Posted in Reviews

Review: The Engineer: Follow Elon Musk on a journey from South Africa to Mars by Erik Nordeus

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Title: The Engineer: Follow Elon Musk on a journey from South Africa to Mars

Author: Erik Nordeus

Genre: Biography

This is a book about the beginning of a journey. Elon Musk is the main person in the journey through a roller-coaster life. His journey includes everything from Winston Churchill’s adventures in British colonies to demolished sports cars. From failed marriages to German scientists escaping from the Red Army. From the oil industry to the Burning Man festival.

Elon has been described as the Steve Jobs of heavy industry, as a modern version of the scientist Nikola Tesla, and as the Henry Ford of rockets. There’s a high probability that the British Secret Intelligence Service has a file on him. As the files of other James Bond villains, it describes secret rocket launches in the Pacific Ocean. But Elon doesn’t own a white cat – he’s more of a dog person. Maybe the most comparable persons are the great explorers who voyaged across the globe. They had an entrepreneurial spirit, were a little crazy, tried what no one else had tried, and thought what no one else had thought.

Rating: 4/5

Last year I read Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future and became a huge fan of Elon Musk. So when I found out another biography of him exists, of course I had to read it.

The most important difference between the two biographies is that Elon Musk had no involvement at all in this one. The author has used over 450 sources to write this book, but when you’re writing a book about a living person, your best possible source is that person. This book is self-published, which is sometimes quite obvious because of grammatical errors and awkward sentences. Regardless of the faults, I still really enjoyed reading it.

Elon Musk is a fascinating person. He went from having nothing to being a billionaire and he achieved that with companies that not many people expected to succeed. It would be difficult to write a book about him that’s not interesting to read. This book describes his life up to year 2012 (it would be great if there were yearly updates, but oh well) and there are three very handy timelines at the end, one for Elon’s life, one for Tesla Motors and one for SpaceX. Most of the book is focused on his companies, but there are also chapters about his early life and, later on, his personal life.

Most of the information was already familiar to me, but there were some anecdotes and details I didn’t know before. For an unofficial biography, this is a really good book.

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up Post: January 2017

It’s been awhile since the last time I wrote a wrap-up post – I never seem to be able to stick to posting something regularly. But I want to have some kind of post where I can mention little things that don’t really deserve their own space, so I’m trying this again.

I couple of days ago I changed my blog name from Time For Reading to Good Stories Never End and I changed my blog theme, but I’m not really very happy with either of those. It’s gonna stay the way it is for now, though.

I’ve read 8 books in January (my GR challenge is 100):

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My favorite are Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). The first one is alright but the second and third are amazing. And the way the third book ended…

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I can’t wait for the next one! And also for the show that’s currently filming, I have no idea when it will be done, but hopefully it won’t take too long. Cormoran and Robin are played by Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger, which just makes me more excited for the show.

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I’m gonna try to read some of the books for The Classics Club this month – I’m supposed to finish them all by the end of the year. I should also read some books I got on Netgalley and some books for the book clubs and challenges I’m in – I really need to stop singing up for everything.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Ruthless Rulers by C.S. Denton

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Title: Ruthless Rulers: The real lives of Europe’s most infamous tyrants

Author: C.S. Denton

Genre: Nonfiction, History

Throughout history, all monarchs have lived with the same dichotomy of simultaneously being human and more than human.
In our time, when monarchs seem little more than tourist curiosities and democracy is taken for granted, it is easy to forget just how much power pre-democratic rulers once wielded. The rulers and holders of political power in this book were all possessed of vast – in many cases, absolute, – power: power which was often exercised arbitrarily and unjustly.
What unites the figures in this book is that they all, in one way or another, failed to live up to the extravagantly high hopes invested in them and, as a consequence, have been judged harshly by history.
A few, such as George III, might have been remembered more kindly were it not for mental illness changing their status from that of hero to villain. Some, like Louis XVI, were unfairly transformed into monsters by hostile propaganda, while others, such as Pete the Great, have been both celebrated as heroes and denounced as tyrants, often in the same breath. Finally, there are those rulers who, like Caligula or Ivan the Terrible, may well fully deserve their evil reputations.
Ruthless Rulers is a study in how often rulers were carried away or overwhelmed by their exalted status, while a few were even driven over the edge into madness.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for a review.

This is a collection of mini-biographies of various ‘ruthless rulers’ from history. Not all of them deserve to be called ruthless – some are better than that, some are worse.

The book is divided into 10 parts: Rome, Iberia, France, The British Isles, Scandinavia, Germany and Austria, Italy, Hungary and The Balkans, The Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and Russia. Each part describes a few rulers of that particular place that were horrible or simply incompetent and at the end there’s a chapter that recommends you books and movies about those rulers (my to-read and to-watch lists have grown after reading this book :)).

