maandag 29 december 2014

Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five


Slaughterhouse-Five has 215 pages and I got it from
It was nominated for the Nebula Award and for the Hugo Award.

“Slaughterhous-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.”

This unstuck in time premise makes it clear that there are parallels between his past life in the war and his fantasylife with the aliens (especially the captivity). In his fantasylife he can rewrite his past, thus the pornstar who doesn’t make him feel emasculated. He wishes for a better life without all the faults he made and without the war.

I liked the jumping back and forth as Billy Pilgrim travels in time. There’s no suspense whatsoever because of that, but it is a nice touch.

The writing is very monotonous and honestly boring.
I just didn’t care for this book. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it; I don’t feel any sort of strong emotion about it. It’s strange, boring, tedious and aggravating.
And the 'so it goes' made me so irritated!
I can’t for the life of me see what makes this book so loved.

Lastly; a truly inspiring quote from the novel to leave you:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference.”

Happy reading.

zaterdag 27 december 2014

John Boyne: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas


This review is about Boyne’s first children’s book; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
It has 216 pages.

“Bruno is a nine-year-old from Berlin who has three best Friends For Life, an elder sister who is a Hopeless Case, and an ambition to be an Explorer. One day in 1943 someone called The Fury decides that Bruno's soldier father is to be posted, together with the whole family, to somewhere called Out-With, which is far away from Berlin, and quite possibly not in Germany at all. The new house is bleak and shabby, and from one side of it you can see a high-wired compound inhabited by sad-looking people in striped pyjamas.”

I had a mixed reading experience.

I’ll start with the good points about this novel.
The novel read like a train and I wanted to keep on reading just to get to the (very predictable) end.
Boyne writes fluent. It’s so easy to read, gripping and compelling that it’s hard to put the novel down.

But Boyne clearly thinks that all children are idiots.
How in hell can a nine year-old son of a Nazi commander not know about Jews, Hitler or the fatherland? Especially if he moves to Auschwitz.
How is that possible? He’s a moron! I know smarter six year-olds.
And there are more faults like this.
I know Boyne meant Bruno to represent every blind and innocent person but it’s allowing people to claim innocence or disbelief about Nazism.
I do believe that Boyne made a big mistake by trivializing the real conditions and events in the novel. In real life, every child was immediately killed.
In the novel, there’s a big unguarded part of the fence and a small boy who can escape to that place every day without being missed or seen? Unbelievable.

As you can see, I wouldn’t allow my children to read this without some proper explanation afterwards.
Maybe I’m overreacting and overanalyzing this novel.
But what do you think?
How do you feel about this novel?

Happy reading.

maandag 22 december 2014

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol


This must be my fourth time reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
As it is only 94 pages (and an article of 7 pages), I'd suggest you make yourself a cup of tea and snuggle up in the sofa. This novella deserves to be read in one sitting.

I’m not going to bore with the story or the message behind it; I’m pretty sure everyone has either read this (I hope) or at least seen a movie adaptation.

This is a heartwarming story full of rich details, vivid descriptions and amazing prose. It’s a vibrant and magnificent read.
Most of the characters are designed to tug on your heartstrings and they do so very effectively.
Every part of it is larger than life; is the best or the worst there has ever been. The weather has never been finer, the carols have never been sung better.
All of this serves a purpose in making us feel the very spirit of this novel.
Even though I hate clichés, I really don’t care. It is such a wonderful, emotional and heartwarming story.
It’s as if you’re really there. Dickens’ magnificent writing sucks us right in and only lets you go after the final well-wish of Tiny Tim.

I hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmas and happy reading!

It's that time of the year!

zaterdag 20 december 2014

George Mastras: Fidali’s Way


This review is about Fidali’s Way by George Mastras.
A friend from work gave it to me to read, so thank you Joke!
The colors on this cover are beautiful and inviting though the image is a cliché and this style of covers has been done before for like almost every novel about South Asia.
As if there’s nothing else worth a photo there...
This copy has 445 pages.

"Disillusioned with American life, Nicholas Sunder has spent months backpacking through South Asia, most recently in the company of a beautiful French woman he met in India. When the woman is found brutally murdered in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, Nick is arrested and tortured by the Pakistani police, who are convinced he is the killer. Amazingly, Nick escapes their custody and heads off on foot through the steep mountains of Kashmir, the highest war zone on earth. Now a fugitive without papers, money, or a country that will welcome him, Nick is reduced to his most elemental human identity in an unforgiving mountainous landscape where his very survival is unlikely." Nick's fortune turns when he encounters an eccentric Kashmiri smuggler and his mysterious companion, Fidali. An enormous, nearly silent man, Fidali not only knows a hidden way through the mountains but makes a deep impression upon Nick through his sacrifices for others. In time, after barely surviving great violence, Nick reaches an idyllic mountain village in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where he is drawn to Aysha, a remarkable woman unlike any he has ever met, who operates a medical clinic in the remote region. It is there he will confront the divide between Islam and the West and be forced to ponder how he has reached such a place - forced to consider, in other words, Fidali's way.”

I will be short.

Fidali's Way begins as a thriller; dangerous, full of suspense and fast. I loved this part.
Sadly, it went quite a bit downhill.
It becomes sentimental.  Sharp and gripping parts are interrupted by very clichéd characters and storylines.
The story is very predictable. No shocking turn of events or out-of-the-blue changes in this novel. It’s a novel worth a dime a dozen.
It is however easy to read and relaxing. Perfect for a holiday or an afternoon in a sunny garden.

I’m very sorry Joke, I didn’t really enjoy this novel. Just a bit too easy breezy for me.

Happy reading.

 A cozy blanket, my favourite scarf, warm milk with honey and cinnamon, my glasses and a relaxing novel. I'm definitely ill.

woensdag 17 december 2014

Terry Pratchett: Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook


I read this companion novel in one sitting and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It only has 175 pages and some beautiful illustrations.
You can find my other reviews of Terry Pratchett’s novels here.

