Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice! Really, it's just a starting off point. We realize 10 can be hard and we don't at all always expect it. And we always thumbs up anyone putting a different yet related spin on the topic to make it work for them!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) -- or you could do something like books I liked more/less than everyone else. 

I thought I'd have a go at handling both sides of this topic today. The first part was much harder to narrow down than the second part as I'm usually very reluctant to read books that I don't think I'll enjoy!

Top Five Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would.

1. Paper Towns by John Green. I read this book purely on the strength of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. I loved that book so much when I read it a few years ago and I remember being really excited to read more from him! But Paper Towns was such a disappointment. The early chapters of it were actually quite promising and made me think that it was going to be a really interesting and fun novel, but once Margo went missing it became such a boring and aimless read and I found both her and Quentin's characters super whiny.

2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. I've only read two of Terry Pratchett's books but both of them were disappointments. One of those was Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman (who's usually a favourite author of mine) and the other was The Colour of Magic - the first novel in his Discworld series. I think I read that book sometime back in 2012 or 2013 but I never reviewed it on this blog. I know I didn't enjoy that book but unfortunately I can't really explain why because I can remember absolutely nothing about it apart from the fact that I didn't like it! I still intend to give the Discworld books one more try though because a girl that I knew at university once told me that all of the Rincewind books in the Discworld series were crap and that I'd be much better off starting with one of the books that feature the Witches. And what do you know! I had a flick through the Witches' book Maskerade at the library the other day and it was... funny!

3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. I did enjoy some of the descriptive passages in this book and its refreshing choice of setting (1920s' Western Australia). However, the pacing was much too slow for me and I found Isabel so incredibly selfish that I just couldn't bring myself to feel very much sympathy for her.

4. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. This book certainly isn't bad and I did still like it overall but I ended up much preferring its film adaptation which I saw afterwards! The film has a great ensemble of actors who are all perfectly cast in their roles (i.e. Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda), it's less crude than the book, and it's also much funnier than the book.

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. As I've already mentioned, Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors but not everything that he's written has worked for me. Good Omens is one of those books and so is American Gods. Although I know many people out there consider American Gods to be his masterpiece, it's never been a book that I've much cared for. The book has a great premise and some interesting themes but it really drags in places and I found Shadow's character to be so bland that I just wasn't able to connect with or care about him at all.

And now for the happier, more positive side of this topic...!

Top Five Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would.

1. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I read this book after falling for its Studio Ghibli adaptation and I was so pleased with it! Because I'd loved the film so much - and had heard that it was actually very different from the book - I really wasn't expecting to enjoy the book as much as I did! Although I do still love the film I now love Diana Wynne Jones's book even more as it's much funnier, its world is richer, and its characters are more flawed and are therefore more interesting in my opinion.

2. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. A friend of mine had to read this book for school and didn't enjoy it which then put me off from reading it for several years. But when I then discovered that two of my blogger friends were both big fans of it I thought I might as well give it a go for the Classics Club. I then loved it! The book was much funnier than I thought it was going to be and I loved its prose, its colourful characters, its Jane Austen-esque social satire, and its Italian setting!

3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's lesser-known works and because I hadn't seen it talked about all that much I really wasn't expecting all that much from it the first time I read it. But boy was I in for a surprise! Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney are both such loveable characters and this book has made me laugh out loud more than any of Austen's other works! It's such a fun read and is one of my favourites of Austen's novels.

4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Since I'd read both Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jane Eyre I was starting to feel that I really ought to read something by Anne. The reviews for Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were more favourable than for her other novel Agnes Grey so I decided to go for that one first but - just as with Northanger Abbey - I still had some doubts about this book because of it not being as famous as the works by her sisters. But I was amazed! The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is brilliantly-written and is such a fascinating, powerful and modern book! It's a criminally underrated work!

5. Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This book is literally the book that I last finished! Even though I'm a massive Star Wars fan I haven't had very much luck with its tie-in novels. Ian Doescher's William Shakespeare's Star Wars books were hilarious reads but up until now I've been very disappointed with the few EU and new Disney canon novels that I've read. So even though I'd heard a lot of good things about Bloodline I still had some doubts about this book. But in the end I was hugely impressed with it! The book is set six years before the events of The Force Awakens and is focused on Leia Organa's character. Claudia Gray captures Leia wonderfully and I had no trouble whatsoever in imagining Carrie Fisher saying all of Leia's lines, which was especially welcome to me given her recent tragic passing (I sobbed when I heard that she'd died). The new characters in this book (Ransolm Casterfo, Joph, Greer Sonnel) are extremely interesting, likeable and well-developed as well and the story in this book is great. I honestly think that this book is a must-read for Star Wars fans!

