Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January Ins and Outs

The New Year is in, and so are new books. I know I said I was trying to cut back on buying/acquiring books, so it's understandable that some eyebrows might be raised at the sheer amounts of books on the INS side. But in my defence, this year I have only bought 2 books, and those were at a book fair, because a) they were cheap, b) they were pretty, and c) they were books.

On the reading side there was not as much movement as in the INS side, but still some reading done, and mostly books that I really liked. I am also participating in 4 different challenges and a book bingo with some friends. You can always check my progress here (or somewhere in the sidebar).

On other news, I am moving (again), but this time not so far away as Barcelona or Edinburgh. I'm going to work in Lisbon, starting tomorrow (in fact, when this post goes live, I'll be in Lisbon, hopefully with a place to live). The working might mean less reading, the coming home on weekends by train means a total of 6 hours that have nothing to do but read (or sleep, or write, or draw, or listen to music, but mostly read).

And now, for the gigantic list of books:


Bought - new 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Thud! by Terry Pratchett

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

I know I said I had just bought 2 books. What are these, then? Well, I bought them last year, it just took them a while to get here. the first bunch was a order that I did with a friend at Amazon, just so we could use the Free Delivery. I made a super-secret post to document its arrival here (now not so secret).

The Folk Keeper has been bought in September, but it was returned to Book Depository, and when I complained, they sent it again.

Bought - at a book fair 

The Secret by Charlotte Brontë
The Spell by Charlotte Brontë

Look at them! Aren't they pretty? I had to bring them home

Swap sites

The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Gone by Michael Grant
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain

I had points, so I used them. I think I am finally going to read the Mists of Avalon, book 1 is on its way, and I already have book 2. With Gone, the name rang a bell, of a dystopian book, so I asked for it. Only later did I realize that a friend of mine had already read it (she was not impressed). As for the Louis de Bernières book, after I read Red Dog, I want to read something lengthier of this author. I have never read anything of Mark Twain, and I liked the tittle of this one (besides being available to mooch, of course).

*Won a Giveaway*
2012 is proving to be a good year. New job and already 4 books from giveaways.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Thanks to Jen @ Cuidado com o Dálmata for this book!

Age of Giants - awakening by Rob Reaser
Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Thanks to Bonnie @ Bookish Ardour and the authors for these books!

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Thanks to Emily @ What Book is That? for this book!

*Gifts (Christmas Gifts!)*

Fullmetal Alchemist, Volume 7 by Hiromu Arakawa
Geist by Philippa Ballantine
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo
I Am Mordred: A Tale of Camelot by Nancy Springer

Finally! My Christmas gifts arrived almost a month after Christmas!


Physical books
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones [Review]
Restoration by Carol Berg [Review]

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley
A short, and sweet, book about a little girl that poses as boy to do what she feels is her calling - to be a Folk Keeper, and also to get away from doing hard work. But when she moves to bigger house, she discovers the Folk there are more vicious and a lot more about herself.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. Le Guin
Science Fiction, and by an author I really like, this book has been on my TBR for ages, and for some reason I never got around to read it until now. It's more philosophical than science fiction, about non-violence in the face of violence, tyranny and slavery. I did like most of it, but towards the end I started to feel that the story had stretched a little too much (strange, since it's such a tiny book).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Borrowed from a friend who asked me if she could chose the book I would read for the Romance category in the book bingo. I said yes, and she chose this Historical Romance. Not my normal genre, and not one that I really like. It was an amusing read for most part (and maybe not the best one to read on train). There were parts of it that bored me, but I liked the interactions between Evie and Sebastian (yes, those other kind of interactions as well). I might have understood the world of the Wallflowers a little better had I read the previous 2 books. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories edited by John Joseph Adams
A very good anthology of dystopian short stories and novellas. It's a really big book, and the theme is mostly dark, so it took a while to get through it. But most of the stories are good, some really good, and some not so much. Overall, I liked it and found that it was very well edited.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Entwined by Heather Dixon [Review]

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The book bingo I am doing called for an audiobook, and since I had some stuff to do that required my hands and eyes, but not my ears or attention, I decided it would be the perfect occasion to listen to one. I choose The Sign of the Four, to continue with the Shelock Holmes series, and because it is short. I sort of liked it. It's gripping, and you keep guessing the how and the why, until you know. The last (really long) chapter that serves as an explanation to everything, seemed unnecessary or at least unnecessarily long.

Rating: 3 out 4

TBR Variation: +19 (From 201 to 220) Shame!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Restoration by Carol Berg

Title: Restoration

Author: Carol Berg

Series: Rai-Kirah

Date Read: January 15th

On TBR for: 57 days

Format: Physical book - Mass-trade paperback

Source: Bought - New

Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf 2012

Restoration is the book that closes the Rai-Kirah trilogy, and reveals much of the secrets of its world, specially when it comes to Ezzarian mythology. Things do not start easy for Seyonne, who is living with Blaise's rebels, but trying to keep his demon in check. Only he sometimes loses his mind and gets this urge to kill all humans. He has been postponing crossing the portal that leads to Kir'Navarrin in part because he wants to spend as much time as he can with his son, and in part because he is afraid of what will happen when he does.

Things aren't going easy for Aleksander either. His father is dead, murdered, and the hegeds blame him, in order to get a more malleable emperor in his place. He finds himself empire-less, army-less, and mostly friendless because all his loved ones are being targeted by assassins, so he had no choice but to drive them away.

At first I was really excited with this book – Aleksander was once again one of the main characters, and even if things were going horribly wrong with him and Seyonne, I was having so much fun with their dynamics. This series strongest point is, undoubtedly, Seyonne and Aleksander's unlikely friendship. And for about half of the book that was what I got. For once, I was glad that Seyonne is one of the most high-functioning procrastinators ever, doing so much in order to not having to do what he must.

But as he accompanied Aleksander in his quest to find supporters and an army to get his empire back, he went through various changes, that at first were slight and understandable, but as they progressed something started to not feel right with Seyonne. Fortunately (I guess), this is the point where he decides he can't put off going to Kir'Navarrin any more.

At the end of Revelation, I thought that in Restoration I would have a nice banter between Seyonne and Denas, much in the fashion of the relationship of Seyonne and Aleksander in Transformation. I didn't get that, but I didn't complain because there was Aleksander, which made all so much better. But once in Kir'Navarrin there was no Aleksander, and I felt the injustice that had been done to Denas. It also didn't help that the pacing came to a complete stop in this part, with Seyonne mulling on his thoughts more and more, and being morose the way only he can be.

Even worse, his changes in personality didn't stop, in fact, they intensified. And even if he was helping his friends, I was not liking the direction the story was taking, and was starting to dread the ending it would have: I simply couldn't see it end well, or not badly. There were some twists to the plot, some thinking that occurred behind the scenes that I hadn't factored in, which meant that I got to be positively surprised on how the situation resolved itself.

I ended up liking this last book, even with the complete changes of pace and the transformation of the main character. Maybe not as much as the first one, but I think it brings a nice close to the series, the mythos of the Ezzarians explained, Seyonne with a somewhat happy ending, and Aleksander fulfilling his potential.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: Dragons, Heroes and Wizards | Ubiquitous Absence

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

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie: Top Ten Good Books with Good Movie/Series Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week a theme for a list is suggested. This week is a freebie, so I get to choose the top I want to do. So, this week's theme is Top Ten Good Books with Good Movie/Series Adaptations. Why this theme? Because it's easy to come across good books, and it's easy to come across good movies, but most of the times, if the movie is based on a book, it disappoints. It's a given that it's impossible to fit 300+ pages into two or three hours of film, but sometimes it's better to not even attempt it! (Earthsea please fans don't EVER watch Sci-Fi channel's TV movie Earthsea - you'll want to claw your eyes out and wish for memory bleach so you could forget it was ever made)

Howl's Moving Castle
Book: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones · My Review
Movie: Howl's Moving Castle directed by Hayao Miyazaki · IMDB

It's no secret that I love this series, and having recently finished it, it means it is closer to memory. But here is an example of a good movie adaptation that doesn't think that it has to stick with the story point by point, simply takes the important, and retells everything else. It helps that Miyazaki is a superb storyteller, of course. It doesn't matter in which order you see/read it, you'll love both versions.

Everything is Illuminated
Book: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer · LT | GR
Movie: Everything is Illuminated directed by Liev Schreiber · IMDB

I watched the movie first, and was completely in love with it. A mixture of stunning colours, humour and a poignant story, it's one of my favourite films of all time. I, of course, then wanted to read the book. It's wackier than the movie, and darker as well, but so, so good.

North and South
Book: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell · My Review
Mini-Series: North and South produced by the BBC and directed by Brian Percival · IMDB

Again, no secret how much I love this series. If most people prefer Pride and Prejudice, I'm wholeheartedly on the North and South team - it has more than just romance, and the social commentary is not just of the individuals, but of the society in general. I found it deeper in meaning than other books of the genre, and I loved the writing. The mini-series, 4 episodes long, manages to convey the feelings of the book really well.

The Lord of the Rings series
Books: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien · LT | GR
Movies: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King directed by Peter Jackson · IMDB · IMDB · IMDB

Many call it the masterpiece of Fantasy, and they are not very far from the truth. These are great books, that have been inspiration for many others. I lost myself while reading these books, everything else becoming unimportant, and it made me believe that there were hobbits and elves and dwarfs - that Middle Earth was real. Making a movie out of these books wasn't going to be easy, fantasy never is, from clothing to set decorations, it's expensive to make it look good, and if it's anything but good, it looks downright shabby. But Peter Jackson was a fan and he did a tremendous job of it. It goes close to 12 hours of film with the extended versions of all three movies, but it means that most of the books are there, and told right.

Book: Stardust by Neil Gaiman · LT | GR
Movie: Stardust directed by Matthew Vaughn · IMDB

Stardust is a fairytale like story, which brings always a smile to my face, and then it's Gaiman, which means it is told right like I liked it. There is a hint of strangeness, a bit of humour, adventures and danger, but it leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in the end. What is there not to like? The movie captured all that, added a bit here and there, threw in a happier ever after ending and wrapped it all nicely in nice cinematography.

A Game of Thrones
Book: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin · My Review
Series: A Game of Thrones created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss · IMDB

I admit to only giving these books a chance because of the series, I knew about them but were mentally put on the category of maybe-to-read-if-a-copy-falls-on-my-lap. But since there was a series coming, and it was looking good, I got myself a copy and read it. Totally worth it! It's ploty and complex, and even if it's not very high on the fantasy-side of elves and stuff (there are dragons, though), it's good fantasy. And the series not only looks good, it follows the books pretty well.

Books: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi · LT | GR
Movie: Persepolis directed by Vincent Paronnaud abd Marjane Satrapi · IMDB

Another that I saw before reading, but enjoyed both versions. True, there isn't much difference, the book is a graphic novel and the animation is also done by Marjane. But what the movie brings in is the voice of the main character. Not Marjane herself, but the sarcasm in the book is very well delivered in the movie.

The Colour of Magic
Book: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett · LT | GR
Movie: The Colour of Magic directed by Vadim Jean · IMDB

Pratchett's Discworld is an amazing universe, and sometimes not really easy to picture. But I enjoyed the adaptation, it's a good look into that world. And I loved the character's portrayals. Rincewind was very good, but no-one can play an annoying side kick quite like Sean Astin, so he was wonderful as Twoflower.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams · My Review
Movie: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy directed by Garth Jennings · IMDB

Douglas Adams's book is great as far as humour and sci-fi goes. It has all there, but it definitely on the wacky side, and this is not always well portrayed in the movies. The 2004 version of it was made to fans - not that anyone else can't enjoy it, but there needs be a predisposition to wackyness and absurd. That aside, a great adaptation of a great book.

Jane Eyre
Book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë · My Review
Mini-Series: Jane Eyre produced by the BBC, directed by Susanna White · IMDB
Movie: Jane Eyre directed by Cary Fukunaga · IMDB

Jane Eyre has had a lot of adaptations throughout the years. I have only seen two, the BBC mini-series, before I read the book, and the 2011 movie, that I saw after reading the book. Both are excellent adaptations of this work, the first lengthier, the second making a twist in the storytelling by beginning at the middle of the book.

I have to include in this list the series Sherlock, even if the books don't really blow my mind. This retelling of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in modern times is simply stunning. Great writing and great acting (Martin Freeman won a BAFTA, as all the internet sherlockians are aware). It doesn't require prior knowledge of the books to enjoy, because it's like Sherlock was completely reinvented, while maintaining the quirks that make his character so famous.

Monday, 23 January 2012

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: House of Many Ways

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Series: Howl's Castle

Date Read: January 12th

On TBR for: 83 days

Format: Physical book

Source: Bought

Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf 2012, What's in a Name 5

In the last of the Howl's Castle series of books, we start with Charmain, a bookish 14 year old, who gets volunteered by her great-aunt to take care of her distant great-uncle William's house. Well, magical house. Charmain is a respectable young lady (read: sheltered and spoiled) and, as such, she doesn't know how to do much besides reading a lot, and eating a lot of pasties. That includes washing clothes and dishes, and goes as far as making tea.

Luckily for her, the house is indeed magical, and does provide for her meals, and she has always her Uncle's recorded instructions, that help her navigate around the house and help solve some mishaps. Did I mention it is a magical house? Well, it is. From the outside it looks small, but turn left instead of right at a doorway, and you'll find yourself in a completely different room, or building.

To add to the joy, in comes Peter, great-uncle William's new apprentice that he didn't know about, and who doesn't know his master isn't home. Peter, unlike Charmain, does know how to do things around the house, which should have come as a relief, if he didn't botch every magic attempt. And there were a lot of attempts.

And, as one job isn't good enough for bookwork Charmain, she writes to the King to tell him she would like to help him and his daughter organize the Royal Library. I do understand the girl, of course, a library is such a wonderful place to work when you love books.

But there is something missing here, isn't it? Of course, it would fit the series if Howl and Co. weren't there. And they are. Sophie is helping the King with his financial and magical problems, and Morgan and Calcifer come along, of course. And Howl, because he couldn't bear to be left behind. So he appears in his most adorable form ever (I'm not telling what it is, though it's easy to see when reading the book).

And so, Charmain has some adventures with magic, kobolds and lubbocks, manages not to destroy a house or kill her housemate, while getting herself a puppy.

Did I like this book? Hell, yeah! It was a rollercoaster of fun, but that was to be expected. It's Diana Wynne Jones, after all. But I did like it more than Castle in the Air, probably because of Howl. But Charmain was also a reason – incompetent as she was in household tasks, she is a bookworm, so I can find no fault in her (well, I am able to overlook most faults). I loved reading her adventures and misadventures, and if there was a lot of fun on the Castle scenes with the regular cast, her interactions with Peter were really great.

Had there been more books to this series, I would have read them. As it is, I will treasure these three forever.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Cuidado com o Dálmata

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Wook

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Challenges, Challenges, Part 3

Yes, one more challenge, but this one seemed too good to pass.

Fairy Tales Retold Challenge
Hosted by Debz Bookshelf

It goes from January 1st 2012 to December 31st 2012
To sign up, go here
You can sign up any time from now until June-ish
I would love you forever if you would follow me, and if you're interested in fairy tales, then you'd probably find my blog interesting anyway!

What Counts
Any retelling at all, or original fairy tales. When I say original fairy tales, I mean books that include many elements of many fairy tales, but aren't actually based on any fairy tales. Some examples are The Princess Bride by William Goldman or Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (BEST BOOK EVER!) Basically a book that should have a fairy tale based on it, but it's too late for it to be the other way around.

I'm going for level: Witch: 9 books

On a related note, I'm also doing a book bingo with some friends, you can see my progress here.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Date Read: From December 14th to December 16th, 2011

On TBR for: 351 days

Format: Physical Book

Source: Gift - Christmas gift

The world of Uglies is our own, but after we damaged our planet and ourselves almost to the point of no return, society gets restarted in a place where everything is self-sufficient and no one is discriminated based on their physical appearance because, ta-dahh, everyone is pretty. Well, not everyone, everyone over the age of 16, because before that they are not old enough to go under the knife. So, these young teenagers who have yet to discover the wonders of cosmetic surgery are called Uglies. Because it's what they are – Ugly.

Tally is one of those, months away from getting her operation, and she can't hardly wait to join the rest of her friends in the parties and being simply amazing. She is the last of her mates to turn 16, so she feels really alone in Uglyville, so much that she decides to go sneak up to New Pretty Town, to check on her BFF, Peris, who has been there for so long and hasn't bothered to write. Or call.

Things do not go exactly as planned, Tally is trespassing after all, but she satisfies her need to see her friend, who makes her promise not to get into more trouble before she gets the operation, and she meets someone else doing the same as her, Shay, who becomes her new best friend.

They do stuff together all the time, enjoying their time left in Uglyville to play all the pranks they want, Shay even teaches Tally to hoverboard (yes, hooerboard, think Marty McFly and Back to the Future). But when the big day looms close (and it's the big day for both of them, they share a birthday), Shay tells Tally she doesn't want to pretty (*gasp* The Horror!), instead she is going to runaway and join a group of rebels who also don't want to be pretty, known as Smokies (they live in The Smoke). Shay would have liked to have Tally runaway with her, but Tally is not having that. She wants to be pretty. But since she is in such good terms with Shay, she promises to think about it, and Shay leaves her a coded message on how to get to The Smoke.

Tally would never use that, of course, if The Powers That Be hadn't noticed Shay's leaving and Shay's new best friend. As it was, they made her an Ultimatum, she either had to help them catch the Smokies (breaking a promise to Shay of not telling her secret) or she would be ugly forever. Poor Tally thinks, and thinks, and decides to help TPTB somewhat – she'll go to Smoke, see what it's all about, and then she'll decide whether to betray her friend's trust or not.

And so, with hoverboard in hand, a pack full of concentrated Spaghetti Bolognese, Tally hovers away to get to The Smoke, not without perils, since this girl almost got roasted alive (this section remind me of The Hunger Games).

And let me stop here before I summarize the entire book. (There aren't many spoilers, though, most of this is on the back cover, only much more concentrated summarized)

Anyway... It took sometime to have the courage to pick this book up. Why? Well, to me beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, and my eyes are sometimes different from other eyes. So, this world where everyone was pretty, it wasn't gathering points with me. But I started the book, and I understood the concept of beauty used here – mainstream beauty, evening out differences, going for the big eyes, pouting mouth look of innocence, that ensured that there was a biological/psychological need to protect and love that person. I would be utterly miserable in that world, of course, but I can understand the reasons why it worked. As I continued reading I could also see how this world could be seen as school metaphor – the younger Uglies earning to enter that cool place that is New Pretty Town (*ahem, cof, High School, cof*).

Tally, with her eagerness to also be pretty, never really impressed me. She was fun, but had the book been about someone else, it would have been the same for me – I was reading for the world and the society, not the characters. In fact, I will continue reading the series for those reasons, even if there was some growth, at least where Tally is concerned. There was also a bit of romance in there, which, unsurprisingly, didn't impress me either.

This book's strengths are both the worldbuilding, and the action. There is plenty of action going on, from Tally and Shay's pranks, to the lone trip of Tally through the wasteland that our world has become, to the events on Smoke, rescue missions, hiding and going undercover. Lots of stuff that kept the pages flying by.

It did end on a cliffhanger (one has to ensure that readers will pick up the next book, right?), and as such I want to know what happens next. I also want to learn more about the world.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: A Journey of Books | Book Chick City | Este Meu Cantinho | The Non Reluctant Reader

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Wook | Wook

Friday, 6 January 2012

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title: Entwined

Author: Heather Dixon

Date Read: January 3rd

On TBR for: 2 days

Format: ebook

Source: Bought

Challenges?: 2012 Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf 2012, Fairy Tales Retold

Entwined is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses Fairytale. We start with Azalea preparing for a ball – her first one! – and dreading having to dance with the King, who is a very stiff dancer. But her mother is ill and someone has to take her place, and being the oldest of 11, the job falls to her.

But the ball never goes as planned – first the King never appears, then it ends prematurely. There are bad news, the eleven princesses become motherless. But they gain a little sister. The house enters in mourning, meaning that all their dresses are dyed black, the windows are draped in black, they cannot go out except on Royal Business, and *gasp* they cannot dance. And if there is something that these sisters like doing, it is dancing.

But this is a world with magic, and with magic they find a perfect place to dance – a silver forest with a magical pavilion, with music aplenty, and a guardian – Keeper, who is trapped there and wants their help to escape.

What first stands out on this book are the sheer number of characters – of course there would be many, it's the 12 Dancing Princesses, after all, but all of them get to be rather different from the others. And I really liked that they were so neatly named – bless the King with his organization and rules complex! – it was easier to set them apart this way. And what is this revolutionary technique? Well, they are named in alphabetical order: Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Eve, Flora and Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale and Lily! The older ones got more action, of course, and more screen time. But the young ones were adorable as well!

As for the story, it was sweet, not without its sadness and perils. But in the end, the feeling I have of this book is that it was sweet. I really liked the King and his part on the story, and was glad that the fact that he was mourning his wife was not forgotten. He was stiff, and it was understandable that the girls felt unloved, but all the time I couldn't hate him for it. And the more the story progressed, the more I liked him as a character – he did love his daughters, although I think he didn't really know what to do with so many of them and that he was overwhelmed by their energy and liveliness.

Keeper's part of the story did make my brain churn since he first appeared – there was something in him that put me on guard (unlike, for instance, Fairweller, who is despised by Azalea and Co., and who I did like him from the start). But Keeper's mystery soon became rather obvious, although I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. In the end it worked out fine (better than I had hoped) although it was a bit a cheating there to get to the happy ending – but I'm glad it ended that way.

I also liked the writing on this one – there was a hint of humour throughout it that I enjoyed, from arguments with magic sugar teeth, to sisterly gossiping and teasing. I loved the interactions between characters, especially between sisters. There were, however, parts where I felt a bit lost about the surroundings and about who was holding the little ones, especially Lily, who kept changing hands between sisters.

To sum it up, Entwined is a really sweet book, with very good characters. Well worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: Bewitched Bookworms | Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing | Confessions of a Book Addict | Cuidado com o Dálmata | Curling up by the Fire | Good Books & Good Wine | The Nerd's Wife

Similar Readings: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier [LT|GR]

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

Thursday, 5 January 2012

December Ins and Outs

Last Ins and Outs of 2011 and so little books reviews on December. The Shame! (Even more shameful - there are still some November reviews pending)

Surprisingly, there are not that many books acquired - it's not that Santa wasn't nice, he just got a little late and the books are still somewhere between the North Pole and Portugal (I hope. It would be the first time to have a book come via Australia.).
On the reading side things were good - lots of books read, even if not all of them good!

Bought - physical bookCatch-22 by Joseph Heller
It arrived a little later than expected - after all it was bought on the same day as Slaughterhouse 5 (received in November)

Bought - ebook
Entwined by Heather Dixon
My first actually bought ebook! And only because it was at a fantastic price ($0.99) and Jen said it was good!

Swap sites
The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

*For Review - LibraryThing Member Giveaway*
Bedtime Stories for Cats by Amy Neftzger

*For Review - LibraryThing EarlyReviewers*
Enchantment by Pati Nagle


The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery
Christmas gift from my uncle

Mistwood by Leah Cypess
My Secret Santa's gift, who turned out to be, unsurprisingly, Jen. Thanks!

These were not the only books I received for Christmas. There are 6 more that I received. Kind-of. They are still in the mail - you'll see them in January. I hope.


