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Some words about me

I love books, with more than 950 physical volumes in my bookshelves and some other 10.000 digital books waiting to be read. From early childhood my main hobby was to read and read and read some more, sacrificing my sleep for it without hesitation , walking on streets with a book in hand, reading while I was supposed to be studying some other stuff, reading on train/plane/car on every trip I went to the abysmal dismay of my parents (take your nose out of that book cause you’ll have no idea where you are and you’ll lose everything worth to be seen) but I regret nothing. And I am pretty sure that I will read until my last breathing day.

Meanwhile, I’ve discovered music (classical, blues, jazz, rock, maybe some other stuff in between), movies (no, I don’t like your usual blockbusters and if I manage to see them is years later after the initial hype and it suffice to say that my favorite director is Akira Kurosawa) and art (unfortunately no obvious talent – I can’t even draw an egg – unless staring for minutes and hours to a painting may be counted as a talent). So, because lately I’ve started to use Goodreads and Instagram as tools to have an overview of what I am reading or how much I am reading I’ve decided to unearth my old blog and to restart it from scratch so I can be able to write more than a couple of lines about a book (including spoilers) as I am accustomed on GR or Insta (where no spoilers are present). Not to mention maybe occasionally some thoughts on music or movies or art pending on last-minute inspiration I might have. Also i might publish sometimes photos or even some om my poems written along the years.

I hope that this journey will be kinda interesting. To say the least.

“Caliban’s War” by James S.A. Corey

Another solid 10/10 for “The Expanse”.
“Caliban’s War” is the second installment of “The Expanse” book series and it continues the events from “Leviathan Wakes” and I have to say the events from the first book continues with the same incredible pace and craziness making you incapable of putting it down before you finish it or to put this way “this one I’ve burned so fast that even an Epstein drive would have had some problems to keep up with me.” So the action is going totally crazy again, with new characters and especially and finally Chrisjen Avasarala and if you think the character from the TV show is a foul-mouthed badass grandma, I have to say that in the books she’s even more delightful and actually I think I might have learned a thing or two not to mention some very clear unorthodox images.
I think that Avasarala was a really needed character not only because she is a woman and really powerful woman (Naomi Nagata is nothing short of it and the same with Bobbie Draper, another tough and badass lady making her first appearance here) but to me, she is some James Holden both stripped by his qualities but enhanced at the same time because the way I see it, both Avasarala and Holden in long term want nothing but to have peace and to some degree, justice in the Sol system but while Holden is the Don Quixote and charging straight to the truth and to do what he thinks it needs to be done now, Avasarala while aiming to the same goal, at least in what concerns Earth, she is much more well-versed and manipulative not to mention able to see the entire picture at once. So while Holden is almost always a loose cannon ready to charge at his enemy now and here, Avasarala tends to be the master strategist from the shadows so she simultaneously takes some of Holden’s glory but in the same enhances him as the chivalrous knight he usually is. And to be fair, I can hardly think now of another female character as powerful as she is, both as a character and the impression which lasts at the end and the only one from the whole science-fiction which I think it might challenge the impression are the Bene Gesserit ladies of DUNE series and maybe, just maybe, the initial Caprica 6 from Battlestar Galactica followed by Starbucks. So Avasarala serves to add some needed equilibrium in the books between the good guys and the bad guys and the guys with their own agenda, like Fred Johnson which I can’t define as a good guy nor as a bad guy, just someone lurking in the shadows waiting for his own moment to arrive.
For the Rocinante’s gang nothing changed, the same characters with their old traits as in the first book but now we have some new characters also, like Praxidike Meng, the botanist from Ganymede who embarks on a solar system-wide search for his missing girl, not willing to accept for a second to give up on his quest to find her. While I do admire his determination in finding his little Mei Meng, somehow I am finding his character a little annoying (maybe a residue from the TV series when I was at the beginning like “wtf man, the whole Sol system is going nuts again and you really want or hope to find a little girl gone missing during a battle?”) but of course, both he and his little daughter are needed for the course of action. And also as a new character, Bobbie Draper, soon to be an ex-Martian marine, who reminds me of a… tank. Yeah, funny, but in the same way you don’t want to screw around a tank because it will get you killed quite quickly, the same with Bobbie: screw with her and you’ll regret really quick. I think that only Amos is more dangerous than Bobbie, but let’s not forget that Amos has his own rules and he will be more than happy to break your neck while making it look like some casual business and nothing else. Bobbie is a tough nut to break and she seems to be really independent in her thinking and even her actions despite that it might not be for her immediate best (sufficient to see her dismissal from Martian Marine) and she reminds me again of Amos, both being fiercely loyal to their friends and of what seems to be their idea of truth and honesty. And yes, Bobbie looks to me like a feminine version of Amos with less expected violence and less possible incipient craziness.

