AnHeC (I'm too fucking busy and vice versa)

Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."

Awww. THAT was IT.

Heart of Obsidian - Nalini Singh

word count: about 118 000

rating: If that is what you were looking for, you've found it


Some of the books in this series were better, some were worse, but this one is a jackpot.



Now, every rating I give has to be perceived in context. I'm not trying to say that this book is a work of art that will be analysed in schools in upcoming decades, but It succeeds in what it's trying to be. If you're looking for a paranormal romance, that's it.

*has to be read as a part of the series. You can't just start with this one.


Loved the characters, loved the story (even though, as we all know, there isn't much of that in a romance novel), loved the world, loved how everything connects. It was fun. That's all I have to say.







17 5

Sarcastic take on history - much fun

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain - John O'Farrell

Rating: Great fun, especially when you're drunk


WARNING: before reading this book you should be fully aware what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise you may wind up disappointed/angry/bored...


I've found this gem in my favourite British Studies library and just had to grab it. I've been reading it on and off for 2-3 months. Why this long? Was it that bad? No. But this is a type of book that reads great in chunks.


Author doesn't go into too much details. He just gives you a sarcastic run-down of events (how funny you find it depends on your sense of humour and how well you know history of the British Isles).



- If you don't know the history you may not understand what he's talking about.

- the book contains a lot of information, too much to take in in one go. And I mean A LOT. A flood of names, dates, and places.

- when you read too much it stops being funny (humour becomes repetitive, then tiring, then annoying)


That said, I've thoroughly enjoyed this book. Red in small chunks it's a great fun. I firmly believe that reading it in one go would ruin the fun (and must admit that I enjoyed those short bursts of history fun. Made my days a bit better)



It's not very informative, a rather superficial take (but hey, what do you expect in a book that deals with 2000 years of history?) This is not a book to be taken seriously!  Also, the author presents a simplified view of the events (To say the least. Sometimes he's just... wrong. There's no other way to put it.) So I wouldn't advise you to take every word as a fact worth being craved in stone. 



13 2

Killed my joy of reading for weeks

Talus and the Frozen King - Graham Edwards

Word count: didn't care enough to estimate (not too long, though)

Rating: Only if I'm stranded on an island and there's nothing else to read (like a dictionary, 'cause I'll take a dictionary over this any day)




*ARC provided by NetGalley


I didn't feel like writing a review when I've finished this. Two weeks (or so) has passed and I still don't want to do it. I guess I have to accept that the desire to review this one won't come. Ever. And just force myself to type a few coherent sentences.


I didn't like this book. I didn't like it at all. It didn't have me enraged or anything. It's simply not enjoyable.



Awkward as a duck. A blind duck. A blind crippled duck. A blind crippled duck on acid. A blind crippled duck on acid made of jello that feeds on lost hopes and dreams. I'm not impressed.


Main character/s:

a tall, bony storyteller in his 40's (or something)

+ his sidekick: a crippled fisherman that is very lonely and lost everything and now is just like 'fuck me' 'fuck you' 'fuck everybody' and is an impatient idiot with no self control


When you put a storyteller in your book and he tells some stories that you, the author, actually relate to the reader, you better be a fucking amazing writer to pull it off. It's really hard to write a charismatic bard. It is. So if you can't do it, don't try. Can you taste it? That's my disappointment. You made me weep embarrassment for you. Congratulations.



Just fuck you. Boring as shit. And as unoriginal as possible.

Additionally I didn't give a flying fuck about anything or anyone. There was no time (or reason) to like/connect/start caring about any of that stupid shit.


And that book has no point. As far as I know it's not a part of a series. Meaning the whole, boring fucking thing that came out of nowhere is going to the 'nope' land.


Oh, wait, it is a first part of a prospective series? Well, I can't fucking wait for the second instalment (did you feel my sarcasm slap you across the face? DID YOU? Good.)



It didn't make me angry. Just fed up with everything and everyone. God, it reads like something I could've written. When I was 15. In fact, I'm pretty sure my stories were better than this.


My advice:

stay away from this one.




20 9

Not for the faint-hearted.

Seventeen: Book One - Mark D. Diehl


word count: about 110 000

*ARC provided by NetGalley

"Lord, I pray to you in my capacity as Chairman of the Board of Williams Gypsum Corporation and de facto head of this household. Thank you for selecting me to lead this successful company and family. We praise your wisdom and judgement in selecting all the leaders of our society. Thank you for allowing our company to provide us with this home, this food, this way of life. Amen."

This is not a 'feel-good, all ends well and evil gets defeated' kind of book. That's the first thing to keep in mind.

Here we have a dystopian novel that in NOT a YA romance. Which fills me with an imponderable joy. It's the future. And the world? Well, it went to shit. But in a really bizarre way. Corporations run the world in which resources are extremely scarce. There's a rigid hierarchy in society. Career is a religion, corporation is God, and obedience to authority, imperative.

"All of a worker's needs - housing, food, education, security, medical care, everything - were met in return for the pledge of only one duty: total dedication to the company."

Not the nicest of circumstances. It looks like corporate feudalism.

