Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Life in Books 2017

I saw this fun little game on Roof Beam Reader's blog and decided to give it a go. The rules are to answer the questions with the books you've read this year.
  • In high school I was: Anne of the Island (L.M. Montgomery)
  • People might be surprised (by): The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving)
  • I will never be: The Inspector General (Nikolai Gogol)
  • My fantasy job is: Doctor Dolittle (Hugh Lofting)
  • At the end of a long day I need: A Simple Heart (Gustave Flaubert)
  • I hate it when (you): Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
  • Wish I had: The Queen of Spades (Alexander Pushkin)
  • My family reunions are: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)
  • At a party you’d find me with: The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells)
  • I’ve never been to: The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)
  • A happy day includes: Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
  • Motto I live by: The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
  • On my bucket list is: Around the World in Eighty Days (Jules Verne)
  • In my next life, I want to have: War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
So that's what my life looks like in books.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Favorite Books of 2017. Part 2

Here is the second part of my Favorite Books of 2017. You can read the first part here.

The Road Goes into the Distance Trilogy by Alexandra Bruschtein

My rating ★★★★

This autobiographical novel is about Russia just at the rising of the communist revolution. If you don't mind the pro-communism anti-capitalism propaganda, it's a nice children's story about friendship and family, honor and responsibility. It's told from the point of view of little Sasha as she grows up, goes to school and meets new friends.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

My rating ★★★★

Just as the title suggests, this story is one day in the life of a labor camp prisoner Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn's style makes it very easy to read which may result in a cognitive dissonance because the themes of the book aren't that easy to swallow. The worries of labor camp inhabitants may seem simple, even primitive, but behind them, there's the tragedy of a human being that isn't even living but barely surviving.

Do You Want Me to Be Your Mother? by Olesya Likhunova

My rating ★★★★

This book is a diary where Olesya Likhunova writes about her experiences of adopting five children and being a mother of 7 (as of now 8) kids. It's very insightful. Olesya writes a lot about children's psychology and how children who grow up in the system are different from children who have a stable family right from birth. I really hope that one day this book will be translated into English because it's a must-read.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

My rating ★★★★

This is a collection of vignettes about the author's childhood years from the moment when she and her family moved to a house on Mango Street. It was a quick read but very enjoyable.

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

My rating ★★★★

(on Goodreads)

I love Murakami. In fact, I'm listening to one of his audiobooks right now. His style is simple and engaging. The more of his books I read the more familiar I am with his characters. It's as if I'm visiting old friends.

This book is yet another love story. The narrator tells us about the love life of the girl he himself is in love with. There's even a mystery, and some magical realism is intertwined in the later chapters. And as always, the title of the book has a special symbolism what is mentioned all throughout the book. I've heard that Sputnik Sweetheart is usually recommended for those who are new to Murakami. I think I rather agree with this statement although my first Murakami was Norwegian Wood of which I still have very fond memories.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

TBR Pile Challenge 2018

Another great reading challenge for the upcoming year! It's hosted by Adam from RoofBeamReader. For the TBR Pile Challenge, I've decided to go with the very first twelve books on my TBR list. They've been sitting there for nearly seven years (since February of 2011 when I joined Goodreads). That's how long it's been!

Here are the books I'm going to read for the TBR Pile Challenge 2018.
  1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  (review)
  2. Ulysses by James Joyce.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
  4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
  5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
  7. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.
  8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
  9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  (review)
  10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
  11. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
  1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.
  2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Favorite Books of 2017. Part 1

This was this weeks theme at Top Ten Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and the Bookish but I only saw it today (I have way too many unread blog posts in my rss feed). I've decided to still post my list and sum up my 2017 reading. So here it is!

My name is Marina by Marina Tsvetaeva

My rating ★★★★

It literally took me years to finish this 180-page book but that's because I like to take my time with poetry, especially if it's good. This is a collection of selected poems written by Marina Tsvetaeva in the years 1908-1939. It was quite interesting to see the author's style change over the years. Her first poems are naive and lighthearted and we can see her grow up and mature through her poetry. Most of the poems are about the struggles of love but I've also quite enjoyed her emigrant poetry in the later years, specifically the poems that she addressed to her son.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

My rating ★★★★

This is a great book for all artists alike that gives some insight on the artistic process and offers a lot of great advice. The book is very enjoyable both visually and informatively.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

My rating ★★★★

I listened to the audio version of this book over the course of a few months and immediately fell in love with Tolstoy's style. It's a bit funny because I've already read about one-third of Anna Karenina a few years back and even though I still liked it listening to the book was a completely different experience. War and Peace is one of the best classics known there is. This story is frighteningly long and incredibly fun. There's humor and tragedy, a lot of action-packed scenes and way too many characters to remember them all. And it ends with a 30-page philosophical essay. What is there not to love?

