The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3)

Title: The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3)

Author: Philip Pullman

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy

Length: 467 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publishing Date: September 9th 2003

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

In the conclusion of this trilogy, Lyra will finally discover her destiny, together with allies she could not have dreamt of, and will have to make a very difficult choice.

Review:

Unlike the previous two books, this one begins quite gently. The author sets the scene in a more delicate manner, with great world building. And slowly we begin to wonder what is going to happen to Lyra.

This third book took me in directions I did not expect. I really enjoyed following certain characters, such as Mary Malone. Her discoveries were quite enthralling.

I would have liked to see certain subjects addressed especially in the first but also in the second book more thoroughly, though. The way the author blends myth, religion is science is simply unbelievable, and I would have like to see those subjects more developed.

However, the fact is this book/trilogy can be read both by children and adults, and maybe that would not have made it so attractive to children.
I really enjoyed all characters in all three books, ‘suffering’ with every loss throughout Lyra’s journey.
It is quite an adventure, and will not leave you indifferent.

Recommended.

Read from February 26th 2019 to March 9th 2020.
GR Review

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

Title: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

Author: Philip Pullman

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy

Length: 288 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publishing Date: September 9th 2003

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Lyra has travelled to a different world, a strange world with many things in common with her own but many different ones as well, and dangerous ones too. Her path will cross with Will’s, a mysterious slightly older child, and Lyra will come to know that her destiny and Will’s are intertwined. Once again going through perilous adventures, and never knowing who to trust, Lyra and Will fight their way through to the truth.

Review:

The second book of the trilogy starts with a different voice, as we accompany Will through his ordeals. As in the first book, we dive right into a situation that leaves the reader quite confused and where it is evident that danger is imminent. Then we rejoin Lyra and some of the characters from Book 1, each going through their own journey. At some point it is clear that they are all destined to meet but what does that mean?

Again the writing is enthralling. Where it could be easy to have Lyra just consult the alethiometer for every single decision, the author plunges the characters into the right amount of action and twists to prevent the narrative from going the easy way, while introducing new concepts and characters.

It is again amazing how he merges myth and science, from Lyra’s world and Will’s, giving an entire new sense to things we thought we knew.

As I flipped through the pages, I became aware that Will’s role in the story would be as important as Lyra’s and wanted to know what came next for them.

This is an action-packed sequel with no boring times, just many moments of unease. What exactly is going on in this new world? Who is friend and who is foe? What is Will’s role and what is Lyra supposed to do, pursue her own goals or help him?

I had a great time reading the book and raced through it. I do wish some concepts had been further developed, like how exactly Parry gained a daemon (wasn’t it supposed to be inside him?) or how he managed to become a shaman considering where he came from. The concept of spectres was also quite odd to me, as was the capability to control them.

Overall I found it an engaging read, not quite as good as the first book, but still a thrilling one, and quickly moved on to book 3.

Read from February 17th 2019 to February 25th 2020.
GR Review

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

Author: Philip Pullman

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy

Length: 351 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publishing Date: September 9th 2003

Rating: 4.9/5

Premise:

Lyra Belacqua is an orphan who lives in the grounds of Jordan College in Oxford University. Oxford is all she ever knew, and Lyra is very happy there, but her world is changing and Lyra will have an invaluable role in it, so that’s when her adventure begins.

Review:

I had this trilogy sitting on my shelf for quite some time, so when I heard this had been adapted to a TV series I figured, why not? I’ve always enjoyed reading the book(s) before watching an adaptation.

When I first started reading this book I was a bit taken aback because the author did not waste time setting the scene; the reader dives right into the midst of Lyra’s world. It is an extremely rich one, with many odd concepts to learn.

The avalanche of new terms, whose meaning was merely hinted at in the beginning, made me a bit impatient at first, as I had no idea what was going on. After a while though, I got used to the writing and Lyra’s character began to grown on me. I was enthralled. Soon I wanted to know where this little incredibly strong-willed, curious and resilient urchin would do or learn next.

I don’t want to give too much away because I believe the true pleasure when reading this comes from not knowing much about what you are going to find. I will say however that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the characters through Lyra’s eyes, and watching her tackle each new adventure, growing with each obstacle. I further appreciated how some characters were not obviously good or bad.

But I especially enjoyed reading about the bond every human has with their dæmon. This concept is so subtle in the beginning but as the adventure unfolds the more you learn about it and you begin to comprehend the depth of it. And it is so amazing how beautifully it is woven into everything else. About 25 pages or so from the end I have to admit my jaw dropped.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The world building is so ingenious and clever, the characters so well built, the writing with the right balance between description and action… I cannot wait to read the following two books in the trilogy.

Highly recommended!

Read from February 13th 2019 to February 17th 2020.
GR Review

The Primrose Path

Title: The Primrose Path

Author: Rebecca Griffiths

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 400 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: August 11th 2016

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Rachel just moved to Wales following a traumatic event. However, she never feels quite safe and, as pretty blonde girls much like herself start getting killed near where she lives, all the trauma returns. Is she safe? Can she finally be happy?

Review:

I have to admit I don’t understand the hype around this book. With such an interesting premise, I was extremely excited to pick it up. The writing is good, it’s enthralling actually. The prelude in particular absolutely blew me away. It set my expectations much too high.