Characters? There are many. At first we get only little snippets of a story from multiple view points (and I mean multiple), which made me sceptical, but then they nicely come together and form a smooth story. Smooth, but not easy to read. There's no main character. More than that, there's pretty much no black and white. No one to love completely. Every single person is flawed. And there's a looming corporate evil, but given human love of power and authority I don't find that excessive.

Story? Blew my mind. I did not see that coming. And that. And that. That too. Wow Pretty much a bumpy ride full of surprises. Nobody's safe, no outcome certain. Seriously, in a way it's like G.R.R. Martin. If you don't like your characters dying, this book is not for you. 

Seriously, all main characters at one place at one time? Nope. Carnage. Let them all die. Or almost all. Yeah, why not. Let them all lose.

(show spoiler)

*evil laughter*

It doesn't have a happy end, but it's only the first book in a series, so I didn't expect a full resolution. But I didn't expect such a mess either. And a mess it was. In a good, but slightly masochistic, way.

I did have some minor problems with a story that made me consider dropping the rating, but that would be unfair. The whole thing was way too good. Still, they can't go unmentioned. WARNING!!! Next paragraph may contain minor spoilers (mainly from the very beginning of the book, but still, you deserve a fair warning).

There's a certain inconsistency that made me frown a lot. Diehl mixes magic/spirituality with technology/realism. Those two don't mesh. Especially if there's only one element that stands out like a sore thumb.

A samurai dies and his soul takes over a body of another man, and now they'll share it? WTF?

(show spoiler)

Travelling souls? No, not minds. Souls. Travelling from the past. Actually, just one soul. Yeah, that did not fit in at all. If the author stuck with the idea of drug induced split personality that would be more consistent.

In the end, this book exceeded my expectations and brutally surprised me every step of the way.

11 4

Still got it - an apetizing rehash.

Trust in Me - J. Lynn

word count: about 80 000
rating: a fun rehash

Does this book bring something new into the story? Nope.
Have I enjoyed it? YEAH! HELL YEAH!

Why not 5*****? Because no matter how good the story if you don't bring a significantly new material to the table I won't give it a 5. That's life.

Why did i like it? Because we get to see Cam's POV. And it makes me love him 100 times more - he's not a saint. In the first book he might have seemed so perfect like he was trying for sainthood. Here we see that's not the case.

a) It's not an insta-love. At first he looks at Avery like a normal guy 'hey! It's a hot chick!' Then he gets curious and sees her as a challenge. Love, the 'you're my entire world love' doesn't just waltz in during their second (or better, first) encounter. In fact, it never makes an appearance. Apart from the fact that there's no story, this is the most realistic love I've seen in a looooong time. It's so reasonable, so down to earth. Nothing grand or ridiculous going on. Things make sense.

b) Cam is just a normal guy. I know he seemed like a saint. I know. But once we get a peek inside his head we see he's as close to normal as it gets. The author somehow struck a balance between honorauble, moral, caring, loving AND fun, easy-going, partying, down-to-earth, normal guy. He's not tortured, brooding, crazy-possesive, agressive, controlling, jealous, emo, sleazy, slut-shaming, man-whore, selfish, hateful, spiteful... None of the usual suspects. No grand declarations of undying love. No shit that's beyond the scope of normal, human emotions.

Now, don't get me wrong, he's still perfect, only now within the realm of possibility. Someone like that could actually exist. And I'd marry him.

Plus his view point is less tortured, less hectic (for obvious reasons).

I'd recommend this to people that want a re-read and liked the first book. Don't dive into it straight after finishing 'Wait for you'. That would be too repetitive.

To sum up - now I love Cam even more. I love him, because he's a balanced, normal individual. Yes, his a good person, but no, he doesn't fall into an obsession for no good reason in 0.009s.


I'm not entirely sure what about this story makes me so happy, but something does. I guess it's just my kind of story. Sue me.

8 1

Yes, it's a theodicy. A failed one, but a really good effort.

Paradise Lost - John Milton

An epic poem in blank verse. Yes, it's a theodicy. A failed one, but a really good effort. It was surprisingly readable. Maybe because the Latin sentence structure doesn't bother me, since in Polish parts of speech can freely move around the sentence. And there's an awesome audiobook I've found. So much fun!

I will not dive into all the details, but in short: it's a re-telling of the story of Adam and Eve; the original sin and, well, the loss of paradise. Milton added some scenes, some dialog for the whole thing could serve his purpose. He infused it with puritan values (Adam and Eve work 6 days a week in paradise, no joke) and endorsed in it inferiority of women (at least intellectual 0ne). Which kind of made me want to throw a shoe at him, but it's mean to attack a blind like this, you know. Because he had been blind for quite a while before 'writing' this poem. He had to arrange passages in his head, memorize them and dictate them to someone. How homerian of him. (Now I have a new saying: Blind like Milton. ^^ Deaf like Beethoven was getting old, good to have some fresh material).

WARNING! Thinking about this book may result in an existential crisis! Use with caution!


The horror of the subject makes it worth looking into it. But is it only that? AKA why did I diss (a bit) a universaly worshiped book.

