Book Review – The Dark Prophecy (Audio Book Review)

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Title: The Dark Prophecy 

Author: Rick Riordan

Narrator: Robbie Daymond

ISBN: 9780141376240

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

The Word Description: Funny, Emotional, Great

Rating: 4/6 (the rating is based on Goodreads rating system but with an extra star for those exceptional books)

You know guys, I was actually a bit uncertain if I should really write a review of this book. Why? Because I love his books (I’ve read all of them in his universe of gods), so my view on this is very subjective because I cannot not love his books. Of course we’re all subjective about the books we read, but to a review, it’s also important to be objective to be able to criticize som parts of a book even if you loved the book.

But what the hell.

In the second installment of Rick Riordan’s book series The Trials Of Apollo, the former-god-Apollo-turned-into-mortal-Lester, along with Leo Valdez and Calypso, has to travel to save both a friend and an oracle from the claws of an evil emperor. But of course things has to complicate, especially when the identity of the second emperor is revealed…

I listened to the audio book, and as with all of Riordan’s books taking place in the “Percy Jackson universe”, I really recommend it. Why? Because the story is told through first perspective, so it feels like the narrator, this time Apollo, is talking (complaining for the most part) to you about what happened to him.

The Dark Prophecy started off a bit too quick for me actually – I felt like I didn’t have time to really settle myself into it. But of course, that was only relevant for like the first two, three? chapters. Then the plot kept a nice pace, complete with the typical adventure, heartwarming moments, tear jerkers and the humour characteristic of Riordan (featuring waaay too many pop-culture references and hilarious moments and characters).

Though in this book the plot felt a lot more serious and emotional than the first due to both Apollo/Lester’s character development and what ‘triggers’ it. To recover different oracles his only one part of his trials, after all. Riordan empathizes Apollo’s relationship with people, new and old, (bad and good) to demonstrate his ‘weaknesses’, what is needed to ‘grow’ in him. I like how Riordan doesn’t excuse some things Apollo has done (even though he himself does it at first, which is perfectly in character) and forces him to realize his mistakes. Calypso, a new/old supporting character, was a great character on her own – she was brave despite being ‘powerless’, clever but also kind – to those who she saw deserved it. Therefore she also made for a good ‘companion’ to Apollo, forcing him to understand how he had wronged her.

For another important relationship, which I absolutely love that Riordan did, was the one between Apollo and the Big Bad. Any kind of (previous) personal relationship between a hero and a villain has always been one of my favorite tropes, it makes their interactions and actions so much… more.

Apollo went through a dramatic character development by the near end of this book as he not only realize some of his (many) mistakes like in the previous one, but also learns about the importance, for example, of selfless kindness. Of course, this is Apollo we’re talking about – it’s not that he turns into Mother Teresa. But his character growth, thanks to a certain someone people, also shows that then growth goes both ways.

As for the other characters, Leo is still the lovable Leo (though maybe a bit more serious? But he was this after Blood of Olympus too), plus some old characters appear, but also new ones that I’m super excited for. Riordan has done a great job in working to expand his diversity, from ethnicity to sexuality, but also improve how he portrays them. When a certain character came out as the officially “first” gay character, some fans where angry because of the way it was handled. So in the next series, Riordan made the lead character bi-sexual and openly comfortable with it. No, not a supportive character. He has included a muslim main character, transgender, gay couples and people from different ethnicities (oh and in his series about Egyptian gods, almost the entire cast was black or bi-racial. Take notice Hollywood). He has also talked about parents who kick out their kids for being transgender, police brutality against black people, emotionally abusive parenting et cetera.

Suffice to say, I am both awed and so greatful for Riordan to actually reaching out to ALL kids and (young) adults, listening to his fans and adding more characters that people can relate to. He’s “milking” his fans for money that way? Oh first off, his an author; being a writer is a profession, meaning job, meaning he gets his money this way. Of course he needs to sell – all authors want that! But he is not, unlike some auhtors who create new series or books in a world with the same cast of character, the same one gay and two black characters to call themself diverse. No, he is activaly trying to improve his books and talks about so many things that are important for kids to understand and learn. I know for certain that when I get kids, I’ll be reading his books to them.

