Top five unusual character names I like

Character names are quite important, because they are used all the time. If the writer has chosen a name I can’t pronounce, it is a little annoying every time I read it (I still don’t know how to pronounce Kvothe…). But in this post I want to talk about all the well-chosen names. In fantasy and science fiction I do like it when character names are unusual . It is reasonable that people in another world or in the future have different names than we have.  This post is inspired by the Top Ten Tuesday topic of this week. This weekly meme was created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. Here are five books with unusual character names I like:

Top five unusual character names I like

Issa from Daughter of Smoke and Bone
The books of Laini Taylor are full of names I never heard of. The reason is of course that lots of characters aren’t human. Giving a chimaera a name like ‘Harry’ would be really strange… I like most of the names in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and almost all of them are easy pronounceable. I especially love Issa.

Amari & Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone
I like the names of the main characters from this amazing book. They are a little different, but not to strange.

Daenerys from A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin also created a world populated by people with uncommon names, but they fit the world. Although I am not a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I like the character names.

Estrella from Wild Beauty
I haven’t read this book yet, but I like the name of the main character. It sounds kind of magical!

What are your favourite unusual character names? Tell me in the comments!

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My favourite cover for each colour of the rainbow

The story is of course the most important part of a book. But the cover also matters. Books with beautiful covers are more likely to spark my interest. I am certainly not the only one! The Top Ten Tuesday topic of this week is about covers. This weekly meme was created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. Instead of my favourite color I decided to choose a book for each colour of the rainbow.

Red - Sisters Red

Red: Sisters Red
I like the simplicity of this cover. The combination of black and red is also nice.

Orange - Muse of Nightmares

Orange: Muse of Nightmares
I already saw another version of this book, but just discovered this AMAZING cover. I already was looking forward to this book, but now I am even more eager to read it!

Yellow - Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Yellow: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
This cover has two of my favourite things: it is yellow and has books on it. Another cool thing about this cover is that it glows in the dark!

Green - The Subtle Knife

Green: The Subtle Knife
Sadly my editions of His Dark Materials have covers with the movie characters. I like this cover far more. The drawings are beautiful.

Blue - The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Blue: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
I love how the illustration and typeface on this cover match with the title.

Indigo - Strange the Dreamer

Indigo: Strange the Dreamer
When I bought this book, I couldn’t stop looking at the cover. The shade of blue and the beautiful golden moth are just perfect. The best thing is that the story is just as beautiful as the cover!

Purple - Goldeline

Purple: Goldeline
As you may have noticed, all my favourite covers have art on them. I especially like the mystery and the composition of this one. I haven’t read this book, but the cover made me curious.

Earth day & three books about the consequences of climate change

I am quite busy, but I did make time to pay some attention to Earth Day. This day was created to make people aware of ecological concerns and to take action. The theme of this year is ‘End plastic pollution’. Most plastics degrade very slowly. So if someone throws plastic on the ground, it takes dozen years before it decomposes in the environment. In the meantime animals accidentally eat the plastic or it ends up in the ocean. Reason enough to reduce the amount of plastic you use! Before I move on to the books, first some tips:

  • Use a re-usable bottle instead of buying new plastic bottles every time you want to drink water.
  • Always bring you own bag, so you don’t have to buy plastic bags.
  • Buy a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one.

Now I want to recommend some science fiction books about the consquences of climate change. I read the first two books myself, and I really want to read the third book.

Earth day & three books about the consequences of climate change

Exodus by Julie Bertagna
In the year 2100 big parts of the earth has flooded due to global warming. The island of Mara is also drowning. She may be able to save the inhabitants, but their journey only begins when they find a city in the middle of the sea. Although this book is a dystopia, it all felt very realistic.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
In a far future the earth is bare landscape. To search for the remaining resources, cities have got caterpillar tracks. London is hiding to avoid bigger and faster cities. Tom is one of the inhabitants of London. One day he tumbles down the waste chute and finds himself in the Out-Country.

Want by Cindy Pon
This book is set in a future where the place Taipei is plagued by pollution. Rich people can wear special suits, but the rest gets sick and dies early. The main character, Jason Zhou, will do everything to change this. Want sounds so exciting, it is on top of my TBR-list!

I would love to read more books in which the enviroment plays a role! Do you have recommendations for me? And did you read any of these books?

Book cake tag

One of the best things to go with a good book and a cup of tea is of course cake! I especially love apple cake and chocolate cake, but I also like to try new flavours. This tag was originally done on youtube by suddenlylorna. There’s a question for every ingredient. Let’s bake!

