April 23, 2014

World Book Night!!

This is my first year participating in World Book Night and I couldn't be more excited. World Book Night promotes reading to those populations who are nonreaders and/or do not have access to reading materials. 29,000 volunteers around the world will be giving out a total of 500,000 books (FOR FREE!) to people and encouraging them to become lifelong readers (and learners!). Each giver has a box of 20 books to pass out. My book is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children which you'll remember I reviewed last year.  I am so excited and nervous (this is New York so you never know what might go down) to be participating in a cause which I firmly believe can be life changing for all of those involved. If you want more information on this momentous event (in celebration of Will Shakespeare's 450th birthday!) please go here.


April 20, 2014

Mission Aborted

I am forced to admit defeat. First, I believed that I was reading the same poetry I had previously read excerpts from and that is definitely not the case. Second, it turns out that Duo Duo specializes in abstract poetry which I do not have the capabilities to decrypt. In short, I can make neither head nor tail of these poems and despite almost finishing one of the books I just don't want to read any further. Now I certainly don't want to discourage any of you from continuing your poetry journey but I just couldn't do it.

On a happier note, I got a copy of That Hideous Strength from my library (yay renewed library card!) so I'll finally be able to finish The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis! This one is set on Earth and follows two people involved with the N.I.C.E Institute which is actually a front for an evil supernatural force. So they ask for help from our favorite hero, Ransom. I AM SO READY!

April 15, 2014

Russian History 101...at least Russian architecture...ecclesiastical anyway

It only took me a millennium but I finally finished up Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel. I blame it on the fact that I read the majority of it on my phone and the font was horrendously tiny (a fix to this is on its way). Now onto the review! The historical details of this story are grounded in fact but the characters and their storyline are distinctly fictitious. If you don't like novels that switch between time periods then you're not going to be a big fan of this book. I don't mind a bit of time jumping but I like the time periods to be easily distinguishable which wasn't always the case with this novel. I think it would have flowed better if the chapters flip flopped back and forth rather than within the chapters themselves. Also, the author utilized a writing technique that further confused things: he injected himself into the novel as a type of narrator about a quarter of the way through. Again, I don't mind this technique if it's unmistakable to the rest of the narrative. There was so much jumping around that I didn't really feel comfortable until about halfway through. Now as to the story itself, I found the plot interesting (I'm always interested in a bit of history/mystery) but I finished somewhat dissatisfied with the state of affairs. I was hoping for a bit more character resolution and it just never materialized. If you want to delve into the history of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour then this book is for you. If you want a story that sweeps you away on a cloud that you never want to emerge from well...I don't make any guarantees.

Because it's National Poetry Month I've decided to read two books of poetry. Both were originally written by Duo Duo and translated from Chinese to English by Gregory B. Lee. The first is titled The Boy Who Catches Wasps which is a collection of Duo Duo's poetry from across his career beginning after the massacre in Tiananmen Square. The second is Looking Out From Death which was the first collaboration between Lee and the poet and is the first collection of his poetry in English. I first became aware of Duo Duo when reading The Spy where selected passages were used at the beginning of several chapters. IT'S POETRY TIME!

April 5, 2014

It's the end of the world as we know it...

...and everything is not fine. Detective Henry (Hank to me and you) Palace has been forced into early retirement as the days tick closer and closer to the asteroid landing. Despite this hurdle, he is determined to help wherever he can so when an old family friend asks him to find her missing husband he doesn't hesitate. Of course, in these uncertain times it's no easy feat to find a missing man and the situation is not at all black and white. Hank is drawn further and further down a rabbit hole of criminality, conspiracy, and chicanery. As he gets closer to unraveling his case the world counts down the days until destruction and chaos erupts. If you're looking for a story filled with tension and mystery then you need look no further than Countdown City. The only downside is that the third novel in the series, World of Trouble, isn't due out until this summer. :-(

To comfort myself, I've started a new book entitled Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel by Jonathan Bastable which promises to take my mind off things. Set in Russia (are you surprised), the story is about a young man named Vadim who decides to solve the mystery of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which is a taboo subject and anti-Soviet to boot. By embarking on this dangerous project, Vadim is putting himself and his new love at risk. Why was the Cathedral demolished? What happened to the building of the Palace of  Soviets which was to take its place? Why is it such a secret?

April 1, 2014

The Last Policeman Pt 1

As I mentioned in the last post, I am going to be reading the first two books in The Last Policeman series back-to-back. I've just finished the first book aptly titled The Last Policeman and I'm extraordinarily glad that I have the sequel in hand already as I'm bursting to know what's going to happen next with Detective Henry (or Hank if you like) Palace. The world is going to end in 6 months. This is a done deal. An asteroid is on its way and the impact is going to destroy civilization as we know it. In fact, it's already happening. People are killing themselves so that they don't have to face the inevitable destruction of the planet. In Concord, the suicide preference is death by hanging.  However, Detective Palace suspects that this newest death is in fact a murder and he's tasked with gathering the evidence to back up his claim while everyone else is just coasting by (or taking off to check things off of their Bucket List). The laws have changed, society is one step away from true chaos, an asteroid is hurtling through space with earth in its sights, and Hank just wants to keep doing his job.

Are you excited for Countdown City after that little taste? I AM!