GnaslBooks is no longer GnaslBooks but thisGNinja and you can find my new site at:
I’ll see you at the new site
GnaslBooks is no longer GnaslBooks but thisGNinja and you can find my new site at:
I’ll see you at the new site
Week 21‘s book is the polar opposite of 20′s. Really. I went from one of the best books I’ve ever read to one of the worst. Of course, this means I got to have fun while still giddy from reading something brilliant. It only makes this book pale even more… there’s no image this week – I’m with my parents and it makes photographs harder to do. When I get home, I’ll insert photos to posts that have odd fonts or the likes.
[NO PICTURE YET]
Title: Forrådt – Nattens hus #2
By: P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Published by Tellerup, 2010
First published 2007
Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night. She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs–like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.
Rating on Goodreads: (didn’t like it)
First things first (unrelated to the book): I’m thinking about dividing my reviews differently – I’m going to look at plot, setting, and characters and together they’ll say how well the book and the writing works to me. I think this makes more sense than the old format (writing, characters, plot). So, let’s just have a stab at this. Literally. Let’s stab the book.
No, I’m kidding. I’d never stab a book. Regardless of how bad it is, regardless of the pain it inflicts on me as I continually bang my head on whatever object is nearby while reading (I’ve learned not to read next to sharp objects and fire, so that leaves just the walls). No, I’m not a fan of violating books and neither should you be. No, you shouldn’t burn Twilight or Marked or even this book. It’s a waste of fun. Read them. Read them and weep and laugh and write stupid reviews like this if you’re a bitch like me.
I sure as frick is a bitch like me and I feel like it’s with good reason. I mean, holy mahogany – I didn’t expect this to better than the first, hardly, but worse? How Casts? How do you do it? I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but the Casts … they just aren’t. Even Stephenie Meyer can put together a sentence that works. Even she managed to create characters that even the haters enjoyed. Even Tommy Wiseau manages to get out of bed and make someone laugh. Even I manage to shake hands with a stranger while I’d rather huddle up in a corner with a bad book. So, how is it possible that this is even worse than the first?
This… this isn’t even funny. It’s depressing. Say I present to you a book about a character. She is well loved by everybody, but in secret she likes to drink blood and she is cheating on her boyfriend with two different guys. If you were presuming I’m presenting an anti-hero you’d be wrong. She’s the straight up hero. I’m supposed to sympathise with this piece of… bad character. I’m supposed to root for her. I’d rather root for Scarlett O’Hara and she’s supposed to be a bitch. I’d rather root for an eggplant in a cape and goggles… actually, Eggplant Man has merit as a superhero. Zoey Redbird has nothing. Friggin’ NOTHING.
Right, I’m getting ahead of myself here – I didn’t bash the world building too thoroughly for the first book, so let me do it this time around: it’s stupid. The only real thought the Casts have given the world building for this series is ‘it’s like the real world, but with vampires!’ Oh, I’m sorry – vampyres. The only good thing about reading the (still) awful Danish translation is the fact that I avoid looking at that.
Point is – there’s not really any kind of world building. What little there is, is confusing and inconsistent. The best writers and poets and so forth are vampyres in this world (*shudder* oh my god, can I just not use that word? It’s grating) and some people don’t like them and stuff because they… drink blood. Though, not really, they have blood banks and stuff so they don’t have to drink blood from humans and some religious nuts don’t like them and they have power over the four elements (whut?) and I’m sure there’s no consistency whatsoever in this universe. It’s all off-hand remarks about the world when they feel like it fits in: ‘so I ran oh, and by the way, vampyres run really, really fast so I ran very fast’ well thank you, but maybe you should’ve mentioned this before? Asspull much? Also, the religious people are needlessly offensive. Not all religious people are crazy and all OMG VAMPYRES ARE EVUL AND EVEWYFING IS BAD UNLESS IT’S SUMFIN’ TO DO WIF GOD. I’m not religious myself, but I feel insulted by the way religion is portrayed in this. It’s rude and unnecessary because it adds nothing to the story except more reasons for POOR ZOEY to angst a lot. Barf.
