Book Blogger Hop #15

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

When you feature a book in your posts, do you include a book cover?

I definitely try my best to do so. It seems a little weird to write a blog post about a book without featuring the cover. I know most people like visuals when they look at a post and feel more enticed to read it. They also say, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but more often than not, I’m sure many people do (I am one of them!) and decide to pass on posts depending on what kind of book they think it is about just from the cover. This might have the opposite effect from what a blogger may want but it just seems to be the standard!


Book Blogger Hop #14

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would it be? Submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte

I am in love with the Brontë sisters. Their lives intrigue me a great deal and the sense of mystery surrounding them is too much for me to take at times. There are days when I spend hours researching and reading about their lives, despite most of the information being repeated.

It’s hard for me to pick just one of the sisters but I just might have to choose Charlotte. I admire her works the most. Maybe it’s because she published the most books out of her sisters that I prefer he works. That doesn’t absolve the fact that I also would love to pick at her brain and learn about her life.

I’m not even sure what I would ask. I just would love to be in the prescence of an incredibly creative mind. She has led a romantic life that I almost envy. Yes, I envy tragically romantic lives such as hers.

But I think the day should be spent in her beloved moorlands. A picnic, if possible. We’d eat and drink while looking out on the desolate land. Maybe we’d talk about her childhood, the stories that she never managed to write, her sisters and her brother, or the regrets she has had in her life. Or maybe we’d just sit in silence and take in the view.


Book Review: The Birthday of the World and Other Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin

For more than four decades, Ursula K. Le Guin has enthralled readers with her imagination, clarity, and moral vision. The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and five Hugo and five Nebula Awards, this renowned writer has, in each story and novel, created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves.

Now, in The Birthday of the World, this gifted artist returns to these worlds in eight brilliant short works, including a never-before-published novella, each of which probes the essence of humanity. Here are stories that explore complex social interactions and troublesome issues of gender and sex; that define and defy notions of personal relationships and of society itself; that examine loyalty, survival, and introversion; that bring to light the vicissitudes of slavery and the meaning of transformation, religion, and history.

The first six tales in this spectacular volume are set in the author’s signature world of the Ekumen, “my pseudo-coherent universe with holes in the elbows,” as Le Guin describes it — a world made familiar in her award-winning novel The Left Hand of Darkness. The seventh, title story was hailed by Publishers Weekly as “remarkable . . . a standout.” The final offering in the collection, Paradises Lost, is a mesmerizing novella of space exploration and the pursuit of happiness.In her foreword, Ursula K. Le Guin writes, “to create difference-to establish strangeness-then to let the fiery arc of human emotion leap and close the gap: this acrobatics of the imagination fascinates and satisfies me as noother.” In The Birthday of the World, this gifted literary acrobat exhibits a dazzling array of skills that will fascinate and satisfy us all.

I have found a new favourite author in Ursula K. Le Guin. I first read her work, “A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” which piqued my curiosity and I kept searching for her books until now. “The Birthday of the World and Other Stories” is not so different from the book I first read by this author. They are both collections of short stories and even feature some of the same planets. Somehow, I did not tire of the universe that Le Guin has created. There was always something new to learn about a planet or a species, even if I had already read about them before.

While her universe isn’t as carefully crafted as one would think (her prologue discusses this), there is no denying the fact that her universe is extremely immersive. I could get lost in the lore and the people in it. Her characters, although many of them alien, are very understandable. Though their customs may be different, it was still generally easy to empathize with their specific alien problems. Everything is so believable and feels very real. Not once was I pulled out of my suspense of belief.

The stories were very memorable as well. Each culture was so distinct that I found it hard to mix up stories. I will admit that some of my favourite stories are the ones about the people of O and their complex relationship structures. However, my favourite story from this collection is without a doubt the very last story.

Maybe I’m being a little bit egocentric because it’s a story about us humans directly but I found it to be a very touching experience. I envy future generations who get to travel through space and I am always in awe of future generations learning about the past and how they would think of our current ways of thinking. Still, there’s a relationship element in addition to all the nitty gritty sci fi that made my eyes water towards the end.

All in all, I would travel in Ursula K. le Guin’s universes again. Her worlds are a world builders wet dream. Thank goodness I have found Ursula K. le Guin.


Book Blogger Hop #13

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

Do you visit every listed blog in the linky list when you are participating in a meme? Submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews

I try to! But I don’t always manage to do so. I usually do my blog hopping on the train to/from work. I should probably put more effort into trying to visit everyone. I also don’t really check the linky past Friday, even though it’s a week long event.


Book Review: Gamelife by Michael Clune

You have been awakened.

Floppy disk inserted, computer turned on, a whirring, and then this sentence, followed by a blinking cursor. So begins Suspended, the first computer game to obsess seven-year-old Michael, to worm into his head and change his sense of reality. Thirty years later he will write: “Computer games have taught me the things you can’t learn from people.”

Gamelife is the memoir of a childhood transformed by technology. Afternoons spent gazing at pixelated maps and mazes train Michael’s eyes for the uncanny side of 1980s suburban Illinois. A game about pirates yields clues to the drama of cafeteria politics and locker-room hazing. And in the year of his parents’ divorce, a spaceflight simulator opens a hole in reality.

In telling the story of his youth through seven computer games, Michael W. Clune captures the part of childhood we live alone.

I’m always intrigued about what people have to say about video games. What I find even more intriguing is how video games impact people’s lives. More often than not, most video game memoirs (that I have read) involve the awkward geek entering into the beginning of the video game era. They find themselves or find a way out of themselves with this exciting new piece of technology by playing their way through Wolfenstein, Doom, Ultima, Super Mario Bros., etc., etc.

Michael Clune’s Gamelife is no exception to this template. What unique offerings he has are in the form of metaphors and a somewhat serious video game addiction. At times, it feels like Clune’s metaphors and observations are a bit of a stretch. It’s almost like he tries to find meaning in something that doesn’t have any meaning at all (i.e. ). Other times, he’s awfully poetic.

There were points where I assumed the role of his mother. I, too, worried about Clune’s empty social life. But I also knew too well the unreasonably cruel ways that kids operated.

Okay, I didn’t really. I had a good group of friends that I grew up with. However, I never felt as inside of the group as I thought I should be. Like Michael, I saw my friends faces close off mid-laugh and their eyes suddenly go distant the moment I opened my mouth.

I, also like Michael, retreated into the world of video games but of the much milder sort. My addiction was Runescape and Club Penguin. I’d build endless camp fires, bake bread, and pretend to be a penguin spy. I wasn’t like Clune’s classmate Evan, who was true to himself no matter what character appeared on his screen. Even when I did name a character after myself, I always played as the person who I used to be.

It was observations like these, the ones where I found myself in them, that made me really appreciate this book. However there was something about Clune’s style of narration that didn’t jive with me. Perhaps, I disliked Clune’s portrayal of himself. There was no redemption moment for Clune and no real moments of growth.

Would I recommend this to someone? Yeah, I think it has value. The main reason why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have is probably a matter of preference.


Book Blogger Hop #12

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

How do you handle negative comments left on your blog? Submitted by Maria @ A Night’s Dream of Books

Thankfully, I haven’t encountered this problem before. 🙂 And if I have, obviously I must have handled it well because it didn’t make a lasting impression on me. I try not to take negative comments seriously. If it’s about my blog or the content I write, I don’t mind. I think I might not take personal negative comments very well, depending on the topic.


Book Reivew: Manga Classics – Emma by Stacy King

Just in time for the 200th Anniversary, Manga Classics: Emma brings Jane Austen’s classic tale of youthful folly and romantic exuberance to a modern audience with this beautiful, new manga adaptation. The impulsive match-making of Emma Woodhouse delivers both humor and heartache through the gorgeous artwork of manga-ka Po Tse (Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice). – Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

I enjoyed Jane Austen’s Emma a great deal. After reading the novel, I proceeded to watch several movie adaptations. Each movie had a slightly different take on Emma but still stayed true to her character to the very core.

This rendition of Emma is not the greatest. Emma is been a haughty sort of character to me but somehow this adaptation made her seem almost unbearable. Unfortunately, from what I recall of the original novel, many of the lines are word for word so it would be unfair to pin it on the words she says when they are from Austen herself. Maybe the exaggerated body language in this medium portrayed Emma’s character very poorly. Even Mrs. Elton seemed to be extremely over the top to put Emma in a better light and Mrs.Elton was already over the top to begin with.

In terms of art, I found it to be perfectly light and airy. Very suiting for a Victorian first-world problems drama. However the style is not in my tastes. I was also disappointed that it didn’t seem to be all that historically accurate. Mr. Knightley’s little goatee annoyed me but I will admit that I don’t know if that was in vogue during that time. I wonder how much research went into the fashion of the times. I’m not a fashion historian so my claims might be entirely wrong.

But, it was still a nice little read. It remained very true to the original and what more can an Emma fan ask for?


Book Blogger Hop #11

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

Do you read a lot of diverse or own voices books? Why or why not? Submitted by Kitty @ Vicarious Bookworm

Hmm… I’m not sure what this question means so I’m going to take a stab at it! Of course, I love a lot of variety with the different voices I read in books. It gets tiring reading about a smart intellectual and independent woman in the French Revolution the thirtieth time. I love exploring different characters from all walks life. Monotony is boring! I also love different types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, novels or graphic novels, etc.


Book Review: Amity by Nasreen Pevjak

Amity provides a window to the wreckage caused by wars—the destruction and displacement that leave pain and life-long psychological disorders, here specifically within the contexts of Yugoslavia’s dissolution and Iran’s revolution.

