zaterdag 31 december 2016

Randall Munroe: XKCD volume 0

Hi everyone

A couple of years ago my husband (then boyfriend) became of big fan of Randall Munroe’s webcomic XKCD so I gave him the book for his next birthday. It has 120 pages but the only reason I know that is because of Goodreads as the pages skip numbers.

My husband is an engineer so he understands all the sciencejokes and references. I don’t.
The ones I do understand are very clever, sweet and funny.
However, I would recommend this only if you are interested in science and engineering in particular because the comics are targeted towards those of you who are.
I can only rate this as I read and understood this.

Happy reading!
Helena

vrijdag 30 december 2016

Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things

Hi everyone

The last novel I read in 2016 is Neil Gaiman’s short stories collection Fragile Things.
I got it as a gift from my husband and it has 433 pages.
You can find all my Neil Gaiman reviews here.

I enjoyed this collection but I can’t say I loved it.

Some of the stories are different and interesting enough and Gaiman does write imaginative stories but there were a few I just didn’t get or I couldn’t understand what’s so special about them.
The writing is lovely and I enjoy his style but I had a hard time reading more then a few stories a day. That wasn’t a problem because life was very busy but it’s not something I’m used to; I tend to read an hour or two hours at a time in the evening.
Some stories felt like Gaiman was trying too hard to make them different by adding sexual elements, gratuitous violence or gore and those stories felt a bit wrong to me. He just added and added those elements and they made the stories less about the plot and more about those aspects.

All in all I had a mixed experience. I liked quite a few of the stories but I was disappointed one way or another with the majority of them.

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 22 december 2016

Arthur C. Clarke: A Fall of Moondust

Hi everyone

This is my review for my first Arthur C. Clarke, A Fall of Moondust.
My copy has 224 pages and I got it at De Slegte.

“Time is running out for the passengers and crew of the tourist cruiser Selene, incarcerated in a sea of choking lunar dust. On the surface, her rescuers find their resources stretched to the limit by the mercilessly unpredictable conditions of a totally alien environment.”

This was a really enjoyable and fast book to read.

The story is obviously very dated at this point in time, but it doesn’t really take away from the enjoyment and thrill you’ll get out of it.
Clarke’s writing style is wonderfully engaging and it really sucks you in. The technical explanations made by a few of the characters went over my head but there weren’t too many of those and as far as I did grasp them, they did seem to be logical and plausible.
I liked the characterization a lot; they all felt true to their words and actions; the characters felt right. The worldbuilding is amazing and I could really imagine myself being there. And the general atmosphere is very claustrophobic and urgent. I liked the switches from the cool, calculating scientists to the more emotional people trapped in the Selene. The story moves rapidly forward and it never gets slowed down by long explanations or touchy/feely type scenes.

There was one thing I disliked though. Clarke has a tendency to end at least two (or so) paragraphs in every chapter with a sort of prediction of what bad things are yet to happen. It felt very childlike and it aggravated me every time. There’s really no need to do that, we all know a lot can go wrong and will go wrong before the end of the novel.

Happy reading!
Helena

dinsdag 20 december 2016

Sebastian Faulks: A Week in December

Hi everyone

This is my review for Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December.
My copy has 392 pages and I got it as a gift from friends.

“London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Seven wintry days to track the lives of seven characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop.”

As the title suggests, this book is about a week in the life of a few lightly connected people. Normally, I’m not a big fan of those kinds of narratives and that has proven to be the case this time too.

The only thing I liked about the story was the tale, woven throughout, of their loneliness. Every character was lonely in a different way. And I enjoyed that a lot (though that is weird to say). It can be very emotional and touching to read how people deal with feeling isolated and alone.

But the book was incredibly boring, long-winded and the characters read like wooden puppets so I can’t say I thought the book worth the time.

2 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

maandag 19 december 2016

Bookhaul: De Slegte

Hi everyone

I dropped off some books at De Slegte and I really couldn’t leave without buying a few books too.
What did you expect?

  • Philip K. Dick: The Penultimate Truth
  • Christopher Priest: Inverted World

Have you read these books? How did you like them?
Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 18 december 2016

Terry Pratchett: Dodger’s Guide to London

Hi again

This review is about the companion novel to Terry Pratchett’s Dodger.
I got the book as a gift from my mum and dad and it has 135 pages.
You can find all my Terry Pratchett reviews here.