The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail - Óscar Martínez

"We're walking among the dead. Life's value seems reduced, continuously dangled like bait on a fishing line. Killing, dying, reaping, or getting raped - the dimensions of these horrors are diminished to points of geography. Here on this rock, they rape. There by that bush, they kill"

"He's going to talk because it's not like he's accused of a serious crime. We don't have anyone accused of serious crimes here. They're accused of murder, rape, or robbery. Never of drug trafficking"

"She said it was the people she traveled with who raped her. They'd told her they were migrants and convinced her to walk with them. Then all three of them raped her. When her son aborted between her legs, the bandits killed him with blows. Then they beat the woman until she lost consciousness."

word count: about 90 000
rating: no, sheer effort put into writing a book and a horror of it will not make me rate it high

It's worth reading. Please, just hear me out.

content in general: ****
facts/materials/effort: *****
structure/writing: ***

***ARC recieved from NetGalley***

What is this book about? The miserable fate of immigrants during their long and insanely dangerous journey. The story of their plight as witnessed by one (IMO insane) journalist (*I think he had a photographer with him). The book consists of description of fate/lives of people he meets on his way. Both migrants and indigenous.

Why do I think he's insane? Because he fucking risked his life. A lot. For years. To gather enough material to write this book. It takes a special kind of person to poke at those things. He didn't just talk to authorities, oh no, that would be boring. He travelled with migrants! That's right! Did all the crazy stuff they do. And bam! Now he's willing to share this sad, sad picture...

No. No matter how tempted I am to give it 4 stars just for the sheer insane effort that went into writing this book, I can't. Don't get me wrong. It's a good book. It's a chilling book. It's a fascinating book. But by no means 100% perfect.

And remember kids, 3*** means 'I liked it'.

So what went wrong? What stopped this book, which had a potential to be stunningly amazing, from reaching the stars?

At first I loved it. Then I got confused. First thing it lacked (that stopped it from being 5***** book) was a little map. Either at the end or beginning of the book or (preferably) at the start of every chapter. Since the book follows a rout the author took, it would be nice to have a map. You know, to make it more tangible. And yes, I could look at my own map, but seriously, who could be bothered?

Than there's a repetitive nature of this book. Try as you may, it's the same sad story told over and over again (similar stories, but well...). And lack of map made me forget what place I am reading about. More distinguishable features would be lovely, just to keep it more varied.

Also, I'm an evil, evil bitch. Which means that the author annoyed me. Quite a lot. And that's why 4**** are out of the question for me. But hey, it may be me. It may be a matter of my fucked up perception, but he seemed to write (quite often) along the lines of: there were golden times when migrants roamed free, but now it's gone. No. Those were NOT golden times. Immigration MUST be regulated for a heap of reasons. DON'T romanticize those 'open' borders of old. I try to keep my reviews short (aka readable), so I will not get into all the details. But unregistered migrants are a bad thing. Not just because they commit crimes (sometimes) but probably even more so because they are defenceless victims of them (exploitation at work, blackmail, extortions, rapes, trafficking, kidnappings... you name it). And they can't go to the police.

Was the book interesting? Yes. And morally outraging. Corruption of authorities paired with well organized, powerful gangs and their violence create hell. This is why moral codes of our society are so important. If not, average people give in to corruption, also authorities are in on the crime. What hope is there then? What life is that?

"Los Zetas are like a metastasizing cancer. Migrants are recruited. Soldiers are recruited. Policeman, mayors, businessmen - they're all liable to become part of the web. "

"It's a conservative estimate that 40% of all state police units have been bought by Los Zetas"

This book is NOT for the faint hearted. It's in your face. Unapologetic. It presents you with a truly horrible problem that has no easy solution. Could the migrants just stay at home? No, they quite often run from things. Terrible, terrible things. In fact, this book makes you wonder if creatures living in those areas (south from USA) can even be called people (before you lynch me, the answer is YES). If they all should just get nuked from the orbit, for their lack of moral principles is sickening. Not just gang violence, but absolute lack of compassion among 'normal' people, their willingness to hurt others, to abuse any power they have, to get some gains from human suffering or add to it or cause it.

"What was her life like? Like a slave's, she says. At five years old, her job was to walk the streets, selling fish and firewood. If she came back with something still in her hands because she hadn't sold everything, Maria Dolores would whip her with an electrical cable until she had open sores on he back. Then Maria Dolores would cover those cuts with salt and oblige her "little twin" to lick it off. It was on one of those days, one of those sore-licking days , that her brother died on the floor where they both slept. They said it was parasites, Erika says. She's convinced that those parasites came from the sores on her back. [...] "...After that, I lived like a drunk on the streets, sleeping between dumpsters." She lived like that for two years. [...]...Maria Dolores talked her into coming back. "The physical abuse wasn't as bad, but, in general, life was worse. Omar, one of the woman's sons, was fifteen years old and repeatedly raped her. "That's why I wonder if I'll ever understand what it is to have normal sex. I got so used to him tying up my legs and arms and having sex with me like that" [...] Erika, the girl who was repeatedly raped from age eight to thirteen, gave birth to twins and then, as if her suffering were inevitable, her story goes on. "I didn't understand what pregnancy was. I only felt I was getting fat. That woman accused me of being a whore. I told her it was her son that did it, but she told me I was like my mother, a prostitute, and that just like her I'd ditch my future kids like dogs. She dragged me out of the house naked and walked me five blocks to a nearby park and left me there. And so I had to start completely from scratch."

