2017 · April · Currently Reading

Currently Reading

It’s time for this month’s currently-reading post! I try to do these once a month to keep track a bit of what I’m reading at the moment. This time around, there are four books on this list, so here goes 🙂

  • American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

I started this for the Tome-Topple Readathon because the TV series starts in late April, but so far I’m not doing too well in the readathon aspect ^.^’ . I am liking the book so far though, but I’m not sure I would recommend starting here if you haven’t read any of Neil Gaiman’s books before because this is pretty bizarre in a sense. Try Stardust or Trigger Warning instead. Anyway, I’m hoping to at least have read a third of this before the TV series begins. Right now, I’ve read around 100 pages, and there are 635 in total in my edition if you exclude all the extra material in the end.

  • The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

This is my current audiobook, and I have listened to around 7 hours of this so far, which is roughly half of part 1. I’m not sure how many pages that is in the actual book. I’m loving this so far, it’s definitely living up to The Name of the Wind.

  • Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, so when it arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago I had to start reading it immediately, even though I started a couple of other books ^.^’ . I’m on page 65 right now and loving it!

  • London Fields, by Martin Amis

I’m reading this for class, and it’s supposed to be finished by next Tuesday, so I should probably be prioritising it, but honestly I can’t really force myself to continue reading it at the moment. I’m on page 44, but I have mostly skimmed through those so I can’t actually tell you if I like it that much or not. It might be more on the it’s-okay-but-I-don’t-love-it side, considering it’s a book that someone is telling me to read.

That’s everything for today! I’ve fallen back into the habit of reading several books at once ever since I started studying at uni, since I usually read one book for class and at least one for fun at the same time.

2016 · 2017 · April · Reviews

Book Review: “Dracula”, by Bram Stoker

Published in 2016 by Penguin | Originally published in 1897 | 3 stars

Summary:

I guess y’all know the plot of this already, but it’s about Jonathan Harker who goes to Transylvania to help Count Dracula buy a property in England. However, the count soon turns out to be a very sinister person.

Review:

To begin with: I did not actually finish this, though I did mark it as finished on Goodreads. However, I have read everything apart from the last maybe 70 pages, and I know exactly how it ends because I wrote an essay on it for class without actually having finished the book and thus had to look up a detailed summary of it. So I feel as if I can write a full review.

I can’t decide if I actually think that this is worth 3 stars. I like having read the “original” vampire story, and it was interesting to see how far some of the modern vampire books are from this in some places. And it surprised me that Dracula isn’t actually in this very much. He’s more of a background figure than I thought he would be. Also, when I actually picked it up I did find the story interesting.

However, it was so slow, and the plot feels unnecessarily drawn out. I would find myself wishing that they’d just get to the point. What also annoyed me was the view of women. Mina would frequently be left out of things on the sole basis that she happened to be a woman – because, according to Van Helsing and Dr Seward, she couldn’t handle the vampire-hunting business (also on the sole basis of her happening to be a woman). And at some point, Van Helsing says that she “has a man’s brain” (yes, he actually said that), meaning that she’s a “better” sort of woman than other, typically “weak” women. This annoys the crap out of me, and it makes the book feel incredibly dated. In that respect, it has not aged well.

The chapter division also seemed a bit weird to me. Sometimes, there would be a chapter division in the middle of someone’s diary entry. And it also made everything seem so intentional – in the beginning, there’s a note saying that the diary entries has been placed in a particular order, and the reason for that would become clear as you continue reading. The chapters sort of destroyed that. I don’t that think they should have been there at all. Of course, it would perhaps have made it more difficult to read (the droning slowness would have been even more distinct), but still.

So I dnf’ed this. I just didn’t like it enough to continue reading it. Which is sad, because I really wanted to like it.

2017 · April · Reviews

Book Review: “The Name of the Wind”, by Patrick Rothfuss

Published in 2008 by Gollancz | Audiobook published in 2008 (I think) by Orion, read by Rupert Degas | The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 1 | Five Feathers

Summary:

I’m of the opinion that the less you know about this book going into it, the better. But it’s about a travelling trouper turned orphaned thief and beggar turned notorious wizard. This is his story.

Review:

I loved this book so much. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it still holds that position by the end of the year. It might even have made it onto my list of favourite books ever. It’s that good.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what I liked about it, but the narrator had a lot to do with it. I think there are different people reading the American and British audiobooks, but this was the British one and it was so good. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for just over a year now and I think this is one of my favourites. It would almost be weird to read these books without listening to them on audiobook now, because the narrator has become such an integral part of it to me.

