Book 222: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Finished reading on July 31st, 2016

Today I woke up with the knowing that I have to go to the bookstore as soon as possible to get this book. I went there, and got back in less than twenty minutes, took this picture with my cup of very creamy coffee and got on the way to get to know my childhood heroes’ kids.

It’s been a very long time since I reread any of the books, so picking up this play, I didn’t really have much of a connection to the characters although I’d been quite obsessed with them as a teen. And ofcourse the new generation is something totally different.

In order to keep this post spoiler free I’m not going to go into much detail about anything except just random thoughts.

The plot was interesting and the twists were as unexpected as they have been before in Harry Potter series.

I liked the choice of characters that the play is mainly following. I wish I could see the play on stage though, because a play gives you more of just plain bones of the characters.

There are some interesting themes in the play, but mostly it’s about family relationships and friendship, a bit of teen angst and famous fathers.

 

 

Book 184: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

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A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Finished reading on July 15th, 2015

Rating: 8/10

Since everyone knows the basics for the story, I’ll just write down the things I liked about the book and things I didn’t like:

1. I like the red comet and how the peoples ideas about it resemble what people in the Middle Ages would have thought will happen if they’d seen a comet like that.
2. I like the strong female characters – Dany because she’s awesome, Arya, because she’s cool. And I admire some that I don’t particularly like – Cersei a bit of a mystery, but I like to ponder about what goes on in her head (In a similar way as what would Hitler’s mother have thought…?) and Sansa – just the irony of it all… I guess Brienne and Lady Stark are cool too…
3. I like how you can keep on reading t without getting awfully bored, but might still fall asleep.
4. The whole idea of the Star kids getting to be their direwolves in their dreams…

I obviously don’t like Theon Greyjoy and Joffrey and Jamie etc etc.

After watching some episodes of season two of the tv series, I have to say that I prefer the book – it’s more enjoyable, and less awful.

Also I started to wonder about the anatomy and physiology of dragons and the mechanism behind their fire-breathing. Do dragons breathe out oxygen and have a tiny sparkle maker somewhere in their throat?

Book 183: The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin

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The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin
Finished reading on July 10th, 2015
Rating: 8/10

I started reading this thinking it’s a children’s book. I finished reading it knowing that it certainly isn’t one.

This volume has in it all four books of the Earthsea Quartet – A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu.

In A Wizard of Earthsea we meet the young Sparrowhawk, who is about to learn to be a wizard, but while he’s at it he is or seems rather arrogant and gets himself into some serious trouble – he does deal with it, but it’s quite dark and morbid even.

In The Tombs of Atuan we meet another young person – Arha, the Priestess of Atuan, who has lived all her life without ever meeting men and is a part of a strange religion. Here we meet Sparrowhawk again, but in a different light.

In The Farthest Shore Sparrowhawk has gotten old, and we have a new young character to admire – Arren, a young prince who doesn’t know what’s waiting for him, as he sets out to deliver a message and ends up journeying with Sparrowhawk to the land of the dead.

And in the last book, Tehanu, there’re Sparrowhawk and Arha and another young character – Therru, who are trying to lead a calm life but son’t get to because of other people’s superstition and ill wishes.

In these books there are some very interesting topics – for example whether or not women have any power and why. They seem to be just underlings to males – while the men who have the power can become mages and wizard, women cannot, and can only aspire to be witches and healers.

I quite enjoyed reading it all, it’s a fascinating world with dragons and wizards but also awful things that hide in the dark. It all ends relatively well though.

Book 114: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

How come is Eddard Stark’s leg in a plaster cast, when the general level of science and technology doesn’t seem to be much higher than approximately late middle age the latest?

Camera 360A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Finished reading on March 8th, 2014

Rating: 7/10

There are people who love the series and those who don’t really care much about it, and don’t get why it’s so popular. I was one of the second kind. Now after finishing the first book I’m somewhere in-between.

So basically we have several power-struggles going on throughout the world, and we see it through the eyes of different characters. There are obviously awful characters, characters who are the good guys (or seem to be) and some who don’t fit in either of those categories.

There’s sex and violence so I guess there’s not much more you’d need for a bestseller….

