David Ebershoff – The Danish Girl

danishgirlI keep picking up these fairly popular books on transgender people, and I keep getting disappointed. It seems all of the trans people are disappointed in life, depressed, schizophrenic, had a very clear choice, and/or has atrophied bits or other gender reproductive system organs in them, that simply needed to be found during the surgery. Convenient. Wow. So I grabbed David Ebershoff book “The Danish Girl” (ISBN 9781474601573; 336p.; Goodreads), with hopes that maybe, maybe this will be better. But once again I got disappointed. So if you don’t feel like reading my rants, know that the movie was pretty okay, even good, but this book is just not worth the trouble, and time.

Einar is a painter, married to a painter. He paints, well, mainly the bog he grew up by, landscapes. She paints portraits, unsuccessfully. The best sold portraits she ever made were of Lilly. Or rather, of her husband dressed as a woman. And while this continues, Einar is sinking deeper, and deeper into some kind of mental illness, split personality disorder. And I mean it. He pulls up the pants, and forgets how he got here, who Lilly spoke to. There’s two completely separate people in his body.


Through the book we’re seeing this disorder intensifying. He even gets monthly nose bleeds, which leaves me wondering whether it’s his mind fighting through somehow, or did he have a tumor that split his persona, or otherwise affected him. Mind you, I am not claiming Lilly wasn’t a real woman, or that Einar wasn’t transgender. No, I am sure that was the case. But I am also sure that she was mentally ill too first and foremost, and that they should’ve helped her untangle everything before pushing her to choose: another brain doctor that’ll make your mind masculine again (yes, this is NOT a choice, but the book gave it as one), or a sex change. Oh, and surprise surprise, they open her up, and find some remnants of atrophied female reproductive system bits.

I hated the suggestions in this book: trans people have split personalities; trans people are most likely physically secretly the gender they feel like, you just have to dig deep during surgery; trans people are nuts. They aren’t. Or if they are, it’s not a trans trait, it’s simply a human trait. I await the day where the trans character I’ll read will be happy, living their life, having adventures. This book gets 2 out of 5 for trying.

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Anthony Horowitz – Moriarty [2]

moriartyI am very happy I didn’t buy “Moriarty” by Anthony Horowitz (Sherlock Holmes 2; ISBN 00623717183; 285p.; Goodreads), but rather chose to borrow it first. The book was dull to say the least. And in shorts, it’s about a deluded fan of Sherlock Holmes who got used due to being deluded.

After the death of Crime Napoleon, professor Moriarty, there’s a vacancy to take that spot, and all the ruthless, best of the best in this black cream, are up to try their luck. And when one unlikely fella finally fills in the spot, and starts expanding – our fan of Sherlock Holmes decides it is time to investigate it all. Full with a friend at his side who can narrate us the greatness of his deduction skills, he’s out there, questioning the criminals, having dinners, and taking up leads for, well, whatever the hell it was he tried to solve before an actual bombing happened to warn him off this investigation.

When there’s no Moriarty in a book titled “Moriarty” – you end up suspecting things, much like you would if you saw a famous actor in a minor role at the start of the movie with an undercover superhero, or a serial killer. This is the case, suspect everyone, because that might just help you get through this book!

I really can’t figure so what this book was about. It was fully summarized in the final chapter, when we finally found the most important, but too late, thing in the book, so I can’t even tell you that, in case you actually want to read this. There’s really a lot of nothing here, accompanied by poorly written characters, and mediocre detective story that didn’t have a core (no, really, this all was done for a very small reason, and it made no sense to make it so grandiose). I can only give it 2 out of 5, and I apologize to the author, I’m sure they are talented and wonderful, but these books, his books, are not for me.

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Kristin Cashore – Fire [2]

fireI’ve read the first Graceling Realm book fairly recently, and can’t say I liked it. It’s just that I liked it about enough to get to the second book. And after I’ve read “Fire” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 2; ISBN 0803734611; 480p.; Goodreads), I don’t know how to pick up the third one, so that I can actually finish the trilogy.

The setting of this story is just behind the mountains that separate Seven Kingdoms and some other place. This place has no gracelings. Instead here live monsters. Really, just regular things, but so intense, so vivid, in color, in presence, in mind, that no one can resist them. People walk out willingly to be eaten by giant raptor birds. They might kill a regular biting beetle, but not the shiny blue monster beetle, who, by all means, is the same beetle, but severe and saturated. And of course, there are human monsters too. Fire is one of them. With her hair the color of fire, her flawless beauty so startling, and her power to influence thoughts, and emotions, she seems almost divine. And men do want pretty things…

While a monster might want to eat her, due to her own monster nature, human men are much more graphic when they lose their wits in sight of her, much more violent in expressing what should happen before they kill her. Thus Fire lives her life constantly nudging, pushing, and altering the course of people’s thoughts, steering them away, trying her hardest to quench their desire to hurt, rape, and murder what they can’t have. It doesn’t help that there’s spies appearing in their forests. Tension for warfare is rising, and their small land is far too little to defend themselves. They’ll be needing allies. To make allies they need to know where the spies came from. And to know that one only needs Fire’s powers. And everyone knows the value of such a tool in the shed.

