Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Top books that made me cry

I honestly believe they require no explanation, because even if you didn't cry, you will understand when or why I cried in these novels.

5. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
4. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
3. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
2. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

To check out everybody who does these top 5 wednesdays, check out this link

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I own the most books from

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is top 10 authors you own the most books from. This will be quite tricky because I try to first own many different authors before buying more books by him or her - but let's see!
I own quite some collection books which include all novels or short stories an author has ever written - I will not include those.

10. Charlotte Brontë - 4 books
9.   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 4 books
8.   Stephany Meyer - 4 books
7.   Fyodor Dostoevsky - 5 books
6.   Emile Zola - 5 books
5.   Jules Verne - 5 books
4.   John Grisham - 6 books
3.   J.K. Rowling - 8 books
2.   Cassandra Clare - 8 books
1.   Charles Dickens - 10 books

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: If I Stay

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult > contemporary
Year: 2010
Pages: 272'

If I Stay by Gayle Forman follows a seventeen year old girl who has just been in a carcrash with her family. While she is in a coma, she can see the world around her as a sort of out of body experience - sort of like a ghost. She looks back on her life, as well as dealing with looking at all the people at the hospital who care about her 'staying'.
This novel should be read in one sitting because the first 170 pages are rather tedious. Putting it down before getting through them will allow you to slip into a reading slump. After that, though, it does become quite good, and you will realise why you picked it up in the first place: it is in fact a wonderful story.
I'll try and explain why, to me, the beginning was tough. Firstly, this book was hyped up so much, I expected a master piece. It certainly was not. The writing, although clearly not bad, was not too interesting, nor was the story. The characters seemed underdeveloped, which resulted in me not caring about what happened either. The flashbacks, I supposed engineered to give the characters depth, were too arbitrary and uninteresting - if I even were to finish this novel, I would only care for the main story line.
Throughout reading, I kept thinking about putting it down for the time being, and definitely not picking up the sequel. I kept reading 10 pages or so, and quiting which did not at all help in me liking the novel. Now, you have clearly seen I've rated it three stars, so it cannot all have been bad, I hear you think. And it surely wasn't. The last 100 or so pages I read in a night before I went to bed. I couldn't stop reading because all of a sudden I felt the emotion the author meant to put in it. I understood what Mia was thinking and why. Even the other characters started to make sense to me and the flashbacks became interesting and related to the main story line. I shed some tears in that final half of the novel, something I couldn't imagine happening yesterday.
I am thus proud to say I pushed through this novel, ending up loving the ending - and liking it as a whole. I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Sidenote: I picked up this novel because it is going to be made into a film, which will be out somewhere around September. It will star Chloe Moretz as Mia. Check out the trailer here. (Do not watch if you've not yet read the book - it's full of spoilers.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review: The Little Prince

Title: The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Translator: Irene Testot-Ferry
Genre: Children's literature
Year: 1944
Pages: 109

A pilot's plane crashes in the Sahara Desert. Here he meets the Little Prince, who is essentially an alien from a tiny asteroid. Throughout the story, we learn about the Prince's adventures, which teach us valuable life lessons.

I had to read this book for French when I was about 17, obviously in the original language. Although I remember liking it, I did not at all remember the story, mostly because I did not understand it very well. When I saw this edition at a book market, I knew I had to buy it and reread it.

This week, I finally got around to reading it - and I liked it a lot, although not as much as I expected to. The story is absolutely adorable, but I was not intrigued by the writing style. Of course, it is children's literature, so I did not expect it to be beautifully written, but it did disappoint me. Now, I don't know to whom I am to attribute this, it could be the author's writing style, but it could also be the translator's input.
This really is the only point of critique I have though. It's definitely a story everyone should read, and if you have the ability, please do read it in the original language.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review: Robin Hood

Title: Robin Hood
Author: Henry Gilbert
Genre: Classics > Historical fiction / Folklore
Year: 1912
Pages: 288

We all know the story of Robin Hood: a man who for one reason or another robs from the rich, and gives to the poor. Now, the problem is that the Robin Hood histories originate from a time before stories were written down. In the oral traditions, the stories were subject to change, for obvious reasons: everyone remembered other things, exaggerated what they found crucial parts, and so on. Therefore, when they were finally written down, several editions existed. Henry Gilbert mixed them up, and invented some stories himself
- as he notes down in the preface - "to give a truthful picture of the times in which he lived".