In my opinion, both Bobbie and Avasarala bring a new force to the book and the story and while you have to respect Bobbie, I am finding it impossible not to love Avasarala and her totally unique style.

And the plot and the action are indeed really good. And again that feeling of staying true to science and the laws of physics because, beside the protomolecule, everything else is obeying the universe as we know it now. For the rest, shoot out on Ganymede, Mars, and Earth at war, almost indestructible super soldiers enhanced by the protomolecule, chases and battles all around the Sol system, there is everything needed to make this book a very good solid book, easy to read, kinda hard to master in all its details and overall a very enjoyable adventure. Not to mention that cliffhanger: if in “Leviathans Wakes” a whole asteroid is going nuts because of the protomolecule, the idea of Venus giving birth to some really weird stuff in the end it’s even crazier. So, “Caliban’s War” indeed is a must read book from my point of view if you are into science-fiction 🙂

“The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena

8/10 because of the last 2 pages of the book which still makes me wondering why it was needed for? .
First thing first: this kind of book is not my usual cup of tea and for years I did not read anything from “thriller /detective” type of books being well too busy with my beloved science fiction series. So, being somehow still a novice, I might be easily impressed and consider a book better than it is compared to those who are well versed in this genre. Also, it is not the first one from the genre so if I am saying that the book is good, then it should be good at least taking into consideration the fact that I can make a general assumption about a book considering that I have a shitload of books under the belly already. So this book was not good but really awesome. The fun fact is that I never intended to read it and I have no idea who the author is. As it also happened lately with a lot of books from a lot of authors of which I’ve never heard before. But the recommendation came out of nowhere as in “this book is really good and you will like it and you should read it as soon as possible” so I was like OK, let’s give it a try and at the end, I loved it totally and made me stay awake half of the night to finish it. This is not happening very often especially with a book that is not in my immediate area of interest. Another funny fact is that the last time when it happened to stay awake half of the night to finish a book it was also a thriller recommended in the same style by the same person so I think that I will be more careful accepting recommendations from that One person because I still care to sleep.

So, “The couple next door” was awesome and I am saying this because I will always love a book that has a nice plot, an unexpected plot twist, and even worse, it ends with a crime. That was totally out of the box, the last page instead of being the long-awaited happy-end and everyone is more or less fine and the story is settled is ending with a crime. And I thought that George R.R. Martin is totally nuts. Seems like I was wrong.

The plot is kinda simple ot it just looks like: two couples spend a night together and the kid of one of them is kidnapped. Who and why are the first questions, of course. So in the first part of the book, we start to find that no one is that innocent: Marco, the father, has some financial problems, the company is serious troubles, his parents-in-law are not very happy with his existence because he dared as a commoner to look up to their beloved princess, Anne, which princess is also not that innocent, having some serious problems when she was younger with uncontended rage burst and even worse, forgetting everything after. And yes, Anne’s parents really damn rich and almost everything Anne and Marco have is giving to them by her parents. And the neighbors? She’s just a slut (who almost cheated with Marco) and her husband has nothing against her because he too enjoys seeing her in action everything being videotaped. Police are all around the place suspecting everyone of everything especially when the parents seem to be not that innocent at all.

