December Wrap-Up (2013)

I use the following light grading system based on the GoodReads one:

1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.


Classic of the Month

Great Expectations
Great Expectations

By: Charles Dickens
First published in 1861
My copy: Free Kindle classic

The blacksmith’s apprentice, the orphan boy Pip, receives a rich benefactor and suddenly finds himself having great expectations.

I had a hard time reading this book, and I set it aside a few times. It wasn’t even that it was hard to read, the language was in fact quite easy – but for some reason, I didn’t really feel an emotional connection with most of the story. I liked the first and third parts, but wasn’t so invested in Part II. I spend a lot of time away from the book at that part, which might have further distanced me from the story.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some stellar things about Great Expectations. Miss Havisham was a great, memorable character. I absolutely loved the gothic sensibility of her – her old, torn wedding dress and her dark, timeless, shut-down house. She was without a doubt the highlight of the book. Another character I enjoyed was the very likeable Herbert Pocket. He’s such a great best friend character! 3/5


Fantasy & Science Fiction

The Fractal Prince Best of the Month sticker
The Fractal Prince
(Jean le Flambeur #2)
By: Hannu Rajaniemi
First published in 2012
Genre: Science fiction
Library copy

To pay his debts, master thief Jean le Flambeur has to break into the mind of a living god.

I’m at a loss to describe these books. They are adventure/heist stories, with such strong worldbuilding (the cultures of Mars and Earth, in the first and second books, respectively), and a lot of hard science fiction technospeak. To top it off, this second book also tells stories within stories, and has a nonlinear storyline. Whew!

Again, it took me about halfway through to get comfortable the writing style – I mean, with not understanding everything that is written about the technology and physics. I found it hilarious that the concept of Schrödinger’s cat is explained to the reader, when most people know about it, but not the more challenging science stuff. But I like the characters (Perhonen!) and love following their adventures, and am pulled into the world – even though the technospeak is sometimes hard to follow, I don’t find the plot to be. Okay, except the ending, which I felt was a bit rushed, and had to read a second time to really get what had happened. 4/5

Snuff
Snuff

(Discworld #39)
By: Terry Pratchett
First published in 2011
Genre: Comedic fantasy
Bought copy

Commander Vimes goes on holiday in the country and of course immediately comes across a murder

It was fun to read about Discworld after a long pause on my end, but I have to say this book wasn’t as good as the earlier installations. The Guards books are some of my favourite Discworld books, and Vimes is a great character to follow, but I thought Thud! covered a lot of the same ground better with his character. Also, the theme of racism has been covered many, many times in the Guards books especially, and I thought Snuff didn’t bring anything new to the conversation. The thing that bothered me the most were the meant-to-be-funny, awfully racist fake Asian food names that Pratchett had come up with – they seemed especially out of place in a book dealing with racism!

So, I went along for the ride, but wasn’t very captivated by it, and there were some problematic parts. Still, it was fun to read a Discworld novel after such a long pause. 3/5

Mostly Harmless
Mostly Harmless

(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #5)
By: Douglas Adams
First published in 1992
Genre: Comedic science fiction
Library copy

Due to a strange accident during hyperspace travel, Arthur finds himself in a parallel world, and all he has to fall back on are a few sandwich-making skills.

Finished my re-read of the series, and wow. Not that much comedy in this science fiction comedy anymore! This story was a bit of a bummer. Perhaps there was a reason I did not remember this book at all? I’m mainly talking about the depressing part, but I had parallel universe confusion at times, and I didn’t like how a character from the last book disappeared and was just forgotten about in this narrative.

Still, three stars ’cause there were some good parts. I love Ford & Arthur’s interactions together, of which there was woefully little in this book, but I liked the little we got. 3/5


Graphic novels

A Brides Story Vol 4
A Bride’s Story, Vol. 4

By: Kaoru Mori
First published in 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
Library copy

Mr. Smith encounters identical twin girls Laila and Leily, who are always hatching ridiculous plans to grab a pair of rich and handsome brothers to marry.

This volume might be the least interesting one in the series. The story was a bit of a let down, especially after the strong third volume, and I wasn’t really feeling the new characters. Still, there’s that atmosphere of good cheer, and Kaoru Mori’s intricate artwork to enjoy. 2/5

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