But pretty much the biggest bummer of all this hailstorm of suck is the fact that I cannot, even for a second, be allowed to forget how AMAYYYZING AND SPECHUL Zoey Redbird is. All she does is complain that she’s not normal – BOOHOO YOU SPECHUL LITTLE SNOWFLAKE – and her friends keep telling her how speschul she is and when her friends aren’t telling her how spechul she is, everyone else is. Except for the EVUL people – they don’t like her. Guess I’m evil. Fancy that.
Look, I don’t mind chosen ones. They can actually work – Harry Potter works, and there are lots of other examples (can’t think of any but shut up, there are lots), but they don’t, don’t, DON’T work when all the world revolves around them. Nothing in this book happens that doesn’t have something to do with Zoey. Nothing at all. Every single character revolves around her. Everything. EVERYONE. OHMYGOD, IT’S A CONSPIRACY. The Greek names… they’re in on it, I SWEEEEAR.
SPOILER TIME! DING DA DING DA DIIING.
Right, so, Zoey starts flirting with a teacher (bit squick, though, you know, I have had crushes on teachers… though, they never flirted with me, or touched me… right, so squick anyway) and has weird, bloody semi-sex with her ex-boyfriend (the bloody is LITERAL, not a swear word… SQUICK, gotta say I was pretty disturbed by that scene – making out while drinking the guy’s blood was… disgusting, thanks for that image, Casts) and when she admits to her boyfriend that she still has a crush on her ex-boyfriend, he doesn’t break up with her or just smack her around. Just a bit.. He makes out with her – ‘oh, we’ll figure this out my spechul snowflakey. I still wuv you’. BARF. Barf, barf, barf, barf, barf, barf. (Not saying guys should beat their girlfriends when they cheat on them – they should break up with the stupid little things and preserve their self respect – you’re worth more than that, guys).
Zoey Redbird isn’t though, the self-righteous…
… and when her best friend dies, everyone is absolutely sure to take care of POOR ZOEY WHO LOST HER BEST FRIEND. All her friends are there to comfort her, because obviously the girl was their friend too and they don’t need to mourn as much as POOR LITTLE SPECHUL ZOEY. You friggin’…
All in all, this book sucks. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. This is in so many ways the exact opposite of everything that makes a good book (read: the exact opposite of the Final Empire). Shallow characters whose only purpose is to praise the main character (or be super duper EVUL), a plot revolving entirely around the main character… and a main character who is completely unbearable. Couple that with an unbearable narrative. This character has the attention span of a 13-year old kid in a candy store with fifty flat screens showing fifty different cartoons. She comments on irrelevant things during ”action” scenes (in the widest sense possible) and wonders about stupid things while supposedly grieving her best friend.
I am totally over the Greek names thing, though… *smashes lamp* … well, now I am.
Week 20 and WHAT A BOOK. Expect me to be irrationally fond of this book and deny any flaws it may have. This is my precious. I can sincerely say this is one of the best books I have ever read. [Initiate fangirling in 3... 2.... 1... GO!]
Title: The Final Empire – Mistborn Book One
By: Brandon Sanderson
Published by Gollancz, 2009
First published 2006
For a thousand years the ash fell. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absoulte power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.
Yet somehow hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends of the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unklikely heroïne, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a mistborn.
What if the prophesied hero had failed to defeat the Dark Lord? The answer will be found in the Mistborn triology, a saga of surprises that begins here.
Rating on Goodreads: (it was amazing)
OH MY GOD.
This… just… gaaaah! This is so brilliant. So perfect, so astonishingly awesome. This is a darker version of Harry Potter. This is awesome if awesome had pages and a cover. This is, quite possibly, one of the best books I have ever read.
I mean that. Wow. Just WOW.
I first got to ‘know’ Brandon Sanderson through lectures on Youtube. There’s a series of lectures for writers on Youtube (and if you want to be a writer – particularly of fantasy – go look at them on Youtube) and because I don’t want to take advice from a writer I don’t like, I got a hold of Sanderson’s book and what do you know… it’s brilliant. Absolutely stunning.
Right, before I start gushing for seriousness, I’d like to point out how he says in his lectures that ‘it has to be awesome’ when he writes. Holy friggin’ hell does it show. But let me at least TRY to be coherent about this. I’m rambling.
