Book reviews

In alphabetical order (with a few exeptions :p)

No. of books read in 2024 so far: 4
/ᐠ – ˕ -マ

No. of books read in 2023: 11
ദ്ദി ˉ͈̀꒳ˉ͈́ )✧

”American Gods” by N. Gaiman

Score: 10/10
Short review (02.2023):
A personal favourite of mine. It was the first book I have read in 2023 and it set the standards really high. In fact, it was better than most books I have read in my whole life (that’s quite an opening to a review :D).
The first few chapters were somewhat easy-going, but soon after a main character Shadow meets a mysterious man in a suit Mr. Wednesday the story truly begins to shine all the way through to the last chapter.
The constant mix of fantasy characters and events with “our” reality is done exceptionally well to the point where you can feel truly engaged and invested with the world created by the author. I will definietly be trying out the rest of his work.

”Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance” by O. Bowden #1

Score: 6/10
Short review (05.2024):
An entertaining book, but nothing more. I haven’t played Assassin’s Creed II (which this book is based on), but I do not feel like I am missing something. It is written well but I might be to old for it because it did not entertain me as much as when I read it for the first time way back when I was 14 years old.

”Black Sun Rising” by C.S. Friedman #1

Score: 8/10
Short review (11.2023):

My first fantasy novel this year (and second ever) read in English! At first I was worried I wouldn’t manage as I have failed a few times before, mostly because if I didn’t understand a phrase or even a word I would stop reading to grab a dictionary or Google Translator and this whole process was too exhausting. Especially when one chapter could take me half a night to go through (or maybe I just chose a difficult book – it was something that Dmitry A. Glukhovsky wrote and it wasn’t “Metro”.)
…anyway, back to “Black Sun Rising”.
Awesome fantasy novel that tells a story of unlikely allies – Priest, Undead Sorcecer and 2 Adepts fighting demons across 2 continents to restore their friend memories. Its very detailed and gripping story and characters that are developing as they go through many hardships is a strong point of this book. There is a lot of unknown in their voyage and because we only learn as much as the characters themselves it’s really hard to stop reading as you want to know what happens next.
Our protagonists are really likeable which only helps to connect with them.
Luckily for me, this is a trilogy which means two more entries to this amazing world and characters created by Friedman.

”When True Night Falls” by C.S Friedman #2

Score: 9/10
Short review (01.2024):

The great second entry to the Coldfire saga this one dosen’t stop for a second and is a just as good as the first one.
After defeating their first enemy and restoring the memories of their friend, our two protagonists – Priest and Undead Sorcecer sail to yet another continent to find out more about even deadlier enemy than the first one. One chapter even got me emotional but I won’t spoil what and when :p
For this thing alone this entry gets +1 one the score meter.
Now all thats left is a final, third novel.

”Crown of Shadows” by C.S Friedman

Score: 9/10
Short review (02.2024):

Great conclusion to an amazing adventure. Even though the ending is open-ended, and not what you might expect, I was really content and happy with how the story has concluded. Amazing trilogy and truly recommend it to everyone!

”Hawkmistress!” by M. Zimmer Bradley

Score: 8/10
Short review (08.2023):

I always thought of myself as a sci-fi guy rather than a fantasy one, and tbh I only picked this book ’cause someone gave it to me a long time ago.
Anyway, I was hooked pretty much from the start, and all the way to the sudden end. This book single-handedly convinced me to be more open to fantasy genre, and that old covers don’t have to mean much (I know – never judge a book by it’s cover).
“Hawkmistress!” is a part of a bigger Darkover saga, but every book can be read independently, as they are only set in the same world and event are loosely tied together.
In this one, we follow a story of a young noblewoman named Romilly with laran – ability to communicate and take control of animals. Unfortunately, because she was a woman her family didn’t want her to use laran. Once Romilly learns her father organized a marriage for her, she runs away with her trained hawk.
My basic description and the book’s backcover doesn’t do justice to just how entertaining this novel is. I will definietly look up other Darkover books.

”Horrid Henry’s Christmas Cracker” by F. Simon

Score: 7/10
Short review (08.2023):

One of my favourite character from my childhood. I have read quite a few books and watched a lot of Horrid Henry’s cartoons in the mornings. Good memories, good book.

