Posted in First Impression Friday

First Impression Friday – The Great Hunt

“The man who called himself Bors, at least in this place, sneered at the low murmurung that rolled around the valted chamber like the soft gabble of geese.”

First line in The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

I’ve started a book and I want to talk about it hence this First Impression Friday post. First Impression Friday is hosted by J. W. Martin and the point of it is to talk about a book you’ve just started to give your initial thoughts and predict whether you’ll end up loving the book or not.

Today’s book is The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, which is book 2 in The Wheel of Time.

By the way, that is the ugliest cover I’ve ever seen.

Currently, I’m on page 74 of 579 so not very far into it but the first 4 chapters completely held my attention. It starts off pretty intense and I was so excited. However, I’m beginning to get the inkling that Jordan is fooling me again. In the first book, I was kind of bothered by how often he built tension but then wouldn’t let it amount to very much. He’d rather give you an in-depth description of a door frame. I find it annoying to be fooled like that so often. I don’t mind it a couple of times because it’s an efficient way to create suspense. In book 1 it was just such an overused tool.

I do still like the book so far. I’m very excited to see how the overall plot pans out and I’m expecting a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I don’t think I’ll ever give books in this series more than a 4 because of the writing style. Through that perspective, 4 is pretty good.

Have you read this? Let me know what you thought.

Posted in Recommendations

Hogwarts House Recommendations: Slytherin

” The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”

First line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

I’m back with the final post in the series of recommending books based on Hogwarts houses and we’ve made it to Slytherin. In case you missed the first three here are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

In case you’ve never read Harry Potter and don’t know anything about those houses with weird names, here are a few characteristics of a typical Slytherin:

  • Ambitious
  • Cunning
  • Leadership
  • Resourcefulness
  • Self-preservation
  • Ends justify the means
  • Power hungry

The Diviners by Libba Bray

A historical fiction series with a paranormal twist. I’m recommending this for Slytherins specifically because of the main character in the first book, Evie O’Neill. She’s so ambitious. She knows what she wants and she’s doing (almost) whatever is necessary to get it. That ends justify her means is also a very prevalent theme for her, so I think other Slytherins will love her as a main character.

Half Bad by Sally Green

An urban fantasy story in which we follow Nathan who is what I would call morally gray. It’s the type of story you would expect the heroic Gryffindor to lead, so I really like that Nathan is so flawed. Throughout the book he displays a high level of self-preservation and doesn’t really care about people that aren’t close to him (and that’s very few). He just wants to live his life in peace and not waste his time saving the world.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Now that we are on the topic of morally gray characters, is there anyone grayer than Kaz Brekker? He’s leaning heavily towards black in my mind but that is also his charm. In general, this duology screams Slytherin. Our group of characters has to perform the most impossible heist, and they all have different reasons for wanting to partake. Very few of those reasons are honorable but instead serve the characters’ own ambitions. Through this heist we also see some impressive leadership skills from Kaz, so he really is a true Slytherin.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

This might seem like an odd choice but hear me out. The Mistborn trilogy is a fantasy series that takes place in a world where the villain won and now everyone is miserable. A group of highly peculiar individuals are trying to overthrow him, and it is this particular group that I think Slytherins will love. They are very resourceful, and when they eventually hit a bump in the road, they use their intelligence to solve the problem. The level of ambition within the group is also astounding considering they are trying to overthrow a ruler who has held this position for a thousand years. And yes, he is also immortal. No big deal.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

A very well-known character-focused story taking place in the fantastical land of Westeros. If you want morally gray characters, this is a series for you. There are very few truly ‘good guys’ in Martin’s world because so many of them are driven by their ambitions and their need to look out for themselves first. They use every resource in their disposal to get what they want. If they aren’t resourceful, they’ll make sure to change that. If you enjoyed reading about unlikeable characters, you need to pick up A Song of Ice and Fire. I know that I found myself loving to hate these amazingly well thought out characters.

Posted in Top 5 Tuesday

Top 5 Funniest Characters

“It was a sad moment in Magnus Bane’s life when he was banned from Peru by the High Council of Peruvian warlocks.”

