The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown DaVinciCode

Pages: 481

Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller, historical

An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.


Thoughts: Finally read another of the Robert Langdon series, which I’ve been meaning to for a while now. I enjoy these books, contrary to a lot of other beliefs, mostly because of the frequent references to symbols and mythology. (Surprise, surprise) I definitely wouldn’t say they were my favourite, (although Da Vinci Code was better than Inferno, in my opinion), but they’re good enough for a quick weekend, or holiday read.

“Everyone loves a conspiracy.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown’s books are known for their ability to hook readers in, and both books of his that I’ve read, definitely lived up to that. In Inferno, it felt a bit forced, while Da Vinci Code seemed more natural in its cliff-hangers which is good. It wasn’t as if each chapter ended in the middle of a sentence, but like it was actually as perplexing as he made it seem. Sure, it made me want to keep reading, but the complications and cliffhangers were a lot more reasonable and believable. (most of the time)

“Telling someone about what a symbol means is like telling someone how music should make them feel.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

So this book is mostly set in Paris, with a little in England, and Landon rushes around to a lot of the museums and statues. Having been to Paris and England myself, and loved all of the artworks displayed in the Louvre, I really enjoyed all the references. I’m sure a few of you know I’m a bit of a mythology and history fanatic (My name’s Isis, the blog’s name is Book Goddess), and it was good to be able to know what all the characters were talking about. I even deciphered one of the codes before Langdon did!!!

“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

Again, as I’ve said before, Dan Brown’s writing style isn’t the greatest. I found this book was pretty good with its language uses, (better than Inferno, once again), it wasn’t too painful for most of the book. At times, it had some pretty complex descriptions of things. But, at other times, it did sound downright average. (e.g. quote below) Again, it’s not like it was impossible to read, and it doesn’t impact my view of the book very much, but the writing could be improved greatly. I will also say that the ending seemed a little weak for me. It was great most of the time, with multiple twists and turns, but then after the climax, it had a really boring finish.

“Her eyes were olive green―incisive and clear.”
― Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code

This review’s pretty short compared to most of my others. I guess there isn’t much to say about it really. I’d say it would be a good read for most people, because it moves quickly and almost includes the reader on the adventure. Because it explains so many of the ideas and theories, you feel like you’re on the run with the characters, figuring out codes and following clues along the way. A good book for when you’re on a plane actually. It didn’t leave a large impact on me, like other literary masterpieces do, but it was fun while I was reading it. If I had the book open, it was fine, and I was hooked most of the time, so it was hard to put it down. And then when I did manage to put it down, I didn’t really feel the urge to pick it back up, just because it didn’t seem that important.

Rating: star_rating_3_of_5

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The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Pages: 369The_Martian_2014

Genre: Sci-fi, fiction, comedy

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Habitat breaches, I’ll just kind of explode.

If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

I’m screwed.

Thoughts: This review’s been a little time in the coming, but it’s finally here. I saw The Martian as a movie first, and really enjoyed it. I then learned there was a book, and needed to read it. And, I think the movie did a very good job of portraying the characters, and the storyline. Basically, for anyone who hasn’t read or seen it, the Ares 3 crew landed on Mars, but had to abort their mission early, due to an unexpected storm. On their way over to the MAV (their ride home), Mark Watney is hit by flying debris and whisked away by the wind. The rest of the crew, thinking him dead, and under strict orders to leave, have no choice but to leave him there. But Mark did not die, and is now stranded on Mars. It was a really fun read, that made me laugh out loud many, many times, while also conveying enough worry for me to be on the edge of my seat.

