donderdag 31 december 2015

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Hi everyone

Here’s my last review of the year. It will be a short one because I haven’t got much time and I’ve got to get ready for tonight but I really wanted to include The Grapes of Wrath in my Wrap up.
The Grapes of Wrath has an introduction of 32 pages by Robert DeMott and the story itself is 476 pages. 
I got the book from the Fnac in the very nice Penguin Modern Classic edition.

“ 'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.' Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer prize-winning epic The Grapes of Wrath remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of Dust Bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of Tom Joad and his family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel west in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision. Adapted into a celebrated film directed by John Ford, and starring Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath is an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.”

I loved it.
I absolutely loved it.

It’s beautiful, thought provoking, incredibly written, it’s heartbreaking and tear wrenching.
That’s The Grapes of Wrath.

This will definitely be included in my favorite books of 2015 so look forward to that post!


Have a great evening and an amazing new year!

 Taking a 30 min. break from work in the house with homemade chocolate cake and a book.

zondag 27 december 2015

Robert Jordan: The Shadow Rising


This is the fourth book in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
I felt like reading one extra this month instead of waiting another month. I should still read the next one in January though because I want to keep a bit of a schedule. I don’t want to plan all the series I’m reading (The Dresden Files, Discworld and Wheel of Time) in the same month, leaving me no time to read anything else but these series.

You can find all the reviews in the series here. 
The Shadow Rising has a whopping 1009 pages.


Rereading this series has given me a whole new outlook on it. I first read it when I was around sixteen years old and except for The Lord of the Rings it was my first experience with anything SFF-related. I LOVED The Wheel of Time back then. Right now, I find I’m more critical of Jordan’s writing, the characters and the story in general. I’m not that fan girl anymore that loved everything about it.
I still enjoy it a lot and it will always be special to me because it was the start of my SFF love. I just don’t love it as much because I know now that there’s better out there.

Back then, I could relate more to the characters because of my age. Now, at just 27 I feel like Nynaeve for example can behave like a child and Matt is still a toddler with a lot of growing up to do (which he does). But I have more love and appreciation for the world-building and the politics. Like I said; I changed. It’s not so much about the loving the characters. I can appreciate bad characters and I especially love good, solid world building and lots of details.

I simply love Tam, Min, Tom and Siuan for example. They are amazing characters. I do not love Matt but I enjoy him and he has a purpose.
While I hate Elaida with every fiber in my body, I still appreciate the important role she plays.
Faile is a 'good' character but she's also a 
hateful, self important, highly irrational, manipulating, bitching, childish and abusive bully. I hate her, I hate her, I hate her.

From this book on it gets really big. We truly begin to see the sheer depth and the epic greatness of this series. It is so much more than a simple story where good has to defeat evil.
Politics start to play an important role because Rand has to unite all nations to fight The Dark One. But he has a lot of growing up to do and a lot to learn. Aside from that, he really doesn’t care about the nobles and their ideas. He is still a farm boy in his mind. I like that a lot because a person doesn’t change where he comes from. His whole storyline in The Waste is great.
He comes into his own and it’s not that easy anymore to push him around.

Aviendha’s reaction to Rand’s supposed ill-treatment of Elaine is way over the top. It’s not like we read about a real bond between them. So why does Aviendha care so much about Rand’s behavior towards other women? She really got on my nerves.
And the whole relationship stuff in general doesn’t interest me. Rand and Min and Elaine. Faile and Perrin. I simply don’t care because it’s so juvenile. Elaine and her stupid letters and her whining about Rand reading those letters.
The repetitiveness in general of the reactions towards the opposite gender is eye rolling and sigh worthy. All men are wool headed and all women are strong and able to manipulate men. Each gender doesn’t understand the other and the boys especially think the other boys are better at talking to women. Each gender thinks the other gender needs guiding, gossip whenever given a chance to talk and are generally plain stupid.

The breaking of the narrative still works great. We get to know what’s happening to everybody at moments in time that are important for those characters. This is great because everything influences everything else; even though events or characters might seem unrelated at one point.

The Shadow Rising is a fast read because a lot happens in this huge (!) novel and the world building gets even better in this one. So many details you could drown in them but I love that. But the talking about dresses, yanking braids, sighing and puffing is too much. 
Jordan doesn’t need to remind me about everything that happened in the novels before this one. I know what happened! I read the books and I’m not stupid.

This is fantasy to lose yourself in, not for the prose which just does the trick but isn’t exactly elegant but for how epic it is.


Happy reading!

