30 Books in 30 Days, Books 1-10

The first book I read this month was a collection of short stories, Legoland by Gerard Woodward. One of my reading habits I hoped to change this year was my reluctance to read short story collections, I won this collection on Goodreads last year and ended up rating it four out of five stars. There are stories covering a range of topics including divorce and identity theft as well as some stories dealing with the supernatural. I really enjoyed Woodward’s writing and my favourite stories were ‘The Family Whistle’ where a man returns from War to find his friend has taken his identity and is living with his wife,  ‘The Flag,’ a neighbourhood dystopia and ‘The Unloved’ on the subject of separation.

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The first novel I read this month was The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner. This was my second Faulkner novel having previously read As I Lay Dying. I think I will be haunted by this novel for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed the immersive reading experience as the story is told by four different narrators, each a relative of the Compson family, who have a habit of jumping back and forth between the present and various family memories at any given time. Thus you have to be alert when reading the novel and to a certain extent put clues together to work out what is happening. The characters are three dimensional, very unreliable and in some cases extremely disturbed, our opening narrator Benjy is mentally handicapped. The plot covers some dark topics including incest and racism. I found the first two parts of the four-part novel to be the most enjoyable with Benjy, Caddie and Quentin being my favourite, though extremely flawed, characters. I found Jason’s narrative particularly difficult to read due to his aggressive, hateful nature. I rated this novel five stars as I loved Faulkner’s writing and found the characters seemed, if anything, all-too real.

 

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I then had the privilege of  diving back into Sui Ishida‘s world Tokyo Ghoul. I’m surprised this is the only volume I have read thus far in 2017 having read volumes 1-6 last year. I, as usual, really enjoyed this volume giving it four out of five stars on Goodreads. However I found this instalment to be less complex than the others, sadly volume 7 seems to act as a filler in the series. Nevertheless I enjoyed being back in the world of ghouls and catching up with all of the characters that I loved. This volume in particular focused on torture and the human psyche.

 

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I read the first Volume of Monster by Naoki Urasawa on Halloween this year and was desperate to read more. After reading Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul I decided to pick up Volume 2 of Monster. I was challenged to read the first instalment by my younger sister who has a slight obsession with the series and I was not disappointed. This is a supernatural detective series based in Germany with the main character being a top surgeon turned unemployed independent investigator, Tenma. So far it is a cat-and-mouse chase between good and evil. What’s not to love? I gave this volume five stars and loved the new characters who were introduced.

 

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I then read The Waves by Virginia Woolf. This was also a very immersive reading experience as we are constantly reading different people’s perspectives, Woolf’s novella centres around a group of friends, the narrative voice switches between these characters after almost every paragraph. While I enjoyed this novella, I prefer To The Lighthouse. I look forward to reading more of Woolf’s novels in the future. I left this novella unrated as although I enjoy the book and its experimental form, I did not enjoy all of its characters finding some, particularly Bernard, rather boring.  

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Having read a short story collection, some classic novels and some Manga, I decided to broaden my reading by including some YA novels in this challenge. They are also faster to read which may have been an essential part of my reasoning.  I decided to finish off a series by reading the third and final instalment in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken: In The Afterlight. This trilogy is basically X-Men except there are only five possible power groups and everyone who has mutated is of the same generation, the trilogy begins in one of the prisons set up to home these children and young adults and keep them apart from normal, less dangerous, society. While the trilogy is flawed in terms of the writing style and certain clichés littered throughout the storytelling,  I enjoyed the power system and the portrayal of friendship and found the messy ending realistic and appropriate.

 

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The second Young Adult novel I read this month was another recommended read by another younger sister, Angelfall by Susan Ee. This is another dystopia where Angels have come and tortured our mortal world. The novel is set in a ruined-cities, fight and steal for your food world in which the main character Penryn scrounges with her family: her mother and her disabled younger sister. At the beginning of the novel Penryn witnesses an unfair fight between Angels, her sister makes a noise that draws attention to her family so Penryn is forced to help the outnumbered Angel, by giving him back his weapon, so that the fight can continue and her family can escape. This fails and her sister is taken by one of the other Angels so Penryn forces the wounded, outnumbered Angel to take her to the home of Angels to retrieve her sister. While I enjoyed this novel I will not be continuing with the series.

