Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My best reads of 2013

In the beginning of this year I didn't really have time to read a lot of books due to school, but later I managed to read some more. I read a total of 22 books this year according to goodreads.

The books I enjoyed the most this year:

Pride and Prejudice (Modern Library Classics)The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeThe Night CircusThe Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1)City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (novella)
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
5. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

What where your most enjoyable reads this year?

Monday, 30 December 2013

Movie review - The Desolation of Smaug (The Hobbit #2)

Yesterday me and my friends finally went to see the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. I was blown away. I loved it even more than the first movie. The scenery is beautiful and the characters are amazing. I thought Bard was played really well and it was nice to see Legolas again. I really loved that they had added the chracter of Tauriel to the movie because she made it more emotional. Eventhough I liked this movie better than the first one, I felt like the first one had more of an ending while this movie seemed to stop at quite a critical moment. You could hear the whole audience in the theater go 'What?' when the screen turned black. Watching the movie got me in the mood to reread The Hobbit so I'll definitely will be doing that in 2014.

Have you seen the movie, and what did you think of it?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Review - Eric in the Land of the Insects by Godfried Bomans

Genre: fantasy / childrens
Pages: 143
Rating: 4,5/5 stars

Summary (from a Goodreads user)
One evening in bed Eric, a third grader studying for a test on insects, magically enters grandfather's painting that depicts a meadow filled to the brim with insects. When Eric understands what actually has happened, he decides to start his search for the frame of the painting, so that he can jump back to his room. This quest will get him in contact with a colorful world of friendly and sometimes not so friendly insects. The wasps, bees, butterflies and other critters are all intrigued by that strange creature that calls himself Eric. As he gets invited to their homes, Eric discovers that in the end the difference between man en insect is not that big. You can indeed learn a lot from the insects, although they themselves have also quite a lot to learn.

My thoughts
I received this book through Nederland leest ('The Netherlands reads'). It is a yearly event to stimulate people to read books. In october or november members of a public library can pick up a free copy of a certain book by a dutch author.

In highschool I had to read several dutch books, none of which I extremely enjoyed, and afterwards I didn't feel like reading dutch books anymore until this one came along. This book is a Dutch classic. Some people regard this book as a childrens book, while others think that children would not be able to understand the whole story. I personally think that children will be perfectly able to understand the storyline, and eventhough there may be a few extra layers that they will not see, it might be a book they will really enjoy. I certainly did! Because of the absurdity of the characters it reminded me a little of Alice in Wonderland and on Goodreads I saw a lot of others making this comparison. Eventhough the language of the book is slightly outdated (which I actually enjoyed) it was a very readable book and fast paced. It read a little like a fairytale. I thought it was definitely not a boring book and I've added some other books by the same writer to my to read list. After reading this book I feel like I might need to give more Dutch books a chance, because by this one I was pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Review - Looking for Alaska by John Green

Genre: young adult / contemporary
Pages: 272
Rating: 3,5/5 stars

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My thoughts
On the internet I had seen that a lot of people where very enthusiastic about John Green's books so that was the reason I asked Looking for Alaska for my birthday. I had quite high expectations from this book, and although I really enjoyed this book a lot, it didn't completely meet them.  I thought this would be one of those books that I wouldn't be able to put down, but it wasn't. I wished that I hadn't heard so much about this book already, because then I probably would have been able to read it more open minded. Apparently I had already formed a very clear idea of what the book would be like.

Although I sometimes do read contemporary fiction, it is not my favorite genre. Looking for Alaska was a pleasant surprise on that front. I loved the descriptions of life at Culver Creek boarding school and it's characters. I do wish that I had gotten to know the characters a little bit better, but the book wasn't very long so it is not strange that this didn't happen. Eventhough the characters smoke and drink in the book, they are far from stupid, which I think was nice for a change. A lot of writers have the tendency to write characters who smoke and drink as dumb. Maybe drinking a lot or smoking is not clever, but that doesn't mean that smart people in real life don't do it. John Green did a great job of writing real teenagers. They swore like teenagers do (and not like some adults seem to think they do), they questioned life and they got mad at each other for no particular reason. The main character Miles Halter was a believable character and I really liked hist interest in people's last words.