“ROLL UP! ROLL UP! READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Ladies and Gents, Sir Jack Dodger brings you a most excellent Guide to London!
Did you know . . . ?
If a Victorian couldn’t afford a sweep, they might drop a goose down their chimney to clean it!
A posh lady’s unmentionables could weigh up to 40lbs!
Parliament had to be suspended during the Great Stink of 1858!
From the wretches of the rookeries to the posh nobs at Buckingham Palace, Dodger will show you every dirty inch of London.
Warning: Includes ’orrible murders, naughty ladies and plenty of geezers!”

This is a nice companion novel to Dodger but I would only recommend it to fans of Pratchett’s work and people interested in fictionalized Victorian London.
It’s sweet, interesting and humorous but it is something you’ll only read once or twice because there’s no real story. It’s a book filled with little tidbits and facts about London at that time.
Still, I am glad I read it if only because it is Pratchett and I love him.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 17 december 2016

Terry Pratchett: Dodger

Hi everyone

This is my review for Terry Pratchett’s Dodger. Dodger is not part of the Discworld series and though there is a companion novel it is a standalone story.
My copy has 403 pages and I got it from Bol.
You can read all my Terry Pratchett reviews here.

“Dodger is a tosher – a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London.
Everyone who is nobody knows Dodger. Anyone who is anybody doesn’t.
But when he rescues a young girl from a beating, suddenly everybody wants to know him.
And Dodger’s tale of skulduggery, dark plans and even darker deeds begins . . .”

I definitely enjoyed this novel but it’s very different from Pratchett’s Discworld novels so keep that in mind. This is a Victorian novel set in London. It’s more or less historically accurate and I really appreciated that fact. I liked the setting a lot.

Charles Dickens is one of the main-characters in this book. How great is that! And he is a really cool character too. Solomon is amazing and such a sweet one. And then Dodger. Well Dodger made me smile, laugh, cringe, sigh and hope.
The story isn’t that special though; it’s rather repetitive and even boring at times.

But it didn’t capture me as much as his other novels. I can’t really say why but I wasn’t as interested in the story as I’d hoped to be. I didn’t love it.

3.5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

woensdag 14 december 2016

Jim Butcher: Small Favour

Hi everyone

This is my review for Small Favour, the tenth book in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
My copy has 433 pages and I got it from Bol.
You can find all my reviews on the series here.

                                                *    SPOILERS    *

I loved this book. The series is getting better and better and I can’t wait to read the next one.
That also makes it harder and harder to review each new book in the series.
There’s so much going on in this book and it all comes together in the end. By this time the world is incredibly complex but it’s still manageable as a reader to keep track of everything that’s going on because Butcher takes the time to explain to the reader what happened and why.
These books are so much fun to read!
I think Butcher has a lot more in store for us because there are hints throughout the novel about bigger events, a traitor and other overarching plotlines that have yet to come to the surface.
The characterization gets better in every book and I love seeing older characters return every so often and every time they reappear there’s more to them.
The opening scene with the snowfight made my heart melt; it was so, so sweet.
And the scenes at the hospital made me tear up like a child. Too true I’m afraid.

Loved it. Highly recommended series.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 11 december 2016

Justin Cronin: The Twelve

Hi everyone

This is my review for the second book in The Passage by Justin Cronin.
I read my father’s copy and it has 618 pages.
You can find all my reviews for the books in the series here.

                                                *    SPOILERS    *

Well, that opening chapter was unnecessary. A complete retelling of everything that happened in the first book but with an added bonus; religious references. Just what we needed. Or not. Big failure in my opinion.

The part set right after the outbreak is rather confusing. There’s a whole host of new characters and the story jumps around, trying to cover all of them. The pacing is off too, especially when changing characters and POV’s.
But I loved reading about those early days; the fear, the confused people, the anger all around. I loved that.

Horace Guilder is a very cliché bad character but most of the others are good. Where the characterization, world building and the general history of this world were amazing in the previous book, they’re just OK in this one. I felt distanced from the characters and the events. I didn’t care as much as before.
I still liked the story and it has it’s suspenseful, horrific, sweet and humorous moments too.
The story and characters don’t go the way you’d expect and I felt my mind wander from time to time, wondering why we spent so much time there.
Alicia’s torture and rape, the clear references to WWII and the general disdain for women made the book less enjoyable then the first one.

