Book 36 of 2017: A Passage to Shambhala

the-explorers-guild-9781476727400_hrWhere can one begin when reviewing the first novel in The Explorers Guild,  A Passage to Shambhala? It was co-authored by Kevin Costner (yes, that one) and illustrated by the guy who did the illustrations for 1000 ways to die. Interested yet?

It’s not exactly a graphic novel, but it’s also not really a novel. Instead it’s some sort of monstrositous hybrid beast that is near impossible to put down at points.

Having the drawn panels scattered throughout the story help move it along and give you a different perspective than just the writing. It helps to make it  a quick read as, naturally, four panels takes a lot less time to digest than four paragraphs.

it is also an exceedingly beautiful book. The cover speaks for itself, but the pages inside are aged and feel nice to the touch. The artwork itself is beautiful, and its sparing using of colour makes it very interesting.

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The story is in some ways a mystery and in others an adventure. It starts with a mysterious light in the north and then jumps down to India and the middle east during the second world war. All the characters have different motives for being interested in finding this mysterious light; some religious, some military, some health related. There’s a race between good and bad; or rather relative good and possibly bad as this novel deals mainly in shades of grey which makes it both interesting and infuriating.

One of my favourite things about the book, outside of the aesthetics and the wonderful story, was that whenever the location changed within the novel, in the picture that denotes the change the longitude and latitude were listed. Although this is a small detail it definitely helped to get you into the adventuring frame of mind.

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The book was quite clearly written for the screen, no surprise based on the author, and if IMDb is to believed, may be turned into a television series in the future (it is listed as in development  ). Frustratingly, it is called the first book in the series when no others have been scheduled, so far as I can tell, as it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

I rated this book a 7 out of 10. It was a fun read and something different than what I normally would have looked at. It was a beautifully designed book and the aesthetics aren’t to be ignored and if that’s the only reason that you read the book it will be well worth it.

 

 

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Book 35 of 2017: Beautiful Creatures

BeautifulCreaturesI have had Beautiful Creatures sitting on my shelf since the movie first came out. Unlike most book-to-screen translations, which you know I am extremely fond of, I actually watched the movie (several times) before picking up the book. I actually went to see it in theatres with my Father and we both thought that it was a lovely concept and watch it most times it comes on tv.

Like any book-to-screen translation, there were significant differences between the movie and the book. Unlike most, I can’t decide which I liked most, but that is a discussion for another time.

This novel would be classified as a young-adult-paranormal-romance, I think. It follows two main characters, a boy named Ethan Wate and a girl, Lena Duchannes. Lena is a Caster, a type of witch, who is waiting to be Claimed by either the light or dark. Ethan is a guy who’s bad at taking no for an answer and falls in love with her anyways. They are linked through time, as well, which always adds an interesting element to the story.

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Although the book did not have the highest quality of writing, it was still highly enjoyable. The characters grew quite a bit over the course of the novel, which is what you would hope for as they are teens, and there was elements of mysteries throughout. There was also a deep element of spiritualism throughout the book and countless delicious sounding meals which I am always a fan of.

I rate this book a 6 out of 10. It’s not a ground breaking piece of YA, but the story is good and it’s a nice quick read despite the 500 page length. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Book 34 of 2017: Voyager

Gabaldon-Voyager-220x332My friend Gillian has been bugging me to get reading in the Outlander series since I introduced her to it several months ago. After a month straight of being told I need to read Voyager I picked it up. She told me some things about the book, mainly the time jump and how it felt different, but I was still mostly going into it blind.

It was not what I expected. (there are some spoilers below so if you haven’t read the this novel stop reading now)

When I read the title I figured that Claire would be going back to the past and that would be the great voyage. The story picks up from the future part of Dragonfly in Amber, which was the part that I disliked the most out of that novel. Despite my trepidation about continuing on in this time period, I did really enjoy that part of Voyager and ended up missing it later on.

Unlike what I thought at first, the voyage part of the book refers to a sea voyage that happens in the past. I found this delightful as period sea pieces are my favourite (though I do prefer a good pirate to just jaunting around). It really made me want to read Master and Commander (so that will probably move up the tbr pile a bit and I’ll have to borrow it from my brother).

