nausicaa83: (<literature> history)
day one • a song
day two • a picture
day three • a book/ebook/fanfic
day four • a website
day five • a youtube clip

Remember last year, and two years ago, when I did those Reading Challenges? I had to interrupt the 2015 one for obvious reasons, but I've been doing a 2016 one, although I've never mentioned it here before. Sorry about that. ^^" So here's a summary of what I've been reading so far, in chronological order (all hail the mighty Kindle, that weighs nothing, I can carry everywhere, and stores thousands of books at the same time!):

The Kane Chronicles novels, by Rick Riordan. From the author of Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase, a similar story but with Egyptian Gods and a non-white cast. I loved these books, but regrettably not as much as the other two series, which is a shame because I really wanted to love them more.

The Raven Cycle tetralogy by Maggie Stiefvater. I read them because everyone on tumblr was talking about them and I got curious. They are objectively good, and they have a bisexual kid and a gay kid in a relationship among the main cast, and it's a major plot point, so major kudos for that. My one problem is that the writing left me very cold, and I felt I couldn't relate to the characters at all. It was beautiful writing, but very impersonal. I'm not going to re-read them, but I definitely enjoyed them.

Then I got that terrible infection, got hospitalized for ten days, and I re-read all the Percy Jackson books on my phone. I'm a fast reader and one gets bored quickly in a hospital. Plus I had no roommate because of the infection. Fun times.

When I finally got better and went back home I started reading A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle, because they had just announced the movie and I wanted to see what it was about. It took me something like a hundred pages to realize I had already read it as a kid. And it was one of my favourite books too! I... I have no excuses. I read the second book and got halfway through the third one before giving up. I still think the first one is really beautiful, but then it gets too religious for my tastes, and way too boring, with some weird pacing issues.

Then I read Gone Girl without knowing anything about it, and I finished it in a day because it was so intriguing and I just couldn't wait to see what was coming next. I did not see the ending coming, at all. And I have to say I agree with some of the accusations of misogyny this book has recieved. While I agree with the author that we need more female villains in literature, because female characters are usually trapped in nurturing roles as that's what's expected of a woman in our society, what she did in this book was to create a female villain whose evil nature is inherently linked to her sexuality. She makes false rape accusations, gets pregnant to trap her husband, everything she does as a villain is because of her being a woman. She's not a villain who also happens to be a woman, the unicorn we readers would like to see more, she's the Psycho Bitch meninists keep rambling about. So yeah, it's a fascinating thriller and the writing is really good, but it's very misogynistic, no way around it.

It's been kind of a disappointing year for me when it comes to new novels. Right now I'm reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and so far I'm enjoying it, so maybe the tide is turning. ^^
nausicaa83: (<literature> history)

For the "A Book Set In Another World" square, here's the 22nd and last volume of the beautiful graphic novel Fables by Bill Willingham (and tons of other talented people).

‘In which many things are resolved to an extent that the gentlewomen and gentlemen who’ve been privileged to bring you these tales in years past, and who proudly present this one today, can take the opportunity to wish you a fond, if somewhat troubling, farewell.’

I've been following this story for years, and finally here's the ending. I have to say, as far as endings go, it was definitely rushed, but still satisfying. With a cast of hundreds of characters they still managed to include or at least mention them all, and they also gave the War a proper, although too quick, conclusion, so when I reached the end of this volume I was feeling satisfied with having said goodbye to all these characters.

The story is in many ways similar to that of the tv show Once Upon A Time: the characters from all beloved stories and children's books live in our world, exiled from their own magical ones. They live in hope of one day being able to return home, where an Evil Emperor has set a world of terror. The cast is huge, and the story has various arcs, sidestories, quests, with characters from all over the world living different adventures, both hiding here in our world, and in their own fantastical and magical worlds. It's a very complex and beautiful story, and the art is gorgeous. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those of you who are new to the world of comics: much like Neil Gaiman's Sandman, this story can be fully appreciated even by those who don't know the medium. It's great art and storytelling, clever and beautiful.

I'm seriously going to miss these characters. ^^
nausicaa83: (<elementary> moriarty)
Health update first, the tracheitis is slowly going away. I still have the stupid cough, but I changed medicine and went for a more aggressive cough syrup, and I'm finally getting some results. At least now the coughing fits last only a few seconds, and I don't sound like a chain smoker anymore. Hurrah!

And I have a new Reading Bingo entry! It's the fifth book in the Rivers of London series, for the "A Book With Magic" square here's Foxglove Summer.