“They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach which just goes to show they're as confused about anatomy as they gen'rally are about everything else, unless they're talking about instructions on how to stab him, in which case a better way is up and under the ribcage. Anyway, we do not live in a perfect world and it is foresighted and useful for a young woman to become proficient in those arts which will keep a weak-willed man from straying. Learning to cook is also useful.
Nanny Ogg, one of Discworld's most famous witches, is passing on some of her huge collection of tasty and above all interesting recipes, since everyone else is doing it. But in addition to the delights of the Strawberry Wobbler and Nobby's Mum's Distressed Pudding, Mrs Ogg imparts her thoughts on life, death, etiquette ('If you go to other people's funerals they'll be sure to come to yours'), courtship, children and weddings, all in a refined style that should not offend the most delicate of sensibilities. Well, not much.
Most of the recipes have been tried out on people who are still alive.”

This book is set up as a cookbook and a book about etiquette by Nanny Ogg. Throughout the book we get the sense that this is still a draft because there are notes from the publisher and the managing director about certain not so innocent topics discussed by Nanny.
It’s put together very well. It makes sense that Nanny has the recipes from other characters mostly by some sort of blackmailing. The same kind she uses on her daughter-in-law for example.
The short introductions to the recipes are very funny. So much so I had to read some parts to my husband.
The illustrations by Paul Kidby are amazing.

This book is not meant for people who want a real novel. This is something for real Discworld fans, for those readers who want more than the next novel. It’s nice to have and to look through but definitely not essential. Perfect as a gift though since I surely wouldn’t have bought it myself but I love having it.
The recipes are real, and based on the ingredients they should all work just fine. I will try them some day.

Happy reading.

maandag 15 december 2014

Patrick Rothfuss: The Wise Man’s Fear


The Wise Man’s Fear is the second part in The Kingkiller Chronicle. It won the David Gemmell Legend Award and it has 994 pages.
You can find my review on the first installment; The Name of the Wind here.
I got this novel from

For those of you who need some kind of reminder about what happened in the first novel; Rothfuss put a little comic on his site:

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me...”

Kvothe is still searching for information on the Chandrian and the Amyr but his search is almost at a standstill. I find that very disappointing. Isn't this the Quest at the heart of the novel? I really miss some kind of crisis. It’s hinted at in the surrounding story but that’s it. Right now it’s just a simple recounting of the life of an atypical student. It’s a wonderful story, but it lacks something greater.
I had hoped to leave all those daily-life parts a bit more behind. I’m tired of reading about his money problems, Ambrose and Denna (definitely tired of Denna).
The whole Denna thing is way too long. I didn’t like her in the first novel, I hate her now. She’s annoying and I always felt so glad when she left. She’s boring, unlikable, mean and not mysterious at all. Their story goes nowhere, it has no purpose whatsoever. I hate her.
Devi is a truly fascinating character. I wish she had a much more prominent part.

Rothfuss seems to have no respect for women whatsoever. Almost every female character in this novel wants to have sex with Kvothe. How difficult is it to have a female character with some kind of personality and importance?
And there is way too much sex in this one. It’s over the top. Totally unnecessary. The whole part is juvenile, it’s the sexdream of a lonely teenager. It ads nothing to the story.

Rothfuss could have cut 300 pages easily. Reading about the xth lesson, the xth search in the Library or about yet another encounter with Denna was too much for me. Let alone yet another sexscene or fight with the Adem. It’s too drawn out.

That all being said, I did enjoy this book.
Almost every bit of action happens by accident. And it is fantastic to read how these incidents became the stuff of legends. How people exaggerate incidents that then turn into legends. And I’m sure Kvothe does this too. I love it.
I love the characters (except for Denna) and most of the story is gripping. It’s not as uneventful as the first novel and the pace is definitely better in this one.
I don’t know even with all those faults, I still enjoyed most of the novel. I think it’s his writing style. That is just fantastic. So absorbing and entrancing.
The magic system is very well thought out. It’s not contrived, it’s rooted into the world and it is consistent throughout the novel. The different cultures are more distinct in this novel then the first. They seem much more real. The humor is great. And the characters are very well realized.
And I’m glad we get right into the story without Rothfuss retelling the whole first novel.

Happy reading!

Some quiet time before a short trip with my husband!

dinsdag 2 december 2014

Wrap Up: November 2014


Another month has gone by. Which means … another Wrap Up to post!

Without further ado; here are the novels I read in November.

-    Neil Gaiman: American Gods
-    Yoko Ogawa: The Diving Pool
-    Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed
-    Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore
-    Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
-    Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea
-    Agathe Christie: The ABC Murders

I read a total of 2439 pages. That’s a lot. Even with work and other stuff going on, I still read this much. I feel a bit proud.

Happy reading.

vrijdag 28 november 2014

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders


This short review is about The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie. The main character in this book is her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
This novel is 331 pages long and I got it second-hand.
You can find my other review of a Patrick Rothfuss novel here.

 “There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught - until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.”

Agatha Christie writes fluent and her novels are very easy to read.
This one differs from her usual pattern of having a murder followed by two rounds of questions and the reveal while everyone is present. We are chasing the murderer in this novel.
The narration is very different from her other works. This novel jumps back and forth between Hastings telling the story from Poirot’s point of view and the occasional third person narration.
The characterization is great; the humor is to the point and it’s a very fast read.
But, in my opinion, it's not one of her best works.

Happy reading.

dinsdag 25 november 2014

Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

Hi again

This is my review of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
I got my book as a gift from my brother and his girlfriend. They bought it for me (and my father got the same book) when they were on holiday in Cuba. A very thoughtful gift.
It won the Pulitzer Prize and was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway.
This novella has a beautiful cover and it is only 84 pages long.

“The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.
Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.”

This seems to be a very simple story. It was my first time reading it and I will definitely read it again to understand it better.
Santiago is struggling against defeat though he refuses to give in. It’s a novel about respect, courage, determination, will and hardship.
The marlin he catches and Santiago himself are very close in character. Both are unyielding, proud and honorable. Both are not willing to give in to the ultimate defeat; death. Knowing that at some point they’ll die; both are fighting for their lives. Santiago sees in the marlin a worthy opponent.
I did not feel sorry for Santiago as he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. It’s not about pity; it’s about respect for the marlin and Santiago.
This novel makes you think about humanity and your place in the world.
Not a word is misplaced, there’s not a character too much and not one unnecessary scene. With the bare minimum he shapes this astoundingly beautiful novel. The prose is simple, straight-forward, restrained and yet powerful.

