donderdag 30 juni 2016

Kat Richardson: Greywalker

Hi

Greywalker is the first novel in the Greywalker series by Kat Richardson.
I borrowed this copy from my father and it has 341 pages.

“When Harper comes to in the hospital, she begins to feel a bit ...strange. She sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker-able to move between our world and the mysterious, cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift (or curse) is about to drag her into that world of vampires and ghosts, magic and witches, necromancers and sinister artifacts. Whether she likes it or not.”

I had to do a bit of a reading sprint to finish this one before the end of the month. 

                                *    SPOILERS    *

I didn't enjoy this book.
So basically, this review will be a list of things I did not like about it.

The book was published in 2006 but it feels so much older. It’s not like I’m techsavvy but Harper is an ignorant noob. I found that to be very unrealistic, especially for someone her age and with her profession. How can she not have a cell phone for example?
I didn’t care for Harper herself. She is a coward, slow on the uptake and it takes her for EVER to accept the paranormal and her ‘powers’. It’s right in front of her. She experiences it. And still she refuses to accept it for what it is. Scene after scene about how she’s not accepting it. Come on. No-one wants to read that. Just pull yourself together and get on with it. I thought (at the beginning) that she was a strong woman, but she quickly proved me wrong.
And then, suddenly she’s meeting with a bunch of vampires while she still isn’t sure what to think of her ‘powers’. That’s weird and contradictory.
The giant infodumps made me lose concentration, they’re so boring.
I’d rather read more about her powers and how she grows into them than this doubt and drama.
The plot is very predictable.
The action scenes are always the same, there’s no variety. Harper is experiencing all of it and not taking an active part in these scenes.
And finally; I didn’t care for the subplot with her boyfriend.

Oh, one question: can everyone that’s been revived become a Greywalker? Because if so, there must be more than a few Greywalkers around. That’s never touched upon.
Greywalker is a very easy to read, but boring book.

1 STAR

Happily reading my next book.
Helena

woensdag 29 juni 2016

George Eliot: Silas Marner

Hi everyone

Silas Marner is my first George Eliot novel.
My copy has 207 pages of story and 11 pages with letters and reviews.

“Wrongly accused of theft and exiled from a religious community many years before, the embittered weaver Silas Marner lives alone in Raveloe, living only for work and his precious hoard of money. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life. His fate, and that of the little girl he adopts, is entwined with Godfrey Cass, son of the village Squire, who, like Silas, is trapped by his past. Silas Marner, George Eliot's favourite of her novels, combines humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism to create an unsentimental but affectionate portrait of rural life.”

Silas Marner is a classic fairy tale. It’s a feel-good story with a happy end that’s just a little too sentimental for my tastes.

The writing is vivid and elegant and I could really imagine myself living there and going through the motions in the little village. Silas Marner is really beautifully written. The only thing I didn't like was the written dialect some characters spoke. Because English isn't my native language I find it very hard to read imperfect English, especially when it's such a strong dialect.
I liked the characterization too. Eliot made me care for most characters in the book.

The transformation of the way Silas grows is perfectly written. I felt like I was there with him, observing him and watching everything.

All in all, I really enjoyed the story and it left me feeling warm and fuzzy.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

dinsdag 28 juni 2016

Terry Pratchett: Snuff

Hi

Snuff is Terry Pratchett’s 39th Discworld novel.
My copy has 476 pages.
You can find all my Terry Pratchett reviews here and my Discworld reviews here.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.
And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.
He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.
They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.
But not quite all...”


Snuff is a wonderful book.
The story starts and ends slower than his other books but I didn’t care because the slower parts only meant more pages to tell the story. Something I can only applaud. Wholeheartedly.

Sam Vimes and his family life really made this such a wonderful book. They’ve always been some of my favorite characters and especially since the birth of Young Sam they make me feel all warm and fuzzy. There is so much love between them. Not in the dramatic way but in the knowing one another so well, not having to say anything to understand each other, the jokes they share,... Like I said; all warm and fuzzy.

As to other characters; Feenie is great and he added a lot of fun and interesting ‘philosophical’ discussions. The Goblins are amazing too. No one else than Terry Pratchett could make me care about creatures like them. And Wee Mad Arthur is hilarious.

The moral or critique is a bit too straightforward for my liking but I’ve got a feeling that all of Pratchett’s latest stories are a bit less subtle then they used to be. It didn’t bother me but it’s not really something I enjoy when it’s that obvious.
Snuff is a really entertaining read and I enjoyed it a lot.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena


zaterdag 25 juni 2016

Joe Abercrombie: Before They are Hanged

Hi

Before They are Hanged is the second book in The First Law by Joe Abercrombie.
I got my copy from Bol and it has 570 pages.
You can find all my Joe Abercrombie reviews here.

