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Archive for December, 2011

2011 reads

Here’s the more-or-less complete list of the books/stories I’ve managed to read in 2011, coupled with re-reads and manga volumes. Bolded are the ones that stirred me in a way only books can stir a person. Basically, the bolded titles belong to my ‘ultimate favourites’ section over at Goodreads (or are about to belong there, since I haven’t fiddled with my shelves for ages).

Novels/short stories:

1. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

2. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

3. Under the Dome by Stephen King

4. Romans Wszechczasów by Joanna Chmielewska

5. English Social History by G.M. Trevelyan

6. Studnie Przodków by Joanna Chmielewska

7. Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

8. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

9. Women and Marriage in Victorian Fiction by Jenni Calder

10. The History of Pendennis by William Makepeace Thackeray

11. Sybil or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli

12. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

13. The Newcomes by William Makepeace Thackeray

14. Insomnia by Stephen King

15. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

16. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

17. The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan (don’t read it; under any circumstances, don’t; it’ll make you cringe because it’s so badly written)

18. Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie

19. Entropic Quest by Tom Lichtenberg

20. Sexy Teenage Vampires by Tom Lichtenberg

21. Bookstore Lore by Tom Lichtenberg

22. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

23.  Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra

24. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

25. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

26. Ironside by Holly Black

27. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (re-read)

28. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (re-read)

29. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

30. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

31. Circus by Alistair McLean (as much as I love this author, the book was a major letdown)

32. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (I certainly did not expect loving this book so much)

The manga:

33. Monster by Naoki Urasawa (everything about this manga series screams utter perfection) – 18 volumes

34. Ao no Exorcist by Kazue Kato – 1 volume

35. Dogs: Bullets & Carnage by Shirow Miwa – 1 volume

Not much, considering.

The rest are the books I did not finish reading. There’ll be time for them in 2012. If there’s not, I’ll make more time for reading.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Title: Mythago Wood (Mythago Wood #1)

Author: Robert Holdstock

Genre: fantasy

Number of pages: 336

Rating: 1.5 stars

‘Mythago Wood’ tells the story of one Steven Huxley who, upon his arrival at the Huxley homestead from the post-WWI stay in France, notices that his brother has changed for the worse. Christian’s features are gaunt and he doesn’t take proper care of himself, having wholly devoted himself to work. That is: their late father’s work. Said father used to be utterly obsessed with the neighbouring forest of the primeval kind – the Ryhope Wood– and Christian has grown obsessed with it as well. George Huxley’s journal and the haunting childhood memories are both at fault. It was the same obsession that served as a factor which ruined the Huxley family and led to the Huxley parental units’ deaths.

The forest, as Steven gradually discovers – prompted by his brother’s nagging, peculiar behaviour and rather longish trips into the Ryhope Wood – cannot be put on par with forests known to humankind. This one proves nigh inaccessible for mere mortals and houses the creations of people’s minds. Legendary forms, heroes and villains, Celtic tribes of the ancient times that were once imaginary have taken shape and form there. They’ve become real. Robin Hood roaming the Ryhope Wood is no uncommon sight in there. Not at all.

These are the mythagos. The reason for George and Christian’s obsession. The subject of their extended forays into the unwelcoming forest grounds. Steve, during Chris’ rather longish absence, either goes out of his mind or reads their father’s journal, and is drawn into the madness as well, step by step. He even explores the border of the Ryhope Wood and eventually camps there, in hopes of finding answers to all his queries.

In comes Guiwenneth, the main source of one-track mindedness of both George and Chris, their true love. Mentioned in the journal, she captures Steve’s attention. The mythago that screams perfection. She’s a Celtic warrior with flaming red hair, a captivating gaze; a woman whose bravery surpasses all. Steven meets this particular mythago and falls for her almost instantly. She is now his mythago, his lovely warrior girl. She no longer belongs to either his father, nor his brother (who’s still nowhere to be found). The next thing he knows is him being thrown into the whirlwind of drama and obsession, vowing to find his brother and keep Guiwenneth always at his side.

****

I admit, here I went for the ‘looks’. The cover of this novel is absolutely beautiful in my opinion. Has this air of mystery and creepiness about it, and it bears lovely colours as well. Alas, along with the title, it was the thing that misled me.

Reading this book was such a chore. It had quite a promising beginning, though – all the interaction between the two brothers, Steven’s anxiety and longing for normality, for something he’s familiar with… and then, the unfamiliar commencing to rule out what he was used to.

Plus, the mythagos. The forms of the ancients/legends formed inside our heads. I loved the idea, it held so much potential, for it was indeed something I love to see in books: that it is all in our heads, and all of a sudden this ‘all’ becomes reality and we’re trapped. But Guiwenneth was too much for me to bear. For one, she was a Mary Sue. How else would you name a red-headed, young and beautiful lady with able body; a courageous, outstanding warrior – it just stinks. Steven’s love for her limited him to great extent, as he could not see what was going on around him, anything that was not Guin simply did not matter. Not even the man who aided him in everything, including breaking past the wood’s seemingly unbreakable walls – Harry Keeton. There were hints of friendly bonding, all deemed by me as ‘lost potential’. Harry was, indeed, a great character, even though I did not fully comprehend his role in this and his eventual departure has left more questions than answers.

Guin arrived and destroyed, the discord appeared between the two brothers because of a woman (a perfect woman, no less!). Who, despite everything, was the image they created in their own heads. Alongside Guin’s infuriating Mary-Sueish traits were Steven’s constant weeping and bouts of depression. I reckon these were the sole reasons for my initial dislike of the protagonist. All the time I was thinking to myself ‘Steve, get a grip on yourself and be a man, be the protagonist who sets examples instead of resorting to being a whimp in love!’

All in all, I deem this book rather different from other novels of the fantasy genre. It’s dreamy. It’s strange. It’s peculiar, and it could have been a real feat, if not for the abundance of romance and this huge ‘TRUE LOVE’ slogan flashing at the reader on almost every page. The main character – not likeable. His love interest: a Mary Sue. Quite a lot of things need serious clearing up, however, I have not been convinced to pick up the second novel from the Mythago Wood series. Cannot give it more than 1.5 stars, though, which is a pity.

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Hello, everyone!

I would like to revive my old review/booknerd blog.  Since I am quite intent on plunging into the publishing world in about two years, and have vowed to myself that I shall publish my own stories because they need to be told, this blog is – doubtlessly – something I ought to stick to. No matter what.

Being a Libra can be such a frustrating thing oftentimes.

Too many ideas, far too many ‘do-wants’, the overwhelming desire to try everything, be everything, experience everything.  And, in the interim, the actual goal is still very much untouched, awaiting my arrival at the Door of Logical Thinking.

Which I have succeeded at recently.

My ideal career would be post-editing, publishing and/or translating and writing fiction alongside it.

Because it is perfectly doable now, and I find myself determined at this point in life. Determined to do what I’m meant to be doing.

In the meantime I will let myself be myself and simply write.

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