Maybe I should have looked into this edition of the novel before I bought it. I knew it was a children's version, but I did not think it would be so different from the 'originals'. I have studied Robin Hood in some classes, so I read some of the older stories. Throughout Gilbert's version, I kept thinking it would have been better if he kept to one edition, rather than alternating and even adding. It just felt inaccurate. Of course, this is only an issue if you have any knowledge about the folklore and even though this novel will give you a confused image of our hero, it will be a great introduction to him.

The thing that really bothered me about this novel is the writing style. Gilbert tried to imitate the medieval speech, using words and structures uncommon for the early twentieth century, which is when this was first published. This decision is easily rectifiable, yet it did not fit into the general way in which Gilbert told the story. Not only does that type of language belong to poems, the gap between the storyteller and the characters is consequently enormous too. By this I mean that the narrator uses modern language, whereas the sentences spoken by characters are so-called medieval.  Choosing one type of language would have made the story better readable. 

So, in all honesty, I did not at all enjoy this novel. Some parts were fun enough, but I felt too detached from it and could not care what happened to the characters. It is, however, a classic story, which should read and known about, so if you're looking for an introduction to Robin Hood, and don't know anything about him, go for this one - it's a relatively easy read (as opposed to the Old English ones), and you get to know about several versions of the story. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Ocean at the End of the Lane

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 240
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood town for a funeral. Here he is mysteriously drawn to the house of Lettie Hempstock - a girl he met when he was seven. He slowly remembers his friendship with her, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells this story. 
This novel was so hyped up -as is everything written by Neil Gaiman. I was thus beyond excited to start
reading this book. I had never before read a Gaiman book, and wanted to know what I was missing out on.

Boy was I disappointed. First of all, it is marketed as an adult book, and I felt it was very young adult, or even middle grade. I suppose that this annoyed me enough to honestly dislike every aspect of the novel - even the story.

I was highly tempted to only rate it two stars. However, when looking at it in retrospect, I figure the story was in fact highly original, and the writing was not aweful either. I just was in the most crappy mood, and I don't even know why I finished the book when I was reading it - I know I would have enjoyed it much more if I had read it when I was feeling better.

Therefore, I will not continue writing about what I thought of this novel. I will reread it some time in the future and then decide what I thought about it when in a good mood. Unfortunately, now the story is spoiled which will obviously ruin my experience yet again.  

Monday, 14 July 2014

Title Words Tag

This Tag was created by Wiebke over at 1book1review on youtube! (original video). Obviously, I was not tagged, but I really liked the idea so I decided to do the tag! :)
Basically you list books - which are on your shelves - , starting with one of which the title has one word, then two, then three and so on, to see how far you can go! So let's see how this goes!

1. Shirley - Charlotte Brontë
2. Don Quixote - Cervantes
3. If I stay - Gayle Forman
4. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
5. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
6. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
7. I Know why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

So I got up to 9! Fun fact: I only read the last two books..

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahera Mafi
Pages: 338

Juliette's touch is lethal. Consequently, she has been kept in an institution, in a solitary cell, for over 250 days. The novel starts off when she gets a cellmate.

As many current young adult novels, this one can too be classified as dystopian. The world in which Juliette lives has been taken over by the Reestablishment, who are not afraid of killing - many people have already died in a war.

Let's first talk about the story itself. To me, it felt rather original, but please keep in mind that I have not yet read much of this genre. What I also liked was that I felt like I knew what was going to happen all the time, but my predictions always turned out wrong. Over all, I thought the story was really good. However, I was a little iffy about the romance. I did not really buy it, and even though I liked Juliette's love interest (I know many readers don't), I felt it took up too much of the story - I wanted action! 

The brilliantness of this novel lies not in the story itself, but in the writing style. Tahera Mafi writes like a poet, yet the novel is written from a perspective of a 17 year old girl, and even in a sort of diary form. That is something that not many novelists are capable of. The crossing out of words allows the readers to explore an aspect of her without spending pages explaining she is confused. Mafi also cuts off sentences in the middle - enjambment - which has been looked at critically by many of her readers. I, however, really enjoyed this, and I would actually love to reread the novel, just to figure out exactly why she used that device, at those certain moments. 

The writing would thus really grant this novel five stars, but as I was not completely convinced by the story itself, I rated it four. I am definitely buying the second novel soon, and maybe even the novellas which are meant to be read in between the novels. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review: Candide

Title: Candide
Author: Voltaire
Pages: 163

"The story begins with the hero Candide's expulsion from the Westphalian castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh for making love to the Baron's daughter, Cunégonde. So begins a series of disastrous misadventures on a fantastic odyssey for Candide, Cunégonde and the incurable optimist, Dr. Pangloss."