First line in The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

Hi guys and welcome to my post Top 5 Tuesday which is hosted by Shannah from the Bionic Book Worm. I couldn’t not do this week’s topic because the funny characters are often my favorite ones.

I’ve found 5 characters that always crack me up. For each character, I’ve added a quote from them so you can experience the comedy for yourself.

Wayne from Mistborn: The Alloy Era

“I need you to stay behind as we go into those slums,” Wayne said, determined to impress solemnity into his voice. “It’s not that I don’t want your help. I do. It’s just going to be too dangerous for you. You need to stay where I know you’re safe. No arguments. I’m sorry.”
“Wayne,” Wax said, walking past. “Stop talking to your hat and get over here.”

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Magnus Bane from The Shadowhunter Chronicles

Malachi scowled. “I don’t remember the Clave inviting you into the Glass City, Magnus Bane.”
“They didn’t,” Magnus said. “Your wards are down.”
“Really?” the Consul’s voice dripped sarcasm. “I hadn’t noticed.”
Magnus looked concerned. “That’s terrible. Someone should have told you.” He glanced at Luke. “Tell him the wards are down.”

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Eugenides from The Queen’s Thief

“They’re going to leave me. All I wanted to do was lie in the dry prickly grass with my feet in a ditch forever. I could be a convenient sort of milemarker, I thought. Get to the thief and you know you are halfway to Methana. Where ever Methana might be.”

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Nikolai from The Grisha Verse

I took a breath. “Your highness—”
“Nikolai,” he corrected. “But I’ve also been known to answer to ‘sweetheart’ or ‘handsome.”

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Locke Lamora from Gentleman Bastard

“I thought you specialised in dishonest finesse?”
“I also do a brisk trade in putting knives to peoples’ throats and shouting at them,” said Locke

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

This was fun to do but I’m sure that I’ve forgotten about some characters. Who makes you laugh when reading about them?

Posted in Discussions

Discussion: Rating Books Based on Enjoyment or Objective Quality

“We should agree on some passwords.”

First line in Half Lost by Sally Green

Hello and good day to you. The inspiration for this post came from the booktuber Merphy Napier (if you love fantasy you should really check her out), who made two videos recently called “Books I rated too high” and “Books I rated too low”. She really is one of my favorite booktubers but those videos made me realize how I don’t rate books the same way as she does. And I think there’s an important discussion there. Do we rate a book based on how much we enjoyed it or do we evaluate the actual quality of the book?

I found myself in a conundrum because what makes a book objectively good? My opinion is that if there was actually an answer to this question, wouldn’t there be books that EVERYBODY loved? As far as I’m aware, that’s not the case and far from it. Doesn’t that mean that it comes down to the individual reader and what they enjoy? What a reader enjoy can vary so much and not everyone is even aware of what they like and dislike in books. Many people love books that aren’t close to winning any awards and therefore might be considered “bad books”.

Let’s just briefly consider what could label a book “bad” or “not worth reading”.

  • Poor writing – the general idea is that repetitive writing is bad writing because it lacks creativity and the reader will get bored easily.
  • Flat characters – characters that are very one-dimensional can seem unrealistic and maybe shows the laziness of the author.
  • Plot holes – a sign that the author haven’t thought everything through and tied it all together.

I’m not an expert on writing books but this was just to give you an idea about what I’m referring to when I say that not every reader care about all of this. So, what is the point of rating books based on these parameters?

To use myself as an example, I rate books based on my enjoyment of them and sometimes my enjoyment is reduced due to poor writing, plot holes etc. But only sometimes. Other times, I will completely ignore these faults because something else about the book has made me love it dearly. And then I will rate it 5 stars. In my review of the book, I will explain what was great about the book so other people can make the decision whether they would enjoy the same things or not. That’s why I think it makes more sense to rate a book based on my enjoyment of it. Should I rate it lower because I imagine someone else is not going to like it? That just seems absurd to me.

