Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December book haul

Over the course of December I accumulated quite some books. Some I bought myself, and others where gifts.

In the Netherlands we normally do not receive presents for Christmas (although nowadays is it more common), but we receive presents on another holiday (5 December) called Sinterklaas. I got six books from Sinterklaas, being:
The Arrival by Shaun Tan, wich is an amazing graphic novel that I soon hope to be reviewing.
A pretty leatherbound book containing several of Jules Vernes stories, which is perfect for a fantasy and sci-fi lover like me.
The moneyless man: A year of freeconomic living by Mark Boyle is non fiction book about a man who decided to live without money for a year. In my final year of high school I had to give an 'end presentation' and my topic was self sufficient living. While doing research I stumbled upon Boyle's project and and got really interested in him so I'm really excited to learn more about his project.
Herr der diebe (The thief lord) by Cornelia Funke. Cornelia Funke wrote one of my favorite childhood books, Inkheart, and I have been wanting to improve my German for a while now, so I got one of her other books in German!
The giver quartet by Lois Lowry is a beautiful edition with pink edges. I have read The Giver, the first book in the quartet, and really liked it, so I'm excited to read the other stories.
The last book I got for Sinterklaas was The road not taken and other poems by Robert Frost. I haven't read that much poetry and I feel like Frost is a good start and not to hard to get into.
The books that I bought myself throughout the month:
The 100 by Kass Morgan. The tv series The 100 is based on this book (although apparently a little different) and since I really enjoyed the first season I thought I would give the book a go.
Project M by Milan Hofmans. I recently discovered this Dutch author and I was curious about some of his other books. I already read it and my review can be read here. by Marcel van Driel is another book by a Dutch author. I have never read anything by this author before, but the synopsis sounds promising.
The last book I got was It's kind of funny story by Ned Vizzini. This book was recommended to me by a friend and you can read my review here.

With so many new books I better start reading!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Top 10 - Books read in 2014

This year I read 45 books and it is a number I'm quite happy with! These ten were my favorites of the year in order:

The Arrival1. The arrival by Shaun Tan
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)This graphic novels was absolutely gorgeous and I have never read anything quite like it. All the illustrations are in sepia tones and the drawings are very suggestive. The story is that of an immigrant who arrives in a country he does not speak the language of and no words are used in the book, which I think is an great concept.

2. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
After seeing the movie of the first book in the cinema, which I enjoyed, I decided to give the books a go and I read all 6 of them within a week. The books just got better and better as the serie progressed and the main character was sassy and bad ass. You can read my full review of the first book here.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)This book was very action packed and kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the idea of the factions and the world Roth created was very interesting and I wanted to know a lot more about it. Although I enjoyed this first book in the trilogy, I found the sequel to be quite boring, so I'm hoping the last book will make up on that with lots of action! You can read my full review here.

4. The lightning thief by Rick Riordan
 I read this book because it was the read of the month of a Goodreads group that I'm part of. I have read it before and not enjoyed it that much, but somehow this time around I loved it! Percy was a fun main character and I loved the relationship he had with his mom. You can read my full review here.

The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)5. The hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)This was the first book I read this year, after seeing the the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. I really enjoyed the world Tolkien created and because I enjoyed this one so much it encouraged me to have another try at reading The lord of the rings, which I'm currently reading and so far really enjoying.

6. A storm of swords by George R.R. Martin
The first two books of the A song of ice and fire series were a bit of a struggle for me to get through, but this one was different and definitely the best one so far. I really enjoyed how all the seperate storylines started to intertwine and also some of the characters that I didn't like that much in the beginning of the series changed for the better.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseThe Fault in Our Stars7. The fault in our stars by John Green
Because of all the hype around this book I was reluctant to start it, but I am glad I did. Allthough I don't think it is one of the best books of all time, as a lot of people say, I thought it was a great book. I hardly ever 'love' contemporary books, so that is quite an acomplishment.

8. Aristotle & Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The plot of this book was maybe not the most exciting one ever, but it was just so beautifully written! Many passages I reread more than once because they really resonated with me. You can read my full review here.

The Book Thief9. The book thief by Markus Zusak
How I Live NowThis book was not a very happy one, but like Aristotle & Dante it was beautifully written. As a book lover it was great to see a main character who was also really into books. The fact that the narrator of this book is Death himself, makes that it stands out from other WOII books I have read.

10. How I live now by Meg Rosoff
Buying this book for only €0,20 at a second hand store I didn't expect this book to be so gripping. I have read quite a lot of dystopian books before, but the writingstyle of this one was very different from any other dystopian books I have read.

What were your favorite books of the year?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Movie review - The Battle of the Five Armies (The Hobbit 3)

I have been very excited about The battle of the five armies and I finally got to see it yesterday with my friends. I thought this one was the best Hobbit movie yet and I really enjoyed it. I personally felt like the creators tried too hard to make the first movie funny, but in this movie I thought there was a good balance. The movie definitely focuses on the action, but there are some funny moments as well. Again the costumes and scenery where amazing. There was only one part in the movie that was too clearly CGI, when Galadriel encountered the Nazgûl. Apart from that, the movie was beautiful. I really liked how all the the storylines of the characters were concluded and that there was some foreshadowing of things happening in The Lord of the Rings, but I was sad to part from Middle Earth again. Let's hope another movie will be made!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Review - My own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

22613491Genre: romance, contemporary
Pages: 288
Rating: 4/5 stars

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.

