The Name of the Wind

I was actually rather surprised that I picked up ‘The Name of the Wind’, given how it was one of San’s recommendations. There have been several instances whereby our book recommendations have disappointed the other. A prime example is The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Whilst San absolutely loved the series, I couldn’t even get past the first couple of chapters. But books aside, there have been other countless times where I’ve been sceptical about her recommendations and have been proved wrong every single time – Pinocchio, Your Name and Erased – just to name a few on what is probably a long list.

There was something wonderfully hypnotic about Kvothe’s story. I literally wanted to burrito myself up in a blanket and drink in all the words without having to stop for the realities of life. The way the narrative weaved between the past and present was effortlessly done. It felt nice to take a breather from the past and return to the present every once in a while and get a glimpse of Bast’s, Chronicler’s and Kvothe’s reactions as the true events of the past were told.

To put it simply, there was something about Denna that irked me. I can’t explain what it was, but there was something there. And in all honesty because of this, my concentration would start in dwindle in chapters that she featured heavily in. Most of the time, I could understand where Denna was coming from given her past and why she was somewhat of a flight risk. However despite this understanding, I could not like Denna as I had previously hoped to. The whole romantic aspect of the story felt strange and forced in a way, leading to me being completely disinterested.

“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”

In complete contrast was Kvothe, who proved to be an interesting and likeable albeit slightly arrogant protagonist from the start. Although, Kvothe can be accused of not having any weaknesses as such given that he is (unrealistically) clever and uses his ability to think quickly on his feet to his uttermost advantage, his struggles were masterfully depicted throughout. As such, not everything goes perfectly all the time for him and a real sense of his difficulties can be felt.

The more secondary characters were also brilliantly depicted. Bast was a mysterious one as there are vague hints as to what he actually is. His relationship with Kvothe appeared to be more than what meets the eye. It would definitely be interesting to find out more about Bast. Even something as basic as his name – is it symbolic in a way or bear any relevance to the Egyptian goddess?

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”

Admittedly, the plot did not move at a pace that was expected; it was somewhat slower and rather than this book covering all of Kvothe’s history and revealing how he earned his titles as given in the synopsis, it was more of an introductory start to what I’m assuming is going to become some legendary saga. Having said that, it would be impossible to deny that his story was not captivating and all the adventures were meaningful and linked up, slowly revealing how Kvothe became Kote.

The world building was beyond incredible and the prose itself at times came across as lyrical. Some of the scenes had been portrayed in the most beautiful manner imaginable; I could feel myself present in the moment, taking in the scene unfolding before my eyes – whether that be when Kvothe was playing his lute or raising up to an unexpected challenge. These chapters demanded to be reread, with each reread being as magical as the first time.

Something else that struck me was the concept of magic. This may be a minor detail but I loved it nevertheless. In this world, magic isn’t something you’re born with but rather something that you learn once the underpinning concepts have been mastered. The way ‘sympathy’ was explained was brilliant and more importantly it made perfect sense. In all fairness some of the other aspects such as ‘heart of the stone’ could have been described in more detail. The tuition fees system had also been cleverly designed and it was certainly different. I was glad that the whole tuition process had not been brushed over as it bought a sense of realism.

In a nutshell, this was an incredible fantasy book that swept me off my feet. Some minor hiccups sure, but other than that, it was amazingly written and there were a handful of beautifully described scenes that just made the whole book.

Speak soon,

Saz

P.S. Coming up with puns about the wind is a breeze 🙂

 

 

 

 

Alex Rider (TV Series, Season 1)

To be brutally honest, I had no intention of watching Alex Rider seriously or at all for that matter. Given how most books are ruined when adapted for the screen, I refused to risk it with a series that I had enjoyed reading whilst growing up. I mean I think Hunger Games is the only exception whereby I preferred the movies over the books. However, I was completely wrong in this instance. Once again, it was San who should be thanked for persuading me to give this a go and honestly, I have no regrets.

It was interesting that the series actually started with the second book (in terms of plot) but still managed to properly lay the groundwork from the first book in introducing the characters and setting up the secretive world of spies and crime.

In all fairness, the TV series does not deviate too much from the book’s main plot. Of course, some points had been skimmed over but these were mainly from the first book when providing background – e.g. Alex undergoing military training with Wolf and co. Another change made was Tom’s role; in the show Tom was depicted as having a bigger role compared to in the books. This was actually a nice deviation as it grounded the show and added something to the story.

The casting was brilliantly done. The actors and actresses were diverse and fitted in to their roles pretty perfectly. I was most impressed with Alex, Tom and Mrs Jones (despite Mrs Jones being colder towards Alex in the books). The only character that was a disappointment was Smithers. For such an iconic character, he was completely unrecognisable. Had he not said who he was, I would have never figured out it was him, whereas the others were far more obvious.

Plus, although this is normally a minor detail for me, I cannot help but mention it – the soundtrack was bang on point as was the cinematography. The creepiness of Point Blanc had been amazingly captured as had the eeriness of the plot. The end scene with Tom’s t-shirt made me chuckle and was definitely appreciated. It was amusing to see the show lightly poking fun at itself.

Another aspect that I truly liked was the humour. The writing was brilliant and yes, although there might have been some things that happen a little too conveniently for Alex, these can be easily overlooked.