The book is very pointlessly long, and happens before Graceling took place. In a sense, this is a prequel: King Leck’s Rising, if you please. And the idea of monsters is, of course, wonderful. But most of the book concentrates on telling the reader how horribly everyone wishes to either marry or rape Fire, and her crying for not being able to have children doesn’t help the already heavy feeling that sets before us. She walks with guards surrounding her, and still people randomly run at her with knives, or yell obscenities. And there’s a lot of this walking back and forth, with war happening somewhere out there, with someone else fighting it… So… All in all I can only offer this book a 2 out of 5. While the idea is truly good, execution of it was poor.

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Donna Freitas: Happiness Effect

30008258The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost” by Donna Freitas (ISBN 0190239859; 368p.; Goodreads) intrigued me with the title, and then the annotation too. I have not had the pleasure to read anything else by this author in the past, so this was a brand new dive for me in many senses. In short to those who will not read this till the end, and hopefully author too, if she ever comes across this: the book was well meant, but I disagree with the message, and the accidental slander. My disagreement is best expressed by Humble the Poet quote; I love chilling with people who make me forget I have a phone.

Author interviewed a great lot of young students, and gave us, what seemed, the radical extremes. They either take facebook as one-man performance play, a stand-up show where they must become the most “liked” star, or they no longer have social media, and therefor feel superior, to the rest of us, “slaves”. Which then leads me to another quote, by Marilyn Manson, where he spoke of drugs (which fits, because there was one person interviewed, who called facebook: chemical addiction; or something among those lines): there are users, and there are abusers. And, in my opinion, the preached here abstinence is not the solution, for I dearly doubt it is truly the problem.

Author goes on of how we can help young people by giving them the freedom they secretly crave: wi-fi free zones. Can’t stop fidgeting with your phone in class? Hm, why don’t we make a basket and put all our phones in there before class starts? Because why make class more interesting, right? And that’s my damn point. Most of these people in the book admitted they went on snapchat due to boredom. And I do that too when I’m bored. Engage me, and I’m all ears. So, engage your students, and they won’t have the time or will to go check what’s good on twitter. You’ll be what’s good, and it’ll be enough.

So to make it short, if you want to know how far people go for likes, favs, follows, and so on: this is the book you might want to read. And I say “might”, because it’s hard to read through very odd speaking manner, peppered with “like, you know”, and “I don’t know, it’s like”. But other than that, this was rough. Social media is not whole internet. We have whole world, wast libraries at our fingertips. If you really think that pulling the cable out of the back of your pc will solve your kid’s need for video games, you are mistaken. We live in age where we are finally accepting the fact, that one kid has different ways of learning from the other. This book is a great example of how hard it might be to sit down and read a book. But then I have those I couldn’t put down at 4am. And yet you’d have me what? Put my phone in the basket so it’s easier to read dry text? Improve the content, how it is passed along, and not the room it will be presented in. 2 out of 5, mostly because author was well-meaning, and kind.

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John Flanagan – Ranger’s Apprentice 3: Icebound Land

127823Pushed through the book, will push through the review too, I guess. “Icebound land” (Ranger’s Apprentice 3: Icebound Land; ISBN 0399244565; 266p.; Goodreads) is a third book in John Flanagan‘s Ranger’s Apprentice series. And I am having a serious love-hate relationship with them.

Spoilers from previous two books ahead:

Will and Cassandra are taken as captives to be slaves towards some strange land. And while Holt, Will’s teacher, promised him to find him, in that wonderful dramatic episode from the last book, he spent this one mostly trying to start traveling. A problem to solve every two steps, a man to teach manners every five steps, with author kindly marking that months and months have passed instead. But it’s fine, Will and Cassandra are perfectly safe, since wherever they go, there’s an adult feeling for them, who feels a need to take care of two teenager slaves, ignoring all the other ones in the mean time.

Spoilers end here:

This book made me realize they’re more like chapters of one great book, rather than separate pieces. I heard tumbleweeds roll by when nothing happened chapter, after chapter, after chapter. Then, of course, author would remember to show how amazingly skilled his good guys are, and continue with the nothingness. I’m sorry, but 2/5 is the best I can offer. And I’m taking a break from these series here until such a day I feel like allowing my mind a rest again.

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George Sand – The Devil’s Pool

LaMareAuDiable  You’ll have to forgive me, but the book “The Devil’s Pool” by George Sand (La Mare Au Diable; Goodreads) was so boring that I couldn’t get through it any faster than this. There were days when I couldn’t even open it, my mind just refused to submit. It’s well written, well translated and so on, merely no where near my cup of tea.

I’ve read a translation to Lithuanian, so I’m not quite sure what are the names in English. Germaine seems to be our main protagonist, a fairly rich widower who loved his wife and loves his children. His parents in law, yet, push him to go to this other village and marry his father’s-in-law friend’s daughter, who is also rich and a widow, and since they were so kind to him – he agrees to do his best. Before leaving tho this old poor woman asks whether he could take her 16 year old daughter with him (he’s 28 and considered old), since she found a shepherds work in a village nearby the one he’s going to. On their way they find his son in the woods, hysterically begging to come with his father and there you have it, the perfect trio. Marie turns out to be the perfect little girl and Germaine soon falls head over heels for her. Yet she claims he’s too old for her and she doesn’t love him. Besides, he has made a promise to his parents-in-law and should honor it. Who knows, the widow might be even better woman than Marie.

The book ends with the longest description of the wedding ceremony. I powered through it and must say – I cannot give it any more than 2 out of 5. And I dearly hope the next book at last gives me something better, for I just can’t anymore. Mind you, the book is not bad by itself. Just not for me.

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