Series review: Newsflesh trilogy

 Series review | Review of the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant | 4 stars

Newsflesh by Mira Grant

Cover design: Lauren Panepinto
Images: Shutterstock
Orbit Books 2010
ISBN: 978 0 356 50056 0

Synopsis

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.

The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected.

The truth will get out, even if it kills them.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ zombies
+ social media
+ political intrigue
+ bloggers
+ 20th century references
+ sci-fi

 – So many side characters, I sometimes got them confused


Full Review

There are so many things I love about these books. For starters, I’m going through a bit of an (after-) apocalypse phase, so the zombies in this book totally do that. On top of that, there are often references to what people did in zombie movies and how they should or shouldn’t do this as well.

However, zombies are the main focus of this book, at least not quite. They just happen to inhabit the world this book is set in. It’s the political events that are the real story; often of course related to the zombies.

Bloggers are the only still remaining trust-worthy news source, as the regular media didn’t pick up on the zombie outbreak until it was too late. Our bloggers, who are the main characters, get to follow a political campaign and this way get involved into this whole new world.

Throughout the series, we find out more and more about this strange new world, where fear is overwhelmingly present and decides peoples’ actions. This is just about the single most important thing I took away from this book: you cannot let fear decide how to live your life.

Plus, a bunch more cool stuff happens, but I don’t want to spoil any of it. Some of it sci-fi and relatively far-fetched, but not so much as to make it unbelievable. There were a lot of side characters in the books and sometimes I got a little mixed up trying to figure out who was who again. Apart from that, it was easy to read.


Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

 Book review | Review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey | 4 stars

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  by Ken Kesey

Cover design: Neil Stuart
Penguin 1981
ISBN: 0 1400 4312 8

Synopsis

A classic novel of the 1960s, this powerful story about life in a mental hospital is told by a half-Indian patient called Chief Bromden. The Chief will not talk, and he has deceived the staff into thinking him deaf and dumb; but through his self-imposed protective fog he is an acute observer. To him the head of the ward, known as Big Nurse, is the very source of evil, destroying men’s wills and reducing them to mindless obedience.

Soon a lustful, brawling, life-loving new inmate, Randle Patrick McMurphy, alights in this cuckoo’s nest. Horrified by the rule of Big Nurse, McMurphy resolves to oppose her. What happens when she is forced to use her ultimate weapon against him provides the story’s shocking climax.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ representation of mental illness
+ description of mental illness
+visualization of mental illness

 – at times: long-winded


Full Review

What impressed me about this book, is the references to mental illness in a way that makes it clear what it really feels like. Obviously it differs per person, but this book has a great way of visualizing it. Other people to represent the evils and fog that he cannot see through to show the disconnect to the rest of the world.

The story itself isn’t always too interesting. It gets long-winded and repetitive at times, but the message is so great that it’s easy to look past the very few parts that made me feel that way.

The ending of the novel clearly showed that in the end, we are all people: mental illness or not, people are people.


Review: Symbolism in Fairy Tales

 Book review | Symboliek van sprookjes by J. F .Croes-van Delden | 3 stars

Symboliek van sprookjes by J. F. Croes-van Delden

Illustrations: Ap Boerma
Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes BV 1977
ISBN: 90 202 0590 0

Synopsis

Het feit dat sprookjes een eeuwenlang leven beschoren is, bewijst hun grote waarde. Net als in vele mythen ligt in de sprookjes een diepe symboliek verborgen. Het is fascinerend om deze symboliek te ontdekken. Bekende en onbekende sprookjes krijgen opeen een heel andere betekenis. Wij herkennen de psychologische structuur van de mens, zijn ontwikkelingsgang en inwijdingen door het leven.


Bullet-point review

★★★☆☆

+ meaning of numbers
+ meaning of characters
+ symbolism
+ fascinating

– objects were not discussed


Full Review

It was so interesting reading the different interpretations of the fairy tales. I’ll probably have a completely different view on them from now on. Several different fairy tales were discussed and when I do read those fairy tales (again), I’ll whip out this book to refresh my memory concerning the symbolism.

