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Reading experiment: The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya (Tатьяна Tолстая – kысь)

If you are a bit familiar with the Russian language, you know that it has an amazing vocabulary. For each sensation or event, there is another word. I am only half Russian and don’t reach even a quarter of understanding this language, so I am smart: I don’t read in Russian. I know from the start that I will not understand everything, even if I speak the language fluently. However, being a part of an International Reads club, and the book being of a Russian author – Tatyana Tolstaya, I said why not give it a go? I have the English version anyways. So i read both books.

Conclusion: I did not like the book. I gave it 3 or 4 starts on goodreads but I do not like it. It is a dystopian book and I do not like these types of books. I understood the book, got the message, just didn’t like the delivery of it. Thank God it was so unpredictable and I could read it until the end!

The basic story in a nut shell : City: Fiodor Cuzmici (city previous Moscow), 200 years after the Blast. The survivors of the Blast are the Oldeners – they still have the memories of how the world used to work. New generations – naive creatures with genetic mutation “consequences”. Benedict has very little mutations: just a tail and too many teeth.
Main character: Benedict is struggling to survive. He has no family left and is fearing a mythical creature – the slynx. He has some cravings of going far far away. But were? In every directions there are capital dangers. The order and lives of simple citizens -golubcichi – are strictly controled by the government. If you have dangerous tendencies – Freethinking – or signs of diseases, the government or the Saniturions, will eliminate you. Benedict works for the government, in the writing department, he copies booklets and orders of Bigest Murza – ruler of the city. Benedict’s life changes when he gets married to Olenka, a co-worker.  Olenka’s father is the Head of Saniturions. He discovers to Benedict the magic of reading old printed books, prohibided for the golubchiki. Benedict gets addicted and reads all the books during 1 year.  After that he wants more books, so his father in law convinces him that they must protect the book and all together the culture from the golubchiks, who are only destroying it. Under this pretext, they take over the city and kill Bigest Murza. But Benedict is in for a surprise: his father in law doesn’t care about the culture or books, he wants only power. The book ends with yet another Blast, caused by the misuse of the gasoline. Again, the Oldeners survive. and Benedict.

It was sad for me to see the signs of a generation under a regime (take all freedom, give them mice, and scare them ocazionaly) were life means survival, there is no progress and development.
It is true that those who don’t know the past are condemned to repeat it, and this is one of the main ideas of the book.
Translation wise, there were some details lost and at some point I felt that it is not a Russian novel anymore, the translator decided to include some additional lines for more clarity, but they lines are very English, same with some of the poems, same with names of songs, Christmas songs… The attitude towards women is much more respectuos in the English version and the language is cleaner.
The name of the book is a combination of words in Russian, such as  кысь (the sound you make to call a cat) – брысь (scat)- рысь (lynx) – Русь (the old name of Russian people), so in the end you get Slynx!
Some words were misspelled in Russian and the translation didn’t make sense to me, words as: ‘shopping-hower’ instead of schopenhauer, ‘pudential’ instead of potential, ‘feelosophy’ instead of Philosophy,  ‘runnysause’ instead of Renaissance, ‘more-allity’ instead of Morality, ‘Academishun’ instead of Academician , ‘guzzelean’ instead of Gasoline  and ‘worrums’ instead of Worms. These words got me confused and I could guess the meaning faster thanks to the Russian version.
I am not sorry for reading the book and it really took me out of my comfort zone. Even if the book was somewhat filled with events, I felt it didn’t go anywhere. After some research, I learned that this book was written during 1986-2000, so maybe the perspective and intentions of the author changed from what was initially planned. For me it was just “a book about people and mice”, how a critic called it.

November 15, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Bout of Books 8.0 – updates

This is just a post for updates during this Bout-of-bouts 8.0

Monday

Book: Change of Hearth – Jodi Piccoult
Total Pages Read: 148
Total Number of pages read in total: 148
Notes: Like the story, cannot connect to any of the characters, too much religion and serious issues

Tuesday

Books Read Today:  Change of Hearth – Jodi Piccoult
Total Pages Read: 168
Total Number of pages read in total: 316
Notes: This was an unusual book for me, it had spiritual, moral and religious issues, learned some new things about Christianity and morality. Happy for the romantic ending 🙂

Wednesday

Books Read Today: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir A.C Doyle
Total Pages Read: 96
Total Number of pages read in total: 412
Notes: very entertaining so far!