The characters had a lot to do with it as well. I ended up caring about what would happen to them, and it was sweet seeing how Bast actually cared about Kvothe, Nonetheless, neither of them is anyone I would like to end up in a fight with.

I’m writing this the same evening I finished it, and I haven’t fully collected my thoughts on it yet. I fully realise that I am adding to the hype right now, but let me say this: it had everything I could ever want from a high fantasy novel, and I would highly recommend it.

2017 · Lists · Tags

The Musical Theatre Book Tag

I’m going to be a little bit boring today and do another tag… I’m hoping to finish Dracula soon, though, so hopefully there will be a review of it in a week or so, and on April 7th, the Tome-Topple Read-a-thon starts, so my tbr for that will be up this week too.

Anyway, I’m doing the “Musical Theatre Book Tag” today. I found it on YouTube (original video here) and it seemed fun, so here goes!

1. Wicked – Favourite fictional friendship
Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, because I love how they manage to keep it somehow like “normal” even when things are crazy.

2. Sweeney Todd – Favourite villain
Hmm… good question. Maybe Snape? I hate him sometimes, but I also kind of feel a little bit sorry for him.

3. Phantom of the Opera – Favourite love triangle
I think I mentioned this recently in another tag, but Will-Jem-Tessa from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. It’s a little bit less cliché than other love triangles.

4. The Lion King – Favourite sidekick
I feel as if I keep getting back to this series (I love it so much), but Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

5. Grease – Least favourite ending
I don’t know… Inheritance by Christopher Paolini felt way too long, but it’s not as if I disliked the story as such, and I think it had been too long since I read the first book so I wasn’t properly invested in the story anymore.

6. Matilda: The Musical – Favourite adaptation of a book
I haven’t watched that many musicals, let alone book-to-musical ones, so I’m going to mention movies instead, of which there are many good ones. Bridget Jones is hilarious, and I remember loving Stardust as a kid, way before I knew it actually started out as a book.

7. Les Miserables – Favourite death in a book
I never like when people die in books, so I don’t actually think I have one.

2017 · March · Reviews

Book Review: “Cinder”, by Marissa Meyer

Published in 2012 by Puffin | The Lunar Chronicles #1 | 2 feathers

*This review contains spoilers*

Summary from Goodreads:

A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

Review:

This was the second time I read this book, and I reread it because I’m including it in my BA essay. However, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like it as much this time around. I just feel so frustrated about this book. This is due to Cinder in particular, because she is basically Artificial Intelligence and that is not discussed at all. Her brain is pretty much entirely made up of wires and electronics, but she acts as if it is not. The way she behaves is as if it’s only her skull or something that is made up of electronics, but I get the sense that it’s at least part of her brain as well. This means that she should not be behaving or thinking like a human being. Sure, she could cut pretty close if the people who made her into a cyborg did a good job of it, but shouldn’t there be something slightly off about her?

Also, considering how much of her brain is mechanical, shouldn’t she be immune to the Lunar bioelectricity thing? How can Cinder herself still have that power if she doesn’t even have her original brain anymore? This does not make sense.

After rereading this, I will probably not read the last two books in the series. I originally read this book in the summer of 2015, then I read Scarlet (book 2) in early 2016, and though I thought I would probably read the rest at some point, rereading Cinder killed it a bit for me. This book pissed me off a bit with the inconsistency of Cinder as a character.

2017 · Lists · March · Tags

Run Away with the Circus Book Tag

As I’m still a little bit out of reviews and ideas at the moment, I thought I’d do another tag in the meantime! This time I’m doing the “Run Away with the Circus Book Tag”, which is inspired by Owlcrate, who have begun doing tags based on the themes of their boxes. I thought it seemed fun, so here’s my version of the tag!

  • Rings Master: Best Main Character

This is a bit cliché, but Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is one of my favourite main characters, because she is smart and not ashamed of it. I also really like Karou from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor.

  • Trapeze Artists: Favourite Friendship

Again, Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I love both of them as characters, and I love reading about their friendship.

  • Juggling: Best Love Triangle

Will, Tessa and Jem from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, mainly because it’s not as cliché as many other love triangles I’ve read about.

  • The Big Top: Fantastic World Building

I just read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and even though it’s set in our world, it still seemed so vivid and magical, so I’ll go with this one.

