Tuesday, 26 July 2011

So long, and thanks for all the fish by Douglas Adams

So long, and thanks for all the fish

After being slightly disappointed with the third installment of university Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, I picked the fourth one up mostly because it was small and also because I didn't want to damage the other book I was reading by carrying it around with me.

Surprisingly, I liked this one better than Life, the Universe and Everything. I say surprisingly because the reviews lead of to believe it would be worse than that one.

So long, and thanks for all the fish is a bit different from the previous books, as there is a lot more of plot in it, and a lot less of nonsense. There are still jokes and stuff that makes little sense,though.

This book focuses more on Arthur Dent, and that might explain why there is less of crazy stuff going on. Usually all this stuff was someone else's fault (or the Universe just being difficult).

It ended up being a rather nice book and it restored my faith on the trilogy (of 6), so I'll keep on reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones

What a great book!

The first book of A Song of Ice and Fire series gives an excellent first taste of what this series has to offer. This, of course, doesn’t mean it’s just a taste. This a thick book (a door stopper, actually), and it’s not just introductions.

A Game of Thrones is very plot-y. Full of political intrigue, and characters with different motivations, it is a dance to follow every single one of them.

The family that we follow more closely is the Stark family, from the north, hard and honourable, who like to keep out of the plots and schemes of court. But they are forced to deal with them when Lord Eddard (or Ned, as he is usually called) is appointed as Hand of the King.

There are more families, of course, and there are a lot of characters. Their relationships are anything but simple, I loved their interactions, how some valued family higher than anything else, others wealth, and others honour. I enjoyed discovering how each of them grew and changed, how they faced what was happening.

I had some favourite characters and was pleased, for most part, to see what happened to them. But there were a few that I really enjoyed, more than the others, and want to see where they go next. Jon Snow, Arya and Bran Stark, and Tyrion Lannister feature high on that list, because I, like Tyrion, also have a tender spot for cripples, bastards and broken things (and little people with a lot of spunk).

But there were also some characters I felt needed a good slap, and that is a rare thing for me, to think like that. This award goes to Sansa, who couldn’t have been more different than the rest of her siblings, and, to some extent, Viserys, although I’m not sure a slap would have helped on his case.

I was a bit shocked with the fate of some of the characters, and especially one of them. I can’t say I was expecting it, because I wasn’t. I felt safe that nothing terribly bad would happen, because it wouldn’t be fair. Well, I was wrong, and even though I didn’t particularly like it, it wasn’t out of character or somehow unfitting to the story.

And now I want, cross that, I must know what happens next!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Baú-dos-livros | Estante de Livros | Floresta de Livros | Fyrefly's Book Blog | Stuff | To Read or Not To Read

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Gam.co

Comment on the TV series: As for the TV series, because I watched as I was reading (always careful never to let the series go ahead of the book), I can say liked it, but it doesn’t really compare to the book. Like much of adaptations, it has been toned down. But to be fair, in some cases a chapter of the book had enough stuff in it to make a full episode.

I liked the casting, especially for my favourite characters (although while I read I imagined Ned Stark as Robert Downey Jr., as Ironman. I blame the last name). The thing that bothered me a bit was that they decided to age the characters. They were consistent, and I do understand that it is shocking to have 14 year olds getting married (and have all that sex they were having) and marching to war or fighting undead in freezing temperatures. But that shock was part of what made the book so good, that it didn’t age characters to an acceptable age to go to war or be king.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

June Ins and Outs

June has come and gone, and I have bought a LOT of books this month. Most were on Porto's Book Fair, but I still bought others on the side. On the plus side, I also read quite a bit.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (LT|GR)
I already read this one in Portuguese, a long time ago. I am now re-starting my collection in English, because there is only so much a translator can do with a book (and a series) full of puns. There were quite a lot of translator's notes trying to explain the jokes lost in translation, but I think that by book 5 or 6 he started to get tired of it and let some of them pass. (So much that only years later I understood the pun of Bad Ass in Mort.)