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This book took a lot of twists and turns. Every time you thought that things were working out and that they were going to be okay, a new twist appears; whether it be old lovers or old friends. I found that I started to miss Brianna a lot during the past parts of the novels and would have liked to have known what her and Roger got up to in Claire’s absence. I have been rather excitedly guaranteed that she does come back, so if you’re as much of a fan of her as I am, this should be welcome news.

I rated this book an 8 out of 10. It was a lot of fun, but still doesn’t quite meet the high bar that was set with Outlander. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series in the coming months to find out what happens next.

Book 33 of 2017: Pride and Prejudice

pandp-modern-library-ed1w200As you may know because you’ve been reading my other reviews, Pride and Prejudice was suppose to be the book for book club last month but book club was cancelled so it got moved to this month. In May I decided that it would be a lovely idea to read a different Austen instead and chose to read Persuasion which I didn’t really enjoy. This made me dread starting Pride and Prejudice.

I didn’t totally hate the novel. It was far easier to read than the other books that I have read by Austen, a fact that I have attributed to the fact that the story is much more well known than the others. Though I didn’t really dislike the novel, I still don’t see its appeal. The characters seemed a little bland and stiff. The plot wasn’t all the riveting, a will-they-wont-they situation. The major scandal in the novel didn’t really seem that bad as the Bennet’s didn’t really have high social standing anyways.

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I don’t know. Maybe Austen just isn’t for me. I found it hard to get through and the writing dense in a bad way. A lot of the descriptions weren’t that great and the dialogue often taxing.

I rate this book a 5 out of 10. Didn’t hate it, didn’t really like it. I fully expect a firestorm for this.

Book 32 of 2017: All the Light We Cannot See

18143977I was given All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer for Christmas by my friend Amanda. I had been looking at it for several months and it made the perfect gift. It has been taunting me from my shelf since then but it never felt like the right time to pick it up until now. I read it concurrently with my friend Kate who did not like the novel nearly as much as I did.

The novel primarily follows two people: Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl, and  Werner Pfennig, a German boy who is interested in radios and electricity. It takes place during World War Two, starting slightly before the occupation of Paris and going well into the 70’s.

The book flips back and forth between these two perspective every few pages, the main complaint that I’ve heard from other readers. Although I liked this stylistically, it made it much harder to gage time passage between the parts of the book and gave the distinct impression of there being suddenly Nazi’s. Otherwise this was a flawless novel that offered unique perspectives on the war; one from someone with a significant disability, and the other a member of the German populist who doubts but feels powerless.

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As you can see, my copy has been well loved. This book is an emotional rollercoaster, especially the concluding 2 or 3 parts where everything looks okay and then destroys you. I rate this book a 9 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it is going on the recommendations list for sure.

Book 31 of 2017: The Green Mill Murder

20348453Kerry Greenwood is the author that I give credit to for piquing my interest in cozy mysteries. I have really been enjoying the Phryne Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series so far, and the fifth book The Green Mill Murder is no exception.

This book differs a lot from the others. Although there is, as always, two stories that are connected, the way that they are written together made it feel like you were reading two separate books in a series instead of just the one. Not that that’s a bad attribute.

This novel opens with a murder that is witnessed by Phryne while she is at a dance. Her partner mysteriously disappears after the murder and the majority of the book is spent looking for them and then solving the actual mystery of who committed the murder.

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This novel keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing through its duration. I rate this book a 7 out of 10. It was a short, enjoyable read that was easy to get through.

 

May Book Haul 2017

May was an okay month for book buying. I read 8 books and bought 7 (but borrowed two from my mum). This was probably one of my better months for buying and so far I don’t regret any of the books.

At the beginning of the month I took a couple trips to chapters and I bought

I also ordered from Amazon

One day when I was reading upstairs my mum also brought out two books that she read that she thought I would enjoy.

She lent me

  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George which I have heard is a good book about books
  • and Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

Neither of these are books that I would likely pick up by myself so I’m excited to get into them and see how I like them.

I’m super excited to get to these books and hopefully I’ll get them all read soon!

May 2017

May was a busy month for reading! I read 8 books and 2,522 pages this month. So, that was pretty fantastic! They also made a really attractive stack.

9780062290410_p0_v3_s1200x630The first book that I read this month was the Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I read this with my friend Jaclyn which is always a lot of fun.