Reviewing with Licor 43. Bliss.

zaterdag 19 december 2015

Terry Pratchett: Making Money


Terry Pratchett needs no more introduction if you’ve been reading my blog for some time.
I read one every other month and Making Money is the 36th Discworld novel.
It won the Locus Award for Fantasy and my copy has 474 pages.
You can find all my Terry Pratchett reviews here.

 “It's an offer you can't refuse.
Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork's Royal Mint and the bank next door?
It's a job for life. But, as former con-man Moist von Lipwig is learning, the life is not necessarily for long.
The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There's something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A 300 year old wizard is after his girlfriend, he's about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins Guild might get him first. In fact lot of people want him dead.
Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies.
Everywhere he looks he's making enemies.
What he should be doing is . . . Making Money!”

I like Moist von Lipwig a lot. He’s witty, sarcastic, street-smart and a bit of a rebel.
Because this is the second novel with Moist, this isn’t the ideal book to start with when you want to read Discworld. As always, I would recommend you to just start with the first novel.

Making Money isn’t as fast, hilarious and satirical as Going Postal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
It is pretty suspenseful, funny and action-packed. 

As with a lot of the other books, I am amazed at the amount of research Pratchett must have done to write this book. His head must be a beehive full of thoughts.

This is also a quite philosophical novel about the worth of stuff and assigning worth to something. Pretty amazing. I absolutely love that about Pratchett.


Happy reading!

zondag 13 december 2015

Jim Butcher: Summer Knight


Summer Knight is the fourth book in The Dresden Files.
I got it from Bol and it has 413 pages.

                                *   SPOILERS   *

The world building definitely went up a level. And I love that. The White Council is really interesting and the Realm of the Fae is just incredible.
We get enough details about the characters and I do feel like I know them. Or at least, I know them as Harry would.
The Alphas are awesome and they changed so much.
This fourth novel is the start of an overarching plot for the whole series because we know Harry has two more tasks to fulfill for Winter Queen of Faerie.
Harry opening up to Murphy made me very happy.
And the Vampires are mentioned too so there’s something going on there.
Food for the next novels! I can’t wait to read more Dresden Files.

The book was very enjoyable, fast-paced, witty, full of action, fun and easy to get through. The series has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
I also feel like it is written better than the previous novels.
Summer Knight is not as dark and suspenseful as Grave Peril because Harry never was in as much danger as he was then and I enjoyed it more because of that. I don’t like it when my characters suffer; it makes me feel sorry for them.

It is still pretty sexist, but not as much as before so it wasn’t as aggravating.

Highly recommended. This is such a guaranteed, comforting, fun, series. I know I’ll be having a good time reading a Dresden book.

Happy reading.

Writing a review.

dinsdag 8 december 2015

Isaac Asimov: Forward the Foundation


Forward the Foundation is the second prelude in the Foundation Series.
This book explains a lot about the events in Foundation so I’m glad I didn’t wait too long to read it.
I got it from and it has 435 pages.
This book is the last one Asimov ever wrote even though it fits into the series and not at the end.

Forward the Foundation is a very fast paced novel and I enjoyed it a lot.

It is a bit too convenient at times and it lacks depth and character development but it is a very entertaining and suspenseful read.
Some unexpected events occur and I must say I felt saddened by a few of these.
Asimov uses vivid language, humor, suspense and he weaves it all into this amazing series. It’s always clear and simple and never deep or introspective (it doesn’t need to be in my opinion).

All in all, I liked the novel as an easy and fun sci-fi read but nothing more.

Happy reading.

Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies and a book. 
Life can be good.

maandag 7 december 2015

Jane Austen: The Beautifull Cassandra


This is my last Jane Austen book of the year and it is the only one I hadn’t read before.
You can click here to find all my other Jane Austen reviews.
This little gem has only 55 pages and I got it from The Book Depository.

The book contains a selection of Austen’s earlier work; her so-called Juvenilia and it is a parody of the then popular melodramatic novels.
This was never meant for publication and she wrote it for her own and her family’s entertainment so it’s very different from her later works. If you read them be sure to adjust your expectations.  

That said, I enjoyed it and it made me smile. I’m glad I read it.

Happy reading!

dinsdag 1 december 2015

Wrap Up: November 2015


Well it has been quite a month.
By now you probably know that we’ve moved into our new house.
We’re pretty much settled now but there’s still a lot of work to do in December too. Let alone the big jobs we have to save for first. But that’s all in the future.
Right now there’s more cleaning to do, more decisions about proper places for the last boxes full of stuff, curtains etc. and getting some extra things from the shops like a small cabinet, nails for the pictures on the walls and the like.
But the house is a home now and we can take it a bit easy.

