The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy -A Book Review

I might have been the last person on earth who didn’t read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I know if that was true, then there would be no purpose for this book review, but, I am sure there are some of you who still haven’t given it a try and for those of you I say: “if you want a good laugh then go read it”. I am now starting to wonder what took me so long to pick it up.

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Well, I have just finished listening to the audio book “Just One Damned Thing After Another” by Jodi Taylor (which I reviewed on this blog) and was looking for my next audio book when I stumbled, somehow, onto this one.

This book was not what I expected, at all. The story is something you would never imagine, talks about a space journey of Arthur Dent and his alien friend Ford Prefect after the earth is demolished by another alien race to build a galactic freeway. I know it sounds silly, but it’s filled with moments that would make you forget the silliness and just enjoy the ride, and it even has a depressed robot named Marvin, who is perhaps my favorite character in the book.

Even though there was no deep plot to it, it was funny and enjoyable with lines like these:

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

The book was narrated by Stephen Fry and it was awesome. Great voice acting. You’ll get the shouts, the sighs, the tiredness, all of it. I don’t think I have laughed this much out loud listening to a book like this before.

It turns out that this book is part of a series. I look forward to picking up the next one although it’s unfortunate that Stephen Fry is not narrating it. The next book is narrated by Martin Freeman (the same actor who played the lead role in the movie adaptation of this book, and Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit movies) but I think he would also be a good narrator. We’ll see.

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My Book Year in Review – 2016

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Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s December again and time to reflect on what I have read this past year. It was an interesting reading year for me. I read around 25 books, and some of them from authors and genres that were new to me. I also became more addicted to listening to audio books and noticed that I couldn’t get myself to read ebooks as much as I use to. Also, the number of books I couldn’t finish this year were high, so I guess I need to amend my book selection methods.

Last January I made a book reading plan — which you can check out here. And as I anticipated, I didn’t follow the list much. I read only 4 of the books in the list and one of them I couldn’t finish. What was new this year was my discovery of The Great Courses series on Audible — they offer many courses in many topics which I highly recommend checking out. I also started learning the German Language through courses offered by Pimsleur also on Audible. This year I decided not make a reading plan, as it’s obvious I will not stick to it.

Here are some of my favorites books of this year:

This was one of my top favorite reads this year. I was very surprised of how much I loved them. The writing style and story line was engaging and intriguing. It was very fast paced, filled with events and action so you won’t get a dull moment. The characters were well defined and interesting and the author did a good job making the reader intrigued to what happens to them next. I got these books in audio format and the narrators did an excellent job. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Another surprisingly interesting book. Here is my full review. As much as I liked this book, the sequel didn’t match up to it unfortunately.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

  • Magic 2.0 Series –  Scott Meyer

I cannot recommend this series enough. I loved it. Here is my full review of the books. If you do plan to get it, get it in audio, Luke Daniels is one of the best narrators out there.

 

This was my first read from this author. Here is my full review. I loved his writing style and after reading this one I also read the first book from his first series The Broken Empire: The Prince of Thorns.

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This was one of the intetesting autobiographies I listened to this year. The book talks about the actor Alan Cumming’s relationship with his father. Here is my full review .

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This was one of the courses I listened to this year. If you’re interested in learning about the universe, I highly recommend you check this one out.

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If I make a plan for next year it’ll only be that I want to read more books than my average 20-25. I have about 200 books in my to read list (and increasing faster than I can read) and with this pace I will never get to them. So this year I’m planning to read 30 books and see how it goes.

How was your year? Any surprises or disappointments?

Wizard 2.0 – A Book Series Review

I convinced a friend of mine to read the book Off to be the Wizard, the first book in the Wizard 2.0 series by Scott Meyer. He’s enjoying it a lot and asked me if I wrote a review about it, I thought I did but it turned out that I didn’t. So, last week I finished listening to the third and final book An Unwelcomed Quest and decided that a full review of the series should be done. [No spoilers below].

First off, I loved this series. The books were well written, engaging, humorous and easy to follow. All the characters were interesting and well defined. If you are into computers and time travel and a little bit of history then I’m sure you’ll find these books entertaining. You might be faced with a couple of computer terms from the earlier decades that are currently obsolete but that won’t matter. I listened to all 3 in audio and they were all so much fun to listen to. The narrator Luke Daniels is one of my favorite narrators. He made each character very unique, and there were a lot of characters. He portrayed them and their emotions with excellence and I was able to know who was talking just from the accent and tone of his voice. Now that I have finished the series I feel that I am going to miss those characters. That’s how good the books were and how the narrator gave each character their own unique identity.

Off to be the Wizard

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The first book was my favorite. It introduces the reader to one of the main characters named Martin and how he ends up being a wizard after finding a certain computer file. The concept of the book is very different from what I have read before and it has computer and software terms so appeals to my geeky side and is filled with humor and time travel. I was hooked from the first chapter. This book introduces most of the characters that will appear in the following books.

Spell or High Water 

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The second book was interesting. Without spoiling the series, I loved the imagination used in this book, and I would love to see it depicted on a TV show or movie. I found one concept in this book a bit confusing and up till now I still can’t grasp the idea but it doesn’t change or effect the understanding the story line. This book follows the journey of 3 of the main characters from the first book in addition to a lot of new ones.

An Unwelcomed Quest 

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This book was my least favorite. The idea for it was interesting and the imagination was good but it dragged a bit during the middle part, some of the scenes were a bit redundant. I thought it could have been reduced or have less dialogues. However, I did like the ending. It was a bit predictable but none the less better than I expected. Mainly all of the main characters from the first and second books are present with no new ones in this book.

I highly recommend you check these books out. They’re perfect for when you just want a fun, light read or listen and enjoy your time. If you decide to check it out don’t forget to get it in audio :). Trust me it’s worth it.

The Thorn of Emberlain New Release Date Announced

Finally and after several delays and a lot of waiting it seems we’ll be getting the fourth book in the Gentleman Bastard series sometime this coming September!

The British publisher Gollancz announced yesterday on Twitter that The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch will be released in September to coincide with the author’s appearance at Fantasy Con happening in the same month. The author also confirmed on Twitter after that, so it seems this new release date is final. Can’t wait!

Thorn of Emberlain

 

The Prince of Thorns – A Book Review

This is the first book in The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence. It has been on my to-read list for a long time. I tried to read it a while back but after the first couple of chapters I left it. It was too gruesome for me at the time. But after reading The Prince of Fools (my review) by the same author and checking out many reviews by fellow bloggers and friends who highly recommended it, I thought I’d give it another try. Glad I did. The book was still too gruesome and quite dark but as you read further you get to know more about the characters and their reasons. I’m not saying that the reasons justify their actions, I’m only saying you understand them. [No spoilers in this review].9579634

The book follows the journey of Prince Jorg Ancrath, aka the Prince of Thorns, to take revenge on his mother and brother’s brutal murder that happened when he was 10 years old. At 13, he leads a group of bandits to find and kill the person who ordered their deaths. Jorg and his bandits, whom he calls Brothers, attack villages and torture and burn everyone in their way. He is not your average teenager, he’s brutal and has no remorse for his actions. This doesn’t sound like a book that could appeal to everyone nor make you feel any empathy towards the main character but there is a lot more to this book than that.

What I liked about it

  • The author’s writing style: I don’t usually read dark fantasy like this one, but the author did a great job with the writing and after getting past the first chapters it kinds gets easier to go through once you get into the story more. The book easily flows back and forth in time describing Jorg’s past and showing the reader how he ended up the way he did.
  • Humor and wit: As dark as it was, the book also had humor and wit which are two things I really like in a book.
  • The story line: it will keep you intrigued. After reading The Prince of Fools I am already a bit familiar with the setting of the book and some of the characters mentioned so it was easy to get engaged in the world of the broken empire.
  • The magic: there is no specific magic system, but the magic in this book was more of characters who posses magic and the existence of magical creatures and the way they were portrayed was interesting.
  • The cover: what can I say I like good covers.
  • Memorable Quotes: from the many here is one

         “Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.”

There wasn’t anything specific that I didn’t like. I did get a bit mixed up with the secondary characters, Jorg’s Brothers. I couldn’t get a clear vision of who they are besides two characters; Nuban and Makin.

Jorg is a character who is confident and arrogant and has been leading a group of grown men but while I was reading there was a question that kept popping up in my head: why did the author make Jorg so young and how did he realize that this age will be appropriate for the story?

If you’re looking for a typical hero that everyone will root for, this is not that book. But even so, you’ll find yourself following Jorg’s journey, wanting to know what he will do next and maybe rooting for him just to see him reach his destination.

A Darker Shade of Magic – A Book Review

I woke up early last Saturday, and knowing that I had an awesome book lying around with almost 18% left, I didn’t start my day until it was finished.

A Darker Shade final for IreneA Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab is book 1 of the Shades of Magic trilogy. It follows the journey of a Red Traveler named Kell, last of the travelers who can magically travel between parallel universes. The book is based in a world that has 4 parallel versions of London where each one is named after the color it mainly projects: Red London; the bright magical city, Grey London; the dull and boring city with no magic, White London; the cold and pale city with magic, and Black London; the dark city that was consumed by magic and where no one goes to anymore.

Kell is an Antari (someone with special magical powers), and an ambassador for Red London. By using blood magic he can open a door that allows him to travel between the different Londons and carry correspondences among the rulers of these cities. However, he has a bad habit of smuggling items between them and because of this dangerous hobby he gets himself in trouble in Grey London where he meets a thief named Delilah ‘Lila’ Bard. Through various encounters, both Kell and Lila find themselves fighting to save their lives and Red London from evil that attacks them from right next door.

What I liked about it:

  • I loved this book, it’s very different from what I’ve been reading lately. Travelling among parallel universes is one of my favorite topics in Fantasy and this book covers it very well.
  • This is the first book I’ve read for this author. I liked her writing style, it’s engaging and easy to follow.
  • The new world and magic system were well built. The concept of the parallel Londons, the characteristics of the people who ruled and lived there and the way magic is used to travel among them was interesting and the author portrayed it quite well in the story.
  • I loved the main characters, Kell and Lila. Each one had their well defined personality and it was fun following their journey together.
  • I thought the plot was intriguing, it had a lot of action, magic and kept you wanting to know what happens next.

What I didn’t like about it:

  • There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. The only comment I have is one thing I thought could have been a bit better. Don’t read ahead if you haven’t read the book already. [Spoilers]
    The ending. I had a feeling that the ending could have been a bit more complex and a little left with an obvious cliffhanger, even though I know a lot can still happen in the next book from the way things ended.

    [End of Spoilers]

I’d place this book between young adult and adult categories. The second book in the series was published today, so I plan to get it sometime soon. If you’re into parallel universes and magic then I recommend you check this book out.

Prince of Fools – A Book Review

I started off the year reading a book from an author I have never read before, Mark Lawrence. For a while now I’ve been reading so many good reviews about the author’s books so I tried reading The Prince of Thorns. Unfortunately (and I say this because I wanted to like it), I couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters. However, after reading the reviews for the Prince of Fools and making sure that I can still read the series without reading the Broken Empire, I thought I’d give it a try and last month I got the audio book and started listening. [There are no spoilers in this post].

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This is the first book in the Red Queen trilogy. It takes place in Red March part of the Broken Empire. Red March is ruled by the Red Queen who is also the grandmother of  one of the main characters Prince Jalan Kendeth, tenth in line for the throne. In the beginning of the book, word arrives to Red March that the dead is rising and a war could be imminent so the Red Queen calls on her family to help defend the realm. Jalan doesn’t want to be a part of this but finds himself so after being struck by a magical spell cast by a witch called the Silent Sister and his life becomes entangled with a viking warrior named Snorri ver Snagason. The book follows their journey through the Broken Empire and Jalan realizes that what’s happening is much bigger than he anticipated.

What I liked about it:

  • I enjoyed the writing style of the author. There was humor, wit and quotable dialogues and was easy to follow. I think it would have been even better if I read it instead of listening to it. I usually like to read the book when there are quotable dialogues, so that’s what I’ll do for the next one.
  • The plot was intriguing and I really enjoy books that have magic and journeys.
  • The main characters were interesting and well defined and I liked watching their progress throughout the book.
  • The narration of Jalan and Snori was good, I liked the way the narrator expressed the different emotions that were happening to them.
  • The cover. Yes I’m one of those who think the book cover is important (though I don’t judge the book entirely on that). I don’t have the physical book but if I get it I’d get this one.

What I didn’t like about it:

  • The secondary characters towards the end of the book didn’t interest me much, and I found out that a lot of them were introduced in the Broken Empire series so perhaps I needed the background.
  • The narrator was good but I had a hard time following the narration of the secondary characters, that’s another reason why I’m going to read and not listen to the next book.

This is a book I recommend, it is fun with a lot of dark humor and wit and references to the Norse Mythology like Loki, Odin and Valhalla.

I can’t say whether you should read the Broken Empire first or not, but from what I noticed it might be a bit better if you do, just to know more about the world setting and some of the characters. At this time, I don’t plan to to read it (do let me know if you think I should) but I hope it’ll get better in the follow up books.