Okay maybe I got a bit off topic (the review) but oh well, just thought of having it said. So the thing is, in this book we get a relationship many people have only had in headcanon. Like I discussed with @Joce only about two days ago, Riordan is like one of his gods in his series – if you say his name, he’ll hear you. BUT, I’m honestly shocked to see that some people have an issue with the relationship by complaining that Riordan wrote of a group as “homophobic” for not including them, when it is clearly stated why they cannot be included. And it’s not just their relationship either. I can not say too much without, well, revealing too much (although to be honest it’s not a big spoiler or anything). But c’mon. I can honestly tell you there’s nothing homophobic in this book and those who say otherwise have clearly either not read previous books or don’t know anything about the mythology of said group.

Okay, moving on.

This book, like all his books, also includes some great comedic bits and characters. Listening to a part which includes a train had me actually laughing out loud (guys it was ridiculously hilarious). That’s why I’m equally surprised at how quickly it can change from funny to serious. For the most part, this was very well handled but one or two times it kind of didn’t go so well in my opinion. I also blame it on the narrator, he is not the best I’ve heard when it comes to expressing emotional moments. He wasn’t bad, just not good enough.

But in summary, this was (as always) a great experience and I do really recommend people to read or continue this series. It’s light, warming and a lot of fun, but also not to be underestimated when it comes to being emotional. Not really the “strongest” of Riordan’s book, but still great and unique.

Book Review – The Books Of Beginning

Titles: The Emerald Atlas, The Fire Chronicle, The Black Reckoning

Author: John Stephens

Publisher: 2011, Alfred A. Knopf (The Emerald Atlas) 2012, Knopf Books for Young Readers (The Fire Chronicle) 2015, Random House (The Black Reckoning)

Three Word Description: Wonderful, Nostalgic, Heartbreaking

Rating: 5/6

“So how was the books?” 

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Oh dear, I got into this series solely because I wanted something cute and relaxing (plus I had heard it compared to Narnia). Spoiler alert: it is not relaxing. At all. I got so emotionally invested that I won’t be able to read another book for awhile to be able to judge it justly.

The Emerald Atlas is the first book in The Books Of Beginning – trilogy by John Stephens. It follows the three siblings, Kate, Michael and Emma who as small children was left at an orphanage. When they arrive at a strange town and a strange orphanage, without any orphans, the kids suspect there’s something very wrong with the place. When they find a strange book, something very strange happens…

The book will promise you something along with Narnia and His Dark Materials, and speaking from someone who’ve actually read the books, I can confirm that even though it may not be the same, it is actually pretty similar in some ways but especially in “spirit”. You can’t expect to get the same from different books, but I do think you’ll like The Books of Beginning if you liked the magic and adventure of Narnia and the world, characters, and heartbreak of His Dark Materials.

Right, let’s start to go through a breakdown of the good and bad parts of the series;

I absolutely loved the characters and their relationships. The three siblings are officially one of my new favorite siblings in literature. I found their respective personalities actually very understandable and believable. Stephens understands how our environment and relationships affect us, for better or worse, and the siblings all went through very good character developments. Each book focuses on the character development of one of the siblings, so if you like character driven stories, you’ll no doubt like these. But at the same time, they don’t ignore the developments of the other siblings or characters that may not be entirely the focus.

Seeing as we’re talking about characters and relationships, I must warn you about a thing as I will not be held responsible for any consequences.  See, the first book is great and all, but it’s all fun and games until the second, The Fire Chronicle, which will rip your heart out, stomp on it, tear it to pieces and then stare you down as they crumble to the ground. There are several reasons why, so of course, I won’t spoil them. But the thing about this book, and the next, that I loved (and was heartbreaking), was that you realize how young the siblings actually are. Sometimes I feel like both middle-grade and Young Adult authors forget that they’re writing about kids and teens, not “under-developed” adults that need some character development. Being forced to grow-up is terrifying, especially when the fate of the whole world is your responsibility…

As for the plot, I really liked how Stephens built up that mystical feel that you just love about “real world meets fantasy world” – books before things starts to make sense. I had hardly read anything about the books before I started them, so I had no idea as to what was supposed to happen. And that’s honestly the best, books should give out as minimal information as possible. The plots are heavily ‘adventure-driven’, except being character driven, each book has this kind of quest(s) they have to go on, like in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson – books. A problem though I had when reading the books was, even though it was the best to use the children’s different p.o.v.’s, it did bug me at times as “BAM! something happens at the end of the chapter! I must read the next to know what follows!” And then it switches perspective to someone else and the whole time you just want to go back to the other person’s narrative instead of focusing on the one currently telling the story.