See what I mean? And that's just one story!

That doesn't work against the book. The true horror of the situation is actually what makes it good.

Sounds like I should have loved it, right? I should. I'm into social issues. But! Nope.
- some statements are pounded into our heads to death
- those inexplicable bits (plentiful bits) romanticizing immigrants are infantile
- total lack of understanding on the side of the author that immigrants are a problem, not just victims. And that making their journey comfortable and safe is NOT a solution! THAT killed 4**** rating for me. But it doesn't make the book any less worth reading. Just more biased and, at least for me, objectively a product deserving a lower rating. And personally, because that annoyed me.
- demonization of US attempts to close the border
- repetitive nature of the book (the fault is in writing, seriously, I almost gave up on it a few times)

all those things mean I can't give it a sparkling review. The bias of the author really got on my nerves. And because of the subject matter and the enormous effort put into gathering the material for it I feel like I should apologize. Like I should love it just for what it is about... THIS is why I was putting off writing this review for, well, forever. I hate feeling this way.

My final verdict? It's good. Depending on how much you know, it can be shocking. It doesn't focus on one story, one place. It skims, and jumps, and introduces you to abundance of facts. It's also infuriating (in a sense that it makes me want to keep all those fucking gangs far away from me. Or, preferably, kill them. All of them) Should you read it? Depends on what type of person you are, really, but I think that getting confronted with an uncomfortable reality is a healthy thing.


A solid sociological paper

The Photographed Cat: Picturing Human-Feline Ties, 1890-1940 - Lauren Rolfe, Arnold Arluke
word count: about 50 000

I'm very impressed. I've never thought of using Goffman this way XD Some of you man not know this, but for years I've studied sociology (as in: went to university). Which means that references to people like Norbert Elias make me smile. A lot.

What are you in for? A proper academic paper. An accessible one, true, but don't expect sarcasm, profanity or wild punctuation. The structure, the language... it's all academic writing. Which is why people that expect lots of cute pictures and colloquialisms will be sorely disappointed. Here you get a proper introduction, abstract of the contents and then thorough analysis. There are pretty much no pictures until you're 30% in. Hey, that's how much a set-up takes. It's the way it's supposed to be.

Number of pictures? Just right. It's not a picture book, but there's a lot of analysis of examples. And I mean lots. I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Claims made by the author? Take into account the fact, that those are just pictures and as such are not a direct reflection of reality. I love sociology done right. Everything we do conveys lots of information. Much can be said based on an innocent picture, if only one knows how to look at it.

Structure? Bang on. You know how to properly write a paragraph? I'll tell you how. You should be able to read just the first and the last sentence and get a good idea of what it conveys. That's how you read when there are exams around the corner and you have no time to read all the materials. Read the introduction, the ending, and first+last sentences of paragraphs. If the text is written properly it will work out wonderfully for you. Did this text pass this test? Impressively, yes.

Why not 5 stars? Because it could be shorter, more compact. I do understand the difficulty, since there's too much material for an article, but too little for a full fledged book. I think the author wrote it just right. It's not artificially blown out of proportion, but he stretched it to the limit.

Also it's not a revolutionary book. It's not a ground-breaking paper. The conclusion was just what you'd expect. So why bother with research? Because: science. No amount of intuition and common sense can replace proper analysis of materials. Only this can confirm your intuition and make it official. Why do it? Because sometimes you notice unexpected things. Happened to me before (seriously, I'm still not over some things I've noticed during such research). It's definitely a worthwhile thing.

And I did learn some new, interesting, historical facts while reading this book.

In the beginning I found it difficult to get into it, but then it sucked me in. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was far better than expected.

A form of self mutilation

Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling, #11) - Nalini Singh

word count: almost 150 000 (are you shitting me?!)

rating: a form of self mutilation (you maim your sense of fun, read at your own risk)

Fuck you. That's right, you heard me! Fuck this. Fuck that. And fuck that stupid table while we're at it. Fuck everything. The very existence of this book is a betrayal.

From a few subtle hints you might have guessed I'm a bit ticked off. And for a good reason. This book was horrible in some major ways and felt 300 000 words long. As far as main love story is concerned I'd give it 2 stars. The book got saved (from being a total flop) by a few things:

- Sienna and Hawke: I love them, so I enjoyed reading about them

- revisiting other pairs: those segments may be very short, but are much fun (and most of all, when we see them things happen, like, you know, STUFF gets done or something)

- Arrows: there's still aura of mystery surrounding their actions; makes me very curious

- action in the net: shit is going down in the most delicious and exciting way

The bigger plotline was the lone saving grace of this book. Unfortunately it was too little too late. What did I tell you about pointless dramatic/romantic dialogue with no plot? With nothing happening? For fucking half a book? FUCK NO! Did you hear me? 70 000 words of pure bullshit!!! OF NOTHING!!! Followed by 80 000 more? FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! I've read complete, amazing stories that were about that length! You know how long The Hobbit is? About 80 000 words! And A LOT happens there. So now you can fully comprehend how fucked up The Tangle of Need is. There. In your face. 150 000 torturous words.

