It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I just finished a book last night, so I’m not actually in the middle of reading anything right now. Instead I think I’ll introduce you to the books that I’m currently deciding between – perhaps you can help me choose?
The covers link to GoodRead as usual.

I am currently deciding between…


Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
Ian M. Banks: The Player of Games
H.G. Wells: Maailmojen sota (War of the Worlds)

All these books are library books that I borrowed in order to finish my Sci-Fi Challenge this year. Now I’m having a hard time deciding which one of them to pick up first. I liked the EarthSea series by Le Guin, I have never read any Banks, and Wells’s book is, of course, a classic among alien invasion books. Which one do you think I should read first?

Last week I read


Darkfever (Fever #1)
By: Karen Marie Moning
From: The library

In this first book of the adult urban fantasy series “Fever”, MacKayla Lane travels to Ireland to investigate her sister’s murder. She soon finds out that she is a sidhe-seer (i.e. she can see the Fae). I’d noticed that a lot of people around GoodReads and the blogosphere were addicted to this series, so I decided to try it out. It was an okay piece of fluff – a quick read with an interesting main story. There were some erotic scenes – though I’m not that fond of those in my books, they weren’t ridiculous like they can be if written badly. I’ll read the second volume when I next crave for something quick & light to read, I guess.

Last week I posted

My November Book Haul

 

“It’s Monday, what are you reading?” is a weekly reading meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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November Book Haul

I thought it was high time that I made my first book haul post. I recently borrowed a stack of books & comics from the library, as well as bought a few. The links take you to GoodReads.

The Library Haul


Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
Ian M. Banks: The Player of Games
H.G. Wells: Maailmojen sota (War of the Worlds)

In an effort to finish my 7 science fiction books challenge this year, I borrowed three sci-fi books which I need to read in order to finish.

Karen Marie Moning: Darkfever

I also borrowed this urban fantasy book, since it was sitting there on the shelf. A lot of people on GoodReads and various book blogs seem addicted to the series, so I decided to check it out. I’m almost finished. So far, the book has been a light piece of fluff – OK, but nothing special.


Kaoru Mori: A Bride’s Story vol. 1 & 2
Bill Willingham: Fables vol. 8 & 9

My comic book haul included some lovely historical manga by Kaoru Mori, as well as a couple of volumes of re-imagined fairy tales à la The Fables.

Bought Books


Stephen Fry: Moab Is My Washpot
Gail Carriger: The Parasol Protectorate series – boxed set

(Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless)

I bought Stephen Fry’s autobiography of his early years. I’ve already read the follow-up, the Fry Chronicles. Who doesn’t love Stephen Fry?

I also picked up the whole Parasol Protectorate series. I’ve already read it, but wanted to own it. When I saw this boxed set at the store, it was the perfect opportunity to get all five books. The plots are sometimes a bit shaky, but I love the characters. Professor Lyall is my favorite. <3


Michael Ende: Tarina vailla loppua (The Neverending Story)
Susan Cooper: Pimeä nousee (The Dark is Rising series)

I visited my usual used books store and picked up these children’s fantasy books in Finnish, only 4 euros per book. The Neverending Story was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and I’ve read the book at one point as well. I have never actually read The Dark is Rising series, but since the whole series was gathered into two volumes, I figured why not pick them up? It’s high time I read them.

Have you been spending your money on some new books recently, or found something interesting from the library? Comment below or link me to your haul!

This haul is also linked at Stacking the Shelves, which is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Today I visited the library and came back with a bunch of stuff. Libraries are awesome, but also quite daunting. I can never borrow just that one book I went there to get, I always find something extra to take home with me. :D Since I’ve also bought quite a few books recently, I think that perhaps it would be the time for me to make my first book haul post… But today let’s take a look at what I’m reading and what I have read during the past week.

I am currently reading

@ GoodReadsA Bride’s Story, vol.1
By:
Kaoru Mori
From: The library

I just started reading this graphic novel when I came back from the library today, so I’m not that far in. It is a story of a young woman married to a boy eight years her junior, who is also from another tribe. The setting is 19th century Silk Road.