I obviously read all five books, but only put the first and fifth one on the Bingo because I didn't want it to end just yet. Besides, it would have been a boring way to end it, with five identical iterations of "these books are amazing, hurrah for London urban fantasy, so much diversity, I think I died and went to YA heaven". :D

And since I don't want to spoil anyone, this review is going to be quite short. Foxglove Summer is quite different from the other books in the series, as we move to the country, when Peter is called to investigate on the disappearance of two young girls, all while recovering from the shocking events of Broken Homes. All the other main characters are relegated to phone calls and texts, and we feel Peter's loneliness, as he also has to suffer through various degrees of racism. While life as a POC in London isn't all that easy, it certainly gets way worse when leaving for the country, and the author never lets us forget it. I really appreciated this degree of realism. Plus the case itself is very intriguing, and the final chapter is one of the best in the series.

My only complaint is I think the ending was too rushed and it could have used another chapter, but other than that, it's a fantastic read, and I can't wait for November when the next book will be out. \o/

In other news this weekend I finally finished the first season of Outlander, and holy shit it was nothing like what I imagined it would be. This series should have a trigger warning on top of its trigger warnings. Seriously, it was worse than Game of Thrones in that regard. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful series: the actors are great, the historical setting is incredibly accurate, the music and Scotland landscape are breathtaking, but to everyone who's thinking of watching it, remember there's a two-hour-long rape scene at the end, and I'm not exaggerating. There's a lot of rape attempts littered throughout all the series, but they all pale in comparison with that ending. Be safe, my friends. If you need more details before watching it, just drop me a line and I'll answer all your questions in the less spoilery manner I can find, but yes, that right there is the biggest problem with it.

To recover from that ending, I've started watching the Shaun the Sheep series, and it's adorable. And also really, really funny. I just started on the second season, and I'm not really liking how they changed the character design for some of the characters, nor the fact Shaun is a lot meaner than before. But from what I gathered they're going to retcon it all with the next season, so there's that. ^^
nausicaa83: (<literature> marilyn)
New Reading Bingo entry!

For the "The 1st Book in a Series" square I read Ben Aaronovitch's first novel in his Rivers of London series, Rivers of London. They changed the name to Midnight Riot for the US edition.

Let's face it, I couldn't not love this novel. It's basically Harry Dresden in London, except in this case the main character is a mixed race copper, and he's investigating a ghost who's re-enacting Punch & Judy by killing people. It's a love letter to everything that I love. *_______* There's supernatural creatures, genii locorum (the latinist in me was doing a happy dance constantly, as the latin is always correct and the history is spot-on), a lot of witty jokes, Blackadder references, a very diverse cast of characters, and the main character is constantly describing the route everywhere he goes, and as I've been to London enough times to easily know my way around it, it helped a lot with the feeling of immersion that the roads, tube stations, shops were exactly where they're supposed to be. ♥

I read it in e-book format, but halfway through it I was already ordering the paperback on Amazon. I know it makes little sense, but when I love a book I want to have a physical copy, a digital one just isn't enough. There's five books already published, with a sixth one coming out next year. Well, now we know how I'm going to spend my free time this month. :D

And a link for all of you lovely people: if you haven't already heard of Postmodern Jukebox, prepare to be amazed. ♥
nausicaa83: (<kingsman> perfect day)
Lots of things happened last week. Mainly, I had a very important medical exam, where at first they told me the situation had gotten worse, and then they told me nope, it was all as before. Cue panic attack, visions of my own mortality, and then murder plans. Thankfully I had therapy right after, and I felt a lot better after that, but still. Some doctors aren't just meant to interact with human beings at all.

Speaking of therapy, my therapist asked me if she could write about my case, keeping it anonymous, for a medical study. My first reaction was to feel very flattered. As in, my problems are worth studying, that makes me feel important! It's dumb, but sometimes that's the way my brain goes. :D

For the "A Book Outside Your Comfort Zone" square, I read Joyce Carol Oates' 1992 novel Black Water.

I went with that square because while stream-of-consciousness novels aren't outside my comfort zone per se (that would be biographies, my least favourite genre), this particular one hit all my triggers. I still went with the "I liked it" stamp, because it is beautifully written, but I wouldn't have read it if I had known more about it beforehand. It is a fictional retelling of the Chappaquiddick incident, so for those who already know about that, that's basically it.

One night at a party, a young woman meets a Senator she's always admired, and after some flirting they decide to leave the party together. Some reckless driving on his part gets them into an accident, and the car ends up in the water. He manages to escape, while the woman is stuck inside, with the water slowly filling the habitacle. Terrified and in pain, she thinks about her life, how she met the Senator, and about the pain and terror she's in, and her faith that he'll come back to save her. Her thoughts get more and more splintered and chaotic the longer she's stuck in there, with the black water slowly drowing her.