                                *  SPOILERS  *

I gushed about the great, twisted, unique characters in my review of the previous book and Abercrombie did even better in this book.
Ardee has even less importance here but Ferro gets more time. She’s still bent on revenge but there’s a bit more to her now. Not much, but I can understand her better so I don’t care as much as I used to.
The characters are three dimensional and wonderfully done. Most of them are pretty realistic and I love that.

The plot is better. I loved all the battles, the gore and the blood in the novel. There’s political intrigue, humour, lots of suspenseful and thrilling moments, plottwists, and many questions (some answered and some not), leading to a lot of suspicions.

And finally; the worldbuilding is better too. We see more of the land, we get more background and history.

I'll be reading the third book in the series very soon.

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

Both will be finished tonight. ^^

donderdag 23 juni 2016

Bookhaul: A Gift!

Hi everyone

My wonderful husband got me the sixth Harry Potter as a gift.
Just because.
Isn’t he sweet?


I’m very much looking forward to this one.

Happy reading!
Helena

dinsdag 21 juni 2016

Ben Aaronovitch: Rivers of London

Hi

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is a book I borrowed from my father. He is collecting the Peter Grant series and I wanted to try the first one of the series to see for myself why he likes it so much.
The copy I read has 392 pages.

“Meet DC Peter Grant. He will show you his city. But it's not the capital that you see as you make your way from tube to bus, from Elephant to Castle. It's a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never suspected…
Grant’s story starts when he tries to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead. And take him down a twisting, turning centuries' old mystery that reckons to set London on fire...”

                                *  SPOILERS  *

Rivers of London was a really enjoyable read.
At first I thought it would be very much alike The Dresden Files and it is, just not as much as I had thought.

The premise isn’t entirely original or new but the story gets different enough to make it interesting, entertaining and fun to read.
It starts a bit slow because we have to get to know the characters but it picks up and the story becomes very exciting and surprising.
By the end (when Nightingale is out) the book dragged it bit more. I liked the interaction, the teacher/student thing and the Old English Nightingale so I missed him a bit.

There’s lots of action, great worldbuilding with the magic lessons and the setting of the book in London is just perfect. Having been in London quite a few times, I felt like I could run with Peter and find my way to every spot he mentioned. That was so much fun to read.

The personifications of The Thames were a very nice and unique addition to the cast of characters. I liked the characters a lot. They are realistic; imperfect, flawed, and quite unique.
I particularly enjoyed reading about Peter’s views on being a copper and his own race.
Peter and Lesley question everything he (Peter) learns about magic and those scenes were very well executed; they weren’t giant, tedious infodumps.
I don’t really like his attitude towards women but that seems to be a recurring trope in novels of this kind (f.e. The Dresden Files)
The references to Blackadder, dr. Who, Tolkien, Harry Potter etc. made me smile a lot. 

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

zondag 19 juni 2016

Bookhaul: Boekenfestijn

Hi everyone

My husband and I went to the Boekenfestijn in Ghent yesterday.
We met my father there and I spent a good three hours browsing the aisles.
Three hours well spent!

It’s been quite some time but they finally had a decent collection of Wordsworth Classics again so I couldn’t resist those.

Here are the books I got.

My TBR has grown once again. :)

Happy reading!
Helena



zaterdag 18 juni 2016

Jim Butcher: Dead Beat

Hi everyone
Dead Beat is the 7th book in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
My copy has 442 pages and I got it as a gift for Christmas from my grandmother.
You can find all my Dresden Files reviews here.

                                *  SPOILERS  *

 I really, really enjoyed this one.

The story, is fast, action-packed and very entertaining. It’s also dark and gritty in places.
Dead Beat is gripping, exciting, suspenseful and humorous.

The premise sounds great but Mavra’s part in the actual story is surprisingly small. She’s only there to push the plot in a certain direction and I found that to be disappointing. Why even mention her at all? It would have been nice to have her in a more important role again.

And since we’re talking about the characters in the book; I’d like to talk about a few of them.
Butters is a great character. He changed so much throughout the story he’s the one we would all like to be. Afraid but still smart and courageous.
Even though Murphy is an important element to this story, she doesn’t play a role in the book and I missed her.
Mouse is adorable! He’s a giant now, but he’s still so cute and he always makes me smile.
I like Thomas and I hope he’ll have a more important role in the next books because here he was nothing more than a sidekick.
The Alphas are a nice addition too. They grow and progress even when they’re not part of the stories. Every time we catch up with them is like seeing old friends again. Much has happened but you still hit it off straightaway.
I love Harry but he can really annoy me sometimes. Some situations don’t call for him being a sexist or a wise-ass. He has changed though. He’s much darker and he can be truly scary. I like it.