And all of the sudden there it is, in the middle of the book: Marco kidnapped his little girl in agreement with some other guy so he can take a couple of millions from his father-in-law who was willing to pay any amount of money to take back his only niece. And the reason is that he needed the money to save his company But too bad, the associate is found dead, the ransom payment is going bad and Marco losses both the kid and the money, and we’re back to square one: who and why? And now comes the beautiful part: as is kinda usual in the US, if there is a marriage between wealthy people, there is involved a prenup contract which can make you rich or poor in the eventuality of a divorce. Especially when you want to leave your wealthy wife for your sluttier younger mistress but you’ll remain with nothing after the divorce. So you scheme and make a brilliant plan to push your son-in-law to kidnap his own daughter so you can tap several million from your soon-to-be ex-wife while keeping the baby safe and acting all innocent. While I understood with some time before the end of the book who the real bad guy is, I have to say that it was really a nice and clever scheme, too bad it failed and the parents got their kid back and the bad guy ended for a long holiday in prison. Now the book is ending, everyone is fine and the next thing you see is Anne having one of her rage bursts and killing her lovely slutty neighbor which coincidentally is the mistress of her father. And only now the end is really coming. And I was like “wow, that was totally unexpected!”. I still don’t get why Anne had to kill her neighbor and what’s the reason to make her at the very end of the book a killer only to close the book in the next ten rows. While I do understand her reasons, I am somehow puzzled by the moment when it is happening because there are all the chances to go to prison even if Marco will try to cover the murder so..why at the real end of the book? Just to impress the reader with one last unexpected twist? Call me unimpressed, then. That’s why I am giving 8/10 instead of the 9/10 I wanted to give in the first instance.

I enjoyed also the characters, Marco, a self-driven guy who started from scratch and almost nothing, making his way to the American Dream and meeting his love, Anne, who despite being from a wealthier class has nothing against marrying this guy, even if her parents are not that happy with this because in their eyes Marco will never be good enough. The fact that bothers me is that even if I’ve read the book only a couple of days ago Marco is already fading from my memory, I don’t recall him as a very strong character, despite him being one of the main characters while Anne is really clear in my mind, her doubts, her second-guesses (“What if I really killed my daughter and I don’t recall?), her guilt of leaving the little baby alone while she was at a party everything is still very much alive in my mind. So I can only guess that Anne was better constructed than Marco and left me with a much stronger impression. The other characters ( her parents, the police guy) are secondary characters, not too much to say about them but I still recall having from the very first second the impression that the father-in-law is a jerk. Which was confirmed at the end of the book.
So for me, the book was good, despite the fact the now for me Marco is “someone I used to know” and the somehow unnecessary crime at the end. The plot was intense and really well constructed and plot twists were exactly what was needed when it was needed, especially the smoke screen when is revealed that Marco indeed kidnapped his little baby only to discover later by both him in the book and the reader that he is just an accessory to the real crime. You have to admire the evilness of his father-in-law and the beauty of the scheme. I will say nothing about “easy or not to read” because I did not read it in English so there is nothing to say about it but in my native language it was quite a fast reading. Overall a very good recommendation from an awesome booklover as all her recommendations were so far, for which I will be forever thankful (and despite some complaints in the beginning, I will always ask and look forward to your recommendations!).

“Leviathan Wakes” by James S.A. Corey

A very solid 10/10.
I can’t say that this one is like DUNE but it ain’t far away.
Oops. I have to settle something straight right now: I am a huge DUNE fan and for me, the Dune series is the most important book ever. The immense immersive universe created by Frank Herbert is so stunning that if there is just ONE book (ok, series of books) that I am willing to take with me on an empty island for the rest of my life, it will be Dune. And I have to mention that I already read the entire Dune series like 100 times at least (nope, no kidding) and I am still finding new stuff each time. And by the way, Villeneuve new film? It will suck, marks my words and it will be hated by all the Dune die-hard fans.
Now back to The Expanse.

Now not so quick tho:))))
So, there is Dune. There is also Foundation. As books and big huge series ( that’s why I don’t put here Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick). There is Peter Hamilton and his crazy universe full of zombies (The Night’s Dawn Trilogy). I almost forgot Arthur C. Clarke and his number of space odysseys. Also on TV series, we can mention Star Trek ( yeah, huge Trekkie here also)
Battlestar Galactica (huge show) and to a certain limit also Star Wars. Most of them have something in common: there is something which is totally impossible or improbable for the moment: Dune – spice, seeing the future. Foundation- damn psychics foreseeing and planning the future. Hamilton – zombie souls taking over the living. Clarke- giant space baby? LOL. Star Trek – Q anyone? Battlestar Galactica – human cyborgs or so? Star Wars? Oooook, let’s all go together in this one “Use the force, Luke”.