I think/hope we’re in for a truly, epic third book if the finale of this one is anything to go by.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

vrijdag 9 december 2016

Matthew Kressel: The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye

Hi everyone

I wanted to write a little review for Matthew Kressel’s short-story The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye.
You can read it for free, or listen to it on the website of Clarkesworld Magazine.

This is a strange story. It’s rather confusing at first but you just have to go with it.
It’s a serious, surreal and sad story, making me tear up at certain scenes but it’s also philosophical and critical of our own society.
It’s a fascinating story and the ending is incredible.
I highly recommend this one.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 8 december 2016

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Hi everyone

I’ve had this book for quite some time now and I never actually finished reading it. I had read some bits and pieces but the whole book through? No, I never managed that.

That’s why I decided to read it from start to finish. I wanted to complete the book in 2016 so I started in May.
Some days I read just a few poems, other days I read more than a few or none at all. I have to feel like reading poetry to really enjoy it. Are you like that too?
It’s slow-going that way but I feel like you shouldn’t rush poetry.

This book contains Pablo Neruda’s poems. All of them. Which is why it’s so long.
I got my copy from Bol.
Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

This is a beautiful collection.
I love having all his works, together in one book, no matter how big.
My Spanish is really, really bad. I took classes when I was 16 but I had to quit after just one year.
Every poem in this collection is translated into English, but here and there the original poems are printed too. I liked reading them in Spanish, just for the sound though I couldn’t really understand them.

I enjoyed this collection. Spreading it out over such a long time definitely enhanced the experience and my appreciation of his work.

Neruda covers a wide range of subjects in his poetry. Some poems are confusing or seem to be about absolutely nothing while others are overflowing with passion or love for a person, nature or something else entirely. His love poems especially are very human and raw.
But I definitely didn’t like or enjoy all of his poems. Some of his poems are too raw and bare for me personally). And there are those I just didn’t understand.

3.5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

woensdag 7 december 2016

Karen Miller: The Riven Kingdom

Hi everyone

This is my review for the second book in the Godspeaker Trilogy by Karen Miller.
My copy has 744 pages and I got it from Book Depository.
You can find all my reviews on the books in the series here.

                                                *    SPOILERS    *

This book was definitely better and more enjoyable then the first one in the series but I’d not call it great.

The characterization is (again) pretty bad in my opinion. Marlan is a cliché. He’s so bad and evil he’s unrealistic; there’s nothing more to him then his badness. And that’s exactly the same problem I have with Hekat. I can’t believe in them. They are annoying and aggravating. They have one defining trait and that’s all they are.
I’m honestly surprised the writer is a woman. The two main female characters in the book are irrational, deluded and convinced of their own importance. Hekat is worst of all of course. Male writers tend to write females like that so I can’t see why a female writer would do that.
And lastly, the book is very slow. Miller could have cut quite a few chapters without losing anything of importance. Some arguments were too drawn out and became a boring repetition of arguments. Rhian especially was very prone to this. It’s not the doubts themselves I disliked; it’s the endless repetition of her expressing her doubts that’s tiresome.

The story is interesting. Against tradition and gender-based-bias Rhian wants the throne and she’d do anything to secure it.  I liked this more political focus.
The characters have more doubts too. They understand that every choice and action has at least one possibly negative consequence and that makes them doubt everything.
The worldbuilding is amazing. This story takes place in a different part of the same world and it is very different from Mijak. I liked the time we spent getting to know these peoples’ customs and beliefs.
The book is less focused on religion, something everyone will appreciate. It’s still a part of every person/action/event but it’s less shove-it-in-your-face.

I liked it but it’s far from perfect.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 5 december 2016

Bookhaul: Bol

Hi everyone

I ordered some new books from Bol!
The Jim Butcher ones don’t need an introduction because you’ll know by now how much I enjoy reading them.
I love the Stephen King novels I’ve read so far so it’s high time I start reading his Dark Tower series.

Here are the books I got.

I’ll see you next time!

Happy reading.
Helena


zondag 4 december 2016

Andy Riley: The Book of Bunny Suicides

Hi again

I bought this little book by Andy Riley at the Boekenbeurs in Antwerpen.
It has only 96 pages so I flew through it.