When will we see some other spells than Forzare?

The final battle is pretty epic and a hilarious Jurassic Park parody. Butcher's fight-scenes in general are pretty good, unpredictable, different and suspenseful.
Why the villains in The Dresden Files always talk instead of kill Harry goes beyond me but I guess that’s part of the ambiance of the series. It’s funny at least.

Butcher adds something to the ‘universe’ with each book and it gets larger every time. A lot of those smaller and bigger elements from previous books come together. The series has become much more complex than I’d imagined when reading the first and second book. And that’s an amazing tour de force.

Those minor grievances asside; I loved the book.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena


Having a lovely evening.

donderdag 16 juni 2016

Embracing My Books’ 2 Year Anniversary: My To Be Read Books

Hi everyone

It’s Embracing My Books’ second anniversary!
I honestly can’t believe it’s been so long. Two years is huge.
So many books read, so many friends made, so many words written and so much fun doing all of it.

I enjoyed it a lot.

Like last year, I wanted to post my TBR.
You can read last years’ TBR here with links to the reviews of the books I’ve read since.
Let me know in the comments whether there’s a book you would like me to prioritize.

So, here they are; my To Be Read books.
All 131 of them.
Last year, I wrote ‘you can never have too many books’ and I stand by that.

What’s your TBR like? Is it as big as mine? Do we have books in common? Any books on this list you liked?

Happy birthday to Embracing My Books!

Happy, happy reading.
Helena





woensdag 15 juni 2016

Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Earth

Hi

Foundation and Earth is the last novel in the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.
I got my copy from Bol and it has 499 pages.
You can find my reviews on all Foundation novels here.

                                *  SPOILERS  *

Foundation and Earth was a disappointing book.

It’s very easy to read because there’s not much going on.
The plot is lazy, boring and very poorly executed. Nothing happens. As in, nothing at all. I could sum up what happens in a few sentences.
They are searching for Earth because for some reason or other they think it will justify the decision Trevize made in the previous book. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
There’s a lot of talking. A whole lot of very repetitive, boring talking.

The characters lack depth; they have a few definable traits and that’s all there is to them. I liked spending so much time with them compared to other characters in the series we see for only a few chapters but they still lack depth. They go on and on about the same things and it really aggravated me.

And what’s with the sex scenes and the breasts in this book? There’s too much mentioning of breasts and very weird, awkward sex scenes especially when compared to his previous books in the series. I don’t really understand why.

I really missed the Seldon Plan in this book. It’s not really part of the plot and I don’t understand why because that was the whole point of the series. Or so I thought at least.
Silly me, apparently.

The only thing that I liked about the book was the search for Earth itself. Learning about the other planets, the people on them and getting closer to our own planet.

And the ending isn’t bad either. It didn’t surprise me but it was a good ending to the series.

I’m not sure why I continued with the series. There wasn’t one book I really loved. They were enjoyable and entertaining. Nothing more.

2 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

maandag 13 juni 2016

Bookhaul: Bol

Hi everyone

I ordered new books last week and the last one arrived today.

So, here are the books I got from Bol.

I’m really looking forward to reading them.

Happy reading!
Helena

vrijdag 10 juni 2016

Ira Levin: Rosemary’s Baby

Hi

This was my second time reading Rosemary’s Baby. I must have been around 15 the first time I read it.
My copy has 229 pages and I got it at De Slegte.
You can find all my Ira Levin reviews here.

 “Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an onimous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them and, despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.
As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavet's circle is not what it seems.”

Having both read the book and seen the movie quite a long while ago, the plot wasn’t as suspenseful as the first time around.

Rosemary’s Baby is a quick, engrossing and easy read. The plot moves very fast, the characters are intriguing and the book is really intense. It builds slowly and subtly and I liked that a lot. But by the last few chapters I’d had enough. It becomes predictable and overly dramatic.