The Great British Bake Off gif

Island Beneath the SeaFlour: A  book that was slow in the beginning, but picked up as you progress
Isabel Allende has a beautiful writing style. No matter what she writes, I like to read it. Island Beneath the Sea was the sixth book I read by this writer. It’s set around the year 1800 on Saint-Domingue, now known as Haiti. The main character is Zarité, a slave born on the island. Before we meet her, we first read about how her owner. This part is somewhat slow, but not less interesting. From the start, the story is full of vivid details about the characters and the historical setting.

Butter: A book with a really rich plot
To me the book series with the most fascinating plot is still Harry Potter. It’s amazing how things happening in the first part are connected with the other books. Harry Potter is one of those stories that feels so real! All the details make it easy to imagine myself going to Hogwarts. Although I disagree with some decisions J.K. Rowling made after writing the books (like agreeing on an eight part…), I still love the series.

Eggs: A book you thought was gonna be bad, but turned out quite enjoyable
I didn’t expect The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen to be bad, but I assumed that it could be a little boring. My mother recommended the book, so I decided to give it a try. And this book about people living in an old people’s home turned out to be quite good.

Sugar: A very sweet book
Here I have to mention a book that suits this tag perfectly: Night of Cake and Puppets.  This is a companion novella to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It is a lovely book about a first date with a magical touch.

Icing: A book that covered everything you want in a book
I just read Obsidio, and I LOVED it so much! The Illuminae Files is an extraordinary trilogy, it really has everything I want! The books have amazing main characters, morally grey villains, lots of plot twists, and made me laugh and feel sad within a few pages. Furthermore, the format is absolutely unique and made me love the series even more!

Every Heart a DoorwaySprinkles: A book that you can pick up when you’re feeling down –> A book with characters in the LGBTQIA+-spectrum
Since my answer on the first question is probably one of the books I already mentioned, I came up with a new question. A good book with lots of diverse characters, including an asexual protagonist, is Every Heart a Doorway. This novella is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children: a place for children who came back from magical worlds and no longer feel at home in the “real” world. This book reads like a dark fairy tale and is beautifully written. It can be read as a standalone, but I saw sequels about the side characters.

Cherry on top: Your favourite book so far this year
So far I read two books I really loved. One of them is of course Obsidio! The other book is The Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This book is made up of letters written just after WW II. The main character is Juliet, a writer who starts a correspondence with the members of the literary society of the island Guernsey. The format as well as the lovely characters made this book a favourite!

Book Cake Tag - Cherry on top: Your favourite book so far this year

Now it’s your turn! What is your favourite cake? And did you read Obsidio? Let me know in the comments please!

 

 

Six favourites I want/need to re-read

I love to re-read books! It’s great to come back to favourites. An advantage is of course that you know you will love the book. As child I used to re-read books all the time. I read the Harry Potter books at least four times. There is a Dutch book I even read ten times or more, immediately starting again when I finished it. Now I only re-read a few books a year. I did come up with the ritual to end the year with a re-read of my favourite book from that year. In this way I re-read Illluminae and Gemina. But there are many favourites left!

Inspired by today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic I made a list. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. Here are the six books I loved, but only read once:

Six favourites I want/need to re-read

1 & 2. Days of Blood and Starlight & Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
For years I am planning to re-read one of my all-time favourite series. I love everything about Daughter of Smoke and Bone: the beautiful writing style, the great story and the amazing characters. Karou is an art student living in Prague. She has to hide a secret life in which she regularly meets monsters, is able to fulfil small wishes with her necklace and goes on mysterious errands. Things become more complicated when black handprints appear on doorways all over the world. I did re-read the first part, but for some reason I still haven’t read the other parts…

3. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I remember having a small book hangover after reading this book. It starts with Diana finding an old bewitched manuscript. Pretty soon she finds  herself in a world full of witches, vampires and daemons. I hope I will love this book just as much as the first time!

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book has two parallel stories set during World War II. There is Marie-Laure, a blind French girl. With a miniature of her neighbourhood made by her father, so she is able to find her way. In Germany lives an orphan named Werner. After finding an old radio, he becomes an expert in fixing it. This is book I want to re-read when I have time to enjoy the beautiful language. A hot summer day or a long train journey would be ideal.

5. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
This book is made up of multiple stories about different people all over the world. At the end all stories come together. It’s hard to give a summary, also because I read the book three years ago… I do remember that it is a beautiful book that is worth a re-read.

6. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
I loved this book, but for some reason I never read the rest of the series. The world in The Glass Sentence is extraordinary: due to the Great Disruption some parts of the world are flung into other time periods. I don’t remember much of the plot, so I really need to re-read the book. After that, I can finally read the sequel.

