Thursday, 24 December 2015

Review - Let It Snow

18272314Genre: young adult, romance
Pages: 368
Rating: 3.5/5

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle - bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

My thoughts
I don't read a lot of contemporary books, but since I wanted to read something Christmasy, I decided to give Let It Snow a try. The first story by Maureen Johnson I quite enjoyed. The main characters were all likeable and it had a lovely cosy atmosphere. I would have like the ending to be a little longer, now it felt a litte abrupt. Eventhough this story is only about 120 pages a lot happens and the main character in this story, Jubilee, felt the most real out of all the characters in the book.
The second story by John Green I thought was a little dull. Not a lot happened except that the characters were trying to drive through the snow. The story did have a sweet ending and Angie was really likeable. I did get really annoyed with JP's and Tobin's obsession with the cheerleaders. I also think John Green tried too hard to make the situation funny that it just was not funny anymore.
The third story was by Lauren Myracle, of whom I have never read anything. I was pleasantly surprised by the story. The main character Addie was very self-absorbed in the beginning, but she went through a transformation (which did happen rather sudden). I enjoyed that the stories intertwined a little, especially when you get to see the main characters of the first two stories shortly at the end of the last story.
If I would rate the stories seperately I would give Johson's story 4 out of 5 stars, Myracle's story 3.5 out of 5 stars and Green's story 2 out of 5 stars. Johnson's story The Jubilee Express was my favorite, it had the right amount of ridiculousness to still be funny. I will probably be rereading the  book another year to get into the Christmad mood, but I will probably skip John Green's story.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mini Review - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

6351469Genre: fantasy, childrens
Rating: 3.5/5
Pages: 123

A copy of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, which means that the pounds and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

- Albus Dumbledore

My thoughts 
Eventhough I loved the entire Harry Potter series I never read the companion books Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and Tales of Beedle the Bard. Now that a movie revolving around the fictional author of this book is in the making it finally was the right time to read it. If you love the Harry Potter series you will probably enjoy this book, as once again it shows Rowling's incredible creativity. The book contains descriptions of magical beasts such as what they look like, where they can be found and some interesting facts. Throughout the book Harry and Ron have made some annotation, which was a lovely touch. I did very much enjoy this little book, but I do have to say that it was definitely long enough. If the book had been longer I probably would have gotten a little bored. Also, I would have loved if there had been illustrations for all of the beasts. Perhaps one day there will be an edition that includes this?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Review - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

16034235Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance
Pages: 404
Rating: 1.5/5

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

My thoughts
I know many people love this series, and that was exactly why I was hesitant to read this story. The premise sounded like something I would really enjoy: a competition, a mystery and a kick-ass heroine, but I was wondering if the book wasn't hyped up to much.
When I finally started the book I quickly realised that this one would not be for me. I did continue the book, because I was hoping for it to get better, but it did not. The main reason I did not like this book was the main character, Celaena Sardothien. She wasn't the kick-ass heroine I was promised. She was vain, whiny, judgemental and immature. I do like flawed characters, but they definitely also have to have some positive traits, and I found it hard to find those in Celaena. The only positive thing I can come up with is that she doesn't give up. Celaena was very mean, she was constantly saying nasty stuff about lady Kaltain before Kaltain ever did anything to her. Celaena is also VERY BEAUTIFUL AND HAS GORGEOUS HAIR!!!!!, okay sure, but I already got that after the first ten times it was mentioned, and all the exclamation marks are unnecessary, there is no need to yell.
My biggest problem with Celaena was not that I did not like her, but that she just was not believable as an assasin. She is supposed to be the country's most notorious assasin, but instead she can't keep her emotions in check and constantly bursts out in anger (she has tantrums), people are constantly able to sneak up on her, she doesn't recognize poison eventhough she supposedly knows a lot about it and she does not take threats serious. Sure, everyone can have a bad day, but by the end of the book I was wondering how Celaena could possibly still be alive. Also, how on earth would she ever be able to kill someone secretly if she bursts out in anger every five minutes just because someone said something she does not like.
I found Celaena's immaturity rather strange. She has lived in a very harsh environment for many years and I just cannot imagine she would still be so immature after everything that happend to her (which, by the way, is way too much).
According to the synopsis the competition is the main focus of the book, but in reality it is not. In the beginning some aspects of the competition are explained, but later on pretty much any thing to do with the competition gets summarized in a few lines. Instead the book is about Celaena looking awesome in dresses, Celaena having awesome hair and a crown prince who is very atracted to Celaena because she is so beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I honestly love clothes, but I did not pick up this book to read about clothes. I picked up this book because I was hoping for some action, but sadly this was lacking.