A game of thrones by George R. R. Martin (LT|GR)
I've been meaning to read this one for ages! Ages! Since I first started on Fantasy. But it was so big and daunting and I never bought the books. Now with the series and everyone singing its praises, I figured I would have to do it.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (LT|GR)
Second book on the Thief series, because I loved The Thief so much. Enough said.

Bought on the book fair (just the list, for comments on the books here is the post about it):
  • The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
  • Escritos dos Ancestrais by Rodrigo McSilva
  • Minotauro: A Batalha do Labirinto by Gabriel García de Oro
  • Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott
  • Temeraire by Naomi Novik
  • Bibbi Bokkens Magic Library by Jostein Gaarder
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  • The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • A verdadeira invasão dos marcianos by João Barreiros
  • The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  • The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  • Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Os Ossos do Arco-Íris by David Soares
  • O Décimo Terceiro Poder by Madalena Santos
  • The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven
  • The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein

La hormiga que quiso ser astronauta by Félix J. Palma

The thief bt Megan Whalen Turner

Three men in a boat by Jerome K. Jerome (LT|GR)
This one I read in ebook, and it took quite a while.

It was ok, a very episodic recounting of the a adventures of three very silly and idiotic and lazy men, and their dog, as they go upriver for holiday.

It was amusing at first, but just nothing that would overwhelm me in any way.

(3 out of 5)

Os Ossos do Arco-Íris by David Soares (LT|GR)
I have another book by this author on my wishlist, but after this first encounter I am not in a rush to get it.

It was a strange book, horrific and gory, dark and disturbing. But that was not what bothered me more. It was actually the writing that I didn't exactly like, the use of certain words that completely broke the flow of my reading.

As I said, I am not writing this author off (yet), but it might be sometime before I buy that other book.

(3 out of 5)

Snow white, blood red by Ellen Datlow
Review to come. A collection of retellings of fairtales, with a bit of horror added in.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

TBR Variation: +14 (From 191 to 205)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate 
(Also published as Wood Angel)
Plain Kate lives in a time afraid of magic. She has a gift for carving 'lucky' wooden-charms. Known as Witch-Blade, her unusual gift attracts dangerous attention in a place where witches are burned. When her village falls on bad times, suspicion falls on Kate. Scared for her life, she seeks the help of a mysterious stranger. In exchange for her shadow, the stranger will assist her, but Kate becomes part of a terrifying plan, darker than she ever dreamed.

I read this book in the right time, and it doesn’t always happen like that. This was exactly the story I wanted to read. I wanted something fairy tale-ish, something dark, something new and fresh, something that would sweep me away, and that was what I got.

Plain Kate is like a fairy tale, it has all the right ingredients, and it draws a lot from folklore (both Russian and Gipsy). But it keeps the darkness of original fairy tales, it doesn’t sugarcoat things, it doesn’t try to make it all about rainbows and sunshine. It did surprise me a bit, as it is for young adults, and lately all the YA I’ve read is quite upbeat (even the darker ones).

I loved the story. The story of Kate and how she was looking for her shadow, and of how she tried to fit in. She is a marvellous character, strong enough to go by herself, smart enough to know when she needs help, yet still needing to learn a lot, still making mistakes.

It was not only Kate that was an amazing character. All of them were so real, even the most fantastical ones. Besides Kate, I loved Taggle and Linay, and my heart jumped at every mishap, at every twist. And speaking of twists, there are some of those, some I could see coming, some I didn’t want to see coming, some surprised me. Exactly in that order.

Another thing that really pushed my buttons were the dubious characters. Dubious in the sense that you are not quite sure if they are the good guys. It’s not even that, is more like what Kate was going through, not knowing whether to help them or fight them, I was torn between rooting for and against them.

The writing was really good, it sucked me in from the first chapter. It Sucked me in all throughout the book, until the bitter end. And bitter end is not just an expression. I was not expecting the way it ended. It has been ages since a book has made me cry as much as this one did.

I really loved this book, bittersweet (and more bitter than sweet for me) ending and all. A marvellous story.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Eating YA Books | Pure Imagination

This book reminds me of: Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (LT | GR)

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