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message 1: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments My official Goodreads challenge for 2012 is 52 books, but seeing this group made me feel that 75 would be more... challenging! (:

So. Three and a half months into 2012 my list looks like this:

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars, #10) by Sara Shepard A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) by George R.R. Martin The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks The Bro Code by Barney Stinson A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R.R. Martin Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Escape from Camp 14 One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Goodreads is kind enough to let me know that at my current pace I'm already 4 books behind on my 52 books challenge. It doesn't bother me at the moment though, because I think it's mostly due to G.R.R. Martin's books being ~1000 pages long.

Anyway, from all the books I've read this year, the most surprising fact is that in that list is actually one book of non-fiction: Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. This is also the year I dicovered how much I like Haruki Murakami - smart, witty, full of irony and far-from-model characters. After reading the Hunger Games series, I thought that Divergent wouldn't be very exciting, but boy was I wrong! I enjoyed it a lot - mostly because of Veronica Roth's lively and natural writing style and language.

Right now I'm catching up on some classics, finishing A Dance With Dragons, looking into some more Haruki Murakami novels and looking forward to Veronica Roth's second book in May.

message 2: by Charleen (new)

Charleen (charleenlynette) | 765 comments Welcome to the group, Val. We are a pretty friendly group, so hopefully you enjoy it here, whether or not you make it to 75.

Also, I love HIMYM, that's awesome that you've read The Bro Code. My husband came across a YouTube "video" the other day that is the audio version of the book, which NPH actually narrated. It was only the introduction, but it kind of makes me want to listen to the whole thing in Barney's voice.

message 3: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments Haha, yeah, The Bro Code was as hilarious as the show itself. I especially like the pages with charts and graphs :D HIMYM is legend... wait for it...dary!!!

message 4: by Val (last edited Apr 28, 2012 12:37AM) (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments So, since my last post, I have read the The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1) by N.K. Jemisin

It took a while to immerse in the story, and to form an opinion as to whether I like a character or not and whether I approve of an action taken by that character or not; however, it does not mean that the story was not exciting. It was. Mostly because I felt it to be a fresh and somewhat unconventional view of religion, mythology, as well as family and relationships. The author has not only built a world that has basically nothing in common with the world we live in, but she also invented religions, myths, and history that is quite hard to imagine and comprehend, and I really, really applaud that, because nowadays, in the age where everything seems possible, it is really hard to come up with something extraordinary. And this novel definitely qualifies! I was not surprised about the idea of people and gods mixing, living in one world (though it is strange to accept), but I found the possibility of a person having two souls the most unusual.

The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2) by N.K. Jemisin

After reading the first part of the trilogy, I expected that the second book will be a continuation of Yeine's story, so I was very dissapointed that the narrator was another woman. The beginning of the story seemed very dull and greatly boring. Mind you, I mean the story, not story telling, because, let's face it - describing a world from the point of view of a blind girl that has never actually seen it is genious! The narrator's descriptions not only makes the reader visualize, but smell and taste and FEEL the world she is living in - I find this story telling utterly outstanding and the author - a mastermind. Storywise, it got more exciting towards the middle of the book. I loved reading about characters I got to know in the previous part, and again I applaud the author for making such distinction between Oree's and Yeine's points of view of - because their perception of things is very different, they have essencially different opinions about people surrounding them (though, I must admit, it broke my heart that Oree saw Sieh mostly as spoiled, angry, and cruel child - because Yeine saw more good in him and loved him unconditionally).

The Kingdom of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy, #3) by N.K. Jemisin