Otherwise, each book has a new and fresh plot so none of the books feel repetitive, which I’m really grateful for. As I’ve probably already stated, the second book really surprised me with where it was going/ended, I loved it, but I loved it in the same way you always love being deeply emotionally wounded by books and other types of fiction. You know guys, we might as well just ask the authors to just punch is the face.

But you know another bonus point for this series? It made me actually really, like really care for a certain ship. Typically I am that person that rolls my eyes at “intimite” moments, or just outright don’t care. I want to go back to the relevant plot, please. Though in here it actually was relevant to the plot. And you know what that means – it ain’t gonna be easy…

But to summarize, I absolutely loved this fantasy-adventure series and it has so many good qualities. I do not know if this series is for everyone, but that’s honestly true to every book out there. If you have no problems with reading middle-grade or Young Adult literature, I’d dare bet on that you’ll at least like it.

Book Review – The Burning Page

burningpage

Title: The Burning Page

Author: Genevieve Cogman

Publisher: 2016, Pan

ISBN: 9781447256274

Three Word Description: Fast-paced, Intruiging, Fun

Rating: 5/6

 

[Side note: Hi guys how are you?! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything last week, had so much school work AND was sick. Not a good combination. Hadn’t any content I had written before either so nothing I could queue. Oh well, here’s finally the review I promised before, with a bonus – rating!! I’ve decided to finally do rating (had trust issues with rating system) but chose to begin now with it. Instead of the usual 5 stars, I’ll go with 6! The extra will go for the absolute extra book]

*Throughs the book in your face* READ IT!!

No seriously, this YA-ish series (I honestly don’t know sometimes, seen it marketed as both) needs so much more recognition. Secret librarian agents, dragons, fae, humor, adventure, steam-punk, alternative-worlds… and, *sobs with gratitude*, no romance sub-plot in the way. It’s not that there is no romance, it just isn’t in the way of anything.

Anyway, let’s get started with the review.

The Burning Page is the third installment in the Invisible Library – series following the librarian Irene and her student Kai. Their job is to collect books from different worlds for the Library, which exists outside all of them (it’s… you’ll understand). But their job is rarely a walk in the park, especially not if a bigger threat is looming over them.

The plot is fast-paced and filled with both humor and suspense, and I honestly think this is the strongest book in the series yet. Irene is a wonderful protagonist; she’s professional, smart, witty and strong-willed. Anyone foolish enough to challenge her would soon enough find their tails between their legs (in one case, literally). But because of resent events in the book, or books, both Irene and Kai comes to face fear worse than ever. Though it did not make me enjoy the book any less, Irene still acted very calmly and reasonable (for the most part) for someone who expects a murderer at every corner. But that is her character, she knows that panic won’t solve anything. It gives also a good contrast to her partner Kai, who wants to act on a bit more on their paranoia.

The writing style and humour is something that deserves a praise as well. Never does Cogman ignore a possibility to leave a little comment that’s worthy of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. It may not be as much ‘lemony’ as them, but it’s still an almost constant present. Some highlights being;

“She wondered what the proper etiquette was for visiting werewolves. She’d done vampires, Fae, dragons, and even university students.” /…/‘Is anyone up there?’ came a yell in French from downstairs. The natural human response was to shout ‘No!’ which said something about humanity. 

I also loved that we got so many different environments in this book. In the two previous installments we go about one “main” environments in which the plot is taking place. For a book about different realities and a library in-between, I actually wished for a bit more “world discovering”. In The Burning Page however, Cogman takes us to both familiar and new locations. And I also had my suspicion of that one of them is a foreshadowing, and will come to play a part in the next book (which was a bit confirmed when reading the synopsis of The Lost Plot. The rest remains to be see).