I need to reread this novel to write a more thorough review. But this will do for now.

Happy reading.

maandag 24 november 2014

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451


This review is about one of the great Dystopian classics; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
It won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and the Retro Hugo Award.
My copy has 159 pages.

“Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.”

I didn’t love this novel. Not that it's bad, I just expected more of it.
The novel is strictly theme- or plotdriven. Every scene and character has a function. It is too straight-forward for my tastes.
I did love the characters and the story. The story is wonderful. It’s fast, unsettling, realistic and absorbing. Guy starts out as a gullible slave to the system. But things happen and he grows into someone else, he grows into a new role.
The prose is a bit tricky but once you get used to the paradoxes about living while being mind-dead etc. it is a good novel.

I could go on and one about the themes and the messages in this novel, but I won’t, I’ll be quick.
To me, this novel is about the dangers of conformity, the importance of real knowledge instead of biased knowledge fed to us. How changes can be man-made instead of ordered by the government. About censorship, suppressing individualism and the consequences of too much stimulation.

Happy reading.

zaterdag 22 november 2014

Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore


This review is about Kafka on the Shore; a novel by Haruki Murakami. This is my second Murakami novel. My copy has 505 pages.

 “Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami's novel is at once a classic quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. “

This was a very strange novel. There are parts of it I loved and parts I had to push myself to read further. The first half of the novel flew by. The second part however was too long; it was a much slower read and a bit boring at times.
This is a very inventive novel, something unlike anything I have read before.
Most of the chapters about Kafka were wonderful. I was quite intrigued by him and I wanted to know more about him. He’s a strange boy and I loved him in the first part. Right up until he starts sleeping with miss Saeki.
Reading about Tanaka was a different experience. The scene where those cats were killed was superfluous and unnecessary. What was the point of that? There is no freaking point to this scene whatsoever. But Tanaka is a wonderful character. Him, I loved more by the end notwithstanding the surreal and incomprehensible events around him.
Murakami could have cut 100 pages easily because the novel was a bit tedious.
The way Oshima talks, his self-importance and his sermons about ‘important stuff’ were just annoying. It felt forced, contrived and a way for Murakami to show off his knowledge.
And every word about sex Murakami wrote was bad. And I mean really bad. He could have won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award in my opinion.
I don’t mind reading a novel without a completely rounded and satisfying ending. This makes you think about the novel. But this? So many things we never learn, so many situations never explained, characters never revisited. There were too many loose ends. What caused the children to faint? Who killed Kafka’s father? Was it Tanaka used by Kafka or Kafka himself? What about The Boy Named Crow? What about this prophesy Kafka’s father made? To me, it feels as an uncompleted novel. Or rather as a test by Murakami about how much stuff he can put in one novel and people will still love it.
And all those supernatural elements are never explained on how to interpret them. How does it all fit together? Is it meant as a surreal novel with supernatural elements or are we supposed to interpret it as is?
The main feeling I have after reading this book is ‘maybe I do not understand this novel at all’ or ‘maybe this is just a bad novel’.
I loved both the protagonists, the novel itself; not so much.

Happy reading.

Time to relax.

zaterdag 15 november 2014

Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed


This novel was highly anticipated. I Loved Hosseini’s previous work so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one.
But, I knew reading this would be a very emotional journey, and you have to pick the right time for that.
My copy has 466 pages and I pre-ordered it from

“Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal wintersOne day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.
Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.”

This novel is about utter loneliness, how people change, how one decision can affect a whole family and those around them.
Ultimately, it’s a story about love. Love for a sister, a father, a friend. The things we do for love. And the things we don’t do.
The prose is beautiful! Such wonderful words and sentences, I wanted to take it all in. The picture he paints us is fascinating, absorbing and yet very painful. He really is a master storyteller.
Unlike Hosseini’s previous work; And the Mountains Echoed is written from the perspective of multiple characters. Every chapter is told by a different character. They are all intertwined though they might not know it themselves. It sounds wonderful, but it ultimately didn’t work for me. The characters didn’t get enough time to develop; they are clearly defined, but they lack depth and fullness. This made the novel less gripping, touching and compelling. It did however give us a better understanding of the whole country and not just the poor living in Kabul during the war. And every character has a very moving story to tell.

It is a wonderful novel, I just liked it better with the focus on less characters.
I’m left a bit unsatisfied. Like I’m waiting for more, as if the story isn’t finished yet.

Happy reading.

Enjoying this very much.

woensdag 12 november 2014

Yoko Ogawa: The Diving Pool

Hi again

I finished this collection of three novellas’ on Monday but I couldn’t write a review about them.
These are strange and disturbing stories and I still don’t know whether I liked them or not.
My copy is in Dutch and it counts 158 pages and it won the Shirley Jackson Award.

“A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool--a peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life.
A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucination--but whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister's?
A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg.
Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities.”

All three novellas’ have a detached, alienated and very, very lonely protagonist.
They don’t know why they are doing what they are doing and they don’t seem to understand the consequences of their actions, they are adrift. And in their isolation they try to reach out to others without knowing how. This leads them to cruelties both large and small. They get bitter and lost in their own world where there is no empathy for them.
She has a subtle, detached writing style. We are observing the characters and while we do so we get glimpses of their emotions, but only glimpses. It’s bleak and cold.
The stories are deeply unsettling and downright creepy.
Definitely not masterpieces. But unique and they have been turning around in my mind for two days now.

Happy reading.

zondag 9 november 2014

Neil Gaiman: American Gods


American Gods is my 5th Neil Gaiman novel.
My copy is the new, extended edition with the author’s preferred text and it has 736 pages.
I got it from Book Depository.
You can find my Neil Gaiman reviews here.

