Monday, 17 September 2012

The End of the Challenge!

So, I know we're late, but the past few weeks were kind of busy (you know, graduating, going on holidays, and so on).

So let's end this challenge where you were to read French books, either in French, or a translations of them.

I hope you had a great time, discovering those books and authors!

But let's stop talking and see what you guys did! Feel free to clic on the links of the different reviews!

Jeremy - Goal: 1 book (Antoine de St-Exupéry level)

-The Little Prince

=> 1 book - SUCCESS

Julia - Goal: 3 books (Alexandre Dumas level)

=> 0 book

Patty - Goal: 3 books (Alexandre Dumas level)

-Une gourmandise

-Le Tour du monde en 80 jours


=> 3 books - SUCCESS

Emma - Goal: 5 to 10 books (Albert Camus/Jules Verne level)

-The Adventures of Hergé

-Le Dieu du carnage

-Du côté de chez Swann

-An Accident in August

-Le Grand Meaulnes

-The Lovers of Algeria

=> 6 books - SUCCESS for the Albert Camus level

Charlotte - Goal: 10 books (Jules Verne level)

-Une Forme de vie

-Cahier d'un retour au pays natal

-Sierra Brulante

=> 3 books - That still makes the Alexandre Dumas level!

Ismé - Goal: 10 books (Jules Verne level)

=> 0 book

Cheri - Goal: 20 books (Victor Hugo level)

-The Rights of the Reader

=> 1 book - That still makes the Antoine de St-Exupéry level!

Congrats for those who tried and/or succeed!

Monday, 30 July 2012

John Green - An Abundance of Katherines

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Pub. year: 2006
Pages: 229
Editor: Speak

Summary: When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home [..I skip this part because it tells too much of the story IMO..] Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

That was the last solo book from John Green I haven't read yet (that is... until he writes another one). I was in a phase where I couldn't read much, because of the work I had to do and because I was too tired and not motivated and so on. So I had to pick a book that I was sure to read fast and to enjoy. Otherwise I would have spend too much time on it and I hate that. And it worked perfectly (even if the not-in-the-mood phase is back now...).

So Colin has this awesome friend, Hassan, who takes him on a road trip to help him to get over his former girlfriend. That's a pretty good idea, if you want my opinion. But it also means that you have a lot of time to think in the car. Not that cool. But anyway, Colin end up trying to have his Eureka moment by creating The Theorem, so having time is a good starting point. What I appreciate is that even if he spends a long time mourning his relationship, he stopped just before bothering me, because Colin doesn't stay in a state of nothingness. He gets over it slowly without really realising it.

Obviously, they meet people and settle somewhere for a while, they get to do stuff that they weren't expecting to do. I really enjoyed this "we're leaving what we know for a while to somewhere where everything is different and people don't do the same stuff" aspect of the story. They get to see another point of view of the world and that makes them think about who they are and where they're going. And apparently, Colin's ability to anagram very quickly helps him doing that too.

It isn't my favorite John Green book, but I enjoyed it very much. It's funny, smart and even if some parts are predictable, you still get some surprise on the way. So, if you want to discover what happened at Gunshot in this story and how the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand managed to be there instead of in Europe, you know what you'll have to do!

Monday, 23 July 2012

John Scalzi - Redshirts

Title: Redshirts
Author: John Scalzi
Pub. year: 2012
Pages: 320
Editor: Tor Books

Summary: Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship "Intrepid," flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better...until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship's captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

It's Scalzi time, folks! I think everyone knows by now that I kinda love what he does, and I couldn't have been more impatient to read this new book—which you must have had heard about if you live on this planet (no, really?). To the point, now: how was it?

Weeell... When I read the beginning on Tor, I was thrilled. It sounded fun, and a bit crazy, and it was totally what I was looking for. When I read a bit further though, I realized several things, the first and main one being: I don't know the references of this story. In fact, I turned to my other half at that point and asked "so, red shirts... is that a Star Trek thing?" and he had to explain it to me. And I couldn't think anything else than "crap, this is gonna be full of inside jokes that I'm gonna miss".

I wasn't right, but I wasn't so wrong either. I can not tell you what this book is about, because for once the summary is not spoiling anything and you need to read it to believe it (err, or not). But there is no boundaries to the craziness of this book, and it's really some kind of homage to the old Sci-Fi series (did you know Scalzi worked on Stargate: Universe? Yeah, me neither) and silly stuff that happens in space. It's a bit gross, a bit emotional, a lot WTF?!, and the codas at the end are the cherry on the (space) cake.

I did enjoy it but not as much as I wish I would, and that's maybe due to my lack of interest for old Sci-Fi series, or maybe I'm just a grumpy lady who does not like to not understand the title of the book she's reading, who knows? Maybe it's because the book was dedicated to Wil Wheaton and this guy gets on my nerves!! Sorry, that's my Sheldon side, I guess.

I heard that Scalzi is planning a new book in the Old Man War series... now THAT's something I want to see!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Mathias Malzieu - The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

Title: The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Original title: La Mécanique du coeur
Author: Mathias Malzieu
Pub. year: 2007
Pages: 176
Editor: Chatto & Windus

Summary: Edinburgh, 1874: Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation — the implantation of a cuckoo-clock in his chest. From then on his days all begin with a wind-up, in this dark, tender fairy tale spiced with devilish humour.

That's usually more Muffin's kind of book than mine. The atmosphere really Burton-like that she loves is almost always in Mathias Malzieu's books. But sometimes I give it a go, 'cause, you know, I don't dislike it and I like to try new stuff, especially if a friend likes it. I'm not actually sure she read it anyway, so I'll talk about it!

So we discover this unusual boy who is stuck with this cuckoo-clock heart and tries to live with it. I won't say he's endearing but there's something about him that catches the eye. And obviously, his heart becomes a real problem at some point and he has to find a way to deal with it. That is without saying he has a very peculiar entourage that didn't always help him and let trouble grow in his mind.

It is a really poetic and grisly story, filled with melancholy and a musical rhythm that goes along the words. And sometimes less poetic words (which didn't melt really well with the vibes, IMO). Kind of a mash-up between Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton's work, maybe with an ounce of Terry Gilliam.

As I said earlier, it's not exactly the kind of book I go for, and once again I see why, but still I enjoyed it. I'm just not a big fan of that kind of atmosphere (and of the author's work, whether we're talking about his books or his band's music). But I know there's a lot of fans of this genre, so I wanted to share this French book with you!

Mathias Malzieu is the lead singer of the French band Dionysos, who tends to make concept-albums, and sometimes they come from books he wrote. That's what happened here, so you can totally listen to the album (La Mécanique du cœur) if you want this world to be following you after the reading!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, book 1)
Author: Derek Landy
Pub. year: 2007
Pages: 380
Editor: HarperCollins
Summary: Meet Skulduggery Pleasant:
Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.
The end of the world?
Over his dead body.

So, Muffin here gave me this book as a gift months ago but it took me a little while to read it. I was willing to, but you know, massive TBR pile and stuff... Anyway, now I've read it and really enjoyed it, so let's talk about it!

You kind of dive into this funny story full of sarcasm, skeleton, magic, crappy cars, bad guys who wants to rule the world, and so on.

Stephanie is a clever and determined girl, and I really like the fact that she wasn't "oh yay, magic is real and in five seconds I'm like a super duper magic badass". It's cleverly written and realistic—as far as it can be in a fantasy novel ;). And Skulduggery, this witty skeleton who made me think of Harry Dresden (from The Dresden Files), is endearing as he grow attached to Stephanie. I liked how he's not at all patronizing with her and take her not as a yound teenage girl but as a person who seems to him strong enough to take care of herself.
Plus, there's a whole bunch of other peculiar characters in those two's life, which makes it even more awesome.

Magic is a bit renewed here, even if there's obviously some clichés about it in the story, but it was quite well introduced and some of its specifications were quite appealing to me! Don't want to spoil it for you so you'll have to read it or trust me.

