view and writing style. You can read excerpt of the book here.
2.
432 pages, I couldn’t put it down before I knew what happened to Jack and his Ma. I think this is a perfect book for book clubs because there are so many themes to discuss. 
3.
I enjoyed this book because of the unique POV but I think it might be off-putting for some readers.
4.
Film adaptation was made in 2015 starring Brie Larsson.
5. For further reading: 3096 Days by Natascha Kampusch & Fritzl case. If you enjoyed reading this, you might like books written by Torey Hayden.

               Buy Emma Donoghue – Room: A Novel (1st) (8/14/10) on Amazon

“Goodbye, Room.” I wave up at Skylight. “Say goodbye,” I tell Ma. “Goodbye, Room.”
Ma says it but on mute.
I look back one more time. It’s like a crater, a hole where something happened. Then we go out the door.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

The Revenant

“Marshaling his strength, he rolled heavily on his stomach. He felt the snap of suture breaking and the warm wetness of new blood on his back. The pain diluted to nothing against the tide of his rage. Hugh Glass began to crawl.”
― Michael Punke, The Revenant

The Revenant by Michael Punke is a 2002 novel based on a series of events in the life of American frontiersman Hugh Glass. Funnily, I don’t think many people, including me, knew of this book before the movie adaptation. I picked this book up because I felt like I owe it to Leo(nardo DiCaprio) to read the book (because I wanted to read the book before the movie) that inspired the movie adaptation and finally got him his Oscar. I understand now the appeal movie director Alejandro González Iñárritu saw.  Also, I suppose I was lured in by the the title. The Revenant – one who has returned as if from dead. 

Shortly about the plot, in novel, it’s 1823. Novel starts by describing some trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Hugh Glass is among the Company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. Then, during the very first pages we learn that he is viciously mauled by a grizzly bear and not expected to survive. The Company’s captain dispatches two of his men to stay behind and Glass a proper burial. BUT  two men abandon him instead, taking his only means of protecting himself.

“Of course it’s not simple. Who said it was simple? But you know what? Lots of loose ends don’t ever get tied up. Play the hand you’re dealt. Move on.”
― Michael Punke, The Revenant

I’ll just have to agree with Washington Post, it’s indeed “A superb revenge story”.  I was worried at first that ‘The Reventant’ would turn out to be very gritty, bloody and violent novel. I had seen bits of trailer and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was very gritty in a a way, yet it wasn’t bad and I haven’t read too many westerns so I found ‘The Revenant’ very enjoyable. I adore books that teach me something small, and this novel gave me nice little details of the history and also about the life of Hugh Glass. What I perhaps didn’t like was that first half of the book was much more exciting than the second one. I wish the author would have dragged it on for a bit or made more plot twists towards the end of the book. Moreover, I was also a bit surprised by the ending but I guess that’s how it works in real life.

In either case all that crawling… I just can’t give that less than 4/5 stars.

“He raised his eyes to a horizon carved from snowy mountain peaks, virgin white against the frigid blue sky. He could climb up there if he wanted. Climb up there and touch the horizon, jump across and find the next..”
― Michael Punke, The Revenant

Tips
1.
You’ll like this if you like reading westerns, survival stories or just historical fiction in general. You’ll learn about unpredictable American West in 1820s.
2.
It’s quite quick read, 300 pages. Personally I liked the covers of the paperback more than hardcover, it was more modern and blue color fits the book better. 
3.
It’s best if you start reading this book with low expectations. I had barely heard anything about this book so I was positively surprised. 
4.
I wouldn’t say that this book had any graphic content, however I think most sensitive readers perhaps should fast-forward the part where bear attacks the main character.
5.
For further reading: Hugh Glass: The Truth Behind the Revenant LegendThe Revenant (movie) Fact vs. Fiction.

Leo-extra

Have you read this? Have you seen the movie adaptation?

