Book Review – The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus51nLN7yvmnL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy, fiction, romance, magic

Pages: 512

First Published: September 2011

Series: standalone

Rating:  star_rating_4_of_5

line_break

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

line_breakMy Review:

Another really, awesome book!! At the moment, I’m just reading good book after good book, so there’s not going to be any bad reviews for a while. Which is good! Who doesn’t love a great read? Let’s get on with why The Night Circus is a great book…

The best thing about The Night Circus is the incredible world the author has created – as well as the characters she’s added into it. There is SO MUCH world building that has gone into creating it, and because of it, it makes the whole story feel less cheap, and more real, or 3D. And it’s not just the setting either! The plot line, atmosphere, and down to the smallest events that occur, are all sorted perfectly to create the book. That’s what makes the complication, and then resolution, so perfect. It’s like Morgenstern has the whole thing mapped out in her head, so when she needs to chop and change between past, present and future, it’s all already there.

The Night Circus does include many POVs, some in the same time period, while others are flashbacks, or are in the future. Now this feature could have made the book really messy, and hard to follow, but because it was so well planned out, it actually made sense. (There were parts that were a little unclear, but they soon made sense if you kept reading) The further into the book I went, more bits kept jumping out at me, and then clicked into place, until right at the end with the climax, and it all came together.

Okay, okay, I need to stop talking about planning. What about the characters? Celia and Marco were perfect I think, and each of the background characters had their perks. I think the only let-down would be too many. Between having plot-lines in the past, present and future, there were quite a number of people involved in this story. This is what made it a bit hard to follow at times.

Another perk; strong female characters! Yay! I love books that include them, and The Night Circus doesn’t just have one main, but also all the female side characters are strong and can make their own decisions. I really just love reading from their point of view, or about them.

“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

Okay, to sum up. The story takes a while to get into the ‘real’ plot-line, but once it does, it is impossible to put down. As I was reading it, I kept noticing the symmetry between it, and The Prestige movie. Both have two magicians, duelling over many, many years, while still trying to live their lives as normal as possible. (And, at the back of my copy of The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern actually says one of her inspirations for the book was The Prestige, so there you go.) I found the story really interesting, and fun to read about. Similar setting to Caraval if you liked that.

 “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”
― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

Advertisements

Caraval

Author: Stephanie GarberCaraval_final cover (1).jpg

Pages: 407

Genre: Fantasy, magic, YA, romance

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval


Thoughts:

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Valuable advice to not just the characters. The story of Caraval sweeps you up quickly, and doesn’t let go easily. While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to see all the faults. The intense plot distracts you from the rest of the book, it seems.

So. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this book. I like it, but then I go through it again in my head, and it’s back in a negative light. But, I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it. It was a very fun experience. I want to make that clear. (Also, look how pretty the cover is??! That was what piqued my interest in the first place)

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

When I look back on it, and go through plot, characters, setting, it all seems to go pear-shaped. Firstly, plot… (Let’s get the negative bit over with) It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. It sounded very promising, up until the crazy twists and turn. By the end of the book, I actually didn’t know what was going on. Details kept being changed, and more things added in, until the villain was no longer the villain at all. It was a bit hard to keep up with. After I’d finished, I did manage to sort out what was happening, but was still left wanting more. Luckily, there is a second book! Even after this little complaint, I still want the next one. Surely that must mean something.

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Ok next: characters. The facts; interesting on the outside, very little development (except for one). Again, it’s like a thin layer of good book on the outside, but when go deeper, you discover it’s actually not that good of a quality book. The main character, Scarlett, started out as likeable, if a bit on the cautious side, but that’s not a bad thing. (I can be pretty cautious sometimes too) But once the male character was introduced, the interesting, well-told story-line, kept getting interrupted by the old fairy-tale belief that she needs to be saved by him.

Blah, blah, blah.