I really can’t come up with many critics for this book, I loved it and am only regretting reading it too fast. The only thing I can think of is that there is still some potential to flesh-out Kai’s character. It’s not that I find him 1-dimensional, it’s just that I think, because Irene is such an amazing character, he ends up in her shadow. But I bet my money on that we will see some more character development on his part in the next book.
As for characters, I really liked the villain in this one, he was the classic type that always works. But the interaction between the Big Bad and the protagonist is what really made it. As both have a sharp intellect, it becomes a sort of “battle to the wits” (or what you call it). In my opinion, a great book needs a great villain.

And I just want to thank Cogman again for no unnecessary romance sub-plot, despite there being romance. Everyone is just so professional and understands that hey, we have other problems to deal with. Attractions happen, but they don’t have to cloud your mind. Hell, there was even a sort of love triangle without a single person disliking each other (rival or not) or creating any real complications. I didn’t even know that was possible in a YA book.

So, needless to say, I loves this book and I really recommend it to everyone. Great writing, great protagonist and a great story!

 

Book Review – Kallocain

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Title: Kallocain

Author: Karin Boye

ISBN: 9789174290875

Publisher: 2010 (first published 1940), Bonnier Pocket

Three Word Description: Short, Unique, Accurate

 

 

 

 

(I read the book in its original language, Swedish, but there is an english translation of it.)

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present the most realistic dystopian novel I’ve ever read (so far). Instead of following a person critical to the regime or a teen leading a revolution, the story is told through the perspective of an overall citizen. The protagonist, Leo Kall, may be the villain in any other dystopian novel I’ve read, but in the end he is just a product of the society he lives in.

 This is a novel of the future, profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror. Ironic and detached, the author shows us the totalitarian World-state through the eyes of a product of that state, scientist Leo Kall. Kall has invented a drug, kallocain, which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a “happy, healthy cell in the state organism.” For, says Leo, “from thoughts and feelings, words and actions are born. How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn’t the whole fellow-soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then, if not to the state?” “

Leo Kall is, like I mentioned, not the typical ‘hero’ of a dystopian novel. From the beginning he excuses everything that his totalitarian state does, actually believing it’s for everyone’s best. He even invents a drug that reveals people’s deepest thoughts, thinking that now no ‘dangerous’ people can walk among them. The fact that Leo sincerely believes this dystopia to be a utopia gives an interesting perspective for the reader. But what makes it even more interesting is Leo’s own hidden feelings and thoughts that he tries to deny.

Leo’s relationships play an important role in the novel as they demonstrate human’s ability to affect each other. In a world where social behavior is seen as asocial, the learned fear of closeness still can’t remove what we all deeply desire. Through Leo, Moye wrote such a believable torn man that even though I had a hard time sympathizing with him in the beginning, my heart reached out to him by the end.

And that I would say is the book’s little weakness, though it is deliberate. Leo is not written to be sympathetic in the sense that we are meant to see through his eyes from the beginning. So first it is a bit hard to get into it, but to understand the book’s purpose you must understand that the book is not written to your perspective. It challenges the reader to see through the perspective of someone we would usually claim to be completely opposite to us in the typical dystopia.

But the book is short (193 pages) so it’s a quick read for anyone! Even if you think that you’re quite done with dystopian thanks to its hype, I still incline you to try this book. It will give you a different view on the genre, and I honestly believe it gives a much more righteous perspective.

 

Book Review – The Gospel Of Loki

gospeloflokiTitle: The Gospel Of Loki

Author: Joanne M. Harris

ISBN: 9781473202351

Publisher: 2014, Gollancz

Three Word Description: Norse, Quick, Torn

 

 

 

 

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.”

The prequel to Harris’ Runemarks is told from Loki’s perspective, which results in a fictionalized version of Norse mythology with lots of salt (from Loki’s part). My feelings for this book is a bit mixed – Loki is one of my favorite characters in this series, so it was great reading more from him. But there were a few too many things for me to fully enjoy it. Let me explain;

Loki is a great anti-hero, a.k.a. problematic. But I don’t think that telling this fictional version of the Norse myths through his perspective may have actually been so good. Since everything is from Loki’s perspective, he describes all characters as one-dimensional because of his resentments (and that it is of course from his views). It could have been much more interesting if there was more depth to the others, I know it’s about Loki but only one or two interesting characters are not enough.
(Also, I am a bit (very) salty about Harris’ portrayal of Sigyn.)

