Monday, 23 February 2015

Review - Boy 7 by Mirjam Mous

Genre: science fiction, young adult
Pages: 288
Rating: 4/5
This book was originally written in Dutch and has been translated into German, Polish and Korean.

A boy regains consciouness in a bare field. He does not remember how he got there, where he came from and even his own name.

To his relief he finds a backpack containing a mobile phone. He wants to dial the emergency number,  but then he sees that he received a voicemail message. To his astonishment he hears: 'Whatever happens, do not call the police in any case'. He knows one thing for sure: that is his own voice. He left the message himself!

Using the stuff in his backpack, he goes searching for his past. But as long as he does not remember anything, he does not dare to trust anyone. Not even Lara...

Gradually he learns the terrible truth.

My thoughts
This book has been on my shelf for a long time, but when I learned that it was recently made into the first Dutch young adult sci-fi movie I immediately wanted to read the book and go see the movie.
The tension in this book grew very gradually. The author made clever use of switching between past and present to make you very eager to read on. The scenes in the past also provided extra characters and settings which added to the overall depth of the story.
I can make only make two remarks on this book. The first one is one of my bookish pet peeves, it was the constant use of an English word ('notebook') in a Dutch book. There are several words in Dutch that could be used in its place so there was absolutely no reason to use an english word. While I love the English language I think Dutch people let it overtake their own language a bit too much.
The other remark is only minor, but I would have loved to know more about 'CooperationX'. It was not like there where lacking any details about it that where relevant for the story, but it was just very interesting and it might have made to story come to life just a little bit more.
The main character was likeable and for a change not just 'a stupid teenager', which annoys me in a lot of YA books. I liked how not everyone was what he seemed to be and I also really appreciated the lack of romance. I feel like romance is thrown in way to often to make up for lack of an actual story. This story didn't need any romance at all. It gripped me from start and I really had a hard time putting this book down; I needed to know what would happen next!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Review - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357Genre: dystopian, young adult, science fiction, teen
Pages: 374
Rating: 3/5

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there - or what's happened to the world outside.

My thoughts

After seeing the trailer for the movie of The Maze Runner I got excited to read the book. However, it took me a really long time to get into this book and even at the end I felt a little bit like I had to push myself to continue reading. The concept itself is really interesting, a bunch of teenagers trapped in a maze and no one has any memory of who they are or why they are there. My main problem with this book was that I didn’t really feel anything while reading, only annoyance from time to time. I just felt indifferent towards the book.
I had a really hard time connecting to the main character Thomas. I didn't think he was very likeable; he had a high opinion of himself and he was constantly telling everyone in the maze how they should behave eventhough he had been there for only a few days himself. Thomas and one other character have sort of a psychic ability which makes them able to comunicate with each other even though they are far apart. I felt like it was a bit unnecessary because it did not add anything to the book. It was only used for communicating things like 'Hey where are you? We need to talk. Do you want to come over?'
The other characters did not seem to have distinguishable character traits and only seemed able to be either angry or supportive, often switching back and forth between the two in only a couple of minutes. I thought it was a little strange how all the kids in the maze expected Thomas to know everything pretty much from the moment het arrives, eventhough they all lost their memory too and when they first arrived they also didn't have a clue as to what was going on. They were not willing to tell Thomas anything, for no apparent reason whatsoever.
The book felt really descriptive to me and the story unfortunately didn’t really seem to come to life. There was a lot of telling instead of showing and the writing often seemed a little inconsistent. For example at some point Thomas mentions something along the lines of 'Somehow everything always seemed to lead back to the girl'. For one she had only been there less than a week so the term 'always' was hardly applicable and secondly; Thomas had hardly ever thought about the girl before and there hadn't been anything else that lead to the girl. This is maybe not a major issue, but there were lots of these kind of sentences that pulled me out of the story over and over again.

I was going to give this book only two stars, because I thought the concept was pretty good, but apart from that it was a a letdown. That was until I read the last two chapters and (especially) the epilogue which were really surprising. I didn't intend on continuing the series, but now I am a little curious after all, hopefully the series gets better in the next books!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Short story Saturday #7

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

'A little bit further down there was a hole. Something came crawling out of it, but it was to dark to make out what it was'.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Short story Saturday #6

To encourage myself (and maybe others) to write more, I will post a prompt every saturday to write a short story. From time to time I will share what I have written, and if you have written something based on the prompt do leave a comment, I'm curious as to what you would have written.