I am simply amazed by this last part of the "Inheritance" trilogy. Usually I try to start reading a book without any expectations - I have found that I enjoy it more that way. Unfortunately, though, before starting this one I have read reviews on Goodreads, mostly saying that this novel is the worst of the three, people finding it erratic and unstructured, not understanding what is happening at times. I was pleasantly surprised: this part I liked the most of all. Firstly, I found Sieh's mind fascinating, from the beginning until the end, growing up little by little along with him, seeing how he is changing, noticing the details - things that old Sieh would not do. Secondly, the story, the mystery around which the story develops seems more interesting, because it is more abstract, more emotional, though not so very mysterious - quite predictable. I agree that the novel might seem quite erratic, though definitely not in a bad way. This is something I keep admiring N.K. Jemisin for - I feel that she knows her characters completely, she has them figured out. The story is erratic, because the narrator is a spoiled, cruel, mischievous, so if the story was more structured and less confusing, it would not be Sieh anymore, it would sound more like Yeine, Oree or Shahar. But it felt Sieh through and though. So, I simply loved it. Devoured it. Not trusting other opinions before forming my own again anytime soon. A book should be a mystery.

message 5: by Karol (new)

Karol | 1642 comments Val, really enjoyed your comments on the Inheritance trilogy. I think it's great that you took the challenge of reading the third despite some negative reviews. Seems like that author has great talent in being able to speak in different voices . . .

message 6: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments 18 of 75 done.

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) by E.L. James

Sexy and very amusing read, which I devoured in a heartbeat. That said, the plot was intriguing enough at the beginning, but pretty much went downhill from there. I was done with the book before I realized that nothing actually happened. The story did not go anywhere, and it was obvious from the start how it was going to end. That, however, did not subtract from the enjoyment of the book and the process of reading, because the language is simple enough, contemporary, and probably every woman/man could relate to Ana/Christian at one time or the other. I get that the book is supposed to be all hot and steamy, but to be honest, I felt more prone to moments where Ana and Christian's relationship was completely ordinary. Another thing I really like is that it is never said that Christian loves Ana, but his words and actions make it (painfully) obvious.

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2) by E.L. James

Fifty Shades Darker felt less sexy and amusing than the first book. Less sexy, because a sex scene (even as hot a sex scene as described by E.L. James) every five minutes gets old (very odd, I know!). Less amusing, because this part really is darker, which is not in the least a bad thing, as it allows the plot to develop in a more interesting manner, and emotions and feelings to become more intense.

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3) by E.L. James

The final part of the trilogy felt very cheesy and predictable, resembling a Nicholas Sparks novel rather than the hot & sexy E.L. James one. I like a love-conquers-all, romantic story with a happy ending as much as the next girl, but the idea that Christian got over his 20+ years worth of psychological and behavioural problems in a matter of three months is completely ridiculous! That aside, it is a delight to read something that is written in such a modern, uncomplicated, witty, and very emotional language. And even though nothing unexpected really happened, I could not put this book down until I read it all.

message 7: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 3273 comments Mod
Valērija, I like the way you set up your reviews for trilogy books. That was a great idea!

message 8: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments Haha, thanks!
Just thought that posting about one book if there are actually three is pointless. I feel that they should be viewed together (:

message 9: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments 23 of 75

It took me months (!) to finish A Dance With Dragons. George R. R. Martin never disappoints! It is a mystery to me how he is able to come up with such complicated storylines and how clear is his vision of the universe he has created down to the smallest, seemingly unimportand details! As always, I enjoyed the most the points of view of Jon, Arya and Tyrion - they were my favorites from the beginning. Jon plays a very important role as a Lord Commander of the Wall and reading his POV I am always amazed how he tries to build a whole new world from ground up. Arya is desperate to find a place where she would belong, since her home and family are gone, and it is exciting to see where life takes her and sacrifices she has to make to find what she is looking for. Tyrion is always a smartass full of sarcastic and ironic commentary and a way out of every situation! I cannot wait to see where the story takes all of them in the next book!

Great Expectations

I cannot say that Great Expectation is a particularly interesting novel; however, I still enjoyed reading it. What I really loved, though, was C. Dickens' writing - descriptive, humorous, smart! And although the story in whole is not exactly believable, as there are too many coincedences, the small, day-to-day things could not be more real.

The 4 Hour Workweek, Expanded And Updated: Expanded And Updated, With Over 100 New Pages Of Cutting Edge Content.

Inspiring! Definitely a book you should keep close and re-read when you are feeling uninspired! Most of advices could not possibly become real life things for me, personally, but some small things I could really incorporate into my life to make it more productive/exciting.

