Quote Challenges – Favourite First Lines: Day 6

Hello all! I’m still at it with these favourite first line posts 😀 Here are the rules in case you’ve missed them:

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thanks so much to chomeuse with a chou– her stories about things going on in her life are always super entertaining! If you want to read fun, engaging post, you need to check her out!

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Enigmatic, intriguing and inspiring- I frickin adore the opening to Shadow of the Wind (and the rest of the book!) I don’t think there’s anything else to say other than that.

I tag:

Stuck in Fiction, Paper Royalty and Bookishly Rebecca

Who else has taken a trip to the Cemetery of Forgotten books? Let me know in the comments!

8 For 8 – August Mini Reviews

Wow- it’s August?! What the hell happened? What’s even scarier is that I somehow am not struggling to find books stuck in my backlog, even though it’s the eighth month (and that means 8 reviews according to my strange system). I genuinely don’t know how I have so many?! Anyway, this is guaranteed to be a long post, so let’s get on with it!

the falconer

The Falconer–  this was a thoroughly enjoyable book- I loved loved loved the intricacies of the world building. The relationships were done really well, the characters were complex and this was so fast paced that I whizzed through it. All credit to Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku for her excellent review for this one, because it made me pick it up and it was well worth a read.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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mountain in my shoe

The Mountain in my Shoe– this had such a compelling, intriguing start. Actually scrap that: I was utterly absorbed from beginning to end. There was a lull in the middle, but overall it was as well written as you would expect from a book of this name (because wow that title!) There were a few moments of info dumps- but done in such a clever way that it really worked! (I know “info-dump” and “works” don’t normally go into the same sentence). Furthermore, this addressed raw and real subjects that I can’t normally bear to read about this- but this was an exception to my normal rules! Also I want to say another THANK YOU to Meggy for her amazing review that made me pick this up too 😀

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian– I didn’t connect to this*at all*. Mostly I think that was down to the writing style: it read as whiny, a little gross and I had constantly to remind myself that these were serious issues because the voice was so distracting. I liked the cartoons, but this was yet another sign that this was not out for me because the style put it way out of my age range. I would really put this in the category of being for people who liked Tracy Beaker (I didn’t even like that even as a child) just with an American slant. To be honest, it was the Americanisms that made this feel more than a million miles away in the end- I think this will be far more relatable to an American audience.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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don't stop me now

Don’t Stop Me Now– okay moving on from a whiny character to me being a whingebag… I feel like a grumpus for not liking this one cos it’s supposed to be feel-good and yet… it didn’t work for me. To be honest the main character and I got off to a rocky start, partly cos I’ve had similar mishaps in my life (aka dreams not coming true/things not going to plan) and yet I wouldn’t have got through if I’d mentally handled it the way she did. Putting myself in her shoes felt like shaking hands with worst parts of my own psyche. But mostly, I got kind of annoyed at the book because the radio hostess was a bit of a caricature of Katie Hopkins and I ended up playing devil’s advocate for her in my head- and that’s not somewhere I want to go as a general rule (and if you don’t know who she is just count yourself lucky and move on with your day). Basically, this ended up feeling like a hit piece on her, rather than taking on her ideas in a mature debate, which you know, is pretty darn easy to do considering she’s the person who said she wanted euthanasia icecream trucks for old people… Ughh see why I felt uncomfortable when this book made me accidentally relate to her?

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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a confession

A Confession– okay- let’s talk about something more uplifting. This rather short book is quite excellent and really resonated with me, because it explores both the depths of nihilism and, inversely, more spiritualistic pursuits. I do think this might work more for people of a Christian background (and even more so for people who are religious) but I still got a lot out of it and definitely think I’ll reread this in the future.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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prisoner of heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven– I liked this the least of Zafon’s work so far. It was still really well written, but it felt disconnected at times and more of a footnote to the previous two books. I did enjoy the link to Count of Monte Cristo though.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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nomad partridge

Alan Partridge: Nomad– this takes the word “rambling” and runs with it: the subject matter, style, and structure all embody the word. What wasn’t rambly was the punchy humour. This did make me laugh less than Alan’s previous book, but it was sheer gold at time and when it did crack me up I couldn’t stop.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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ice like fire frost like night

Ice Like Fire/Frost Like Night– I literally got nothing out of this- I have only one thing to say about it: why the hell did I bother to continue this series? Between them they managed an average of:

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

3 For 3- Mini Reviews- A New Feature!

Hello everyone- it’s been a few days since I posted- which feels super strange! Every so often I just need a day or two off.

taking a day off

Now about this new feature… I realised that I read a helluva lot of books that I don’t review- which is a real shame, cos I feel like you only get a snapshot of my reading that way. So I came up with a new feature that every month of the year, I will do mini reviews for some of the books I’ve read to catch us all up to speed. And as I find there’s more of a backlog as the year goes on, I thought it would be a good idea for the number of books I include in the post to correspond to the month number- aka this month will be three cos it’s the third month! And the reason I decided to do it this way is cos my backlog of unreviewed books gets worse every month! (and let’s face it, a lot of us know that feeling in December when there are still 20 books left to review before the end of the year!)

And after that *really long* introduction- here are three mini reviews for the books I’ve read so far this year:

flora banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks– personally I found this a very trippy reading experience, but enjoyable nonetheless! It didn’t go in the direction I expected- however it did get better as the story went along. Definitely worth a go in my opinion.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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watcher in the shadows

The Watcher in the Shadows– this was a wonderful modern fairy tale. If you’ve been following my blog a while, you’ll know how much I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon- particularly his writing style (I swear he writes like a dream!). His books are so clearly designed by someone who simply loves stories. I feel like his work is the kind that will live forever- and this book is no exception.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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and the mountains echoed

And the Mountains Echoed– There were some moments of absolute beauty in this and the fairytale at the beginning was perfect. But the flicking back and forth between narratives and characters that were of little relevance jarred and this ultimately messed with my overall enjoyment of the story. A decent read- but in no way his best work.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? And let me know what you think of this new feature in general- do you also struggle to get through all your reviews.

And in other news, I’m reading my *very first* ARC and am so excited!!! I swear when it got sent to me I was like this….
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Penning My Thoughts On the Angel’s Game

angels-gameI’ve been talking a lot about writing lately, so I feel like I’ve neglected the reading side of my blog lately- it’s high time I did a review! And since it’s still November… why not talk about a book about writing? (Did you actually think I wasn’t going to have some kind of spin there?)

“The only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him.”

Because where the Shadow of the Wind was a book about reading, this one was about writing. It is all about the crazy intensity and difficulties and frustrations and sheer joy of writing (ok maybe I put that last one in). Nevertheless- the book was tinged with doubt, despair and most importantly madness.

“We spend a good part of our lives dreaming, especially when we’re awake.” 

Though it is slow to start, it is through the meandering prose that one gets to know the character of the author- an oddly relatable figure that is more relevant in what he represents than who he is. Much of this book is devoted to his journey into the wish fulfilment of his dreams. The strange religiosity in tone and subject matter allows the reader to explore the devotion art can inspire.

“Do you know the best thing about broken hearts? They can only really break once the rest is just scratches.”

But the part that really captured my heart was the dash of romance. Strangely enough, the book only gives you a taste, never quite satiating the character’s (or reader’s) appetite- and yet this was so exquisitely placed that I was almost satisfied.

Almost. Because while this book was an excellent read, it was not the sheer perfection of the first. Still, I can wholeheartedly award it:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Either way- I am definitely looking forward to the third in the series! How about you? Have you read any of Zafon’s books? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

“All true stories begin and end in a cemetery”: Review of Shadow of the Wind

shadow of the wind*Warning: be prepared for some serious gushing*

Invisible
Wow, just wow. This book is in a whole other league of brilliance. It is a rare book indeed that captures the soul of storytelling and can remind you why you started reading in the first place. Shadow of the Wind is one of those rare finds that speaks to the heart of readers, captures the essence of what it is to be drawn into the world of a book and somehow reminds you of what it was to fall in love with reading in the first place:

“Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader, than the first book that finds its way to his heart.”

But it is not just a book that reminds you of all the pleasures of reading. There are layers and layers to the story that I was not expecting. Above all, this is a mystery built on layers and layers of exquisitely woven narrative. Unravelling the secrets of the plot is half the fun.

“It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.”

Beyond the plot, the cadence of the writing is incomparable. It moved me beyond words- and that is saying something. Whilst it is a slow-burner, Zafon masterfully draws the reader into an evocative vision of Barcelona- a vision that captured the rhythm and sensation of the city wonderfully. At the centre of this vision, the characters shine. Characters that capture not only the spirit of readers, but the very essence of writers as well:

“His soul is in his stories. I once asked him who inspired him to create his characters, and his answer was no one. That all his characters were himself.”

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most immersive, lyrical, beautiful books I have read in a long time. You know when you’ve found a perfect book because you devour it as fast as possible, and yet you want to savour it and make it last forever. My one disappointment with this book was that it had to come to an end. And when it did end, I was left with one of the worst book hangovers I’ve had in a long time. But then, it is almost a perfect irony that a book about obsessing over a book should bring out such obsessive tendencies in me. As Zafon said so eloquently:

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

So if you fancy finding the obsessive reader in yourself, I really recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Gosh, a huge part of me wishes there was a book hangover hotline to call when a book takes over your life! What was the last case of book hangover you had? Commiserate with me in the comments below!