In a word, it's brutal. It's powerfully written, a fascinating insight on that period, but holy shit, it's not for the faint of heart. It gets more and more realistic and disturbing the longer she's stuck there, and quite frankly I don't feel like recommending it to anyone. Hey, you're my friend and I love you, read this traumatic novel and have nightmares about it! You're welcome!

In other news, I finally watched Interstellar, and I loved it! I know, I'm incredibly late to the party. :D But hey, what a fantastic movie! The science was so accurate for a sci-fi movie, the acting was great, and Nolan finally abandoned his trite depictions of female characters, and went in a completely new (for him) and wonderful direction! Could have used more diversity, but other than that it was a truly wonderful movie. ^^

I also watched the Shaun The Sheep movie, after a friend of mine, who has a little niece, recommended it to me, saying it was fun for all ages. She was right! It was cute and funny, and the choice to have it basically silent was a lovely touch. I must check out the tv series now! *____*
nausicaa83: (<gravity falls> what)
First, obligatory rant about the heat. It sucks, it's going to last until friday, it's unbearable, I found myself hyperventilating five minutes after leaving the house and had to forcefully slow my breathing. Stupid humidity. Stupid global warming.

Now that that's out of the way, here's a new Reading Bingo entry!

For the "A Book That Is More Than 50 Years Old" I read S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders.

To be fair, the more than 50 years old thing isn't actually correct. This book was published in 1967, but written and set in 1965. So it would be exactly 50 years old to the day. But it was the only square that sorta fit, and I really wanted to include it in the bingo. ^^

The author was only 17 when she wrote this groundbreaking novel about teenage gangs in her hometown of Tulsa. The story covers two weeks in the life of a young Greaser, and it's a very beautifully written message against violence, of overcoming differences and hate towards a future of empathy and compassion for all young people. I read it all in one sitting, it's really gripping, and while it can be truly depressing at times it's ultimately full of hope. It's easy to see why it's a classic.

It was also one of those cases when I truly felt the cultural differences coming from living in a different continent. The slang is dated, obviously, but it constantly brought to my mind images of Jets and Sharks. Apparently "greaser" is a real word and it's not a nice thing to be. It was a very instructive book for me, because it turns out everything I know about this time period and subculture comes from musicals. My bad.

Yesterday I also watched that new Netflix documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?. I highly recommend it to any fan of Nina Simone, but beware because it can make you feel like being punched in the stomach at times. The director chose to focus on only certain key moments of Ms Simone's life, and there's no narrator, which I appreciated. The story moves from interview to interview, to friends and family, and there's some pretty terrible things being revealed. Not an easy viewing, I have to say.

In other news, during the weekend I've started doing some minor physical exercise again. Just the fact that I could finally do it, as my back has stopped hurting only fairly recently, left me ecstatic. It'll take me some time to get back in shape, but I'm feeling very optimistic!
nausicaa83: (<life on mars> summertime)
New Reading Bingo entry on this lovely Sunday!

For the "A Book With A Red Cover" square I read Andy Weir's wonderful The Martian. I loved, loved, LOVED this book. I can't find a single flaw, except that I wanted it to never end, but that's not really feasible. :D

First, thanks again to [ profile] entangled_now and her amazing recommendations, you rock! \o/

The Martian is a 2012 novel about astronaut Mark Watney, a member of the third human expedition to Mars, who, after a series of unfortunate events, is left stranded on the planet. No one knows he's still alive, and while he has some food and tech left from when his teammates had to evacuate the planet, he has to find a way to survive long enough to wait for the next expedition to come by, and find a way to contact Nasa as well. As xkcd wonderfully put it, "you know the scene in Apollo 13 where the guy says 'we have to figure out how to connect this thing to this thing using this table full of parts or the astronauts will all die'? The Martian is for people who wished the whole movie had just been more of that scene".

And that's basically it. Mark is a botanist and a mechanic, and uses that knowledge, and a lot of math, to build himself crops, life-support systems, a radio, a car. Mind you, I'm a classicist: my scientific knowledge is at high school level at best. And that's part of why I enjoyed this book so much, because I kept learning new stuff! These last few days, with Philae making contact with Rosetta again, I would actually get confused if a piece of info that popped into my head came from a BBC article, or from this novel, it was great! \o/

Plus Mark is a great character: he has a great sense of humour, and he's an optimist. He's a realistic astronaut: earlier this year, when there was an emergency on the ISS, it was fun to see how the actual residents of the Space Station were all relaxed and professional, and everyone else at Nasa was shitting bricks. In Hollywood movies they have to go for the panic attacks for the sake of the plot, but it's very unrealistic. Mark finally feels and acts like a real human being chosen to go to Mars would be: calm and collected in the face of his certain doom, but always trying to find a way out of it. It was so refreshing.

The weird thing is, that they just announced a movie. With Matt Damon. And I have absolutely no idea how they could possibly make a blockbuster movie out of this story, since it would have to be two hours of Matt Damon talking to himself while running diagnostics, getting in and out of a spacesuit, and driving a rover at the speed of a walking person. In the novel, it works brilliantly. But it boggles my mind how it would work on the big screen. We'll have to wait and see.

Red cover, red planet, I'm so proud of this square, it feels like fate. :D And now, on to the next one! I'm really enjoying this year's bingo!
nausicaa83: (<north & south> smiles)

Today's adorable entry, for the "A Book That Made You Laugh" square, is Chris O'Dowd and Nick Murphy's Moone Boy: The Blunder Years.

This book is a prequel to the Moone Boy tv series, which is one of my favourite shows ever. I've seen it so many times I know it by heart, and it still makes me laugh everytime. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here's two minutes from the first episode, just to give you a taste. It's an adorable and hilarious series set in 1989 Ireland about a young boy and his three sisters, mom, dad, and his imaginary best friend. The book is written from the perspective of said best friend, Sean Murphy, played on the show by Chris O'Dowd, who tells us about Martin Moone's disastrous first attempt at hiring an Imaginary Friend, up to the point when Sean officially becomes Martin's IF. It's cute and funny, full of hilarious notes, and there's a lot of crazy details about the mythology of the show. I had a lovely time reading it, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves the show. Not so much to people who aren't fans, though: to anyone without any previous knowledge of the characters it would just seem a very confusing kids book. :D
nausicaa83: (<kingsman> galahad)

For the "A Book With Pictures" square I read Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons' Kingsman The Secret Service, the comic book that inspired the movie of the same name.

It's only six chapters, and I already knew it was going to be pretty different from the movie, but I had no idea it was going to be this different. While the basic idea is still there, what with Gary coming from a poor background into a job out of a James Bond movie, it's executed very poorly. The characters don't have much personality, and they are all unsympathetic and annoying. The villain is very bland, and there's nothing of what made the movie so intriguing and unique. In the movie Eggsy is written as a loyal, empathic young man who cares most of all about his family, and Harry as a gentleman who sees the faults in his own social class and who's ready to use his privilege to change that world and make it better. Their friendship is so compelling because they're very different people who are both open to see the world from another's perspective. There's none of that here. Plus no Harry Hart, no Roxy - scratch that, no interesting female characters at all, a lot of sexist jokes, no puppies, no church scene, and weirdly enough, no actual Kingsman, as these guys are MI6. So no Arthurian nicknames, and no fascinating backstory about this particular agency.

The reason why I didn't give it a little red X right there is because the ending was unexpectedly good: showing teamwork as the best asset at Gary's disposal was a great and unexpected plot twist. And the way they twarted the bad guy's plan was surprisingly cute and funny.

That being said, my advice is just watch the movie, and forget about this book. It's deeply flawed and has basically nothing in common with the movie, and it would have probably put me off watching it altogether if I had read it beforehand. If you're already a fan of the movie, it's interesting in an academic sort of way, to see where the idea germinated and all, but other than that, there's way better graphic novels out there much more worthy of your time.
nausicaa83: (<kingsman> oxfords not brogues)
New entry for the Reading Bingo!

For the "A 'Classic' Book" square I read John Le Carrè's 1974 novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I chose the 'classic' square because it's considered one of the masterpieces of the spy genre, and I have to agree.

Based on Le Carrè's personal experiences in the British Secret Services, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the first novel in the Karla series, and the first to have George Smiley as its protagonist. Smiley is recruited by the Circus to root out a high-level mole after one of their agents was shot and captured by the Russians; it's a thriller about an aging spy spying on the spies. That being said, it's very different from the usual spy story: it's basically a collection of conversations. Nothing actually happens until the last chapter, while the author chooses instead to have the characters tell each other everything. It's Smiley talking with suspects and witnesses and old colleagues, having them telling him pieces of a puzzle, that he later pieces together by talking to Guillam. Even the 'action scenes' are always narrated, in recollection, by one character to another. It's a very unique writing style that I'd never met before, and it made it very hard to follow what was happening. Le Carrè fixates on small details, and sometimes skips descriptions altogether, creating a world that is only viewed from the perspective of his characters, never of the narrator.

Me, I first watched the movie in 2011 in the cinema, and I loved it to pieces, so I was in this weird position where I actually knew who the mole was all along. It actually helped me a lot, because I could pin the actors' faces to the names, and it made it way easier to remember who was who. Plus the story is very complex and convoluted, so knowing in advance who the bad guy was, it actually helped me a lot with following what was happening.

One thing that took me completely by surprise was the frank discussion by the author of the bisexuality of one of the main characters. It was actually more direct here than in the movie, where they chose a more romantic, delicate approach to it. What surprised me even more was that the fact that the love of this character's life was a man was never condemned by the other characters, nor by the narrator. At one point it was even seen as one of the few good and positive things about his life. I grew up on Hitchcock's movies, and I'm a kid of the 80s, so I was naive enough to think such things were not discussed in the 70s, and certainly not in the UK, and even when they were, they were seen in a very negative way. I was proven very wrong. Kudos to you, Mr Le Carrè!

Final verdict, it's a very beautiful novel, though very, very sad. It is after all a tale of betrayal, of an age that's fading, of beliefs that are forgotten, and that probably were never heartfelt to begin with. The pacing, the long conversations, the absence of proper action can be tiring, so it's better read in short bites. And with a lot of ice cream ready by the end.

I also highly recommend the movie, it's truly a masterpiece. ♥
nausicaa83: (<007> at the pool)
Yesterday was a very "meh" day. My back started hurting again, probably because I slept funny. I had to go to the doctor, and when I came back home it was hurting so much I had to skip therapy and go to bed. Today I feel a lot better, and I had a good night of sleep, so there's that. Painkillers don't make me drowsy, so yesterday I was awake the whole time, stuck in bed with a hot water bottle, and I used that time to catch up on my reading. And to bitch and whine a lot to my cat, who was not impressed. :D

For the "A Book of Non-Fiction" square, I read What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, the author of the xkcd webcomic.

First of all, thanks a lot to the lovely [ profile] entangled_now for recommending it to me, because I loved it! You're the best! \o/

The actual review: this book is a collection of answers to weird hypothetical questions the author received to his website through the years. Things like "what would happen if the Sun disappeared?" or "how much energy could one Yoda provide?" or "what would happen if your DNA suddenly disappeared from your cells?". The questions might be stupid (or definitely weird), but the answers aren't. By using rigorous math, research, and consulting with experts from various scientific fields, Munroe answers them all. His trademark stick figures experiment all over the pages, and he often quotes pop culture to help the reader understand what he's talking about. It's a book for the uninitiated, but still perfect for the experts as well. And most of all, it's absolutely hilarious. I was sad to see it finished, and I instantly ran online to see if he was planning a sequel.

I haven't done any serious math ever since high school, and yet I felt I understood everything he was talking about. It is a bloody amazing science book. *_____*

In other news, I started watching Penny Dreadful, the supernatural Showtime tv show with Eva Green and Timothy Dalton that won a lot of Bafta Craft Awards the other day. First of all, it is indeed a really beautiful, masterfully written series. The actors are all incredibly good, and the whole story is fascinating. And I can see why the music won all those awards, because it is breathtaking.

The problem is, it is quite gory, and very, very dark. So on one hand I'm loving it and want to see more, and on the other hand it kinda feels like being punched in the stomach every five minutes. I just finished the episode at the asylum and holy shit, I spent most of it listening to it instead of actually watching it. It's not for the faint-hearted, at all.
nausicaa83: (<literature> history)
New Reading Bingo entry, with thanks to long rainy weekends. ^^

For the "A Book Set In The Past" square, I have a real treat. It's Roy Lewis' 1960 classic novel, The Evolution Man (or How I Ate My Father). Known by many different titles over the years, it especially has a cult following in Italy, where it's known as Il Più Grande Uomo Scimmia Del Pleistocene (The Greatest Ape-Man of the Pleistocene). That's the version I first read when I was 19 and it was given to me as a gift by a colleague of mom's because I was going to university to study Archaeology. While it is technically about Anthropology, it was still the perfect gift. And reading it again, years later in the original English, was a wonderful feeling.

Told by young Ernest, an ape-man living in the late Pleistocene, it's the story of his Father, a brilliant hominid who comes up with invention after invention in his continuous struggle to bring his family out of the subhuman stage, and into the Neolithic. Father invents tools, discovers fire, forces his sons into pursuing exogamy, all because he wants the human species to continue its evolution, and survive.

