Moving!

I started this blog so I could keep my book reviews (rather, my opinions on books) separate from my personal blog. Over the months that followed, I realized this made little sense, since I use my personal blog to talk about every other interest I have. So I decided to close this blog and keep posting my opinions on my namesake blog, which you can find at sofiaromualdo.wordpress.com.

Thank you to everyone who’s been following me and / or posting comments on my reviews. I hope to see you on my other blog. Happy Readings!

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On Rating Books

An exchange from last night with André regarding the last book I read made me think about the way I rate books. I usually use Goodreads guidelines for ratings, that is, one to five stars, with no half stars, and pretty positive descriptions for all except the one star (which is equivalent to “I didn’t like it”).

Shortly before New Year’s Eve, as I was perusing my reviews from last year, I noticed most of them were pretty positive. I believe it takes a truly bad book for me not to get anything out of it, so it makes sense that I didn’t even give a single one-star rating. I decided to be a bit more picky with books this year, which is why, I think, I’ve only given one five-star rating so far, and most of them fall on the three to four stars reviews.

But the fallacy that I noticed last night is that, by using Goodreads guidelines, I can give a three-star rating to a book I liked, when in reality it should fall in the mediocre on a one-to-five rating. And really, is there such a big difference between “I liked it”, “I really liked it”, and “I loved it” (these correspond to three, four and five stars on Goodreads)?

Maybe I need to rethink my rating process, though I’m not sure how, exactly. I’d welcome any tips / suggestions!

Every Ending is a New Beginning

Tomorrow 2010 will end, and like everyone else, I’m looking back at this year and looking at what went wrong, what went great, what to be thankful for and what to change.

This year was definitely a slow year for me, reading-wise. I read a total of 30 books, compared to 85 in 2009. According to Goodreads’ nifty stats page, that accounts for 7088 pages. The majority of what I read was graphic novels, followed by art-related books and classics. Most of the books got a 4 or 5 star rating, with only one (Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland) getting a 2 star review.

Of course, I started this blog and my reviews have become more thoughtful, detailed, and (hopefully) well-written. But still, in 2011 I will work towards reading more. My goal for the coming year will be one hundred books (well, there are other goals, but this is the one that pertains most to this blog :)).

Happy reading, and see you in 2011!

Back to the Real World

I’ve been back home for a couple of days now, and the post-vacation depressive state is starting to fade, so I thought this would be a good time to update the blog. I digged through the dozens of photos I took on the trip, and selected a few to make a sort of review. This has nothing to do with books, so feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in Mediterranean sights.

Be aware that I chose the most “touristy” photos I took to post here (the others will probably make it on one of my other, more photographically related sites) and that these are straight from camera. I spent two weeks traveling, and these are the places I went to:

Monaco / Monte Carlo

I was actually a bit weary of going to Monaco – I was told that the place’s main attractions were the expensive boats and cars of rich people, and I had zero interest in traveling to see those. The cars are indeed there – but thankfully, there is much more to Monaco than just that. It’s a beautiful place, with amazing seascapes and interesting things to see. I’m not sure I’ll be going back, but I’m happy that I got to see it.

Florence (Italy)

Beautiful city, but unfortunately we didn’t spend nearly as much time as we should have there. The city is packed with art and museums, and it’s a must-go-back-there-to-explore-it for me.

Rome (Italy)

Amazing city! I really can’t say enough good things about it. It blew away my expectations, and I was expecting a good thing. It’s one of those places where I would love to live. There’s monuments and art everywhere, every building is gorgeous and the atmosphere is great – you can just feel a great vibe throughout, as if the city itself was breathing and aware of its thousands of years of history. A must-see!

Santorini (Greece)

You’ve probably seen this place before in movies or photos – its white houses hanging on the edge of the cliffs are immediately recognizable. It’s truly an amazing place. The islands are the remains of a gigantic volcano that collapsed with an immense eruption, and the crater is now filled with water. Truly incredible!

Kusadasi -> Ephesus (Turkey)

Ephesus is an ancient city that is in remarkably good shape. It used to be an important port but the sea has receded and nowadays is very far away from it. The city’s library was one of the biggest in the ancient world and the facade, which is still standing, is breathtaking. Very much worth the visit! I didn’t like Kusadasi as much. We spent only a couple of hours there. The salesman are far too intrusive for my taste, you literally couldn’t take a step without having at least two of them trying to pull you into a store and make you buy something. I left feeling very annoyed. I’d still go back to Turkey to see the rest of the country, though.

Athens (Greece)

This was the biggest disappointment of the trip. My apologies to the Greeks, but… I found the city to be a bit ugly. Granted, the Acropolis and a few monuments are beautiful, but I went there expecting something closer to Rome and it couldn’t be farther from it. I’m happy that I got to visit it, but probably won’t go back.

Pompeii (Italy)

I’m sure everyone knows the story of Pompeii, so I won’t go into detail here. I was looking forward to this visit and it didn’t disappoint. You really feel like you are walking in a city, not just ruins. There are frescoes and signs from two thousand years back (down to political propaganda in the walls!) and streets lined with former shops and restaurants. The Mount Vesuvius is looming in the background. Quite breathtaking and lovely.

Barcelona (Spain)

This was my fourth time in Barcelona, and having stayed for a long time and explored the city quite thoroughly on foot, I didn’t see anything new, but I love that place so much that I didn’t mind at all. If you haven’t been there, make sure you go. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world. Just beautiful in every aspect.

So this is my little review of the places I visited. Soon the blog will be back to business as usual, with a review of the book I was reading during the trip.

Amazon Profile + Goodreads Librarian

A couple of book-related updates.

First off, I created an Amazon UK profile a couple of weeks ago, but just realized I had yet to mention it on the blog (except for the link on my “About Me” page). You can see it here. As of today I have 8 helpful votes and 2 unhelpful votes (oops! hehe). I mostly post smaller versions of the reviews I write here on the blog, trying to select the information that could be relevant for those deciding if they want to purchase. Hopefully getting better at that!

Secondly, I just became a Goodreads librarian! I’m pretty excited to be helping out at the site, and to be honest I have no idea why I hadn’t thought of applying before. I’ve started cleaning up a bit, mostly adding Portuguese editions of existing books, correcting author’s names, uploading correct covers… But I have to say that some authors make it very hard to update their profile page. Let’s face it, in this day and age it’s vital to have a website to promote your work, and if you’re going to have a website you should at least offer some basic info about yourself… I get that some authors prefer flowery, lyrical biographies (and sometimes I do too), but it’s not that hard to include at least your year of birth, not to mention a photograph!

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. Expect a review soon!

Back to Business as Usual

After a break in the blog of almost two weeks, in which I nearly went to London, went on vacations to Alentejo instead, photographed a fictitious band, took my driver’s license, got into a plethora of projects that have kept me busy, and read a grand total of ten pages, if that much, I’m now back to business as usual in the reading world. Expect some new reviews in the near future.

Also, as we walked under the 30ºC sun in the streets of Évora I had the idea of cross-posting my reviews to Amazon. Yes, I know, not that much of an original idea, but for some reason I’ve never thought of doing that before. I just haven’t decided if I should post them to Amazon.com (more widely used), Amazon.co.uk (the one I personally use) or both.

It remains to be seen. For now I’m just happy to be reading again.