February wrap up

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100 days of solitude by Daphne Kapsali
rating3
I bought this book on a whime, back in December, because it was on sale (I think it’s still is in the Amazon’s monthly deals section or somewhere). It was 0.99€ and…it sounded intriguing. It’s a collection of essays, wrote during the 100 days the author spent on a Greek island, writing. She wanted to be a writer and never did anything to achieve the goal, and then left her life to see if she could make it. I must say that like every story that aims at being motivational, is interesting: will she make it? What will she learn along the way? I find the writing style breezy and it’s an entertaining book…up to a point. Around half of it, the topics were more or less the same and it got a bit slow.
It was an enjoyable reading, though, and it’s definitely a good one if you like memoirs.

Se una Notte d’Inverno un Viaggiatore (If on a Winter Night a Traveler)
by Italo Calvino
rating5
Italo Calvino is one of the few Italian authors I’m interested in. This book was a compulsory reading for one of my uni courses and I must say I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a book that celebrates book, literature and the joy of reading (and of being a reader). It has a very peculiar way of telling the story, a story that unfolds rather unexpectadly. You could say it’s a bit experimental (although not the modernist kind of experimental novel). Although the story in itself is extraordinary and the storytelling clever, I must say that it wasn’t the story in itself that I liked. It was everything else.

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Micheal Puett & Christine Gross-Loh
rating4
I’ve recently started to be interested into Daosim and subsequently Chinese philosophy, so I looked for a quick and easy introduction on the subject. This book is very short and shouldn’t be taken as more than it is: a brief, concise – although wonderful – introduction to the idea of the major chinese philosphers (Confucius, Lao Tsu, Zuangzhi, Mencius, etc.). It is so short I finished it in 24 hours, but despite the size I believe it’s a useful read, as it points out the core ideas of each philosophers in a clear and understandable way. It gives a very basic, very general knowledge that won’t change your life, but it is surely a good starting point. I found considerable food for thoughts into these pages and a very good bibliography to continue my researches.

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January wrap-up

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Adulthood is a myth by Sarah Andersen
rating5
Sarah Scribbles is a famous web comic series, written by Sarah Andersen, of which this volume is a selection.
It’s all about becoming adults, and sometimes not being really good at it. It’s about the anxiety you sometimes feel, hidden truths about life and the idea that we’re all on the same boat here.

Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand
rating5
Poorly Drawn Lines is my favourite web comic ever. It surpassed also Cyanide & Happiness. A lot. It’s about non-sensical humor, space bears, mice with knives attacking boys with big ears and bad puns.
If you’ve never looked at them, please give them a try. Maybe it’s not your kind humor, but the author is so creative! I enjoy them so much! (and it’s the perfect volume for bibliomancy, I swear).

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
rating5
This book is probably one of the best introductions on the subject and not only because it’s written by one of the doctors who theoriesed the existence of an EQ. It provides basic knowledge on how the brain and emotions developed, explaining how the brain physically works its way around emotions. It gives data on researches and studies, as well as drawing from the experience of the author himself. It defines emotions very clearly, giving also a variety suggestions on how to handle them, and last but not least it’s also very detailed on how important it is to give our children emotional support and educate their emotions along with their logic.
I loved it. It took me a month to be read and I still go back to it when I need to understand something better. The language is simple enough for non-experts in the field and the writing is linear and clear. I strongly recommend this one to everyone, but if you’re interested in understanding how the brain works it’s a must read.

The Fox by D.H. Lawrence
rating3
I like foxes, which is why I picked up this book while in the library. It’s the first work of Lawrence that I read (although Lady Chatterley waits for me) and I wasn’t impressed that much.
I liked the idea of a manly female protagonist (for the age, must’ve been quite crazy!) but these modernist depictions of love I really don’t like, and the male protagonist was an contradiction of himself.
It surely started like an uncanny and pleasant read, but when I reached half of it I was already a bit deluded. I gained interest toward the end again, I must say. 

Dionea e altre Storie Fantastiche bye Vernon Lee
rating2
A collection of fantastical stories by Vernon Lee, but there is no correspondant edition in English so I’m going to assume this was a mash-up made by the Italian publisher.
I haven’t enjoyed them much: it’s too much…ninetienth century flavoured both in writing and in the depiction of history and mythology.I know how much the victorians were fascinated by such subjects, but it’s an obsolete way to look at it.  Plus, I haven’t found really anything particularly outstanding in the stories, which is a shame because I really wanted to enjoy them.

September wrap-up

It’s not late for a September wrap up, is it?

