Combined book review (August 2016)

Where last month I told you all about my reading slump, August saw me getting back on track. I am still behind schedule (4 books to be exact), but I feel confident I can still make up for it can hit that 50 book mark before the end of the year. There are 16 more weeks in the year and I think I have a few books that I can still read to play catch up. So this month I will be focusing on that. In August I managed to read 5 books in total.

This was again quite a mix of things, just the way I like it. There was some YA fantasy involved, the new Harry Potter story of course, but also some magical realism, a comedy that I didn’t really get and a non-fiction book on how to manage the Disney way for work. Let me tell you all about them.

Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes

Did you like the Percy Jackson series? But do you also enjoy brushing up on your Greek classics in a fun way? Then this one’s for you. The companion to Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, everyone’s favorite demi god Perseus Jackson tells you all about the myth of lore. With this book focusing specifically on Greek heroes, some of them very famous to this day, you have a pretty neat little companion to the works of Hercules, Perseus’ antics and many more!

Since I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series so much, I decided to pick up this one. It is as witty, or possibly even more so than the actual novels in the series. I already knew plenty of the stories, but it had been years since I last read them. This was a fun way to brush up my knowledge on some classic Greek mythology. A great read to pick me up after my July reading slump.

Timur Vermes – Look Who’s Back

The cover of this book says it all: the person who’s back is none other than Hitler himself. Originally written in German (Er Ist Wieder Da) it is now also a successful movie. Starting with the day in the summer of 2011, where Hitler finds himself waking up on a patch of ground in Berlin, the events spiral from there. Before he knows it, he is turned into a Youtube sensation and uses his manipulative skills to get his own television show. Now a major celebrity once more, Hitler may have woken up in a different century, but his ideas remain firmly rooted in the day of lore.

I picked this up because I had heard this book was funny. I simply thought it would be a good thought experiment too what with all the extreme right wing politicians creeping up all around the globe. I didn’t think this book was funny. Maybe, at the beginning, when Hitler refuses to adapt to certain practices, but gratefully embraces others. But in the end it just turns darn right scary. As the point of view is that of Hitler, you are pretty much inside his head and what’s in that head isn’t nice or funny or a laughing matter at all. Perhaps I missed half of the jokes as I read it in a translation, or perhaps I am just too unfamiliar with current German popular culture, but this book hints at what might happen if we simply keep laughing at all those politicians who say scary things.

JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

How could I not include this. Right on the tail end of July, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released. Anticipation for this book was high and the media presented this as the 8th Harry Potter. Now feelings about this book are mixed and I’m on the: I love it side. But before I tell you why, here’s roughly what it’s about. Harry and his son Albus aren’t particularly close. Albus feels like he lives in the shadow of his famous dad and can’t deal very well. This makes him and his best friend Scorpius susceptible to a ploy that seems easily executed, but has some dreadful consequences.

The problem with this book is that you can’t say too much about it without giving everything away. The first thing you should know that this isn’t a book-book. This is a script for a play published in book form. And plays are usually just that: plots. It is up to the actors to make the dialogue come to life and with the help of sets, interaction and special effects, the story is brought to life. In short, the magic of the world building is not present in this story. So if you’re looking for that: go see the play. The reason why I loved it, is how it tapped into people’s feelings and questions of ‘what if’. What if this particular thing hadn’t happened? What if that one thing did? And that’s exactly what this plays into. The plot twists and turns, leaps forwards and backwards through time. It doesn’t much leave you guessing as to what will happen next, which may make it seem rather simplistic, but if you were to break down the movies to just the lines spoken by the actors, not much of it would be left as well. Plus the fact that the two main characters are two teenaged boys, doesn’t exactly bring the dialogue to the highest of levels. But that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a story I enjoyed. The hype was perhaps a bit much, but I liked the little play on, ooh but what if, tremendously. I can’t wait to go see the play.

Erin Morgenstern – The Night Circus

At the end of the 19th century, Prospero The Magician meets a man in a grey suits to bind his daughter to a challenge. The man in the grey suit does the same thing with a boy from an orphanage who shows great potential. What this challenge is and who their opponent is the players don’t know. Yet they spend years honing their craft: magic, illusions, altering the universe in such a way that it is unbelievable. Then a group of people decide to make a Night Circus, centered around an eccentric London aristocrat, a former ballerina, stylish twin sisters, and an engineer. It doesn’t take long for Celia and Marco to figure out that the circus is the stage for their challenge. But what are the rules? And which stakes are at play?

This is about as much as I can say about this book. This was one of those books that I had sitting on my shelf for a while, but never picked up for some reason. Maybe the nearly 600 pages just didn’t sit well with me or the fact that the blurb on the back was just vague. In the end I really liked this book. I gave it 4 stars, but would have gone with 4.5 if I could. This book is a very clever construction with leaps in time that at times make it difficult to follow, but that in the end all tie together splendidly well. There is a romance element in the plot which I felt undermined the otherwise brilliancy of this book that is a feast of magical realism. Everything is possible, as long as you just dare to dream and follow your heart’s desire!

Lee Cockerell – Creating Magic

After all those novels, I also read this book on how managers at Disney manage. I had to read this for work and I have to say: it wasn’t too bad. This book is pretty straightforward in its premise. It features 10 steps to take if you wish to manage your company the Disney way. Written by the former Operational Manager at Disney World Orlando, this book is a great insight into the multi-billion dollar company and how its run. A tad American and over the top at times, but still a quick and breezy read if you’d like some inside information.

What have you been reading?

15 responses to “Combined book review (August 2016)”

  1. The Night Circus is one of my favorites. I think I came across it when everone was gushing over Water for Elephants. Anyway, I just got lost in its magic.
    The Cursed Child & that Hitler book are still on my list.
    I finally read something by Elmore Leonard & I’m definitely planning to pick him up again. The Girls was devastating in the best way. I’m waiting for a biography on President Garfield & an Inception-esque detective novel entitle The Manual of Detection from the library.

  2. I used to read around two-three books in a week but now I’m glad if I can make happen three books in a month. The last book I finished was Still Alice. Have you read it? I quite liked it. The book was well written. I haven’t seen the movie tho. Funny thing with me is that if there’s a movie out and it seems interesting, I read the book. Often it ends up me reading the book and losing all the interest towards the movie. Btw, do you have Goodreads? I’d love to be your friend there. My username in Goodreads is Liinely. You can add me or let me know your username so I could add you. 😊

  3. For a second there I thought you’d read Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, which happens to be one of my favorite novels EVER.
    I think you should still read it! Carter writes scathingly, hilariously feminist fantasy novels for grownups, sort of. Seems right up your alley! NatC is about an aging, overweight, foul-mouthed, alcoholic trapeze artist who happens to have actual wings and can thus fly. I mean seriously: what’s not to love about that?!?

    • Oooh that sounds right up my street. I have The Magical Toyshop by Angela Carter, which is still on my TBR. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for this one though.

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