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.

3 STARS

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.

3 STARS

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 beautiful 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.

4 STARS

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