Half of the book nothing happens. And then, when things finally begin to pick up pace... we are repetitively hit in the face wit the Ram of Inane Hogwash. You get up, a bit confused, a bit bloody and try to run once more, and BAM! IN YOUR FACE AGAIN! Do you think it's a game? Ha? HA!? 'You thought the book would finally get good? Muahahahaha! Dance, dance puppet, while I keep kicking you in the legs and laugh at your desperate attempts to move forward'. I hate you Nalini Singh. Right now, I truly do. I hate you so much it gives me energy.

Now, I don't want you to misunderstand. You don't need a life-or-death situations to be able to say that there's a plot. I happen to enjoy a vast range of different book genres. I do. But inner monologues about feeeeeelings and lurv and drama-lama-streem-of-consciousnes does not count as an event. And doing all that out loud, in a dialogue, does not turn it into a story. Vacuous crap, that's what we get there. You know what, I've changed my mind. It deserves fucking two stars (initially I gave it 3). The more I think about it, the more I'm pissed of. How dare you wast my time like with anything less than your very best!

And that's not even all of it...

This book failed on many levels. The romance (the most unconvincing piece of gibberish in the whole Psy-Changeling world *slow clap*), Adria, the pacing of 'action', the 'plot' (or rather lack there of), Adria, disrupted world-building (now, that's a nice one, good job Nalini, you've kind off ruined your fictional world), characters themselves, Adria, things said about characters in narration that didn't have reflection in their actions and words, Adria ... Fuck it. I'm too angry to go on about it. But it's a major fuck-up.

If there's a one book in the series I'd recommend NOT reading, that's it. Someone should do the world a favour, sum um the action, the important stuff and allow others to skip this monstrosity.

9 4

Reading progress update: I've read 97%.

Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling, #11) - Nalini Singh

That book was so exciting that along the way I've played the Assassin's Creed. The first one. The whole thing. With ALL side-quests. No tower left unclimbed. No citizen left un-helped. So there. Last few pages of this book, and I'm DONE. *muaha ha ha ha*


Reading progress update: I've read 41%.

Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling, #11) - Nalini Singh

I'm so bored/board (I never know which)... I keep putting it down.

Nothing happens. This book has no substance. It's just jumping from one cuddly scene to another. So what if you switch between couples? I still call bullshit.


7 1

Me for the last month = burrito of saddnes


BAAAAAH! Finally! Finally I'm done with the semester! *deranged laugher*

I missed reading. I missed it so badly that lately I've dreamt about reading a book. A few times. See? That's how crazy I get! Now FINALLY I can have fun. I'm so excited I feel like crying. Simple fun is all I crave! Give me paranormal romance! Give me fantasy! I'll read, read, read till my eyes beg for mercy. That period of abstinence almost drove me insane. Or maybe it did. I don't know any more. But I do know I have big plans for upcoming two weeks.

17 15


*sobbing uncontrollably* it's the pure fun of the idea, that magic could be just around the corner

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  - J.K. Rowling

word count: 198,227

rating: how can people not understand the craze? 



The shortest explanation I can give is a quote from one of my favourite books, which someone added pretty spot-on gifs to, so it would be a shame not to share it ^^ (*I take no credit)


"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.



The ones that really mattered.


Full of darkness and danger they were.


And sometimes you didn't want to know the end.


Because how could the end be happy?


How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?


But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow.



Even darkness must pass.


A new day will come.


And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.


Those were the stories that stayed with you.


That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.


But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now.


Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back,


only they didn't.



they kept going


Because they were holding on to something...


There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo.


And it's worth fighting for."






How can I review it? SO. MANY. FEELS. *sobs* I'm not going to get over those deaths. WHY? Why would J.K. Rowling kill my absolute favourite characters?! That's just evil.


First we lose Hedwig

the most underrated owl ever. Harry doesn't treat her well and yet this amazing ball of fluff is so fateful! So loving! Harry, you bastard, how could you lose her! I knew it can't bode well for the rest of the book. I didn't mind Dumbledore dying, didn't love the guy, but Hedwig? That's different. Shit got real.



And we also lose Lupin and Tonks, which is very sad. Why not McGonagall? Or Hagrid? Or Hermione? Or Ron? Or Harry? I would be fine with Harry dying... Not that I dislike those characters, I love them (McGonagall is my hero) but their death wouldn't hurt as much.


But that was nothing, because we lose... Fred. FRED?! WHYYYYYYYY! F&G were the only characters I was certain I can't bare to lose. I just can't . I'm not getting over it. Ever. I'm totally not ok with this one and intend to boycott it in my imagination. Those are my favourite characters, the best thing about HP books.



What did they say about exams? That they're nightmare. But only if you care about results, so they've managed just fine without a nervous breakdown XD


And let's not forget that 'everything is possible if you've got enough nerve'. I love the way they deal with situations ^^



Why is HP that popular? My quick guide to understanding the hype:


- people grew up with those characters. There are many series for children, but usually we don't see the characters grow up, not to mention doing it at the same rate as we do ;)  The series changed with every book, and we changed with it. That is an unforgettable experience.


