domingo, 27 de janeiro de 2013

El Palacio de la Medianoche (The Midnight Palace)

This is the second installment in the Trilogia de La Niebla created by Carlos Ruiz Zafón; I've already reviewed El Principe de la Niebla  and you can check out that review here.

The Premise
The story begins on a dark night in Calcuta, when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Even though it's not an easy task, he manages to save the twins but not without sacrificing his own life.

Years later, in 1932, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives, but this time it seems impossible for them to escape. Fortunately they can count on their friends to help them stand up against the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.

My Thoughts

Even though this book is part of a trilogy, there isn't any connection between the stories but there's definitely a common theme to the whole series; they are all mystery novels with enigmatic villains that look to no means in order to succeed.

I have to say, I think this book was better than El Principe de la Niebla because it had a lot more mystery and some parts were actually kind of scary. The way it was written was really captivating and it grabbed my attention; I swear, sometimes I couldn't put the book down because I was so eager to know what would happen next.

The way the mysteries were introduced to us was really good, because the author only shared with us little pieces at a time instead of just blurting all out at once. It actually gave the story a great pace; it was fast but not to the point that you couldn't understand what was going on.

As for the characters,  even though Ben, Sheere and their friends had interesting stories, it was the villain - Jawahal - that really stood out for me; we was incredibly enigmatic, there was a lot of mystery surrounding his past and the reasons that lead him chase after the twins and even after knowing more about his story, I couldn't help but feel even more drawn to this character. He was really smart, a man ahead of his time with great hopes for his country and a big desire go change its course for better.

Overall I've been really enjoying this series and I'm looking forward to read the final book - Las Luces de Septiembre (The Watcher in the Shadows).

I give 4 out of 5 stars to El Palacio de la Medianoche

quinta-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2013

Hedge Knight

I have to admit, I've never been the biggest fan of stories set in medieval times with fantasy elements, but George R R Martin has taught me to appreciate this genre. So far,I've been really loving what is has written and Hedge Knight is no exception.

The premise

Night falls over the life of one noble knight and brings the dawn of his squire's knighthood. Dubbing himself Ser Duncan the Tall , he sets forth to the tourney at Ashford Meadow in search of fame, glory and the honor of upholding his oath as a knight of the Seven Kingdoms. However, keeping an honest path doesn't seem to be the tendency anymore and his chivalry could compromise his future.

My thoughts

This graphic novel is an adaptation of a short story that takes place 100 years before the events of A Game of Thrones.

I liked it a lot because, in my opinion, it added to my impression that the series created by George R R Martin is a story that seems to have a lot of history and tradition on its foundation. I particularly enjoyed how it was connected to what we already know from the series and how we got to know more about some of the more distinguished families and the legends that surround them. I also thought that Duncan was really commendable and the fact that this was basically a story about honor and how we should always follow through with our commitments.
Great story with a great message.

4 out of 5 stars.

terça-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2013

La Mécanique du Coeur

Today I'll be reviewing one of the books that I had on my bookshelves waiting for me to pick it up (fortunately it didn't have to wait that long).

La Mécanique du Coeur - also known as The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart - tells us the story of Jack, a boy who was born on the coldest day ever with a frozen heart. In order for him to survive, Madeleine - the midwife - grafts a cuckoo clock to his heart; according to her, he will have to lead of life free from strong emotions, including love. However, when Jack meets a little singer from Andalucía things change ...

Jack is an interesting character. Even though he's a teenager, he still seems like a small boy when it comes to his dreams and his expectations; he's a dreamer and his dreams seem to give him a sense of purpose, they direct his life and determine what he does and how he does it. Because of that, he ends being somewhat naive and childlike - here and there, not too often - but in a way that makes us empathize with him; he also has this amazing ability to love unconditionally and with such tenderness that warmed up my heart.

What was also really interesting about this book was the way the human heart - has an organ and has the source of love (and the problems that come with it) - was "portrayed"; it demanded our attention, almost as if it were another character in the story.

I think this was a great way to start my readings for 2013. This book was different from what I had read until now, because it's not your typical love story where everything is pretty and has an happy ending; it's kind of gothic and bittersweet. I enjoyed reading this book because it made me laugh, it made me think and the fact that the band Dyonisos - in which the author is the lead singer - created an entire album dedicated to this book was like the cherry on top of the cake. Listening to the CD was a great bonus because it's like the story is being sung to you and you feel a lot more engrossed by the book. Loved the whole experience.

4 out of 5 stars

domingo, 13 de janeiro de 2013

Quote of the Week # 9

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” 

J. K. Rowling

quinta-feira, 3 de janeiro de 2013

Quote of the Week #8

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
J. R. R. Tolkien

Reading Challenge #2

I've decided to take up on another challenge - the A to Z challenge. Basically I compiled a list of 26 books according to the author surname (there were some exceptions) and I plan on reading them during this year. I only own 8 of them, so I'll be doing some book buying as the year progresses. Here's my list (I still haven't found a book for "X"):

A- Asher, Jay - Thirteen Reasons Why
B- Bray, Libba - A Great and Terrible Beauty
C- Clare, Cassandra - City of Bones
D- Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
E- Ellroy, James - LA Confidential
F- Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
G- Grant, Michael - Gone
H- Haddon, Mark - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
I- Ishiguro, Kazuo - Never Let Me Go
J- John Green - Looking for Alaska
K- Keplinger, Kody - The DUFF
L- Larsson, Stieg - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
M- Murakami, Haruki - 1Q84 vol. III
N- Ness, Patrick - Knife of Never Letting Go
O- Orwell, George - 1984
P- Perkins, Stephanie - Anna and the French Kiss
Q- Queiroz, Eça - O Primo Basílio
R- Revis, Beth - Across the Universe
S- Stookett, Kathryn - The Help
T- Tolkien, J R R - The Hobbit
U- Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose
V- Veronica Roth - Insurgent
W- Westerfeld, Scott - Uglies
Y- Young, Moira - Blood Red Road
Z- Zuzak, Markus - The Book Thief

I'll try to review as many of these books as possible.

terça-feira, 1 de janeiro de 2013

Reading Challange # 1

I've never done a reading challenge before but I thought that 2013 would be a great year to start doing something different and to set some goals.

I've realized that I have a lot of books sitting on my bookshelves waiting for me to pick them up and so I've decided (to try) to read most of them this year. The purpose of this challenge is to knock down the pile of books that I've been accumulating over the years and that I haven't read until now; I won't be considering the books that I buy during 2013 because I know that I'll read them as soon as a get them.
So far I have 31 books that I haven't read and what I'll be trying to do is read, at least, two of them per month (24 by the end of the year).

This is the list of books that are currently on my bookshelves that I haven't read:
  • 1984, George Orwell
  • 1Q84 (third volume), Haruki Murakami
  • The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
  • El Palacio de la Medianoche, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Hobbit, J R R Tolkien
  • O Primo Basílio, Eça de Queiroz
  • A Capital, Eça de Queiroz
  • Contos, Eça de Queiroz
  • O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra, Eça de Queiroz
  • A Ilustre Casa de Ramires, Eça de Queiroz
  • O Crime do Padre Amaro, Eça de Queiroz
  • Alvez & Cia, O Mandarim, O Conde de Abranhos, Eça de Queiroz
  • A Tragédia da Rua das Flores, Eça de Queiroz
  • A Relíquia, Eça de Queiroz
  • A Woman of Thirty, Honoré Balzac
  • The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
  • The Bonfire of Vanities, Tom Wolfe
  • LA Confidential, James Ellroy
  • The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  • The Constant Gardener, John Le Carré
  • The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
  • Uma Família Inglesa, Julio Dinis
  • Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  • Antes Morrer que Matar, James Hadley Chase
  • Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller
  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  • Giant's Bread, Mary Westmacott
  • Sons and Lovers, D H Lawrence
  • Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile
  • La Méchanique du Coeur,  Mathias Malzieu
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
I apologize for the portuguese names but so far I haven't found a translation.

Each month I'll post my progress and I'll try to review as many of this books as possible.

I got the idea for this challenge at The Deliberate reader:

Read in December

This book had two novels by Agatha Christie: Sad Cypress and Poirot's Early Cases