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!

5 STARS

Have a great evening and an amazing new year!
Helena


 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

Hi

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.

* SPOILERS! *

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.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

Reviewing with Licor 43. Bliss.

woensdag 23 december 2015

Bookhaul: Bol

Hi

Bol was having a 3 for 2 sale which included two Stephen King novels I wanted.
I obviously got those. For my third book I chose The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway in the same edition as my other Hemingway novels. I already own and read 
this one but I just like these editions so much I decided to get it a second time (for free).
And because I’m through with the Foundation novels I owned I wanted to complete the series so I ordered the last four books.

Here they are the books I got from Bol:

I can’t wait to start these.

Happy reading!
Helena




zaterdag 19 december 2015

Terry Pratchett: Making Money

Hi

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.

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 17 december 2015

Goodreads

Hi

I now have a Goodreads page too!
And you can like this blog on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EmbracingMyBooks

Keep reading!
Helena


maandag 14 december 2015

Bookhaul: Boekenfestijn

Hi again

I went to the Boekenfestijn and I got new books.
It’s been going downhill for me because I don’t find as many interesting books as I used to before.
I always set myself a maxim budget of 30 EUR and I spent only 11 EUR this time. There were times where I actually overspent. Clearly not these last times.

So, here they are:

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 13 december 2015

Jim Butcher: Summer Knight

Hi

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.
Helena

Writing a review.

woensdag 9 december 2015

Gift idea: Prism Glasses

Hi

It’s almost Christmas so I decided to write a short blogpost about the perfect gift for every reader and readers with back pains especially.

It’s called prism glasses and they are fantastic for reading in bed or on the couch.
They allow you to read while lying down without having to hold the book up above your head. So you can read for hours in bed without neck cramps, dropping your book on your head or wrist pains.
My husband got them for me from bol.com and the more futuristic glasses were a present from a friend for our wedding.


I love them a lot and I use them all the time so I hope this is interesting to you too.

Helena

dinsdag 8 december 2015

Isaac Asimov: Forward the Foundation

Hi

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 Bol.com 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.
Helena

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

maandag 7 december 2015

Jane Austen: The Beautifull Cassandra

Hi

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!
Helena

dinsdag 1 december 2015

Wrap Up: November 2015

Hi

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!
Helena

maandag 30 november 2015

Jane Austen: Persuasion

Hi

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!
Helena

zaterdag 28 november 2015

Robert Jordan: The Dragon Reborn

Hi

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


* SPOILERS! *

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!
Helena


donderdag 26 november 2015

We've moved!

Hi

We’re finally in our own house! Our new home.

There’s still a lot to be done but most of our stuff has been put in place so I think it’s time to show you my new bookshelves.
I have 4 Ikea bookcases with one extra shelve on top of each. That gives me a lot of space to grow my collection.

It took me a full day to get my books in their right places because of the way I order them (click here to see my post on how I classify my books).

Anyway, I hope I’ll have more time to read and review as of next month when I won’t have to spend every free minute cleaning, opening boxes, putting stuff away and cleaning some more.

But I won’t lie; I do like the whole process.

Happy reading!
Helena

My books in our old home.


My selection of books to choose from during the move.


The last ones to be packed and the first box to be unpacked.


My new library in the living room!

dinsdag 24 november 2015

Isaac Asimov: Prelude to Foundation

Hi

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!
Helena


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

Hi

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!
Helena

donderdag 12 november 2015

How I classify my books

Hi

Here’s a quick post about classifying or organizing books.

A friend of mine organizes her books by color, my father has to spread them all over the house because he has way too many books and my brother organizes them according to his fancy or by height of the books.
I am fortunate enough to have enough space in my living room to put them all in one place. Except for non-fiction and children’s Literature; those are in the bureau.

Fiction is first separated by adult fiction and then children/young adult (those are going upstairs in the new house).
Next, I organize them alphabetically by author.
If I own multiple books by the same author; they are classified by publication year.
Series go together and are sorted by the publication year of the first novel in the series.

This may seem like a lot of work, but I find it very easy and accessible.
Finding a book in my library is child’s play. And seeing them perfectly organized like this relaxes me, it gives me a sense of pride and I love how calm it makes me feel.

I can’t wait to start organizing my books in our new house!

How do you organize your library?
Helena


zondag 8 november 2015

Ernest Hemingway: Across the River and into the Trees

Hi

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!
Helena

zondag 1 november 2015

Wrap Up: October 2015

Hi

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?
Helena

zaterdag 31 oktober 2015

A Cartoon!


Not this time though!
Horror-movie night with good friends. :)

Ann Leckie: Ancillary Sword

Hi

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.
Helena

donderdag 29 oktober 2015

Bookhaul: Book Depository

Hi

I got some new books from The Book Depository! Excepting one, they’re all Classics for some reason.
Here’s what I got:
I’m very excited for these new ones.
And I added a picture of the free Book Depository bookmarks I got with this order.

Happy reading.
Helena



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.
Helena

donderdag 22 oktober 2015

Shirley Jackson: Hangsaman

Hi

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.
Helena