Book Review | February 2019

Book Review | February 2019

book review february 2019 reading wrap up

In the month of February I definitely read a few more books again and therefore we have another video today in which I tell you all about those. I read a total of 4 books in the month of February. That’s all the books I managed to finish, but I also started listening to Audio Books. That is a new thing for me and I haven’t finished any yet, but I thought I’d mention it, because I have been very much enjoying listening to some books as well. For now though, let’s get to the books I did manage to finish last month.

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Book Review | January 2019

Book Review | January 2019

My first reading wrap up is coming your way today! I used to already write my reviews every month, but starting today I will be doing those reviews in video form. In January I read 3 books and in today’s video I will be talking you through each one.

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Classic books worth a read

Classic books worth a read

Having majored in English lit for 6 years at uni ensured a decent amount of a classics have been read and accumulated over the years. For a long time, I even favored reading classics over easier reads as that’s what I had most experience with and I wasn’t quite sure what else to read. Today I’m sharing 7 of my favorites that are definitely worth a read if you haven’t gotten round to them yet.

classics worth a read books review

J.D. Salinger – Catcher in the Rye
Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice
Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre
Bram Stoker – Dracula
Edgar Allen Poe – The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings
Willa Cather – Song of the Lark
Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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Book Review (December 2016)

Book Review (December 2016)

I know, I know: 2017 is already well under way, but I have one last post for you to wrap up 2016. I hadn’t gotten round to reviewing the book I read in the last month of the year just yet. I read a total of 6 books. One of them being the worst reads of the year and one quite possibly having been the best. So it was a month with ups and downs. It was the month in which I finished my Goodreads reading challenge and I managed to tag on 2 other books at the end, making a grant total of 52 books read in 2016. For 2017 I hope to do the same, so feel free to join me over on Goodreads.

Book Review (December 2016)

Nick Hornby – About a Boy
Janet Hannah – The Wish to Kill
John Niven – The Second Coming
Anthony Doerr – All the Light We Cannot See
V.E. Schwab – Vicious
Sam & Nic Chapman – Face

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Combined book review #6

Combined book review #6

I’ve been doing some reading again and thought it about time to review those books again. I read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, a detective novel, a modern classic and a book that wasn’t worth my time. Curious to see what I read and what I thought of these books? Then stay tuned as I give a short summary of each book and then give my opinion on them. Enjoy your Sunday!

The list. I am playing a bit of catch up here. I read most of these books at the end of 2014, but due to falling ill with a nasty flu and a busy time at work, reading wasn’t at the top of my priority list. I picked up again with Gone Girl and One Flew… I am currently trying to decide what book to read next. So please leave a comment down below if you have any suggestions.

Veronica Roth – Divergent

Tris grows up in the Abnegation faction. At the age of 16 her test is inconclusive, which means she’s Divergent. She makes the choice to join Dauntless instead: leaving her parents and life as she knows it behind. She starts training to be Dauntless, falls in love with her trainer Four, and in the mean time she figures out what it truly means to be Divergent.

This first book holds an interesting concept, though I constantly felt it had been done before. I can only deal with so much ‘dystopian, but supposedly utopian’ young adult books. It is too obvious who Four is right from the start and the different factions sound interesting but are in no way worked out enough to be believable. However, it taps into ideas of ‘who are you’ and ‘who do you want to be’. Is that a choice you make or are you born that way? And what if your personality is so different that you could break the system? The story is entertaining and easy to read though and it sucked me right in.

Veronica Roth – Insurgent

With Tris’ world having fallen apart in book 1, she travels to Amity only to be betrayed again. And again, and again, and again. Even by people close to her. Only to be rewarded with complete and utter confusion about her ancestors and what is behind the fence.

The second book started off at a lull in the beginning, but became as entertaining and addictive as the first one. In this one Tris keeps on playing with her life. Her relationship with Four becomes more complicated. This book focuses on following your heart, forgiveness and similar themes to the first book. Too many sudden plot changes make this book a tad unbelievable though: people supposedly dead suddenly aren’t dead or are in fact on another side they said they were on. But again a very enjoyable read that is a quick and easy no brainer.

Veronica Roth – Allegiant

In which Tris goes outside the fence and finds out that no matter where you go, the world is a mess. She finds out the truth about her mother, is sucked into leading another rebellion and the love of her life, Four, loses his sense of self which could cost him or Tris (or both?) their lives.

The third book in the series is a complete changeover from the first two. Where I enjoyed 1 & 2, book three, just doesn’t cut it for me. First there is the Matrix type double dystopian world theme. Was that really necessary? And the double pov is confusing at best. Secondly, there’s the fact that suddenly Four is no more than a little boy in a young adult’s body? Most of the storyline is predictable as there are little hints that are given in books 1 & 2 as to what might be the deal in book 3. Yet again, this book contains a few plot changes that are too bizarre to do the story any good. I do think that the ending is quite interesting. The main problem with this book: if people knew what is outside the fence, then why isn’t anyone inside the fence taught about it?