- magic - who doesn't love it. Rowling created a captivating, well thought out world that's intermingled with our reality. THAT is epic.


- amazing worldbuilding


- the writing - no info-dumping; a whole lot of showing, very little telling. It's what people do that tells us who they are.


- characters aren't black and white, people are far more complex than that


- characters change - I love this fact. I love that when Harry's a kid he gets trough things thanks to luck and courage, not some amazing abilities. I love that he's not perfect, that he turns into a total pain in the ass when he's 15. I like all this growing and changing of characters that aren't perfect at any point.


- characters are very distinct and varied. There are many kinds of good and bad people.


- Harry isn't s special snowflake. Moreover, he doesn't become a special snowflake at any point.  Even at the end he's not the smartest, not the strongest, doesn't have amazing self control... He just got into this mess and has to deal with it - no special, unique powers included. I can't tell you how much I value it.


- the gravitas of what life and death truly mean (killing is hard and that it should be, we're talking about people here!)


- equality - it wasn't Samuel Colt that made man and woman equal, it was J. K. Rowling. It truly doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman, in this magical world all limitations of the sexes are irrelevant. Isn't that an attractive prospect?


- humour (no additional comment needed, those books make me smile)


- mixture of different elements in each book without focusing too much on one thing. Some introspection, some action, a few jokes, danger, tragedy, success, triumph over evil... Mixture of an adventure story/ coming of age/ slice of life. So. freaking. perfect.


- how amazingly gradual a shift between those 7 books is. It's a masterpiece. I don't even know how it was possible.


- Slytherin isn't pure evil. Even though some of them are bad, mostly they're cunning and practical. They're redeemed by the person of Snape and Slughorn, who stays to fight Voldemort.


- what comes out of people in times of great need. Trelowny fights. Centaurs fight. Who stays, who does what, it's amazing.



Are there no faults to it? Of course there are! Especially the first books have many severe plot holes! We all know that, we admit it. It's not perfection of each book that captivated us, it's this amazing world we grew up with, that we escaped to in our thoughts whenever needed, it's the 7 year long ride that, when it all ended, kind of broke our hearts a bit. It's those ever changing characters that we learn to view on more and more levels. It's this wonderful school full of mystery and mischief. It's the gradual worldbuilding that has us crave more and more. And, first and foremost, it's the pure fun of the idea, that magic could be just around the corner ;)





Characters that are vivid and real, so a few more words about them for the patient ones:


Dumbledore wasn't a typical wise sage; he was truly human (with his misjudgements, secretiveness and difficult past). Hundreds book later I can much more appreciate how unique this is. He's not a failure, not a liar, not a splitting image of perfection. He's just... a person. And it makes me all warm and fuzzy.




McGonagall is scary, severe, but has this compassionate side that makes you melt. She's emotional, truly devotes herself to whatever she deems worth (her students, the Order, Griffindor... Didn't you smile hearing how proud she was from the achievements of her house?) And at the same time she's fair.



Snape? Do I even have to tell you? He isn't a good guy - he's an asshole with serious anger management problems.



Does he love Lily? Yes and no, he's kind of obsessed, but she always represented something good in his life. It's not empty. Is he, as a young man, compassionate at all? Pff, nope. Does he change completely? NO! He hates Harry! To the very end! He's not angry abut the boy dying, but about feeling cheated out of his purpose in life! Something he was holding on to. Or is he? We never truly know! This is one of the most wonderfully complex characters I've ever encountered. You kind of hate him, but also admire his determination and dedication. Not to mention - you feel sorry for him, sorry for a boy that grew emotionally far, far too late. But in his twisted way he cared, he cared about the Order of the Phoenix, he cared about Dumbledore, he cared about the difference between right and wrong (after years of growing and changing, but still, he got there). What he did... It's beyond comprehension. Harry was ready to die, but before that he had lived. People knew him, loved him. Snape gave up EVERYTHING, ended up alone and despised, carrying great responsibility on his shoulders. I hope the extent of Snape's sacrifice was appreciated in the end. I really do.


Lupin? That one has serious self esteem problems! But he's kind, carrying, ashamed about his past, when he failed Dumbledore's trust, when he didn't stop James and Sirius from crossing the boundaries between a joke and cruelty. It matters. It matters he's afraid of what's coming, of having family, of responsibility. It matters he had his own faults as a young man - because in HP nobody is, or ever was, perfect. Those books are about learning to accept that, about never ceasing to grow. We all have our faults, they may vary in nature, but are unavoidable.



Weasleys - my favourite family ^^ Even though Molly and Artur aren't around much the family seems real and worm. No cardboard copies here. Dynamics of this family are fascinating. I could write an entire post about how amazing they all are. The love and respect for their parents. Fear of mother's rage ;) Love for kids, that you don't want to let go of... *sigh*



Luna - this one is interesting. So different, so weird. Because weird she most definitely is. And sometimes it's awkward. But she's also loyal and has a unique air about herself. I think she's the one most independent from what others think; she's in tune with death and takes life calmly, knows how to keep things in perspective.



