vrijdag 27 februari 2015

Hermann Hesse: Siddhartha

Hi

I bought this copy in a Charity Shop in Brighton. It only has 117 pages.

“Hesse's Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin's quest for the ultimate reality. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of ascetism and self-denial. At last he learns that wisdom cannot be taught — it must come from one's own experience and inner struggle. Steeped in the tenets of both psychoanalysis and Eastern mysticism, Siddhartha presents a strikingly original view of man and culture, and the arduous process of self-discovery that leads to reconciliation, harmony, and peace.”

I really don’t know what to write about this one.
It's a unique little book.

Quite beautiful in its own way but not really for me.

Happy reading.
Helena

woensdag 25 februari 2015

Nina Sankovitch: Tolstoj and the Purple Chair

Hi

This review is about Tolstoj and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch.
I got it from The Book Depository and it has 240 pages.

“After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading.”

The novel is a true memoir of Nina’s life. It’s about her family and coping with the loss of her sister, about the insights she gets through reading and through thinking about the words in those novels.

As an avid reader myself; I understand the meaning and the worth books have and how they can change the way we feel, live, see others and ourselves.

It’s not dark, dramatic or sad. It’s a beautiful recounting of the past mixed in with her life during her ‘year of magical reading’ and tidbits about the novels she is reading. Sankovitch gets a bit too sentimental for my tastes. Her sister was perfect and she had no flaws. Like, for real?

It does get repetitive. I loved the first 150 pages, but after that I had to push myself a bit to finish it.

This novel is definitely only recommended for readers. I think non-readers wouldn’t really understand why she would do that and how it could help her.

But books can heal and books can nurture.
I truly believe that.

Happy reading.
Helena

woensdag 18 februari 2015

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Hi

This review is about The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The book contains another short novella: The Imp Bottle.
It has 111 pages and I got it at a Waterstones.

 “Published as a 'shilling shocker', Robert Louis Stevenson's dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll's strange association with 'damnable young man' Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde's true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil.”

I wish I could have read this novel without knowing anything about it. But that’s impossible because everyone knows what it’s about. I think it would have been so much more shocking and exciting to read this without knowing the plot.

To me, the novel is about the duality of human nature, but I won’t bore you with more details.
The story is fascinating, haunting, shocking, very fast and so, so exciting.
It is well written, easy to read and descriptive with some beautiful prose.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this.

Happy reading!
Helena

Wine and a book. My kind of evening.

maandag 16 februari 2015

Thank You!

Hi everyone

I reached 5000 views and 95 likes on my Facebook Page today.

A BIG, BIG thank you to everyone who reads my blog, comments and likes posts or talks about it with me.

I get a lot of joy out of it and I love reading and sharing this with everyone.

Thank you all!
Love,
Helena

zondag 15 februari 2015

Richard Yates: Revolutionary Road

Hi

This was my second time reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.
It has 338 pages and I got it in the beautiful Vintage edition.

Revolutionary Road is Yates' debut novel and in his own words his best work.
It was shortlisted for the National Book Award.

“In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.”

This is such a beautiful novel. I loved it even more than the first time.
It’s not sentimental or melodramatic. It’s a clear, controlled and bleak novel.

Frank and April purport to disdain the traditional American suburban lifestyle where everyone should be the same, have the same, want the same and feel the same.
But in Frank’s case this ridicule is just camouflage for his real fear of being uninteresting and unloved by April, for his lack of confidence in his own masculinity. 
Now he is trapped in a job he didn’t want to prove he can provide for his family and he lives in a house in the suburbs because it is expected. These actions and his constant contempt for this very lifestyle only serve the purpose of making him feel like a real man.
His anti-suburban talk and ridicule has become an empty gesture to make him feel sophisticated and to being in April’s eyes the interesting, stifled genius he once was.
When April proposes a move to France he acts enthusiastic but he fears the change and he fears being imasculated even more. For that reason (being less of a man) and only for that reason he takes the moral position and he convinces April to keep the baby, because her unwillingness to bear his child makes him less of a man and unloved by her.

Man this is a work of a true genius.
I loved it; the beautiful prose, the haunting, bleak story, the heart-rending emotions and the almost real characters.
The novel made me cry the first time I read it. Revolutionary Road did it again this time.
It’s a wonderful and amazing novel.

Happy reading!
Helena

vrijdag 13 februari 2015

Margaret Atwood: Lady Oracle

Hi

Lady Oracle is my second novel by Atwood; I read The Handmaiden’s Tale about three years ago.
I got it from bol.com and it has 375 pages.

“Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber.  She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy.  In this remarkable, poetic, and magical novel, Margaret Atwood proves yet again why she is considered to be one of the most important and accomplished writers of our time.”