This week's prompt:

A family with seven kids, each named after a day of the week.

Some questions to get you started:
Why are they called after the days of the week? What are their parents called?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Short story - Chasing sanity

This short story is based on this writing prompt.

I ran as fast as I could over the path that meandered through the bushes. I tried to keep quiet, but it was hard because the ground was covered in dried leaves. I rounded the corner and suddenly the road diverged. I quickly scanned both options to see what would be the best road to take. The road to the left sloped downhill and continued through a well-lit park with very little high vegetation. The other road went behind a row of sheds; high trees overhanging the road from the other side. The darkness made it hard to see how it continued much further than fifty meters. Almost by instinct I went for the road on the left. The light combined with the fact that there were very few bushes would mean exposure, but it would also mean that I would be able to see my pursuers coming.
I sprinted downhill, careful not to step into one of the many holes. It had been raining the past few days and that had made the path very slippery and the traces left by the water made it very uneven. I had to slow down to keep myself from falling. It took a while before the road was level again. I looked down to see where I planted my feet and by the time running no longer proved dangerous and I was able to look up again, I realized I had made a mistake. I should have gone the other direction. If I would continue this way I would certainly get caught. My pursuers were in view again and they were very close behind. Clearly they were familiar with the area and had taken a different route, because one of them I saw come running over the field to my left. I wanted my feet to go faster, but as hard as I tried I could not make them.
I looked around to see if there was any way to escape. Ahead and to the right the road just continued and did not lead to any place that could mean safety. To the far left of the park there seemed to be a road leading into a small neighborhood where I surely would be able to shake off my pursuers. The problem, however, was that the guy on the grass, who was closest behind me, might be able to cut me off it he anticipated my move. There was no other way, it was my only option so I had to take it. For a while I continued straight on the road, not looking back because I was afraid of what I would see and my fear would only paralyze me. When I finally turned to the left, off of the road and through the flower beds, I could see that the guy behind me was still far away enough. For a minute I got my hopes up, but they were literally slammed to the ground when somebody crashed into me. I fell hard, my face pressed down. I did not have a lot of space to move, I could just turn around my head and look upon my captors face. Somehow he seemed familiar, but I could not recall where I had seen him before.
The guy who was holding me down waited for the others to join him. I was afraid for what might happen. When they arrived they surrounded us, making sure I would not escape again. One of them crouched down next to me. He reached out to me and I flinched. I kicked my captor and tried to get free. ‘Calm down Em’, the guy next to us said. ‘You forgot to take your meds, that’s why your freaking out. Let’s go home and I’ll give them to you. I promise you that you will feel a lot better’.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Top 10 - Favorite female characters