Thursday

Books Read Today: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir A.C Doyle
Total Books Read: 100
Total Number of pages read in total: 512
Notes: like it more and more!

Friday

Books Read Today: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir A.C Doyle
Total Pages Read: 50
Total Number of pages read in total: 562
Notes:

Saturday

Books Read Today: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir A.C Doyle and The Fall by A. Camus
Total Pages Read: 100
Total Number of pages read in total: 662
Notes:

Sunday

Books Read Today: The Fall by A. Camus and March by G. Brooks
Total Pages Read: 75
Total Number of pages read in total: 737
Notes: very similar to Dostoievski’s Notes from underground

Hopefully a total of 1000 pages 🙂 – actual pages read – 737

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | | 5 Comments

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

change-of-heart What is with all these spiritual books lately? this is the second in a row 🙂 Anyways, i read this book as part of the Bout of Books 8.0 challenge.
The book touches the problem of religion, death penalty and redemption. The story follows June Nealon and her family: her second husband and daughter are killed by Shay Bourne – a young ex-convicted man. Shay is found guilty and sentenced to death. Michael is a young priest and part of the jury. It took 11 years to decide upon the execution date. At this time, June’s second daughter – Claire is sick and needs a new hearth in order to survive. Shay tries to offer his own hearth to Claire in order to make up for the murders. Almost to the end of the story, Shay tells the actual story to Michael, who is his spiritual adviser in jail. The religious aspect of the story is quite interesting since it does not promote religion as a practice and discloses some other gospels than the ones that are widely known. It also promotes the basic rights, free speech and freedom of practicing your religion. Maggie – Shay’s layer is a true fighter, she is the one that helps Shay. It also ends with a romantic story and I feel that this is purely american ending 🙂 (Maggie falls in love) but it was necessary. The true story of Shay is dramatic and thanks to the romantic ending I was able to enjoy the book until the end.
Speaking of the style of the book, each chapter is written at first person and you can only understand who’s story is, by the title, if it is June, it’s June’s side of the story. Also, the font is different for each character, I was really annoyed about Maggie’s fond because it was duller than the others, but in the rest it was ok. If you are looking for a good dramatic story, with the pursuit of spiritual and religious truths, than do not hesitate to read this!

Happy reading everyone!

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bout of Books 8.0 SIGN UP!

I am really exited to join other 300 participants in this challenge! My main objective is to read as many pages as possible this week and maybe, just maybe, get to 1000 pages, we will see how it goes!

🙂

bookathon

Let’s hope it will not get to this and let’s do it!
BoB8.0-200x200


🙂

I will try and post updates as the rules imply and also will publish the list of books tomorrow!

August 18, 2013 Posted by | Awards, Book reviews, Passions | 2 Comments

Get inspired and read with Malinka!

I have no excuse or explanation: I have started a booktube channel on youtube. Why? I have no other purpose in life. I work as a madwomen and I don’t do anything else, so a book channel is the logical next step, no? 🙂 🙂 🙂 Anyway, this is just for fun and entertainment, so enjoy!

June 24, 2013 Posted by | About me, Book reviews | , | 3 Comments

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

a343a__Read-Lolita-online-freeYeah, another strong book but if I ever hear again someone saying that this book is a love story, or meditation on love or a misunderstood romance, I am going to cry!!! Now I read the book, I have the right to contradict all those opinions! This is the story of a rape, pretty much, and not physical rape but also social. To argument my opinion I will tell you more about the story. The novel starts with the plead of the main character – Humbert Humbert, an English man that moved in the US. He is in court for murder and he tells the story, analyses and explains his actions in court. The time of the book is post-war America. Humbert meets Dolores Haze (latter called Lolita) and her mother and starts to have a strong attraction towards Dolores, even if she is only 10. And this is not the first time when he feels this way towards a girl, he has had this situation in the past and studied the girls that aroused him, even found them a special name (I can’t even open the book to look for the term, that much this book is creepy for me). He marries Dolores’s mother and while Lolita is on summer camp, she dies in an accident so Humbert has Dolores all for himself. Humbert doesn’t tell Lolita about the death of his mother but takes her on a road trip. In the hotel, they speak about the camp and she confesses that in the camp she became intimate with a boy and they end up having sex. That is the moment when she finds out that she is an orphan and she is stuck with her step-father/lover. Right after Humbert thought that she will the most loving girl since her mother died, she only has him as a relative and he was not even feeling guilty for the sex, she was not a virgin anymore. But in the contrary, Lolita was cranky, she didn’t behave as a lover since she was just a child!, she avoided the caresses and the intimate relations, so Humbert had to buy his way, he was buying anything she wanted in order for her to “to complete her duties”. The road trip took more than 2 years and then they decided to settle down and live in one place. It was very dificult for Humbert to hide their relation especially since Lolita was going to school and making new friends. The only way Humbert could stop her from running away or telling was psychological pressure, he was telling her that she is an orphan with no money and no place to go… In the end Lolita had a conflict at school and they decide to go on the road again. In the end she manages to run away. Humbert finds her because she wrote to him and asked for money. She is in a poor house, pregnant and engaged with some guy. Humbert decides to forgive her for leaving only if there is a chance for her to come back to him. Lolita is refuses and asks him not to tell her fiance about their past, in this moment Humbert kills her. It is such a sad story, Humbert has destroyed his and her life, he let himself be driven by lust. He didn’t even like her personality, described as clumsy  impolite, but once he looked at her lips her forgot everything. He didn’t allow her to develop as a human being, to have a house, a school, hobbies, she was always watched and kept close, treated like a peace of meat. Even Humbert recognizes that he destroyed her but at the same time, it was Lolita who seduced him, it was Lolita who had no morals. I have to mention that I was seduced by the writing and the style of the book, and also by curiosity, I have learned some lessons from this book. Reading this book is a necessary evil, you have to know about it and you have to be aware. Gosh, I hope I won’t panic around fathers with their daughters, but it might happen.

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

secretgardenI picked out this book because it is included in the BBC 100 books that everyone should read. The book was amazing and it filled my heart with happiness!!! The characters are well developed, there is mystery, good plot and a grand finale, what else can you ask for? The story line goes around Mary Lennox and her cousin Collin. They are both orphans and under-loved. Mary moves from India in the Misselthwaite Manor mansion. The mansion is half forbidden and the garden is locked because 10 years ago Collin’s mother died in a accident. One night Mary hears someone crying and discovers Collin. He is barely moving or lifting himself from his bed. He was told all his life that he is very sick and close to death and because of it he is depressed and hysterical most of the time. Mary is the one that discovers the key to the locked garden and starts to revive it, together with a local boy, Dickon. Dickon is one of the most important characters in the book and in the development of the other characters. Dickon and the robin-bird!!! Dickon is full of life, pure energy, curiosity and simple kindness that he inspires both Mary and Collin to become healthier and happier. The evolution of Collin is amazing and he starts to walk and run.  Another important character is Dickon’s mother, she is the one that advises Dickon’s actions and helps the children bond. Or course the place were all the activities take place is the secret garden but in my opinion it could be any other place were kids could communicate and play, develop skills and self – confidence, but the garden gave them a sense of magic which was necessary for both of them. Both Mary and Collin have been deprived of the warmth and love of a true family which is the magic place were everyone develops so they needed the magic of the garden. The ending was amazing and it made me smile. I just wished I would have read this book earlier to see an example of consequence when adults and parents are taken by fear. Collin’s father was afraid that he will be crippled, so he made him stay in bed all the time with all the luxuries, instead of providing him a normal life. Gosh, this is how parents mess up their kids and I realized how messed up I am because of parents’s fears… I guess it goes round and round. I will make all my friends read it so that they will be aware what could happen. Absolutely great book!

April 7, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Exploring Polish literature – Nine by Andrzej Stasiuk

stasiuk_2.inddIt was a challenge to finish this book. I can definitely give some credit to the author for attention to details and basically it is a descriptive novel, a description of all details around the characters, description of sensations, description the city… I would say that the plot line was confusing just because there were so many random characters that didn’t differentiate from each other very much. I can understand why this book received is so highly appreciate, the author tackled some good ideas but I just felt that the final result could have been better. This book had so much potential and the location was so well described but I felt there was no “glue” to bind together all these elements, they were just random. The cover states: here the author portraits elements of a new generation of Poles, freed from outdated ideologies but left disconnected from family, well, my reaction was, yes, now that you mentioned it, I guess it make sense… I understood the full story after reading the description on the cover: Pawel is a young business man in debt to loan shark. He turns for help to his 2 friends, Bolek and Jasek. And to this I would like to add that nothing clear happens in the end. Pawel still needs help.

