A muser and a rambler

I am a reader, a writer and a movie/show watcher. In no way am I a critic. I’m not even sure one can call oneself a critic, and yet so many do. Call yourself a reviewer, if you like, because reviewing is what you do. Meanwhile, I shall call myself a muser and a rambler, since that is what I do – I muse and I ramble.
I love those words! I muse when I’m calm and simply wish to ponder what I’ve learned. My favorite part of the definition of “to muse” is that it’s done to oneself – you muse to yourself. In my case, I muse to myself cause there’s no one else to muse to. Now that I’ve lost my mother, who was the only person capable of listening to my musings and ramblings, I have no one else to share my thoughts with. So I shall muse, and sometimes I shall ramble – which is a more irritated variation of musing – on the pages of this blog. Hopefully, there will be other, virtual people interested in what I have to say.
Still, reviewing is what we are expected to do, at least on the sites like NetGalley, Amazon and Goodreads, so that’s what I’ll also try to do. One of the reasons why I decided to launch an actual blog was to keep my reviews in the same place, or rather to provide the master version of those mini-reviews. Cause as I see it, people don’t need particularly lengthy reviews on those sites. They’re choosing, sometimes in a hurry, whether or not they would like to read a particular book or watch a movie or show. They don’t want to read my ramblings on said shows and books, but they’d probably be interested in some key things to expect and some pros and cons of each item. And that’s what I’ll continue to provide on those platforms.
Meanwhile, the blog will be dedicated to the master versions of those various reviews. In fact, as I’ve already mentioned, there won’t be any reviews here – just musings and ramblings. And yes, there is a difference, which I will try and establish. Or perhaps I’ll come to find out that there isn’t a difference and that would be fine too.
There’s only one way to find out – start writing!

Diary of a wimpy kid: the meltdown, by Jeff Kinney

Somehow Wimpy Kid became one of my favorite characters, and certainly a constant in my reading life. Every year I wait for the beginning of November to get my hands on the new volume of Greg Heffley’s misfortunes. And I’m not the only one. My library used to purchase up to 10 copies of each Wimpy Kid book, none of which would come back to the shelves for another six months or so. Every kid, and their mother, had to read Wimpy Kid. At this point, there is no need to prove the merits of this series. You either love it, or you don’t know about it. Still, since I’ve come up with this new reviewing template, I will follow it for a more coherent review.
WRITING STYLE: Wimpy Kid books are consistently well written and illustrated. Greg Heffley has his own established voice and it never seizes to amuse and entertain. The illustrations are simple, but detailed and have an endearing quality. I love the ratio of illustrations to text, making it a kind of wordier graphic novel.
NARRATION: “Meltdown” takes us through a climate-changing winter. January is blessed (or cursed) with sunshine and warmth, which makes Greg very nervous that the ice caps will melt and the frozen dinosaurs and other creatures will be free to roam the Earth. Once the weather gets properly cold, we get more of how and where Greg lives. I am terrible at remembering books, but I feel like this is the first time we’ve had such an in-depth glance at Greg’s neighborhood. Other stories were set mostly at school, or on a road trip or vacation. “Meltdown” does a great job of inviting us into the world of Greg Heffley, exploring his life on the Upper Surrey Street, which is complicated by the existence of the Lower Surrey Street. There is a feudal war going on between those who live on the Upper and Lower streets, and that’s a fun war to witness. Especially when the novel culminates in an epic Snowball Fight with various fractions, alliances and snow forts. The author mostly keeps track of everything that’s going on, but I sometimes found it hard to follow the action.
SETTING: As I’ve already mentioned, “Meltdown” gives us a whole new setting, or rather expands on the previously introduced setting, of Greg’s neighborhood. The illustrations are very helpful in establishing all the locations, houses and the people who live there. I would love to see more stories taking place in this setting.
CHARACTERS: We get introduced to a whole bunch of new characters – the various occupants of the Upper and Lower Surrey Street. Some were mere faces in the overall picture, while others played a substantial role in the Epic Snow Battle. My favorite new character was the guy who opened his own snowball store – you go, small business owner! I also enjoyed the role of the parents in this novel – nonchalant bystanders who don’t get the whole Upper/Lower Street Feud and who low-key don’t care that their kids spend days and sometimes nights outside in the freezing cold. A nice break from the overbearing parents that I so often encounter.
PERSONAL LIKES: EVERYTHING! Alright, almost everything. This is one of my favorite series of all time, and this is one of the best books in it, so I will be flailing over it, if you don’t mind. I just loved the world building! The previous book felt like such a letdown, with that silly vacation that they took. And this one brought it back home, literally. Now I feel like I know Greg so much better, know exactly where he lives and what goes on in his neighborhood. It’s really exciting for me. I especially loved the part where he would sneak into his grandma’s house to get warm and watch TV – that is such a Greg thing to do.
PERSONAL COMPLAINTS: My own concern was the school bus situation. We don’t have school buses here in Moscow, so I only know the situation from American movies, shows and books. And I always thought that the bus would either take you straight to your house, or at least close to your house. But Greg has to walk all the way to school if his parents can’t take him – that is messed up! Although, later in the story I learned that the bus actually could take Greg closer to his house. He either wouldn’t take it, cause he’d be late for it, or something else happened – I wasn’t exactly clear. But this is such a minor thing, and maybe it’s even explained, but I was dealing with indigestion while reading this book, so I may have blanked on some details.
IN CONCLUSION: This is one of the best books in the series of Wimpy Kid! The series had been kind of a letdown for the past several years – I didn’t really like the previous one, I don’t even remember reading the one before that… But “Meltdown” brings the series back to its glory days! I loved exploring more of Greg’s world – heck, I didn’t even know there was more world to explore! I hope that Jeff Kinney keeps this up for the next installments, which better be in the works. I can’t imagine my Novembers without the new Wimpy Kid.
YOU MIGHT LIKE IT IF: you’re in the mood for a quick, fun, illustrated read; you like your middle-grade characters wimpy, but snarky; you are not ashamed of loving a series for middle schoolers.
SUPER-OBJECTIVE CRITIC-LEVEL RATING: Five Wimpy Stars! Keep up the good work, Jeff Kinney!