My thoughts
The first chapter of the book takes place about six years earlier than the rest of the book. At the time the main character Elizabeth is still a teenager. Lizzie's teenage voice didn't really sound authentic, I don't really feel like the authors best talent is writing teenage characters, because Lizzie's friend Janessa also didn't really come across as a 16 year old. They both sounded more like 12 year olds.
I started to like the book a lot better when the next chapter continued six years later. The author was much better at giving Lizzie a mature voice. Lizzie was a great main character. She was very sweet and likeable and that really made me want her to be happy.
When Lizzie meets her Mr. Darcy, Matthew Dawson, she likes that he is egoistical and proud. She seemed a bit like a naive young girl basing her whole crush on the fact that Matthew resembled Matthew Macfadyen's Mr. Dracy. She also liked that Matthew was haughty because of the fact that he didn't just work at a bookstore but he owned it. I enjoyed watching Lizzie transform and grow as a person. At the end of the book she no longer was the shallow, naive girl she was in the beginning of the book.
The blossoming romance with Chad was very cute and sweet. Early on it became clear he was a great match for Lizzie. I really liked Chad and I couldn't wait for him and Lizzie to get together. I didn't expect to like Matthew at all, but somehow I started to actually like him more and more. He was definitely not the one for Lizzie, but I did appreciate the fact that he wasn't a total jerk either.
At some point it is mentioned that Matt is a vegetarian and that he is rude for not asking Lizzie what she wants to eat. 'She has as much right to a meat sandwich as he has to his vegetarian sandwich' I personally don't agree with that at all. How should someone who doesn't want to eat meat be forced to serve it to his/her guest? Here I felt a bit like White thought being vegetarian is stupid, because throughout the book Matt starts to eat more meat because of Lizzie. I found it a bit annoying honestly. If someone wants to be vegetarian let them be and if you don't want to be a vegetarian that's fine too, but I don't really like it when people try to convert other people.
This book wasn't just a quick and fun read but it showed very clearly that you shouldn't change yourself to please another person. Which is was Lizzie does for Matt. She changes the clothes she wears because he doesn't really like how she dresses, while with Chad Lizzie can completely be herself, which I appreciated.
The book was very fast paced and a quick read.
I enjoyed how Lizzie changed throughout the book, she really changed as a person. She started doing wat she loves, interior design, and didn't let herself be defined by other persons anymore. I loved how passionate Lizzie was about her interior design, it made me want to start redecorating my place too. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Review - Project M by Milan Hofmans

17558093Genre: childrens, fantasy, science fiction, mystery
Pages: 156
Rating: 4/5 stars

Madhu Mahavir has an extraordinary ability. Together with his uncle Ranga, a famous doctor, he travels to the mountain village Fontelmiro to research the mysterious disease professor Shiverling is suffering from.

Soon it appears something exceptionnel is hidden at the remote Shiverling estate. Six days follow, in which Madhu and Ranga find out more and more about the professor's disease and the fairylike Project M, on which the Shiverlings have been working for generations.

My thoughts
I recently picked up a book by this author not knowing to much about it and was pleasantly surprised, so I decided to pick up one of his childrens books. What I loved most about the other book was the interesting and original world Hofmans created. Project M again features a very imaginative world which is vividly described. I loved how some things are very familiar to our own world, but other things are very different. I'm not always a fan of books that are science fiction but also feature magical creatures, but for this book I thought it worked well.
I thought the mystery in the book was interesting and I liked how at first you are led to believe one thing, while later you realise that the truth is very different. The only thing about this book that I did not like that much was that the badguy, once he was discovered, revealed his master plan to the main character. I have always found it a bit annoying when that happens in movies or books, becaue I cannot really see that happening in real life. Even if it does, it doesn't happen that often. I feel like it is a trope that is used a little to often for convenience.
Eventhough this book is a finished story on its own, Hofmans wrote another book featuring Madhu Mahavir and I'm sure I'll be reading that one too.

The book was originally written in Dutch and so far no English translation has been written.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Birthday book haul

My family and friends know me very well and gave me some books for my birthday! From my Italian friend Serena I got The Decameron by the Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. From my uncle and aunt I got Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green and Het Natuurkundeboek [The Physics Book] by Clifford A Pickover. My parents gave me another textbook to learn Swedish and a beautiful leatherbound edition of Aesop's illustrated fables from Barnes & Noble. I can't wait to start reading all these books!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2014 Reading challenge

At the beginning of the year I had set myself the goal to read 40 books this year. It's not as much as some other people read in a year, but being quite bussy with university I am proud of the books I read this year. I don't have to go back to university till januari 5, so I'm sure I'll even be able to read a couple of books more.

How are you doing on your reading challange of 2014?