I read a total of 1609 pages in 4 books. That’s 402 pages per book and 54 pages per day. A lot more than I expected honestly.

Here are the books I read this month. To see the review you can click on the title.

Anything you care to recommend?

Happy reading!

maandag 30 november 2015

Jane Austen: Persuasion


Persuasion was Jane Austen’s last completed novel and it is one of my favorites.
The novel has 249 pages and 6 pages on the story by Elisabeth Bowen.
This was also a reread for me.

“Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?”

I absolutely adore this novel.

The story is melancholic, it has a feeling of loss throughout the novel but it is never hopeless.
Some might say it’s a slow story but I never found it so. The book is very short and I flew through it while I do think a smile never left my face. I just loved it.
The writing is amazing, it’s flowery, it’s passive and delicate. Truly exquisite prose.

Captain Wentworth letter is beautiful, sweet, full of love and so tender.
Anne is an admirable character. She never puts herself forward, she cares for everyone even those who don’t care for her, she’s realistic, she’s intelligent and she has common sense and founded opinions.

Go read it, you really have to.

Happy reading!

zaterdag 28 november 2015

Robert Jordan: The Dragon Reborn


This is the third book in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
It has 641 pages.


Ah, the foreshadowing is glorious! That’s what’s so nice about rereading. The suspense and the anxiety are far less, but knowing so much more, you get to enjoy the novel in a whole other way.

While you’re reading, certain decisions like Siuan sending the girls to hunt the Black Ajah seem to be plain foolish. But actually thinking about it, you get to see that it really is the only way events could go. The whole novel is so plausible, so logical the way everything happens.

This novel is told in a very different way from the ones before.
Rhand has a lot of growing up to do and he has to accept being the Dragon Reborn, but we don’t get to see that because he’s not in the novel. He’s almost like a side character even though he is the main character with the most important mission in the novel. But I like that; I guess we got rid of a lot of whining this way.

Instead of Rhand, we get multiple, diverging plotlines all coming together in the end.
This book proves that a hero doesn’t save a world on his own. Others have their roles to play too. This is not a simple hero saves the world story and it is not just about Rhand. There is so much more going on.
Not a lot happens in the way of real action but it is a very important and big novel in the way of shaping the characters because it tells us a lot about them, we get to know them so much better. The characters are growing up, even Matt (though I still feel like he’s a caricature). Most of the characters are better developed in this book.

I did not like Moiraine in this novel though. She seems very different from before.
And I absolutely hate Faile, she’s complaining about everything, and it’s always someone else’s fault. Well guess what, she wasn’t wanted but she decided to come anyway, knowing it was dangerous. She’s manipulating, bitching and being childish. She should shut up and get killed.
One can only hope.

The forsaken could be anywhere and that’s creepy, anyone with power could be a forsaken. Or anyone else for that matter. In this novel we truly get the sense of the scope of the evil in the world.

This novel was a pure joy to read. So fast, so much suspense and so many wonderful characters. Except for Faile; I hate her.

Happy reading!

dinsdag 24 november 2015

Isaac Asimov: Prelude to Foundation


Prelude to Foundation is the first prelude in the Foundation Series even though Isaac Asimov wrote it after Foundation.
I got this book from Bol and it has 493 pages.

 “It is 12,020 G.E. and Emperor Cleon I sits uneasily on the Imperial throne of Trantor. Here in the great multidomed capital of the Galactic Empire, forty billion people have created a civilization of unimaginable technological and cultural complexity. Yet Cleon knows there are those who'd see him fall, those whom he'd destroy if only he could read the future.
Hari Seldon has come to Trantor to deliver his paper on psychohistory, his remarkable theory of prediction. Little does the young Outworld mathematician know that he has already sealed his fate and the fate of humanity. For Hari possesses the prophetic power that makes him the most wanted man in the Empire... the man who holds the key to the future -- an apocalyptic power to be known forever after as the Foundation.”

                * SPOILERS *

I enjoyed this novel very much.
I loved the history in the novel. As it is set in our far, far future, we are the past of the novel. And it’s fun to read about Hari’s search for the foundation of The Empire.
I also liked the idea of the inevitable return of everything that already has happened before.
Decay is a slow process and it isn’t noticed as such until it has been going on for quite some time. T
here’s never a specific date it started.
The different societies are truly magnificent and imaginative. I always love that in SFF. I love the daily life, the details and the cultures.