Smilla's Sense of Snow

Only after reading the last sentence and putting the book down did I realize that I did not like it. Aside from crime novels/thrillers being probably my least favorite genre, the description and the beginning of the book seemed promising. The protagonist was dark and brooding and melancholic, which is a kind of characterization you do not get to experience very often in the main character. Her feelings for Isaiah very genuinely touching and her wish to find out what happened to him understandable. I think what I enjoyed the most were Smilla's childhood memories and her memories of Isaiah; and as the story unfolded those parts became very scarce. Not mentioning that the story unfolded painfully slow... Could not put the book to rest for good, though. Got to give it to the author - he came up with a complicated and intriguing story line that if not kept the reader involved & immersed in the story at least kept him interested enough to keep reading and guessing how it will end.

The Little Stranger

I remember Sarah Waters completely amazing me around three or fours years ago when I read Fingersmith. The Little Stranger disappointed me at first, because I had no idea where the story is going for the first hundred pages or so. The narrator, Dr Faraday, seemed a very plain man - a kind of man I could probably never become interested in, which is why I did not exactly like him as the narrator. At times, I wish he would make some sort of a bold move or say something that is less than polite. Caroline, on the other hand, seemed a very full spectrum character that always held my attention for no specific reason. Later on, though, as the story progressed, it became more or less the other way around, as I got to know the characters better. Caroline really started to annoy me towards the end, but Dr Faraday became more or less likable. I really missed Rod, too. I love the author's writing style, the vivid imagery and descriptions, the way story unfolds. Altough the way the author ended the novel was genious (& thought provoking), I was disappointed, the same as Dr Faraday in the last chapter - it felt that there should be some sort of conclusion, closure of some kind.

And, right now I'm reading The Night Circus, which I am finding absolutely magical and The Master and Margarita, in Russian, nonetheless, which takes me a lot of time and concentration.

message 10: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments 25 of 75 | yay! a third. I'm a couple of months behind still, I think.

So, the 24th book was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which was absolutely magical! I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much! It probably will not become a Classic mentioned in every literature lecture around the world, but it is a compelling story with lovable and special (and I do not just mean magical!) characters and extraordinary setting! It does not feel like a writing, a book, a novel... Just a story, one of those once-upon-a-time ones. Shifting of time frame and points of view, as well as storytelling itself kept amazing me on every page - it was not even about describing things, it was about desribing feelings. I saw everything the characters saw so clearly as if I was there myself and experienced everything as if it happened to me. Genious & entirely unputdownable read.

After The Night Circus I read Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy, #1) by Leigh Bardugo. It is pretty hard to express my opinion on that book. Can't say I didn't enjoy reading this story, which was almost compelling, almost exciting, almost original and almost romantic. If only it weren't for all those almosts... The whole time it reminded me of N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, only that book was filled with incredible & interesting mythology instead of slightly changed Russian-ish setting. I get that most people feel that the author should have done some research on Russian words/last names etc., but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the lack of research that made those words slightly inaccurate; it felt more like an attempt to turn a familiar setting unfamiliar - to get across the point it is not actually Russia, and in this world people get drunk on kvas and use their magic powers to make themselves pretty and grow fruit and flowers.

The only character that seemed to be a little less complicated and real, for the lack of a better word, was, of course, the Darkling. It is true, though, that villains are always the most interesting. He had something dark, as well as something humane in him - he was driven and ambitious, which made him much more interesting than uncomplicated Alina & Mal. Though Alina got more interesting at the end when she became a little less good and a little more dark.

message 11: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 3273 comments Mod
Valērija , I really enjoyed Night Circus too! For m, I enjoyed just the thought of such a real place and time like this!

message 12: by Val (new)

Val Kaminska (v_allery) | 8 comments 39 of 75 done.

I am way behind. But I still believe I'll read 'em all.

