Showing posts with label Eline's Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eline's Reviews. Show all posts

Sep 28, 2015

Dutch Days: Book Reviews - The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs & The Twins by Tessa de Loo

Reviews by Eline

When Suze asked me to write something for the Dutch Days, I immediately started thinking what I could do. Something YA related in Dutch should be possible, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized YA and Dutch don’t go together. At all. About 95% of Dutch YA books you find in the bookstore are in fact translations, either translated from English or German. I don’t think I’ve read more than five Dutch YA books in my entire life. So that is why I have decided to do something completely different. In this post I want to cast a spotlight on two novels that I absolutely adore, both for very different reasons. They have been translated into English, so who knows, maybe you’ll pick them up and love them as much as I did!

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The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs

The Angel Maker is with ease one of the most intriguing and fascinating books I have ever read. It’s a story about a well-acclaimed doctor who moves back to the town where he grew up to start a small practice there. Needless to say, that is not all that is to it. With him, the doctor has three seemingly identical children. The children are kept inside, never to be seen by anybody, and the people of the town start talking. Who is this strange doctor really, and why did he give up a good career to come back here? Are these children his, and if so, who and where is their mother? And most of all, what is so incredibly wrong with them that the doctor can’t bear to let them go outside? 

The book is divided into three separate parts. The present, that shows the situation as it now is. The past, which slowly gives you more information. And then the present again, to tie it up in a way you simply can’t even imagine. This is one of the most clever endings of a book I have ever seen, and that says a lot. The characters are well-rounded and surprising, and the writing is beautiful. Most of all, though, this book makes you think. It searches for ethical boundaries, and goes beyond them. Even after finishing, this book simply wouldn’t leave me alone. I still think about it sometimes, and it has been a little under two years ago that I read this. Another added bonus is that it reads and feels like a YA, whilst it very much is a novel in its themes and language. It is the perfect marriage of the two, and I certainly would recommend it to young adult fans too.

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The Twins by Tessa de Loo

If you are only going to read one WWII novel in your entire life, make it this one. The Twins tells the story of Anna and Lotte, two young German girls who are twin sisters. Their mother has died, and when their father dies too, the family argues over who gets to take them in. Lotte, who is ill, goes home with the Dutch side of the family to get better, whereas Anna stays with German relatives. The two grow up separately and very differently. This difference is only increased when the second World War breaks out in their early twenties. There is a falling out between the two, and they don’t speak at all until they run into each other when they are both in their seventies at a spa treatment in Belgium. Lotte wants nothing to do with her estranged twin sister, but Anna won’t give up. Over many shared cups of coffee and pastries, Anna and Lotte tell their stories and prove once again how war comes between people.

If I’m being honest, I must say that I usually avoid books about the second World War. I find it depressing, and since I already know how it ends, I feel like I don’t have to read about all the cruelties in it. I made an exception for this book, and I am very glad that I did. Not only did it give insight into the way of life in the Netherlands, an occupied country, but also into the life of the average German. Even though it is very hard to morally justify this sympathy, you feel for Anna and her tough life. There is so much depth to this book, and the story progresses so naturally and beautifully. It feels as if a lot of research has been done before writing this novel, and it clearly shows. Despite not having read many others to compare with, The Twins is my favorite WWII novel. The movie adaptation is also one of the finest in its genre I have ever seen. The German characters actually speak German throughout the movie, and everything is so incredibly accurate and well done. It is a Dutch film, but if you can get it with English subtitles I would definitely recommend checking it out alongside the book. It is in my top ten favorite movies ever, after all.

Giveaway

Aug 26, 2015

Book review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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review by Eline

Tessa Gray expected her life to change in many ways when she moved to London. Finding out she’s not human isn’t one of them. It is the year 1878, and cities are thriving. Carriages, ladies with beautiful gowns, men in handsome suits, and demons feasting on the tightly packed together people. Will and Jem, both Shadowhunters, are following the trail of a strange string of killings. A turn of fate brings them together with Tessa, and by the time they meet the story gets well on its way.