The prose is easy to read and not really beautiful or of high quality. But it is thrilling and engaging so it definitely works.
The story is fast-paced, full of action and very exciting.
But the characters are rather shallow.

The amount of worlds is a bit over the top; 25 million worlds is mind-boggling and hard to grasp for the reader. Also, for being so far in the future, not much has changed.

The twist at the end was partly expected and partly a real twist so I liked that too. And it was a great idea to have a robot live through all the millennia. The decay of The Empire becomes very realistic that way because if someone should know about it, it’s this robot. 
The Aurora and Earth side story is amazing and very interesting. I liked this a lot because it makes it real, it makes it a possibility for us. It’s intriguing too because there are no records of this part of their history. That certainly must have a dark reason.

I enjoyed it a lot and I would definitely recommend this to you.

Happy reading!

A bit of reading in between cleaning the new house and packing everything we own.

vrijdag 20 november 2015

The books I want to read before the end of 2015


I wanted to do a short post about the books I really want to finish before the end of the year.
So without further ado, here they are and the reasons why I want to read them this year.
Well, I’ve been (re)reading every Jane Austen novel I own in 2015 so I want to finish this endeavor.
I am reading one of the books in these series every other month so I have time to read other novels too. But more importantly, I won’t be tempted to binge-read a series and risk being burned out of enjoying them. I have experienced that in the past when I read 4 or 5 books in a series in one go and then leave them for months because I’m bored of the characters or the setting or something else.
So far, I’ve read Foundation and Prelude to Foundation. Forward The Foundation is the novel in between those two. Off course I want to read it a.s.a.p.

That makes six books. It’s not a lot so I’m sure I’ll manage reading and finishing them in the next 40 days or so.
The Beautifull Cassandra is a tiny book and I’m reading The Dragon Reborn at the moment so it won’t be a problem.
We’ve moved already and I’m putting stuff away every day so by next week I’ll have more time to read.

What books would you like to finish in 2015?

Happy reading!

zondag 8 november 2015

Ernest Hemingway: Across the River and into the Trees


Across the River and into the Trees is my fourth (I think) novel by Ernest Hemingway.
I got it very cheap at the Boekenfestijn and it has 220 pages.
We’re moving next week so this will be short.

 “In the fall of 1948, Ernest Hemingway made his first extended visit to Italy in thirty years. His reacquaintance with Venice, a city he loved, provided the inspiration for Across the River and into the Trees, the story of Richard Cantwell, a war-ravaged American colonel stationed in Italy at the close of the Second World War, and his love for a young Italian countess. A poignant, bittersweet homage to love that overpowers reason, to the resilience of the human spirit, and to the worldweary beauty and majesty of Venice, Across the River and into the Trees stands as Hemingway's statement of defiance in response to the great dehumanizing atrocities of the Second World War.”

This novel is supposed to be inspired by Hemingway’s own life and I do feel like it is.

Reading this was an emotional ride.
Nothing much happens and even though it is a very small book, it is filled to the brim with love, hate and deep sadness.
I enjoyed it, certainly, but it was too much. Too slow and too emotional.

Happy reading!

zondag 1 november 2015

Wrap Up: October 2015


My reading slowed down considerably by the second half of the month.
Moving day is getting closer and there’s still a lot to do. Our house isn’t completely finished and even after the move there’s work to be done for the next few years (painting, the garden and terrace mainly but some other parts like the attic too).
So we’ve started packing, cleaning our new house in between the workers doing their jobs, cleaning the old apartment, planning the move and the deep clean of the new house. It’s pretty amazing and very exciting. I honestly can’t wait for the move. But it’s really exhausting so I actually just want to sit and watch Doctor Who or The Walking Dead after work.
We’re moving in two weeks! So there’s still a lot to be done before the big day. I haven’t even started packing my books.
All this jabber was just to point out why October started out great readingwise but slowed down so much.

I read a total of 9 books or 2990 pages. That’s 332 pages per book.

Here’s what I read this month:
And here’s what I didn’t finish:
How was your month? Anything you would like to recommend me?

zaterdag 31 oktober 2015

Ann Leckie: Ancillary Sword


Ancillary Sword is Ann Leckie’s second book in the Imperial Radch Trilogy. It won the Locus Award and the BSFA Award.
The book has 354 pages and I got it from Bol.
I read the first novel, Ancillary Justice, a few months ago.