I thought it was a story mostly for children, but as I read it I realised it is one of those who can be read at any age. And that's pretty awesome. I enjoyed it very much myself so Yay against prejudice!
Now, you know what you have to do if you think you'll like it!


'If you hear any screaming,' he said, 'that'll be me.'

'The gap was gaping. It was a gaping gap.'

Monday, 28 May 2012

Update on the Challenge #1

So, we're three month away from the end of the We want YOU to read French Authors Challenge.
Some of you did a really good job so far!

As you may remember, the aim was (and still is) to read some French books (not necessarily in French) to discover a bit more about France and its authors

But enough, let's report your progress!

Jeremy - Goal: 1 book (Antoine de St-Exupéry level)

-The Little Prince

=> 1 book so far

Julia - Goal: 3 books (Alexandre Dumas level)


=> 0 book so far

Patty - Goal: 3 books (Alexandre Dumas level)

-Une gourmandise

=> 1 book so far

Emma - Goal: 5 to 10 books (Albert Camus/Jules Verne level)

-The Adventures of Hergé

-Le Dieu du carnage

-Du côté de chez Swann

-An Accident in August

-Le Grand Meaulnes

=> 5 books so far

Charlotte - Goal: 10 books (Jules Verne level)

-Une Forme de vie

-Cahier d'un retour au pays natal

-Sierra Brulante

=> 3 books so far

Ismé - Goal: 10 books (Jules Verne level)


=> 0 book so far

Cheri - Goal: 20 books (Victor Hugo level)


=> 0 book so far

Great job to Emma and Jeremy who have already succeded, and are willing to go further!
And to Betty and Charlotte who are on the right track!
Good luck and good reads to the others if they're still in the game!
If I've missed some of your readings, go put your links in the Mister Linky's Magical Box!

For those willing to, you still can enter the Challenge for the last three months!
But anyway there will be another edition of it, starting on September 1st! Plus, we linked our own reviews in the list-of-some-books-you-can-pick-for-the-Challenge so you can learn a little bit more about those books we talked about!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read along
[last part]

In case you haven't followed the first part of this read along on The Lies of Locke Lamora, let me tell you, you missed something.
But it's not too late! (well, now it kinda is)
Here we are again, reading and answering questions about the second part of this awesome series, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Care to join?
All the details are on the Little Red Reviewer blog, so take a book and join the fun!

Gosh, it's really the end now. I don't even know why I'm bothered about it because I know that the next book is coming soon, and I'll throw myself at it as soon as it's out like the shameless fangirl I am, but still. The read along was so much fun, and I loved re-reading and discussing the story with everyone, and discovering all the little things I would have never thought of without you. Thanks!!!

1. Oh my god, such a lot going on I thought the showdown between the Poison Orchid and the Sovereign was brilliantly written and they were holding their own until Utgar and his nasty device turned up. Well a lot of you had kind of predicted it, and I suppose we’d been let off too easy so far in terms of deaths of well-liked characters – but come on, did you expect something like that? And how on earth will Jean ever recover?
I'm one of those who knew that the minute Ezri and Jean were head over heels in love, one of them would have to go. How, when... I certainly hadn't predicted that she would bloody burn alive to save the ship. Fucking devotion!! I know, the ship (and the crew) totally deserved to be saved, and sending Drakasha to do it would have been really cruel for her kids, but Ezri was still so young :( *sob*
I don't know if Jean will recover, grief is something that fades away without ever disappearing, so I think part of him will always remain torn by the lost of his loved one. I wonder if he'll ever let himself fall in love after that... as if we needed a second Locke, really!

2. The deceit, the betrayal, first Rodanov and then Colvard. Even now I’m not entirely sure I understand Colvard – Rodanov was never keen on the oath but Colvard seemed okay with it all and yet in this final deceit she was more devious than Rodanov – what do you think was her motive?
I think they are pirates, and even though they pretend to get along, in the end everyone thinks of themselves first. If it had been Rodanov asking for what Drakasha asked, Colvard would have probably behaved the same way and suggested to get rid of him behind his back. Some people are like that... yay for trust issues!

3. Merrain – such a puzzle, no real answer, the mysterious tattoo, the determination to kill everyone to keep her identity and that of her master a secret. Does anybody have any ideas where she’s from and what she’s up to exactly and who the hell is she working for??
Hum, Karthain? I don't think they do women (or do they?). Maybe something to do with where Sabetha is? I kinda remember that the Lillies had tattoos, or was I dreaming? She could be in one of those guilds that do the same as the Gentlemen Bastards in their youth, disguise themselves to infiltrate a powerful organisation and get away when it becomes dangerous. I don't know if she's clearly against them or just trying to dissuade them from coming after her...

4. Finally we get to the point of the GB’s latest scheme, all that elaborate planning for two years, fancy chairs, gambling, dust covered cards, abseiling lessons – all for one gigantic bluff. I loved the diversionary tactic here but having finally reached the end of the story and, more to the point, the end result – do you think the GB’s are as clever as they think they are?
I think this was the shittiest EVER result they could have gotten, I mean, what the hell?! Mr Lynch, leave them be, for christ sake!!
Back to the question, it's tough to assess how clever they think they are, when you think of it they did run the plan very well, they anticipated quite many things and managed to get away safely without killing anyone unnecessarily, so just for that they deserve an A. The fact that Requin had fakes... how could they know if no one does, not even Selendri? And according to the buyer it's not a common practice there, so really, that was just bad luck.
Or should I say... relentless persecution?

5. I must admit that I liked Requin and Selendri – particularly at the end – I don’t think Requin will go after Locke and Jean, he was even sort of cool and composed about it all, in fact he came across as a bit pleased with himself because he had the last laugh. Plenty of good characters this time which did you enjoy reading most about this time?
Yes, that bastard, he indeed got the last laugh. At least he's fair enough not to go after them, that would really have been too much!
I love a lot of the characters in these books, so it's really hard to pick one. Locke was the big star in the first one, and now it's more Jean's turn, but the people gravitating around them all had their charm and their defaults, so I can't choose.

6. Finally, a triple barrel question, I know I shouldn’t ask this BUT, on reflection do you have a favourite between LoLL or RSURS?? And why? Are you going to pick up Republic of Thieves? And, where do you think Lynch will take us to next??
Hum, don't know, but maybe RSURS was a bit better because more focused on less characters, and less flashbacks, so easier to follow and get enthralled by it. First one was still awesome, though, but you feel more like it's a first book, and now that we know all we need to (well, almost), we can focus on more detailed stories.
As I said before, I'll throw myself at Republic of Thieves the minutes it comes out. Can't wait to meet them again!
Regarding the next adventures... with the prologue about Sabetha, I'm expecting to see her joining the gang again, and discover what happened between her and Locke and how he will react around her. And I'm also expecting vicious bondsmage throwing challenges at them, and some sneaky attacks from Regal, because hey, kittens, that's how they are.

So sad to end this read-along, but looking forward to the next one! Check the other reviews from the Little Red Reviewer and see you... someday, I hope!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Jasper Fforde - The Eyre Affair

Title: The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, book 1)
Author: Jasper Fforde
Pub. year: 2001
Pages: 373
Editor: Hodder & Stoughton

Summary: There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of 'Jane Eyre'. In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary - and a woman called Thursday Next.

I'm sure a lot of you heard about Jasper Fforde before, probably for the very good reason that this guy is a genius.

I mean, he wrote this world which looks very much like ours, except for.. a lot of things! I mean, there's a police for crime against books, dodos are back, there's wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff involved, ...
It's like a giant cauldron in which he put a little bit of investigation, a spoon of SF, some book-related shenanigans, a bit of timetravel, some reflexions about wars and its point, and other awesome and surprising stuff, and then the series came out of it.

We discover Thursday Next, 30-something woman, who's working for the LiteraTec department of the SpecOps, which supposedly is a tranquil kind of job, but which appears not to be quite what it's supposed to be, for her ; her father who can't stay more than 10mn in the same place and jumps back and forward in time to hide (and have fun, let's be honest) ; Acheron Hades, the big bad guy, who enjoys being a villain just for the sake of it ; Mycroft Next who doesn't seem to realise that some of his inventions can be really dangerous and that some people are willing to do anything to aquire them ; Jack Schitt (another one with a funny name) who's a little bit megalomaniac and thinks he owns the world.. Well, let's say that these colorful characters are clearly responsible for most of the fun & rythm in this story.

