Books · Reviews

Manga Thoughts: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1 (Kaiu Shirai/Posuka Demizu)

Shirai, Kaiu - The Promised Neverland 1

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1
Author: Kaiu Shirai (story) / Posuka Demizu (art)
Genre: Manga   Pages: 189
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Viz Media in 2017

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

This is only my second manga, but I am already much more used to the art style and method of story telling. This one had me gripped from the start.

The story itself made me feel anxious in the best possible. I soon came to feel for our main characters and I cared about what happened to them and their ‘siblings’ The story became dark pretty quickly and the rest of this volume is centered around trying to find a way out.

This was a strong start to a series and I will definitely be ordering the second volume. I really enjoyed the art style and the panels were clear and well thought out.

Apparently there is also an anime of this series, so I would like to check that out if I can!

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: This Lullaby (Sarah Dessen)

Dessen, Sarah - This Lullaby

★★★★★★☆

Title: This Lullaby
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Fiction / YA / Contemporary   Pages: 345
First published: 2002
Edition: Paperback, published in 2004 by Speak (Penguin)

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules.

I enjoyed this far more than I expected. I have never read anything by Sarah Dessen before and I was pleasantly surprised.

The story takes place over the span of one summer and it is a perfect light summer read. The main character is very human, with plenty of flaws and lables and I actually really liked that. Remy’s character was well developed and it was clear why she was the way she was throughout. I especially liked the family dynamics in this book and the curve of  Remy’s relationship with her mother.

I really enjoyed the writing. It was quite dry and witty in places. The way the romance was written was pretty good too. Not overly sugarly and kind of understated. Although the romance was the main plot point, a lot of the novel was focussed on friendships and family.

In my opinion this is a really solid contemporary young adult novel that is perfect as a summer read and avoids ever getting too sweet or cheesy. It is not the kind of book I could read tons of back to back, but it does what it does very well.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Elantris (Brandon Sanderson)

Sanderson, Brandon - Elantris

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy   Pages: 553
First published: 2005
Edition: Kindle e-book

Elantris was a place of glory. The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.

This was my first sole Brandon Sanderson book and it was a really good start. I enjoyed being able to dive into his work without having to commit to a series straight off the bat.

Sanderson’s writing feels incredibly familiar to me. Of course I have already read The Wheel of Time books that he has finished for Robert Jordan, so that may well be why.

The storyline of Elantris is pretty straightforward. There are only a few POV characters and on the whole this feels like a very tidy well thought out novel. Maybe therein lay the slight issue for me. It felt almost too easy, too clean, as if something was missing. That may be a odd thing to say, but the plot felt rather to the point. I like a bit of meandering every now and then and there was not much of that.

I did enjoy the characters and the plot overall and I definitely connected to Sanderson’s writing, partly because it did feel so familiar. It does remind me of Robert Jordan’s writing, just less elaborate. In my book that is a good thing, on both counts.

I will definitely be reading more of his books in the near future.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Siege and Storm (Leigh Bardugo)

Bardugo, Leigh - Siege and Storm

★★★★★☆☆

Title:  Grishaverse #2 – Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA   Pages: 386
First published: 2013
Edition: 2018 Paperback edition, published by Orion

With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

It had been five months since I read Shadow and Bone and I probably left it a little too long to continue the series. It took me a little while to get back into this world, but I got there in the end.

The world is interesting, though I never feel we find out much about it. As far as the main character Alina is concerned, she is likeable enough, but always stays a little bland in my honest opinion. There is nothing about her that I dislike, but I never feel like I got to know her properly either. The same goes for the magic system and Alina’s powers. It is an interesting concept, but it is simply not quite explored enough for my liking.

Some of the other characters are certainly intriguing, especially the Darkling and Nikolai and some of the side characters piqued my interest as well. The plot was well enough executed and I am actually interested to see where the story goes from here.

I definitely will not wait five months to read Ruin and Rising.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Carolina of Orange-Nassau (Moniek Bloks)

bloks, moniek - carolina of orange-nassau

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Carolina of Orange-Nassau: Ancestress of the Royal Houses of Europe
Author: Moniek Bloks
Genre: Non-Fiction / History / Biography  Pages: 96
First published: to be published 25 January 2019 by Chronos Books
Edition: e-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743 – 1787) was born the daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange, and Anne, Princess Royal and was thus the granddaughter of King George II. It was upon the King’s orders that she was named after his wife, Caroline of Ansbach.

I was interested in this book because of my own Dutch heritage and because of my fascination with the history of our royal houses in general.

This is a biography of Carolina of Orange-Nassau, who ended up in the family trees of most of the current Royal Houses in Europe.  The biography is based on facts and letters written by Carolina, her brother William, her husband and others closed to her, many of which are part of the Royal archives in Holland.

This makes it quite a dry, matter-a-fact biography, but it unfolded a bit of history I knew very little about and did that quite well.

Just the fact that she survived sixteen (!) pregnancies make her a remarkable woman and it is a shame that she has kind of been forgotten. I am glad to have read about this strong Dutch woman, who carried the blood of kings and whose lineage endures today.

I found it hard to rate this book. It is only a short biography, but I did find it very informative without unnecessary filler.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J K Rowling)

Rowling, J K - Harry Potter 4 and the Goblet of Fire

★★★★★★☆

Title: Harry Potter (#4) and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J K Rowling
Genre: Fiction / YA/ Fantasy    Pages: 636
First published: 2000
Edition: Paperback, published in 2001 by Bloomsbury Paperbacks

“There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways … their magical prowess – their daring – their powers of deduction – and, of course, their ability to cope with danger.”

Suddenly a lot larger than the previous three Harry Potter books, this one takes us on a wild ride through the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament.

I definitely enjoyed this one. Eventhough it continues the darker tone set in Prisoner of Azkaban, it remains very readable and fun. Considering the size of this book, it never dragged and always made me want to continue reading.

Though I struggled with the author’s writing style in some of her other books, it really works for the Harry Potter books. There are a couple of niggles I have with this book, which unfortunately I cannot really discuss without spoilers, but these are issues that I have also had with previous Harry Potters. Suffice to say it did not really take away from my enjoyment of the story as a whole.

There was plenty of action, but there also was just a sprinkling of romantic feelings as our heroes are growing up. Some of it was a bit silly, but it never detracted from the story and sometimes even added to it. I liked it.

I love the ending and it definitely makes you want to pick up the next book. I won’t do so right away, but I am looking forward to reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the near future.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Fellowship of the Ring (J R R Tolkien)

★★★★☆☆☆

Title:  The Lord of the Rings #1 – The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: J R R Tolkien
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 1954
Edition: paperback, published by Unwin Paperbacks in 1989

This was a fun re-read for me. It had been around fifteen years since I last read The Lord of the Rings series. Having seen the movies far more recently, it was interesting to read the book again and realising how much of the book was not in the movie.

Of course this is such a classic fantasy book and it is hard to be objective. The Lord of the Rings has such a wonderful overarching story.

Much as I enjoyed, there were also a few things I did not like so much. There is so much telling in this book. The bits when stuff is actually happening to the characters I really enjoyed. But at some points big  events are just being told by one of the characters and for me, that does not work as well. It could have easily been condensed a bit to make a more compelling read.

So in a nutshell, I liked it, but did not love it this time around.

I will be continuing The Lord of the Rings series next month, so keep an eye out for  thoughts on  The Two Towers in September.

4 out of 7 stars