Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Book Thief Read-Along

BookTheifReadAlong2

I decided to jump on the wagon in the last minute, as usually. Actually, I wasn't sure if I could get the book, but a friend kindly lent it to me, so here I am.

I read The Book Thief around three years ago, before I started book blogging, and I loved it. I think now, with the film coming out, it's a good time to reread it, and all the better when reading along with other people.

If you haven't read it, but want to do that before seeing the film or if you've read it and just want to refresh your memory, now is the time to do that, so hop on to Suey's blog and join in.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

MY OPINION:

As much as Angelology deals with an intriguing topic and I liked some of its elements, it also has some shortcomings that seriously bothered me.

Firstly, what I liked:

  • The premise itself and the way Trussoni turns the myth of Orpheus.
  • Beautiful writing – sometimes (see below).
  • Evangeline – mostly the fact that she stays true to herself – I'm glad Trussoni didn't go with the trend of turning a character's personality completely around.
  • I find the idea of music being able to change molecular structure and thus damage/destroy or repair/heal things and people compelling.
  • The ending – how things play out especially in relation to Evangeline.

Secondly, what I found interesting, but not to my tastes:

  • The Europocentric origin of the Nephilim seems so clich├ęd to me, although I can see Trussoni's logic behind it.
  • Also, and I know it's a religion- and Bible-based, the punishment for the disobedient angel's transgression seems much too harsh for me.

And lastly, there were a lot of things I didn't like and annoyed me to no small extent:

  • A huge plot hole (slightly SPOILERY): the supposed radioactivity of (fallen) angels: if they are so radioactive that only a short exposure to their proximity is lethal for humans, how did they mate with human women without the women dying during the act, and even more, how were they able to bear them children? Unless angels are able to control the level of radioactivity they emit?
  • A stupid amount of foreshadowing: it made everything so predictable and I knew what was supposed to be the big surprise three quarters of the book ahead. I think that part of the plot should have just been dealt with early in the book instead of being hinted at time and again until I just wished the reveal was finally done.
  • Related to that: portraying Verlaine and Evangeline as basically ignorant and foolish, although they are supposed to be educated and intelligent people and yet they are completely oblivious to all the clues and hints.
  • And yet, once things get seriously dangerous and strange, they just take it in stride, without any sign of shock or fear or at least wonder. That is so absurd and unrealistic.
  • And while I'm at danger: everyone has an awful lot of time to talk things out and observe in the midst of being in a hurry and followed/threatened/attacked…
  • Details. Too many details of every little thing – the paper, the loops of letters, the pattern on the carpet… 
  • Digressions: no, I'm not interested in the furniture in the room while the main character is about to find out a piece of crucial information. Basically the dialogue and action are constantly broken by unimportant digressions and details.
  • And, why on earth did Trussoni have to stick insta-love in all this? What makes it even worse is Verlaine's reaction in the end, instantly forgetting this 'love'.
  • Repetition: of the facts, descriptions of the surroundings, etc., for example, Trussoni keeps giving lengthy descriptions of how cold it is – I know it's winter, no need to remind me over and over again. Once or twice it is beautiful, but then it gets irksome.
  • Also, I think the book could benefit from another round of editing: there are a lot of errors(what the heck is 'the creature comfort'?) and confusing scenes (a person who has just stood up and walked to the door magically jumps from the seat again.

Generally, I think Trussoni put in a lot of effort to make her style elegant and sophisticated but failed at the basics a bit too often. I could go on, but it's probably best to stop and not get into too much details and spoilers.

All in all, Angelology is an interesting book, but it has too many weaknesses for me to thoroughly enjoy it, although I'm a huge fan of mythology and supernatural. I was slightly appeased by the ending, however, I don't think I will read the following books in the trilogy. I am curious about how Evangeline's life goes on, but I am not up to more of the same style, at least not at present. Perhaps I am just too demanding and critical right now, as my reading is still in a rut.

3 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you are a mythology enthusiast and a traditional Bible-based view on angels intrigues you, Angelology might be a good read for you, despite its shortcomings.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Wrap Up


Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I decided to sign-up almost at the last minute. I've participated in all Bout of Books so far, although the last two have been a (not)reading disaster for me, as has been my reading this year in general. Therefore, I set my self pretty low GOALS:
 
Considering my reading this year is crappy, reading every day will suffice as a goal.

Books to read/finish:

  • Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (finished)
  • Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson
  • Love and Intrigue by Friedrich von Schiller

Other goals (aka trying not to be a hermit and to reconnect with blogging community):

  • participate in at least one challenge (participated in 4)
  • participate in one twitter chat (participated in 2, on Monday and Saturday)
  • visit at least one 'new' blog each day and comment
  • and visit at least two 'old' blogs each day and comment

WRAP UP:

Books I've finished: 1 (Angelology)
Total number of pages I've read: 241
The number of challenges I took part in: 4
The number of Twitter chats I participated in: 2
Blogs visited: at least three per day

Overall, Bout of Books 8.0 has been a huge success for me on most levels.

Reading: I finished a book. That's an achievement, since I seem to be in a constant reading rut this year. Also, I read every day.