The series as a whole left me confused in the end. Divergent & Insurgent are quick and fun, entertaining reads. The story world is meagerly worked out and only a few characters are thoroughly thought through and backed up. However, these shortages are used in the story lines to create unexpected plot twists that keep you coming back for more. Allegiant needs to rethink what it wants to be and make up its mind. It is a boring and slow read with small dispersed pockets of actions with a terribly predictable ending and characters that you have grown to love, suddenly give you a change of heart.

Robert Galbraith – The Silkworm

The second novel by JK Rowling under her new penname. This time detective Cormoran Strike investigates the suspicious disappearance of an author past his heyday. Of course, he isn’t just missing as his wife suspects, but is lying dead in an abandoned house. And the most mysterious thing is that his death looks just like the ending of his latest, still unpublished novel. Will Strike be smarter than the Met again? And how can Robin play a role in all this?

Just like the first one, this books takes a while to get going. But, just like the first one, you want to keep on reading to find out whodunnit. The clever thing about this book (and its predecessor) is that once you finish it, you want to read it again, to see if you can pick up on more clues. It’s a thrilling tale that for the first half focuses more on Strike and his life, the case gets woven into it more and more the further Strike finds out clues. Robin, his secretary, and wannabe detective, plays a bigger role in this book than in the first one. All in all, an enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the next Galbraith.

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

Nick & Amy are happily married. On their 5th wedding anniversary Amy disappears and all the clues point in Nick’s direction. But something strange is happening: the annual treasure hunt Amy has set up for Nick to find his present may or may not have a hidden layer to it. And what about the diary that Amy did or did not keep? So many questions…

I picked this up because I heard a lot of buzz about it. This is one of those books I desperately want to like: the story is original and well thought through. But there are a few major problems with it. One, it takes more than half the book to get to the point. Two, the whodunnit aspect of it that is upplayed heavily in the first half of the book, is too transparent. Three, the ending is unsatisfying and strange. I mean, how does anyone possibly go from ‘I want to kill you’ to ‘I will play nice’ within the course of a year? And the language is sometimes… just… no…

Ken Kesey – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Chief has been in a ward for the mentally ill at an Oregan hospital for 20 years. The ward is run by Nurse Ratched. She runs it with an iron fist. All the men fear her and the repercussions she has in store of them when they act up. Enter McMurphy: troublemaker, loudmouthed and everything the Big Nurse despises. McMurphy makes it his purpose to try and undermine the nurse at all cost. In the end it is McMurphy’s prowess that puts some life back into the men, but will he succeed to twart the Big Nurse once and for all?

This seemingly simple cat & mouse game is anything but. McMurphy is clever but manages a few times to hit the wrong nerve with the Nurse putting him back at square one. Nevertheless, this book takes you on a journey to explore what it means and takes to be insane. Told from the Chief who forgot about his own strength through years of admission in the hospital, makes for an interesting twist. At certain points I even wondered whether McMurphy was even real or just a figment of his imagination fighting The Combine and status quo The Chief fears so much. I thoroughly enjoyed it, be it sometimes longwinded, but the long conversing writing style surely served its purpose in the scope of the narrative.

What have you read recently?

What I’m currently reading

What I’m currently reading

As you all know, I don’t have much time to read, which is why I love books that I can read in small installments. Hence, why I’m sharing this book with you.

This is QI’s The second book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson. Subtitled: Everything you think you know is still wrong. It’s an incredibly funny book as well as easy to read. It ties in with BBC quiz show QI and this book reads like the show. The quiz is all about facts, many of them you think you know, but in fact depending on how you interpret the information, you are 99% of the time absolutely wrong.

Some examples:

– At what point does water freeze? Apparently it isn’t just 0 degrees Celsius.

– Where does a snake’s tail begin? Not right after its head.

– What country is the river Nile in? (Hint: it’s not Egypt)

And so on and so forth.

All the topics are interlaced and flow together in a very natural way, so you go from science, to animal kingdom, to writing, to history etc. Which actually makes sense and gives you the feel of some sort of story line. All the questions are answered in about a page and a half each, so it’s a quick read too.

What makes the book funny are two things. One, the authors have inserted quotes from the TV series wherever they can, so if you’re a QI fan you will most definitely get the references. Even if you’re not a QI fanatic you will be able to appreciate the book as well and find it funny. The book links snippets of seemingly unrelated info together. For instance, when talking about Caesar’s famous line Veni, Vidi, Vici they also start talking about a bird’s species of the same name. One part that had me seriously cracking up was the question: What language is the Spanish national anthem sung in? First of all the answer is that it isn’t as the Spanish national anthem has no words. They then talk about other national anthems, including the Dutch one of which the book says:

The Dutch seem to have no problem singing about being loyal subjects of Spain, despite not having been so for more than 350 years. Maybe the Spanish should sing the Dutch anthem instead?

