Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Come on, Universe?

I feel like this year, the universe somehow doesn't like me an awful lot. After the dog vs. postman scare and the finding random lumps scare, I finally was all ready to start my July. I had a sports plan ready, to train for our Duathlon in September. My other half was off work (still between jobs) and we could have done a ton of day trips with the dogs. We could have enjoyed one glorious summer.
Instead... that first July Monday, I woke up in the middle of the night with extreme vertigo. The room was oscillating back and forth and would not stop. The nausea was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuronitis were the two things the doctors came up with, after my other half drove me there, me lying in the back of her car draped over the seats, clutching a bucket in my tired hands.

We even got to see the ER because I was so terrified my body had finally given up on me, that my blood pressure was through the roof.

The first week I spent in a dark room without noise, just waiting for the room to stop spinning. The 2nd week was a bit better and I was able to read. Now, during this third week, I can do most things normally again, I just feel slightly drunk and unsteady.

And again, I've read books and am a million reviews behind and July is almost over. Oh well.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sunday Post (21) - Writing, Reading, Running

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

If you participate, and you totally should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

We've had pleasant temperatures, a bit of rain but also some sun, just the way I like it. We're busy with our running and cycling and yesterday Camp NaNoWriMo started, so I'm busy writing as well. Another doctor visit is scheduled for next Tuesday, so hopefully I can remove all the unnecessary anxiety from my life soon.
Here a picture of the brioche buns (recipe can be found here) I made last week, that I told you about:


Last week on my blog:
Last week in the cinema: It's sunny and warm and bright and I haven't been in weeks... I should really find the time to again, I miss films.

Last week in my kitchen: I found out that broccoli is so much better roasted than simply steamed. Probably taking a bit of the health away from the green vegetable, I'm sorry, but it's so delicious. Toss the florets in a bit of olive oil, add salt, and bake for 20-30 minutes (turn them once) until the broccoli is crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside.

Currently reading: Why can I not for once read just one book like a normal person? I'm reading the first book in the Riyria Revelations, plus Perdido Street Station, Gardens of the Moon, The Eye of the World and Watership Down (though I can't bring myself to care about those bunnies!).

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

Book Title: The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1)
Author: Peter V. Brett
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Own a Copy

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.
What did I think? A friend gifted me a copy of The Warded Man for my birthday, and I was worried I wouldn't like it. Demons? Meh. An orphan farm boy (sigh) who (conveniently) has the right skills to save the world? Meh. I wasn't excited by any of it and that wasn't helped by a rather slow start.

The novel focuses on three protagonists, Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. We meet them as children and watch them live their lives in this world where humans are being hunted by demons as soon as the sun sets.

As a reader you assume from the very beginning that all three protagonists will eventually meet and it takes Brett quite a while to get there, which is why almost 70% of this book feel like a set-up.

But I was never bored. Quite the opposite. I enjoyed watching them grow up and I slowly fell in love with them.

The worldbuilding is really intriguing and detailed. It's a dark world with almost no happiness and the three protagonists face tragedy wherever they go. This isn't a happy story and none of the protagonists get to live a happy life, even happy moments are rare.

The demons and the magic system feel well developed and the characters have a lot of depth. I will definitely continue to read this series.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

What Makes You Rate a Book Five Stars?

I was browsing through my books on Goodreads the other day and realised, I seldom rate books five stars. It's almost as if I think those stars are rare or precious and if I award all five of them too often, I'll run out.

According to Goodreads, I've read about 450 books in my life, which is definitely not accurate, but a lot of the books I've read were in German during my childhood and I don't remember all of them. (Sometimes I regret that I didn't keep a reading journal as a child.)
I also suffered from a bad case of re-reading.What's bad, you ask? I'm pretty sure that when I was about ten years old, I kept re-reading the same adventure novel over and over again, possibly twenty-five times or more. Later, as a romantic teenager, the same happened with Pride and Prejudice.

Anyway, back to my bookshelves.  I've given thirty out of my 450 books a five star rating. Ten are because I absolutely loved those books when I was a child or a teenager and possibly wouldn't receive the same rating today. Three are Jane Austen and another three are Harry Potter.

Six in the last five years. SIX! IN FIVE YEARS!