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The Arctic Incident, Artemis Fowl #2 by Eoin Colfer
rating4
I’m trying to keep up with this series I didn’t have the luck to stumble upon when I was a kid. I’m enjoying it like I’m 8 years old nonetheless. I honestly found this specific part of the story not that interesting, but Colfer’s writing is so good I could read the decline and fall of the Roman empire if he wrote that.

All The Birds in The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
rating5

I’m so glad I bought and read this book. Both magic and science are part of this near-future world, incarnated by the two protagonists: a young witch who can talk to animals and a young scientist who found the blueprints for the two-secs time machine.
The story follows the friendship they form in school and later, their lives as adults in a world that is going to be destroyed by pollution and humanity’s exploitation.
The story does get a bit slow in the second half of the book, but I particularly love the writing style. This book has a lot of it.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
rating3
I’ve seen this around for a while, and then bought a copy of the Italian edition at a library sale. I enjoyed the story, with its eerie atmosphere, and the characters – they’re not that rounded, but the focus is on the narration and the magical happenings, so it isn’t in any way an impediment. Pleasant writing, as well, although I found it a bit flat at times.

In Altre Parole (In Other Words) by Jhumpa Lahiri
rating3
I initially intended to read both the Italian and English version of this book (for pretentious scholarly purposes, ok?), but decided to stick only with the former. The author recounts her experience with Italian, a language she fell in love with, but that she struggles to learn. It is her battle against a language she longs for, but it is also a reflection on language and on what it can mean to us.

#TBRTAKEDOWN 4.0 wrap-up

The readathon’s week is finished and is now time to look at what I was able to read!

I always put a lot of books in my TBRs for readathons because I need different titles and different genres to choose from, but I know that I won’t be able to finish them all (or start them all).
I’m quite happy with what I read, however, because I finally finished The Human Stain by Philip Roth. It was a compulsory reading for my English course so I had to read it, but I haven’t liked it. Not a bit. It’s not the kind of story I usually enjoy, but the point is the writing style was too dense for me and it took forever to go through the book. Not even Dickens slowed me down so much.
I also managed to read The Caste of Otranto by Horace Walpole. It’s a hundred paage long, so I finished it in a couple of ours, and I can say now that it’s slightly insignificant. I understand how it is the novella writers of gothic novels looked at as inspiration, so I’m not discounting its importance in the history of literature, but guys was it boring!
Finally, I managed to read 111 pages from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Brison. It’s one of the books that stayed in my TBR the longest and, having bought it, I really wanted to go through it. I’m happy that I managed to read so much of it, because although incredibly interesting it uses a lot of technical terms and scientific language. I’m not well-versed in science even in my own language, so it takes a bit to translate terms and understand everything. However it is a funny reading, I’m discovering a lot of quirky things about the scientific world!
Plus I read a huge chunk of Celtic Myth by Miranda Green yesterday evening before going to bed and I finished it this morning, so that’s another book to add to the list! 😀

Overall, I finished between 250-300 pages last week. It’s more than my usual count so I’m proud of myself!

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May Wrap Up

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Old World Witchery by Raven Grimassi
rating3
I came back to traditional witchcraft. Again. I randomly picked this book up just because I randomly found it floating in my direaction. I must admit that I didn’t really knew what to expectas I’ve never read any of Raven Grimassi’s book. Overall, it was a good read. I enjoyed many insights on witches and witchcraft, although there are many things that put me a little off. It was interesting nonetheless and it does contain many interesting ideas. It’s also an easy read, from the point of view of a non-native speaker.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by M.Weis and T. Hickman
I finally started reading the Chronicle trilogy, settled in the vast Dragonlance universe. A friend of mine was eager to see me starting it and I was eager to put my hands on (another) fantasy series. I liked the book and I liked the characters, but before saying anything else I want to finish the whole trilogy. However I’m absolutely in love with Tas, the kender people in general, Flint and Sturm and Tanis are a romantic brotp for me now.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
rating1
I do not give lonely stars lightly and it doesn’t happen often that you see me giving them. This book, however, is the worst Twilight instalment since Twilight came out. The writing isn’t completely horrible, but the characters are and overall the story is inconsistent. I’m going to do a full review of this one, however, so I’m keeping all my bad feelings for it.

Where Witchcraft Lives by Doreen Valiente
rating5
Following the trail of Grimassi’s book, I picked this up to read a bit more about trad witchcraft. As many know, Doreen Valiente worked with Gardner, but she was also knowledgeable in many fields of witchcraft that aren’t particoularly tied to Wicca. Where Witchcraft Lives is both a testimony of how witchcraft was perceived (and practiced) in the last century and a discusson on the lore of UK and Sussex in particoular. If one bears in mind how different our knowledge regarding the history and anthropology of witchcraft and religion are now (read: Murray wasn’t right about it, sorry), the information contained in this book are priceless and still very useful today.

