Catch-up reviews #1

Since my blogging is less than regular these days I have decided to play catch-up with my overdue reviews by doing a couple of shorter reviews at once. Maybe this will help banish the looming tower of books that need reviewing to a more acceptable stack.

Animorphs #6-14

by Katherine Applegate

I like these books but they are pretty annoying to review. All the reviews I’ve done of the previous books feel like a variation on “fun characters, enjoyable storyline”. And it’s true for every one of the books. I just don’t know what else to say (mainly because I just keep waiting too darned long before getting to the review, and that just seems to be what these books boil down to). So this is me saying the characters and the storyline are still fun in 6-14. I have grown weary with the recap every time, but that’s what you get when you binge-read a series with recaps I guess.

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead (Charley Davidson, #3)
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Charley Davidson, #4)

by Darynda Jones

So I enjoyed these books so much! I flew through them and I’m looking forward to getting back to this series. I love Charley’s spunk, the quotes at the start of every chapter make me laugh out loud more than half of the time, and the mythology is enjoyable. Is it a bit over the top? Yes, at times it really is. Did everything feel awesome during the whole thing? Not exactly. Did I find myself unable to stop reading these babies once I had started them? For sure! I think that, even though this is not an in depth review of the books, you get the gist of my feelings regarding these books…

Sea Wrack (Fredrik Broman #1)

by Håkan Östlundh

I read this book in Dutch, but it’s actually a Swedish book. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and this did nothing to make me feel differently about that. It was a very well done crime story that really had me reading fast by the end just to see how things would end. I have most of this series if not the complete series, and I will definitely keep reading these books as they will most likely be awesome too.

 

Review: We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

The story in 50 words or less:

A family, an island, lots of lies. I cannot say any more without spoiling anything. (I tried for so long to put more things into words, but somehow after ten minutes this is the only description I managed without feeling like I’m giving away too much)

 

My take on the book:

This book was all the hype some time ago, so I decided to not pick it up back then and just wait until everything settled down a bit (and angstily avoided reviews as to not get spoiled, though now I’m getting around to reading the reviews most of them just talk about a big twist nobody saw coming and that’s it, so I needn’t have worried as much). Then I bought the book for my sister and now I’m borrowing it off of her (it’s like gifting a book twice, once to her and once to myself, it’s awesome!).  So I read the book and I liked it a lot. The writing took some time for me to get used to. It also wasn’t the most consistent of writing styles (I think it was intended this way, don’t worry. Sometimes it read pretty easy and at other times it would get a bit choppy. It’s not that I minded either style (the choppy one was of a more poetic variety) but the combination and the switching between the styles just made it a bit harder for me to get into the book.

The characters in the book weren’t a lot to my liking. The main character was very theatric, but then again, who wasn’t during their teens? She calls her cousins (and a friend) the “liars”, though to me it never becomes super clear why. There’s a bit of an explanation there, but for me that just wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel it and it also felt a bit forced. The “Liars” themselves weren’t really all that fleshed out, which is sad, because I think it would have added to the book to get to know more people in the story. We only get to meet other characters on a superficial level. This was a book without a very strong plot (action-wise) and I missed that at times.

But there were definitely some things that I did like about the book. For example: it has a map right at the beginning, also a family tree. I think that was pretty cool and I know that at multiple times in the book I went back to these to see who lived where again and who was related to someone in a certain way. There are a couple of fairy tales in here, not in their original shape but fun nonetheless. I liked the memories to previous summers, it did create a more vivid image in my mind of how these times spent on the island were experienced by the main character. The twist itself was totally unexpected for me and I enjoyed that quite a bit. I also really like how it leaves the reader with a lot of questions about this particular thing (sorry to be really vague, but being spoiler free is hard work!) and how there are some full on discussions about this happening online.

My rating:

3 stars ~ In the end I’m a bit in the middle of this book. I like a decent amount of aspects of this book while I also dislike some other parts. But one thing is for sure: I loved going in blind!