But the book is short, just under 300 pages so that makes it a quick read (which is a big plus) and saved the story a bit more. But I would honestly have no problems with it being a bit longer had the book given more depth to the other characters… Even though the story is told through Loki’s perspective, I still think it very possible to make the others more than one dimensional. Saying things like “Idun is sweet and innocent” and “Frigg cares deeply for her son Balder” to describe their whole characterization in the book is just bad.

Suffice to say, Loki still makes for a great, complicated anti-hero. And that’s important to remember – Loki is not just a tragic hero, but more of a jerk with a heart of gold. Or silver, as a heart of gold sounds too pure. It was interesting to read of what events and people pushed him to aid the world in its downfall. Also, you can’t help but feel a bit sad for the little demon who dreamed of fitting in and becoming a hero.

Also, Harris’ world building deserves some recognition of its own. Chaos and Order are two opposing forces which forged the world, to put it simply. The complexity of these two are so interesting and I love reading about it (I’m a sucker for fantasy/SciFi world buildings)

But one has to remember when reading is that this is a prequel to Runemarks, therefore not exactly accurate when it comes to Norse mythology. Also, I think this will probably be my last book I read that re-tells Norse mythology. Okay if you do something new with it like Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard, but I know all the myths and stories so well that it’s starting to be a bit boring.

Well it was still a good read, and it was Loki that made the story. But I can’t help but feel that there’s a lot of wasted potentials. But hey, it’s very accurate when you come to think that the story is told from Loki’s view.

Book Review – The Ship of Destiny

ship-of-destinyTitle: Ship of Destiny

Author: Robin Hobb

ISBN:  9780008117474

Publisher: 2015, Harper Voyager

Three Word Description: Everything Is Amazing

 

 

 

[This Review Is Spoiler Free, But Consist Of A Warning. If The Warning Is Not Triggering, I Recommend You Do Not Keep Reading The Paragraph As It Contains Spoilers]

You know that amazing experience of discovering a new author? After finishing this trilogy, I realized that I no doubt will read all Robin Hobb’s books in the Realm of the Elderlings, a fantasy world in which this trilogy is set in. It’s like when I discovered and read the Mistborn trilogy – now I’m obsessed with his books. It’s just such an amazing experience, but it comes with a price: They’ll take up my life.

I really didn’t want to finish this series because it was SO GOOD. Despite the intimidating sizes of the books, I just flew through the pages. I gave each book 5-stars on Goodreads because, for me, they could not possibly deserve less. You may have noticed that I haven’t written a review of the second book, but that’s because I jumped directly into the third once finished.

But what was it about the book that I loved?

First off, the characters. The reoccurring problem with a multi p.o.v. book is that you value each p.o.v. differently. You have your favorite, and the one whose chapter you just have to drag yourself through. But in this last book, I came to care so deeply for each character that there wasn’t a single p.o.v. I didn’t look forward too. Hobb wrote such amazing character developments that I came to love a character I couldn’t even stand in the first book. To come to love a character through their character development is honestly one of the best things.

Plus, I actually really cared for the romance, which is quite (very) unusual. I don’t felt anything was forced and it all was pretty relevant to the plot (some very, some not so much but did not get in the way).

That Hobb wrote amazing three-dimensional characters with great character developments is not only wonderful, but also essential as the plot is heavily character driven. A single person’s choice of action, or inaction, comes to affect the story and its characters throughout the book in a very realistic and believable way. Hobb won’t overlook any plot points for the reason of future wanted ones, no, she is truly a master storyteller that keeps full control of her story and characters, leading them down their path of destiny with their every action and experience counting.

It’s kind of difficult to comprehend that this book is about 900 pages, as I just flew through it. There’s just no stopping, you have to know what happens next. It’s filled with a mix of action and drama but also plenty of political intrigues (which I love) that all affects the others result in a great “plot-web”. And the fact that the characters find themselves in situations you would never have imagined in the first, or second, is another factor that makes you want to read more.