The Invasion of the Tearling is the second book in The Queen of the Tearling series. This book was a lot different than the first book. It split the narrative between Kelsea and a pre-crossing woman named Lily who is somehow related to Kelsea.

Lily’s story really reminded me of parts of The Handmaid’s Tale. There were some of the same sort of societal issues, particularly the fertility issues. I’m not sure if this link is just because I read them so close together or because they really are similar.

I found that this book was really setting up the series for the next book. Unlike what the title suggests, the invasion isn’t really the main point of the novel, the story with Lily was, and it left a lot of things un-concluded. I rated this book a 9 out of 10.

30304221Next I read Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. I picked this one up with to read with my friend Amanda after she asked me what book I had heard some buzz around. I had originally found this book on a buzzfeed listicle of 27 books that you need to read this winter.

I really loved this book. I thought it was fantastic. The characters and character development were amazing and it had a fun mystery aspect to the story which I wasn’t expecting.

The book follows the story of a dysfunctional family. One day Ingrid, wife to Gil and mother to Nan and Flora, disappears when Flora was a small child. Ingrid leaves letters in books that talk about her early relationship and marriage with Gil and why she was unhappy with her current life.

I rated this book a 9 out of 10. I loved this novel. I would recommend it to everyone.

51nPlyqepIL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_After that I read was my goal book for May Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I was a bit disappointed by this book. It was the fourth Vonnegut book I’ve read.

This book follows Kilgore Trout who is in several other of Vonnegut books. He’s an interesting character, but I hadn’t read the other 4 books that he appears in before this one.

Unlike many of the other books that I’ve read, this book didn’t have many normal parts that the others did. Instead it just all felt disconnected.

I did enjoy the illustrations in the book and how it explained many of the concepts. I thought that it was really cool that it would allow you to read this book in decades to come and still be able to make good sense of what’s happening in the book (when what’s happen isn’t nonsense)

I rated this book a 6 out of 10. I would definitely recommend reading all the other books that Kilgore Trout appears in before reading this one.

25685813After that I read a cozy-mystery Between a Book and a Hard Place by Denise Swanson. As you may know I have read several of Ms. Swanson’s books from her other series which I loved.

I didn’t like this book as many as the other that I have read by Swanson. I’m not sure if its because it was the fifth book in the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery series and it’s the first one that I read, or because I don’t like the characters as much. Little did I know before reading this book, Swanson also writes romance novels and this book was much more romance-y than the books from her other series that I’ve read.

That being said, I didn’t absolutely hate the book. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. I rated it a 5 out of 10. It was a quick read and was fairly fun. I think I will still read the other books in the series. Hopefully I’ll enjoy them more than this one.

20170404Next I read the book for The End of the World Bookclub, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I was super excited to read this book. It is also by a Canadian which was super cool and it was a book that I’ve been thinking about reading for a while so I was happy to have an excuse to finally read it.

The novel follows three characters through a plague that kills of the majority of the worlds population. One dies before the plague hits, one joins a traveling orchestra, and one stays with their brother for as long as possible in Toronto.

The characters are beautifully written and the story jumps back and further between the current pre-plague life and their life afterwards. This gives you an interesting view on the characters and allows them to have some really beautiful development.

I rated this book a 10 out of 10. This was a fantastic book.

3019859Next, in replacement of the bookclub book of the month Pride and Prejudice as bookclub was postponed, I decided to read Persuasion by Jane Austen to prep my mind for Pride and Prejudice.

Admittedly I’m not much of an Austen person and this book reminded me why. Although I did like the main character Anne, I found the plot trying and, at times, boring. Anne was strong, independent, and liked books which are all qualities that I enjoy in a main character, but all the people that she was surrounded by others who tried to make her into someone she isn’t.

I just wanted this book to be over by the time I was halfway through and despite it being short it seemed to take forever to read. I rated this book a 5 out of ten. Not that it was unenjoyable, but it’s just not the book for me.

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The next book that I read was The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. This is the first book in The Queen’s Thief quintet and it is fantastic.

This book was one of my recommendations from my friend Kate and she was super excited that I finally got around to it. This lovely novel has the perfect combination between fanciful ideas and roguishness. As the name may suggest the main character is a thief who says he can steal anything and his skills are put to a test in a wonderful journey. There is a lot of political intrigue and several twists in the story, as well as appearances by the gods. How could this book be bad?