You can of course also have the discussion on the significance of assigning a number to a book. I like seeing the number in a review because it helps me understand the reviewer. We use words like ‘enjoy’, ‘like’ and ‘love’ a lot in reviews and the rating just tells me how much they enjoyed, liked or loved it. The biggest problem with rating books is when you get an average rating like on Goodreads. It’s easy to judge the book based on that little number but there can be so many 5- and 1-star ratings in there. I think it’s always necessary to research a book further before dismissing it or adding it to your TBR.

To round this off, I don’t believe one can be completely objective when rating books. We all like different things. There isn’t a book that everyone loves just as there isn’t a book that everyone hates. Assumed objective quality just makes us feel bad for liking a “bad book”, and we feel forced to like a “good book”. That’s really not necessary.

What do you think of this distinction? What do you consider when rating books if you even rate them? I’d love to know if you consider the book’s quality more than I do.

Posted in Recommendations

Hogwarts House Recommendations: Ravenclaw

“It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting along in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind “

First line in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

I’m back with the third post in this series of Hogwarts House Recommendations. This one is about Ravenclaw. I’ve previously done posts about Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

In case you’ve never read Harry Potter and don’t know anything about those houses with weird names, here are a few characteristics of a typical Ravenclaw:

  • Intelligent
  • Creative
  • Learning
  • Wit
  • Self-sufficient
  • Arrogant

I’ve picked out 5 books in which the main characters exhibit some of those traits. In that sense, this is a list of recommendations if you want to read books about Ravenclaws. You don’t need to be a Ravenclaw yourself. As I see it, one’s personality and one’s reading tastes don’t necessarily match in that way. But let’s get onto the books. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

A contemporary romance novel might not seem like the most obvious choice for a Ravenclaw recommendation. However, I believe Ravenclaw will appreciate Don Tillman’s rational and logical way of solving problems. Everything in his life is categorized and researched to give him the ideal living conditions. This means that he of course has come up with the most efficient way to find the perfect woman: The Wife Project. That is a such a Ravenclaw thing to do.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is a retelling of The Jungle Book with a horror twist. Bod grows up in a graveyard after his entire family is murdered. He miraculously escapes, and is brought up by the ghosts of the graveyard. Bod is curious about a lot of things and actively seeks out answers to his many questions. He’s not someone who will settle for half-truths, and this craving for knowledge makes him a Ravenclaw to me. Later in the book, he also uses creativity and quick thinking to get himself out of sticky situations.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

An urban fantasy novel in which a good part of the story takes place at a school. Yes, they are learning magic, and it’s highlighted how difficult this magic is. It’s not just saying a spell and waving a wand. The magic in The Magicians is more intellectual and complicated than that, and I think a Ravenclaw would appreciate this unique twist to a magic system. Several of the characters also exhibit a definite need to learn. There is no excuse for them not to do perfect magic and let’s just say that lesser magicians are beneath them. They might sound horrible when described like that, but it’s really just confidence in the best way.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

In Radio Silence, we follow Frances whose entire life revolves around academic achievement. She’s doing everything in her power to get into the best university because that is the ultimate goal in life, right? Frances is very smart but she is also so many other things (like Ravenclaws). In this book we see her struggle with the pressure from society to “do well in school” and what that has actually done to her life.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

A fantasy story with a Ravenclaw protagonist in Kvothe. In the book, Kvothe is telling his life story to a chronicler because apparently, Kvothe is a very famous and interesting person. We just don’t know why. Throughout his life, Kvothe is shown to have an immense craving for knowledge. There’s even a university involved which he is willing to fight himself into. He also has a bit of an arrogant streak to him but he’s still very capable and able to fend for himself.

Those were the 5 recommendations for Ravenclaw. The last one missing is Slytherin so look forward to that.

Posted in Book Memes

Books On My TBR That I’m Avoiding

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”

First line in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday where the topic is books on my TBR that I’m avoiding. Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This list is not going to be very long for me. I tend to keep my TBR fairly short (currently on 60 books) and only add books to it that I’m positive I want to read. There aren’t a lot of maybe-books on there but I did find a couple that was added a long time ago so enjoy.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

This was added after I watched a musical of it which was incredibly amazing (really, go see it if you ever have the chance!). So, I know the story and how different it is from the Disney movie (that was an unpleasant surprise). Maybe that is what’s holding me back from reading it. I’d rather pick up a book that I don’t know how ends, you know. If anyone has read it, I would love to know what you thought.

