Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall—named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beaut...
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Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin - Really enjoyed, I'm glad I elected to start reading the ASOIAF books following Season 8, but after having listened to A Game of Thrones and this; I elected to take a break from this series for a couple of books until I return to Storm of Swords.
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman I listened to this book in less than 24 hours, I absolutely adore this book and I adore the film as well. It's a solid fantasy story and I try to read it once a year because I love it so much.
The Martian, by Andy Weir Started this book and I'm really enjoying it. I'm about halfway through and having seen the film, I'm really enjoying the book. The humour comes through a lot more in the book and I've found myself laughing outloud occassionaly.
Not sure where to go next before I return to ASOIAF. I'm tempted by Metro 2035, by Dmitry Glukhovsky as I absolutely loved Metro 2033 but couldn't get into Metro 2034 so I returned it. I've read that Metro 2035 returns to Artyom though.
Has anyone read Artemis, by Andy Weir? I'm enjoying The Martian so I'm curious to know if it's worth reading afterwards. Thanks!
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Stardust, by Neil Gaiman: This was my first time reading a full-length book by Gaiman (having previously read only a short story of his), and it was a pretty enjoyable read. The narration was a pleasure to breeze through – it does a great job at simulating the experience of reading a fairy tale, albeit one targeted at a young adult or adult audience as opposed to the conventional association of the fairy tale genre with children's literature. The writing flows smoothly, with some pretty eloquent turn of phrases and with a pleasant mix of wit, emotion, and details of the magical, the mysterious and the ethereal. I'm super impressed with the author's ability to conjure atmospheric and whimsical scenarios and write vivid descriptions that aren't mere exposition dump but are also genuinely fun to read; it really brings the fantastical setting to life and evokes a quaint feeling that's a mix of wistfulness, nostalgia and awe.
All of that being said, I have some issues with the book. While it does an impressive job with the world building and narration, it falters when it comes to the execution of the plot in some very significant ways. For instance, the story is supposed to be, at one level, a romance – an attempt at a variation of the 'enemies to friends to lovers' trope – but I found the buildup to the so-called romance to be pretty much non-existent. One moment >!the female lead is hurling abuses at the male lead who's unabashedly upfront about his intent to hold her captive!<, and then all of a sudden >!the two are declaring their love for each other at the tail end of the story!<. The lack of a convincing buildup is conveniently hand-waved with a 'we ourselves didn't realize when we started caring for each other', which probably wouldn't have bugged me as much if the narrative didn't try to sell the romance as one of its focal aspects, but it did so it's only fair to expect it to be done properly. Moreover, because the narrative is more plot-driven than character-driven, the lack of buildup is all the more glaring in the face of inadequate chemistry between the two leads.
This kind of superficial handling also extends to other plot points that are established to be of significance to the narrative but peter out by the end. The resolution to the conflict posed by the antagonist(s) and the way the loose ends are hastily tied at the end are anticlimactic. I have to admit I'm conflicted about the ending and the epilogue because they cleverly play with certain fairy tale conventions (such as the concept of 'happily ever after') that were a delight to read but, masked by the gimmicks, pretty imageries and evocative writing, there are some big issues with the payoff or lack thereof.
All in all, the book is far from perfect but it was entertaining. It had a way with keeping me engrossed despite the apparent shortcomings, and it's not entirely without its merits, so I'm going to treat it as a gateway to other works of Gaiman.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon: A quick, enjoyable read. While the overarching story in itself is all right, it's the unique narrative voice and perspective that make it a fun read from start to finish. I found the protagonist/narrator to be a very endearing character, and his view of his immediate surroundings and the world as a whole to be thought-provoking, unintentionally witty, and at points moving. I also like the gimmick of numbering the chapters in prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13...) instead of the conventional number order, in keeping with the narrator's quirky penchant for prime numbers. Also, although the book is touted as primarily a mystery – and it does have an overarching mystery plot and feature the narrator attempting to play a textbook detective figure – I view it as more of a coming-of-age story interweaved with family drama, and with the mystery element(s) running through the story at a secondary but still significant level. A good book overall.
Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn: This was one disturbing book to get through, but in a good way. The creeping, slow buildup with a lingering sense of impending doom kept me turning the pages, and the twist at the tail end of the book made me gasp and internally recoil. In retrospect the reaction wasn't so much at the identity of the culprit per se because I did develop a lingering suspicion towards that one character after a certain point, having been conditioned by years of reading detective fiction to exclude no one, no matter how seemingly improbable they may be, from the purview of suspicion. No, the reaction was more at the vivid detailing of the circumstances in which the reveal is made, to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers. And the narrative has a number of such instances that affect you at a visceral level. The running motif of cuts, bites, jabs and stabs is only scratching the surface (pun very much intended). Additionally, I appreciate the effort the author has put into writing and fleshing out the setting, a fictional town in southern Missouri, with all its prejudices, unspoken rules and closeted skeletons; it's like the town is a character in itself. The trope of a seemingly idyllic and obscure little locale hiding something or someone sinister is one I can probably never get tired of.
Started Bird Box, by Josh Malerman.
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Finished Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk it was definitely way different from what I normally read so it was a good challenge and something i will reread in the future. I started reading Stardust, by Neil Gaiman and I should be through with it in an hour or so. This is the first Gaiman I have actually enjoyed reading.
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I finished The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, and started Stardust, by Neil Gaiman. The Nightingale was written beautifully and romantically, and I really loved reading it. I'm about 65% finished with Stardust now, and I'm loving the whimsicality of it all - I'm truly enjoying it so far.