It is absolutely hilarious. The characters talk like in a drawing room play, have names like Edward, Griselda or Vanya, and they are acutely aware of all the stages of evolution they have to go through. It's a book written by an Anthropologist for other Anthropologists, and at the same time it's so clever and funny it's a great book for everyone. I found myself giggling and laughing out loud more or less constantly, up to the point where Sakura got fed up with me and relocated from my stomach to a more stable section of the couch. :D

I really can't recommend it enough!

In real life news, next weekend my cousin and her boyfriend are coming to visit, so I hope the storm and the rain will be gone by then. We're having a mad spring, with summer heat and then sudden bursts of cold rain, not the best weather to walk around Venice. We'll see.
nausicaa83: (<gravity falls> reality is an illusion)
New Reading Bingo entry! I'm back on track, yes! \o/

For the "Free Square" we have something a bit different: Dipper's & Mabel's Guide to Mystery and Nonstop Fun, the official Gravity Falls companion guide.

After that disastrous Ishiguro novel I needed something to cleanse the palate, so to speak, and this was absolutely perfect. For those who haven't seen the show (what are you waiting for?!) this won't make much sense, I'm warning you. ;) So, Dipper finds an empty notebook in the attic and decides to write a guide to the supernatural just like the Author, and Mabel joins in and writes in pink marker, glitter, and stickers a parallel guide to fun. Other characters join in: Soos with how-to sections, Grunkle Stan with shameless advertising of the Shack, and even Bill Cipher. It covers all the episodes up to The Society of the Blind Eye, but there are mostly spoilers only for the first season. There are handy guides to monsters, and codes, and how to have the perfect sleepover with your friends. Yesterday I came back home late, dead tired, and my back was hurting again, so I hid under the covers with Sakura and this book. Soon enough I had forgotten all about the pain and I was giggling and doing the quizzes, and adding my name in pencil everywhere.

It's a must-have for fans of the series, fun and well-written, and it even has a handy map of Gravity Falls and a Sev'ral Timez poster, signed by all the boys. What more could you ask for? :D
nausicaa83: (<daredevil> karen)
Another quick update, because after writing that last entry I picked up that boring book I was telling you about earlier, and that's when a first person chapter started, and it grated on my nerves so much I decided to just be done with it, check the ending on wikipedia, and write this stupid entry so I can finally move on with my life. I can't believe I'm three books behind on my schedule because of this stupid novel.

For the "A Book With A Three-Word Title" square, I regret having read Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant. A novel I bought because Neil Gaiman wrote an enthusiastic review of it, and because Kazuo Ishiguro wrote Never Let Me Go, a book I read last year and that I loved an awful lot. Mr Gaiman, you have betrayed me. Mr Ishiguro, you have failed me. *shakes fist*

It was published in March 2015, and here's a brief synopsis from wikipedia, because I couldn't be bothered: "Axl and Beatrice are an old Briton couple living in a time when people seem to be unable to perceive the past clearly. Upon remembering once having had a son, they journey to visit him. On the way they become involved with a mysterious Saxon warrior called Wistan, the old-fashioned knight Gawain, and a child, Edwin, on the run from a village where he is wanted dead due to the properties of an ogre bite he is mistakenly assumed to have received."

It is the most boring book I've ever read. I'm not joking. The characters have no souls and no personalities. The writing is cold and detached. My mom's old books from med school were way more gripping than this. And it's got ogres and dragons and knights, how is that even possible?! Plus, it has no ending. It has one of those open endings that are supposed to be artsy, but are actually really lazy excuses for not having thought of a proper way to conclude a story.

If I could put two red Xs instead of one on that square, I would. What a waste of time.
nausicaa83: (<steven universe> we always save the day)
I just completed the new Steven Universe game, Attack The Light, with 100% on all stages. I loved it! It's an app (both iOS and Android), and I highly recommend it even to those who haven't seen the show: as an RPG it's complex and funny, the gameplay is great and never frustrating, and the style is lovely. It's a perfect fusion (ah!) of the show's original style and a chibi one.

There are also a lot of cute nerdy references: all the Gems start at level 9000, Amethyst says "Bowacunga" when levelling up, Steven goes "item, I choose you!" when using an item. And the story is lovely, coherent to the show's, a real treat for the fans.

In other fandom news, how cool was that new Star Wars trailer? I screamed, I cried, and quite frankly those two minutes were a lot better than all prequel movies put together. I'm confident we can finally leave that nightmare behind, and enjoy a new era of Star Wars movies, the way they should be.

Yes, I'm still bitter about that train-wreck.

I'm also way behind on my Reading Bingo, because I'm reading a book I'm not enjoying at all, but at the same time I'm not completely hating it. So I'm stuck. It's so boring I can only read a couple of pages a day before I start making distressed whale noises, but I still feel obliged to finish it. Damn. I'm trapped - trapped like a... tinned anchovy!

