“Sofia Wizards” by Martin Kolev

Софийски магьосници(Author: Martin Kolev) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Bulgaria)


Review:

After a whirlwind of a year and after moving away from Bulgaria, I ended up nearly finishing 2017 with a Bulgarian book. And what a book it was.

While I was eager to start Sofia Wizards (I got the translation from the author’s Facebook page. Alternatively, I would think Wizards of Sofia would sound better), I didn’t have very big expectations. The friend I borrowed the book from told me that it’s basically Bulgarian Harry Potter, which was more or less scary, because no book would live up to that name.

It turned out that while they had many similarities, including a first chapter almost identical to the main points of the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the book was not a rip-off. That is not to say that it didn’t borrow many ideas, like the hidden streets (similar to Diagon Alley), or the magical pubs, etc., but it was not done in a blatant way.

Kolev actually brought a lot of little things to the book that I quite enjoyed, such as the quest games in which you actually physically get sucked in, or the schools of magic which are separated by abilities, rather than personality traits and preferences (nature magic, mirror magic, fire magic).

Something that I really loved about the book was the alternative look on Sofia. Having made the decision to leave Bulgaria, I didn’t think I would miss it very much. But while reading Sofia Wizards, I did remember fondly the streets and places mentioned, as well as imagine this other Sofia that I would have liked to be a part of, if it existed.

Overall, a very enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to the next installments in the series (as I saw the author mentioned on his Facebook page that there will be others).

Advertisements

“The Firebird” by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird (Slains, #2)(Author: Susanna Kearsley) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Another book I’ve had for a really long time and just now decided to read. Well… I wouldn’t have missed out on much, had I not read it.

The Firebird was not terrible, but it just wasn’t anything special whatsoever. It was bland and long and not very eventful. While I expected the characters’ powers to be an important driving force of the book, they seemed more like background noise, while the main story was that of the character of Anna, who was just a little girl caught in an a somewhat exciting period of history.

I will not pretend that I was familiar with the historical background of the book, because in all honesty, it was something that Bulgarian history books must have considered somewhat irrelevant to us. Therefore, I managed to learn some interesting facts about the struggles in Scotland, Ireland and England, and also a great bit about the history of the Russian empire and St. Petersburg. From this point of view, the book was more or less entertaining.

But that’s where it all ended.

The actual story was not even that of a main character of the abovementioned events. Anna was just a nice girl who knew all the right people. The other characters in the book all seemed to be greatly attached to her, but I just couldn’t understand why. Her charm remained a mystery to me, and so did everyone’s infatuation with her.

I felt more or less the same about the other two main characters, Nicola and Rob. I think I would have liked to read a bit more about them so that I can actually be interested in at least one storyline in the book, but they were just as shallow of characters, as Anna seemed to me.

While The Firebird didn’t suffer from any spectacular flaws, unfortunately, it didn’t have any great virtues either. So much so that I’m afraid I will have forgotten all about it in a couple of months’ time.

 

“Written in the Stars” by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars(Author: Aisha Saeed) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I had absolutely no expectations going into this book. I remember seeing the pretty cover and thinking it might be worth checking out, so it did end up on my shelves and stayed there for a long time.

However, after reading the first few chapters, I was surprised by the direction and the tone of the book. The beginning was mild enough and innocent enough, as we followed the hardships of an American-Pakistani girl, who is struggling with hiding the fact that she has a boyfriend, despite the orders of her conservative parents.

The book quickly changed its tone, surprising me yet again. With Naila going back to Pakistan and staying with her family there for the summer, I was baffled as to the idea of the book and it took me longer than usual to figure out where things are going.

Once it came to me, though, I couldn’t help but feel helplessly furious. Not just at the idea of this book, which is positive, more or less, but at the injustices and abominations on the female personality that are allowed to exist even in our times. The author condemned the situation the main character was in, but also, setting her personal example, kind of tried to make excuses, which made me even more angry, as I think this is something inexcusable.

Since it might be a spoiler, please continue reading only if you don’t mind knowing the main storyline of Written in the Stars.

