Monday, 31 July 2017

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Book Title: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary: The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.
Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites' most celebrated military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.
In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.
What did I think? 
This book made me weep. That's all you need to know, isn't it? Guy Gavriel Kay came highly recommended by many fantasy fans, even though he doesn't write your usual fantasy. There are no elves and dwarves. There are no strange creatures and no dragons. And there is almost no magic.

Guy Gavriel Kay writes historical fantasy. The Lions of Al-Rassan is his version of medieval Spain and the conflicts between the different faiths. This book is about war and the intolerance different cultures and religions have for each other. People don't need to be evil to do the unthinkable, they just need to do it in the name of war or religion.

The book starts out slow and takes its time throughout, but about halfway through I could no longer put it down.

The writing style is very descriptive and beautiful. The characters are well developed. The world building is exciting and mesmerising and once you're hooked, Guy Gavriel Kay makes sure to punch you in the gut with all he's got.

Only one thing bothered me: Kay likes to injure his characters without telling the reader which one, and then forces the reader to rush through another chapter in a desperate attempt to find out just how upset they need to be. (And the sex scenes made me cringe... but that's often the case.)

I recommend this highly to anyone interested in history more so than fantasy.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Crazy House by James Patterson

Book Title: Crazy House
Author: James Patterson (Gabrielle Charbonnet)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads Summary: There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape.
Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca's told to fit in and shut her mouth... but Becca's never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin.
Becca's only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it's too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed: they took the wrong twin.
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think? I requested Crazy House because I've always wanted to read a James Patterson book and I quite enjoy novels with a dystopian setting.

The premise is simple: Becca Greenfield is thrown into prison known as the Crazy House where she's told that she's on death row. In the meantime her twin, Cassie, is trying to find her. A fight for survival begins.

The writing is nothing spectacular, in fact I found it quite juvenile in places, but the world building is intriguing and the story is fast paced and I ended up reading it in one sitting. The novel comes with a few decent twists and turns and kept me guessing until the end. The characters are well developed and believable teenagers.

Recommended for fans of dystopian YA, but do not expect anything groundbreaking or special.

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.