“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

From the opening line, I got Mark Watney’s character down pat. He has a very recognisable way of speaking… Like this! All the time!! With heaps of funny lines that will definitely be quoted! And he narrates most of the book. It does sound like it would get a bit tiresome after a while, but not for me. I really enjoyed reading it. The other parts of the book were either around NASA (on Earth), or the rest of the Ares 3 crew, (who are still on their way back to Earth). I really liked their parts, because all the characters were so developed, and had certain ways of acting. They seemed like real people, who I really would’ve liked to meet. There was just something satisfying about their conversations and the way they interacted with another, made smooth through Weir’s way with words. These chunks of the book broke up Watney’s, which is possibly why I didn’t get too tired of it. The only thing that could’ve made it better, is more of these parts, because I really, really enjoyed them.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

An aspect of The Martian that really amazes me, is the amount of research that went into it. There are crazy amounts of maths formulas involved, as Watney’s trying to figure out how to survive. On top of that, just general NASA knowledge, and terminology, like the Hab, the MAV, and EVA, and as well as that, the solutions to his major issues, for example growing food, repairing the oxygenator, or communicating with Earth. So yes, there was a lot of research that went into the book, so it would seem more realistic and plausible. And apparently, most of what he wrote was largely correct. (Not that I went through and checked everything. That would have taken forever) Which leads me to my next point: There was a lot of it. A lot of rambling on about ‘how this would mean that this thing has to be changed, which would affect that, and that cannot be changed, so scrap that idea, and form a new one.’ It’s written as if an astronaut had written it, which is essentially what it was meant to be, but I’m not going to lie. After the first few chapters, once it got to these parts, I would just skim over it, and then start reading properly when it finished. It wasn’t like it was badly written, it would just jumble everything up, and I couldn’t keep up. I appreciate the sheer amount of research that went into it, and feel like it wouldn’t have been the same book without all the realistic factors, but it just got a bit too much.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

It is not the amazingly-written book I’ve read, but the genre and style of story it is didn’t need it to be. It’s meant to be a collection on Watney’s thoughts as he logs his survival on Mars. This means it isn’t perfect English, there are jokes everywhere, he makes up names for people and things (kilowatt-hour per sol later becomes known as a ‘pirate-ninja’), and there are lots of short and jumbled sentences. It helps if you read it as if he was actually speaking it, which much easier if you’ve seen the movie.

“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Sorry if all these quotes are annoying, I really love them all!! I had to narrow it down just for the review. Essentially, the best part was the continuous humour. Slightly unrealistic at times, but still, enough things went wrong that it still seemed plausible. It was a good, fun, easy read that I think everyone would enjoy. (although: language warning) To sum up, there were developed characters, who were all fun to read about, a thrilling story that had lots of ups and downs, it was very well researched, and the writing was light and easy. Also, did I mention, hilarious!!

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally hum
an that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkinsthe-girl-on-the-train

Pages: 325

Genre: Thriller, contemporary, mystery, crime, fiction

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22557272-the-girl-on-the-train


So, I did intend to write this review a while ago, but time has really gotten away from me. Drowning in study and assignments at the moment, and writing this now, I’m sort of procrastinating. But anyway, I’ve got quite a few thoughts on The Girl on the Train. Let’s see, where to start…

I thought this sounded like an interesting idea when I got the gist of the storyline, and if were done well, I think it would have been really cool. But the writing was just really boring and clumsy that it took away from the story. It started off a little depressing and slow, and by the time the ‘exciting’ bit had begun, I was already turned away.

“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

One thing I absolutely hated was the characters. There was literally nothing to like about them. Three women narrate this story, Rachel, Anna, and Megan, and it starts off with Rachel. Let’s just say she’s a very bad alcoholic. In some parts, I got the feeling that I might be able to feel sorry for her, as she did seem to have pretty rotten luck, but she was also the weakest person in the entire world at some points as well. It got very tiresome very quickly, when she just went back to drinking every time a problem arose. If she’d just stayed sober, maybe she would have figured it out a lot quicker… Just a slight feeling I’m getting….

Then there is Anna, who is just mean and generally un-likeable throughout the entire story. Not much else that is interesting about her. And then Megan. I thought she was okay at the start of the book, and she seemed like the only likeable character, but then as the book progressed, more things were brought up about her past, and what she did, and she ended up being just as bad as the other two. So, all the women are pretty lousy in my perspective, and I’m not sure the author wanted it this way or not. Maybe she planned for them all to be weak and unpleasant, but I would have appreciated it if there was at least one strong female.