Tessa has a lot on her plate. Accepting she isn’t human, as she always thought she was. Trying to find her brother, who seems to have disappeared. Two handsome boys, for whom she both feels a certain attraction. Automatons, clockwork people, running around town, seemingly forming an army of sorts. And to top it all off, a mysterious figure, the Magister, who wants to marry her for her powers. In a world of mysterious Shadowhunters, glittering warlocks, menacing vampires and confusing boys, Tessa must try to fit in. But most of all she must figure out her powers, because time is running out.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t expecting too much. Yes, I like the Mortal Instruments series, which I have read the first three books of, but they didn’t blow me away. As a matter of fact, I truly hated the second book, but that may have been because of the terrible Dutch translation and the enormous (unnecessary) spoiler in the movie. City of Glass managed to convince me, though, and then especially the last one hundred pages. They were so incredibly fast paced and exciting, this was what I had been waiting for all along! Hoping this book would be like that, but not really expecting it to happen, I started reading the first installment in the Infernal Devices trilogy. Judging by the fact that I’m writing a review on a positive reviews only blog, I feel like it’s clear that I really enjoyed this one.

Can I just start by saying that this book was so much better than the Mortal Instruments? I haven’t finished that series yet, but compared to what I have read of it so far, I can tell that these books aren’t even in the same league. And the worst part is that I don’t think I’ll even be able to fully explain to you why it is better. The premise is quite similar; girl finds out she’s actually not human, and then things happen. Same goes for characters; incredibly snarky and sassy love interest that seems to have a very dark past, main character who doesn’t know anything about the world. Both books follow these ideas to the letter, and yet Clockwork Angel was everything I was secretly hoping for, and more.

The writing style was really good. I don’t often comment on style, but in this book I just can’t not mention it. Cassandra Clare has mastered a really nice-flowing and natural-feeling style, which makes reading seem like you’re watching the people have a conversation instead of sitting and reading about it. The dialogue felt very genuine and plausible, giving the characters an edge of believability, versus the characters in the Mortal Instruments that felt forced at times. This may just be because this is her fourth book, and she has now gotten the hang of writing.

That brings me to the characters. The characters were so great! Tessa was a heroine that I’d like to see more often. Not the unbelievably strong and badass one, or the “plain and insecure” one. She’s just a girl like me and you (unless you’re a guy, of course), and her actions made sense, for once. Too often, it seems as if writers feel like they need to make their main character really outstanding in order to write a good book. Sometimes it works and makes a book amazing, often it doesn’t and it completely kills the flow of the story. It is hard to make a main character relatable, which is a problem that I face at times with Clary from the Mortal Instruments. Tessa, on the other hand, felt genuine and real, which made me care so much more for what happened to her and how the story played out.

And Will. As most of you are aware, about half the reading world has an undying crush on Will Herondale. He is funny, I must admit, and he’s made me laugh out loud more than the average funny character, but I am going to be brutally honest here and say I don’t quite understand this crush (yet?). This may just be a matter of not knowing the whole story, so I am going to have to read on to find out! Apparently I am going to fall in love with him in the second book? Challenge accepted. Starting Clockwork Prince as soon as possible, update on the Will crush situation to follow!

Aug 14, 2015

Interview: Lobsters Book Tag

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Interview by Eline

A little while ago, I attended a bloggers event (my first!) that was hosted to celebrate the release of the Dutch translation of Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen. And when I say a little while ago, I mean roughly two months ago. Oops.

I have been meaning to write a recap of the event, I honestly have, but I kept putting it off and thinking I’d do it tomorrow and suddenly we’re here. Yeah. I got to get this blogging thing under control.

ANYWAY...

Something incredibly amazing happened at this bloggers event. Next to meeting awesome people and having a Skype conversation with Lucy and Tom and getting the book and other really weird things in this super awkward goodiebag, there was a kind of lottery. Prizes were in a jar, written in beautiful handwriting on small folded pieces of paper, and every blogger was allowed to pick one.

You could win giving away a book on your blog, or a goodiebag to give away, or being allowed to share the first few chapters of the book. Yet what I won… Let’s just say, I feel like I’ve won the jackpot.

I got to create a booktag, which was then sent to Lucy and Tom to fill out.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Lucy and Tom, the authors of Lobsters, did MY booktag. Can you believe it?!

I certainly couldn’t when I just got the email with the answers, but once I read them I couldn’t deny how real it was. Lucy and Tom now know I exist. Can we all appreciate that for a second.

I’m sorry, I’m Fangirl-rambling a bit. I bet you’re all reading this thinking, when is she going to get on with the booktag?! And very well, that’s a good point. So here comes the Lobsters booktag, created by me, filled out by Tom and Lucy! (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers)

Lobsters Booktag 

As the amazing-looking title suggests, this is a booktag inspired by Lobsters! Every question is a character or important thing from the book that is matched to a book related question. You can answer with a title or with a character, depending on what the question asks for.