I must admit that this novel did not leave a very big impression on me. Although I liked the cynical writing style, as well as the story, I did not love it. However, I cannot pin point why I was not impressed. I think I was just not in the mood for it, and I may have to re-read it some time in the future, especially because I feel like I should have enjoyed it much more than I did as it sounds right up my alley.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Book Haul: Presents!

A few days ago I received the final grades of my exams - and I passed them! That means I have obtained my Bachelor's degree! Therefore, my father got me some presents! Guess what? They're books!

The first one is a little poetry book called Red and White Roses and it's full of famous poets' poems about flowers. There's some Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Shelley, etc. It's a beautiful little leather (?) bound booklet, and I love it.

Next up is a bind-up of three plays by Chekhov: Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. I've been very interested in reading some more Russian literature, so I'll probably be reading this one soon.

The next one too, is Russian literature: The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I don't really know what it is about, but I know I read a bit of The Idiot by the same author, and I remember really enjoying it (don't ask me why I didn't finish it though..)

The final one is a Dutch classic, called Dichtertje (translated: little poet) by Nescio. I must admit I had never heard of this novella, but again, I'm excited to be reading it :)

So thanks a gazillion dad! (not that he reads my blog but anyway)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Review: City of Lost Souls

Title: City of Lost Souls
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 544

City of Lost Souls is the fifth book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The series follows Clary in her discovery of an entirely different world: that of shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and more. 
Originally, the author had planned this series to be a trilogy. Just like all true fans, I was over the moon to find out that there was going to be a fourth. However, as I grew older, I disliked the books more and more. When I wanted to start City of Lost Souls one or two years ago, I decided to reread the first four books, because I felt I didn't remember enough of them. When I did, however, I found out I no longer liked Clare's writing style, nor was the story very interesting. So I took a brake. 
A while ago, the sixth and - this time for real - final book came out: City of Heavenly Fire. I decided to start reading City of Lost Souls again and then finish off the series. I first read summaries of the previous books, and I - quite hesitantly - embarked on the journey in City of Lost Souls. 

I must say I was pleasently surprised. Clearly, Clare's writing is focussed on a younger audience - people who do not yet notice bad writing. However, the story was quite interesting and very fast paced. I flew through  it. Although a lot was quite predictable, there were some unexpected turns. The characters are all very well developed, but that is only to be expected when you're so far along in a series. 
Clare's writing is not all bad. The way in which she writes dialogues or other conversations is hilarious and realistic. This is one of the main reasons why the novel is highly entertaining, and why you will keep reading - unfortunately, the story does not truly do that - knowing not all will be solved because there will be another beast of a sequel. 
It's certainly a vast improvement when comparing it to the fourth novel in the series, and it did make me curious to read the next book. Unfortunately, I recently found out that City of Heavenly Fire will be much more fun if you have read the entire Infernal Devices series (another series by Cassandra Clare, set in the same world but in another time) as some of the story lines will intertwine. This means I still have to read another book and a half before I can tackle the final book. Most likely, I will thus not finish the series any time soon. 

Monday, 7 July 2014


I've recently been looking for reading marathons to participate in, because it sounds like great fun. However, I'm usually quite busy with school and work and just life. Now since I've been off uni for summer and the whether is rather awful, I don't have t work too much and obviously have no schoolwork. That is why I decided it was time for a readathon. After a bit of research, I found out about the #ayearathon. Every month they have a theme and they choose a week for the marathon. This month the theme is classics, and the week will be from today, the 7th, until this Sunday. You may know I love reading classics, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to find out whether readathons is really something for me.

I've created a small TBR for myself, but it's honestly not too big. I'm currently reading Robin Hood (Henry Gilbert), then I will read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne), and then I will probably try and read as much of The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas).

If you're interested in participating in these marathons, go and check out the goodreads group!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Best books of 2014 so far

These are in no particular order. As I have full reviews of all these books, so I feel there's no need for explanations in here - if you want to know what I thought of these books, just check out the reviews.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
2. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
3. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
4. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
5. Wonder - R.J. Palacio

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

June Book Haul

1. The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
2. Beloved - Toni Morrison
3. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami 
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
5. The 5th Wave - Rick Yancy
6. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
7. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell 
8. Shatter Me - Tahara Mafi
9. The Maze Runner - James Dashner
10. If I Stay - Gayle Foreman
11. Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 
12. City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare