Tuesday, 30 January 2018

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin Review

Well I must admit the title of this post is quite a mouthful. In memory of Le Guin who died only a few days ago (22nd January 2018) I decided it was about time I read one of her books, starting with one I already had in the house. I remember watching the Studio Ghibli adaptation of Tales of Earthsea (the 5th book in the Earthsea Cycle series) and loving everything that it was, this book was just as beautiful.

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth. 
Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

I found the imagery in this book to be beautiful, I found that with every scene that Le Guin set each detail became clear in the picture in my head. I felt shivers when cold winds blew and a warmth when Vetch and Ged were together that felt almost as if they were brothers. Le Guin was also very good at describing the emotions of Ged as well as his desires and ambitions, giving the impression of someone who understands people and perhaps how they work in great detail.

I really liked the development of Ged's character throughout the story, from an ambitious young boy to one who has learnt from mistakes and become wiser because of it. The way Ged treated others during the beginning of the book also developed as the story continued, this again gave me the impression that Le Guin understands people. That they can change, move on and learn.
(I have found this isn't always something writers understand.)
Now as well as finding the development of Ged to be accurate in how "people" develop, and although this is clearly fiction, I found Ged to be quite a realistic character, if you discard the whole sorcerer thing. And not just Ged, but the majority of characters (besides the "SHADOW") all felt to be realistic with very human qualities including unconditional love, jealousy and courage with different characters showing each different qualities. (Not one character showing them all.)

Le Guin seemed to have a knack at making me feel what the characters in the book felt like I had previously mentioned with the scenes and imagery. This made everything feel that little bit more realistic. I did however have one problem with Le Guin's writing and that was simply her style of writing, I found sentences dragged and sometimes in less dramatic scenes I'd read a whole page without taking in a single word. (If you are a reader you might know what I mean.) Not to say she was by any means a bad writer, just some aspects of her writing style in this book wasn't my cup of tea. (Stops typing to take a sip of said tea, shout out to Yogi Tea - Throat Comfort... I'm poorly.)

The storyline overall was fabulous, with magic, dragons and adorable creatures such as an Otak, with them how can it not be. I really enjoyed this book and I am definitely going to continue reading the Earthsea Cycle. I am curious to see what Le Guin will do with Ged and due to mentions in A Wizard of Earthsea about The Tombs of Atuan (the title of book 2) how can I resist.


Book Published 1968

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Momo by Michael Ende Review

A young girl called Momo turns up in rags, nobody knows where she has come from but nobody cares. The neighbourhood falls in love with her and together take care of her and in return she helps them solve their problems simply by listening. Then the grey time-thieves appear forcing everyone to focus only only on work and money Momo is the only one who can resist them. It's up to Momo with the help of a professor and tortoise to save her friends.

Momo is a beautifully written character, she doesn't know how old she is or where she came from but she seems to be one of the wisest people in the book. She has two best friends Guido and Beppo who couldn't be more different, one a teller of tall tales and the other a slow paced thinker, sometimes taking half an hour to answer a question. I have met people like both of Momo's best friends so found them to be quite relatable. And Momo, well she is who I always aspired to be, even if she is a child and I am supposedly and adult.
I found the theme to be greatly relevant in the world we are living in today, like books by George Orwell (1903-1950) such as 1984 and Animal Farm, they often make you think about the type of world we are living in and what we are doing with our lives. Here we have a book that talks about living with no time to spare and here we live in a world that lives by similar values. To many times have I or others simply been to busy to be part of what matters in the world. Right now this is a book I believe we all need to read, it made my heart ache in a way that books don't often do.

This book was split into three parts 'Momo and her friends', 'The Men in Grey' and 'The Hour-Lilies' each covering a different part of story, basically introduction, adventures begin and adventures end. But each just as beautifully written, Ende is rather good at describing scenes in a way that doesn't end up be pointless description, which unfortunately some authors are guilty of. The last few chapter were written especially well, not to say the other weren't but they kept you on your feet and I couldn't bear to put it down until I'd finished the book.

This book was overall beautifully written, the characters were perfect, the storyline amazing! It made my heart both ache and dance with joy. And I'm giving this to my mum to read.


Book Published 1973

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Review

I have recently decided to partake in an Instagram project called the #TheUnreadShelfProject2018, the aim: to read all the books on your shelf that you haven't read before (and try not to buy anymore)... This was the second book I've read this year from my "Unread Shelf", the first being Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson which I must admit was very good, however that is not the book this post is about.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Nick and Amy both lost their jobs, when Nick's parents get ill they must uproot from New York and move to Missouri, that is when the trouble begins...
This book was in three parts and the chapters were written from either Amy's POV or Nick's POV, with the POV changing every other chapter and different dates and such, so often I would be reading a Nick chapter then get slightly confused as I continued reading until I realised that I'd moved on to an Amy chapter without noticing. However after the first few chapters I got used to the structure.
I found Amy's character to be a lot more interesting than Nick's was, Amy seemed more complex and somehow had more of a character than Nick. Amy was smart, in fact I'd venture to say a bit of a genius in how she handled life, this isn't the type of book that you stop after the first part, to understand the true genius you have to read the whole thing, but in my opinion it's worth it. Nick was a dickhead, but also surprisingly interesting (not so much as Amy, but interesting none the less), throughout the book he went from loving to hating to emotionless to an emotional wreck, a man with layers... Like an onion... I was quite a character to watch develop throughout his wife's disappearance/murder.