I’m not saying it’s a bad book. There are so many points of view, that at least one will get your sympathy, and since you want to know what happens to them, then you keep reading…

Honestly I’m just happy to have finished reading it, but I have to admit that the ending makes me want to continue reading it, since there’s quite a lot of suspense.

Otherwise though the question of Eddard Stark’s plaster cast… was it just a splint? He shouldn’t be running around, but should be in bed resting, as would be appropriate considering everything else. That’s what bothered me. But of-course it’s fantasy, so maybe indeed medicine advances faster in that world… or it’s just my imagination that puts his leg in a modern cast…

What is this book about?

In general one could say that it pretty well follows an idea that is mentioned several times in the book: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
So we have a cast of characters, who are all connected to one-another somehow. We have the family Stark, who reside in Winterfell. When the King’s Hand (not the real hand, more an assistant guy or something) dies, Eddard Stark is asked to be the new King’s Hand and he leaves with his two daughters Arya and Sansa to go and serve the king, while he leaves behind his wife Catelyn and his sons.

There are however suspicions whether or not the previous hand died or was killed somehow.
One of Eddard’s sons, Jon Snow, is leaving as well and going to the Wall – a border between the Kingdoms and some wild parts of the world, where there are dangerous and mysterious creatures, to keep watch.

But then we have some other people there: a sister and brother who have lost their kingdom and are scheming to get it back (the brother mostly).

Changes are going on in the world, so there’s plenty of events afoot, that you can read about…

Book 93: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Finished reading on December 12, 2013

Rating: 8/10

It was my second time reading “The Hobbit”, as I’ve previously read it about ten years ago as a teenager and before that I remember it being read to me and my brothers as a bedtime-story when we were children.

So the story wasn’t really new to me.

However it was still an exciting read, and as I read it in expectation of the second Hobbit movie, I’m glad that it is a rather quick read, although for some reason I did feel at parts that it was a bit dragging along (maybe that’s why it was such a good story to be read for children before bedtime?), specially in the end. Of-course I was in a bit of a hurry in trying to finish it as fast as I could.

Now as far as the story goes, I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll just mention that the conclusion was a bit of a disappointment for me, and I’ve got to admit that I had forgotten that that was the way it ended. Well… dwarves…. that’s all I’m going to say… sigh…

My favourite part was Bilbo’s conversations with Smaug, it was just clever and funny and makes Smaug seem a bit fluffy and cute although still deadly…

If you’ve read it, didn’t you wish there’d been a different conclusion for Smaug? To me it seemed as if it was just an unfortunate event which was hidden by the later events on the Lonely Mountain..

As I’ve finished reading the book now  again I can’t wait to see the new movie, to see what other things they’ve put in there that aren’t really in the book.

Book 69: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Finished reading on August 21, 2013

Rating 7/10

The Lightning Thief was a good start for a series, the idea is great, and considering how it’s in a way resurrecting the Greek gods so that children would know them (ahem… and adults too, since I know Roman gods – only because of the planets ). 🙂

Some time ago in spring, I happened to watch a part of the movie on bus, unfortunately I was too sleepy to finish watching it, but now having read the book, I think it merits another try.

Is it even possible that someone hasn’t heard of Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Well, maybe. So the main point is that the Greek gods live, they have  a lot of half-blood children. Percy Jackson is one of them, but his not just one of them, his father is one of the Great Three, Poseidon, the Sea God. And naturally if you’ve already got gods in the story, there has to be adventure.

In a way it felt like a children’s version of Gaiman’s American Gods, although the gods are from different mythologies.

However, by the time the book was nearing it’s end I realized, what books it actually reminded me of. Now think: A kid who is bullied at school, is somewhat different from all the others, finds out he’s not who he thought he was, goes on an adventure with a somewhat silly best friend and a really smart girl, has to fight monsters, and doesn’t really have to obey the laws of physics. Hmmm…. what could it possibly be? The setup reminded me of Harry Potter, just instead of a school for witches and wizards, there’s a summer-camp for half-bloods, instead of Ron, there’s Grover , instead of Hermione there’s Annabeth and instead of Dumbledore there’s Chiron.

And well the three-headed dog…

Otherwise it was good, quite entertaining.