Four books I abandoned

I used to finish all the books I read. Now I allow myself to “DNF” books. I see no reason for finishing a book I don’t like. It’s precious time that can be used to read other books! It doesn’t happen often, only if I am still bored after 100 pages. Sometimes it’s not the right moment for the book. In that case I put the book on my TBR-shelf. Other times the book just isn’t for me. Here are four books I abandoned and won’t return to.

This blog post was inspired by today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now managed by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Four books I abandoned

 

One Day by David Nicholls
I bought One Day because I liked the premise. The books starts on the day Dexter and Emma meet for the first time. In the next chapters you follow their relationship by reading about one day from each year after their first meeting. The first time I read One Day, I was bored and stopped reading. I saved it for another time. The second time I (tried to) read this book was years later: a few days ago. At the start I liked the story a little more. I now have the same age as the main characters. So I recognized some of their struggles. But after a few chapters I was bored again. I just didn’t care for  the characters. After 150 pages I gave up on this book.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
I happened to find this book in the library. Since I wanted to read more books by writers of color, I was happy to take it home. Swing Time is about two girls who dream of being dancers. One of them is accepted into a dance school, the other becomes the assistant to a popular dancer. I abandoned this book mainly because I didn’t like the characters. Their personalities are flat; we don’t even learn the name of the main character. The story also becomes confusing when it goes back and forth in time. Although I won’t finish Swing Time, I do want to read another book by Zadie Smith.

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Again a book I bought because I liked the idea: ‘What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?’ Ursula dies multiple times on different moments in her life, but every time she is reborn to try again. The biggest drawback of Life after Life is that the story repeats itself. Of course I could have aniticapted that. I just expected that the writer would handle this in a better way. I may have continued reading if the main character was more interesting, but that wasn’t the case.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
This book is set in a dark dystopian future. The main character is part of a gang that murders and rapes people. A Clockwork Orange was assigned to me at high school. It wasn’t a book I would choose myself. The characters of the book also use some kind of slang with Russian words. My English wasn’t very good at the time, and this made reading the book extra hard. After seeing the movie in class, I knew I wasn’t going to finish A Clockwork Orange. I hated the movie. It contained so much explicit violence without reason. I don’t think main characters always have to be likable (take for example Scarlett O’Hara), but I loathed the main characters in this story. Most of the time I read the books that were assigned. For A Clockwork Orange, I didn’t mind to make an exception.

After writing this post I came to the conclusion that my most important reason to DNF a  book is a disinterest for the characters. Do you agree? What are your reasons to leave a book unfinished? Let me know in the comments!

Chapters or no chapters?

In this blog post I want to talk about the different ways books are set up. This is something I usually don’t think about. I was surprised by the many possibilities! I managed to come up with 7 categories:

1. No chapters
Some books are not divided in chapters. A nice example is The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. This story is made up of letters, so there is no need for chapters. A “problem” with these kind of books is where you should stop reading. I like to stop at the end of a chapter. So when reading books without chapters there is a risk of accidentally reading the whole book…

2. Numbered chapters
This is a simpel way to divide the story. But variety is possible. While looking through my books I discovered a few different ways to number the chapters. It can be a number like ‘2’, or the number is spelled out as ‘two.’ Sometimes the word chapter is added. In my edition of The Secret Garden Roman numbers are used. I don’t really have a preference, but I think Roman numbers make a book feel older.

3. Count down
Counting down really can add something to the story. Especially if I don’t know what is going to happen, I become more curious every time I see the number. This was the case in Looking For Alaska:

Count down in Looking for Alaska

4. Dates
When time is important in a story, each chapter is dated. This is sometimes the case with mysteries or historical fiction. For example in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Each chapter starts with the day(s) of the month when the events in that chapter happen. Although dates gives a book structure, I usually like it more when time is less obvious.

5. New chapter = change of POV
I just read Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3). This book has at least five different points of views. Despite the many characters, I never mixed them up. This is partly because Marissa Meyer did a great job in giving them all different voices. The different POVs are also separated by chapters. This makes it clear when the POV changes.

6. Chapters titles
I love chapter titles if they are well done. Just look at this one from Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3):

Chapter title in Dreams of Gods and Monsters

But chapter titles can also accidentally spoil a part of the story. One of the last chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is named ‘After the burial’. If I look through the book, I already know somebody is going to die. So I like chapter titles best if they are a bit cryptic.

7. Parts
Next to chapters, sometimes stories are also divided in parts. Often a new part signifies a change of location or the end/beginning of an important event. I like it when a new part is introduced with a small poem or quote. My favourite example is Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The first part starts with the words: “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well”.

Do you prefer chapters or no chapters? And do you know other categories I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments!