donderdag 31 juli 2014

George R. R. Martin: A Game of Thrones


Well, I finally gave in to peer pressure; I read A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
My fiancé owns the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series and he’s a big fan.
This copy has 780 pages.

“Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades.Winter can last a lifetime.And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.It will stretch from the south where heat breeds plot,lusts and intrigues to the vast frozen north,where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. The Game of Thrones. You win,or you die.”

I enjoyed the book but I definitely didn't love it.

Martin’s characters are underdeveloped, they have about three emotions or character traits and most characters feel one-dimensional. Every character reads the same; Bran sounds the same as Ned, John, Catelyn or Tyrion. That’s especially a problem in the minor characters like Tommen and Old Nan who don’t have a defining trait. The mayor characters are mostly distinguishable by their clichéd and simplistic characteristics like stupid but beautiful Sansa, the drunkard and whoring king and the loving but unforgiving Catelyn.
Because there's so much going on and there are so many characters, the multiple POV's were a great idea and I liked reading from different people's perspective. But I did not like the big leaps in time. We go from Ned in his cell, to Arya viewing his execution, from Daenerys hating Khal Drogo to her being deliriously in love with him.
Martin's writing is ok, it does the job but it's definitely not a joy to read his prose.

The story is great though. Told from multiple points of view, and with a focus on politics and the dynamics in the kingdom, it certainly is an entertaining and interesting read.

3 stars

How did you like this novel?

Happy reading.

Relaxing after my fabulous bachelorette party!

donderdag 24 juli 2014

Terry Pratchett: Thief of Time

Hi again

Thief of Time is Terry Pratchett’s 26th Discworld novel.
This is, sadly, the last novel with a cover by Josh Kirby because he passed way in 2001.
My copy has 430 pages.

“Time is a resource.
Everyone knows it has to be managed.
And on Discworld that is the job of the Monks of History, who store it and pump it from the places where it's wasted (like underwater -- how much time does a codfish need?) to places like cities, where there's never enough time.
But the construction of the world's first truly accurate clock starts a race against, well, time, for Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd. Because it will stop time. And that will only be the start of everyone's problems.
Thief of Time comes complete with a full supporting cast of heroes and villains, yetis, martial artists and Ronnie, the fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (who left before they became famous).”

There's a whole cast of amazing, quicky characters, a very original, philosophical story, Pratchett's typical humour, wonderful writing, and amazing dialogue.
Though it's not as great or special as other Discworld novels, it certainly is a very enjoyable book.

4 stars

Happy reading!

Tea and TP after my first day at work!

maandag 21 juli 2014

Jeffrey Eugenides: The Marriage Plot


The Marriage Plots is Jeffrey Eugenides’ third novel.
I ordered my copy from The Book Depository. It has 406 pages.

“Brown University, 1982. Madeline Hanna, dutiful English student and incurable romantic is writing her thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot - authors of the great marriage plots. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different men, intervenes.
Leonard Bankhead, brilliant scientist and charismatic loner, attracts Madeleine with an intensity that she seems powerless to resist. Meanwhile, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus, a theology student searching for some kind of truth in life, is certain of at least one thing - that he and Madeleine are destined to be together.
But as all three leave college, they will have to figure out how they want their own marriage plot to end.”

Rather pretentious novel.
I didn't feel connected to any of it. The story goes nowhere, I hated all three main-characters, I couldn't believe in Madeline as a person and the book is very, very slow.
I didn't care for the writing either because it felt overworked, like Eugenides was trying to hard.

1 star

Happy reading.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

donderdag 17 juli 2014

Hugh Howey: Wool


Hugh Howey's Wool consists of five parts in a series of nine called Silo.
I bought my book in the Fnac and it has 540 pages.

“In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.
Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations.
But some people choose not to conform.
These are the people who dare to hope and dream.
These are the dangerous ones.
Jules is one of these people.
She may well be the last.”

Howey did a phenomenal job building the world. Because of his eye for detail the world feels real.
The silo is massive but at some points I felt claustrophobic, I could feel the closeness, the heaviness.
The characters are very realistic and interesting; Howey put a lot of thought into them, they didn't blend together, and every character had his/her own unique voice. I loved Juliette especially, she's such a strong woman.
Clear, understated writing, fast and unexpected plot developments, a thoroughly built, disturbing and intriguing world, a compelling story, surprising information, a ton of action, twists and deep concepts, everything I could want in a book.

I’m really looking forward to the second book which should tell us how this all came to be.
Highly recommended!

5 stars

Happy reading!

Afternoon snack.:)

maandag 14 juli 2014

Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus


The Night Circus is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel. I ordered my gorgeous copy from Bol and it has 496 pages.

“The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it.
It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
Le Cirque des Rêves is only open at night. Celia and Marco, two young magicians, have been trained since childhood to compete against each other by creating the best, most wonderful, imaginative and amazing attractions in the circus. But only one of them will survive this contest.

Morgenstern's prose is beautiful and the story is mysterious, dreamlike and imaginative.
But the characters lack depth, the story is incredibly slow and I didn't care for the romance. The circus itself is much more interesting than the characters and the plot.
I enjoyed the writing and the very descriptive language but the plot and characters couldn't interest me.

2.5 stars

Happy reading!

Tea, homemade pie and a book. Life can be good.

vrijdag 11 juli 2014

John Irving: Setting Free the Bears


This is John Irving’s first novel and it was published in 1968. I bought my copy from Bol and it has 438 pages.