I found out that a little pressure, namely people seeing my progress, makes me more likely to read at least a few pages a day. So, I decided to use that to further motivate myself by putting a sticky in my sidebar where I can write in the number of pages I read each day and in a week. Maybe this will help me be a more constant reader and finally overcome this ridiculous slump.

I also read over 100K of fanfiction during the BoB week. Oh, of course, I don't have a reading slump when it comes to fanfiction. (I can't help myself, okay, I only discovered fanfiction a year or so ago – I had known about it before, but I had never ventured into reading it, and I guess your are never too old for such things. Besides, some fanfiction works are better – even much, much better – than original published works.)

Socializing: I participated in 4 challenges and had a lot of fun doing that. Some other challenges I didn't take part in seemed cool, too, but I just didn't have the time to do everything, but that's fine.

Both Twitter chats I joined – on Monday and Saturday – were great. I was in a seriously bad mood on Saturday, one of those when I feel completely unaccomplished and incompetent, so I joined the chat a little later, and I'm so glad I did that instead of wallowing in self-pity, it was a major boost for my good mood.

I hopped around other participants' blogs every day, but I didn't comment a lot. While at that, I realized why I often find it difficult to comment and I', planning to write a discussion post about that, soon-ish.

Miscellaneous: I found out about BookLikes thorugh BoB. Where was this thing when I started book blogging? I know, I know, it was only set up last year, but it's so cool. I really like how it makes book blogging look so easy: a blog and goodreads in one on a tumblr-like platform. I'm seriously tempted to join, although I really don't need another social thing online to maintain. But it probably wouldn't take a lot of my time and effort, perhaps I'd just cross-post my reviews there. I'll give myself some time to decide and let you know.

I'm so happy I joined this Bout of Books, I got a lot from it. And if I think I would almost decide to sit it out. I'm glad I didn't.

How about you? Anything interesting you've discovered or learned through BoB? Have you achieved your goals? Did you have fun?
I hope you did, because that's the most important.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Updates


Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

UPDATES

I’ll also update on Twitter as @StrangeNewWords and on Goodreads. See my goals here.

Monday, August 19:
Books I've been reading today: Angelology
Number of pages I've read today: 24
Total number of pages I've read: 24
Today in six words: I started this week very well.

Challenge: Bookish Bucket List @ Sarah Says Read: I want to visit southern France & the Pyrenees, the setting of Kate Mosse's Languedoc trilogy. I want to see al the historical places she mentions and the landscape she describes so beautifully (Okay, I've seen some of it on TV, but I'd love to visit it in person). And 101 other things. But this one seems actually doable some day.

I also participated in Twitter chat. It was exhausting and I just spaced out a few times, but it was awesome chatting to nice people (and watching nice people chatting among themselves, hehe.)

Tuesday, August 20:
Books I've been reading today: /
Number of pages I've read today: 0
Total number of pages I've read: 24
Today in six words: I read. Fanfiction. Does that count?

Tuesday was the busiest day of this week for me (hopefully). I'm volunteering at my parish on Tuesdays, and after that I had a doctor appointment, so I was away from home most of the day and not able to read in between. I took Angelology with me to the doctor's, but I only had to wait two minutes, so I didn't have a chance to read then, either. Anyway, when I got home I was so tired I just posted a quick update for Monday and hopped to three or four blogs and I didn't feel like focusing on any of my books to-read, so I read fanfiction. So if that counts, I read about 15K of that yesterday. Ahem.

Wednesday, August 21:
Books I've been reading today: Angelology
Number of pages I've read today: 3
Total number of pages I've read: 27
Today in six words: Meds made me sleepy and unproductive.

Challenge: TBR List Challenge @ Musings of a Bookship Girl:

1.  Which 5 books are at the top of your TBR pile at this moment? (I'm interpreting this as which books I most want to read, even though I still have to borrow/buy them or read other books in series first.)
1. Citadel (Languedoc Trilogy #3) by Kate Mosse (have to get from the library)
2. Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon (have to get from the library)
3. Lothaire (IAD #12) by Kresley Cole (have to read 9, 10,11 first)
4. The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R: Tolkien (counting on a friend to lend it to me)
5. The Poet Prince (Magdalene Trilogy #3) by Kathleen McGowan (have to get from the library)

2.  If I gave you a wad of cash and sent you into a bookshop right now, which 5 books would you buy to add to the stack?
1. Destiny Rising (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #3) by L.J.Smith
2. Bilbo's Last Song by J.R. R. Tolkien
3. Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson
4. Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin
5. Incredible Dreams by Sandra Edwards

I was still tired from Tuesday, and the meds the doctor gave me on Tuesday make me sleepy as a side effect, so it was a slow day with everything. I really liked Elllie's challenge I took part in. Although, I went looking at my wishlists and to-read list, which made me drool over all the books I want to read (that is, once I get my reading mojo back).

Thursday, August 22:
Books I've been reading today: Eighty Days Yellow
Number of pages I've read today: 42
Total number of pages I've read: 69
Today in six words: Where did all the time go?

