UnderHyped Read-A-Thon WrapUp

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In which we wind out how terrible I am at keeping with my TBR lists...

I've read... well, not as much as I wanted to but given the fact I actually had three exams that week and has to write a report on a book I haven't read before (yay for speed-reading history books) I think it was all right.

So here's what I read and finished:

Doris Lessing: The Cleft
I've read this book for over a year, maybe a lot over a year actually. For past half a year I had only last 70 pages to finish (out of 220 pages total). And it didn't happen until now. So now I'm satisfied. Finally! And the end was quite good actually so it's only the middle part that destroyed it for me. Such a shame but I'll definitely read some more Doris Lessing some time soon.
The story is a fictional tale of beginning of the human race as written by a Roman historian (I think he was Roman). The best thing about it is that everything started with women which is a take you rarely get.

Hagen Schulze: States, Nations and Nationalism
So here's the history book. It was a good one and I managed to finish the report on time and the teacher like it so I'm not gonna talk about this any more...

Hilary Mantel: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
This Read-A-Thon wasn't all about reading and much more about listening for me because I've had a mild migraine lately so listening is easier for me. Also I can listen to audiobooks when in work or on my way to school and it's really nice to ignore everyone for once.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher is a short story collection and it was my first run-in with Hilary Mantel. Honestly I love most of the book. The writing style is great and most of the stories were beautifully crafted. But to be honest there were couple of them that I can't remember at all. Some of them just didn't get my attention and even though I remember listening to them I just don't know anything about them. But I'll be definitely looking to reading something more from Hilary Mantel.

Keith R.A. DeCandido: Dragon Precinct and Unicorn Precinct
I've read some review describing these books (from a series called Cliff's End) as a C.S.I. novel in fantasy setting and I think they were about right. I've since listen to all four novels and I really enjoyed them, the first one was entertaining, the second one was a bit less because I just expected it to be better than the first one and it wasn't. The thirth (Goblin Precinct) and fourth (Gryphon Precinct) were both better though.

And here's what I didn't finish (because of reasons):

Glastonbury: Když svatí pochodujou
A collection of essays published by Czech musical journalists for the 40th anniversary of Glastonbury festival. There isn't really much to say about that, I've read 74 pages so far and I love it but it's non fiction so I don't feel the need to rush through it at any quicker pace.

John King: Skinheads
This is one of books that have been on my shelf for ages and I plan to read it some time this year but so far it looks like I'll stay 25 pages in for a while.

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The Donor (Rae)

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Written by: Nikki Rae

*** Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

The review contains spoilers, consider yourself warned!

I never know what to expect from new adult or romances or even paranormal romances. Yet I still go on and read them. Sometimes I'm amused, sometimes I'm bored. Romances are usually similar. One "normal" girl, one "hot/wealthy/older" guy, things happen, they can't be together, then they are. Happy end.

And then there's The Donor. And I don't think I can sum my thoughts about it without going through the spoiling ground.

1. Casey, the main character, needs money and needs them fast. And that would be because she's dying, she's got medical bills to pay and she doesn't want to leave the bills to her parents, who doesn't have much money as it is.
2, Casey meets a guy online - he's a vampire, wants her blood, she's promised a large sum of money if she goes to him across the country for a short stay.
3, The guy, Jonah, founds out about her condition and decides to help her instead of drinking her.
4, Stuff happens, Jonah's daughter needs new lungs and Casey is a match.
5, But Jonah likes her.
The ultimate dilemma - does he turn her or does he safe his daughter.

I think that's the thing about this novel. Vampires are just another thing here, nothing special. And the story might be about Casey but in the end it isn't really about her. We know she dies without having to see her dying. She makes the ultimate sacrifice but does she really?
For me - from that point we find out she's a match for Jonah's daughter, it stops being about Casey and her choices and it starts being about Jonah. And I really liked that.

That said, I had a few problems with this book. Most of them have all to do with how fast we are done with everything. And with the absolutely unnecessary physical aspect of Casey and Jonah's relationship.

The first problem, of course, can be explained by the fact it's a novella.
The second problem I can only explain by the "new adult" category. In all honesty I would be much more satisfied with the story if there wasn't the aspect of "I'm dying, let's do everything we can" which to me translates into "I don't want to die a virgin". I honestly thought that it was redundant.

However I appreciated the novella for what it is - a good entertainment without happy ending - which as you can see is not necessary to write a romance book.