“Rabbits. We'll never quite know why, but sometimes they decide they've just had enough of this world- and that's when they start getting inventive. The Book of Bunny Suicides follows over one hundred bunnies as they find ever more outlandish ways to do themselves in. From an encounter with the business end of Darth Vader's lightsaber, to supergluing themselves to a diving submarine, to hanging around underneath a loose stalactite, these bunnies are serious about suicide.”

This made me laugh A LOT.
There’s no text but most of the comics are hilarious. Only if you like dark humor though.

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 3 december 2016

Toby Frost: God Emperor of Didcot

Hi everyone

This is my review for the second book in the Chronicles of Isambard Smith by Toby Frost.
The copy I read is my father’s and it has 323 pages.
You can find all my reviews on this series here.

“Tea . . . a beverage brewed from the fermented dried leaves of the shrub Camelli sinensis and imbibed by all the great civilizations in the galaxy's history; a source of refreshment, stimulation, and, above all else, of moral fiber—without which the British Space Empire must surely crumble to leave Earth at the mercy of its enemies. Sixty percent of the Empire's tea is grown on one world—Urn, principal planet of the Didcot system. If Earth is to keep fighting, the tea must flow! When a crazed cult leader overthrows the government of Urn, Isambard Smith and his vaguely competent crew find themselves saddled with new allies—a legion of tea-obsessed nomads, an overly-civilized alien horde. and a commando unit so elite that it has only five members. Only together can they defeat the self-proclaimed God Emperor of Didcot and confront the true power behind the coup—the sinister legions of the Ghast Empire and Smith's old enemy, Commander 462.”

Like my previous review, I can’t really write a big review about this book because it’s just such a ridiculous story with goofy characters and absurd events.
The book is funny, over-the-top, cheeky, light, entertaining, predictable, silly and dry.

ONLY recommended if you like classic British humor.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 1 december 2016

Wrap Up: November 2016

Hi everyone

It’s time for my monthly Wrap Up again! Time flies and I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of the year.
I had a great reading month page-wise but I did read quite a few books I didn’t particularly enjoy.
In November, I read 4590 pages. That’s 153 pages per day and 328 per book.

Here’s what I read.

You can read the reviews by clicking on the title of the book you want to know more about.
How was your reading? Anything you’d want to recommend?

Happy reading!
Helena

woensdag 30 november 2016

Charles Dickens: Dombey and Son

Hi everyone

This is my review for Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son.
My gorgeous copy has 1022 pages of story and 36 pages about the novel itself.
I bought it at Waterstones.
You can find all my Charles Dickens reviews here.

“Dombey and Son is both a firm and a family and the ambiguous connection between public and private life lies at the heart of Dickens' novel. Paul Dombey is a man who runs his domestic affairs as he runs his business: calculatingly, callously, coldly and commercially. Through his dysfunctional relationships with his son, his two wives, and his neglected daughter Florence, Dickens paints a vivid picture of the limitations of a society dominated by commercial values and the drive for profit and explores the possibility of moral and emotional redemption through familial love.”

First, take a moment to admire the beautiful cover. And if you have a copy with the original drawings inside, take a look at those too because they’re gorgeous.
I really, really enjoyed this book.

It took me a whole month to finish it because I read a few chapters each day. I find it easier to enjoy Dickens this way then reading it all a week or two. Dickens wrote most of his books as serials so they were meant to be read in parts and reading them in parts definitely enhances the experience.

Dombey and Son is such a beautiful book.
The story is very moving and more emotional then I had expected. I did shed some tears. One scene especially is truly heart wrenching. It’s a tragic story with a few uplifting (sometimes even comedic) elements.
Dickens’ characterization is, as always, perfect. Some characters are clichéd or just a bit too much to be realistic but realism wasn’t his goal. He wanted to drive a point home. Florence for example is too kind, too good and too forgiving, so much so it can be annoying. But in the end, Florence’s love and kindness prove to be the only things that matter. Her father’s self-importance, pride and money didn’t save him; her love did. There are quite a few contrasts of this kind in the novel.
The novel is very well constructed, there’s a host of distinct, warm and charming characters and the writing is elegant and beautiful.