 

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Having read some YA, I returned to Classic novels by reading another recommended novel, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I loved this novel! What I loved about this novel was the relatable, every-day-life lens in which we gain insight into this completely foreign (to modern readers) nightmarish world of Auschwitz. I found that this was done really well with the book opening in 1947 with our narrator, Stingo being fascinated by his neighbour Sophie and her toxic relationship with Nathan. Therefore we first see Sophie outside of the War and outside of herself as we only ever see her as Stingo sees her. Although her choice is obvious to modern readers, it is not revealed until, I believe, the last fifty pages of this over 600 page novel. Similarly to Frankenstein, I did not go into this novel blind, having always known some aspects of the plot and yet I also found this novel to be nothing at all as I expected it to be. Central unexpected themes of this novel include Sex and Drugs and Poverty. I also gave this novel five stars on Goodreads.

 

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The ninth book I read this month is Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I picked this novel up due to the heavy themes in Sophie’s Choice, I thought it best to read something more fast paced (although I read Sophie’s Choice in two days) and less complex. However, this novel is unexpectedly layered.

Night Film is a multi-media thriller with perhaps supernatural elements? The novel opens with the apparent suicide of a 24 year old girl named Ashley Cordova, daughter of illusive cult-horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Cordova’s films have spawned true-crime and as a result are banned, they are sold illegally and watched underground. There are many myths and legends surrounding the family. The narrator’s career in journalism was ruined when sued for slander years previously by Cordova himself.  At the beginning of the novel he decides to investigate the death of Cordova’s daughter as an opportunity to learn more on the family and is joined by two secondary characters, both with connections to Ashley, in his quest for the truth. There are some scenes in the novel that could be classed as Horror however the novel is primarily detective fiction, the ending is ambiguous and the subject of controversy. The novel also has interactive elements, different video clips etc you can access on your smart phone.

Personally, I enjoyed the ambiguous ending and have my own preferred theory which I obviously will not disclose here. There were some parts of the novel where I felt the pacing was wrong and one or two theories I felt were out of place however I enjoyed the fact that this is a somewhat messy read, if you like stories and relationships to be rounded off perfectly I would avoid reading Night Film. I will definitely be reading more of Pessl’s fiction, I gave this novel four out of five stars.

 

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Then I purchased and read the latest volume of The Ghastling: ‘Tales of the Macabre, Ghosts and the oh-so Strange’ edited by Rebecca Parfitt.  I would highly recommend this collection especially for this time of year! There are nine spooky stories in the collection, each vastly different in content and atmosphere. My three favourites are ‘Heartwood’ by Carly Holmes about a mother who is part-tree, this one I found to be one of the less scary stories in the collection but loved the Gothic-fairytale feel, ‘At The Stroke’ by Laura Maria Grierson which is a family tale about a broken Grandfather clock and a dying mother, this has a creepy, haunting undertone to the narrative and ‘The Last Laugh’ about an arcade worker and a laughing clown machine which is as menacing as it sounds. Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that can be revisited in the future.

 

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So far I’ve had a very fortunate experience with this challenge, I am doing well with the number of books read so far. More importantly, the quality of the books have been high. I hope this continues throughout the challenge and that it remains enjoyable. Wish me luck,

 

Sophie

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Top 10 YA novels

I am by no means an expert in YA (young adult) literature. However, I have read enough to personally compile a list of my current favourites. I am currently reading Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun and have a few other YA novels I want to get to this year. Nevertheless here are my top 10…

 

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

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This book is wonderfully unique, as are most if not all of the books on my favourites list. I respect every book that makes me laugh and this book made me laugh so much. It’s witty and realistic, both uplifting and heartbreaking and never patronising which I find far too many YA novels to be. This book deals with cancer and though some people think it’s insensitive I disagree, I think it’s refreshing. This book is nothing like The Fault in Our Stars (which I hated) and I’ve never met anyone who has enjoyed both. If you’re that person please comment! This was Andrew’s debut novel published in 2012, I would like to read his other novel The Haters. If you’ve read it please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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Another novel that is truly unique, The Rest of Us Just Live Here focuses on those who are not the ‘chosen ones.’ Its characters and their relationships are well-written and dynamic. Also, this novel is hilarious. It plays with and reinvents the stereotype and I’d quite honestly read anything Ness writes in the future. This was Patrick Ness’s latest novel published in 2015, he now has a new novel Release available for pre-order now. I may very well end up doing so.

 

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

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I love Leo Denton, who is a character in this book, therefore I also love this book. The cover is pretty self-explanatory yet the story is captivating from the first page. Danny is reading this novel at the moment so I won’t say anything more. This novel was also published in 2015 and is also a debut novel! Williamson’s second novel All About Mia was published this year and I’m sure I will read it in the future.