However, first of all, the pace is dreadful. I though the book dragged on to the point where I actually felt like dropping it. When things began to show a modicum of interest, it would immediately become intensively descriptive again and I would think, ok what am I reading here? Surely not a mystery/thriller as I had hoped. Some parts annoyed me in particular, like a character’s numerous mentions of a secret, and never developing beyond that. There was just that annoying, repetitive hint, and that was it.

So you have like 95% of the book dragging on, developing in a crazy amount of directions. On the last 5% or so, the writer attempts to solve all the mysteries she has been developing. At least I think she tried, I’m not entirely sure. The fact is it was a dreadful attempt. Not only did it feel rushed, but many things didn’t make sense, and so, so much was left unanswered. With what she achieved in the rest of the book, I find there was such potential for real character development here and it was ruined, in my opinion.

And finally, the blurb was so deceptive. To this point I have no idea what this refers to: Settling into the small community she is now part of, Sarah soon realises that someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything about her …

All in all, this isn’t a novel I would recommend. Maybe if you like nice prose, not as a mystery though.

Spoilers below if you don’t mind them:

1. The entire transition of Rachel’s character made no sense. The things she describes earlier in the book made no sense, even if she believed them then. It’s just not plausible, nor is thinking about herself as Rachel in earlier years instead of Sarah. 2. Who is the killer? What’s their story? What is the point of that character when nothing about them is explained? 3. Did Dai survive or not? 4. Is John Dai’s son or one of Beth’s brothers? 5. Who was watching Sarah in the car Tracy and Idris saw parked outside of her place? 6. What happened to Graham, or to Jennifer?

Read from November 5th 2019 to November 19th 2019.
GR Review

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Author: Claire North

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 405 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Harry is a kalachakra – he is reborn after he dies, over and over again.
While trying to figure out how to deal with this, he receives an unexpected visit towards the end of his 11th life that will change everything.

Review:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August started well enough. I was intrigued by the concept and this character, born in 1919.

The book grasped my attention and held it but after a while the narrative grew tiresome. It jumped a lot between Harry’s different lives and I found myself often confused as to what belong in which life.

There were some twists and turns that perked my interest again but not enough to want to pick the book back up. Also, if the book’s concept involves both time travel and parallel realities, I could not see how it would be possible for the narrative to unfold the way it did. And finally, I cannot believe that Harry would be able to maintain such farce for so long without a single slip-up.

Once you have such issues with a book, it’s difficult for it to hold your attention and make you stick to it, so at times I found it quite difficult to pick it back up, as you can see by the time it took me to go through it. I do believe the book is unnecessarily long, particularly the middle, and could have had more impact if it had been more edited.

Still, it is enjoyable as a ‘what if’ work that makes you think and wonder about several issues.

Read from Oct 22nd to November 11th, 2017
GR Review

A Child Called “It” (Dave Pelzer #1)

Title: A Child Called “It” (Dave Pelzer #1)

Author: Dave Pelzer

Genres: Biography | Non-Fiction

Length: 184 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

This is the account of Dave Pelzer’s life growing up with his alcoholic mother’s constant abuse.

Review:

When I first got this I didn’t realize it was part of a trilogy. It is difficult to assess it as a solo book, because I am sure there is much more to Dave’s story and since it is less than 200 pages I am unsure why it wasn’t all put together.

It is a highly disturbing book and it is so hard to accept that this was part of the day-to-day life of this boy, as unfortunately so many others. This wasn’t just abuse and neglect, it was blatant torture.
For its message, because it is an account that needs to be told, it should be out there and people need to be sensitized to it.

However, I have to say that, as a story, I was disappointed because it felt disjointed. There were lots of gaps when something must have changed to make David’s parents change as well and we’re left in the dark to that, as well as the changes in David himself. I craved for an account of a moment when David realized he was changing, something to make it more real.

While I sympathize that young David must have known why things were happening either either, this is his account as an adult, and I believe it would have helped the reader immensely, not only to connect with him more but also to make us think that it could happen to anyone, and that maybe when we see something behaving a certain way or going through certain experiences we should pay closer attention.

So that is the issue I had with this, but as I said, it’s a book that needs to be read. There are certainly many children out there going through this, and they don’t understand what is happening to them, or really believe they are a bad child and deserve what is happening to them.

Read from Oct 9th to Oct 17th, 2017
GR Review

The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genres: Fantasy | Magical Realism | Romance

Length: 490 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

The Circus arrives without warning. (…) It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The book tell us how did this wonder came to be.

Review:

The Night Circus takes magic to a whole new level. The book is entrancing, whimsical and it just whisked me away whether I wanted to or not.

It is quite an epic tale and did tire me after a while. I was unable to fully feel enraptured by all the beauty because I wanted something more to happen. But that is my own fault. I find myself seeking fantasy less and less and craving more complex characters in each book I read.

However, this was very well done indeed. Even the romance was expertly weaved into the masterful tale and that is usually the part that lets me down the most in a book that has such amazing world building.

I find the narrative quite well achieved. The different timelines and the short chapters using second person bring more dynamic to the book, which definitely helped, even though I was often confused at what happened when.

It is not a book that you can skim through. It is a full-out adventure that you need to completely immerse yourself in and have no room for anything else. However, it will be worth it.

Welcome the Le Cirque des Rêves. Step right in and be mesmerised.

Read from Jun 4th to Jun 11th, 2017
GR Review