I don’t know about you, but it took me quite some time to figure out whether Carker is actually a good or an evil character.
Dickens is brilliant.
I loved it.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 28 november 2016

Charles Dickens: To Be Read at Dusk

Hi everyone

This is a little something about Charles Dickens’ To Be Read at Dusk.
My copy has 54 pages and I got it from Bol.
You can find all my Charles Dickens reviews here.

“Three ghostly tales from a master of the form, 'The Signalman', 'The Trial for Murder' and the title story, 'To Be Read at Dusk'.”

I liked it. It’s a nice collection and I enjoyed the stories. The first one especially had me thinking.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 27 november 2016

Virginia Woolf: Orlando

Hi everyone

This is my review for my fourth Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I read Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves a few years ago.
My copy has a 16-page introduction and 162 pages of story.
I got it at the Standaard Boekhandel.

Virginia Woolf's Orlando, "The longest and most charming love letter in literature," playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries of boisterous, fantastic adventure, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England, under James I, lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost.
At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women, Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.”

I had a mixed experience reading this book and I know I should love this but my reading over the past few years has made me realize that I don’t usually love the classics everyone seems to love.

Orlando’s gender switch was great and different, unlike other things I’ve read so far. It’s not an important part of the story though, it doesn’t matter most of the time whether she’s a man or a woman.
And I really appreciate the philosophy in Woolf’s books. She’s never really moralizing but she still manages to get her message out there.

But the book is so boring and dull! There’s nothing to the story, the writing-style is uninspired and the book didn’t captivate me at all. I struggled to get through it because it made me go to sleep.

2.5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

vrijdag 25 november 2016

Bookhaul: Book Depository

Hi again

I got new books!
I’m a big sucker for coupons or booksales so when I got a 5% coupon from Book Depository I had to make use of it.

Here are the books I got.


So happy to add to my Shirley Jackson and Richard Yates collection and I’m really looking forward to finally reading Ursula K. Leguin.

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 24 november 2016

Anne Rice: The Vampire Lestat

Hi everyone

This is my review for Anne Rice’s second book in The Vampire Chronicles; The Vampire Lestat.
I got it as a gift from friends and it has 550 pages.

“The story begins in our own time with Lestat, tall, blond, and handsome, a world-renowned rock star. His gifts are timeless, his youth never withers. But he was not always the powerful and famous child of darkness. Before his long earth-encrusted sleep, he was an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-Revolutionary France. It was then that he came face-to-face with the incarnation of evil and the temptations of love that he has ravenously pursued through time. Where it has led him and what he has become is the heart of the tale that has captured millions of readers.”

                                                *   SPOILERS   *

The Vampire Lestat didn’t blow me away like I had hoped it would.
It’s not a bad book in general, I’d almost call it good but it just didn’t capture me.
I never felt compelled to read on, I wasn’t captivated by the characters and what happened to them didn’t really interest me.

Lestat is a brilliant character and I loved how Rice made him seem human in his emotions and actions. Marius is great too and I like the history he tells us.
Nicolas, Armand and Gabrielle though, they aggravated me so much! I did not care for them at all and they felt very unrealistic both in character and actions.
The pacing was off too, especially when Lestat moved to different parts in the world the plot would go down and the story got really boring in some chapters of the book.
And lastly; the book was too dramatic for me. I absolutely hate drama for drama’s sake and Rice drowned us in it.

I enjoyed the story (though it might have been shorter) and most of the characters but the book just didn’t grab me.

2.5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 21 november 2016

Thomas de Quincey: Confessions of an English Opium Eater

Hi everyone

I read Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
This is my dad’s copy and it has a 9-page introduction and 127 pages of story.

“Once upon a time, opium (the main ingredient of heroin) was easily available over the chemist's counter. The secret of happiness, about which philosophers have disputed for so many ages, could be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat pocket: portable ecstasies could be corked up in a pint bottle. Paradise? So thought Thomas de Quincey, but he soon discovered that 'nobody will laugh long who deals much with opium'.”

I did not like this at all.
It’s incredibly boring, nothing more than a stream of consciousness, the main-character is a vain, dumb, self-absorbed twit and the writing style is tedious, trying too hard to be intelligent, dull and overwritten.