The show does take a little while to find its footing and for the audience to fully grasp the link between the somewhat random scenes at the start. But the wait is so worth it. This is definitely a binge worthy show and this is coming from someone who knew what was going to happen. I cannot even begin to imagine my level of excitement and intrigue had I not been familiar with the books.

Basically, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. Yes the first episode may not have been the most exciting one, but it is so worth a watch. Cannot wait for the next season! I mean needless to say, I’ll be at the ready with some sweet and salty popcorn (which by the way is so so good. I mean I was always under the misconception that mixed popcorn just wasn’t the one. But turns out, that was just another thing I was mistaken about).

Saz

P.S. Got a new job at the guillotine factory. I’ll beheading there shortly.

 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry By Rachel Joyce

This was a heart warming story about the immense power of faith and not being afraid to reconcile with the past no matter how painful it may seem. It was the type of book that’s actually quite difficult to explain properly.

“The least planned part of the journey, however, was the journey itself.”

Harold was the quintessential British man – he was slightly awkward in expressing his feelings, hated confrontation and was generally a difficult person to read. And although it was so easy to empathise with him throughout, at times he was frustrating – his silence and passive acceptance to things that should have been spoken about. Yet this just made Harold heartbreakingly human. There was just something about him that made it difficult not to care for him in a sense.

Maureen was a more difficult character to fathom. At first glance, she appeared to be cold especially in her interactions with Harold. However, as the story progressed, it became clear that she was facing her own internal struggles. Her character development was brilliantly portrayed, as was her growing friendship with Rex. It was nice to have flashbacks of when her and Harold had first met and their tim together throughout their marriage.

“But maybe it’s what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith.”

The small plot twist was recognisable and I soon guessed at what was being hinted at early on. Regardless it still had the power to gently pull at my heartstrings. The end scene between Harold and Maureen completely melted me; everything about it was completely perfect. From the middle onwards, the story went down a direction that was rather unexpected. Other characters were met along the way, which highlighted a handful of the worst traits imaginable in humanity, and it inspired waves of deeply rooted anger and disgust. So basically this story gave rise to a whole host of different emotions.

The idea of unshakable faith was truly inspiring in many respects. This was portrayed in more than one way, some more obvious than others. I loved how this was the core of the story and although it slightly deviated from this at one point, it soon found its way back.

Overall this took me by surprise. It was a simple read in terms of narrative but had depth to the story. It covered hard-hitting themes but was truly inspiring and heart warming.

Saz

 

 

 

 

Rivers of London

Image result for the rivers of london book cover

This should have been the perfect book – a blend of fantasy, supernatural and crime. And believe me, I very much so wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I had upped and ditched long before I had even turned the last page. Given that my curiosity almost always wins against my inclination to ditch, this says a lot. Even more surprising, was the fact that the opportunity cost had long gone by the time I had decided to stop reading.

My favourite aspect was the humour and the writing style. The style itself can be described as being casual. It felt as if Peter was having a conversation with the reader; just sitting down at a coffee shop, relaying his adventures.

Being a Londoner, the setting obviously appealed to me immensely. It felt good to know the streets that the events were happening on. Plus the small random titbits of history only added to the enjoyment of the story.

The different take on magic was intriguing and fresh. Using science to try and explain the mechanics of magic was definitely an interesting approach. However, for the most part of it, I found myself to be rather confused. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t an overly complicated explanation, but due to not having a working knowledge of basic physics and chemistry, I ended up pretty much befuddled, which was frustrating. However the problem lies with me and my lack of science knowledge. I will admit though, I loved how curious Peter was about magic; rather than just accepting it and learning it mindlessly, he studied it, experimented with it and tried to find a proper explanation, connecting the dots for himself.

What’s more was that the characters were so diverse. A range of different backgrounds had been represented with care which is sadly not as common as it should be in the literary world. As far as I could tell, general stereotypes had been for the most part avoided.

Given all this, you would think that I would have loved this story. However, now we come to what completely ruined the book.

The main issue I had was the fact that way too many magical creatures had been introduced in a short amount of time and rather randomly too. Suddenly there’s a mention of trolls, vampires and water spirits/gods. It was too clumsily done for my liking and made little sense. In relation to this, ideas were briefly said in passing but never fully explained (e.g. glamour). Again this made little sense to me as a reader and had I not heard of these concepts before, I would have been even more lost.

I hate to say it but the humour was problematic at times. There was an undercurrent of misogyny throughout the book and a sense of male wish fulfilment. It was downright irritating to keep reading Peter’s sexualised thoughts about the females around him. Quite frankly I was far from impressed and yes, a little offended. There was just no need.

The plot felt like it was all over the place and just felt messy, jumping from one thing to the next. You had the main mystery of the deaths that kept repeating themselves but at the same time the two warring parts of Thames. It kept switching around and no sense of a link was present. Having said that, it could be very well that at the end these two storylines joined up. But by that point my interest had long gone. As I’ve said before, normally I would carry on reading, just to find out whodunnit or at least spoiler myself just to satisfy my own curiosity. This never happened this time round. Take from that what you will.

Needless to say, I was dry much disappointed. On the surface, there’s so much right with this book but there were certain things that I just couldn’t get past in this instance.

Speak soon,

Saz