The book won the 2002 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, SFX Magazine and Bram Stoker Awards. My hopes were high!

“Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what - and who - it finds there...”

Gaiman put a lot of thought into this novel. He didn’t simply pile everything that interests him into the novel. And he has a very, very broad interest. His ability to fill a novel with small and seemingly unconnected tidbits of information is amazing. To truly appreciate this novel; you need a certain level of understanding about myths, religion and basically almost every topic imaginable.
The true King; the writer who has been doing this for ages is obviously Terry Pratchett but Neil Gaiman definitely succeeds in this too.
What’s so wonderful about this is the amount of layers to discover in the novel; hints to later events, details about the god and its religion. I'm sure I will discover more on a second/third/… read.
Even without all this knowledge you can definitely just sit back and enjoy.

Shadow is endearing. He is gentle, easygoing and not much of a thinker. He is quiet and steady. Basically, he is the perfect protagonist for such a crazy story.
The story is ambiguous. It’s not simply black and white, good versus evil or old against new. It does start out this way but when you read further and think about it, it is not that clear who’s good and who’s bad. Or whether either of them are.
It is certainly a big book but I just didn’t care. It didn’t feel like a big novel, hard work or a never-ending story.
It is energetic, joyful, witty original, new, unique and imaginative. It is dark, engaging, thought provoking and weird in the very best way.
I loved it. One of the parts I enjoyed the most is the part where Shadow moves to the very Stephen King-esque and seemingly idyllic town of Lakeside.

Read it. Just read it.

Happy reading!

 Me time!

maandag 3 november 2014

Wrap Up: October 2014


Here I am again with my monthly wrap up.

I had a mixed reading month.
I did very little reading in the first two weeks of October because my grandfather passed away.
And I started two novels I hated so much I didn't even finish them.
I read a total of 1714 pages exactly.

Here’s the list of the books I read last month.

•   Terry Pratchett: Night Watch
•   F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
•   C. J. Sansom: Dark Fire
•   Arnon Grunberg: Tirza

And here is the book I tried to read.

•   Stan Nicholls: Bad Blood: Weapons of Magical Destruction

I hope you had a good reading month!

Happy reading.

donderdag 30 oktober 2014

Arnon Grunberg: Tirza


The last book I read in October is Tirza.
This novel won the 2007 Libris Literatuurprijs  and the De Gouden Uil 2007. Both are very prestigious prices in Belgium and The Netherlands.
Tirza is translated in English, so my international readers can enjoy this one too.
My copy has 430 pages and I got it second-hand.

In this novel we follow Jörgen Hofmeester; devoted father to Ibi and Tirza and husband to his absent wife who lives on a boat with her childhood boyfriend. His life is about perfection, control and keeping up appearances. Fatherhood is a task, a duty and it is his only purpose in life. He wants to be the perfect father for his youngest daughter; Tirza. After hearing again and again how he caused Tirza’s illness he decides to let her be and not to control her life any more. Because Tirza will leave on a trip to Africa, he wants to throw her the best graduation party ever.

This was a rather difficult novel to finish.
It is tragic and sobering.
I felt shamed and humiliated reading about his actions and the events that take place. My heart sunk every time something went wrong or every time he said something racist etc.
I wanted to keep on reading but at the same time I dreaded it because it is so tragic.
The questions behind this novel are urgent though; is Hofmeester a singular case or is he like everyone else? Is he like us or not? Is there a beast in every one of us? What if we lose control over our lives?
It’s about life and how we are disillusioned living it. How we are all alone after all.

Happy reading.

Relaxing on a Saturday night.

vrijdag 24 oktober 2014

C. J. Sansom: Dark Fire


Dark Fire is the second novel in the Shardlake Series by C. J. Sansom. I bought the second and the fourth novel at the Boekenfestijn.
I didn’t read the first one so I can’t compare them yet.
I have read two of his other novels though: Winter in Madrid and Dominion and I loved those.
My copy of Dark Fire has a beautiful cover and it counts 581 pages.

I started this novel at the beginning of the month but I couldn’t concentrate on it at the time so I had to put it aside.

“It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .
The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared.
Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .”

I wasn’t blown away by this novel because it’s not perfect, but I liked it.
Sansom is a fantastic writer and this is a really lovely novel.
The mysteries are rather weak and Sansom could've cut 150 pages easily. The pace of the story did annoy me at times.There were a lot of unimportant meetings, talking and traveling that weren't helping the story forward.
I love the setting of this novel. It’s rich, full of details, an astoundingly well-rounded historical background and wonderful descriptions. But it is never too much, I didn’t get lost in the details.
Unlike Hilary Mantel and many others, Sansom made a fictional character the main-character and real historical figures play only supporting roles.
I like it this way better.I find it easier to set the truth apart from fiction.
Shardlake and Barak are perfect together. Guy is a wonderful character and the other supporting characters are very well thought out. They all have their distinct voice.

Happy reading.

Pie from the bakery my great-grandfather founded and a book!

woensdag 15 oktober 2014

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of those books ‘you have to read’ and I finally did.
My copy has 115 pages and a 14-page introduction. I bought it at the Boekenfestijn.

The prose is beautiful and well-crafted. It is however not unforgettable or the sign of a true genius. It is an easy to read novel. You can feel the emptiness in the novel, you can feel how life was in those days.
I enjoyed this in the novel. Everything is very clean and pure; there are no words and sentences that don’t serve a purpose.

But it is a distant novel. I felt no connection whatsoever to the story or the characters. And the novel is described to us; we’re not a part of it. We know nothing about these characters, we get no motivation for their actions. We feel no relationship between Gatsby and Daisy, no passion, no desire. We know nothing about Tom and Myrtle and Jordan except for what we’re told. Even our narrator Nick is a mystery to us.
This novel feels like a story you tell someone and not like a reading experience.

Jay Gatsby is a man who has the means to do anything but who is hungry for love. He has filled his life with pursuing his dream: Daisy. By throwing with money, organizing huge parties and reinventing himself he tries to win her over. He has the illusion that he can rewrite the past, that everything will be fine if he could erase the last few years. He wants to reclaim the past; he needs to hear that Daisy always loved him so he can go back to a time where they were pure and innocent.
His dream of winning back Daisy aside, he’s empty.
And that idea is very beautiful.