The mystery in this book was not able to hold my attention. Celaena herself clearly does not care about it in the beginning, which does not really give the reader a reason to care about it, and apart from that it was both predictable and lacking in depth. Most of the research Celaena does trying to solve the mystery is only mentioned in summary. In truth, pretty much the entire plot gets summarized, which did not make me connect to the story at all. Instead we read about Celaena admiring herself, hanging out with a friend and talking about people behind their back and most of all, very akward (but not cute) moments between prince Dorian and Celaena, so basically things that do not really add anything to the plot.
Only the final battle towards the end is actually shown at the moment itself rather than summarized afterwards, but by that point I did not care enough about the story that it could keep my interest. The final battle showed again that Celaena cares to much about appearances: she is annoyed with the first opponent she gets to fight, just because 'he is not very clean'. Why would she even care he is not clean? She is going to fight him, outside, ofcourse that will result in blood and dirt so it's not going to matter if he was clean to begin with. And besides, I think it makes more sense to worry about staying alive than if other people are looking good...

The last few chapters of the book did make me a little bit curious about the next book, but since this was only the last 20 pages or so out of a 400 page book I don't think I will continue with this series.

Most characters were not very convincing, but surprisingly enough the king truely seemed quite scary, because Celaena's reaction to him was shown. This was one of the few instances were truely something was shown instead of told.

This book promises a love triangle in future books. However, I could not really take Dorian and Celaena's relationship seriously, so it does not bother me that much. Prince Dorian's love for Celaena was not convincing. They were only attracted to each other because they were both such beautiful people. I liked the other love interest, Chaol, more. Mostly because he is one of the very few people in the book who is not stupid enough to forget that Celaena is an 'extremely dangerous assasin' and actually sometimes calls Celaena out on her bad behaviour. Dorian and Chaol do not really have a life of their own, they are there to fall in love with the main character and that is it.

For a fantasy story, the world was surprisingly dull and it's magic system (or lack thereof) was not explained. I have a vague idea of what the country is like: there is the capital with a glass castle, there are the salt mines where the slaves work and there are mountains and a forest in this country. That is it, everything I learned about this country.

I do feel a lot in this story is left unexplained on purpose, as to lure people into reading the next books, but I just got to little depth to really get excited about this book, which is a shame. It does have good potential, I just don't think it lives up to that.

To end on a more positive note, I did think that Celaena's past was interesting and that does mean there is still some potential for the future books, since that probably will be explored more.

Did you read Throne of Glass? Am I truely alone in feeling the way I do about this book?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Life after NaNoWriMo

It's been a while since I've posted anything on this blog or caught up with other blogs. Life has been a little crazy lately. I read a lot of books throughout september, but after that it fell a little flat.
When november came around I made a last minute decision to participate in NaNoWriMo. I ended up writing 40,137 words. I didn't reach 50,000, but I'm so happy with what I've achieved! I finally wrote down the main idea of a story that has been in my head forever. There were definitely points where I felt like I had lost the plot, but now I think I have an idea again as to where my story is going.

As you can see in the graph at the beginning of the month I wrote a little more than the required 1,667 words per day to reach 50,000 words in a month. Around day 18 that started to falter a little, because I had already found a new project that I couldn't wait to dive into. I finally got my own domain name for my  more personal blog where I write about pretty much anything that's going on in my life: 'Met pen en penseel' (the blog is in Dutch, it's called 'With pen and paintbrush'). It's been really exciting to figure everything out and really make the blog to my liking. After I started that project I figured I should get back to writing, and I did write some more, but I didn't really write as much as before. Eventhough I didn't manage to reach my goal I think I did pretty well for not planning to participate at all and I even wrote a little more after NaNoWriMo was over (not much though, after such an intense month I do have a little problem getting back into writing modus).

How did your writing go during november?