maandag 30 juni 2014

Bookhaul: Fnac

Hi

I went shopping Saturday and spent nearly two hours in the Fnac. Needless to say, I bought some books! No clothes, no makeup only books. That’s me going shopping.

Here are the books I got.

-    Jenny White: The Abyssinian Proof
-    Edgar Allan Poe: The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales
-    Hugh Howey: Wool
-    Manu Joseph: The Illicit Happiness of Other People
-    Sarah Dunant: In the Company of the Courtesan

You can expect reviews on these books some time in the future.
My To Be Read pile is huge so it can take a while though.

Happy reading.
Helena

donderdag 26 juni 2014

Andrew Miller: Pure

Hi

My father told me about Pure by Andrew Miller.
My love of reading is mostly his ‘fault’ and this book is a good example of how this came to be. He read the novel soon after he got it and he kept on talking about it, saying how good it was and how much he enjoyed it.
So, I wanted it too and I got it in the Fnac with a 2+1 promotion. Most of the promotions in the Fnac are solely on Dutch novels, which is why I didn’t get it in English.
Pure was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. My copy has 376 pages and a very beautiful cover.

“Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it.
At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.”

The novel is set four years before the French revolution and it is a constant but subtle element in the story. The story doesn’t revolve around the upcoming revolution but it’s hinted on every page which makes it not overly political and still enjoyable. Baratte is a symbol of change, of science and an enlightened new time, of forgetting about the past and starting fresh. In the background Paris is still dark, stuck in its way of living and apprehensive of change.

The novel is very absorbing; it’s one of those books you have to finish because you can’t stop reading. Miller is able to make you feel like you are in Paris. It’s almost like you’re there to witness every detail he writes about; from the smells, to wrinkly faces and decaying fruit. It’s dark and suspenseful, it’s creepy and bleak, vibrant and earthy, wonderful and unexpected.
It’s a great and unusual novel not like anything I've read before. Miller writes beautifully and lingers on details without losing the main focus of the novel.
I loved it.

One thing though, Miller uses a lot of metaphors, and this made the novel difficult to read at times.

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 23 juni 2014

Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger

Hi again

The Little Stranger is my first novel by Sarah Waters. It was published in 2009 and it is her sixth novel. I bought my book when I was in Glasgow last September in a Waterstones with the buy 1 get 1 half price offer. The Little Stranger was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2009.
My copy has 501 pages.

“One post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline. Its owners-mother, son, and daughter-are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.”

As historical fiction, the novel is great. Waters shows us the final struggles, the death throes of the class system and especially those at the top. Mrs Ayres thinks the family is an example to every other person. To her, losing the estate means the end of a way of life, setting the whole family adrift.
This story of decay and the importance of social class is interesting to read. The family tries to hold on to the estate, and employ a servant even though most of the rooms are closed off, the wind blows freely in the house and they have to sell the land piece by piece.
I liked the novel on this level, reading about the time it is set in, about the family and their struggles, about the doctor who feels he belongs in no class whatsoever because of his parents. It's all very sad.

As a ghost story, the novel is slow and unconvincing. The ambiguous supernatural elements were a bit of a disappointment to me. I got the feeling Waters couldn’t keep up the tension, making the supernatural elements flat and unconvincing. As a result of that, the novel is too long, I think she could have cut 150 pages easily and it would improve the story.

The book is beautifully written and I read the first 200 pages in a day, but after that the pace was slackening and I became less interested. I expected some kind of twist in the last part of the novel but that didn't happen.

But again, Waters' writing is amazing.

I read good reviews about it and since it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize I had high hopes. Unfortunately Waters couldn’t deliver in my opinion.

Happy reading.
Helena

vrijdag 20 juni 2014

Alan Bennett: The Uncommon Reader

Hi again

I finished this delightful little book by Alan Bennett yesterday night and I really wanted you to know about it.
It's a tiny red paperback that's almost lost between my other books.
I bought it from bol.com and it has 121 pages.

“When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.”

The Uncommon Reader left me feeling happy and relaxed.
I kept thinking about it too, how books can change a person and someone's view of the world.
Sadly it also makes you think about all those people who view reading as a waste of time and think it a boring and pointless hobby.
But reading makes you understand the world, humans and relationships better. And all this is part of the story.
The book is very funny, especially if you’re a fervent reader like me, you can connect with some of the situations caused by The Queen’s excessive reading.