Neville? That one is beyond words. I think there's a bit of Neville living in each one of us. He's a true underdog of the story. He's scared, full of doubts, doesn't believe in himself, tries to meet the expectations of family and teachers, but always falls short. He can never quite measure up. Always insecure, always struggling. And yet he knows the difference between right and wrong and is willing to fight for it. He knows who he is, who he wants to be. He finds his strength, he finds passion, he finds what he's good at and makes friends. The way he wasn't willing to compromise and stood up to his friends (after risking first a lot to warn them) is commendable.  That is something Lupin didn't know how to do. He's got what young Dumbledor was missing. Ron, George, Harry... they all lose the sight of their goal upon witnessing death and tragedy. What does Neville do? What Harry asked him to. He stands up to Voldemort and in this precarious situation, with a burning hat on his head, when he's about to die, he kills the snake. He decides to do what Harry asked him to do even if it's the last thing he'll do in his life, even though he has no idea why was it important at all. Harry wanted to know, needed to know 'why'? He felt entitled to this knowledge.The more I think about Neville the more I love and admire him. 



Ron - I'll try not to say much. This one is easy to miss. His a definition of not being special, not the funniest, not the smartest, not the most talented, not the sportsmen, not the handsome one... He's got nothing that could let him outshine his brothers or Harry and Hermione. That is hard. That is a very difficult situation to be in. He's pure and has a heart in a right place, but struggles with managing his emotions. That's hard. You can't change the way you feel, even if you don't like it. I always feel sorry for him and admire the way he perseveres. I think Rowling planned him this way. I think so because of how he reacts to the horcrux. The thing that makes him special is that he's not. He's not, and in the light of that he makes the choices he makes.



Hermione - I love the fact that those books clearly show a popular bias: boys prefer to be friends with other boys. She's not as close to Ron and Harry as they're to each other. I like the fact they weren't friends from day one. I like that Hermione lectures them, threatenst to tell the teacher, tells McGonagall when Harry got a broom... She's not co-dependent on them. Ron is much more clingy, she tries to stand on her own. Not in a courageous way, like Neveille, but she has a strong sense of morality and isn't afraid to voice it. Some may say she's annoying, she's not much fun, but they wouldn't have survived without her. In a strange way she fits with the boys. Their differences make it work in a long-run, probably because they don't require her to change. She'd never quite fit in with the girls with that kind of attitude.






Harry - can we skip him? I really don't feel like talking about it... Too much pressure. Too much to say. He's as far away from being special or perfect as can be; he was a good main character.



Hagrid, Sirius  and other characters deserve a mentioning too, but then I'd have to punish myself for making anyone read so much of my bullshit ;) All I'll say is that this time around I grew to love Dobby.



I also planned to bitch about the ending of the book... But let's live it alone. I'm still not happy with it (even though it's a nice parallel, you know, Harry's journey began on this platform and now the circle closes...). In a book it may somehow work, but the movie fucked it up completely. They had it, they had Harry break the wand (which doesn't happen in the book) and that was a PERFECT ending! Lovely camera shot, emotional moment... And then they did this horrible scene...



Which is a pity, because that's one of the few things the last movie got right. Would it hurt if Harry said Neville to kill the snake? You know, as he was leaving, after talking to Ron and Herione? And than Neville would kill it like in a book? That was pretty much perfect, why change it? Seriously, I have a love-hate relationship with the movies. I love them, but at the same time hate some things about them (like Lupin, gee, who designed that character?)



I want more books about Harry and his friends. I don't care about trifling with a sensitive balance in the universe of the series. I don't. I want more. A lot. More. And no logical arguments will persuade me 'it's a bad idea'.



It's over. And I feel empty. Hogwarts it truly my home. This story is a precious part of me, as real as any other experience that shaped me.








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Probably my favourite

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

word count: 257 045


rating: It's a difficult love



*I don't know what had me thinking I'd have any time to read at this time of year. First it was exams, then cooking and cleaning before Christmas, then family time  & shitload of obligations (3 fucking days of Christmas), then we found out a distant family (that we haven't seen for 15 years) want to come to visit and stay for a few days, so again - a day of preparations and 4 days of entertaining guests, being nice, cleaning, cooking and babysitting... So now I decided to spend the new year's eve alone, reading the 6th tome of HP and drinking vine (is that pathetic?). One more day with people and I may have had a nervous breakdown, so no party for me this year (fuck).  The introvert inside of me is on a verge of self mutilation


How cheerful, now lets proceed with this short review.


The Goblet of Fire changed the tone of the series. It stopped being 'safe & fun adventures for young and old' and turned into something more serious. But not all was abandoned, this series (and its world and characters) evolve gradually, so the things we grew to love weren't abandoned.


There still is the school we love, humour, mischief, Fred & Gerorge, Weasleys, lessons, ghosts, feasts, magical beasts... all the fun stuff + more. Umbridge and the organized defiance against her were fun; so much fun I didn't mind the length of the book at all.


Harry changed, in this instalment he's a sullen teenager. He acts like a total 15-year-old (which he is) so that's great. When I was his age it made me a bit uncomfortable to see him like this, now I just enjoy the ride and the whole process of growing up with anger, angst, fear, love, awkwardness and all that jazz ^^


When I read this book for the first time it hit me hard, it still does, but now I see it differently. At the end of this book you just know: all bets are off, nobody's safe. That matters. It makes things so much more exciting and slowly shifts focus more and more away from the school stuff.


Also, I don't blame Harry as much for how things turned out. He really did his best. It's Dumbledore that fucked up in a big way. Lets not tell teenagers about things. That should keep them away from stuff, right? Yeeeeeahhh. So full of shit. If he just told him some stuff a whole heap of drama could've been avoided. Just saying. He didn't have to tell him about everything, but come on!


Harry was stupid - touching shit and making reckless decisions, but not as stupid as I thought at first. I just really liked Sirius (though the memories of Snape helped me cope).


This book was long, but it contained many elements. Rowling didn't compromise, didn't cut down on things to make it shorter. She said it all and I loved it.  I could feel Harry's pain, his loss, his anger; more than that, I understood it. And it made something deep inside me ache. THAT is something. I love this book. I love the whole thing. It has so many emotional tones! So many things happening on different levels! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

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Well, that was... fine.

W Japonii, czyli w domu (Polska wersja jezykowa) - Rebecca Otowa At home in Japan―A foreign woman’s journey - 音羽レベッカ

word count: 60 000 (only? or is my maths that much off?)


rating: in high doses results in overwhelming feelings of 'meh'


This book was OK. Just fine. Nothing exceedingly good or exceptionally bad about it. Don't get me wrong, I did have some fun with it, but only some.


It was a Christmas gift, so I promptly proceeded to read it. That was a mistake. First 60 pages (out of the whooping 187) enthralled me. I should have stopped then. The book is divided into ultra short (2-3 page long) chapters. Nice, small, digestible bits. Read one or two a day and it'll be fun. Read more, and you'll want to bang your head against the wall.


Why? Because it has no structure. It's just a collection of observations. No typical, chronological narrative. On one hand it makes it 'fun' and 'fresh', but for me it killed any chance of this book having a 'flow'. It's monotone. There are no distinguishable features of the numerous chapters. 



In short:

- no flow

- the author doesn't analyse things in depth (we hear just a few superficial details about any given thing, and then she moves on)

- too little facts, too much of the pseudo philosophical musings of the author (I almost DNF-ed at the last 7 pages)

- only a few anecdotes

- language – average, narrative has no captivating qualities, it's just grammatically correct (which in this day and age can be sometimes considered a great feat, but not by me, not yet)


So what’s my conclusion? This book is merely ok. I know a bit about Japan, so I got what the author was talking about. Would it be as understandable to others? Or maybe this is what made the book more boring for me? The lack of novelty could have killed some of my fun.


If you buy it my advice is don’t read it in one go, but slowly, and over an extended period of time. This way it can make a fairly pleasant read.



Still love it

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

word count: 190,637

rating: a turning point



I know some people say it's slow and boring (especially the first half) but for me it worked out great. Reading it took me a while, since I had very little free time, but was fun.


Rowling becomes more at ease with every book. Writing in this one is smooth, but she tries to grow and expand (look at the prologue with its switching POV). I didn't like that. I would prefer consistency.


Now a few random notes:


- Hermione stopped eating when she found out all the food was prepared by house elves. I can't think of any reason that would make me stop eating at a wonderful feast. Seriously, what's wrong with her?


- I've also noticed that Dumbledore is much less serious in the books than in the movies. Just saying. But I guess it's hard to convey a 'mischievous eye twinkling' XD


- *I HATED the fact that in the film Beauxbatons seemed to consist of girls only and Durmstrang of boys. Sexes were clearly mixed. Shitty film-makers *mutters*


- HOW did Hagrid come to be? Seriously. If his mother was a 20 feet tall giant... Mechanics of the whole thing always perplexed me. Did his father have sex with a giant? But aren't they aggressive and unlikely to mingle with humans? Is that even physically possible? WTF? I really want to know!


- Cedrik is an ass. He should have told Harry what he found out instead of giving him vague clues. I guess he really wanted to win, but didn't want to feel like shit for not helping Harry.


- I've always thought Crabbe and Goyle were names, but they must be surnames, because there are deatheaters called Crabbe and Goyle and they couldn't possibly serve Voldemort as infants. So surnames they are. I have no idea why I was confused about this one...



This is the book where things change. The series has been becoming more and more grown up with each book (the third one resulting in win/loss situation) and now Voldemort is back and someone dies. A GOOD GUY DIED. And not just a random stranger (though that happened too) but someone we've been following for a while. And he dies without much fanfare. He's there, and the next second he's not. That's cruel and abrupt - definitely not kid's stuff.




I love this book, I love observing how the tone of the series slowly changes. It didn't feel too long or drawn out. We still get a mix of school stuff but with much more of the world outside of Hogwarts being exposed. Harry still isn't an invincible hero and gets saved by luck and courage, but he's slowly growing and becoming more competent, more mature (but not for long, since he's about to enter a crazy teen phase). Now he knows some spells, he grows.


With that 'deep' thought, I'm out.


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