S P O I L E R S     A H E A D

So… arranged marriage, huh? Can anything positive really be said about that? I don’t think it matters what your religion tells you, how pious or conservative you are, what social order and norms you are used to, taking someone’s right to choose who they share their life and bed with is abominable. I am sure that no matter what I say, I would not be able to convince otherwise a person who believes in arranged marriages, however, I would compare that to rape. It is rape. It is forsaking your own child to be raped and continue living with the person who did that to them.

And no matter how this book was supposed to be received, the only thing it positively succeeded into making me is feeling angry. While reading how happy Naila’s family was to send her to that man’s family, I was angry. By seeing how his family treated her, I was angry. I am still angry that someone on this planet there is even one single person who is living in this terrible situation. And lastly, I am angry because of the hypocrisy of women’s movements nowadays. Western women fight for their right to show their nipples on Instagram, but they don’t fight for the millions of women who spend their lives married to their rapists. If your argument is that Islam praises arranged marriages, please go away, because this is just some perverted way of reading something that has a completely different meaning, exactly the same way as Islam only encourages men taking second wives in order for widows not to starve to death, and not in order to help out a man’s virility and the wider variety in his bedroom.

“Kindred Spirits” by Rainbow Rowell

Kindred Spirits(Author: Rainbow Rowell) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I usually like Rainbow Rowell’s books, but this small novel was not my cup of tea.

For starters, the story of Kindred Spirits was rather unusual for me. I’ve never been big enough of a fan of anything to wait in a line for days to see it. As a matter of fact, this line culture doesn’t exist in my country at all and people almost never go that crazy over the things they like.

As an outsider to American culture, I would say that it’s something very specific to America to reach this level of admiration towards some aspect of pop culture. To me, that seems rather excessive. Of course, all over the world, there are people who are fans of, or even completely obsessed with something. However, I don’t think it exists as a group behavior on so high of a level.

On the book itself, it was too short to really start caring about the characters. They didn’t have enough time to have fully developed personalities and their back stories were lacking, as well. Mainly, two sides were told of the same story and it was rather hard to choose which one to believe, because basically the two main characters had completely opposite views.

What I liked about the book was the snappy humor. The one-liners were pretty good and very, very dorky, which I fully support.

“The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)(Author: Michelle Hodkin) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I keep YA novels as my refuge for whenever I am feeling down, or whenever I have read a particularly bad/boring/tough book. That’s how this entire series ended up staying on the last page of my Kindle for years.

Well… I could have gone several more years without it, to be honest.

The premise of the book is quite good and at the beginning, I was pretty excited by the mysterious and ominous atmosphere. And that’s where things ended.

I really could make up my mind about what this book was supposed to even be. Romance? Horror? Parody?

I guess I will go with… a dream. It’s the author’s dream of what she’d like to have in life. The main character is a rather dull, very unsociable and awkward teenager. After losing her best friend, Mara moved to a new school where from a total nobody, she turned into a superstar because of her charmbrainswits… Errm so it might be because of…

e7c

Which is the only compliment anyone ever gives her, outside of her boyfriend.

And don’t even get me started on the boyfriend. A.K.A the most perfect human that ever lived, or so says the author. Has a posh English accent, has read hundreds or even thousands of books, quotes entire pages of Lolita like it’s nobody’s business, drives a fancy car, has a multimillionaire/billionaire father, is worshiped by everyone in school, is handsome as hell, has beautiful eyes, has a lovely soft hair, is very possessive and willing to fight for his girl, is a great kisser, doesn’t kiss and tell, has superpowers. Excuse you. It’s not really like he’s a person at all. The author basically made a character who is 70% Ken doll and 30% British Captain America figurine.

And so this highly unlikely pair happens to match perfectly and create a super-duo. In a great lovestory adventure! Oh, wait… no. In a YA horror story? Not really?! So what are these two actually doing, even?

The entire supernatural story was not much more convincing than the love one. The events were rather scattered and random and I wasn’t even sure I cared to find out what’s going on because there was this general notion of:

gaga2bfuck