Year End Review

Well, it's the end of the year already. I completed my goal of reading 50 books, and ended up at the count of 67. I'm working on two more, but I guess they'll have to count for 2012 since they aren't done yet. Did you have any goals? Did you meet them?

I'm considering upping my goal for the coming year to 75 books, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. But who cares? As long as I'm reading I'll be happy.

I've been asked to beta read a book for someone very special, which is making me very excited! Great start to the new year, right? I'm also planning on reading some more mainstream books (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is on its way to me as we speak), and seriously looking forward to seeing how A Princess of Mars has been translated onto the big screen in John Carter.

Since Goodreads has discontinued their swap program, I ended up joining BooksFreeSwap. So far it's been a so-so experience. I've received four books so far, with three more on their way. However, there isn't a huge supply of books up there that I want, so waiting for the ones I do want has been tough. I was told about Bookins, but the shipping on that is so expensive that I'm wondering if it's worth it. What bookswap sites have you used? I don't want to pay to ship, only to receive, so some of the major sites are not going to work for me. Suggestions?

I hope you all have a wonderful 2012, and I hope that it includes lots of reading!

Dreaming Books

Remember how I said that sometimes I dream about the books I'm reading? Last night I dreamed about The Hunger Games. I dreamed that I was Katniss and someone else I knew was Peeta. We were working together to avoid the other tributes and ended up fighting dinosaurs in a video game-like setting. It was very odd, especially considering I haven't even gotten to the actual games yet.

Sorry for such a short post today, I just felt the need to share :)

Review: Room

Below is my review of Room, but first I wanted to talk about it in a different context.

There are some books that when I read them I can't stop thinking about them. They pervade my thoughts and sometimes I even dream about them. When I have to stop reading them, say at the end of a work break, they're all I can think about. I think about them when I'm working, when I'm cooking, when I'm reading something else. They get so into my head that I need to finish them as soon as possible. I need to spend as much time as I can with them in order to finish them and think about them some more.

Since I started reading Room, I haven't been able to think about much else. Jack is always in my mind, his idioms and speech patterns are constantly making me rethink the way I see things. Now that I've finished the book it's become lessened, but I woke up this morning still thinking about Jack and his Ma.

If you read nothing else this year (or next year, since this year is almost over), read Room. It will get into your head and you won't want to stop thinking about little Jack and his fantastic adventure into Outside.

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was my 65th book of the year. And it was the best. I haven't read a more perfect book in such a long time. There is nothing bad I can say about it, it was just that good.

Jack is a little boy who lives in Room, the only home he has ever known. The book opens on his fifth birthday, and takes place within a few months of that day. The reader comes to realize, after a few section breaks, that Jack's Ma is a captive of "Old Nick," Jack's name for the man who comes to visit in the night, preceded by a beep, beep.

**There are spoilers below the jump.**

Review: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Sorry for all the reviews lately, but I like to share :) Here's another book I would recommend!

Noah Zarc: Mammoth TroubleNoah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***There are spoilers in this post***

Noah Zarc is a 12-year-old time-traveling pilot who helps collect two of each species of animal for the future earth, along with his family. The title and character name are not in the least a subtle tribute to the Noah's Ark story, which is essentially what this story is loosely founded on. While I appreciate the pun, I do wish it had been more subtle only because the book was rife with other references to the Biblical story.

Considering I'm a woman in my late 20's, I really enjoyed this book, which was obviously aimed at younger boys around Noah's age. And that's fine - because even if it is a YA SF written for teen boys, I still got a kick out of reading it. There is a lot in here for the "adult" reader, such as the complex ideas of time travel that are explained at the end, and the different worlds that are built up around the characters. What I especially liked was Adina, the cave girl who ends up on Noah's ship and helps rescue his mother from Haon, the antagonist of the story. Adina's smarts are pretty impressive, considering modern humans tend to think that cave people were barely functional.

We also get to grapple with the mind-bending question: Is Haon truly evil? Or is he simply doing what he thinks is best for the human population (read: Venus's citizens)? I do think that a lot of his actions were dictated by desperation - the loss of his wife, giving up his son, his mother's death in a war on Venus, and finally the rejection of every legal thing he tried to get Earth repopulated for those who were barely surviving on Venus. But, like with most tragic characters, he ends up doing the worst possible thing and is then (presumably) punished for it.

The resolution at the end of the book came too quickly. It had a happy ending, which was awesome considering the reader is led to believe that Haon does release the nanobots and Obadiah is dead. But I felt that it was all too easy, and too easily explained. It was also strange to me that a character, Draben, was introduced and dismissed in a few pages, never to be mentioned again, when it seemed that he would play a much larger role. Perhaps his story will come in the second book, due out next year. The assassin bots also played a minimal role in the book, and aren't really explained except to say that Haon left them on Earth when he ran off with Noah's mother. I wish that story line had been fleshed out a little bit, but overall it was not important to the plot. My last gripe is actually with the cover - the boy's half-face is a bit unsettling to me, and would not lead me to pick up the book in the store. However, I was taught a valuable lesson: even while judging the cover, give the book a shot.

4 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed the read even though it was probably a bit "young" for me. Great writing, fast pacing, characters who are mostly developed (Sam and Hamilton kind of get left out of a lot of the story), and an intense climax are all positives for this book. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is struggling to get their kids to read, because it was very easy to get into and kept me hanging on.

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Final Review: Kaddish for an Unborn Child

Kaddish For An Unborn ChildKaddish For An Unborn Child by Imre Kert├ęsz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaddish for an Unborn Child is truly worthy of its esteem, and Imre Kertesz is absolutely worthy of his Nobel Prize. I read the Wilkinson translation, unaware that there was another translation available. Now that I know it has been translated before, I am curious to see for myself how they differ in language, poetics and style.

I found the Wilkinson translation haunting, musical with a unique rhythm to its words. How do you describe something that is so perfectly beautiful? The stream-of-consciousness style of writing is difficult to digest (much like the story that is being told - it is not a glass of milk you swallow down easily; rather, it is more like something you need to crunch your way through), but nonetheless shows off what Kertesz ends up stating on the penultimate page (of my edition at least):

"During these years I became aware of my life, on the one hand as fact, on the other as a cerebral mode of existence, to be more precise, a certain mode of existence that would no longer survive, that did not wish to survive, indeed probably was not even capable of surviving survival, a life which nevertheless has its own demand, namely that it be formed..."

His emphatic "No!" which opens the book leads the reader to believe he is incapable of producing offspring. But as another reviewer noted, he does produce offspring - this book. It is written on paper, it is solid, and it brings to life every fear, every doubt, every thought and experience that leads him to write it in the first place.

The narrator talks about his experience at Auschwitz only briefly, despite many mentions of the concentration camp, through the story of "Teacher," another inmate who retrieved the narrator's rations when he was too ill to get them himself. He says that "Teacher's" act may have shortened "Teacher's" life, his existence, but it was the human thing for him to do - it was natural, it was benevolent, it was in extreme opposition to everything Auschwitz stood for. Auschwitz is a character in the novel, looming over all and seeking to destroy the humanity inside its walls. The survivor of the narrator foils Auschwitz, but his refusal to truly live and bring forth further life is almost an affirmation of it. However, despite his best efforts to justify his decision not to have children, his work becomes his child.

The most intriguing part of the novel is when the narrator finally talks about the relationship with his ex-wife. In this section of the book he really gets down to the dirty business of being a survivor who doesn't actually survive. It seems desolate, hopeless, and maybe that is truly what he has become. In the end I was left with sadness, knowing he never truly survived Auschwitz, but relief that this work sprang from the experience.

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Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes. ...