donderdag 31 maart 2016

Robert Jordan: Lord of Chaos

Hi

This is the sixth book in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
I am rereading the whole series and I plan to read one book every other month.
This one is enormous and has 1017 pages.
It was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1995.
You can find all my reviews on this series here.

* SPOILERS *

This is more of a collection of my thoughts about this specific novel and not really a fully fleshed out review. It’s hard to review book after book in a series so i’m doing it this way for now.

Dear mister Jordan. We’re not stupid. This is the sixth book, there’s no need to retell everything that has happend since the start of the series or walk us through every character. Who would be dumb enough to start the series with this book when you can see everywhere on the cover that this is the sixth book?

The prologue is ridicilously long; it’s more like a novella then a prologue. It doesn’t bother me, but it is rather stupid. Don’t call it a prologue just call it the first chapter.

I love the idea of the schools Rand founded to leave something behind. It’s smart and it shows how it’s not just about him but about the whole world. It will take time to defeat The Dark One and the world has to be ready to face him and move on after this Battle. Rand is preparing the world for that.

Ji'e'toh is a stupid, ridiculous, unconvincing bunch of rules. Aviendha and the Aiel in general  are fullof contradictions.
Sulin calls her behavior meeting her toh?
She is sullen, angry and she never wants to do her job, how is that meeting her toh?

The Wise Ones and Aiel Maidens who are trailing Rand everywhere are nowhere to be seen when The Tower Aes Sedai pay Rand a visit. That’s convenient.

The foursome of Rand, Elayne, Min and Aviendha is just awful. All three women see Rand as some kind of dog who’s their property. It’s so wrong!

Elayne and Nynaeve start showing some logical, serious thinking in this novel and their bickering isn’t present as much as it was before. Thankfully; because I hated that.
And another thing; you would expect Elayne to go for the throne, but she doesn’t. No idea why not. She’s a rather stupid, dumb character.

Lews Therin is a very interesting addition to the story. First time readers will wonder what is up with that. Is he real or is Rand going insane? I know because this is a reread but it’s still intruiging.

Herid Fell is a cliché but he’s also a funny and good person. And it’s an easy, not-boring way to give the reader the much needed information without making it into a lecture of several pages.

I love Egwene and she is an amazing Amyrlin Seat. Her scheming for real power is so interesting to read and I loved those parts of the story.

I still hate Faile, she’s super irrational, overly jealous and angry for no reason whatsoever. Aside from his love for Faile I find Perrin to be a very realistic and loving character. He is obviously the reluctant hero. Mat thinks himself a reluctant hero but he actually loves the planning, the bossing people around and attention it gets him. Perrin really hates it; he wants a quiet life in a small town with wife and children. But this side of him makes him a slow character too because he can’t make decisions for the life of him.
And speaking of Mat, I like him a lot more. He was more of a comic relief character in the previous novels but he is actually turning into a normal person with real feelings, doubts and fears.

The battle of Dumai’s Wells is amazing. Jordan is a master in writing battles and fights. It was thrilling and full of action, we see the different characters and their part in it and it is so, so satisfying to read. I loved it.
Aside from being very skilled at writing battles, the politics and maneuvering in this novel are right on point too. I love such thorough world-building and the immense amount of details.

Alanna bonding Rand against his will is the prime example of Jordan’s opinion of women. Women are meddlesome, proud, self-righteous, conceited and self-important and Aes Sedai even more so. Wise Ones too but not as much as Aes Sedai. Every relationship in the series between a man and a woman is just plain wrong. They don’t understand each other, they cannot communicate, they don’t really care for the feelings or thoughts of the other person and they certainly don’t take them into account. Rereading this series in such a short time (my first time took me several years because I had to wait for the books to get published) has made me realize how wrong and disappointing this is in such an otherwise amazing series. It honestly sets my teeth on edge.

The book is interesting and the general plot is amazing but again, it’s too drawn out.
It has an amazing ending too!

4 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

woensdag 30 maart 2016

Bookhaul: Book Depository

Hi

I think I’ve got a problem.
I might need to keep myself from ordering more books online.
Shops are not the problem because I don’t get to them very often.
Online shopping though; that’s way too easy.