To me; this novel is about a woman who is whatever those around her want her to be. She is easily consumed by other people but she doesn’t find happiness in any of those relationships because she’s always pretending to be someone else. She has no idea who she is; Joan needs to figure out her own identity without others around her who she can conform to.
That’s what the maze refers to: the search for her identity.
Aside from that; Atwood shows us how our past can influence our present and our future. This really was nicely done. Everyone has some minor secrets we don’t want to talk about. Or a mistake we don’t want others to find out about.

Lady Oracle is a very intriguing novel. Easy read but still, it made me stop and think at certain points.
It is a bit boring though.

Not much to add to this because it wasn’t anything special. Not fantastic, nor awful. Just a relaxing, easy read.

Happy reading.
Helena

vrijdag 6 februari 2015

Hugh Howey: Dust

Hi

This review is about the third and final installments in the Silo Series.
I got my copy from bookdepository.com and it has 401 pages.

You can find all my reviews on Howey’s novels here.
There’s not much to add to my reviews of Wool and Shift.

*SPOILER FREE!*

This is basically a rambling of thoughts about the novel.

I loved this final installment in the series.
People learn that meaning well and doing well isn’t always the same thing. Bad people turn out to be good. Good characters can die too. One decision or an instant in time can change everything. People change opinion about you and your actions. Decisions have consequences.
I loved it how Howey lets us decide about the goodness of people. Nothing is simply black or white, there’s every possible shade of gray.
The plot twists are incredible. Everything could change at every moment; every character could die. Howey has no scruples.
The novel is fast, it never wavers, and it’s always interesting.
The writing style didn’t change; simple, straightforward and absorbing.
A real page turner.
And full of suspense until the end! I had no idea how it would end.
Howey is not afraid to get it all out. Characters die, we learn how evil humanity can be, and we see through people how everything depends on your point of view.

Happy reading.
Helena

What a GLORIOUS night!

dinsdag 3 februari 2015

Jo Walton: Among Others

Hi

The first novel I finished this month is Among Others by Jo Walton.
It got a lot of hype online and I wanted to find out what it’s all about. It won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award and it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award.
I got my copy from bol.com and it has 408 pages.

“When Mori discovers that her mother is using black magic, she decides to intervene. The ensuing clash between mother and daughter leaves Mori bereft of her twin sister, crippled for life and unable to return to the Welsh Valleys that were her own kingdom. Mori finds solace and strength in her beloved books. But her mother is bent on revenge, and nothing and no one – not even Tolkien – can save her from the final reckoning.”

Among Others is a lovely novel. It’s absorbing, charming and fun.
Walton mixes the magic into our world in a brilliant way. It seems so real and almost logical that you’re wondering why it isn’t real.
Mori is a wonderful character. She’s smart, she’s without prejudice (e.g. LGBT people) and she is a very strong girl.
This novel is set after the Big Event, after the Climax and Mori has to go on living with the consequences of her actions. She says that it's like life after the Scouring of the Shire.
Nothing much happens in the novel. It’s even quite boring. There’s no suspense or big event and because of that it is a slow novel. But it reads like it’s nobody’s business. It’s just so lovely to read. It’s like talking to a good friend who’s recounting the past days.
The moments Mori realizes and anguishes over the possibility of others liking her only because of her magic are truly genius.
So real and so unlike anything I have ever read before. Now I’m wondering what happens after almost every other fantasy novel I have ever read. How the characters are coping etc.
A truly wonderful novel. I loved the style, the feel, the idea behind it.

The amount of reading she does and her opinions on them as a 15-year old is quite ridiculous though.
From the moment Mori gets a boyfriend I became a bit irritated with the novel. Suddenly it’s all about someone’s looks and how nice and sweet he is. I really didn’t care for this part.
The part where her father tries something on her was completely unnecessary too.
And the ending is rather meh. It’s a bit stupid I mean. How is it even possible that all three are there? There was no need for that final confrontation or for what happens with the fairies. Really she should have cut those last 70 pages and written an ending closer to the style of the novel.

When I’ll reread it I’ll make sure to make note of the mentioned authors. Among Others is more than anything else a love letter, an ode to literature.

Happy reading.
Helena

Enjoying this!

zondag 1 februari 2015

Wrap Up: January 2015

Hi

Even though January was a very busy month (the holidays, my husband’s birthday, my birthday and all the New Year’s visits) I managed to read 3004 pages in 9 books which is great.
When you go visit someone you never quite know when you’ll be going home. So you clear the whole afternoon or evening.
Free time equals reading time in my book. :)

Here are the books I read this month.

-    Terry Pratchett: The Wee Free Men
-    H. G. Wells: The Time Machine
-    Brandon Sanderson: The Well of Ascension
-    Evelyn Waugh: Vile Bodies
-    Tatiana de Rosnay: Sarah’s Key
-    Stephen King: Doctor Sleep
-    Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
-    Nathan Filer: The Shock of the Fall
-    W. Somerset Maugham: Don Fernando

What did you read last month? Anything you’d like to recommend?

Happy reading.
Helena