Before I get in to the holiday posts I wanted to share with you what I have read while I was away. Wherever I go I usually make time to read because it really relaxes me. We had some long stretches of travelling while in Indonesia so it was nice to have my iPad with some eBooks and my phone with a couple of audiobooks. I managed to read 5 books this month!
Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
I am a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s writing. Having read his dystopian/futuristic Uglies Quartet before I was really interested to explore a different genre. I had already read Leviathan before but then failed to read the rest of the trilogy. Since it has been more than 2 years I decided to re-read Leviathan and then finish the rest once and for all.
Leviathan is a steampunk retelling of the First World War. The Axis Powers are big fans of machines and have developed all kinds of extraordinary flying and walking contraptions. Their appropriate nickname is Clankers, a reference to noise of all those machines. The enemies of the Clankers are the Darwinists (Great-Britain). Darwinists oppose machinery and have instead discovered the thread of life (DNA) and have managed to fabricate all kinds of differents beasts to use. They have created a Zeppelin like Air Beast on which the main character of book Deryn Sharpe wants to serve as a midshipmen. There is however, one tiny problem: Deryn is a girl and 1914 Europe has yet to accept a female into its Air Service. Somehow Deryn manages to secure herself a spot by disguising herself as a boy. But when she unexpectedly meets a strange boy things change dramatically!
Leviathan is an excellent book! It is steampunk so some parts are based on reality while others are just fantastical. In this case the combination is smart: I know a lot of the historical background so Westerfeld can just focus on his interpretation of World War I. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. They add so much to this book series! As the characters are quite young I think that Leviathan can be classified as Middlegrade but that does not mean that it is not as good as YA. Nope, this is a truly good book in its own right and the second time I enjoyed it ever more than the first! 4.5/5 stars.
The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
Everybody knows the Disney adaption of The Jungle Book (although it has been quite some time that I saw it!) but no everyone is familiar with the book the movie was based on: the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. The Jungle Book was first published in 1894 and I wouldn’t really classify it as a children’s book. This book was quite violent! All the familiar characters from the film are included but Disney made them much more peaceful. Also, the Jungle Book features additional stories about other animals who are again really violent. The connection between all of them is that they all take place in India when it was still a British colony. I am happy I read this but I can’t quite say that I liked it: it was a quick read and not to difficult but I much prefer the cuddly Disney version!
Blaze – Krista D. Ball
Blaze was an eBook freebie that I found while perusing Amazon. Usually I am not a big fan of those as I have read a couple that have never set on an editor’s desk. I was hesitant to say the least when I started reading this. Right from the get go it was so much better than I expected. I was so into the story right away. The story takes place in fictional fantasy world and the main character is a kickass female knight. I really like the premise of this book. Although I really don’t like the cover it shouldn’t deter you from reading this!
The cover is also quite misleading in my opinion. There is a large castle on the cover but most of the story takes place in a giant complet pearched on rocks near the sea. This castle is just sitting somewhere landlocked. The story was original and it was quite satisfied when I finished it despite the rush of events at the ending. I have already purchased book 2 Grief. The fact that I was willing for the 2nd book should also tell you something ;).
A Memory of Solferino – Henry Dunant
This read was nothing like the other books I rad this month. First of all, this was a free copyright book I just started reading on the internet. Secondly, this book is non-fiction and not fun to read at all. This book is about the Battle of Solferino in 1859 told through the eyes of Henry Dunant, who would later become one of the founding figures of the Red Cross. The things Dunant saw in the aftermath of Solferino gave him the conviction that things should change so you can imagine the horrors that Dunant witnessed. Altough I think that I reality I was so much worse that Dunant writes about in this book. Henry Dunant was not connected to any of the two armies that met each other on the Italian hillside that day. Dunant just happened to pass by that particular day and was striken by the legions of wounded soldiers that were scattered about.
In the days after the Battle Henry Dunant aided the hundreds of volunteer nurses and doctors to make the suffering, where possible, bearable. Despite their best efforts thousands still died without ever having seen a doctor. Men that were still alive on the field but were forgotten died because of cold, or trampling, or starvation. Some unlucky one were even buried with the dead. Those that were fortunate enough to arrive in makeshift hospitals where frequently left to their own devices if their injuries were severe. All that Henry Dunant saw in these few days has lead him to believe that the care of wounded soldiers could be much better handled. It were his ideas, as well as those of likeminded people that eventually led to the foundation of the Red Cross. Although this book is not for the faint of heart it is very interesting!