I almost instantly liked the characters. Get through the first few chapters and you’re bound to fall in love already. Kelsier’s awesome, Vin is awesome – of course the rest of them are awesome. They are so likeable. Even Vin who, had Sanderson been less talented, could have easily turned out annoying and too-perfect, is likeable. She is probably the only character I have encountered so far, who is said to have trust issues who actually has trust issues. Often, writers say ‘oh, she’s been hurt so much, she has trust issues’ and then when the love interest comes along, she’s swooning and moaning and bye-bye trust issues! Not so here. Vin is also a more realistic female than I’ve seen written by a lot of women. She’s not strong because she’s all male – she has a female side and a softness and that’s just part of who she is. I’ve seen this quote by George R. R. Martin where he says he treats women like people and although he’s not bad at writing females – he’s not nearly as good as this. Sorry.
It’s not like any of Vin’s attributes are stated bluntly either – Sanderson knows what show don’t tell is and he uses it… why am I not married to this man? Oh, that’s right – he’s too AWESOME.
The world building is amazing as well, and the magic systems. It’s all so brilliantly put together. The Big Bad is an actual threat to the world and the world is a horrible place because of this man – it’s not just a man who’s bad because the writer says so. This guy is EVIL. (Notice I’m using All Caps again? Well, this time it’s Caps Lock of JOY – such a strange feeling). The world is so well built. I love allomancy and feruchemy and I love the city and the creatures and everything. My, why isn’t this book more popular? Why haven’t they made a movie (yet)? Sorry, too much gushing, perhaps. But dang, this is just so GOOD.
I mean, a book actually surprising me? Some of you may know that I’m rarely surprised (too much TvTropes will do this to you), but this managed to be surprising without asspulling. The plot was so well put together. It might seem like random events put together when you read it for the first time, but then the end comes and DANG. Just DANG, that is so AWESOME.
Because really, the general feel of this book is a boy having fun. A very intelligent boy who’s also respectful to women, but a boy nonetheless. Sanderson loves his fantasy world. He loves his characters. He loves the story and the magic and the action and consequently, I love it all, too. And you should, too. Now, go read this book. No, you heard me. Go read it, now. That’s an order. I’m going to roll around on the floor, fangirling like a pro.
Today, we’re going to play a little game. I’ve found the top five NY Times best sellers (hardcover fiction) and as they’re all titles I’ve never read or read the description of, they’re perfect for my little game. I’m going to take the titles (much like I did in my article about horrible books with great titles) and imagine a story based on those titles – then I’ll compare to the actual content of the books.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Well, I could be obvious and say ‘it’s about a girl who’s gone’. Well, I won’t. It’s about a girl who’s not gone, but her boyfriend, her co-worker and her “best friend” wishes she was. Therefore, they decide to hypnotise her into believing she is gone. While coldheartedly plotting against the girl who’s not gone, they form a strong friendship. Then she actually disappears.
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
This sounds like a chick-lit about true love and not settling for second best. That’s boring, though. It is really about a gang of thieves who want to earn quick cash so their best friend can get a new kidney. But they’re really smart, so they decide to steal the next best thing on display at the museum so as to not cause a big kerfuffle. During the story, they end up chased by the police anyway and realise they’ve accidentally stolen the best thing. Oopsie.
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
A crooked business man and his young cousin get into big trouble when they deal with a seemingly harmless old antiques dealer. Unfortunately, he’s actually a wizard and when he finds out they’ve cheated him, he curses them and they wake up as characters in the novel Wicked… hilarity ensues as the crooked business man and his cousin sets up a business to con all the characters of the novel.
Right, I’m really sorry about that one. I couldn’t think of anything but ‘Wicked’ when I saw the title. I’ll never do that again, promise.
Criminal by Karin Slaughter
I know you’re all thinking this is about a criminal. It isn’t. It’s about someone who’s not criminal who is accused of being criminal. He then has to clear his name along with an insane female cop who likes to break the rules for no apparent reason. The man who is not criminal but accused of being one ends up falling violently in love with a woman who is actually criminal and there’s a plot twist where he thinks his love interest is the one who set him up, but it’s really the insane cop and she did it because why not?