 “The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go -- to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn's sister works in Horticulture.
Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized -- or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station's AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what's going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent.”

I found this one really difficult to get through.
It’s rather boring actually. It’s not bad, just boring and I was never really stimulated to get on with reading it.

The story is very simple (again), not really exciting and so, so slow. There’s an overly simple plot but it’s not considered that important and the narrative thread is weak too.
Ancillary Sword has even less action then Justice. It’s more focused on its morality and message then on something (anything) happening.
The world building made this a better novel though. There are lots of details and history and I like that in SFF. But it’s never really descriptive, just here and there a bit and I want more.

Breq is an admirable character. She does what she believes is right, without regard for propriety or status.
Her ability to read even the tiniest flicker of emotion on someone’s face is a bit over-reaching in my opinion. She’s not human and she can’t see every tiny glance. But she apparently knows everything that goes on in a human’s mind.
You do feel how lonely she is throughout the novel.
But she is too perfect to make me really care for her. She always knows exactly what to do, she’s so moral and just, she never falters or makes mistakes. It aggravated me to be honest.

I liked knowing more about the annexation and the troubles it brings for the different peoples and societies as Breq experiences it. Politics and the inner workings of a society always interest me in SFF. But the scope here is so small. Breq talks and talks about the whole Empire, but all we see is this tiny, unimportant station. Problems in the Empire are mentioned throughout the novel, but it’s always in passing.
I missed Seivarden in this novel. I liked the interaction between Breq and Seivarden in the previous novel. 

Sword is different and not bad but not as special as many seem to think. Or that’s my opinion at least.

Happy reading.

vrijdag 23 oktober 2015

Terry Pratchett: Wintersmith

Hi everyone

I read the third Tiffany Aching novel in The Discworld series by the late Sir Terry Pratchett.
It has 375 pages and it won the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book in 2007.

“Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to winter — she does what no one has ever done before and leaps into the dance. Into the oldest story there ever is. And draws the attention of the Wintersmith himself.
As Tiffany-shaped snowflakes hammer down on the land, can Tiffany deal with the consequences of her actions? Even with the help of Granny Weatherwax and the Nac Mac Feegle — the fightin’, thievin’ pictsies who are prepared to lay down their lives for their big wee hag.”

I loved this book so much.

Wintersmith pokes fun at some of the classic tropes in Fantasy like the god falling in love with an earthly woman.
Miss Treason is another perfect example. I loved her even though she ‘scared’ me at first. But she’s so lovable (as most Discworld witches are), weird and a strong female character in general. She knows that you cannot be a witch if others don’t see you as one. So she decided a very long time ago to just play along.
If there is one thing we can never blame Pratchett for it’s a lack of strong female characters.
Tiffany is a brilliant character. She’s smart, willful, she knows what she wants, and she’s brave, confident, competent and brassy.
The ‘love story’ of Tiffany and Roland made me smile in its innocence and their denial of it.
Roland is clumsy, smart, sweet and funny. He’s an excellent match for Tiffany and a great character even without her. And Pratchett still shows her as a 13-year old girl. He made me care so much for her.
Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax (I want to be her when I grow old) make this novel an absolutely amazing read. They are both spot on. They are ruthless as always, a charming couple of witches, memorable, headstrong, smart and just generally, truly incredible.
And how could I not mention the Nac Mac Feegle? They made me laugh so hard my husband had to laugh about me laughing about the book.
Lastly, there’s Horace. You’ll have to see for yourselves what he/that’s about.

The plot is good, solid, fast and unpredictable. Well, it’s Pratchett so you know it’s going to be ok, but you so wonder sometimes. It’s full of action from start to finish, it just doesn’t stop.

And there’s a bit of wisdom for the reader as well. There always is ‘stealth philosophy’ and it’s never boring, meandering, blaming or harsh. He teaches us about superstition, death, blame, responsibility, duty and the consequences of our actions.

It’s engaging, the prose is easy, rich, without fluff and bright. The characters are real, fully realized with merits and flaws, they grow, they are complex and they are all my friends.
And it is filled to the brim with Pratchett’s typical sense of humor. 
I loved it. I absolutely adored this book.

Happy reading.

donderdag 22 oktober 2015

Shirley Jackson: Hangsaman


Hangsaman is my second Shirley Jackson novel (I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle a few months ago).
It has 218 pages and a 5-page Foreword by Francine Prose.
I got it from The Book Depository.