At the end, I was almost willing to reread Jane Eyre, though I didn't enjoyed it very much the first time (I couldn't even remember most of the story, if it weren't for Thursday summary), and to read Martin Chuzzlewit (by Charles Dickens) and Richard III (I don't need much convincing to read Shakespeare books, though).

There were some disappointing points at first, but after thinking about it, I realised it was perfect this way. So in the end, I enjoyed this book very much and I can't wait to read the next ones.

Actually, it's really hard to talk about this book because it contains so many things that I cannot really put words on them, so maybe the easiest way for you to know what is exactly this book, is by reading it. Give it a go, you'll see, it's awesome!

" I said to him when he rebuilt the muscles in my arm, 'Do you think I'll be able to play the violin?' and he said: 'Of course!' and then I said: 'That's good, I couldn't before!' "

" 'They'd never get here in time. It's easy. A lobotomised monkey could do it.'
'And where are we going to find a lobotomised monkey at this time of night?'
'You're being windy, Bowden.'

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read along
[fourth part]

In case you haven't followed the first part of this read along on The Lies of Locke Lamora, let me tell you, you missed something.
But it's not too late!
Here we are again, reading and answering questions about the second part of this awesome series, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Care to join?
All the details are on the Little Red Reviewer blog, so take a book and join the fun!

'You have... you have such hoops as I have never seen in any cask on any ship, such shiny and well-fit hoops—'
Jean's best pick-up line ever.

Hey, it's our usual Saturday Sunday meeting, folks! I am sad to say, this is already the before-last part, and while I've never really managed to be on time at all during this read along, re-reading this awesome book is still very awesome, and I'm happy to have reached this far. The Big Bad Ass Full Of Surprises end is coming quite near, but not quite there either... that was some quality pirate time we got this week, ahoy! (isn't that totally cliché ?)

1. I was much relieved when Jean and Locke made up, which started with Locke's gesture of a cup full of honesty with Cpt. Drakasha. Do you think that was hard for Locke? Or was he using this bit of honesty like any other weapon in his arsenal to get what he wants in the end?
I think the guy can be occasionally sincere when needed and it really seems like his fight with Jean affected him, and he realized that the pirates where really their people and that he couldn't just betray them to save his ass. It's probably as hard as it is a relief to finally come clear (or clearer) to Drakasha, and actually try to organize something together instead of going being her back. Plus, I don't think he would have managed alone.

2. The Parlor Passage: We still don't know Locke's true name, but whatever was in that mist does. What do you think it is?
I love the ghostly-misty parts, it's the kind of atmosphere I'm really fond of and it was great to see all those tough guys being scared shitless of something they couldn't see. I don't know what is was exactly, maybe just some swamp mist, potent rotting hypnotic flowers and a bit of a collective wild imagination, or maybe some old goddess of the sea is lurking around, waiting for poor souls to drown in her clutches. Don't care, love it!

3. There was an interesting section of the book that started about where Locke assisted Drakasha in selling the Red Messenger; he put on the persona of Leocanto Kosta and used the alias Tavras Callas and then Drakasha was still thinking of him as Ravelle..... Did using all those various aliases in such a short amount of time have your mind spinning a little? Do you think Lynch did this on purpose to give the reader a sense of Locke's mind?
It was ok during the selling of the boat, because it didn't really matter what name was used, it was quite easy to know that Locke was being himself (finally getting some con action!) and there was no real confusion. The tough part for me is when they go back to the boat, and Jean calls Locke Ravelle, but Drakasha calls him Kosta (and I'm always doubting which one is Kosta or De Ferra), and Ezri calls Jean Jean except when there is people and it's Jerome, and I'm like, who the hell is talking with who?! But it's quite fun, at least you get your brains working a little.

4. That was a sweet little kiss between Cpt. Zamira and Cpt. Jaffrim at the end of the Captains' Council. Do you think they have some history, or is it just innocent flirting that's been going on for some time?
I kinda missed the kiss, or it just didn't stick... well, I don't know, but Drakasha is old enough to have had fun with many lads, so why not him?

5. Jean and Ezri. Cue dove-cooing and little winged hearts with sparkles. Do you think Jean will stay with the Poison Orchid or that Ezri will leave her ship to pal around with Jean and Locke?
Ezri would grab the little winged hearts and stuff them up your arse to see you fart sparkles, if she heard that !!
I don't think Jean would be comfy staying on a ship but Ezri wouldn't be comfy on ground. They would have to find a compromise, and hey, everyone knows Jean would have to bow in the end. But you know Lynch; I don't think the compromise will be their biggest problem at the moment, it'll be more the staying alive...

6. What is Utgar up to? What are his motivations?
For me, he's just one of those guys that want money and power (like the fake Locke with Requin) and he's just looking for less competition and a better position. Maybe they had some arguments with Drakasha too... but anyway, I hate his guts. First, I don't like treason, and especially not for something as petty as money, and second, I just want to hang him to rot in Port Prodigal before they sail again. You'll soon see why. (teasers, they are bad. Sorry!)

7. So last week we hashed over that Merrain killed some of Stragos's guards on Windward Rock. But when Jean and Locke visit him, he doesn't mention it. What is up with that?
Well, Stragos knows, so I'm thinking they're together on that, or maybe he just forgot about it (not likely), or maybe he has something in reserve for them later on... who knows what bullshit this sneaky woman could have told him?

8. This week's section left us where the book began - Jean pointing a crossbow at Locke's throat. Do you think Jean knows who sent these crossbowers? Is he on their side? Is it a clever ploy to get him and Locke out of this predicament? Did you find it excruciatingly hard to stop here?
I haven't mentioned it before but I didn't like the start. I never really enjoyed those teasers, especially if they are several pages long and exactly the same as later on in the story. Lynch, you don't need that to keep us interested, you know! And at the beginning, I totally though that Jean was ganging up on him. Now that we have the full story, I think he's on Locke side and it's just a scheme to trick their opponent. But why the hell is Locke so freaked out?

So few pages remaining, urg! It's not really excruciating to stop here, it just is to stop! And even more to know that the next book is not ready yet! Check the other reviews from the Little Red Reviewer and see you next week for the end *sob*.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Jules Verne - Journey to the Center of the Earth

Title: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Original title: Voyage au centre de la Terre
Author: Jules Verne
Pub. year: 1864
Pages: 320
Editor: Penguin Books

Summary: What a stunning discovery: an old, coded note that actually contains directions for reaching the Earth’s very core! And once he finds it, renowned geologist Professor Liedenbrock can’t resist setting out with his 16-year-old nephew to go where only one man has gone before. Jules Verne takes young readers on one of the most incredible journeys ever imagined, from Iceland’s frozen tundra far down into fantastic underground prehistoric worlds and back up again through the fires of an erupting volcano.

Being French, it's quite impossible have never heard of Jules Verne. But I have to admit I never tried to read one of his books until this month. I think I was a bit scared that it would be really hard to read, with all the science stuff and the 19th century style. Anyway, I decided to give it a go and see if it was readable or not.

And actually it is. It must be for this author to be as well known as he is, that long after his death. So, obviously, it is quite scientific, but not that much and it's not really important if you don't understand some minor details, you get what they're saying because it's written so that you understand the most important of it.

When it comes to the style, well, it is better than what I expected, even if I'm still not fond of the way of talking and interacting from one and a half century ago. And the way that people are written too. It's just too.. distant, not really endeavouring. Maybe it's because he is a pretty quiet man that I was more curious about Hans, the Icelander, than any of the other. But it didn't stop me from reading the book to the end and enjoying it.

I had never really imagined a world deep under my feet, so it was a nice change and a great adventure! Even if we can easily guess the main plot, we are diving into an unknown and curious place that is full of surprises and mysteries.