I did miss the discussion of symbols in this book however. A lot of different characters were discussed and their representation in the story. Objects or symbols were not discussed, which was a shame. Numbers however were included and seemed to always have a certain meaning, no matter the story.

If you like fairy tales, I would recommend reading a book like this. It gives you a great (renewed) insight into fairy tales.


Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

 Book review | The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | 4 stars

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Cover photograph: J. Sims/Telegraph Colour Library
HarperCollinsPublishers 1999
ISBN: 978 0 7225 3293 5

Synopsis

This is the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the exotic markets of Tangiers and then into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him

The Alchemist is a transforming novel about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all following our dreams.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ reminiscent of fairy tales (parables)
+ follow your heart doesn’t mean ‘get the girl’
+ symbolism

– simple story


Full Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. After I had seen some of the reviews on Goodreads, I was a little afraid that it might be terrible, after all, about half the reviews say it is. I’m on the other side of that. I thought it was great!

Yes, it immediately reminded me of fairy tales: following omens, following your heart, going through several trials before finding what your heart truly wants, proving your courage. I loved reading a spiritual/mystical/magical realism story about a boy who follows his hearts. No matter the heartache he experiences, and his wavering willingness, he eventually follows his heart.

To me, the story reads as a (more modern, though definitely not modern) fairy tale. I’d love to read it again and discover all the symbolism in the story. I probably helps that right before this book I read a book about symbolism in fairy tales.

Recommend to anyone who likes fairy tales


Review: De dochter by Jessica Durlacher

 Book review | De dochter by Jessica Durlacher | 3 stars

De dochter by Jessica Durlacher

Cover illustration: Egon Schiele
Cover design: Rene van der Vooren
Grote Lijsters 2002
ISBN: 90 01 55475 x

Synopsis

Hoe verwerk je de gruwelen van de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Zwijg je erover of will je ze de wereld in smijten. Max Lipschitz, een Amsterdamse uitgever, die een poos in Californie verblijft, is duidelijk de mening toegedaan dat je beter niet te veel over het verleden kunt praten. Zijn vriendin Sabine is een ’uitspreker’, iemand die de oorlogsbellevenissen van haar vader aan iedereen wil vertellen.


Bullet-point review

★★☆☆☆

+ ending
+ shocking events
+ emotional

– beginning/introduction too long
– unclear plot for a long time
– Max (book is from Max’s pov)


Full Review

It takes a while, but at the end of the book it finally becomes clear why the book is called The Daughter. I would say more to this, but unfortunately that would immediately lead me into the land of the spoilers.

The book consists of three parts. The first two parts, in my opinion are too long; I would have liked it if those had been shortened quite a bit, especially the first one. After reading the first part, I still felt like I had no idea what the book was supposed to be about. Was it a romance novel, a ‘first generation after WWII’-novel, or maybe something completely different? It was unclear and the book started to appeal to me less and less.

The third part, the ending of the book, could’ve been longer. I understand why it wasn’t. This was the most interesting part of the book however, and I would’ve enjoyed more of it.

Translations: German, Italian, and Russian.


Review: Alice Murphy’s Preservation by Maria Kennedy

 Book review | Alice Murphy's Preservation by Maria Kennedy | 1 stars

Alice Murphy’s Preservation by Maria Kennedy

Independently published 2015
ISBN: 978 1 478322979

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Alice Murphy is an independent-minded, offbeat young lady. Blunt, goofy and somewhat naïve, Alice longs to connect to the world around her. She has trouble fitting in at school and frequently says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Her English teacher, Mrs. Sinclair, labelled her as a B student on the first day of class and can’t see her any other way. She has a crush on lacrosse team star, Jim Flaherty, a boy who approaches life with a type of confidence and certainty that Alice has never known.

While writing an article for the Glenwood High School News on the lacrosse team, Alice unwittingly stumbles upon a school scandal. Jim and several of his teammates arrive at one of their games drunk and now face disciplinary measures. Alice goes to Deal Rothschild’s office to schedule an appointment to interview him about the incident. While there, Alice and several members of the lacrosse team witness a confrontation between Dean Rothschild and his alcoholic wife.