Review: Those Girls by Lauren Saft

Those Girls

Those Girls

Lauren Saft
Goodreads Synopsis:

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

I’ll start of by saying that I read this book in one go. This was mostly because it was captivating in the same way that a horrible car-accident is. That’s not to say that there isn’t a redeeming quality about this book, because there is: the writing. But good writing alone is not enough to save this book from itself, the flat characters and the hollow story.
The three main characters in this book are supposed best friends, but along the way I just kept on wondering why they even bother calling each other friends and how they ever thought that they should call each other that. Throughout the entire book they seemed to have to force any contact between them. If it had been in the light of “drifting apart because of puberty” that would have been okay, I could have enjoyed that. But even in the flashbacks to the earlier days, they just didn’t really seem to be friends, let alone best friend material. They are continually very mean to each other and they seem to need a lot of alcohol to showcase any honesty. These girls are as mean to their best friends as I wouldn’t even dream of being to people I actually dislike. There’s alos a couple of boys that play a somewhat bigger role in this book but they left me wanting for more depth. There’s the jerk, who is very one-dimensional. There is the sort of boyfriend, who is never given enough attention for us to really care about. And there is the “nice” guy who still says some not okay things but is the only one that makes a rational decision by the end of the book. None of the characters seemed like real people, and I’m not saying that because I disliked pretty much all of them. I’m not saying that teenagers can’t be interested in what these kids are interested in. Nor am I saying that real people can’t be this mean to each other. But there just doesn’t seem to be anything more to these people. We don’t find out what drives them to this meanness, we don’t see how they ever had good days as friends. Everyone seems like a hollow shell of stereotypes, of what teenagers these days are expected to be by some people.
Throughout the story there is so much deceit, lying and just general dishonesty going on that it felt hard to connect with these characters. That along with the fact that the focus of this book was mostly on sex, drugs and alcohol made this book feel like a watered down version of a book that could be something. These girls are horrible to each other, they lie and they cheat. But if there had been some honesty or just a realisation about how their behavior is just really awful, it might have given the story a bit more body. As it is, there isn’t a whole lot of story throughout this book. In the end there is an event that could have led to some more meaningful conversations between these girls. Or at least a small revelation here or there, because that event is pretty gruesome in what it could have entailed. Instead they pretend like nothing really happened and there doesn’t seem to be a need for these best friends to talk about this crisis.
As you can see I was not impressed by this book, though the writing really was pretty strong. I guess it just wasn’t enough to really make me like this book. There were just too many flaws here, and it’s really a shame because there was potential in this story. I’m not saying that every book should be some kind of morality lesson, or convey this huge message. This novel just lacked direction and real characters.

The Graphic Novel Reviews (Saga, Glass swords & Largo Winch)

So recently I’ve read some graphic novels and I thought I’d share my thoughts. If you want to find out more about the book, click the cover which will take you to its Goodreads page. Seeing as these books are for the most part not originally English, I’ve had some trouble finding the English pages on Goodreads/ covers in English. I tried, I swear, but some things can’t be helped.

Saga vol. 1

So I’ve seen a lot of very positive reviews on this graphic novel so I thought it was about time I looked into it. And when I came across the book in my local library, the time had finally come. But if I’m completely honest I really wasn’t blown away by this graphic novel. The artwork was amazing, the basic storyline was also good. But it just felt a bit all over the place to me. Maybe this is because I’m not really used to reading graphic novels that it felt a bit haphazard with all that jumping around from one seemingly random scene to the next. I also found that it lacked a bit of depth, and I think this ties in with the way the story jumped around. Some things were just very blatantly put down in writing and I lacked a little of the subtle art of storytelling. There were just a lot of things that were so vulgarly said that I felt drawn out of the story, because in my experience people seldomly communicate like this.  I might check out the second volume if I come across it in the library but I won’t go looking for it. But you never know, maybe if I read more of the book it will redeem itself a little on those sore points.

 Saga, Vol. 1

The glass swords (book 1, 2 and 3)

In my same library-run that brought me Saga, I also came across this series of graphic novels and it looked interested so I took them home. These three books did end up sitting better with me than Saga because it just felt like the storyline felt more structured. It was going places that my mind could follow. The dialogue was sometimes a bit over the top which took away from authentic feeling dialogues. Sometimes things were being said that I felt could be shown instead. But I liked the story, and the characters. The fact that the main protagonist is a strong female just makes the whole thing cooler also. I will definitely be looking for the next books in the series to see how the story continues.

 The Swords of Glass Ilango (Die Gläserenen Schwerter, 2) Tigran (Die gläsernen Schwerter # 3)

Largo Winch series (books 1-19) *

This was actually a re-read for the most part, because I read a good part of these when I was younger. But I was hoping that by re-reading them I would understand the economic issues better this time around. And I have to say that I really did understand the economy better and it really did help to make the story more interesting (if you’ve read these books you will definitely understand why this is the case). Because understanding the big lines is ok, but there’s definitely enough explanation to really understand the magnitude of the events that take place. This does mean that at times there is a lot of dialogue going on in these books, but I don’t really mind (though this might be because I’m just so used to reading novels that I am used to an abundance of text). I liked how these books are actually all paired up (you can even tell by the cover because the titles will be in the same font if they are part of the same story arc) though I will say that I’m very happy to be reading them a while after they came out (so I don’t have to wait forever with a giant cliffhanger in my mind).