(I amuse myself!)
nausicaa83: (<otgw> pilgrims)
Hope you all had a wonderful Easter/Passover/Spring celebration! It was my first time spending it alone in ten years (with my back still hurting I felt I couldn't risk the long trip to my aunt's town); and yet I felt quite content the whole day through. At lunch I watched Jesus Christ Superstar, which I think is my favourite musical of all time. It's definitely the one I know best: all the songs, all the characters, the choir too. And I sing along every single time. That's why I haven't watched it with others in ages: I'm very considerate. :D Then before bed I watched Rise of the Guardians, another great Easter movie. Considering I'm an atheist, I'd say I celebrated the day enough. ^^

For the "A Book Published This Year" square I chose Patrick McHale's Bags. McHale is the author of Over The Garden Wall, a cartoon network miniseries that aired last year, and that helped me a lot during a particularly vicious anxiety attack. It holds a very special place in my heart. That's why when I saw he had published a book on his website I rushed to order it. It's very short, I read it last week, while waiting for my aunt to get ready to leave the house, but it's still a really beautiful book. It's the story of a man looking for his lost dog. He soon gets lost in the woods, meets the devil, and goes through some pretty creepy experiences, all told in a very matter-of-fact way. If you've seen the miniseries, it feels a lot like that. I loved it, but I'm also sure it would have creeped me out a lot as a kid. I'm also glad I didn't read it just before going to bed. :D
nausicaa83: (<brooklyn nine nine> best friends)
This afternoon I have the first therapy session in two weeks, I'm so excited! I feel better than I hoped, so I probably won't even have to take a painkiller before leaving the house. It's a long trip, on bus and on foot, but I'm confident my back can endure it. I feel very energetic today!

And i have a new entry for the Reading Bingo. The one good thing about being sick and stuck in a bed is that one has a lot of time to read.

For the "A Book By A Female Author" square I chose Alison Bechdel's The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel is an American cartoonist, and for twenty-five years she chronicled in Dykes to Watch Out For the lives of a group of lesbian characters in Minneapolis, their loves, their political struggles. The strips have been released in various volumes, and this one in particular covers a selection of the previous volumes and sixty new tables. The story starts around 1987, and while telling us the lives of these characters it also tells the story of their country: the AIDS epidemic, the Gulf War, 9/11, Bush. It was a very peculiar experience reading the strips from the 80s and the 90s, because I remember all that stuff happening, but I was a child, so it was filtered and numbed. And yet I recognized the same fear, the same pain, I remembered it. Kids are way more clever than we give them credit for.

"Love is a many gendered thing, pal. Get used to it."

And most of all it offers a unique view into the lesbian community of then and now, how it grew, how it evolved. The only flaw, it ends quite abruptly, as the strip is now on hiatus. Bechdel moved on to other projects, that I actually read first, last year: "Fun Home" and "Are You My Mother", both great works of art that I recommend to everyone. But this one is definitely her magnum opus, the one she should first and foremost be known for. It's £16 on Amazon, you definitely shouldn't miss it. ^^

And now, a very hot shower, and I'm off! Wish me luck! \o/
nausicaa83: (<hobbit> king under the mountain)
What an intense week! On monday I had a little dental surgery; nothing as brutal as what I had to endure last summer (stupid teeth), but I had to take a lot of painkillers. Tati came to visit, and she had an epic allergic reaction to something (we're still trying to understand what), and there were frantic phonecalls to doctors, pills, and a huge scare for everyone involved. Now she's fine, my tooth stopped hurting, but boy oh boy, what an experience. Now we're trying to identify the food she had a reaction to, we've come up with a couple of possible candidates for the tests, let's hope we're right.

In the meanwhile I managed to finish a new book for the Reading Bingo:

For the "A Best Selling Book" square I read Stephen Chbosky's The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. It's a 1999 New York Times Bestseller, so it was either that square or the "A Book Set In The Past" square, and I refuse to call 1991 "the past". As Miranda says, "but it just happened!".

It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it. I knew basically nothing about it when I bought it, and I think I appreciated it even more because of it. It reminded me a lot of The Catcher in the Rye and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as it's a coming-of-age story told entirely from the point of a view of a kid who is "not normal". It's realistic and gripping, and the characters feel alive and breathing. The writing is stunning, absolutely believable as if it were written by a kid, making everything sound very realistic. Contrary to Never Let Me Go last year, it made me want to watch the movie too, although there are some parts that are probably going to be even more of a punch in the stomach when seen in a movie.