“Seventeen-year-old Natalie Waite longs to escape home for college. Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. When Natalie finally does get away, however, college life doesn’t bring the happiness she expected. Little by little, Natalie is no longer certain of anything—even where reality ends and her dark imaginings begin. Chilling and suspenseful, Hangsaman is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore in 1946.”

I enjoyed this novel enormously.
It’s very different and unique. The prose is absolutely beautiful, elegant and it makes for a truly believable story. The atmosphere created is dark, claustrophobic and haunting but not throughout.

The story is about the aftermath of trauma; what can happen after someone or something changed you and your life. What happened is never explicitly stated nor dwelt upon but it influences every sentence after.
It’s also about finding your place in the world, your part in it and figuring out who you are.

Hangsaman is definitely recommended!

Happy reading.

vrijdag 16 oktober 2015

Stefan Brijs: The Angel Maker


This is my review of my third time reading The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs.
I obviously read it in Dutch because Stefan Brijs is a Belgian writer but I do know this novel has been translated into English.
My copy has 429 pages and is actually my mother’s copy. 

Last year I went to a lecture Stefan Brijs was giving in my hometown. I own De Engelenmaker and Post voor mevrouw Bromley so I decided to bring them with me to get them autographed. One for me and one for my mother whose books we forgot to bring with us. So I gave her my signed copy of De Engelenmaker, I got her copy instead and I now own a signed copy of Post voor mevrouw Bromley.
“The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children-three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets-and the good doctor- aren't quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe's past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Brought to life by internationally bestselling author Stefan Brijs, this eerie tale promises to get under readers' skin.”

I enjoyed it a lot. Not as much as the first or the second time though.
My guess is that the gossip and the weak-minded people are hitting too close to home this time around.
The story is set in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else. That makes for a lot of talking, spying and gossiping. And it feels stifling. You get so caught up in it you can feel yourself growing as stupid and foolish as them. 

Hoppe is amazingly characterized. His determination is admirable. And what he has to go through is tragic and you can totally understand how he came to be the way he is without approving his deeds.

The storytelling is very sharp, intelligent and to the point.
Brijs shows us how superstition, science and personal experience can all be a part of one and the same person and how this can still make sense inside this person’s head. Because it still does for Hoppe. And it’s amazing to watch his reasoning and his thoughts.

The Angel Maker is well worth the read. The story is enormously engrossing; it just sucks you up and doesn’t let you go until you have to go to sleep or until you’ve finished the whole thing.

I remember being flabbergasted the first time I read it and I found out what it was all about. Obviously, I’m well beyond that now but it still is pretty awesome, horrific, baffling and utterly amazing.

Happy reading!

Delightful hours.

maandag 12 oktober 2015

Yevgeny Zamyatin: We


This review is about We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
My copy has 203 pages story, 6 pages Introduction and 2 pages Translator’s Note.

“In the One State of the great Benefactor, there are no individuals, only numbers. Life is an ongoing process of mathematical precision, a perfectly balanced equation. Primitive passions and instincts have been subdued. Even nature has been defeated, banished behind the Green Wall. But one frontier remains: outer space. Now, with the creation of the spaceship Integral, that frontier -- and whatever alien species are to be found there -- will be subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason.
One number, D-503, chief architect of the Integral, decides to record his thoughts in the final days before the launch for the benefit of less advanced societies. But a chance meeting with the beautiful I-330 results in an unexpected discovery that threatens everything D-503 believes about himself and the One State. The discovery -- or rediscovery -- of inner space...and that disease the ancients called the soul.”

We was written in 1921 and it was a major influence on the two most well known dystopian novels ever; 1984 and Brave New World
Because I love both I felt like I needed to read this one too.

The novel is a written record by our protagonist, D-503 (or D) like a diary with scattered thoughts, disjointed sentences and random entries.
These entries feel very cold and detached and I didn’t really care about any of the characters or the unfolding events.
I suppose that’s exactly what Zamyatin wanted us to feel like because it works great for the story and the characters aren’t meant to be likeable.
The novel is slow going at first and hard to understand but if you keep going it gets interesting.

Our protagonist, D, fully believes in the One State, he’s not the one with doubts as in so many other novels. No, he is happy with his life and he actually, truly believes in the system. He thinks like an indoctrinated mathematician. And he keeps thinking like that throughout the novel. D is not the quintessential rebel. I found this to be a very interesting and unusual point of view.

The ending was most definitely an inspiration for George Orwell.