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

My rating ★★★★

This was another one of David Sedaris's essay collections on my reading list. Brilliant and funny as usual. Sedaris mostly writes about his family and this book was not an exception. It even says so in the title. It took me a while to get through it but I still enjoyed reading this book.

Maria by Ulas Samchuk

My rating ★★★★

(on Goodreads)

This is a story of the life of one woman in Ukraine that start's at the end of the XIX century and till the Holodomor of 1932-1933 also known as the Great Famine. Maria had a long and complicated life. She lived through many hardships, fell in and out of love, made many mistakes. Maria wasn't always a likable character but she finally settled down and for a moment it seemed like she too can have a peaceful quiet life and spend the last of her years surrounded by her loving family. But the communists had other plans.

At this point, I got too lazy to write the rest of the mini-reviews so there will be a part two which I will post in a couple of days (or whenever I get it done).

What were your favorite books that you've read in 2017?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Back to the Classics 2018

I'm back on this blog with a new reading challenge for the year 2018! It's the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen from Books and Chocolate. I've already attempted this challenge in 2016 but soon after signing up for it, I've abandoned my blog for a variety of reasons. But this time I've decided to give this blog and the challenge another chance.

So here are the categories and the books I'm going to be reading next year.

1.  A 19th century classic. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

2.  A 20th century classic. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck 

3.  A classic by a woman author. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

4.  A classic in translation.  Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

5. A children's classic. The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit.

6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

8. A classic with a single-word title. Middlemarch by George Eliot.

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

10. A classic by an author that's new to you. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy.

11. A classic that scares you. Mobi Dick by Herman Melville.

12. Re-read a favorite classic. The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek.

Here's my list! I'm really excited and can't wait to start reading these. I'm particularly looking forward to re-reading Švejk. I really like this book and I've been thinking about re-reading it for a while, so now I finally have a good reason to do it!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Quotes | The Book of Lies - Twins Trilogy by Agota Kristof

[originaly published at Halcja's Place, February 02, 2017]

I was going through some old blog entries from the times when I was blogging in my native language and came across a collection of quotes from one of my favorite books The Notebook by Agota Kristof. It's actually a trilogy but for some reason, the Russian translation which I was reading goes by the name of the first book from The Book of Lies - Twins Trilogy.

I read this book in the summer of 2012. The Twins Trilogy was hands down one of the weirdest books I've ever read. The plot kept on twisting and turning and by the end I wasn't sure what to believe. It's probably high time to re-read this book and see if I now have a different perception of it.

It is a story of two twin boys during the Second World War. Or at least that's what's on the surface. I dare you to read this book and discover its mysteries for yourself!

Here are some of the quotes from the book that I would like to share with you today. I couldn't find these particular quotes in English so all this is my own attempt at translating them.
At dinner time Grandmother says:
"You understood. You have to work for shelter and food."
We say:
"It's not about that. Working is hard but what's even harder is to do nothing and watch someone else work. Especially if it's an elderly person."
Grandmother smirks:
"Sons of a bitch! So you felt sorry for me?"
"No, Grandmother. We just felt ashamed."

Friday, 13 January 2017

Coming back?

I talked to my therapist today and I was complaining as usual about how many of my attempts at blogging go unnoticed because no one else is interested in the things I write about. Either this or I suck at writing. And she offered me a solution. She asked why won't I write about it in English. And I started thinking about it.

I have this need to express my thoughts and opinions. And what makes it even worse, I think that my thoughts are important. Unfortunately none of the people I know IRL (not counting my mom) are interested in the stuff that sends my pulse racing. So I figured that blogging would be the answer. Putting my thoughts out there on the internet for like minded people to find and appreciate. I won't say it was my only aspiration, but having a little feedback wouldn't hurt now, won't it?

But the more I post to my main blog, the more disappointing it gets. I feel like the town's crazy lady. People are watching but don't want to have anything to do with me. Or at least that's the kind of picture my imagination is painting when time after time I don't get a reaction, or get a few encouraging comments when now and then I spit out a post "that's it! I'm quitting!". Those seem like pity comments. And if that's all I'll get, then I don't see any reason to continue...

It's not working. I'll stop beating the dead horse.

And that's when this blog comes into play. At first I thought about starting a new blog. Mostly because things I want to write about are not only books and cake recipes. I'm still thinking about it... I'm not quite sure what to do next. But just for now I've decided to write a few words and update this blog. Just to get the thought out of my head.

Either way I just needed to vent a little bit, so thanks for bearing with me.

Stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.