Sunday, August 3, 2014

Done with July - one month closer to autumn

July was a strange month but reading-wise, successful - I finished eight books mostly because I had three weeks off from work. Now usually when people talk about all the books they are gonna read whilst on holiday I frown because it doesn't work for me - if I go somewhere, I have huge concentration problems when it comes to reading. However, this time we stayed mostly near Helsinki (Robert fell ill - of course - and I had my own problems with my mental well being because summer is tough time like this) and I read a lot.

Dune, Frank Herbert - it was my second attempt with Dune and this time I finished it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Amongst the buddy read people, some people didn't finish and the things they said abou this book kind of brought back memories from my own first read, so it goes to show how timing matters. It's a sci-fi classic definitely worth a try. 5/5
In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami - a short read about an American in Japan, a lot of focus on cultural differences and conflicts they create. I enjoyed the book (and want to read other Ryu Murakami books), but I am careful when recommending this one because of its graphic contents. 4/5
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini - this wasn't the book for me, review here. 2/5
The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons - I think Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are among my favourite reads in 2014 so far. Simmons is a genius and this requires at least one more read to absorb as many references and tidbits as possible. I've ordered the third book in the series, Endymion. 5/5

When We Were Bad, Charlotte Mendelson - it was a random buy from the Book Depository sale (not that random though because I think it was shortlisted for Women's Prize), and it was quite a random reading experience as well. It's a family story and it had its humorous moments, but the characters... I mean, I love dislikeable characters more often than not, but a few of those were also complete idiots, and this I cannot handle very well. 3/5
Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett - this must be the first book ever I have been unable to give a rating. It's a piece of non-fiction, written by Patchett about her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy, and it is a beautiful, beautiful, emotional book. However, as non-fiction, I feel conflicted about its contents. Lucy Grealy's Wikipedia page says that "Her sister, Suellen Grealy, is opposed to Ann Patchett's depiction of Lucy in Truth & Beauty.[5] She claims that Patchett and the book's publisher Harper Collins stole the Grealy family's right to grieve privately." After I had finished the book, it got me thinking that there is no mentioning of Grealy's immediate family at all. I wasn't even aware that she had a sister. Naturally it got me thinking how much else was left out. I understand it is Patchett's take on the relationship, but I felt a bit disturbed in the end. Why did she write it? And how much is this book result of her own feeling of guilt towards Lucy Grealy? So although it was a great read, I cannot possibly rate this book.
Totu kuul, Nikolai Nossov - one of my childhood faves, this book is a hilarious bashing of American society written by a Soviet author. Basically, there is Earth, where life is good, vegetables and fruits are huge and money does not exist. And then there is Moon, where live other kind of creatures - they rip each other off, love violent movies and their vegetabels and fruits are tiny (because everything is greater and bigger in Soviet Russia...) Objectively rating, this book is worth 1 or 2 (maybe 2 because it is funny), but I can never give it any less than 5/5.
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters - my first Sarah Waters book, and unfortunately I am not exactly overwhelmed. The beginning was very promising, but there were major pacing issues in the middle (pacing issues in a spooky novel definitely have a negative effect on the whole experience because you kind of fall completely out of the spook aspect...), but I loved the whole gothic atmosphere and where some of the characters went. 3/5