Freedom allows chaos and chaos is not a part of true happiness. Imagination and improvisation are freedom and thus they are chaos.
One State is a completely machinelike, controlled society with no room for individuality or any form of freedom. The glass houses are an example of this theory.
In this One State there are only designations and numbers. This is a simple way to dehumanize every person in this state. Can you imagine your life that way?
Theoretical happiness and complete health have made way for freedom.

Highly recommended if you have an interest or a passion for Classics or Dystopian Fiction.

Happy reading!


zondag 11 oktober 2015

Agatha Christie: Five Little Pigs


Five Little Pigs is another novel by Agatha Christie in her Hercule Poirot-series.
The book has 336 pages and I got it second-hand in Brighton.
You can find all my Agatha Christie reviews here.

“Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other “little pigs” who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcée), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.
Sixteen years later, Caroline’s daughter is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, and Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.”

It’s rather difficult to write reviews about a series where all the books are more or less the same.
There’s always a murder. Poirot talks with the suspects at least two times. After that he reveals to them when they are gathered together who murdered the deceased.
That’s the basic outline of every Christie novel.

Every novel is well-written, easy to read and funny at times. Sometimes I know who did it before Poirot reveals it but even if I can’t always figure out how he or she did it. So it is always pleasant and amusing to read these novels.
This one isn’t any different.

I liked it and I enjoyed it. For once I knew who did it, but not how.
It’s pure entertainment.

Happy reading!

donderdag 8 oktober 2015

Robin Hobb & Megan Lindholm: The Inheritance


The Inheritance is the first short stories collection by Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. Both are pseudonyms used by Margaret Lindholm. She sees these two pseudonyms as very different authors with a very distinct and not interchangeable writing style. Combining their stories into one collection made me see these differences quite clearly even though I’ve never read anything by Megan Lindholm.
I got this book at the Boekenfestijn and it has exactly 400 pages.

“The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb—including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. Included in this essential volume are Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated short masterworks, as well as brand new tales and the never before published in the U.S. title story—a unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.”

This collection includes the following stories:
as Megan Lindholm: A Touch of Lavender, Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man, Cut, The Fifth Squashed Cat, Strays, Finis and Drum machine
as Robin Hobb: Homecoming, The Inheritance and Cat's meat

Lindholm’s stories were a bit too short for me. I enjoyed them so much I wanted more of them and I wanted them to slow down a bit because they were so fast paced and sometimes shallow. These stories were more SF or urban in a recent setting. Hobb’s stories were fantastical as are her novels and they were slower too, which I liked.

I really liked this extremely descriptive collection. It’s very different from other collections and Lindholm’s stories especially were unique in their setting. The stories are very empowering, sad, moving and oddly triumphant. 

I enjoyed it but the stories are too predictable and shallow to really love them.

Happy reading.

maandag 5 oktober 2015

P. G. Wodehouse: Much Obliged, Jeeves


Much Obliged, Jeeves is another novel in the Jeeves and Wooster series by P. G. Wodehouse.
The books are all tiny and this one is no exception counting only 203 pages.

“While staying with his Aunt Dahlia to help out in the election at Market Snodsbury, Bertie Wooster comes up against the familiar horrors of Florence Craye, his former fiancee, and Roderick Spode, head of the Black Shorts, in a plot tangle from which, as usual, only the ingenuity of Jeeves can save him.”

I can just see these scenes right before my eyes and hear the voices in my head. Wodehouse has a very descriptive style.
The plot is a bit dull and weak but it’s also funny, full of coincidences and happy accidents.
Bertie is as sweet and funny as ever while stumbling through it all.
Jeeves is witty as usual.
And he has a first name! Breath people, don’t forget to breath.

I liked it; this is perfect, easy to read entertainment.

Happy reading!

zondag 4 oktober 2015

Jim Butcher: Grave Peril


Grave Peril is the third book in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
I got it from Bol and it has 359 pages.

                                *   SPOILERS   *

This third novel is quite different from the ones before. There are more characters, more action and it’s all a lot faster.
This is also the most complicated plot yet. It’s not as straight-forward as the other ones and it has multiple interesting sidelines converging towards the end of the novel.

The story is fast, action-packed and it doesn’t slow down. Towards the end when you start counting the pages left and there aren’t a lot left you really start wondering how the heck Butcher is going to fix it all.
I liked the story a lot.

The whole setup feels very real. Butcher writes vividly and with a minimal of over-the-top magic and the likes. Everything is grounded; every action, every conversation and every creature/person has a reason for being in the novel. It’s great world building throughout. It still feels as modern day Chicago, but just a ‘bit’ different.