But there is one thing I need to warn you before reading this book. If you’re triggered by sexual assault, this novel is not for you. I don’t spoil things from the plot, but in this case I feel it necessary as it is something many people could be triggered by. Except that there are some rape threats through the novel, there is one character that gets drugged and brutally raped. This is the one thing in the book I did not like, mainly because of how it affected the character. That is to say, in a very believable way; They were utterly traumatized. It just broke my heart that after all they had gone through, this was what happened to them. Sexual assault in fiction is very debatable and even in this book it can be discussed if it really should have been there. But at least it was shown as the horror it is – NOT romanticized.

But overall I absolutely loved this book, the conclusion of The Liveship Traders. If you love High Fantasy with great characters with character developments (that includes all characters, no discrimination to any gender), amazing world-building, intense story-line and dragons, then this book is a must read. I myself am gonna start the Farseer trilogy (which is actually the first in the realms of the elderlings) as soon as I get my hands on it.

Book Review – Raptor Red (Audio Book)

raptorredTitle: Raptor Red

Author: Robert T. Bakker

Narrator: Megan Gallagher

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

ISBN: 9780743545761

Three Word Description: Emotional, RAPTORS, best-audio-book

 

Okay, this is probably the best audio book I have ever listened to. In my previous review of the audio book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy I talked about how much I loved it as an audio book, because of the comedy. But what makes this my favorite audio book is for the use of sound effects and music, perfectly accompanied with the story line. The above excerpt from the audio book is an example for how much more emotional a scene becomes by using music in the background. Why doesn’t ALL audio books use a soundtrack?? I will never be able to enjoy listening to a book as much as this one.

But what is the story about? The story follows a female Utahraptor, Raptor Red, in her struggles to survive. It’s a beautifully touching story, but also filled with intruige and very believable. Although it, of course, is not entirely a true-story, it’s still very believable because of the description of them as still wild dinosaurs. Not some disney-like animals that talks and acts like humans. No, these are vicious predators. But they’re also loving to their families.

What makes this story so great, except for the previous mentioning, is the characters. Did you love Blue in Jurassic World? Then this book is definitely for you. Strong female characters, that are dinosaurs. Determined, vicious, intelligent and loyal is some words to describe Raptor Red (adding ‘viciously aggresive’ to her sister). I got attached to Raptor Red after just a few minutes of listening, both feeling sentimental and awe-struck for her at the same time.

Also, this was the first time I felt heartbroken and so emotional for troubles with the love-interest in such a short time/the first book. 

And not to talk about the plot. The use of soundtrack and sound effects, like I mentioned, made things not only so much more emotional but the action was (probably) a hundred times more intense. If you like the ‘journey to a better land’, like Watership Down or The Land Before Time, you’ll definitely like this story. This audio book is also very short (only about 3 hours!) which makes it a really quick listening (and trust me, you wanna keep listening).

I can’t really find any faults. I just love this book so much, I only find the fault in myself for not discovering it sooner. I just finished Watership Down by Richard Adams before starting this book, and to be honest, I was a bit dissapointed. It was good (I do not deny the quality of the content), but I was expecting to get so much more emotional and affected by the story. I just ended up dragging myself through it the most. So I did not really expect much from Raptor Red. But oh no, this story following a Utahraptor was so much more emotional and enjoyable for me and I’m so happy for that.

So I would recommend everyone to listen to the audio book. Even if audio books may not be for you, I insist you must at least try. First, it’s short (only 3 hours) and it has sound effects (dinosaur roars! fighting!) and a soundtrack that will keep your interest and help to avoid your mind to wander. Listen, listen to it now. You won’t regret it.

Book Review – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Audio Book)

hitchikerTitle: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

Narrated by: Stephen Fry

Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio

Three Word Description: Hilarious, New Favorite

 

“Vogon poetry is of course, the third worst in the universe.
The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. “

This audio book was an experience. I have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and the only thing I really knew of it was the “42” – quote and that it was supposed to be a bit silly. But what I got was the great comedy like that of Monty Python with a parody of philosophy and space and pretty much everything. I loved it.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is the first installment of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy -series about a man who’s adventures through the galaxy begin on a very unfortunate Thursday. First, his house gets demolished for a new freeway. Then, Earth gets demolished for a galactic freeway.