1 STAR

Happy reading (the next one).
Helena

zondag 20 november 2016

Bookhaul: A Gift

Hi everyone

As you may know, I got the first and second books in the Burton & Swinburne series by Mark Hodder. My father bought the third part at the Boekenfestijn and he just finished it while I still have to start the series.
But he didn’t really enjoy his book so he gave it to me. It’s kind of our rule to let the other choose first from books we want to give away or sell. 
This means that I own the first, second and third part in a series I still have to start.
Here’s to hoping I’ll love the books. :)

  • Mark Hodder: Expeditions to the Mountains of the Moon

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 19 november 2016

William Peter Blatty: The Exorcist

Hi again

This review is for William Peter Blatty’s classic The Exorcist.
My copy has 351 pages and I got it from my grandfather because he was getting rid of quite a few of his old books.

“The terror began unobtrusively. Noises in Regan's room, an odd smell, misplaced furniture, and icy chill. Small annoyances for which Chris MacNeil, Regan's actress mother, easily found explanations. The changes in eleven-year-old Regan were so gradual, too, that Chris did not recognise for some time how much her daughter's behaviour had altered. Even when she did, the medical tests which followed shed no light on Regan's symptoms, which grew more severe and frightening. It was almost as if a different personality had invaded the child. Desperate, Chris turned from the doctors to Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest who was trained as a psychiatrist and had a deep knowledge of such phenomena as satanism and possession. Was it possible that a demonic force was at large? If psychiatry could not help, might exorcism be the answer?”

                                                *    SPOILERS   *

Even though I haven’t seen the movie, the internet has spoiled me for quite a few key-elements of the book. Aside from that, even without these spoilers, the title kind of says it all. This is a book about the exorcism of a young girl. Add to that the blurb on the back and you can basically guess how the story will go.
And because of those spoilers the book isn’t scary to be honest, I had more of a ‘yuk’ feeling reading some scenes.
More than half the book is just drama, drama, drama and Chris trying to figure out what’s wrong with her daughter. We already know, so I truly wished Blatty would get on with the story.
He didn’t.
He just kept going on and on about what could be wrong with her. Why did he even give the book this title if he wanted to write the story of figuring out what’s wrong with her?
There’s too much drama and too little is happening.
And the too overtly religious aspect of the story made it hard to stomach at times.  I really don’t care for the religious details and the long, meandering explanations.

I did enjoy the writing-style. It’s old-fashioned, but is fits the story very well.
The characters are clearly defined and have more depth than you’d expect from a book like this.
That’s about what I liked about it I’m afraid.

2 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 17 november 2016

Toby Frost: Space Captain Smith

Hi everyone

Space Captain Smith is the first book in the Chronicles of Isambard Smith by Toby Frost.
My father lent me this copy and it has 306 pages.

“In the 25th Century the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast Empire hive, hell-bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life. Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous, and somewhat asinine new commander of the battle damaged light freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available. Together with his bold crew—a skull-collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy, and a hamster called Gerald—he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the laid back New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to safety in the Empire. Straightforward enough—except the Ghasts want her too. If he is to get back to Blighty alive, Smith must defeat void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin, and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of New Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind.”

This book is definitely only for fans of dry English humor and space-opera so keep that in mind.

I enjoyed this one.
It’s incredibly funny and I actually laughed out loud (or snorted to be honest) a few times. It’s a very dry sort of humor with lots of references to movies and British culture in general.
It’s silly though, so don’t expect too much. And the story isn’t great either. There are a few plot holes and some difficulties in the pacing.

I liked it, it was light and entertaining. It’s just not hilarious or great.

3.5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

dinsdag 15 november 2016

Aldous Huxley: The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell

Hi everyone

This is my review for the book containing both ‘The Doors of Perception’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’ by Aldous Huxley.
My copy has 123 pages story, a 2-page forward by J. G. Ballard and 10 pages about Aldous Huxley. I got it at the Standaard Boekhandel.

“In 1953, Aldous Huxley took four-tenths of a gram of the drug Mescalin, sat down and waited to see what would happen. When he opened his eyes everything was transformed. He describes his experience in The Doors of Perception and its sequel Heaven and Hell.”

I did not enjoy this at all.
It wasn’t even interesting to read it as a disconnected essay about his experiences.
It’s an utterly boring and pretentious, stream of consciousness promoting drug use.

1 STAR

Happy reading
Helena

maandag 14 november 2016

William Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra

Hi

This is a little something on Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare.
My copy has 134 pages play and 15 pages introduction.
I got it at the Boekenfestijn.