Quite a good impression then, even if it's not one of my favorite! I have some other Jules Verne books in my TBR pile, so maybe I'll come back to you with some of them, someday. Meanwhile, you can try this one!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read along
[third part]

In case you haven't followed the first part of this read along on The Lies of Locke Lamora, let me tell you, you missed something.
But it's not too late!
Here we are again, reading and answering questions about the second part of this awesome series, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Care to join?
All the details are on the Little Red Reviewer blog, so take a book and join the fun!

Sooo... Sunday again, hu? And I didn't even get my usual funny vulgar quote this time, shame on me. I admit I had to skip over this part really fast due to other obligations... but luckily, I remembered it quite well (and here I though my memory was a piece of Gruyere!), so let's get on with the discussion!

1. Locke and Jean's ability to find themselves at the center of a serious mess seems unparalleled. At this point, do you think that Stragos will get the return he expects on his investment in them?
Oh, I think Stragos with get some return on his investment, but probably not the one he expects! I am always amazed at the sheer bad luck the Gentlemen seem to suffer from. I mean, they come for a game, they get a free trip at sea, then lose the women, then forget the cats, then lose the captain, then end up having to be actual pirates and fighting and... ok, I stop here. But after all that, there is no way Locke will bring Stragos the war he wants without dictating his own terms.

2. Merrain's activities after our boys leave Windward Rock are interesting. What do you think her plans are?
Always said I don't like her. What is wrong with this woman? I know she's afraid Locke and Jean would become too important for Stragos (is she afraid to lose her position?) but killing her own people just "in case of" is just so, so wrong. I don't know what her plans are, but I hope they get canceled by a nice hard blow on the head.

3. Does anyone know why having cats aboard the ship is so important?
The cuteness? The fluffiness? The morning wake-up by a nice little rough tongue on the face?
I have no idea, but what Caldris said about them being proud even wet makes sens. Cats rock, nothing you can do about that!

4. The word "mutiny" creates a lot of mental pictures. Were you surprised? Why or why not?
I think I kinda expected it. As I mentioned above, they went off the wrong foot, with the missing women and cats, Locke's very poor attempts to cover his mess, then losing Caldris... the moment he died, I knew they were good to get thrown off the ship. And mutiny is indeed quite a nasty thing, so I am glad they didn't slash them or anything.
I know I shouldn't, but... getting them naked in front of Ezri and the Poison Orchid's crew was hilarious! Just for that, I'm glad of the mutiny. Plus, Jean must be some kind of eye candy to end up where he will, hu?

5. Ah, the Poison Orchid. So many surprises there, not the least of which were the captain's children. Did you find the young children a natural part of the story?
It's slightly weird, but somehow understandable. I mean, she wouldn't leave her kids on the shore, that would be way more dangerous that keeping them around... of course, you need to be confident enough to believe you'll always be the best pirate and no one will murder them, but I think that's exactly how Zamira is. Don't know if it's good for the kids, but Barsavi's probably weren't worse educated than those ones!

6. Jean is developing more and more as a character as we get further in to the book. Ezri makes the comment to him that "Out here, the past is a currency, Jerome. Sometimes it's the only one we have." I think several interesting possibilities are coming into play regarding Jean and Ezri. What about you?
I really like Jean, I think it takes some time to get used to him but afterwards, you just can't let him go. I love how he's sweet and rough at the same time, and how he gets really angry at Locke when he deserves it, and how they always manage to stick together in the end. Ezri is totally sweet on him (in a bully way) and as we see in the last part, he's not willing to let go either. I know Locke seems to think only of himself but I know he'll get around, he wouldn't let a guy like Stragos mess up with their life and get away with it.

7. As we close down this week's reading, the Thorn of Camorr is back! I love it, even with all the conflict. Several things from their Camorri background have come back up. Do you think we will see more Camorri characters?
Not sure Camorri people will come as far as here... I think that the past is important, like Ezri said, but it's also something which has gone and I picture them more going forward than getting back to old acquaintances. Except maybe some old friends from Karthain, someday...

Alright, things are rolling quite fast on the pirate side now! Check the other reviews from the Little Red Reviewer and let's see next week who's going to betray who!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Jean-Claude Mourlevat - Winter's End

Title: Winter's End
Original title: Le Combat d'hiver
Author: Jean-Claude Mourlevat
Pub. year: 2006
Pages: 415
Editor: Candlewick Press

Summary: In this award-winning story translated from the original French, four teens, determined to escape the tyranny responsible for the deaths of their parents years before, flee their prison-like boarding school and are pursued by a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to hunt them down.

I chose to take the short summary, even if it doesn't really fit, because the long one I saw everywhere tells pretty much the whole book and I hate it when summary spoil every step of a story.

I heard about Mourlevat for years now, but never had the occasion to read one of his books. This one was one of the two I heard the most about in the past couple of years, so I was really happy when a friend sent it to me as a gift a few weeks ago. It didn't take me long to read it, as you can see.

The first thing I loved about this book is that the whole story isn't about romance. I mean, sure, there's a bit of love in the book, but it's not the main subject, it's just a "side effect". When I read a dystopy, it's because I want to read about society that went wrong and about people who fight for their freedom, not so see starcrossed lovers in almost EVERY ONE OF THOSE BOOKS. I mean, I'm not saying I don't like love story or that love isn't important, it's just that love isn't the only reason why one could fight for his freedom. And lately it felt a little bit like that in the dystopian books.

Apart from a few genetic combinated creatures, Mourlevat depicts a pretty believable world where things went wrong. The Phalange took the power years ago and tained quite well its people with some barbaric practices. A quite oppressive world, as you can imagine. But obviously, the main characters aim to set the country free and walk in the path of their parents in order to live a better life.

The story being a one-shot and not a serie, the world isn't really deeply detailed but it's enough to dive into it! It's was a really page-turner book for me.

I think the only thing I didn't really enjoy about this story is that for 17yo young people, they felt like they were 14. So naive and innocent that I couldn't believe they were in their late teenage lives. In that way, I had a bit of a hard time to like them at first. Especially the girls (for the love-at-first-sight part with the first boys they saw, or the "I don't care what the consequences of my acts on other people are").

Anyway, it's a good story, very much enjoyable, that I would recommand to everybody (well maybe not to childrens, 'cause it can be a pretty violent in some parts)!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read along
[second part]

In case you haven't followed the first part of this read along on The Lies of Locke Lamora, let me tell you, you missed something.
But it's not too late!
Here we are again, reading and answering questions about the second part of this awesome series, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Care to join?
All the details are on the Little Red Reviewer blog, so take a book and join the fun!

'You,' said Locke, 'are a goat-faced wad of slipskinner's shit.'

What is wrong with me? I used to so not care about the schedule and be on time, and now that I'm trying to make it, I'm late again (good for me that it's still Saturday in some parts of the world)! But well, let us not dwell on that. The second part of this reading hasn't quite been as wonderful as the first one, less discoveries and a lot a preparation for the rest of the story... but hey, it was great nonetheless. Shall we?

1. Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.
Well, for one I think that this crazy savior gesture Requin apparently pulled on Selendri is really heroic, and even though the man is a (rich) ass, that accounts for something. I wonder if Selendri stays around because of her sense of duty or because she really loves him... women mysteries, no need to pry, I guess. But Locke probably knew what he was getting into, the Sinspire is no joke and his master no softie, so he probably expected the worse already. The con is going to be tough, and that's what makes it good!

2. Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing? If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?
This is my second reading and a got a clearer picture of the place this time, this whole island business was a bit confusing for me and I'm always so fond of dialogues that I tend to slide over long descriptions. Sometimes I wish we would have a tv series (or a movie) to picture this as greatly as it deserves - anyone feels like it?
I don't know what I would buy... I more the roam-around kind of girl, so I'll probably spend an insane amount of time visiting before finally deciding on something.