The characters are all very well characterized. We even get to know the new ones pretty thoroughly.
I must say I have a mixed relationship with Michael. He’s so much a godlover that it’s funny, but he too righteous to stay funny. I’d had it with him after a while and I was glad he wasn’t part of the whole novel so he could stay in my affections.
Susan is a walking cliché.
But so is Harry in a way and I don’t mind him or I wouldn’t keep reading the series.
All in all, I like these characters and I can see this series going pretty much anywhere.

I hate Dresden’s views on women though. On the one hand he practically drools every time he sees a woman and he can’t help himself thinking about her ass, her breasts or her legs. And on the other hand he thinks every woman, no matter how bad or vicious she is, is a damsel in distress. I hate it when writers do that. I would much rather see Dresden killing a woman vampire then have him thinking that he shouldn’t because she’s a woman.

I enjoyed this very much.

Happy reading!

donderdag 1 oktober 2015

woensdag 30 september 2015

Bernhard Hennen: De Elfen


This is my last review of the month.
I got De Elfen secondhand and in Dutch. As far as I know they have not been translated into English.
This first novel in the German series Die Elfen has 670 pages.

I started this novel around the 7th of this month and he struggled to get it finished by the end of this month to be able to include it in my Wrap Up.

This definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.

It’s so very old fashioned. There’s nothing new in here even though it is a rather young and new series.
The plot is predictable, the whole thing is rather dull and the characters are not thought out at all.
Noroëlle especially is very superficial and she is the woman with the most lines in the whole novel! I feel ashamed in Hennen’s place for writing such a weak, insipid female character.
The others are shallow and very predictable in their roles as elves or men.
The plot is rather ridiculous, superficial and just quack.
And the whole novel in general feels too simple or weak to be interesting. It’s not even remotely suspenseful but it is so forced.
B O R I N G!

I felt disconnected and not engaged at all while reading this. Not impressed at all.

Because I own the other three books in the series (I had to buy them together) I will attempt to read at least the second one before deciding to get rid of them or not.

Happy reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for my monthly Wrap Up.

Pumpkin soup while (finally) finishing and reviewing this one before the end of the month.

dinsdag 29 september 2015

Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose

Hi again

Second review of the day.
Why you ask?
Because I was too lazy/reading too much to start reviewing right after I finished a novel at the beginning of the month. Hence an extra review today. And this is also why you get a big book today and an even bigger book tomorrow.

The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco has 522 pages and this is my third time reading it. My first time doesn’t really count because I was too young to appreciate it fully.
My book also has a big postscript by Umberto Eco about the novel and writing itself.  It also has a translation of all the Latin passages.

 “The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon - all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey.”

Interestingly I’ve only read two Eco novels and never felt the need to read more of his works.

The Name of the Rose is basically a medieval murder mystery. Basically.
The mystery and the plot is very gripping and engrossing. You just can’t put it aside once you’re into it. You want more and more, you want to know who’s next, what to do and how.
But don’t read it if you want a quick, suspenseful detective novel. Because this is not it. This is (not quick and) so much more than that. The first hundred pages were seemingly written to scare away the readers who aren’t committed to this kind of novel. Once you get into it though, you will fly through!

I love the voice of the narrator and I think it was a very smart choice of Eco to choose Adso as his narrator instead of the obvious choice; Brother William.
This way, the novel isn’t chaotic like it must be in William’s head and there is a reason for explaining the whole mystery to someone else. Adso is not the one to solve it so he wants to know why. I find that a lot of novels do the explaining just to get it over with and not as part of the story. Eco makes it part of the story by not choosing the ‘detective’.

The plot keeps on thickening as more people get murdered. It reminds you of how senseless and how unpredictable evil can be. Because try as you might, there’s no scheme or predictability behind it.

The novel is set in a time where traditionally trained people could learn from new theories by people like Brother William. He is inventive, he watches everything like a hawk and he will make sure of his theories by trial and error. It’s the difference between faith and reason or between deductive and inductive reasoning. And I loved that.

I love the details, the thought that must have gone into it, the historic details and knowledge, the elaborate discourses and the descriptions of the lifestyle of these monks. This truly is an epic story.

I also liked all the religious info and debates. It kind of made me even more of an atheist then I already am. It’s very interesting and you get to know where some of the dogmas and the (sometimes contradictory) theories come from.

Aside from all else, this is also a book about books. Beautiful, handcrafted books, unique books, the knowledge in books and the power of reading.

I loved it again.

Happy reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for my last review this month.