Happy reading.

maandag 13 oktober 2014

Terry Pratchett: Night Watch


Here’s another review of one of TP’s novels. Night Watch is the 29th Discworld novel and it counts 474 pages. This is the first Discworld novel without a cover by the late Josh Kirby. The new artist (Paul Kidby) does pay him tribute by placing him in this picture.
You can find my other reviews of Terry Pratchett’s novels here.

My grandfather died so I had a hard time concentrating on anything. Luckily I was reading two books at the same time so I decided on something I knew I would like and is fairly easy to read. TP never disappoints.

 “Truth! Justice! Freedom! And a hard-boiled egg!
Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he’s back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck.
Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down a murderer, teach his younger self how to be a good copper and change the outcome of a bloody rebellion. There's a problem: if he wins, he's got no wife, no child, no future...”

Vimes gets send to his own past while pursuing the murderer, Carcer.
However, this past is very different from what I thought it would be. Ankh-Morpork is on the verge of revolution. And these Men of the Watch are not his men. Some of them are corrupt, others are lazy, some still have to join and some have to learn to become the ‘best’ they can be. Vimes can see how different they were before and what needed to happen to stop de laziness and the corruption in The Watch.
Learning about our ‘old’ characters and how they became who they are now was a really fun ride. I love Vimes. This novel deepened his character and I loved that. The part where he puts on these old shoes and walks around the city is just genius. And Nobby Nobbs is brilliant! Every word out of his mouth and every sentence about him makes me laugh.
This novel shows us how a revolution or a war can get glorified very easily by losing sight of the men fighting it. These ordinary people are the real heroes. Not the ones making the decisions way up.
Vimes already knows the outcome but he doesn’t always see the way to it. Our Vimes has matured and learned by his past. The past he sees now happening to his younger self. And his younger self really needs help to be able to get where Vimes will be in later life. It’s getting weird huh.

This is definitely not a Discworld novel you should start with. You won’t be able to understand the people he’s meeting in the past that we already know from previous books. And to understand how he traveled in time, you should read Thief of Time first.

I loved it, even though it is a bit harder to read then some of the others. You should definitely read this, but you’d better start with some older novels.

Happy reading.

donderdag 2 oktober 2014

Wrap up: September 2014

Hi again

I got married on the 30th of August but because I just started work, my husband and I weren’t able to go on a honeymoon and we had to start work right after.
Hence the slow reading in the first half of September. I was just too tired.
And we were busy with wrapping things up after the wedding.

Basically, work and life came between me and my books. I’m afraid it will always be that way from now on. I won’t be able to read as much as I did when I studied. I studied for an hour and then paused 15 minutes. Being alone at home during the day, I read mostly when I took time off from studying or writing my master’s thesis.
It doesn’t work that way at work of course.

I read a total of 2388 pages in September. 

Here’s the list of the novels I read:

•    Brandon Sanderson: The Final Empire
•    Sue Townsend: The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
•    Hugh Howey: Shift
•    Paulo Coelho: Brida
•    Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Did you read any of these? How did you like them?

Happy reading.

dinsdag 30 september 2014

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Hi again

Here’s my review about the hype novel Gone Girl.
It’s been on my shelf for more than a year and as the movie is coming out soon, I decided it’s time to read this one.
My copy has 474 pages and I got it at a Charity Shop for like 1 pound.

"Nick and Amy’s marriage has been going downhill for quite some time. They both lost their job and they had to move from NYC to Nick’s hometown North Carthage to take care of his ill mother. Nick opens a bar together with his sister Margo with the remaining money of Amy’s trust fund. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing and Nick becomes the prime suspect in the investigation.
In her journal, Amy seems a happy, lively and easy-going woman with a brute, inconsiderate and self-important man. Nick’s story shows a very different side of Amy and their wedding."

To my shame I learned, again, that a hyped book is not the same as a book I will like.

Every chapter is told from the point of view of Nick or Amy. Nick made this story intriguing. He’s hiding something, but what? Why does he react the way he does? What is he lying about?
Amy’s diary in the first part of the novel shows us a whining little girl who is a walking cliché. Her husband is blameless and everything is her fault. It only took me two or three chapters to see through this. These parts made me cringe.
In reality, Amy is a self-centered bitch who thinks she’s perfect and the husband is to blame for everything. Completely the opposite of her diary-Amy.
Turns out, both Amy and Nick are self-centered, pathetic, deranged, annoying people.
The writing is entertaining but very plain and easy.
The first few surprises were indeed surprising, clever and interesting. But by the time I got to page 300 I just had enough. Everything deteriorates from then on. The characters became extremely unlikable, unconvincing, unrealistic and awful. I can’t understand their reasoning and motives. Why would they do the things they did? The story is too far-fetched.
The ending is just horribly bad, and absurd and a disappointment and incredulous. I hated it.

This book took me from being unable to put it down to just reading out of duty because I really felt the need to review this.
I would definitely recommend you not to read this one.

Happy reading.

Writing a review about this one.

dinsdag 23 september 2014

Paulo Coelho: Brida


This review is about Brida by Paulo Coelho. It’s his fourth book I read by Coelho and I don’t think I’ll be reading more of him for some time. I bought my copy in the Fnac and it counts 238 pages.

“Brida, a young Irish girl, has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her to trust in the goodness of the world, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.”

This novel was very hard to read and even harder to enjoy.
The people in this novel talk incessantly about God. As an atheist, it was rather hard to stomach. And apparently, the only way to truly connect with God was to have an intense orgasm. I mean, seriously?
Coelho gives us a lot of Wise Words, Life Lessons or Universal Truths so much so that it becomes boring. I know it’s his style, but in this novel he gives them excessively.
Brida is a confused novel, it seems like Coelho didn’t really know what he wanted to write so he decided to do it all; a story with a love triangle, Universal Truths and religious theory. In my opinion, it didn’t combine well. The story jumps from one point to another and Brida forgets about her Soulmate and The Magus for a while. Later, she comes back to this. What is this novel even about?
I know The Ultimate Quest in this novel is the Search for your Soulmate and it is a very apt Quest. But I think Coelho should have focused more on this and not so much on everything else.

As you can see, I didn’t really enjoy this novel.
Did you?

It is a shame though, Brida is the 4th novel by Coelho I read, and I enjoyed the others much more. Maybe I didn’t really get it? Maybe I missed something? What do you think?

Happy reading.

zaterdag 20 september 2014

Hugh Howey: Shift


Shift is the second part in the Silo series.
This novel counts 565 pages and I ordered it from the Book Depository.
It really is NOTHING like The Hunger Games, no matter what the cover says.

It is strange to read the second novel in a series when it turns out to be set before the first novel.
The idea is magnificent. Why did they start building the silos? How did they manage it? How is it possible that everyone but Solo died in his silo? How did they keep all those secrets?

We get to know entirely new people and some old acquaintances in this novel. Time and space separate them but their timelines do collide. We learn a bit about the start of this Silo Project and how it was executed. We learn how the people in Silo 1 manage the whole operation. And we know how their lives are so very different from the people in the other silos. Instead of having children and then dying after a long life; the people in silo 1 go into a cryogenic sleep after every shift of 6 months (hence the title). The whole operation is managed with the same few thousand people over and over again.
Well, I’m sure you know after reading Wool that not everything goes as planned.

I definitely enjoyed this novel.
Howey set the start of this project not even 40 years in the future and by choosing to do so, the novel gives us a dark view of a possible future.
Thinking about the life in silo 1 gives me the creeps. They wake up from a cryogenic sleep every 50 years, work for 6 months while they continuously take pills to forget what is really going on and to forget their past. After their shift, they go back to sleep. It is a horrific way to live. And the way Howey describes it; we understand and feel just how robotic and empty these workers are.
The claustrophobic atmosphere jumps off the pages.  Even the lethargic state off the people in silo 1 can be felt in every chapter.
I loved the parts about Mission and life in his silo. Mission was a really thoroughly thought out character and I could feel the tension in the silo in every chapter.
This novel can be seen as a warning too. What if things go too far? What if we really can’t live together and war drives us even further apart? How will the human race survive if technology keeps on improving weaponry?
The whole novel is very confusing but I think Howey did that on purpose. I really needed the timelines inside the book to stay focused and understand everything.

What is it about Thurman? He’s completely nuts! How can he be believed by everyone?
Donald is an unsympathetic slug. We’re never shown that he really loves his wife even though he breaks down after finding out what happened to her. But he lived apart from her, kept secrets and was attracted to Anna.
I didn’t really understand him too. Why the decision on silo 40? He’s always wondering about everything but he takes no action to find any answers. He’s such a whining , lethargic and stupid man!
The chapters on Solo were too long. We already know what happened to him because we’ve read Wool. I really didn’t need the whole sappy story about him. I’m glad we know something about his life, but it didn’t have to be so long.
And I’m sorry Howey but you made a big mistake with your reason for not unfreezing the women.

Happy reading.

donderdag 11 september 2014

Sue Townsend: The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year


This review is about The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend. I read four of her Adrian Mole novels so I was excited to try something else. I ordered my copy from and it counts 437 pages.

“The day her gifted twins leave home for university, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she's wanted to yell at the world, 'Stop! I want to get off'. Finally, this is her chance. Perhaps she will be able to think. Her husband Dr Brian Beaver, an astronomer who divides his time between gazing at the expanding universe, an unsatisfactory eight-year-old affair with his colleague Titania and mooching in his shed, is not happy. Who will cook dinner? Eva, he complains, is either having a breakdown or taking attention-seeking to new heights. But word of Eva's refusal to get out of bed quickly spreads. Alexander the dreadlocked white-van man arrives to help Eva dispose of all her clothes and possessions and bring her tea and toast. Legions of fans are writing to her or gathering in the street to catch a glimpse of this 'angel'. Her mother Ruby is unsympathetic: 'She'd soon get out of bed if her arse was on fire.' And, though the world keeps intruding, it is from the confines of her bed that Eva at last begins to understand freedom.”

This novel is just how I expected it to be.
The characters are a caricature of real people and they act accordingly. In real life, no-one would stay in bed for a year and no-one would let his wife do so. By writing about larger than life characters, the novel becomes very perceptive and hilariously funny.
And let’s face it, Townsend has humor, you have to understand her style and her quirks, but once you do you will surely laugh about the absurdity of the situation. The humor is sharp and to-the-point, well-observed and uplifting.

I’m sure everyone dreams sometimes of not caring, of staying in bed for a while and letting the world be the world while examining the basis of our life. Eva does it and we see that this year is not the careless time for figuring out herself and her life she hoped it would be. But we still wonder how it would be like to do it ourselves.

Happy reading.

Cozy night in.

zondag 7 september 2014

Brandon Sanderson: The Final Empire


This review is about The Final Empire; the first installment in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Series. I got my book from some time ago. It counts 647 pages and it has a very beautiful cover.

"A thousand years ago, the Lord Ruler established himself as the emperor of The Final Empire. No-one can remember the battle where the hero failed and the Lord Ruler became victorious. No books or tales survived those years. Humans are divided into two classes: the Nobles and the Skaa. The Skaa are the poor workers who have to slave away to clean the ever-falling ashes and to provide for the nobility. Kelsier, a Mistborn and the only survivor of the Pits of Hathsin and his crew of Mistings start a rebellion against the Lord Ruler. These Mistings and Mistborns are able to burn different kinds of metal in order to get certain powers. They recruit Vin, a sixteen-year old Skaa Mistborn for the crew and the plans take form."