"It is 1967 and two Viennese university students decide to liberate the Vienna Zoo, as was done after World War II. The eccentric duo, Graff and Siggy, embark on an adventure-filled motorbike tour of Austria as they prepare for "the great zoo bust." But their grand scheme will have both comic and gruesome consequences, as they are soon to find out..."

I really, really didn't like this book. My uncle, who loves John Irving, is the only reason I finished it.

1 star

Happy reading.

Time for a break!

woensdag 9 juli 2014

Mitch Albom: The Time Keeper

Hi again

A quick review about a The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom.
My copy has 238 pages and I got it from Bol.

“Banished for centuries, as punishment for trying to measure time, the inventor of the world's first clock is finally granted his freedom, along with a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two people the true meaning of time. He returns to our world and embarks on a journey with two unlikely partners: a teenage girl who is about to give up on life and a wealthy, ageing businessman who wants to live for ever. To save himself, he must save them both. Gripping, and filled with deep human truth, this unforgettable story will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time and just how precious it truly is.”

The Time Keeper is a thought provoking novel.
The story is straightforward and easy, but this isn't just about the story. Albom made me think about the way I live my life by the clock and how much time rules my schedule and basically, me.
The novel inspired me to think less about time and to try to experience my free time more fully.

If you like inspirational books definitely pick this one up!

3 stars

Happy reading.

maandag 7 juli 2014

Robin Hobb: Forest Mage


Forest Mage is the second book in the Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb. I got my copy in the Fnac in Ghent. It’s 818 pages long and I didn’t enjoy most of them. I started this novel mid-June and I had to push myself to finish it.
A better title would be ‘Diary of a fat, depressed man’.

I can’t say a lot about the story because this is the second book in the series and I don’t want to spoil anything.
Nevare has survived The Speck Plague but is sent away from the Military Academy for being too fat. His body absorbs magic, thus making him gain weight. His relationships at home worsen and after a new wave of The Plague he has to leave home. He travels to the frontier, hoping to find a unit that will take him on.

I enjoyed Hobb's writing style. The characters are well thought out; they seem very real and have great depth and feeling. The world Hobb created is imaginative and magnificent, the cultures of the different peoples are rich and different. Hobb has an eye for detail and realism.

However ...
The entire novel is a compilation of insults and violence Nevare has to suffer due to his weight gain. Hobb just kept on piling insults, disasters and accidents on top of everything else that’s happening to Nevare. The novel left me feeling depressed, angry and frustrated every time I read a part.
In the first part of the trilogy Nevare was strong, had opinions, had confidence and bravado. Not anymore, now he is passive and weak.
Nothing really happens and it’s a very slow and boring read. Nevare’s battle with the Speck magic inside him and all around him becomes overly repetitive and rather boring. Hobb could have cut 300 pages easily.

1 star

Since it’s already on my shelf, I will read the third part in the trilogy, but it won’t be anytime soon.

Happy reading.

vrijdag 4 juli 2014

Kazuo Ishiguro: When We Were Orphans


When We Were Orphans is my second Kazuo Ishiguro book. I found this one in De Slegte, a second-hand bookshop, it has 334 pages. When We Were Orphans was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in the year 2000.

"England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always haunted him; the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old Shanghai, when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realises the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery. That only by his doing so will civilization be saved from the approaching catastrophe."

Such a boring, aggravating story.
The story is weirdly constructed; it's a complete mess. The characters feel underdeveloped and I didn’t really connect with them. They all read the same, not one character had its own distinct voice.
I didn’t understand Christopher's whole romance with Sarah, why he adopted Jennifer or why he became so frantic in the police station. Very weak plot.

Can’t say I enjoyed the book.

1 star

Happy reading.

woensdag 2 juli 2014

Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind

Hi Again

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is the first novel in The Kingkiller Chronicle. I ordered my copy from some time ago and I’ve been itching to read this but I wanted to wait until I had a few days off. My gorgeous copy has 662 pages.

“Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.”

I really enjoyed this book. The world is very thoroughly built; all possible questions are answered, it all seems possible, the way their magic works is logical and that makes the novel very believable en realistic.
The characters are really well thought out, they are all unique; they don’t blend together when you’re reading. The characters make faults and have flaws but they also have merits and good intentions and that makes it such a good story. Kvothe is arrogant, selfish, impulsive and rash but I still like him. He’s not the personification of everything 'Good' in that world; he’s not a real Hero.

Rothfuss' writing is vivid, smooth and compelling with delightful descriptions and evocative language; it all makes for a wonderful, intriguing novel.
The story sucked me right in. It took me some time to really understand what was going on but I kept going because it is just so well written. It’s a real page-turner and I found myself wanting to read the whole night through.

But it is a very slow story. Reading about Kvothe's money problems or his imagined problems with Denna (unbearable storyline) yet again couldn’t interest me at all. Rothfuss definitely likes to meander. A lot.
Secondly, even though this is definitely the story of how a boy becomes a legend; Kvothe is good at everything and that's just unbelievable.

4 stars

Happy reading.

Writing a review about this absolutely great fantasy novel.

dinsdag 1 juli 2014

Wrap Up: June 2014

Hi again

I read a lot last month, 9 books, totaling 2953 pages.
The first four books aren’t reviewed on this blog because I only started it mid June. If you want me to, I could write a review on them.

-    Eduardo Mendoza: The City of Marvels
-    Sándor Márai: The Rebels
-    Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
-    Julian Barnes: Levels of Life
-    Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere
-    Terry Pratchett: The Truth
-    Alan Bennett: The Uncommon Reader
-    Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger
-    Andrew Miller: Pure

Have you read any of these? If so, how did you like them?

Happy reading.