I rated it a 9 out of 10. I really enjoyed reading this novel and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series! The only downside is that with the new release they’ve changed all the covers so now mine won’t match the rest.

515tzvU0OaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ I was so stoked to read this book. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the third instalment in the Library of Forgotten books quartet, the last, The Labyrinth of the Spirits, has yet to be published in English but I await it rather impatiently as it is not expected until sometime in 2018 which seems so very far away.

This book is a frame narrative. It starts out following Daniel Sempere and then turns into a story about Fermín Romero de Torres. This book was more dark than the preceding novels and was a lot different stylistically. This book was far more of a mystery than the others in the series. One of the reasons that I like the series so much is that all the books are so different.

I rated this novel 8 out of 10. Although I really enjoyed it, I missed having the cemetery in the novel as it only appeared twice. It also wasn’t able to live up to the expectations for the series that the first book set.

So that was my May. You may notice that this was published in August so I’m fairly far behind on my reviews so far but I’m hoping to catch up by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Book 30 of 2017: Prisoner of Heaven

As always, an enjoyable book written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. As the front of the book remarks, the novels in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books can be read in any order, but 515tzvU0OaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_thus far the publication order has made the most sense.

This book has a frame narrative. It starts out following Daniel Sempere and is a different style than the books proceeding it. It starts out with their bookstore not doing so well and his father buying a nativity for the window to help draw customers in. Then a mysterious stranger appears with a message for Fermín Romero de Torres, and the book proceeds from there. Fermín is also getting married which turns out to be problematic because he has been using a false identity which he explains during the framed narrative which takes about 1/3 of the book.

This book is much more of a mystery than the other two. Though they both had mini-mysteries in them, this one felt far more urgent to solve. We also meet some old friends in this novel, which makes it more interesting and really, I feel, ties it more in to place as the third novel in the series.

Although The Angel’s Game was fairly dark, this book seems somehow darker. It deals more with the revolution in Spain and its outcomes, along with other topics such as infidelity and larger arching conspiracies.

Even though I really enjoyed this novel, it is definitely leading into the fourth and final book in the series, The Labyrinth of the Spirits, which is expected to be released in an English edition next summer and has already been released in Spanish. The book left you with a lot of questions and a big bad that has gone unaccounted for. I look forward to seeing how Zafón pulls them together in the next novel.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10. Although I really enjoyed the novel it didn’t really feature the cemetery, which I miss and hope makes a larger appearance in the final volume. None of the books have seemed to quite hit the high mark that the first one made. Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable novel and definitely one that I can see myself returning to again in the future.

Book 29 of 2017: The Thief

I’ve done a lot of reading with friends this month. Although I did not read this one specifically with a friend, if I didn’t read it soon Kate would strangle me with her 448873knitting. Kate is a great friend to have. She frequently send me book recs and then demands that I start reading them right away and, more often than not, continues to remind me that there was a great book that I am suppose to read for her. The first book that she ever recommended to me with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which was a book that I had thought about picking up but after her recommendation I stopped procrastinating and used her as an excuse to buy it. I loved that novel. I read it nearly in one sitting and thought it was fantastic. I still love it. So not whenever Kate tells me to read something I get on it.

Last month I bought several of her recs that she made over the past three months. I’ve thought about reading The Thief, the first novel in The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, many times so I was pretty stoked to get it. I didn’t really have any clue what is was about, all I knew going in was the it had a pretty cover and that Kate recommended it to me, so I was pretty well guaranteed a good read.

This lovely novel has the perfect combination between fanciful ideas and roguishness. As the name may suggest the main character is a thief who says he can steal anything and his skills are put to a test in a wonderful journey. There is a lot of political intrigue and several twists in the story, as well as appearances by the gods. How could this book be bad?

I loved it. I rate it a 9 out of 10 (though on goodreads it’s only a 4 out of 5 but that’s only because I decided that anything that’s not a 10 out of 10 is less than 5). the novel keeps you on your toes and has loveable characters. The only thing that I wish was different was the lack of women in the book. When I started reading I though that Gen was a girl so that was a bit of a let down, but still extremely cool.