The book is filled with snippets like these. So if you’re looking for an interesting read, that is lighthearted and fun too, then this book is for you. I still have about a third to go before I finish it, but I already know I will enjoy the rest of it.

Q: What have you been reading?

My Favorite Genre of Reading

My Favorite Genre of Reading

I love to read. I do have a very particular taste when it comes to books though. First of all, I absolutely despise romance novels. Anything Mills & Boon like will not enter this house! Or chicklit. I shudder at the thought of having to attempt another try at reading the remaining Shopaholic novels. That’s what I hate, which is pretty much anything girlie. Now for the likes: I like books that have nicely developing characters or where plot lines take unexpected turns. Books that make me think. Books that haunt me. I have a knack for coming-of-age novels and novels whose protagonist are weird, strange or outright insane & evil. And there is one particular genre of books that often combines all of this in story: Gothic Fiction.

In this picture (all books by Paul van Loon): Griezelhandboek (Horror hand book), Vampierhandboek (Vampire hand book), Griezelbus 3 (Bus of horror 3)

My love for Gothic Fiction started at a very young age. As a kid I quickly developed a taste for books that contained anything supernatural. As long as the stories contained vampires, witches, werewolves or flesh eating monsters I was good to go. My favorite author was Paul van Loon. I would literally eat up anything he wrote for a while.

When I got a little older, books became less important to me as my teacher told me I couldn’t read the type of books I liked the most. Most horror/ Gothic stories for children at the time were aimed at children up to the age of 12. If you were older you would have to resort to adult novels or stick to the kiddy stuff. Since my teacher forced me to read stuff I didn’t like, reading suddenly was less enjoyable for me and so I didn’t pick up any books for fun until I went to college.

Studying English, means you have to read books. Tons of books. It’s simply part of the curriculum. Every semester you take at least one course on English or American literature. Taking more is optional. In my second year I opted to enroll for one additional literature class as part of my minor in American Studies. It was called American Gothic Fiction. I enjoyed it so much that I can safely say that this course pretty much reinstated my joy for reading. These are some of the books that were on the reading list:

American Gothic Fiction: Stephen King – Needful Things, Nathaniel Hawthorne – The House of the Seven Gables, H.P. Lovecraft – At the Mountains of Madness, Richard Matheson – I Am Legend, Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle

My favorite from this bunch was I Am Legend. It’s a very easy read, but the outcome of the book is magnificent. Too bad Hollywood had to go and turn into a godawful movie with Will Smith a few years ago.

Later on, once I was enrolled in the Master’s programme, I enrolled in another Gothic Fiction class. This time it combined both American and British authors and pretty much glossed over the major works in Gothic Fiction. Some of the books from that list were:

Gothic Fictions: Shakespeare – Macbeth, Bram Stoker – Dracula, Robert L. Stevenson – Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, Henry James – Turn of the Screw, James Hoagg – Confessions of a Justified Sinner

My faves from this bunch are more abundant. All books, except for Confessions, made it into my favorites list. I even ended up writing my essay for the course on a comparison of Dracula and the aforementioned I Am Legend. You can tell I like my vampires can’t ya?

It must therefore be no wonder to you that now, after graduating and being able to read novels for fun, rather than for coursework, that I have stuck to my love for vampires. Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries: I soak it all up and have read (parts of) the series or am intending to do so. I even got into Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice for a while.

However, none of these are my favorite Gothic stories. No, my absolute favorite stories are by the one and only Edgar Allan Poe (who else!). Master of suspense and author of some of the most haunting stories of his day, Poe is still liked by many today and I am one of them. His stories aren’t always as scary anymore, but you have to admit that stories such as The Pit and The Pendulum or The Tell Tale Heart are classics even in their own right.

Some of my fave Gothic novels/ stories: Joyce Carol Oates – American Gothic Tales (incl. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow etc.), Anne Rice – Interview with the Vampire, Stephanie Meyer – The Twilight Saga, Charlaine Harris – Dead Until Dark (The book to the True Blood series), Ira Levin – Rosemary’s Baby (the movie is brilliant!), Edgar Allan Poe – Forty Two Tales.

I started this post off by stating that I do not only like Gothic novels, but also novels that have slightly twisted, insane, if not evil characters. These novels do not have to be Gothic per se, but I think they do sort of fall into the whole ‘nasty’ category. What it boils down to is that as long as it’s nasty, I’ll like it. 😉 I like characters who go through extremes or great lengths to get what they want. Even though they are sometimes fools for doing so. Some of my favorite books containing ‘twisted’ characters:

John Niven – Kill Your Friends, Guy de Maupassant – Bel Ami, Flannery O’Connor – Wise Blood, Martin Amis – Money.

Last but not least, there are a few books sitting on my shelf unread and waiting to be picked up. I have quite a few of these, as I buy/ get more than I read, but here are the Gothic novels that are on the top of my ‘to read’ list:

Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho, Wilkie Collins – The Woman in White, Poppy Z. Brite – Drawing Blood, L.J. Smith – Vampire Diaries

Q: What is your favorite genre?