I think this book is amazing as an audio book because of the sheer amount of comedy and silliness, that makes it even funnier when listening to someone narrating it. I found myself snickering several times in the beginning, but the quote above is the one where I just completely lost it. Stephen Fry was a great narrator and I do not doubt that he narrates with the very voice the author had in his head when writing the story.

So Fry was excellent in “voice acting” the different characters. Arthur, the earthman protagonist, was portrayed on spot as someone who’s quite panicked about their planet being destroyed, resolving to “panicked sarcasm”. A very relatable character. Not to mention every other character, from a two-headed extremist hitchhiker (to put it lightly), a depressed robot to a sperm whale and so on.

It’s a short listen (or read) so of course, you don’t expect the plot to drag, but it could have ended up very dull and forgettable. What makes this book so unique and memorable was not just all the weird events, but also the “Lemony Narrator” (from which the trope is named after- you guessed it- Lemony Snicket). A very bizarre and idiosyncratic style of narration from a third person narrator. As for me, it is probably my favorite type of narration as I’m not a big fan of first perspective, but love the little remarks and sarcastic comments on events and people, et cetera. The “Lemony Narrator” makes probably the best type of audio books, as it is like listening to God drunkenly trying to tell you a story of the world he created.

Except for being funny and probably the weirdest and silliest ways possible, it also is actually pretty smart as well. The (in)famous “the ultimate answer and question” part was probably the most hilarious in the book, as it relates to philosophy, a course I’m currently studying. The problem they had with the ultimate answer was so hilarious because it was so true! And not to mention the aggressive philosophers.

But in summary, I loved this audio book and I think everyone should listen to it. Even if you think audio books aren’t for you, this one is definitely worth a try. The comedy of both the events and the narration will keep you hooked, no doubt. I may not do “Star ratings” on a review (as I have great distrust of them after a traumatic experience with a terrible book with 4.2 stars on Goodreads…), but know that I would give this a full 5/5 stars as it is one of my new favorite books. ❤

 

Book Review – His Dark Materials

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Title: His Dark Materials (Nothern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass)

Author: Philip Pullman

ISBN: 9781841593425

Three Word Description; Magical, Complex, Heartbreaking

 

 

 

Right, what the hell is up with Pullman’s endings?

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I was literally like this yesterday when I finished the book (series).

Anyway, this book series was really good. I never read it as a kid (like every book series people grew up with…) but, just like with American Gods, once I heard they’d make a TV-series out of it, I had to read it.

(But, be prepared for some unpopular opinions in this review, especially since I’m reading this without the nostalgia feeling a lot of people have.)

So the first book, Nothern Lights, follows Lyra on her quest to save her best friend and her father. I could definitely see why people love the book, as it has this great ‘adventure feel’ in it, and I’m so mad I didn’t read it when I was younger. The second book, however, felt much different, especially since a new main character arrives and the beginning of a completely new adventure. Unfortunately, with both the second and the third book, I had to drag myself through it quite a lot. It just didn’t grip me and lacked in suspense.

But the world(s) building was amazing, and it was really enjoyable to read and imagine them. An ice-bear kingdom? Sign me up. But also the supporting characters were very memorable and great. When kids are being abducted and the government turns their back on it, the oppressed gyptians are the only ones to act despite their few resources. Good but badass witches, a villainous church and, of course, Mrs. Coulter, probably the most memorable villain of them all. Will, the new main character introduced in book two, was a really good contrast to Lyra’s character and I felt very protective of him haha…

However, I actually found myself a bit annoyed with the main character, Lyra. First because of her immaturity, but she was like 11/12/13 through the books or something, so of course she would be. If she had been, she’d probably wouldn’t be realistic. But the thing that bothered me was that there was a great lack of character development? Like in the second, it was as if some things that happened in the first was completely ignored? Like what her “male-relative” had done was almost completely ignored despite that she should have been really traumatized by that (like me)?? Especially with the answer from her Alethiometer she got about Will. Plus he never has to answer for it ever? Also completely forgetting someone who had been like a true mother to her in the first book, just for the sake of “redeeming” one who had “tried” to be a mother for Lyra despite all her wickedness.  I just felt overall that Lyra could have so much more potential in her character development. It pisses me of when author ignores plot events for the sake of… what, exactly?

