Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Death souls dream only off death. [...] Small dreams for small men; it is life that expands to fill worlds, life is your master or death is

Why I read this book?

This is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a book I really enjoyed last year. Thanks to a gift from Audible I was able to get this one right before finishing the first and continue the story of Karou and Akiva

What's the book about?

The book takes place mostly in Eretz, the world of the Chimaera and the Seraphim. After Karou has learnt that her family is dead she goes back here to find and join the rebel army and helps them in the only way she knows: taking Brimstone's place. On the other side of the story we have Akiva, trying to deal with guilt and emptiness while trying to explain his new point of view to his brother and sister.

First impressions

The first thing I have to say is Oh boy do I like Khristine Hvam as a narrator!.I have no problem whatsoever following the story and her different characters voices are spot on.

Now, as for the story, I liked the jump between characters so we could see the story from several POV; the story starts on a grim tone, which is just normal considering how the last book ended. The descriptions of new chimaera were exiting and the images of Eretz in my head were very nicely painted.

Final thoughts

I'm wondering if the third book is going to talk about more about the Far Isles and the Stelians. Since the world building was so interesting in this installment I can only imagine how this part of Eretz will be like.

I have to say I quite enjoyed this book. It was not love story oriented, we do not get to see a lot of interaction between the main characters at the beginning and this was a good thing, exploring cruder sides of both main characters and the interactions with their respective sides. You could feel the pain, both physical (sometimes a bit too much) and psychological that Karou feels while getting into her new life and you can start to understand both Hazael and Liraz.

Zuzana and Mik are my favorite couple in a long time. Not only because of her, being funny and witty, but their relationship is sweet and feels...real of some sorts, like how I remember my teenage relationships (minus the traveling without apparently any money problems, but ignore that) all adoring and all over each other. And they have sex! Most of the YA books I've read have people kissing and that's pretty much it. Is not like this is a romance YA novel, that is not the focus of the story obviously, but it is nice to see a YA couple enjoying their sexuality.

I have nothing but disgust for the characters of Joram and Jael, but I will not elaborate much on this point not to give away spoilers.

I think the fact that I like the most about this book and the series in particular is that although it has 2 main characters the story is not necessarily weaved solely around them. Showing side characters caught in the war gives a different perspective and it evolves into a book that touches war, politics slavery and racism in a heartfelt way. It is not a love story, albeit there is love between couples, friends, communities, but the story of two groups forced to remain at war by leaders that know nothing but war.

I am looking forward the third book and I will read the novella since, as I stated before, I am a Zuzana fan.

There is intimacy in pain. Anyone who has confronted it or suffered it knows how it 


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R Delany

Every life is a rhythm [...] Every death is a suspended rhythm, a syncope before restarting the life.

Why I read this book?

This was the January Book Club choice from Sword & Laser. Also I've known the name Delany for a long time, but I had never actually read a book from the author so this gave the opportunity to get to know the author. 

What's the book about?

The book tells us the story of Lo Lobey, an alien (?) individual from a race with 3 genders and also divided into functional or non-functional (or different). This race has arrived to Earth, after humanity has (I think) left it and as they try to accommodate themselves in the new planet they try also to absorb the mythology present on Earth by collecting and mixing pieces of history and pop culture, including references to Greek culture and rock and roll. 

First impressions

At first I was having a lot of trouble to follow the story partially because it was hard to follow the characters. As the story advances it gets a bit easier to recognize who is who, but several time I would have to go back on my reading to verify what was actually going on.

Final thoughts

So, here is the thing. I liked the critic about how society might treat a person that initially is consider as different. I enjoyed the use of a third genre. I even had a good time discovering some of the cultural references…but at the end of the book I am not sure I go the book. There were a lot of lost threads which made feel lost in the story. I did not understand the point of some of the chapter cuts or the choice of quotes for that matter. I think I see where the author was going for and why it was so acclaimed at the time. However I think this was just not for me.

There is in this world an infinite number of true things that are impossible to prove as truthful.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How and Why has my reading changed in the last year.

This is my first attempt to back to "non-review" posts.  For a while I was doing the Sunday Salon posts but sooner than I thought it became more of an obligation than something fun and I stopped. Although I will probably be sharing this post in the Sunday Salon Facebook page, I don't think I will be back posting every Sunday.

My Kobo

In little bit more than a year my reading habits have changed considerably. The first reason was me buying an e-reader. How did this change my reading habits you may ask? Well for starters I stopped NEEDING to have a big bag to carry a book or NEEDING more space in the metro to read, since sometimes I would not be able to open my book it being so crowded. With my Kobo I can now read (comfortably) even when I'm standing in the tiniest corned available. I could do so with some paperbacks, but is was way less easier, and the fact that I can pass the page with just one touch beats having to use both hands and more often that I would care to admit losing my balance because I am no longer holding to something which sometimes lead to letting my book drop and loosing the page altogether...not great. 

Having my Kobo also changed the way I read scientific articles, and I have to say I'm hoping here PubMed will go out of the Beta version of their epub version of articles and make this version available for most of the articles. Yes I realize I can always upload the articles in PDF in my reader, but the reading experience is completely different starting with the fact that I can change the font size to something a bit more accommodating to my (often) tired eyes. 

Finally, this opened a whole new library to me: OverDrive. Very early when I moved to Canada I got my library card and boy have I used it. Last year, as I mentioned on a prior post, most of my reading material came from the library and this included OverDrive. This has made a lot of books available faster to me, even if I am not in the city the moment they became available...and that is just awesome.

Audio books? Me?