Come on Scarlett, you can do better than this!! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoy books with strong female leads…) By the end, once everything was twisted around, she started to become a little better, but her sister, on the other hand, was interesting all the way through. Tella had her own beliefs and plans, and didn’t wait for permission to implement them. While this became annoying in some ways, we do need some complications other than the climax. So characters were a mixture of interesting, well-thought-out, confusing, and annoying. There’s just so much happening in this book!

It’s almost as if Garber has tried a little too hard, and added in too many aspects, and that makes the writing messy. For example, it was a confusing concept to begin with, and then magic is involved, and then double-sided characters, and then on top of that, Scarlett has this random ability to sense feelings in colours. It’s so random. This little talent is not introduced, or explained at all, it’s just there, and pops up in random points in the story. I found that a little strange.

“Shades of the rich ruby love she’d felt during the game mixed with hues of deep-indigo hurt, turning everything just a little bit violet.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

All, in all, I’d say it’s the perfect young adult book, designed to keep people reading. A great setting, what started out as great characters, and an enjoyable read, until you start filing through it in your head. I think, by my rating policy, I’m going to give it 4 stars. The writing structure could definitely have been better, but I would certainly still recommend to people. If you have read it, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them all below in the comments. 🙂

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

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

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

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugosix-of-crows

Pages: 465

Genre: young adult, adventure, fantasy,

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.


Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read this book for so long, but when I finally got around to opening it to the first page, I did get a little afraid. There are so many good reviews and recommendations around this duology that I started to get swept up in its awesomeness before I’d even read it. And when I did start reading it, I finally started to wonder if it was that great… But I needn’t have worried!! It was amazing! I loved every second of it.

“Jesper knocking his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

So, I haven’t read a young adult fantasy series in a while, at least not an amazing one. I’ve been trying to read different types of genres, and have read a few contemporary types recently. But this duology has hooked me right back in again. As I said before – so good, and so addictive!!! I think I’d forgotten how well a story can hook me in, and force me to read it every second of every day, which is basically what I did. Forget about study and exams –pffft, let’s figure out how Kaz Brekker pulled off his impossible heist.

From just about the first page, I was in love with the characters, and this was one of the few books where I didn’t mind the multiple points of view. I found every single character was exciting and interesting, and couldn’t wait for the next chapter of theirs once it was over. Leigh Bardugo described each of them so well, and gave them each a little unique metaphorical trait, and so she could introduce them without even having to say their name. The world she created was just so real that I almost felt as if I went on the adventure with them. And it’s been a while since that’s happened to me, so I’m more than a little obsessed right now.

“Always hit where the mark isn’t looking”

“Who’s Mark?” asked Wylan.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

Then there’s the humour – buckets of it streaming from the pages. While most of the book had quite a scary, serious outlook (remember they are planning and initiating an impossible heist), the easy-going banter and chat from each of the characters was hilarious. I laughed and snorted at the ridiculous, or sarcastic jokes they made about each other, and with each other. Even now, scenes are replaying in my head, and I can remember most of what all of them say. It’s definitely as if I travelled with them, because it’s like I know them all personally.

“No Mourners.
No Funerals.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

One thing I did note while reading was how the author backfilled in for the characters when we weren’t expecting it, and transitioned between the now and the past so smoothly that a lot of the time it wasn’t until I was right in the middle that I noticed. We are left quite in the dark at the beginning of the book, and it’s written so we can understand what’s happening, but are still curious why certain things are happening. For example, the group’s leader, Kaz Brekker, always wears gloves, and never takes them off until he is alone. This was one of the many mysteries that were revealed as the book went on, in the backfilling. Leigh Bardugo has found parts in her story, and matched up parallels of a point in that character’s past, and then has made the connection there, meaning it flows smoothly. And after a while, I began to realise she did this almost every chapter. And by the end of the book, we knew a whole lot more about each of the crew, sometimes without even remembering that we’d learnt it.