“When did you become so weak?” I don’t know. I don’t know where that strength went, I don’t remember losing it. I think that over time it got chipped away, bit by bit, by life, by the living of it.”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

Despite all this ranting, I still think the storyline had a good idea and theme to it, and I wanted to know how it was going to end. Being a murder mystery, there are heaps of people saying they figured it out in the first 3 chapters and all that, but I’m actually terrible at that sort of thing. So, I can’t really say it was predictable. But, it wasn’t as much of a shock as I thought it might be, which led to it being quite weak in my opinion. And then everything after that was also a bit short and lacking as well. I feel like it needed more, because the answer was just revealed, and then it basically finished. No resolutions were made. The characters were all still boring. There was just no real development over the entire book. The characters were just going round and round in circles for most of it.

“I want to drag knives over my skin, just to feel something other than shame, but I’m not even brave enough for that”
― Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train

Alright, I’m done. I guess you got the picture that I didn’t really like this book. The only reason it would be OK is because the ending kept me guessing, although in the end, it wasn’t that much of a shock anyway. It’s sort of like the cheap reality TV shows, that have bad acting and the storyline is so boring because nothing ever happens. Yeah, I’m going to liken it to that. It’s watchable, but after a while, it does get tiresome.

Rating: star_rating_2_of_5

The Day of the Triffids

Author: John Wyndham0993_john_wyndham_the_day_of_the_triffids_1970

Pages: 228

Genre: Sci-fi, fiction, classics, horror, apocalyptic

Fantastic, frightening, but entirely plausible, John Wyndham’s famous story of a world dominated by monstrous, stinging plants, catches the imagination like the best of H. G. Wells.


Thoughts: Here’s my next book review for March, and I’m moving on from Six of Crows, and Crooked Kingdom finally. I was convinced to try out the 1951 classic, The Day of the Triffids. Some may have seen the TV series, or even the movie, but this is the original story they were based on. And I’ve got a few things to say about this one, it’s both good and bad. Let’s get started…

“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”
― John WyndhamThe Day of the Triffids

From the title, and the first line (above), I was intrigued to find out more, and I really enjoyed the first chapter. It introduces Bill, our main protagonist, who is in hospital with bandages over his eyes. The reason for this is later explained in future chapters. What makes it exciting though, is that outside, the world is experiencing the most spectacular meteorite shower ever – and Bill misses it. What nobody realises is, once they wake up the next morning, everyone who saw the bright flashes of light, is forevermore, completely blind. So, fairly exciting start. Then after this, it just gets confusing.

Triffid:

(in science fiction) a member of a race of predatory plants which are capable of growing to a gigantic size and are possessed of locomotive ability and a poisonous sting.

This is the definition that I missed while reading, and probably the reason I was so confused. After the exciting, imaginative start, it goes into a bit of explanation and backfill into Bill’s earlier life. This part lost me for quite a while. Another thing about it is, because it is such a ‘realistic’ sci-fi story, it does get a little boring. For almost a whole chapter, it’s just him walking and wandering around the streets of London, wondering what’s going on, and what he’s going to do, and then on top of that, the explanations. While this is quite possibly what would happen if it were to happen to the real world, this is what makes it a little slow.

In saying this, once he meets another person, Josella, things do start to heat up a bit. And then this continues throughout the entire book. All up, it is a bit of a slow, meandering story of the apocalypse, and because it is so realistic, and believable, it becomes really scary. The fact that Wyndham was able to predict what would happen to the world in so much detail is quite amazing. He got right down into how individual people’s values and ethics go right out the window, and also how different countries react in times of great crisis. It shows and reveals some very true facts about the Human race which some might not have realised.

“It must be, I thought, one of the race’s most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that “it can’t happen here” — that one’s own time and place is beyond cataclysm.”
― John WyndhamThe Day of the Triffids

There was a point at which I had to stop myself from looking at the next page, as I needed to know what was going to happen, but knew I couldn’t look. This generally means there is a rise in tension, and a climax. But, in saying this, I couldn’t tell you where the climax was, or whether it rose in tension at all. It’s just one of the books that stays the same tension the entire way through, which is how lots of these types of classics are, I’ve found.