1. Freddie

A book where the outside doesn’t exactly match the inside. (Doesn’t have to be negative. May be a pretty book that turned out to be terrible, or a book with a rather bad cover that turned out to be amazing!)

TOM: Most sci-fi novels I like (In the UK, lots of great books by people like Philip K Dick, Brian Aldiss, Kurt Vonnegut etc tend to have terrible, cheesy illustrated covers!)

LUCY: I always wish they wouldn’t market classics with awful Victorian paintings on the front. They should definitely put a red hot topless model Darcy or something, that shows you what a hottie he is. 

2. Hot Ribena

A book that nobody seems to like/love, but you absolutely adore!

TOM: 'The Outsider' by Colin Wilson

LUCY: 'The Light Years' by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I always recommend it to people. It’s family saga about the interwars years…I’m not selling it very well, but just trust me, it’s amazing! 

3. Lobster

If you could pick one book character to be your Lobster, and actually have them stay with you forever, who would you choose?

TOM: Fleur Delacour. Definitely. 

LUCY: I literally cannot believe out of the whole of the literary world Tom picked her! I pick Romeo. It would have been so nice if it had been forever!

4. Carmen

A book that you’ve had a strong feeling against, one you maybe can’t even explain, until you caved, read it, and actually loved it. (I know Stella doesn’t end up loving Carmen but I’m imagining that Carmen in truth is a really nice person)

TOM: The Harry Potter series

LUCY: All of David Walliams. It makes me pee myself laughing now…

5. Ham/Sannah

Most favourite book ship of all time.

TOM: Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend (Adrian & Pandora)

LUCY: Darcy and Elizabeth. I know it’s so boring but I don’t care. 

6. Robin

Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Hufflepuff?

TOM: RAVENCLAW

LUCY: HUFFLEPLUFF

7. “One for all and all for one”

A book you love that has a friendship that is important to the story. (Like Hannah/Stella/Tilly/Grace, which was very important, but also Sam/Robin/Chris)

TOM: The 'Just William' books by Richmal Crompton

LUCY: 'Are you there God, it’s me Margaret' by Judy Blume. So much. 

8. Stella

A book that is so unlike your regular tastes that you don’t understand why you actually ended up loving it. (You’re a contemporary person but ended up reading a fantasy that you loved, you read your first LGBT book and it was one of the best things you’ve ever read, you normally read classics but read a YA novel instead to prove how it’s inferior and it ended up being amazing)

TOM: 'We' by Yevgeny Zamyatin (I never used to like sci-fi, but this book got me into the genre!)

LUCY: 'The Flounder' by Gunter Grass. I found it randomly in my parents house one Christmas and just started reading it. Also 'The Fault In Our Stars'. I don’t usually like sicklit, but I actually loved it. 

That was it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this booktag as much as I have whilst creating it, and of course whilst reading the answers! It has easily been one of the most fun pieces I’ve ever written, for this blog or for anything else. If you want to do the tag too, you’re free to do it! Just make sure you link back here to the original, and that you let me know down below/on twitter (my twitter is @TheBookaneers29) because I would LOVE to check all your tags out! 

Thank you so much for reading and hopefully I’ll see all your tags soon!

Aug 4, 2015

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella



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Finding Audrey

What would you do if people terrified you and the most basic human contact would send you into a panic attack? For Audrey Turner, this is daily life. Something terrible has happened at her school, something so bad that she is now dealing with severe social anxiety and depression. This means that she can’t talk to anybody outside of her safe people, her family. She also is incapable of making eye contact, which is why she wears sunglasses at all times. As part of her treatment, therapist doctor Sarah suggests that Audrey makes a documentary about her life. And so she does.

Switching between normal text and transcribed movie script, Audrey’s life is told in two distinct voices. One is her own, the other is that of everybody around her. Her hysteric mother, who reads the Daily Mail religiously and threatens to throw her brother’s computer out of the window because he is addicted. Her compliant father, who basically agrees with anything her mother says. Her sarcastic brother Frank, who lives for his computer game and wants to become a professional gamer. Her innocent brother Felix, who is excited by everything. Seriously everything. When a new person bursts into her life, quite literally, Audrey doesn’t know how to handle it. But as she sees Linus more often, she can’t help but start feeling something. And maybe, just maybe, recovery isn’t as far as it always seemed.

Review by Eline

Sophie Kinsella is a name I’m quite familiar with. My best friend has read her Shopaholic series, and always sounded very positive. Then this book came out, and I started seeing it everywhere. Goodreads, bookstores, everybody was reading this book. This, of course, got me slightly intrigued. So when my favourite bookstore (Kiekeboek in Haarlem) asked me to read it in exchange for an honest opinion and a small review, I couldn’t be happier.