Am I too harsh? On the other hand I dish out four stars without hesitation. Anything, I remotely enjoy receives at least three stars and as soon as I feel emotionally attached to the story in any way, it definitely receives four stars.

But, whenever I consider giving it five, I think... really, this book couldn't have possibly been better? Obviously, that's a question not many books survive. Maybe that's why I'm always grumpy. Imagine only reading one five star book a year!

How do you handle five star ratings? Do you award them freely? Or are you as conservative as me?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

TTT (18) - Best Books I read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Follow the link to know more about the meme and join up, it's a great way to find out more about the book blogging community.

This week the theme is best books we read in 2017, at least so far, and this week's post by The Broke and the Bookish post can be found here.

We're halfway through the year so this is a great moment to look back and choose a few books that I loved so far. I've been reading quite a bit. More or less two books a week is my goal and so far I've kept up with that.
Please let me know in the comments what your favourite books are so far in 2017, because my tbr list desperately needs to grow (not really, but also yes, it does!)

Please don't make me choose my favourite.

  

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (review here) is an amazing novel with an interesting spin on time travel.
The Lions of Al-Rassan is a historical fantasy novel and broke my heart.
N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season (review here) is a gorgeous read with fantastic prose in a post-apocalyptic world.

  

Golden Son by Pierce Brown (review here) is the second book in the Red Rising trilogy and made me want to eat my pillow.
Moroda is L. L. McNeil's debut (review here) and has dragons and wonderful grey characters plus women kicking ass.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (review here) had me on the edge of my seat. I could not stop reading this suspense novel.

  

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett has a lot of demons and an orphan destined to save the world but it grabbed me from the very first page.
Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2) broke my heart.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is a wonderful and whimsical read.

I can't wait to discover more books!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday Post (20) - Almost July

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

If you participate, and you totally should because the community is amazing, don't forget to link up and if you leave me a comment, I will definitely check out your blog.

The Rules can be found here. And this week's post can be found here.

Doctor visit #3 and #4 are done and I continue to receive good news. Everything my body decides to grow (mostly cysts) is benign (until now) and nothing has to be removed unless it starts to hurt... almost done with the yearly check-ups. Two to go, four down. I also found a really nice specialist who manages to make me feel comfortable, so that's a plus.
It's cooler again, thankfully. This week has been mostly uneventful. Mostly writing and reading. We're still running and it's time to start preparing for our Duathlon in September. We'll be expected to run 5K, then bike 22K and run another 5K. The second 5K is the one that hurts the most.
The first time I participated in this event in London was two years after undergoing two knee surgeries, and I was still quite slow. It took me 2 hour and 34 minutes, because my 5K time was a very slow 40 minutes. Last year I was 10 minutes faster and this year I'm hoping to maybe manage to do it in 2 hours. Still slow, but I'm improving.

Last week on my blog:
Last week in my kitchen: If you've ever looked for a burger bun recipe that tastes delicious with both burgers and pulled pork, look no further: these are amazing. In this heat we ate a lot of salad, so my kitchen life was quite uneventful.

Upcoming: I need to get back in the habit of dragging my ass to the cinema. I've not watched a lot lately. And I still have a ton of reviews to catch up on. I'm currently reading China MiƩville's Perdido Street Station and enjoying it a lot while also dipping into Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.

I hope everyone has a great week :)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Book Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
What did I think? Gillian Flynn must have such a dark and twisted imagination, I wouldn't want to visit her mind. I find her books downright terrifying because she portrays the worst in humans in such a detailed manner.

Dark Places is so much better than her first book (Sharp Objects) and possibly even better than Gone Girl. The novel is told primarily in first person through the eyes of the protagonist but we get to see the day of the massacre from the point of view of Libby's mother and Ben as well.

I wasn't entirely happy with the ending to the mystery because once you find out what actually happened, it feels a bit unrealistic and it left me thinking: really??

But, despite a somewhat unbelievable ending I was in awe throughout this novel because Flynn is such a master at blending the macabre and grotesque with family dysfunction, personality disorders and the typical small town mentality.

The characters are complex and well developed, though I would suggest you read this surrounded by people who make you happy unless you want to lose whatever faith in humanity you have left.

If you love dark and twisted characters, can stomach brutality and murder, definitely pick this one up, yes, even if you didn't enjoy Gone Girl.