3. What did you think of Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?
Ha, what a horrid place. Gives me shivers. Sadly, I understand the concept - people with too much money get to insane extends to entertain themselves, and what could be better than humiliate poor people together without being judged? That's really a sad, sad way of leaving, and those things the guy told Locke about how no one forced the poor people to come here? I wanted to punch his face. Twice.
Camorr is such a sweet vacation resort in comparison... (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a tiny bit but like Locke, this gruesome business makes me very angry.)

4. The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them. What do you think he’s so afraid of?
I think he's crazy. What was it already?
'Full-on barking madness is a state of rational bliss to which you may not aspire. Men living in gutters and drinking their own piss would shun your company. You are a prancing lunatic.'
Yes, just like that. I mean, really. The automates? The sixty guys on the roof pretending to make it rain in a clay forest? Launching an attack on the city and risking so many lives just to get more money and power? How does that protect the city?
The guy is nuts. I can't think of anything else.

5. And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days? they just almost got poisoned (again!)!
Ah yes, the underlining funky business. I think Lynch likes that, putting on a front story line, then slipping some "disagreements" and adding a few thorns in their socks while no one's looking. I'm still as bad as ever on speculation but Merrain does not inspire me any good. She's weird, in the nasty kind of way. Beware of lurking women!

6. Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?
Locke is gonna puke his guuuts-out, Locke is gonna puke his guuts-out ♫
Sorry, but I don't think it's going to be fun. I feel like the training will get them bitching again and again about how hard and crappy it is, and once they're actually sailing, they'll realize it's even worse. I'm not even mentioning their bad luck which will probably strike again, and again, and again. They are so gonna hate it.

Phew, not so bad after all, he! Check the other reviews from the Little Red Reviewer and let's meet again next week for some pirates adventures!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies read along
[first part]

In case you haven't followed the first part of this read along on The Lies of Locke Lamora, let me tell you, you missed something.
But it's not too late!
Here we are again, reading and answering questions about the second part of this awesome series, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
Care to join?
All the details are on the Little Red Reviewer blog, so take a book and join the fun!

'Fuck me with a poleaxe!'
(Locke's best insult ever.)

Four days late... what a shitty way to start such an awesome read along. I hope you'll forgive me for this terrible attitude (for my defense, we had a bloody long weekend in Europe and I was too lazy tired to take care of blogging matters). And see, I'm already swearing! Really Locke, is that your bad influence staining my beautiful language again?!
Oh well, I guess it's mostly me. Whatever, let's start with the first part of a 5 week goodness with my favorite thieves EVER.
If you haven't read the book yet, I suggest you start now (here's a nice teaser in case you're not convinced).

'I take some of it back,' he said. 'You might still be a lying, cheating, low-down, greedy, grasping, conniving, pocket-picking son of a bitch.'
'Thanks,' said Locke.

1. The Sinspire. It looks like our heroes (can they really be called that?) find themselves in search of a way into an unbeatable vault. Do you think they have what it takes to make it happen?
Of course they are our heroes! Well, mine at least. And yes, they most surely have what it takes to make it happen, but that's not going to be easy. Well, Mr Lynch wouldn't bring us 600 pages of goodies for them to get a pick, open the vault, get rich and retire in some boring house on the countryside. There's gonna be action! Drama! Unexpected twits of horrible events that will scar them for life! Err... well, you know, the usual. Is it so wrong to like seeing them suffer?

2. Anyone want to guess how they're going to make it happen?
You know I suck at guessing. Plus, I already read the book, and at the end I was all "what the fuck?!" and completly amazed by the turn of events. Whatever I could guess would sound crappy after that.
I've been wondering quite a lot about the "pirates" theme of the book, since the beginning is completely off track, and it's really nice to see the story develop from another direction than the one expected.

3. It's a little different this time around, with us just being focused on Locke and Jean. Is anyone else missing the rest of the Bastards as much as I am?
I miss them, but somehow not so much. I think Jean and Locke have always been the stars of the story, and though the death of the others pained me (A LOT), I don't really miss their presence now. I am glad that we get to see and understand more about those two, about this special bond that links them, and how they kind of need each other to go on. It's more personal to have only 2 main characters, I guess, even though Locke still remains the head of the small gang after all.
Oh, let me throw a nice little quote there, because I just love how they bitch together all the time:
'I like the cores,' said Jean sulkily. 'All the little crunchy bits.'
'Goats eat the gods-damned crunchy bits.'
'You're not my mother.'
'Well, true. Your mother would be ugly.'

4. I love the section where Jean starts to build a new guild of thieves. It really shows just how well trained and tough he is. Do you think the Bastards will end up training others along the way again like Bug?
I personnally think that this whole "let's train a new gang" was his way to cope with grief and sadness from seeing Locke drunk and devastated. Jean needs to do something all the time, and it was his occupation for a while, until he decided to shake his friend back to reality. I don't really see them forming a new gang... first of all, Locke seems to have a very limited supply of acceptance regarding living with other people, and he probably can't fill the space of his lost brothers with anyone else. Plus, too painful in case he loses the new ones again. Having each other seems to be a handful for them already!

5. For those of you looking for Sabetha, we still haven't spotted her yet. Anyone else chomping at the bit to see the love of Locke's life?
I can't remember when I gave up, but after the first couple chapters I think you realize it's not going to happen there. Damn this suspense!! But I've read the book 3 excerpt and she's in it. FINALLY. My patience is being horribly stretched, as you might guess (and endure yourself).

6. It's early on, but the Bastards are already caught up in plots that they didn't expect. How do you think their new "employer" is going to make use of them (The Archon, that is)?
Oh he's gonna fuck them up, alright. First the kidnapping, then the Bondsmagi disgusting business, and then the poison? Darlings, you're in it up your neck. The archon will be the biggest thorn in their foot for the rest of this book!

Alright, I'll be back in a few days for part two, and on time, I swear! Check other reviews from the Little Red Reviewer and join if you want, it's plenty fun!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Erin Morgenstern - The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Pub. year: 2011
Pages: 400
Editor: Doubleday

Summary: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. The fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hangs in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I think so many people have talked about this book already that I won't be able to tell you anything new. If you were expecting some controversial review about how bad this book is, you can leave now, because the hype is totally justified. I didn't even expect anything from it, I know everyone said it was good, but then that wouldn't be a first for me not to like something everyone else's does. Plus, I've never been to a circus in my life, and never really expressed any interest for it, so a circus romance...

How wrong I was. This is definitely a little masterpiece, in more ways than I could explain. First, you see those chapters, one addressed to the reader, one following a character in a timeline, then another in the past or the future, knowing fully that all will collide someday. The style is marvelous, very light and deep at the same time, full of poetry, and I really couldn't tear my eyes off it.

But not only that, this beautiful writing has a wonderful story behind it, very imaginative, full of surprises, of intricates mysteries and soft charming romance mixed with cruelty and deception. The Circus itself is a pure wonder, and the characters living it (or buzzing around it) are so moving and real that it's almost painful to see them hurt. I don't know what to say to express it properly, but this book really takes you into another universe, grips you and doesn't let you go until you release this last, sad breath, knowing the Circus has to go without you now.

The book is totally going on my "to read again and again" shelf!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Title: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Pub. year: 2005
Pages: 326
Editor: Penguin Books

Summary: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies.
When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he disovers in his father's closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.

I've heard about this author and this book for years, but never had the opportunity to read it. When I heard a movie was being filmed, I thought that I should buy the book quickly before the cover changed, and that I wanted to read it first, so I did.

The book is pretty cool, with pictures and a few colored pages to illustrate what Oskar is talking about, and some other special stuff (I don't want to say too much) that gives a lot of fun to the reading. But let's talk about the story, now...

So, we have Oskar, this young boy who's pretty smart and curious about everything. But smart or not, when someone we love dies, we all feel the same kind of feelings, even if we don't react equally. Oskar finds his way to deal with his father death by busying himself with the investigation about the key he found.

Sure, when you read the summary, you can have the impression that it's going to be a really sad book about a kid who lost his father, but this isn't really what is going on here. We don't really focus on how hard and sad he feels. I mean, you know he is, there's clues about it everywhere, but we are focused on Oskar search, so it isn't that bad (obviously, they did add some tear jerker moments in the movie).

