30 books 30 days: Week One

This is my wrap up of the first week in my April TBR challenge. I think it was around the third or fourth day in April I decided to do this challenge having thankfully already read two manga collections and a short novel which helped my number count from the beginning. In the first week of the challenge I have read seven books!

1: Deathnote Vol II by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

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Read: April  3rd making it the fourth of April when I started this challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume and hope to do a series review once I’ve read the subsequent volumes. Doing a review in this way will allow me to give an honest review without being concerned with spoilers etc.

 

 

2: Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

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Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass – from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms – Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.

Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance.

Also read on April 3rd.  This is a slow paced romance which I did enjoy however this one was just an average read in my opinion. I did not particularly love any of Kawakami’s characters although I did find the writing beautiful and appreciated the added Haiku study.

 

 

3: Orange The Complete Collection 1 by  Ichigo Takano

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On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first, she writes it off as a prank, but as the letter’s predictions come true one by one, Naho realizes that the letter might be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a new transfer student, a boy named Kakeru, will soon join her class. The letter begs Naho to watch over him, saying that only Naho can save Kakeru from a terrible future. Who is this mystery boy, and can Naho save him from his destiny? This is the heart-wrenching sci-fi romance that has over million copies in print in Japan!

Again read on April 3rd. This manga series is unlike any I’ve read before (although I have only ever tried four different series excluding this one) and while I know some people believe it has no staying power, I think it has a sort of subtle brilliance. The storyline is sad and juggles both reality and science fiction. I like the cast of characters and will be continuing with the series.

 

 

4: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

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Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days. The tiger did not know that they were bombs…

A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall. But for one boy, the tiger is a thing of magic – Shere Khan awoken from the pages of The Jungle Book.

Natalia is the granddaughter of that boy. Now a doctor, she is visiting orphanages after another war has devastated the Balkans. On this journey, she receives word of her beloved grandfather’s death, far from their home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery.

From fragments of stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia realizes he may have died searching for ‘the deathless man’, a vagabond who was said to be immortal. Struggling to understand why a man of science would undertake such a quest, she stumbles upon a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book, and then to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.

Read on April 5th. I may end up writing a review for one book per week of this challenge. You can find my review in two parts: (Part One)  (Part Two)

 

 

5: A Streetcat named Bob by James Bowen

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When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet.
Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.

Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.

A Street Cat Named Bob is a moving and uplifting story that will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.

I believe this was my first non-fiction book of the year which I finished reading yesterday, April 6th. Bowen’s story made me laugh and very nearly cry. I thought it was fast-paced and easy to read. However, I feel like the book did not have a conclusive ending, it seemed as though the book was ended on a whim.

 

6: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

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At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister whose family was in financial difficulty. She has only a few choices for employment. Agnes experiences the difficulty of reining in spoiled children and how wealth can corrupt morals.

Also read yesterday, April 6th. I had several problems with this novel. The first being that Agnes Grey is supposed to be a loveable and moral character. Personally, I did not like Brontë’s protagonist who, in my opinion, made no real, honest human connection after leaving her family’s home. It’s fair to say from the last statement that I was not a fan of the romance either. That being said I am more than happy to acknowledge that Agnes Grey is, for its time, a feminist novel and is therefore indisputably of high importance. I realise when writing this that I will have to write a separate review of this novel as I clearly have more to say than I had initially thought, which is also a good thing, if you are interested this review will be up over the weekend.

 

7: The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, translated by Joyce Crick

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‘When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin.’

With a bewildering blend of the everyday and the fantastical, Kafka thus begins his most famous short story, The Metamorphosis. A commercial traveller is unexpectedly freed from his dreary job by his inexplicable transformation into an insect, which drastically alters his relationship with his family. Kafka considered publishing it with two of the stories included here in a volume to be called Punishments. The Judgement also concerns family tensions, when a power struggle between father and son ends with the father passing an enigmatic judgement on the helpless son. The third story, In the Penal Colony, explores questions of power, justice, punishment, and the meaning of pain in a colonial setting. These three stories are flanked by two very different works. Meditation, the first book Kafka published, consists of light, whimsical, often poignant mood-pictures, while in the autobiographical Letter to his Father, Kafka analyses his difficult relationship in forensic and devastating detail.

For the 125th anniversary of Kafka’s birth comes an astonishing new translation of his best-known stories, in a spectacular graphic package.

Table of contents:

Meditation
The Judgement
The Metamorphosis
In the Penal Colony
(Autobiographical) Letter to his Father

I finished reading this collection today. After reading The Trial a couple of years ago I was really excited to read more Kafka, my favourite part of this collection was the letter he wrote to his father. While I did not enjoy this collection as much as I hoped, or as much as I enjoyed The Trial, I still find Kafka’s writing beautiful.

