To Boldly Nerd…

Video games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

[Books] February-April reviews

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Yeah, so much for posting my reviews monthly. But I am back on track with blogging and hopefully back on track with reviewing.

Last year I did not reach my goal with reading 40 books so I scaled down for 2013. But I have been enjoying reading so much that I am more than on track for a higher goal, so up to 40 it went. I really hope I will reach this goal this year. My reviews will be a bit more compact, and I will include a link to each direct review written right after I finished the book.

February

  • Jackdaws by Ken Follet – This one came highly recommended by my SO who is a big Follet fan but for me it was just a 3 star book which on my scale means average, but nothing special whatsoever. It’s one of Follet’s WWII novels, about an unlikely group of British agents in 1944 trying to prepare the scene in France so that D Day will be a success. Too much build-up for the action, and flat characters failed to work the magic on me.
  • Cycle of Hatred by Keith R.A. DeCandido – You can barely call this a book, it’s so short. It’s on my to-read list to read all the Warcraft tie-in novels because with Cataclysm that was the only way to get all the lore. Thankfully that’s not been the case with MoP, but I still want to read. The book itself almost read like fan-fiction. Setting’s after WC3, about trouble between Theramore and Orgrimmar, and Jaina and Thrall trying to sort this mess out and to find out who the Burning Blade are. 2.5 stars, rounding up to .
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan – Another goal of my list is to re-read all the Wheel of Time books and read the ones I haven’t read yet, now that the series is finished. I first read this book in the 90s, and my ‘re-read’ was to listen to the audiobook while commuting. World-building’s great, the female characters are still aggravating, and the whole Fellowship of the Dragon vibe I get from this book is too derivative of Tolkien for me to find it exciting.
  • Elizabeth I by Margaret George – Now and then I enjoy historical fiction, and I heard that the Tudor books of hers were good, so I went for this one. Incredibly slow-paced, this book is certainly not the full story of Elizabeth’s reign. It starts right before the Spanish Armada is supposed to invade and then covers the late years of her reign. Lovely prose, and I was moved by Elizabeth’s fear of death and aging. What else happened? I’d be hard-pressed to tell you. And yet, I enjoyed it well enough.

March

  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – After a month of average books, I had high hopes on this one. They were only partially met. TLDR summary: I expected an excellent sequel, and only got a good one. I worry that Rothfuss will not be able to tie this series up in a way that will remotely satisfy me. And yet, the writing is fantastic, and the plot isn’t. tinged with bitterness, hah.
  • The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown by Claire Ridgway – Free Kindle book at the time. There were so many references to her mother Anne Boleyn in Elizabeth I that I wanted to find out more than I remembered. This book is non-fiction and provides a timeline to Anne Boleyn’s execution. I enjoyed it.
  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre – Dystopian YA novels are all the rage, and Enclave is another one, the first book of the Razorland series. Our heroine this time is Deuce, a young huntress of the underground enclave underneath the former New York. I liked the underground moments best, but Deuce eventually moves to the surface. There are zombies. There are the standard tropes of YA fiction, like love triangles. Not anywhere as good as Hunger Games, not as good as Divergent, but still a decent read. 3.5 stars rounding up to
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell – I loved this book so much. For me it was outstanding historical fiction. It details the story of Jacob de Zoet, a Dutch clerk come to the colonies to make enough money to be able to marry his fiancee at home. In 1799 he is sent to Dejima on Nagasaki Island, the single place of trade between Japan and the outside world. Colorful, with fascinating insights into the Edo period of Japan, I truly felt for poor Jacob, stuck far far away from home, and his hopeless love for Orito, the Japanese translator, and her fate. 5 stars
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, this book topped off an excellent month of reading. I loved it so much that I cannot recommend it enough. Historical fiction, love story, drama, horror, all mixed into one. Set in Barcelona after the end of WWII, the 10-year old Daniel is gifted a book by an author called Julian Carax. He falls in love with the book and tries to find out anything possible about the mysterious author. Over the course of the next 8 years, he learns the truth, which puts him and those he loves in danger. Go read this book now! 5 stars

April

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Expected to love it, but was left completely cold by it. Interesting, but I wasn’t moved by it. A dystopian society of religious nuts in the Republic of Gilead that lead their lives by following the Old Testament. Our protagonist is a handmaid, which means she is a vessel to be impregnated by the male head of house instead of the barren wife. The glimpses at the society were interesting, but I think she’s done better writing since then. 3 stars
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – This book came highly recommended. I had seen it labeled as time travel story, which I had been looking forward to a lot. Unfortunately it’s more of a historical romance novel, and romance is just not my genre. It is 1945, and Claire is vacationing in Scotland with her husband. She stumbles through a circle of stones and ends up in 1743, just before the Scots rise up with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Meets a dude Jamie, falls in love, marries, has lots of sex. I did not like Jamie, and I could not connect with Claire. If you do not enjoy romance novels, stay away. 3 stars
  • The Book of Cthulhu by Ross E. Lockhart – An antholoy of short stories based on the Cthulhu Mythos. Some stories were awful, some were quite good. None were outstanding. Some stories really made me uncomfortable, but I consider that a hallmark of good Lovecraftian stories. 3 stars

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