Relaunch – or is it just launch?

I have been meaning to start blogging for a while, and I’ve even blogged before. Mostly in Russian, although there were some attempts at Tumblr and LiveJournal – remember that one? – but I never got used to either of them. And the Russian blog that I was keeping lost its meaning overtime. The blogging void in my life was filled with Instagram and Goodreads, but I always felt like something was missing.
I used to love my Russian blog so much! It was on this website called Diary.ru and it was wonderful! I had some followers, and I followed other blogs. Most of them were personal but with a heavy dose of pop-culture fangirling. It was the perfect balance between sharing your passion for all things movie, book, show and music and also sharing some of your personal thoughts and issues.
I have to say, I miss that in my life. I’m fortunate to have friends in real life, even some who share my interest in pop-culture and reading, but there’s something about belonging to an online community that’s totally different from real life. There’s something magical about sharing your interests with people from all over the world; people you never would have met in real life; people who give you hope that the mass of depressed sheeple you encounter on a daily basis is comprised of fun-loving individuals.
I will strive to reach that balance between personal life and pop-culture fangirling, while also giving you a glimpse into my life in Moscow. I don’t want to have some strict rules for what I’ll be posting, or a schedule of posts. The only goal is to post regularly, if not daily, and to have fun with it. Nothing kills fun for me like rules and schedules. Also, since I have an Instagram account I will be keeping photos to a minimum here, much like I keep the words to a minimum there. It might be weird to separate the two, but I would prefer to write words here and post pictures there, rather than to duplicate identical posts across the media platforms.
Alright, enough introductions – let’s begin!

To the land of budding book lovers

My dear friend Neha, who encouraged me to start a WordPress blog, wrote a lovely piece about our Book House blog. Thank you, Neha!

Literary Lemonades

A few weeks back, I received a Whatsapp text. My Muscovite friend Katya, of whom I talk all the time in my Prochnost updates, was up to something awesome again. She had switched jobs recently and the ‘Kniga Worm‘ that she is (no literally!), she decided to get the kids in her new school get excited about books by, get this, blogging about books!

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Greetings from my happy place!

 

It’s weird to write a yet another introduction for my online personality that’s been established for years. I used to have a fine Russian blog, over on diary.ru – I wonder if the site still exists? – but then it stopped being so fine, after a yet another “upgrade”. How come all these sites and apps get worse and worse with every “upgrade”? What a dinosaur question! But hey, I am a dinosaur!

Anyway, during my diary.ru period I tried a few other blogging sites. Tumblr was confusing – I still have no idea how comments work over there. Twitter was insufficient. LiveJournal – remember that? – felt like a gated community that you needed a special key to get into. And WordPress? It turns out I even tried WordPress, though I have no recollection of that. But when I was setting up this blog today the site informed me that my email was already taken. Would you look at that? It even had my old handle – angelInstead – from my Robbie Williams fan days, which feels like two lifetimes ago. So I promptly changed that name to my new favorite – KnigaWorm – and proceeded to get a paid account, so that I could grab knigaworm.com while it was still available.

Why KnigaWorm, you might ask? That is simple, and directly linked to the title of this post and the featured image. Kniga is the Russian word for book – and yes, I am 100 percent Russian, though lots of people can’t tell that. Which means that KnigaWorm is simply a bookworm, with a Russian touch.

As for this blog, it will be a low-key collection of my various reviews (books, movies, tv-shows, music) with lots of ramblings, and some musings on the various aspects of life. So, just your average blog really.

To quote Stephen Fry, that’s enough verbal fretting for now. Enjoy, comment, subscribe and all that!