And then I made a mistake. I reserved Cinder on OverDrive because I was going on a long trip overseas, was limited on luggage space and so I wanted to fill my Kobo with fun, light reading books. I got the e-mail telling me that the book as available...and lo and behold: it was an audio book. This, I told myself, is not what I wanted! I'm not an audio book person. My boyfriend casually said: well, is not like you can shift your attention a lot being on the plane, so you could give it a try and actually KNOW if you are or not. 

So I did, I don't remember what movie they had that day...but I remembered loving the book. I was lucky that I had a good narrator the first time and that it wasn't a heavy book that needed more expertise on "reading audio books"; but the bottom line was that I was hooked. I was already into podcasts and 2 of them kept offering deals with Audible. I figure I could give that a try and 11 books in less than 6 months I love it!. I started listening to them while doing mechanical things in the lab (wracking tips, putting away boxes, washing cells)  and know I have moved to listening while doing experiments I feel comfortable with since I've done them several times...except when I have to calculate something, I just can't do both things at the same time. 
Recently, my boyfriend and I started to listen to books together in the car...this takes a bit more of patience than I expected because often we would arrive to a point full of action, but we would have arrived our destination. Right now we are listening to a non-fiction so it is not that bad.


Lastly something this 2 (the Kobo and Audible) have in common is that they give you badges as you read!!!. Yes, I know, I am 28, I shouldn't get so exited about this...but I do. It makes me happy when I get a new badge and it pushes me to read at different hours, different subjects, to share my reading.

Has your reading changed this last year? How? I would love to hear about it :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Genetically speaking, humans are terrible research subjects

Why I read this book? 

We bought this book a while ago; while I do not work with HeLa cells directly it is a very renown cell line in my field. Reading about the origin of it was very interesting to me.

What's the book about?

The book looks not only at the scientific part of the development of the HeLa cell line but how this affected (or not) the family of Henrietta. It jumps back and forward in time to explore the conditions under which the cells were obtained, the life Henrietta had and then the life that her descendants had.

What about the characters?

One of the main characters is in this case the author itself. Some of the chapters are told from her point of view but we do not get to know her much. You can tell she was determined and that she was always very honest with the Lacks but that's pretty much it. As for Henrietta...if you wanted to know more about who she was as a woman you might be disappointed. Although there is a bit of that side of the story, this is not the main focus of the story. I get the feeling that I learnt more about the sons and daughters of Henrietta than about herself.

Final thoughts

The science part was probably the best part for me. Seeing how research has changed in so little time is always impressive and exciting for me. Sometimes reading about the old techniques (both medical and in the lab) made me cringe thinking how that wouldn't pass at all nowadays; but it is also amazing to see the ingenuity of people, particularly researchers, building incubators and centrifuges with spare parts for example. It was also particularly interesting to read about the beginning of patented biological material, and this made me want to read more on the subject. It is impressive to learn that some things have not change until very recently or haven't at all concerning privacy of the patient and rights over your own body. I think the author did a good job vulgarizing the scientific part of the story.

Although the way the descendants of Henrietta are depicted made me sympathised with them on several counts, after a fair amount of repetitions of the sentence "we should've been paid" starts to get a bit lost in white noise. Even though it is undeniable that some retribution if not at least some recognition should've been awarded to the family them I would've like to know a bit more about Henrietta's past and not to stretch the fact that the family feels wronged. 
If you pretty up how people spoke and change the things they said, that's dishonest. It's taking away their lives, their experiences, and their selves

Friday, January 3, 2014

2 in 1 review: Her Husband's Christmas Bargain by Margaret Mayo and His Christmas Acquisition by Cathy Williams

Why did I read these books?

I received these books a double blind gift exchange for Christmas at the lab. Sure I could've just put the books in back of my library and act like there weren't even there, but they are very small books and I decided to just finish them.

What are these books about?

Both books can be summarized like follows: Woman is put in a situation "that she cannot get out of" and is then forced to face her "feelings" for her Husband/ Boss both of them happen to be blonde, well muscled and rich men...oh and this cannot be a spoiler, but if it is sorry: They end up together at the end! Shocker, I know.

What about the characters?

The women are helpless, they cannot say no, they are not aware of their beauty...I'm rolling my eyes here people. They cannot be more flat as characters. The case is not better with the men; they are selfish...oh but not really, is just that they are misunderstood. I have nothing else to say about the characters.

Final thoughts

So what can I say about this books? Well, apparently some people actually found something to salvage in these books, since 50% of the reviews gave 3/5 to both of them. I thought the dialogues were poor and laughable; the women were borderline pathetic in their "oh poor me, I have to sleep with this guy, I have no choice, I hate him, oh no, I love him, right" constant attitude. These women were written by other women and that's the best they could make for their attitude? Are all women in the erotica genre the same?. 
And the "erotic" part? I'm not going to judge you people who actually gave the books 5/5 but seriously? You liked the sex scenes? They were very poorly written, completely predictable and then...would lost climax in 2 more sentences.
I was entertained, sure, I had to laugh at some of the situations but that doesn't make these good books on my opinion. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Blogging Resolutions

Inspired by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures I've decided to also make a list of resolutions. Let's just hope that I keep those this year.

  1. I will work on a book review while I'm reading it and not leave it to the end.  Although I am happy with my latter reviews format, every time I know there are things that I wanted to discuss that I forgot because I didn't write it down. I am armed with a notebook and my laptop so note away!
  2. I will have at least a post a month that is not a review. I know that it doesn't seem like a lot, but when I first tried this I was always lacking inspiration. So once a month give me the time to work on it.
  3. I will keep my review tab updated. I keep forgetting to add the new finished books and to link to each review!. Again, once a month I will update it completely.
  4. I will read more non-fiction. Self explanatory
  5. I will read more of my already owned books and do my best not to buy new ones for a while.

What about you guys? Any resolutions? Goals?
Have a great 2014!!!