Anyway, here are the new books I got through Book Depository.

They did a poor job with their bookmarks this time. I like them, but receiving the same one three times is a bit much don’t you think? And I got all three in the same package. Normally my books come one or two in a package, but this time I got six of them in one big package with those three bookmarks.
Well, you can never have too many and I do really like and use them.

Happy reading
Helena




dinsdag 29 maart 2016

Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire

Hi everyone

Foundation and Empire is the next book in the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.
You can find my reviews on the previous novels here.
This book has 282 pages and I got it from Bol.com.

“Led by its founding father, the great psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and taking advantage of its superior science and technology, the Foundation has survived the greed and barbarism of its neighboring warrior-planets. Yet now it must face the Empire—still the mightiest force in the Galaxy even in its death throes. When an ambitious general determined to restore the Empire’s glory turns the vast Imperial fleet toward the Foundation, the only hope for the small planet of scholars and scientists lies in the prophecies of Hari Seldon.
But not even Hari Seldon could have predicted the birth of the extraordinary creature called The Mule—a mutant intelligence with a power greater than a dozen battle fleets… a power that can turn the strongest-willed human into an obedient slave.”

I am really enjoying the series. . It’s quite different from the books I’m used to because I’m just starting out with SF and this is kind of a nice, gentle way to dip my toes into the water.

It’s fast and thrilling without a boring moment in the whole novel. The Mule is a very intriguing character and I wish Asimov made more of a point of his characterization. 
His interesting ideas and the plot are amazing and they make the books worth reading.
But I do not love it; I find it to be rather superficial and almost light-hearted. Aside from that, there’s not much character development or world-building. His writing is full of clichés and bad dialogue.

It’s a relaxing read, and that’s about what I expect from this series by now.

3 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

Time to relax.

maandag 28 maart 2016

Neil Gaiman: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back

Hi

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back is a 58-page novella by Neil Gaiman. It is set in London Below and it’s part of the Neverwhere world.

“The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.
And it was unquestionably his.”

                *  SPOILERS  *

I enjoyed this very short story back into the world I loved.
But I also felt like it didn’t live up to what I expected to get from it.
The Marquis is an amazing character on his own. Suddenly introducing his brother so he could be rescued twice felt almost like treachery to this self reliant, sarcastic, snarky character.
His brother made the Marquis feel less unique, daring and fascinating. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he has a brother and I love the sort of friendly competition going on, but they are too similar and that makes them both less interesting.
I loved the other characters and I really loved the world so it was a joy to be back.

3 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

maandag 21 maart 2016

E. M. Forster: Howards End

Hi

I got Howards End by E. M. Forster while on holiday in Valencia.
Because I was almost done with The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (the book I brought with me) I started this on the plane home.
My copy has 362 pages story and 20 pages on E. M. Forster by Lionel Trilling.

“One of Forster's masterpieces, this book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century. The families represent different gradations of the Edwardian middle class: the Wilcoxes, who are rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings (Margaret, Tibby & Helen), who represent the intellectual bourgeoisie & have a lot in common with the real-life Bloomsbury Group; & the Basts, a couple who are struggling members of the lower-middle class. The Schlegel sisters try to help the poor Basts & try to make the Wilcoxes less prejudiced.”

This book bored me.

The novel is well-written enough. There are enough details and descriptions to paint us a picture of the characters and their surroundings while not being overly flowery either.

I liked the relationships between each member of a family and between the families.
The messages of equality and emancipation are admirable if a bit too apparent in the novel. Forster is not subtle.
The conflicts between the wealthy upper class and working class are depicted quite beautifully and it is truly interesting to read about it. The way this struggle is represented in the novel makes you question history and present as well as our future.

But I really didn’t care for the characters, and that’s my main problem with the novel. I could not believe in them and I did not connect with them.
The marriage was unbelievable because I could not understand why such a level-minded, independent, strong woman would marry a man who doesn’t take responsibilities or cleans up his own messes. Mrs. Wilcox has no compelling or admirable traits whatsoever and Helen felt like a character from a comic instead of a real person.