As an act of revenge, Jim organizes a production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, a play about belligerent alcoholics. Jim plans to humiliate the dean by stylizing two of the main characters in the play to represent Dean Rothschild and his wife. Jim asks Alice and her best friend Craig, a theater aficionado, to become involved with the production.

Guided by her sardonic wit and compassion, the bumbling Alice navigates her way through high school. Through the play, she comes to terms with her identity and learns to stand up for what she believes in.

 


Bullet-point review

★☆☆☆☆

+ story line
+ quirky main character

 – inconsistency of spelling choices
– double/missing words/letters/punctuation
– one-sentence paragraphs (too many)
– chapter titles and page numbers in different font from main text
– trains of thought uselessly interrupted
– “real-life” conversations
– main character is all over the place
– terrible cover


Full Review

Firstly, I’d like to point out that I did enjoy the story line. That’s the only reason I finished the book. The main character is quirky and feels awkward, while trying really hard (and sometimes less hard) to be less awkward.

However, there are so many things about this book that are just not good. Words are not always written the same. At least, I noticed it once and something like that bothers me. If spelling of something can be done in several ways, then pick ONE and stick with it, don’t change it on the next page. I’ll notice and it’s annoying.

There is a lot of editing to be done besides that: missing or double words/letters/punctuation. It’s not great to have to read over that, and there’s quite a lot of it. Plus a “were”, where there should’ve been “where”. There are also a LOT of one-sentence paragraphs. Stylistically bad, though not a problem when used sparingly. They become a problem when you use four of them in a row.

The characters conversations are written down as if they were real-life conversations. Great, you’d think, but you’d be wrong. Real-life conversations are usually fairly boring and uninteresting. A lot of “How are you”s and “fine”s. There is no reason to write it like this.

Another point that bothered me were the interrupted trains of thought; uselessly interrupted trains of thought. The interruption didn’t add anything to the story, didn’t make the train of thought go in another direction, it just added more words on the page.

Lastly, the main character is quirky, very quirky. So quirky in fact, that I’d say she’s all over the place. At a certain point in time, this made it hard to relate to the character.

Don’t recommend until some serious editing has been done.


Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks

 Book review | iBoy by Kevin Brooks | 4 stars

iBoy by Kevin Brooks

Read by: Stefan Kaminski
Translated by: Uwe-Michael Gutzschhahn
Cover design: Lisa Helm
Cover photo: gettyimages and Lukas Spieker/LUMILON Photos

Silber Fish 2011
ISBN 978 3 86742 687 9

Synopsis

What can he do with his new powers — and what are they doing to him?

Before the attack, Tom Harvey was just an average teen. But a head-on collision with high technology has turned him into an actualized App. Fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain. And they’re having an extraordinary effect on his every thought.

Because now Tom knows, sees, and can do more than any normal boy ever could. But with his new powers comes a choice: To avenge Lucy, the girl he loves, will he hunt down the vicious gangsters who hurt her? Will he take the law into his own electric hands and exterminate them from the South London housing projects where, by fear and violence, they rule?

Not even his mental search engine can predict the shocking outcome of iBoy’s actions.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ sci-fi/fantasy
+ easy to follow story-line
+ friendship
+ Tom’s personality

– not very much excitement
– abridged version


Full Review

As I listened to the abridged version of the audioBook, some of my experiences with this book might be different from if I had read the full version of the book. What I have noticed with this abridged audioBook (and others), is that if you miss one sentence, you could easily miss a plot change. A reason I won’t be getting any new abridged audioBooks anymore. A full audioBook discussion will surely be coming up in the future.

The book itself was a nice mix of sci-fi/fantasy elements. A technological explanation for ‘magical’ powers (although not a scientifically valid one). I really enjoyed exploring the powers with the main character and his decision to become a ‘superhero’, with a superhero name: iBoy.

I also appreciated his relationship to his friend, especially after the incident (calling it that to avoid spoilers, not to negate how horrible it was). He was kind, listened, and tried to do the best he could, not immediately jumping to revenge (as is all to often done in books and real-life).

The events in the book itself weren’t as fascinating or interesting as they could have been; they didn’t really grasp me. Mostly they seemed a bit bland. I’m not sure if that’s due to the fact that it was an abridged version or not.