“Antony and Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies: a spectacular, widely-ranging drama of love and war, passion and politics. Antony is divided between the responsibilities of imperial power and the intensities of his sexual relationship with Cleopatra. She, variously generous and ruthless, loving and jealous, petulant and majestic, emerges as Shakespeare's most complex depiction of a woman”

The book is a different take on how love changes people, how it affects them.  It’s also about politics and how that changes people. To me, those are the most important and most obvious elements.
But I’m no literary scholar, I just read it for my own enjoyment and I can’t say I enjoyed it that much.
The differences in style were really aggravating me. I’m not sure whether those were part of the original play or just my edition but they really dragged me out of it.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 13 november 2016

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter: The Long Utopia

Hi everyone

I finished the fourth book in The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter.
My copy has a gorgeous cover and counts 434 pages. I got it on holiday in Amsterdam.
You can find all reviews in the series here.

                                                *    SPOILERS    *

The Long Utopia wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as engaging and interesting as the previous ones.
There’s one overarching plot and a bunch of family history. The history was a nice addition but it was too big a part of the book. It should have been more of a side plot.

It was enjoyable and entertaining though.
I simply love the worldbuilding and the general idea of this Long Earth. It’s truly fascinating and it made me think and dream.
The characters are great and I love them all and those giant bugs really gave me the absolute creeps.
The ending is so sad it almost made me tear-up.

This book is more grounded than the ones before. There’s less time to explore the worlds and more time to get to know the characters and what’s happening all around.
All in all, I enjoyed it but it was too slow and the real plot was of too little importance.

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 12 november 2016

Bookhaul: Boekenbeurs Antwerpen

Hi everyone

My dad and I went to the Boekenbeurs in Antwerp yesterday.
We had a lovely day together talking about books, looking at books, researching books and buying books.

I got three new ones.

Until next time!

Happy reading.
Helena



dinsdag 8 november 2016

Dawn French: A Tiny Bit Marvellous

Hi everyone

A Tiny Bit Marvellous is my second Dawn French book.
I got this one as a gift from my mum and dad. It has 404 pages of story and a 15-page interview.

“Everyone hates the perfect family.
So you'll love the Battles.
Meet Mo Battle, about to turn 50 and mum to two helpless, hormonal teenagers. There's 17-year-old daughter Dora who blames Mo for, like, EVERYTHING and Peter who believes he's quite simply as darling and marvellous as his hero Oscar Wilde. Somewhere, keeping quiet, is Dad . . . who's just, well... Dad.
However, Mo is having a crisis. She's about to do something unusually wild and selfish, which will leave the entire family teetering on the edge of a precipice. Will the family fall? Or will they, when it really matters, be there for each other?”

This was entertaining. Nothing special but it was a nice read.

The characters are true stereotypes and they sometimes really set my teeth on edge. Other times though I liked them and I could understand what they were going through.
The plot is very predictable, rather boring and full of cliches.  The writing is exactly like you would expect the character to write his or her diary so that’s good.
In my opinion, all three of them deserved a few slaps from time to time to see what’s happening around them.

The humor and the heartwarming (though predictable) ending make the book into a slightly better than mediocre one. French is bloody hilarious at times.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 7 november 2016

E. M. Forster: Where Angels Fear to Tread

Hi

This is my review for ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread’ by E. M. Forster.
My copy has 153 pages of story and 7 pages on the novel by David Dowling.
I got my copy in the Fnac.
You can find all my E. M. Forster reviews here.

E.M. Forster's first novel is a witty comedy of manners that is tinged with tragedy. It tells the story of Lilia Herriton, who proves to be an embarrassment to her late husband's family as, in the small Tuscan town of Monteriano, she begins a relationship with a much younger man - classless, uncouth and highly unsuitable.
A subtle attack on decorous Edwardian values and humanely sympathetic portrayal of the clash of two cultures, Where Angels Fear to Tread is also a profound exploration of character and virtue.”

This was a boring read.
Nothing special really.

The characters were mediocre, Philip was the best part of the novel; I rather liked him.
The plot was OK and the book was fun to read but it didn’t make me laugh like a comedy should.
It’s well-written enough but the story is dull and I just didn’t care.

Meh.