Any Book By Rick Riordan

I have a complicated relationship with Riordan’s books. I so wish that I could be 12 years old, so that I could actually love those books because I want to read them. They are just a bit on the younger side but my mind is set on reading them so I’m going to. It’s just taking me a while.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Both this one and the next book was added to my TBR right around the time I started watching booktube. Both recommendations came from Hannah at A Clockwork Reader, because she was one of the first ones, I watched every video from. She’s very sweet but I’ve come to realize that we don’t really share reading taste. I still watch her videos though. I wasn’t overly excited about this book when I added it, but I love Sáenz other book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so I’ve kept this one on my TBR. It’s not really calling to me though.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Another Hannah recommendation. I believe she compared it to The Night Circus, which I really liked so I didn’t need much else to add it to my TBR. I’ve later realized that I’m not a fan of magical realism which this one is. I also know very little about it, so it’s not something I’m dying to pick up.

A very short list for me today, but I really want to know if you’ve read any of these. Maybe you can push me to finally read them (or push them off my TBR).

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Station Eleven

“The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”

First line in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Review

Hello, people. Hope you’re having a great day. I debated with myself whether I should write this review or not, because it’s not a book I have that many feelings about. I finished it a week ago and I only now feel like I have my thoughts in some kind of order.

I gave Station Eleven 3 stars which means it was alright. Nothing more, nothing less. To give you more of an idea of what is behind those 3 stars, I’ll tell you what I liked and disliked about the book. We’re starting with the negative.

Dislikes

  • Missing Plot

It is a very character-driven story. Not a whole lot of plot in there, which I was waiting for, because it’s a dystopian. The genre just implies that there has to be a maniac who wants to kill or control everyone. Station Eleven is not that kind of dystopian. There was a hint of a plot at some point which got me really excited but it was resolved too quickly and rather effortlessly.  

  • Jumps In Time

This is a personal preference but I don’t enjoy stories that jump around in time. It breaks up the story too much for me. I’ll always prefer to stay in the present and just be told about things of the past. In Station Eleven, we go back and forth a lot so we follow characters both before and after the collapse of civilization. I’d rather just have followed the characters after.

  • The Contemporary Feel

This might sound odd, but this book felt like a contemporary to me. We spend a great deal of time with the characters before the collapse and isolated, those parts feel like an ordinary contemporary. Not that I hate contemporaries but that’s not what I came for, if you know what I mean.

Likes

  • The Writing Style

Mandel has a very pleasant writing style. Even when I wasn’t very interested in the story, she kept me reading because it just felt nice to read. It wasn’t too flowery and had a good flow to it.

  • World Development

I really liked how we were told about the collapse of civilization. It was probably my favorite part of the book because it was sprinkled throughout the entire story. I liked how Mandel really tied it to individual characters so we see it from their point of view instead of it becoming an overarching thing.

  • The Characters

We follow a large group of characters and they are all very well written. None of them are two-dimensional and I liked how Mandel made it clear how flawed they are. Each in their own way. I will say, however, that yes, I liked them, but I didn’t completely love any of them. Some of them, I was even kind of indifferent about but I still enjoyed reading about them.

Overall

I think I went into this book with the wrong expectations and that effected my experience of it. It’s by no means a bad book. I just wanted it to be more than it actually was. It’s a different dystopian than what I’m used to, and to some extent that was actually kind of refreshing. It was nice to see that there are other types of books within the genre than just the Hunger Games kind.

I think a lot of other people would give Station Eleven 5 stars. I would recommend it to those who prefer reading character-driven contemporaries or literary fiction, but don’t mind it when there’s a little twist of something from another genre. It would also be a good book if you’re trying to branch out and want to begin reading some dystopian or science fiction.