Bloodline by James Rollins
This is not a vampire novel. This is an epic tale (because who doesn’t like epic) about a family who is crazy obsessed with blood (see, the title is a pun – it’s a family and they like blood, so bloodline… eh? No? Sorry). The novel follows them for many, many years and even though this isn’t a vampire novel, everybody thinks they’re vampires and hunt and kill and fear the family, who just keeps on drinking blood. It’s a creepy story, really. In the end, everybody dies.
Now, before I reveal the actual plots, I encourage readers to go to the comments and tell me your thoughts on the titles before you read the descriptions. Let’s have fun with these titles.
The actual plots of the books:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
“A woman disappears on the day of her fifth anniversary; is her husband a killer?”
Comment: oh… I kind of got that one wrong, didn’t I?
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner:
“A young woman who moves to Hollywood to make it in television finds success, but her life remains complicated.”
Comment: that doesn’t even sound better than my story about the thieves who wants to steal to get their friend a kidney. They could’ve been lovers, you know, if that’d give it more best seller appeal.
Wicked business, by Janet Evanovich:
“The Salem, Mass., pastry chef Lizzy Tucker and her partner, Diesel, take up a quest for a powerful ancient relic.”
Comment: a pastry chef and someone named Diesel looking for an ancient relic? Sounds almost insane enough to be thought out by me. I like it. Pastry chef… that’s so random.
Criminal by Karin Slaughter:
Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and his supervisor, Amanda Wagner, confront mysteries from the past.
Comment: that is so vague. Might as well be ‘something dark has happened and stuff is wrong and then some people look at it’. I still think I was pretty much off the mark, though.
Bloodline by James Rollins:
A deadly rescue mission in the African jungle and a clinic bombing in South Carolina both reveal a dangerous conspiracy; a Sigma Force novel.
Comment: ha, ha, ha, ha, I couldn’t be further off the mark if I tried. Not really what I think when the title is ‘Bloodline’ but I guess that’s sort of a good thing.
So, what did you think of the titles? What are your ideas? If you could write a story based on these titles what would they be about? Tell me in the comments.
I’m probably going to continue this title game with other titles but maybe not in this format. I’m not entirely happy with it. Though, I’ll figure out a way to make it the way I want it to. Also, this article may be edited when I’m at a less sucky computer.
Week 19 concludes my list. I mean, I’m not really done – I haven’t read ‘em all – but reading stuff other people chose was getting tiring. Time I choose myself. I do feel like I’m pretty good at choosing books I like (and dislike… I chose Marked after all!) so from now on, I read mostly what I want. I am reading some stuff from the list that I wanted to read anyway (like the Princess Bride and Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister). But let’s get the last week of obeying the list over with. This is Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.
Title: Dødens herskerinde
Original title: Mistress of the Art of Death
By: Ariana Franklin
Published by Aschehoug Dansk forlag 2007
First published 2007
A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction.
In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town’s Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry I is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest “master of the art of death,” an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death.
Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king’s tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia’s investigation takes her into Cambridge’s shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again .
Rating on Goodreads: (liked it)
Right, finally. Only took me a coulple of weeks *cough* Right, so seeing as this is a review, I guess it all boils down to whether or not I like the book. So… do I?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: actually kind of yes but then not but… Right, let’s just do it the usual way.
So, what I expected from this book and what I got was very different. I expected a pretty straightforward, simple crime story set in Medieval England. What I got was historical fiction with a crime story, sorta. It’s not really a bad thing, but when your expectations are turned around like this, you can’t help but feel a certain disappointment. Before we talk more about that, though, let’s talk about the stuff I usually do.
First off the writing, which I found to be confusing. Sometimes, I found that another thing was happening while I thought that other stuff was happening. Some sentences were downright clumsy, but it’s hard to say whether it’s the writer’s fault or the translater. It’s generally very beautiful prose with some effective descriptions, but at the same time it was just difficult to keep track of what was going on. The narrative was sort of all over the place.
When it comes to the characters, they are actually nice and memorable, which is one reason this book is not a one or a two. I like them well enough, the main character probably less so, and they added some to the story. When I say I probably didn’t like the main character much, it’s because she suffers from that all too common problem: the author just liked her too much. She is taken too seriously and thus I can’t take her seriously. Everytime her entire name was mentioned like a sort of title, probably to sound cool, it just seemed melodramatic and I kind of giggled. Other than that – the other characters were neat and good fun. It’s not like Franklin is the first to fall in love with her main character.