2 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 6 november 2016

Aliette de Bodard: Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight

Hi

This review is for Aliette de Bodard’s short story ‘Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight’.
You can read it for free, or listen to it on the website of Clarkesworld Magazine.

This story was sweet, sincere, different, interesting, moving, and very beautiful.
Highly recommended.

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 5 november 2016

Robert Jordan: Crossroads of Twilight

Hi

Crossroads of twilight is the tenth book in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
My copy has 660 pages and I’ve got it for quite some time now so I can’t remember where I got it.
This is a reread.
You can find all my Wheel of Time reviews here.

* SPOILERS! *

Right now, I’m actually regretting my decision to reread the series.

Why does Jordan think it necessary to recount everything that happened in the previous nine books? We’re not stupid. This is book nine; we know what’s happened so far. Who would start a series with book nine?

The plot in this installment goes nowhere. It’s at a complete standstill and this book is almost superfluous because so little is happening. Whatever does happen is only the aftermath of the previous novel. Endless rehashing of the channelers’ reaction the the cleansing of Saidin and little else.

Tuon and Egeanin are unrealistic, egoistic, self-important, stupid and self-involved.
I can only admire Mat for coping with those women the way he does. In his place they’d have gotten a few slaps a long time ago.

Perrin bores me to death and I absolutely hate Faile. I wish they’d both just die so we could get rid of them. Or maybe Faile could die so Perrin could go back to being the strong character he was before he got involved with Faile. Even reading about Perrin actually doing something would be a nice change. I hate this plotline even more than the first time I read The Wheel of Time books. I don’t see why they should have such a big part in these books. Both are disconnected from the rest of the world and they aren’t really important for the overall plot too.

Elayne seems to be the main focus of this book and though I don’t really hate her, I really dislike her. She’s so stupid! And Aviendha’s attempts to adapt to the court are cringe-worthy. Their plotlines really don’t work for me. Countless eye rolling moments to be had with these two characters.

Taims plans for The Black Tower are Rands fault. He left them alone for too long without even checking in on them from time to time.

I’m tired of reading about Egwene’s wobbly chair. I like her storyline, even the truly mundane things like the papers on the provisions and the army. It gives us a view of how much work a camp that size is. But I hate to read the same thing over and over again (like the wobbly chair). I would have liked to know more about her plan so the suspense would be higher. Now she’s captured a few pages after revealing the plan to us. I was surprised (the first time I read it) but now, upon rereading it, it would have worked better had we had more foreshadowing.

Crossroads of Twilight is definitely a slow book that doesn’t add anything new to the series. You could almost skip it to be honest but I do wish you wouldn’t because the series overall is pretty good and enjoyable.

3 STARS

Happy reading
Helena

donderdag 3 november 2016

The books I want to read before the end of 2016

Hi

There are a few books on my TBR I would really like to get to before the end of the year.
Like last year, I wanted to write a blogpost about the books on my immediate TBR.

One of my Reading Goals for 2016 is to read a Jim Butcher novel and a Robert Jordan novel every other month so those are obviously on my immediate TBR. I like reading these big series spread over quite some time so I read a book every other month and it helps me to not get burned out of enjoying them.
The Miles Cameron, Justin Cronin, Karen Miller and Pratchett & Baxter books are four of my ongoing series. I haven’t had time yet to catch up with them so I’m hoping to do just that.
I spent Halloween watching movies with friends like we do every year and we came close to watching William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. Because I have it on my shelves I want to make sure I read the book before I get the chance to watch the movie.
And lastly, I really want to start the books by Mark Hodder and Anne Rice so they aren’t a real priority but I will definitely read them very soon.

Here's the final list.

What books would you like to finish in 2016?

Happy reading!
Helena


dinsdag 1 november 2016

Wrap Up: October 2016

Hi everyone

October was a great month. I read a lot of books and I’ve no idea how I managed that with my awfully busy schedule in October.
Actually I do, I'm a very bad sleeper and this month was worse than usual.
Aside from that, I’m very happy with another milestone; my blog reached 30.000 views! I still can’t quite believe it. Thank you so much!

I read 14 books for a total of 4883 pages. That’s 349 pages per book and 157 every day.
Here’s what I read in October.


And this is the book I didn’t finish.

How was your reading month?

Happy reading!
Helena