  • Magician: Favourite Magic System

I’m not sure I have one, but I’m listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss at the moment and I like how the magic system is set up and explained as something that would actually have a logical explanation (i.e. magic doesn’t just appear, you have to draw energy from something else). I also like how it’s something you can actually study at the university, and that it’s so much more than just “magic”.

  • Tight Rope Walking: A Book that Kept You on the Edge of your Seat

I can’t come up for a good answer for this, because I can’t really remember the last book I read that I just had to continue reading, but I’ll go with Heart of Darkness for this one even though I didn’t particularly like it. There are so many symbols in there that you keep on reading with a sense of doom.

  • Contortionist: Best Plot Twist

I think they mentioned We were Liars by E. Lockhart in the video, and I think I agree. I’ve read other books with good plot twists, but this is the best I can think of as of right now. I don’t think I can say too much about it, though, because of spoilers.

  • Human Cannonball: A Book with an Explosive Ending

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman perhaps doesn’t have a super exciting ending, but it does end with the end of the world, so…

That’s it for this tag! I hope you enjoyed :). The original video can be found here.

 

2017 · Lists · March · Tags

The Intimidating TBR Tag

I decided to do a tag, because it’s going to be a while until I finish either Dracula or The Name of the Wind, so there won’t be reviews up either of them anytime soon. So here’s the Intimidating TBR Tag!

  • A book on your TBR that you haven’t finished

I have two. One is The Diviners by Libba Bray. I started this back in June and read about half of it, but by then I had fallen into a reading slump and found it a bit too slow. So I put it away and have yet to finish it. The other one is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This is also one that I started during the summer, but put away half-way through because it was a bit too slow, the main character was a wee bit annoying, and I wasn’t really feeling like reading this particular book right then. So I put it away too.

  • A book you just haven’t had the time to read

All of them? But maybe some of the thicker, slower-seeming fantasy books, like Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist and The Muse, or Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

  • A book you haven’t read because it’s a sequel

Lord of the Dark Woods, by Lian Hearn. I got this on sale, and only realised that it’s the second book in a series when I got home (stupid, I know ^.^’).

  • A book you haven’t read because it’s brand new

Skuggan över stenbänken by Maria Gripe. I got this on this year’s book sale, and haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  • A book by an author you read previously but didn’t really like

I don’t think I have any answer for this. If I don’t like a book by an author, I just don’t see the point in buying other books by that author. Like, why should I spend money on something I don’t think I’ll even like?

  • A book on your tar that you’re just not in the mood to read

The Selection by Kiera Cass. I read the first few pages in this during the summer, but I put it away pretty quickly because I didn’t really like the writing and I haven’t really been in the mood for it since.

  • A book on your tbr that you haven’t read because it’s enormous

I have a few enomous books on my shelves, but American Gods by Neil Gaiman has been around for some time and I haven’t read it yet.

  • A book on your tbr that you bought because of the cover

Maybe The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan, because that cover is gorgeous.

  • A book on your tbr that you find the most intimidating

Hmm… I’m not sure there is one that I find more intimidating than any of the other ones.

2017 · March · Reviews

Book Review: “The Night Circus”, by Erin Morgenstern

Published in 2016 by Vintage | Originally published in 2011 | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.

Review:

I decided to pick this up because I recently read Caraval by Stephanie Garber, and a lot of people had been comparing it to this one. Though I can see where they’re coming from, I must say that I much prefer this one.

My favourite part of this is how atmospheric it was. I think I really helped that you get to read from several different perspectives, so you get to see things from both inside the circus and from an outsider’s point of view. Then you also get to read from people who are somewhere in between, neither part of the circus nor entirely detached from it. I liked that a lot.

I think that it helps to not know too much about this before you start reading – the synopsis I included in the beginning of this review is pretty much all you need. You’re not supposed to know or even understand everything that happens in it. I mean, not even the characters fully understand all the things that happen to them. Somehow, I liked that a lot too, because it adds to the mystery of the story, and weirdly enough, it made it seem more magical and almost real at the same time.

It also takes place during a very long period of time, which means that it jumps around a lot and unless you actually read the chapter headings it might be a little bit difficult to know what’s going on. But I liked that too, that everything eventually wraps up and comes together.

What surprised me was how occasionally dark it was – there would be these moments where the darkness within some of the characters shone through, sometimes in violent ways. That added a complexity and depth to the characters that I enjoyed reading about as well.

This is probably not for everyone, because it is pretty slow, and some things go unexplained (even though I stand by the belief that you’re not meant to understand everything, but I can see how it might annoy some readers). But if you’re into adult fantasy tinted with magical realism, I would definitely recommend this.