I also finished playing the Lego The Hobbit game and now I'm doing quests and exploring the world. It's enormous, and there are so many things to do, I keep getting sidetracked. And the graphics are so good sometimes I just love to walk around and admire the scenery. And beat the hell out of every little object I find. And killing a lot of random npcs. :D Plus I'm recruiting new characters from all over the map, including a shiny Sauron and a baby Smaug. They're so adorable! *_____*
nausicaa83: (<the world's end> out of order)
First things first, look what finally arrived!

Yes, it's my third time buying a Cabin Pressure boxset, and my stereo is still broken, but it has a booklet and extras! And there's the new Souvenir Programme seasons too! Last time I tried to buy them, they got lost somewhere in Germany, not kidding. But now my collection is finally complete! It's definitely time to buy a new stereo though. As it is I have to use my super old portable cd player, and it's a miracle that thing still works.

I have a new entry for the Reading Bingo, completely unplanned too. In Italy today was the "M'Illumino Di Meno" day, a day to turn off the lights to remind ourselves not to waste electricity. This time it was twice as special, as Sam Cristoforetti took a picture of our country from space at the moment when all lights were turned off. Since we were supposed to keep the lights off for an hour, from 6 pm to 7 pm, I sat on the couch with the cat in the dark and read a book I'd just bought on Amazon with the Kindle app on my phone. I didn't like the book, but the experience was still lovely, although a bit claustrophobic. We are indeed creatures of the light.

The square is "A Short Book", and the book is Your Body is an Ocean: Love and Other Experiments by Nikita Gill. I found a couple of quotes by her I liked on tumblr, got curious, and since the book itself was really cheap, I bought it. Sadly, apart for a couple of inspired lines, the book itself is boring and pretentious. It's 33 short stories, poems, dialogues, but they all read as something written by a teenager who's very full of herself. There's this pervasive feeling of the author being that one special snowflake, and all stories are about doomed romances. With the exception of a couple of clumsy attempts at addressing mature romance, it's mostly about a young girl and a young boy falling out of love. Not as cheesy as it could be, just very boring, with nothing original or truly personal to say. Not once I felt connected to the author, or to her characters, not once I felt like she was truly feeling what she was writing about.

Basically, this is what it made me feel like.

In other news, I learned how to play Johnny Cash's Hurt with my ukulele. All while learning that it's a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. What the hell, I was so sure it was a Cash song, it never even occured to me that I could be wrong! I listened to the original, only 20 years late to the party, and I liked it, but not nearly as much as I love Cash's version. Which is also surprisingly easy to play. I should work on the strumming pattern though, that's the hard part.
nausicaa83: (<muppet show> exit pursued by a bear)
Drumroll, please! It's my first entry of this year's Reading Bingo!

For the "A Book With A Female Heroine" square I chose Alexander McCall Smith's Tears of the Giraffe, his second book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. As with the first one, we follow the story of Precious Ramotswe, the owner of Botswana's only detective agency. It's a very relaxing and charming book, that made me fall in love with Botswana all over again, and with the wonderful characters of this book. Mma Ramotswe takes various cases, all while organizing her wedding, and her boyfriend adopts two orphans. It's a cozy, beautiful story, the cases are intriguing and the characters fascinating. With every new chapter I had to run to my cousin to tell her what was happening and how worried I was that the main characters would fall out of love over his abrupt decision to adopt the kids, and we would worry together and share theories about the murder mystery. It was a great experience, I can't wait to read the next one. *______*

In other news, I started playing the Lego: The Hobbit videogame. I had only played another Lego videogame before, and not even to the end. I almost threw my controller out of the window when I couldn't figure out how to open the very first door, but after that it's been smooth sailing. The puzzles are intriguing but not so difficult to be annoying, and it is hilarious. My favourite thing to do is to link arms with whoever I'm standing next to and just skip around. Even while the dragon was attacking Erebor and I had to rescue the king. :D The dialogue comes from the movies, and it's so wonderful to just sit there and listen to all my favourite actors delivering lines I know by heart. I still have to get used to the fact that to finish every level I have to build stuff, though. As Bilbo, I had to destroy all my furniture to build a table large enough for 13 dwarves, and it took me a while to realize that was the only course of action. My poor furniture!

In real life news, same ol' same ol'. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for the past monday morning, and I slept very little the night before (I'm worried I'll have to go through a new string of painful surgeries like last summer), but then over a very sleepy breakfast I got a call that the dentist was sick, and they moved the appointment to the 23rd. I feel like I wasted a perfectly good worrying!

May 2017

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