This book is fast paced and is very easy to read. It was not hard to get into at all. I read it over several days, but if I would have read it in one go I could definitely have finished it in one day.

I can't really pinpoint why I wasn't blown away by this book. There is really not that much I can say against it. It's just that I had expected it to be even better. This is definitely a book that I will be reading again, because maybe now that I see it in a different light I can apreciate it more, because the writing style is really beautiful and I really want to love this book.

'I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.'

Thursday, 19 December 2013

She's my rose

“You're beautiful, but you're empty...One couldn't die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass, since she's the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I always dreaded reading for French class and Le Petit Prince was probably the only french book I ever truly enjoyed. My book had these pretty, little drawings in it, which were made by the author himself. Eventhough the language is not very complicated, the book contains so much beautiful reflections on love and life.

Friday, 13 December 2013

More room for books

I've been blogging for a while now over at Do not feed the fears, and recently I started posting about books there too. For my birthday and Sinterklaas (a dutch holiday where we receive presents) I received the books above and I realised that I wanted to blog about books so much more. My books needed more space so it was time for them to move out and get a blog of their own. Besides books I will also be posting here about writing, my favorite quotes and movies or tv series that are being made and are based on books.

I'm really excited to start reading Looking for Alaska, The remains of the day, The City and the Stars, City of Ashes, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe and A Christmas Carol and other Christmas Stories and blog about them.

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Review - Forever Beth: Lost and found by Elizabeth Cook-Howard



Set within the boroughs of New York City, 12 year veteran of the NYPD, Detective Kevin Walker is faced with the daunting task of solving the murder of a mother and her six year old daughter. Investigating as he has many times before, Detective Walker finds this particular case more disheartening to solve compared to all past cases he has investigated.

Beth Morris, a Domestic Violence Case Worker for the past seven years finds herself in a place of loss once again. Two of the most important people in her life are brutally murdered. The two same people who helped her understand what unconditional love is, how to give love and more importantly how to accept being loved. Their murder, their loss unearths Beth’s past filled with abuse, rejection and a wish for death.

Meeting Detective Walker when her life was crumbling, Beth found refuge in his need to protect. Initially assuming his protectiveness was routine, Beth realizes he too has a past filled with tragedy and the lack of maternal love. Kevin and Beth are two souls drawn together assumed by murder but realistically by love loss and painful pasts.

I received a copy of this book via Goodreads giveaway.

In the beginning of the book we meet the domestic violence case worker Beth Morris. Beth has had a tough life. She had a bad relationship with her mother, her husband physically abused her and her beloved father died. Beth can no longer live with all the pain and sees suicide as the only way out. Luckily she is saved and when she meets Rosa and Rosie through her work she finally finds people she can love again. Rosa and Rosie treat Beth like family, so when they are both murdered Beth's life is turned upside down once again.

What I really liked about this book was the pace in which the story was told. There was not a moment while reading this book that I was bored. I would have liked to get to know Beth a little better, but I presume the sequel will take care of that. The mystery of who murdered Rosa and Rosie didn't seem very complicated in the beginning but I was happy that it turned out to be a lot more complex in the end. I defenitely did not see that twist coming. Eventhough the book ends with a cliffhanger I didn't mind it at all. The story itself was well written. I do feel like there could have been a little more editing though. Kevin Walker is called handsome pretty often and that could have been a little less. A description of why he was so handsome would have been better, because I still don't really feel like I know what he looks like.
I was a bit confused that the exlamations are written between parentheses, since I have never seen that before.

Eventhough I'm not a very religious person I found that the religious aspect of this book was well written.

My favorite part of the book is actually when Beth has had an OD of heroine and she is in between the world of the living and heaven. To me that part of the book was written the best. Sometimes when I read a book that includes religion I feel like the sole purpose of the book is to convert me, which feels a bit annoying, but this book was very different.