To finish, I’m just going to say that if you want to find yourself a good, fast-paced read, then this is most definitely the series for you. I feel sorry for the people who read Six of Crows before Crooked Kingdom was released, because I needed that next book when I finished. After finishing Crooked Kingdom as well now, while it resolved and everything, I find myself wishing for another one, just so I can hear from the characters again. *Sigh* Oh well, I’ll just have to find another book. Shouldn’t be too hard…

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

Fool’s Assassin

Author: Robin Hobb fools assassin.jpg

Pages: 688

Genre: Epic fantasy, fiction, magic, adventure

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19288321-fool-s-assassin


Thoughts: I’ve had this book waiting on my shelf for ages now, and finally decided to try it this week. Having not read any Robin Hobb before, (I probably should have, seeing as this is like the 4th series in the collection, but did I know that when I started? Nope) Anyway, it was a vast world that had been created, and I really look forward to reading more in the series, and the rest of the Realms of the Elderings.

“That, I think, is the shock of any relationship ending. It is realizing that what is still an ongoing relationship to someone is, for the other person, something finished and done with.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

When I began, I will admit, it was difficult to really get into the story. I think maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the books before it, but to me, it was just a jumble of names, and their relationships with other names. Especially the prologue. I was so confused as to what was going on, but, having read other giant fantasy series before, like Lord of the Rings and Eragon, I knew this was a sign of an intricate world that I would get to know. And get to know it, I did. After the first few chapters, I was getting really into it, and found it hard to put down.

“I will always take your part, Bee. Right or wrong. That is why you must always take care to be right, lest you make your father a fool.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

I did find that I was sort of just reading, and absorbing the words, and nothing was actually happening, but weirdly, I still felt compelled to read it. Really, most of Fool’s Assassin is just a recount of Fitz, Molly, and their household’s life. And with any other book, wouldn’t this be really boring? I don’t know whether their lives were just exciting, or it was a clever way of slowly building tension, up until about the last 3 chapters. And then everything happens. I found myself hunched over trying to read faster than I actually could, cramming the last pages in as I found out what happens finally. And then it finished. Aaaand I don’t have the next book!! Note to self: Do not start an exciting series, when you only have the one book. Not a good idea. Until I get the next one, I’ll just have to distract myself with some others.

“Time is an unkind teacher, delivering lessons that we learn far too late for them to be useful. Years after I could have benefited from them, the insights come to me.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

But, as I was saying, it is not a usual story structure, I can’t actually pick the part where the tension starts, and then where the climax is, or whether it really ends at all. It’s sort of all one big complication.

“You’ll do well, if you don’t mire in self-pity. Self-pity only gets you more of the same. Don’t waste time on it.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

Before I give too much away now, let’s talk about something else. The language used was really clever, for example when Fitz talks about his ‘cub’. Before this book begins, Fitz is part of an inseparable group of friends, one of them being his Wolf, Nighteyes. Nighteyes is long dead in this book, but his spirit still comes through in Fitz when someone needs protecting, and his mannerisms become more wolf-ish. I really enjoyed this aspect.

I didn’t particularly like how many times he stuffs up, and had a few face-palm moments on Fitz’s behalf. After the first couple, I got the sense that in some parts of his life (sorry if I’m being a little vague, I’m trying not to spoil it) Fitz was uncomfortable, and of course makes a few mistakes. And then he keeps doing it, and it seemed to take up a large portion of the story, and got a bit repetitive.

For now, I just need the next book so I can find out what happens. Beware, cliffhanger ending!!

Why you should read it: Because it’s the start of what I think is going to be an epic fantasy series, and is also written well, so you can enjoy it. It’s not as slow moving as Lord of the Rings, and also more relatable characters.

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

Author: Markus Zusakthe-messenger.jpg

Pages: 360

Genre: Young Adult, fiction, mystery, contemporary


 protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.
That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19057.I_Am_the_Messenger


Thoughts: I loved this book so much!! The blurb does not do it justice! (also, can I just say that I love the cover!!! It’s awesome and makes so much sense once you read it) I cannot explain how much I love Markus Zusak’s writing, and after reading both The Book Thief and now The Messenger I have fallen in love with both of them. The Messenger or I am the Messenger is a beautiful novel following Ed Kennedy, as he brings messages to people who need them, whether they be positive or negative. He watches people’s lives and basically narrates this book, telling us about their problems, and how he relates to them. He then thinks of creative ways to be able to improve their lives.