 

 

Sophie

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fandoms

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created by The Broke and The Bookish. With my list I am trying to stay away from fandoms that are purely book-related and have instead chose fandoms that have other elements for example if the fandom stemmed from a book it has to have grown since then with the help of adaptations etc in order for it to be included in this list.

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Death note- This is a relatively new fandom for me. I watched some of the anime first and then purchased Vol I and II of the bind-up Black Editions. This is a crime manga which is essentially a cat and mouse chase, only, both the cat and mouse have arguably the smartest minds in existence. It is a supernatural story with two very intelligent and very human main characters. It will entertain you and keep your attention. I love the supernatural world Ohba and Obata depict with the Shinigami; the Gods of Death.

 

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Tokyo Ghoul- Another manga featuring the supernatural. Another thoroughly entertaining supernatural setting that features Ghouls and Ghoul districts. I have yet to read every published volume but so far each volume has been as good as the last. I also haven’t watched the anime.

 

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Game of Thrones- I have watched the books and seen the show and I believe they both have flaws. There are certain perspectives in the books for example Davos that I just found boring, there are so many characters that it is inevitable to find some that you don’t enjoy reading about. The show also went down-hill for a while in my opinion. My favourite series was season 4. I personally enjoyed the arguably cheap-trick of leaving each episode on a cliffhanger. However the momentum is building as you can sense the story coming to its end. I also enjoy watching Thronecast.

 

 

The US Office- I like a lot of TV shows but The American Office is one that I can watch time and time again and not get bored of. This is because of the writing but also how real the characters are, the characters never make any decisions purely for the sake of plot. I am also huge fans of B.J Novak and Mindy Kaling who both had very important roles in the making of the show. I love how creative the cast are, acting and writing. There was lots of impovising and you can tell because the episodes flow naturally.

 

Teen Mom- I have been watching the families in Teen Mom OG and Teen Mom 2 since their 16 and Pregnant episodes. So I have been watching the franchise for a long time. I did also watch Teen Mom UK which was ok but had a far smaller budget. My favourite Teen Moms of the franchise are Chelsea from Teen Mom 2 and Macy from Teen Mom OG.

 

Disney- Honestly this is my one true fandom. I’ve seen all of the animated classics and most of Disney’s other movies. My favourites are The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Bambi, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Atlantis, Lilo and Stitch, Wreck-It Ralph, Tarzan, Mulan, Moana and The Little Mermaid. My favourite Disney short-film is Sanjay’s Superteam. I have watched as many documentaries as possible and subscribe to Thingamavlogs on youtube as well as Sarah Snitch. I know all the nine old men as well as imagineers and modern disney artists/producers/directors and have my favourites in all categories. We’ve been to two Disney Parks but hope to visit them all.

 

X-Men- I have loved the X-Men movies for as long as I remember. I much prefer this branch of Marvel to any other. I love the fact that while superheroes, they are mutants. They suffer for being mutants as well as gain from it. It holds more merit than any other branch of Marvel to me. I know that Guardians of the Galaxy is set in space but, personally, it feels as cringey as the Avengers movies in the sense that it tries too hard to be funny. I guess it’s all down to personal taste.  I will admit that The Last Stand was a terrible movie and I refuse to accept certain aspects of its plot. While the X-Men franchise may be selling out and becoming more like the other Marvel movies, I will still watch all of the adaptations to come. I can’t say that for any other branch of Marvel. Although when considering overall superhero fandoms I also love DC’s Batman. My favourite adaptation being the obvious The Dark Knight, I was not a fan of Batman Begins or Dark Knight Rises and actually prefer some of the older movies to those. I also enjoy the series Gotham.

 

The Lord of The Rings- I’ve yet to read the books! Will this be the year?

 

Pixar- My favourite feature length film by Pixar is definitely Wall.E. I am also a HUGE fan of their short films which is why they have made this list, as well as their importance to the Walt Disney Company. My favourites of their shorts are Piper and La Luna.

 

Family Vloggers- Danny and I have been watching two different family vloggers daily for such a long time. We are fans of the SacconeJolys and ItsJudysLife!

 

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

Reading Update

Throughout February we have both started reading again. I give Mervyn Peake credit for this, as it is Titus Groan the first book of ‘The Gormenghast Trilogy’ that I’m currently reading and adoring.

(S)

Thus far in February I have read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov which you can find my opinion of here, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding  and Deathnote by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba.  I recently featured Deathnote in my Top5Wednesdays post. I hope to do a review or perhaps a Movie Adaptation review of The Lord of The Flies soon. I am currently reading Titus Groan as previously mentioned, I have 100 pages left so hope to finish this within the next 24 hours.

This month I would also like to finish reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, a contemporary dystopia that I’m enjoying so far. As previously mentioned in my February TBR post, I would like to get around to reading my first novel by Daphne Du Maurier and my second Steinbeck novel. Other than this fairly optimistic goal I would like to read Greenmantle by John Buchan on recommendation from an Instagram friend. I read the previous novel The 39 Steps last year and am looking forward to the next instalment. I would also like to read a short story from the collection Legoland by Gerard Woodward.

If, on the rare chance I get through these novels, I have some other books high up on my TBR list- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Dead Poets Society: A Novel by N.H Kleinbaum and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

(D)

I have most recently finished Tokyo Ghoul 2 by Sui Ishida, I am looking to complete On the Road by Jack Kerouac in the next couple of days and then I will move onto the 5 books I have previously mentioned that I have been challenged to read as well as continuing with the Tokyo Ghoul series.

Top 5 Wednesday

I have been part of the Goodreads group Top 5 Wednesdays hosted by Lainey for a long time. This week’s Top 5 list interested me enough to write a blog post about it. The category for this week is confusingly titled ‘Top 5 Non-Written Novels.’ Last year was the first time I challenged myself to read other formats. I read Graphic Novels, Manga and listened to a couple of Audiobooks. I hope to read many more books of each format this year.

  1. Coming top of the list is the manga series Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida. I think I started reading these at the beginning of last year and was instantly a huge fan. The main characters and setting remain the same throughout the series despite the focus of the plot changing. Each volume tends to centre on a different character but they are always a part of, or at least introduced in, the previous volume. This is done so naturally that you feel no loss over any of the other characters who are always present. The world and character building is original as Ishida’s Ghoul’s live among us spread out in Districts and most are unaware of their existence. Here is the blurb taken from Goodreads: Shy Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with the beautiful Rize. But it turns out that she’s only interested in his body—eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls, which exists alongside our own.  I couldn’t recommend the series enough, it’s intelligent, gritty and thoroughly entertaining. 81NRlW3pEWL
  2. In second place is the Graphic Novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Denise Mina with illustrations by Andrea Mutti and Leonardo Manco. This is based on the first novel (of the same name) in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I have yet to read the novels having accidentally received the final novel as a gift a few years ago and having never got around to buying books one and two. Having previously heard reviews of the novels and seen the trailer of the movie adaptation, I was intrigued by the plot. In my opinion it definitely has more of an edge to it than other books in the crime genre. I was therefore thrilled when I came across this Graphic Novel version in my local library last year. I read this very quickly while taking time to enjoy the wonderful illustrations that match the story perfectly. I will definitely be picking up more of the Graphic Novel series and I would also like to read the original trilogy. Hopefully there will be a movie adaptation review of the trilogy on the blog within the year.41ER04S8koL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_
  3. In third place is the audiobook Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling of which I have a full review here. 41s5qgj0z8l-_sy344_bo1204203200_
  4. In fourth place is another Manga Volume titled Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya. I ordered this manga expecting it to be nothing more than a fun, easy read with little substance, it appealed to me because I wanted to read manga of a different genre to Tokyo Ghoul. In this respect I was not at all disappointed, where Tokyo Ghoul is dark and gritty, Fruits Basket is light-hearted and charming. The writing is witty and the artwork is beautiful. The two manga series are worlds apart and yet both were on my top ten reads list of 2016. What surprised me most about Fruits Basket was how funny it was, the plot also had more to it than I expected. Without giving too much away it weaves its fictional narrative from the Chinese Zodiac.
  5. In all honesty it was difficult to think of my final choice for this list and I decided to cheat a little by choosing my current read which I have obviously not finished reading. I actually saw the anime first and then picked up a copy of book 1 in the Deathnote series. Tsugumi Ohba wrote the series with art by Takeshi Obata. Deathnote is extremely popular and it truly lives up to the rave reviews. The plot features a wonderfully eccentric and weirdly loveable Shinagami death god?! While at the same time uses the cat and mouse trope we all enjoy (when done well, which it is here) Deathnote keeps you on the edge of your seat. Coming fifth on the list purely because I have yet to finish reading it, Deathnote is also a new obsession. The blurb is as follows…

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects–and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life?

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I genuinely love all of the entries on this list and could not recommend any of them enough,

 

Happy reading!

 

Sophie