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Dracula by Bram Stoker

I have made it my mission to read more 'classic' books this year. Earlier this year, I read The Old Man and the Sea, and Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. I attempted to read Don Quixote but it was far too long, and the 'deep' meaning was lost on me.

Dracula though was a great read! Vampires have become such a part of Halloween, and a common monster in Western culture that in a way it feels like I already know the story of Dracula. I was very wrong. This book is nothing like I expected and I'm glad to have read the original novel.

The novel is told in a series of journal entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, and phonograph transcripts of the motley crew of characters who all know each other through a beautiful girl with many suitors. The beautiful girl meets a mysterious death, and suspicions are raised that something strange is going on. Van Helsing comes onto the scene. It is implied he knows a lot about these strange things.

It sounds really boring but it's actually very well done. Bram Stoker keeps the tension up throughout the story. The narration jumps from character to character, sometimes we get the same event narrated by different characters too. It's interesting that the character Dracula is not actually present in the story much at all. The main character(s) only meet him a few times int eh whole novel.

Now that I've read the novel, I am excited to watch the movies: Dracula (1931) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) to see how filmmakers have interpreted, and added to the vampire lore.

I only gave this 4 stars because the book cover is absolutely terrible. Barnes & Noble should fire the cover 'designer'. I liked this book but couldn't stand looking at this book cover any longer on my eReader. I'm glad I'm finished this book.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #85 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #classic #horror #BramStoker

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

(Smile # 2)

This was such a wholesome adventure! When reading this book, I felt it was about me and my family. I think I even enjoyed this more than Smile – review here!

I read this to my daughter, 5 years old, and suddenly this is her favorite book. She took it to 'read' at her kindy. She's so cute! I think I've definetly sparked a joy of reading in my daughter.

I need to find other great graphic novelists to introduce to my kids. She already loves Ben Hatke. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #84 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Teen #YA #GraphicNovel #RainaTelgemeier

My GoodReads Rating Modification System

Recently, I tooted on Mastodon:

life is too short...

to read books with less than 4 ★s on GoodReads

There are so, so many good books out there, but also so many trash books too. Since I only have limited years on this Earth, I don't take GoodReads ratings at face-value. I have an internal algorithm I use to modify the ratings to personalize the ratings.

GoodReads Rating + Positive modifications – Negative modifications = Arkadi cloud personal rating!


Feast of the Innocents by Evelio Rosero

A doctor who's in a terrible marriage, living in Pasto, is trying to yeah people the truth about the venerated Simon Bolivar on a holiday called Feast of the Innocents in Columbia.

It has a super strange setup for this kind of book in my opinion. I did learn more about Bolivar and the terrible things he did in Pasto, but did I enjoy this book? It was OK. I didn't hate it but the ending was unsatisfying. The book just fizzled out at the end, there wasn't a strong ending.

There are lots of interesting interesting elements in the book:

  • Doctor's very weird relationship to his wife
  • Doctor writing a history book about Bolivar
  • Professor in town also shares unconventional views of Bolivar
  • Marxist group trying to stop professor and the doctor
  • Retelling of stories about Bolivar from survivors

I really wanted to like this book but it didn't come together for me despite all those interesting elements. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody unless they are specifically interested in Columbian history and/or Simon Bolivar.

Rating: ★★ Book #82 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #Columbia #EvelioRosero

Zeus: King of the Gods by George O'Connor

(Olympians #1)

The first in a series of graphic novels detailing the origins of the Olympians of Greek mythology. Initially, I wasn't that excited about this book because of the lackluster cover design, but I still bought it because I can't resist Greek mythology. Once I read it through though, I liked it. The author really respects the Greek mythology stories and has done his research. He even uses the more correct “Greek” transliteration of names such as Kronos instead of Chronos. At the back of the book he also gives you: notes on the story and Greek terms used, fact sheets for each monster/God in the story, and a list of recommended reading for younger and older readers.

The publisher of this book is :01 First Second. I want to give a shout out to them because every single book I've read from them so far has been gold. They also published Ben Hatke's “Zita Girl series”, and “Boxers and Saints” by Gene Luen Yang. They seem to have a good eye for cool authors, with interesting stories to tell. Keep an eye out for books by :01.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #81 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #GraphicNovel #GeorgeOConnor #Zeus #GreekMythology

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

(Smile # 1)

It's a graphic novel about a 7th grade girl already dealing with her complicated girl life and suddenly having a new issue to contend with – braces! I read this to my 5 year old daughter, but I'm sure I'll read it to her again when she's older and then she will read it herself too. This story takes you through the scary process of getting braces – even including the doctor visits – and the other minefields kids have to handle in middle school: crushes, fake friends, bullies, and self-image. I can tell the author is a 80s baby like me by the references she throw in there: The Little Mermaid! and Nintendo! The graphics are really nice. I'm tempted to get the whole Smile series now.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #80 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Teen #YA #GraphicNovel #RainaTelgemeier

The Dead Do Not Die by Sven Lindqvist

This book is a masterpiece. It's such a unique book on colonialism written as a mix of literary analysis, and travelogue. It's actually two books in one – “Exterminate the Brutes”, and “Terra Nullius”.

“Exterminate the Brutes” is an analysis of European exploitation of the locals in the different countries in Africa, mostly the Congo. It uses Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” to give the story context, and illuminate the racist attitudes in Britain and Europe at the time.

“Terra Nullius” is a journey through Australia's grim past with aboriginals. The author travels to important locations all over Australia. As he tells the stories of each important station, road, and desert he mixes in his experience of traveling between the places forgotten by history.

The whole book sounds make a dark subject, genocide, very readable. Instead of a stodgy history book just detailing the abuses of the the white man towards the 'savages', we get a thought provoking, funny, sarcastic, and informative book about times in our history that most of us would like, or have been trained, to forget.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #79 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#books #BookReview #colonialism #racism #Australia #SvenLindqvist

Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport

It starts out with an interesting premise, but it quickly devolves into a tedious, contrived, political type thriller. Well, “thriller” might be a bit of an exaggeration because there was no tension in the book. I didn't really care about any of the characters. It tries to be sophisticated by name dropping classical music scores, and movies, but it comes off as trying too hard.

This book felt especially boring because I was reading the excellent book Children of Ruin at the same time.

Rating: ★★ Book #78 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#books #BookReview #SciFi #EmilyDevenport

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

NOTE: This is the second book in the Children of Time series. You really do need to read the first book, Children of Time, to have context while reading this book. If you don't, you can still understand the story, but you'll lose the richness of the interconnected story. Also some of the main characters/species are introduced in Children of Time.

This is the type of sci-fi I really, really enjoy. It's technical and it challenges the notion that humans will be the dominant life-form in outer space. The story starts out with humans going to terraform a world, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that mission is scrapped. Instead the humans decide to explore and study the world. In the midst of this new mission, they encounter life and then the book becomes about them and their development as a species/society. This book bounces back and forth from the Past, to the Present. It's also told from multiple characters/species perspectives, but it was never too difficult to follow.

If you liked The Three Body Problem trilogy, give Children of Time/Children of Ruin a shot. It's a complex, but engrossing sci-fi that rewards its readers with a very unique story.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #77 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#books #BookReview #AdrianTchaikovsky #SciFi

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

When I first heard there was a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, I had mixed feelings; I wanted to find out more about the origins of Gilead, but also didn't want the author (to possibly) taint the legacy.

Now that I've read it, I know that both feelings were right. I enjoyed it mostly, but still other things left a bad taste in my mouth.