I really enjoyed the way he thinks, the questions he asks, the terms he uses... You can feel he is smart but lost, and that leads you to think about stuff you wouldn't have thought about. I like that in a book. I also learned a few stuff I didn't know about the world, which was pretty cool.

But if Oskar is the main character of this story, he isn't the only one. I really liked the parts with his grandparents, it brings a whole new side to the story. I was a bit desappointed not to see that on the screen but it would have been too long to show everything. They both are really endearing people, with their wounds and their flaws, their kindness and their sadness.

So... As you can see, this book quickly joined my favorites and I heartily recommend it!

Quotes :
'It was so dark that it was even hard to hear.'

'Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.'

'Why didn't I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.'

'I hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.'

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read along
[last part]

Dear fellow readers! This week is the last week (bouhouhou) of the Lies of Locke Lamora read along hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and her comrades, and it's the first time I am joining one! Every week we've read around 120-140 pages of the book and every Saturday, each participant replied to a bunch of secret questions and discuss around it.
Like the book? Good!
Want to have fun? Same here!
Groupie of Scott Lynch but afraid to tell? It's ok, we won't say anything...
Join the read along or come check the discussion every week!

Gosh, it's over already! I can't believe I've been so wrapped up in this, you should have seen me this morning, disheveled and still in my pajamas, not wanting to put the book down for one second. I could almost say the book was too short if it wasn't that huge already. Boy, am I glad there's going to be (many) more of these!! Last chance for checking up last week's post (aka The Big Drama), and let's move on to the last and best part of the adventure!

Hey remember the crack up around "Nice bird, arsehole"?
'I cut off his fingers to get him to talk, and when he'd confessed everything I wanted to hear, I had his fucking tongue cut out, and the stump cauterised.'
Everyone in the room stared at him.
'I called him an arsehole, too,' said Locke. 'He didn't like that.'
I'm still laughing over that one!!

1. The Thorn of Camorr is renowned - he can beat anyone in a fight and he steals from the rich to give to the poor. Except of course that clearly most of the myths surrounding him are based on fantasy and not fact. Now that the book is finished how do you feel the man himself compares to his legend. Did you feel that he changed as the story progressed and, if so, how did this make you feel about him by the time the conclusion was reached?
I still have trouble to think of Locke as the Thorn of Camorr, it's hard to say why but I think it's linked to the fact that Locke himself is so real and so human that it's harder to care about the symbol. If you take Batman for example, Bruce Wayne is a boring dude but Batman is a hero. Here, Locke is already a hero, so the Thorn of Camorr can hardly beat that. That answers the "how does the man compares to his legend" > he's obviously much better.
Since we haven't seen much of the initial Thorn of Camorr, the one who had fun getting forty thousand crowns in his vault, but we spent so much time with the one getting in a hell lot of trouble, I don't know how to compare them. The Thorn got a good lesson, at least... but he still enjoyed his "power" until the very end ("They're full of shit." "I'm afraid so." :D ).

2. Scott Lynch certainly likes to give his leading ladies some entertaining and strong roles to play. We have the Berangia sisters – and I definitely wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of them or their blades plus Dona Vorchenza who is the Spider and played a very cool character – even play acting to catch the Thorn. How did you feel about the treatment the sisters and Dona received at the hands of Jean and Locke – were you surprised, did it seem out of character at all or justified?
I'm always a bit annoyed at the tendency to use the old "I don't hit girl", as if being a girl always implied something weak. I am very glad that the female characters of the book are strong (they were and they still will be), and not cliché at all, having a real temper and strength an all that. And I'm glad Jean violently kicked the Berangias' asses, because they deserved it, and I wouldn't have expected anything else from dear Jean.
The punch in the face of Doña Vorchenza make me crack up, it was such an obvious and not conventional option... Locke is always full of resources, and that's good. But I am glad they both behaved smartly in the end, the charming old lady didn't deserve anything worse.

3. Towards the end we saw a little more of the magic and the history of the Bondsmagi. The magic, particularly with the use of true names, reminds me a little of old fashioned witchcraft or even voodoo. But, more than that I was fascinated after reading the interlude headed ‘The Throne in Ashes’ about the Elderglass and the Elders and why their structures were able to survive even against the full might of the Bondsmagi – do you have any theories about this do you think it’s based on one of our ancient civilisations or maybe similar to a myth??
I'm quite bad with theories, I never really try to guess and when I do, I'm usually wrong and it disappoints me. However, I'm very curious about the Elderglass and sincerely hope we'll know more about it in future books - I think there was a very old and powerful civilization that was destroyed by something (civil war? sickness? overuse of magic?) and they left behind some traces, like the powers the Bondsmagi have. Nasty stuff, those, it totally reminds me of Voodoo too. I wish we could seal all Karthain in Elderglass and be done with it!

4. We have previously discussed Scott Lynch’s use of description and whether it’s too much or just spot on. Having got into the last quarter of the book where the level of tension was seriously cranked up – did you still find, the breaks for interludes and the descriptions useful or, under the circumstances did it feel more like a distraction?
Ah, I cannot say, I was so wrapped up in the story, literally devouring pages, that I didn't notice anything really boring. There was no serious interruption of action like before, nor useless anecdotes about god knows what, so I guess it was good. I think it's very important to be careful with the last ~150 pages of a book, it doesn't matter if the beginning was too slow or some characters too shallow - if the end rocks, the last impression is awesome, and that's what matters. And if that end didn't rock, well, I don't know what's good enough for you!
Plus, I love the last interlude - here's a lovely quote while we're here:
'some day, you're going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee.'
If that's not poetry, what is?

5. Now that the book has finished how did you feel about the conclusion and the eventual reveal about the Grey King and more to the point the motivations he declared for such revenge – does it seem credible, were you expecting much worse or something completely different altogether?
The first revelation - that the Grey King was the Berangias' brother seeking revenge - was quite disappointing, but now with all the details around it it's a bit better. He lost his family and he wanted revenge, just like Locke did, so it's hard to blame him for that. His only problem was his lack of morals, and his total absolute craziness. The guy is a nut case! I wasn't expecting anything better or worse, he wasn't right in the head, and Locke fixed him (oh yeah), so all is (not so) well. If he had been someone else, it wouldn't have changed things much in my opinion.

6. Were you surprised that Locke, being given two possible choices (one of which could possibly mean he would miss his chance for revenge on the Grey King) chose to go back to the Tower – especially given that (1) he would have difficulty in getting into the building (2) he would have difficulty in convincing them about the situation and (3) he would have difficulty in remaining free afterwards? Did anyone else nearly pee their pants when Locke and the rest were carrying the sculptures up to the roof garden?
Absolutely not surprised. Locke is a good guy and he couldn't choose revenge on one man over saving hundreds of people. The only thing that annoyed me slightly was that the only way he managed to save them was to beg, and it doesn't really suit him. I am glad he resorted to it though, because he did managed to save everyone, but what I'm most proud of is that he still managed to sneak up some lies, and to convince them to plow into shit (ha!) and to sink the death-offering for his brothers. That was GRAND.
I didn't pee in my pants during the sculpture removal, thanks for asking. I was pretty stressed out and nothing could have made me drop the book, but I knew they would succeed.
And that's beside the point but I loved that scene where Locke sobbed and pleaded for Jean to leave him after defeating the Grey King, and how Jean got mad and carried him (and rolled him like a sausage in oil cloth later on on the boat). Locke was just so sweet and desperate and my little heart was beating wildly for him.
Gosh, I really am a fangirl now...

7. Finally, the other question I would chuck in here is that, following the end of the book I was intrigued to check out some of the reviews of LOLL and noticed that the negative reviews mentioned the use of profanity. How did you feel about this – was it excessive? Just enough? Not enough?
I fucking love the profanity! Those bloody prudes can go to hell and leave us all the fun and the swearing!!

8. Okay one further, and probably most important but very quick question – having finished, will you pick up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?
I already did! *giggles* I will read it again with you I think, it was so lovely. Plus, there are kittens. Who can say no to Locke AND kittens?!