I picked this up because I’ve previously read Kaoru Mori’s Emma, a historical graphic novel about a maid in Victorian England. I love how Mori draws detailed and (as far as I know) historically accurate clothes and environments.


Zombies vs. Unicorns
Edited by:
Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
From: My bookshelf

I’m also continuing with the delightful short story collection Zombies Vs. Unicorns. Last night I read Maureen Johnson’s zombie story, and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t really like the novel I’ve read by her, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but this short story was the scariest and most disturbing in this collection so far!

Last week I read

@ GoodReads
Last week I finished reading Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, and I loved it. It’s a zombie novel that dwells more on the psychological side of living in a world with zombies, although there’s also plenty of action.

Last week I posted

2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 4 of 7: The Stars My Destination – review

So, what are you reading this week?

 

“It’s Monday, what are you reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 4 of 7: The Stars My Destination

@ GoodReads
The Stars My Destination
by Alfred Bester
First published in 1956 as “Tiger! Tiger!”

EDUCATION: none
SKILLS: none
MERITS: none
RECOMMENDATIONS: none

That’s the official verdict on Gully Foyle, unskilled space crewman.

But right now he is the only survivor on his drifting, wrecked spaceship, and when another space vessel, the Vorga, ignores his distress flares and sails by, Gully becomes obsessed with revenge. He endures 170 days alone in deep space before finding refuge on the Sargasso Asteroid and returning to Earth to track down the crew and owners of the Vorga. But, as he works out his murderous grudge, Gully Foyle also uncovers a secret of momentous proportions . . .

My fourth sci-fi challenge read, The Stars My Destination, tells the story of a man obsessed with revenge. The book takes place in a world where teleportation, aka “jaunting”, is possible through the capabilities of the human brain alone (no technological assistance required). So, people working in Greenland can just pop by to eat lunch in New York. The setting is very interesting, and jaunting is a nifty idea.

The story takes some of its main elements from Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, a book I love. Now, imagine if Edmond Dantès wasn’t a clever, revenge-obsessed gentleman, but a dumb, brawn over brains, revenge-obsessed rapist. Meet Gully Foyle, the protagonist of The Stars My Destination.

I do sort of get how people could love this book. The way that jaunting affects society, working life, racial characteristics etc, is interesting to read about. Too bad that the main character is so repulsive, it made reading this book feel like wading through a river of slime. As Neil Gaiman says in the introduction, Gully Foyle’s a true antihero. He’s not a cool “doesn’t care about the rules” type of antihero; he’s an antihero in the way that he’s a complete no-good violent douchebag psychopath.

Early on in the book Gully rapes Robin, a woman whom the author repeatedly addresses as a “Negro girl”. It is the repetition that left me wondering if it was Besters intention that we would feel less for the woman because she wasn’t white. Eugh. Gully’s latter dealings with women left much to hope for, as well. Having sex after fighting, beginning sex ”almost angrily”, thinking that he’s in love because he wants to conquer and break someone.

The reason why I went on to read this book was mainly because I was interested in how the story tackles the Monte Cristo plot. As I read on, I just wanted to see Gully fail. Among his other characteristics, he is pretty simple. During the course of the book he tries to educate himself and become more intellectual, but he does stupid mistakes and constantly needs the help of others to appear cultured.

Now if only I would have created a bond to any character in the book, but no. The book is very strongly told from Gully’s point of view. I could find no interest or excitement in following the adventurous personal vendetta of such a repulsive character. I know that if a reader can look past the main character, the book is meaningful and well-written. I just couldn’t do that, not this time. Call it too character-focused a reading style.

I give The Stars my Destination 2 stars out of 5. I can appreciate the fact that this book was important to the development of science fiction literature and especially cyberpunk. The idea of jaunting and how it affected the society was genious, but I didn’t want to follow the main character. So, 1 star in general + 1 star from jaunting. Perhaps other people can read this as a rollicking adventure novel, but I’d just much rather re-read The Count of Monte Cristo.

Favorite character: None. None whatsoever.

Next up: Perhaps The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells – I feel like tackling this short classic in an attempt to catch up with the challenge.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’m back with a look at what I’m currently reading!

I am currently reading

@ GoodReads
Rot & Ruin
By: Jonathan Maberry
From: The library

I have tons of other books to read, but I glanced at the beginning of Rot & Ruin when I borrowed it from the library, and then just kept on reading. I was surprised it was just lying on the shelf at my library, although I was a bit bummed out that the cover wasn’t the pretty US edition (the second image). So far it’s a very promising zombie novel, dealing more with the psychological side of living in a society with zombies on the other side of the fence, and less with straight-on horror & gore (though there’s that, as well).


Zombies vs. Unicorns
Edited by:
Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
From: My bookshelf

This book is a collection of short stories from different authors. Each author has picked sides and decided which creature, zombies or unicorns, they want to write about. This book is currently on my night stand, and I’m slowly reading one or half a short story a night. I’m about half-way through and have to say that so far the zombie stories are winning for me!

Last week I read

Last week I didn’t really know what to read. I have a lot of books on loan from the library and from my friends, and I ended up reading a few pages from the beginning of many books. I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to read until I started Rot & Ruin.

Last week I posted

2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 3 of 7: The Quantum Thief – a review of my latest SF read

 

“It’s Monday, what are you reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 3 of 7: The Quantum Thief


The Quantum Thief
(The Quantum Thief Trilogy #1)
by Hannu Rajaniemi
First published in 2010

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. He is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons – the Dilemma Prison – against countless copies of himself.

Jean’s routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self – in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed…

I actually read this book at the end of September, and have finished another SF challenge book after it. I’m not completely sure if I can get up to seven sci-fi books read this year… but I’ll certainly try.

Now I have to admit that I was a little afraid/hesitant to read The Quantum Thief. I had heard that it was quite hard to understand at times, plus the scary (to me) term ”hard scifi” was thrown around. My fears didn’t come true, though. I found the book entertaining, the characters interesting, and the writing flowing and easy to read. That said, there is an added difficulty level in the writing. Let me try to explain it…

Imagine if you were dropped in to a country where you almost, but not quite completely understand the language – some words are just gibberish to you. You have no idea what the people mean when they make a passing mention to a ”fabber” or a ”gevulot”. Most of these terms are never explained to you, but slowly, slowly, you see patterns emerging and start to make out their meaning from context. This is what reading The Quantum Thief is like. Rajaniemi’s characters mention things in passing, things they don’t explain because those things are utterly everyday for them. Meanwhile the reader learns to just read on, and slowly deciphers the meaning when the book progresses. I have to say that first I found this learning while reading confusing, but then I began to enjoy it. I found it refreshing, something I haven’t met before, although it could be pretty confusing at times.

The characters were well written and interesting to follow. I was perhaps most interested in the detective Isidore, since I liked reading about the world from his point of view. I also enjoyed reading about the other characters, the mischievous Jean, the guarded Mieli, the clever-tongued spider-ship Perhonen and the mysterious tzaddik (in this world, a sort of a P.I./superhero, from what I gather) the Gentleman. I didn’t absolutely love any of the characters, though.

The heist plot was entertaining, if a little convoluted sometimes. There were times when the characters themselves didn’t know what to do next, which led to a lull. I liked many of the world-building ideas, such as using time as currency. But when all is said and done, although the book was entertaining, I wasn’t really invested in it. I was never on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what would happen next.

The main heist plot was wrapped up well, but, since this is a series, some larger questions were left unanswered. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed by that, mainly because I would’ve preferred a stand-alone. I wasn’t so invested that I would pick up the next book the instant I had the chance (which would be now, since the second book, The Fractal Prince, has been out since September).

I give the Quantum Thief 3,5 stars. It was interesting and entertaining, but I didn’t love it. I might read the continuation some time in the future, but am in no rush to do so.

Favourite character: The spidership, Perhonen. She was such a smartmouth. She was a side character I would’ve liked to read more of.

Next up: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester, which I’ve already finished.