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1) by Sylvia Day Reflected in You (Crossfire, #2) by Sylvia Day

More romantic than dark, this novel explores a very new and very frightening relationship and the way it develops into deep love and genuine trust. I loved it for expoloring all those fears a person has in the beginning - of being honest & sharing dark secrets, of losing someone you fell for hard and fast... Not to mention the sex scenes, which never seem dirty, but always passionate, real, full of both love and desire.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) by J.K. Rowling

What I like about all Harry Potter books is that I always feel that an actual year has passed after I finish a book. I look back and think that so much has happened, even though in the process of reading it seemed that nothing really happened at all. I think that is one of the things that make these books so outstanding.

Sometimes these books are hard to pick up and I'd rather read something with a more intense story line. However, when the story unfolds in such a calm manner, spanning weeks and months, it is easier to notice other important things - character development, humor of describing magical world in the real world's terms, irony that I might not have perceived if I was reading the book as a child or a teenager...

The Rose of Fire (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #0.5) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

No! No, no, no, no, no! I cannot even begin to describe how much disappointment I felt reading the last sentences before the Epilogue. I did not even realize that the story was ending. Don't get me wrong - I adore Carlos Ruiz Zafón, his characters, his stories and the stories behind those stories, but this - I cannot even fathom the reason why nothing happened! The seemingly interesting "sinister character" disappeared in the most incomprehensible and silly way after all the build up; the thing with the husband's suspicion about his wife's whereabouts did not resolve at all except that we found out that she wasn't where he supposed she would be; and what's all that business with Bea's ex-boyfriend, anyway? What was the point in telling us that he worked for the man who supposedly killed Isabella? Plus, the amount of discrepancies in The Prisoner of Heaven is ridiculous!!! David did not know Isabella married, had a child and died until 1945! How come he suddenly knew this while being in prison in 1939?! And how is it that you say a thing like "that moment I knew that my father had begun to die" and not mention it again? Ever. And why did a mysterious cousin show up for three seconds at the very end of the book? Why would you lead on the reader and let him think that something mysterious happened to the man who killed Daniel's mother and then not explain what that was all about? Too much build up & none of actual delivering. The only storyline that made sense to me was Fermin's past. Of course it goes without saying that the author's voice is still a thing to admire - smart language, subtle humor and irony - pleasure to read.

Obsidian (Lux, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout Onyx (Lux, #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I did not expect to enjoy Obsidian, so it took me by surprise that I was able to read it in one day. Although there was not anything new story wise (new girl, hot alien neighbor, the big bad, the girl saves the day), it is written in a very contemporary style and language, it is witty, humorous and sarcastic all in one package, plus, the plot develops in a perfect pace, and it does not allow to put the book down. I really liked Kat, mostly because her love of books and her geekism, as well as her down-to-earth attitude and her ability to give a witty comeback in any situation. She did not seem seventeen, more like in her twenties. Hot and cold Daemon was most of all entertaining. Cannot stop enjoying his sarcasm and irony, and I loved that he was not in love with the girl next door the moment he laid eyes on her. Onyx seemed a little more boring than Obsidian - Kat & Daemon, it seems, kept having the same conversation over and over and over again... Who the bad guys were was clear from the first pages - no surprises there. Dee was basically written out of the second book, which once again showed the stupid stereotype about a teenage girl with a hot boyfriend/new crush/alien problems that forgets about her best friend. The first book really did seem what Twilight should have been like, but Onyx was even less exciting... And as much as I wanted to feel those sparks between Kat & Daemon - I couldn't. Felt more chemistry between Dee & Adam, really. The plot continuous to be quite interesting, though. I want to know where the story is going with the DOD, what really happened to Dawson (though it's not that hard to guess and how Kat will coexist with the nicer brother.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne The Little Prince  by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Caught up on my childhood reading.

A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A great books for the likes of me - people who understand science as long as it is explained using words understood by 3-year-olds with complementary colorful crayon drawings.

message 13: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 3273 comments Mod
val, I just read Rose of Fire and it was so short that I don't even know what we were really supposed to learn from that. I think I must have blinked and miss the point.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Catching Fire (other topics)
Mockingjay (other topics)
Ruthless (other topics)
A Storm of Swords (other topics)
The Guardian (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Haruki Murakami (other topics)
Veronica Roth (other topics)
N.K. Jemisin (other topics)