Laughter and books make life a little easier

Day 01 – Best book you read last year

Header2This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

 

Welcome to the first day of the book challenge, me! And readers, of course! Smile with tongue out

My, oh my, why did I not Goodreads at this time last year? Then it would have been so easy to just check up my timeline to see what I read when. Now… I’m having to think so hard about what I read for the first time last year.

Last year was 2011, right? And 2011 was the year that I took extra subjects. Well, more extra subjects than normal, that is. This meant that I had no time for reading anything that was not a prescribed book. I am not going to talk about prescribed books today, because I did not choose them. Usually they are not too bad – though some have really rubbed me up the wrong way – but hardly any have blown me away. Anyway, what I meant to say was that I did not actually read anything much last year. Except for rereading Discworld-novels – they are my comfort read, as you’ll come to notice more and more during this challenge. (And one of my obsessions as well.) So what did I read last year that was the best? Two books (I cannot choose):

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson,

Snuff by Terry Pratchett.

 

I think I’m cheating slightly on that first one. I started reading it at the end of 2010 and I do believe that it was the book that I read midnight on New Year. That’s part of a little tradition me, myself and I have. I always stay awake in bed reading, waiting for the new year to strike and then when it comes I switch off the light and go to sleep. I know, I am so boring. Therefore, I believe I finished The Final Empire in 2011. I hope so, or the very first post for this challenge is going to be dishonest already.

 

This book truly blew me away. I loved it and (I know it’s a horrible cliché) I really could not put it down. If I had to go to dinner, I put it down slowly and reluctantly, sulked through dinner, and hurried back as fast as I can to be absorbed back into the book. This book does not hang around – it moves. It’s vivid, not ripped off other fantasy writers and I love Brandon Sanderson’s writing style. (That he is also a NaNoWriMo writer may contribute to my fangirling over him.) I actually bought the other two books in this trilogy and they have been sitting on my shelves for a looooong time. (Darn in, university, will you never allow me time to read my own stuff?!) I’m too scared to begin them, because I suspect that they will grip me just like the first one and then I will again spend days on end reading and never get to doing my homework. I cannot afford to let this happen at the moment. Or any moment, really.

The Final Empire starts with a question that can turn the fantasy genre on its head: what if the Dark Lord won? Right, so that’s what happens in the prologue (and on the cover). Then we fast forward to see what happens in a world where the hero did not succeed in his million-to-one chance. It features a country where ash has fallen from the sky for a thousand years – the amount of time that the Lord Ruler has been in power. During his reign, the largest part of the population, the skaa, has been oppressed. But a revolution is rising and the ones in power had better watch out because they are not the only ones to possess magic, as they once thought. The Final Empire features a system of magic completely unique in my fantasy-reading experience: to do magic you need to “burn” certain metals in your stomach. Only certain people possess this power. But why is the Lord Ruler so much more powerful than anyone else?

 

Well, let’s talk about Snuff.

Obviously, I could not resist a new Terry Pratchett book when it came out. Even though it was exams, NaNoWriMo and my birthday all at once during the time it came out, I had to go look for it. I bought it (First edition hardcover of course. Discworld-books as some of the very few I’m prepared to splash out on – I reread them so much it that they need it!). It sat on my shelf like a shiny golden lure to get me through the month of November 2011. Ah, that glorious moment when I first got to open it! And now I’ll be honest: it did not blow me away the first time. Actually it confused me a bit and left me hanging. I think this was mostly due to the fact that I had not read Thud! before this time and Snuff is built heavily on it, so I missed some background. Another reason I think I was a bit disappointed is that I was so excited at reading a new Pratchett that I was going miles too fast through it and I missed details.

But then…

I reread it. And I fell in love. This time round it made sense. This time round the details clicked into place. This time round I read Thud! first. Now I can honestly give it 5 stars. It deals with a subject very close to my heart (like most of the sub-series of City Watch-books): discrimination and racism. Obviously the central character is Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. I was also very sad to learn later that this will be the last Watch-book that Pratchett will be writing. They’re my favourites *sniff* and there will never be a new one. *sniff* But I understand why he made this choice. With his illness, I can understand that he will want to end at a sensible point and not leave us hanging with Vimes’s story. And I’m happy he gave Vimes a happy ending. He deserves it.

And now I’m out of things to say about Snuff. I love it, but it being still relatively new, I’m afraid of giving away spoilers. But I can say that it contains a lot of poultry, the fresh air of the countryside and goblins. Also, it finally develops the character of Vimes’s little boy, Young Sam. A lovely character, with some strange interests. For long time Discworld fans, it also has the answers about Nobby Nobbs. All those questions that we’ve had about him since the first book are answered in Snuff.

Here are a couple of links to reviews from people better at it than me. Please note that they may contain spoilers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/21/snuff-terry-pratchett-review?intcmp=239

http://www.burnbright.com.au/jamie-reviews-terry-pratchetts-snuff/

 

Check back tomorrow for day two – a book I’ve read more than three times!

Sig3

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7 responses

  1. Zen

    The Final Empire sounds like a wonderful book, and I’ve gone and added it to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. I’ve been wanting to read Snuff too, but I have way too many books to read before I get to anything new.
    As for the best book I read last year… I can’t really choose either, so I’m going to go with Room by Emma Donoghue and Shade’s Children by Garth Nix. Awesome books. =]

    June 21, 2012 at 23:13

    • Cool! Let me know what you think of it, if you do read it! 😀 And I know that exact feeling very well. 😉
      Now it’s my turn to say I haven’t read either of those, but I already have way too many books to read… 😛

      June 30, 2012 at 23:25

  2. I haven’t read either of those so I will add them to my list! Thank you!

    June 21, 2012 at 23:38

    • Let me know what you think if you read them! 🙂

      June 30, 2012 at 23:26

  3. Okay. I really want to read The Last Empire, now. That sounds amazing!

    June 27, 2012 at 08:03

    • *The Final Empire. 😉 Ah, I love it so much! 😀

      June 30, 2012 at 23:41

  4. Pingback: How to hit yourself through the face with your own hair « Cartoons & Creative Writing

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