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”
― Markus ZusakI Am the Messenger

While doing these things, Ed also has his own problems, and the way he narrates his story, and what happens to him both physically and mentally is amazing. The characters, the way they interact and what Ed sees, is all brought together by his first-person, sometimes-broken script, which makes it even more dramatic and exciting.

“Maybe I truly am shedding the old Ed Kennedy for this new person who’s full of purpose rather than incompetence.

Maybe one morning I’ll wake up and step outside of myself to look back at the old me lying dead among the sheets.”― Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger

This is a book of riddles for Ed to figure out, and with each instruction, he feels better about himself, as if he is becoming more of a participant in life. And through him, we know what it feels like, because of the brilliant way in which Zusak creates his story. Ed meets a lot of people during his adventures, but somehow they don’t overpower and ruin the touching story. Then to finish it all off, it rounds back to the main four characters, which reinforces their importance.

“We both smack the sudden silence with laughter. When it returns, we hit it again.

The laughter spins in front of us and we keep hitting it.”
― Markus ZusakI Am the Messenger

I can’t really explain anything else. Mainly, I love it because of how its written, but I also love the characters and the idea of the story and how it connects with me and… I think you get the picture. It’s the sort of book you can enjoy while reading, but also makes you think and can change your life, which is what I also found when I read The Book Thief.

The Messenger made me laugh out loud, but also cry, which I why I believe it is a book with raw emotions coming from it. I don’t know whether I would read it again, but it is still deserving of 5 stars, and is definitely a favourite of mine.

“Why can’t the world hear? I ask myself. Within a few moments I ask it many times. Because it doesn’t care, I finally answer, and I know I’m right. ― Markus ZusakI Am the Messenger

Why should you read it: First, if you love The Book Thief, then of course I recommend. It’s a very touching book that really got to me, and I hope it does for other people too. Comment your thoughts, and we can see what other people think of what, I believe, is an amazing novel.

Rating: 5-start

 

 

Inferno – Dan Brown

Author: Dan Brown

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical fiction, Thrillerinferno.jpg

Thoughts: This is actually my first Dan Brown book, and while I enjoyed reading it, it did have some faults. I’ve been told that all Dan Brown books are like this – leave lots of cliff-hangers, make you want to keep reading it, but the writing isn’t actually that great. Basically, Brown’s main character for four of his books is Harvard symbologist Professor, Robert Langdon. The start of Inferno begins with the Professor wakes up in a hospital, without any memory… Pretty average story starter, if you ask me, but it did follow on with good bits. Some exciting stuff happens, and by the 4th chapter, we have identified the bad guys and the good guys. He then embarks on an adventure around Florence and Venice with new-found friend Sienna Brooks.

“Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus. And that’s fear.”
― Dan BrownInferno

So, on to the review – it was full of exciting stuff. So many things happened, and basically every chapter ended with some new part of information that did not make sense, making you want to read on – basically a cliff-hanger every chapter. So definitely exciting. I had to force myself to put it down so I could actually get some sleep on some nights. The story line was also quite enjoyable, for me at least. I have recently travelled around Italy myself, spending some time in Florence and Venice, so it was very nice to be able to recognise what Brown was explaining and describing. I also enjoy learning about mythology and ancient history, including the Italian Renaissance, so for me, I loved that this whole book was based on it. Saying that, I can still understand that some people would find it a little boring and overfull of information. Dan Brown did put quite large chunks of information about the history of some certain artefact, and while it was interesting, I kind of just wanted to get back to the story.

Professor Robert Langdon is a cool character I think, and Sienna is also a nice addition as a strong female lead. Over the course of the story, there isn’t too much development between the two, or with any characters as a matter of fact, which was a let down, but I had to keep reminding myself that the entire plot only happens over the course of one day. So really, not too much character development could happen. There was a bit in the last few chapters, and I have to say they would have to be my favourite part of the book. I think. I enjoyed the story overall, it was just some little nit-picks that brought it down.