And now onto the ending. It did resolve, but also left some very big questions unanswered, which annoyed me. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to resolve at all, because it was still going in the last few pages, but it did get there in the end. I really needed to know how it all began in the first place; I feel like this could have added another creative effect, which I would’ve appreciated. But no, I guess it had to leave a bit of speculation.

I sort of feel like I’m sounding very negative, when it’s not that bad of a book. It’s definitely a very creative story, especially for when it was written. There’s been the early versions of Sci–fi before the 19th century, and then there was Frankenstein, and a little after that, H.G. Wells. I’d say this book fits in well with this type of genre of book, even if it is a little younger. So, if you enjoy the classics, especially science fiction I’d say you’d rather enjoy this book. Also if you’re a big fan of just sci-fi, I’d say you have to read this, because it’s one of the early stories before the young adult aspect came into everything.

I’m going to say I enjoyed the story itself, especially the idea, but not the book, just because it was too slow and meandering for me. I get bored quite easily in books, which probably isn’t the best trait for a bookworm, but that’s just how it is, I’m afraid.

“When almost half a lifetime has been spent in one conception of order, reorientation is no five-minute business.”
― John WyndhamThe Day of the Triffids

Rating: star_rating_3-5_of_5

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Author: Leigh Bardugo crooked-kingdom

Pages: 536

Genre: young adult, adventure, fantasy

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.


Thoughts:  Well, well, where to start? Again, another masterpiece from Leigh Bardugo, with a little bit of everything I love, all in one book. I don’t know if it’s better than Six of Crows. I can’t decide. Pretty sure that I liked the story behind the first book better than this one, as Crooked Kingdom was a little more focussed on the characters. But then I absolutely loved reading about the characters, so really can’t make up my mind on that one.

Okay, so as I mentioned before, Crooked Kingdom is a bit more about the characters than the first book. Each chapter is from a different character’s perspective again, and I really love seeing the story from different views. And then this caused me to fall in love with them all over again. I have no idea how people who read Six of Crows before this one came out coped, because I was just about ready to burst, and I only waited a day. It’s just one of those novels where you love everyone, and can’t wait to read more about them.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

This book seriously kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way through. I don’t think there is actually a dull moment during this entire series, which is just wonderful. Action scenes, planning scenes (which could be just as exciting as the action scenes, somehow), revenge being taken, character development, and then the twists and turns as well. The plot just seemed to build up as the book went further along. Six of Crows ends on a sort of cliff-hanger, and then, I thought Crooked Kingdom was just fixing this complication. But no. This particular problem was resolved in just about the first quarter of the book, leaving the rest for some more amazing writing.

“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

Of course, it’s again full of the hilarious banter between everyone, and so much sarcasm!! I loved every minute of it. It’s just so fun and you really feel like you’re in the book with everyone. When this happens, I say it’s a good book, because the author has obviously created a world that fits so well into my head that I can sort of live in it myself. One point to also touch on, is character development. For people who have read the book, you’ll know what I mean when I say it happened for Kaz and Inej, and Matthias as well. Even Wylan has progressed, and it’s nice to see so much of it happening in just the two books. For people who haven’t read it, these are the lovely people you will meet on your Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom adventure. I’d be looking forward to it if I were you.

“Where do you think the money went?” he repeated.
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

I know it does seem like this review was basically me rambling on about how good this book was, but I don’t think I can pick out anything bad about it. It’s not a deep book with lots of talk of ethics and morals, or an emotional contemporary novel, but it’s not meant to be. While both of those styles could be considered a better quality of book, I’m not going to judge a young adult fantasy, series on those criteria. So, I’m pretty sure this series was basically perfect, and it is most definitely one of my favourites. I just wish there was another book (or ten) so I can hear from the characters again, see what they’re doing, how they’re feeling. Obviously, I have become slightly obsessed. Time to distract myself with another book…

Rating: 5-start