This is a book you won’t regret reading. I laughed while reading it and it kept me thinking about it afterwards. There isn’t much more you want from a book.

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 19 juni 2014

Terry Pratchett: The Truth

Hi

I could make this review very short by writing I LOVE Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series. But for the sake of this blog, I’ll try to elaborate.
Terry Pratchett's books are sold in almost every store. I got mine in the Fnac.
The cover, as always, is a beautiful and funny cartoon of the characters.
My copy has 444 pages.

“There's been a murder. Allegedly. William de Worde is the Discworld's first investigative journalist. He didn't mean to be - it was just an accident. But, as William fills his pages with reports of local club meetings and pictures of humorously shaped vegetables, dark forces high up in Ankh-Morpork's society are plotting to overthrow the city's ruler, Lord Vetinari.”

The Truth is the 25th Discworld novel, but it’s one you can start with if you haven’t read the previous 24. Some older characters make an appearance, but it’s mostly all new characters and they are great.

In The Truth, Pratchett mocks the media with so much humour I couldn’t help myself laughing out loud sometimes. The Truth is, as every Discworld novel, is brilliantly imaginative and very funny. I love most of his characters, everything is beautifully written, very entertaining and it never bores. It’s a mystery and comedy in one. Pratchett never makes light of serious matters and I find that truly admirable.
It's a fantastic novel.

Well, thank you daddy for introducing me to Discworld all those years ago.

Happy reading!
Helena

dinsdag 17 juni 2014

Facebook

Hi

Embracing My Books now has a Facebookpage!
I want to share every new post on my blog and give some updates about what I’m reading.

Please go over there and like my page. I would really appreciate it.

Tonight I plan on finishing The Truth by Terry Pratchett, so that will be up tomorrow or the day after.

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 16 juni 2014

Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere

Hi again

Neil Gaiman wrote Neverwhere after working on the script for a television-series by the same name. Having never seen the series, I can only give my opinion on the book.
I bought my copy in the Fnac in Antwerp, Belgium.
Both the cover art and the text on the back sucked me in.
My copy has 379 pages.

"Under the streets of London... It's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere. Richard is a normal man, thrown into the world of London Below. He can be stupid and has no backbone whatsoever. I really got irritated by him at some point, but I kept on reading because the book had a way of sucking me back in."

I definitely enjoyed the novel.

The story started out quite confusing and it took me some time to really get into it. I had to stop reading every so often to really think about what I had just read.

What I liked most about this book is reading about this London Below, reading about the world, the people and the dangers there.
I would have liked more depth to the characters and the plot. The premise is amazing and the characters are very interesting, but it's still too superficial in my opinion.

The novel is weird, fast, funny, charming, imaginative, absurd, unique, bizarre and very, very entertaining.
Gaiman's writing is really beautiful and clever and he makes you visualize everything he describes. You can't help but seeing it in front of you.

All in all I recommend this book because I did enjoy it. It's just not as elaborate as I would have liked and it can be quite confusing.

Happy reading!
Helena

Welcome

Hi

Welcome to Embracing My Books.

It has been a dream of mine for a very long time to have my own place on the internet where I can talk about books as much as I want.
I love reading.
And I love talking about books.
Unfortunately there aren't a lot of people around me who share this love.
And that's why I wanted a space to discuss books as much as I want.

I will primarily write reviews about the books I read.
These reviews will follow a certain concept.
I will start with talking about the book itself; the cover, the page-number and where I got it.
A brief synopsis will follow and I will end with my review.
The size and depth of the reviews will depend on the amount of time I have and how I feel about the book. Some novels will be far harder to review than others.
A picture of my copy will be added to every review simply because I like looking at books and I expect you do too.

Aside from reviews I will do a monthly Wrap Up and bookhauls.
That's all I've planned so far.
We'll see what happens.

If you want to recommend a book or if you have a suggestion for my blog; you're welcome to share it with me in the comments.

One a side note; English isn't my native language so I will make mistakes. I will make corrections if you notice any but please be nice about it.

My book reviews are my opinion. I might not love a book you love. I might enjoy a book you didn't. We're all different. Be nice about that too.

I hope you'll enjoy my blog!
You can leave your suggestions in the comments.

Happy reading.
Helena