Another detail was the translation. The book was initially written in Polish and then translated in English, but some sentences just didn’t make sense and maybe some of the book’s sense was lost. It was my first attempt to read polish literature and I have to say that I’m confused: this book had great reviews on goodreads and it was so difficult to read, I only imagine of those with low rates !

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

n58559What a funny book! if you have not read this until now, make sure to pick it out from your library on bookstore!
It is the story of a British single woman Bridget Jones, and her struggles with weight, men and career. The book is written in form of a diary as suggested by the title and it starts with the new year’s resolutions made by Bridget. Her mother tries to fix her with a family friend – Marc Darcy (what a name!) Bridget however has a crush on her boss – Daniel and she ends up sleeping with him. Daniel is not interested in a committing relation and is having in affair with another colleague which is discovered by Bridget. In stead of deep apologies, Daniel is informing Bridget and the whole world that he is marrying that work colleague. Deeply humiliated Bridget takes her mother’s advice of changing careers and goes for an interview to a local television. She is hired and with the accidental help of Mark Darcy makes some good articles. Mark and Bridget seem to have a nice time for her birthday when she finds out that her mother is wanted by the police. Again with the help of Mark she gets her mother out of troubles. In the process Mark tells her that he likes her just the way she is and they get together after an accidentally missed date. They have a nice Christmas date followed by a hot night…. the book ends in full circle, after 1 year after the beginning.
My favorite thing about the book is the absolute real language and insights which are written just as one is thinking, no fine tuning was made. This allows you to emphasize with Bridget and listen (actually read) as if she is one of your friends: Good book!

March 9, 2013 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Beauty Stealers by Pascal Bruckner

I read this book in a few hours! The Beauty Stealers  (original name Les Voleurs de Beauté, published in 1996) by Pascal Bruckner is an original and rough book, which presents the game of power between women and men, and most of all, the game of power between beautiful and ugly. The idea is extremely new (at least to me), it is strange, pessimistic, violent and sometimes just scary and the writing style is definitely french.

The novel is structured on 2 main stories: Helene & Benjamin’s story and Mathilde & Ferdinand’s. In the first couple, Helene is the one who has all the control and in the second one – the dominant one is Ferdinand.
The story line is amazing twisted: Benjamin meets Mathilde at the hospital, where she is the psychiatrist on call. He reveals his sad story of how he meat 3 awful people; they believed that beauty is a capital crime and did their best to eradicate it. They would hold beautiful girls in their basement for up to 2 years, until they became scared and mentally traumatized, then just release them to live as an ugly person. He is forced to help them retain other beautiful girls as they have Helene hostage. Mathilde just broke up with Ferdinand, she got tired of his erotic cravings, She herd story and was convinced by the idea that she should also be sacrificed because she was beautiful. At this point the story twists again and the ending is quite unexpected.
I felt that the book doesn’t have the classic positive/negative characters structure. All the heroes did awful things, or were witnessing awful things and did nothing, this makes me believe that this book has only anti-heroes. I couldn’t pick any favorites or someone to relate to, only cowards and crazy people in this book!
None of them tried to fight the obstacles they meat, none of them had any power or initiative. They struggled a little and then just accepted what was happening to them.
This book made me mad sooo many times: it reflects what a disturbed view has society towards beauty, life, family, dignity and career. People that are obsessed with the idea of getting old and losing the only things that made them special: physical beauty.
There is no place for love in this book. If it exists it’s just lust or it’s only a game of power or just a coincidence because the character didn’t have another object to reflect his/her influence.
Nobody has any principles: Mathilde mocks her patients in her mind, Benjamin copies all the lines of his book from dead authors, the Steiner family believes it is not fair that they’re old and other girls are beautiful and young… It pains me to think that this book is a reflection of our times :(.
I definitely recommend this book, it is strange, the writing style is close to french lethargic and the plot is very interesting!

 

November 17, 2012 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , | 2 Comments

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