Well, I did a lot more reading than usually lately. But Eighty Days Yellow is a fast read, although the more I read it the less I like it, but I can't not finish it because a) I can't not finish a book and b) it was a birthday gift from a friend who I'm sure had the best intentions.

In other news: I really liked both challenges: I Spy… and Book Road Trip, but I haven't done any of them because I was too lazy to move my books around for I Spy… or to type the answer to the second one, so I did that today, just for fun (I'm still too lazy to move my books around for the first one, though, lol. And I don't have time.)

Anyway, here we go, off the top of my head.

Challenge: Book Road Trip @ In Wonderland
FRANCE: The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
SCOTLAND: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
IRELAND: Circle trilogy by Nora Roberts
AUSTRALIA: Eucalyptus by Bill Murray
ITALY: Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes

Friday, August 23:
Books I've been reading today: Angelology
Number of pages I've read today: 25
Total number of pages I've read: 99
Today in six words: I socialised all over the place.

Challenge: Bookish Mad Libs @ The Space Between

A. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
B. GollumThe Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
C. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
D. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
E. Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold
F. WinnieRandom Magic by Sasha Soren
G. The Empress of Ice Cream by Anthony Capella

Help! I'm being held captive in the GARDEN, by GOLLUM!
It is very FORBIDDEN here!
Gollum is demanding TWENTY THOUSAND DRESSES to set me free!
I have just discovered that WINNIE was captured too!
On second thought, please send ICE CREAM, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for a while!

Much Love,
Jo

This was Bout-of-Books-wise quite a productive day: I read, visited several lovely blogs, commented, chatted on Twitter, added three books to my ever-growing to-read list, and came across some interesting and helpful blogging- and books-related things online. And I loved Bookish Mad Libs Challenge.

Saturday, August 24:
Books I've been reading today: Angelology
Number of pages I've read today: 28
Total number of pages I've read: 127
Today in six words: Bad mood. Don't have six words.

I wasn't feeling well (again!), not so much physically as I was in a bad mood, but I did read and I visited a few blogs. , too, although I hadn't planned to, I participated in the twitter chat, mostly because I was no good at anything else, but it lifted my spirits, so that was great.

Sunday, August 25:
Books I've been reading today: Angelology
Number of pages I've read today: 114
Total number of pages I've read: 241
Today in six words: I was reading out of stubbornness.

I have finished Angelology! Can you believe it? And 114 pages in one day is probably my record for this year. I'm so proud of myself. However, truth be told, I kept reading because it is raining on and off and I am home instead of going out. And the book got so annoying I just wanted to be done with it. I've already written my review and I will post it on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Sign-up and Goals


Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I decided to sign-up almost at the last minute. I've participated in all Bout of Books so far, although the last two have been a (not)reading disaster for me, as has been my reading this year in general. But there is always a chance of improvement and 8 is one of my favourite numbers, so why not give it a try?
 
Here are MY GOALS:

Considering my reading this year is crappy, reading every day will suffice as a goal.

Books to read/finish:

  • Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
  • Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson
  • Love and Intrigue by Friedrich von Schiller

Other goals (aka trying not to be a hermit and to reconnect with blogging community):

  • participate in at least one challenge
  • participate in one twitter chat
  • visit at least one 'new' blog each day and comment
  • and visit at least two 'old' blogs each day and comment

Of course, I might have a bad week, as is the norm lately, and fail miserably, but maybe not.

What are your goals?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Come and See My New Blog Design

It took me quite a while, but I did it – a whole new image. I still use blogger template, of course, but I changed my layout to one sidebar a while ago and cleaned away various gadgets.

And now I finally managed to make a new header and a matching button, twitter header and Google+ header.

Yay, I have a header that doesn't mess with my love for changing backgrounds.

Yes, I've given in to Google's monopolising pressure and upgraded to Google+. I guess it will have its advantages.

A quick guide to my rearranged sidebar: At the top you'll first find a search box and a little bit about me.

Next, there are subscription/follow options, I recommend e-mail or rss (feedburner) subscription, but you can also add me to feedly, follow on twitter, goodreads, google+. If you're curious about my TV/film and other obsessions, feel free to check out my tumblr and if you need to contact me, you're welcome to do so via email.

Next, you'll see my current reads and my goodreads challenge progress (which is terrible this year), followed by blog archive.

Feel free to grab my button or check out my labels

At the bottom, you can find our old friend GFC device, which (I think) will sooner or later become history with Google pushing Google+, that's why I moved it down (and the numbers were counter productive on me). I think I'll eventually remove it completely.

And that's it.

What do you think of my new design?

Does the header appropriately express the 'Beyond Strange New Words' idea - all kinds or worlds flying from books?

Oh, and one other change: I implemented AddThis sharing buttons for easier sharing.

Now that I have a brand new look and everything, I only need to get back into reading and posting more regularly. Maybe these changes will be an incentive for me in that aspect as well.

ETA:

So, five minutes after I posted this I decided I am still not happy with it. I went back to tweaking and two hours later I have what you're seeing right now.

And now I'm happy.

Whoa. *wipes sweat of her forehead*.

Tell me what you think?

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