I LOVED this novel!
This novel left me wanting more. I just couldn’t stop reading; I wanted more free time so I could read even more. It is a magnificent book.
It is something completely new, interesting and unique. The epic battle happened in the past and the Hero failed. There is also an entirely new system of magic. He explains the magic from a science-like point of view; making it a very believable sort of magic. I love it when a writer does something else, something new and Sanderson definitely succeeds!
Sanderson had an easy-going writing style that I’m sure will captivate every reader, experienced or not.
It is a very easy read. It’s simple and understandable. Even though I like a writer who loves his language, I wasn’t troubled by the almost simplistic style in this novel. His action-scenes stopped my heart and his explanations of the world or the magic are simple and they cover everything I need to know.
As the story progresses, we get answers together with the characters. It felt like Sanderson knew when we were wondering about something and he was able to anticipate our questions.
The world of The Final Empire is very well crafted. It is an incredibly thorough built world; accessible and surprising. Sanderson put a lot of thought into this novel. It’s not about a simple rebellion; it’s not about good versus evil where everything is static and black and white. It’s about so much more!
Every character is very well thought out. They’re interesting, different, they have depth and the characters evolve. The characters aren’t frozen or black-and-white. Emotions change, they have doubts, their motivations change, they question their emotions and they change opinions. They are fantastically developed throughout the novel. And I hadn’t any trouble keeping all the characters apart, a fault a lot of fantasy-writers make.
The novel is compelling and engaging. I was anticipating what would happen next throughout the entire novel and how their plans would work out.
You won’t see the ending coming, I can assure you.

But… Where are the other female characters? The only woman in this rebellion is Vin. Every other woman in this novel is a walking cliché. Big mistake Sanderson.

I loved this novel and I would definitely recommend this to everyone out there! I felt happy the whole time I was reading this and I will buy the next one very, very soon.

Happy reading.

Yummy peaches and a fantastic book!

dinsdag 2 september 2014

Wrap Up: August 2014


Here I am again with my monthly wrap up.
I had an amazing reading-month (3667 read pages). Some novels I thoroughly enjoyed, other not so much.

I read a lot in Brighton and we emptied every weekend in August to plan our wedding. In hindsight we really didn’t need all that time. So I got to read a lot last month!
Sadly, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to read this much every month. As a nurse, I have a rather tiring job every day and by the time I get home, I’m done with cooking and some household chores there’s not much time left to read. And our weekends are planned like they used to be which means; less time to read.

I still love reading, and I always will, I’ll just have less time to do so.

Here’s the list of the books I read last month.

•    Erika Mailman: The Witch’s Trinity
•    H. G. Wells: The Island of Doctor Moreau
•    Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express
•    Rachel Joyce: Perfect
•    Paul Hoffman: The Left Hand of God
•    Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
•    Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games Trilogy
•    Veronica Roth: Divergent

I hope you’ll check out some of these books!

Happy reading.

vrijdag 29 augustus 2014

Veronica Roth: Divergent


This review is about Divergent, the first novel in the Divergent-trilogy. I ordered my copy from a very long time ago and it has 487 very easy to read pages.

“In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.”

The story is very easy to read, fast-paced, compelling at moments and I had a good time reading it.
The concept of the different factions is unique and something I’ve never read before. This is why I bought the novel in the first place; I was fascinated by this idea.

Even though it is an enjoyable novel, not a lot happens until we’re at least two-thirds in. It’s not like it’s boring or anything like that, but you really could sum it up in a paragraph.
And then suddenly Tris and Four know something is about to happen, it happens and they try to prevent it. That’s it. It’s over too soon.
I wish we knew more about this world. What happened? Why did it become this way? Why the factions? There was virtually no world-building. I suppose those questions will be answered in the second and third book but I need something in this one to want to read the next one. Some writers (yes I am talking about you, George R. R. Martin) seem to think that they don’t have to do any world-building in the first novel if they have more novels to follow in which they can do that.
I can’t understand how a city can exist when everyone only has one quality. How can a city be governed when every member sees every issue one-sided? And how can a whole future American society be ruled by a representation of only 15% of its people?  It is unrealistic and I understand it is fiction, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept everything.
Secondly, how can a person even survive with only one personality-trait? Dauntless value friendship too. And they put the group before themselves too. Self-actualization is definitely out of the question in this world.
The characters are rather shallow and underdeveloped, they’re not as interesting as they could have been.
Tris is very self-centered. Her friends are trying to protect her from the bullies, and others are trying to keep her divergence a secret while she just runs off to the brother for example.
Tris finds true love a bit too easy. I’m not saying she should hook up with every guy she sees but he’s the first guy she meets and she’s almost immediately attracted to him. And Four is a hot, older guy who is attracted to a younger, 12-year-old looking child. He has a tragic past and because of that he is very closed-off from everyone else but he still has hope and a true unique gentleness in him. It’s way too romantic and unrealistic.
Tris and others get over tragic events like loss way to soon. In a very short time, Al is forgotten, she doesn’t suffer from PTSD because of the attempted murder and The Great Twist at the end doesn’t seem to affect her at all.
Some other things raise questions too. How can Tris end so high in the rankings when she was so low at first? How can a twenty-year-old (Eric) become a leader? Imagine that in our world! Why couldn’t the Dauntless use one of the many abandoned buildings?

The novel is enjoyable but I certainly didn’t love it. I found too much fault in it to really love it as much as I did The Hunger Games. It didn’t grip me, I was entertained and I definitely did enjoy reading it. But it wasn’t compelling or fascinating. This novel had a lot of potential, but it couldn’t live up to it.

Happy reading.

zaterdag 23 augustus 2014

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games Trilogy


The three Hunger Games novels have been on my shelf for quite some time. I just never came round to reading them.
Because I got them second (or third) hand they may have a cover you don’t recognize.
Together they make up a story of 1157 pages.

My fiancé and I are getting married next Saturday so I didn’t have a lot of free time to read this week. And that is why I needed to read something light and easy. Plus, a friend of mine told me she really enjoyed them and that made me curious.
These are YA (young adult) novels and I’m around ten years too old to read these kinds of novels, but what can I say? I love dystopian novels. And YA is highly enjoyable.

“The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.”