”Karate-Do My Way of Life” by G. Funakoshi

Personal score: 7/10
Short review (04.2023):

To be honest I never read biographies, because they do not interest me. This book is an exception because it was given to me by my PE/self-defence teacher in middle school thanks to my good grades and results :p
I tried reading it back then, but gave up almost immediately.
My second attempt was this year and I did read the whole book. It really was a different reading experience than what I am used to, but overall, I do not regret it.
As you can guess, Funakoshi desribes his life, his love to karate and how he lived according to it’s rules. He was a true master of this martial art.
Each chapter is short, condensed, interesting and (if I remeber correctly) in each of them the author expresses an opinion about his actions (whether they were good, bad; would he do something differently).
I’m glad that I have finally read this, because it gave me something to think about myself and my own life.
In the last few chapters I had a strange “realization” that Funakoshi no longer lives. It’s just weird that this man had such an amazing passion and love to karate (that he even managed to spread it’s popularity to the rest of the world) and now he only lives in memories of people, and here I am, reading his biography, written by him while he is long gone. But I guess the topic of existential crisis is for another time

”Nikodem Skotarczak ”NIKOŚ” – Ruletka życia” by E. Skotarczak

Personal score: 5/10
Short review (07.2023):

This biography is about a “Godfather of Gdańsk’s mafia”. It was written by his last wife, and she describes how they met, their everyday life and the people that were surrounding Nikoś. I did not meet the guy, nor any of his friends. I wasn’t even born around the time when he was killed. I write this because for a story about the ”Godfather of Gdańsk’s mafia”, you would expect some interesting, unexpected, even dramatic content. Unfortunately, all you get from this biography is mostly a shallow, everyday life of a rich couple. Edyta Skotarczak did not take participate (at least she didn’t wrote about this) in darker parts of Nikoś life, so I guess that is the reason why this book lacks interesting details that would make it a page-turner. For me, it was a chore to even get to the end. Don’t get me wrong – this book is well written, we get some pictures of Nikoś and Edyta but for me it is just boring.
I borrowed this book from a friend, and I’m gratefull I did not had to buy it myself.
This books ends right after the murder of Nikoś… and you can buy a second book to see what happens to her wife. My friend won’t be buying it, so I guess Nikoś story ends for us here :p

”Pierwszy krok w chmurach i inne opowiadania” by M. Hłasko

Personal score: 5/10
Short review (03.2024):
This book is a collection of short stories that are not related to one another, but they happen in Poland, during ~1950.
Through these histories we get an insight into lives and minds of ordinary people doing everyday things. Most of the stories end with a moral (at least I would describe it as that).
Unfortunately, these stories are often sad, depressing or grounded in that tough, after-war reality. Because of that I only managed to read about half of the book and I’m not going to read it more. I just try to minimise the amount of extra gloomy and miserable thoughts I have on daily basis.

On the other hand, my Father loves it, and read it at least 3 times, and a few weeks ago, he said that he wants to read it for the fourth time. Crazy :O

”Spawn” by T. McFarlane #1

Personal score: 0/10
Short review (08.2023):

For the record – I got this from a friend in middle school; I have not heard about Spawn before, nor after and I do not have more issues of this comic book. The score is based only on this first issue. With that out of the way, here is my opinion:
Story is borring and the artstyle is ugly.

”The Last Wish” by A. Sapkowski #1

Short review (10.2023):
Very interesting novel that I praised for great stories and grusome fights, but I can only recall few events; it looks like I just don’t remember much from it (I’m writing this 3 months after finishing it). I actually was invitied to the “Witcher” show based on the books that was playing in a theater and I only had a month to read 2 of them – this one and “Sword of Destiny”. In the end I have read “The Last Wish” and half of the second one before the show. Maybe because of this rush I remember less than usual.
Other than that I remember that it was another interesting fantasy book that I borrowed and I’m glad I finally gave try to Sapkowski’s most known saga. Before the books I ofcourse played the whole Witcher trilogy, but I didn’t finish the third one…yet.

”Sword of Destiny” by A. Sapkowski #2

Score: 7/10
Short review (12.2023):

Continuation of a very good first book.
After finishing it, I’ve decided to read the whole saga one day, so I guess this means that the first two books are decent to say the least :p

”Time Riders” #1 by A. Scarrow

Personal score: 6.5/10
Short review (05.2023):

This book is written for teenagers and as such, I am a little to old for it. For me, it lacks realistic and gruesome events that you would expect in time-traveling sci-fi novel. But it is not the “Time Riders” fault (I’m just old and grumpy).
The story introduces five main characters and later, the first big time travelling problem begins – someone from a far future travels back in time to ~1940 in order to create IV Reich and (successfully) counqer the world. Now, our five Time Riders need to repair the timeline.

”Treasure Island” by R. L. Stevenson

Personal score: 7.5/10
Short review (03.2023):
I was never a big fan of pirates, so I kept my expectations rather low. And man, I was wrong. This book really delivered a great reading experience. Thanks to the great writing, I managed to sunk really fast into the great world the author has created. The characters and events are realistic, there aren’t any magical things and I guess that this what has helped me have a blast with this novel.
We follow a journey of a young-adult boy that decides (together with his friends) to find a great treasure on a Treasure Island. He got a map to that island from a mysterious pirate that was living in his inn. There are ofcourse other pirates that want the riches, so our protagonist has to outsmart and fight them off.
Overall, I was surprised that a 22 year old me can have a such good time with a book, that (I’m sure) was written for much younger people.