2 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

zaterdag 19 maart 2016

Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White

Hi

While I was on holiday I had The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins with me to read. I did not finish it there because I didn’t have enough pages left for the flight home so I took another book with me on the plane and I finished this one at home.
It has a beautiful cover! The story itself is 702 pages and there’s 17 pages text on Wilkie Collins by Julian Symons.

 “The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.”

I really enjoyed this book.

The characters feel very much alive as the novel progresses, especially when it’s their own point of view; each character has its distinct voice. The count is amazing, I love the smart, caring Miss Halcombe and Mr. Fairlie is hilarious. Laura is a miss in my opinion; she’s boring, insipid and quite stupid to be honest. I couldn’t really see why they cared so much for her.
But Miss Halcombe and the count, how I adored them.

The pace never slackens and the tension holds throughout the novel.
The way the story is told, the narrative is fabulous. Multiple points of view, each telling his/her own story and everyone is only telling what they think to be true.
I loved the amount of details and worldbuilding that went into it. The plot is mysterious, very complex, thrilling and I had a hard time putting it down every time.
Alas, even on holiday you have to sleep.

It is a bit too convenient at times and I very much disliked Laura so it wasn’t a five star book but I did really like it.

4 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

vrijdag 18 maart 2016

Bookhaul: Valencia

Hi

My husband and I went on a holiday to Valencia in Spain for a midweek.
We visited quite a few bookshops but the range of English books wasn’t great. I did find three books though so I’m very happy with those.
Aside from the books, I found two Funko Pops I wanted; Rubeus Hagrid and Michonne.

Here are the books I got:

It’s not like I needed more books obviously.

Happy reading!
Helena




donderdag 10 maart 2016

Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Hi

This is my second book by Philip K. Dick.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has 193 pages and a 2-page introduction by Graham Sleight.
It was made into the movie Blade Runner in 1982.
I got my edition at De Slegte.

“World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal -- the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.
Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted...”

I enjoyed this book but I’m a bit underwhelmed. It took me about 50 pages to really get into it (that’s a fourth of the book) which is a long time for such a tiny book but I’m glad I did finish it.

Then why did it take me so long to get immersed into the story? I think it’s because it didn’t really grab me, I didn’t feel involved with the story and I didn’t care for the characters.

The story is interesting and full of action; it’s different from what I’m used to and even so many years after publishing it doesn’t feel dated. It’s still relevant to this day.
It’s original, well written, thought provoking and haunting.

The business about the sheep and the goat really got on my nerves. We received the message about the importance of animals in this society, could you just get on with the story please? The whole obsession with animals was annoying me.
And I felt like the ‘lovestory’ was unnecessary. It didn’t add enough to the story to redeem its insta-love quality. Dick could have driven home the same points without this storyline.

I liked it, but I’m definitely not blown away by the book.

3 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

woensdag 9 maart 2016

Michel Faber: The Book of Strange New Things

Hi everyone

This review is about Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things.
I got my copy at Fnac and it has 585 pages.

 “It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.”

The premise sounded very interesting and I had heard so many good things about the book, I honestly couldn’t wait to get to it.

I loved this book. I loved this book so much.
It is absolutely amazing.

The writing is wonderful. It’s not overly flowery but it resonates beautifully.
The story is slow, but slow in a good way. It’s not action packed even though a lot happens, it’s more like a slow burning fire; never boring or dull and always beautiful, interesting and changing. It’s a tense story.

As a very firm atheist I was most skeptical about Peter’s preaching in the book. I was pleasantly surprised. It is a bit much sometimes and Peter feels like an overly religious, non-thinking wimp hiding behind his faith at times but that’s part of his character so it didn’t really bother me.
Peter likes to be the savior, the one who’s in charge or the most important one; he likes to feel needed and he’s definitely self-centered. He’s not in charge on earth so he doesn’t really care for what’s going on over there. Neither the catastrophes on earth nor his wife can keep him interested because he’s not involved. But he is true in his intentions because he thinks he truly, deeply cares for his wife as well as for the Oasans.
He is a very complex character.
Peter isn’t interested in the technical stuff, it just doesn’t sink in and so we don’t get the information either. At the start of the novel I did miss that knowledge but as the novel progressed I really appreciated the position this put Peter and us in. He goes on this amazing adventure with next to no information in general. And we’re never sure whether that’s because he didn’t get the information or whether he just wasn’t interested enough to remember or even listen to it. I loved that element.
He would most definitely not be my friend in real life because I would hate someone like him; hiding behind his religion, stuck-up, bragging about his rough past while being racist and judgmental, self-centered, ignorant and preachy.

