Week 50 – Book 50 – “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch

I’ve glanced at this book for a while, though scared away by the thickness of it (since  I also has school to keep up with as well as reading).

“The Lies of Locke Lamora” is placed in the city of Camorr, a city of thieves. Here, the thieves steal from the common folk, who in turn get robbed by Capa Barsavi. There’s no way to avoid stealing, whether it may be the merchants, the thieves, the nobles or even the Duke himself who’s the robber. It is set in an environment resembling 16th century Italy imaginatively mixed with brutality of a city ruled by the mob. Our main character, Locke Lamora, is somewhat of a professional con artist, who specializes in stealing from nobles – not for the sake of money, but for the sake of stealing.  He and his group of ‘Gentlemen Bastards’, a group of young men all nurtured to their current thievery by a man named Father Chains, who taught them the life of a classy thief, spend their time stealing from nobles with surprisingly cunning schemes.

The story vary between two plot lines: the current situation and the boys’ childhood while growing up with Father Chains. This gives the author a splendid reason, a reason hated by the reader, to end the current chapter with one hell of a cliffhanger. Though, these small breaks often serve to explain matters and consequently give the author hints to what will happen next. (However,  I would love if someone could explain what that break with the ball game brought to the story, except perhaps a little humour).
I think Scott Lynch manage to string together a magnificent story that involves humour (partly resembling that of Terry Pratchett’s book while not being as crude as his might be), savagery, revenge, a slight steampunk feel, with the wit of a skilled con artist. While still having gruesome details (for instance, people being drowned in horse piss and heads being mauled by glass pieces) and several gory parts, it manages to keep the brutality to a tolerable level. It is not a simply story of violence and death. In fact, Locke himself avoids combat preferably, and doesn’t like to kill, a skill he’s neither fond of or proficient at.

Easily making its way to my top 10 most loved series list, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” is an excellent tale. I absolutely adored the prologue and its way of keeping the reader’s interest up. The story doesn’t develop until a few 100 pages into the book, but in the meantime it serves to expand the readers knowledge and make threads to later tie together, accordingly deepening the story. Being intriguing, amusing, mournful and even revolting at times, it captures the reader in a brilliant tale without basically any tiresome parts. Locke, who’s on neither side of the battle taking place in the city but still at both, gets thrown into the events of the city headfirst, endangering everything he holds dear, namely the Gentlemen Bastards themselves. While a fantasy book, magic is not the prominent feature. Rather, it’s the bonds between a group of orphans brought together by chance, or perhaps an old blind priest with hidden talents.

127455

Advertisements

Week 49 – Book 49 – “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

For a long time, I’ve thought of reading this book. It’s a shame to call yourself a fan of the fantasy genre and still haven’t read this books – it’s like the bible of fantasy nerds.

 

And so? For starters it’s very long. Very. I thought 500 pages wasn’t so bad, but every page contain incredibly rich descriptions of landscapes, conversations and just pondering of the main character. This takes so much time to read and comprehend, that it felt like I read for ages. I started a bit late (I hadn’t even finished the introduction on Thursday) , so basically I read more than half of the book on Sunday. I spent hours reading this book, and it still felt as if I hadn’t moved on at all. Approximately halfway through the book, they’re out of the Shire.  It’s unbelievable how slow things  move in this book.
Though, the author still succeeds in making it interesting. Interesting  where you find yourself unconsciously wanting to continue reading. Even if it’s a bit slow paced (I suspect I can blame the film for this opinion), it’s still interesting. The slow paced nature makes it more enjoyable and not rushed. It contains additional details and events that the film didn’t bring up, that makes the novel deeper and more vivid. Tolkien has built his book that Middle-earth is not only a world – it’s a universe. Names of unknown places and people or mentioned all the time, and you have no idea who or what they might be, their history and their current state. This can be somewhat annoying at times, since you’ll easily lose yourself in the  abundance of names. Though most of the time, it’s a nice way of immersing the reader and bring some additional background details to the story.

 

While having a distinctive difference from “the Hobbit”, it still harbours the magical feeling. I love the way the author makes the landscape seem alive, especially the forests. Even if they don’t act independently and actively, they still feel presence and butt in when they feel like it. It’s moderately exciting, on a personal level, but I long for a bigger conflict. I know it’s coming my way, but I think people can find it drawn-out with only small conflicts and events.
One thing I noted is that you can really read the characters. If the author want to show some hidden feature of the character, it will be quite visible. It’s not hard to spot changes in demeanour, for instance, Boromor, Legolas and Gimli. A lot of songs are present in the book, and sometimes they contribute to the story, and sometimes they don’t make any difference at all.

 

Summary: a lovely book with a captivating story, world and characters, though basically 50 % of it being scenery descriptions. Now, the questions is, should I continue reading all three of them?

 

9780547928210_p0_v1_s260x420

 

Week 48 – Book 48 – “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

My problem with this book is the lack of purpose. I mean, pretty much everyone in this book behave like complete douche bags in one way or another. Someone is hurting, either because of something someone caused or just by living, and then they take it out on a person, preferably the one who hurt you. And then, they continue to suffer and sulking over the state of the world.  And then they end up happy, after everyone who was involved in the first dispute died.
Quite an ending, right? I hope I’ve explained comprehensible so you’ll see what I’m getting at, because I’m having a hard time pinpointing it myself. I just think that after every single quarrel,  incident and fight, I expected something more. It felt as an extremely null and somewhat abrupt ending, like someone concluded a book with “…and then they married and spent their rest of their days in happiness”. So disappointing.

Otherwise, I think it’s a genuinely good book, as Jane Eyre was. If you’re looking for a quality read, the Brontë sisters is something for you. This might be based on my habit of reading YA novels, but I think it succeeds in having rich descriptions and conversations without making them too long. I didn’t pause and think that a part was to boring to make my way through.  Like Jane Eyre, the book was written excellently with finesse. What kinda put me off was that the narration begun at the end and thus not chronologically (though it was retold), which spoiled things a bit when you knew how things would end up, although not how it did unravel as it did.

I think the character Heathcliff is the center of the story and what drives it forward. Everything revolves around him, and he is the main cause of the book’s events. I can’t relate to him though. All he do is spew his hatred on everyone who comes in his path, except for the grand exception of Catherine that he loves. I think his part in the ending was quite odd, though I can’t see how it would’ve ended up otherwise. He had achieved what he wanted and desired for all his life, and had hence lived his whole life.

 

Summary: still amazed by the sisters Brontë. I’d hate to draw the family tree of the characters in the book though. That’s a quest on it’s own.

 

757212

 

 

Week 47 – Book 47 – “Witch Week” by Diana Wynne Jones

I vaguely remember picking this book up in middle school or something, but didn’t pay it much thought. Halfway through the book, I realized I’ve read this book once before…surprise?

I think this was a cute and charming novel. It feels almost like “Howl’s Moving Castle” for a tar younger audience. I don’t know my initial thoughts of it,  but I think I found this book neat with an interesting story that develops page by page. It’s not too serious, while still the threat of being burned at the stake if found out, it creates a tension. I found it amusing to read as an adult, while it being meant for children and it makes me want to read more of this series.

However, I think the level of fear was different in an unlikely way. The law of the book’s world is so that everyone who possess witchcraft and/or use it in any way will be killed, preferably burned. This made society very wary of witches and wizard, and  no-one wants to be accused of being one as it is likely to be sentenced to death. Because of this, I find the main character’s, children that is, range of very odd. While some slept with the fear of being brought to the inquisitor, others just played around and practically announced that they were witches. They didn’t even try to be careful.
At times I found the tension curve a bit odd.  It spiked and dipped as it pleased. Nothing big though.

I really liked how the author tied everything together at the end, with the “Simon says” as a final conclusion. It was quite clever of her to turn the curse around and make it work to their advantage. Every event added together and crafted a red thread that lasted through the book. Also, I like how she linked the ending and opening sequences. It was a nice way of showing the change of character.

Witch_Week_Cover

 

Memorable books of 2012

Obvious as it is, I read a lot of books 2012. More than I’ve ever read before. I’ve watched my list of read books (on goodreads) grow with an alarming rate, much to my enjoyment. The reason why I began this book challenge was so that I could read more books, because there are millions, billions of astounding books out there, life stories and tales, made up or not, that I won’t ever read. I think, considering the minimal effort you have to put in, it’s a real shame. My book challenge will soon end (to my great distress) and while I do have read lots of books, some of them were more memorable than others. Not necessarily good books that have blown me away, also books that I’ve detested or simply found worth remembering.

Journey to the center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Oh gods, how I hate this book. I regret picking it up so much. This is the book I talk about when people ask me of the worst book I’ve read. It’s horribly boring, with a plot that doesn’t get fulfilled or have a true goal.

Carrie by Stephen King

This book made an impression on me. I can’t believe it’s Stephen King’s debut novel because its simply awesome, a perfect story of horror, cruelty and its consequences, also the lengths people would go to satisfy their desire for revenge.My bafflement of Stephen King writing about menstruation remains. A great introduction to horror in general which I would recommend to almost anyone.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Sometimes, I think of it and rage about it all over again. In contrary to “Journey to the center of the Earth”, it’s not hate, just energized ranting. Still, it’s the book I enjoy ranting about the most (I can’t explain this properly). It’s just that I don’t understand how the author thought when she wrote it, since its incomprehensible. However, I stick to my belief that it had potential.

the Perfume: the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

This could be the strangest book I’ve read. I mean, I still haven’t been able to fully let go of the orgy thing…I simply don’t know what to about say. While Grenouille indeed is creepy, I didn’t expect quite that ending. It’s one of few books that I couldn’t predict an ending to, at all. It was too odd and unexpected, particularly considering the plot and development of it.

the Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Dude, I absolutely loved this book. The magic still hasn’t worn off though it was a while ago I read it. While Todd’s worry of Viola can be somewhat bothersome, Manchee still breaks my heart. I think this counts as a YA novel, so I feel slightly childish when stating it’s one of my favourite series, but seriously, I’ll keep trying to force people to read this. It’s simply too good, and proves that some YA books has greater imagination than most adult fiction does. Definitely a favorite of mine that I’ll keep in my bookcase.

Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto

2012 shall be known as the year I read and watched Kamikaze girls. I think this is the most humorous book out if this list. What I love about it is the concept, the tenacity of the characters and their originality. Vibrant and forceful, this books give a sneak peek of the Japanese society and two girls with completely different views and opinions, that will clash. This novel keeps you interested all the way through with the main characters supple narrating and quirky comments, all tied together with a Rococo perspective.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

In addition to all the books I’ve read for the challenge, this autumn I read a whole lot of books that I haven’t written about. Dark Matter was one of them, and I read it for a course called “literature and literature studies” which can be explained rather simply by stating “you read books”. Anyhow, it’s one of the few horror books I’ve read (sadly). I love to read those books, but sometimes they scare the wits out of me. This didn’t really manage to rile me up close to the ending(I quote: “It could open doors. It could get inside”), albeit remaining creepy and slightly menacing through the story. Also, I was positively surprised due to my reluctance of the authors other books.

My library, which I wouldn’t have made it far without. Thank you library.

Opinions? Is there something I should read for this year? Tell me all about it.

Week 46 – Book 46 – “Dragons of Autumn Twilight” by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

I’ve mixed feelings about this book, extremely mixed. However, I might have bashed it beforehand. I have, for one reason or another, got into my head that I don’t like high fantasy. I don’t know if this is legit or not, but I have the opinion that some areas of high fantasy tend to be too much for me – it’s too random, too magical, too many coincidences and too good to be true. Simply but it – too silly for me. This book strengthened this view in parts, though I tried to be unbiased.
I think some parts were way better than others and presented the book in a nice way. Naturally, some parts were worse. Several things were left unexplained, which only served to confound the reader. The main characters quarrelled for seemingly puny reasons and their mood swings were tiresome to endure. You didn’t understand the characters at all, what drives them and their goal.

The line up of the group is incredibly familiar to your ordinary RPG characters: a wizard, a knight, a warrior, a dwarven blacksmith, a priestess, a rogue, an adventurer/wanderer, and so on. It might also remind you of another epic fantasy series: the Lord of the Rings. They’re almost nine members of their little company, they walk through an enchanted forest, they meet an army of the dead, they have to run from hundreds of enemies in a cave, some of them get separated and imprisoned…the list goes on. I don’t know what to say.
The variety of creatures really indulges me. Dragons, elves, dwarves, ghosts, something like a tiny elf, goblins, unicorns, pegasi, wizards and centaurs? In contribution, the draconies, lizard like beings on two legs and with wings, seemed like a bad crossbreed of the Lizard from Spiderman. It felt like they were spewing out one mythological/magical creature after another. It’s as if they thought “hey, let’s write a fantasy novel! And put every legendary creature we can find in it! What a brilliant idea!” and went all the way, only to fail painfully. It’s fully possible to write a great fantasy novel without making every single element supernatural, thank you very much.

dragonsofautumntwilight_1984original

Week 45 – Book 45 – “Kamikaze Girls” by Novala Takemoto

I think I love this book. I’ve seen the movie so naturally, I had to read the book the movie was based on.

What I love about this novel is the cultural clash between Momoko and Ichigo. While Momoko’s a Lolita obsessed with the brand “Baby, the Stars Shine Bright” and whose appearance doesn’t match her straightforwardness and levelheaded mindset, Ichigo (or commonly called Ichiko, since Ichigo (strawberry) is too sweet for her image) is a yanki or a delinquent with a big heart who frequently rides her bike with a feverish passion. Both of them are incredibly convinced of their own ways and refuse to give an inch when the other criticises their respective lifestyle. Also, both of them know what they want out of life, but perhaps not how to achieve it. Until their fated meeting, neither of
The character who amazes me the most in the story is in fact the main character Momoko. She’s not afraid to distinguish themselves and reject the society’s norms and rules for her own sake. She’s incredibly strongwilled and while she’s sure of what she want, she can still doubt herself. Her burning love for Lolita clothes and the Rococo doesn’t just remain a hobby for her – she makes it her lifestyle and devote herself to it entirely. For sure, her strong personality will leave an impression. Ichigo is also likes this, and together they’re a tremendously vibrant duo that makes this book so captivating.

The book is written from Momoko’s perspective, which kinda makes the book more enjoyable. With her blunt statements that borders on snobbish, her comments makes half the book. Ichigo isn’t the brightest person, much to Momoko’s annoyance, and constantly finds things that she’s misinterpreted or just her lack of common sense. Strangely enough, these two complete opposites develop a friendship that won’t be broken easily.

While the book touch subjects like maturity and identity, I think it’s most common team is the will to grasp happiness. Momoko says in the beginning of the novel a quote that show her character quite well: “If you find something precious you have to hold onto it with all your might and never let it go inspite of whatever else you may lose, after all many people die without ever finding that’s really precious to them“. Therefore, I wouldn’t say it’s your ordinary coming of age book though. Questions regarding the themes previously mentioned are neatly woven into the story’s writing, hidden but still there and able to make an impact. This doesn’t make the book shallow or too obvious which I’ve sadly found other coming of age stories to be.

Summary: the book can easily match the movies splendour. Read it or watch it, I don’t care, I will still love it.

kamikaze-girls-mmpb