I really liked this trilogy.
The world-building is almost fantastic. Almost realistic enough to feel like it could happen in the future.
I hate it when the sequels spend too much time relating whatever happened in the previous books and Collins doesn’t make that mistake. She just gets on with the story and I appreciate that very much.
The suspense-drop between Catching Fire and Mockingjay was very prominent. It didn’t bother me all that much because Collins spends some time world-building and character-building which are necessary to the story.
Katniss is a complex girl and not a one-dimensional heroine. She has her good and bad sides, her doubts and traits.
I’m glad this novel doesn’t end with a happy ending. Katniss and Peetal still feel the effect the Games and the war had on them, even ten years later. Their relationship changed, as did the world around them. The war isn’t forgotten like it never happened and all is well again.

I am left with a lot of questions though. Collins didn’t resolve every plotline in these novels and I find that a problem, especially if you’re writing a series because you have the time and the space to do so. To me, it seemed like she just wanted to end the series and she didn’t put as much thought into the third book as in the first and second novels. I wish we knew how their world changed after the rebellion. Collins is only focusing on Katniss in the end, and I would like to know about the world itself. Though Katniss is a well-defined character, every other character isn’t. Most of them are just plain flat.
Another thing that really bothered me was the over-used love triangle. I just hated Gale. He’s unlikeable and hard as a rock. In my opinion, he should be in the novel, but as a friend, not a love-interest. This triangle doesn’t add anything to the story.

Collins is a good writer in my opinion. She has an easy-going style, she doesn’t overuse adjectives and descriptive language, she writes fluent and she can keep the reader captivated. I wanted to keep on reading partly because of the wonderful story and partly because of her writing.
It’s engaging, gripping, addicting even, fast, suspenseful and highly, highly enjoyable.
I definitely recommend this, if you can put aside the unanswered questions you might have.

Happy reading.

zaterdag 16 augustus 2014

Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents


It is time for another TP review!
The Amazing Maurice is actually a children’s book. But as an adult, I enjoyed it very much because of the layers of the story and the humor.
It is also a perfect standalone novel. It has 278 pages and is very easy to read.
You can find my other reviews of Terry Pratchett’s novels here.

“It’s not a game anymore …
Every town on Discworld knows the stories about rats and pipers, and Maurice - a streetwise tomcat - leads a band of educated ratty friends (and a stupid kid) on a nice little earner. Piper plus rats equals lots and lots of money.
Until they run across someone playing a different tune.
Now he and his rats must learn a new concept: evil … “
Maurice is the cat behind the group of speaking rats and a stupid little boy.  They stage a plague in towns along the way in order to get their accomplice, Keith, paid good money to play the pipes and usher them away.
Something has got to go wrong, right?

This story is a new spin on the classic story of The Pied Piper. It’s not the first time TP writes his version of an old tale, he did this in Wyrd Sisters and Lords and Ladies for example. If you read the original story, you notice how well his story is fabricated around the original. How he makes it into a Discworld story that’s entirely new and original.
As most Discworld novels, The Amazing Maurice tackles major moral questions. And this time it’s the rats who question Life, the Universe and Everything. TP is always able to make us think about these big themes without losing pace, fun and action in his novels.
It’s a wonderful, cheeky novel, very entertaining, funny and a light and easy read.
The evolution of the rats parallels that of the humans and once you realize this, it’s even more interesting.
The names of the rats are hilarious and I won’t even name one for you. Just read the novel, be surprised and laugh. A lot. I’m serious.
BUT even though this is a really funny (one of his most hilarious) novel, it is a haunting novel. Spider, the evil rat-king in this novel is truly frightening. He is pure evil and you can feel it in every word about him.

Happy reading.

dinsdag 12 augustus 2014

Paul Hoffman: The Left Hand of God

Hi again

This review is about The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman. It’s the first book in The Left Hand of God trilogy. I got this book in the Waterstones in Glasgow.

“His name is Cale.
They told him he could destroy the world.
Maybe he will.
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a place where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary's huge maze of corridors is a boy. He is strange witty and charming, and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die.”

The Left Hand of God is marked as Fantasy or Dark Fantasy but is actually a really bad love story.
The plot is unrealistic, the world-building is non-existent, the character-building is hugely flawed or (again) non-existent, the plot is predictable and unbelievable.

1 star

Happy reading.

maandag 11 augustus 2014

Rachel Joyce: Perfect


Perfect is Rachel Joyce’s second novel and it has 445 pages. I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry so I bought Perfect the moment it came out.

“In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures.
Then Byron's mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron's perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?”

This certainly was a very charming novel but I didn’t love it as much as Harold Fry.

Joyce has a simple and silent humor that makes the novel easy to digest and to get through. She builds the tension very subtle, every word or gesture builds to the dramatic ending.
The novel is beautifully written, with great understanding and an eye for detail. 

One negative thing comes to mind though. I feel like Joyce tried a bit too hard. She should have simplified the part about Byron, there’s too much going on in my opinion.

4 stars

Happy reading!

What to do on a rainy Sunday?

zondag 10 augustus 2014

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express


My mother owns every novel by Agatha Christie and that’s why I started reading them when I was young. When I saw four of Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels in a second-hand shop in Brighton I had to get them.
Murder on the Orient Express has 347 pages.

“The famous Orient Express, thundering along on its three-day journey across Europe, came to a sudden stop in the night. Snowdrifts blocked the line at a desolate spot somewhere in the Balkans. Everything was deathly quiet. "Decidedly I suffer from the nerves," murmured Hercule Poirot, and fell asleep again. He awoke to find himself very much wanted. For in the night murder had been committed. Mr. Ratchett, an American millionaire, was found lying dead in his berth – stabbed. The untrodden snow around the train proved that the murderer was still on board. Poirot investigates. He lies back and thinks – with his little grey cells...”
The murdered man turns out to be the kidnapper and murderer of the child Daisy Armstrong, thereby killing her mother and father in their grief. As you might guess, a lot of people still bear grudges against him.

This novel is exactly what you can expect from Christie, it is fast and easy, it has funny, exaggerated characters and an almost insoluble murder.

3 stars

Happy reading.

The first day at work after a short holiday is always the hardest. Luckily I have a cure; tea and a book!