Physical books
The bloody chamber: and other stories Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber is listed as a must have in dark fairytale retellings, and as such I had high expectations for it. It turned out not to be as good as I hoped – there was a repetition of themes, the writing managed, quite at the same time, entrance me and annoy me and there was just something missing in some of the stories. Also I started this book by reading the introduction which, although quite good as an analysis of the book, completely ruins the experience of someone reading the stories for the first time.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Carta del fin del mundo by José Manuel Fajardo [Letter from the End of the World]
A book that I wanted to read for a long, long time. This book is a letter from a sailor to his brother, from the New World, about his troubles and fears, about being in a strange land with strange people. It was rather nice, and I really like Fajardo's writing.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
This was on the shelf for quite some time (almost a year!). A Dystopia where everyone turns pretty at when they turn 16 - they have an operation which evens out their features. Tally can't wait to turn pretty and join her friends, but when she is denied her operation because of a new friend who ran away, she goes in search for her, torn between breaking a promise or being ugly for the rest of her life. It was a nice read, there was plenty of action, and it left me wanting to know more about this world.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
A joint reading with Jen, but it wasn't the best of books. Not very Christmas-y, except that it takes place during Christmas. A bit of non-sense humour, but it was rather poorly done. And I just thought that the zombies were unnecessary. And the epilogue as well.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Temeraire by Naomi Novik
I had been eyeing this one for ages, and still didn't pick it up. Even if there are dragons. That was strange. But I finally read it! It is a good book, think Eragon meets Master and Commander. The dragons were really fun, but I found the main character a bit too stiff (it does provide some amusing moments, too). I found the language also a bit stiff, but I think that was the translation only. I'll continue this series (but in English).

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez
I have seen the movie based on this book, but I didn't remember who-had-dunnit when I started. Eventually I remembered. But it was an okay read, I liked the parts that had to do with mathematics. Not mindblowing, but still nice for a fast a read.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
This feels much like an introduction to the series. The Grace kids move into an old house, and discover it has been inhabited by something else. Very fast read (1 day!), and the illustrations are simply lovely.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

*For Review*

The Trees by Todd Brabander - Review
Bedtime Stories for Cats by Amy Neftzger - Review
Enchantment by Pati Nagle - Review

TBR Variation: -2 (From 203 to 201) Yey!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

Title: The Broken Kingdoms

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Date Read: From November 26 to November 30, 2011

On TBR for: 19 days

Format: Physical book

Source: Bought - New

Back to the world of Sky, roughly ten years after the end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms is the story of Oree, a blind artist who lives in the city below the palace-Sky, now turned into palace/tree. She sells knick-knacks and souvenirs to the pilgrims that go to worship the new godlings (and even the old god Itempas). And she paints, but that's just for her.

One day she finds someone in a pile of muck, and like the good person she is, she takes him home and treats him. She even gives him a name: Shiny. Why does she give him a name? One, because he never talks (he can talk, he just chooses not to - this isn't a story about the blind and the mute), and two, because he shines (but only in the morning).

And let me backtrack a bit here, because you surely recall that I told you Oree is blind. She IS blind, but she can see magic, its glow allows her to see parts of the world. It does help her a lot, especially because Sky is so infused with it. And it allows her to become really chummy with all kinds of godlings. So she knows, more or less, what she has in her hands with Shiny. And still adventure ensues.

There is part that is a continuation of the plots of the previous book, but The Broken Kingdoms is a book on its own. I found myself hating characters I once loved, and loving characters I once hated, just because there was a shift in perspective. And I loved that it happened.

Oree as a character captivated me like Yeine never did. She is spunky and feisty, and more importantly, gets things done. The big problem with this book is, having read the first one, the mystery of Shiny is no mystery at all (except for Oree, of course). But I did like to see his character unfold, and was surprised by how much I ended up liking him.

And that surprise is not exclusive to Shiny. I was surprised how much I ended up liking this book, considering that the first one didn't blow me off my feet. I really liked the ending, and I am now ready for the next/last one in the series, The Kingdom of Gods.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Cuidado com o Dálmata | Fantasy Café | Libri Touches | The Broke and the Bookish

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Wook