Buy the book: The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

Top Ten Bookworm Delights

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top Ten Bookworm Delights. Below you can find my Top Ten.b4597-toptentuesday 1. Bookish maps
Who doesn’t adore books that have beautiful maps in them?
 2. Pages
I love when book has deckled edges, it gives the impression that book is mysterious and that it has been read by many readers. I also love when books have golden edges.

 3. Overflowing bookshelves

4. Discovering new 5/5 stars books 5. Bookish tattoos
6. Secondhand bookstores
I usually act like this in them.
7. When someone reads same books as me
8. Fandoms
I’m not alone loving alone the books I love.

9. Endless TBR list
It’s awful…and it’s amazing because you’ll never run out of books to read.
10. Books & Coffee
Is there anything better than this?

Happy TTT! What are your bookworm delights?

10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads (Or Ten Of The Best Books I’ve Read Recently if you don’t 5 star stuff…or you could do 5 of my latest five star reads & five of my most disappointing or 1 star reads) “.

I’m doing this post in a bit different way including only the best nonfiction I’ve read. It seems like I don’t review enough of that here.

ZeroZeroZero1. ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano

“Zero zero zero” flour is the finest, whitest available. “Zero zero zero” is also the nickname among narcotraffickers for the purest, highest quality cocaine on the market.” Saviano’s newest is heartbreaking report on cocaine market.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants2. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

For the first book I’ve ever read by Malcom Gladwell, I’m very impressed! I have read a lot of great nonfiction, however I think few books can really teach you something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Gladwell grabs your attention with quotes in the beginning of each chapter:  “You wouldn’t wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?”

3. Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped by Garry Kasparov

“Communism is like an autoimmune disorder; it doesn’t do the killing itself, but it weakens the system so much that the victim is left helpless and unable to fight off anything else. It destroys the human spirit on an individual level, perverting the values of a successful free society. “

4. The Spy With 29 Names by Jason Webster

“He fought on both sides in the Spanish Civil War. He was awarded the Iron Cross by Hitler and an MBE by Britain. To MI5 he was known as Garbo. To the Abwehr, he was Alaric. He also went by Rags the Indian Poet, Mrs Gerbers, Stanley the Welsh Nationalist – and 24 other names. He tricked Hitler over D-Day. He was the greatest double agent in history.”

5. Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

“After Khodorkovsky was found guilty, most of Russia’s oligarchs went one by one to Putin and said, ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich, what can I do to make sure I won’t end up sitting in a cage?’ I wasn’t there, so I’m only speculating, but I imagine Putin’s response was something like this: ‘Fifty per cent.”

Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected6. Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected by Jason Hanson

Great book! Everyone should read this, especially women. Hanson teaches us about situational awareness: maybe you should stop using your smart phone in public, especially in shopping malls and concentrate on what’s happening around you. Also, what are the pre-incident indicators, signs that someone will be attempting to hurt you. How to avoid dangerous situations, what to carry in your bag, how to escape duct tape, social engineering… Some of these advices might seem too much but there’s a lot you can learn. You’ll do yourself a great favor by reading ‘Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life’ (because they will save your life).

7. Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson

“One is that the offshore system is perhaps the strongest determinant of how political and economic power works in this world. It helps rich people, companies and countries stay on top, for no good economic or political reason. It’s the battleground of the rich versus the poor, you versus the corporations, the havens against the democracies – and in each battle, unless you’re very rich, you are losing.”

8. The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku

“We have learned more about the brain in the last fifteen years than in all prior human history, and the mind, once considered out of reach, is finally assuming center stage.”

Reasons to Stay Alive9. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

“The wound is the place where Light enters you.” – Rumi

Everyone and especially everyone who has been depressed or is depressed should read Haig’s book. There are few rare books that teach you about yourself as much and that describe depression and anxiety with such intensity. Simply a great book.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History10.The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel

“At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.”  Very fascinating! I highly admire these men and women who risked their lives to save the culture and through that also the history in World War II. I have read quite much history, however this book had so many interesting details I didn’t know of before.