So there’s a certain character I hate very much, despite everyone seeming to love him? It’s the male-relative, you’ll know who it is if you’ve read the books. I could never see him as anything but a jerkass and villain, but he never had to answer for what he did?? Also his little romance with Mrs. Coulter is not “goals” you guys.

But I have to give Pullman an applaud for the complex world he created, with so many good messages and unique powers and everything. About the struggle of a power-hungry church, good witches, gay angels and including probably the most exciting thing in science (in my opinion), dark matter. I was actually quite shocked to be honest when the story started developing to a much grander conflict, and I loved that.

The endings of all the books had me like the gif on the top. It’s clear Pullman likes to shock his reader, and now I don’t know what to do. There’s supposed to be a new series coming out this fall (like everything I’m excited about) so I will definitely give it a shot. But I warn you, you won’t ever be ready or okay about any of the endings. Not okay. But I did like a lot of things in the conclusion, especially what the prophecies turned out to be. It was very clever of Pullman.

SO overall I think the book series was good, but it lacked in character development and could drag on at certain points in the books. But the world-building was clever and unique and he did manage to get me very emotional (which I like about a book). I’d recommend it, but I think I actually would have enjoyed it more if I had been a bit younger.

 

 

Book Review – Ship Of Magic

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Title: Ship of Magic

Author: Robin Hobb

Publisher: Harper Voyager

ISBN: 978-0-00-811745-0

Three Word Description: Fantastic, Magical, Unique

 

 

 

 

From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic begins an epic tale of pirates, sentient ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.

On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels.

Only Bingtown liveships can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River and plunder the riches found upstream, but such vessels are made from the most precious commodity in the world – a material with the ability to become sentient – and so are extremely rare.

Do you know that wonderful feeling when you realized that you’ve discovered a new favorite series, no – author? This is my first Robin Hobb book and is the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy, and I am so happy that I finally took the time to start reading from her. Trust me, don’t let that thick size of the book intrigue you – I practically devoured it (880 pages in two/three days). I haven’t read a thick book so fast since The Final Empire and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

But what is it that makes this book so good? This High Fantasy novel follows multiple p.o.v. as their lives drastically changes. Now, since I hate spoilers and want to be as subtle as possible, I will not say more of what befalls them. But what happens will lead to some great character developments (and this is just the first book) and an intriguing plot that forced me to keep reading it through the night. Hobb doesn’t need wars or a Court setting to create drama in a fantasy world – her writing of the characters’ worry and angst is all that is needed.

Books that manages to get you emotionally invested in the characters and events are, in my opinion, books that have succeeded. I craved to comfort one character, scolding another like a mother scolds her child, or just outright ready to fight one. I always wanted to find out more – what would happen next? What would they do? Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t put it down.

So it is a very character driven book, so you’ll love this if you’re into those. But who are the characters? You’ll meet a young sailor woman who has the ones she cherished the most taken from her. A ship mate with an equally unsettling past as future, an old woman and her daughter who has to fight for her family, a boy forced to live a life he never wanted, a girl who wants to grow up too early, and a pirate who dreams of becoming king. And these are just to mention a some.

This book also touches sensitive and important subjects such as sexism and slavery with in a very good way. How a man can stop important developments and outright ruin things because of his sexist values, but also how it is mostly formed not out of hate for women, but just ignorance and upbringing. Slavery is portrayed as it is – inhumane. The conditions they’re in, but also the mental state of someone without the right of an identity. I really can’t wait to read the rest of the books to find out more about how they’ll fight these injustices.

But one thing to have in mind is that this book may be a bit slow in the beginning. Though I honestly did not notice, but that may be because I read a lot of thick books. I only heard this a lot from others, so I’d take it into account of I were you. Also, like I said about being so invested in characters, you are going to be (very) angry at some characters. But, in my case, it’s all part of the experience.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, and I’m despairing for not being able to go and buy the next yet. You simply cannot miss this book filled with living ships, pirates, drama, magical creatures, amazing characters and a plot that will force you to stay up all night, just to find out what happens next.