The author was obviously trying to include lots of rulers in the book, and I think that’s actually a bad idea; there are big chapters about people like Caligula, Catherine de Medici, Mary I, Cesare Borgia, but also very short chapters on people like Christian II and Macbeth. I understand the desire to write about the less famous rulers, but sometimes it felt like the author wasn’t really interested in some of those rulers, and the entire point of their chapters was just to take up space.

Most of the rulers included are men, but I loved reading about the women the most. There were some people whose lives I was familiar with only through fiction, so it was interesting to find out what their reality was like.

 

Posted in Reviews

Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

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Title: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Series: Extraordinary Voyages

Author: Jules Verne

Genre: Science-fiction

The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Rating: 2/5

Warning: SPOILERS!

One of my favorite books ever is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I read it when I was 11 and absolutely loved it and ever since I’ve been meaning to read more books by Jules Verne. I didn’t expect this one to be such a bad choice.

First off, when a book is called Journey to the Center of the Earth, it’s not too much to expect the characters to actually get to the center of the Earth. The possibility of them getting there is the reason I wanted to read this, but no, they basically just take a walk underground, from Iceland to Italy, and that’s it. They see some strange things, but nothing that interesting, they have some trouble finding water, but in the end, it’s nowhere near the exciting story I expected it to be.

It took way too long for the journey to actually begin (the first half of the book the characters are just preparing for it). The story could have been good if the characters and their relationships were more interesting, but they bored me to death. The most interesting part of the book was when they saw a 12 feet tall human-like creature underground, but all they did was run away and talk about the it – was it really human, could there be a human civilization somewhere under the surface of the Earth? Well, we’ll never find out, because they never even try to get closer to it.

This is huge disappointment to me, because I was sure I will enjoy it, but I’m not giving up on Jules Verne. I want to read all of the Extraordinary Voyages books – there must be some other that are as incredible as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Posted in Uncategorized

2016 End of Year Book Survey

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I was planning on writing a 2016 wrap up post, but then I came across this survey created by Jamie @ Perpetual Page-Turner and it’s awesome, so here we go  🙂

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Number Of Books You Read: 104
Number of Re-Reads: I don’t really keep track of books I re-read, but I might start now. I don’t think there were more than 10.
Genre You Read The Most From: young adult and nonfiction

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1. Best Book You Read In 2016? 

I’ll pick two, for best fiction and best nonfiction:

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2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

In both ways:

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 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I push people to read every book I love, but they don’t usually listen  😦

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Captive Prince trilogy is the answer for all those questions.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Donna Tartt

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I don’t usualy read books on psychology, but I read Obedience to Authority this year and it was really good. Scary, but good.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Probably the biography of Elon Musk: Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

I read Saga graphic novels this year and their covers are pretty awesome.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Henry from The Secret History

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

I’m tempted to make a post just about all the quotes I loved in 2016. For now, here’s one:

“How you live your life is your business. But remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between. But there’s only one, and before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. I don’t envy the pain. But I envy you the pain.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Fracture me by Tahereh Mafi: 52 pages

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: 1424 pages

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Secret History did this quite a few times.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Definitely Laurent and Damen from the Captive Prince trilogy

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I liked the friendship between all of the main characters in The Outsiders.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, I previously read Anna Karenina. Both books are amazing.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Henry from The Secret History

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

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24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

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26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

Books rarely make me cry, but We Were Liars came close

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

The Secret Histoy (I just keep repeating answers)

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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I loved it, btw.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

(Over)Analysing Literature is amazing, but it hasn’t been active in a few months.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

Whenever I look back on my reviews, I hate the way I wrote them. But I’ll say my favorite is the review for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, because I was so excited while writing it.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

The Outsiders: Book vs Movie

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Definitely Dewey’s Readathon!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Notreally a moment, just generally going back to book blogging and enjoying it more than ever before.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping up with Netgalley books – I request way too many.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

In 2012, I wrote a review of The Enemy’s Cosmetique by Amélie Nothomb and every year this post gets more views than any other. It’s not even a well-written review, it’s just a few thoughts about the book and I’m tempted to reread the book and write a proper review, so all the people who are looking for it at least have something good to read.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

The Outsiders: Book vs Movie

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I can’t think of anything new here :/

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I completed the 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge with 104/100 books read  😀

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

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2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

I can’t believe this myself, but I can’t think of any sequels I’m waiting for.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Write more non-review posts.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Havent’t read any yet 😦

Posted in Comic Books, Reviews

Review: Manga Classics: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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Title: Les Miserables

Series: Manga Classics

Authors: Victor Hugo, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S Chan, Stacy King

“By adapting Les Miserables to manga form, it opens the original story up to even more readers while remaining true to the heart of Victor Hugo’s novel with the complexities of right and wrong, justice, and human nature. While the account of the riots that took place after General Lamarque’s death are fictionalized–just as they are in the source material–there is a definite attempt to capture the feeling and setting of France and the history of the French Revolution.
As with any adaptation, some things have been omitted and order of events tweaked to fit the new format, but that lends itself to examining stories through a different lens. Pair the manga scenes with the matching passages from the book and scenes from movie adaptations for an activity on how information is presented through different media.”

Rating: 3/4

I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for a review.

The good thing about adapting Les Miserables is that you can skip big parts of the book without actually missing any important plot points, but the bad thing is that even after skipping all of those, the book is still huge and you will probably have to rush some storylines. In the case of this adaptation, it’s obvious that some parts are rushed (the revolution, for example). I don’t know how much sense would this story make to somebody who hasn’t read the novel.

The art is pretty good except that some characters look really young, but that happens with lots of manga adaptations, so I’m going to forgive that. It’s a pretty decent adaptation but it would be better with additional 100 pages – or maybe the entire story shouldn’t be in one volume.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero by Sherry Ginn

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Title: Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero:
Essays on an Avenger with a Very Specific Skill Set

Author: Sherry Ginn

First appearing in Marvel Comics in the 1960s, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was introduced to movie audiences in Iron Man 2 (2010). Her character has grown in popularity with subsequent Marvel films, and fans have been vocal about wanting to see Black Widow in a titular role. Romanoff has potent appeal: a strong female character who is not defined by her looks or her romantic relationships, with the skill set of a veteran spy first for the KGB, then for S.H.I.E.L.D. This collection of new essays is the first to examine Black Widow and her development, from Cold War era comics to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

I love the character of Black Widow in MCU and I think she deserves much better from Marvel, so I was curious about this book of essays on the character. The essays talk about her development not just in MCU but also in Marvels’ comic books. They touch on various topics: Black widow as a feminist icon, they way she uses language, what does it mean to write a ‘strong female character’, fanworks involving Black Widow etc.

Aside from the movies, I’ve only encountered Black Widow in the Ultimate Marvel Universe comic books, but the essays talk about the way she’s written since the character first appeared in 1964. It’s obvious that her characterization today is better than it was back then, but it’s nowhere near perfect – her writers still make some bad choices that are in no way progressive (Age of Ultron!!!). Also, the writers of some of those essays seem to adore Joss Whedon a bit too much.

My favorite essays were ‘Black Widow’s use of language in The Avengers’ and ‘Brainwashing and Mind control in the Whedon and Marvel universes’. Reading this book made me want a Black Widow solo movie more than ever before.

Posted in Comic Books, Reviews

Review: Manga Classics: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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Title: Jane Eyre 

Series: Manga Classics

Authors: Stacy King, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S. Chan, Charlotte Brontë

As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. Though she meets with further abuse, she receives an education, and eventually takes a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester. Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers.Charlotte Bronte’s classic tale of morality and social criticism takes on an entirely new life in this beautiful Manga Classic adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for a review.

It’s pretty impossible for me to judge those adaptations on their own; I always end up comparing them to the original novel. So far, the Manga Classics series has been doing very well in those comparisions. Jane Eyre is another in a series of very enjoyable adaptations.

It’s been a while since I read the novel but the manga seems to stick pretty close to the original story. The only thing that really stands out as different is the way Jane and Rochester look. Jane is supposed to be plain looking and Rochester is described as ‘not handsome’ – but in the manga they’re both drawn as beautiful, and Rochester looks quite young. This happens in other Jane Eyre adaptations too (for example, in the 2011 movie, Jane is played by Mia Wasikowska and Rochester is played by Michael Fassbender – both very good looking people).

Some parts of the story were a bit hurried – Jane even thinking about marrying St. John didn’t make sense to me because that storyline happens really quickly in this manga. I’d still recommend this to people who love Jane Eyre and anybody who’s curious about this classic story.

 

Posted in Comic Books, Reviews

Review: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Title: The Scarlet Letter

Series: Manga Classics

Authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S Chan, Stacy King

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during the Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.

This manga retelling of Hawthorn’s classic American novel is faithfully adapted by Crystal S. Chan and features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into this tragic saga of Puritan America.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

I was very curious about how this manga will turn out, because I read the original novel and it doesn’t seem easy to adapt. In my review of the novel, I complained about the unnecessary details and one of the things that make this adaptation more approachable than the original is that it leaves those out. The dialogue is much easier to understand too, and the manga overall never gets as heavy as the novel.

Like most mangas, the illustrations are black-and-white, with the exception of the scarlet ‘A’ that Hester wears. I think that’s a great idea because it’s impossible to forget what happened to Hester and, in a way, it puts you in the position of people around her, who always noticed that red ‘A’ more than anything else in Hester’s life. The illustrations are beautiful, especially little Pearl who is both adorable and a little scary.

I always say that nothing can take the place of the original book and that’s true in this case too, but if you want a good introduction to the story of The Scarlet Letter, this manga is a great choice.