The Rune Primer by Sweyn Plowright
rating4
I started this book because I want to get into runes again and was looking for something that might help me remember basi history facts etc. However, the historical part on the rune is very short and, overall, it doesn’t really make a big work on such issues. I appreciated it a lot, however, and not only because it contains three wonderful versions of the rune poems. It has an extended section on myth busting and discussions on other, more famous, authors that I feel might be of great help to those who are starting with the runes. It’s a very short read and definetly worth it.

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March Wrap Up

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Just three books for this month that, again, saw me very busy studying (plus some life changes on the side)

Plugged by Eoin Colfer
rating4
This book was suggested to me by someone on tumblr, with whom I chatted for a while. I had it around and decided to give it a go and wow. First, I never read anything by Eoin Colfer, not even the Artemis Fowl series that was everywhere in the bookshop when I was young. It never picked my interest. Now I regret it, because the writing was…mindblowing. I honestly enjoyed more how things were written than the story itself – who was good, but military guy with life problems™, dead casino hostess, rich drug addicts, irish gangs and corrupted police isn’t usual my kind of book. Apart from that, it is also a bit of a thriller and it has an insane dose of that witty/quirky humor I love.

Little Girls: Social Conditioning And Its Effects On The Stereotyped Role Of Women During Infancy by Elena Gianini Belotti
rating4
This actually is an Italin book, the original title being “Dalla parte delle bambine”. Written in the 70s this books analyses the pressure women have to face in society since early age, showing that the idea of an intrinsic feminine behaviouris a product of education. The writer works with kids and uses various examples taken from her experience, as well as reaserches, to show how detrimental the attitude toward female kids is. It was an easy read despire the topics – no technical language used and vary clear description of psychological facts – although in many point it made me cringe. Many parents and teachers do the unbelievable to let people adhere to their specific mental image. Despite being old the information are still 100% relatable. And it is also a very small book, something like 190 pages. Definetely worth it.

Purifying Crystals by Micheal Gienger
rating5
A short, but useful, handbook about the cleansing and purifcation (both phisycal and energetic) of stones and crystals. I found it very useful because I never had any reference for crystals beside what I caught here and there (forums, friends, general books) and it was fine to see all that scattered information organised at last. It’s very short and can be read in a couple of hourse, but definetly useful if you’re interested in energetic work with crystals.

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February wrap-up

February was a tough month. I had to study a lot for university and I was left with less time for my readings. I ended up reading four books anyway, mostly because I had a couple of half-read books that I really wantedo to throw off the pile.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
rating2
The first book I finished. I started it in October, I think, and abandoned it. I’m as nerd as everyone who loves videogames, videogame lore, videogame loot and “nerd books” (that reads as fantasy and the occasional sci-fi). After seeing how this title was praised, something “by nerds for nerds”, I believed it was an easy score. I haven’t liked it a bit. The writing is nice, but the main character is shallow and boring (I personally rooted for At3mis) and there is really nothing special in this world. It feels like a bunch of nerd things thrown together just to make it nerd.

Worlds Apart by Daniel Kelley
rating3
This collection of short stories was pleasently surprising. I have a thing or two with the writing style, but it is an interesting read. Four stories showing us people tied together, in a way or another. I think my favourite is the one with the statue and the girl while the fourth one was the most boring. And the most shocking. Easy, fast and interesting enough to be worth a look.

Awareness by Anthony De Mello
rating3
This book I bought back in May, when I was in search of inspiration ( unimportant sidenote: I read it in Italian). I must say that I found some interesting points in it as well as many ideas worth the headache, but it reamins too “trascendental” for me. It’s not bad, simply (not entirely) my cup of tea. However the writing (or, better, speaking) is indeed brilliant and – again – there are many fair points the author makes that actually are inspiring.

The Last Dragonslayer di Jasper Fforde
rating5
Another book I read in Italian. I loved it. It was a rushed read, and it felt a bit dry for that, but nonetheless the story is marvelous. The book is meant for youngsters, but it’s worth reading at any age. First and foremost, the world in which the story is set is a mix of fantastic and modern, with a lot of englishness thrown in. Secondly, the protagonist is an orphaned girl forced into servitude who takes care of several sorcerer and magical workers. She’s also the last dragonslayer. She defies the unjust orders of her king, refuses to sell herself to big companies and is a pretty tough kick-ass in general.
As you can understand from the many words used, I loved this book. It wins the award as Best Book of the Month.

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