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UnderHyped Read-A-Thon TBR (19 - 25 January)

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This is my second time (out of two) joining UnderHyped Read-A-Thon and last time I was really bad at reading, I don't even remember how much I read but it wasn't a lot. And I know for sure I won't be able to read much this time around either because of some exams I have to take next week.

Anyway - I do have overly ambitious To Be Read list just so I have enough books to pick from (also I already started reading some of these so I might actually finish one or two of them).

#1 Doris Lessing: The Cleft (1,761 GR ratings)
I started reading this book about a year ago (it might be even longer) and I still haven't finished it. It was good for about 100 pages but I lost interest after that. However I'd like to finish it because I've got like another 100 pages to go and it wasn't so bad I'd have to put it down completely.

#2 Empower: Fight Like A Girl (14 GR ratings)
A collection of short stories by really cool ladies, lots of them are television writers. I've had it on my Kindle for ages and I'm still only about 12% in. But I figured a short story collection might be a good thing for this read-a-thon.

#3 B. S. Johnson: Christie Malry's Own Double Entry (700 GR ratings)
A short novel that's a little crazy but a good fun (at least I thought after first 20 pages). It's my father's favourite so I figured I might actually read it.

#4 Pascal Mercier: Lea (352 GR ratings)
I've read Mercier's Night Train to Lisboa and absolutely loved it, I started reading Lea since it is the only other book of his translated to Czech and while I liked it I just didn't have any motivation to finish it. So I'll probably just start all over again.

#5 William Trevor: Bodily Secrets (72 GR ratings)
One of Penguin Great Loves collection that I bought last week. These books are usually really short short story collections so it might be good for me to read just something quick.

#6 Samuel Selvon: Moses Ascending (103 GR ratings)
I've read Selvon's Lonely Londoners last month and absolutely loved it so I'm hoping to get to the sequel. I don't know if it really is a continuation but the main character's name in the first one was Moses, so I'll just assume it is.

#7 Martin Booth: The American (or A Very Private Gentleman) (940 GR ratings)
I don't know much about this book except it was filmed by Anton Corbijn who is a god and my favourite photographer/director/anything of all time and it had George Clooney in it. And in order to be able to watch the film (after years since it's been released) I want to read the book. Also I've had it on my shelf for more than five years I think, I need to do something about it!

#8 Yeats Is Dead!: A Mystery by 15 Irish Writers (483 GR ratings)
I've had this one for a while and I figured I could finally read it. Also I plan on reading more Irish authors this year so I might as well start with this one.

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Comic Book Wrap Up January 2015 - weeks 1 & 2

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Because I've been reading a lot of comic books and graphic novel (and books with lots of illustrations) I decided to to a weekly (or fortnightly) wrap up of the stuff I read. I can't promise I'll keep up with that, you know, because life happens sometimes. But I've got some hope.

Warning: may or may not contain spoilers! You've been warned!

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
This one take s the existing Marvel superheroes and creates a new reality in 1602. I was afraid I won't like it, because there are just two or three characters I really care about in the Marvel Universum (because I haven't read all of the comic books and my repertoire is obviously lacking) and only one of them is in this (and she's a traitor). But I should have trusted Neil Gaiman more, because it was brilliant. Just when you get used to the characters you know being early 17th century versions of themselves, the world's about to end.

Marvel's Secret War by Brian Michael Bendis
There's something wrong with the way villains around the city group together and attack the superheroes. And none of the attacked can quite figure out what it is and why it's happening. But it wouldn't be a proper Marvel mystery if Fury didn't have his hands in it. So we got a "team" of confused superheroes and a super secret coup d'etat that no one remembers about.

Captain America: Red Menace (Vol. 1 & 2) by Ed Brubaker
I don't really like Captain America. Actually I think Steve Rogers is the least interesting character in the entire universe. (Excluding his MCU side-kicks, Bucky's great, Peggy's brilliant and who doesn't like Sam? And Natasha, I don't even need to talk about the fact she stole the CA: TWS for herself, right?) However Red Meance... Well, where to start on Red Menace. One - I have no idea how exactly this fits into the stuff that's happening. I know what happens after but this one was bit of a surprise. But I finally found out who Sin is. (Red Skull's daughter, for those who are in the dark.) And then there is Crossbones and I kinda like him. And we've got glimpses of Bucky Barnes.
Basically Red Menace reflects things that happened in the past and how they mirror into the future (or the present). Red Skull is back and the trouble ensues. And it's surprisingly good!