Finally, the book.
After binging the show on TV, I’ve started to read the books and I truly love this one. No warp, no freaking dark force, no weird gods whatsoever, and no flowing spice, lol, just some pure science fiction. I do not know about space opera and shit, nor do I care about this kind of definition. All I know is that the author managed to build a very credible universe while respecting the laws of physics with very little technobabble, with characters that you can resonate with. And what I love the most is this sense of honesty: we are humans. And in a couple of years from now, we’ll still be humans, with all our flaws and problems, no matter if we will be from Mars, Earth, or Belters. We will love, hate, plot and still be racist bastards and thriving for our personal wealth. And swearing will still be swearing, with fucks raining all over the place and conflict between humans will be as normal and expected as it is today. No paradise and certainly no promise of such a place. Space is space, expect a quick death of a meteorite or a slow painfully long one due to lack of oxygen. Also, I love the honesty in technology and spaceships. Yes, there is an Epstein drive because well, we still have to travel somehow a little bit faster than today but the space is still huge and gravity unforgiving.

So far so good, I recognize humanity as it is now and how it will still be in a couple of hundred years from now. It is a universe familiar, credible and which is immersive. I can picture myself as part of it without too many troubles or efforts. And this is what I like most about this book: it is really relatable, common and easy to get used to.
Now the characters: Holden. Man, I love this guy, with his Don Quijote alike persona. Always thriving for the good, for the greater cause and the correct cause. No wonder the ship is named Rocinante. Yeah, I know, it’s obvious to have Don Quijote in mind but it is an aspect worth notice considering how many troubles Holden will get into because of him being what it is. A fool always aiming for the good. And he is the only one so far without a shady past. Maybe Alex comes as close as possible from this point of view. Amos and especially Naomi are perfect examples of past being left in shadows, no wonder these 2 are getting along so well. While none of them are saints nor devils, they are all really credible and I didn’t manage to find any real flaws in characters, anything to make them less credible, or at least nothing so obvious so I can say “oh, c’mon, this is pure crap”.

All of them can be your friendly neighbor ( ok, not Amos but if you are a good guy you’ll get along anyway) with which you can have some beers on a Saturday night while watching sports. Also, none of them will hesitate to keep you at gunpoint if needed (ok, maybe not Holden but Amos for sure will smile happily while Naomi and Alex will be like “just business as usual, no hard feeling, right”?). Even Miller, no matter how weird he will go, is still that guy who can be trusted, and yeah, I a finding him OK too.

And now for the plot, while not going too much in details I have to say that is really damn good and again, credible. Possible. Plausible. Corporations doing their dirty stuff while the poor are trying to avoid getting even poorer, belters fighting for their rights and especially for self-determination, usual guys doing whatever usual guys are doing for a living, all these are credible. Nothing is out of the ordinary, even the “protomolecule” and how the bad guys are trying to get the advantage of it (What’s the difference between protomolecule and some chemicals or bioagents of our days? The genocide on Eros? Let’s not forget the genocide from the WW2 or others less known). But I have to say that I’ve loved the space battles. The physics of space being respected to the letter. The deadly space being deadly.
So this book overall is credible. Is relatable and despite being space opera or something alike I really liked it and I was not able to find any flaws in it. For me, the TV series was damn good but I’ve never expected to find such an incredibly good book series so for now, The Expanse is somewhere in my personal top 3 together with Dune and Foundation. Also, there is not too much technobabble (“Warp 9 speed Mr. Data so we can overcome that tachyon field tampering with our subspace inverters!” What the…?) so it is really easy to read considering that it took me less than 7 hours to read this one. Looking forward to the next books and hopefully, they will be at least as good as Leviathan Wakes.

50 days before my suicide by Stace Kramer

This is a very hard book to ..digest. And I think that you can read it as a grown adult and trash it because it’s way too unbelievable or you just can remember that once (upon a time) you were a teenager and at that (Middle) age you would have died to do the stuff from this book even if sometimes what was happening there was way too much (we all were teenagers, got drunk, into fights and stupid plots and revenge but from here to kidnapping, secret caves, mobsters, beatings and almost gang-rape and the miraculous escape because a gun and phone are conveniently forgotten in front of one of the kids, all in 3 pages – just…LOL). Also, the book is kinda full of clichés because let’s not forgot that the author is not an American but a Russian teenager and everything she knows about US and high-schools are unfortunately from movies or other books also full of clichés (as a matter of fact I think that Russia as a location could have been much more credible!). Overall after some long almost 700 pages, all I can say is that the book is not bad or that bad and it can be an interesting reading at least as an exercise o see how wild things and imagination can go but for now I prefer to use it to remember my teenage years 🙂