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

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.

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