Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrellAt the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear. (from Goodreads)

It might be a bit too early in the year to say this, but I’m pretty sure this book will be my favorite read in 2018.

There are not enough words in my vocabulary to praise this work. I don’t think I have ever read something like this before, and it’s a bit disheartening to know that most of the books I’ll read from now on won’t be any close to this level of “muchness”, for lack of a better word.

This book has so many things that I always enjoy in a novel: it merges an actual historical context with a fictional story, which happens to be a fantastic story, you know, with MAGIC. Magic that actually could be, more or less, easily learned from books, because, before anything, magicians are scholars, and not just a different type of humans born with powers or whatever. Many of these books are referenced not only by the characters, but by the author, in the uncountable FOOTNOTES that explain us this or that theory from this or that author, all of them fictional, you know. So this is not just a made out story, it comes with a made out bibliography, wich I just can’t even handle the amount of work of invention. The footnotes are also filled with episodes and legends from English magical past, which adds so much DENSITY to the main plot line. And all of these is written in a 19th century fashion.

And then, it happens that all of these reasons for which I can’t do nothing but love this book, are the reasons for which some people just couldn’t go forward and abandoned its reading, which saddens me; this also made me realize that the book might just not be for everybody’s taste, so proceed with caution (?).

There’s a BBC adaptation of this book, which aired in 2015. I watched it then, and rewatched it after I finished the book.

If you like the series, you’ll probably like the book too, as it goes much deeper than what a tv adaptation can manage (it’s still a great adaptation, though).

If you just can’t with the book, the series could be a good substitute, as it moves forward without the book constant deviations.

And for the record, I’m Team Strange, but I’m actually such a Norrell

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La pelusa de los días, by Sole Otero


This book doesn’t have an English title, but it could be translated to “The fluff of days”, or maybe “The dust bunny of days”, depending on your interpretation xD

This one was a Christmas present from my brother. If there’s anything I could expect from him on Christmas, it definitely will be some comic book or graphic novel 🙂

I began reading La pelusa de los días a long time ago, when it was just a daily comic strip online and I had already been reading Otero for a while. At some point, this daily bits just stopped appearing on my feed (I blame Facebook on this) and they just fade away from my memory. It was very nice getting back to them, and this was my very last reading of the year 2017.

One of the first things Pelusa (the main character) tells us is that the author and herself are not the same person. However, as long as the reading progresses, it is pretty clear that “the limit does not exist”, and the comics turn pretty autobiographical: breaking up, going back to live with her mother, her life as a freelancer, moving out alone, getting closer to 30, and any other quotidiane mundanity that makes everything so relatable.

Sailor Moon #9, by Naoko Takeuchi


Amidst the chaos caused by Usagi and Chibi-Usa’s body swap, courtesy of the Amazoness PallaPalla, the Sailor Guardians’ primary concern remains Mamoru’s illness and its possible link to the newcomers in town, the Dead Moon Circus. The Amazonesses and their circus animal lackeys go after the Guardians one by one, tempting them with false visions. However, each of the Guardians manage to defeat the enemy after their inner selves shows them their individual heart crystals and new power. Meanwhile, it is still a toss up who the “young maiden” is that Elysion priest Helios seeks: She who shall find and unlock the Golden Crystal that will save Earth, Elysion and Mamoru! (from Goodreads)

I never thought that the age swap between Usa and Chibiusa was something that actually appeared in the manga, it seemed to me like one of those things added in the anime. It was probably one of the chapters I liked the most, because it was quite funny, so it was nice to see it here again. This volume is one of my favorites (and not just because Pluto was in the cover). Most of the chapters are focused on the senshis, and how each of them manages, as they’re attacked by the enemies, to find the power within themselves to transform again. And we get to see how life is for the outer senshis, now living a “normal life” together and raising Hotaru, who seems to grow incredibly fast. They can’t transform either, and when the Earth seems to be at a critical danger, Hotaru finally wakes up as Saturn again, and gives back their powers to the others. That was awesome!

The Pegasus story is still kind of boring, but at least he appeared in his true form and explained himself.