De Erfgenaam (Largo Winch, #1) Groep W (Largo Winch, #2) O.P.A. (Largo Winch, #3) Business Blues (Largo Winch, #4) H (Largo Winch, #5) Dutch Connection (Largo Winch, #6)  La forteresse de Makiling (Largo Winch, #7) Het Uur van de Tijger (Largo Winch, #8)  See Venice... (Largo Winch #9) ... And Die Golden Gate (Largo Winch, #11) Shadow (Largo Winch, #12) The Price of Money: Largo Winch Vol. 9 The Law of the Dollar The Three Eyes of the Guardians of the Tao  The Way and the Virtue Cold Black Sea: Largo Winch Red-Hot Wrath: Largo Winch Crossfire (Largo Winch, #19)

*So far I’ve technically only read the first 16 books in this series, but I will soon be reading the other three and I’m fairly certain the quality of the graphic novels won’t disintegrate at too steep a pace ;)

Review: The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

The name of the wind

(The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)

Patrick Rothfuss

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

 

I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I picked it up, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed this book a whole lot, due to multiple factors. Was it perfect? Perhaps not, but I enjoyed it immensely and dove straight into the second book, which is also telling in its own way.

So let’s discuss the aspects I liked! Right of the bat I have to mention that the writing is absolutely gorgeous. It was definitely one of the things that got me super hooked on this book. It was such a beautiful prose throughout the entirety of this book. And it wasn’t just beautiful either, it always led somewhere further on in the story(even if you didn’t know so right away). The flow in the writing was also on point. And just the set-up from which this story is told was refreshingly well done in my opinion. I can see that this might not be for everyone, but if you’ve got a heart for storytelling, you might just fall in love with this series. in general the writing was of a vastly captivating magnitude!

Another thing I really like is the magic-system. Since I haven’t read huge amounts of fantasy I’m not completely in the know on the many different magic-systems out there. But I enjoyed the logic behind this one. Just the fact that there was logic in the magic system was already a really good start. I think it also had some good limits (which any good magic-system has).

The whole world set forth in this series seems really awesome as well. In this book we didn’t get to see a huge part of that (let’s hope we get to see more in book #2!). But what we did get to see was an interesting quilt of villages, cities and kingdoms, each with their own culture and mindset. But even the superstitions varied from place to place which was such a cool detail. And it’s just one of many details in this book that just made the whole a very immersive read.

Maybe the most important part of the book,the plot, is not to everyone’s liking. Not because it is bad in any way, but because it is so strongly tied to the characteristics of Kvothe, our main character. Let me be clear here: I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, I can just see why some people might not. And as I said it might tie in with Kvothe and his personality. Kvothe is the one thing in this book that I’m not 100% about. Did I dislike him? no. Did I like him? Sorta. Did he feel realistic? Meh… And that is where the trouble lies in my opinion. Kvothe is just a little too skilled at a too many things. I’m not saying that this bothered me while I was reading this book. I’m just saying that I noticed that he picked up on things really easily, when he was stuck on something it was usually in  a situation no one would have even gotten into alive, or it was concerning a matter way beyond his years. As I said, it didn’t really bother me all that much, I guess this is just the kind of story with a true hero at its core. (But the contrast it creates with the storyteller in this book is very enjoyable and makes you wonder).

As to the true plot (less so than how it is tied around this heroic main character): I found it enjoyable. Reading it felt like drifting on a meandering river. This story takes you into and makes you part of so many different situations that it feels like a huge journey. I for one wasn’t bored at any part throughout this book. The whole of this book just enveloped my mind so completely by excelling on so many points that when I finished it, it felt like I had woken up from one of the most vivid dreams that I’d ever had and that I couldn’t wait to get back to.

Lastly I’d like to touch upon the other characters in the book. Elodin was one of my favourites, as was Auri. Bast was a lot of fun too. Maybe these aren’t the most important secondary characters of the book, but they were always fun to read about. Simmon and Wilem were nice too. On the other hand: Denna isn’t really my type of character, though it does make for some interesting situations.