I went into this book completely blind. Yes, I had read the backside of the book, but that was basically it. No reviews or other opinions whatsoever. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a book that deals with such serious themes. And I was right to not know what to expect. Because holy crap, I don’t think I have laughed this much whilst reading a book in ages. I would just sit in the living room, lounging in some chair, and there seemed to be laughter every other page. So much so, that literally every member of my family has mentioned that my book must be really funny at least once. It is a 280 page book. Do the math.

I must admit, I’d hoped for this book to go a bit more into the psychological part of it all. At times this part seemed a bit lacking, somehow, and that was a bit of a shame. But I absolutely can’t deny that the humour made up for it with ease. I kind of had a rom-com feeling, but then a serious rom-com that wasn’t focussed on the romantic part per se, but also on the relationship with the family. What would you call that? A fam-rom-com? Let’s go with that.

When I’m talking about family, I of course mean the people I wrote about in the little book description above. Too often in Young Adult novels, the family is deceased, non-existent or just absent for the biggest part of the book. That is why it was so incredibly refreshing to read a book that focussed on the family bond this much. Instead of just being there, every member of Audrey’s family had a very distinct personality, and you could clearly tell who was speaking without actually having to read who was speaking. The characters were strong and balanced, they and their actions made sense, and you could clearly tell that the whole ordeal had a huge impact on not just Audrey but on all her loved ones.

All in all, I really liked this book. I’ve been getting more into contemporary lately, but before that I always thought contemporaries couldn’t be that good. No world building, nothing refreshing, just people doing things. But as I am now realizing, that isn’t necessarily true! Something can be refreshing without having an entire new world to back it up. To me, there are four points you judge a book on. The world, and specifically the world building. The characters, and specifically character development. The plot, and specifically plot twists or original ideas. And last but not least, the experience, and specifically the emotions that a book made you feel. A book can score some points in every category, or all the points in one and none in the others. There is no formula for a perfect book, as I always thought. I usually read books that are strong on the world and plot, but as I am now discovering, books that are heavy on characters and experience are great too. I simply love finding out more about my taste, and love it even more that I can share this with all of you. Who knows what I’ll be reading in a year from now? Hopefully a new YA Sophie Kinsella book, because this makes me yearn for more. Me, wanting more contemporaries. Who could’ve known!

Jul 13, 2015

Book Review: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


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Review by Eline

Jude and Noah are twins, but if you didn’t know them you wouldn’t be able to tell. The differences are as clear as day and night, yet the two of them are inseparable. Whenever one is in pain, the other knows, and when one cries the other cries with them. This is how it has always been, but not how it will always be. Three years later, something tragic has occurred, which has completely ripped this relationship apart. Barely talking anymore, both twins have become a mere shadow of who they used to be. And from the way it looks, it can’t be fixed any time soon.

The story is told by Noah and Jude, both at different times. Noah tells his part when he is 13, Jude tells hers at 16. What they don't realize however, is that neither of them knows the full story and that only half is theirs to tell. New people come into their lives and change them in ways nobody could’ve expected. Whether these changes are enough to bring them back to each other, though, is the big question.

Wow. That’s all I could think when I finished this book. Wow. I received the Dutch translation from Blossom Books, a Dutch Young Adult publisher, who I am an ambassador for. To be fair, I mostly asked for it because of the really pretty cover and how it matched with some other books on my shelves. But the longer it stood there, the more intrigued I got. So after attending a sort-of event regarding this book, I decided to get a grip and start it straight away. Everybody was so positive about this book, so it was impossible for me to hate it, right?

None of those positive reviews were a lie. This book… Pardon me if most of this review will just be me saying wow and how much I loved this. The beginning was slow and a bit weird to get into, but once I got past the first (roughly) 60 pages, I got used to it and it worked. I got attached to the characters, more than I was willing to admit, and I started experiencing the story like it was my own. The story is told in a dual point of view, but it in no way bothered me at all. Noah and Jude both had a very distinctive voice, and even if I hadn’t been told whose chapters I was reading, I would’ve known. When reading Noah’s, I didn’t want Jude’s to start because I liked Noah and his story too much, and the other way around when Jude’s began. It was quite an experience.

Now, I want to make clear that this is in no way a light book. It’s not something you just quickly read in-between books, like you do with many contemporaries. It deals with heavy subjects, but next to that all the plotlines are woven and braided together so perfectly that you do have to pay attention to see the full brilliance of it all. Once I passed the 60 pages mark, I simply couldn’t put it down anymore, and felt physically bad when I did have to put it away for a moment. This book gets to you in a way not many do, and it was on my mind whilst reading it, and long after. Like last week, for example. My mother asked me why I wouldn’t have dinner at home again, and I told her I was babysitting Oscar and had to pick him up from daycare. Nothing seems wrong with this, until you realize that the kid is called Victor, and that Oscar is a very important character in I’ll give you the sun.

I always tell people how I judge a book by whether it makes me feel something, and I still stand by this fact. The writing can be beautiful, the characters can be incredibly developed, but when I don’t feel anything whilst reading, I can’t possibly give it a 5/5 star rating. The reading experience is more important to me than anything else, and I’d take a horrible main character if that meant that the book would make me cry, or shake with laughter, or gasp in shock. With this book, I can tell you, the reading experience is amazing. I don’t think I have read a lot of books that made me feel and mostly think this much, and I love it to bits. I would definitely recommend it, and if you’re Dutch, look for the Blossom Books translation. With ease one of the best translations of a book I’ve ever read. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read The Sky Is Everywhere when the translation comes out

Jun 23, 2015

Australia Week: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - Review & Giveaway



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Review by Eline

Saving Francesca

Francesca seems to have it all, until one day, she doesn’t. Her all girls school not teaching year 11 and 12, forcing her to go to an all boys school that thinks having a bathroom for females makes them a mixed school. All her old friends leaving for Pius, the one school she wants to go to but won’t because her mother doesn’t want her to. Being stuck with all the weirdos from her old school and a bunch of unmannered guys. And most of all, her mother not getting out of bed anymore.

Francesca is drowning. All around her, everybody pretends like everything is okay, whilst it clearly is not. Her mother Mia, her strong and opinionated and loving and caring mother Mia, is reduced to nothing but a shadow of herself. Her father doesn’t do much to reduce the problem, and all the people who know Mia simply don’t understand. Nobody understands. Having never felt this alone in her entire life, Francesca doesn’t know what to do with herself. And all these annoying boys all around her aren’t exactly helping.

But what if these annoying boys turn out to be exactly what she needs?

Review

You have books that make you feel something. You have books that make you cry. And then you have books that make your feelings go all over the place, destroy your soul, put it back together with a band aid and then make you laugh-cry. Multiple times. This book, I can honestly say, is one of the latter variety. Man, did I feel a lot of things whilst reading this. Man, was I not aware of how good this was going to be. Man, was I not prepared. I am going to try and put my thoughts into words, but I’m still reeling because of the ending. I never write a review right after finishing a book, but right now I feel like I have to. Yeah, it’s THAT kind of book.

I want to start with the general theme of the book straight away. The story is set around and focused on depression, but not in the way you’d think. Instead of reading about the person with the depression, you read about her daughter and how it affects everybody around her. And may I just say how well-done this was? As someone who’s experienced what it is like to have a depressed family member, I felt like I could relate to Francesca so much. Everything she did and felt and thought was so believable, and it was more like reading a personal diary of someone, basically looking into their soul, than reading a book about a girl going to an all boys school. This was an amazing experience.

Another thing I loved about this book was the characters and their development. In the beginning, we see these people through Francesca’s eyes for the first time. We get a quick rundown of who they are and why we think they’re annoying. As the story progresses, who they are doesn’t change, but how Francesca feels towards them does. The transition was so fascinating to watch, and before I knew it I felt like a part of the group and not just an outsider reading a story. I felt a true connection with each and every character, and they all stood out in their own way. Because it was such a short story, there were no fillers and every character and every sentence mattered. Normally, I don’t really like short books, but for this story it worked.

I fell in love with the raw and honest writing style Melina Marchetta possesses. I could be laughing one second and be in tears the next. I wanted the story to never be over, and at the same time I couldn’t wait for the ending because I knew it would give me such a satisfied feeling. I felt Francesca’s pain as if it was my own, and the book really left an impression on me. So, the moment I finished reading, I started on my review. Knowing me, I got distracted and ended up on Goodreads, looking through all the books she’s written. And guess what I’ve found? A COMPANION NOVELISH SEQUEL! I don’t even care that it is from somebody else’s point of view, I want it. No, let me rephrase that. I need it. I haven’t loved a book like this in a while, so you can understand how happy this makes me feel. And all this because of Australia week. Thanks, Australia, I owe you one!

Giveaway

Win a paperback copy of this fantastic book. 

I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international.   
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