The whole book is deeply saddening, affecting and gentle. There’s a sense of dislocation and of not belonging.
The feeling of anxiety throughout the novel never leaves; it only gets worse and worse.
It’s intriguing to read how Peter gets more and more immersed into the Oasans society and how he changes because of it.
The story could go a multitude of ways and I loved the path Faber chose.

I loved it.
I absolutely loved it.
Can I say it one more time?
I loved it.

5 STARS

Happy reading!
Helena

Perfect reviewing conditions.

maandag 7 maart 2016

Bookhaul: Gifts

Hi everyone

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday. We’ve been together for eight years now so that was definitely a reason to exchange gifts and go out to a nice dinner.

As proof that he knows me so well; he got me the fourth and fifth part in the Harry Potter series. Isn’t he wonderful?

I honestly can’t wait to reread these stories, especially in these gorgeous editions.

Happy reading!
Helena

zaterdag 5 maart 2016

Arthur Miller: The Crucible

Hi everyone

This review is of a play by Arthur Miller; The Crucible.
My book has 127 pages and I got it from Book Depository.

 “Arthur Miller's classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 – 'one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history' – and the McCarthyism which gripped America in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.”

I loved it.
This book is amazing.

Even though it’s tiny, the book is filled to the brim with raw, unbridled emotion. It is hard, it is cruel and it is deeply saddening.
The book is powerful, gripping, very fast, full of passion, fascinating, creepy, dark, chilling and tragic. All at the same time.
The writing is amazing, it almost reads like a novel instead of a play and it is wonderfully realistic.

It is simply incredible and I can’t get it out of my head.

4 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

vrijdag 4 maart 2016

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Hi everyone

This is my review of the third Harry Potter book by J. K. Rowling.
My gorgeous edition has 462 pages.


                * SPOILERS *

I absolutely loved this book. It was such an intense read.
There were moments I could cry. Honestly, I’m 27, I’ve read this book more then 10 times and I could still weep while reading. I felt sad for Hermione especially.
But it also still makes me laugh out loud. It’s so funny, smart, witty and truly hilarious.
The book is full of surprises and twists and turns if you’re reading it for the first time. Even now, after reading it so many times I still think this is a very original story.
Ultimately, it is an amazing, heartwarming book.

This is where the series gets a bit darker and grows from children’s books to YA. Harry and his friends learn some cruel lessons about justice, revenge, letting go and true loss.
They grow up and get much more fully characterized. Every character is different from the others and they feel realistic.
I adore Remus Lupin and Rubeus Hagrid, I love Sirius Black and Minerva McGonagall, Sybill Trelawney and sir Cadogan are hilarious. Loving them makes me hate Snape even more. That man is bitter and he has serious issues with all the students and shouldn’t be allowed to teach them if he hates them so much.
Then again, this is a children's/YA book and those books need some kind of villain.

I did think some elements were a bit too convenient or not completely logical but it didn’t bother me all that much.

5 STARS

Honestly, I want to reread it now.

Happy reading!
Helena

Wonderful evening!

dinsdag 1 maart 2016

Wrap Up: February 2016

Hi everyone

I didn’t read as much as last month.
My husband and I started watching Vikings at the beginning of February. By the end of the month we had seen every episode and I had spent a lot of time watching television instead of reading.
It happens once in a while.

I read 9 books in February for a total of 3295 pages. That’s 366 pages per book or 114 pages per day. I think that’s pretty good considering the amount of hours I spent watching television. My weekends were very relaxed and we didn’t have a lot of obligations so that made the reading happen.

Here are the books I read last month.

If I had to pick favorites, these would be the ones. These are the books I read for the first time, I rated highest and I enjoyed the most.

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

Happy reading!
Helena