Sailor Moon #8, by Naoko Takeuchi


Chibi Usa’s sickly friend Hotaru isn’t just Sailor Saturn, Deity of Destruction. She’s also possessed by Master Pharaoh 90. Facing this cataclysmic power will be impossible–unless Sailor Moon can unite the powers of every Guardian of the Solar System.

Then, when the moon eclipses the sun, a mystical unicorn begs for help. An elaborate ship floats through the sky, and Usagi and Chibi-Usa have trouble seeing eye to eye… (from Goodreads)

This volume is the ending of one arc and the beginning of a new one. There’s no doubt that the senshi beat the evil forces, of course. The outer senshis leave for good, apparently, to raise the reincarnation of Hotaru (Sailor Saturn).

The new arc begins with an eclipse, that obliterates the senshis’ powers and they can’t transform any more. And the whole pegasus story appears, which I never found very interesting when I saw the anime, but let’s see how does it go here.

The Handmaid’s tale, by Margaret Atwood


In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over the “morally fit” Wives,

The tale is told by Offred (read: “of Fred”), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. (from Goodreads)

I watched the series, I loved the series, I kind of obsessed with the series while I was watching it, so I went after the book. After knowing that there would be a second season, I thought I’d see in the book how the story would continue. Well, guess what? If you read the book you probably know this but for me was mindblowing: the book ends just where the first season ends. So now what?

The book doesn’t actually end there, there’s then an appendix which was very interesting. As we understand, the Republic of Gilead is presented as the quite near future of the United States. The appendix happens quite some time after that, when there’s now what seems to be lots and lots of scholars who work, research and write about the Republic of Gilead. So the appendix is a transcription of a conference in where the Handmaid’s tale is treated, because apparently this “tale” is a transcription of some recordings found hidden in a safe house. In this conference, the scholars hypothesize about what could happen the Offred after the ending of the tale and how she got to record her story.

I love altered history and made up investigations and bibliography.

Miniatures: the very short fiction of John Scalzi, by John Scalzi


The ex-planet Pluto has a few choice words about being thrown out of the solar system. A listing of alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died. A lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions. And four artificial intelligences explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity. (from Goodreads)

This book was recommended to me by Jennifer in a swap. She recommended it so HARD and with such passion and enthusiasm that totally convinced me that I had to read it. Once I told her this, she was super kind and she sent it to me.

This is a comedy book. And this is also a science fiction book. Like I said earlier, sci-fi is far from being familiar to me, so I’d like to get a little more into it. If all sci-fi books are like this one, that won’t be a problem at all!

Each one of these short stories (there are more than the four summarized in the Goodreads’ synopsis) is presented by Scalzi himself, giving a little context,  and they’re not exactly narrated, is more like they’re acted. Some stories have several characters, so at times there’s a whole bunch of different actors.  

There’s no story I didn’t like, they all made me laugh! If I had to choose a favorite, that would be “Pluto tells all”. Pluto was always my favorite planet (thanks to Sailor Moon), so I’m still resentful that they kicked it out of the solar system. But, apparently, as it explains in this story, it took it pretty well.

So, as Jen did first, is my duty now to recommend this book. It really won’t took more than a couple of hours of your time (I really wish it were longer) and you won’t regret it.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. (from Goodreads)

This one took me such a long time to finish. After I listened to the audiobooks of Neverwhere and The Graveyard book, I tried to find an audio version of this read by Neil Gaiman himself, but without success. Probably because of this disappointment, I couldn’t bond with this narrator’s voice (I know, the whole “problem” sounds too wtf to me too), so the only way I could follow the narration was reading the book at the same time, which was far from my original reason of using an audiobook. So I left it there for several months. Considering that the end of the year was near and I was far from completing my reading challenge, and that I was constantly spammed by Neil Gaiman sharing pictures from the filming of the tv adaptation on his instagram, I said to myself: “get to work and finish this darn thing”.

I’m glad I did. Don’t let this whole rant make you think that I didn’t enjoy the book. The book is great, and I loved every little piece of it. The narrator did a very good job, making great voices and all, but had a very different pace to what I was accustomed, which was probably the reason why it felt a bit awkward at first.

I’m looking forward to the tv adaptation, and to read this again, but on a physical book next time.