Civil War: Captain America (+ Winter Soldier: Winter Kills) by Ed Brubaker
Civil War arc follows the clash between government initiative to register superheroes and bunch of superheroes that aren't comfortable with the whole thing. And - surprise surprise, Captain America is the symbol of these misfits.
To be honest, I'm not really taken with the whole Civil War story, I don't like it, I don't think I'll like it the upcoming movie, I don't really know what to do about it. But! This collection includes little off shot Winter Kills and we all know that I love me some Winter Soldier. So it wasn't that terrible after all. However I don't think I will be reading any more Civil War books, unless they're translated to Czech and I can find them in library. Because I'll read any comic book I find in the library!

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Friday Reads #1 (Saturday edition)

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So I've decided to make myself a little "Friday Reads" pile just to know what I should be reading this weekend. And of course I'm posting it on Saturday, where would be the fun in being on time. Most of these are university reads, I've got an exam from European literature on Tuesday and need to finish and/or reread some books for that. Also as you can see, I'm reading all of these in Czech. And it's driving me crazy, I need my fill of English.

#1: Molière: The Miser (or L'Avare)
A comedy in five acts about Harpagon, who is obsessed with his wealth. It a reread but this is about all I can remember about it. (I'm not even surprised, I think I've read it for my school leaving exams so of course I don't remember anything.)

#2: Henrik Ibsen: The Wild Duck
Never read this one and I have no idea what it's about and I'm kind of excited about that. I've heard nothing but good things about Ibsen's drama so I'm sure it will be a good read.

#3: Milena Lenderová: K hříchu i k modlitbě
This is a non-fiction book I need to read and write a paper on this weekend. It's about an image of women in 19th century. I believe it focuses on Central Europe but I'm not sure, It's one of the main text of Czech gender studies so I'm excited about it.

#4: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos: Les Liaison Dangereuses
I started reading this book about three months ago and I love it but life happened and I wanted read other stuff. And now I'm left to finish 220 pages of this epistolary beauty in three days. Yay me!

#5: A. A. Milne: Winnie the Pooh & The House At Pooh Corner
I remember reading some of Winnie the Pooh stories but more so listening to them as told by an amazing Czech actor Marek Eben and I don't think I ever finished this short book. So I figured it might be an ideal time to read it.

#6: Johanna Spyri: Heidi
I love Heidi the Girl from the Mountains as a child but I've only read some shortened version of it with lots of illustrations. So I figured I might as well read the proper one now.

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The Imaginary Girlfriend (Irving)

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Written by: John Irving

Read for the TBR Pile Challenge.

The Imaginary Girlfriend was my first venture into Irving's writing. First I wasn't sure if I'm gonna like the style, if it just isn't something that "isn't for me" as it happens sometimes. But after couple of pages, I was hooked.

That said, The Imaginary Girlfriend is a memoir, so it isn't some great venture into Irving's imagination, which is what I'm most curious about in books. However I fell in love with his writing style. It didn't matter, that the main topic of the book was fighting which I know literary nothing about and am not interested in what so ever. But the lever of excitement with which Irving describes his fighting "career" is amazing and it sucked me in.

Irving recalls important moments in his life and for most of the time they were either fighting (or fighting trainer) or writing. He thinks back on his high school years, his teachers, his reading problems because of dyslexia and later on his students and his sons. In a span of 110 pages you find more stories that you were aware you can get.

For me personally The Imaginary Girlfriend was a great start in Irving and I hope to read some more of his works some time soon (I've got a copy of The World According to Garp at home, so we'll see how fast I'm gonna get to that one).

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TBR Pile Challenge

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Because I don't have enough of challenges, I'm taking the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Room Beam Reader. The aim is to read more books that you've own for a long time - more than a year. So I picked up some, it's twelve of them and two alts in case I won't be able to read some of them. And ideal case I will read all 14 of them.

1) Jim Butcher: "Fool Moon"
2) Seth Grahame-Smith: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"
3) Kazuo Ishiguro: "The Remains of the Day"
4) Roald Dahl's "Book of Ghost Stories"
5) Joseph Connolly: "The Works"
6) Keith Ridgway: "Standard Time"
7) Andey Kurkov: "Death and the Penguin"
8) Haruki Murakami: "Kafka on a Shore"
9) Margaret Atwood: "The Blind Assassin"
10) John Irving: "The Imaginary Girlfriend" (1996/2005) [Jan 6]
11) Allen Ginsberg: "Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems"
12) Truman Capote: "In Cold Blood"

1) Don DeLillo: "Cosmopolis"
2) Virginia Woolf: "Mrs Dalloway"

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