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
She is smart and almost always knows what to do in a certain situation. She is a very loyal friend and stands by Harry untill the end. I didn't like her much in the first Harry Potter book, but throughout the series she goes through a wonderful transformation and she becomes a person that I wouldn't mind being. 
2. Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series
Although Rose is a lot more outgoing than I am we definitely share our sarcastic humor. I love how active Rose is in her own life and how protective she is over her best friend. Although Rose goes through a lot of hard stuff she keeps having a positive outlook on life.
3. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games  
I am personnaly really interested in self sufficiency and survival and I love characters who can take care of themselves. That was probably one of the first things I liked about Katniss, but as I got to know her better I only liked her more. She is very protective over her family and sacrifices a lot to safe them. I feel like Katniss and I have quite a lot of characteristics in common, so for me she was very relatable. We are both introverts, but when something needs to get done we stand up and do it ourselves. 
4. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series
I don't think there are many people who do not like Luna. She is always kind and happy and although she can seem a bit strange at first she is really smart. I love how she is not afraid to be herself. 
5. Daenerys Targaryen from A song of Ice and Fire 
From a scared girl she changes into a powerful woman who leads a big army. She is very smart and knows how to get what she wants. As I mentioned before, I love characters who can take care of themselves and who play an active role in their own lives. Daenerys is no exception. 
6. Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series
There are very few parents that are depicted in children's or YA books that I really like, but it is just impossible to not love  Molly Weasley. She has a very big heart and does not only take care of her own children, but when she realizes that Harry doesn't have a nice situation at home she always invites him and gives him presents on Christmas. When the war with Voldemort gets really serious she proves that she is very well capable of taking care of herself and protecting her children. 
7. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice
Elizabeth is very independent. She does not depend on a man for luck, although that was the common view in her time. She makes some mistakes in the book by being prejudiced, but she is not afraid to admit to her mistakes and I really appreciate that. 
8. Ginney Weasley from the Harry Potter series
I didn't like Ginny from the movies too much, but I did really like her in the books. In the books she comes across as smart and she is also very stubborn. In the beginning she really likes Harry, but when he doesn't show any interest in her she doesn't wait for him but goes on with her own life and starts dating others. A lot of girls in YA tend to be very clingy and I like how independent Ginny is. 
9. Meggie Folchart from Inkheart
When I as a booklover read a book about a fellow booklover I always get so excited. Meggie is not a typical hero, but she proves herself to be smart and brave. I loved the bond that she has with her father. Although she isn't that old she doesn't come across as a silly teenager, which I think is nice for a change. 
10. Sophie Amundsen from Sophie's World
Sophie is a very inquisitive girl and asks a lot of questions about the world around her. She isn't afraid to be herself. The fact that she always asks questions reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger. I would constantly ask my parents how certain things worked to the point that it probably annoyed them. Sophie's World was not the easiest book to get through, because it has some passages about philosophers that are a bit dry, but because of Sophie I really wanted to read on.

What are your favorite female characters?

Monday, 2 February 2015

Review - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone by J.K. Rowling

21523103Genre: fantasy, middle grade
Pages: 332
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads
When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous - or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

My thoughts
I felt like starting to reread the Harry Potter series and when this beautiful edition arrived I started right away. I first read this book when I was quite a bit younger. I again really enjoyed it and this time around I noticed some things that I was not aware of at the time. Especially how Rowling's writing style is reminiscent of Roald Dahl's writing. I loved how ridiculous some of the descriptions of the Dursleys were.
It was wonderful to once again enter the magical world that Rowling created. It is so detailed and interesting and I think almost anyone would love to go to Hogwarts.
It had been a while since I had read the books, but I have seen the movies not too long ago. While reading I was reminded of how different some of the characters in the book are compared to the movies. Ron Weasley was in the movies never one of my favorites but I really like him in the book. He was funny and smarter than the movie made him seem. Hermione Granger went through a quite wonderful transformation in the book. From an annoying know-it-all she changes into a loyal friend. All the characters are so complex and I can't wait to continue rereading the series to again get to know them all a little better. What I liked about the characters is that they all had something interesting, but they were also not that extraordinary. They all had both good character traits and bad character traits. Harry himself is very brave, but he is also a little bit egoistic. In the wizard world Harry is quite famous, but I love how Rowling gave him a quite common name. Very often authors think their character needs an extremely exotic name that makes no sense at all when you realize their heritage, only to sound interesting.
Although the book is not extremely long Rowling manages to tell a great story while also introducing the magical world Harry enters. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

January Wrap-up

V for Vendetta by Alan MooreDe Reisgenoten by J.R.R. TolkienThe 100 by Kass MorganRobin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
De ruiters van Glaas by Rom MolemakerThe Moneyless Man by Mark BoyleHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. RowlingDe aardmagiër / De watermagiër by Anne  West
This month I read eight books. For me this is quite a lot, on average I haven't been reading that much books the last years and definitely not when I also had to go to school or university.
The books I read:
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The 100 by Kass Morgan
Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
De ruiters van Glaas [The Riders of Glaas] by Rom Molemaker
The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone
De macht van het zwaard [The Power of the Sword] by Anne West

I gave all the book at least 3,5 stars so it definitely was a good month. My favorite was The Fellowship of the Ring. After I reread the first Harry Potter book I fell into a reading slump. I don't know how many books I gave up on after only reading one or two chapters, but finally I decided to reread the book that got me into fantasy when I was younger, De macht van het zwaard, and that definitely helped me get back into reading.