The story is where I kind of grind to a halt and start really dislinking. There’s a crime story in this book, there really is, and it’s interesting and intriguing and I really like it. It’s just not focused enough. See, Franklin used to write historical fiction and not historical thrillers and it shows, I’m afraid. She has done an absolutely stunning amount of research, and it is impressive as holy applejuice, but I only know this because of the massive infodumping.
Now, I actually like infodumping here and there and this is the first time (except for Clive Cussler) I really see how it can be a disadvantage. There is so much info in there and that would be cool if I read this because it was historical fiction, but I read it for the murder mystery. An intriguing murder mystery that is completely drowned by so much other stuff. It’s description heavy too, and while very poetic and beautiful it’s just way too much.
In the end, the mystery was resolved and I liked the resolve and I liked the mystery, but even after the end of the murder mystery, the story dragged on and on and I just got bored by the last fifty pages.
In the end, I’ll give Franklin that I liked the mystery but there was just not enough of it. Less description of feasts and dresses and pretty rivers and birdies could have made it better for me. I do see a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads, so perhaps I’m just the weird one out. I did like this book, I just wanted more murder mystery and less description of medieval life, but if you don’t agree with me on that, you’ll probably like this very well.
Week 18 I read a book I couldn’t finish. Why? I’ll let the review speak for itself.
Original title: The Help
By: Kathryn Stockett
Published by Cicero, Copenhagen, 2011 (e-book)
First published 2009
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
Rating on Goodreads: (it was okay)
For the second time this year, I’m not going to finish a book. It’ll be difficult for me to explain why I won’t finish this, but I’ll give it a try.
Don’t get me wrong – this story needs to be told. The story of how horrible the blacks were treated is a story that can only be told too much. I also liked the black maids and their stories. Aibileen and Minny were nice characters and I felt for them. I like them.
What I don’t like is Skeeter and she was just too big a character. Why do I need to read page up and page down about her angsting about how ugly she is and how annoying her mother is? I get it – she’s so special because she sees the way the blacks are treated is wrong – but this is nothing new. Her story has been told a billion times. A trillion times over and over again. I wanted to hear the blacks maids’ stories and while there were a lot of those stories, the next it was just white angst from Skeeter.
I think I might have liked this book better if it’d been just about the black maids and not saint Skeeter who knows what’s right. Sorry, her character is just so worn and boring.
Stories like this need to be told, without a doubt, but I wouldn’t choose Stockett to do it. I’m not interested in this book. I don’t care much for the writing and there is not enough of Aibileen and Minny that I want to go on.
I see a lot of people calling this innocent fluff and heartwarming and feel-good, but I don’t feel it. I think it’s a weak novel with some good characters that are unfortunately overshadowed by a boring white character who’s given too much attention (at least in the first half). I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the hype. I’m not finishing.
Week 17‘s book is The Wizard of Oz, which is the cutes thing you’ll ever read. Yes, I’m really in love with this. It is ridiculously likeable.
Title: The Wizard of Oz
By: L. Frank Baum
Published by Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1993
First published 1900
When a huge cyclone transports the orphan Dorothy and her little dog Toto from Kansas to the Land of Oz, she fears that she will never see Aunt Em and Uncle Henry ever again.
But she meets the Munchkins, and they tell her to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wonderful Wizard of Oz will grant any wish. On the way, she meets the brainless Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. The four friends set off to seek their hearts’ desires, and in a series of action-packed adventures they encounter a deadly poppy field, fierce animals, flying monkeys, a wicked witch, a good witch, and the Mighty Oz himself.
Rating on Goodreads: (really liked it)
This is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever read. For such a small book, it’s become a huge classic and it deserves a great review and stuff. I just don’t know what else to say.
What can I say? I like the story, I like the setting and I like the characters. It’s all cute and creative and imaginative. The plot is surprisingly well put together and for such a short book, it’s amazing the characters have actual personalities (mustnotbashbadbooks).
As this review is positive, you all know it’s gonna suck, so I’ll just finish by saying: give this a shot. It’s a two hour read, tops, and it’s well worth it. You’ll be very well entertained all the way through and age is no concern. If you’re a child or a child at heart, you’ll enjoy this very much.