I’m very conflicted about Rosemary (the character).
You see, I’m not blaming her for what happens to her.
But she doesn’t see sense, she doesn’t think and she certainly doesn’t question what’s happening to her body, her social life and to her husband.
What happens to her is scary. She trusts the wrong people, dismisses the good ones and bad things happen to the one who truly wanted to help her. She has no say in her own life. Guy slowly takes it all away from her. She is subtly manipulated by her husband and her neighbors.
And that’s what makes the book so scary. It starts slowly and gets progressively worse but it takes Rosemary a very, very long time to see it.
AND the way Rosemary talks herself into accepting Guy’s reasons for ‘raping’ her makes my skin crawl.
It is truly scary, and that makes it so good.

4 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena


Enjoying this.

woensdag 8 juni 2016

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Hi everyone

I think this was my fourth time reading J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
You can find my Harry Potter reviews here.
My stunning copy has 800 pages and I got it as a gift from my husband.

                * SPOILERS *

The book is 800 pages long and I truly wish there’s more of it.

Here are some observations.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the book were the characters grow into real teenagers. Including the hormones, the bickering and the cranky moodswings.
And Harry can be very mean to his friends! It hurt me to read about him being mean to them. He can be so moody! I can understand him and it’s realistic in the situation, but man he should really be more rational from time to time. It’s not really fun to read about the endless complaining, him being mean and hurtful to his friends and his attitude.
This book has a lot of depth and a wide range of emotions and characteristics.
I love the fact that Ron is a prefect. Finally something he can be really proud of.
I don’t like the Cho Chang storyline. I never did and I don’t think I ever will.
Had Harry thought it all through and used the mirror Sirius gave him, it would have gone very, very differently. But I do feel so very, very sorry for him.
The premise of keeping Harry in the dark is understandable but they should have seen sooner that he has to know something.
Ginny is awesome!
Fred and George are superb daredevils and I love them.
Neville shows real strength and courage,
McGonagall is amazing and strong and Flitwick made me smile.
The scenes where they defy Umbridge in their own small or big way are especially enjoyable.
Rowling mentions so many things and people that will be important later on. It’s amazing how far ahead she was thinking while writing the series.
But Rowling’s bad characters are very one sided. They have absolutely no background. Why is Umbridge such an ‘evil’ woman? I would love to understand her? We see a glimpse of Snape’s reasons for hating Harry and that’s great (though it does not excuse him in any way and I will never like him). But we can’t understand Umbridge or Draco.
The last chapters were so thrilling! It’s amazing how suspenseful it remains even after several rereads and many hours of watching the movie.
The ending is perfect. It could have been very different had they thought it through. Had Harry used his mirror. Had they understood that Kreacher can leave the house. Or many other possibilities. But they’re teenagers so they didn’t.
Sirius didn’t die a hero. He died making fun while fighting, he died taunting the wrong people, he died a stupid death. His ego got in the way.
I love the way Rowling wrote about Harry dealing with it.
My heart hurts for him. His grief feels very realistic and true.
And Neville! Oh I felt so, so sad for him in this book.

What this book teaches us most is the fact that people aren’t pure evil or a perfectly good person. Good people can come out of terrible households. Dumbledore makes mistakes. Sirius can be mean and scornful. Mrs. Weasley can be harsh too. Most of all; we learn that Harry’s parents and godfather weren’t infallible.

5 STARS

Happy, happy reading!
Helena

The PERFECT Couple.

zaterdag 4 juni 2016

Jules Verne: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Hi everyone

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is my third Jules Verne though it is only my second book.
You can find all my Jules Verne reviews here.
I got my copy at the Boekenfestijn.
It has a 6-page introduction and 185 pages story.

“The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth's very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet's primordial secrets, the geologist - together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans - discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne's imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.”

The only female characters in the book are a maid and the Axel’s fiancée. Aside from being a maid or a fiancée they play absolutely no part in the story. Very disappointing.
The two main characters are great though. They are perfect together and they have a lot of depth.

The story is rather boring and slow and there isn’t a lot of action.
I really didn’t care for ‘the compass mystery’.
But the sense of wonder and excitement throughout the story made it a lot of fun.
The book contains a lot of details about the world and about what the characters see and experience.

Verne’s style is great. It reads fast, it’s interesting and I liked the travel log format.
I love the amount of details and the scientific thought that has gone into the novel. Most of it is dated or plain wrong now but it makes for a very absorbing novel with a perfect end to the story.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

donderdag 2 juni 2016

Wrap Up: May 2016

Hi everyone

May was a great reading month.
I read 4411 pages. That’s 142 pages every day or 441 pages per book.

Here are the books I read last month.

The following books were my favorites. Rereads don’t count in these things I’m afraid so Harry Potter is out.

And there was one book I didn’t finish.

How was your reading in May? Anything you care to recommend?

Happy reading!
Helena