Sunday, April 15, 2018

April Mid-month Wrap-up

Hello! It's the middle of April and I already read 7 books! Well, two of them are graphic novels but I still counted them as books. So again, I decided to split this month's wrap up in two to make shorter posts. Here are the books I read so far in April:

The Professor is Charlotte Brontës first novel, in which she audaciously inhabits the voice and consciousness of a man, William Crimsworth. Like Jane Eyre he is parentless; like Lucy Snowe in Villette he leaves the certainties of England to forge a life in Brussels. But as a man, William has freedom of action, and as a writer Brontë is correspondingly liberated, exploring the relationship between power and sexual desire.*

In February, I read Shirley and totally loved it, so I couldn't wait to pick up another book by Charlotte Brontë. This was the only one of her 4 novels that I hadn't read. It was published posthumously but was actually written before the other ones, so the writing is not as great as in her other works. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this a lot. It was interesting to see her write from the perspective of a man. Some of the thoughts of the main character make him not very likable and the romance doesn't feel that real, so I only gave it 3.5 stars. I rounded it up to 4 stars on Goodreads because it's one of my favorite authors after all. I listened to this one as an audiobook, even though I have the physical copy as well.

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.*

This is a highly rated book that I didn't love as other people did. This is a heartbreaking story written very realistically, even brutally I would say. It's a very important book because it teaches people about the Soviet deportations following Western territory annexations during WWII. The fact that it is written as a YA novel is even more important, because it reaches people that would otherwise never find out about these events. I have read many reviews from people that mentioned that it was the first time they heard about what is described in this book. However, I didn't like the writing at all. I realize that YA novels are written in a simpler way but I have read many YA books that are beautifully written. This was just too simple and too distant, which prevented me from attaching to the characters. Even though the events described were extremely painful, I didn't feel too depressed or sad while reading. This could have been a tearjerker but ended up being a 3 star read for me.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.*

The first reread of the year! I'm a huge huge fan of Steinbeck's books and have read pretty much every novel he has written. It's been quite a few years since I've read this masterpiece, so it was time for a reread and this time in English since the first time I read it translated in Romanian. It was a little hard for me because the dialog is in dialect and there were words I've never heard before, but I looked them up so it wasn't too bad. This took me about a week to read because it is a big book, but also because it must be enjoyed in small sips. It is quite an atmospheric read. As Steinbeck said:  "I've done my damnedest to rip a reader's nerves to rags." And he surely did! 5 shiny stars from me!

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.*

Another book that everybody loved and I didn't. This was also the winner of last year's Goodreads awards in the fiction category so there must be something wrong with me because I don't understand why. There was nothing special about this book. It was easy to read, with a woven plot that seemed to perfectly adjust itself. Some of the coincidences in the book were almost ridiculous. I can't go too much into detail about the plot because it's sort of a mystery that unfolds itself as you read it. Some of the characters were ok, but I didn't see too much evolution in them. For me Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  was so much better than this one. I plan on reading a few others from that category as well so we'll see what I think about those. I gave this one 3 stars.

Not in the picture:

Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse by Joe Benítez

The tabloids dubbed her "Lady Mechanika," the sole survivor of a mad scientist's horrific experiments which left her with mechanical limbs. Having no memory of her captivity or her former life, Lady Mechanika eventually built a new life for herself as an adventurer and private investigator, using her unique abilities to solve cases the proper authorities couldn't or wouldn't handle. But she never stopped searching for the answers to her own past. *

This is a very obscure graphic novel that I came across randomly on YouTube. The steampunk setting intrigued me and the graphics seemed gorgeous so I gave it a try. Since I'm new to graphic novels and comics in general, I don't have any experience with superhero ones but this one seems to be a very unusual one. It's really dark and mysterious, so I love it very much. I can't get enough of the amazing images in this comic! The plot is not bad either and I can't wait to read other stories because there are a bunch of volumes out at the moment and each one has a standalone plot. Did I mention this is steampunk with Victorian outfits and monsters? Definitely my cup of tea! I read it as an ebook and gave it 4 stars.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. *

With the movie being out at the end of last month, I had to read the book first because that's what I do if I'm interested enough. Again, many people love this book but I did not. It was an entertaining read and I can definitely admire the innovative aspect of it, unfortunately I got bored about half way through and found the second half quite predictable (including the ending). The world building part was amazing, which made me fly through the beginning of the book. I definitely liked the book so I gave it 3 stars. This was an ebook read. After seeing the movie I began to appreciate the book a bit more. I even debated on changing my rating to 4 stars but decided to leave it that way. They changed many things in the movie to make it more action packed and less geeky, things I loved in the book, and while I understand the reasons behind it, I felt a bit disappointed.

For the dark Titan, Thanos, the Infinity Gauntlet was the Holy Grail, the ultimate prize to be coveted above all else. Now, on the edge of Armageddon and led by the mysterious Adam Warlock, Earth's super heroes join in a desperate attempt to thwart this nihilistic god's insane plunge into galactic self-destruction.*

The Infinity War movie is coming out at the end of this month, so I thought I would do something new, namely read the comic it was based on. I have seen many of the Marvel movies and I must say that the Avengers ones are my least favorite. The characters don't seem to be as complex and the back story isn't that interesting. That sort of happened with this comic as well. There are a ton of superheroes showing up here and it's really hard to keep track of all of them. My favorite part were the supreme beings that almost certainly won't show up in the movie. I enjoyed this but not quite as much as Lady Mechanika. It is an older comic though, so it's not as beautiful as the present day ones. This was an ebook and I gave it 3 (maybe 3.5) stars.

That's it for now. I'm not expecting the second half of April to be as prolific but I'm gonna do my best. Happy spring!

*Source: Goodreads

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