June 30, 2018

Play(list) by the Book: Romancing the Beat, by Gwen Hayes


Hello, everyone! By now you know well enough that when I read a book that qualifies for a Play(list) by the  Book, I'm thrilled! I really love composing those playlists, no matter if they contain songs that I already like, hate, or I haven't heard before. So, when earlier today I picked up Romancing the Beat: Story Structures for Romance Novels, by Gwen Hayes, I was more than happy to discover that the author offered me a great playlist. This one it's sort of an '80s mix, and if you listen closely to the songs you do realise that they progress the same way as a romance story does. Anyway, sit back (or dance) and enjoy!



As I've said above, this playlist was an easy one to compose (thank you so much Gwen Hayes), because the author mentioned both the song and the title. The one song that I couldn't find anywhere was Be Near Me by the Thompson Twins. Instead, I included Hold me Now. Does any of you know this song? 

Find more playlists at: Play(list) by the Book

June 27, 2018

Review: Artemis, by Andy Weir




Title: Artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Date of Publication: November 14th, 2017

Number of Pages: 305






Summary

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Review

Andy Weir will always have to compete with himself! Undoubtedly, The Martian was a big hit and it was only natural that Artemis would be compared to his first novel. Indeed, the main problem of Artemis is that it feels similar to The Martian, not that much story-wise, rather than all the things concerning the characters and general tone. Nevertheless, Artemis is a fun and easy to read novel.

Jazz Bashara is a moonchild. Not in the sense of Rory Gallagher's song, but literally. She grew up in Artemis, a city built on the moon. Life there is rather expensive and she struggles to make ends meet. In fact, she always has trouble with the law, as she smuggles various things into the city. These circumstances force Jazz to accept a job with a prize too good to be true, although it involves sabotaging the city's oxygen supply.

Of course, there wouldn't be much of a story, if this job went according to plan! Now this is the point where I think that the story takes a turn for the worst. I can't help wondering how much more enjoyable this book would be, if it was just a good old heist story! But in Artemis we have a book where everything gets out of control, a big "mafia" company gets in the way, and the stakes become as high as saving the entire city's population. It feels unnatural, and although Jazz certainly has the resourcefulness to survive, I'm not sure that I agree that at the end of the day she becomes the hero. But I have to comment that I love the fact that even though she saves Artemis, she is still in danger of facing the consequences of her previous actions. It gives the much needed sense of reality.

Another thing that I love about Artemis is that finally, in an Andy Weir book, we have a hint of a romance. And I say hint, because there is neither an action concerning this, nor a word, only bits and pieces that could possibly lead to something between Jazz and Svoboda. This makes me think of Jazz more of woman, not just the outlaw, the resourceful, carefree kind of person that she is in the rest of the book.

This brings me to the best part of Artemis in general, its characters. Jazz is a great character. Just like Mark Watney, she has a strong sense of humour, a will to survive whatever might come in her way, and an ambition to rise from her current situation. I like that she embraces her current self and she realises that what she does is questionable. Her relationship with her father is difficult, but it makes sense that she comes from a traditional, strict, and religious environment. In reality, the whole book becomes enjoyable because if Jazz's character.

The rest of characters have their moments in the novel, although I'm not convinced that I really got to know anyone that well. There are certain traits of them that I find compelling, like Rudy's sense of duty, and Dave's true friendship. The one character, that is gradually built as an important one in the book, but I find utterly unnecessary, is Kelvin Otieno. Through the e-mails that he exchanges with Jazz we learn some things about our protagonist, but mostly we learn things about him. Normally, I wouldn't mind, but why should we care when he doesn't play a role in the story? I would expect more from a character that appears at the end of every chapter.

All in all, Artemis is an enjoyable read. It has its flaws, but the tone is light-hearted, and it's full of action. It has more action than The Martian, if I dare say. For those reasons, I would gladly recommend it to those who want something easy and fun to read.