So what books have surprised you in both good and bad ways? :)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

'The Hero of Ages' by Brandon Sanderson (2008)

Synopsis: The Hero of Ages is the third novel in the Mistborn series and is the final book in its original trilogy. The novel is set a year after Vin was tricked into releasing the evil, destructive force Ruin from the Well of Ascension. Now that Ruin has escaped from imprisonment, the end of the world is closer than ever before. Volcanoes are spewing black ash and lava, crops and animals are dying, the Steel Inquisitors have gone rogue, the Koloss are rampaging throughout the land, and the mists are attacking and killing people every day. In a desperate attempt to save the world, Vin and her newly-made Mistborn husband Emperor Elend Venture have been travelling all over the land. They've been using their emotional allomancy to bring the Koloss under control and have been conquering cities in order to seek out the storage caches of food and water that were left behind by the Lord Ruler. They've also been trying to find the Lord Ruler's hidden supply of atium which Vin believes must be essential to the saving of the world. The only two major unconquered cities remaining are Fadrex City, which has reverted to the Lord Ruler's old structure of Skaa repression, and Urteau, a city where the Skaa are free and where the nobility are being ruthlessly executed. In order to bring these two cities into their empire, Vin and Elend set about trying to conquer Fadrex City whilst their friends Spook, Sazed, and Breeze travel to Urteau to attempt to negotiate with the city's leader the Citizen...

I finished this book several months ago and it's taken me quite a while to finally get this review of it out of my draft box. Hopefully that means I can now start to make some progress on clearing the other half a dozen or so reviews that are still sitting in there! :D Warning: the rest of this post contains major spoilers! 

The previous two books in the Mistborn trilogy were certainly epic and suspenseful reads but The Hero of Ages is even more so and is the best series finale that I've come across ever since I first read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows almost 10 years ago! The threats and perils that the characters face feel so intense and real in this book and Sanderson does a truly superb job of tying up all of the various loose ends of the trilogy in it e.g. we finally get to learn about the true nature and origin of the mists, how Scadriel came to look like it does, and the true identity of the Hero of Ages.

Another aspect of this book that I especially loved was the reveal that the threat to the world was so much greater than the Lord Ruler and that the Lord Ruler was actually well-meaning and good in comparison to how evil and terrible Ruin is! In that sense this trilogy reminds me so much of the experience of reading J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth books - where with each novel there was always brand new information revealed that would considerably enrich our understanding of everything that had gone on before. Because Tolkien first gave his readers The Hobbit, an epic story in its own right, and then followed that up with the even more epic The Lord of the Rings in which we learn that Bilbo's discovery of the one ring was far more significant than we thought. And then Tolkien eventually went on to follow the LOTR up with The Silmarillion in which we learn that the War of the Ring is only a tiny part of a history that has spanned 10s of 1000s of years and that the villain Sauron pales in comparison to how terrible Morgoth was.

Yet another aspect of this book that I especially loved was its wonderful character development. It was fascinating to find out how Elend has developed his new Mistborn powers and Spook, who has only been a fairly minor character up until now, gets far more page-time in this one and ends up getting one heck of an awesome character arc! And the ending of this book! It was so beautiful and moving and perfect that I was pretty much an emotional mess at the end :') I was so happy for Sazed and Spook! I was sad that both Vin and Elend died of course but I was glad that they both died together as I personally feel that it would have been far more tragic had one died and the other survived. And we know from Sazed's final letter to Spook that there's an afterlife in the Mistborn world and that the two of them are together and happy which I loved! And Kelsier even got to have a presence in this book as well!

This Mistborn trilogy is an amazing series that I would completely recommend to any fantasy fan and I'm certain that these books are going to continue to impress me in the future. I really want to read Sanderson's second Mistborn series as well now although I don't think I'm quite emotionally ready for those books yet and have decided to check out some of Sanderson's other fiction for a while. At the moment I'm currently reading his standalone novel Warbreaker and then later on in the year I'm hoping that I can make a start on his YA series The Reckoners :)

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

My Year of Reading (2016)

I suppose it's quite late to put this up now, since we're now into February, but as I've done it for previous years... here are all of the books that I read in 2016! I read 35 books last year (not including a handful of books that I didn't finish) which is low compared to the previous couple of years in which I averaged at about 50 but is still higher than the national average I believe. My favourite books from last year are here and I'm hoping that I can get back into book reviewing again over the next couple of weeks :)
  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (2015)
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
  3. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (2006)
  4. False Colours by Georgette Heyer (1963)
  5. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (1909)
  6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
  7. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (2010)
  8. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (1915)
  9. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)
  10. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1894)
  11. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925)
  12. R American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)
  13. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (2002)
  14. N The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today by Bryan Doerries (2015)
  15. S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst (2013)
  16. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013)
  17. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (2016)
  18. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (2007)
  19. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)
  20. Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings by Jane Austen (2014)
  21. N As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of 'The Princess Bride' by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden (2014)
  22. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (2008)
  23. The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton (1922)
  24. East O' the Moon, West O' the Sun by Naomi Lewis (1991)
  25. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (2015)
  26. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (2016)
  27. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008)
  28. The New World by Patrick Ness (2010)
  29. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (2009)
  30. The Wide, Wide Sea by Patrick Ness (2013)
  31. Legion by Brandon Sanderson (2012)
  32. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (2010)
  33. Snowscape by Patrick Ness (2013)
  34. The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (2011)
  35. Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen (2016)
  • R = Re-read
  • N = Non-fiction