Book 64: The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

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The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

Finished reading on August 14, 2013

Rating 5/10

It is supposed to take place in 1900BC, in India. And it’s about Shiva. The plot is great, it’s interesting to follow, the characters seem alive, it’s easy to imagine everything that’s going on….

But there are some disturbing anachronisms and/or doubtful things in his book.

For example while Chandravanshis are spying on Shiva and the royal family one of them is using a scope – a spyglass. Not likely!

While explaining how the “drink of the Gods”, somra, works, a “scientist” explains it to Shiva using terms like oxygen (which was discovered in the end of 18th century and the name was given in 1777) and oxidant. Facepalm… And the fact that there is a “scientist” in 1900BC? Sigh….. Yes, I know it’s not Europe, it’s India, but still!!  And in one part Shiva is lying on his bed reading a book! Seriously?!

So this book kind of made me groan and sigh and want to hit my head against my desk in desperation just because of those small details. It’s fantasy and myth combined. But if there just weren’t those little annoyances, then it would be excellent!

In one chapter some religious guy is asking Shiva to remind himself about how humans see light and different colours. And it’s the modern description. Rawr! How many colours are there in the rainbow? Everyone knows there are seven. But it was Newton who said there were seven, he had originally written five, but later added indigo and orange so as  “to divide the [spectral] image into parts more elegantly proportioned to one another.” One can read about that in Topper’s “Quirky Sides of Scientists”.

I’m awful, I know. And yes, I do realize that even the fact I know this kind of stuff is odd.

Otherwise it was fine.

Book 62: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

PIMG_4958The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Finished reading on August 3, 2013

Rating 8/10

This seems like a good start for a fantasy series. It was interesting, magical, had great characters and with a good ending that would make one want to pick up the next book in the series.

I read it in a few days, and it went by so quickly…

However it made me want to compile a table of fantasy books I’ve read with some of the magical creatures/powers etc. that appear in those. So for “The Alchemyst”, there’s

* magic

* alchemy, the philosophers stone and turning cheap metals into gold

* vampires

* witches and wizards

* werewolves and wereboars 🙂

* portals between places

and so forth.

I’d recommend this book if you’re a fantasy fan.

 

Book 50: Gone by Michael Grant

PIMG_3910Gone by Michael Grant (First book in the Gone series)

Finished reading June 17, 2013

Rating 8/10

This was a creepy, scary, and at times horrifying book. Despite  or perhaps because of that it was gripping and really difficult to put down.

It starts on a day when suddenly all people above the age of 14 disappear. What could possibly happen if there were only children left in the world? Well, as appears a lot of things, as adults just “poof” out of existence and that in itself leads to dangerous situations such as car crashes, stoves left unattended etc.

But that’s not all! There’s the added mystery that has to do something with a nuclear power plant around which there’s  a barrier with a 10 mile radius, leaving Perdido Beach, the main location for all the events in the book cut off from the rest of the world with the exception of a school for rather difficult children, Coates inside the sphere. That barrier is not the weirdest thing though – some of the children appear to have developed some odd powers that don’t really fit into the universe with the known laws of physics.

All the rest you can read for yourself. 🙂

However just a bit more about the book in general – It might remind one a bit of the Harry Potter books:

First: There’s a Know-It-All Girl who becomes really good friends with the main character

Second: There’s the main character’s best friend who feels insecure…

Third: There’s a battle for life or death and a feast in the end of the book.

Otherwise it’s totally different. (Though made me want to read Harry Potter again…)

However all the magic in Harry Potter can’t reach the cruelty of this book, I mean Voldemort and the Death Eaters are fluffy little kittens compared to some of the characters and their actions in “Gone” . Plus children are cruel.

 

Book 49: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

PIMG_3909A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (First book in the Time Quintet)

Finished reading June 13, 2013

Rating 7/10

This is a nice little story about a missing father and two children who go out on a search to find him. The two children are joined by a friend of theirs and three old women Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who. It’s a fantasy/sci-fi, as the children learn about “tessering” which would basically be wrinkling up space and time in order to travel in it in another dimension a lot faster.

It was quite interesting. I’ll certainly be reading the next book soon.