My rating is:



March 24, 2018

Play(list) by the Book: Ready Player One - Ernest Cline


Hello, everyone! We 're just a week before the movie release of Ready Player One, and I JUST CAN'T WAIT!!!! So, what would be more fitting than digging onto the OASIS? And what a world that was! Luckily for this Play(list) by the Book, the book offered a great number of references to songs and artist, most of them from the 80's. But, this time I'm not going to advise you to sit back and relax - just GET UP AND DANCE!




As per usual, in this playlist I included every song and artist that was mentioned in the book. I have to especially mention Rush's album 2112, which I couldn't include in its entirety (although it was close), but it's really important to the story. Anyway, this was a very straightforward case, so there weren't any reference where I couldn't find anything to include. Enjoy!


Find more playlists at: Play(list) by the Book

January 1, 2018

Reading Challenge 2018


Now that 2018 is here, it's time to set the new reading challenge! I didn't manage to finish the 2017 Reading Challenge, but this year I'm determined to make it! I really enjoy this challenge, although it's a tough one, so for the 2018 reading challenge I'm going to keep more or less the same categories. 


So, in 2018 I will read:
  1. a novel from Europe: Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann
  2. a novel from Middle East: The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran
  3. a novel from East Asia
  4. a novel from North America: Artemis, by Andy Weir
  5. a novel from South America
  6. a novel from Oceania
  7. a novel from Africa
  8. a novel that won the Man Booker Prize
  9. a novel than won the Pulitzer Prize
  10. a novel written by a Nobel Prize recipient
  11. a playThe Firebugs: A Morality Without a Moral, by Max Frisch
  12. a book of poetry: Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, by Maya Angelou
  13. a collection of short stories: Revenge, by Yoko Ogawa
  14. a manga
  15. a superhero comic
  16. a non-superhero comic
  17. a classic
  18. a non-fiction bookRomancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels, by Gwen Hayes
  19. a memoir/biography
  20. a novel that won the Nebula Award
So, this is it! This is the third year that I'm doing this challenge, and I'm really happy that it will "force" me to read more diverse books. Feel free to join me!

2017: A Reading Overview


HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!!! May 2018 bring you all the joy and love, and of course many interesting books to read!

But, before going into the new reading challenges, let's just take a look at my reading list in 2017.

So in 2017 I read a total of 90 books. Although they seem a lot, I didn't manage to meet my Goodreads goal of 100 books.

In detail, I read 16,331 pages over those 90 books. The longest book (American Gods, by Neil Gaiman) had 640 pages, and the shortest one (An Arabian Night: Nazin's Dream, by Garon Whited) was just 17 pages long. The most popular book I read this year (on Goodreads) was Animal Farm, by George Orwell, while the highest rated one (on Goodreads) was Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 3, by Kyousuke Motomi, with a rating of 4.48

My personal average rating on Goodreads was 3.9. My love for Manga has really shown this year, as it was the most popular type of book that I read, with 45 volumes!

The books that I didn't finish in 2017 were:
  • Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot (I seriously doubt that I will ever finish it)
  • Purity, by Jonathan Franzen (I guess I might get into it when I'm in the mood)
  • Artemis, by Andy Weir (Ok, this is unfair, because I will finish it in the next few days. I just didn't manage to finish before the end of the year)

The series I didn't finish in 2017:
  • Black Bird, by Kanoko Sakurakouji (I'm currently in volume 10, but I have to admit beforehand that I don't really like this manga series)

How did I do in The 2017 Reading Armchair's Challenge? For one more year I failed. This is a tough challenge, I won't lie. But it's diverse, and it made me read some books that I would otherwise hesitate to read. Still, 14 out of the 20 books of the challenge was a good score! I'll continue in 2018 with the same challenge.

Top 10 Books that I Read in 2017:

  1. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  3. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  4. Revival, by Stephen King
  5. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  6. Hirunaka no Ryuusei (Daytime Shooting Star), by Mika Yamamori (10 Volumes)
  7. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
  8. Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman
  9. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  10. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov
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