For example, the writing style. While it was very effective in keeping readers interested (including me), it was also pretty average writing. The sentences were short, and descriptions ordinary. I found that Brown was telling us, not showing us, instead of the other way round. But that is the way Dan Brown writes so, I’m just going to have to deal with that, because I did like the other parts of the book. The characters were pretty likeable, and had some faults, which made them more relatable. For example, Landon’s claustrophobia. I actually loved this aspect, and the parts where he mentioned and was suffering from it were some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t know if anyone else found this, but I just really loved that aspect. Another part that I really liked (that isn’t actually that important) was Landon’s Mickey Mouse watch. It was gift from his parents when he was little, and has worn it ever since, and gets quite upset when something happens to it. To all the other characters, it would have seemed a little weird that the well-renowned Professor Langdon was upset over losing a silly little watch, but it was another really nice aspect.

One of my favourite things about this novel, was that it made you think. Really hard. It had a very deep message underneath everything else, and I actually found myself questioning some of the things both the good guys and bad guys were doing. Our planet is facing overpopulation, and the main message of this book is What are we going to do about it?? And it is quite an impossible question to answer. I’ll let you make up your minds about that one…

“..”consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million. And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year er ‘re adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.”
― Dan BrownInferno

Overall, a good storyline, just the writing let it down. I’m hoping to go see the movie that will be released soon, and am actually starting to think that the movie could be better. The interesting plot line is there, and I think it will be better represented on the big screen.

Why you should read it: If you’re a Dan Brown reader, you’ve probably already read it, but if you haven’t, you still could. It’s definitely not a favourite of mine, but I do like the history, and renaissance side of it, and found it to be an enjoyable read.

Rating:   star_rating_3-5_of_5

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: A Study in Scarletastudyinscarlet

Author: Author Conan Doyle

Genre: Crime, detective story, mystery, historical fiction

Thoughts: I thought I might try to read some crime and detective stories on the holidays, and so got out the originals, the fathers of detective: Sherlock Homes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s original story, The Study in Scarlet, is the first story of the famous detective, and where he first meets his accomplice, Dr John Watson. After watching the modern TV series remake, I was pleased to see that a number of the facts were kept the same, but it was still fun to figure out the crime, as there were differences.

“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.”
― Arthur Conan DoyleA Study in Scarlet

 It was a hard read, you have to concentrate to get all the details, so it took a little while to fully understand what was going on. It was easier as I had some idea of what was going to happen, but it is definitely something you have to concentrate on. The amount of detail in the plot line and the amount of research behind it was astounding. It seems almost normal while you’re reading about the crime solving, that Sherlock Holmes can hold all this information in his head. It’s easy to forget that someone had to research all this information about footprint tracking, and the different types of tobacco, and then apply it to his plot line in a book. 

“To a great mind, nothing is little,’ remarked Holmes, sententiously.”
― Arthur Conan DoyleA Study in Scarlet

Obviously the story is well planned and set out. I also like the characters, and the way Sherlock interacts with John at the beginning and at the end, and then how both of them interact with the two police officers. Both Sherlock and John have very sarcastic attitudes about certain things, and these little comments were what brought the book up that little bit extra. 

“It’s quite exciting,” said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn.”
― Arthur Conan DoyleA Study in Scarlet

I quite enjoyed the journey of the crime solving during this story, and my favourite part would have to be when Sherlock explains how he reached his conclusion. He makes it sound easy, but in reality, to notice all those little details is near impossible. The writing style does make it a little harder to enjoy, as you have to concentrate hard, but it was an enjoyable storyline.

“It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact.
― Arthur Conan DoyleA Study in Scarlet

Why should you read it: For anyone who likes detective stories, and who hasn’t already read the Sherlock Holmes stories, get onto it quickly. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has most definitely done his research, particularly for his first story.

Book in a word: Puzzling

Rating: 8/10