Check out other discussions on the Little Red Reviewer blog (link coming soon), and let's have a break next week to let all those emotions calm down before starting the next awesome adventure of the Gentlemen Bastards!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read along
[part four]

Dear fellow readers! This week is the fourth week of the Lies of Locke Lamora read along hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and her comrades, and it's the first time I am joining one! Every week we'll read around 120-140 pages of the book and every Saturday, each participant will reply to a bunch of secret questions and discuss around it.
Like the book? Good!
Want to have fun? Same here!
Groupie of Scott Lynch but afraid to tell? It's ok, we won't say anything...
Join the read along or come check the discussion every week!

Alright, since last week the proper re-read has started (it only takes a bit of Friday evening to go through each part, so why not?) and I am glad I did it, because things were a bit jammed in my head and I am glad to remember them properly now. Have you checked last week's discussion? It was good, but not as good as this one because we are now at That Point, also know as The Tragic Instance That Upset Me, for which I would have resented the author forever if he wasn't so good. And I am really glad he is.

[...] it confirms something they claim to know in their hearts — that Camorri are all gods-damned crazy.

1. In the chapter “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” we learn of the tradition of the night tea in Camorr. I found that not so much fantastical as realistic – how about you?
I know it's bad but I mainly found it a bit boring. I know, it's good to have those details because they make everything seem more real and palpable, but gods damnit, Locke is dying in a barrel a piss and you want to interest me with the tea ceremony? To hell with your tea!!

2. When Jean meets with what will become the Wicked Sisters for the first time, the meeting is described very much like how people feel when they find their true work or home. Agree? Disagree? Some of both?
It's pretty fascinating how the Wicked Sisters indeed have a "character" place in the story—we learn of how they meet their master, we see him care for them and be relieved when Bug gets them back for him, so it's really more like a companion that an accessory. Well, I rarely throw my companions in the head of dummies when we meet, but one must has its hobbies I guess!

3. Salt devils. Bug. Jean. The description is intense. Do you find that description a help in visualizing the scene? Do you find yourself wishing the description was occasionally – well – a little less descriptive?
The salt devils reminded me a bit of the It movie (Stephen King) when they meet with the "spider" in the cave, and also a bit of the third Lord of the Ring movie when they also meet with the Spider. I have something against spiders, really, but there it wasn't too bad—maybe because they were called salt devils and not spiders, and also because they died without killing anyone. The splashing was yucky, though, but I didn't mind the description. I enjoyed it much more than the ones where we learn about sunsets, busy streets and seagulls life, which kind of bore me to death.

4. This section has so much action in it, it’s hard to find a place to pause. But…but.. oh, Locke. Oh, Jean. On their return to the House of Perelandro, their world is turned upside down. Did you see it coming?
First time I read it, I didn't see it coming. The second one, I dreaded it, but it was still there. I guess Lynch set the tone when he killed Nazca: no one has to be spared. And people noticed that there was less flashbacks and details about the other three gentlemen, and I am quite glad of it because it makes the departure less hard. Hard nonetheless, but well...
I'm afraid I will have trouble to digest the arrow in the neck, that was really horrible, and I still feel for the poor sweetie.

5. Tavrin Callas’s service to the House of Aza Guilla is recalled at an opportune moment, and may have something to do with saving a life or three. Do you believe Chains knew what he set in motion? Why or why not?
I think he hoped that all this crap he put them through will be useful to them someday, otherwise why would he have done it? I don't think he hoped they would need it on such a tragic occasion, but at least the training isn't lost, and even through hardship they remain smart and clear headed. I'm in awe.

6. As Locke and Jean prepare for Capa Raza, Dona Vorchenza’s remark that the Thorn of Camorr has never been violent – only greedy and resorting to trickery – comes to mind again. Will this pattern continue?
I think there's a difference between having to resort to violence and wanting to. Locke has killed before, and he will kill again, but he did it only because he had to, and never with pleasure. The grief has a strong power over the mind, but I don't think it would make him forget who he is and what his duties are. He owes a death-offering to his lads, and they will have it, but he won't kill randomly, I don't believe so.

7. Does Locke Lamora or the Thorn of Camorr enter Meraggio’s Countinghouse that day? Is there a difference?
The despair is probably the only difference. Usually, Locke does his tricks because it amuses him. Now, it's a case of sheer necessity, and he has to use his talents for a matter of life or death. I don't know if the Thorn of Camorr is that side of him who would do anything to survive, but he's more determined than ever to go through his plan, and that accounts for something.

Check out other discussions on the Little Red Reviewer blog, and let's meet again next week for the last part of the book!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Antoine de St Exupéry - The Little Prince

Title: The Little Prince
Original title: Le Petit Prince
Author: Antoine de St Exupéry
Pub. year: 1943
Pages: 96
Editor: Mariner Books

Summary: The Little Prince is a fantasy book about a pilot, stranded in the Sahara, who meets a small boy from another planet. The boy, who refers to himself as a prince, is on a quest for knowledge. The little prince asks questions of the pilot and tells the pilot of life on his own very small planet.

I guess if you know only one French book, it's this one. And that's probably because it's the most translated French book ever. I'd say it totally deserves it. It's one of my favorite since the first time I read it, 13 years ago (because they were many others).

As you can see, it's a very short book, with a lot of very nice pictures inside. So you can easily guess that it won't take long to read it. But it doesn't leave you unchanged. Because if it seems like a children book, a simply nice story, it's mostly a grown up book about remembering what it's like to be a child and what adulthood does to us. At least, that's part of what it is. Almost each time I read this book between my 11yo and now, I discover something else. Maybe because I was growing up, but mainly because you change all the time, you learn, you live and that gives you a different way of seeing the world.

It has this naive way of showing you stuff that you tend to forget about childhood, about relationships, about yourself. It's funny, it's poetic, sometimes a bit sad and I don't think it's possible to close this book without feeling a little bit different. But that's maybe just cheesy me loving this book.

I love how it makes you feel that imagination and make-beliefs games are the best thing ever, and I love how it is a constant reminder that even if I'm kind of an adult now, I don't want to forget what it's like to be a child.

So, all I can say if you haven't read it yet is GO READ IT NOW!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read along
[part three]

Dear fellow readers! This week is the third week of the Lies of Locke Lamora read along hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and her comrades, and it's the first time I am joining one! Every week we'll read around 120-140 pages of the book and every Saturday, each participant will reply to a bunch of secret questions and discuss around it.
Like the book? Good!
Want to have fun? Same here!
Groupie of Scott Lynch but afraid to tell? It's ok, we won't say anything...
Join the read along or come check the discussion every week!

Darn, this week's questions are so precise! I usually cheat a bit and just re-read bits and pieces, but this time I had to re-read the whole part to remember it properly! Ok, maybe I enjoyed it too much and couldn't put the book down... it was totally worth it. Time to check out last week's answers, and now let's move on to this week's discussion!

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books. From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using? Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage's powers?
I very much like how the magic is subtle in the story—I think it was Brandon Sanderson who wrote about the different kinds of magic, the showy kind and the subtle one, and how authors should use them the right way. Well, here it's subtle (because we don't know how it works and it's only for few selected people) but very well incorporated to the book's atmosphere and all, and I find it really great.
Locke is awesome, but we all know this Bondmage can kick his ass anytime, and I think he's up for a very serious ass kicking if he retaliate after what happens at the end of this part (and he has to retaliate, we're only halfway through the book!).

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.
2.5 (since 2 wasn't really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)

I suck at guessing, sorry, I'm totally clueless. Not even trying.
I couldn't believe the Nazca thing. I was just sooo sure it was fake, like Barsavi made it up, or the Grey King used a disguised corpse or whatever. And I held on to it for so long... I think I finally admitted she was really dead around the beginning of the next part, but I was really distressed. It shows that Lynch has the guts to do this, and that we must fear for whatever else he has in store for the rest of the good guys...