Payvand, an Iranian refugee and activist, still plagued with nightmares, meets a Ragusa, a Yugoslavian refugee whose pockets are loaded with stones as she prepares to walk into the water and end her life, a life that has become intolerable since the loss of those most dear to her.

Payvand listens to Ragusa’s story and Ragusa promises to postpone her suicide at least until she hears Payvand’s story in turn. In a novel that strives to raise awareness about the extent to which elites manipulate nations into wars, with total disregard for the lives of millions like Payvand and Ragusa, it is the warmth of personal relationships and friendships forged that are key to healing.

This book had been catching my attention at the downtown library for a couple of weeks. Honestly, the book attracted me because of the cover. It’s a very beautiful cover, with a perfect green and orange colour scheme that I adore. Everything about the cover from the author’s name to the title to the design very much made an impression on me as to what kind of book it would be. It sat very prettily on the last row of a book display on the fourth floor, begging for me to read it. I would see it out of the corner of my eye as I made my way to the fiction section and think to myself, “But I already have so many books I want to take out!” I somehow eventually convinced myself that adding one more book to my check out pile wouldn’t do any harm. There was no way that I was going to risk the book being rotated out of display and never finding it again.

It turns out, my gut feeling was right and I loved the book. While I didn’t exactly go through this book like wild fire, I did find that I would regularly find myself thinking about the book throughout the day and wanting to read more. Only a couple of books have ever made me react that way.

Pevjak has a very distinctive voice that almost seems to find itself in all of her characters. For me, this ultimately is a drawback but recently I realized how this is a very good thing as well. There is an added sense of unity among all the characters, not only experiences but how they are written. However, like I said, this mostly turned me off. It read like each character bled into each other. Their voices were not distinct from each other although the stories they told were all very unique to their own lives. Maybe it’s Pevjak’s fluency in English that it comes across like this and due to the fact almost all of Pevjak’s characters are not Native English speakers that some of the distinct voices seem to be lost.

While it this did bother me throughout the novel, the importance here is in the stories. They are too real for them to not be rooted in some sort of form of truth. Pevjak is too genuine for me to doubt her and it is not unlikely for people to go through the events in this book. It’s hard for me to imagine someone who would not be moved even a little by the experiences the characters had to endure.

Payvand guided me so gently through this book that it made it more bearable. By the end of the book, she seemed like we were lifelong friends as well. I could only wish to be as well accomplished as Payvand and as well attuned to the global climate and to those around her. She was a major plus to this novel and if she was written any differently, I don’t think I could have stomached it.

My only other drawback I found was the preachy monologues that sprung up time to time. Payvand’s outbursts were passionate and so well spoken that it seemed like Pevjak drew them from her own essays or speeches. It was extremely out of place for me each time one of these came up. I just didn’t feel like the messages in this book should have been spelled out so clearly when the reader is fully capable of coming up with the same conclusions, even if they don’t agree with them or not. It almost felt insulting and a little bit patronizing. But who am I to say this when obviously we are still not getting the message?

For funsies, here’s my unedited initial review I posted on Goodreads:

I liked this book a lot for a multitude of reasons that most reviewers have already covered. Now allow me to be to be little picky. My main complaint is that a lot of the characters didn’t seem to have distinct voices. Maybe it’s due to the fact that Pevjack is not a native English speaker and neither is most of her characters. But this did bother me throughout the book. Another complaint that I have, which is a horrible complaint, is that at times I felt it got too preachy. I know, I know. How dare i, a privileged Westerners dare complain about being exposed too much to the atrocities going on the world? But I read for a story and not to be lectured. I could have drawn to those conclusions on my own without the monologues. I admit, the end made sense for it to close off with the different speakers but it only annoyed me when it was sprinkled throughout the book.

That being said, I found this book to be riveting. I thought about it when I was not reading it and wanted it in my hands until I finished it. The lives of these characters seemed too real to me and my heart wrenched for them. There is a lesson to be learned but I fear it will fall on deaf ears. For example, I will probably not do anything of note to aid people who are suffering. How many of us after reading this book will actually go and do something about it? Prove me wrong.

Reading back on this, I still feel the last couple of sentences are relevant. It is so easy to read about experiences like these and do nothing. Action is lacking. Pevjack is obviously a passionate activist and devotes much of her life to it. What have I done? What could I do? Would my be efforts be futile? It’s so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of “I’m just one person against powerful governments and corporations.” What could I ever do? It seems so hopeless. Prove me wrong.

So, would I recommend this book? I give a bold yes no matter who you are! I think it is worth reading.


Book Blogger Hop #10

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

How far in advance do you read the books you have scheduled for review?

I don’t read books “ahead of time.” I just read books with no schedule in mind and review them as I go. I guess this question is geared towards the more veteran book bloggers who recieve copies of books to read. I haven’t received a book to review in years and it was back when I used to win Goodreads giveaways left and right. I don’t even consider myself to be a book blogger (rather, I consider myself to be a blogger who sometimes posts about books).

I would love for someone in the blogosphere to enlighten me. 🙂