There was a certain realism that I felt while reading about these characters, I often felt nervous for both Nick and Amy at different parts throughout the book, but I never cried (there was no reason to) and rarely laughed out loud, except for then Amy would write (as an example) "Nick and me (yes that is the correct grammar)", which made me chuckle. However during some parts, I felt like I was just reading a book, not really feeling what the characters were feeling or experiencing a different world. But I guess it could be hard to keep up a perfect story that will always and forever keep the readers full attention. Something that often kept my attention (again the psychologist within me) was the occasionally references to Sociopathy... All I'll say about the matter.

The general storyline of this book kept me guessing, throughout the book my mind would wonder and wind through every possible suspect, then just before the end of Part One (Boy Loses Girl) I'd worked out the bombshell that was dropped on us right at the beginning of Part Two (Boy Meets Girl). And although throughout the whole book that's the only thing I guessed right I still really enjoyed this because for me, I don't mind not being able to guess major plot twists in a book before they happen. My favourite part of the book had to be Part Two, especially Amy's influence over Nick's life/POV, she was smart and cunning and we got to see the true genius that she was. The part I didn't like was the end, the last few chapters of Part Three (Boy Gets Girl Back (Or Vise Versa)). I won't explain why as I fear I might give something away but I just did not like it (personal opinion).

Amy's POV during Part One was very well written and as you read the rest of the book you realise that once again her POV (in Part One they are diary entries) is pure genius. If I could I would hug Flynn, just to say how brilliant Amy's character was.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good crime/thriller, so of course I'm giving my copy to my mother, fab book.

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Book Published 2012
Winner of Goodreads Choice Award 2012

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero Review

Well for a first book of the year this was a great start.
1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven't seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she's got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter's been dead for years.
The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

Growing up I loved Scooby-Doo, The Famous Five (Enid Blyton 1897-1968) and such, so finding a book that incorporated the mystery and fun into a book that I can appreciate was fabulous. The genre of this book is apparently horror and mystery, personally I dislike horror but this did not scare me. Personally I love mystery and this book kept me guessing the whole time. I understand how this book could be described as horror but in my own opinion it doesn't really belong in that genre, I think I'd describe it more as supernatural that horror. The Blyton Summer Detective Club are used to unmasking the monster to find a scared human who's annoyed at being caught by a group of children, however in this book the monsters is real, and they haven't done detective work in 13 years. 
I found the characters to be slightly dull, Andy was standard girl who could do anything a boy could do and Kerri was smart but fell into waitressing, Nate however was a lot more interesting (maybe because I have a slight love for psychology). He often went in and out of mental health institutions and essentially had an imaginary friend, who was in fact the other boy who had been in the BSDC in 1977, Peter. I found they way he talked to Kerri (his cousin) and Andy to often be impatient unlike when he talked to the Peter who was a manifestation of his own consciousness. But even though I did find them to be slightly dull I did become very attached to all of them, and when they were running for their lives I felt I was there too. But interestingly, when they were scared because of the monsters that barely fazed me. 
I don't really know what to say about the storyline, there were many detective bits that reminded me of the old Scooby-Doo cartoons and I truly loved them. The way the characters put together different clues to understand the "bad guys" plot was brilliant. However some bits of this story I found tedious like the detail in which Cantero explained the fighting scenes, and I'm sorry but in my opinion you can only have scenes like that in films otherwise you just have a long paragraph of people hitting each other. (But once again that is a personal opinion)
In terms of the structure of this book, I liked how it was split into five sections that each had its own little theme to make up the whole story, but something I really didn't like about the structure was when the dialogue turned into what was basically text talk and with the actions added as well I felt like Cantero had decided to change the book into a play and then back again. Example:
Kerri: hello
Andy: hey kerri
Nate: (hesitates) we need to talk

A few things I couldn't help but notice Blyton Summer Detective Club as in Enid Blyton and Zoinx River as in Zoinks that Shaggy says on Scooby-Doo. Just in case you somehow didn't notice those...

However besides odd bits and bobs I enjoyed the overall story with all the twists and chemisrty between the characters.
I realise this has been a very mixed review but I'm planning on buying this for my sister on her birthday or maybe Christmas so I can't have thought it to be all bad.
7/10 xo

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Book Published 2017