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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A YA Sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. I know you are judging, but I think this book is great. Cinder is a cyborg. This is a four part series which also has a prequel novella. I have since read book two Scarlet and definitely prefer the first book of the series. The world building is perfect and the villain and Cinder’s friendly sidekick are without a doubt the highlights of the novel for me. I will be continuing with the series as soon as Cress is ready to be picked up from my local library. Also, ANOTHER DEBUT NOVEL from Marissa Meyer published in 2012.

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Interestingly, this is the eldest novel on the list published in the year I was/we were born, 1993. This novel is pretty well regarded in the book community and is one I would like to reread soon. This is a YA dystopia which is a genre that has proved extremely popular in the last decade or so.  This book has staying power.

 

The Program by Suzanne Young

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Set in our world with the only difference being a major epidemic of teenage suicides, which is worryingly not as far-fetched as we could hope. The Program is about a society forced to take measures to protect its teenagers against depression where teenagers are, as a result, forced to pretend they’re happy incase their parents or teachers suspect they are depressed, if so they must join ‘the program.’ This is the first novel of a series and was published in 2013. I really must buy the rest of the series as I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it’s haunting.

 

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The X-men novel of YA literature. The Darkest Minds also has a ‘problem generation’ expect this time the children HAVE power (at least supernatural power.) The only problem I had with this novel was its ending, although it is the first book in a trilogy therefore its conclusion is less of an issue. It was published in 2012 and the concept of power is interesting. I have yet to read the final book of the series as it was hard to find for a while however I have requested it from my local library and will hopefully pick it up soon!

 

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

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This is the penultimate novel in Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. As you can see, this is my favourite novel in the series and has some truly epic scenes. City of Lost Souls is a Shadowhunter novel, shadowhunters are demon hunters in order to protect the world and its ‘mundanes’ (us.) There are also other magical species/beings in the series such as warlocks, werewolves, vampires and the Fae, this series has it all.

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Another 2015 published novel. Six of Crows has a few really well written characters and I loved the world building, although this is a separate series which is set in the world Bardugo created for her previous series The Grisha Trilogy. This is an action novel about a heist and is very entertaining. I will read its sequel though this novel is low down on my top10 list.

 

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I read this novel today and liked it more than I expected I would, although I probably don’t love it as much as you would think. I only knew a few quotes and not much of the storyline prior to reading and it was the cheesy quotes that put me off reading it until now. However I found the novel generally well written and I loved Patrick. Other than Patrick I didn’t get emotionally attached to the other characters in Chbosky’s novel and am looking forward to seeing if the movie changes this. What I do love is pretty much all of the songs, books and movies referenced within this novel. Despite the fact I enjoyed but didn’t love The Perks of being a Wallflower I have a deep respect for its originality. I also respect the fact that all of its characters go through real issues and sometimes mental illnesses, it paints a realistic portrait of today’s society. Chbosky’s novel was published in 99.

 

P.S. I decided not to include Zusak’s The Book Thief and Hosseini’s The Kite Runner in this list as they are not always referred to as YA though they would be my all time favourites. I also wanted to feature other novels and was worried I discuss certain novels perhaps too much.

 

Sophie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptation Wishlist Book Tag

This tag was created by the wonderful SheMightBeMonica. As you all know we are both huge fans of adaptations- in particular movie adaptations therefore we were drawn to this tag and its unique concept. There are five categories for adaptations and we will both attempt to give an answer for each one.

First up is movie adaptations; what book do we want to see on the big screen?

D: I would like to see a modern movie adaptation Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. If I could choose the cast I would like to see Ryan Gosling as the lead. I believe this is a novel that would benefit from the technological advancements of today.

S: I would like to see Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, I like what are to me similar movies Dangerous Minds and Coach Carter and believe this kind of tale works well on screen. For a more unique movie I would like to see The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson because the characters are very real and Leo Denton is one of my favourite fictional characters of recent times and the world needs to meet him.

 

What book would we like to be adapted into a TV show?

D: I think Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay would be well suited to TV. Especially due to the fact his works are connected therefore there could be different series based on different novels.

S: I would also like to see The Darren Shan Saga as a (obviously well-adapted) tv series. I would also enjoy TV series based on Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series and Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

 

Interestingly the next category is what book would we like to see as a cartoon?

D: My selection is The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken as I think it would be difficult to master the special effects needed for a movie adaptation.

S: I would like to see Dr Seuss’s works as modern cartoons. I also think a children’s cartoon of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer would be great as fairytales never grow old.

 

What would we like to see adapted into a comic book or graphic novel?

D: I would like to see a Graphic novel adaptation of Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events due to it’s dark nature and memorable quips.

S: I’d like to see Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente as a Graphic Novel as the novel is full of imagery. I also think The Martian by Andy Weir would work well as a comic due to its wit and humour and I would like to read a science fiction comic.

 

The next category is book to play. Which novel do we think would translate well on stage?

D: Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is the novel that I believe is best suited to the stage. I think it would be appropriate due to the dialogue and subject matter.

S: To be honest I don’t know enough as I’d like to about plays which may be reflected in my choices. I hope to not only watch and read more of them this year but learn more about plays too. For this category I seemed unable to choose just one novel. As I mentioned I would like to see more plays and here is a list of a few I would like to see… Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald as it is differs from his other works, at least in my opinion and the relationships between characters would make an interesting drama. I would also like to see Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle stop Café by Fannie Flagg on stage and believe the plot to be if anything more fitting to the stage. I can picture the setting now. Deathnote by Tsugumi Ohba would also be absolutely incredible to see on stage. If they have been adapted in this form before then please let me know in the comments. Finally, my last wish is for Nella Larsen’s Passing to be shown in theaters, I loved this novella when I read it for University and believe the characters and plot would shine on stage.

 

The final category is musical…

D: I think Kerouac’s On The Road should be adapted into a jazz fuelled musical.

S: For some reason my gut is telling me The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald although this is one of my favourite novels and while it could be terrible, it has the potential to be great. Other options popping into my head are Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

 

We tag: TeaPartiesatAnteiku and TheGingerBlogster

The Return….

Hi Everyone it’s Danny. Long time no type (speak) I don’t know….

I am going to make my returning blog post all about why I have not been reading as much and as a result not been writing as much as well. Sophie has criticised this idea thinking all I am going to write is “I haven’t read much due to my work”. Of course this, to a certain degree, is true, however there is a lot of other factors included in this.

I started my reading challenge in 2016 with high hopes (The Lumineers song stuck in my head now) and continued reading constantly throughout, part of this was down to my last job being less friendly. In that I really didn’t have what I would call friends more like acquaintances. As a result I would always drive to a secluded spot on my lunch break, eat my lunch and read a chapter of a book. I do genuinely miss this, as introvert as it might seem. I started my new job in April, in regards to my future career it was the right choice I also met people with similar backgrounds and interests and the general vibe was friendly unlike my last job. As a result I soon found myself looking to make meaningful relationships by chatting to my colleagues over lunch rather than secluding myself. As a result I am now stuck (not that I think I would be stoned for skipping one lunchtime) and feel as though I can not simply stop and go and read to myself anymore, no matter how much I miss reading on my lunch, I would miss what I am doing now more.

Further to this, I have also developed my professional skills to the point where I now have a lot more responsibility than ever before. This has also came at a price, my spare time is dwindling and I am stuck between a social life (if that’s even a possibility) and a reading life. Me and Sophie used to spend nights reading together, her enthusiasm washed over me and made me so excited to read. This again had the same effect when Sophie went into a reading slump, I too would be in a reading slump. Sophie’s shifts are different to mine and therefore she reads during the day and then watches television with me on the night, I would rather spend my time with Sophie than sit in the corner and read as much as I enjoy it. This again is why I have found it hard to pick up as many books as I was at the beginning of last year.

Last year I set myself an unrealistic target of 167 books (or something like that) this was a challenge from the previous year, which was that I was going to read the same amount of books as I had instagram followers. This did not go well, with my changing work situation, our wedding planning, new house and everything else that soaked up my free time. I have therefore set myself a more realistic challenge this year of 50 books. I am hoping that this will give me more drive as it is a more manageable target. I have only read 2 books so far this year, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken and The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket. Both easy fun reads and both parts of longer series, I think I will try and read more of the same this year.

Me and Sophie are now starting to read more and I am much happier for it. We also have siblings who love reading and again inspire us to do the same. My work is difficult without a structure and I find it difficult to do much now without a structure. Therefore Sophie and I are looking to create some kind of Structure to our blog. In the meantime though I have had a few ideas for my own writing.

  • TV Adaptation of The Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Tryachapter
  • 5 Book friends challenge

More to come shortly, I look forward to re-joining you bibliophiles in pursuit of my new all time favourite book, hopefully it won’t take long until I am not seen without a book.

Danny.