3. When Locke says "Nice bird, arsehole," I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?
I'm always laughing, geez, I'm so easy... thankfully I don't read on the subway, that would be a disaster. No, instead, I laugh like mad on the couch/bed, and my other half looks at me like I'm crazy, and I'm always trying to explain ("Ah, the guy just flipped him! You know he's this really buffy kid and Locke pisses him off and he does this wrestling thing and it's hilarious!" "...whatever.") but ah, well, I guess you need to read it to understand.
I also lost it at the "nice bird, arsehole", especially after Chains tells him to be polite with them.
Is it just me or are you also unable to stop at the end of the "chapters"? I always know the very beginning of the next one will be awesome, I can't get myself to stop before reading a few extra lines.

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they're "cleverer than all the rest?" Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?
They are very clever but they are still kids, they have never left their city, never fought serious hardship in their games, never been outmatched by an opponent. Now there is this guy who has a lot less morals than they have coming on their turf, and it makes him much more dangerous than they are—clever too, maybe, but for me it's the craziness that differentiate them. The Bastards are good but reasonable; the Grey King? He has no limit.

5. I imagine that you've probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the "present" storyline, but I'll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?
Nooo, I stopped at the end of the part, I swear. And not only because I already finished the book once!
Locke is obviously in deep shit, but he's not dead, and he's not alone, so he'll probably make it somehow. The Grey King will obviously use this opportunity to fuck something up, and I wish I could shake the Bastards and tell them "no, don't do this, be careful!". My poor little heart...

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?
They are amazing. Do I need to say more than this? I think I can enumerate all their qualities, and all their flaws that become qualities because they make them who they are, so real. Even the bad guys are pretty awesome.
Sorry, I mean... AWESOME.

7. Now that you've seen how clever Chains is about his "apprenticeships," why do you think he's doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?
I don't think Chains has ulterior motives, especially since in the present times he's dead and the Bastards are well, so if there was something we would have known about it... I just think he's a good master who wants his pupils to be the best, to be able to react to any situation and get out from any trouble. Has he done enough? Who knows...

Check out other discussions on the Little Red Reviewer blog, and let's meet again next week—if I haven't ripped the book in half with fury for being so powerless...

Monday, 19 March 2012

Justine Larbalestier - Liar

Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Pub. year: 2009
Pages: 376
Editor: Bloomsbury Publishing

Summary: Micah Wilkins is a liar. But when her boyfriend, Zach, dies under brutal circumstances, the shock might be enough to set her straight. Or maybe not. Especially when lying comes as naturally to her as breathing. Was Micah dating Zach? Did they kiss? Did she see him the night he died? And is she really hiding a family secret? Where does the actual truth lie?

First of all, we have bad news for you: you shouldn't read this review. It's not us saying it but the author herself, explaing why you should not be spoiled. So now, you are warned. We'll do our best not to spoil you and only refer to the general feeling, but if you can read the book first and come back afterwards, it would probably be best.

Was the story good?

Lily: Ah, well, I don't know. I'm not sure this is the kind of story really suited for me. As the author says, it's that sort of book which has many reads, and no one is right or wrong, and everyone sees it as they want to. I don't like that, I want to be told a story from start to end, not guessing what's true or not. I guess the story is good, and many people will find amazing how the reader can decide what to believe in, but I don't. Ok, so I was clearly bored with all the questioning, truth and untruth, and more questioning... bleh.

Lyra: I personnaly enjoyed it. The "many reads, no one's right or wrong" aspect didn't bother me. I was expecting a lot more messing with my head, so actually it wasn't that disturbing. Plus, open ends tends to both annoy me (I want to know what the author thought) and make me glad that I can imagine what happens next (because the story also belong to the reader), so I'm okay with them. Then, I liked the questioning even if sometimes it was a bit redundant because it made me thought about some stuff about myself and how I see things. So it's always a good point.

Were the characters moving?

Lily: No. It pains me to say it as plainly as that but THE character is Micah—the narrator—who only talks about herself or her dead boyfriend (and sometimes, friends and family, but they are only "helping" characters). The dead boyfriend could have been nice if he wasn't, like, dead. But Micah? Gosh, this girl... so she's a liar, ok, no surprise there. But beyond this (I don't care so much about the lying part) she's always, always asking questions, reflecting on herself, on others, bathing in self pity and mourning and complaining and oh-gosh-kill-me-now do I have to be with her for 376 pages?! I wish I would have liked her, because that would mean I would have liked the book. Well, that didn't happen.

Lyra: I agree on the "not moving" part, and the fact that sometimes you just want to slap Micah so she stops with the self pity. But other than that, I enjoyed her character. I liked to see the picture from the liar, get to know what she is thinking and why. I liked the fact that I felt I was in her mind (with limited access of course), not reading a book. We don't really have time to discover the other characters, so, not moving either. I felt like this book was shorter than it was, as if it was a short story, when it comes to what we know about the others.

So altogether... a must read or not?

Lily: I don't really need to explain more than I already did, right? This book is great, it's original, it's worth re-reading many times if you like making theories and chasing clues, but I never got into it. I'm just too old fashion, waiting for the story to come out by itself—if I need to dig for it, all is lost. I think anyone curious should read it because somehow, it's worth doing it, the mix of reality, fantasy and craziness is really something else. But well... it didn't work for me. Too bad!

Lyra: I can't really say. I think it's a very personnal appreciation (as always, I know, but especially here) because as you can see, this book devides. I hope our explanations of our perceptions helped you to position yourself about whether you could like it or not. Also, it's better if you have the paper version because if you want to be able to go back to check something (and trust me, it happens a lot), it's easier if it's not an ebook.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora read along
[part two]

Dear fellow readers! This week is the second week of the Lies of Locke Lamora read along hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and her comrades, and it's the first time I am joining one! Every week we'll read around 120-140 pages of the book and every Saturday, each participant will reply to a bunch of secret questions and discuss around it.
Like the book? Good!
Want to have fun? Same here!
Groupie of Scott Lynch but afraid to tell? It's ok, we won't say anything...
Join the read along or come check the discussion every week!

Last week was a blast! I didn't know what to expect but it was fun, and I loved going through everyone's post to see how they replied. I am so glad that almost everyone loved the book so far... if you want to see last week's questions, they're here. Otherwise, let's start with this week's discussion!

1. Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game - and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!
Ah, well, I think I was kind of suspicious of his talent at the time—it's somewhat so big that you wonder how no one spots his devious scheme, but Locke is so good that you know, if someone can make it happen, that would be him. That said, I am very much convinced that he won't succeed, because that will create new twists, new drama and new work for Locke to think about, so all the best for us in the end!

2. Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?
I think it's part of the thieves atmosphere, the dark mood of the city and all that. Lynch is already really good with details, great ones as well as (kinda) boring ones, so him being so fond of describing alcohol (which is quite omnipresent in those people's lives) makes it all the more real.

3. Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?
She's his sweetheart, of course! He's just so cute at being grumpy and heartbroken because she's in a faraway country and he misses her. That guy, master of treachery and what-else, is unable to think of (or do despicable things to) other women. I think that makes him all the more charming.

4. Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?
Totally creeped out. I wish someone would bloody do something, stop this nonsense!! Locke, go and save the world, please!

5. I got a kick out of child Locke's first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?
Nazca is such a lovely child! I laughed so much when she declared: "He's a very ugly little boy, Father." How little do you know about how charming he'll become! But since Locke is how he is, and with Sabetha being the Thorn in his heart (wink), I think they'll stay good "friends". They don't have the temperament for anything beyond that.

6. Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?
A total disaster. Beyond the scheme Locke is working on, this Grey King business seems to be the red line of the story, the matter that will keep amplifying until it becomes terrible, and people have to do something drastic about it. I fear a little for our dear Gentlemen Bastards...

7. In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can't 'create' the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke's solution to this conundrum?
This, this was the BEST ever trick for me. So young and already so cunning, knowing how to use his money, his charms, and always getting more that what he bargained for. He a genius little prick, what else can I say.
"Bugger me bloody with a boathook," as Father Chains says so well, this boy soon will be unstoppable!

Check out other discussion on the Little Red Reviewer blog, and let's meet again next week, for more fun still to come!